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Title: Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries, Vol. 1
Author: Hallam, Henry, 1777-1859
Language: English
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                    _THE WORKS OF HENRY HALLAM._

                               TO THE
                        LITERATURE OF EUROPE
                    IN THE FIFTEENTH, SIXTEENTH,
                       SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES.


                       HENRY HALLAM, F.R.A.S.,


                             _VOLUME I._

                          WARD, LOCK & CO.,
                       NEW YORK: BOND STREET.


                             CHAPTER I.

                     OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.

  Retrospect of Learning in Middle Ages Necessary                     1
  Loss of learning in Fall of Roman Empire                            1
  Boethius--his Consolation of Philosophy                             1
  Rapid Decline of Learning in Sixth Century                          2
  A Portion remains in the Church                                     2
  Prejudices of the Clergy against Profane Learning                   2
  Their Uselessness in preserving it                                  3
  First Appearances of reviving Learning in Ireland and England       3
  Few Schools before the Age of Charlemagne                           3
  Beneficial Effects of those Established by him                      4
  The Tenth Century more progressive than usually supposed            4
  Want of Genius in the Dark Ages                                     5
  Prevalence of bad Taste                                             5
  Deficiency of poetical Talent                                       5
  Imperfect State of Language may account for this                    6
  Improvement at beginning of Twelfth Century                         6
  Leading Circumstances in Progress of Learning                       6
  Origin of the University of Paris                                   6
  Modes of treating the Science of Theology                           6
  Scholastic Philosophy--its Origin                                   7
  Roscelin                                                            7
  Progress of Scholasticism; Increase of University of Paris          8
  Universities founded                                                8
  Oxford                                                              8
  Collegiate Foundations not derived from the Saracens                9
  Scholastic Philosophy promoted by Mendicant Friars                  9
  Character of this Philosophy                                       10
  It prevails least in Italy                                         10
  Literature in Modern Languages                                     10
  Origin of the French, Spanish, and Italian Languages               10
  Corruption of colloquial Latin in the Lower Empire                 11
  Continuance of Latin in Seventh Century                            12
  It is changed to a new Language in Eighth and Ninth                12
  Early Specimens of French                                          13
  Poem on Boethius                                                   13
  Provençal Grammar                                                  14
  Latin retained in use longer in Italy                              14
  French of Eleventh Century                                         14
  Metres of Modern Languages                                         15
  Origin of Rhyme in Latin                                           16
  Provençal and French Poetry                                        16
  Metrical Romances--Havelok the Dane                                18
  Diffusion of French Language                                       19
  German Poetry of Swabian Period                                    19
  Decline of German Poetry                                           20
  Poetry of France and Spain                                         21
  Early Italian Language                                             22
  Dante and Petrarch                                                 22
  Change of Anglo-Saxon to English                                   22
  Layamon                                                            23
  Progress of English Language                                       23
  English of the Fourteenth Century--Chaucer, Gower                  24
  General Disuse of French in England                                24
  State of European Languages about 1400                             25
  Ignorance of Reading and Writing in darker Ages                    25
  Reasons for supposing this to have diminished after 1100           26
  Increased Knowledge of Writing in Fourteenth Century               27
  Average State of Knowledge in England                              27
  Invention of Paper                                                 28
  Linen Paper when first used                                        28
  Cotton Paper                                                       28
  Linen Paper as old as 1100                                         28
  Known to Peter of Clugni                                           29
  And in Twelfth and Thirteenth Century                              29
  Paper of mixed Materials                                           29
  Invention of Paper placed by some too low                          29
  Not at first very important                                        30
  Importance of Legal Studies                                        30
  Roman Laws never wholly unknown                                    31
  Irnerius--his first Successors                                     31
  Their Glosses                                                      31
  Abridgements of Law--Accursius’s Corpus Glossatum                  31
  Character of early Jurists                                         32
  Decline of Jurists after Accursius                                 32
  Respect paid to him at Bologna                                     33
  Scholastic Jurists--Bartolus                                       33
  Inferiority of Jurists in Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries       34
  Classical Literature and Taste in dark Ages                        34
  Improvement in Tenth and Eleventh Centuries                        34
  Lanfranc and his Schools                                           35
  Italy--Vocabulary of Papias                                        36
  Influence of Italy upon Europe                                     36
  Increased copying of Manuscripts                                   36
  John of Salisbury                                                  36
  Improvement of Classical Taste in Twelfth Century                  37
  Influence of increased Number of Clergy                            38
  Decline of Classical Literature in Thirteenth Century              38
  Relapse into Barbarism                                             38
  No Improvement in Fourteenth Century--Richard of Bury              39
  Library formed by Charles V. at Paris                              39
  Some Improvement in Italy during Thirteenth Century                40
  Catholicon of Balbi                                                40
  Imperfection of early Dictionaries                                 40
  Restoration of Letters due to Petrarch                             40
  Character of his Style                                             41
  His Latin Poetry                                                   41
  John of Ravenna                                                    41
  Gasparin of Barziza                                                42

                             CHAPTER II.


  Zeal for Classical Literature in Italy                             42
  Poggio Bracciolini                                                 42
  Latin Style of that Age indifferent                                43
  Gasparin of Barziza                                                43
  Merits of his Style                                                43
  Victorin of Feltre                                                 44
  Leonard Aretin                                                     44
  Revival of Greek Language in Italy                                 44
  Early Greek Scholars of Europe                                     44
  Under Charlemagne and his Successors                               45
  In the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries                                45
  In the Twelfth                                                     46
  In the Thirteenth                                                  46
  Little Appearance of it in the Fourteenth Century                  47
  Some Traces of Greek in Italy                                      47
  Corruption of Greek Language itself                                47
  Character of Byzantine Literature                                  48
  Petrarch and Boccace learn Greek                                   48
  Few acquainted with the Language in their Time                     49
  It is taught by Chrysoloras about 1395                             49
  His Disciples                                                      49
  Translations from Greek into Latin                                 50
  Public Encouragement delayed                                       51
  But fully accorded before 1440                                     51
  Emigration of learned Greeks to Italy                              52
  Causes of Enthusiasm for Antiquity in Italy                        52
  Advanced State of Society                                          52
  Exclusive Study of Antiquity                                       53
  Classical Learning in France low                                   53
  Much more so in England                                            53
  Library of Duke of Gloucester                                      54
  Gerard Groot’s College at Deventer                                 54
  Physical Sciences in Middle Ages                                   55
  Arabian Numerals and Method                                        55
  Proofs of them in Thirteenth Century                               56
  Mathematical Treatises                                             56
  Roger Bacon                                                        57
  His Resemblance to Lord Bacon                                      57
  English Mathematicians of Fourteenth Century                       57
  Astronomy                                                          58
  Alchemy                                                            58
  Medicine                                                           58
  Anatomy                                                            58
  Encyclopædic Works of Middle Ages                                  58
  Vincent of Beauvais                                                59
  Berchorius                                                         59
  Spanish Ballads                                                    59
  Metres of Spanish Poetry                                           60
  Consonant and assonant Rhymes                                      60
  Nature of the Glosa                                                61
  The Cancionero General                                             61
  Bouterwek’s Character of Spanish Songs                             61
  John II.                                                           62
  Poets of his Court                                                 62
  Charles, Duke of Orleans                                           62
  English Poetry                                                     62
  Lydgate                                                            63
  James I. of Scotland                                               63
  Restoration of Classical Learning due to Italy                     63
  Character of Classical Poetry lost in Middle Ages                  64
  New School of Criticism in Modern Languages                        64
  Effect of Chivalry on Poetry                                       64
  Effect of Gallantry towards Women                                  64
  Its probable Origin                                                64
  It is shown in old Teutonic Poetry;
    but appears in the Stories of Arthur                             65
  Romances of Chivalry of two Kinds                                  65
  Effect of Difference of Religion upon Poetry                       66
  General Tone of Romance                                            66
  Popular Moral Fictions                                             66
  Exclusion of Politics from Literature                              67
  Religious Opinions                                                 67
  Attacks on the Church                                              67
  Three Lines of Religious Opinions in Fifteenth Century             67
  Treatise de Imitatione Christi                                     68
  Scepticism--Defences of Christianity                               69
  Raimond de Sebonde                                                 69
  His Views misunderstood                                            69
  His real Object                                                    70
  Nature of his Arguments                                            70

                            CHAPTER III.

                      OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.

  The year 1440 not chosen as an Epoch                               71
  Continual Progress of Learning                                     71
  Nicolas V.                                                         71
  Justice due to his Character                                       72
  Poggio on the Ruins of Rome                                        72
  Account of the East, by Conti                                      72
  Laurentius Valla                                                   72
  His Attack on the Court of Rome                                    72
  His Treatise on the Latin Language                                 73
  Its Defects                                                        73
  Heeren’s Praise of it                                              73
  Valla’s Annotations on the New Testament                           73
  Fresh Arrival of Greeks in Italy                                   74
  Platonists and Aristotelians                                       74
  Their Controversy                                                  74
  Marsilius Ficinus                                                  75
  Invention of Printing                                              75
  Block Books                                                        75
  Gutenberg and Costar’s Claims                                      75
  Progress of the Invention                                          76
  First printed Bible                                                76
  Beauty of the Book                                                 77
  Early printed Sheets                                               77
  Psalter of 1547--Other early Books                                 77
  Bible of Pfister                                                   77
  Greek first taught at Paris                                        78
  Leave unwillingly granted                                          78
  Purbach--his Mathematical Discoveries                              78
  Other Mathematicians                                               78
  Progress of Printing in Germany                                    79
  Introduced into France                                             79
  Caxton’s first Works                                               79
  Printing exercised in Italy                                        79
  Lorenzo de’ Medici                                                 80
  Italian Poetry of Fifteenth Century                                80
  Italian Prose of same Age                                          80
  Giostra of Politian                                                80
  Paul II. persecutes the Learned                                    81
  Mathias Corvinus                                                   81
  His Library                                                        81
  Slight Signs of Literature in England                              81
  Paston Letters                                                     82
  Low Condition of Public Libraries                                  83
  Rowley                                                             83
  Clotilde de Surville                                               83
  Number of Books printed in Italy                                   83
  First Greek printed                                                84
  Study of Antiquities                                               84
  Works on that Subject                                              84
  Publications in Germany                                            85
  In France                                                          85
  In England, by Caxton                                              85
  In Spain                                                           85
  Translations of Scripture                                          85
  Revival of Literature in Spain                                     86
  Character of Labrixa                                               86
  Library of Lorenzo                                                 87
  Classics corrected and explained                                   87
  Character of Lorenzo                                               87
  Prospect from his Villa at Fiesole                                 87
  Platonic Academy                                                   88
  Disputationes Camaldulenses of Landino                             88
  Philosophical Dialogues                                            89
  Paulus Cortesius                                                   89
  Schools in Germany                                                 89
  Study of Greek at Paris                                            91
  Controversy of Realists and Nominalists                            91
  Scotus                                                             91
  Ockham                                                             92
  Nominalists in University of Paris                                 92
  Low State of Learning in England                                   92
  Mathematics                                                        93
  Regiomontanus                                                      93
  Arts of Delineation                                                93
  Maps                                                               94
  Geography                                                          94
  Greek printed in Italy                                             94
  Hebrew printed                                                     95
  Miscellanies of Politian                                           95
  Their Character, by Heeren                                         95
  His Version of Herodian                                            96
  Cornucopia of Perotti                                              96
  Latin Poetry of Politian                                           96
  Italian Poetry of Lorenzo                                          97
  Pulci                                                              97
  Character of Morgante Maggiore                                     97
  Platonic Theology of Ficinus                                       98
  Doctrine of Averroes on the Soul                                   98
  Opposed by Ficinus                                                 99
  Desire of Man to explore Mysteries                                 99
  Various Methods employed                                           99
  Reason and Inspiration                                             99
  Extended Inferences from Sacred Books                              99
  Confidence in Traditions                                          100
  Confidence in Individuals as inspired                             100
  Jewish Cabbala                                                    100
  Picus of Mirandola                                                101
  His Credulity in the Cabbala                                      101
  His Literary Performances                                         102
  State of Learning in Germany                                      102
  Agricola                                                          103
  Renish Academy                                                    103
  Reuchlin                                                          104
  French Language and Poetry                                        104
  European Drama                                                    104
  Latin                                                             104
  Orfeo of Politian                                                 105
  Origin of Dramatic Mysteries                                      105
  Their early Stage                                                 105
  Extant English Mysteries                                          105
  First French Theatre                                              106
  Theatrical Machinery                                              107
  Italian Religious Dramas                                          107
  Moralities                                                        107
  Farces                                                            107
  Mathematical Works                                                107
  Leo Baptista Alberti                                              108
  Lionardo da Vinci                                                 108
  Aldine Greek Editions                                             109
  Decline of Learning in Italy                                      110
  Hermolaus Barbarus                                                111
  Mantuan                                                           111
  Pontanus                                                          111
  Neapolitan Academy                                                112
  Boiardo                                                           112
  Francesco Bello                                                   113
  Italian Poetry near the End of the Century                        113
  Progress of Learning in France and Germany                        113
  Erasmus--his Diligence                                            114
  Budæus--his early Studies                                         114
  Latin not well written in France                                  115
  Dawn of Greek Learning in England                                 115
  Erasmus comes to England                                          116
  He publishes his Adages                                           116
  Romantic Ballads of Spain                                         116
  Pastoral Romances                                                 117
  Portuguese Lyric Poetry                                           117
  German popular Books                                              117
  Historical Works                                                  118
  Philip de Comines                                                 118
  Algebra                                                           118
  Events from 1490 to 1500                                          119
  Close of Fifteenth Century                                        119
  Its Literature nearly neglected                                   119
  Summary of its Acquisitions                                       119
  Their Imperfection                                                120
  Number of Books printed                                           120
  Advantages already reaped from Printing                           120
  Trade of Bookselling                                              121
  Books sold by Printers                                            121
  Price of Books                                                    122
  Form of Books                                                     122
  Exclusive Privileges                                              122
  Power of Universities over Bookselling                            123
  Restraints on Sale of Printed Books                               124
  Effect of Printing on the Reformation                             124

                             CHAPTER IV.


  Decline of Learning in Italy                                      125
  Press of Aldus                                                    125
  His Academy                                                       126
  Dictionary of Calepio                                             126
  Books printed in Germany                                          126
  First Greek Press at Paris                                        126
  Early Studies of Melanchthon                                      127
  Learning in England                                               127
  Erasmus and Budæus                                                128
  Study of Eastern Languages                                        128
  Dramatic Works                                                    128
  Calisto and Melibœa                                               128
  Its Character                                                     129
  Juan de la Enzina                                                 129
  Arcadia of Sanazzaro                                              129
  Asolani of Bembo                                                  130
  Dunbar                                                            130
  Anatomy of Zerbi                                                  130
  Voyages of Cadamosto                                              130
  Leo X., his Patronage of Letters                                  131
  Roman Gymnasium                                                   131
  Latin Poetry                                                      132
  Italian Tragedy                                                   132
  Sophonisba of Trissino                                            132
  Rosmunda of Rucellai                                              132
  Comedies of Ariosto                                               132
  Books printed in Italy                                            133
  Cælius Rhodiginus                                                 133
  Greek printed in France and Germany                               133
  Greek Scholars in these Countries                                 134
  College at Alcala and Louvain                                     134
  Latin Style in France                                             135
  Greek Scholars in England                                         135
  Mode of Teaching in Schools                                       136
  Few Classical Works printed here                                  137
  State of Learning in Scotland                                     137
  Utopia of More                                                    137
  Inconsistency in his Opinions                                     138
  Learning restored in France                                       138
  Jealousy of Erasmus and Budæus                                    138
  Character of Erasmus                                              139
  His Adages severe on Kings                                        139
  Instances in illustration                                         140
  His Greek Testament                                               142
  Patrons of Letters in Germany                                     142
  Resistance to Learning                                            143
  Unpopularity of the Monks                                         145
  The Book excites Odium                                            145
  Erasmus attacks the Monks                                         145
  Their Contention with Reuchlin                                    145
  Origin of the Reformation                                         146
  Popularity of Luther                                              147
  Simultaneous Reform by Zwingle                                    147
  Reformation prepared beforehand                                   147
  Dangerous Tenets of Luther                                        148
  Real Explanation of them                                          149
  Orlando Furioso                                                   150
  Its Popularity                                                    150
  Want of Seriousness                                               150
  A Continuation of Boiardo                                         150
  In some Points inferior                                           151
  Beauties of its Style                                             151
  Accompanied with Faults                                           151
  Its Place as a Poem                                               152
  Amadis de Gaul                                                    152
  Gringore                                                          152
  Hans Sachs                                                        152
  Stephen Hawes                                                     153
  Change in English Language                                        153
  Skelton                                                           154
  Oriental Languages                                                154
  Pomponatius                                                       155
  Raymond Lully                                                     155
  His Method                                                        155
  Peter Martyr’s Epistles                                           156

                             CHAPTER V.


  Superiority of Italy in Taste                                     157
  Admiration of Antiquity                                           158
  Sadolet                                                           158
  Bembo                                                             159
  Ciceronianus of Erasmus                                           159
  Scaliger’s Invective against it                                   160
  Editions of Cicero                                                160
  Alexander ab Alexandro                                            160
  Works on Roman Antiquities                                        161
  Greek less Studied in Italy                                       161
  Schools of Classical Learning                                     161
  Budæus--his Commentaries on Greek                                 161
  Their Character                                                   162
  Greek Grammars and Lexicons                                       162
  Editions of Greek Authors                                         163
  Latin Thesaurus of R. Stephens                                    163
  Progress of Learning in France                                    164
  Learning in Spain                                                 165
  Effects of Reformation on Learning                                165
  Sturm’s Account of German Schools                                 165
  Learning in Germany                                               166
  In England--Linacre                                               166
  Lectures in the Universities                                      166
  Greek perhaps Taught to Boys                                      167
  Teaching of Smith at Cambridge                                    167
  Succeeded by Cheke                                                168
  Ascham’s Character of Cambridge                                   168
  Wood’s Account of Oxford                                          168
  Education of Edward and his Sisters                               169
  The Progress of Learning is still slow                            169
  Want of Books and Public Libraries                                169
  Destruction of Monasteries no Injury to Learning                  169
  Ravisius Textor                                                   170
  Conrad Gesner                                                     170

                             CHAPTER VI.


  Progress of the Reformation                                       171
  Interference of Civil Power                                       171
  Excitement of Revolutionary Spirit                                172
  Growth of Fanaticism                                              172
  Differences of Luther and Zwingle                                 172
  Confession of Augsburg                                            173
  Conduct of Erasmus                                                173
  Estimate of it                                                    174
  His Controversy with Luther                                       174
  Character of his Epistles                                         176
  His Alienation from the Reformers increases                       176
  Appeal of the Reformers to the Ignorant                           176
  Parallel of those Times with the Present                          177
  Calvin                                                            177
  His Institutes                                                    177
  Increased Differences among Reformers                             178
  Reformed Tenets spread in England                                 178
  In Italy                                                          178
  Italian Heterodoxy                                                179
  Its Progress in the Literary Classes                              180
  Servetus                                                          180
  Arianism in Italy                                                 181
  Protestants in Spain and Low Countries                            181
  Order of Jesuits                                                  181
  Their Popularity                                                  181
  Council of Trent                                                  182
  Its Chief Difficulties                                            182
  Character of Luther                                               182
  Theological Writings--Erasmus                                     183
  Melanchthon--Romish Writers                                       183
  This Literature nearly forgotten                                  184
  Sermons                                                           184
  Spirit of the Reformation                                         184
  Limits of Private Judgment                                        185
  Passions instrumental in Reformation                              185
  Establishment of new Dogmatism                                    186
  Editions of Scripture                                             186
  Translations of Scripture                                         186
  In English                                                        187
  In Italy and Low Countries                                        187
  Latin Translations                                                187
  French Translations                                               188

                            CHAPTER VII.

            JURISPRUDENCE, IN EUROPE, FROM 1520 TO 1550.

  Logic included under this head                                    188
  Slow Defeat of Scholastic Philosophy                              188
  It is sustained by the Universities and Regulars                  188
  Commentators on Aristotle                                         188
  Attack of Vives on Scholastics                                    189
  Contempt of them in England                                       189
  Veneration for Aristotle                                          189
  Melanchthon countenances him                                      189
  His own Philosophical Treatises                                   190
  Aristotelians of Italy                                            190
  University of Paris                                               190
  New Logic of Ramus                                                190
  It meets with unfair treatment                                    191
  Its Merits and Character                                          191
  Buhle’s account of it                                             191
  Paracelsus                                                        191
  His Impostures                                                    192
  And Extravagancies                                                192
  Cornelius Agrippa                                                 192
  His pretended Philosophy                                          193
  His Sceptical Treatise                                            193
  Cardan                                                            193
  Influence of Moral Writers                                        194
  Cortegiano of Castiglione                                         194
  Marco Aurelio of Guevara                                          194
  His Menosprecio di Corte                                          194
  Perez d’Oliva                                                     195
  Ethical Writings of Erasmus and Melanchthon                       195
  Sir T. Elyot’s Governor                                           195
  Severity of Education                                             196
  He seems to avoid Politics                                        196
  Nicholas Machiavel                                                196
  His motives in writing the Prince                                 197
  Some of his Rules not immoral                                     197
  But many dangerous                                                197
  Its only Palliation                                               198
  His Discourses on Livy                                            198
  Their leading Principles                                          198
  Their Use and Influence                                           199
  His History of Florence                                           199
  Treatises on Venetian Government                                  199
  Calvin’s Political Principles                                     199
  Jurisprudence confined to Roman Law                               200
  The Laws not well arranged                                        200
  Adoption of the entire System                                     200
  Utility of General Learning to Lawyers                            200
  Alciati--his Reform of Law                                        201
  Opposition to him                                                 201
  Agustino                                                          201

                            CHAPTER VIII.


  Poetry of Bembo                                                   201
  Its Beauties and Defects                                          202
  Character of Italian Poetry                                       202
  Alamanni                                                          202
  Vittoria Colonna                                                  202
  Satires of Ariosto and Alamanni                                   203
  Alamanni                                                          203
  Rucellai                                                          203
  Trissino                                                          203
  Berni                                                             203
  Spanish Poets                                                     204
  Boscan and Garcilasso                                             204
  Mendoza                                                           204
  Saa di Miranda                                                    205
  Ribeyro                                                           205
  French Poetry                                                     205
  Marot                                                             206
  Its Metrical Structure                                            206
  German Poetry                                                     206
  Hans Sachs                                                        206
  German Hymn                                                       206
  Theuerdanks of Pfintzing                                          206
  English Poetry--Lyndsay                                           206
  Wyatt and Surrey                                                  207
  Dr. Nott’s Character of them                                      207
  Perhaps rather exaggerated                                        208
  Surrey improves our versification                                 208
  Introduces Blank Verse                                            208
  Dr. Nott’s Hypothesis as to his Metre                             208
  It seems too extensive                                            209
  Politeness of Wyatt and Surrey                                    209
  Latin Poetry                                                      210
  Sannazarius                                                       210
  Vida                                                              210
  Fracastorius                                                      210
  Latin Verse not to be disdained                                   210
  Other Latin Poets in Italy                                        211
  In Germany                                                        211
  Italian Comedy                                                    211
  Machiavel                                                         211
  Aretin                                                            211
  Tragedy                                                           212
  Sperone                                                           212
  Cinthio                                                           212
  Spanish Drama                                                     212
  Torres Naharro                                                    212
  Lope de Rueda                                                     212
  Gil Vicente                                                       213
  Mysteries and Moralities in France                                213
  German Theatre--Hans Sachs                                        213
  Moralities and Similar Plays in England                           214
  They are turned to religious Satire                               214
  Latin Plays                                                       214
  First English Comedy                                              215
  Romances of Chivalry                                              215
  Novels                                                            215
  Rabelais                                                          216
  Contest of Latin and Italian Languages                            216
  Influence of Bembo in this                                        217
  Apology for Latinists                                             217
  Character of the Controversy                                      217
  Life of Bembo                                                     217
  Character of Italian and Spanish Style                            218
  English Writers                                                   218
  More                                                              218
  Ascham                                                            218
  Italian Criticism                                                 218
  Bembo                                                             218
  Grammarians and Critics in France                                 219
  Orthography of Meigret                                            219
  Cox’s Art of Rhetoric                                             219

                             CHAPTER IX.

                         FROM 1520 TO 1550.

  Geometrical Treatises                                             220
  Fernel Rhœticus                                                   220
  Cardan and Tartaglia                                              220
  Cubic Equations                                                   220
  Beauty of the Discovery                                           221
  Cardan’s other Discoveries                                        221
  Imperfections of Algebraic Language                               222
  Copernicus                                                        222
  Revival of Greek Medicine                                         223
  Linacre and other Physicians                                      223
  Medical Innovators                                                224
  Paracelsus                                                        224
  Anatomy                                                           224
  Berenger                                                          224
  Vesalius                                                          224
  Portal’s Account of him                                           225
  His Human Dissections                                             225
  Fate of Vesalius                                                  225
  Other Anatomists                                                  225
  Imperfection of the Science                                       225
  Botany--Botanical Gardens                                         226
  Ruel                                                              226
  Fuchs                                                             226
  Matthioli                                                         226
  Low State of Zoology                                              226
  Agricola                                                          227
  Hebrew                                                            227
  Elias Levita--Pellican                                            227
  Arabic and Oriental Literature                                    227
  Geography of Grynæus                                              228
  Apianus                                                           228
  Munster                                                           228
  Voyages                                                           228
  Oviedo                                                            228
  Historical Works                                                  228
  Italian Academies                                                 229
  They pay regard to the Language                                   229
  Their fondness for Petrarch                                       229
  They become numerous                                              229
  Their Distinctions                                                230
  Evils connected with them                                         230
  They succeed less in Germany                                      230
  Libraries                                                         230

                             CHAPTER X.


  Progress of Philology                                             231
  First Editions of Classics                                        231
  Change in Character of Learning                                   232
  Cultivation of Greek                                              232
  Principal Scholars--Turnebus                                      232
  Petrus Victorius                                                  233
  Muretus                                                           233
  Gruter’s Thesaurus Criticus                                       234
  Editions of Greek and Latin Authors                               235
  Tacitus of Lipsius                                                235
  Horace of Lambinus                                                235
  Of Cruquius                                                       236
  Henry Stephens                                                    236
  Lexicon of Constantin                                             237
  Thesaurus of Stephens                                             237
  Abridged by Scapula                                               238
  Hellenismus of Caninius                                           239
  Vergara’s Grammar                                                 239
  Grammars of Ramus and Sylburgius                                  239
  Camerarius--Canter--Robortellus                                   240
  Editions by Sylburgius                                            241
  Neander                                                           241
  Gesner                                                            241
  Decline of Taste in Germany                                       242
  German Learning                                                   242
  Greek Verses of Rhodomanu                                         242
  Learning Declines                                                 243
  Except in Catholic Germany                                        243
  Philological Works of Stephens                                    243
  Style of Lipsius                                                  244
  Minerva of Sanctius                                               244
  Orations of Muretus                                               244
  Panegyric of Ruhnkenius                                           244
  Defects of his Style                                              245
  Epistles of Manutius                                              245
  Care of the Italian Latinists                                     245
  Perpinianus--Osorius--Maphœus                                     246
  Buchanan--Haddon                                                  246
  Sigonius, De Consolatione                                         246
  Decline of Taste and Learning in Italy                            247
  Joseph Scaliger                                                   247
  Isaac Casaubon                                                    248
  General Result                                                    249
  Learning in England under Edward and Mary                         249
  Revival under Elizabeth                                           249
  Greek Lectures at Cambridge                                       250
  Few Greek Editions in England                                     250
  School Books enumerated                                           250
  Greek taught in Schools                                           251
  Greek better known after 1580                                     251
  Editions of Greek                                                 252
  And of Latin Classics                                             252
  Learning lower than in Spain                                      252
  Improvement at the End of the Century.                            253
  Learning in Scotland                                              253
  Latin little used in Writing                                      253
  Early Works on Antiquities                                        254
  P. Manutius on Roman Laws                                         254
  Manutius, De Civitate                                             254
  Panvinius--Sigonius                                               255
  Gruchius                                                          255
  Sigonius on Athenian Polity                                       256
  Patrizzi and Lipsius on Roman Militia                             256
  Lipsius and other Antiquaries                                     256
  Saville on Roman Militia                                          257
  Numismatics                                                       257
  Mythology                                                         257
  Scaliger’s Chronology                                             258
  Julian Period                                                     258

                             CHAPTER XI.


  Diet of Augsburg in 1555                                          259
  Progress of Protestantism                                         259
  Its Causes                                                        260
  Wavering of Catholic Princes                                      260
  Extinguished in Italy and Spain                                   260
  Reaction of Catholicity                                           260
  Especially in Germany                                             261
  Discipline of the Clergy                                          261
  Influence of Jesuits                                              261
  Their Progress                                                    262
  Their Colleges                                                    262
  Jesuit Seminary at Rome                                           262
  Patronage of Gregory XIII.                                        262
  Conversions in Germany and France                                 263
  Causes of this Reaction                                           263
  A rigid Party in the Church                                       264
  Its Efforts at Trent                                              264
  No Compromise in Doctrine                                         265
  Consultation of Cassander                                         265
  Bigotry of Protestant Churches                                    266
  Tenets of Melanchthon                                             266
  A Party hostile to him                                            267
  Form of Concord, 1576                                             267
  Controversy raised by Baius                                       267
  Treatise of Molina on Free will                                   268
  Protestant Tenets                                                 268
  Trinitarian Controversy                                           268
  Religious Intolerance                                             270
  Castalio                                                          270
  Answered by Beza                                                  271
  Aconcio                                                           271
  Minus Celsus, Koornhert                                           271
  Decline of Protestantism                                          272
  Desertion of Lipsius                                              272
  Jewell’s Apology                                                  272
  English Theologians                                               272
  Bellarmin                                                         273
  Topics of Controversy changed                                     273
  It turns on Papal Power                                           274
  This upheld by the Jesuits                                        274
  Claim to depose Princes                                           274
  Bull against Elizabeth                                            274
  And Henry IV.                                                     275
  Deposing Power owned in Spain                                     275
  Asserted by Bellarmin                                             275
  Methods of Theological Doctrine                                   275
  Loci Communes                                                     275
  In the Protestant and Catholic Church                             276
  Catharin                                                          276
  Critical and Expository Writings                                  276
  Ecclesiastical Historians                                         277
  Le Clerc’s Character of them                                      277
  Deistical Writers                                                 277
  Wierus, De Præstigiis                                             278
  Scot on Witchcraft                                                278
  Authenticity of Vulgate                                           278
  Latin Versions and Editions by Catholics                          278
  By Protestants                                                    279
  Versions into Modern Languages                                    279

                            CHAPTER XII.


  Predominance of Aristotelian Philosophy                           279
  Scholastic and genuine Aristotelians                              280
  The former class little remembered                                280
  The others not much better known                                  280
  Schools of Pisa and Padua                                         280
  Cesalpini                                                         280
  Sketch of his System                                              280
  Cremonini                                                         281
  Opponents of Aristotle                                            281
  Patrizzi                                                          281
  System of Telesio                                                 281
  Jordano Bruno                                                     282
  His Italian Works--Cena de li Ceneri                              282
  Della Causa, Principio ed Uno                                     282
  Pantheism of Bruno                                                283
  Bruno’s other Writings                                            284
  General Character of his Philosophy                               285
  Sceptical Theory of Sanchez                                       286
  Logic of Aconcio                                                  286
  Nizolius on the Principles of Philosophy                          286
  Margarita Antoniana of Pereira                                    287
  Logic of Ramus--its Success                                       288

                            CHAPTER XIII.

                         FROM 1550 TO 1600.

  Soto, De Justitia                                                 289
  Hooker                                                            290
  His Theory of Natural Law                                         290
  Doubts felt by others                                             290
  Essays of Montaigne                                               290
  Their Characteristics                                             290
  Writers on Morals in Italy                                        293
  In England                                                        293
  Bacon’s Essays                                                    293
  Number of Political Writers                                       294
  Oppression of Governments                                         294
  And Spirit generated by it                                        294
  Derived from Classic History                                      294
  From their own and the Jewish                                     294
  Franco Gallia of Hossoman                                         295
  Vindiciæ of Languet                                               295
  Contr’Un of Boetie                                                295
  Buchanan, De Jure Regni                                           296
  Poynet, on Politique Power                                        296
  Its liberal Theory                                                296
  Argues for Tyrannicide                                            297
  The Tenets of Parties swayed by Circumstances                     297
  Similar Tenets among the Leaguers                                 298
  Rose on the Authority of Christian States over Kings              298
  Treatise of Boucher in the same Spirit                            299
  Answered by Barclay                                               299
  The Jesuits adopt these Tenets                                    299
  Mariana, De Rege                                                  299
  Popular Theories in England                                       300
  Hooker                                                            300
  Political Memoirs                                                 301
  La Noue                                                           301
  Lipsius                                                           301
  Botero                                                            301
  His Remarks on Population                                         301
  Paruta                                                            302
  Bodin                                                             302
  Analysis of his Treatise called the Republic                      302
  Authority of Heads of Families                                    302
  Domestic Servitude                                                303
  Origin of Commonwealths                                           303
  Privileges of Citizens                                            303
  Nature of Sovereign Power                                         304
  Forms of Government                                               304
  Despotism and Monarchy                                            304
  Aristocracy                                                       305
  Senates and Councils of State                                     305
  Duties of Magistrates                                             305
  Corporations                                                      305
  Slaves, part of the State                                         305
  Rise and Fall of States                                           306
  Causes of Revolution                                              306
  Astrological Fancies of Bodin                                     306
  Danger of sudden Changes                                          307
  Judicial Power of the Sovereign                                   307
  Toleration of Religions                                           307
  Influence of Climate on Government                                307
  Means of obviating Inequality                                     308
  Confiscations--Rewards                                            308
  Fortresses                                                        308
  Necessity of Good Faith                                           309
  Census of Property                                                309
  Public Revenues                                                   309
  Taxation                                                          309
  Adulteration of Coin                                              310
  Superiority of Monarchy                                           310
  Conclusion of the Work                                            310
  Bodin compared with Aristotle and Machiavel                       310
  And with Montesquieu                                              310
  Golden Age of Jurisprudence                                       311
  Cujacius                                                          311
  Eulogies bestowed upon him                                        311
  Cujacius, an Interpreter of Law rather than a Lawyer              312
  French Lawyers below Cujacius--Govca and others                   312
  Opponents of the Roman Law                                        313
  Faber of Savoy                                                    313
  Anti-Tribonianus of Hottoman                                      313
  Civil Law not countenanced in France                              314
  Turamini                                                          314
  Cau Law                                                           314
  Law of Nations; its early State                                   314
  Francis a Victoria                                                314
  His Opinions on Public Law                                        315
  Ayala, on the Rights of War                                       315
  Albericus Gentilis on Embassies                                   316
  His Treatise on the Rights of War                                 317

                            CHAPTER XIV.

                HISTORY OF POETRY FROM 1550 TO 1600.

  General Character of Italian Poets in this Age                    318
  Their usual Faults                                                318
  Their Beauties                                                    318
  Character given by Muratori                                       318
  Poetry of Casa                                                    318
  Of Costanzo                                                       319
  Baldi                                                             319
  Caro                                                              319
  Odes of Celio Magus                                               319
  Coldness of the Amatory Sonnets                                   320
  Studied Imitation of Petrarch                                     320
  Their Fondness for Description                                    320
  Judgment of Italian Critics                                       320
  Bernardino Rota                                                   320
  Gaspara Stampa; her Love for Collalto                             321
  Is ill-requited                                                   322
  Her Second Love                                                   322
  Style of Gaspara Stampa                                           322
  La Nautica of Baldi                                               322
  Amadigi of Bernardo Tasso                                         323
  Satirical and burlesque Poetry; Aretin                            323
  Other burlesque Writers                                           324
  Attempts at Latin Metres                                          324
  Poetical Translations                                             324
  Torquato Tasso                                                    324
  The Jerusalem excellent in Choice of Subject                      324
  Superior to Homer and Virgil in some Points                       324
  Its Characters                                                    325
  Excellence of its Style                                           325
  Some Faults in it                                                 325
  Defects of the Poem                                               326
  It indicates the peculiar Genius of Tasso                         326
  Tasso compared to Virgil                                          326
  To Ariosto                                                        326
  To the Bolognese Painters                                         327
  Poetry Cultivated under Charles and Philip                        327
  Luis de Leon                                                      328
  Herrera                                                           328
  General Tone of Castilian Poetry                                  329
  Castillejo                                                        329
  Araucana of Ercilla                                               329
  Many epic Poems in Spain                                          329
  Camœns                                                            330
  Defects of the Lusiad                                             330
  Its Excellencies                                                  330
  Mickle’s Translation                                              330
  Celebrated Passage in the Lusiad                                  331
  Minor Poems of Camœns                                             331
  Ferreira                                                          331
  Spanish Ballads                                                   331
  French Poets numerous                                             332
  Change in the Tone of French Poetry                               333
  Ronsard                                                           333
  Other French Poets                                                334
  Du Bartas                                                         334
  Pibrac; Desportes                                                 335
  French Metre and Versification                                    335
  General character of French Poetry                                335
  German Poetry                                                     336
  Paradise of Dainty Devices                                        336
  Character of this Collection                                      336
  Sackville’s Induction                                             336
  Inferiority of Poets in early years of Elizabeth                  337
  Gascoyne                                                          337
  Spenser’s Shepherd’s Kalendar                                     337
  Sydney’s Character of Contemporary Poets                          338
  Improvement soon after this Time                                  338
  Relaxation of Moral Austerity                                     339
  Serious Poetry                                                    339
  Poetry of Sydney                                                  339
  Epithalanium of Spenser                                           340
  Poems of Shakspeare                                               340
  Daniel and Drayton                                                340
  Nosce Teipsum of Davies                                           340
  Satires of Hall, Marston, and Donne                               341
  Modulation of English Verse                                       341
  Translations of Homer by Chapman                                  341
  Of Tasso by Fairfax                                               342
  Employment of Ancient Measures                                    342
  Number of Poets in this Age                                       342
  Scots and English Ballads                                         343
  The Faery Queen                                                   343
  Superiority of the First Book                                     343
  The succeeding Books                                              344
  Spenser’s Sense of Beauty                                         344
  Compared to Ariosto                                               344
  Style of Spenser                                                  345
  Inferiority of the latter Books                                   345
  Allegories of the Faery Queen                                     346
  Blemishes in the Diction                                          346
  Admiration of the Faery Queen                                     346
  General Parallel of Italian and English Poetry                    347
  Decline of Latin Poetry in Italy                                  347
  Compensated in other Countries                                    347
  Lotichius                                                         347
  Collections of Latin Poetry by Gruter                             348
  Characters of some Gallo-Latin Poets                              348
  Sammarthanus                                                      349
  Belgic Poets                                                      349
  Scots Poets--Buchanan                                             349

                             CHAPTER XV.


  Italian Tragedy                                                   350
  Pastoral Drama                                                    351
  Aminta of Tasso                                                   351
  Pastor Fido of Guarini                                            352
  Italian Opera                                                     352
  The National Taste revives in the Spanish Drama                   353
  Lope de Vega                                                      353
  His Extraordinary Fertility                                       353
  His Versification                                                 354
  His Popularity                                                    354
  Character of his Comedies                                         354
  Tragedy of Don Sancho Ortiz                                       355
  His Spiritual Plays                                               356
  Numancia of Cervantes                                             356
  French Theatre--Jodelle                                           357
  Garnier                                                           357
  Comedies of Larivey                                               358
  Theatres in Paris                                                 358
  English Stage                                                     359
  Gammar Gurton’s Needle                                            359
  Gorboduc of Sackville                                             359
  Preference given to the Irregular Form                            359
  First Theatres                                                    360
  Plays of Whetstone and Others                                     360
  Marlowe and his Contemporaries                                    360
  Tamburlaine                                                       361
  Blank Verse of Marlowe                                            361
  Marlowe’s Jew of Malta                                            361
  And Faustus                                                       361
  His Edward II.                                                    361
  Plays whence Henry VI. was taken                                  361
  Peele                                                             362
  Greene                                                            362
  Other Writers of this Age                                         363
  Heywood’s Woman Killed with Kindness                              363
  William Shakspeare                                                364
  His First Writings for the Stage                                  364
  Comedy of Errors                                                  365
  Love’s Labour Lost                                                365
  Taming of the Shrew                                               365
  Midsummer Night’s Dream                                           365
  Its Machinery                                                     366
  Its Language                                                      366
  Romeo and Juliet                                                  366
  Its Plot                                                          367
  Its Beauties and Blemishes                                        367
  The Characters                                                    367
  The Language                                                      367
  Second Period of Shakspeare                                       368
  The Historical Plays                                              368
  Merchant of Venice                                                368
  As You Like It                                                    369
  Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour                                  369

                            CHAPTER XVI.


  Italian Writers                                                   369
  Casa                                                              369
  Tasso                                                             370
  Firenzuola                                                        370
  Character of Italian Prose                                        370
  Italian Letter Writers                                            370
  Davanzati’s Tacitus                                               371
  Jordano Bruno                                                     371
  French Writers--Amyot                                             371
  Montaigne; Du Vair                                                371
  Satire Menippée                                                   372
  English Writers                                                   372
  Ascham                                                            372
  Euphues of Lilly                                                  373
  Its Popularity                                                    373
  Sydney’s Arcadia                                                  374
  His Defence of Poesie                                             374
  Hooker                                                            374
  Character of Elizabethan Writers                                  374
  State of Criticism                                                375
  Scaliger’s Poetics                                                375
  His Preference of Virgil to Homer                                 375
  His Critique on Modern Latin Poets                                376
  Critical Influence of the Academics                               376
  Dispute of Caro and Castelvetro                                   377
  Castelvetro on Aristotle’s Poetics                                377
  Severity of Castelvetro’s Criticism                               377
  Ercolano of Varchi                                                378
  Controversy about Dante                                           378
  Academy of Florence                                               378
  Salviati’s Attack on Tasso                                        379
  Pinciano’s Art of Poetry                                          379
  French Treatises of Criticism                                     379
  Wilson’s Art of Rhetorique                                        379
  Gascoyne; Webbe                                                   380
  Puttenham’s Art of Poesie                                         380
  Sydney’s Defence of Poesy                                         380
  Novels of Bandello                                                380
  Of Cinthio                                                        381
  Of the Queen of Navarre                                           381
  Spanish Romances of Chivalry                                      381
  Diana of Monte-Mayor                                              382
  Novels in the Picaresque Style                                    382
  Guzman d’Alfarache                                                382
  Las Guerras de Granada                                            383
  Sydney’s Arcadia                                                  383
  Its Character                                                     383
  Inferiority of other English Fictions                             384

                            CHAPTER XVII.


  Tartaglia and Cardan                                              385
  Algebra of Pelletier                                              385
  Record’s Whetstone of Wit                                         385
  Vieta                                                             385
  His Discoveries                                                   386
  Geometers of this Period                                          388
  Joachim Rhœticus                                                  388
  Copernican Theory                                                 388
  Tycho Brahe                                                       389
  His System                                                        389
  Gregorian Calendar                                                390
  Optics                                                            390
  Mechanics                                                         390
  Statics of Stevinus                                               391
  Hydrostatics                                                      392
  Gilbert on the Magnet                                             392
  Gesner’s Zoology                                                  392
  Its Character by Cuvier                                           392
  Gesner’s Arrangement                                              393
  His Additions to known Quadrupeds                                 393
  Belon                                                             394
  Salviani and Rondelet’s Ichthyology                               394
  Aldrovandus                                                       394
  Botany--Turner                                                    395
  Maranta--Botanical Gardens                                        395
  Gesner                                                            396
  Dodœns                                                            396
  Lobel                                                             396
  Clusius                                                           396
  Cæsalpin                                                          396
  Dalechamps--Bauhin                                                397
  Gerard’s Herbal                                                   397
  Anatomy--Fallopius                                                397
  Eustachius                                                        397
  Coiter                                                            398
  Columbus                                                          398
  Circulation of the Blood                                          398
  Medicinal Science                                                 398
  Syriac Version of New Testament                                   399
  Hebrew Critics                                                    399
  Its Study in England                                              399
  Arabic begins to be Studied                                       399
  Collection of Voyages by Ramusio                                  400
  Curiosity they awakened                                           400
  Other Voyages                                                     401
  Accounts of China                                                 401
  India and Russia                                                  401
  English Discoveries in the Northern Seas                          401
  Geographical Books--Ortelius                                      401
  Guicciardini                                                      402
  French Memoirs                                                    403
  Universities in Italy                                             403
  In other Countries                                                403
  Libraries                                                         403
  Collections of Antiquities in Italy                               404
  Pinelli                                                           404
  Italian Academies                                                 405
  Society of Antiquaries in England                                 405
  New Books and Catalogues of them                                  406
  Literary Correspondence                                           406
  Bibliographical Works                                             406
  Restraints on the Press                                           407
  Index Expurgatorius                                               407
  Its Effects                                                       407
  Restrictions in England                                           407
  Latin more employed on this account                               408
  Influence of Literature                                           408

                           CHAPTER XVIII.


  Learning of 17th Century less Philological                        409
  Popularity of Comenius                                            409
  Decline of Greek Learning                                         410
  Casaubon                                                          410
  Viger de Idiotismis                                               411
  Weller’s Greek Grammar                                            411
  Labbe and Others                                                  411
  Salmasius de Lingua Hellenistica                                  412
  Greek Editions--Savile’s Chrysostom                               412
  Greek Learning in England                                         413
  Latin Editions--Torrentius                                        413
  Gruter                                                            413
  Heinsius                                                          413
  Grotius                                                           414
  Rutgersius--Reinesius--Barthius                                   414
  Other Critics--English                                            414
  Salmasius                                                         415
  Good Writers of Latin                                             415
  Scioppius                                                         416
  His Philosophical Grammar                                         416
  His Infamia Famiani                                               416
  Judicium de Stylo Historico                                       416
  Gerard Vossius, de Vitiis Sermonis                                417
  His Aristarchus                                                   417
  Progress of Latin Style                                           418
  Gruter’s Collection of Inscriptions                               418
  Assisted by Scaliger                                              419
  Works on Roman Antiquity                                          419
  Geography of Cluversius                                           420
  Meursius                                                          420
  Ubbo Emmius                                                       420
  Chronology of Lydiat--Calvisius                                   420
  Petavius                                                          421
  Character of this Work                                            421

                            CHAPTER XIX.


  Temporal Supremacy of Rome                                        422
  Contest with Venice                                               423
  Father Paul Sarpi                                                 423
  History of Council of Trent                                       424
  Gallican Liberties--Richter                                       424
  Perron                                                            425
  Decline of Papal Power                                            425
  Unpopularity of the Jesuits                                       426
  Richelieu’s Care of Gallican Liberties                            426
  Controversy of Catholics and Protestants                          426
  Increased respect for the Fathers                                 426
  Especially in England--Laud                                       427
  Defections to the Catholic Church                                 427
  Wavering of Casaubon                                              428
  And of Grotius                                                    429
  Calixtus                                                          434
  His Attempts at Concord                                           434
  High Church Party in England                                      435
  Daillé on the Right Use of the Fathers                            435
  Chillingworth’s Religion of Protestants                           436
  Character of this Work                                            436
  Hales on Schism                                                   438
  Controversies on Grace and Free will--Augustinian Scheme          438
  Semi-pelagian Hypothesis                                          439
  Tenets of the Reformers                                           439
  Rise of Arminianism                                               440
  Episcopius                                                        440
  His Writings                                                      440
  Their Spirit and Tendency                                         440
  Great Latitude allowed by them                                    441
  Progress of Arminianism                                           441
  Cameron                                                           441
  Rise of Jansenism                                                 441
  Socinus--Volkelius                                                442
  Crellius--Ruarus                                                  442
  Erastianism maintained by Hooker                                  443
  And Grotius                                                       444
  His Treatise on Ecclesiastical Power of the State                 444
  Remark upon this Theory                                           446
  Toleration of Religious Tenets                                    446
  Claimed by the Arminians                                          446
  By the Independents                                               447
  And by Jeremy Taylor                                              447
  His Liberty of Prophesying                                        447
  Boldness of his Doctrines                                         447
  His Notions of Uncertainty in Theological Tenets                  448
  His low Opinion of the Fathers                                    448
  Difficulty of Finding out Truth                                   449
  Grounds of Toleration                                             449
  Inconsistency of One Chapter                                      450
  His General Defence of Toleration                                 450
  Effect of this Treatise                                           451
  Its Defects                                                       451
  Great Erudition of this Period                                    452
  Usher--Petavius                                                   452
  Sacred Criticism                                                  452
  Grotius--Coccejus                                                 452
  English Commentators                                              453
  Style of Preaching                                                453
  English Sermons                                                   453
  Of Donne                                                          454
  Of Jeremy Taylor                                                  454
  Devotional Writings of Taylor and Hall                            454
  In the Roman                                                      455
  And Lutheran Church                                               455
  Infidelity of some Writers--Charron--Vanini                       455
  Lord Herbert of Cherbury                                          456
  Grotius de Veritate                                               457
  English Translation of the Bible                                  457
  Its Style                                                         457

                             CHAPTER XX.


  Subjects of this Chapter                                          458
  Aristotelians and Ramists                                         458
  No improvement till near the End of the Century                   459
  Methods of the Universities                                       459
  Scholastic Writers                                                459
  Treatises on Logic                                                460
  Campanella                                                        460
  His Theory taken from Telesio                                     460
  Notion of Universal Sensibility                                   461
  His Imagination and Eloquence                                     461
  His Works Published by Admai                                      462
  Basson                                                            463
  Berigard                                                          463
  Magnen                                                            463
  Paracelsists                                                      463
  And Theosophists                                                  463
  Fludd                                                             464
  Jacob Behmen                                                      464
  Lord Herbert de Veritate                                          464
  His Axioms                                                        465
  Conditions of Truth                                               465
  Instinctive Truths                                                466
  Internal Perceptions                                              466
  Five Notions of Natural Religion                                  466
  Remarks of Gassendi on Herbert                                    467
  Gassendi’s Defence of Epicurus                                    468
  His chief Works after 1650                                        468
  Preparation for the Philosophy of Lord Bacon                      468
  His Plan of Philosophy                                            468
  Time of its Conception                                            469
  Instauratio Magna                                                 470
  First Part--Partitiones Scientiarum                               470
  Second Part--Novum Organum                                        470
  Third Part--Natural History                                       470
  Fourth Part--Scala Intellectûs                                    471
  Fifth Part--Anticipationes Philosophiæ                            471
  Sixth Part--Philosophia Secunda                                   471
  Course of studying Lord Bacon                                     472
  Nature of the Baconian Induction                                  472
  His Dislike of Aristotle                                          474
  His Method much required                                          474
  Its Objects                                                       474
  Sketch of the Treatise De Augmentis                               474
  History                                                           474
  Poetry                                                            475
  Fine Passage on Poetry                                            475
  Natural Theology and Metaphysics                                  475
  Form of Bodies might sometimes be inquired into                   475
  Final Causes too much slighted                                    476
  Man not included by him in Physics                                476
  Man--in Body and Mind                                             476
  Logic                                                             476
  Extent given it by Bacon                                          476
  Grammar and Rhetoric                                              477
  Ethics                                                            477
  Politics                                                          477
  Theology                                                          478
  Desiderata enumerated by him                                      478
  Novum Organum--First Book                                         478
  Fallacies--Idola                                                  478
  Confounded with Idols                                             478
  Second Book of Novum Organum                                      479
  Confidence of Bacon                                               479
  Almost justified of late                                          480
  But should be kept within Bounds                                  481
  Limits to our Knowledge by Sense                                  481
  Inductive Logic--whether confined to Physics                      481
  Baconian Philosophy built on Observation and Experiment           482
  Advantages of the latter                                          482
  Sometimes applicable to Philosophy of Human Mind                  483
  Less so to Politics and Morals                                    483
  Induction less conclusive on these Subjects                       483
  Reasons for this Difference                                       484
  Considerations on the other Side                                  484
  Result of the whole                                               485
  Bacon’s Aptitude for Moral Subjects                               486
  Comparison of Bacon and Galileo                                   487
  His Prejudice against Mathematics                                 488
  Bacon’s Excess of Wit                                             488
  Fame of Bacon on the Continent                                    489
  Early Life of Descartes                                           491
  His beginning to philosophise                                     491
  He retires to Holland                                             491
  His Publications                                                  492
  He begins by doubting all                                         492
  His First Step in Knowledge                                       492
  His Mind not Sceptical                                            493
  He arrives at more Certainty                                      493
  His Proof of a Deity                                              493
  Another Proof of it                                               494
  His Deductions from this                                          494
  Primary and Secondary Qualities                                   495
  Objections made to his Meditations                                495
  Theory of Memory and Imagination                                  496
  Seat of Soul in Pineal Gland                                      497
  Gassendi’s Attacks on the Meditations                             497
  Superiority of Descartes                                          497
  Stewart’s Remarks on Descartes                                    498
  Paradoxes of Descartes                                            499
  His Just Notions and Definitions                                  500
  His Notion of Substances                                          501
  Not Quite Correct                                                 501
  His Notions of Intuitive Truth                                    501
  Treatise on Art of Logic                                          502
  Merits of his Writings                                            502
  His Notions of Free will                                          502
  Fame of his System, and Attacks upon it                           503
  Controversy with Voet                                             503
  Charges of Plagiarism                                             504
  Recent Increase of his Fame                                       505
  Metaphysical Treatises of Hobbes                                  505
  His Theory of Sensation                                           506
  Coincident with Descartes                                         506
  Imagination and Memory                                            506
  Discourse or Train of Imagination                                 507
  Experience                                                        507
  Unconceivableness of Infinity                                     507
  Origin of Language                                                508
  His Political Theory interferes                                   508
  Necessity of Speech exaggerated                                   509
  Use of Names                                                      509
  Names Universal not Realities                                     509
  How imposed                                                       510
  The Subject continued                                             510
  Names differently imposed                                         511
  Knowledge                                                         511
  Reasoning                                                         512
  False Reasoning                                                   512
  Its frequency                                                     513
  Knowledge of Fact not derived from Reasoning                      514
  Belief                                                            514
  Chart of Science                                                  515
  Analysis of Passions                                              515
  Good and Evil relative Terms                                      515
  His Paradoxes                                                     515
  His Notion of Love                                                516
  Curiosity                                                         516
  Difference of Intellectual Capacities                             516
  Wit and Fancy                                                     517
  Differences in the Passions                                       517
  Madness                                                           517
  Unmeaning Language                                                517
  Manners                                                           517
  Ignorances and Prejudice                                          518
  His Theory of Religion                                            518
  Its supposed Sources                                              518

                            CHAPTER XXI.

                         FROM 1600 TO 1650.

  Casuistical Writers                                               521
  Importance of Confession                                          521
  Necessity of Rules for the Confessor                              521
  Increase of Casuistical Literature                                521
  Distinction of subjective and objective Morality                  522
  Directory Office of the Confessor                                 522
  Difficulties of Casuistry                                         522
  Strict and Lax Schemes of it                                      523
  Convenience of the latter                                         523
  Favoured by the Jesuits                                           523
  The Causes of this                                                523
  Extravagance of the strict Casuists                               524
  Opposite Faults of Jesuits                                        524
  Suarez, De Legibus                                                524
  Titles of his Ten Books                                           524
  Heads of the Second Book                                          525
  Character of such Scholastic Treatises                            525
  Quotations of Suarez                                              525
  His Definition of Eternal Law                                     526
  Whether God is a Legislator                                       526
  Whether God could permit or commend wrong Actions                 527
  English Casuists--Perkins--Hall                                   527
  Selden, De Jure Naturali Juxta Hebræos                            528
  Jewish Theory of Natural Law                                      528
  Seven Precepts of the Sons of Noah                                528
  Character of Selden’s Work                                        528
  Grotius and Hobbes                                                528
  Charron on Wisdom                                                 529
  La Mothe le Vayer--his Dialogues                                  529
  Bacon’s Essays                                                    529
  Their Excellence                                                  530
  Feltham’s Resolves                                                530
  Browne’s Religio Medici                                           531
  Selden’s Table Talk                                               532
  Osborn’s Advice to his Son                                        532
  John Valentine Andrax                                             532
  Abandonment of Anti-Monarchical Theories                          533
  Political Literature becomes historical                           533
  Bellenden De Statu                                                534
  Campanella’s Politics                                             534
  La Mothe le Vayer                                                 534
  Naude’s Coups d’Etat                                              534
  Patriarchal Theory of Government                                  534
  Refuted by Suarez                                                 535
  His Opinion of Law                                                535
  Bacon                                                             536
  Political Economy                                                 536
  Serra on the Means of obtaining Money without Mines               537
  His Causes of Wealth                                              537
  His Praise of Venice                                              537
  Low Rate of Exchange not essential to wealth                      587
  Hobbes.--His Political Works                                      538
  Analysis of his Three Treatises                                   538
  Civil Jurists of this period                                      543
  Suarez on Laws                                                    544
  Grotius--De Jure Belli et Pacis                                   544
  Success of this Work                                              544
  Its Originality                                                   545
  Its Motive and Object                                             545
  His Authorities                                                   545
  Foundation of Natural Law                                         546
  Positive Law                                                      546
  Perfect and Imperfect Rights                                      546
  Lawful Cases of War                                               546
  Resistance by Subjects unlawful                                   547
  All Men naturally have Right of War                               547
  Right of Self-Defence                                             548
  Its Origin and Limitations                                        548
  Right of Occupancy                                                549
  Relinquishment of it                                              549
  Right over Persons--By Generation                                 549
  By Consent                                                        549
  In Marriage                                                       549
  In Commonwealths                                                  549
  Right of Alienating Subjects                                      549
  Alienation by Testament                                           550
  Rights of Property by Positive Law                                550
  Extinction of Rights                                              550
  Some Casuistical Questions                                        550
  Promises                                                          550
  Contracts                                                         551
  Considered ethically                                              551
  Promissory Oaths                                                  552
  Engagements of Kings towards Subjects                             552
  Public Treaties                                                   552
  Their Interpretation                                              553
  Obligation to repair Injury                                       553
  Rights by Law of Nations                                          554
  Those of Ambassadors                                              554
  Right of Sepulture                                                554
  Punishments                                                       554
  Their Responsibility                                              555
  Insufficient Causes of War                                        556
  Duty of avoiding it                                               556
  And Expediency                                                    556
  War for the sake of other Subjects                                556
  Allies                                                            556
  Strangers                                                         556
  None to Serve in an Unjust War                                    556
  Rights in War                                                     557
  Use of Deceit                                                     557
  Rules and Customs of Nations                                      557
  Reprisals                                                         557
  Declarations of War                                               557
  Rights by law of nations over Enemies                             558
  Prisoners become Slaves                                           558
  Rights of Postliminium                                            558
  Moral Limitation of Rights in War                                 558
  Moderation required as to spoil                                   559
  And as to Prisoners                                               559
  Also in Conquest                                                  559
  And in Restitution to right Owners                                559
  Promises to Enemies and Pirates                                   559
  Treaties concluded by competent Authority                         560
  Matters relating to them                                          561
  Truces and Conventions                                            561
  Those of Private persons                                          561
  Objections to Grotius made by Paley unreasonable                  561
  Reply of Mackintosh                                               561
  Censures of Stewart                                               562
  Answer to them                                                    562
  Grotius vindicated against Rousseau                               565
  His Arrangement                                                   565
  His Defects                                                       565

                            CHAPTER XXII.

                HISTORY OF POETRY FROM 1600 TO 1650.

  Low Estimation of the Seicentisti                                 566
  Not quite so great as formerly                                    566
  Praise of them by Rubbi                                           566
  Also by Salfi                                                     566
  Adone of Marini                                                   567
  Its Character                                                     567
  And Popularity                                                    567
  Secchia Rapita of Tassoni                                         568
  Chiabrera                                                         569
  His Followers                                                     569
  The Styles of Spanish Poetry                                      570
  The Romances                                                      570
  The Brothers Argensola                                            570
  Villegas                                                          571
  Quevedo                                                           571
  Defects of Taste in Spanish Verse                                 571
  Pedantry and far-fetched Allusions                                572
  Gongora                                                           572
  The Schools formed by him                                         573
  Malherbe                                                          573
  Criticisms upon his Poetry                                        574
  Satires of Regnier                                                574
  Racan--Maynard                                                    574
  Voiture                                                           574
  Sarrasin                                                          575
  Low state of German Literature                                    575
  Literary Societies                                                575
  Opitz                                                             575
  His Followers                                                     576
  Dutch Poetry                                                      576
  Spiegel                                                           576
  Hooft-Cats-Vondel                                                 577
  Danish Poetry                                                     577
  English Poets numerous in this age                                577
  Phineas Fletcher                                                  577
  Giles Fletcher                                                    578
  Philosophical Poetry                                              578
  Lord Brooke                                                       578
  Denham’s Cooper’s Hill                                            579
  Poets called Metaphysical                                         579
  Donne                                                             580
  Crashaw                                                           580
  Cowley                                                            580
  Johnson’s Character of him                                        580
  Narrative Poets--Daniel                                           580
  Drayton’s Polyolbion                                              581
  Browne’s Britannia’s Pastorals                                    581
  Sir John Beaumont                                                 582
  Davenant’s Gondibert                                              582
  Sonnets of Shakspeare                                             582
  The person whom they address                                      583
  Sonnets of Drummond and others                                    584
  Carew                                                             584
  Ben Jonson                                                        585
  Wither                                                            585
  Habington                                                         585
  Earl of Pembroke                                                  585
  Suckling                                                          586
  Lovelace                                                          586
  Herrick                                                           586
  Milton                                                            586
  His Comus                                                         586
  Lycidas                                                           587
  Allegro and Penseroso                                             587
  Ode on the Nativity                                               588
  His Sonnets                                                       588
  Anonymous Poetry                                                  588
  Latin Poets of France                                             588
  In Germany and Italy                                              588
  In Holland--Heinsius                                              589
  Casimir Sarbievius                                                589
  Barlæus                                                           589
  Balde--Greek Poems of Heinsius                                    590
  Latin Poets of Scotland--Jonston’s Psalms                         590
  Owen’s Epigrams                                                   590
  Alabaster’s Roxana                                                590
  May’s Supplement to Lucan                                         590
  Milton’s Latin Poems                                              591

                           CHAPTER XXIII.


  Decline of the Italian Theatre                                    591
  Filli de Sciro                                                    592
  Translations of Spanish Dramas                                    592
  Extemporaneous Comedy                                             593
  Spanish Stage                                                     593
  Calderon--Number of his Pieces                                    593
  His Comedies                                                      593
  La Vida es Sueno                                                  594
  A Secreto agravio secreta vengança                                595
  Style of Calderon                                                 595
  His Merits sometimes overrated                                    596
  Plays of Hardy                                                    596
  The Cid                                                           597
  Style of Corneille                                                598
  Les Horaces                                                       598
  Cimia                                                             598
  Polyeucte                                                         599
  Rodogune                                                          599
  Pompey                                                            599
  Heraclius                                                         599
  Nicomède                                                          600
  Faults and Beauties of Corneille                                  600
  Le Menteur                                                        600
  Other French Tragedies                                            600
  Wenceslas of Rotron                                               600
  Popularity of the Stage under Elizabeth                           601
  Number of Theatres                                                601
  Encouraged by James                                               601
  General Taste for the Stage                                       601
  Theatres closed by the Parliament                                 602
  Shakspeare’s Twelfth Night                                        602
  Merry Wives of Windsor                                            603
  Measure for Measure                                               604
  Lear                                                              604
  Timon of Athens                                                   604
  Pericles                                                          605
  His Roman Tragedies--Julius Cæsar                                 606
  Antony and Cleopatra                                              606
  Coriolanus                                                        606
  His Retirement and Death                                          607
  Greatness of his Genius                                           607
  His Judgment                                                      607
  His Obscurity                                                     608
  His Popularity                                                    608
  Critics on Shakspeare                                             609
  Ben Jonson                                                        609
  The Alchemist                                                     609
  Volpone, or The Fox                                               610
  The Silent Woman                                                  610
  Sad Shepherd                                                      611
  Beaumont and Fletcher                                             611
  Corrupt State of their Text                                       611
  The Maid’s Tragedy                                                611
  Philaster                                                         612
  King and no King                                                  613
  The Elder Brother                                                 613
  The Spanish Curate                                                613
  The Custom of the Country                                         613
  The Loyal Subject                                                 613
  Beggar’s Bush                                                     613
  The Scornful Lady                                                 614
  Valentinian                                                       614
  The Two Noble Kinsmen                                             615
  The Faithful Shepherdess                                          615
  Rule a Wife, and have a Wife                                      616
  Some other Plays                                                  616
  Origin of Fletcher’s Plays                                        616
  Defects of their plots                                            616
  Their Sentiments and Style Dramatic                               617
  Their Characters                                                  617
  Their Tragedies                                                   617
  Inferior to their Comedies                                        618
  Their Female Characters                                           618
  Massinger--Nature of his Dramas                                   619
  His Delineations of Character                                     619
  His Subjects                                                      619
  Beauty of His Style                                               620
  Inferiority of his Comic Powers                                   620
  Some of his Tragedies particularized                              620
  And of his other Plays                                            620
  Ford                                                              621
  Shirley                                                           621
  Heywood                                                           622
  Webster                                                           622
  His Duchess of Malfy                                              622
  Vittoria Corombona                                                622

                            CHAPTER XXIV.


  Decline of Taste in Italy                                         623
  Style of Galileo                                                  624
  Bentivoglio                                                       624
  Boccalini’s News from Parnassus                                   624
  His Pietra del Paragone                                           625
  Terrante Pallavicino                                              625
  Dictionary Delia Crusca                                           625
  Grammatical Works--Buonmattei--Bartoli                            626
  Tassoni’s Remarks on Petrarch                                     626
  Galileo’s Remarks on Tasso                                        626
  Sforza Pallavicino                                                626
  And other Critical Writers                                        626
  Prolusiones of Strada                                             627
  Spanish Prose--Gracian                                            627
  French Prose--Du Vair                                             627
  Balzac                                                            628
  Character of his Writings                                         628
  His Letters                                                       628
  Voiture--Hotel Rambouillet                                        629
  Establishment of French Academy                                   630
  Its objects and Constitution                                      630
  It publishes a Critique on the Cid                                631
  Vaugelas’s Remarks on the French Language                         631
  La Mothe le Vayer                                                 632
  Legal Speeches of Patru                                           632
  And of Le Maistre                                                 632
  Improvement in English Style                                      633
  Earl of Essex                                                     633
  Knolles’s History of the Turks                                    634
  Raleigh’s History of the World                                    635
  Daniel’s History of England                                       635
  Bacon                                                             635
  Milton                                                            636
  Clarendon                                                         636
  The Icon Basilice                                                 636
  Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy                                    637
  Earle’s Characters                                                637
  Overbury’s Characters                                             637
  Jonson’s Discoveries                                              637
  Publication of Don Quixote                                        638
  Its Reputation                                                    638
  New Views of its Design                                           638
  Probably erroneous                                                638
  Difference between the two Parts                                  639
  Excellence of this Romance                                        639
  Minor Novels of Cervantes                                         639
  Other Novels--Spanish                                             639
  And Italian                                                       639
  French Romances--Astrée                                           639
  Heroic Romances--Gomberville                                      640
  Calprenède                                                        640
  Scuderi                                                           641
  Argenis of Barclay                                                641
  His Euphormis                                                     643
  Campanella’s City of the Sun                                      643
  Few Books of Fiction in England                                   643
  Mundus Alter et Idem of Hall                                      644
  Godwin’s Journey to the Moon                                      644
  Howell’s Dodona’s Grove                                           644
  Adventures of Baron de Fænesle                                    644

                            CHAPTER XXV.


  State of Science in 16th Century                                  645
  Tediousness of Calculations                                       645
  Napier’s Invention of Logarithms                                  645
  Their Nature                                                      645
  Property of Numbers discovered by Stifelius                       645
  Extended to Magnitudes                                            646
  By Napier                                                         646
  Tables of Napier and Briggs                                       646
  Kepler’s New Geometry                                             647
  Its Difference from the Ancient                                   647
  Adopted by Galileo                                                648
  Extended by Cavalieri                                             648
  Applied to the Ratios of Solids                                   648
  Problem of the Cycloid                                            648
  Progress of Algebra                                               649
  Briggs--Girard                                                    649
  Harriott                                                          649
  Descartes                                                         650
  His Application of Algebra to Curves                              650
  Suspected Plagiarism from Harriot                                 650
  Fermat                                                            651
  Algebraic Geometry not successful at first                        652
  Astronomy--Kepler                                                 652
  Conjectures as to Comets                                          652
  Galileo’s Discovery of Jupiter’s Satellites                       653
  Other Discoveries by him                                          653
  Spots of the Sun discovered                                       653
  Copernican System held by Galileo                                 654
  His Dialogues, and Persecution                                    654
  Descartes alarmed by this                                         655
  Progress of Copernican System                                     655
  Descartes denies General Gravitation                              655
  Cartesian Theory of the World                                     655
  Transits of Mercury and Venus                                     656
  Laws of Mechanics                                                 656
  Statics of Galileo                                                657
  His Dynamics                                                      657
  Mechanics of Descartes                                            658
  Law of Motion laid down by Descartes                              658
  Also those of Compound Forces                                     659
  Other Discoveries in Mechanics                                    659
  In Hydrostatics and Pneumatics                                    659
  Optics--Discoveries of Kepler                                     660
  Invention of the Telescope                                        660
  Of the Microscope                                                 660
  Antonio de Dominis                                                660
  Dioptrics of Descartes--Law of Refraction                         661
  Disputed by Fermat                                                661
  Curves of Descartes                                               661
  Theory of the Rainbow                                             661

                            CHAPTER XXVI.


  Aldrovandus                                                       662
  Clusius                                                           662
  Rio and Marcgraf                                                  662
  Jonston                                                           662
  Fabricius on the Language of Brutes                               663
  Botany--Columna                                                   664
  John and Gaspar Bauhin                                            664
  Parkinson                                                         664
  Valves of the Veins discovered                                    665
  Theory of the Blood’s Circulation                                 665
  Sometimes ascribed to Servetus                                    665
  To Columbus                                                       666
  And to Cæsalpin                                                   666
  Generally unknown before Harvey                                   667
  His Discovery                                                     667
  Unjustly doubted to be Original                                   667
  Harvey’s Treatise on Generation                                   668
  Lacteals discovered by Asellius                                   668
  Optical Discoveries of Scheiner                                   669
  Medicine--Van Helmont                                             669
  Diffusion of Hebrew                                               669
  Language not studied in the best method                           669
  The Buxtorfs                                                      670
  Vowel Points rejected by Cappel                                   670
  Hebrew Scholars                                                   671
  Chaldee and Syriac                                                671
  Arabic                                                            671
  Erpenius                                                          671
  Golius                                                            671
  Other Eastern Languages                                           672
  Purchas’s Pilgrim                                                 672
  Olearius and Pietro della Valle                                   672
  Lexicon of Ferrari                                                672
  Maps of Blaew                                                     672
  Davila and Bentivoglio                                            673
  Mendoza’s Wars of Granada                                         673
  Mezeray                                                           673
  English Historians                                                673
  English Histories                                                 673
  Universities                                                      673
  Bodleian Library founded                                          674
  Casaubon’s Account of Oxford                                      674
  Catalogue of Bodleian Library                                     674
  Continental Libraries                                             675
  Italian Academies                                                 675
  The Lincei                                                        675
  Prejudice for Antiquity diminished                                676
  Browne’s Vulgar Errors                                            677
  Life and Character of Peiresc                                     677

                           CHAPTER XXVII.


  James Frederic Gronovius                                          678
  James Gronovius                                                   679
  Grævius                                                           679
  Isaac Vossius                                                     679
  Decline of German Learning                                        679
  Spanheim                                                          679
  Jesuit Colleges in France                                         679
  Port-Royal Writers--Lancelot                                      679
  Latin Writers--Perizonius                                         680
  Delphin Editions                                                  680
  Le Fevre and the Daciers                                          680
  Henry Valois--Complaints of Decay of Learning                     680
  English Learning--Duport                                          681
  Greek not much studied                                            681
  Gataker’s Cinnus and Antoninus                                    681
  Stanley’sÆschylus                                                682
  Other English Philologers                                         682
  Bentley                                                           682
  His Epistle to Mill                                               682
  Dissertation on Phalaris                                          682
  Disadvantages of Scholars in that Age                             683
  Thesauri of Grævius and of Gronovius                              683
  Fabretti                                                          684
  Numismatics, Spanheim--Vaillant                                   684
  Chronology--Usher                                                 684
  Pezron                                                            685
  Marsham                                                           685

                           CHAPTER XXVIII.


  Decline of Papal Influence                                        685
  Dispute of Louis XIV. with Innocent XI.                           686
  Four Articles of 1682                                             686
  Dupin on the ancient Discipline                                   686
  Dupin’s Ecclesiastical Library                                    687
  Fleury’s Ecclesiastical History                                   687
  His Dissertations                                                 687
  Protestant Controversy in France                                  688
  Bossuet’s Exposition of Catholic Faith                            688
  His Conference with Claude                                        688
  Correspondence with Molanus and Leibnitz                          689
  His Variations of Protestant Churches                             690
  Anglican Writings against Popery                                  690
  Taylor’s Dissuasive                                               690
  Barrow--Stillingfleet                                             690
  Jansenius                                                         691
  Condemnation of his Augustinus in France                          691
  And at Rome                                                       691
  The Jansenists take a Distinction                                 692
  And are Persecuted                                                692
  Progress of Arminianism                                           692
  Courcelles                                                        693
  Limborch                                                          693
  Le Clerc                                                          693
  Sancroft’s Fur Prædestinatus                                      693
  Arminianism in England                                            694
  Bull’s Harmonia Apostolica                                        694
  Hammond--Locke--Wilkins                                           694
  Socinians in England                                              695
  Bull’s Defensio Fidei Nicenæ                                      695
  Not Satisfactory to all                                           695
  Mystics                                                           696
  Fenelon                                                           696
  Change in the Character of Theological Literature                 696
  Freedom of many Writings                                          696
  Thoughts of Pascal                                                697
  Vindications of Christianity                                      699
  Progress of Tolerant Principles                                   700
  Bayle’s Philosophical Commentary                                  700
  Locke’s Letter on Toleration                                      700
  French Sermons                                                    701
  Bourdaloue                                                        701
  Compared with Bossuet                                             702
  Funeral Discourses of Bossuet                                     702
  Fléchier                                                          703
  English Sermons--Barrow                                           703
  South                                                             704
  Tillotson                                                         704
  Expository Theology                                               704
  Pearson on the Creed                                              704
  Simon’s Critical Histories                                        705

                            CHAPTER XXIX.


  Aristotelian Metaphysics                                          705
  Their Decline. Thomas White                                       706
  Logic                                                             706
  Stanley’s History of Philosophy                                   707
  Gale’s Court of Gentiles                                          707
  Cudworth’s Intellectual System                                    707
  Its object                                                        708
  Sketch of it                                                      708
  His plastic nature                                                708
  His account of old Philosophy                                     708
  His Arguments against Atheism                                     709
  More                                                              709
  Gassendi                                                          710
  His Logic                                                         710
  His Theory of Ideas                                               710
  And of the Nature of the Soul                                     710
  Distinguishes Ideas of Reflection                                 711
  Also Intellect from Imagination                                   711
  His Philosophy misunderstood by Stewart                           712
  Bernier’s Epitome of Gassendi                                     713
  Process of Cartesian Philosophy                                   713
  La Forge--Regis                                                   714
  Huet’s Censure of Cartesianism                                    715
  Port-Royal Logic                                                  716
  Malebranche                                                       717
  His Style                                                         717
  Sketch of his Theory                                              717
  Character of Malebranche                                          724
  Compared with Pascal                                              724
  Arnauld on True and False ideas                                   725
  Norris                                                            725
  Pascal                                                            725
  Spinosa’s Ethics                                                  726
  Its general Originality                                           726
  View of his Metaphysical Theory                                   727
  Spinosa’s Theory of action and Passion                            731
  Character of Spinosism                                            732
  Glanvil’s Scepsis Scientifica                                     733
  His Plus Ultra                                                    734
  Dalgarno                                                          735
  Wilkins                                                           736
  Locke on Human Understanding                                      736
  Its merits                                                        736
  Its Defects                                                       737
  Origin of Ideas according to Locke                                737
  Vague Use of the Word Idea                                        738
  An Error as to Geometrical Figure                                 739
  His Notions as to the Soul                                        740
  And its Immateriality                                             740
  His Love of Truth and Originality                                 741
  Defended in two cases                                             742
  His View of Lunatic Ideas                                         742
  General Praise                                                    743
  Locke’s Conduct of Understanding                                  743

                            CHAPTER XXX.

                         FROM 1650 TO 1700.

  Casuistry of the Jesuits                                          744
  Pascal’s Provincial Letters                                       744
  Their Truth questioned by some                                    744
  Taylor’s Ductor Dubitantium                                       745
  Its Character and Defects                                         745
  Cudworth’s immutable Morality                                     745
  Nicole--La Placette                                               746
  Other Writers                                                     746
  Moral System of Spinosa                                           746
  Cumberland’s De Legibus Naturæ                                    747
  Analysis of Prolegomena                                           748
  His Theory expanded afterwards                                    749
  Remarks on Cumberland’s Theory                                    752
  Puffendorf’s Law of Nature and Nations                            753
  Analysis of this Work                                             754
  Puffendorf and Paley compared                                     757
  Rochefoucault                                                     757
  La Bruyère                                                        758
  Education--Milton’s Tractrate                                     758
  Locke on Education--Its merits                                    759
  And Defects                                                       759
  Fenelon on Female Education                                       761
  Puffendorf’s Theory of Politics                                   762
  Politics of Spinosa                                               764
  His Theory of a Monarchy                                          766
  Amelot de la Houssaye                                             766
  Harrington’s Oceana                                               766
  Patriarcha of Filmer                                              767
  Sydney’s Discourses on Government                                 767
  Locke on Government                                               768
  Observations on this Treatise                                     771
  Avis auz Refugiéz, perhaps by Bayle                               772
  Political Economist’s                                            772
  Mun on Foreign Trade                                              773
  Child on Trade                                                    773
  Locke on the Coin                                                 773
  Statistical Tracts                                                774
  Works of Leibnitz on Roman Law                                    775
  Civil Jurists--Godefroy--Domat                                    775
  Noodt of Usury                                                    776
  Law of Nations--Puffendorf                                        776

                            CHAPTER XXXI.

                 HISTORY OF POETRY FROM 1650 TO 1700.

  Improved Tone of Italian Poetry                                   776
  Filicaja                                                          777
  Guidi                                                             777
  Menzini                                                           778
  Salvator Rosa--Redi                                               778
  Other Poets                                                       778
  Christina’s Patronage of Letters                                  778
  Society of Arcadians                                              778
  La Fontaine                                                       779
  Character of his Fables                                           779
  Boileau: His Epistles                                             780
  His Art of Poetry                                                 780
  Comparison with Horace                                            780
  The Lutrin                                                        780
  General Character of his Poetry                                   780
  Lyric Poetry lighter than before                                  781
  Benserade                                                         781
  Chaulieu                                                          781
  Pastoral Poetry                                                   781
  Segrais                                                           781
  Deshouliéres                                                      781
  Fontenelle                                                        782
  Bad Epic Poems                                                    782
  German Poetry                                                     782
  Waller                                                            782
  Butler’s Hudibras                                                 783
  Paradise Lost--Choice of Subject                                  783
  Open to some Difficulties                                         783
  Its Arrangement                                                   783
  Characters of Adam and Eve                                        784
  He owes less to Homer than the Tragedians                         784
  Compared with Dante                                               784
  Elevation of his Style                                            785
  His Blindness                                                     786
  His Passion for Music                                             786
  Faults in Paradise Lost                                           786
  Its Progress to Fame                                              786
  Paradise Regained                                                 787
  Samson Agonistes                                                  787
  Dryden--His earlier Poems                                         787
  Absalom and Achitophel                                            788
  Mac Flecknoe                                                      788
  The Hind and Panther                                              789
  Its Singular Fable                                                789
  Its Reasoning                                                     789
  The Fables                                                        789
  His Odes--Alexander’s Feast                                       790
  His Translation of Virgil                                         790
  Decline of Poetry from the Restoration                            790
  Some Minor Poets enumerated                                       790
  Latin Poets of Italy                                              791
  Ceva                                                              791
  Sergardi                                                          791
  Of France--Quillet                                                791
  Menage                                                            792
  Rapin on Gardens                                                  792
  Santeul                                                           793
  Latin Poetry in England                                           793

                           CHAPTER XXXII.


  Italian and Spanish Drama                                         793
  Racine’s first Tragedies                                          793
  Andromaque                                                        794
  Britannicus                                                       795
  Berenice                                                          795
  Bajazet                                                           795
  Mithridate                                                        796
  Iphigénie                                                         796
  Phédre                                                            797
  Esther                                                            797
  Athalie                                                           797
  Racine’s Female Characters                                        798
  Racine compared with Corneille                                    798
  Beauty of his Style                                               798
  Thomas Corneille--His Ariane                                      799
  Manlius of La Fosse                                               799
  Molière                                                           799
  L’Avare                                                           799
  L’Ecole des Femmes                                                800
  Le Misanthrope                                                    800
  Les Femmes Savantes                                               801
  Tartuffe                                                          801
  Bourgeois Gentilhomme--George Dandin                              801
  Character of Molière                                              802
  Les Plaideurs of Racine                                           802
  Regnard--Le Joueur                                                802
  His Other Plays                                                   803
  Quinault--Boursault                                               803
  Dancourt                                                          803
  Brueys                                                            804
  Operas of Quinault                                                804
  Revival of the English Theatre                                    804
  Change of Public Taste                                            804
  Its Causes                                                        805
  Heroic Tragedies of Dryden                                        805
  His later Tragedies                                               805
  Don Sebastian                                                     806
  Spanish Friar                                                     806
  Otway                                                             806
  Southern                                                          807
  Lee                                                               807
  Congreve                                                          807
  Comedies of Charles II.’s Reign                                   807
  Wycherley                                                         808
  Improvement after the Revolution                                  808
  Congreve                                                          808
  Love for Love                                                     808
  His other Comedies                                                808
  Farquhar--Vanbrugh                                                809

                           CHAPTER XXXIII.


  Low State of Literature in Italy                                  809
  Crescimbeni                                                       810
  Age of Louis XIV. in France                                       810
  Fontenelle--his Character                                         810
  His Dialogues of the Dead                                         811
  Those of Fenelon                                                  811
  Fontenelle’s Plurality of Worlds                                  811
  His History of Oracles                                            811
  St. Evremond                                                      812
  Madame de Sevigné                                                 812
  The French Academy                                                812
  French Grammars                                                   813
  Bouhour’s Entretiens d’Ariste et d’Eugène                         813
  Attacked by Barbier d’Ancour                                      814
  La Manière de Bien Penser                                         815
  Rapin’s Reflections on Eloquence and Poetry                       815
  His Parallel’s of Great Men                                       815
  Bossu on Epic Poetry                                              816
  Fontenelle’s Critical Writings                                    816
  Preference of French Language to Latin                            816
  General Superiority of Ancients disputed                          816
  Charles Perrault                                                  816
  Fontenelle                                                        817
  Boileau’s Defence of Antiquity                                    817
  First Reviews--Journal des Sçavans                                817
  Reviews Established by Bayle                                      818
  Reviews Established by Le Clerc                                   818
  Leipsic Acts                                                      819
  Bayle’s Thoughts on the Comet                                     819
  His Dictionary                                                    819
  Baillet--Morhof                                                   820
  The Ana                                                           820
  English Style in this Period                                      820
  Hobbes                                                            821
  Cowley                                                            821
  Evelyn                                                            821
  Dryden                                                            821
  His Essay on Dramatic Poesy                                       822
  Improvements in his Style                                         823
  His Critical Character                                            823
  Rymer on Tragedy                                                  823
  Sir William Temple’s Essays                                       824
  Style of Locke                                                    824
  Sir George Mackenzie’s Essays                                     824
  Andrew Fletcher                                                   824
  Walton’s Complete Angler                                          824
  Wilkins’ New World                                                824
  Antiquity defended by Temple                                      825
  Wotton’s Reflection’s                                            825
  Quevedo’s Visions                                                 825
  French Heroic Romances                                            826
  Novels of Madame La Fayette                                       826
  Scarron’s Roman Comique                                           826
  Cyrano de Bergerac                                                827
  Segrais                                                           827
  Perrault                                                          827
  Hamilton                                                          827
  Télémaque of Fenelon                                              827
  Deficiency of English Romances                                    828
  Pilgrim’s Progress                                                828
  Turkish Spy                                                       829
  Chiefly of English Origin                                         830
  Swift’s Tale of a Tub                                             831

                           CHAPTER XXXIV.


  Reasons for omitting Mathematics                                  831
  Academy del Cimento                                               831
  Royal Society                                                     832
  Academy of Sciences at Paris                                      832
  State of Chemistry                                                832
  Becker                                                            833
  Boyle                                                             833
  His Metaphysical Works                                            833
  Extract from one of them                                          833
  His Merits in Physics and Chemistry                               834
  General Character of Boyle                                        834
  Of Hooke and Others                                               834
  Lemery                                                            835
  Slow Progress of Zoology                                          835
  Before Ray                                                        835
  His Synopsis of Quadrupeds                                        835
  Merits of this Work                                               835
  Redi                                                              836
  Swammerdam                                                        836
  Lister                                                            836
  Comparative Anatomy                                               836
  Botany                                                            837
  Jungius                                                           837
  Morison                                                           837
  Ray                                                               837
  Rivinus                                                           838
  Tournefort                                                        838
  Vegetable Physiology                                              839
  Grew                                                              839
  His Anatomy of Plants                                             840
  He discovers the Sexual System                                    840
  Camerarius confirms this                                          840
  Predecessors of Grew                                              840
  Malpighi                                                          840
  Early Notions of Geology                                          840
  Burnet’s Theory of Earth                                          840
  Other Geologists                                                  841
  Protogæa of Leibnitz                                              841
  Circulation of Blood Established                                  842
  Willis--Vieussens                                                 842
  Malpighi                                                          842
  Other Anatomists                                                  842
  Medical Theories                                                  843
  Polyglott of Walton                                               843
  Hottinger                                                         844
  Spencer                                                           844
  Bochart                                                           844
  Pococke                                                           844
  D’Herbelot                                                        844
  Hyde                                                              844
  Maps of the Sansons                                               844
  De Lisle’s Map of the World                                       845
  Voyages and Travels                                               845
  Historians                                                        845
  De Solis                                                          845
  Memoirs of De Retz                                                845
  Bossuet on Universal History                                      846
  English Historical Works                                          846
  Burnet                                                            846
  General Character of 17th Century                                 846
  Conclusion                                                        847


The advantages of such a synoptical view of literature as displays its
various departments in their simultaneous condition through an extensive
period, and in their mutual dependency, seem too manifest to be
disputed. And, as we possess little of this kind in our own language, I
have been induced to undertake that to which I am in some respects, at
least, very unequal, but which no more capable person, as far as I could
judge, was likely to perform. In offering to the public this
introduction to the literary history of three centuries--for I cannot
venture to give it a title of more pretension--it is convenient to state
my general secondary sources of information, exclusive of the
acquaintance I possess with original writers; and, at the same time, by
showing what has already been done, and what is left undone, to furnish
a justification of my own undertaking.

The history of literature belongs to modern, and chiefly to almost
recent times. The nearest approach to it that the ancients have left us
is contained in a single chapter of Quintilian, the first of the tenth
book, wherein he passes rapidly over the names and characters of the
poets, orators, and historians of Greece and Rome. This, however, is but
a sketch; and the valuable work of Diogenes Laertius preserves too
little of chronological order to pass for a history of ancient
philosophy, though it has supplied much of the materials for all that
has been written on the subject.

In the sixteenth century, the great increase of publications, and the
devotion to learning which distinguished that period, might suggest the
scheme of a universal literary history. Conrad Gesner, than whom no one,
by extent and variety of erudition, was more fitted for the labour,
appears to have framed a plan of this kind. What he has published, the
Bibliotheca Universalis, and the Pandectæ Universales, are, taken
together, the materials that might have been thrown into an historical
form; the one being an alphabetical catalogue of authors and their
writings; the other a digested and minute index to all departments of
knowledge, in twenty-one books, each divided into titles, with short
references to the texts of works on every head in his comprehensive
classification. The order of time is therefore altogether disregarded.
Possevin, an Italian Jesuit, made somewhat a nearer approach to this in
his Bibliotheca Selecta, published at Rome in 1593. Though his
partitions are rather encyclopædic than historical, and his method,
especially in the first volume, is chiefly argumentative, he gives under
each chapter a nearly chronological catalogue of authors, and sometimes
a short account of their works.

Lord Bacon, in the second book De Augmentis Scientiarum, might justly
deny, notwithstanding these defective works of the preceding century,
that any real history of letters had been written; and he
compares that of the world, wanting this, to a statue of Polypheme
deprived of his single eye. He traces the method of supplying this
deficiency in one of those luminous and comprehensive passages which
bear the stamp of his vast mind: the origin and antiquities of every
science, the methods by which it has been taught, the sects and
controversies it has occasioned, the colleges and academies in which it
has been cultivated, its relation to civil government and common
society, the physical or temporary causes which have influenced its
condition, form, in his plan, as essential a part of such a history, as
the lives of famous authors, and the books they have produced.

No one has presumed to fill up the outline which Bacon himself could but
sketch; and most part of the seventeenth century passed away with few
efforts on the part of the learned to do justice to their own
occupation; for we can hardly make an exception for the Prodromus
Historiæ Literariæ (Hamburg, 1659) of Lambecius, a very learned German,
who, having framed a magnificent scheme of a universal history of
letters, was able to carry it no farther than the times of Moses and
Cadmus. But, in 1688, Daniel Morhof, professor at Kiel in Holstein,
published his well-known Polyhistor, which received considerable
additions in the next age at the hands of Fabricius, and is still found
in every considerable library.

Morhof appears to have had the method of Possevin in some measure before
his eyes; but the lapse of a century, so rich in erudition as the
seventeenth, had prodigiously enlarged the sphere of literary history.
The precise object, however, of the Polyhistor, as the word imports, is
to direct, on the most ample plan, the studies of a single scholar.
Several chapters, that seem digressive in an historical light, are to be
defended by this consideration. In his review of books in every province
of literature, Morhof adopts a sufficiently chronological order; his
judgments are short, but usually judicious; his erudition so copious,
that later writers have freely borrowed from, and, in many parts, added
little to the enumeration of the Polyhistor. But he is far more
conversant with writers in Latin than the modern languages; and, in
particular, shows a scanty acquaintance with English literature.

Another century had elapsed, when the honour of first accomplishing a
comprehensive synopsis of literary history in a more regular form than
Morhof, was the reward of Andrès, a Spanish Jesuit, who, after the
dissolution of his order, passed the remainder of his life in Italy. He
published at Parma, in different years, from 1782 to 1799, his Origine
Progresso e Stato attuale d’ogni Litteratura. The first edition is in
five volumes quarto; but I have made use of that printed at Prato, 1806,
in twenty octavo volumes. Andrès, though a Jesuit, or perhaps because a
Jesuit, accommodated himself in some measure to the tone of the age
wherein his book appeared, and is always temperate, and often candid.
His learning is very extensive in surface, and sometimes minute and
curious, but not, generally speaking, profound; his style is flowing,
but diffuse and indefinite; his characters of books have a vagueness
unpleasant to those who seek for precise notions; his taste is correct,
but frigid; his general views are not injudicious, but display a
moderate degree of luminousness or philosophy. This work is, however, an
extraordinary performance, embracing both ancient and modern literature
in its full extent, and, in many parts, with little assistance from any
former publication of the kind. It is far better known on the
Continent than in England, where I have not frequently seen it quoted;
nor do I believe it is common in our private libraries.

A few years after the appearance of the first volumes of Andrès, some of
the most eminent among the learned of Germany projected a universal
history of modern arts and sciences on a much larger scale. Each single
province, out of eleven, was deemed sufficient for the labours of one
man, if they were to be minute and exhaustive of the subject: among
others, Bouterwek undertook poetry and polite letters; Buhle speculative
philosophy; Kästner the mathematical sciences; Sprengel anatomy and
medicine; Heeren classical philology. The general survey of the whole
seems to have been assigned to Eichhorn. So vast a scheme was not fully
executed; but we owe to it some standard works, to which I have been
considerably indebted. Eichhorn published, in 1796 and 1799, two
volumes, intended as the beginning of a General History of the
Cultivation and Literature of modern Europe, from the twelfth to the
eighteenth century. But he did not confine himself within the remoter
limit; and his second volume, especially, expatiates on the dark ages
that succeeded the fall of the Roman empire. In consequence, perhaps, of
this diffuseness, and also of the abandonment, for some reason with
which I am unacquainted, of a large portion of the original undertaking,
Eichhorn prosecuted this work no farther in its original form. But,
altering slightly its title, he published, some years afterwards, an
independent universal “History of Literature” from the earliest ages to
his own. This is comprised in six volumes, the first having appeared in
1805, the last in 1811.

The execution of these volumes is very unequal. Eichhorn was conversant
with oriental, with theological literature, especially of his own
country, and in general with that contained in the Latin language. But
he seems to have been slightly acquainted with that of the modern
languages, and with most branches of science. He is more specific, more
chronological, more methodical in his distribution than Andrès: his
reach of knowledge, on the other hand, is less comprehensive; and though
I could praise neither highly for eloquence, for taste, or for
philosophy, I should incline to give the preference in all these to the
Spanish Jesuit. But the qualities above mentioned render Eichhorn, on
the whole, more satisfactory to the student.

These are the only works, as far as I know, which deserve the name of
general histories of literature, embracing all subjects, all ages, and
all nations. If there are others, they must, I conceive, be too
superficial to demand attention. But in one country of Europe, and only
in one, we find a national history so comprehensive as to leave
uncommemorated no part of its literary labour. This was first executed
by Tiraboschi, a Jesuit born at Bergamo, and, in his later years,
librarian of the Duke of Modena, in twelve volumes quarto: I have used
the edition published at Rome in 1785. It descends to the close of the
seventeenth century. In full and clear exposition, in minute and exact
investigation of facts, Tiraboschi has few superiors; and such is his
good sense in criticism, that we must regret the sparing use he has made
of it. But the principal object of Tiraboschi was biography. A writer of
inferior reputation, Corniani, in his Secoli della litteratura Italiana
dopo il suo risorgimento (Brescia, 9 vols., 1804-1813), has gone more
closely to an appreciation of the numerous writers whom he passes in
review before our eyes. Though his method is biographical, he
pursues sufficiently the order of chronology to come into the class of
literary historians. Corniani is not much esteemed by some of his
countrymen, and does not rise to a very elevated point of philosophy;
but his erudition appears to me considerable, his judgments generally
reasonable; and his frequent analyses of books gives him one superiority
over Tiraboschi.

The Histoire Littéraire de l’Italie, by Ginguéné, is well known: he had
the advantage of following Tiraboschi; and could not so well, without
his aid, have gone over a portion of the ground, including in his
scheme, as he did, the Latin learning of Italy; but he was very
conversant with the native literature of the language, and has, not a
little prolixly, doubtless, but very usefully, rendered much of easy
access to Europe, which must have been sought in scarce volumes, and
was, in fact, known by name to a small part of the world. The Italians
are ungrateful if they deny their obligations to Ginguéné.

France has, I believe, no work of any sort, even an indifferent one, on
the universal history of her own literature; nor can we claim for
ourselves a single attempt of the most superficial kind. Warton’s
History of Poetry contains much that bears on our general learning; but
it leaves us about the accession of Elizabeth.

Far more has been accomplished in the history of particular departments
of literature. In the general history of philosophy, omitting a few
older writers, Brucker deserves to lead the way. There has been, of late
years, some disposition to depreciate his laborious performance, as not
sufficiently imbued with a metaphysical spirit, and as not rendering,
with clearness and truth, the tenets of the philosophers whom he
exhibits. But the Germany of 1744 was not the Germany of Kant and
Fichte; and possibly Brucker may not have proved the worse historian for
having known little of recent theories. The latter objection is more
material; in some instances he seems to me not quite equal to his
subject. But, upon the whole, he is of eminent usefulness; copious in
his extracts, impartial and candid in his judgments.

In the next age after Brucker, the great fondness of the German learned
both for historical and philosophical investigation produced more works
of this class than I know by name, and many more than I have read. The
most celebrated, perhaps, is that of Tennemann; but of which I only know
the abridgment, translated into French by M. Victor Cousin, with the
title Manuel de l’Histoire de Philosophie. Buhle, one of the society
above mentioned, whose focus was at Göttingen, contributed his share to
their scheme in a History of Philosophy from the revival of letters.
This I have employed through the French translation in six volumes.
Buhle, like Tennemann, has very evident obligations to Brucker; but his
own erudition was extensive, and his philosophical acuteness not

The history of poetry and eloquence, or fine writing, was published by
Bouterwek, in twelve volumes octavo. Those parts which relate to his own
country, and to Spain and Portugal, have been of more use to me than the
rest. Many of my readers must be acquainted with the Littérature du
Midi, by M. Sismondi; a work written in that flowing and graceful style
which distinguishes the author, and succeeding in all that it seeks to
give--a pleasing and popular, yet not superficial or unsatisfactory,
account of the best authors in the southern languages. We have nothing
historical as to our own poetry but the prolix volumes of Warton. They
have obtained, in my opinion, full as much credit as they deserve.
Without depreciating a book in which so much may be found and which has
been so great a favourite with the literary part of the public, it may
be observed that its errors as to fact, especially in names and dates,
are extraordinarily frequent, and that the criticism, in points of
taste, is not of a very superior kind.

Heeren undertook the history of classical literature--a great
desideratum, which no one had attempted to supply. But, unfortunately,
he has only given an introduction, carrying us down to the close of the
fourteenth century, and a history of the fifteenth. These are so good,
that we must much lament the want of the rest; especially as I am aware
of nothing to fill up the vacuity. Eichhorn, however, is here of
considerable use.

In the history of mathematical science, I have had recourse chiefly to
Montucla and, as far as he conducts us, to Kästner, whose catalogue and
analysis of mathematical works is far more complete, but his own
observations less perspicuous and philosophical. Portal’s History of
Anatomy, and some other books, to which I have always referred, and
which it might be tedious to enumerate, have enabled me to fill a few
pages with what I could not be expected to give from any original
research. But several branches of literature, using the word, as I
generally do, in the most general sense for the knowledge imparted
through books, are as yet deficient in anything that approaches to a
real history of their progress.

The materials of literary history must always be derived in great
measure from biographical collections, those especially which intermix a
certain portion of criticism with mere facts. There are some, indeed,
which are almost entirely of this description. Adrian Baillet, in his
Jugemens des Sçavans, published in 1685, endeavoured to collect the
suffrages of former critics on the merits of all past authors. His
design was only executed in a small part, and hardly extends beyond
grammarians, translators, and poets; the latter but imperfectly. Baillet
gives his quotations in French, and sometimes mingles enough of his own
to raise him above a mere compiler, and to have drawn down the animosity
of some contemporaries. Sir Thomas Pope Blount is a perfectly
unambitious writer of the same class. His Censura Celebriorum Autorum,
published in 1690, contains nothing of his own, except a few short dates
of each author’s life, but diligently brings together the testimonies of
preceding critics. Blount omits no class, nor any age; his arrangement
is nearly chronological, and leads the reader from the earliest records
of literature to his own time. The polite writers of modern Europe, and
the men of science, do not receive their full share of attention; but
this volume, though not, I think, much in request at present, is a very
convenient accession to any scholar’s library.

Bayle’s Dictionary, published in 1697, seems at first sight an
inexhaustible magazine of literary history. Those who are conversant
with it know that it frequently disappoints their curiosity; names of
great eminence are sought in vain, or are very slightly treated; the
reader is lost in episodical notes, perpetually frivolous, and disgusted
with an author who turns away at every moment from what is truly
interesting to some idle dispute of his own time, or some contemptible
indecency. Yet the numerous quotations contained in Bayle, the
miscellaneous copiousness of his erudition, as well as the good
sense and acuteness he can always display when it is his inclination to
do so, render his Dictionary of great value, though, I think, chiefly to
those who have made a tolerable progress in general literature.

The title of a later work by Père Niceron, Mémoires Pour Servir à
l’Histoire des Hommes Illustres de la République des Lettres, avec un
Catalogue Raisonné de leurs Ouvrages, in forty-three volumes 12mo,
published at Paris from 1727 to 1745, announces something rather
different from what it contains. The number of “illustrious men”
recorded by Niceron is about 1600, chiefly of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. The names, as may be anticipated, are frequently
very insignificant; and, in return, not a few of real eminence,
especially when Protestant, and, above all, English, are overlooked, or
erroneously mentioned. No kind of arrangement is observed; it is utterly
impossible to conjecture in what volume of Niceron any article will be
discovered. A succinct biography, though fuller than the mere dates of
Blount, is followed by short judgments on the author’s works, and by a
catalogue of them far more copious, at least, than had been given by any
preceding bibliographer. It is a work of much utility; but the more
valuable parts have been transfused into later publications.

The English Biographical Dictionary was first published in 1761. I speak
of this edition with some regard from its having been the companion of
many youthful hours; but it is rather careless in its general execution.
It is sometimes ascribed to Birch; but I suspect that Heathcote had more
to do with it. After several successive enlargements, an edition of this
Dictionary was published in thirty-two volumes from 1812 to 1817, by
Alexander Chalmers, whose name it now commonly bears. Chalmers was a man
of very slender powers, relatively to the magnitude of such a work; but
his life had been passed in collecting small matters of fact, and he has
added much of this kind to British biography. He inserts, beyond any one
else, the most insignificant names, and quotes the most wretched
authorities. But as the faults of excess, in such collections, are more
pardonable than those of omission, we cannot deny the value of his
Biographical Dictionary, especially as to our own country, which has not
fared well at the hands of foreigners.

Coincident nearly in order of time with Chalmers, but more distinguished
in merit, is the Biographie Universelle. The eminent names appended to a
large proportion of the articles contained in its fifty-two volumes, are
vouchers for the ability and erudition it displays. There is, doubtless,
much inequality in the performance; and we are sometimes disappointed by
a superficial notice where we had a right to expect most. English
literature, though more amply treated than had been usual on the
Continent, and with the benefit of Chalmer’s contemporaneous volumes, is
still not fully appreciated: our chief theological writers, especially,
are passed over almost in silence. There seems, on the other hand, a
redundancy of modern French names; those, above all, who have, even
obscurely and insignificantly been connected with the history of the
Revolution: a fault, if it be one, which is evidently gaining ground in
the supplementary volumes. But I must speak respectfully of a work to
which I owe so much, and without which, probably, I should never have
undertaken the present.

I will not here characterise several works of more limited biography;
among which are the Bibliotheca Hispana Nova of Antonio, the
Biographia Britannica, the Bibliothèque Française of Goujet; still less
is there time to enumerate particular lives, or those histories which
relate to short periods, among the sources of literary knowledge. It
will be presumed, and will appear by my references, that I have employed
such of them as came within my reach. But I am sensible that, in the
great multiplicity of books of this kind, and especially in their
prodigious increase on the Continent of late years, many have been
overlooked from which I might have improved these volumes. The press is
indeed so active, that no year passes without accessions to our
knowledge, even historically considered upon some of the multifarious
subjects which the present volumes embrace. An author who waits till all
requisite materials are accumulated to his hands, is but watching the
stream that will run on for ever; and though I am fully sensible that I
could have much improved what is now offered to the public by keeping it
back for a longer time, I should but then have had to lament the
impossibility of exhausting my subject. Epoiei, the modest phrase of the
Grecian sculptors, but expresses the imperfection that attaches to every
work of literary industry or of philosophical investigation. But I have
other warnings to bind up my sheaves while I may--my own advancing
years, and the gathering in the heavens.

I have quoted, to my recollection, no passage which I have not seen in
its own place; though I may possibly have transcribed in some instances,
for the sake of convenience, from a secondary authority. Without
censuring those who suppress the immediate source of their quotations, I
may justly say that in nothing I have given to the public has it been
practised by myself. But I have now and then inserted in the text
characters of books that I have not read, on the faith of my guides; and
it may be the case that intimation of this has not been always given to
the reader.

It is very likely that omissions, not, I trust, of great consequence,
will be detected; I might in fact say that I am already aware of them;
but perhaps these will be candidly ascribed to the numerous
ramifications of the subject, and the necessity of writing in a
different order from that in which the pages are printed. And I must add
that some omissions have been intentional: an accumulation of petty
facts, and especially of names to which little is attached, fatigues
unprofitably the attention; and as this is very frequent in works that
necessarily demand condensation, and cannot altogether be avoided, it
was desirable to make some sacrifice in order to palliate the
inconvenience. This will be found, among many other instances, in the
account of the Italian learned of the fifteenth century where I might
easily have doubled the enumeration, but with little satisfaction to the

But, independently of such slight omissions, it will appear that a good
deal is wanting in these volumes which some might expect in a history of
literature. Such a history has often contained so large a proportion of
biography, that a work in which it appears very scantily, or hardly at
all, may seem deficient in necessary information. It might be replied,
that the limits to which I have confined myself, and beyond which it is
not easy perhaps in the present age to obtain readers, would not admit
to this extension; but I may add, that any biography of the authors of
these centuries, which is not servilely compiled from a few known books
of that class, must be far too immense an undertaking for one man,
and besides its extent and difficulty, would have been particularly
irksome to myself, from the waste of time, as I deem it, which an
inquiry into trifling facts entails. I have more scruple about the
omission of extracts from some of the poets and best writers in prose,
without which they can be judged very unsatisfactorily: but in this also
I have been influenced by an unwillingness to multiply my pages beyond a
reasonable limit. But I have, in some instances, at least in the later
periods, gone more largely into analysis of considerable works than has
hitherto been usual. These are not designed to serve as complete
abstracts, or to supersede, instead of exciting, the reader’s industry;
but I have felt that some books of traditional reputation are less fully
known than they deserve.

Some departments of literature are passed over, or partially touched.
Among the former are books relating to particular arts, as agriculture
or painting, or to subjects of merely local interest, as those of
English law. Among the latter is the great and extensive portion of
every library, the historical. Unless where history has been written
with peculiar beauty of language, or philosophical spirit, I have
generally omitted all mention of it: in our researches after truth of
fact, the number of books that possess some value is exceedingly great,
and would occupy a disproportionate space in such a general view of
literature as the present. For a similar reason, I have not given its
numerical share to theology.

It were an impertinence to anticipate, for the sake of obviating, the
possible criticism of the public which has a right to judge, and for
those judgments I have had so much cause to be grateful, nor less so to
dictate how it should read what it is not bound to read at all; but
perhaps I may be allowed to say, that I do not wish this to be
considered as a book of reference on particular topics, in which point
of view it must often appear to disadvantage; and that, if it proves of
any value, it will be as an entire and synoptical work.

                               TO THE

                        LITERATURE OF EUROPE

                    IN THE FIFTEENTH, SIXTEENTH,
                       SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES.

                             CHAPTER I.

                       THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.

_Loss of Ancient Learning in the Fall of the Roman Empire--First
Symptoms of its Revival--Improvement in the Twelfth
Century--Universities and Scholastic Philosophy--Origin of Modern
Languages--Early Poetry--Provençal, French, German, and
Spanish--English Language and Literature--Increase of Elementary
Knowledge--Invention of Paper--Roman Jurisprudence--Cultivation of
Classical Literature--Its Decline after the Twelfth Century--Less
visible in Italy--Petrarch._

|Retrospect of learning in middle ages necessary.|

1. Although the subject of these volumes does not comprehend the
literary history of Europe, anterior to the commencement of the
fifteenth century, a period as nearly coinciding as can be expected in
any arbitrary division of time, with what is usually denominated the
revival of letters, it appears necessary to prefix such a general
retrospect of the state of knowledge for some preceding ages, as will
illustrate its subsequent progress. In this, however, the reader is not
to expect a regular history of mediæval literature, which would be
nothing less than the extension of a scheme already, perhaps, too much
beyond my powers of execution.[1]

  [1] The subject of the following chapter has been already
     treated by me in another work, the History of Europe during the
     Middle Ages. I have not thought it necessary to repeat all that is
     there said: the reader, if he is acquainted with those volumes, may
     consider the ensuing pages partly as supplemental, and partly as
     correcting the former where they contain anything inconsistent.

|Loss of learning in fall of Roman empire.|

|Boethius--his Consolation of Philosophy.|

2. Every one is well aware, that the establishment of the barbarian
nations on the ruins of the Roman empire in the West, was accompanied or
followed by an almost universal loss of that learning which had been
accumulated in the Latin and Greek languages, and which we call ancient
or classical; a revolution long prepared by the decline of taste and
knowledge for several preceding ages, but accelerated by public
calamities in the fifth century with overwhelming rapidity. The last of
the ancients, and one who forms a link between the classical period of
literature and that of the Middle Ages, in which he was a favourite
author, is Boethius, a man of fine genius, and interesting both from his
character and his death. It is well known, that, after filling the
dignities of Consul and Senator in the court of Theodoric, he fell a
victim to the jealousy of a sovereign, from whose memory, in many
respects glorious, the stain of that blood has never been effaced. The
Consolation of Philosophy, the chief work of Boethius, was written in
his prison. Few books are more striking from the circumstances of their
production. Last of the classic writers, in style not impure, though
displaying too lavishly that poetic exuberance which had distinguished
the two or three preceding centuries, in elevation of sentiment equal to
any of the philosophers, and mingling a Christian sanctity with
their lessons, he speaks from his prison in the swan-like tones of dying
eloquence. The philosophy that consoled him in bonds, was soon required
in the sufferings of a cruel death. Quenched in his blood, the lamp he
had trimmed with a skilful hand gave no more light; the language of
Tully and Virgil soon ceased to be spoken; and many ages were to pass
away, before learned diligence restored its purity, and the union of
genius with imitation taught a few modern writers to surpass in
eloquence the latinity of Boethius.

|Rapid decline of learning in sixth century.|

3. The downfall of learning and eloquence, after the death of Boethius
in 524, was inconceivably rapid. His contemporary Cassiodorus, Isidore
of Seville, and Martianus Capella, the earliest, but worst, of the
three, by very indifferent compilations, and that encyclopedic method
which Heeren observes to be an usual concomitant of declining
literature, superseded the use of the great ancient writers, with whom,
indeed, in the opinion of Meiners, they were themselves acquainted only
through similar productions of the fourth and fifth centuries. Isidore
speaks of the rhetorical works of Cicero and Quintilian as too diffuse
to be read.[2] The authorities upon which they founded their scanty
course of grammar, logic, and rhetoric were chiefly obscure writers, no
longer extant. But themselves became the oracles of the succeeding
period, wherein the trivium and quadrivium, a course of seven sciences,
introduced in the sixth century, were taught from their jejune

  [2] Meiners, Vergleichung der sitten, &c., des mittelalters mit denen
     unsers Jahrhunderts, 3 vols. Hanover, 1793. Vol. ii p. 333.
     Eichhorn, Allgemeine Geschichte der Cultur und Litteratur, vol. ii.
     p. 29. Heeren, Geschichte des studium der classischen Litteratur.
     Göttingen, 1797. These three books, with the Histoire Littéraire de
     la France, Brucker’s History of Philosophy, Turner’s and Henry’s
     Histories of England, Muratori’s43d Dissertation, Tiraboschi, and
     some few others, who will appear in the notes, are my chief
     authorities for the dark ages. But none, in a very short compass,
     is equal to the third discourse of Fleury, in the 13th volume of
     the 12mo edition of his Ecclesiastical History.

  [3] The trivium contained grammar, logic, and rhetoric;
     the quadrivium, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, as in
     these two lines, framed to assist the memory:--

     “GRAMM. loquitur; DIA. vera docet; RHET. verba colorat; MUS. canit;
     AR. numerat; GEO. ponderat; AST. colit astra.”

     But most of these sciences, as such, were hardly taught at all. The
     arithmetic, for instance, of Cassiodorus or Capella is nothing but
     a few definitions mingled with superstitious absurdities about the
     virtues of certain numbers and figures. Meiners, ii. 339. Kästner,
     Geschichte der Mathematik, p. 8.

     The arithmetic of Cassiodorus occupies little more than two folio
     pages, and does not contain one word of the common rules. The
     geometry is much the same; in two pages we have some definitions
     and axioms, but nothing farther. His logic is longer and better,
     extending to sixteen folio pages. The grammar is very short and
     trifling, the rhetoric the same.

|A portion remains in the church.|

4. This state of general ignorance lasted, with no very sensible
difference, on a superficial view, for about five centuries, during
which every sort of knowledge was almost wholly confined to the
ecclesiastical order. But among them, though instances of gross
ignorance were exceedingly frequent, the necessity of preserving the
Latin language, in which the Scriptures, the canons, and other
authorities of the church, and the regular liturgies, were written, and
in which alone the correspondence of their well organised hierarchy
could be conducted, kept flowing, in the worst seasons, a slender but
living stream; and though, as has been observed, no great difference may
appear, on a superficial view, between the seventh and eleventh
centuries, it would easily be shown that, after the first prostration of
learning, it was not long in giving signs of germinating afresh, and
that a very slow and gradual improvement might be dated farther back
than is generally believed.[4]

  [4] M. Guizot confirms me in a conclusion to which I had previously
     come, that the seventh century is the _nadir_ of the human mind in
     Europe, and that its movement in advance began before the end of
     the next, or, in other words, with Charlemagne. Hist. de la
     Civilisation en France, ii. 345. A notion probably is current in
     England, on the authority of the older writers, such as Cave or
     Robertson, that the greatest darkness was later; which is true as
     to England itself. It was in the seventh century that the
     barbarians were first tempted to enter the church, and obtain
     bishoprics, which had, in the first age after their invasion, been
     reserved to Romans. Fleury, p. 18.

|Prejudices of the clergy against profane learning.|

5. Literature was assailed in its downfall by enemies from within as
well as from without. A prepossession against secular learning had taken
hold of those ecclesiastics who gave the tone to the rest; it was
inculcated in the most extravagant degree by Gregory I., the founder, in
a great measure, of the papal supremacy, and the chief authority
in the dark ages;[5] it is even found in Alcuin, to whom so much is due,
and it gave way very gradually in the revival of literature. In some of
the monastic foundations, especially in that of Isidore, though himself
a man of considerable learning, the perusal of heathen authors was
prohibited. Fortunately Benedict, whose order became the most widely
diffused, while he enjoined his brethren to read, copy, and collect
books, was silent as to their nature, concluding, probably, that they
would be wholly religious. This, in course of time, became the means of
preserving and multiplying classical manuscripts.[6]

  [5] Gregory has been often charged, on the authority of a passage in
     John of Salisbury, with having burned a library of heathen authors.
     He has been warmly defended by Tiraboschi, iii. 102. Even if the
     assertion of our countryman were more positive, he is of too late
     an age to demand much credit. Eichhorn, however, produces vehement
     expressions of Gregory’s disregard for learning, and even for the
     observance of grammatical rules. ii. 443.

  [6] Heeren, p. 59. Eichhorn, ii. 11, 12, 40, 49, 50.

|Their usefulness in preserving it.|

6. If, however, the prejudices of the clergy stood in the way of what we
more esteem than they did, the study of philological literature, it is
never to be forgotten, that but for them the records of that very
literature would have perished. If they had been less tenacious of their
Latin liturgy, of the vulgate translation of Scripture, and of the
authority of the fathers, it is very doubtful whether less superstition
would have grown up, but we cannot hesitate to pronounce, that all
grammatical learning would have been laid aside. The influence of the
church upon learning, partly favourable, partly the reverse, forms the
subject of Eichhorn’s second volume; whose comprehensive views and well
directed erudition, as well as his position in a great protestant
university, give much weight to his testimony. But we should remember
also, that it is, as it were, by striking a balance that we come to this
result; and that, in many respects, the clergy counteracted that
progress of improvement which, in others, may be ascribed to their

|First appearances of reviving learning in Ireland and England.|

7. It is not unjust to claim for these islands the honour of having
first withstood the dominant ignorance, and even led the way in the
restoration of knowledge. As early as the sixth century, a little
glimmer of light was perceptible in the Irish monasteries: and in the
next, when France and Italy had sunk in deeper ignorance, they stood,
not quite where national prejudice has sometimes placed them, but
certainly in a very respectable position.[7] That island both drew
students from the Continent, and sent forth men of comparative eminence
into its schools and churches. I do not find, however, that they
contributed much to the advance of secular, and especially of
grammatical learning. This is rather due to England, and to the happy
influence of Theodore, our first primate, an Asiatic Greek by birth,
sent hither by the pope in 668, through whom and his companion Adrian,
some knowledge of the Latin and even Greek languages was propagated in
the Anglo-Saxon church. The Venerable Bede, as he was afterwards styled,
early in the eighth century, surpasses every other name of our ancient
literary annals; and, though little more than a diligent compiler from
older writers, may perhaps be reckoned superior to any man the world (so
low had the east sunk like the west) then possessed. A desire of
knowledge grew up; the school of York, somewhat later, became
respectable, before any liberal education had been established in
France; and from this came Alcuin, a man fully equal to Bede in ability,
though not, probably, in erudition.[8] By his assistance, and that of
one or two Italians, Charlemagne laid in his vast dominions the
foundations of learning, according to the standard of that age, which
dispelled, at least for a time, some part of the gross ignorance wherein
his empire had been enveloped.[9]

  [7] Eichhorn, ii. 176, 188. See also the first volume of Moore’s
     History of Ireland, where the claims of his country are stated
     favourably, and with much learning and industry, but not with
     extravagant partiality.

  [8] Eichhorn, ii. 188, 207, 263. Hist. Litt. de la France, vols. iii.
     and iv. Henry’s History of England, vol. iv. Turner’s History of
     Anglo-Saxons. No one, however, has spoken so highly or so fully of
     Alcuin’s merits as M. Guizot in his Histoire de la Civilisation en
     France, vol. ii. p. 344-385.

  [9] Besides the above authors, see, for the merits of Charlemagne as
     a restorer of letters, his Life by Gaillard, and Andrés, Origine,
     &c., della Litteratura, i. 165.

|Few schools before the age of Charlemagne.|

8. The praise of having originally established schools belongs to some
bishops and abbots of the sixth century. They came in place of the
imperial schools overthrown by the barbarians.[10] In the downfall of
that temporal dominion, a spiritual aristocracy was providentially
raised up, to save from extinction the remains of learning, and religion
itself. Some of those schools seem to have been preserved in the south
of Italy, though merely, perhaps, for elementary instruction. But in
France the barbarism of the later Merovingian period was so complete,
that, before the reign of Charlemagne, all liberal studies had come to
an end.[11] Nor was Italy in a much better state at his accession,
though he called two or three scholars from thence to his literary
councils: the libraries were destroyed, the schools chiefly closed;
wherever the Lombard dominion extended, illiteracy was its

  [10] Eichhorn, ii. 5, 45. Guizot (vol. ii. p. 116) gives a list of
     the episcopal schools in France before Charlemagne.

  [11] Ante ipsum Carolum regem in Galliâ nullum fuerat studium
     liberalium artium. Monachus Engolimensis, apud Launoy de Scholis

  [12] Tiraboschi. Eichhorn. Heeren.

|Beneficial effects of those established by him.|

9. The cathedral and conventual schools, created or restored by
Charlemagne, became the means of preserving that small portion of
learning which continued to exist. They flourished most, having had time
to produce their fruits, under his successors, Louis the Debonair,
Lothaire, and Charles the Bald.[13] It was, doubtless, a fortunate
circumstance, that the revolution of language had now gone far enough to
render Latin unintelligible without grammatical instruction. Alcuin and
others who, like him, endeavoured to keep ignorance out of the church,
were anxious, we are told, to restore orthography; or, in other words,
to prevent the written Latin from following the corruptions of speech.
They brought back, also, some knowledge of better classical authors than
had been in use. Alcuin’s own poems could at least not have been written
by one unacquainted with Virgil:[14] the faults are numerous, but the
style is not always inelegant; and from this time, though quotations
from the Latin poets, especially Ovid and Virgil, and sometimes from
Cicero, are not very frequent, they occur sufficiently to show that
manuscripts had been brought to this side of the Alps. They were,
however, very rare: Italy was still, as might be expected, the chief
depository of ancient writings; and Gerbert speaks of the facility of
obtaining them in that country.[15]

  [13] The reader may find more of the history of these schools in a
     little treatise by Launoy, De Scholis celebrioribus a Car. Mag. et
     post Car. Mag. instauratis; also in Hist. Litt. de la France, vols.
     iii. and iv.; Crevier, Hist. de l’Université de Paris, vol. i.;
     Brucker’s Hist. Phil. iii.; Muratori, Dissert. xliii.; Tiraboschi,
     iii. 158; Eichhorn, 261, 295; Heeren, and Fleury.

  [14] A poem by Alcuin, De Pontificibus Ecclesiæ Eboracensis, is
     published in Gale’s xv. Scriptores, vol. iii. Henry quotes a
     passage from this, describing the books at York, in which we read
     this line--

     Acer Atistoteles, rhetor _atque_ Tullius ingens. Such a verse
     could not have come from Alcuin; though he errs in the quantity of
     syllables, where memory alone could set him right, he was not
     ignorant of common rules. It is found in Gale:

          Rhetor _quoque_ Tullius ingens.

  [15] Nosti quot scriptores in urbibus aut in agris Italise passim
     habeantur. Gerbert, Epist. 130, apud Heeren, p. 166.

|The tenth century more progressive than usually supposed.|

10. The tenth century used to be reckoned by mediæval historians the
darkest part of this intellectual night. It was the iron age, which they
vie with one another in describing as lost in the most consummate
ignorance. This, however, is much rather applicable to Italy and
England, than to France and Germany. The former were both in a
deplorable state of barbarism. And there are, doubtless, abundant proofs
of ignorance in every part of Europe. But, compared with the seventh and
eighth centuries, the tenth was an age of illumination in France. And
Meiners, who judged the middle ages somewhat, perhaps, too severely, but
with a penetrating and comprehensive observation, of which there had
been few instances, has gone so far as to say, that “in no age, perhaps,
did Germany possess more learned and virtuous churchmen of the episcopal
order, than in the latter half of the tenth, and beginning of the
eleventh century.”[16] Eichhorn points out indications of a more
extensive acquaintance with ancient writers in several French and German
ecclesiastics of this period.[17] In the eleventh century, this
continued to increase; and, towards its close, we find more vigorous and
extensive attempts at throwing off the yoke of barbarous ignorance, and
either retrieving what had been lost of ancient learning, or supplying
its place by the original powers of the mind.

  [16] Vergleichung der Sitten, ii. 384. The eleventh century he holds
     far more advanced in learning than the sixth. Books were read in
     the latter which no one looked at in the earlier. P. 399.

  [17] Allg. Gesch. ii. 335, 398.

|Want of genius in the dark ages.|

11. It is the most striking circumstance in the literary annals of the
dark ages, that they seem to us still more deficient in native,
than in acquired ability. The mere ignorance of letters has sometimes
been a little exaggerated, and admits of certain qualifications; but a
tameness and mediocrity, a servile habit of merely compiling from
others, runs through the writers of these centuries. It is not only that
much was lost, but that there was nothing to compensate for it; nothing
of original genius in the province of imagination; and but two
extraordinary men, Scotus Erigena and Gerbert, may be said to stand out
from the crowd in literature and philosophy. It must be added, as to the
former, that his writings contain, at least in such extracts as I have
seen, unintelligible rhapsodies of mysticism, in which, perhaps, he
should not even have the credit of originality. Eichhorn, however,
bestows great praise on Scotus; and the modern historians of philosophy
treat him with respect.[18]

  [18] Extracts from John Scotus Erigena will be found in Brucker, Hist.
     Philosophiæ, vol. iii. p. 619; in Meiners, ii. 373; or more fully,
     in Turner’s History of England, vol. i. 447, and Guizot, Hist. de
     la Civilisation en France, iii. 137, 178. The reader may consult
     also Buhle, Tennemann, and the article on Thomas Aquinas in the
     Encyclopædia Metropolitana, ascribed to Dr. Hampden. But, perhaps,
     Mr. Turner is the only one of them who has seen, or at least read
     the metaphysical treatise of John Scotus, entitled De Divisione
     Naturæ, in which alone we find his philosophy. It is very rare out
     of England.

|Prevalence of bad taste.|

12. It would be a strange hypothesis, that no man endowed with superior
gifts of nature lived in so many ages. Though the pauses of her
fertility in these high endowments are more considerable, I am disposed
to think, that any previous calculation of probabilities would lead us
to anticipate, we could not embrace so extreme a paradox. Of military
skill, indeed, and civil prudence, we are not now speaking. But, though
no man appeared of genius sufficient to burst the fetters imposed by
ignorance and bad taste, some there must have been, who, in a happier
condition of literature, would have been its legitimate pride. We
perceive, therefore, in the deficiencies of these writers, the effect
which an oblivion of good models, and the prevalence of a false standard
of merit, may produce in repressing the natural vigour of the mind.
Their style, where they aim at eloquence, is inflated and redundant,
formed upon the model of the later fathers, whom they chiefly read; a
feeble imitation of that vicious rhetoric which had long overspread the
latinity of the empire.[19]

  [19] Fleury, l. xlv. § 19, and Troisième Discours (in vol. xiii.),
     p. 6. Turner’s History of England, iv. 137, and History of
     Anglo-Saxons, iii. 403. It is sufficient to look at any extracts
     from these writers of the dark ages to see the justice of this
     censure. Fleury, at the conclusion of his excellent third
     discourse, justly and candidly apologises for these five ages, as
     not wholly destitute of learning, and far less of virtue. They have
     been, he says, outrageously depreciated by the humanists of the
     sixteenth century, who thought good Latin superior to every thing
     else; and by protestant writers, who laid the corruptions of the
     church on its ignorance. Yet there is an opposite extreme into
     which those who are disgusted with the commonplaces of superficial
     writers sometimes run; an estimation of men by their
     _relative_ superiority above their own times, so as to forget
     their position in comparison with a fixed standard.

     An eminent living writer, who has carried the philosophy of
     history, perhaps, as far as any other, has lately endeavoured, at
     considerable length, to vindicate in some measure the intellectual
     character of this period. (Guizot, vol. ii. p. 123-224.) It is with
     reluctance that I ever differ from M. Guizot; but the passages
     adduced by him, (especially if we exclude those of the fifth
     century, the poems of Avitus, and the homilies of Cæsarius,) do not
     appear adequate to redeem the age by any signs of genius they
     display. It must always be a question of degree; for no one is
     absurd enough to deny the existence of a relative superiority of
     talent, or the power of expressing moral emotions, as well as
     relating facts, with some warmth and energy. The legends of saints,
     an extensive though quite neglected portion of the literature of
     the dark ages, to which M. Guizot has had the merit of directing
     our attention, may probably contain many passages, like those he
     has quoted, which will be read with interest; and it is no more
     than justice, that he has given them in French, rather than in that
     half-barbarous Latin, which, though not essential to the author’s
     mind, never fails, like an unbecoming dress, to show the gifts of
     nature at a disadvantage. But the questions still recur: Is this in
     itself excellent? Would it indicate, wherever we should meet with
     it, powers of a high order? Do we not make a tacit allowance in
     reading it, and that very largely, for the mean condition in which
     we know the human mind to have been placed at the period? Does it
     instruct us, or give us pleasure?

      In what M. Guizot has said of the moral influence of these
      legends, in harmonising a lawless barbarian race (p. 157), I
      should be sorry not to concur: it is a striking instance of that
      candid and catholic spirit with which he has always treated the
      mediæval church.

|Deficiency of poetical talent.|

13. It might naturally be asked, whether fancy and feeling were extinct
among the people, though a false taste might reign in the
cloister. Yet it is here that we find the most remarkable deficiency,
and could appeal scarce to the vaguest tradition, or the most doubtful
fragment, in witness of any poetical talent worthy of notice, except a
very little in the Teutonic languages. The Anglo-Saxon poetry has
occasionally a wild spirit, rather impressive, though it is often turgid
and always rude. The Scandinavian, such as the well-known song of Regner
Lodbrog, if that be as old as the period before us, which is now denied,
displays a still more poetical character. Some of the earliest German
poetry, the song on the victory of Louis III. over the Normans in 883,
and, still more, the poem in praise of Hanno, archbishop of Cologne, who
died in 1075, are warmly extolled by Herder and Bouterwek.[20] In the
Latin verse of these centuries, we find, at best, a few lines among
many, which show the author to have caught something of a classical
style: the far greater portion is very bad.[21]

|Imperfect state of language may account for this.|

14. The very imperfect state of language, as an instrument of refined
thought, in the transition of Latin to the French, Castilian, and
Italian tongues, seems the best means of accounting in any satisfactory
manner for this stagnation of the poetical faculties. The delicacy that
distinguishes in words the shades of sentiment, the grace that brings
them to the soul of the reader with the charm of novelty united to
clearness, could not be attainable in a colloquial jargon, the offspring
of ignorance, and indeterminate possibly in its forms, which those who
possessed any superiority of education would endeavour to avoid. We
shall soon have occasion to advert again to this subject.

  [20] Herder, Zerstreute Blätter, vol. v. p. 169, 184. Heinsius,
     Lehrbuch der Deutschen Sprachwissenschaft, iv. 29. Bouterwek
     Geschichte der Poesie und Beredsamkeit, vol. ix. p. 78, 82. The
     author is unknown; aber dem unbekannten sichert sein werk die
     unsterblichkeit, says the latter critic. One might raise a question
     as to the capacity of an anonymous author to possess immortal fame.
     Nothing equal to this poem, he says occurs in the earlier German
     poetry: it is an outpouring of genius, not without faults, but full
     of power and feeling: the dialect is still Frankish, but approaches
     to Swabian. Herder calls it “a truly Pindaric song.” He has given
     large extracts from it in the volume above quoted, which glows with
     his own fine sense of beauty.

  [21] Tiraboschi supposes Latin versifiers to have been common in Italy.
     Le Città al pari che le campagne risonavan di versi. iii. 207.

     The specimens he afterwards produces, p. 219, are miserable.
     Hroswitha, abbess of Gandersheim, has, perhaps, the greatest
     reputation among these Latin poets. She wrote, in the tenth
     century, sacred comedies in imitation of Terence, which I have not
     seen, and other poetry which I saw many years since, and thought
     very bad. Alcuin has now and then a Virgilian cadence.

|Improvement at beginning of twelfth century.|

|Leading circumstances in progress of learning.|

15. At the beginning of the twelfth century, we enter upon a new
division in the literary history of Europe. From this time we may deduce
a line of men, conspicuous, according to the standard of their times, in
different walks of intellectual pursuit, and the commencement of an
interesting period, the later Middle Ages; in which, though ignorance
was very far from being cleared away, the natural powers of the mind
were developed in considerable activity. We shall point out separately
the most important circumstances of this progress; not all of them
concurrent in efficacy with each other, for they were sometimes opposed,
but all tending to arouse Europe from indolence, and to fix its
attention on literature. These are, 1st. The institution of
universities, and the methods pursued in them: 2d. The cultivation of
the modern languages, followed by the multiplication of books, and the
extension of the art of writing: 3d. The investigation of the Roman law:
And lastly, the return to the study of the Latin language in its ancient
models of purity. We shall thus come down to the fifteenth century, and
judge better of what is meant by the revival of letters, when we
apprehend with more exactness their previous condition.

|Origin of the university of Paris.|

16. Among the Carlovingian schools it is doubtful whether we can reckon
one at Paris; and though there are some traces of public instruction in
that city about the end of the ninth century, it is not certain that we
can assume it to be more ancient. For two hundred years more, indeed, it
can only be said, that some persons appear to have come to Paris for the
purposes of study.[22] The commencement of this famous university, like
that of Oxford, has no record. But it owes its first reputation to the
sudden spread of what is usually called the scholastic philosophy.

  [22] Crevier, i. 13-75.

|Modes of treating the science of theology.|

17. There had been hitherto two methods of treating theological
subjects: one that of the fathers, who built them on scripture,
illustrated and interpreted by their own ingenuity, and in some measure
also on the traditions and decisions of the church; the other, which is
said by the Benedictines of St. Maur to have grown up about the
eighth century (though Mosheim seems to refer it to the sixth), using
the fathers themselves, that is the chief writers of the first six
hundred years, who appear now to have acquired that distinctive title of
honour, as authority, conjointly with scripture and ecclesiastical
determinations, by means of extracts or compends of their writings.
Hence about this time we find more frequent instances of a practice
which had begun before--that of publishing _Loci communes_ or
_Catenæ patrum_, being only digested extracts from the authorities
under systematic heads.[23] Both these methods were usually called
positive theology.

  [23] Fleury, 3me discours. p. 48. (Hist. Ecclés. vol. xiii. 12mo ed.)
     Hist. Litt. de la France, vii. 147. Mosheim, in Cent. vi. et post.
     Muratori, Antichità Italiane, dissert. xliii. p. 610. In this
     dissertation, it may be observed by the way, Muratori gives the
     important fragment of Caius, a Roman presbyter before the end of
     the second century, on the canon of the New Testament, which has
     not been quoted, as far as I know, by any English writer, nor,
     which is more remarkable, by Michaelis. It will be found in
     Eichhorn, Einleitung in das Neue Testament, iv. 35. The Latinity is
     very indifferent for the second century; yet it cannot be much
     later, and may possibly be suspected of being a translation from a
     Greek original.

     Upon this great change in the theology of the church, which
     consisted principally in establishing the authority of the fathers,
     the reader may see M. Guizot, Hist. de la Civilisation, iii. 121.
     There seem to be but two causes for this: the one, a consciousness
     of ignorance and inferiority to men of so much talent as Augustin
     and a few others; the other, a constantly growing jealousy of the
     free exercise of reason, and a determination to keep up unity of

|Scholastic philosophy; its origin.|


18. The scholastic theology was a third method; it was in its general
principle, an alliance between faith and reason; an endeavour to arrange
the orthodox system of the church, such as authority had made it,
according to the rules and methods of the Aristotelian dialectics, and
sometimes upon premises supplied by metaphysical reasoning. Lanfranc and
Anselm made much use of this method in the controversy with Berenger as
to transubstantiation; though they did not carry it so far as their
successors in the next century.[24] The scholastic philosophy seems
chiefly to be distinguished from this theology by a larger infusion of
metaphysical reasoning, or by its occasional inquiries into subjects not
immediately related to revealed articles of faith.[25] The origin of
this philosophy, fixed by Buhle and Tennemann in the ninth century, or
the age of Scotus Erigena, has been brought down by Tiedemann, Meiners,
and Hampden,[26] so low as the thirteenth. But Roscelin of Compiegne, a
little before 1100, may be accounted so far the founder of the
schoolmen, that the great celebrity of their disputations, and the rapid
increase of students, is to be traced to the influence of his theories,
though we have no proof that he ever taught at Paris. Roscelin
also, having been the first to revive the famous question as to the
reality of universal ideas, marks, on every hypothesis, a new era in the
history of that philosophy. The principle of the schoolmen in their
investigations was the expanding, developing, and if possible
illustrating and clearing from objection, the doctrines of natural and
revealed religion in a dialectical method and by dint of the subtlest
reasoning. The questions which we deem altogether metaphysical, such as
that concerning universal ideas, became theological in their hands.[27]

  [24] Hist. Litt. de la France, ubi suprà. Tennemann, Manuel de l’Hist.
     de la Philosophie, i. 332. Crevier, i. 100. Andrés, ii. 15.

  [25] A Jesuit of the sixteenth century thus shortly and clearly
     distinguishes the positive from the scholastic, and both from
     natural or metaphysical theology. At nos theologiam scholasticam
     dicimus quæ certiori methodo et rationibus imprimis ex divina
     scriptura ac traditionibus seu decretis patrum in conciliis
     definitis veritatem eruit, ac discutiendo comprobat. Quod cum in
     scholis præcipue argumentando comparetur, id nomen sortita est.
     Quamobrem differt a positiva theologia, non re sed modo,
     quemadmodum item alia ratione non est eadem cum naturali theologia,
     quo nomine philosophi metaphysicen nominarunt. Positiva igitur non
     ita res disputandas proponit, sed pæne sententiam ratam et firmam
     ponit, præcipue in pietatem incumbens. Versatur autem et ipsa in
     explicatione Scripturæ sacræ, traditionum, conciliorum et sanctorum
     patrum. Naturalis porro theologia Dei naturam per naturæ argumenta
     et rationes inquirit, cum supernaturalis, quam scholasticam
     dicimus, Dei ejusdem naturam, vim, proprietates, cæterasque res
     divinas per ea principia vestigat, quæ sunt hominibus revelata
     divinitas. Possevin, Bibliotheca Selecta, l. 3. c. i.

     Both positive and scholastic theology were much indebted to Peter
     Lombard, whose Liber Sententiarum is a digest of propositions
     extracted from the fathers, with no attempt to reconcile them. It
     was therefore a prodigious magazine of arms for disputation.

  [26] The first of these, according to Tennemann, begins the list of
     schoolmen with Hales; the two latter agree in conferring that
     honour on Albertus Magnus. Brucker inclines to Roscelin, and has
     been followed by others. It may be added, that Tennemann divides
     the scholastic philosophy into four periods, which Roscelin, Hales,
     Ockham, and the sixteenth century terminate; and Buhle into three,
     ending with Roscelin, Albertus Magnus, and the sixteenth century.
     It is evident, however, that, by beginning the scholastic series
     with Roscelin, we exclude Lanfranc and even Anselm; the latter of
     whom was certainly a deep metaphysician; since to him we owe the
     subtle argument for the existence of a Deity, which Des Cartes
     afterwards revived. Buhle, 679. This argument was answered at the
     time by one Gaunelo; so that metaphysical reasonings were not
     unknown in the eleventh century. Tennemann, 344.

  [27] Brucker, though he contains some useful extracts, and tolerable
     general views, was not well versed in the scholastic writers.
     Meiners (in his Comparison of the Middle Ages) is rather
     superficial as to their philosophy, but presents a lively picture
     of the schoolmen in relation to literature and manners. He has
     also, in the Transactions of the Göttingen Academy, vol. xii. pp.
     26-47, given a succinct, but valuable, sketch of the Nominalist and
     Realist Controversy. Tenneman, with whose Manuel de la Philosophie
     alone I am conversant, is supposed to have gone very deeply into
     the subject in his larger history of philosophy. Buhle appears
     superficial. Dr. Hampden, in his Life of Thomas Aquinas, and view
     of the scholastic philosophy, published in the Encyclopædia
     Metropolitana, has the merit of having been the only Englishman,
     past or present, so far as I know, since the revival of letters,
     who has penetrated far into the wilderness of scholasticism. Mr.
     Sharon Turner has given some extracts in the fourth volume of his
     History of England.

|Progress of scholasticism; increase of university of Paris.|

19. Next in order of time to Roscelin came William of Champeaux, who
opened a school of logic at Paris in 1109; and the university can only
deduce the regular succession of its teachers from that time.[28] But
his reputation was soon eclipsed, and his hearers drawn away by a more
potent magician, Peter Abelard, who taught in the schools of Paris in
the second decade of the twelfth century. Wherever Abelard retired, his
fame and his disciples followed him; in the solitary walls of the
Paraclete, as in the thronged streets of the capital.[29] And the
impulse given was so powerful, the fascination of a science which now
appears arid and unproductive was so intense, that from this time for
many generations it continued to engage the most intelligent and active
minds. Paris, about the middle of the twelfth century, in the words of
the Benedictines of St. Maur, to whom we owe the Histoire Littéraire de
la France, was another Athens; the number of students (hyperbolically
speaking, as we must presume) exceeding that of the citizens. This
influx of scholars induced Philip Augustus, some time afterwards, to
enlarge the boundaries of the city; and this again brought a fresh
harvest of students, for whom, in the former limits, it had been
difficult to find lodgings. Paris was called, as Rome had been, the
country of all the inhabitants of the world, and we may add, as, for
very different reasons, it still claims to be.[30]

  [28] Crevier, i. 3.

  [29] Hist. Litt. de la France, vol. xii. Brucker, iii. 750.

  [30] Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. 78. Crevier, i. 274.

|Universities founded.|


20. Colleges with endowments for poor scholars were founded in the
beginning of the thirteenth century, or even before, at Paris and
Bologna, as they were afterwards at Oxford and Cambridge, by munificent
patrons of letters; charters incorporating the graduates and students
collectively under the name of universities were granted by sovereigns,
with privileges perhaps too extensive, but such as indicated the dignity
of learning, and the countenance it received.[31] It ought, however, to
be remembered, that these foundations were not the cause, but the effect
of that increasing thirst for knowledge, or the semblance of knowledge,
which had anticipated the encouragement of the great. The schools of
Charlemagne were designed to lay the basis of a learned education, for
which there was at that time no sufficient desire.[32] But in the
twelfth century, the impetuosity with which men rushed to that source of
what they deemed wisdom, the great university of Paris, did not depend
upon academical privileges or eleemosynary stipends, which came
afterwards, though these were undoubtedly very effectual in keeping it
up. The university created patrons, and was not created by them. And
this may be said also of Oxford and Cambridge in their incorporate
character, whatever the former may have owed, if in fact it owed
anything, to the prophetic munificence of Alfred. Oxford was a school of
great resort in the reign of Henry II., though its first charter was
only granted by Henry III. Its earlier history is but obscure, and
depends chiefly on a suspicious passage in Ingulfus, against which we
must set the absolute silence of other writers.[33] It became in the
thirteenth century second only to Paris in the multitude of its
students, and the celebrity of its scholastic disputations. England
indeed, and especially through Oxford, could show more names of the
first class in this line than any other country.[34]

  [31] Fleury, xvii. 13, 17. Crevier, Tiraboschi, &c. A University,
     universitas doctorum et scholarium, was so called either from its
     incorporation, or from its professing to teach all subjects, as
     some have thought. Meiners, ii. 405. Fleury, xvii. 15. This
     excellent discourse of Fleury, the fifth, relates to the
     ecclesiastical literature of the later middle ages.

  [32] These schools, established by the Carlovingian princes in
     convents and cathedrals, declined, as it was natural to expect,
     with the rise of the universities. Meiners, ii. 406. Those of
     Paris, Oxford, and Bologna contained many thousand students.

  [33] Giraldus Cambrensis, about 1180, seems the first unequivocal
     witness to the resort of students to Oxford, as an established seat
     of instruction. But it is certain that Vacarius read there on the
     civil law in 1149, which affords a presumption that it was already
     assuming the character of a university. John of Salisbury, I think,
     does not mention it. In a former work, I gave more credence to its
     foundation by Alfred than I am now inclined to do. Bologna, as well
     as Paris, was full of English students about 1200. Meiners, ii. 428.

  [34] Wood expatiates on what he thought the glorious age of the
     university. “What university, I pray, can produce an invincible
     Hales, an admirable Bacon, an excellent well-grounded Middleton, a
     subtle Scotus, an approved Burley, a resolute Baconthorpe, a
     singular Ockham, a solid and industrious Holcot, and a profound
     Bradwardin? all which persons flourished within the compass of one
     century. I doubt that neither Paris, Bologna, or Rome, that grand
     mistress of the Christian world, or any place else, can do what the
     renowned Bellosite (Oxford) hath done. And without doubt all
     impartial men may receive it for an undeniable truth, that the most
     subtle arguing in school divinity did take its beginning in England
     and from Englishmen; and that also from thence it went to Paris,
     and other parts of France, and at length into Italy, Spain, and
     other nations, as is by one observed. So that though Italy boasteth
     that Britain takes her Christianity first from Rome, England may
     truly maintain that from her (immediately by France) Italy first
     received her school divinity.” Vol. i. p. 159, A.D. 1168.

|Collegiate foundations not derived from the Saracens.|

21. Andrés is inclined to derive the institution of collegiate
foundations in universities from the Saracens. He finds no trace of
these among the ancients; while in several cities of Spain, as Cordova,
Granada, Malaga, colleges for learned education both existed and
obtained great renown. These were sometimes unconnected with each other,
though in the same city, nor had they, of course, those privileges which
were conferred in Christendom. They were therefore more like ordinary
schools of gymnasia than universities; and it is difficult to perceive
that they suggested anything peculiarly characteristic of the latter
institutions, which are much more reasonably considered as the
development of a native germ, planted by a few generous men, above all
by Charlemagne, in that inclement season which was passing away.[35]

  [35] Andrés, ii. 129.

|Scholastic philosophy promoted by Mendicant Friars.|

22. The institution of the Mendicant orders of friars, soon after the
beginning of the thirteenth century, caused a fresh accession, in
enormous numbers, to the ecclesiastical state, and gave encouragement to
the scholastic philosophy. Less acquainted, generally, with grammatical
literature than the Benedictine monks, less accustomed to collect and
transcribe books, the disciples of Francis and Dominic betook themselves
to disputation, and found a substitute for learning in their own
ingenuity and expertness.[36] The greatest of the schoolmen were the
Dominican Thomas Aquinas, and the Franciscan Duns Scotus. They were
founders of rival sects, which wrangled with each other for two or three
centuries. But the authority of their writings, which were incredibly
voluminous, especially those of the former,[37] impeded, in some
measure, the growth of new men; and we find, after the middle of the
fourteenth century, a diminution of eminent names in the series of the
schoolmen, the last of whom, that is much remembered in modern times,
was William Ockham.[38] He revived the sect of the Nominalists,
formerly instituted by Roscelin, and, with some important variances of
opinion, brought into credit by Abelard, but afterwards overpowered by
the great weight of leading schoolmen on the opposite side,--that of the
Realists. The disciples of Ockham, as well as himself, being politically
connected with the party in Germany unfavourable to the high pretensions
of the Court of Rome, though they became very numerous in the
universities, passed for innovators in ecclesiastical, as well as
philosophical principles. Nominalism itself indeed was reckoned by the
adverse sect cognate to heresy. No decline however seems to have been as
yet perceptible in the spirit of disputation, which probably, at the end
of the fourteenth century, went on as eagerly at Paris, Oxford, and
Salamanca, the great scenes of that warfare, as before; and which, in
that age, gained much ground in Germany, through the establishment of
several universities.

  [36] Meiners, ii. 615, 629.

  [37] The works of Thomas Aquinas are published in seventeen volumes
     folio; Rome, 1570; those of Duns Scotus in twelve; Lyon, 1639. It
     is presumed that much was taken down from their oral lectures; some
     part of these volumes is of doubtful authenticity. Meiners, ii.
     718. Biogr. Univ.

  [38] “In them (Scotus and Ockham), and in the later schoolmen
     generally, down to the period of the reformation, there is more of
     the parade of logic, a more formal examination of arguments, a more
     burthensome importunity of syllogising, with less of the
     philosophical power of arrangement and distribution of the subject
     discussed. The dryness again irreparable from the scholastic method
     is carried to excess in the later writers, and perspicuity of style
     is altogether neglected.” Encyclopædia Metropol. part xxxvii. p. 805

     The introduction of this excess of logical subtlety, carried to the
     most trifling sophistry, is ascribed by Meiners to Petrus Hispanus
     afterwards Pope John XXI., who died in 1271. ii. 705. Several
     curious specimens of scholastic folly are given by him in this
     place. They brought a discredit upon the name, which has adhered to
     it, and involved men of fine genius, such as Aquinas himself, in
     the common reproach.

     The barbarism of style, which amounted almost to a new language,
     became more intolerable in Scotus and his followers than it had
     been in the older schoolmen. Meiners, 722. It may be alleged, in
     excuse of this, that words are meant to express precise ideas; and
     that it was as impossible to write metaphysics in good Latin, as
     the modern naturalists have found it to describe plants and

|Character of this philosophy.|

|It prevails least in Italy.|

23. Tenneman has fairly stated the good and bad of the scholastic
philosophy. It gave rise to a great display of address, subtlety, and
sagacity in the explanation and distinction of abstract ideas, but at
the same time to many trifling and minute speculations, to a contempt of
positive and particular knowledge, and to much unnecessary
refinement.[39] Fleury well observes, that the dry technical style of
the schoolmen, affecting a geometrical method and closeness, is in fact
more prolix and tedious, than one more natural, from its formality in
multiplying objections and answers.[40] And as their reasonings commonly
rest on disputable postulates, the accuracy they affect is of no sort of
value. But their chief offences were the interposing obstacles to the
revival of polite literature, and to the free expansion of the mind.
Italy was the land where the schoolmen had least influence; many of the
Italians who had a turn for those discussions repaired to Paris,[41] and
it was accordingly from Italy that the light of philological learning
spread over Europe. Public schools of theology were not opened in Italy
till after 1360.[42] Yet we find the disciples of Averroes numerous in
the university of Padua about that time.

  [39] Manuel de la Philosophie, i. 337. Eichhorn, ii. 396.

  [40] See 5me discours, xvii. 30-50.

  [41] Tiraboschi, v. 115.

  [42] Id. 137, 160. De Sade, Vie de Pétrarque, iii. 757.

|Literature in modern languages.|

24. II. The universities were chiefly employed upon this scholastic
theology and metaphysics, with the exception of Bologna, which dedicated
its attention to the civil law, and of Montpelier, already famous as a
school of medicine. The laity in general might have remained in as gross
barbarity as before, while topics so removed from common utility were
treated in an unknown tongue. We must therefore look to the rise of a
truly native literature in the several languages of western Europe, as a
more essential cause of its intellectual improvement; and this will
render it necessary to give a sketch of the origin and early progress of
those languages and that new literature.

|Origin of the French, Spanish, and Italian languages.|

25. No one can require to be informed, that the Italian, Spanish, and
French languages are the principal of many dialects deviating from each
other in the gradual corruption of the Latin, once universally spoken by
the subjects of Rome in her western provinces. They have undergone this
process of change in various degrees, but always from similar causes;
partly from the retention of barbarous words belonging to their
aboriginal languages, or the introduction of others through the
settlement of the northern nations in the empire; but in a far greater
proportion, from ignorance of grammatical rules, or from vicious
pronunciation and orthography. It has been the labour of many
distinguished writers to trace the source and channels of these streams
which have supplied both the literature and the common speech of the
south of Europe; and perhaps not much will be hereafter added to
researches which, in the scarcity of extant documents, can never be
minutely successful. Du Cange, who led the way in the admirable preface
to his Glossary; Le Bœuf, and Bonamy, in several memoirs among the
transactions of the Academy of Inscriptions about the middle of
the last century; Muratory, in his 32d, 33d, and 40th dissertation on
Italian antiquities; and, with more copious evidence and successful
industry than any other, M. Raynouard, in the first and sixth volume of
his Choix des Poesies des Troubadours, have collected as full a history
of the formation of these languages as we could justly require.

|Corruption of colloquial Latin in the lower empire.|

26. The pure Latin language, as we read it in the best ancient authors,
possesses a complicated syntax, and many elliptical modes of expression
which give vigour and elegance to style, but are not likely to be
readily caught by the people. If, however, the citizens of Rome had
spoken it with entire purity, it is to be remembered, that Latin, in the
later times of the republic, or under the empire, was not like the Greek
of Athens, or the Tuscan of Florence, the idiom of a single city, but a
language spread over countries in which it was not originally
vernacular, and imposed by conquest upon many parts of Italy, as it was
afterwards upon Spain and Gaul. Thus we find even early proofs, that
solecisms of grammar, as well as barbarous phrases, or words
unauthorised by use of polite writers, were very common in Rome itself;
and in every succeeding generation, for the first centuries after the
Christian æra, these became more frequent and inevitable. A vulgar Roman
dialect, called _quotidianus_ by Quintilian, _pedestris_ by
Vegetius, _usualis_ by Sidonius, is recognised as distinguishable
from the pure Latinity to which we give the name of classical. But the
more ordinary appellation of this inferior Latin was _rusticus_; it
was the country language or _patois_, corrupted in every manner,
and from the popular want of education, incapable of being restored,
because it was not perceived to be erroneous.[43] Whatever may have been
the case before the fall of the Western Empire, we have reason to
believe that in the sixth century the colloquial Latin had undergone, at
least in France, a considerable change even with the superior class of
ecclesiastics. Gregory of Tours confesses that he was habitually falling
into that sort of error, the misplacing inflexions and prepositions,
which constituted the chief original difference of the rustic tongue
from pure Latinity. In the opinion, indeed, of Raynouard, if we take his
expressions in their natural meaning, the Romance language, or that
which afterwards was generally called Provençal, is as old as the
establishment of the Franks in Gaul. But this is, perhaps, not
reconcileable with the proofs we have of a longer continuance of Latin.
In Italy, it seems probable that the change advanced more slowly.
Gregory the Great, however, who has been reckoned as inveterate an enemy
of learning as ever lived, speaks with superlative contempt of a regard
to grammatical purity in writing. It was a crime in his eyes for a
clergyman to teach grammar; yet the number of laymen who were competent
or willing to do so had become very small.

  [43] Du Cange, preface, pp. 13, 29. Rusticum igitur sermonem non
     humiliorem paulo duntaxat, et qui sublimi opponitur, appellabant;
     sed eum etiam, qui magis reperet, barbarismis solæcismisque
     scateret, quam apposite Sidonius squamam sermonis Celtici, &c.,
     vocat.--Rusticum, qui nullis vel grammaticæ vel orthographiæ
     legibus astringitur. This is nearly a definition of the early
     Romance language; it was Latin without grammar or orthography.

     The squama sermonis Celtici, mentioned by Sidonius, has led Gray,
     in his valuable remarks on rhyme, vol. ii. p. 53, as it has some
     others, into the erroneous notion that a real Celtic dialect, such
     as Cæsar found in Gaul, was still spoken. But this is incompatible
     with the known history of the French language; and Sidonius is one
     of those loose declamatory writers, whose words are never to be
     construed in their proper meaning: the common fault of Latin
     authors from the third century. Celticus sermo was the patois of
     Gaul, which, having once been Gallia Celtica, he still called such.
     That a few proper names, or similar words in French are Celtic, is
     well known.

     Quintilian has said, that a vicious orthography must bring on a
     vicious pronunciation. Quod male scribitur, male etiam dici necesse
     est. But the converse of this is still more true, and was in fact
     the great cause of giving the new Romance language its
     _visible_ form.

27. It may render this more clear, if we mention a few of the growing
corruptions, which have in fact transformed the Latin into French and
the sister tongues.--The prepositions were used with no regard to the
proper inflexions of nouns and verbs. These were known so inaccurately,
and so constantly put one for another, that it was necessary to have
recourse to prepositions instead of them. Thus _de_ and _ad_ were made
to express the genitive and dative cases, which is common in charters
from the sixth to the tenth century. It is a real fault in the Latin
language, that it wants both the definite and indefinite article; _ille_
and _unus_, especially the former, were called in to help this
deficiency. In the forms of Marculfus, published towards the end of the
seventh century, _ille_ continually occurs as an article; and it appears
to have been sometimes used in the sixth. This of course, by an easy
abbreviation, furnished the articles in French and Italian. The people
came soon to establish more uniformity of case in the noun, either by
rejecting inflexions, or by diminishing their number.--Raynouard gives a
long list of old French nouns formed from the Latin accusative by
suppressing _em_ or _am_.[44] The active auxiliary verb, than which
nothing is more distinctive of the modern languages from the Latin, came
in from the same cause, the disuse, through ignorance, of several
inflexions of the tenses; to which we must add, that here also the Latin
language is singularly deficient, possessing no means of distinguishing
the second perfect from the first, or ‘I have seen’ from ‘I saw.’ The
auxiliary verb was early applied, in France and Italy, to supply this
defect; and some have produced what they think occasional instances of
its employment even in the best classical authors.

  [44] See a passage of Quintilian, l. 9, c. 4, quoted in Hallam’s Middle
     Ages, iii. 316.

     In the grammar of Cassiodorus, a mere compilation from old writers,
     and in this instance from one Cornutus, we find another remarkable
     passage, which I do not remember to have seen quoted, though
     doubtless it has been so, on the pronunciation of the letter
     _M_. To utter this final consonant, he says, before a word
     beginning with a vowel, is wrong, durum ac barbarum sonat; but it
     is an equal fault to omit it before one beginning with a consonant;
     par enim atque idem est vitium, ita cum vocali sicut cum consonanti
     _M_ literam, exprimere. Cassiodorus, De orthographia, cap. 1.
     Thus we perceive that there was a nicety as to the pronunciation of
     this letter, which uneducated persons would naturally not regard.
     Hence in the inscriptions of a low age, we frequently find this
     letter omitted; as in one quoted by Muratori, Ego L. Contius me
     bibo [vivo] archa [archam] feci, and it is very easy to multiply
     instances. Thus the neuter and the accusative terminations were

|Continuance of Latin in seventh century.|

28. It seems impossible to determine the progress of these changes, the
degrees of variation between the polite and popular, the written and
spoken Latin, in the best ages of Rome, in the decline of the empire,
and in the kingdoms founded upon its ruins; or finally, the exact epoch
when the grammatical language ceased to be generally intelligible. There
remains, therefore, some room still for hypothesis and difference of
opinion. The clergy preached in Latin early in the seventh century, and
we have a popular song of the same age on the victory obtained by
Clotaire II. in 622 over the Saxons.[45] This has been surmised by some
to be a translation, merely because the Latin is better than they
suppose to have been spoken. But, though the words are probably not
given quite correctly, they seem reducible, with a little emendation, to
short verses of an usual rythmical cadence.[46]

  [45] Le Bœuf, in Mém. de l’Acad. des Inscript. vol. xvii.

  [46] Turner, in Archæologia, vol. xiv. 173. Hallam’s Middle Ages, iii.
     326. Bouterwek, Gesch. der Französen Poesie, p. 18, observes,
     that there are many fragments of popular Latin songs preserved. I
     have not found any quoted, except one, which he gives from La
     Revaillère, which is simple and rather pretty; but I know not
     whence it is taken. It seems the song of a female slave, and is
     perhaps nearly as old as the destruction of the empire.

          At quid jubes, pusiole,
          Quare mandas, filiole,
          Carmen dulce me cantare
          Cum sim longe exul valde
               Intra mare,
          O cur jubes canere?

     Intra seems put for trans. The metre is rhymed trochaic; but that
     is consistent with antiquity. It is, however, more pleasing than
     most of the Latin verse of this period, and is more in the tone of
     the modern languages. As it is not at all a hackneyed passage, I
     have thought it worthy of quotation.

|It is changed to a new language in eighth and ninth.|

29. But in the middle of the eighth century, we find the rustic language
mentioned as distinct from Latin;[47] and in the council of Tours held
in 813 it is ordered that homilies shall be explained to the people in
their own tongue, whether rustic Roman or Frankish. In 842 we find the
earliest written evidence of its existence, in the celebrated oaths
taken by Louis of Germany and his brother Charles the Bald, as well as
by their vassals, the former in Frankish or early German, the latter in
their own current dialect. This, though with somewhat of a closer
resemblance to Latin, is accounted by the best judges a specimen of the
language spoken south of the Loire; afterwards variously called the
Langue d’oc, Provençal, or Limousin, and essentially the same with the
dialects of Catalonia and Valencia.[48] It is decidedly the opinion of
M. Raynouard, as it was of earlier inquirers, that the general
language of France in the ninth century was the southern dialect, rather
than that of the north, to which we now give the exclusive name of
French, and which they conceive to have deviated from it afterwards.[49]
And he has employed great labour to prove, that, both in Spain and
Italy, this language was generally spoken with hardly as much difference
from that of France, as constitutes even a variation of dialect; the
articles, pronouns, and auxiliaries being nearly identical; most
probably not with so much difference as would render the native of one
country by any means unintelligible in another.[50]

  [47] Acad. des. Inscript. xvii. 713.

  [48] Du Cange, p. 35. Raynouard, passim. M. de la Rue has called it,
     “un Latin expirant.” Recherches sur les Bardes d’Armorique. Between
     this and “un Français naissant” there may be only a verbal
     distinction; but, in accuracy of definition, I should think M.
     Raynouard much more correct. The language of this oath cannot be
     called Latin without a violent stretch of words: no Latin scholar,
     as such, would understand it, except by conjecture. On the other
     hand, most of the words, as we learn from M. R., are Provençal of
     the twelfth century. The passage has been often printed, and
     sometimes incorrectly. M. Roquefort, in the preface to his
     Glossaire de la Langue Romane, has given a tracing from an ancient
     manuscript of Nitard, the historian of the ninth century, to whom
     we owe this important record of language.

  [49] The chief difference was in orthography; the Northerns wrote
     Latin words with an _e_ where the South retained _a_; as charitet,
     caritat: veritet, veritat; appelet, apelat. Si l’on rétablissait
     dans les plus anciens textes Français les _a_ primitifs en place
     des _e_, on aurait identiquement la langue des troubadours.
     Raynouard, Observations sur le Roman du Rou, 1829, p. 5.

  [50] The proofs of this similarity occupy most part of the first and
     sixth volumes in M. Raynouard’s excellent work.

     It is a common error to suppose that French and Italian had a
     double source, barbaric as well as Latin; and that the northern
     nations, in conquering those regions, brought in a large share of
     their own language. This is like the opinion, that the Norman
     Conquest infused the French we now find in our own tongue. There
     are certainly Teutonic words, both in French and Italian, but not
     sufficient to affect the proposition that these languages are
     merely Latin in their origin. These words in many instances express
     what Latin could not; thus _guerra_ was by no means synonymous
     with _bellum_. Yet even Roquefort talks of “un jargon composé
     de mots Tudesques et Romains.” Discours Preliminaire, p. 19;
     forgetting which, he more justly remarks afterwards, on the oath of
     Charles the Bald, that it shows “la langue Romane est entièrement
     composée de Latin.” A long list could, no doubt, be made of French
     and Italian words that cannot easily be traced to any Latin with
     which we are acquainted; but we may be surprised that it is not
     still longer.

|Early specimens of French.|

|Poem on Boethius.|

30. Thus, in the eighth and ninth centuries, if not before, France had
acquired a language unquestionably nothing else than a corruption of
Latin, (for the Celtic or Teutonic words that entered into it were by no
means numerous, and did not influence its structure), but become so
distinct from its parent, through modes of pronunciation as well as
grammatical changes, that it requires some degree of practice to trace
the derivation of words in many instances. It might be expected that we
should be able to adduce, or at least prove to have existed, a series of
monuments in this new form of speech. It might naturally appear that
poetry, the voice of the soul, would have been heard wherever the joys
and sufferings, the hopes and cares of humanity, wherever the
countenance of nature, or the manners of social life, supplied their
boundless treasures to its choice; and among untutored nations it has
been rarely silent. Of the existence of verse, however, in this early
period of the new languages, we find scarce any testimony, a doubtful
passage in a Latin poem of the ninth century excepted,[51] till we come
to a production on the captivity of Boethius, versified chiefly from
passages in his Consolation, which M. Raynouard, though somewhat wishing
to assign a higher date, places about the year 1000. This is printed by
him from a manuscript formerly in the famous abbey of Fleury, or St.
Benoit-sur-Loire, and now in the public library of Orleans. It is a
fragment of 250 lines, written in stanzas of six, seven, or a greater
number of verses of ten syllables, sometimes deviating to eleven or
twelve; and all the lines in each stanza rhyming masculinely with each
other. It is certainly by much the earliest specimen of French
verse;[52] even if it should only belong, as Le Bœuf thought,
to the eleventh century.

  [51] In a Latin eclogue quoted by Paschasius Radbert (ob. 865) in the
     life of St. Adalhard, abbot of Corbie (ob. 826), the romance poets
     are called upon to join the Latins in the following lines: “Rustica
     concelebret Romana Latinaque lingua, Saxo, qui, pariter plangens,
     pro carmine dicat; Vertite huc cuncti, cecinit quam maximus ille,
     Et tumulum facite, et tumulo superaddite carmen.”

     Raynouard, Choix des Poésies, vol. ii. p. cxxxv. These lines are
     scarcely intelligible; but the quotation from Virgil, in the ninth
     century, perhaps deserves remark, though, in one of Charlemagne’s
     monasteries, it is not by any means astonishing. Nennius, a Welsh
     monk of the same age, who can hardly write Latin at all, has quoted
     another line; “Purpurea intexti tollant aulæa a Britanni;” which is
     more extraordinary, and almost leads us to suspect an
     interpolation, unless he took it from Bede. Gale, xv. Scriptores,
     iii. 102.

  [52] Raynouard, vol. ii. pp. 5, 6, and preface, p. cxxvii.

|Provençal grammar.|

31. M. Raynouard has asserted what will hardly bear dispute, that “there
has never been composed any considerable work in any language, till it
has acquired determinate forms of expressing the modifications of ideas
according to time, number, and person,” or, in other words, the elements
of grammar.[53] But whether the Provençal or Romance language were in
its infancy so defective, he does not say; nor does the grammar he has
given lead us to that inference. This grammar, indeed, is necessarily
framed, in great measure, out of more recent materials. It may be
suspected, perhaps, that a language formed by mutilating the words of
another, could not for many ages be rich or flexible enough for the
variety of poetic expression. And the more ancient forms would long
retain their prerogative in writing: or, perhaps, we can only say, that
the absence of poetry was the effect, as well as the evidence, of that
intellectual barrenness, more characteristic of the dark ages than their

  [53] Observations philogiques et grammaticales, sur le Roman de Rou
     (1829), p. 26. Two ancient Provençal grammars, one by Raymond Vidal
     in the twelfth century, are in existence. The language therefore
     must have had its determinate rules before that time.

     M. Raynouard has shown, with a prodigality of evidence, the
     regularity of the French or Romance language in the twelfth
     century, and its retention of Latin forms, in cases when it had not
     been suspected. Thus it is a fundamental rule, that, in nouns
     masculine, the nominative ends in s in the singular, but wants it
     in the plural; while the oblique cases lose it in the singular, but
     retain it in the plural. This is evidently derived from the second
     declension in Latin. As, for example--

          Sing. Li princes est venus, et a este sacrez rois.
          Plur. Li evesque et li plus noble baron se sont assemble.

     Thus also the possessive pronoun is always _mes_, _tes_,
     _ses_, (meus, tuus, suus) in the nominative singular;
     _mon_, _ton_, _son_, (meum, &c.), in the oblique
     regimen. It has been through ignorance of such rules that the old
     French poetry has seemed capricious, and destitute of strict
     grammar; and, in a philosophical sense, the simplicity and
     extensiveness of M. Raynouard’s discovery entitle it to the
     appellation of beautiful.

|Latin retained in use longer in Italy.|

32. In Italy, where we may conceive the corruption of language to have
been less extensive, and where the spoken patois had never acquired a
distinctive name, like _lingua Romana_ in France, we find two
remarkable proofs, as they seem, that Latin was not wholly
unintelligible in the ninth and tenth centuries, and which therefore
modify M. Raynouard’s hypothesis as to the simultaneous origin of the
Romance tongue. The one is a popular song of the soldiers, on their
march to rescue the Emperor Louis II. in 881, from the violent detention
in which he had been placed by the duke of Benevento; the other, a
similar exhortation to the defenders of Modena in 924, when that city
was in danger of siege from the Hungarians. Both of these were published
by Muratori, in his fortieth dissertation on Italian Antiquities; and
both have been borrowed from him by M. Sismondi, in his Littérature du
Midi.[54] The former of these poems is in a loose trochaic measure,
totally destitute of regard to grammatical inflections. Yet some of the
leading peculiarities of Italian, the article and the auxiliary verb, do
not appear. The latter is in accentual iambics, with a sort of
monotonous termination in the nature of rhyme; and in very much superior
Latinity, probably the work of an ecclesiastic.[55] It is difficult to
account for either of these, especially the former, which is merely a
military song, except on the supposition that the Latin language was not
grown wholly out of popular use.

  [54] Vol. i. pp. 23, 27.

  [55] I am at a loss to know what Muratori means by saying, “Son versi
     di dodici sillabe, ma computata la ragione de’ tempi, vengono ad
     essere uguali a gli endecasillabi.” p. 551. He could not have
     understood the metre, which is perfectly regular, and even
     harmonious, on the condition only, that no “ragione de’ tempi”
     except such as accentual pronunciation observes, shall be demanded.
     The first two lines will serve as a specimen:--

          “O tu, qui servas armis ista mænia,
          Noli dormire, moneo, sed vigila.”

     This is like another strange observation of Muratori in the same
     dissertation, that, in the well-known lines of the emperor Adrian
     to his soul, “Animula vagula, blandula,” which could perplex no
     schoolboy, he cannot discover “un’esatta norma di metro;” and
     therefore takes them to be merely rhythmical.

|French of eleventh century.|

33. In the eleventh century, France still affords us but few extant
writings. Several, indeed, can be shown to have once existed. The
Romance language, comprehending the two divisions of Provençal and
Northern French, by this time distinctly separate from each other, was
now, say the authors of the Histoire Littéraire de la France, employed
in poetry, romances, translations, and original works in different kinds
of literature; sermons were preached in it, and the code, called
the Assizes de Jerusalem, was drawn up under Godfrey of Bouillon in
1100.[56] Some part of this is doubtful, and especially the age of these
laws. They do not mention those of William the Conqueror, recorded in
French by Ingulfus. Doubts have been cast by a distinguished living
critic on the age of this French code, and upon the authenticity of the
History of Ingulfus itself; which he conceives, upon very plausible
grounds, to be a forgery of Richard II.’s time: the language of the laws
indeed appears to be very ancient, but not probably distinguishable at
this day from the French of the twelfth century. It may be said, in
general, that, except one or two translations from books of Scripture,
very little now extant has been clearly referred to an earlier
period.[57] Yet it is impossible to doubt that the language was much
employed in poetry, and had been gradually ramifying itself by the
shoots of invention and sentiment; since, at the close of this age, or
in the next, we find a constellation of gay and brilliant versifiers,
the Troubadours of southern France, and a corresponding class to the
north of the Loire.

  [56] Vol. vii. p. 107.

  [57] Roquefort, Glossaire de la Langue Romane, p. 25, and État de la
     Poésie Française, p. 42, and 206, mentions several religious works
     in the royal library, and also a metrical romance in the British
     Museum, lately published in France on the fabulous voyage of
     Charlemagne to Constantinople. Raynouard has collected a few
     fragments in Provençal. But I must dissent from this excellent
     writer in referring the famous poem of the Vaudois, La Nobla
     Leyczon, to the year 1100. Choix des Poésies des Troubadours, vol.
     ii. p. cxxxvii. I have already observed, that the two lines which
     contain what he calls la date de l’an 1100, are so loosely
     expressed, as to include the whole ensuing century. (Hallam’s
     Middle Ages, iii. 467.) And I am now convinced that the poem is not
     much older than 1200. It seems probable that they reckoned 1100
     years, on a loose computation, not from the Christian era, but from
     the time when the passage of Scripture to which these lines allude
     was written. The allusion may be to 1 Pet. i. 20. But it is clear
     that, at the time of the composition of this poem, not only the
     name of _Vaudois_ had been imposed on those sectaries, but they had
     become subject to persecution. We know nothing of this till near
     the end of the century. This poem was probably written in the south
     of France, and carried afterwards to the Alpine valleys of
     Piedmont, from which it was brought to Geneva and England in the
     seventeenth century. La Nobla Leyczon is published at length by
     Raynouard. It consists of 479 lines, which seem to be rhythmical or
     aberrant Alexandrines; the rhymes uncertain in number, chiefly
     masculine. The poem censures the corruptions of the church, but
     contains little that would be considered heretical; which agrees
     with what contemporary historians relate of the original Waldenses.
     Any doubts as to the authenticity of this poem are totally
     unreasonable. M. Raynouard, an indisputably competent judge,
     observes, “Les personnes qui l’examineront avec attention jugeront
     que le manuscrit n’a pas été interpolé,” p. cxliii.

     I will here reprint more accurately than before the two lines
     supposed to give the poem the date of 1100:--

          “Ben ha mil et cent ancz compli entièrement,
          Que fo scripta l’ora car sen al derier temps.”

     Can M. Raynouard, or any one else, be warranted by this in saying,
     _La date de l’an 1100_, qu’on lit dans ce poème, merite toute

|Metres of modern languages.|

34. These early poets in the modern languages chiefly borrowed their
forms of versification from the Latin. It is unnecessary to say, that
metrical composition in that language, as in Greek, was an arrangement
of verses corresponding by equal or equivalent feet; all syllables being
presumed to fall under a known division of long and short, the former
passing for strictly the double of the latter in quantity of time. By
this law of pronunciation all verse was measured; and to this not only
actors, who were assisted by an accompaniment, but the orators also
endeavoured to conform. But the accented, or, if we choose rather to
call them so, emphatic syllables, being regulated by a very different
though uniform law, the uninstructed people, especially in the decline
of Latinity, pronounced, as we now do, with little or no regard to the
metrical quantity of syllables, but according to their accentual value.
And this gave rise to the popular or rhythmical poetry of the lower
empire; traces of which may be found in the second century, and even
much earlier, but of which we have abundant proofs after the age of
Constantine.[58] All metre, as Augustin says, was rhythm, but all rhythm
was not metre: in rhythmical verse, neither the quantity of syllables,
that is, the time allotted to each by metrical rule, nor even, in some
degree, their number, was regarded, so long as a cadence was retained in
which the ear could recognise a certain approach to uniformity. Much
popular poetry, both religious and profane, and the public hymns
of the church, were written in this manner; the distinction of long and
short syllables, even while Latin remained a living tongue, was lost in
speech, and required study to attain it. The accent or emphasis, both of
which are probably, to a certain extent, connected with quantity and
with each other, supplied its place; the accented syllable being,
perhaps, generally lengthened in ordinary speech; though this is not the
sole cause of length, for no want of emphasis or lowness of tone can
render a syllable of many letters short. Thus we find two species of
Latin verse: one metrical, which Prudentius, Fortunatus, and others
aspired to write; the other rhythmical, somewhat licentious in number of
syllables, and wholly accentual in its pronunciation. But this kind was
founded on the former, and imitated the ancient syllabic arrangements.
Thus the trochaic, or line, in which the stress falls on the uneven
syllables, commonly alternating by eight and seven, a very popular metre
from its spirited flow, was adopted in military songs, such as that
already mentioned of the Italian soldiers in the ninth century. It was
also common in religious chants. The line of eight syllables, or dimeter
iambic, in which the cadence falls on the even places, was still more
frequent in ecclesiastical verse. But these are the most ordinary forms
of versification in the early French or Provençal, Spanish, and Italian
languages. The line of eleven syllables, which became in time still more
usual than the former, is nothing else than the ancient hendecasyllable;
from which the French, in what they call masculine rhymes, and ourselves
more generally, from a still greater deficiency of final vowels, have
been forced to retrench the last syllable. The Alexandrine of twelve
syllables might seem to be the trimeter iambic of the ancients. But
Sanchez has very plausibly referred its origin to a form more usual in
the dark ages, the pentameter; and shown it in some early Spanish
poetry.[59] The Alexandrine, in the southern languages, had generally a
feminine termination, that is, in a short vowel, thus becoming of
thirteen syllables, the stress falling on the penultimate, as is the
usual case in a Latin pentameter verse, accentually read in our present
mode. The variation of syllables in these Alexandrines, which run from
twelve to fourteen, is accounted for by the similar numerical variety in
the pentameter.

  [58] The well-known lines of Adrian to Florus, and his reply, “Ego
     nolo Florus esse,” &c., are accentual trochaics, but not wholly so;
     for the last line, Scythicas pati pruinas, requires the word pati
     to be sounded as an iambic. They are not the earliest instance
     extant of disregard to quantity, for Suetonius quotes some
     satirical lines on Julius Cæsar.

  [59] The break in the middle of the Alexandrine, it will occur to
     every competent judge, has nothing analogous to it in the trimeter
     iambic, but exactly corresponds to the invariable law of the

|Origin of rhyme in Latin.|

35. I have dwelt, perhaps tediously, on this subject, because vague
notions of a derivation of modern metrical arrangements, even in the
languages of Latin origin, from the Arabs or Scandinavians, have
sometimes gained credit.[60] It has been imagined also that the peculiar
characteristic of the new poetry, rhyme, was borrowed from the Saracens
of Spain.[61] But the Latin language abounds so much in consonances,
that those who have been accustomed to write verses in it well know the
difficulty of avoiding them, as much as an ear formed on classical
models demands; and as this gingle is certainly pleasing in itself, it
is not wonderful that the less fastidious vulgar should adopt it in
their rhythmical songs. It has been proved by Muratori, Gray, and
Turner, beyond the possibility of doubt, that rhymed Latin verse was in
use from the end of the fourth century.[62]

  [60] Roquefort, Essai sur la Poésie Française dans le 12me et 13me
     siècles, p. 66. Galvani, Osservazioni sulla poesia de’ Trovatori.
     (Modena, 1829) Sanchez, Poesias Castellanas anteriores al 15mo
     siglo, vol. i. p. 122.

     Tyrwhitt had already observed, “The metres which the Normans used,
     and which we seem to have borrowed from them, were plainly copied
     from the Latin rhythmical verses, which, in the declension of that
     language, were current in various forms among those who either did
     not understand, or did not regard, the true quantity of syllables;
     and the practice of rhyming is probably to be deduced from the same
     original.” Essay on the Language and Versification of Chaucer, p.

  [61] Andrès, with a partiality to the Saracens of Spain, whom, by an
     odd blunder, he takes for his countrymen, manifested in almost
     every page, does not fail to urge this. It had been said long
     before by Huet, and others who lived before these subjects had been
     thoroughly investigated. Origine e Progresso, &c., ii. 194. He has
     been copied by Ginguéné and Sismondi.

  [62] Muratori, Antichità Italiane dissert., 40. Turner, in Archæologia,
     vol. xiv., and Hist. of England, vol. iv. pp. 328, 653. Gray has
     gone as deeply as any one into this subject; and, though writing at
     what may be called an early period of metrical criticism, he has
     fallen into a few errors, and been too easy of credence,
     unanswerably proves the Latin origin of rhyme. Gray’s Works by
     Mathias, vol. ii. p. 30-54.

|Provençal and French poetry.|

36. Thus, about the time of the first crusade, we find two dialects of
the same language, differing by that time not inconsiderably from each
other, the Provençal and French, possessing a regular grammar,
established forms of versification (and the early troubadours added
several to those borrowed from the Latin[63]), and a flexibility which
gave free scope to the graceful turns of poetry. William, duke of
Guienne, has the glory of leading the van of surviving Provençal
songsters. He was born in 1070, and may possibly have composed some of
his little poems before he joined the crusaders in 1096. If these are
genuine, and no doubt of them seems to be entertained, they denote a
considerable degree of previous refinement in the language.[64] We do
not, I believe, meet with any other troubadour till after the middle of
the twelfth century. From that time till about the close of the
thirteenth, they were numerous almost as the gay insects of spring;
names of illustrious birth are mingled in the list with those whom
genius has saved from obscurity; they were the delight of a luxurious
nobility, the pride of southern France, while the great fiefs of
Toulouse and Guienne were in their splendour. Their style soon extended
itself to the northern dialect. Abelard was the first of recorded name,
who taught the banks of the Seine to resound a tale of love; and it was
of Eloise that he sung.[65] “You composed,” says that gifted and
noble-spirited woman, in one of her letters to him, “many verses in
amorous measure, so sweet both in their language and their melody, that
your name was incessantly in the mouths of all, and even the most
illiterate could not be forgetful of you. This it was chiefly that made
women admire you. And as most of these songs were on me and my love,
they made me known in many countries, and caused many women to envy me.
Every tongue spoke of your Eloise; every street, every house resounded
with my name.”[66] These poems of Abelard are lost; but in the Norman,
or northern French language, we have an immense number of poets
belonging to the twelfth, and the two following centuries. One hundred
and twenty-seven are known by name in the twelfth alone.[67] Thibault,
king of Navarre and count of Champagne, about the middle of the next, is
accounted the best, as well as noblest of French poets.

  [63] See Raynouard, Roquefort, and Galvini, for the Provençal and
     French metres, which are very complicated.

  [64] Raynouard, Choix des Poésies des Troubadours, vol. ii. Auguis,
     Recueil des Anciens Poètes Français, vol. i.

  [65] Bouterwek, on the authority of La Ravaillere, seems to doubt
     whether these poems of Abelard were in French or Latin. Gesch. der
     Französen Poesie, p. 18. I believe this would be thought quite
     paradoxical by any critic at present.

  [66] Duo autem, fateor, tibi specialiter inerant, quibus feminarum
     quarumlibet animos statim allicere poteras, dictandi videlicet et
     cantandi gratia; quæ cæteros minimè philosophos assecutos esse
     novimus. Quibus quidem quasi ludo quodam laborem exercitii recreans
     philosophici pleraque amatorio metro vel rithmo composita
     reliquisti carmina, quæ præ nimiâ suavitate tam dictaminis quam
     cantus sæpius frequentata tuum in ore omnium nomen incessanter
     tenebant, ut etiam illiteratos melodiæ dulcedo tui non sineret
     immemores esse. Atque hinc maxime in amorem tui feminæ suspirabant.
     Et cum horum pars maxima carminum nostros decantaret amores, multis
     me regionibus brevi tempore nunciavit, et multarum in me feminarum
     accendit invidiam. And in another place: Frequenti carmine tuam in
     ore omnium Heloissam ponebas: me plateæ omnes, me domus singulæ
     resonabant. Epist. Abælardi et Heloissæ. These epistles of Abelard
     and Eloisa, especially those of the latter, are, as far as I know,
     the first book that gives any pleasure in reading which had been
     produced in Europe for 600 years, since the Consolation of
     Boethius, But I do not press my negative judgment. We may at least
     say that the writers of the dark ages, if they have left anything
     intrinsically very good, have been ill-treated by the learned, who
     have failed to extract it. Pope, it may be here observed, has done
     great injustice to Eloisa in his unrivalled Epistle, by putting the
     sentiments of a coarse and abandoned woman into her mouth. Her
     refusal to marry Abelard arose not from an abstract predilection
     for the name of mistress above that of wife, but from her
     disinterested affection, which would not deprive him of the
     prospect of ecclesiastical dignities, to which his genius and
     renown might lead him. She judged very unwisely, as it turned out,
     but from an unbounded generosity of character. He was, in fact,
     unworthy of her affection, which she expresses in the tenderest
     language. Deum testem invoco, si me Augustus universo præsidens
     mundo matrimonii honore dignaretur, totumque mihi orbem confirmaret
     in perpetuum præsidendum, charius mihi et dignius videretur tua
     dici meretrix quam illius imperatrix.

  [67] Auguis, Discours Préliminaire, p. 2. Roquefort, Etat de la Poésie
     Française aux 12me et 13me siècles.

37. In this French and Provençal poetry, if we come to the consideration
of it historically, descending from an earlier period, we are at once
struck by the vast preponderance of amorous ditties. The Greek and Roman
muses, especially the latter, seem frigid as their own fountain in
comparison. Satires on the great, and especially, on the clergy,
exhortations to the crusade, and religious odes, are intermingled in the
productions of the troubadours; but love is the prevailing theme.
This tone they could hardly have borrowed from the rhythmical Latin
verses, of which all that remain are without passion or energy. They
could as little have been indebted to their predecessors for a peculiar
gracefulness, an indescribable charm of gaiety and ease, which many of
their lighter poems display. This can only be ascribed to the polish of
chivalrous manners, and to the influence of feminine delicacy on public
taste. The well-known dialogue, for example, of Horace and Lydia, is
justly praised; nothing extant of this amœbean character, from Greece
or Rome, is nearly so good. But such alternate stanzas, between speakers
of different sexes, are very common in the early French poets; and it
would be easy to find some quite equal to Horace in grace and spirit.
They had even a generic name, _tensons_, contentions; that is,
dialogues of lively repartee, such as we are surprised to find in the
twelfth century, an age accounted by many almost barbarous. None of
these are prettier than what are called _pastourelles_, in which
the poet is feigned to meet a shepherdess, whose love he solicits, and
by whom he is repelled, (not always finally,) in alternate stanzas.[68]
Some of these may be read in Roquefort, Etat de la Poésie Française,
dans le 12me et 13me siècles; others in Raynouard, Choix des Poésies des
Troubadours; in Auguis, Recueil des Anciens Poètes Français; or in
Galvani, Osservazioni sulla Poesia de’ Trovatori.

  [68] These have, as Galvani has observed, an ancient prototype in the
     twenty-seventh pastoral of Theocritus, which Dryden has translated
     with no diminution of its freedom. Some of the Pastourelles are
     also rather licentious; but that is not the case with the greater
     part. M. Raynouard, in an article of the Journal des Savans for
     1824, p. 613, remarks the superior decency of the southern poets,
     scarcely four or five transgressing in that respect; while many of
     the fabliaux in the collections of Barbazan and Méon are of the
     most coarse and stupid ribaldry; and such that even the object of
     exhibiting ancient manners and language scarcely warranted their
     publication in so large a number.

38. In all these light compositions which gallantry or gaiety inspired,
we perceive the characteristic excellencies of French poetry, as
distinctly as in the best vaudeville of the age of Louis XV. We can
really sometimes find little difference, except an obsoleteness of
language, which gives them a kind of poignancy. And this style, as I
have observed, seems to have been quite original in France, though it
was imitated by other nations.[69] The French poetry, on the other hand,
was deficient in strength and ardour. It was also too much filled with
monotonous commonplaces; among which the tedious descriptions of spring,
and the everlasting nightingale, are eminently to be reckoned. These,
perhaps, are less frequent in the early poems, most of which are short,
than they became in the prolix expansion adopted by the allegorical
school in the fourteenth century. They prevail, as is well known, in
Chaucer, Dunbar, and several other of our own poets.

  [69] Andrès, as usual, derives the Provençal style of poetry from the
     Arabians; and this has been countenanced, in some measure, by
     Ginguéné and Sismondi. Some of the peculiarities of the Trobadours,
     their tensons, or contentions, and the envoi, or termination of a
     poem, by an address to the poem itself or the reader, are said to
     be of Arabian origin. In assuming that rhyme was introduced by the
     same channel, these writers are probably mistaken. But I have seen
     too little of oriental, and, especially, of Hispano-Saracenic
     poetry, to form any opinion how far the more essential
     characteristics of Provençal verse may have been derived from it.
     One seems to find more of oriental hyperbole in the Castilian

|Metrical romances. Havelok the Dane.|

39. The metrical romances, far from common in Provençal,[70] but forming
a large portion of what was written in the northern dialect, though
occasionally picturesque, graceful, or animated, are seldom free from
tedious or prosaic details. The earliest of these extant seems to be
that of Havelok the Dane, of which an abridgment was made by Geoffrey
Gaimar, before the middle of the twelfth century. The story is certainly
a popular legend from the Danish part of England, which the French
versifier has called, according to the fashion of romances, “a Breton
lay.” If this word meant anything more than relating to Britain, it is a
plain falsehood; and upon either hypothesis, it may lead us to doubt, as
many other reasons may also, what has been so much asserted of late
years, as to the Armorican origin of romantic fictions; since the word
Breton, which some critics refer to Armorica, is here applied to a story
of mere English birth.[71] It cannot, however, be doubted, from
the absurd introduction of Arthur’s name in this romance of Havelok,
that it was written after the publication of the splendid fables of

  [70] It has been denied that there are any metrical romances in
     Provençal. But one called the Philomena, on the fabulous history of
     Charlemagne, is written after 1173, but not much later than 1200.
     Journal des Savans, 1824.

  [71] The Recherches sur les Bardes d’Armorique, by that respectable
     veteran, M. de la Rue, are very unsatisfactory. It does not appear
     that the Bretons have so much as a national tradition of any
     romantic poetry; nor any writings in their language older than
     1450. The authority of Warton, Leyden, Ellis, Turner, and Price
     have rendered this hypothesis of early Armorican romance popular;
     but I cannot believe that so baseless a fabric will endure much
     longer. Is it credible that tales of aristocratic splendour and
     courtesy sprung up in so poor and uncivilised a country as
     Bretagne? Traditional stories they might, no doubt, possess, and
     some of these may be found in the lais de Marie, and other early
     poems; but not romances of chivalry. I do not recollect, though
     speaking without confidence, that any proof has been given of
     Armorican traditions about Arthur, earlier than the history of
     Geoffrey: for it seems too much to interpret the word _Britones_ of
     them rather than of the Welsh. Mr. Turner, I observe, without
     absolutely recanting, has much receded from his opinion of the
     Armorican prototype of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

  [72] The romance of Havelok was printed by Sir Frederick Madden in
     1829; but not for sale. His Introduction is of considerable value.
     The story of Havelok is that of Curan and Argentile, in Warner’s
     Albion’s England, upon which Mason founded a drama. Sir F. Madden
     refers the English translation to some time between 1270 and 1290.
     The manuscript is in the Bodleian Library. The French original has
     since been reprinted in France, as I learn from Brunet’s Supplement
     au Manuel du Libraire. Both this and its abridgment, by Geoffrey
     Gaimar, are in the British Museum.

|Diffusion of French language.|

40. Two more celebrated poems are by Wace, a native of Jersey; one, a
free version of the history lately published by Geoffrey of Monmouth;
the other, a narrative of the Battle of Hastings and Conquest of
England. Many other romances followed. Much has been disputed for some
years concerning them, and the lays and fabliaux of the northern
trouveurs; it is sufficient here to observe, that they afforded a
copious source of amusement and interest to those who read or listened,
as far as the French language was diffused; and this was far beyond the
boundaries of France. Not only was it the common spoken tongue of what
is called the court, or generally of the superior ranks, in England, but
in Italy and in Germany, at least throughout the thirteenth century.
Brunetto Latini wrote his philosophical compilation, called Le Tresor,
in French, “because,” as he says, “the language was more agreeable and
usual than any other.” Italian, in fact, was hardly employed in prose at
that time. But for those whose education had not gone so far, the
romances and tales of France began to be rendered into German, as early
as the latter part of the twelfth century, as they were long afterwards
into English, becoming the basis of those popular songs, which
illustrate the period of the Swabian emperors, the great house of
Hohenstauffen, Frederic Barbarossa, Henry VI., and Frederic II.

|German poetry of Swabian period.|

41. The poets of Germany, during this period of extraordinary fertility
in versification, were not less numerous than those of France and
Provence.[73] From Henry of Veldek to the last of the lyric poets, soon
after the beginning of the fourteenth century, not less than two hundred
are known by name. A collection made in that age by Rudiger von Manasse
of Zurich contains the productions of one hundred and forty; and modern
editors have much enlarged the list.[74] Henry of Veldek is placed by
Eichhorn about 1170, and by Bouterwek twenty years later; so that at the
utmost we cannot reckon the period of their duration more than a century
and a half. But the great difference perceptible between the poetry of
Henry and that of the old German songs proves him not to have been the
earliest of the Swabian school: he is as polished in language and
versification as any of his successors; and though a northern, he wrote
in the dialect of the house of Hohenstauffen. Wolfram von Eschenbach, in
the first years of the next century, is, perhaps, the most eminent name
of the Minne-singers, as the lyric poets were denominated, and is also
the translator of several romances. The golden age of German poetry was
before the fall of the Swabian dynasty, at the death of Conrad IV., in
1254. Love, as the word denotes, was the peculiar theme of the
Minne-singers; but it was chiefly from the northern or southern dialects
of France, especially the latter, that they borrowed their amorous
strains.[75] In the latter part of the thirteenth century, we
find less of feeling and invention, but a more didactic and moral tone,
sometimes veiled in Æsopic fables, sometimes openly satirical. Conrad of
Wurtzburg is the chief of the latter school; but he had to lament the
decline of taste and manners in his own age.

  [73] Bouterwek, p. 95.

  [74] Id. p. 98. This collection was published in 1758, by Bodmer.

  [75] Herder, Zerstreute Blätter, vol. v. p. 206. Eichhorn, Allg.
     Geschichte der Cultur. vol. i. p. 226. Heinsius, Teut, oder
     Lehrbuch der Deutschen. Sprachwissenschaft, vol. iv. pp. 32-80.
     Weber’s Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, 1814. This work
     contains the earliest analysis, I believe, of the Nibelungen Lied.
     But above all, I have been indebted to the excellent account of
     German poetry by Bouterwek, in the ninth volume of his great work,
     the History of Poetry and Eloquence since the thirteenth century.
     In this volume the mediæval poetry of Germany occupies nearly four
     hundred closely printed pages. I have since met with a pleasing
     little volume, on the Lays of the Minne-singers, by Mr. Edgar
     Taylor. It contains an account of the chief of those poets, with
     translations, perhaps in too modern a style, though it may be true
     that no other would suit our modern taste.

     A species of love song, peculiar, according to Weber (p. 9), to the
     Minne-singers, are called Watchmen’s Songs. These consist in a
     dialogue between a lover and the sentinel who guards his mistress.
     The latter is persuaded to imitate “Sir Pandarus of Troy;” and when
     morning breaks, summons the lover to quit his lady; who, in her
     turn, maintains that “it is the nightingale, and not the lark,”
     with almost the pertinacity of Juliet.

     Mr. Taylor remarks, that the German poets do not go so far in their
     idolatry of the fair as the Provençals, p. 127. I do not concur
     altogether in his reasons; but as the Minne-singers imitated the
     Provençals, this deviation is remarkable. I should rather ascribe
     it to the hyperbolical tone which the Troubadours had borrowed from
     the Arabians, or to the susceptibility of their temperament.

42. No poetry, however, of the Swabian period is so national as the epic
romances, which drew their subjects from the highest antiquity, if they
did not even adopt the language of primæval bards, which, perhaps,
though it has been surmised, is not compatible with their style. In the
two most celebrated productions of this kind, the Helden Buch, or Book
of Heroes, and the Nibelungen Lied, the Lay of the Nibelungen, a
fabulous people, we find the recollections of an heroic age, wherein the
names of Attila and Theodoric stand out as witnesses of traditional
history, clouded by error and coloured by fancy. The Nibelungen Lied, in
its present form, is by an uncertain author, perhaps, about the year
1200;[76] but it comes, and as far as we can judge, with little or no
interpolation of circumstances, from an age anterior to Christianity, to
civilisation, and to the more refined forms of chivalry. We cannot well
think the stories later than the sixth or seventh centuries. The German
critics admire the rude grandeur of this old epic: and its fables,
marked with a character of barbarous simplicity wholly unlike that of
later romance, are become, in some degree, familiar to ourselves.

  [76] Weber says,--“I have no doubt whatever that the romance itself
     is of very high antiquity, at least of the eleventh century,
     though, certainly, the present copy has been considerably
     modernised.” Illustrations of Northern Romances, p. 26. But
     Bouterwek does not seem to think it of so ancient a date; and I
     believe it is commonly referred to about the year 1200. Schlegel
     ascribes it to Henry von Offerdingen. Heinsius, iv. 52.

     It is highly probable that the “babara et antiquissima carmina,”
     which, according to Eginhard, Charlemagne caused to be reduced to
     writing, were no other than the legends of the Nibelungen Lied, and
     similar traditions of the Gothic and Burgundian time. Weber, p. 6.
     I will here mention, as I believe it is little known in England, a
     curious Latin epic poem on the wars of Attila, published by Fischer
     in 1780. He conceives it to be of the sixth century; but others
     have referred it to the eighth. The heroes are Franks; but the
     whole is fabulous, except the name of Attila and his Huns. I do not
     know whether this has any connection with a French poem on Attila,
     by a writer named Casola, existing in manuscript at Modena. A
     translation into Italian was published by Rossi at Ferrara in 1568:
     it is one of the scarcest books in the world. Weber’s
     Illustrations, p. 23. Eichhorn, Allg. Gesch. ii. 178. Galvani,
     Osservazioni sulla poesia de’ trovatori, p. 16.

     The Nibelungen Lied seems to have been less popular in the middle
     ages than other romances; evidently because it relates to a
     different state of manners. Bouterwek, p. 141. Heinsius observes
     that we must consider this poem as the most valuable record of
     German antiquity, but that to overrate its merit, as some have been
     inclined to do, can be of no advantage.

|Decline of German poetry.|

43. The loss of some accomplished princes, and of a near intercourse
with the south of France and with Italy, the augmented independence of
the German nobility, to be maintained by unceasing warfare, rendered
their manners, from the latter part of the thirteenth century, more rude
than before. They ceased to cultivate poetry, or to think it honourable
in their rank. Meantime a new race of poets, chiefly burghers of towns,
sprung up about the reign of Rodolph of Hapsburgh, before the lays of
the Minne-singers had yet ceased to resound. These prudent, though not
inspired, votaries of the muse, chose the didactic and moral style as
more salutary than the love songs, and more reasonable than the
romances. They became known in the fourteenth century, by the name of
meister-singers, but are traced to the institutions of the twelfth
century, called Singing-schools, for the promotion of popular music, the
favourite recreation of Germany. What they may have done for music I am
unable to say: it was in an evil hour for the art of poetry that
they extended their jurisdiction over her. They regulated verse by the
most pedantic and minute laws, such as a society with no idea of
excellence but conformity to rule would be sure to adopt; though nobler
institutions have often done the same, and the Master-burghers were but
prototypes of the Italian academicians. The poetry was always moral and
serious, but flat. These meister-singers are said to have originated at
Mentz, from which they spread to Augsburg, Strasburg, and other cities,
and in none were more renowned than Nuremberg. Charles IV., in 1378,
incorporated them by the name of Meistergenoss-schaft, with armorial
bearings and peculiar privileges. They became, however, more conspicuous
in the sixteenth century; scarce any names of meister-singers before
that age are recorded; nor does it seem that much of their earlier
poetry is extant.[77]

  [77] Bouterwek, ix. 271-291. Heinsius, iv. 85-98. See also the
     Biographie Universelle, art. Folez; and a good article in the
     Retrospective Review, vol. x. p. 113.

|Poetry of France and Spain.|

44. The French versifiers had by this time, perhaps, become less
numerous, though several names in the same style of amatory song do some
credit to their age. But the romances of chivalry began now to be
written in prose; while a very celebrated poem, the Roman de la Rose,
had introduced an unfortunate taste for allegory into verse, from which
France did not extricate herself for several generations. Meanwhile, the
Provençal poets, who, down to the close of the thirteenth century, had
flourished in the south, and whose language many Lombards adopted, came
to an end; after the reunion of the fief of Toulouse to the crown, and
the possession of Provence by a northern line of princes, their ancient
and renowned tongue passed for a dialect, a patois of the people. It had
never been much employed in prose, save in the kingdom of Aragon, where,
under the name of Valencian, it continued for two centuries to be a
legitimate language, till political circumstances of the same kind
reduced it, as in southern France, to a provincial dialect. The
Castilian language, which, though it has been traced higher in written
fragments, may be considered to have begun, in a literary sense, with
the poem of the Cid, not later than the middle of the twelfth century,
was employed by a few extant poets in the next two ages, and in the
fourteenth was as much the established vehicle of many kinds of
literature in Spain as the French was on the other side of the
mountains.[78] The names of Portuguese poets not less early than any in
Castile are recorded; fragments are mentioned by Bouterwek as old as the
twelfth century, and there exists a collection of lyric poetry in the
style of the Troubadours, which is referred to no late part of the next
age.[79] Nothing has been published in the Castilian language of
this amatory style older than 1400.

  [78] Sanchez, Collection de poesias Castellanas anteriores al siglo
     15mo. Velasquez, Historia della poesia Español; which I only know
     by the German translation of Dieze, (Göttingen, 1769,) who has
     added many notes. Andrès, Origine d’ogni litteratura, ii. 158.
     Bouterwek’s History of Spanish and Portuguese Literature. I shall
     quote the English translation of this work, which, I am sorry to
     say, is sold by the booksellers at scarce a third of its original
     price. It is a strange thing, that while we multiply encyclopædias
     and indifferent compilations of our own, there is no demand for
     translations from the most learned productions of Germany that will
     indemnify a publisher.

  [79] This very curious fact in literary history has been brought to
     light by Lord Stuart of Rothsay, who printed at Paris, in 1823,
     twenty-five copies of a collection of ancient Portuguese songs,
     from a manuscript in the library of the College of Nobles at
     Lisbon. An account of this book by M. Raynouard, will be found in
     the Journal des Savans for August, 1825; and I have been favoured
     by my noble friend the editor with the loan of a copy; though my
     ignorance of the language prevented me from forming an exact
     judgment of its contents. In the preface the following
     circumstances are stated. It consists of seventy-five folios, the
     first part having been torn off, and the manuscript attached to a
     work of a wholly different nature. The writing appears to be of the
     fourteenth century, and in some places older. The idiom seems older
     than the writing; it may be called, if I understand the meaning of
     the preface, as old as the beginning of the thirteenth century, and
     certainly older than the reign of Denis, pode appellidarse coevo do
     seculo xiii., e de certo he anterior ao reynado de D. Deniz. Denis
     king of Portugal reigned from 1279 to 1325. It is regular in
     grammar, and for the most part in orthography; but contains some
     gallicisms, which show either a connection between France and
     Portugal in that age, or a common origin in the southern tongues of
     Europe; since certain idioms found in this manuscript are preserved
     in Spanish, Italian, and Provençal, yet are omitted in Portuguese
     dictionaries. A few poems are translated from Provençal, but the
     greater part are strictly Portuguese, as the mention of places,
     names, and manners shows. M. Raynouard, however, observes, that the
     thoughts and forms of versification are similar to those of the
     Troubadours. The metres employed are usually of seven, eight, and
     ten syllables, the accent falling on the last; but some lines occur
     of seven, eight, or eleven syllables accented on the penultimate,
     and these are sometimes interwoven, at regular intervals, with the

     The songs, as far as I was able to judge, are chiefly, if not
     wholly, amatory: they generally consist of stanzas, the first of
     which is written (and printed) with intervals for musical notes,
     and in the form of prose, though really in metre. Each stanza has
     frequently a burden of two lines. The plan appeared to be something
     like that of the Castilian glosas of the fifteenth century, the
     subject of the first stanza being repeated, and sometimes expanded,
     in the rest. I do not know that this is found in any Provençal
     poetry. The language, according to Raynouard, resembles Provençal
     more than the modern Portuguese does. It is a very remarkable
     circumstance, that we have no evidence, at least from the letter of
     the Marquis of Santillana early in the fifteenth century, that the
     Castilians had any of these love songs till long after the date of
     this Cancioneiro; and that we may rather collect from it, that the
     Spanish amatory poets chose the Galician or Portuguese dialect in
     preference to their own. Though the very ancient collection to
     which this note refers seems to have been unknown, I find mention
     of one by Don Pedro, Count of Barcelos, natural son of King Denis,
     in Dieze’s notes on Velasquez. Gesch. der Span. Dichtkunst, p. 70.
     This must have been in the first part of the fourteenth century.

|Early Italian language.|

45. Italy came last of those countries where Latin had been spoken to
the possession of an independent language and literature. No industry
has hitherto retrieved so much as a few lines of real Italian till near
the end of the twelfth century;[80] and there is not much before the
middle of the next. Several poets, however, whose versification is not
wholly rude, appeared soon afterwards. The Divine Comedy of Dante seems
to have been commenced before his exile from Florence in 1304. The
Italian language was much used in prose, during the times of Dante and
Petrarch, though very little before.

  [80] Tiraboschi, iii. 323, doubts the authenticity of some inscriptions
     referred to the twelfth century. The earliest genuine Italian seems
     to be a few lines by Ciullo d’Alcamo, a Sicilian, between 1187 and
     1193, vol. iv. p. 340.

|Dante and Petrarch.|

46. Dante and Petrarch are, as it were, the morning stars of our modern
literature. I shall say nothing more of the former in this place: he
does not stand in such close connection as Petrarch with the fifteenth
century; nor had he such influence over the taste of his age. In this
respect Petrarch has as much the advantage over Dante, as he was his
inferior in depth of thought and creative power. He formed a school of
poetry, which, though no disciple comparable to himself came out of it,
gave a character to the taste of his country. He did not invent the
sonnet; but he, perhaps, was the cause that it has continued in fashion
for so many ages.[81] He gave purity, elegance, and even stability to
the Italian language, which has been incomparably less changed during
near five centuries since his time, than it was in one between the age
of Guido Guinizzeli and his own. And none have denied him the honour of
having restored a true feeling of classical antiquity in Italy, and
consequently in Europe.

  [81] Crescimbeni (Storia della vulgar poesia, vol. ii. p. 269) asserts
     the claim of Guiton d’Arezzo to the invention of the regular
     sonnet, or at least the perfection of that in use among the

|Change of Anglo-Saxon to English.|

47. Nothing can be more difficult, except by an arbitrary line, than to
determine the commencement of the English language; not so much, as in
those of the continent, because we are in want of materials, but rather
from an opposite reason, the possibility of tracing a very gradual
succession of verbal changes that ended in a change of denomination. We
should probably experience a similar difficulty, if we knew equally well
the current idiom of France or Italy in the seventh and eighth
centuries. For when we compare the earliest English of the thirteenth
century with the Anglo-Saxon of the twelfth, it seems hard to pronounce,
why it should pass for a separate language, rather than a modification
or simplification of the former. We must conform, however, to usage, and
say that the Anglo-Saxon was converted into English: 1. by contracting
or otherwise modifying the pronunciation and orthography of words; 2. by
omitting many inflections, especially of the noun, and consequently
making more use of articles and auxiliaries; 3. by the introduction of
French derivatives; 4. by using less inversion and ellipsis, especially
in poetry. Of these the second alone, I think, can be considered as
sufficient to describe a new form of language; and this was brought
about so gradually, that we are not relieved from much of our
difficulty, whether some compositions shall pass for the latest
offspring of the mother, or the earliest fruits of the daughter’s

  [82] It is a proof of this difficulty that the best masters of our
     ancient language have lately introduced the word semi-Saxon, which
     is to cover everything from 1150 to 1250. See Thorpe’s preface to
     Analecta Anglo-Saxonica, and many other recent books.

48. The Anglo-Norman language is a phrase not quite so unobjectionable
as the Anglo-Norman constitution; and as it is sure to deceive, we might
better lay it aside altogether.[83] In the one instance, there was a
real fusion of laws and government, to which we can find but a remote
analogy, or rather none at all, in the other. It is probable, indeed,
that the converse of foreigners might have something to do with those
simplifications of the Anglo-Saxon grammar, which appear about the reign
of Henry II., more than a century after the Conquest; though it is also
true, that languages of a very artificial structure, like that of
England before that revolution, often became less complex in their
forms, without any such violent process as an amalgamation of two
different races.[84] What is commonly called the Saxon Chronicle is
continued to the death of Stephen, in 1154, and in the same language,
though with some loss of its purity. Besides the neglect of several
grammatical rules, French words now and then obtrude themselves, but not
very frequently, in the latter pages of this Chronicle. Peterborough,
however, was quite an English monastery; its endowments, its abbots,
were Saxon; and the political spirit the Chronicle breathes, in some
passages, is that of the indignant subjects, _servi ancor
frementi_, of the Norman usurpers. If its last compilers, therefore,
gave way to some innovations of language, we may presume that these
prevailed more extensively in places less secluded, and especially in

  [83] A popular and pleasing writer has drawn a little upon his
     imagination in the following account of the language of our
     forefathers after the Conquest:--“The language of the church was
     Latin; that of the king and nobles, Norman; that of the people,
     Anglo-Saxon; _the Anglo-Norman jargon was only employed in the
     commercial intercourse between the conquerors and the
     conquered_.” Ellis’s Specimens of Early English Poets, vol. i.
     p. 17. What was this jargon? and where do we find a proof of its
     existence? and what was the commercial intercourse hinted at? I
     suspect Ellis only meant, what has often been remarked, that the
     animals which bear a Saxon name in the fields acquire a French one
     in the shambles. But even this is more ingenious than just; for
     muttons, beeves, and porkers are good old words for the living

  [84] “Every branch of the low German stock from whence the Anglo-Saxon
     sprung, displays the same simplification of its grammar.” Price’s
     Preface to Warton, p. 110. He therefore ascribes little influence
     to the Norman conquest or to French connections.


49. We find evidence of a greater change in Layamon, a translator of
Wace’s romance of Brut from the French. Layamon’s age is uncertain; it
must have been after 1155, when the original poem was completed, and can
hardly be placed below 1200. His language is accounted rather
Anglo-Saxon than English; it retains most of the distinguishing
inflections of the mother-tongue, yet evidently differs considerably
from that older than the Conquest by the introduction, or at least more
frequent employment, of some new auxiliary forms, and displays very
little of the characteristics of the ancient poetry, its periphrases,
its ellipses, or its inversions. But though translation was the means by
which words of French origin were afterwards most copiously introduced,
very few occur in the extracts from Layamon hitherto published; for we
have not yet the expected edition of the entire work. He is not a mere
translator, but improves much on Wace. The adoption of the plain and
almost creeping style of the metrical French romance, instead of the
impetuous dithyrambics of Saxon song, gives Layamon at first sight a
greater affinity to the new English language than in mere grammatical
structure he appears to bear.[85]

  [85] See a long extract from Layamon in Ellis’s Specimens. This writer
     observes, that, “it contains no word which we are under the
     necessity of referring to a French root.” _Duke_ and _Castle_ seem
     exceptions: but the latter word occurs in the Saxon Chronicle
     before the Conquest, A.D. 1052.

|Progress of English language.|

50. Layamon wrote in a monastery on the Severn; and it is agreeable to
experience, that an obsolete structure of language should be retained in
a distant province, while it has undergone some change among the less
rugged inhabitants of a capital. The disuse of Saxon forms crept on by
degrees; some metrical lives of saints, apparently written not far from
the year 1250,[86] may be deemed English; but the first specimen
of it that bears a precise date is a proclamation of Henry III.,
addressed to the people of Huntingdonshire in 1258, but doubtless
circular throughout England.[87] A triumphant song, composed probably in
London, on the victory obtained at Lewes by the confederate barons in
1264, and the capture of Richard Earl of Cornwall, is rather less
obsolete in its style than this proclamation, as might naturally be
expected. It could not have been written later than that year, because
in the next the tables were turned on those who now exulted, by the
complete discomfiture of their party in the battle of Evesham. Several
pieces of poetry, uncertain as to their precise date, must be referred
to the latter part of this century. Robert of Gloucester, after the year
1297, since he alludes to the canonisation of St. Louis,[88] turned the
chronicle of Geoffrey of Monmouth into English verse; and on comparing
him with Layamon, a native of the same county, and a writer on the same
subject, it will appear that a great quantity of French had flowed into
the language since the loss of Normandy. The Anglo-Saxon inflections,
terminations, and orthography, had also undergone a very considerable
change. That the intermixture of French words was very slightly owing to
the Norman conquest will appear probable, by observing at least as
frequent an use of them in the earliest specimens of the Scottish
dialect, especially a song on the death of Alexander III. in 1285. There
is a good deal of French in this, not borrowed, probably, from England,
but directly from the original sources of imitation.

  [86] Ritson’s Dissertat. on Romance. Madden’s Introduction to Havelok.
     Notes of Price, in his edition of Warton. Warton himself is of no
     authority in this matter. Price inclines to put most of the poems
     quoted by Warton near the close of the thirteenth century.

     It should here be observed, that the language underwent its
     metamorphosis into English by much less rapid gradations in some
     parts of the kingdom than in others. Not only the popular dialect
     of many counties, especially in the north, retained long, and still
     retains, a larger proportion of the Anglo-Saxon peculiarities, but
     we have evidence that they were not everywhere disused in writing.
     A manuscript in the Kentish dialect, if that phrase is correct,
     bearing the date of 1340, is more Anglo-Saxon than any of the poems
     ascribed to the thirteenth century, which we read in Warton, such
     as the legends of saints or the Ormulum. This very curious fact was
     first made known to the public by Mr. Thorpe, in his translation of
     Cædmon, preface, p. xii.; and an account of the manuscript itself,
     rather fuller than that of Mr. T., has since been given in the
     catalogue of the Arundel MSS. in the British Museum.

  [87] Henry’s Hist. of Britain, vol. viii., appendix. “Between 1244 and
     1258,” says Sir F. Madden, “we know, was written the versification
     of part of a meditation of St. Augustine, as proved by the age of
     the prior, who gave the manuscript to the Durham library,” p. 49.
     This, therefore, will be strictly the oldest piece of English, to
     the date of which we can approach by more than conjecture.

  [88] Madden’s Havelock, p. 52.

|English of the fourteenth century. Chaucer. Gower.|

51. The fourteenth century was not unproductive of men, both English and
Scots, gifted with the powers of poetry. Laurence Minot, an author
unknown to Warton, but whose poems on the wars of Edward III. are
referred by their publisher Ritson to 1352, is perhaps the first
original poet in our language that has survived; since such of his
predecessors as are now known appear to have been merely translators, or
at best amplifiers of a French or Latin original. The earliest
historical or epic narrative is due to John Barbour, archdeacon of
Aberdeen, whose long poem in the Scots dialect, The Bruce, commemorating
the deliverance of his country, seems to have been completed in 1373.
But our greatest poet of the middle ages, beyond comparison, was
Geoffrey Chaucer; and I do not know that any other country, except
Italy, produced one of equal variety in invention, acuteness in
observation, or felicity of expression. A vast interval must be made
between Chaucer and any other English poet; yet Gower, his contemporary,
though not, like him, a poet of nature’s growth, had some effect in
rendering the language less rude, and exciting a taste for verse; if he
never rises, he never sinks low; he is always sensible, polished,
perspicuous, and not prosaic in the worst sense of the word. Longlands,
the supposed author of Piers Plowman’s Vision, with far more imaginative
vigour, has a more obsolete and unrefined diction.

|General disuse of French in England.|

52. The French language was spoken by the superior classes of society in
England from the conquest to the reign of Edward III.; though it seems
probable that they were generally acquainted with English, at least in
the latter part of that period. But all letters, even of a private
nature, were written in Latin till the beginning of the reign of Edward
I., soon after 1270, when a sudden change brought in the use of
French.[89] In grammar schools boys were made to construe their Latin
into French; and in the statutes of Oriel College, Oxford, we find, in a
regulation so late as 1328, that the students shall converse together,
if not in Latin, at least in French.[90] The minutes of the corporation
of London, recorded in the Town Clerk’s office, were in French, as well
as the proceedings in parliament, and in the courts of justice;
and oral discussions were perhaps carried on in the same language,
though this is not a necessary consequence. Hence the English was seldom
written, and hardly employed in prose till after the middle of the
fourteenth century. Sir John Mandeville’s travels were written in 1356.
This is our earliest English book. Wicliffe’s translation of the Bible,
a great work that enriched the language, is referred to 1383, Trevisa’s
version of the Polychronicon of Higden was in 1385, and the Astrolabe of
Chaucer in 1392. A few public instruments were drawn up in English under
Richard II.; and about the same time, probably, it began to be employed
in epistolary correspondence of a private nature. Trevisa informs us,
that, when he wrote (1385), even gentlemen had much left off to have
their children taught French, and names the schoolmaster (John Cornwall)
who soon after 1350 brought in so great an innovation as the making his
boys read Latin into English.[91] This change from the common use of
French in the upper ranks seems to have taken place as rapidly as a
similar revolution has lately done in Germany. By a statute of 1362, (36
E. 3, c. 15,) all pleas in courts of justice are directed to be pleaded
and judged in English, on account of French being so much unknown. But
the laws, and, generally speaking, the records of parliament, continued
to be in the latter language for many years; and we learn from Sir John
Fortescue, a hundred years afterwards, that this statute itself was but
partially enforced.[92] The French language, if we take his words
literally, even in the reign of Edward IV., was spoken in affairs of
mercantile account, and in many games, the vocabulary of both being
chiefly derived from it.[93]

  [89] I am indebted for this fact, which I have ventured to generalise,
     to the communication of Mr. Stevenson, sub-commissioner of public

  [90] Si qua inter se proferant, colloquio Latino vel saltem Gallico
     perfruantur. Warton, i. 6. In Merton College statutes, given in
     1271, Latin alone is prescribed.

  [91] The passage may be found quoted in Warton, ubi suprà, or in many
     other books.

  [92] “In the courts of justice they formerly used to plead in French,
     till, in pursuance of a law to that purpose, that custom was
     _somewhat restrained_, but not hitherto quite disused, de Laudibus
     Legum Angliæ, c. xlviii.” I quote from Waterhouse’s translation;
     but the Latin runs _quam plurimum_ restrictus est.

  [93] Ibid.

|State of European languages about 1400.|

53. Thus by the year 1400, we find a national literature subsisting in
seven European languages, three spoken in the Spanish peninsula, the
French, the Italian, the German, and the English; from which last, the
Scots dialect need not be distinguished. Of these the Italian was the
most polished, and had to boast of the greatest writers; the French
excelled in their number and variety. Our own tongue, though it had
latterly acquired much copiousness in the hands of Chaucer and Wicliffe,
both of whom lavishly supplied it with words of French and Latin
derivation, was but just growing into a literary existence. The German,
as well as that of Valencia, seemed to decline. The former became more
precise, more abstract, more intellectual, (_geistig_), and less
sensible (_sinnlich_), (to use the words of Eichhorn), and of
consequence less fit for poetry; it fell into the hands of lawyers and
mystical theologians. The earliest German prose, a few very ancient
fragments excepted, is the collection of Saxon laws (Sachsenspiegel),
about the middle of the thirteenth century; the next the Swabian
collection (Schwabenspiegel), about 1282.[94] But these forming hardly a
part of literature, though Bouterwek praises passages of the latter for
religious eloquence, we may deem John Tauler, a Dominican friar of
Strasburg, whose influence in propagating what was called the mystical
theology, gave a new tone to his country, to be the first German writer
in prose. “Tauler,” says a modern historian of literature, “in his
German sermons, mingled many expressions invented by himself, which were
the first attempt at a philosophical language, and displayed surprising
eloquence for the age wherein he lived. It may be justly said of him,
that he first gave to prose that direction in which Luther afterwards
advanced so far.”[95] Tauler died in 1361. Meantime, as has been said
before, the nobility abandoned their love of verse, which the burghers
took up diligently, but with little spirit or genius; the common
language became barbarous and neglected, of which the strange fashion of
writing half Latin, half German, verses, is a proof.[96] This had been
common in the darker ages: we have several instances of it in
Anglo-Saxon; but it was late to adopt it in the fourteenth century.

  [94] Bouterwek, p. 163. There are some novels at the end of the
     thirteenth, or beginning of the fourteenth century. Ibid.

  [95] Heinsius, iv. 76.

  [96] Eichhorn, Allg. Gesch., i. 240.

|Ignorance of reading and writing in darker ages.|

54. The Latin writers of the middle ages were chiefly ecclesiastics. But
of these in the living tongues a large proportion were laymen. They
knew, therefore, how to commit their thoughts to writing; and hence the
ignorance characteristic of the darker ages must seem to be
passing away. This, however, is a very difficult, though interesting
question, when we come to look nearly at the gradual progress of
rudimentary knowledge. I can offer but an outline, which those who turn
more of their attention towards the subject will be enabled to correct
and supply. Before the end of the eleventh century, and especially after
the ninth, it was rare to find laymen in France who could read and
write.[97] The case was probably not better anywhere else, except in
Italy. I should incline to except Italy, on the authority of a passage
in Wippo, a German writer soon after the year 1000, who exhorts the
Emperor Henry II. to cause the sons of the nobility to be instructed in
letters, using the example of the Italians, with whom, according to him,
it was a universal practice.[98] The word clerks or clergymen became in
this and other countries synonymous with one who could write or even
read; we all know the original meaning of benefit of clergy, and the
test by which it was claimed. Yet from about the end of the eleventh, or
at least of the twelfth century, many circumstances may lead us to
believe that it was less and less a conclusive test, and that the laity
came more and more into possession of the simple elements of literature.

  [97] Hist. Litt. de la France, vii. 2. Some nobles sent their children
     to be educated in the schools of Charlemagne, especially those of
     Germany, under Raban, Notker, Bruno, and other distinguished
     abbots. But they were generally destined for the church. Meiners,
     ii. 377. The signatures of laymen are often found to deeds of the
     eighth century, and sometimes of the ninth. Nouv. Traité de la
     Diplomatique, ii. 422. The ignorance of the laity, according to
     this authority, was not strictly parallel to that of the church.

          Tunc fac edictum per terram Teutonicorum
          Quilibet ut dives sibi natos instruat omnes
          Litterulis, legemque suam persuadeat illis,
          Ut cum principibus placitandi venerit usus,
          Quisque suis libris exemplum proferat illis.
          Moribus his dudum vivebat Roma decenter,
          His studiis tantos potuit vincere tyrannos.
          Hoc servant Itali post prima crepundia cuncti.

     I am indebted for this quotation to Meiners, ii. 344.

|Reasons for supposing this to have diminished after 1100.|

55. I. It will of course be admitted that all who administered or
belonged to the Roman law were masters of reading and writing, though we
do not find that they were generally ecclesiastics, even in the lowest
sense of the word, by receiving the tonsure. Some indeed were such. In
countries where the feudal law had passed from unwritten custom to
record and precedent, and had grown into as much subtlety by diffuseness
as the Roman, which was the case of England from the time of Henry II.,
the lawyers, though laymen, were unquestionably clerks or learned. II.
The convenience of such elementary knowledge to merchants, who, both in
the Mediterranean and in these parts of Europe, carried on a good deal
of foreign commerce, and indeed to all traders, may render it probable
that they were not destitute of it; though it must be confessed that the
word clerk rather seems to denote that their deficiency was supplied by
those employed under them. I do not, however, conceive that the clerks
of citizens were ecclesiastics.[99] III. If we could rely on a passage
in Ingulfus, the practice in grammar schools of construing Latin into
French was as old as the reign of the Conqueror;[100] and it seems
unlikely that this should have been confined to children educated for
the English church. IV. The poets of the north and south of France were
often men of princely or noble birth, sometimes ladies; their
versification is far too artificial to be deemed the rude product of an
illiterate mind; and to these, whose capacity of holding the pen few
will dispute, we must surely add a numerous class of readers, for whom
their poetry was designed. It may be surmised, that the itinerant
minstrels answered this end, and supplied the ignorance of the nobility.
But many ditties of the troubadours were not so well adapted to the
minstrels, who seem to have dealt more with metrical romances. Nor do I
doubt that these also were read in many a castle of France and Germany.
I will not dwell on the story of Francesca of Rimini, because no one,
perhaps, is likely to dispute that a Romagnol lady in the age of Dante
would be able to read the tale of Lancelot. But that romance had long
been written; and other ladies doubtless had read it, and possibly had
left off reading it in similar circumstances, and as little to their
advantage. The fourteenth century abounded with books in French prose;
the extant copies of some are not very few; but no argument against
their circulation could be urged from their scarcity in the
present day. It is not of course pretended that they were diffused as
extensively as printed books have been. V. The fashion of writing
private letters in French instead of Latin, which, as has been
mentioned, came in among us soon after 1270, affords perhaps a
presumption that they were written in a language intelligible to the
correspondent, because he had no longer occasion for assistance in
reading them; though they were still generally from the hand of a
secretary. But at what time this disuse of Latin began on the Continent
I cannot exactly determine. The French and Castilians, I believe, made
general use of their own languages in the latter half of the thirteenth

  [99] The earliest recorded bills of exchange, according to Beckmann,
     Hist. of Inventions, iii. 430, are in a passage of the jurist
     Baldus, and bear date 1328. But they were by no means in common use
     till the next century. I do not mention this as bearing much on the
     subject of the text.

  [100] Et pueris etiam in scholis principia literarum Gallicè et non
     Anglicè traderentur.

|Increased knowledge of writing in fourteenth century.|

56. The art of reading does not imply that of writing; it seems likely
that the one prevailed before the other. The latter was difficult to
acquire, in consequence of the regularity of characters preserved by the
clerks, and their complex system of abbreviations, which rendered the
cursive handwriting, introduced about the end of the eleventh century,
almost as operose to those who had not much experience of it as the more
stiff characters of older manuscripts. It certainly appears that even
autograph signatures are not found till a late period. Philip the Bold,
who ascended the French throne in 1272, could not write, though this is
not the case with any of his successors. I do not know that equal
ignorance is recorded of any English sovereign, though we have I think
only a series of autographs beginning with Richard II. It is said by the
authors of Nouveau Traité de la Diplomatique, Benedictines of laborious
and exact erudition, that the art of writing had become rather common
among the laity of France before the end of the thirteenth century: out
of eight witnesses to a testament in 1277 five could write their names;
at the beginning of that age, it is probable, they think, that not one
could have done so.[101] Signatures to deeds of private persons,
however, do not begin to appear till the fourteenth, and were not in
established use in France till about the middle of the fifteenth
century.[102] Indorsements upon English deeds, as well as mere
signatures, by laymen of rank, bearing date in the reign of Edward II.,
are in existence; and there is an English letter from the lady of Sir
John Pelham to her husband in 1399, which is probably one of the
earliest instances of female penmanship. By the badness of the grammar
we may presume it to be her own.[103]

  [101] Vol. ii. p. 423.

  [102] Ibid. p. 434, et post.

  [103] I am indebted for a knowledge of this letter to the Rev. Joseph
     Hunter, who recollected to have seen it in an old edition of
     Collins’s Peerage. Later editions have omitted it as an unimportant
     redundancy though interesting even for its contents, independently
     of the value it acquires from the language. On account of its
     scarcity, being only found in old editions now not in request, I
     shall insert it here; and till anything else shall prefer a claim,
     it may pass for the oldest private letter in the English language.
     I have not kept the orthography, but have left several incoherent
     and ungrammatical phrases as they stand. It was copied by Collins
     from the archives of the Newcastle family.

          My dear Lord,

          I recommend me to your high lordship with heart and body and
          all my poor might, and with all this I thank you as my dear
          lord dearest and best beloved of all earthly lords I say for
          me, and thank you my dear lord with all this that I say before
          of your comfortable letter that ye sent me from Pontefract
          that come to me on Mary Magdalene day; for by my troth I was
          never so glad as when I heard by your letter that ye were
          strong enough with the grace of God for to keep you from the
          malice of your enemies. And dear lord if it like to your high
          lordship that as soon as ye might that I might hear of your
          gracious speed; which as God Almighty continue and increase.
          And my dear lord if it like you for to know of my fare, I am
          here by laid in manner of a siege with the county of Sussex,
          Surrey, and a great parcel of Kent, so that I may nought out
          no none victuals get me but with much hard. Wherefore my dear
          if it like you by the advice of your wise counsel for to get
          remedy of the salvation of your castle and withstand the
          malice of the shires aforesaid. And also that ye be fully
          informed of their great malice workers in these shires which
          that haves so despitefully wrought to you, and to your castle,
          to your men, and to your tenants for this country have yai
          [sic] wasted for a great while. Farewell my dear lord, the
          Holy Trinity you keep from your enemies, and ever send me good
          tidings of you. Written at Pevensey in the castle on St. Jacob
          day last past,

                              By your own poor
                                        J. PELHAM.
          _To my true Lord._

|Average state of knowledge in England.|

57. Laymen, among whom Chaucer and Gower are illustrious examples,
received occasionally a learned education; and indeed the great number
of gentlemen who studied in the inns of court is a conclusive proof that
they were not generally illiterate. The common law required some
knowledge of two languages. Upon the whole we may be inclined to think,
that in the year 1400, or at the accession of Henry IV., the
average instruction of an English gentleman of the first class would
comprehend common reading and writing, a tolerable familiarity with
French, and a slight tincture of Latin; the latter retained or not,
according to his circumstances and character, as school learning is at
present. This may be rather a favourable statement; but after another
generation it might be assumed, as we shall see, with more confidence as
a fair one.[104]

  [104] It might be inferred from a passage in Richard of Bury, about
     1343, that none but ecclesiastics could read at all. He deprecates
     the putting of books into the hands of _laici_, who do not know one
     side from another. And in several places it seems that he thought
     they were meant for “the tonsured” alone. But a great change took
     place in the ensuing half century; and I do not believe he can be
     construed strictly even as to his own time.

|Invention of paper.|

58. A demand for instruction in the art of writing would increase with
the frequency of epistolary correspondence, which, where of a private or
secret nature, no one would gladly conduct by the intervention of a
secretary. Better education, more refined manners, a closer intercourse
of social life, were the primary causes of this increase in private
correspondence. But it was greatly facilitated by the invention, or,
rather, extended use, of paper as the vehicle of writing instead of
parchment; a revolution, as it may be called, of high importance,
without which both the art of writing would have been much less
practised, and the invention of printing less serviceable to mankind.
After the subjugation of Egypt by the Saracens, the importation of the
papyrus, previously in general use, came in no long time to an end; so
that, though down to the end of the seventh century all instruments in
France were written upon it, we find its place afterwards supplied by
parchment; and under the house of Charlemagne, there is hardly an
instrument upon any other material.[105] Parchment, however, a much more
durable and useful vehicle than papyrus,[106] was expensive, and its
cost not only excluded the necessary waste which a free use of writing
requires, but gave rise to the unfortunate practice of erasing
manuscripts in order to replace them with some new matter. This was
carried to a great extent, and has occasioned the loss of precious
monuments of antiquity, as is now demonstrated by instances of their

  [105] Montfaucon, in Acad. des Inscript., vol. vi. But Muratori says
     that the papyrus was little used in the seventh century, though
     writings on it may be found as late as the tenth, Dissert. xliii.
     This dissertation relates to the condition of letters in Italy as
     far as the year 1100; as the xlivth does to their subsequent

  [106] Heeren justly remarks (I do not know that others have done the
     same), of how great importance the introduction of parchment, to
     which, and afterwards to paper, the old perishable papyraceous
     manuscripts were transferred, has been to the preservation of
     literature. P. 74.

|Linen paper when first used.|

|Cotton paper.|

59. The date of the invention of our present paper, manufactured from
linen rags, or of its introduction into Europe, has long been the
subject of controversy. That paper made from cotton was in use sooner,
is admitted on all sides. Some charters written upon that kind not later
than the tenth century were seen by Montfaucon; and it is even said to
be found in papal bulls of the ninth.[107] The Greeks, however, from
whom the west of Europe is conceived to have borrowed this sort of
paper, did not much employ it in manuscript books, according to
Montfaucon, till the twelfth century, from which time it came into
frequent use among them. Muratori had seen no writing upon this material
older than 1100, though, in deference to Montfaucon, he admits its
employment earlier.[108] It certainly was not greatly used in Italy
before the thirteenth century. Among the Saracens of Spain, on the other
hand, as well as those of the East, it was of much greater antiquity.
The Greeks called it _charta Damascena_, having been manufactured
or sold in the city of Damascus. And Casiri, in his catalogue of the
Arabic manuscripts in the Escurial, desires us to understand that they
are written on paper of cotton or linen, but generally the latter,
unless the contrary be expressed.[109] Many in this catalogue were
written before the thirteenth, or even the twelfth century.

  [107] Mém. de l’Acad. des Inscriptions, vi. 604. Nouveau Traité de
     Diplomatique, i. 517. Savigny, Gesch. des Römischen Rechts, iii.

  [108] Dissert. xliii.

  [109] Materiæ, nisi membraneus sit codex, nulla mentio: cæteros
     bombycinos, ac, maximam partem, chartaceos esse colligas.
     Præfatio, p. 7.

|Linen paper as old as 1100.|

60. This will lead us to the more disputed question as to the antiquity
of linen paper. The earliest distinct instance I have found, and which I
believe has hitherto been overlooked, is an Arabic version of the
aphorisms of Hippocrates, the manuscript bearing the date of 1100. This
Casiri observes to be on linen paper, not as in itself remarkable, but
as accounting for its injury by wet. It does not appear whether
it were written in Spain, or, like many in that catalogue, brought from
Egypt or the East.[110]

  [110] Casiri, N. 787. Codex anno Christi 1100, chartaceus, &c.

|Known to Peter of Clugni.|

61. The authority of Casiri must confirm beyond doubt a passage in Peter
Abbot of Clugni, which has perplexed those who place the invention of
linen paper very low. In a treatise against the Jews, he speaks of
books, ex pellibus arietum, hircorum, vel vitulorum, sive ex biblis vel
juncis Orientalium paludum, aut ex _rasuris veterum pannorum_, seu
ex aliâ qualibet, forte viliore materia compactos. A late English writer
contends that nothing can be meant by the last words, “unless that all
sorts of inferior substances capable of being so applied, among them,
perhaps, hemp and the remains of cordage, were used at this period in
the manufacture of paper.”[111] It certainly at least seems reasonable
to interpret the words “ex rasuris veterum pannorum,” of linen rags; and
when I add that Peter Cluniacensis passed a considerable time in Spain
about 1141, there can remain, it seems, no rational doubt that the
Saracens of the peninsula were acquainted with that species of paper,
though perhaps it was as yet unknown in every other country.

  [111] See a memoir on an ancient manuscript of Aratus, by Mr. Ottley,
     in Archæeologia, vol. xxvi.

|And in 12th and 13th centuries.|

62. Andrès asserts, on the authority of the Memoirs of the Academy of
Barcelona, that a treaty between the kings of Arragon and Castile,
bearing the date of 1178, and written upon linen paper, is extant in the
archives of that city.[112] He alleges several other instances in the
next age; when Mabillon, who denies that paper of linen was then used in
charters, which, indeed, no one is likely to maintain, mentions, as the
earliest specimen he had seen in France, a letter of Joinville to St.
Louis, which must be older than 1270. Andrès refers the invention to the
Saracens of Spain, using the fine flax of Valencia and Murcia; and
conjectures that it was brought into use among the Spaniards themselves
by Alfonso of Castile.[113]

  [112] Vol. ii. p. 73. Andrès has gone much at length into this subject,
     and has collected several important passages which do not appear in
     my text. The letter of Joinville has been supposed to be addressed
     to Louis Hutin in 1314, but this seems inconsistent with the
     writer’s age.

  [113] Id. p. 84. He cannot mean that it was never employed before
     Alfonso’s time, of which he has already given instances.

|Paper of mixed materials.|

63. In the opinion of the English writer to whom we have above referred,
paper, from a very early period, was manufactured of mixed materials,
which have sometimes been erroneously taken for pure cotton. We have in
the Tower of London a letter addressed to Henry III. by Raymond, son of
Raymond VI., Count of Toulouse, and consequently between 1216 and 1222,
when the latter died, upon very strong paper, and certainly made, in Mr.
Ottley’s judgment, of mixed materials; while in several of the time of
Edward I., written upon genuine cotton paper of no great thickness, the
fibres of cotton present themselves everywhere at the backs of the
letters so distinctly that they seem as if they might even now be spun
into thread.[114]

  [114] Archæologia, ibid. I may however observe, that a gentleman as
     experienced as Mr. Ottley himself, inclines to think the letter of
     Raymond written on paper wholly made of cotton, though of better
     manufacture than usual.

|Invention of paper placed by some too low.|

64. Notwithstanding this last statement, which I must confirm by my own
observation, and of which no one can doubt who has looked at the letters
themselves, several writers of high authority, such as Tiraboschi and
Savigny, persist not only in fixing the invention of linen paper very
low, even after the middle of the fourteenth century, but in maintaining
that it is undistinguishable from that made of cotton, except by the eye
of a manufacturer.[115] Were this indeed true, it would be sufficient
for the purpose we have here in view, which is not to trace the origin
of a particular discovery, but the employment of a useful vehicle of
writing. If it be true that cotton paper was fabricated in Italy of so
good a texture that it cannot be discerned from linen, it must be
considered as of equal utility. It is not the case with the
letters on cotton paper in our English repositories; most, if not all,
of which were written in France or Spain. But I have seen in the Chapter
House at Westminster a letter written from Gascony about 1315, to Hugh
Despencer, upon thin paper, to all appearance made like that now in use,
and with a water mark. Several others of a similar appearance, in the
same repository, are of rather later time. There is also one in the
King’s Remembrancer’s Office of the 11th of Edward III. (1337 or 1338),
containing the accounts of the King’s ambassadors to the court of
Holland and probably written in that country. This paper has a water
mark, and if it is not of linen, is at least not easily distinguishable.
Bullet declares that he saw at Besançon a deed of 1302 on linen paper:
several are alleged to exist in Germany before the middle of the
century; and Lambinet mentions, though but on the authority of a
periodical publication, a register of expenses from 1323 to 1354, found
in a church at Caen, written on two hundred and eight sheets of that
substance.[116] One of the Cottonian manuscripts (Galba, B. I.) is
called Codex Chartaceus in the catalogue. It contains a long series of
public letters, chiefly written in the Netherlands, from an early part
of the reign of Edward III. to that of Henry IV. But upon examination I
find the title not quite accurate; several letters, and especially the
earliest, are written on parchment, and paper does not appear at soonest
till near the end of Edward’s reign.[117] Sir Henry Ellis has said that
“very few instances indeed occur before the fifteenth century of letters
written upon paper.”[118] The use of cotton paper was by no means
general, or even, I believe, frequent, except in Spain and Italy,
perhaps also in the south of France. Nor was it much employed even in
Italy for books. Savigny tells us there are few manuscripts of law books
among the multitude that exist which are not written on parchment.

  [115] Tiraboschi, v. 85. Savigny, Gesch. des Römischen Rechts, iii.
     534. He relies on a book I have not seen, Wehrs vom Papier. Hall,
     1789. This writer, it is said, contends that the words of Peter of
     Clugni, ex rasuris veterum pannorum, mean cotton paper. Heeren, p.
     208. Lambinet, on the other hand, translates them, without
     hesitation, “chiffons de linge,” Hist. de l’Origine de
     l’Imprimerie, i. 93.

     Andrès has pointed out, p. 70, that Maffei merely says he has seen
     no paper of linen earlier than 1300, and no instrument on that
     material older than one of 1367, which he found among his own
     family deeds. Tiraboschi, overlooking this distinction, quotes
     Maffei for his own opinion as to the lateness of the invention.

  [116] Lambinet, ubi suprà.

  [117] Andrès, p. 68, mentions a note written in 1342, in the Cotton
     library, as the earliest English specimen of linen paper. I do not
     know to what this refers; in the above-mentioned Codex Chartaceus
     is a letter of 1341, but it is on parchment.

  [118] Ellis’s Original Letters, i. 1.

|Not at first very important.|

65. It will be manifest from what has been said how greatly Robertson
has been mistaken in his position, that “in the eleventh century the art
of making paper, in the manner now become universal, was invented, by
means of which not only the number of manuscripts increased but the
study of the sciences was wonderfully facilitated.”[119] Even Ginguéné,
better informed on such subjects than Robertson, has intimated something
of the same kind. But paper, whenever, or wherever invented, was very
sparingly used, and especially in manuscript books, among the French,
Germans, or English, or linen paper, even among the Italians, till near
the close of the period which this chapter comprehends. Upon the “study
of the sciences” it could as yet have had very little effect. The vast
importance of the invention was just beginning to be discovered. It is
to be added, as a remarkable circumstance, that the earliest linen paper
was of very good manufacture, strong and handsome, though perhaps too
much like card for general convenience; and every one is aware that the
first printed books are frequently beautiful in the quality of their

  [119] Hist. of Charles V. vol. i. note 10. Heeren inclines to the same
     opinion, p. 200.

|Importance of legal studies.|

66. III. The application of general principles of justice to the
infinitely various circumstances which may arise in the disputes of men
with each other is in itself an admirable discipline of the moral and
intellectual faculties. Even where the primary rules of right and policy
have been obscured in some measure by a technical and arbitrary system,
which is apt to grow up, perhaps inevitably, in the course of
civilisation, the mind gains in precision and acuteness, though at the
expense of some important qualities; and a people wherein an artificial
jurisprudence is cultivated, requiring both a regard to written
authority, and the constant exercise of a discriminating judgment upon
words, must be deemed to be emerging from ignorance. Such was the
condition of Europe in the twelfth century. The feudal customs, long
unwritten, though latterly become more steady by tradition, were in some
countries reduced into treatises: we have our own Glanvil in the reign
of Henry II., and in the next century much was written upon the national
laws in various parts of Europe. Upon these it is not my intention to
dwell; but the importance of the civil law in its connection with
ancient learning, as well as with moral and political science, renders
it deserving of a place in any general account either of mediæval or
modern literature.

|Roman laws never wholly unknown.|

67. That the Roman laws, such as they subsisted in the western empire at
the time of its dismemberment in the fifth century, were received
in the new kingdoms of the Gothic, Lombard, and Carlovingian dynasties,
as the rule of those who by birth and choice submitted to them, was
shown by Muratori and other writers of the last century. This subject
has received additional illustration from the acute and laborious
Savigny, who has succeeded in tracing sufficient evidence of what had
been, in fact, stated by Muratori, that not only an abridgment of the
Theodosian code, but that of Justinian, and even the Pandects, were
known in different parts of Europe long before the epoch formerly
assigned for the restoration of that jurisprudence.[120] The popular
story, already much discredited, that the famous copy of the Pandects,
now in the Laurentian library at Florence, was brought to Pisa from
Amalfi, after the capture of that city by Roger king of Sicily with the
aid of a Pisan fleet in 1135, and became the means of diffusing an
acquaintance with that portion of the law through Italy, is shown by him
not only to rest on very slight evidence, but to be unquestionably, in
the latter and more important circumstance, destitute of all
foundation.[121] It is still indeed an undetermined question whether
other existing manuscripts of the Pandects are not derived from this
illustrious copy, which alone contains the entire fifty books, and which
has been preserved with a traditional veneration indicating some
superiority; but Savigny has shown, that Peter of Valence, a jurist of
the eleventh century, made use of an independent manuscript; and it is
certain that the Pandects were the subject of legal studies before the
siege of Amalfi.

  [120] It can be no disparagement to Savigny, who does not claim
     perfect originality, to say that Muratori, in his 44th
     dissertation, gives several instances of quotations from the
     Pandects in writers older than the capture of Amalfi.

  [121] Savigny, Geschichte des Römischen Rechts in mittel alter, iii. 83.

|Irnerius, his first successors.|

68. Irnerius, by universal testimony, was the founder of all learned
investigation into the laws of Justinian. He gave lectures upon them at
Bologna his native city, not long, in Savigny’s opinion, after the
commencement of the century.[122] And besides this oral instruction, he
began the practice of making glosses, or short marginal explanations, on
the law books, with the whole of which he was acquainted. We owe also to
him, according to ancient opinion, though much controverted in later
times, an epitome, called the Authentica, of what Gravina calls the
prolix and difficult (salebrosis atque garrulis) Novels of Justinian,
arranged according to the titles of the Code. The most eminent
successors of this restorer of the Roman law during the same century
were Martinus Gosias, Bulgarus, and Placentinus. They were, however, but
a few among many interpreters, whose glosses have been partly, though
very imperfectly preserved. The love of equal liberty and just laws in
the Italian cities rendered the profession of jurisprudence exceedingly
honourable; the doctors of Bologna and other universities were
frequently called to the office of podestà, or criminal judge, in these
small republics; in Bologna itself they were officially members of the
smaller or secret council; and their opinions, which they did not render
gratuitously, were sought with the respect that had been shown at Rome
to their ancient masters of the age of Severus.

  [122] Vol. iv. p. 16. Some have erroneously thought Irnerius a German.

|Their glosses.|

69. A gloss, γλωσσα [glôssa], properly meant a word from a foreign
language, or an obsolete or poetical word, or whatever requires
interpretation. It was afterwards used for the interpretation itself;
and this sense, which is not strictly classical, maybe found in Isidore,
though some have imagined Irnerius himself to have first employed
it.[123] In the twelfth century, it was extended from a single word to
an entire expository sentence. The first glosses were interlinear; they
were afterwards placed in the margin, and extended finally in some
instances to a sort of running commentary on an entire book. These were
called an Apparatus.[124]

  [123] Alcuim defines glossa, “unius verbi vel nominis interpretatio.”
     Ducange, præfat. in Glossar., p. 38.

  [124] Savigny, iii. 519.

|Abridgments of laws. Accursius’s Corpus Glossatum.|

70. Besides these glosses on obscure passages, some lawyers attempted to
abridge the body of the law. Placentinus wrote a summary of the Code and
Institutes. But this was held inferior to that of Azo, which appeared
before 1220. Hugolinus gave a similar abridgment of the Pandects. About
the same time, or a little after, a scholar of Azo, Accursius of
Florence, undertook his celebrated work, a collection of the glosses,
which, in the century that had elapsed since the time of Irnerius, had
grown to an enormous extent, and were of course not always consistent.
He has inserted little, probably, of his own, but exercised a
judgment, not perhaps a very enlightened one, in the selection of his
authorities. Thus was compiled his Corpus Juris Glossatum, commonly
called Glossa, or Glossa Ordinaria: a work, says Eichhorn, as remarkable
for its barbarous style and gross mistakes in history as for the
solidity of its judgments and practical distinctions. Gravina, after
extolling the conciseness, acuteness, skill, and diligence in comparing
remote passages, and in reconciling apparent inconsistencies, which
distinguished Accursius, remarks the injustice of some moderns, who
reproach his work with the ignorance inevitable in his age, and seem to
think the chance of birth which has thrown them into more enlightened
times, a part of their personal merit.[125]

  [125] Origines Juris, p. 184.

|Character of early jurists.|

71. Savigny has taken still higher ground in his admiration, as we may
call it, of the early jurists, those from the appearance of Irnerius to
the publication of the Accursian body of glosses. For the execution of
this work indeed he testifies no very high respect; Accursius did not
sufficient justice to his predecessors; and many of the most valuable
glosses are still buried in the dust of unpublished manuscripts.[126]
But the men themselves deserve our highest praise. The school of
Irnerius rose suddenly; for in earlier writers we find no intelligent
use, or critical interpretation, of the passages they cite. To reflect
upon every text, to compare it with every clause or word that might
illustrate its meaning in the somewhat chaotic mass of the Pandects and
Code, was reserved for these acute and diligent investigators.
“Interpretation,” says Savigny, “was considered the first and most
important object of glossers, as it was of oral instructors. By an
unintermitting use of the original law-books, they obtained that full
and lively acquaintance with their contents, which enabled them to
compare different passages with the utmost acuteness, and with much
success. It may be reckoned a characteristic merit of many glossers,
that they keep the attention always fixed on the immediate subject of
explanation, and, in the richest display of comparisons with other
passages of the law, never deviate from their point into anything too
indefinite and general; superior often in this to the most learned
interpreters of the French and Dutch schools, and capable of giving a
lesson even to ourselves. Nor did the glossers by any means slight the
importance of laying a sound critical basis for interpretation, but on
the contrary, laboured earnestly in the recension and correction of the

  [126] Vol. v. pp. 258-267.

  [127] Vol. v. pp. 199-211.

72. These warm eulogies afford us an instance, to which there are many
parallels, of such vicissitudes in literary reputation, that the wheel
of fame, like that of fortune, seems never to be at rest. For a long
time, it had been the fashion to speak in slighting terms of these early
jurists; and the passage above quoted from Gravina is in a much more
candid tone than was usual in his age. Their trifling verbal
explanations of _etsi_ by _quamvis_, or _admodum_ by _valde_; their
strange ignorance in deriving the name of the Tiber from the Emperor
Tiberius, in supposing that Ulpian and Justinian lived before Christ, in
asserting that Papinian was put to death by Mark Antony, and even in
interpreting _pontifex_ by _papa_ or _episcopus_, were the topics of
ridicule to those whom Gravina has so well reproved.[128] Savigny, who
makes a similar remark, that we learn, without perceiving it, and
without any personal merit, a multitude of things which it was
impossible to know in the twelfth century, defends his favourite
glossers in the best manner he can, by laying part of the blame on the
bad selection of Accursius, and by extolling the mental vigour which
struggled through so many difficulties.[129] Yet he has the candour to
own, that this rather enhances the respect due to the men, than the
value of their writings; and, without much acquaintance with the ancient
glossers, one may presume to think, that in explaining the Pandects, a
book requiring, beyond any other that has descended to us, an extensive
knowledge of the language and antiquities of Rome, their deficiencies,
if to be measured by the instances we have given, or by the general
character of their age, must require a perpetual exercise of our lenity
and patience.

  [128] Gennari, author of Respublica Jurisconsultorum, a work of the
     last century, who under colour of a fiction, gives rather an
     entertaining account of the principal jurists, exhibits some
     curious specimens of the ignorance of the Accursian interpreters,
     such as those in the text. See too the article Accursius in Bayle.

  [129] v. 213.

|Decline of jurists after Accursius.|

73. This great compilation of Accursius made an epoch in the annals of
jurisprudence. It put an end in great measure to the oral explanations
of lecturers which had prevailed before. It restrained at the same time
the ingenuity of interpretation. The glossers became the sole
authorities so that it grew into a maxim,--No one can go wrong who
follows a gloss: and some said, a gloss was worth a hundred texts.[130]
In fact, the original was continually unintelligible to a student. But
this was accompanied, according to the distinguished historian of
mediæval jurisprudence, by a decline of the science. The jurists in the
latter part of the thirteenth century are far inferior to the school of
Irnerius. It might be possible to seek a general cause, as men are now
always prone to do, in the loss of self-government in many of the
Italian republics. But Savigny, superior to this affectation of
philosophy, admits that this is neither a cause adequate in itself, nor
chronologically parallel to the decline of jurisprudence. We must
therefore look upon it as one of those revolutions, so ordinary and so
unaccountable, in the history of literature, where, after a period
fertile in men of great talents, there ensues, perhaps with no
unfavourable change in the diffusion of knowledge, a pause in that
natural fecundity, without which all our endeavours to check a
retrograde movement of the human mind will be of no avail. The
successors of Accursius in the thirteenth century contented themselves
with an implicit deference to the glosses; but this is rather a proof of
their inferiority than its cause.[131]

  [130] Bayle, ubi suprà. Eichhorn, Gesch. der Litteratur, ii. 461.
     Savigny, v. 268.

  [131] Savigny, v. 320.

|Respect paid to him at Bologna.|

74. It has been the peculiar fortune of Accursius, that his name has
always stood in a representative capacity, to engross the praise, or
sustain the blame, of the great body of glossers from whom he compiled.
One of those proofs of national gratitude and veneration was paid to his
memory, which it is the more pleasing to recount, that, from the
fickleness and insensibility of mankind, they do not very frequently
occur. The city of Bologna was divided into the factions of Lambertazzi
and Gieremei. The former, who were Ghibelins, having been wholly
overthrown, and excluded, according to the practice of Italian
republics, from all civil power, a law was made in 1306, that the family
of Accursius, who had been on the vanquished side, should enjoy all the
privileges of the victorious Guelf party, in regard to the memory of one
“by whose means the city had been frequented by students, and its fame
had been spread through the whole world.”[132]

  [132] Ib. v. 268.

|Scholastic jurists. Bartolus.|

75. In the next century a new race of lawyers arose, who, by a different
species of talent, almost eclipsed the greatest of their predecessors.
These have been called the scholastic jurists, the glory of the
schoolmen having excited an emulous desire to apply their dialectic
methods in jurisprudence.[133] Of these the most conspicuous were
Bartolus and Baldus, especially the former, whose authority became still
higher than that of the Accursian glossers. Yet Bartolus, if we may
believe Eichhorn, content with the glosses, did not trouble himself
about the text, which he was too ignorant of Roman antiquity, and even
of the Latin language, unless he is much belied, to expound.[134] “He is
so fond of distinctions,” says Gravina, “that he does not divide his
subject, but breaks it to pieces, so that the fragments are, as it were,
dispersed by the wind. But, whatever harm he might do to the just
interpretation of the Roman law as a positive code, he was highly useful
to the practical lawyer by the number of cases his fertile mind
anticipated; for though many of these were unlikely to occur, yet his
copiousness and subtlety of distinction is such that he seldom leaves
those who consult him quite at a loss.”[135] Savigny, who rates Bartolus
much below the older lawyers, gives him credit for original thoughts, to
which his acquaintance with the practical exercise of justice gave rise.
The older jurists were chiefly professors of legal science, rather than
conversant with forensic causes; and this has produced an opposition
between theory and practice in the Roman law, to which we have not much
analogous in our own, but the remains of which are said to be still
discernible in the continental jurisprudence.[136]

  [133] The employment of logical forms in law is not new; instances of
     it may be found in the earlier jurists. Savigny, v. 330; vi. 6.

  [134] Gesch. der Litteratur, ii. 449. Bartolus even said, de _verbibus_
     non curat jurisconsultus. Eichhorn gives no authority for this, but
     Meiners, from whom perhaps he took it, quotes Comnenus, Historia
     Archigymnasii Patavini. Vergleichung der Sitten, ii. 646. It seems,
     however, incredible.

  [135] Origines Juris, p. 191.

  [136] Savigny, vi. 138; v. 201. Of Bartolus and his school it is said
     by Grotius, Temporum suorum infelicitas impedimento sæpe fuit, quo
     minus recte leges illas intelligerent; satis solertes alioqui ad
     indagandam æqui bonique naturam; quo factum ut sæpe optimi sint
     condendi juris auctores, etiam tunc cum conditi juris mali sunt
     interpretes. Prolegomena in Jus Belli et Pacis.

|Inferiority of jurists in fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.|

76. The later expositors of law, those after the age of Accursius, are
reproached with a tedious prolixity, which the scholastic refinements of
disputation were apt to produce. They were little more conversant with
philological and historical literature than their predecessors, and had
less diligence in that comparison of texts, by which an acute
understanding might compensate the want of subsidiary learning. In the
use of language, the jurists, with hardly any exceptions, are uncouth
and barbarous. The great school of Bologna sent out all the earlier
glossers. In the fourteenth century this famous university fell rather
into decline; the jealousy of neighbouring states subjected its
graduates to some disadvantage; and while the study of jurisprudence was
less efficacious, it was more diffused. Italy alone had produced great
masters of the science; the professors in France and Germany during the
middle ages have left no great reputation.[137]

  [137] In this slight sketch of the early lawyers, I have been chiefly
     guided, as the reader will have perceived, by Gravina and Savigny,
     and also by a very neat and succinct sketch in Eichhorn, Gesch. der
     Litteratur, ii. 448-464. The Origines Juris of the first have
     enjoyed a considerable reputation. But Savigny says with severity,
     that Gravina has thought so much more of his style than his
     subject, that all he says of the old jurists is perfectly worthless
     through its emptiness and want of criticism. iii. 72. Of
     Terrasson’s Histoire de la Jurisprudence Romaine he speaks in still
     lower terms.

|Classical literature and taste in dark ages.|

77. IV. The universities however, with their metaphysics derived from
Aristotle through the medium of Arabian interpreters who did not
understand him, and with the commentaries of Arabian philosophers who
perverted him,[138] the development of the modern languages with their
native poetry, much more the glosses of the civil lawyers, are not what
is commonly meant by the revival of learning. In this we principally
consider the increased study of the Latin and Greek languages, and in
general of what we call classical antiquity. In the earliest of the dark
ages, as far back as the sixth century, the course of liberal
instruction was divided into the trivium and the quadrivium; the former
comprising grammar, logic, and rhetoric; the latter music, arithmetic,
geometry, and astronomy. But these sciences, which seem tolerably
comprehensive, were in reality taught most superficially, or not at all.
The Latin grammar, in its merest rudiments, from a little treatise
ascribed to Donatus and extracts of Priscian,[139] formed the only
necessary part of the trivium in ecclesiastical schools. Even this seems
to have been introduced afresh by Bede and the writers of the eighth
century, who much excel their immediate predecessors in avoiding gross
solecisms of grammar.[140] It was natural that in England, where Latin
had never been a living tongue, it should be taught better than in
countries which still affected to speak it. From the time of Charlemagne
it was lost on the continent in common use, and preserved only through
glossaries, of which there were many. The style of Latin in the dark
period, independently of its want of verbal purity, is in very bad
taste; and none seem to have been more inflated and empty than the
English.[141] The distinction between the ornaments adapted to poetry
and to prose had long been lost, and still more the just sense of
moderation in their use. It cannot be wondered at that a vicious
rhetoric should have overspread the writings of the seventh and eighth
centuries, when there is so much of it in the third and fourth.

  [138] It has been a subject of controversy, whether the physical and
     metaphysical writings of Aristotle were made known to Europe at the
     beginning of the thirteenth century, through Constantinople, or
     through Arabic translations. The former supposition rests certainly
     on what seems good authority, that of Rigord, a contemporary
     historian. But the latter is now more generally received, and is
     said to be proved in a dissertation which I have not seen, by M.
     Jourdain. Tennemann, Manuel de l’Hist. de la Philos., i. 355. These
     Arabic translations were themselves not made directly from the
     Greek, but from the Syriac. It is thought by Buhle that the logic
     of Aristotle was known in Europe sooner.

  [139] Fleury, xvii. 18. Andrès, ix. 284.

  [140] Eichhorn, Allg. Gesch. ii. 73. The reader is requested to
     distinguish, at least if he cares about references, Eichhorn’s
     Allgemeine Geschichte der Cultur, from his Geschichte der
     Litteratur, with which, in future, we shall have more concern.

  [141] Fleury, xvii. 23. Ducange, preface to Glossary, p. 10. The
     Anglo-Saxon charters are distinguished for their pompous absurdity;
     and it is the general character of our early historians. One
     Ethelwerd is the worst; but William of Malmsbury himself, perhaps
     in some measure by transcribing passages from others, sins greatly
     in this respect.

|Improvement in tenth and eleventh centuries.|

78. Eichhorn fixes upon the latter part of the tenth century, as an
epoch from which we are to deduce, in its beginnings, the restoration of
classical taste; it was then that the scholars left the meagre
introductions to rhetoric formerly used for the works of Cicero
and Quintilian.[142] In the school of Paderborn, not long after 1000,
Sallust and Statius, as well as Virgil and Horace, appear to have been
read.[143] Several writers, chiefly historical, about this period, such
as Lambert of Aschaffenburg, Ditmar, Wittikind, are tolerably exempt
from the false taste of preceding times, and, if they want a truly
classical tone, express themselves with some spirit.[144] Gerbert, who
by an uncommon quickness of parts shone in very different provinces of
learning, and was beyond question the most accomplished man of the dark
ages, displays in his epistles a thorough acquaintance with the best
Latin authors and a taste for their excellencies.[145] He writes with
the feelings of Petrarch, but in a less auspicious period. Even in
England, if we may quote again the famous passage of Ingulfus, the
rhetorical works of Cicero, as well as some book which he calls
Aristotle, were read at Oxford under Edward the Confessor. But we have
no indisputable name in the eleventh century, not even that of John de
Garlandia, whose Floretus long continued to be a text-book in schools.
This is a poor collection of extracts from Latin authors. It is
uncertain whether or not the compiler were an Englishman.[146]

  [142] Allg. Gesch., ii. 79.

  [143] Viguit Horatius magnus atque Virgilius, Crispus et Sallustius,
     et Urbanus Statius, ludusque fuit omnibus insudare versibus et
     dictaminibus jucundisque cantibus. Vita Meinwerci in Leibnitz
     Script. Brunsvic. apud Eichhorn, ii. 399.

  [144] Eichhorn, Gesch. der Litteratur, i. 807. Heeren, p. 157.

  [145] Heeren, p. 165. It appears that Cicero de republicâ was extant
     in his time.

  [146] Hist. Litt. de la France, viii. 84. They give very inconclusive
     reasons for robbing England of this writer, who certainly taught
     here under William the Conqueror, if not before, but it is possible
     enough that he came over from France. They say there is no such
     sirname in England as Garland, which happens to be a mistake; but
     the native English did not often bear sirnames in that age.

     The Anglo-Saxon clergy were inconceivably ignorant, ut cæteris
     esset stupori qui grammaticam didicisset. Will. Malmsbury, p. 101.
     This leads us to doubt the Aristotle and Cicero of Ingulfus.

|Lanfranc, and his schools.|

79. It is admitted on all hands, that a remarkable improvement both in
style and in the knowledge of Latin antiquity was perceptible towards
the close of the eleventh century. The testimony of contemporaries
attributes an extensively beneficial influence to Lanfranc. This
distinguished person, born at Pavia in 1005, and early known as a
scholar in Italy, passed into France about 1042 to preside over a school
at Bec in Normandy. It became conspicuous under his care for the studies
of the age, dialectics and theology. It is hardly necessary to add, that
Lanfranc was raised by the Conqueror to the primacy of England, and thus
belongs to our own history. Anselm, his successor both in the monastery
of Bec and the see of Canterbury, far more renowned than Lanfranc for
metaphysical acuteness, has shared with him the honour of having
diffused a better taste for philological literature over the schools of
France. It has, however, been denied by a writer of high authority, that
either any knowledge, or any love of classical literature, can be traced
in the works of the two archbishops. They are in this respect, he says,
much inferior to those of Lupus, Gerbert, and others of the preceding
ages.[147] His contemporaries, who extol the learning of Lanfranc in
hyperbolical terms, do so in very indifferent Latin of their own; but it
appears indeed more than doubtful whether the earliest of them meant to
praise him for this peculiar species of literature.[148] The
Benedictines of St. Maur cannot find much to say for him in this
respect. They allege that he and Anselm wrote better than was then
usual; a very moderate compliment. Yet they ascribe a great influence to
their public lectures, and to the schools which were formed on the model
of Bec.[149] And perhaps we could not without injustice deprive Lanfranc
of the credit he has obtained for the promotion of polite letters. There
is at least sufficient evidence that they had begun to revive in France
not long after his time.

  [147] Heeren, p. 185. There seems certainly nothing above the common in
     Lanfranc’s epistles.

  [148] Milo Crispinus, Abbot of Westminster, in his life of Lanfranc
     says of him, “Fuit quidam vir magnus Italia oriundus, quem
     Latinitas in antiquum scientiæ statum ab eo restituta tota supremum
     debito cum amore et honore agnoscit magistrum, nomine Lanfrancus.”

     This passage, which is frequently quoted, surely refers to his
     eminence in dialectics. The words of William of Malmsbury go
     farther. “Is literatura perinsignis liberales artes quæ jamdudum
     sorduerant, a Latio in Gallias vocans acumine suo expolivit.”

  [149] Hist. Litt. de la France, vii. 17, 107; viii. 304. The seventh
     volume of this long and laborious work begins with an excellent
     account of the literary condition of France in the eleventh
     century. At the beginning of the ninth volume we have a similar
     view of the twelfth. The continuation, of which four volumes have
     already been published at Paris, I have not seen. It has but begun
     to break ground, if I may so say, in the thirteenth century, as I
     find from the Journal des Savans. The laboriousness of the French,
     as well as the encouragement they receive from their government,
     are above all praise, and should be our own shame; but their
     prolixity now and then defeats the object. The magnificent work,
     the Ordonnances des Rois de France, is a proof of this; time gains
     a march on the successive volumes, and the laws of four years are
     published at the end of five.

|Italy--Vocabulary of Papias.|

80. The signs of gradual improvement in Italy during the eleventh
century are very perceptible; several schools, among which those of
Milan and the convent of Monte Cassino are most eminent, were
established; and some writers such as Peter Damiani and Humbert, have
obtained praise for rather more elegance and polish of style than had
belonged to their predecessors.[150] The Latin vocabulary of Papias was
finished in 1053. This is a compilation from the grammars and glossaries
of the sixth and seventh centuries; but though many of his words are of
very low Latinity, and his etymologies, which are those of his masters,
absurd, he both shows a competent degree of learning, and a regard to
profane literature, unusual in the darker ages, and symptomatic of a
more liberal taste.[151]

  [150] Bettinelli, Risorgimento d’Italia dopo il mille. Tiraboschi,
     iii. 248.

  [151] The date of the vocabulary of Papias had been placed by Scaliger,
     who says he has as many errors as words, in the thirteenth century.
     But Gaspar Barthius, in his Adversaria, c. i., after calling him,
     “veterum Glossographorum compactor non semper futilis,” observes,
     that Papias mentions an Emperor, Henry II., as then living, and
     thence fixes the æra of his book in the early part of the eleventh
     century, in which he is followed by Bayle, art. Balbi. It is rather
     singular that neither of those writers recollected the usage of the
     Italians to reckon as Henry II. the prince whom the Germans call
     Henry III., Henry the Fowler not being included by them in the
     imperial list: and Bayle himself quotes a writer, unpublished in
     the age of Barthius, who places Papias in the year 1053. This date
     I believe is given by Papias himself. Tiraboschi, iii. 300. A
     pretty full account of the Latin glossaries before and after Papias
     will be found in the preface to Ducange, p. 38.

|Influence of Italy upon Europe.|

81. It may be said with some truth, that Italy supplied the fire, from
which other nations in this first, as afterwards in the second æra of
the revival of letters, lighted their own torches. Lanfranc, Anselm,
Peter Lombard, the founder of systematic theology in the twelfth
century, Irnerius, the restorer of jurisprudence, Gratian, the author of
the first compilation of canon law, the school of Salerno, that guided
medical art in all countries, the first dictionaries of the Latin
tongue, the first treatise of algebra, the first great work that makes
an epoch in anatomy, are as truly and exclusively the boast of Italy, as
the restoration of Greek literature and of classical taste in the
fifteenth century.[152] But if she were the first to propagate an
impulse towards intellectual excellence in the rest of Europe, it must
be owned, that France and England, in this dawn of literature and
science, went in many points of view far beyond her.

  [152] Bettinelli, Risorgimento d’Italia, p. 71.

|Increased copying of manuscripts.|

82. Three religious orders, all scions from the great Benedictine stock,
that of Clugni, which dates from the first part of the tenth century,
the Carthusians, founded in 1084, and the Cistercians, in 1098,
contributed to propagate classical learning.[153] The monks of these
foundations exercised themselves in copying manuscripts; the arts of
calligraphy, and, not long afterwards, of illumination, became their
pride; a more cursive handwriting and a more convenient system of
abbreviations were introduced; and thus from the twelfth century we find
a great increase of manuscripts, though transcribed mechanically, as a
monastic duty, and often with much incorrectness. The abbey of Clugni
had a rich library of Greek and Latin authors. But few monasteries of
the Benedictine rule were destitute of one; it was their pride to
collect, and their business to transcribe, books.[154] These were, in a
vast proportion, such as we do not highly value at the present day; yet
almost all we do possess of Latin classical literature, with the
exception of a small number of more ancient manuscripts, is owing to the
industry of these monks. In that age, there was perhaps less zeal for
literature in Italy, and less practice in copying, than in France.[155]
This shifting of intellectual exertion from one country to another is
not peculiar to the middle ages; but, in regard to them, it has not
always been heeded by those who, using the trivial metaphor of light and
darkness, which it is not easy to avoid, have too much considered Europe
as a single point under a receding or advancing illumination.

  [153] Fleury. Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. 113.

  [154] Ibid. ix. 139.

  [155] Heeren, p. 197.

|John of Salisbury.|

83. France and England were the only countries where any revival of
classical taste was perceived. In Germany no sensible improvement in
philological literature can be traced, according to Eichhorn and
Heeren, before the invention of printing, though I think this must be
understood with exceptions; and that Otho of Frisingen, Saxo
Grammaticus, and Gunther, author of the poem entitled Ligurinus (who
belongs to the first years of the thirteenth century), might stand on
equal terms with any of their contemporaries. But, in the schools which
are supposed to have borrowed light from Lanfranc and Anselm, a more
keen perception of the beauties of the Latin language, as well as an
exacter knowledge of its idiom, was imparted. John of Salisbury, himself
one of their most conspicuous ornaments, praises the method of
instruction pursued by Bernard of Chartres about the end of the eleventh
century, who seems indeed to have exercised his pupils vigorously in the
rules of grammar and rhetoric. After the first grammatical instruction
out of Donatus and Priscian, they were led forward to the poets,
orators, and historians of Rome; the precepts of Cicero and Quintilian
were studied, and sometimes observed with affectation.[156] An
admiration of the great classical writers, an excessive love of
philology, and disdain of the studies that drew men from it, shine out
in the two curious treatises of John of Salisbury. He is perpetually
citing the poets, especially Horace, and had read most of Cicero. Such
at least is the opinion of Heeren, who bestows also a good deal of
praise upon his Latinity.[157] Eichhorn places him at the head of all
his contemporaries. But no one has admired his style so much as Meiners,
who declares that he has no equal in the writers of the third, fourth,
or fifth centuries, except Lactantius and Jerome.[158] In this I cannot
but think there is some exaggeration; the style of John of Salisbury,
far from being equal to that of Augustin, Eutropius, and a few more of
those early ages, does not appear to me by any means elegant; sometimes
he falls upon a good expression, but the general tone is not very
classical. The reader may judge from the passage in the note.[159]

  [156] Hist. Litt. de la France, vii. 16.

  [157] P. 203. Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. 47. Peter of Blois
     also possessed a very respectable stock of classical literature.

  [158] Vergleichung der Sitten, ii. 586. He says nearly as much of Saxo
     Grammaticus and William of Malmsbury. If my recollection of the
     former does not deceive me, he is a better writer than our monk of

  [159] One of the most interesting passages in John of Salisbury is that
     above cited, in which he gives an account of the method of
     instruction pursued by Bernard of Chartres, whom he calls
     exundantissimus modernis temporibus fons literarum in Gallia. John
     himself was taught by some who trod in the steps of this eminent
     preceptor. Ad hujus magistri formam præceptores mei in grammatica,
     Gulielmus de Conchis, et Richardus cognomento Episcopus, officio
     nunc archidiaconus Constantiensis, vita et conversatione vir bonus,
     suos discipulos aliquando informaverunt. Sed postmodum ex quo
     opinio veritati præjudicium fecit, et homines videri quam esse
     philosophi maluerunt, professoresque artium se totam philosophiam
     brevius quam triennio aut quadriennio transfusuros auditoribus
     pollicebantur, impetu multitudinis imperitæ victi cesserunt. Exinde
     autem minus temporis et diligentiæ in grammaticæ studio impensum
     est. Ex quo contigit ut qui omnes artes, tam liberales quam
     mechanicas profitentur, nec primam noverint, sine qua frustra quis
     progredietur ad reliquas. Licet autem et aliæ disciplinæ ad
     literaturam proficiant, hæc tamen privilegio singulari facere
     dicitur literatum. Metalog., lib. i. c. 24.

|Improvement of classical taste in twelfth century.|

84. It is generally acknowledged that in the twelfth century we find
several writers, Abelard, Eloisa, Bernard of Clairvaux, Saxo
Grammaticus, William of Malmsbury, Peter of Blois, whose style, though
never correct, which, in the absence of all better dictionaries than
that of Papias, was impossible, and sometimes affected, sometimes too
florid and diffuse, is not wholly destitute of spirit, and even of
elegance;[160] the Latin poetry, instead of Leonine rhymes, or attempts
at regular hexameters almost equally bad, becomes, in the hands of
Gunther, Gualterus de Insulis, Gulielmus Brito, and Joseph Iscanus, to
whom a considerable number of names might be added, always tolerable,
sometimes truly spirited;[161] and amidst all that still demands the
most liberal indulgence, we cannot but perceive the real progress of
classical knowledge, and the development of a finer taste in

  [160] Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. 146. The Benedictines are scarcely
     fair towards Abelard (xii. 147), whose style, as far as I have
     seen, which is not much, seems equal to that of his contemporaries.

  [161] Warton has done some justice to the Anglo Latin poets of this
     century, who have lately been published at Paris. The Trojan War
     and Antiocheis of Joseph Iscanus, he calls “a miracle in this age
     of classical composition.” The style, he says, is a mixture of
     Ovid, Statius, and Claudian. Vol. i. p. 163. The extracts Warton
     gives seem to me a close imitation of the second. The Philippis of
     William Brito must be of the thirteenth century, and Warton refers
     the Ligurinus of Gunther to 1206.

  [162] Hist. Litt. de la France, vol. ix. Eichhorn, Allg. Gesch. der
     Cultur, ii. 30, 62. Heeren. Meiners.

|Influence of increased number of clergy.|

85. The vast increase of religious houses in the twelfth century
rendered necessary more attention to the rudiments of literature.[163]
Every monk, as well as every secular priest, required a certain portion
of Latin. In the ruder and darker ages many illiterate persons had been
ordained; there were even kingdoms, as, for example, England, where this
is said to have been almost general. But the canons of the church
demanded of course such a degree of instruction as the continual use of
a dead language made indispensable; and in this first dawn of learning
there can be, I presume, no doubt that none received the higher orders,
or became professed in a monastery, for which the order of priesthood
was necessary, without some degree of grammatical knowledge. Hence this
kind of education in the rudiments of the Latin was imparted to a
greater number of individuals than at present.

  [163] Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. 11.

|Decline of classical literature in thirteenth century.|

86. The German writers to whom we principally refer, have expatiated
upon the decline of literature after the middle of the twelfth century,
unexpectedly disappointing the bright promise of that age, so that for
almost two hundred years we find Europe fallen back in learning where we
might have expected her progress.[164] This, however, is hardly true, in
the most limited sense, of the latter part of the twelfth century, when
that purity of classical taste, which Eichhorn and others seem chiefly
to have had in their minds, was displayed in better Latin poetry than
had been written before. In a general view, the thirteenth century was
an age of activity and ardour, though not in every respect the best
directed. The fertility of the modern languages in versification, the
creation, we may almost say, of Italian and English in this period, the
great concourse of students to the universities, the acute, and
sometimes profound, reasonings of the scholastic philosophy, which was
now in its most palmy state, the accumulation of knowledge, whether
derived from original research, or from Arabian sources of information,
which we find in the geometers, the physicians, the natural philosophers
of Europe, are sufficient to repel the charge of having fallen back, or
even remained altogether stationary, in comparison with the preceding
century. But in politeness of Latin style, it is admitted that we find
an astonishing and permanent decline both in France and England. Such
complaints are usual in the most progressive times; and we might not
rely on John of Salisbury when he laments the decline of taste in his
own age.[165] But in fact it would have been rather singular, if a
classical purity had kept its ground. A stronger party, and one hostile
to polite letters, as well as ignorant of them,--that of the theologians
and dialecticians,--carried with it the popular voice in the church and
the universities. The time allotted by these to philological literature
was curtailed, that the professors of logic and philosophy might detain
their pupils longer. Grammar continued to be taught in the university of
Paris; but rhetoric, another part of the trivium, was given up; by which
it is to be understood, as I conceive, that no classical authors were
read, or, if at all, for the sole purpose of verbal explanation.[166]
The thirteenth century, says Heeren, was one of the most unfruitful for
the study of ancient literature.[167] He does not seem to except Italy,
though there, as we shall soon see, the remark is hardly just. But in
Germany the tenth century, Leibnitz declares, was a golden age of
learning, compared with the thirteenth;[168] and France itself is but a
barren waste in this period. The relaxation of manners among the
monastic orders, which, generally speaking, is the increasing theme of
complaint from the eleventh century, and the swarms of worse vermin, the
Mendicant Friars, who filled Europe with stupid superstition, are
assigned by Meiners and Heeren as the leading causes of the return of

  [164] Meiners, ii. 605. Heeren, p. 228. Eichhorn, Allg. Gesch. der
     Litteratur, ii. 63-118.

     The running title of Eichhorn’s section, Die Wissenschaften
     verfallen in Barbarey, seems much too generally expressed.

  [165] Metalogicus, l. i. c. 24. This passage has been frequently
     quoted. He was very inimical to the dialecticians, as philologers
     generally are.

  [166] Crevier, ii. 376.

  [167] P. 237.

  [168] Introductio in Script. Brunwic., § lxiii., apud Heeren, et
     Meiners, ii. 631. No one has dwelt more fully than this last writer
     on the decline of literature in the thirteenth century, out of his
     cordial antipathy to the schoolmen. P. 589, et post.

     Wood, who has no prejudices against popery, ascribes the low state
     of learning in England under Edward III. and Richard II. to the
     misconduct of the mendicant friars, and to the papal provisions
     that impoverished the church.

  [169] Meiners, ii. 615. Heeren, 235.

|Relapse into barbarism.|

87. The writers of the thirteenth century display an incredible
ignorance, not only of pure idiom, but of the common grammatical
rules. Those who attempted to write verse have lost all prosody, and
relapse into Leonine rhymes and barbarous acrostics. The historians use
a hybrid jargon intermixed with modern words. The scholastic
philosophers wholly neglected their style, and thought it no wrong to
enrich the Latin, as in some degree a living language, with terms that
seemed to express their meaning. In the writings of Albertus Magnus, of
whom Fleury says that he can see nothing great in him but his volumes,
the grossest errors of syntax frequently occur, and vie with his
ignorance of history and science. Through the sinister example of this
man, according to Meiners, the notion that Latin should be written with
regard to ancient models, was lost in the universities for three hundred
years; an evil, however, slight in comparison with what he inflicted on
Europe by the credit he gave to astrology, alchemy, and magic.[170] Duns
Scotus and his disciples, in the next century, carried this much
farther, and introduced a most barbarous and unintelligible terminology,
by which the school metaphysics were rendered ridiculous in the revival
of literature.[171] Even the jurists, who more required an accurate
knowledge of the language, were hardly less barbarous. Roger Bacon, who
is not a good writer, stands at the head in this century.[172]
Fortunately, as has been said, the transcribing ancient authors had
become a mechanical habit in some monasteries. But it was done in an
ignorant and slovenly manner. The manuscripts of these latter ages,
before the invention of printing, are by far the most numerous, but they
are also the most incorrect, and generally of little value in the eyes
of critics.[173]

  [170] Meiners, ii. 692. Fleury, 5me discours, in Hist. Eccles., xvii.
     44. Buhle, i. 702.

  [171] Meiners, ii. 721.

  [172] Heeren, p. 245.

  [173] Id. p. 304.

|No improvement in fourteenth century. Richard of Bury.|

88. The fourteenth century was not in the slightest degree superior to
the preceding age. France, England, and Germany were wholly destitute of
good Latin scholars in this period. The age of Petrarch and Boccaccio,
the age before the close of which classical learning truly revived in
Italy, gave no sign whatever of animation throughout the rest of Europe;
the genius it produced, and in this it was not wholly deficient,
displayed itself in other walks of literature.[174] We may justly praise
Richard of Bury for his zeal in collecting books, and still more for his
munificence in giving his library to the university of Oxford, with
special injunctions that they should be lent to scholars. But his
erudition appears crude and uncritical, his style indifferent, and his
thoughts superficial.[175] Yet I am not aware that he had any equal in
England during this century.

  [174] Heeren, p. 300. Andrès, iii. 10.

  [175] The Philobiblon of Richard Aungerville, often called Richard of
     Bury, Chancellor of Edward III., is worthy of being read, as
     containing some curious illustrations of the state of literature.
     He quotes a wretched poem de Vetula as Ovid’s, and shows little
     learning, though he had a great esteem for it. See a note of
     Warton, History of English Poetry, i. 146, on Aungerville.

|Library formed by Charles V. at Paris.|

89. The patronage of letters, or collection of books, are not reckoned
among the glories of Edward III.; though, if any respect had been
attached to learning in his age and country, they might well have suited
his magnificent disposition. His adversaries, John, and especially
Charles V., of France, have more claims upon the remembrance of a
literary historian. Several Latin authors were translated into French by
their directions;[176] and Charles, who himself was not ignorant of
Latin, began to form the Royal Library of the Louvre. We may judge from
this of the condition of literature in his time. The number of volumes
was about 900. Many of these, especially the missals and psalters, were
richly bound and illuminated. Books of devotion formed the larger
portion of the library. The profane authors, except some relating to
French history, were in general of little value in our sight. Very few
classical works are in the list, and no poets except Ovid and
Lucan.[177] This library came, during the subsequent English wars, into
the possession of the duke of Bedford; and Charles VII. laid the
foundations of that which still exists.[178]

  [176] Crevier, ii. 424. Warton has amassed a great deal of information,
     not always very accurate, upon the subject of early French
     translations. These form a considerable portion of the literature
     of that country in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Hist. of
     English Poetry, ii. 414-430. See also de Sade, Vie de Pétrarque,
     iii. 548; and Crevier, Hist. de l’Univ. de Paris, ii. 424.

  [177] Warton adds Cicero to the classical list; and I am sorry to say
     that, in my History of the Middle Ages, I have been led wrong by
     him. Bouvin, his only authority, expressly says, pas un seuil
     manuscrit de Ciceron. Mém. de l’Acad. des Inscrip., ii. 693.

  [178] Id. 701.

|Some improvement in Italy during thirteenth century.|

|Catholicon of Balbi.|

90. This retrograde condition, however, of classical literature, was
only perceptible in Cisalpine Europe. By one of those shiftings
of literary illumination to which we have alluded, Italy, far lower in
classical taste than France in the twelfth century, deserved a higher
place in the next. Tiraboschi says that the progress in polite letters
was slow, but still that some was made; more good books were
transcribed, there were more readers, and of these some took on them to
imitate what they read; so that gradually the darkness which overspread
the land began to be dispersed. Thus we find that those who wrote at the
end of the thirteenth century were less rude in style than their
predecessors at its commencement.[179] A more elaborate account of the
state of learning in the thirteenth century will be found in the life of
Ambrogio Traversari, by Mehus; and several names are there mentioned,
among whom that of Brunetto Latini is the most celebrated. Latini
translated some of the rhetorical treatises of Cicero.[180] And we may
perhaps consider as a witness to some degree of progressive learning in
Italy at this time, the Catholicon of John Balbi, a Genoese monk, more
frequently styled Januensis. This book is chiefly now heard of, because
the first edition, printed by Gutenberg in 1460, is a book of uncommon
rarity and price. It is, however, deserving of some notice in the annals
of literature. It consists of a Latin grammar, followed by a dictionary,
both perhaps superior to what we should expect from the general
character of the times. They are at least copious; the Catholicon is a
volume of great bulk. Balbi quotes abundantly from the Latin classics,
and appears not wholly unacquainted with Greek; though I must own that
Tiraboschi and Eichhorn have thought otherwise. The Catholicon, as far
as I can judge from a slight inspection of it, deserves rather more
credit than it has in modern times obtained. In the grammar, besides a
familiarity with the terminology of the old grammarians, he will be
found to have stated some questions as to the proper use of words, with
_dubitari solet_, _multum quæritur_; which, though they are
superficial enough, indicate that a certain attention was beginning to
be paid to correctness in writing. From the great size of the
Catholicon, its circulation must have been very limited.[181]

  [179] iv. 420. The Latin versifiers of the thirteenth century were
     numerous, but generally very indifferent. Id. 378.

  [180] Mehus, p. 157. Tiraboschi, p. 418.

  [181] Libellum hunc (says Balbi at the conclusion) ad honorem Dei et
     gloriosæ Virginis Mariæ, et beati Domini patris nostri et omnium
     sanctorum electorum, necnon ad utilitatem meam et ecclesiæ sanctæ
     Dei, ex diversis majorum meorum dictis multo labore et diligenti
     studio compilavi. Operis quippe ac studii mei est et fuit multos
     libros legere et ex plurimis diversos carpere flores.

     Eichhorn speaks severely, and, I am disposed to think, unjustly, of
     the Catholicon, as without order and plan, or any knowledge of
     Greek, as the author himself confesses (Gesch. der Litteratur, ii.
     238). The order and plan are alphabetical, as usual in a
     dictionary; and though Balbi does not lay claim to much Greek, I do
     not think he professes entire ignorance of it. Hoc difficile est
     scire et minimè mihi non bene scienti linguam Græcam:--apud
     Gradenigo, Litteratura Greco-Italianna, p. 104. I have observed
     that Balbi calls himself _philocalus_, which indeed is no
     evidence of much Greek erudition.

|Imperfection of early dictionaries.|

91. In the dictionary however of John of Genoa, as in those of Papias
and the other glossarists, we find little distinction made between the
different gradations of Latinity. The Latin tongue was to them, except
so far as the ancient grammarians whom they copied might indicate some
to be obsolete, a single body of words; and, ecclesiastics as they were,
they could not understand that Ambrose and Hilary were to be proscribed
in the vocabulary of a language which was chiefly learned for the sake
of reading their works. Nor had they the means of pronouncing, what it
has cost the labour of succeeding centuries to do, that there is no
adequate classical authority for innumerable words and idioms in common
use. Their knowledge of syntax also was very limited. The prejudice of
the church against profane authors had by no means wholly worn away:
much less had they an exclusive possession of the grammar-schools, most
of the books taught in which were modern. Papias, Uguccio, and other
indifferent lexicographers, were of much authority.[182] The general
ignorance in Italy was still very great. In the middle of the fourteenth
century we read of a man, supposed to be learned, who took Plato and
Cicero for poets, and thought Ennius a contemporary of Statius.[183]

  [182] Mehus. Muratori, Dissert. 44.

  [183] Mehus, p. 211. Tiraboschi, v. 82.

|Restoration of letters due to Petrarch.|

|Character of his style.|

92. The first real restorer of polite letters was Petrarch. His fine
taste taught him to relish the beauties of Virgil and Cicero, and his
ardent praises of them inspired his compatriots with a desire for
classical knowledge. A generous disposition to encourage letters began
to show itself among the Italian princes. Robert, king of Naples, in the
early part of this century, one of the first patrons of Petrarch,
and several of the great families of Lombardy, gave this proof of the
humanising effects of peace and prosperity.[184] It has been thought by
some, that but for his appearance and influence at that period, the
manuscripts themselves would have perished, as several had done in no
long time before; so forgotten and abandoned to dust and vermin were
those precious records in the dungeons of monasteries.[185] He was the
first who brought in that almost deification of the great ancient
writers, which, though carried in following ages to an absurd extent,
was the animating sentiment of solitary study; that through which its
fatigues were patiently endured, and its obstacles surmounted. Petrarch
tells us himself, that while his comrades at school were reading Æsop’s
Fables, or a book of one Prosper, a writer of the fifth century, his
time was given to the study of Cicero, which delighted his ear long
before he could understand the sense.[186] It was much at his heart to
acquire a good style in Latin. And, relatively to his predecessors of
the mediæval period, we may say that he was successful. Passages full of
elegance and feeling, in which we are at least not much offended by
incorrectness of style, are frequent in his writings. But the fastidious
scholars of later times contemned these imperfect endeavours at purity.
“He wants,” says Erasmus, “full acquaintance with the language, and his
whole diction shows the rudeness of the preceding age.”[187] An Italian
writer, somewhat earlier, speaks still more unfavourably. “His style is
harsh, and scarcely bears the character of Latinity. His writings are
indeed full of thought, but defective in expression, and display the
marks of labour without the polish of elegance.”[188] I incline to agree
with Meiners in rating the style of Petrarch somewhat more highly.[189]
Of Boccace the writer above quoted gives even a worse character.
“Licentious and inaccurate in his diction, he has no idea of selection.
All his Latin writings are hasty, crude, and unformed. He labours with
thought, and struggles to give it utterance; but his sentiments find no
adequate vehicle, and the lustre of his native talents is obscured by
the depraved taste of the times.” Yet his own mother tongue owes its
earliest model of grace and refinement to his pen.

  [184] Tiraboschi, v. 20, et post. Ten universities were founded in
     Italy during the fourteenth century, some of which did not last
     long. Rome and Fermo in 1303; Perugia in 1307; Treviso about 1320;
     Pisa in 1339; Pavia not long after; Florence in 1348; Siena in
     1357; Lucca in 1369, and Ferrara in 1391.

  [185] Heeren, 270.

  [186] Et illa quidem ætate nihil intelligere poteram, sola me verborum
     dulcedo quædam et sonoritas detinebat ut quicquid aliud vel legerem
     vel audirem, raucum mihi dissonumque videretur. Epist. Seniles,
     lib. xv., apud de Sade, i. 36.

  [187] Ciceronianus.

  [188] Paulus Cortesius de hominibus doctis. I take the translations
     from Roscoe’s Lorenzo de’ Medici, c. vii.

  [189] Vergleichung der Sitten, iii. 126. Meiners has expatiated for
     fifty pages, pp. 94-147, on the merits of Petrarch in the
     restoration of classical literature; he seems unable to leave the
     subject. Heeren, though less diffuse, is not less panegyrical. De
     Sade’s three quartos are certainly a little tedious.

|His Latin poetry.|

93. Petrarch was more proud of his Latin poem called Africa, the subject
of which is the termination of the second Punic war, than of the sonnets
and odes, which have made his name immortal, though they were not the
chief sources of his immediate renown. It is indeed written with
elaborate elegance, and perhaps superior to any preceding specimen of
Latin versification in the middle ages, unless we should think Joseph
Iscanus his equal. But it is more to be praised for taste than
correctness; and though in the Basle edition of 1554, which I have used,
the printer has been excessively negligent, there can be no doubt that
the Latin poetry of Petrarch abounds with faults of metre. His eclogues,
many of which are covert satires on the court of Avignon, appear to me
more poetical than the Africa, and are sometimes very beautifully
expressed. The eclogues of Boccaccio, though by no means indifferent, do
not equal those of Petrarch.

|John of Ravenna.|

|Gasparin of Barziza.|

94. Mehus, whom Tiraboschi avowedly copies, has diligently collected the
names, though little more than the names, of Latin teachers at Florence
in the fourteenth century.[190] But among the earlier of these there was
no good method of instruction, no elegance of language. The first who
revealed the mysteries of a pure and graceful style, was John
Malpaghino, commonly called John of Ravenna, one whom in his youth
Petrarch had loved as a son, and who not very long before the end of the
century taught Latin at Padua and Florence.[191] The best scholars of
the ensuing age were his disciples, and among them was Gasparin of
Barziza, or, as generally called of Bergamo, justly characterised by
Eichhorn as the father of a pure and elegant Latinity.[192] The
distinction between the genuine Latin language and that of the lower
empire was from this generally recognised; and the writers who had been
regarded as standards were thrown away with contempt. This is the proper
æra of the revival of letters, and nearly coincides with the beginning
of the fifteenth century.

  [190] Vita Traversari, p. 348.

  [191] A life of John Malpaghino of Ravenna is the first in Meiner’s
     Lebensbeschreibungen berühmter männer, 3 vols., Zurich, 1795, but
     it is wholly taken from Petrarch’s Letters, and from Mehus’s Life
     of Traversari, p. 348. See also Tiraboschi, v. 554.

  [192] Geschichte der Litteratur, ii. 241.

95. A few subjects, affording less extensive observation, we have
postponed to the next chapter, which will contain the literature of
Europe in the first part of the fifteenth century. Notwithstanding our
wish to preserve in general a strict regard to chronology, it has been
impossible to avoid some interruptions of it without introducing a
multiplicity of transitions incompatible with any comprehensive views;
and which, even as it must inevitably exist in a work of this nature, is
likely to diminish the pleasure, and perhaps the advantage, that the
reader might derive from it.

                             CHAPTER II.


_Cultivation of Latin in Italy--Revival of Greek Literature--Vestiges
of it during the Middle Ages--It is taught by Chrysoloras--his
Disciples--and by learned Greeks--State of Classical Learning in
other Parts of Europe--Physical Sciences--Mathematics--Medicine and
Anatomy--Poetry in Spain, France, and England--Formation of New Laws
of Taste in Middle Ages--Their Principles--Romances--Religious

|Zeal for classical literature in Italy.|

1. Ginguéné has well observed, that the fourteenth century left Italy in
the possession of the writings of three great masters, of a language
formed and polished by them, and of a strong relish for classical
learning. But this soon became the absorbing passion, fortunately, no
doubt, in the result, as the same author has elsewhere said, since all
the exertions of an age were required to explore the rich mine of
antiquity, and fix the standard of taste and purity for succeeding
generations. The ardour for classical studies grew stronger every day.
To write Latin correctly, to understand the allusions of the best
authors, to learn the rudiments at least of Greek, were the objects of
every cultivated mind.

|Poggio Bracciolini.|

|Latin style of that age indifferent.|

2. The first half of the fifteenth century, has been sometimes called
the age of Poggio Bracciolini, which it expresses not very inaccurately
as to his literary life, since he was born in 1381, and died in 1459;
but it seems to involve too high a compliment. The chief merit of Poggio
was his diligence, aided by good fortune, in recovering lost works of
Roman literature, that lay mouldering in the repositories of convents.
Hence we owe to this one man eight orations of Cicero, a complete
Quintilian, Columella, part of Lucretius, three books of Valerius
Flaccus, Silius Italicus, Ammianus Marcellinus, Tertullian, and several
less important writers: twelve comedies of Plautus were also recovered
in Germany through his directions.[193] Poggio besides this was
undoubtedly a man of considerable learning for his time, and still
greater sense and spirit as a writer, though he never reached a very
correct or elegant style.[194] And this applies to all those who
wrote before the year 1440, with the single exception of Gasparin; to
Coluccio Salutato, Guarino of Verona, and even Leonard Aretin.[195] Nor
is this any disparagement to their abilities and industry. They had
neither grammars nor dictionaries, in which the purest Latinity was
distinguishable from the worst; they had to unlearn a barbarous jargon,
made up with scraps of the Vulgate, and of ecclesiastical writers, which
pervades the Latin of the middle ages; they had great difficulty in
resorting to purer models, from the scarcity and high price of
manuscripts, as well as from their general incorrectness, which it
required much attention to set right. Gasparin of Barziza took the right
course, by incessantly turning over the pages of Cicero; and thus by
long habit gained an instinctive sense of propriety in the use of
language, which no secondary means at that time could have given him.

  [193] Shepherd’s Life of Poggio. Tiraboschi. Corniani. Roscoe’s Lorenzo,
     ch. i. Fabricius, in his Bibliotheca Latina mediæ et infimæ ætatis,
     gives a list not quite the same; but Poggio’s own authority must be
     the best. The work first above quoted is for the literary history
     of Italy in the earlier half of the fifteenth century, what
     Roscoe’s Lorenzo is for the latter. Ginguéné has not added much to
     what these English authors and Tiraboschi had furnished.

  [194] Mr. Shepherd has judged Poggio a little favourably, as became a
     biographer, but with sense and discrimination. His Italian
     translator, the Avvocato Tonelli (Firenze, 1825), goes much beyond
     the mark in extolling Poggio above all his contemporaries, and
     praising his “vastissima erudizione” in the strain of hyperbole too
     familiar to Italians. This vast learning, even for that time,
     Poggio did not possess; we have no reason to believe him equal to
     Guarino, Filelfo, or Traversari, much less to Valla. Erasmus,
     however, was led by his partiality to Valla into some injustice
     towards Poggio, whom he calls rabula adeo indoctus, ut etiamsi
     vacaret obscœnitate, tamen indignus esset qui legeretur, adeo autem
     obscœnus ut etiamsi doctissimus esset, tamen esset a viris bonis
     rejiciendus. Epist. ciii. This is said too hastily; but in his
     Ciceronianus, where we have his deliberate judgment, he appreciates
     Poggio more exactly. After one of the interlocutors has called him,
     vividæ cujusdam eloquentiæ virum, the other replies:--Naturæ satis
     erat, artis et eruditionis non multum; interim impuro sermonis
     fluxu, si Laurentio Vallæ credimus. Bebel, a German of some
     learning, rather older than Erasmus, in a letter quoted by Blount
     (Censura Auctorum, in Poggio), praises Poggio very highly for his
     style, and prefers him to Valla. Paulus Cortesius seems not much to
     differ from Erasmus about Poggio, though he is more severe on Valla.

     It should be added, that Tonelli’s notes on the life of Poggio are
     useful; among other things he points out that Poggio did not learn
     Greek of Emanuel Chrysoloras, as all writers on this part of
     literary history had hitherto supposed, but about 1423, when he was
     turned of forty.

  [195] Coluccio Salutato belongs to the fourteenth century, and was
     deemed one of its greatest ornaments in learning. Ma a dir vero,
     says Tiraboschi, who admits his extensive erudition, relatively to
     his age, benche lo stil di Coluccio abbia non rare volte energia e
     forza maggiore che quello della maggior parti degli altri scrittori
     di questi tempi, è certo però, che tanto è diverso da quello di
     Cicerone nella prosa, e ne’ versi da quel di Virgilio, quanto
     appunto è diversa una scimia da un uomo, v. 537.

     Cortesius, in the dialogue quoted above, says of Leonard
     Aretin:--Hic primus inconditam scribendi consuetudinem ad numerosum
     quendam sonum inflexit, et attulit hominibus nostris aliquid certe
     splendidius.... Et ego video hunc nondum satis esse limatum, nec
     delicatiori fastidio tolerabilem. Atqui dialogi Joannis Ravennatis
     vix semel leguntur, et Coluccii Epistolæ, quæ tum in honore erant,
     non apparent; sed Boccacii Genealogiam legimus, utilem illam
     quidem, sed non tamen cum Petrarchæ ingenio conferendam. At non
     videtis quantum his omnibus desit? p. 12. Of Guarino he says
     afterwards:--Genus tamen dicendi inconcinnum admodum est et
     salebrosum; utitur plerumque imprudens verbis poeticis, quod est
     maxime vitiosum; sed magis est in eo succus, quam color laudandus.
     Memoria teneo, quendam familiarem meum solitum dicere, melius
     Guarinum famæ suæ consuluisse, si nihil unquam scripsisset, p. 14.

|Gasparin of Barziza.|

3. This writer, often called Gasparin of Bergamo, his own birthplace
being in the neighbourhood of that city, was born about 1370, and began
to teach before the close of the century. He was transferred to Padua by
the Senate of Venice, in 1407; and in 1410 accepted the invitation of
Filippo Maria Visconti to Milan, where he remained till his death, in
1431. Gasparin had here the good fortune to find Cicero de Oratore, and
to restore Quintilian by the help of the manuscript brought from St.
Gall by Poggio, and another found in Italy by Leonard Aretin. His fame
as a writer was acquired at Padua, and founded on his diligent study of

|Merits of his style.|

4. It is impossible to read a page of Gasparin without perceiving that
he is quite of another order of scholars from his predecessors. He is
truly Ciceronian in his turn of phrases and structure of sentences,
which never end awkwardly, or with a wrong arrangement of words, as is
habitual with his contemporaries. Inexact expressions may of course be
found, but they do not seem gross or numerous. Among his works are
several orations which probably were actually delivered: they are the
earliest models of that classical declamation which became so usual
afterwards, and are elegant, if not very forcible. His Epistolæ ad
Exercitationem accommodatæ was the first book printed at Paris. It
contains a series of exercises for his pupils, probably for the sake of
double translation, and merely designed to exemplify Latin idioms.[196]

  [196] Morhof, who says, primus in Italia aliquid balbutire cœpit
     Gasparinus, had probably never seen his writings, which are a great
     deal better, in point of language, than his own. Cortesius,
     however, blames Gasparin for too elaborate a style; nimia cura
     attenuabat orationem.

     He once uses a Greek word in his letters; what he knew of the
     language does not otherwise appear; but he might have heard Guarino
     at Venice. He had not seen Pliny’s Natural History, nor did he
     possess a Livy, but was in treaty for one. Epist. p. 200,
     A.D. 1415.

|Victorin of Feltre.|

5. If Gasparin was the best writer of this generation, the most
accomplished instructor was Victorin of Feltre, to whom the marquis of
Mantua entrusted the education of his own children. Many of the Italian
nobility, and some distinguished scholars were brought up under the care
of Victorin in that city; and, in a very corrupt age, he was still more
zealous for their moral than their literary improvement. A pleasing
account of his method of discipline will be found in Tiraboschi, or more
fully in Corniani, from a life written by one of Victorin’s pupils,
named Prendilacqua.[197] “It could hardly be believed,” says Tiraboschi,
“that in an age of such rude manners, a model of such perfect education
could be found: if all to whom the care of youth is entrusted would make
it theirs, what ample and rich fruits they would derive from their
labours.” The learning of Victorin was extensive; he possessed a
moderate library, and rigidly demanding a minute exactness from his
pupils in their interpretation of ancient authors, as well as in their
own compositions, laid the foundations of a propriety in style, which
the next age was to display. Traversari visited the school of Victorin,
for whom he entertained a great regard, in 1433; it had then been for
some years established.[198] No writings of Victorin have been

  [197] Tiraboschi, vii. 306. Corniani, ii. 53. Heeren, p. 235. He is
     also mentioned, with much praise for his mode of education, by his
     friend Ambrogio Traversari, a passage from whose Hodopæricon will
     be found in Heeren, p. 237. Victorin died in 1447, and was buried
     at the public expense, his liberality in giving gratuitous
     instruction to the poor having left him so.

  [198] Mehus, p. 421.

|Leonard Aretin.|

6. Among the writers of these forty years, after Gasparin of Bergamo, we
may probably assign the highest place in politeness of style to Leonardo
Bruni, more commonly called Aretino, from his birthplace, Arezzo. “He
was the first,” says Paulus Cortesius, “who replaced the rude structure
of periods by some degree of rhythm, and introduced our countrymen to
something more brilliant than they had known before; though even he is
not quite as polished as a fastidious delicacy would require.” Aretin’s
history of the Goths, which, though he is silent on the obligation, is
chiefly translated from Procopius, passes for his best work. In the
constellation of scholars who enjoyed the sunshine of favour in the
palace of Cosmo de’ Medici, Leonard Aretin was one of the oldest and
most prominent. He died at an advanced age in 1444, and is one of the
six illustrious dead who repose in the church of Santa Croce.[199]

  [199] Madame de Staël unfortunately confounded this respectable scholar,
     in her Corinne, with Pietro Aretino; I remember well that Ugo
     Foscolo could never contain his wrath against her for this mistake.

|Revival of Greek language in Italy.|

|Early Greek scholars of Europe.|

|Under Charlemagne and his successors.|

7. We come now to a very important event in literary history,--the
resuscitation of the study of the Greek language in Italy. During the
whole course of the middle ages we find scattered instances of scholars
in the west of Europe, who had acquired some knowledge of Greek; to what
extent it is often a difficult question to determine. In the earlier and
darker period, we begin with a remarkable circumstance, already
mentioned, of our own ecclesiastical history. The infant Anglo-Saxon
churches, desirous to give a national form to their hierarchy, solicited
the Pope Vitalian to place an archbishop at their head. He made choice
of Theodore, who not only brought to England a store of Greek
manuscripts, but, through the means of his followers, imparted a
knowledge of it to some of our countrymen. Bede half a century
afterwards, tells us, of course very hyperbolically, that there were
still surviving disciples of Theodore and Adrian, who understood the
Greek and Latin languages as well as their own.[200] From these he
derived, no doubt, his own knowledge, which may not have been
extensive; but we cannot expect more, in such very unfavourable
circumstances, than a superficial progress in so difficult a study. It
is probable that the lessons of Theodore’s disciples were not forgotten
in the British and Irish monasteries. Alcuin has had credit, with no
small likelihood, if not on positive authority, for an acquaintance with
Greek;[201] and as he, and perhaps others from these islands, were
active in aiding the efforts of Charlemagne for the restoration of
letters, the slight tincture of Greek that we find in the schools
founded by that emperor, may have been derived from their instruction.
It is, however, an equally probable hypothesis, that it was communicated
by Greek teachers, whom it was easy to procure. Charlemagne himself,
according to Eginhard, could read, though he could not speak, the Greek
language. Thegan reports the very same, in nearly the same words, of
Louis the Debonair.[202] The former certainly intended, that it should
be taught in some of his schools;[203] and the Benedictines of St. Maur,
in their long and laborious Histoire Littéraire de la France, have
enumerated as many as seventeen persons within France, or at least the
dominions of the Carlovingian house, to whom they ascribe, on the
authority of contemporaries, a portion of this learning.[204] These were
all educated in the schools of Charlemagne except the most eminent in
the list, John Scotus Erigena, for whom Scotland and Ireland contend,
the latter probably on the best grounds. It is not necessary by any
means to suppose that he had acquired by travel the Greek tongue, which
he possessed sufficiently to translate, though very indifferently, the
works attributed in that age to Dionysius the Areopagite.[205] Most
writers of the ninth century, according to the Benedictines, make use of
some Greek words. It appears by a letter of the famous Hincmar,
archbishop of Rheims, who censures his nephew Hincmar of Laon for doing
this affectedly, that glossaries, from which they picked those exotic
flowers, were already in use. Such a glossary in Greek and Latin,
compiled, under Charles the Bald, for the use of the church of Laon,
was, at the date of the publication of this Benedictine History, near
the middle of the last century, in the library of St. Germain des
Prés.[206] We may thus perceive the means of giving the air of more
learning than was actually possessed; and are not to infer from these
sprinklings of Greek in mediæval writings, whether in their proper
characters, or latinised, which is rather more frequent, that the poets
and profane, or even ecclesiastical, writers were accessible in a French
or English monastery. Neither of the Hincmars seems to have understood
it. Tiraboschi admits that he cannot assert any Italian writer of the
ninth century to be acquainted with Greek.[207]

  [200] Hist. Eccles. l. v. c. 2. Usque hodie supersunt ex eorum
     discipulis, qui Latinam Græcamque linguam æque ac propriam in qua
     nati sunt, norunt. Bede’s own knowledge of Greek is attested by his
     biographer Cuthbert: præter Latinam etiam Græcam comparaverat. He
     once, and possibly more often, uses a Greek word; but we must
     suspect his knowledge of it to have been trifling.

     A manuscript in the British Museum (Cotton, Galba, i. 18,) is of
     some importance in relation to this, if it be truly referred to the
     eighth century. It contains the Lord’s prayer in Greek, written in
     Anglo-Saxon characters, and appears to have belonged to king
     Athelstan. Mr. Turner (Hist. of Angl.-Sax., vol. iii. p. 396) has
     taken notice of this manuscript, but without mentioning its
     antiquity. The manner in which the words are divided shows a
     perfect ignorance of Greek in the writer; but the Saxon is curious
     in another respect, as it proves the pronunciation of Greek in the
     eighth century to have been modern or Romaic, and not what we hold
     to be ancient.

  [201] C’était un homme habile dans le Grec comme dans le Latin. Hist.
     Litt. de la Fr. iv. 8.

  [202] The passages will be found in Eichhorn, Allg. Gesch. ii. 265 and
     290. That concerning Charlemagne is quoted in many other books.
     Eginhard says in the same place, that Charles prayed in Latin as
     readily as in his own language; and Thegan, that Louis could speak
     Latin perfectly.

  [203] Osnabrug has generally been named as the place, where Charlemagne
     peculiarly designed that Greek should be cultivated. It seems
     however, on considering the passage in the Capitularies usually
     quoted (Baluze, ii. 419) to have been only one out of many.
     Eichhorn thinks that the existence of a Greek school at Osnabrug is
     doubtful, but that there is more evidence in favour of Saltsburg
     and Ratisbon. Allg. Gesch. der Cultur, ii. 383. The words of the
     Capitulary are, Græcas et Latinas Scholas in perpetuum manere

  [204] Hist. Litt. de la France, vol. v. Launoy had commenced this
     enumeration in his excellent treatise on the schools of
     Charlemagne; but he has not carried it quite so far. See, too,
     Eichhorn, Allg. Gesch. ii. 420; and Gesch. der Litt. i. 824.
     Meiners thinks that Greek was better known in the ninth century,
     through Charlemagne’s exertions, than for five hundred years
     afterwards. ii. 367.

  [205] Eichhorn, ii. 227. Brucker. Guizot.

  [206] Hist. Litt. de la France, vol. iv. Duncange, præf. in Glossar.
     p. 40.

  [207] iii. 206.

|In the tenth and eleventh centuries.|

8. The tenth century furnishes not quite so many proofs of Greek
scholarship. It was, however, studied by some brethren in the abbey of
St. Gall, a celebrated seat of learning for those times, and the library
of which still bears witness, in its copious collection of manuscripts,
to the early intercourse between the scholars of Ireland and those of
the continent. Baldric, bishop of Utrecht,[208] Bruno of Cologne, and
Gerbert, besides a few more whom the historians of St. Maur record,
possessed a tolerable acquaintance with the Greek language. They
mention a fact that throws light on the means by which it might
occasionally be learned. Some natives of that country, doubtless
expatriated catholics, took refuge in the diocese of Toul, under the
protection of the bishop, not long before 1000. They formed separate
societies, performing divine service in their own language, and with
their own rites.[209] It is probable, the Benedictines observe, that
Humbert, afterwards a cardinal, acquired from them that knowledge of the
language by which he distinguished himself in controversy with their
countrymen.[210] This great schism of the church, which the Latins
deeply felt, might induce some to study a language, from which alone
they could derive authorities in disputation with these antagonists. But
it had also the more unequivocal effect of drawing to the west some of
those Greeks who maintained their communion with the church of Rome. The
emigration of these in the diocese of Toul is not a single fact of the
kind; and it is probably recorded from the remarkable circumstance of
their living in community. We find from a passage in Heric, a prelate in
the reign of Charles the Bald, that this had already begun; at the
commencement, in fact, of the great schism.[211] Greek bishops and Greek
monks are mentioned as settlers in France during the early part of the
eleventh century. This was especially in Normandy, under the protection
of Richard II., who died in 1028. Even monks from Mount Sinai came to
Rouen to share in his liberality.[212] The Benedictines ascribe the
preservation of some taste for the Greek and oriental tongues to these
strangers. The list, however, of the learned in them is very short,
considering the erudition of these fathers, and their disposition to
make the most of all they met with. Greek books are mentioned in the few
libraries of which we read in the eleventh century.[213]

  [208] Baldric lived under Henry the Fowler; his biographer says:--Nullum
     fuit studiorum liberalium genus in omni Græca et Latina eloquentia
     quod ingenio sui vivacitatem aufugeret Launoy, p. 117. Hist Litt.
     vi. 50.

  [209] Vol. vi. p. 57.

  [210] Vol. vii. p. 528.

  [211] Ducange, præfat. in Glossar. p. 41.

  [212] Hist Litt. de la France, vii. 69, 124. et alibi. A Greek
     manuscript in the royal library at Paris, containing the liturgy,
     according to the Greek ritual, was written in 1022, by a monk named
     _Helie_, (they do not give the Latin name,) who seems to have lived
     in Normandy. If this stands for Elias, he was probably a Greek by

  [213] Id. p. 48.

|In the twelfth.|

9. The number of Greek scholars seems not much more considerable in the
twelfth century, notwithstanding the general improvement of that age.
The Benedictines reckon about ten names, among which we do not find that
of St. Bernard.[214] They are inclined also to deny the pretensions of
Abelard;[215] but, as that great man finds a very hostile tribunal in
these fathers, we may pause about this, especially as they acknowledge
Eloise to have understood both the Greek and Hebrew languages. She
established a Greek mass for Whitsunday in the Paraclete convent, which
was sung as late as the fifteenth century; and a Greek missal in Latin
characters was still preserved there.[216] Heeren speaks more favourably
of Abelard’s learning, who translated passages from Plato.[217] The
pretensions of John of Salisbury are slighter; he seems proud of his
Greek, but betrays gross ignorance in etymology.[218]

  [214] Hist. Litt. de la France, pp. 94, 151. Macarius, abbot of St.
     Fleuri, is said to have compiled a Greek Lexicon, which has been
     several times printed under the name of Beatus Benedictus.

  [215] Id. xii. 147.

  [216] Id. xii. 642.

  [217] P. 204. His Greek was no doubt rather scanty, and not sufficient
     to give him an insight into ancient philosophy; in fact, if his
     learning had been greater, he could only read such manuscripts as
     fell into his hands; and there were hardly any then in France.

  [218] Ibid. John derives analytica from ανα [ana] and λεχις [lexis].

|In the thirteenth.|

10. The thirteenth century was a more inauspicious period for learning;
yet here we can boast, not only of John Basing, archdeacon of St.
Albans, who returned from Athens about 1240, laden, if we are bound to
believe this literally, with Greek books, but of Roger Bacon and Robert
Grostête, bishop of Lincoln. It is admitted that Bacon had some
acquaintance with Greek; and it appears by a passage in Matthew Paris,
that a Greek priest, who had obtained a benefice at St. Albans, gave
such assistance to Grostête as enabled him to translate the testament of
the twelve patriarchs into Latin.[219] This is a confirmation of what
has been suggested above, as the probable means by which a knowledge of
that language, in the total deficiency of scholastic education, was
occasionally imparted to persons of unusual zeal for learning. And it
leads us to another reflection, that by a knowledge of Greek, when we
find it asserted of a mediæval theologian like Grostête, we are not to
understand an acquaintance with the great classical authors, who were
latent in eastern monasteries, but the power of reading some petty
treatise of the fathers, or, as in this instance, an apocryphal legend,
or at best, perhaps, some of the later commentators on Aristotle.
Grostête was a man of considerable merit, but has had his share of

  [219] Matt. Par. p. 520. See also Turner’s History of England, iv. 180.
     It is said in some books that Grostête made a translation of
     Suidas. But this is to be understood merely of a legendary story
     found in that writer’s Lexicon. Pegge’s Life of Grostête, p. 291.
     The entire work he certainly could not have translated, nor is it
     at all credible that he had a copy of it. With respect to the doubt
     I have hinted in the text as to the great number of manuscripts
     said to be brought to England by John Basing, it is founded on
     their subsequent disappearance. We find very few, if any, Greek
     manuscripts in England at the end of the fifteenth century.

     Michael Scot, “the wizard of dreaded fame,” pretended to translate
     Aristotle; but is charged with having appropriated the labours of
     one Andrew, a Jew, as his own. Meiners, ii. 664.

|Little appearance of it in the fourteenth century.|

11. The titles of mediæval works are not unfrequently taken from the
Greek language, as the Polycraticus and Metalogicus of John of
Salisbury, or the Philobiblon of Richard Aungerville of Bury. In this
little volume, written about 1343, I have counted five instances of
single Greek words. And, what is more important, Aungerville declares
that he had caused Greek and Hebrew grammars to be drawn up for
students.[220] But we have no other record of such grammars. It would be
natural to infer from this passage, that some persons, either in France
or England, were occupied in the study of the Greek language. And yet we
find nothing to corroborate this presumption; all ancient learning was
neglected in the fourteenth century; nor do I know that one man on this
side of the Alps, except Aungerville himself, is reputed to have been
versed in Greek during that period. I cannot speak positively as to
Berchœur, the most learned man in France. The council of Vienne,
indeed, in 1311, had ordered the establishment of professors in the
Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Arabic languages, at Avignon, and in the
universities of Paris, Oxford, Bologna, and Salamanca. But this decree
remained a dead letter.

  [220] C. x.

|Some traces of Greek in Italy.|

12. If we now turn to Italy, we shall find, as is not wonderful, rather
more frequent instances of acquaintance with a living language, in
common use with a great neighbouring people. Gradenigo, in an essay on
this subject,[221] has endeavoured to refute what he supposes to be the
universal opinion, that the Greek tongue was first taught in Italy by
Chrysoloras and Guarino at the end of the fourteenth century, contending
that, from the eleventh inclusive, there are numerous instances of
persons conversant with it; besides the evidence afforded by
inscriptions in Greek characters found in some churches, by the use of
Greek psalters and other liturgical offices, by the employment of Greek
painters in churches, and by the frequent intercourse between the two
countries. The latter presumptions have in fact considerable weight; and
those who should contend for an absolute ignorance of the Greek
language, oral as well as written, in Italy, would go too far. The
particular instances brought forward by Gradenigo are about thirty. Of
these, the first is Papias, who has quoted five lines of Hesiod.[222]
Lanfranc had also a considerable acquaintance with the language.[223]
Peter Lombard, in his Liber Sententiarum, the systematic basis of
scholastic theology, introduces many Greek words, and explains them
rightly.[224] But this list is not very long; and when we find the
surname Bifarius given to one Ambrose of Bergamo in the eleventh
century, on account of his capacity of speaking both languages, it may
be conceived that the accomplishment was somewhat rare. Mehus, in his
very learned life of Traversari, has mentioned two or three names, among
whom is the Emperor Frederic II. (not indeed strictly an Italian), that
do not appear in Gradenigo.[225] But Tiraboschi conceives, on the other
hand, that the latter has inserted some on insufficient grounds.
Christine of Pisa is mentioned, I think, by neither; she was the
daughter of an Italian astronomer, but lived at the court of Charles V.
of France, and was the most accomplished literary lady of that age.[226]

  [221] Ragionamento istorico-critico opra la litteratura Greco-Italiana.
     Brescia, 1759.

  [222] P. 37. These are very corruptly given, through the fault of a
     transcriber; for Papias has translated them into tolerable Latin

  [223] Hist. Litt. de la France, vii. 144.

  [224] Meiners, iii. 11.

  [225] Pp. 155, 217, &c. Add to these authorities, Muratori, dissert.
     44; Brucker, iii. 644, 647; Tiraboschi, v. 393.

  [226] Tiraboschi, v. 388, vouches for Christine’s knowledge of Greek.
     She was a good poetess in French, and altogether a very remarkable

|Corruption of Greek language itself.|

13. The intercourse between Greece and the west of Europe, occasioned by
commerce and by the crusades, had little or no influence upon
literature. For, besides the general indifference to it in those
classes of society which were thus brought into some degree of contact
with the Eastern Empire, we must remember that, although Greek, even to
the capture of Constantinople by Mahomet II., was a living language in
that city, spoken by the superior ranks of both sexes with tolerable
purity, it had degenerated among the common people, and almost
universally among the inhabitants of the provinces and islands, into
that corrupt form, or rather new language, which we call Romaic.[227]
The progress of this innovation went on by steps very similar to those
by which the Latin was transformed in the West, though it was not so
rapid or complete. A manuscript of the twelfth century, quoted by Du
Cange from the royal library at Paris, appears to be the oldest written
specimen of the modern Greek that has been produced; but the oral change
had been gradually going forward for several preceding centuries.[228]

  [227] Filelfo says, in one of his epistles, dated 1441, that the
     language spoken in Peloponnesus “ad eo est depravata, ut nihil
     omnino sapiat priscæ ilius et eloquentissimo Græciæ.” At
     Constantinople the case was better; “viri eruditi sunt nonnulli, et
     culti mores, et sermo etiam nitidus.” In a letter of Coluccio
     Salutato, near the end of the fourteenth century, he says that
     Plutarch had been translated de Græco in Græcum vulgare. Mehus, p.
     294. This seems to have been done at Rhodes. I quote this to remove
     any difficulty others may feel, for I believe the Romaic Greek is
     much older. The progress of corruption in Greek is sketched in the
     Quarterly Review, vol. xxii., probably by the pen of the Bishop of
     London. Its symptoms were very similar to those of Latin in the
     West; abbreviation of words, and indifference to right inflexions.
     See also Col. Leake’s Researches in the Morea. Eustathius has many
     Romaic words; yet no one in the twelfth century had more learning.

  [228] Du Cange, præfatio in Glossarium mediæ et infimæ Græcitatis.

|Character of Byzantine literature.|

14. The Byzantine literature was chiefly valuable by illustrating, or
preserving in fragments, the historians, philosophers, and, in some
measure, the poets of antiquity. Constantinople and her empire produced
abundantly men of erudition, but few of genius or of taste. But this
erudition was now rapidly on the decline. No one was left in Greece,
according to Petrarch, after the death of Leontius Pilatus, who
understood Homer; words not, perhaps, to be literally taken, but
expressive of what he conceived to be their general indifference to the
poet: and it seems very probable that some ancient authors, whom we
should most desire to recover, especially the lyric poets of the Doric
and Æolic dialects, have perished, because they had become
unintelligible to the transcribers of the lower empire; though this has
also been ascribed to the scrupulousness of the clergy. An absorbing
fondness for theological subtleties, far more trifling among the Greeks
than in the schools of the west, conspired to produce a neglect of
studies so remote as heathen poetry. Aurispa tells Ambrogio Traversari,
that he found they cared little about profane literature. Nor had the
Greek learning ever recovered the blow that the capture of
Constantinople by the crusaders in 1204, and the establishment for sixty
years of a Latin and illiterate dynasty, inflicted upon it.[229] We
trace many classical authors to that period, of whom we know nothing
later, and the compilations of ancient history by industrious Byzantines
came to an end. Meantime the language, where best preserved, had long
lost the delicacy and precision of its syntax; the true meaning of the
tenses, moods, and voices of the verb was overlooked or guessed at; a
kind of latinism, or something at least not ancient in structure and
rhythm, shows itself in their poetry; and this imperfect knowledge of
their once beautiful language is unfortunately too manifest in the
grammars of the Greek exiles of the fifteenth century, which have so
long been the groundwork of classical education in Europe.

  [229] An enumeration, and it is a long one, of the Greek books not
     wholly lost till this time will be found in Heeren, p. 125; and
     also in his Essai sur les Croisades.

|Petrarch and Boccace learn Greek.|

15. We now come to the proper period of the restoration of Greek
learning. In the year 1339, Barlaam, a Calabrian by birth, but long
resident in Greece, and deemed one of the most learned men of that age,
was entrusted by the emperor Cantacuzenus with a mission to Italy.[230]
Petrarch, in 1342, as Tiraboschi fixes the time, endeavoured to learn
Greek from him, but found the task too arduous, or rather, had not
sufficient opportunity to go on with it.[231] Boccaccio, some years
afterwards, succeeded better with the help of Leontius Pilatus, a
Calabrian also by birth,[232] who made a prose translation of Homer for
his use, and for whom he is said to have procured a public appointment
as teacher of the Greek language at Florence, in 1361. He remained here
about three years; but we read nothing of any other disciples; and the
man himself was of too unsocial and forbidding a temper to conciliate

  [230] Mehus. Tiraboschi, v. 398. De Sade, i. 406. Biog. Univ., Barlaam.

  [231] Incubueram alacri spe magnoque desiderio, sed peregrinan linguæ
     novitas et festina præceptoris absentia præciderunt propositum
     meum. It has been said, and probably with some truth, that Greek,
     or at least a sort of Greek, was preserved as a living language in
     Calabria; not because Greek colonies had once been settled in some
     cities, but because that part of Italy was not lost to the
     Byzantine empire till about three centuries before the time of
     Barlaam and Pilatus. They, however, had gone to a better source;
     and I should have great doubts as to the goodness of Calabrian
     Greek in the fourteenth century, which of course are not removed by
     the circumstance that in some places the church service was
     performed in that language. Heeren, I find, is of the same opinion,
     p. 287.

  [232] Many have taken Pilatus for a native of Thessalonica: even Hody
     has fallen into this mistake, but Petrarch’s letters show the

  [233] Hody. De Græcis Illustribus, p. 2. Mehus, 273. De Sade, iii. 625.
     Gibbon has erroneously supposed this translation to have been made
     by Boccace himself.

|Few acquainted with the language in their time.|

16. According to a passage in one of Petrarch’s letters, fancifully
addressed to Homer, there were at that time not above ten persons in
Italy who knew how to value the old father of the poets; five at the
most in Florence, one in Bologna, two in Verona, one in Mantua, one in
Perugia, but none at Rome.[234] Some pains have been thrown away in
attempting to retrieve the names of those to whom he alludes: the letter
shows at least, that there was very little pretension to Greek learning
in his age; for I am not convinced that he meant all these ten persons,
among whom he seems to reckon himself, to be considered as skilled in
that tongue. And we must not be led away by the instances partially
collected by Gradenigo out of the whole mass of extant records, to lose
sight of the great general fact, that Greek literature was lost in Italy
for 700 years, in the words of Leonard Aretin, before the arrival of
Chrysoloras. The language is one thing, and the learning contained in it
is another. For all the purposes of taste and erudition, there was no
Greek in western Europe during the middle ages: if we look only at the
knowledge of bare words, we have seen there was a very slender portion.

  [234] De Sade, iii. 627. Tiraboschi, v. 371, 400. Heeren, 294.

|It is taught by Chrysoloras about 1395|.

|His disciples.|

17. The true epoch of the revival of Greek literature in Italy, these
attempts of Petrarch and Boccace having produced no immediate effect,
though they evidently must have excited a desire for learning, cannot be
placed before the year 1395,[235] when Emanuel Chrysoloras, previously
known as an ambassador from Constantinople to the western powers, in
order to solicit assistance against the Turks, was induced to return to
Florence as public teacher of Greek. He passed from thence to various
Italian universities, and became the preceptor of several early
Hellenists.[236] The first, and perhaps the most eminent and useful of
these, was Guarino Guarini of Verona, born in 1370. He acquired his
knowledge of Greek under Chrysoloras at Constantinople, before the
arrival of the latter in Italy. Gaurino, upon his return, became
professor of rhetoric, first at Venice and other cities of Lombardy,
then at Florence, and ultimately at Ferrara, where he closed a long life
of unremitting and useful labour in 1460. John Aurispa of Sicily came to
the field rather later, but his labours were not less profitable. He
brought back to Italy 238 manuscripts from Greece about 1423, and thus
put his country in possession of authors hardly known to her by name.
Among these were Plato, Plotinus, Diodorus, Arrian, Dio Cassius, Strabo,
Pindar, Callimachus, Appian. After teaching Greek at Bologna and
Florence, Aurispa also ended a length of days under the patronage of the
house of Este, at Ferrara. To these may be added, in the list of public
instructors in Greek before 1440, Filelfo, a man still more known by his
virulent disputes with his contemporaries than by his learning; who,
returning from Greece in 1427, laden with manuscripts, was not long
afterwards appointed to the chair of rhetoric, that is, of Latin and
Greek philology, at Florence; and, according to his own account, excited
the admiration of the whole city.[237] But his vanity was excessive, and
his contempt of others not less so. Poggio was one of his enemies; and
their language towards each other is a noble specimen of the decency
with which literary and personal quarrels were carried on.[238] It has
been observed, that Gianozzo Manetti, a contemporary scholar, is less
known than others, chiefly because the mildness of his character spared
him the altercations to which they owe a part of their celebrity.[239]

  [235] This is the date fixed by Tiraboschi; others refer it to 1391,
     1396, 1397, or 1399.

  [236] Literæ per hujus belli intercapedines mirabile quantum per Italiam
     increvere; accedente tunc primum cognitione literarum Græcarum quæ
     septingentis jam annis apud nostras homines desierant esse in usu.
     Retulit autem Græcam disciplinam ad nos Chrysoloras Byzantinus, vir
     domi nobilis ac literarum Græcarum peritissimus. Leonard Aretin
     apud Hody, p. 28. See also an extract from Manetti’s Life of
     Boccace, in Hody, p. 61.

     Satis constat Chrysoloram Byzantinum transmarinam illam disciplinam
     in Italiam advexisse; quo doctore adhibito primum nostri homines
     totius exercitationis atque artis ignari, cognitis Græcis literis,
     vehementer sese ad eloquentiæ studia excitaverunt. P. Cortesius, De
     Hominibus Doctis, p. 6.

     The first visit of Chrysoloras had produced an inclination towards
     the study of Greek. Coluccio Salutato, in a letter to Demetrius
     Cydonius, who had accompanied Chrysoloras, says, Multorum animos ad
     linguam Helladum accendisti, ut jam videre videar multos fore
     Græcarum literarum post paucorum annorum curricula non tepide
     studiosos. Mehus, p. 356.

     The Erotemata of Chrysoloras, an introduction to Greek grammar, was
     the first, and long the only, channel to a knowledge of that
     language, save oral instruction. It was several times printed, even
     after the grammars of Gaza and Lascaris had come more into use. An
     abridgment by Guarino of Verona, with some additions of his own,
     was printed at Ferrara in 1509. Ginguéné, iii. 283.

  [237] Universa in me civitas conversa est; omnes me diligunt, honorant
     omnes, ac summis laudibus in cœlum efferunt. Meum nomen in ore est
     omnibus. Nec primarii cives modo, cum per urbem incedo, sed
     nobilissimæ fœminæ honorandi mei gratiâ loco cedunt, tantumque mihi
     deferunt, ut me pudeat tanti cultus. Auditores sunt quotidie ad
     quadringentos, vel fortassis et amplius; et hi quidem magna in
     parte viri grandiores et ex ordine senatorio. Phililph. Epist. ad
     ann. 1428.

  [238] Shepherd’s Life of Poggio, ch. vi. and viii.

  [239] Hody was perhaps the first who threw much light on the early
     studies of Greek in Italy; and his book, De Græcis Illustribus,
     Linguæ Græcæ Instauratoribus, will be read with pleasure and
     advantage by every lover of literature; though Mehus, who came with
     more exuberant erudition to the subject, has pointed out a few
     errors. But more is to be found as to its native cultivators, Hody
     being chiefly concerned with the Greek refugees, in Bayle,
     Fabricius, Niceron, Mehus, Zeno, Tiraboschi, Meiners, Roscoe,
     Heeren, Shepherd, Corniani, Ginguéné, and the Biographie
     Universelle, whom I name in chronological order.

     As it is impossible to dwell on the subject within the limits of
     these pages, I will refer the reader to the most useful of the
     above writings, some of which, being merely biographical
     collections, do not give the connected information he would
     require. The lives of Poggio and of Lorenzo de’ Medici will make
     him familiar with the literary history of Italy for the whole
     fifteenth century, in combination with public events, as it is best
     learned. I need not say that Tiraboschi is a source of vast
     knowledge to those who can encounter two quarto volumes. Ginguéné’s
     third volume is chiefly borrowed from these, and may be read with
     great advantage. Finally, a clear, full, and accurate account of
     those times will be found in Heeren. It will be understood that all
     these works relate to the revival of Latin as well as Greek.

|Translations from Greek into Latin.|

18. Many of these cultivators of the Greek language devoted their
leisure to translating the manuscripts brought into Italy. The earliest
of these were Peter Paul Vergerio (commonly called the elder, to
distinguish him from a more celebrated man of the same names in the
sixteenth century), a scholar of Chrysoloras, but not till he was rather
advanced in years. He made, by order of the emperor Sigismund, and,
therefore, not earlier than 1410, a translation of Arrian, which is said
to exist in the Vatican library; but we know little of its merits.[240]
A more renowned person was Ambrogio Traversari, a Florentine monk of the
order of Camaldoli, who employed many years in this useful labour. No
one of that age has left a more respectable name for private worth; his
epistles breathe a spirit of virtue, of kindness to his friends, and of
zeal for learning. In the opinion of his contemporaries, he was placed,
not quite justly, on a level with Leonard Aretin for his knowledge of
Latin, and he surpassed him in Greek.[241] Yet neither his translations,
nor those of his contemporaries, Guarino of Verona, Poggio, Leonardo
Aretino, Filelfo, who with several others, rather before 1440, or not
long afterwards, rendered the historians and philosophers of Greece
familiar to Italy, can be extolled as correct, or as displaying what is
truly to be called a knowledge of either language. Vossius, Casaubon,
and Huet speak with much dispraise of most of these early translations
from Greek into Latin. The Italians knew not enough of the original, and
the Greeks were not masters enough of Latin. Gaza, upon the whole, than
whom no one is more successful, says Erasmus, whether he renders
Greek into Latin, or Latin into Greek, is reckoned the most elegant, and
Argyropulus the most exact. But George of Trebizond, Filelfo, Leonard
Aretin, Poggio, Valla, Perotti, are rather severely dealt with by the
sharp critics of later times.[242] For this reproach does not fall only
on the scholars of the first generation, but on their successors, except
Politian, down nearly to the close of the fifteenth century. Yet, though
it is necessary to point out the deficiencies of classical erudition at
this time, lest the reader should hastily conclude, that the praises
bestowed upon it are less relative to the previous state of ignorance,
and the difficulties with which that generation had to labour, than they
really are, this cannot affect our admiration and gratitude towards men
who, by their diligence and ardour in acquiring and communicating
knowledge, excited that thirst for improvement, and laid those
foundations of it, which rendered the ensuing age so glorious in the
annals of literature.

  [240] Biogr. Univ., Vergerio. He seems to have written very good Latin,
     if we may judge by the extracts in Corniani, ii. 61.

  [241] The Hodopœricon of Traversari, though not of importance as a
     literary work, serves to prove, according to Bayle (Camaldoli, note
     D), that the author was an honest man, and that he lived in a very
     corrupt age. It is an account of the visitation of some convents
     belonging to his order. The life of Ambrogio Traversari has been
     written by Mehus very copiously, and with abundant knowledge of the
     times: it is a great source of the literary history of Italy. There
     is a pretty good account of him in Niceron, vol. xix., and a short
     one in Roscoe; but the fullest biography of the man himself will be
     found in Meiners, Lebenbeschreibungen berühmter Männer, vol. ii.
     pp. 222-307.

  [242] Baillet, Jugemens des Savans, ii. 376, &c. Blount, Censura
     Auctorum, in nominibus nuncupatis. Hody, sæpies. Niceron, vol. ix.
     in Perotti. See also a letter of Erasmus in Jortin’s Life, ii. 425.

     Filelfo tells us of a perplexity into which Ambrogio Traversari and
     Carlo Marsuppini, perhaps the two principal Greek scholars in Italy
     after himself and Guarino, were thrown by this line of Homer:--

          Βούλομ᾽ ἐγὼ λαὸν σόον ἔμμεναι, ἢ ἀπόλεσθαι.
          [Boulom egô laon soon emmenai, ê apolesthai.]

     The first thought it meant populum aut salvum esse aut perire;
     which Filelfo justly calls, inepta interpretatio et prava.
     Marsuppini said ἢ ἀπόλεσθαι [ê apolesthai] was, aut ipsum perire.
     Filelfo, after exulting over them, gives the true meaning.
     Philelph. Epist. ad ann. 1440.

     Traversari complains much, in one of his letters, of the difficulty
     he found in translating Diogenes Laertius, lib. vii. epis. ii.; but
     Meiners, though admitting many errors, thinks this one of the best
     among the early translations, ii. 290.

|Public encouragement delayed.|

19. They did not uniformly find any great public encouragement in the
early stages of their teaching. On the contrary, Aurispa met with some
opposition to philological literature at Bologna.[243] The civilians and
philosophers were pleased to treat the innovators as men who wanted to
set showy against solid learning. Nor was the state of Italy and of the
papacy, during the long schism, very favourable to their object.
Ginguéné remarks, that patronage was more indispensable in the fifteenth
century than it had been in the last. Dante and Petrarch shone out by a
paramount force of genius, but the men of learning required the
encouragement of power, in order to excite and sustain their industry.

  [243] Tiraboschi, vii. 301.

|But fully accorded before 1440.|

20. That encouragement, however it may have been delayed, had been
accorded before the year 1440. Eugenius IV. was the Pope who displayed
an inclination to favour the learned. They found a still more liberal
patron in Alphonso, king of Naples, who, first of all European princes,
established the interchange of praise and pension, both, however, well
deserved, with Filelfo, Poggio, Valla, Beccatelli, and other eminent
men. This seems to have begun before 1440, though it was more
conspicuous afterwards until his death in 1458. The earliest literary
academy was established at Naples by Alphonso, of which Antonio
Beccatelli, more often called Panormita, from his birthplace, was the
first president, as Pontana was the second. Nicolas of Este, marquis of
Ferrara, received literary men in his hospitable court. But none were so
celebrated or useful in this patronage of letters as Cosmo de’ Medici,
the Pericles of Florence, who, at the period with which we are now
concerned, was surrounded by Traversari, Niccolo Niccolì, Leonardo
Aretino, Poggio; all ardent to retrieve the treasures of Greek and Roman
learning. Filelfo alone, malignant and irascible, stood aloof from the
Medicean party, and poured his venom in libels on Cosmo and the chief of
his learned associates. Niccolì, a wealthy citizen of Florence, deserves
to be remembered among these; not for his writings,--since he left none;
but on account of his care for the good instruction of youth, which has
made Meiners call him the Florentine Socrates, and for his liberality as
well as diligence in collecting books and monuments of antiquity. The
public library of St. Mark was founded on a bequest by Niccolì, in 1437,
of his own collection of eight hundred manuscripts. It was, too, at his
instigation, as has been said, and that of Traversari, that Cosmo
himself, about this time, laid the foundation of that which, under his
grandson, acquired the name of the Laurentian library.[244]

  [244] I refer to the same authorities, but especially to the life of
     Traversari in Meiners, Lebensbeschreibungen, ii. 294. The suffrages
     of older authors are collected by Baillet and Blount.

|Emigration of learned Greeks to Italy.|

21. As the dangers of the eastern empire grew more imminent, a few that
had still endeavoured to preserve in Greece the purity of their
language, and the speculations of ancient philosophy, turned their eyes
towards a haven that seemed to solicit the glory of protecting them. The
first of these, that is well known, was Theodore Gaza, who fled from his
birthplace, Thessalonica, when it fell under the Turkish yoke in 1430.
He rapidly acquired the Latin language by the help of Victorin of
Feltre.[245] Gaza became afterwards, but not, perhaps, within the period
to which this chapter is limited, rector of the university of Ferrara.
In this city, Eugenius IV. held a council in 1438, removed next year, on
account of sickness, to Florence, in order to reconcile the Greek and
Latin churches. Though it is well known that the appearances of success
which attended this hard bargain of the strong with the weak were very
fallacious, the presence of several Greeks, skilled in their own
language, and even in their ancient philosophy, Pletho, Bessarion, Gaza,
stimulated the noble love of truth and science that burned in the bosoms
of enlightened Italians. Thus, in 1440, the spirit of ancient learning
was already diffused on that side the Alps: the Greek language might be
learned in at least four or five cities, and an acquaintance with it was
a recommendation to the favour of the great; while the establishment of
universities at Pavia, Turin, Ferrara, and Florence, since the beginning
of the present century, or near the close of the last, bore witness to
the generous emulation which they served to redouble and concentrate.

  [245] Victorin perhaps exchanged instruction with his pupil; for we
     find by a letter of Traversari (p. 421, edit. Mehus), that he was
     himself teaching Greek in 1433.

|Causes of enthusiasm for antiquity in Italy.|

22. It is an interesting question, What were the causes of this
enthusiasm for antiquity which we find in the beginning of the fifteenth
century?--a burst of public feeling that seems rather sudden, but
prepared by several circumstances that lie farther back in Italian
history. The Italians had for some generations learned more to identify
themselves with the great people that had subdued the world. The fall of
the house of Swabia, releasing their necks from a foreign yoke, had
given them a prouder sense of nationality; while the name of Roman
emperor was systematically associated by one party with ancient
tradition; and the study of the civil law, barbarously ignorant as its
professors often were, had at least the effect of keeping alive a
mysterious veneration for antiquity. The monuments of ancient Italy were
perpetual witnesses; their inscriptions were read; it was enough that a
few men like Petrarch should animate the rest; it was enough that
learning should become honourable, and that there should be the means of
acquiring it. The story of Rienzi, familiar to every one, is a proof
what enthusiasm could be kindled by ancient recollections. Meantime the
laity became better instructed; a mixed race, ecclesiastics, but not
priests, and capable alike of enjoying the benefices of the church, or
of returning from it to the world, were more prone to literary than
theological pursuits. The religious scruples which had restrained
churchmen, in the darker ages, from perusing heathen writers, by degrees
gave way, as the spirit of religion itself grew more objective, and
directed itself more towards maintaining the outward church in its
orthodoxy of profession, and in its secular power, than towards
cultivating devout sentiments in the bosom.

|Advanced state of society.|

23. The principal Italian cities became more wealthy and more luxurious
after the middle of the thirteenth century. Books, though still very
dear, comparatively with the present value of money, were much less so
than in other parts of Europe.[246] In Milan, about 1300, there were
fifty persons who lived by copying them. At Bologna, it was also a
regular occupation at fixed prices.[247] In this state of social
prosperity, the keen relish of Italy for intellectual excellence had
time to develop itself. A style of painting appeared in the works
of Giotto and his followers, rude and imperfect, according to the
skilfulness of later times, but in itself pure, noble, and expressive,
and well adapted to reclaim the taste from the extravagance of romance
to classic simplicity. Those were ready for the love of Virgil, who had
formed their sense of beauty by the figures of Giotto and the language
of Dante. The subject of Dante is truly mediæval; but his style, the
clothing of poetry, bears the strongest marks of his acquaintance with
antiquity. The influence of Petrarch was far more direct, and has
already been pointed out.

  [246] Savigny thinks the price of books in the middle ages has been
     much exaggerated; and that we are apt to judge by a few instances
     of splendid volumes, which give us no more notion of ordinary
     prices than similar proofs of luxury in collectors do at present.
     Thousands of manuscripts are extant, and the sight of most of them
     may convince us, that they were written at no extraordinary cost.
     He then gives a long list of law books, the prices of which he has
     found recorded. Gesch. des Römischen Rechts, iii. 519. But unless
     this were accompanied with a better standard of value than a mere
     monetary one, which last Savigny has given very minutely, it can
     afford little information. The impression left on my mind, without
     comparing these prices closely with those of other commodities, was
     that books were in real value very considerably dearer (that is, in
     the ratio of several units to one) than at present, which is
     confirmed by many other evidences.

  [247] Tiraboschi, iv. 72-80. The price for copying a bible was eighty
     Bolognese livres; three of which were equal to two gold florins.

|Exclusive study of antiquity.|

24. The love of Greek and Latin absorbed the minds of these Italian
scholars, and effaced all regard to every other branch of literature.
Their own language was nearly silent; few condescended so much as to
write letters in it; as few gave a moment’s attention to physical
science, though we find it mentioned, perhaps as remarkable, in Victorin
of Feltre, that he had some fondness for geometry, and had learned to
understand Euclid.[248] But even in Latin they wrote very little that
can be deemed worthy of remembrance, or even that can be mentioned at
all. The ethical dialogues of Francis Barbaro, a noble Venetian, on the
married life (De Re Uxoria),[249] and of Poggio on nobility, are almost
the only books that fall within this period, except declamatory
invectives or panegyrics, and other productions of circumstance. Their
knowledge was not yet exact enough to let them venture upon critical
philology; though Niccolì and Traversari were silently occupied in the
useful task of correcting the text of manuscripts, faulty beyond
description in the later centuries. Thus we must consider Italy as still
at school, active, acute, sanguine, full of promise, but not yet become
really learned, or capable of doing more than excite the emulation of
other nations.

  [248] Meiners, Lebensbesch, ii. 293.

  [249] Barbaro was a scholar of Gasparin in Latin. He had probably
     learned Greek of Guarino, for it is said that, on the visit of the
     emperor John Paleologus to Italy in 1423, he was addressed by two
     noble Venetians, Leonardo Guistiniani and Francesco Barbaro, in as
     good language as if they had been born in Greece. Andrès, iii. 33.
     The treatise De Re Uxoria, which was published about 1417, made a
     considerable impression in Italy. Some account of it may be found
     in Shepherd’s Life of Poggio, ch. iii., and in Corniani, ii. 137;
     who thinks it the only work of moral philosophy in the fifteenth
     century, which is not a servile copy of some ancient system. He was
     grandfather of the more celebrated Hermolaus Barbarus.

|Classical learning in France low.|

25. But we find very little corresponding sympathy with this love of
classical literature in other parts of Europe; not so much owing to the
want of intercourse, as to a difference of external circumstances, and,
still more, of national character and acquired habits. Clemangis,
indeed, rather before the end of the fourteenth century, is said by
Crevier to have restored the study of classical antiquity in France,
after an intermission of two centuries;[250] and Eichhorn deems his
style superior to that of most contemporary Italians.[251] Even the
Latin verses of Clemangis are praised by the same author, as the first
that had been tolerably written on this side the Alps for two hundred
years. But we do not find much evidence that he produced any effect upon
Latin literature in France. The general style was as bad as before.
Their writers employed not only the barbarous vocabulary of the schools,
but even French words with Latin terminations adapted to them.[252] We
shall see that the renovation of polite letters in France must be dated
long afterwards. Several universities were established in that kingdom;
but even if universities had been always beneficial to literature, which
was not the case during the prevalence of scholastic disputation, the
civil wars of one unhappy reign, and the English invasions of another,
could not but retard the progress of all useful studies. Some Greeks,
about 1430, are said to have demanded a stipend, in pursuance of a
decree of the council of Vienne in the preceding century, for teaching
their language in the university of Paris. The nation of France, one of
the four into which that university was divided, assented to this
suggestion; but we find no other steps taken in relation to it. In 1455,
it is said, that the Hebrew language was publicly taught.[253]

  [250] Hist. de l’Université de Paris, iii. 189.

  [251] Gesch. der Litteratur, ii. 242. Meiners (Vergleich. der Sitten,
     iii. 33) extols Clemangis in equally high terms. He is said to have
     read lectures on the rhetoric of Cicero and Aristotle. Id. ii. 647.
     Was there a translation of the latter so early?

  [252] Bulæus. Hist. Univ. Paris, apud Heeren, p. 118.

  [253] Crevier, iv. 43. Heeren, p. 121.

|Much more so in England.|

26. Of classical learning in England we can tell no favourable story.
The Latin writers of the fifteenth century, few in number, are still
more insignificant in value; they possess scarce an ordinary
knowledge of grammar; to say that they are full of barbarisms and
perfectly inelegant, is hardly necessary. The university of Oxford was
not less frequented at this time than in the preceding century, though
it was about to decline; but its pursuits were as nugatory and
pernicious to real literature as before.[254] Poggio says, more than
once, in writing from England about 1420, that he could find no good
books, and is not very respectful to our scholars. “Men given up to
sensuality we may find in abundance; but very few lovers of learning;
and those barbarous, skilled more in quibbles and sophisms than in
literature. I visited many convents; they were all full of books of
modern doctors, whom we should not think worthy so much as to be heard.
They have few works of the ancients, and those are much better with us.
Nearly all the convents of this island have been founded within four
hundred years: but that was not a period in which either learned men, or
such books as we seek, could be expected, for they had been lost

  [254] No place was more discredited for bad Latin. “Oxoniensis loquendi
     mos” became a proverb. This means that, being disciples of Scotus
     and Ockham, the Oxonians talked their master’s jargon.

  [255] Pogg. Epist. p. 43. (edit. 1832.)

|Library of Duke of Gloucester.|

27. Yet books began to be accumulated in our public libraries:
Aungerville, in the preceding century, gave part of his collection to a
college at Oxford; and Humphry, duke of Gloucester, bequeathed six
hundred volumes, as some have said, or one hundred and twenty-nine only,
according to another account, to that university.[256] But these books
were not of much value in a literary sense, though some may have been
historically useful. I am indebted to Heeren for a letter of thanks from
the duke of Gloucester to Decembrio, an Italian scholar of considerable
reputation, who had sent him a translation of Plato de Republica. It
must have been written before July, 1447, the date of Humphry’s death,
and was probably as favourable a specimen of our Latinity as the kingdom
could furnish.[257]

  [256] The former number is given by Warton; the latter I find in a
     short tract on English monastic libraries (1831), by the Rev.
     Joseph Hunter. In this there is also a catalogue of the library in
     the priory of Bretton in Yorkshire, consisting of about 150
     volumes. No date is given; but I suppose it was about the first
     part of the sixteenth century.

  [257] Hoc uno nos longe felicem judicamus, quod tu totque florentissimi
     viri Græcis et Latinis literis peritissimi, quot illic apud vos
     sunt nostris temporibus, habeantur, quibus nesciamus quid laudum
     digne satis possit excogitari. Mitto quod facundiam priscam illam
     et priscis viris dignam, quæ prorsus perierat, huic sæculo
     renovatis; nec id vobis satis fuit, et Græcas literas scrutati
     estis, ut et philosophos Græcas et vivendi magistros, qui nostris
     jam obliterati erant et occulti, reseratis, et eos Latinos
     facientes in propatulum adducitis. Heeren quotes this, p. 135, from
     Sassi de studiis Mediolanensibus. Warton also mentions the letter,
     ii. 388. The absurd idiom exemplified in “nos felicem judicamus”
     was introduced affectedly by the writers of the twelfth century.
     Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. 146.

|Gerard Groot’s college at Deventer.|

28. Among the Cisalpine nations, the German had the greatest tendency to
literary improvement, as we may judge by subsequent events, rather than
by much that was apparent so early as 1440. Their writers in Latin were
still barbarous, nor had they partaken in the love of antiquity which
actuated the Italians. But the German nation displayed its best
characteristic,--a serious, honest, industrious disposition, loving
truth and goodness, and glad to pursue whatever path seemed to lead to
them. A proof of this character was given in an institution of
considerable influence both upon learning and religion, the college, or
brotherhood, of Deventer, planned by Gerard Groot, but not built and
inhabited till 1400, fifteen years after his death. The associates of
this, called by different names, but more usually Brethren of the Life
in Common (Gemeineslebens), or Good Brethren and Sisters, were dispersed
in different parts of Germany and the Low Countries, but with their head
college at Deventer. They bore an evident resemblance to the modern
Moravians, by their strict lives, their community, at least a partial
one, of goods, their industry in manual labour, their fervent devotion,
their tendency to mysticism. But they were as strikingly distinguished
from them by the cultivation of knowledge, which was encouraged in
brethren of sufficient capacity, and promoted by schools both for
primary and for enlarged education. “These schools were,” says Eichhorn,
“the first genuine nurseries of literature in Germany, so far as it
depended on the knowledge of languages; and in them was first taught the
Latin, and in the process of time the Greek and eastern tongues.”[258]
It will be readily understood, that Latin only could be taught in
the period with which we are now concerned; and, according to Lambinet,
the brethren did not begin to open public schools till near the middle
of the century.[259] These schools continued to flourish till the civil
wars of the Low Countries and the progress of the Reformation broke them
up. Groningen had also a school, St. Edward’s, of considerable
reputation. Thomas à Kempis, according to Meiners, whom Eichhorn and
Heeren have followed, presided over a school at Zwoll, wherein Agricola,
Hegius, Langius, and Dringeberg, the restorers of learning in Germany,
were educated. But it seems difficult to reconcile this with known
dates, or with other accounts of that celebrated person’s history.[260]
The brethren Gemeineslebens had forty-five houses in 1430, and in 1460
more than thrice the number. They are said by some to have taken regular
vows, though I find a difference in my authorities as to this, and to
have professed celibacy. They were bound to live by the labour of their
hands, observing the ascetic discipline of monasteries, and not to beg;
which made the mendicant orders their enemies. They were protected,
however, against these malignant calumniators by the favour of the pope.
The passages quoted by Revius, the historian of Deventer, do not quite
bear out the reputation for love of literature which Eichhorn has given
them; but they were much occupied in copying and binding books.[261]
Their house at Bruxelles began to print books instead of copying them,
in 1474.[262]

  [258] Meiners, Lebensbeschreibungen berühmter Männer, ii. 311-324.
     Lambinet, Origines de l’Imprimerie, ii. 170. Eichhorn, Geschichte
     der Litteratur, ii. 134, iii. 882. Revius, Daventria Illustrata.
     Mosheim, cent. xv. c. 2, § 22. Biog. Univ., Gerard, Kempis.

  [259] Origines de l’Imprimerie, p. 180.

  [260] Meiners, p. 323. Eichhorn, p. 137. Heeren, p. 145. Biog. Univ.,
     Kempis. Revius, Davent. Illust.

  [261] Daventria Illustrata, p. 35.

  [262] Lambinet.

|Physical sciences in middle ages.|

|Arabian numerals and method.|

29. We have in the last chapter made no mention of the physical
sciences, because little was to be said, and it seemed expedient to
avoid breaking the subject into unnecessary divisions. It is well known
that Europe had more obligations to the Saracens in this, than in any
other province of research. They indeed had borrowed much from Greece,
and much from India; but it was through their language that it came into
use among the nations of the west. Gerbert, near the end of the tenth
century, was the first who, by travelling into Spain, learned something
of Arabian science. A common literary tradition ascribes to him the
introduction of their numerals, and of the arithmetic founded on them,
into Europe. This has been disputed, and again re-asserted, in modern
times.[263] It is sufficient to say here, that only a very unreasonable
scepticism has questioned the use of Arabic numerals in calculation
during the thirteenth century; the positive evidence on this side
cannot be affected by the notorious fact, that they were not employed in
legal instruments, or in ordinary accounts; such an argument, indeed,
would be equally good in comparatively modern times. These numerals are
found, according to Andrès, in Spanish manuscripts of the twelfth
century; and, according both to him and Cossali, who speak from actual
inspection, in the treatise of arithmetic and algebra by Leonard
Fibonacci Pisa, written in 1202.[264] This has never been printed. It is
by far our earliest testimony to the knowledge of algebra in Europe; but
Leonard owns that he learned it among the Saracens. “This author
appears,” says Hutton, or rather Cossali, from whom he borrows, “to be
well skilled in the various ways of reducing equations to their final
simple state by all the usual methods.” His algebra includes the
solution of quadratics.

  [263] See Andrès, the Archæologia, vol. viii., and the Encyclopædias,
     Britannic and Metropolitan, on one side, against Gerbert; Montucla,
     i. 502, and Kästner, Geschichte der Mathematik, i. 35, and ii. 695,
     in his favour. The latter relies on a well-known passage in William
     of Malmsbury concerning Gerbert: Abacum certe primus a Saracenis
     rapiens, regulas dedit, quæ a sudantibus abacistis vix
     intelliguntur; upon several expressions in his writings, and upon a
     manuscript of his geometry, seen and mentioned by Pez, who refers
     it to the twelfth century, in which Arabic numerals are introduced.
     It is answered, that the language of Malmsbury is indefinite, that
     Gerbert’s own expressions are equally so, and that the copyist of
     the manuscript may have inserted the cyphers.

     It is evident that the use of the numeral signs does not of itself
     imply an acquaintance with the Arabic calculation, though it was a
     necessary step to it. Signs bearing some resemblance to these (too
     great for accident) are found in MSS. of Boethius, and are
     published by Montucla, (vol. i. planch. ii.) In one MS. they appear
     with names written over each of them, not Greek, or Latin, or
     Arabic, or in any known language. These singular names, and nearly
     the same forms, are found also in a manuscript well deserving of
     notice,--No. 343 of the Arundel MSS., in the British Museum, and
     which is said to have belonged to a convent at Mentz. This has been
     referred by some competent judges to the twelfth, and by others to
     the very beginning of the thirteenth century. It purports to be an
     introduction to the art of multiplying and dividing numbers;
     quicquid ab abacistis excerpere potui, compendiose collegi. The
     author uses nine digits, but none for ten, or zero, as is also the
     case in the MS. of Boethius. Sunt vero integri novem sufficientes
     ad infinitam multiplicationem, quorum nomina singulis sunt
     superjecta. A gentleman of the British Museum, who had the
     kindness, at my request, to give his attention to this hitherto
     unknown evidence in the controversy, is of opinion that the
     rudiments, at the very least, of our numeration are indicated in
     it, and that the author comes within one step of our present
     system, which is no other than supplying an additional character
     for zero. His ignorance of this character renders his process
     circuitous, as it does not contain the principle of juxtaposition
     for the purpose of summing; but it does contain the still more
     essential principle, a decuple increase of value for the same sign,
     in a progressive series of location from right to left. I shall be
     gratified if this slight notice should cause the treatise, which is
     very short, to be published, or more fully explained.

  [264] Montucla, whom several other writers have followed, erroneously
     places this work in the beginning of the fifteenth century.

|Proofs of them in thirteenth century.|

30. In the thirteenth century, we find Arabian numerals employed in the
tables of Alfonso X., king of Castile, published about 1252. They are
said to appear also in the Treatise of the Sphere, by John de Sacro
Bosco, probably about twenty years earlier; and there is an unpublished
treatise, De Algorismo, ascribed to him, which treats expressly of this
subject.[265] Algorismus was the proper name for the Arabic notation and
method of reckoning. Matthew Paris, after informing us that John Basing
first made Greek numeral figures known in England, observes, that in
these any number may be represented by a single figure, which is not the
case “in Latin nor in Algorism.”[266] It is obvious that in some few
numbers only this is true of the Greek; but the passage certainly
implies an acquaintance with that notation, which had obtained the name
of Algorism. It cannot, therefore, be questioned that Roger Bacon knew
these figures; yet he has, I apprehend, never mentioned them in his
writings: for a calendar, bearing the date 1292, which has been
blunderingly ascribed to him, is expressly declared to have been framed
at Toledo. In the year 1282, we find a single Arabic figure 3 inserted
in a public record; not only the first indisputable instance of their
employment in England, but the only one of their appearance in so solemn
an instrument.[267] But I have been informed that they have been found
in some private documents before the end of the century. In the
following age, though they were still by no means in common use among
accountants, nor did they begin to be so till much later, there can be
no doubt that mathematicians were thoroughly conversant with them, and
instances of their employment in other writings may be adduced.[268]

  [265] Several copies of this treatise are in the British Museum.
     Montucla has erroneously said that this arithmetic of Sacro Bosco
     is written in verse. Wallis, his authority, informs us only that
     some verses, two of which he quotes, are subjoined to the treatise.
     This is not the case in the manuscripts I have seen. I should add,
     that only one of them bears the name of Sacro Bosco, and that in a
     later handwriting.

  [266] Hic insuper magister Joannes figuras Græcorum numerales, et
     earum notitiam et significationes in Angliam portavit, et
     familiaribus suia declaravit. Per quas figuras etiam literæ
     repræsentantur. De quibus figuris hoc maxime admirandum, quod unica
     figura quilibet numerus representatur; quod non est in Latino, vel
     in Algorismo. Matt. Paris, A.D. 1252, p. 721.

  [267] Parliamentary Writs, i. 232, edited under the Record Commission
     by Sir Francis Palgrave. It was probably inserted for want of room,
     not enough having been left for the word IIIum. It will not be
     detected with ease, even by the help of this reference.

  [268] Andrès, ii. 92, gives on the whole the best account of the
     progress of numerals. The article by Leslie in the Encyclopædia
     Britannica is too dogmatical in denying their antiquity. That in
     the Encyclopædia Metropolitana, by Mr. Peacock, is more learned.
     Montucla is as superficial as usual; and Kästner has confined
     himself to the claims of Gerbert, admitting which, he is too
     indifferent about subsequent evidence.

|Mathematical treatises.|

31. Adelard of Bath, in the twelfth century, translated the elements of
Euclid from the Arabic, and another version was made by Campanus in the
next age. The first printed editions are of the latter. The writings of
Ptolemy became known through the same channel; and the once celebrated
treatise on the Sphere by John de Sacro Bosco (Holywood, or, according
to Leland, Halifax) about the beginning of the thirteenth century, is
said to be but an abridgment of the Alexandrian geometer.[269] It has
been frequently printed, and was even thought worthy of a commentary by
Clavius. Jordan of Namur (Nemorarius) near the same time, shows a
considerable insight into the properties of numbers.[270] Vitello, a
native of Poland, not long afterwards, first made known the principles
of optics in a treatise in ten books, several times printed in the
sixteenth century, and indicating an extensive acquaintance with
the Greek and Arabian geometers. Montucla has charged Vitello with
having done no more than compress and arrange a work on the same subject
by Alhazen; which Andrès, always partial to the Arabian writers, has not
failed to repeat. But the author of an article on Vitello in the
Biographie Universelle repels this imputation, which could not, he says,
have proceeded from any one who had compared the two writers. A more
definite judgment is pronounced by the laborious German historian of
mathematics, Kästner. “Vitello,” he says, “has with diligence and
judgment collected, as far as lay in his power, what had been previously
known; and, avoiding the tediousness of Arabian verbosity, is far more
readable, perspicuous, and methodical than Alhazen; he has also gone
much farther in the science.”[271]

  [269] Montucla, i. 506. Biogr. Univ., Kästner.

  [270] Montucla. Kästner.

  [271] Gesch. der Mathem. ii. 263. The true name is Vitello, as Playfair
     has remarked (Dissertat. in Encycl. Brit.), but Vitello is much
     more common. Kästner is correct, always copying the old editions.

|Roger Bacon.|

32. It seems hard to determine whether or not Roger Bacon be entitled to
the honours of a discoverer in science; that he has not described any
instrument analogous to the telescope, is now generally admitted; but he
paid much attention to optics, and has some new and important notions on
that subject. That he was acquainted with the explosive powers of
gunpowder, it seems unreasonable to deny: the mere detonation of nitre
in contact with an inflammable substance, which of course might be
casually observed, is by no means adequate to his expressions in the
well-known passage on that subject.[272] But there is no ground for
doubting that the Saracens were already conversant with gunpowder.

  [272] This has been suggested by Professor Leslie, in the article on
     arithmetic above quoted; a great chemical authority, but who had
     not taken the trouble to look at Bacon, and forgot that he mentions
     charcoal and sulphur as well as nitre.

|His resemblance to Lord Bacon.|

33. The mind of Roger Bacon was strangely compounded of almost prophetic
gleams of the future course of science, and the best principles of the
inductive philosophy, with a more than usual credulity in the
superstitions of his own time. Some have deemed him overrated by the
nationality of the English.[273] But if we may have sometimes given him
credit for discoveries to which he has only borne testimony, there can
be no doubt of the originality of his genius. I have in another place
remarked the singular resemblance he bears to Lord Bacon, not only in
the character of his philosophy, but in several coincidences of
expression. This has since been followed up by a later writer,[274]
(with no knowledge, probably, of what I had written, since he does not
allude to it), who plainly charges Lord Bacon with having borrowed much,
and with having concealed his obligations. The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon
was not published till 1733, but the manuscripts were not uncommon, and
Selden had thoughts of printing the work. The quotations from the
Franciscan and the Chancellor, printed in parallel columns by Mr.
Forster, are sometimes very curiously similar; but he presses the
resemblance too far; and certainly the celebrated distinction, in the
Novum Organum, of four classes of _Idola_ which mislead the
judgment, does not correspond in meaning, as he supposes, with the
causes of error assigned by Roger Bacon.

  [273] Meiners, of all modern historians of literature, is the least
     favourable to Bacon, on account of his superstition and credulity
     in the occult sciences. Vergleichung der Sitten, ii. 710, and iii.
     232. Heeren, p. 244, speaks more candidly of him. It is impossible,
     I think, to deny that credulity is one of the points of resemblance
     between him and his namesake.

  [274] Hist. of Middle Ages, iii. 539. Forster’s Mahometanism Unveiled,
     ii. 312.

|English mathematicians of fourteenth century.|

34. The English nation was not at all deficient in mathematicians during
the fourteenth century; on the contrary, no other in Europe produced
nearly so many. But their works have rarely been published. The great
progress of physical science, since the invention of printing, has
rendered these imperfect treatises interesting only to the curiosity of
a very limited class of readers. Thus Richard Suisset, or Swineshead,
author of a book entitled the Calculator, of whom Cardan speaks in such
language as might be applied to himself, is scarcely known, except by
name, to literary historians; and though it has once been printed, the
book is of the extremest rarity.[275] But the most conspicuous of
our English geometers was Thomas Bradwardin, archbishop of Canterbury;
yet more for his rank, and for his theological writings, than for the
arithmetical and geometrical speculations which give him a place in
science. Montucla, with a carelessness of which there are too many
instances in his valuable work, has placed Bradwardin, who died in 1348,
at the beginning of the sixteenth century, though his work was printed
in 1495.[276]

  [275] The character of Suisset’s book given by Brucker, iii. 852, who
     had seen it, does not seem to justify the wish of Leibnitz that it
     should be republished. It is a strange medley of arithmetical and
     geometrical reasoning with the scholastic philosophy. Kästner
     (Geschichte der Mathematik, i. 50) seems not to have looked at
     Brucker, and, like Montucla, has a very slight notion of the nature
     of Suisset’s book. His suspicion that Cardan had never seen the
     book he so much extols, because he calls the author the Calculator,
     which is the title of the work itself, seems unwarrantable. Suisset
     probably had obtained the name from his book, which is not
     uncommon; and Cardan was not a man to praise what he had never read.

  [276] It may be considered a proof of the attention paid to geometry in
     England, that two books of Euclid were read at Oxford about the
     middle of the fifteenth century. Churton’s Life of Smyth, p. 151,
     from the University Register. We should not have expected to find



35. It is certain that the phenomena of physical astronomy were never
neglected; the calendar was known to be erroneous, and Roger Bacon has
even been supposed by some to have divined the method of its
restoration, which has long after been adopted. The Arabians understood
astronomy well, and their science was transfused more or less into
Europe. Nor was astrology the favourite superstition of both the eastern
and western world, without its beneficial effect upon the observation
and registering of the planetary motions. Thus too, alchemy, which,
though the word properly means but chemistry, was generally confined to
the mystery all sought to penetrate, the transmutation of metals into
gold, led more or less to the processes by which a real knowledge of the
component parts of substances has been attained.[277]

  [277] I refer to Dr. Thomson’s History of Chemistry for much curious
     learning on the alchemy of the Middle Ages. In a work like the
     present, it is impossible to follow up every subject; and I think
     that a general reference to a book of reputation and easy
     accessibility, is better than an attempt to abridge it.


36. The art of medicine was cultivated with great diligence by the
Saracens both of the east and of Spain, but with little of the
philosophical science that had immortalised the Greek school. The
writings, however, of these masters were translated into Arabic; whether
correctly or not, has been disputed among oriental scholars; and Europe
derived her acquaintance with the physic of the mind and body, with
Hippocrates as well as Aristotle, through the same channel. But the
Arabians had eminent medical authorities of their own; Rhases, Avicenna,
Albucazi who possessed greater influence. In modern times, that is,
since the revival of Greek science, the Arabian theories have been in
general treated with much scorn. It is admitted, however, that pharmacy
owes a long list of its remedies to their experience, and to their
intimacy with the products of the east. The school of Salerno,
established as early as the eleventh century,[278] for the study of
medicine, from whence the most considerable writers of the next ages
issued, followed the Arabians in their medical theory. But these are
deemed rude, and of little utility at present.

  [278] Meiners refers it to the tenth, ii. 413; and Tiraboschi thinks
     it may be as ancient, iii. 347.


37. In the science of anatomy an epoch was made by the treatise of
Mundinus, a professor at Bologna, who died in 1326. It is entitled
Anatome omnium humani corporis interiorum membrorum. This book had one
great advantage over those of Galen, that it was founded on the actual
anatomy of the human body. For Galen is supposed to have only dissected
apes, and judged of mankind by analogy; and though there may be reason
to doubt whether this were altogether the case, it is certain that he
had very little practice in human dissection. Mundinus seems to have
been more fortunate in his opportunities of this kind than later
anatomists, during the prevalence of a superstitious prejudice, have
found themselves. His treatise was long the text-book of the Italian
universities, till, about the middle of the sixteenth century, Mundinus
was superseded by greater anatomists. The statutes of the university of
Padua prescribed, that anatomical lecturers should adhere to the literal
text of Mundinus. Though some have treated this writer as a mere copier
of Galen, he has much, according to Portal, of his own. There were also
some good anatomical writers in France during the fourteenth

  [279] Tiraboschi, v. 209-244, who is very copious for a non-medical
     writer. Portal, Hist, de l’Anatomie. Biogr. Univ., Mondino,
     Chauliac. Eichhorn, Gesch. der Litt. ii. 416-447.

|Encyclopædic works of middle ages.|

|Vincent of Beauvais.|

38. Several books of the later middle ages, sometimes of great size,
served as collections of natural history, and, in fact, as encyclopædias
of general knowledge. The writings of Albertus Magnus belong, in
part, to this class. They have been collected, in twenty-one volumes
folio, by the Dominican Peter Jammi, and published at Lyons in 1651.
After setting aside much that is spurious, Albert may pass for the most
fertile writer in the world. He is reckoned by some the founder of the
schoolmen; but we mention him here as a compiler, from all accessible
sources, of what physical knowledge had been accumulated in his time. A
still more comprehensive contemporary writer of this class was Vincent
de Beauvais, in the Speculum naturale, morale, doctrinale et historiale,
written before the middle of the thirteenth century. The second part of
this vast treatise in ten volumes folio, usually bound in four, Speculum
morale, seems not to be written by Vincent de Beauvais, and is chiefly a
compilation from Thomas Aquinas, and other theologians of the same age.
The first, or Speculum naturale, follows the order of creation as an
arrangement; and after pouring out all the author could collect on the
heavens and earth, proceeds to the natural kingdoms; and, finally, to
the corporeal and mental structure of man. In the third part of this
encyclopædia, under the title Speculum doctrinale, all arts and sciences
are explained; and the fourth contains an universal history.[280] The
sources of this magazine of knowledge are of course very multifarious.
In the Speculum naturale, at which alone I have looked, Aristotle’s
writings, especially the history of animals, those of other ancient
authors, of the Arabian physicians, and of all who had treated the same
subjects in the middle ages, are brought together in a comprehensive,
encyclopædic manner, and with vast industry, but with almost a studious
desire, as we might now fancy, to accumulate absurd falsehoods. Vincent,
like many, it must be owned, in much later times, through his haste to
compile, does not give himself the trouble to understand what he copies.
But, in fact, he relied on others to make extracts for him, especially
from the writings of Aristotle, permitting himself or them, as he tells
us, to change the order, condense the meaning, and explain the
difficulties.[281] It may be easily believed that neither Vincent of
Beauvais, nor his amanuenses, were equal to this work of abridging and
transposing their authors. Andrès, accordingly, has quoted a passage
from the Speculum naturale, and another to the same effect from Albertus
Magnus, relating, no doubt, in the Arabian writer from whom they
borrowed, to the polarity of the magnet, but so strangely turned into
nonsense, that it is evident they could not have understood in the least
what they wrote. Probably, as their language is nearly the same, they
copied a bad translation.[282]

  [280] Biogr. Univ., Vincentius Bellovacensis.

  [281] A quibusdam fratribus excerpta susceperam; non eodem penitus
     verborum schemate, quo in originalibus suis jacent, sed ordine
     plerumque transposito, non nunquam etiam mutata perpaululum ipsorum
     verborum forma, manente tamen auctoris sententia; prout ipsa vel
     prolixitatis abbreviandæ vel multitudinis in unam colligendæ, vel
     etiam obscuritatis explanandæ necessitas exigebat.

  [282] Andrès, ii. 112. See also xiii. 141.


39. In the same class of compilation with the Speculum of Vincent of
Beauvais, we may place some later works, the Trésor of Brunetto Latini,
written in French about 1280, the Reductorium, Repertorium, et
Dictionarium morale of Berchorius, or Berchœur, a monk, who died at
Paris in 1362,[283] and a treatise by Bartholomew Glanvil, De
Proprietatibus Rerum, soon after that time. Reading all they could find,
extracting from all they read, digesting their extracts under some
natural, or, at worst, alphabetical classification, these laborious men
gave back their studies to the world with no great improvement of the
materials, but sometimes with much convenience in their disposition.
This, however, depended chiefly on their ability as well as diligence;
and in the mediæval period, the want of capacity to discern probable
truth was a very great drawback from the utility of their compilations.

  [283] This book, according to De Sade, Vie de Pétrarque, iii. 550,
     contains a few good things among many follies. I have never seen it.

|Spanish ballads.|

40. It seems to be the better opinion, that very few only of the Spanish
romances or ballads founded on history or legend, so many of which
remain, belong to a period anterior to the fifteenth century. One may be
excepted, which bears the name of Don Juan Manuel, who died in
1364.[284] Most of them should be placed still lower. Sanchez has
included none in his collection of Spanish poetry, limited by its title
to that period; though he quotes one or two fragments which he would
refer to the fourteenth century.[285] Some, however, have conceived,
perhaps with little foundation, that several, in the general collections
of romances, have been modernised in language from more ancient lays.
They have all a highly chivalrous character; every sentiment congenial
to that institution, heroic courage, unsullied honour, generous pride,
faithful love, devoted loyalty, were displayed in Castilian verse, not
only in their real energy, but sometimes with an hyperbolical
extravagance to which the public taste accommodated itself, and which
long continued to deform the national literature. The ballad of the
Conde de Alarcos, which may be found in Bouterwek, or in Sismondi, and
seems to be one of the most ancient, will serve as a sufficient

  [284] Don Juan Manuel, a prince descended from Ferdinand III., was the
     most accomplished man whom Spain produced in his age. One of the
     earliest specimens of Castilian prose, El Conde Lucanor, places him
     high in the literature of his country. It is a moral fiction, in
     which, according to the custom of novelists, many other tales are
     interwoven. “In every passage of the book,” says Bouterwek, “the
     author shows himself a man of the world and an observer of human

  [285] The Marquis of Santillana, early in the fifteenth century, wrote
     a short letter on the state of poetry in Spain to his own time.
     Sanchez has published this with long and valuable notes.

  [286] Bouterwek’s History of Spanish and Portuguese Poetry, i. 55.
     See also Sismondi, Littérature du Midi, iii. 228, for the romance
     of the Conde de Alarcos.

     Sismondi refers it to the fourteenth century; but perhaps no strong
     reason for this could be given. I find, however, in the Cancionero
     General, a “romance viejo,” containing the first two lines of the
     Conde de Alarcos, continued on another subject. It was not uncommon
     to build romances on the stocks of old ones, taking only the first
     lines; several other instances occur among those in the Cancionero,
     which are not numerous.

|Metres of Spanish poetry.|

41. The very early poetry of Spain (that published by Sanchez) is marked
by a rude simplicity, a rhythmical, and not very harmonious
versification, and, especially in the ancient poem of the Cid, written,
probably, before the middle of the twelfth century, by occasional vigour
and spirit. This poetry is in that irregular Alexandrine measure, which,
as has been observed, arose out of the Latin pentameter. It gave place
in the fifteenth century to a dactylic measure, called _versos de arte
mayor_, generally of eleven syllables, the first, fourth, seventh,
and tenth being accented, but subject to frequent licences, especially
that of an additional short syllable at the beginning of the line. But
the favourite metre in lyric songs and romances was the redondilla, the
type of which was a line of four trochees, requiring, however,
alternately, or at the end of a certain number, one deficient in the
last syllable, and consequently throwing an emphasis on the close. By
this a poem was sometimes divided into short stanzas, the termination of
which could not be mistaken by the ear. It is no more, where the lines
of eight and seven syllables alternate, than that English metre with
which we are too familiar to need an illustration. Bouterwek has
supposed that this alternation, which is nothing else than the trochaic
verse of Greek and Latin poetry, was preserved traditionally in Spain
from the songs of the Roman soldiers. But it seems by some Arabic lines
which he quotes, in common characters, that the Saracens had the line of
four trochees, which, in all languages where syllables are strongly
distinguished in time and emphasis, has been grateful to the ear. No one
can fail to perceive the sprightliness and grace of this measure, when
accompanied by simple melody. The lighter poetry of the southern nations
is always to be judged with some regard to its dependence upon a sister
art. It was not written to be read, but to be heard; and to be heard in
the tones of song, and with the notes of the lyre or the guitar. Music
is not at all incapable of alliance with reasoning or descriptive
poetry; but it excludes many forms which either might assume, and
requires a rapidity as well as intenseness of perception, which language
cannot always convey. Hence the poetry designed for musical
accompaniment is sometimes unfairly derided by critics, who demand what
it cannot pretend to give; but it is still true, that, as it cannot give
all which metrical language is able to afford, it is not poetry of the
very highest class.

|Consonant and assonant rhymes.|

42. The Castilian language is rich in perfect rhymes. But in their
lighter poetry the Spaniards frequently contented themselves with
_assonances_, that is, with the correspondence of final syllables,
wherein the vowel alone was the same, though with different consonants,
as _duro_ and _humo_, _boca_ and _cosa_. These were often intermingled
with perfect or consonant rhymes. In themselves, unsatisfactory as they
may seem at first sight to our prejudices, there can be no doubt but
that the assonances contained a musical principle, and would soon give
pleasure to and be required by the ear. They may be compared to the
alliteration so common in the northern poetry, and which constitutes
almost the whole regularity of some of our oldest poems. But though
assonances may seem to us an indication of a rude stage of poetry, it is
remarkable that they belong chiefly to the later period of Castilian
lyric poetry, and that consonant rhymes, frequently with the recurrence
of the same syllable, are reckoned, if I mistake not, a presumption of
the antiquity of a romance.[287]

  [287] Bouterwek’s Introduction. Velasquez, in Dieze’s German
     translation, p. 288. The assonance is peculiar to the Spaniards.

|Nature of the gloss.|

43. An analogy between poetry and music, extending beyond the mere laws
of sound, has been ingeniously remarked by Bouterwek in a very favourite
species of Spanish composition, the _glosa_. In this a few lines,
commonly well known and simple, were glosed, or paraphrased, with as
much variety and originality as the poet’s ingenuity could give, in a
succession of stanzas, so that the leading sentiment should be preserved
in each, as the subject of an air runs through its variations. It was
often contrived that the chief words of the glosed lines should recur
separately in the course of each stanza. The two arts being incapable of
a perfect analogy, this must be taken as a general one; for it was
necessary that each stanza should be conducted so as to terminate in the
lines, or a portion of them, which form the subject of the gloss.[288]
Of these artificial, though doubtless, at the time, very pleasing
compositions, there is nothing, as far as I know, to be found beyond the
Peninsula;[289] though, in a general sense, it may be said, that all
lyric poetry, wherein a burthen or repetition of leading verses recurs,
must originally be founded on the same principle, less artfully and
musically developed. The burthen of a song can only be an impertinence,
if its sentiment does not pervade the whole.

  [288] Bouterwek, p. 118.

  [289] They appear with the name Grosas in the Cancionero General of
     Resende; and there seems, as I have observed already, to be
     something much of the same kind in the older Portuguese collection
     of the thirteenth century.

|The Cancionero General.|

44. The Cancionero General, a collection of Spanish poetry written
between the age of Juan de la Mena, near the beginning of the fifteenth
century, and its publication by Castillo in 1517, contains the
productions of one hundred and thirty-six poets, as Bouterwek says; and
in the edition of 1520 I have counted one hundred and thirty-nine. There
is also much anonymous. The volume is in two hundred and three folios,
and includes compositions by Villena, Santillana, and the other poets of
the age of John II., besides those of later date. But I find also the
name of Don Juan Manuel, which, if it means the celebrated author of the
Conde Lucanor, must belong to the fourteenth century, though the preface
of Castello seems to confine his collection to the age of Mena. A small
part only are strictly love songs (canciones); but the predominant
sentiment of the larger portion is amatory. Several romances occur in
this collection; one of them is Moorish, and, perhaps, older than the
capture of Granada; but it was long afterwards that the Spanish
romancers habitually embellished their fictions with Moorish manners.
These romances, as in the above instance, were sometimes glosed, the
simplicity of the ancient style readily lending itself to an expansion
of the sentiment. Some that are called romances contain no story; as the
Rosa Fresca and the Fonte Frida, both of which will be found in
Bouterwek and Sismondi.

|Bouterwek’s character of Spanish songs.|

45. “Love songs,” says Bouterwek, “form by far the principal part of the
old Spanish cancioneros. To read them regularly through would require a
strong passion for compositions of this class, for the monotony of the
authors is interminable. To extend and spin out a theme as long as
possible, though only to seize a new modification of the old ideas and
phrases, was, in their opinion, essential to the truth and sincerity of
their poetic effusions of the heart. That loquacity which is an
hereditary fault of the Italian canzone, must also be endured in
perusing the amatory flights of the Spanish redondillas, while in them
the Italian correctness of expression would be looked for in vain. From
the desire, perhaps, of relieving their monotony by some sort of
variety, the authors have indulged in even more witticisms and plays of
words than the Italians, but they also sought to infuse a more emphatic
spirit into their compositions than the latter. The Spanish poems of
this class exhibit, in general, all the poverty of the compositions of
the troubadours, but blend with the simplicity of these bards the pomp
of the Spanish national style in its utmost vigour. This resemblance to
the troubadour songs was not, however, produced by imitation; it arose
out of the spirit of romantic love, which at that period, and for
several preceding centuries, gave to the south of Europe the same
feeling and taste. Since the age of Petrarch, this spirit had
appeared in classical perfection in Italy. But the Spanish amatory poets
of the fifteenth century had not reached an equal degree of cultivation;
and the whole turn of their ideas required rather a passionate than a
tender expression. The sighs of the languishing Italians became cries in
Spain. Glowing passion, despair, and violent ecstacy were the soul of
the Spanish love songs. The continually recurring picture of the contest
between reason and passion is a peculiar characteristic of these songs.
The Italian poets did not attach so much importance to the triumph of
reason. The rigidly moral Spaniard was, however, anxious to be wise even
in the midst of his folly. But this obtrusion of wisdom in an improper
place frequently gives an unpoetical harshness to the lyric poetry of
Spain, in spite of all the softness of its melody.”[290]

  [290] Vol. i. p. 109.

|John II.|

|Poets of his court.|

46. It was in the reign of John II., king of Castile from 1407 to 1454,
that this golden age of lyric poetry commenced.[291] A season of peace
and regularity, a monarchy well limited, but no longer the sport of
domineering families, a virtuous king, a ministry too haughty and
ambitious, but able and resolute, were encouragements to that light
strain of amorous poetry which a state of ease alone can suffer mankind
to enjoy. And Portugal, for the whole of this century, was in as
flourishing a condition as Castile during this single reign. But we
shall defer the mention of her lyric poetry, as it seems chiefly to be
of a later date. In the court of John II. were found three men, whose
names stand high in the early annals of Spanish poetry,--the marquises
of Villena and Santillana, and Juan de Mena. But, except for their zeal
in the cause of letters, amidst the dissipations of a court, they have
no pretensions to compete with some of the obscure poets to whom we owe
the romances of chivalry. A desire, on the contrary, to show needless
learning, and to astonish the vulgar by an appearance of profundity, so
often the bane of poetry, led them into prosaic and tedious details, and
into affected refinements.[292]

  [291] Velasquez, pp. 165, 442. (in Dieze), mentions, what has escaped
     Bouterwek, a more ancient Cancionero than that of Castillo,
     compiled in the reign of John II., by Juan Alfonso de Baena, and
     hitherto, or at least in his time, unpublished. As it is entitled
     Cancionero di Poetas Antiguos, it may be supposed to contain some
     earlier than the year 1400. I am inclined to think, however, that
     few would be found to ascend much higher. I do not find the name of
     Don Juan Manuel, which occurs in the Cancionero of Castillo. A copy
     of this manuscript Cancionero of Baena, was lately sold (1836),
     among the MSS. of Mr. Heber, and purchased for 120l., by the king
     of France.

  [292] Bouterwek, p. 78.

|Charles, duke of Orleans.|

47. Charles, duke of Orleans, long prisoner in England after the battle
of Agincourt, was the first who gave polish and elegance to French
poetry. In a more enlightened age, according to Goujet’s opinion, he
would have been among their greatest poets.[293] Except a little
allegory in the taste of his times, he confined himself to the kind of
verse called rondeaux, and to slight amatory poems, which, if they aim
at little, still deserve the praise of reaching what they aim at. The
easy turns of thought, and graceful simplicity of style, which these
compositions require, came spontaneously to the Duke of Orleans. Without
as much humour as Clément Marot long afterwards displayed, he is much
more of a gentleman, and would have been in any times, if not quite what
Goujet supposes, a great poet, yet the pride and ornament of the

  [293] Goujet, Bibliothèque Française, ix. 233.

  [294] The following very slight vaudeville will show the easy style of
     the Duke of Orleans. It is curious to observe how little the manner
     of French poetry, in such productions, has been changed since the
     fifteenth century.

          Petit mercier, petit panier:
          Pourtant si je n’ai marchandize
          Qui soit du tout à votre quise
          Ne blamez pour ce mon mestier;
          Je gagne denier à denier;
          C’est loin du trésor de Vénise.

          Petit mercier, petit panier,
          Et tandis qu’il est jour, ouvrier,
          Le temps perds, quand a vous devise,
          Je vais parfaire mon emprise,
          Et parmi les rues crier:
          Petit mercier, petit panier.

     (Recueil des anciens poètes Français, ii. 196.)

|English poetry.|


|James I. of Scotland.|

48. The English language was slowly refining itself, and growing into
general use. That which we sometimes call pedantry and innovation, the
forced introduction of French words by Chaucer, though hardly more by
him than by all his predecessors who translated our neighbours’ poetry,
and the harsh latinisms that began to appear soon afterwards, has given
English a copiousness and variety which perhaps no other language
possesses. But as yet there was neither thought nor knowledge sufficient
to bring out its capacities. After the death of Chaucer, in 1400,
a dreary blank of long duration occurs in our annals. The poetry of
Hoccleve is wretchedly bad, abounding with pedantry, and destitute of
all grace or spirit.[295] Lydgate, the monk of Bury, nearly of the same
age, prefers doubtless a higher claim to respect. An easy versifier, he
served to make poetry familiar to the many, and may sometimes please the
few. Gray, no light authority, speaks more favourably of Lydgate than
either Warton or Ellis, or than the general complexion of his poetry
would induce most readers to do.[296] But great poets have often the
taste to discern, and the candour to acknowledge, those beauties which
are latent amidst the tedious dulness of their humbler brethren.
Lydgate, though probably a man of inferior powers of mind to Gower, has
more of the minor qualities of a poet; his lines have sometimes more
spirit, more humour, and he describes with more graphic minuteness. But
his diffuseness becomes generally feeble and tedious; the attention
fails in the schoolboy stories of Thebes and Troy; and he had not the
judgment to select and compress the prose narratives from which he
commonly derived his subject. It seems highly probable, that Lydgate
would have been a better poet in satire upon his own times, or
delineation of their manners; themes which would have gratified us much
more than the fate of princes. The King’s Quair, by James I. of
Scotland, is a long allegory, polished and imaginative, but with some of
the tediousness usual in such productions. It is uncertain whether he or
a later sovereign, James V., were the author of a lively comic poem,
Christ’s Kirk o’ the Green; the style is so provincial, that no
Englishman can draw any inference as to its antiquity. It is much more
removed from our language than the King’s Quair. Whatever else could be
mentioned as deserving of praise is anonymous and of uncertain date. It
seems to have been early in the fifteenth century that the ballad of the
northern minstrels arose. But none of these that are extant could be
placed with much likelihood so early as 1440.[297]

  [295] Warton, ii. 348.

  [296] Warton, ii. 361-407. Gray’s works, by Mathias, ii. 55-73. These
     remarks on Lydgate show what the history of English poetry would
     have been in the hands of Gray, as to sound and fair criticism.

  [297] Chevy Chace seems to be the most ancient of those ballads that
     has been preserved. It may possibly have been written while Henry
     VI. was on the throne, though a late critic would bring it down to
     the reign of Henry VIII. Brydges’ Brit. Bibliography, iv. 97. The
     style is often fiery, like the old war songs, and much above the
     feeble, though natural and touching manner of the later ballads.
     One of the most remarkable circumstances about this celebrated lay
     is, that it relates a totally fictitious event with all historical
     particularity, and with real names. Hence it was probably not
     composed while many remembered the days of Henry IV., when the
     story is supposed to have occurred.

|Restoration of classical learning due to Italy.|

49. We have thus traced in outline the form of European literature, as
it existed in the middle ages and in the first forty years of the
fifteenth century. The result must be to convince us of our great
obligations to Italy for her renewal of classical learning. What might
have been the intellectual progress of Europe if she had never gone back
to the fountains of Greek and Roman genius, it is impossible to
determine; certainly, nothing in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
give prospect of a very abundant harvest. It would be difficult to find
any man of high reputation in modern times, who has not reaped benefit,
directly or through others, from the revival of ancient learning. We
have the greatest reason to doubt whether, without the Italians of these
ages, it would ever have occurred. The trite metaphors of light and
darkness, of dawn and twilight, are used carelessly by those who touch
on the literature of the middle ages, and suggest by analogy an
uninterrupted progression, in which learning, like the sun, has
dissipated the shadows of barbarism. But with closer attention, it is
easily seen that this is not a correct representation; that, taking
Europe generally, far from being in a more advanced stage of learning at
the beginning of the fifteenth century than two hundred years before,
she had, in many respects, gone backwards, and gave little sign of any
tendency to recover her ground. There is, in fact, no security, as far
as the past history of mankind assures us, that any nation will be
uniformly progressive in science, arts, and letters; nor do I perceive,
whatever may be the current language, that we can expect this with much
greater confidence of the whole civilised world.

50. Before we proceed to a more minute and chronological history, let us
consider for a short time some of the prevailing trains of sentiment and
opinion which shaped the public mind at the close of the mediæval

|Character of classical poetry lost.|

51. In the early European poetry, the art sedulously cultivated by so
many nations, we are struck by characteristics that distinguish
it from the remains of antiquity, and belong to social changes which we
should be careful to apprehend. The principles of discernment as to
works of imagination and sentiment, wrought up in Greece and Rome by a
fastidious and elaborate criticism, were of course effaced in the total
oblivion of that literature to which they had been applied. The Latin
language, no longer intelligible except to a limited class, lost that
adaptation to popular sentiment, which its immature progeny had not yet
attained. Hence, perhaps, or from some other cause, there ensued, as has
been shown in the last chapter, a kind of palsy of the inventive
faculties, so that we cannot discern for several centuries any traces of
their vigorous exercise.

|New schools of criticism of modern languages.|

52. Five or six new languages, however, besides the ancient German,
became gradually flexible and copious enough to express thought and
emotion with more precision and energy; metre and rhyme gave poetry its
form; a new European literature was springing up, fresh and lively, in
gay raiment, by the side of that decrepid latinity, which, rather
ostentatiously, wore its threadbare robes of more solemn dignity than
becoming grace. But in the beginning of the fifteenth century, the
revival of ancient literature among the Italians seemed likely to change
again the scene, and threatened to restore a standard of critical
excellence by which the new Europe would be disadvantageously tried. It
was soon felt, if not recognised in words, that what had delighted
Europe for some preceding centuries depended upon sentiments fondly
cherished, and opinions firmly held, but foreign, at least in the forms
they presented, to the genuine spirit of antiquity. From this time we
may consider as beginning to stand opposed to each other two schools of
criticism, latterly called the classical and romantic; names which
should not be understood as absolutely exact, but, perhaps, rather more
apposite in the period to which these pages relate than in the
nineteenth century.

|Effect of chivalry on poetry.|

53. War is a very common subject of fiction; and the warrior’s character
is that which poets have ever delighted to pourtray. But the spirit of
chivalry, nourished by the laws of feudal tenure and limited monarchy,
by the rules of honour, courtesy, and gallantry, by ceremonial
institutions and public shows, had rather artificially modified the
generous daring which always forms the basis of that character. It must
be owned that the heroic ages of Greece furnished a source of fiction
not unlike those of romance; that Perseus, Theseus, or Hercules answer
pretty well to knights errant, and that many stories of the poets are in
the very style of Amadis or Ariosto. But these form no great part of
what we call classical poetry; though they show that the word, in its
opposition to the latter style, must not be understood to comprise
everything that has descended from antiquity. Nothing could less
resemble the peculiar tone of chivalry, than Greece in the republican
times, or Rome in any times.

|Effect of gallantry towards women.|

54. The popular taste had been also essentially affected by changes in
social intercourse, rendering it more studiously and punctiliously
courteous, and especially by the homage due to women under the modern
laws of gallantry. Love, with the ancient poets, is often tender,
sometimes virtuous, but never accompanied by a sense of deference or
inferiority. This elevation of the female sex through the voluntary
submission of the stronger, though a remarkable fact in the
philosophical history of Europe, has not, perhaps, been adequately
developed. It did not originate, or at least very partially, in the
Teutonic manners, from which it has sometimes been derived. The love
songs again, and romances of Arabia, where others have sought its
birthplace, display, no doubt, a good deal of that rapturous adoration
which distinguishes the language of later poetry, and have, perhaps, in
some measure, been the models of the Provençal troubadours; yet this
seems rather consonant to the hyperbolical character of oriental works
of imagination, than to a state of manners where the usual lot of women
is seclusion, if not slavery. The late editor of Warton has thought it
sufficient to call “that reverence and adoration of the female sex which
has descended to our own times, the offspring of the Christian
dispensation.”[298] But until it can be shown that Christianity
establishes any such principle, we must look a little farther down for
its origin.

  [298] Preface, p. 123.

|Its probable origin.|

55. Without rejecting, by any means, the influence of these collateral
and preparatory circumstances, we might ascribe more direct efficacy to
the favour shown towards women in succession to lands through
inheritance or dower, by the later Roman law, and by the customs of the
northern nations; to the respect which the clergy paid them (a subject
which might bear to be more fully expanded); but, above all, to
the gay idleness of the nobility, consuming the intervals of peace in
festive enjoyments. In whatever country the charms of high-born beauty
were first admitted to grace the banquet or give brilliancy to the
tournament,--in whatever country the austere restraints of jealousy were
most completely laid aside,--in whatever country the coarser, though
often more virtuous, simplicity of unpolished ages was exchanged for
winning and delicate artifices,--in whatever country, through the
influence of climate or polish, less boisterousness and intemperance
prevailed,--it is there that we must expect to find the commencement of
so great a revolution in society.

|It is not shown in old Teutonicpoetry; but appears in the stories of

56. Gallantry, in this sense of a general homage to the fair, a
respectful deference to woman independent of personal attachment, seems
to have first become a perceptible element of European manners in the
south of France, and, probably, not later than the end of the tenth
century,[299] it was not at all in unison with the rough habits of the
Carlovingian Franks, or of the Anglo-Saxons. There is little, or, as far
as I know, nothing of it in the poem of Beowulf, or in the oldest
Teutonic fragments, or in the Nibelungen Lied;[300] love may appear as a
natural passion, but not as a conventional idolatry. It appears, on the
other hand, fully developed in the sentiments as well as the usages of
northern France, when we look at the tales of the court of Arthur, which
Geoffrey of Monmouth gave to the world about 1128. Whatever may be
thought of the foundation of this famous romance,--whatever of legendary
tradition he may have borrowed from Wales or Britany, the position that
he was merely a faithful translator appears utterly incredible.[301]
Besides the numerous allusions to Henry I. of England, and to the
history of his times, which Mr. Turner and others have indicated, the
chivalrous gallantry, with which alone we are now concerned, is not
characteristic of so rude a people as the Welsh or Armoricans. Geoffrey
is almost our earliest testimony to these manners; and this gives the
chief value to his fables. The crusades were probably the great means of
inspiring an uniformity of conventional courtesy into the European
aristocracy, which still constitutes the common character of gentlemen;
but it may have been gradually wearing away their national peculiarities
for some time before.

  [299] It would be absurd to assign an exact date for that which in its
     nature must be gradual. I have a suspicion, that sexual respect,
     though not with all the refinements of chivalry, might be traced
     earlier in the south of Europe than the tenth century; but it would
     require a long investigation to prove this.

     A passage, often quoted, of Radulphus Glaber, on the affected and
     effeminate manners, as he thought them, of the southern nobility
     who came in the train of Constance, daughter of the Count of
     Toulouse, on her marriage with Robert, king of France, in 999,
     indicates that the roughness of the Teutonic character, as well
     perhaps as some of its virtues, had yielded to the arts and
     amusements of peace. It became a sort of proverb; Franci ad bella,
     Provinciales ad victualia. Eichhorn, Allg. Gesch. i. Append. 73.
     The social history of the tenth and eleventh centuries is not
     easily recovered. We must judge from probabilities founded on
     single passages, and on the general tone of civil history. The
     kingdom of Arles was more tranquil than the rest of France.

  [300] Von eigentlicher galanterie ist in dem nibelungen Lied wenig zu
     finden, von Christlichen mysticismus fast gar nichts. Bouterwek,
     ix. 147. I may observe that the positions in the text, as to the
     absence of gallantry in the old Teutonic poetry, are borne out by
     every other authority; by Weber, Price, Turner, and Eichhorn. The
     last writer draws rather an amusing inference as to the want of
     politeness towards the fair sex from the frequency of abductions in
     Teutonic and Scandinavian story, which he enumerates. Allg. Gesch.
     i. 37. Append. p. 37.

  [301] See, in Mr. Turner’s Hist. of England, iv. 256-269, two
     dissertations on the romantic histories of Turpin and of Geoffrey,
     wherein the relation between the two, and the motives with which
     each was written, seem irrefragably demonstrated.

|Romances of chivalry, of two kinds.|

57. The condition and the opinions of a people stamp a character on its
literature; while that literature powerfully reacts upon and moulds
afresh the national temper from which it has taken its distinctive type.
This is remarkably applicable to the romances of chivalry. Some have
even believed, that chivalry itself, in the fulness of proportion
ascribed to it by these works, had never existence beyond their pages;
others, with more probability, that it was heightened and preserved by
their influence upon a state of society which had given them birth. A
considerable difference is perceived between the metrical romances,
contemporaneous with or shortly subsequent to the crusades, and those in
prose after the middle of the fourteenth century. The former are more
fierce, more warlike, more full of abhorrence of infidels; they display
less of punctilious courtesy, less of submissive deference to woman,
less of absorbing and passionate love, less of voluptuousness and
luxury; their superstition has more of interior belief, and less
of ornamental machinery, than those to which Amadis de Gaul and other
heroes of the later cycles of romance furnished a model. The one
reflect, in a tolerably faithful mirror, the rough customs of the feudal
aristocracy in their original freedom, but partially modified by the
gallant and courteous bearing of France; the others represent to us,
with more of licensed deviation from reality, the softened features of
society, in the decline of the feudal system through the cessation of
intestine war, the increase of wealth and luxury, and the silent growth
of female ascendency. This last again was, no doubt, promoted by the
tone given to manners through romance; the language of respect became
that of gallantry; the sympathy of mankind was directed towards the
success of love; and, perhaps, it was thought, that the sacrifices which
this laxity of moral opinion cost the less prudent of the fair, were but
the price of the homage that the whole sex obtained.

|Effect of difference of religion upon poetry.|

58. Nothing, however, more showed a contrast between the old and the new
trains of sentiment in points of taste than the difference of religion.
It would be untrue to say, that ancient poetry is entirely wanting in
exalted notions of the Deity; but they are rare in comparison with those
which the Christian religion has inspired into very inferior minds, and
which, with more or less purity, pervaded the vernacular poetry of
Europe. They were obscured in both by an enormous superstructure of
mythological machinery; but so different in names and associations,
though not always in spirit, or even in circumstances, that those who
delighted in the fables of Ovid usually scorned the Golden Legend of
James de Voragine, whose pages were turned over with equal pleasure by a
credulous multitude, little able to understand why any one should relish
heathen stories which he did not believe. The modern mythology, if we
may include in it the saints and devils, as well as the fairy and goblin
armies, which had been retained in service since the days of paganism,
is so much more copious, and so much more easily adapted to our ordinary
associations than the ancient, that this has given an advantage to the
romantic school in their contention, which they have well known how to
employ and to abuse.

|General tone of romance.|

59. Upon these three columns,--chivalry, gallantry, and religion,--repose
the fictions of the middle ages, especially those usually designated as
romances. These, such as we now know them, and such as display the
characteristics above mentioned, were originally metrical, and chiefly
written by natives of the north of France. The English and Germans
translated or imitated them. A new æra of romance began with the Amadis
de Gaul, derived, as some have thought, but upon insufficient evidence,
from a French metrical original, but certainly written in Portugal,
though in the Castilian language, by Vasco de Lobeyra, whose death is
generally fixed in 1325.[302] This romance is in prose; and though a
long interval seems to have elapsed before those founded on the story of
Amadis began to multiply, many were written in French during the latter
part of the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries, derived from other
legends of chivalry, which became the popular reading, and superseded
the old metrical romances, already somewhat obsolete in their forms of

  [302] Bouterwek, Hist. of Spanish Literature, p. 48.

  [303] The oldest prose romance, which also is partly metrical, appears
     to be Tristan of Leonois, one of the cycle of the round table,
     written or translated by Lucas de Gast, about 1170. Roquefort, Etat
     de la Poésie Française, p. 147.

|Popular moral fictions.|

60. As the taste of a chivalrous aristocracy was naturally delighted
with romances, that not only led the imagination through a series of
adventures, but presented a mirror of sentiments to which they
themselves pretended, so that of mankind in general found its
gratification, sometimes in tales of home growth, or transplanted from
the east, whether serious or amusing, such as the Gesta Romanorum, the
Dolopathos, the Decameron (certainly the most celebrated and best
written of these inventions), the Pecorone; sometimes in historical
ballads, or in moral fables, a favourite style of composition,
especially with the Teutonic nations; sometimes, again, in legends of
saints, and the popular demonology of the age. The experience and
sagacity, the moral sentiments, the invention and fancy of many obscure
centuries may be discerned more fully and favourably in these various
fictions than in their elaborate treatises. No one of the European
nations stands so high in this respect as the German; their ancient
tales have a raciness and truth which has been only imitated by others.
Among the most renowned of these we must place the story of Reynard the
Fox; the origin of which, long sought by literary critics, recedes, as
they prolong the inquiry, into greater depths of antiquity. It
was supposed to be written, or at least first published, in German
rhyme, by Henry of Alkmaar, in 1498; but earlier editions, in the
Flemish language, have since been discovered. It has been found written
in French verse by Jaquemars Gielée, of Lille, near the end, and in
French prose by Peter of St. Cloud, near the beginning, of the
thirteenth century. Finally, the principal characters are mentioned in a
Provençal song by Richard Cœur de Lion.[304] But though we thus bring
the story to France, where it became so popular as to change the very
name of the principal animal, which was always called goupil (vulpes)
till the fourteenth century, when it assumed, from the hero of the tale,
the name of Renard,[305] there seems every reason to believe that it is
of German origin; and, according to probable conjecture, a certain
Reinard of Lorraine, famous for his vulpine qualities in the ninth
century, suggested the name to some unknown fabulist of the empire.

  [304] Recueil des anciens poètes, i. 21. M. Raynouard observes that
     the Troubadours, and, first of all, Richard Cœur de Lion, have
     quoted the story of Renard, sometimes with allusions not referrible
     to the present romance. Journal des Sav. 1826, p. 340. A great deal
     has been written about this story; but I shall only quote
     Bouterwek, ix. 347; Heinsius, iv. 104, and the Biographie
     Universelle; arts. Gielée. Alkmaar.

  [305] Something like this nearly happened in England: bears have had
     a narrow escape of being called only bruins, from their
     representative in the fable.

|Exclusion of politics from literature.|

61. These moral fictions, as well as more serious productions, in what
may be called the ethical literature of the middle ages, towards which
Germany contributed a large share, speak freely of the vices of the
great. But they deal with them as men responsible to God, and subject to
natural law, rather than as members of a community. Of political
opinions, properly so called, which have in later times so powerfully
swayed the conduct of mankind, we find very little to say in the
fifteenth century. In so far as they were not merely founded on
temporary circumstances, or at most on the prejudices connected with
positive institutions in each country, the predominant associations that
influenced the judgment were derived from respect for birth, of which
opulence was as yet rather the sign than the substitute. This had long
been, and long continued to be, the characteristic prejudice of European
society. It was hardly ever higher than in the fifteenth century; when
heraldry, the language that speaks to the eye of pride, and the science
of those who despise every other, was cultivated with all its ingenious
pedantry; and every improvement in useful art, every creation in
inventive architecture, was made subservient to the grandeur of an
elevated class in society. The burghers, in those parts of Europe which
had become rich by commerce, emulated in their public distinctions, as
they did ultimately in their private families, the ensigns of patrician
nobility. This prevailing spirit of aristocracy was still but partially
modified by the spirit of popular freedom on one hand, or of respectful
loyalty on the other.

|Religious opinions.|

|Attacks on the church.|

62. It is far more important to observe the disposition of the public
mind in respect of religion, which not only claims to itself one great
branch of literature, but exerts a powerful influence over almost every
other. The greater part of literature in the middle ages, at least from
the twelfth century, may be considered as artillery levelled against the
clergy: I do not say against the church, which might imply a doctrinal
opposition by no means universal. But if there is one theme upon which
the most serious as well as the lightest, the most orthodox as the most
heretical writers are united, it is ecclesiastical corruption. Divided
among themselves, the secular clergy detested the regular; the regular
monks satirised the mendicant friars; who, in their turn, after exposing
both to the ill-will of the people, incurred a double portion of it
themselves. In this most important respect, therefore, the influence of
mediæval literature was powerful towards change. But it rather loosened
the associations of ancient prejudice, and prepared mankind for
revolutions of speculative opinion, than brought them forward.

|Three lines of religious opinion in fifteenth century.|

|Treatise de Imitatione Christi.|

63. It may be said in general, that three distinct currents of religious
opinion are discernible, on this side of the Alps, in the first part of
the fifteenth century. 1. The high pretensions of the Church of Rome to
a sort of moral, as well as theological, infallibility, and to a
paramount authority even in temporal affairs, when she should think fit
to interfere with them, were maintained by a great body in the monastic
and mendicant orders, and had still, probably, a considerable influence
over the people in most parts of Europe. 2. The councils of Constance
and Basle, and the contentions of the Gallican and German Churches
against the encroachments of the holy see, had raised up a strong
adverse party, supported occasionally by the government, and more
uniformly by the temporal lawyers and other educated laymen. It derived,
however, its greatest force from a number of sincere and earnest
persons, who set themselves against the gross vices of the time, and the
abuses grown up in the church through self-interest or connivance. They
were disgusted, also, at the scholastic systems, which had turned
religion into a matter of subtle dispute, while they laboured to found
it on devotional feeling and contemplative love. The mystical theology,
which, from seeking the illuminating influence and piercing love of the
Deity, often proceeded onward to visions of complete absorption in his
essence, till that itself was lost, as in the east, from which this
system sprung, in an annihilating pantheism, had never wanted, and can
never want, its disciples. Some, of whom Bonaventura is the most
conspicuous, opposed its enthusiastic emotions to the icy subtleties of
the schoolmen. Some appealed to the hearts of the people in their own
language. Such was Tauler, whose sermons were long popular and have
often been printed; and another was the unknown author of The German
Theology, a favourite work with Luther, and known by the Latin version
of Sebastian Castalio. Such, too, were Gerson and Clemangis, and such
were the numerous brethren who issued from the college of Deventer.[306]
One, doubtless of this class, whenever he may have lived, was author of
the celebrated treatise De Imitatione Christi (a title which has been
transferred from the first chapter to the entire work), commonly
ascribed to Thomas von Kempen or à Kempis, one of the Deventer society,
but the origin of which has been, and will continue to be, the subject
of strenuous controversy. Besides Thomas à Kempis, two candidates have
been supported by their respective partisans; John Gerson, the famous
chancellor of the university of Paris, and John Gersen, whose name
appears in one manuscript, and whom some contend to have been abbot of a
monastery at Vercelli in the thirteenth century, while others hold him
an imaginary being, except as a misnomer of Gerson. Several French
writers plead for their illustrious countrymen, and especially M. Gence,
one of the last who has revived the controversy; while the German and
Flemish writers, to whom the Sorbonne acceded, have always contended for
Thomas à Kempis, and Gersen has had the respectable support of
Bellarmin, Mabillon, and most of the Benedictine order.[307] The book
itself is said to have gone through 1800 editions, and has probably been
more read than any one work after the Scriptures. 3. A third religious
party consisted of the avowed or concealed heretics, some disciples of
the older sectaries, some of Wicliffe or Huss, resembling the school of
Gerson and Gerard Groot in their earnest piety, but drawing a more
decided line of separation between themselves and the ruling power, and
ripe for a more complete reformation than the others were inclined to
desire. It is not possible, however, for us to pronounce on all the
shades of opinion that might be secretly cherished in the fifteenth

  [306] Eichhorn, vi. 1-136, has amply and well treated the theological
     literature of the fifteenth century. Mosheim is less satisfactory,
     and Milner wants extent of learning; yet both will be useful to the
     English reader. Eichhorn seems well acquainted with the mystical
     divines, in p. 97, et post.

  [307] I am not prepared to state the external evidence upon this keenly
     debated question with sufficient precision. In a few words, it may,
     I believe, be said, that in favour of Thomas à Kempis has been
     alleged the testimony of many early editions bearing his name,
     including one about 1471, which appears to be the first, as well as
     a general tradition from his own time, extending over most of
     Europe, which has led a great majority, including the Sorbonne
     itself, to determine the cause in his favour. It is also said that
     a manuscript of the treatise De Imitatione bears these words at the
     conclusion: Finitus et completus per manum Thomæ de Kempis, 1441;
     and that in this manuscript are so many erasures and alterations,
     as give it the appearance of his original autograph. Against Thomas
     à Kempis it is urged, that he was a professed caligrapher or
     copyist for the college of Deventer; that the chronicle of St.
     Agnes, a contemporary work, says of him: Scripsit Bibliam nostram
     totaliter, et multos alios libros pro domo et pro pretio; that the
     entry above mentioned is more like that of a transcriber than of an
     author; that the same chronicle makes no mention of his having
     written the treatise De Imitatione, nor does it appear in an early
     list of works ascribed to him. For Gerson are brought forward a
     great number of early editions in France, and still more in Italy,
     among which is the first that bears a date (Venice, 1483), both in
     the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; and some other probabilities
     are alleged. But this treatise is not mentioned in a list of his
     writings given by himself. As to Gersen, his claim seems to rest on
     a manuscript of great antiquity, which ascribes it to him, and
     indirectly on all those manuscripts which are asserted to be older
     than the time of Gerson and Thomas à Kempis. But, as I have before
     observed, I do not profess to give a full view of the external
     evidence, of which I possess but a superficial knowledge.

     From the book itself, two remarks, which I do not pretend to be
     novel, have suggested themselves. 1. The Gallicisms or Italicisms
     are very numerous, and strike the reader at once; such as, Scientia
     sine timore Dei quid importat?--Resiste in principio inclinationi
     tuæ--Vigilia serotina--Homo passionatus--Vivere cum nobis
     contrariantibus--Timoratior in cunctis actibus--Sufferentia crusis.
     It seems strange that these barbarous adaptations of French or
     Italian should have occurred to any one, whose native language was
     Dutch; unless it can be shown, that through St. Bernard, or any
     other ascetic writer, they had become naturalised in religious
     style. 2. But, on the other hand, it seems impossible to resist the
     conviction, that the author was an inhabitant of a monastery, which
     was not the case with Gerson, originally a secular priest at Paris,
     and employed for many years in active life, as chancellor of the
     university, and one of the leaders of the Gallican church. The
     whole spirit breathed by the treatise De Imitatione Christi is that
     of a solitary ascetic:--Vellem me pluries tacuisse et inter homines
     non fuisse--Sed quare tam libenter loquimur, et invicem fabulamur,
     cum raro sine læsione conscientiæ ad silentium redimus.--Cella
     continuata dulcescit, et male custodita tædium generat. Si in
     principio conversionis tuæ bene eam incolueris et custodieris, erit
     tibi posthac dilecta, amica, et gratissimum solatium.

     As the former consideration seems to exclude Thomas à Kempis, so
     the latter is unfavourable to the claims of Gerson. It has been
     observed, however, that in one passage, l. i. c. 24, there is an
     apparent allusion to Dante; which, if intended, must put an end to
     Gersen, abbot of Vercelli, whom his supporters place in the first
     part of the thirteenth century. But the allusion is not
     indisputable. Various articles in the Biographie Universelle, from
     the pen of M. Gence, maintain his favourite hypothesis; and M.
     Daunou, in the Journal des Savans for 1826, and again in the volume
     for 1827, seems to incline the same way. This is in the review of a
     defence of the pretensions of Gersen, by M. Gregory, who adduces
     some strong reasons to prove that the work is older than the
     fourteenth century.

     The book contains great beauty and heart-piercing truth in many of
     its detached sentences, but places its rule of life in absolute
     seclusion from the world, and seldom refers to the exercise of any
     social, or even domestic duty. It has naturally been less a
     favourite in Protestant countries, both from its monastic
     character, and because those who incline towards Calvinism do not
     find in it the phraseology to which they are accustomed. The
     translations are very numerous, but there seems to be an inimitable
     expression in its concise and energetic, though barbarous Latin.

|Scepticism. Defences of Christianity.|

64. Those of the second class were, perhaps, comparatively rare at this
time in Italy, and those of the third much more so. But the extreme
superstition of the popular creed, the conversation of Jews and
Mahometans, the unbounded admiration of pagan genius and virtue, the
natural tendency of many minds to doubt and to perceive difficulties,
which the schoolmen were apt to find everywhere, and nowhere to solve,
joined to the irreligious spirit of the Aristotelian philosophy,
especially as modified by Averroes, could not but engender a secret
tendency towards infidelity, the course of which may be traced with ease
in the writings of those ages. Thus the tale of the three rings in
Bocacce, whether original or not, may be reckoned among the sports of a
sceptical philosophy. But a proof, not less decisive, that the blind
faith we ascribe to the middle ages was by no means universal, results
from the numerous vindications of Christianity written in the fifteenth
century. Eichhorn, after referring to several passages in the works of
Petrarch, mentions defences of religion by Marcilius Ficinus, Alfonso de
Spina, a converted Jew, Savanarola, Æneas Sylvius, Picus of Mirandola.
He gives an analysis of the first, which, in its course of argument,
differs little from modern apologies of the same class.[308]

  [308] Vol. vi. p. 24.

|Raimond de Sebonde.|

65. These writings, though by men so considerable as most of those he
has named, are very obscure at present; but the treatise of Raimond de
Sebonde is somewhat better known, in consequence of the chapter in
Montaigne entitled an apology for him. Montaigne had previously
translated into French the Theologia Naturalis of this Sebonde,
professor of medicine at Barcelona in the early part of the fifteenth
century. This has been called by some the first regular system of
natural theology; but, even if nothing of that kind could be found in
the writings of the schoolmen, which is certainly not the case, such an
appellation, notwithstanding the title, seems hardly due to Sebonde’s
book, which is intended, not so much to erect a fabric of religion
independent of revelation, as to demonstrate the latter by proofs
derived from the order of nature.

|His views misunderstood.|

66. Dugald Stewart, in his first dissertation prefixed to the
Encyclopædia Britannica, observes, that “the principal aim of Sebonde’s
book, according to Montaigne, is to show that Christians are in the
wrong to make human reasoning the basis of their belief, since the
object of it is only conceived by faith, and by a special inspiration of
the divine grace.” I have been able to ascertain that the excellent
author was not misled in this passage by any carelessness of his own,
but by confiding in Cotton’s translation of Montaigne, which absolutely
perverts the sense. Far from such being the aim of Sebonde, his book is
wholly devoted to the rational proofs of religion: and what Stewart, on
Cotton’s authority, has taken for a proposition of Sebonde himself, is
merely an objection which, according to Montaigne, some were apt to make
against his mode of reasoning. The passage is so very clear, that every
one who looks at Montaigne (l. ii. c. 12) must instantaneously perceive
the oversight which the translator has made; or he may satisfy himself
by the article on Sebonde in Bayle.

|His real object.|

67. The object of Sebonde’s book, according to himself, is to develop
those truths as to God and man, which are latent in nature, and through
which the latter may learn everything necessary; and especially may
understand Scripture, and have an infallible certainty of its truth.
This science is incorporate in all the books of the doctors of the
church, as the alphabet is in their words. It is the first science, the
basis of all others, and requiring no other to be previously known. The
scarcity of the book will justify an extract; which, though in very
uncouth Latin, will serve to give a notion of what Sebonde really aimed
at; but he labours with a confused expression, arising, partly, from the
vastness of his subject.[309]

  [309] Duo sunt libri nobis dati a Deo: scilicet liber universitatis
     creaturarum, sive liber naturæ, et alius est liber sacræ scripturæ.
     Primus liber fuit datus homini a principio, dum universitas rerum
     fuit condita, quoniam quælibet creatura non est nisi quædam litera
     digito Dei scripta, et ex pluribus creaturis sicut ex pluribus
     literis componitur liber. Ita componitur liber creaturarum, in quo
     libro etiam continetur homo; et est principalior litera ipsius
     libri. Et sicut literæ et dictiones factæ ex literis important et
     includunt scientiam et diversas significationes et mirabiles
     sententias: ita conformiter ipsæ creaturæ simul conjunctæ et ad
     invicem comparatæ important et significant diversas significationes
     et sententias, et continent scientiam homini necessariam. Secundus
     autem liber scripturæ datus est homini secundo, et hoc in defectu
     primi libri; eo quia homo nesciebat in primo legere, quia erat
     cœcus; sed tamen primus liber creaturarum est omnibus communis,
     quia solum clerici legere sciunt in eo [_i.e._ secundo].

     Item primus liber, scilicet naturæ, non potest falsificari, nec
     deleri, neque false interpretari; ideo hæretici non possunt eum
     false intelligere, nec aliquis potest in eo fieri hæreticus. Sed
     secundus potest falsificari et false interpretari et male
     intelligi. Attamen uterque liber est ab eodem, quia idem Dominus et
     creaturas condidit, et sacram Scripturam revelavit. Et ideo
     conveniunt ad invicem, et non contradicit unus alteri, sed tamen
     primus est nobis connaturalis, secundus supernaturalis. Præterea
     cum homo sit naturaliter rationalis, et susceptibilis disciplinæ et
     doctrinæ; et cum naturaliter a sua creatione nullam habeat actu
     doctrinam neque scientiam, sit tamen aptus ad suscipiendum eam; et
     cum doctrina et scientia sine libro, in quo scripta sit, non possit
     haberi, convenientissimum fuit, ne frustra homo esset capax
     doctrinæ et scientiæ, quod divina scientia homini librum creaverit,
     in quo per se et sine magistro possit studere doctrinam
     necessariam; propterea hoc totum istum mundum visibilem sibi
     creavit, et dedit tanquam librum proprium et naturalem et
     infallibilem, Dei digito scriptum, ubi singulæ creaturæ quasi
     literæ sunt, non humano arbitrio sed divino juvante judicio ad
     demonstrandum homini sapientiam et doctrinam sibi necessariam ad
     salutem. Quam quidem sapientiam nullus potest videre, neque legere
     per se in dicto libro semper aperto, nisi fuerit a Deo illuminatus
     et a peccato originali mundatus. Et ideo nullus antiquorum
     philosophorum paganorum potest legere hanc scientiam, quia erant
     excæcati quantum ad propriam salutem, quamvis in dicto libro
     legerunt aliquam scientiam, et omnem quam habuerunt ab eodem
     contraxerunt; sed veram sapientiam quæ ducit ad vitam æternam,
     quamvis fuerat in eo scripta, legere non potuerunt.

     Ista autem scientia non est aliud nisi cogitare et videre
     sapientiam scriptam in creaturis, et extrahere ipsam ab illis, et
     ponere in animâ, et videre significationem creaturarum. Et sic
     comparando ad aliam et conjungere sicut dictionem dictioni, et ex
     tali conjunctione resultat sententia et significatio vera, dum
     tamen scia homo intelligere et cognoscere.

|Nature of his arguments.|

68. Sebonde seems to have had floating in his mind, as this extract will
suggest, some of those theories as to the correspondence of the moral
and material world, which were afterwards propounded, in their cloudy
magnificence, by the Theosophists of the next two centuries. He
afterwards undertakes to prove the Trinity from the analogy of nature.
His argument is ingenious enough, if not quite of orthodox tendency,
being drawn from the scale of existence, which must lead us to a being
immediately derived from the First Cause. He proceeds to derive other
doctrines of Christianity from principles of natural reason; and after
this, which occupies about half a volume of 779 closely printed pages,
he comes to direct proofs of revelation: first, because God, who does
all for his own honour, would not suffer an impostor to persuade the
world that he was equal to God, which Mahomet never pretended;
and afterwards by other arguments more or less valid or ingenious.

69. We shall now adopt a closer and more chronological arrangement than
before, ranging under each decennial period the circumstances of most
importance in the general history of literature, as well as the
principal books published within it. This course we shall pursue till
the channels of learning become so various, and so extensively diffused
through several kingdoms, that it will be found convenient to deviate in
some measure from so strictly chronological a form, in order to
consolidate better the history of different sciences, and diminish, in
some measure, what can never wholly be removed from a work of this
nature--the confusion of perpetual change of subject.

                            CHAPTER III.


                         SECT. I. 1440-1450.

    _Classical Literature in Italy--Nicolas V.--Laurentius Valla._

|The year 1440 not chosen as an epoch.|

1. The reader is not to consider the year 1440 as a marked epoch in the
annals of literature. It has sometimes been treated as such, by those
who have referred the invention of printing to this particular epoch.
But it is here chosen as an arbitrary line, nearly coincident with the
complete development of an ardent thirst for classical, and especially
Grecian, literature in Italy, as the year 1400 was with its first

|Continual progress of learning.|

|Nicolas V.|

2. No very conspicuous events belong to this decennial period. The
spirit of improvement, already so powerfully excited in Italy, continued
to produce the same effects in rescuing ancient manuscripts from the
chances of destruction, accumulating them in libraries, making
translations from the Greek, and by intense labour in the perusal of the
best authors, rendering both their substance and their language familiar
to the Italian scholar. The patronage of Cosmo de’ Medici, Alfonso king
of Naples, and Nicolas of Este, has already been mentioned. Lionel,
successor of the last prince, was by no means inferior to him in love of
letters. But they had no patron so important as Nicolas V. (Thomas of
Sarzana), who became Pope in 1447; nor has any later occupant of that
chair, without excepting Leo X., deserved equal praise as an encourager
of learning. Nicolas founded the Vatican library, and left it, at his
death in 1455, enriched with 5000 volumes; a treasure far exceeding that
of any other collection in Europe. Every scholar who needed maintenance,
which was of course the common case, found it at the court of Rome;
innumerable benefices, all over Christendom, which had fallen into the
grasp of the holy see, and frequently required of their incumbents, as
is well known, neither residence, nor even the priestly character,
affording the means of generosity, which have seldom been so laudably
applied. Several Greek authors were translated into Latin by direction
of Nicolas V., among which are the history of Diodorus Siculus, and
Xenophon’s Cyropædia, by Poggio,[310] who still enjoyed the office of
apostolical secretary, as he had under Eugenius IV., and with still more
abundant munificence on the part of the pope; Herodotus and Thucydides
by Valla, Polybius by Peroti, Appian by Decembrio, Strabo by Gregory of
Tiferno and Guarino of Verona, Theophrastus by Gaza, Plato de Legibus,
Ptolemy’s Almagest, and the Præparatio Evangelica of Eusebius, by George
of Trebizond.[311] These translations, it has been already
observed, will not bear a very severe criticism, but certainly there was
an extraordinary cluster of learning round the chair of this excellent

  [310] This translation of Diodorus has been ascribed by some of our
     writers, even since the error has been pointed out, to John Free,
     an Englishman, who had heard the lectures of the younger Guarini in
     Italy. Quod opus, Leland observes, Itali Poggio vanissime
     attribuunt Florentino. De Scriptor. Britann. p. 462. But it bears
     the name of Poggio in the two editions printed in 1472 and 1493;
     and Leland seems to have been deceived by some one who had put
     Free’s name on a manuscript of the translation. Poggio, indeed, in
     his preface, declares that he undertook it by command of Nicolas V.
     See Niceron, ix. 158; Zeno, Dissertazioni Vossiane, i. 41;
     Ginguéné, iii. 245. Pits follows Leland in ascribing a translation
     of Diodorus to Free, and quotes the first words: thus, if it still
     should be suggested that this may be a different work, there are
     the means of proving it.

  [311] Heeren, p. 72.

|Justice due to his character.|

3. Corniani remarks, that if Nicolas V., like some popes, had raised a
distinguished family, many pens would have been employed to immortalise
him; but not having surrounded himself with relations, his fame has been
much below his merits. Gibbon, one of the first to do full justice to
Nicolas, has made a similar observation. How striking the contrast
between this pope and his famous predecessor Gregory I., who, if he did
not burn and destroy heathen authors, was at least anxious to discourage
the reading of them! These eminent men, like Michael Angelo’s figures of
Night and Morning, seem to stand at the two gates of the middle ages,
emblems and heralds of the mind’s long sleep, and of its awakening.

|Poggio on the ruins of Rome.|

4. Several little treatises by Poggio, rather in a moral than political
strain, display an observing and intelligent mind. Such are those on
nobility, and on the unhappiness of princes. For these, which were
written before 1440, the reader may have recourse to Shepherd, Corniani,
or Ginguéné. A later essay, if we may so call it, on the vicissitudes of
fortune, begins with rather an interesting description of the ruins of
Rome. It is an enumeration of the more conspicuous remains of the
ancient city; and we may infer from it that no great devastation or
injury has taken place since the fifteenth century. Gibbon has given an
account of this little tract, which is not, as he shows, the earliest
description of the ruins of Rome. Poggio, I will add, seems not to have
known some things with which we are familiar; as the Cloaca Maxima, the
fragments of the Servian wall, the Mamertine prison, the temple of
Nerva, the Giano Quadrifonte; and, by some odd misinformation, believes
that the tomb of Cecilia Metella, which he had seen entire, was
afterwards destroyed.[312] This leads to a conjecture that the treatise
was not finished during his residence at Rome, and consequently not
within the present decennium.

  [312] Ad calcem postea majore ex parte exterminatum.

|Account of the East, by Conti.|

5. In the fourth book of this treatise, De Varietate Fortunæ, Poggio has
introduced a remarkable narration of travels by a Venetian, Nicolo di
Conti, who, in 1419, had set off from his country, and after passing
many years in Persia and India, returned home in 1444. His account of
those regions, in some respects the earliest on which reliance could be
placed, will be found rendered into Italian from a Portuguese version of
Poggio, in the first volume of Ramusio. That editor seems not to have
known that the original was in print.

|Laurentius Valla.|

6. A far more considerable work by Laurentius Valla, on the graces of
the Latin language, is rightly, I believe, placed within this period;
but it is often difficult to determine the dates of books published
before the invention of printing. Valla, like Poggio, had long earned
the favour of Alfonso, but, unlike him, had forfeited that of the court
of Rome. His character was very irascible and overbearing; a fault too
general with the learned of the fifteenth century; but he may, perhaps,
be placed at the head of the literary republic at this time; for, if
inferior to Poggio, as probably he was, in vivacity and variety of
genius, he was undoubtedly above him in what was then most valued and
most useful, grammatical erudition.

|His attack on the court of Rome.|

7. Valla began with an attack on the court of Rome, in his declamation
against the donation of Constantine. Some have in consequence reckoned
him among the precursors of Protestantism; while others have imputed to
the Roman see, that he was pursued with its hostility for questioning
that pretended title to sovereignty. But neither of these
representations is just. Valla confines himself altogether to the
temporal principality of the pope; but in this his language must be
admitted to have been so abusive as to render the resentment of the
court of Rome not unreasonable.[313]

  [313] A few lines will suffice as a specimen. O Romani pontifices,
     exemplum facinorum omnium cæteris pontificibus, et improbissimi
     scribæ et pharisæi, qui sedetis super cathedram Moysi, et opera
     Dathan et Abyron facitis, itane vestimenta apparatûs, pompa
     equitatus, omnis denique vita Cæsaris, vicarium Christi decebit?
     The whole tone is more like Luther’s violence, than what we should
     expect from an Italian of the fifteenth century. But it is with the
     ambitious spirit of aggrandisement as temporal princes, that he
     reproaches the pontiffs; nor can it be denied, that Martin and
     Eugenius had given provocation for his invective. Nec amplius
     horrenda vox audiatur, partes contra ecclesiam; ecclesia contra
     Perusinos pugnat, contra Bononienses. Non contra Christianos pugnat
     ecclesia, sed papa. Of the papal claim to temporal sovereignty by
     prescription, Valla writes indignantly. Præscripsit Romana
     ecclesia; o imperiti, o divini juris ignari. Nullus quantumvis
     annorum numerus verum abolere titulum potest. Præscripsit Romana
     ecclesia. Tace, nefaria lingua. Præscriptionem quæ fit de rebus
     mutis atque irrationalibus, ad hominem transfers; cujus quo
     diuturnior in servitute possessio, eo detestabilior.

|His treatise on the Latin language.|

8. The more famous work of Valla, De Elegantiis Latinæ Linguæ, begins
with too arrogant an assumption. “These books,” he says, “will contain
nothing that has been said by any one else. For many ages past, not only
no man has been able to speak Latin, but none have understood the Latin
they read: the studious of philosophy have had no comprehension of the
philosophers,--the advocates of the orators,--the lawyers of the
jurists,--the general scholar of any writers of antiquity.” Valla,
however, did at least incomparably more than any one who had preceded
him; and it would probably appear, that a great part of the distinctions
in Latin syntax, inflection, and synonymy, which our best grammars
contain, may be traced to his work. It is to be observed, that he made
free use of the ancient grammarians, so that his vaunt of originality
must be referred to later times. Valla is very copious as to synonyms,
on which the delicate, and even necessary understanding of a language
mainly depends. If those have done most for any science who have carried
it furthest from the point whence they set out, philology seems to owe
quite as much to Valla as to any one who has come since. The treatise
was received with enthusiastic admiration, continually reprinted,
honoured with a paraphrase by Erasmus, commented, abridged, extracted,
and even turned into verse.[314]

  [314] Corniani, ii. 221. The editions of Valla de Elegantiis, recorded
     by Panzer, are twenty-eight in the fifteenth century, beginning in
     1471, and thirty-one in the first thirty-six years of the next.

|Its defects.|

9. Valla, however, self-confident and of no good temper, in censuring
the language of others, fell not unfrequently into mistakes of his own.
Vives and Budæus, coming in the next century, and in a riper age of
philology, blame the hypercritical disposition of one who had not the
means of pronouncing negatively on Latin words and phrases, from his
want of sufficient dictionaries: his fastidiousness became what they
call superstition, imposing captious scruples and unnecessary
observances on himself and the world.[315] And of this species of
superstition there has been much since his time in philology.

  [315] Vives, De Tradendis Disciplinis, i. 478. Budæus observes: Ego
     Laurentium Vallensem, egregii spiritus virum, existimo sæculi sui
     imperitia offensum primum Latine loquendi consuetudinem constituere
     summa religione institisse; deinde judicii cerimonia singulari, cum
     profectus quoque diligentiam æquasset, in eam superstitionem sensim
     delapsum esse, ut et sese ipse et alios captiosis observationibus
     scribendique legibus obligaret. Commentar. in Ling. Græc. p. 26.
     (1529). But sometimes, perhaps, Valla is right, and Budæus wrong in
     censuring him; as, where he disputes the former’s rule, that two
     epithets, not being placed as predicates, cannot be joined in Latin
     prose to a substantive without a copula, on no better grounds than
     such an usage of the pronoun suus, or a phrase like privata res
     maritima in Cicero, where res maritima is in the nature of a single
     word, like res publica. The rule is certainly a good one, even if a
     few better exceptions can be found.

|Heeren’s praise of it.|

10. Heeren, one of the few who have, in modern times, spoken of this
work from personal knowledge, and with sufficient learning, gives it a
high character. “Valla was, without doubt, the best acquainted with
Latin of any man in his age; yet, no pedantic Ciceronian, he had studied
in all the classical writers of Rome. His Elegantiæ are a work on
grammar; they contain an explanation of refined turns of expression;
especially where they are peculiar to Latin. They display not only an
exact knowledge of that tongue, but often also a really philosophical
study of language in general. In an age when nothing was so much valued
as a good Latin style, yet when the helps, of which we now possess so
many, were all wanting, such a work must obtain a great success, since
it relieved a necessity which every one felt.”[316]

  [316] P. 220.

|Valla’s annotations on the New Testament.|

11. We have to give this conspicuous scholar a place in another line of
criticism, that on the text and interpretation of the New Testament. His
annotations are the earliest specimen of explanations founded on the
original language. In the course of these, he treats the Vulgate with
some severity. But Valla is said to have had but a slight knowledge of
Greek;[317] and it must also be owned, that with all his merit as
a Latin critic, he wrote indifferently, and with less classical spirit
than his adversary Poggio. The invectives of these against each other do
little honour to their memory, and are not worth recording in this
volume, though they could not be omitted in a legitimate history of the
Italian scholars.

  [317] Annis abhinc ducentis Herodotum et Thucydidem Latinis literis
     exponebat Laurentius Valla, in ea bene et eleganter dicendi copia,
     quam totis voluminibus explicavit, inelegans tamen, et pæne
     barbarus, Græcis ad hoc literis leviter tinctus, ad auctorum
     sententias parum attentus, oscitans sæpe, et alias res agens, fidem
     apud eruditos decoxit. Huet de claris interpretibus, apud Blount.
     Daunou, however, in the Biographie Universelle, art. Thucydides,
     asserts that Valla’s translation of that historian is generally
     faithful. This would show no inconsiderable knowledge of Greek for
     that age.

                        SECT. II. 1450-1460.

              _Greeks in Italy--Invention of Printing._

|Fresh arrival of Greeks in Italy.|

12. The capture of Constantinople in 1453 drove a few learned Greeks,
who had lingered to the last amidst the crash of their ruined empire, to
the hospitable and admiring Italy. Among these have been reckoned
Argyropulus and Chalcondyles, successively teachers of their own
language, Andronicus Callistus, who is said to have followed the same
profession both there and at Rome, and Constantine Lascaris, of an
imperial family, whose lessons were given for several years at Milan,
and afterwards at Messina. It seems, however, to be proved that
Argyropulus had been already for several years in Italy.[318]

  [318] Hody. Tiraboschi. Roscoe.

|Platonists and Aristotelians.|

13. The cultivation of Greek literature gave rise about this time to a
vehement controversy, which had some influence on philosophical opinions
in Italy. Gemistus Pletho, a native of the Morea, and one of those who
attended the council of Florence in 1439, being an enthusiastic votary
of the Platonic theories in metaphysics and natural theology
communicated to Cosmo de’ Medici part of his own zeal; and from that
time the citizen of Florence formed a scheme of establishing an academy
of learned men, to discuss and propagate the Platonic system. This seems
to have been carried into effect early in the present decennial period.

|Their controversy.|

14. Meantime, a treatise by Pletho, wherein he not only extolled the
Platonic philosophy, which he mingled, as was then usual, with that of
the Alexandrian school, and of the spurious writings attributed to
Zoroaster and Hermes, but inveighed without measure against Aristotle
and his disciples, had aroused the Aristotelians of Greece, where, as in
western Europe, their master’s authority had long prevailed. It seems
not improbable that the Platonists were obnoxious to the orthodox party,
for sacrificing their own church to that of Rome; and there is also
strong ground for ascribing a rejection of Christianity to Pletho. The
dispute, at least, began in Greece, where Pletho’s treatise met with an
angry opponent in Gennadius, patriarch of Constantinople.[319] It soon
spread to Italy; Theodore Gaza embracing the cause of Aristotle with
temper and moderation,[320] and George of Trebizond, a far inferior man,
with invectives against the Platonic philosophy and its founder. Others
replied in the same tone; and whether from ignorance or from rudeness,
this controversy appears to have been managed as much with abuse of the
lives and characters of two philosophers, dead nearly two thousand
years, as with any rational discussion of their tenets. Both sides,
however, strove to make out, what in fact was the ultimate object, that
the doctrine they maintained was more consonant to the Christian
religion than that of their adversaries. Cardinal Bessarion, a man of
solid and elegant learning, replied to George of Trebizond in a book
entitled Adversus Calumniatorem Platonis; one of the first books that
appeared from the Roman press, in 1470. This dispute may possibly have
originated, at least in Greece, before 1450; and it was certainly
continued beyond 1460, the writings both of George and Bessarion
appearing to be rather of later date.[321]

  [319] Pletho’s death, in an extreme old age, is fixed by Brucker, on
     the authority of George of Trebizond, before the capture of
     Constantinople. A letter, indeed, of Bessarion, in 1462 (Mém. de
     l’Acad. des Inscript. vol. ii.), seems to imply that he was then
     living; but this cannot have been the case. Gennadius, his enemy,
     abdicated the patriarchate of Constantinople in 1458, having been
     raised to it in 1453. The public burning of Pletho’s book was in
     the intermediate time; and it is agreed that this was done after
     his death.

  [320] Hody, p. 79, doubts whether Gaza’s vindication of Aristotle were
     not merely verbal, in conversation with Bessarion; which is however
     implicitly contradicted by Boivin and Tiraboschi, who assert him to
     have written against Pletho. The comparison of Plato and Aristotle
     by George of Trebizond was published at Venice in 1523, as Heeren
     says, on the authority of Fabricius.

  [321] The best account, and that from which later writers have freely
     borrowed, of this philosophical controversy, is by Boivin, in the
     second volume of the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions, p. 15.
     Brucker, iv. 40, Buhle, ii. 107, and Tiraboschi, vi. 303, are my
     other authorities.

15. Bessarion himself was so far from being as unjust towards Aristotle
as his opponent was towards Plato, that he translated his
metaphysics. That philosopher, though almost the idol of the schoolmen,
lay still in some measure under the ban of the church, which had very
gradually removed the prohibition she laid on his writings in the
beginning of the thirteenth century. Nicholas V. first permitted them to
be read without restriction in the universities.[322]

  [322] Launoy, De Varia Aristotelis Fortuna in Academia Parisiensi,
     p. 44.

|Marsilius Ficinus.|

16. Cosmo de’ Medici selected Marsilius Ficinus, as a youth of great
promise, to be educated in the mysteries of Platonism, that he might
become the chief and preceptor of the new academy; nor did the devotion
of the young philosopher fall short of the patron’s hope. Ficinus
declares himself to have profited as much by the conversation of Cosmo
as by the writings of Plato; but this is said in a dedication to
Lorenzo, and the author has not, on other occasions, escaped the
reproach of flattery. He began as early as 1456, at the age of
twenty-three, to write on the Platonic philosophy; but being as yet
ignorant of Greek, prudently gave way to the advice of Cosmo and
Landino, that he should acquire more knowledge before he imparted it to
the world.[323]

  [323] Brucker, iv. 50. Roscoe.

|Invention of printing.|

17. The great glory of this decennial period is the invention of
printing, or at least, as all must allow, its application to the
purposes of useful learning. The reader will not expect a minute
discussion of so long and unsettled a controversy as that which the
origin of this art has furnished. For those who are little conversant
with the subject, a very few particulars may be thought necessary.


18. About the end of the fourteenth century we find a practice of taking
impressions from engraved blocks of wood, sometimes for playing cards,
which came into use not long before that time; sometimes for rude cuts
of saints.[324] The latter were frequently accompanied by a few lines of
letters cut in the block. Gradually entire pages were impressed in this
manner; and thus began what are called block books, printed in fixed
characters, but never exceeding a very few leaves. Of these there exist
nine or ten, often reprinted, as it is generally thought, between 1400
and 1440.[325] In using the word printed, it is of course not intended
to prejudice the question as to the real art of printing. These block
books seem to have been all executed in the Low Countries. They are said
to have been followed by several editions of the short grammar of
Donatus in wooden stereotype.[326] These also were printed in Holland.
This mode of printing from blocks of wood has been practised in China
from time immemorial.

  [324] Heinekke and others have proved that playing cards were known in
     Germany as early as 1299; but these were probably painted.
     Lambinet, Origines de l’Imprimerie. Singer’s History of Playing
     Cards. The earliest cards were on parchment.

  [325] Lambinet, Singer, Ottley, Dibdin, &c.

  [326] Lambinet.

|Gutenberg and Costar’s claims.|

19. The invention of printing, in the modern sense, from moveable
letters, has been referred by most to Gutenberg, a native of Mentz, but
settled at Strasburg. He is supposed to have conceived the idea before
1440, and to have spent the next ten years in making attempts at
carrying it into effect, which some assert him to have done in short
fugitive pieces, actually printed from his moveable wooden characters
before 1450. But of the existence of these there seems to be no
evidence.[327] Gutenberg’s priority is disputed by those who deem
Lawrence Costar, of Haarlem, the real inventor of the art. According to
a tradition, which seems not to be traced beyond the middle of the
sixteenth century, but resting afterwards upon sufficient testimony to
prove its local reception, Costar substituted moveable for fixed letters
as early as 1430; and some have believed that a book called Speculum
Humanæ Salvationis, of very rude wooden characters, proceeded from the
Haarlem press before any other that is generally recognised.[328] The
tradition adds, that an unfaithful servant having fled with the secret,
set up for himself at Strasburg, or Mentz; and this treachery was
originally ascribed to Gutenberg or Fust, but seems, since they have
been manifestly cleared of it, to have been laid on one Gensfleisch,
reputed to be the brother of Gutenberg.[329] The evidence, however,
as to this, is highly precarious; and even if we were to admit
the claims of Costar, there seems no fair reason to dispute that
Gutenberg might also have struck out an idea, that surely did not
require any extraordinary ingenuity, and which left the most important
difficulties to be surmounted, as they undeniably were, by himself and
his coadjutors.[330]

  [327] Mémoires de l’Acad. des Inscript. xvii. 762. Lambinet, p. 113.

  [328] In Mr. Ottley’s History of Engraving, the claims of Costar are
     strongly maintained, though chiefly on the authority of Meerman’s
     proofs, which go to establish the local tradition. But the evidence
     of Ludovico Guicciardini is an answer to those who treat it as a
     forgery of Hadrian Junius. Santander, Lambinet, and most recent
     investigators are for Mentz against Haarlem.

  [329] Gensfleisch seems to have been the name of that branch of the
     Gutenberg family to which the inventor of printing belonged. Biogr.
     Univ., art. Gutenberg.

  [330] Lambinet, p. 315.

|Progress of the invention.|

20. It is agreed by all, that about 1450, Gutenberg, having gone to
Mentz, entered into partnership with Fust, a rich merchant of that city,
for the purpose of carrying the invention into effect, and that Fust
supplied him with considerable sums of money. The subsequent steps are
obscure. According to a passage in the Annales Hirsargienses of
Trithemius, written sixty years afterwards, but on the authority of a
grandson of Peter Schæffer, their assistant in the work, it was about
1452 that the latter brought the art to perfection, by devising an
easier mode of casting types.[331] This passage has been interpreted,
according to a lax construction, to mean, that Schæffer invented the
method of casting types in a matrix; but seems more strictly to mean,
that we owe to him the great improvement in letter-casting, namely, the
punches of engraved steel, by which the matrices or moulds are struck,
and without which, independent of the economy of labour, there could be
no perfect uniformity of shape. Upon the former supposition, Schæffer
may be reckoned the main inventor of the art of printing; for moveable
wooden letters, though small books may possibly have been printed by
means of them, are so inconvenient, and letters of cut metal so
expensive, that few great works were likely to have passed through the
press, till cast types were employed. Van Praet, however, believes the
psalter of 1457 to have been printed from wooden characters; and some
have conceived letters of cut metal to have been employed both in that
and in the first Bible. Lambinet, who thinks “the essence of the art of
printing is in the engraved punch,” naturally gives the chief credit to
Schæffer;[332] but this is not the more usual opinion.

  [331] Petrus Opilio de Gernsheim, tunc famulus inventoris primi Joannis
     Fust, homo ingeniosus et prudens, faciliorem modum fundendi
     characteras excogitavit, et artem, ut nunc est, complevit.
     Lambinet, i. 101. See Daunou contra. Id. 417.

  [332] ii. 213. In another place, he divides the praise better: Gloire
     donc à Gutenberg, qui, le premier, conçut l’idée de la typographie,
     en imaginant la mobilité des caractères, qui en est l’âme; gloire à
     Fust, qui en fît usage avec lui, et sans lequel nous ne jouirions
     peut-être pas de ce bienfait; gloire à Schæffer, à qui nous devons
     tout le mécanisme, et toutes les merveilles de l’art. i. 119.

|First printed Bible.|

21. The earliest book, properly so called, is now generally believed to
be the Latin Bible, commonly called the Mazarin Bible, a copy having
been found, about the middle of the last century, in Cardinal Mazarin’s
library at Paris.[333] It is remarkable, that its existence was unknown
before; for it can hardly be called a book of very extraordinary
scarcity, nearly twenty copies being in different libraries, half of
them in those of private persons in England.[334] No date appears in
this Bible, and some have referred its publication to 1452, or even to
1450, which few perhaps would at present maintain; while others have
thought the year 1455 rather more probable.[335] In a copy belonging to
the royal library at Paris, an entry is made, importing that it was
completed in binding and illuminating at Mentz, on the feast of the
Assumption (Aug. 15), 1456. But Trithemius, in the passage above quoted,
seems to intimate that no book had been printed in 1452; and,
considering the lapse of time that would naturally be employed in such
an undertaking during the infancy of the art, and that we have no other
printed book of the least importance to fill up the interval till 1457,
and also that the binding and illuminating the above-mentioned copy is
likely to have followed the publication at no great length of time, we
may not err in placing its appearance in the year 1455, which will
secure its hitherto unimpeached priority in the records of

  [333] The Cologne chronicle says: Anno Domini 1450, qui jubilæus erat,
     cœptum est imprimi, primusque liber, qui excudebatur, biblia fuere

  [334] Bibliotheca Sussexiana, i. 293. (1827.) The number there
     enumerated is eighteen; nine in public, and nine in private
     libraries; three of the former, and all the latter, English.

  [335] Lambinet thinks it was probably not begun before 1453, nor
     published till the end of 1455. i. 130. See, on this Bible, an
     article by Dr. Dibdin, in Valpy’s Classical Journal, No. 8; which
     collects the testimonies of his predecessors.

  [336] It is very difficult to pronounce on the means employed in the
     earliest books, which are almost all controverted. This bible is
     thought by Fournier, himself a letter founder, to be printed from
     wooden types; by Meerman, from types cut in metal; by Heinekke and
     Daunou from cast types, which is most probable. Lambinet, i. 417.
     Daunou does not believe that any book was printed with types cut
     either in wood or metal; and that, after block books, there were
     none but with cast letters like those now in use, invented by
     Gutenberg, perfected by Schæffer, and first employed by them and
     Fust in the Mazarin Bible. Id. p. 423.

|Beauty of the book.|

22. It is a very striking circumstance, that the high-minded inventors
of this great art tried at the very outset so bold a flight as the
printing an entire Bible, and executed it with astonishing success. It
was Minerva leaping on earth in her divine strength and radiant armour,
ready at the moment of her nativity to subdue and destroy her enemies.
The Mazarin Bible is printed, some copies on vellum, some on paper of
choice quality, with strong, black, and tolerably handsome characters,
but with some want of uniformity, which has led, perhaps unreasonably,
to a doubt whether they were cast in a matrix. We may see in imagination
this venerable and splendid volume leading up the crowded myriads of its
followers, and imploring, as it were, a blessing on the new art, by
dedicating its first fruits to the service of Heaven.

|Early printed sheets.|

23. A metrical exhortation, in the German language, to take arms against
the Turks, dated in 1454, has been retrieved in the present century. If
this date unequivocally refers to the time of printing, which does not
seem a necessary consequence, it is the earliest loose sheet that is
known to be extant. It is said to be in the type of what is called the
Bamberg Bible, which we shall soon have to mention. Two editions of
Letters of Indulgence from Nicolas V., bearing the date of 1454, are
extant in single printed sheets, and two more editions of 1455;[337] but
it has justly been observed, that, even if published before the Mazarin
Bible, the printing of that great volume must have commenced long
before. An almanac for the year 1457 has also been detected; and as
fugitive sheets of this kind are seldom preserved, we may justly
conclude that the art of printing was not dormant, so far as these light
productions are concerned. A Donatus, with Schæffer’s name, but no date,
may or may not be older than a psalter published in 1457 by Fust and
Schæffer (the partnership with Gutenberg having been dissolved in
November, 1455, and having led to a dispute and litigation), with a
colophon, or notice, subjoined in the last page, in these words:

Psalmorum codex venustate capitalium decoratus, rubricationibusque
sufficienter distinctus, adinventione artificiosa imprimendi ac
caracterizandi, absque calami ulla exaratione sic effigiatus, et ad
eusebiam Dei industrie est summatus. Per Johannem Fust, civem
Moguntinum, et Petrum Schæffer de Gernsheim, anno Domini millesimo
cccclvii. In vigilia Assumptionis.[338]

A colophon, substantially similar, is subjoined to several of the
Fustine editions. And this seems hard to reconcile with the story that
Fust sold his impressions at Paris, as late as 1463, for manuscripts.

  [337] Brunet, Supplément au Manuel du Libraire. It was not known till
     lately that more than one edition out of these four was in
     existence, Santander thinks their publication was after 1460. Dict.
     Bibliographique du 15me Siècle, i. 92. But this seems improbable,
     from the transitory character of the subject. He argues from a
     resemblance in the letters to those used by Fust and Schæffer in
     the Durandi Rationale of 1459.

  [338] Dibdin’s Bibliotheca Spenceriana. Biogr. Univ., Gutenberg, &c.
     In the Donatus above mentioned, the method of printing is also
     mentioned: Explicit Donatus arte nova imprimendi seu caracterizandi
     per Petrum de Gernsheim in urbe Moguntina effigiatus. Lambinet
     considers this and the Bible to be the first specimens of
     typography, for he doubts the Literæ Indulgentiarum, though
     probably with no cause.

|Psalter of 1459. Other early books.|

24. Another psalter was printed by Fust and Schæffer with similar
characters in 1459; and in the same year, Durandi Rationale, a treatise
on the liturgical offices of the church; of which Van Praet says, that
it is perhaps the earliest with cast types to which Fust and Schæffer
have given their name and a date.[339] The two psalters he conceives to
have been printed from wood. But this would be disputed by other eminent
judges.[340] In 1460, a work of considerable size, the Catholicon of
Balbi, came out from an opposition press, established at Mentz by
Gutenberg. The Clementine Constitutions, part of the canon law, were
also printed by him in the same year.

  [339] Lambinet, i. 154.

  [340] Lambinet, Dibdin. The former thinks the inequality of letters
     observed in the psalter of 1457 may proceed from their being cast
     in a matrix of plaster or clay, instead of metal.

|Bible of Pfister.|

25. These are the only monuments of early typography acknowledged to
come within the present decennium. A Bible without a date, supposed by
some to have been printed by Pfister at Bamberg, though ascribed by
others to Gutenberg himself, is reckoned by good judges certainly prior
to 1462, and perhaps as early as 1460. Daunou and others refer it to
1461. The antiquities of typography, after all the pains bestowed upon
them, are not unlikely to receive still further elucidation in the
course of time.

|Greek first taught at Paris.|

26. On the 19th of January, 1458, as Crevier, with a minuteness becoming
the subject, informs us, the university of Paris received a petition
from Gregory, a native of Tiferno, in the kingdom of Naples, to be
appointed teacher of Greek. His request was granted, and a salary of one
hundred crowns assigned to him, on condition that he should teach
gratuitously, and deliver two lectures every day, one on the Greek
language, and the other on the art of rhetoric.[341] From this
auspicious circumstance Crevier deduces the restoration of ancient
literature in the university of Paris, and consequently in the kingdom
of France. For above two hundred years, the scholastic logic and
philosophy had crushed polite letters. No mention is made of rhetoric,
that is, of the art that instructs in the ornaments of style, in any
statute or record of the university since the beginning of the
thirteenth century. If the Greek language, as Crevier supposes, had not
been wholly neglected, it was, at least, so little studied, that entire
neglect would have been practically the same.

  [341] Crevier, Hist. de l’Univ. de Paris, iv. 243.

|Leave unwillingly granted.|

27. This concession was, perhaps, unwillingly made, and, as frequently
happens in established institutions, it left the prejudices of the
ruling party rather stronger than before. The teachers of Greek and
rhetoric were specially excluded from the privileges of regency by the
faculty of arts. These branches of knowledge were looked upon as
unessential appendages to a good education, very much as the modern
languages are treated in our English schools and universities at this
day. A bigoted adherence to old systems, and a lurking reluctance that
the rising youth should become superior in knowledge to ourselves, were
no peculiar evil spirits that haunted the university of Paris, though
none ever stood more in need of a thorough exorcism. For many years
after this time, the Greek and Latin languages were thus taught by
permission, and with very indifferent success.

|Purbach; his mathematical discoveries.|

28. Purbach, or Peurbach, native of a small Austrian town of that name,
has been called the first restorer of mathematical science in Europe.
Ignorant of Greek, and possessing only a bad translation of Ptolemy,
lately made by George of Trebizond,[342] he yet was able to explain the
rules of physical astronomy and the theory of the planetary motions far
better than his predecessors. But his chief merit was in the
construction of trigonometrical tables. The Greeks had introduced the
sexagesimal division, not only of the circle, but of the radius, and
calculated chords according to this scale. The Arabians, who, about the
ninth century, first substituted the sine, or half chord of the double
arch, in their tables, preserved the same graduation. Purbach made one
step towards a decimal scale, which the new notation by Arabic numerals
rendered highly convenient, by dividing the radius, or sinus totus, as
it was then often called, into 600,000 parts, and gave rules for
computing the sines of arcs; which he himself also calculated, for every
minute of the quadrant, as Delambre and Kästner think, or for every ten
minutes, according to Gassendi and Hutton, in parts of this radius. The
tables of Albaten the Arabian geometer, the inventor, as far as appears,
of sines, had extended only to quarters of a degree.[343]

  [342] Montucla, Biogr. Univ. It is however certain, and is admitted by
     Delambre, the author of this article in the Biog. Univ., that
     Purbach made considerable progress in abridging and explaining the
     text of this translation, which, if ignorant of the original, he
     must have done by his mathematical knowledge. Kästner, ii. 521.

  [343] Montucla, Hist. des Mathématiques, i. 539. Hutton’s Mathematical
     Dictionary, and his Introduction to Logarithms. Gassendi, Vita
     Purbachii. Biogr. Univ. Peurbach (by Delambre). Kästner, Geschichte
     der Mathematik, i. 529-543, 572; ii. 319. Gassendi twice gives
     6,000,000 for the parts of Purbach’s radius. None of these writers
     seem comparable in accuracy to Kästner.

|Other mathematicians.|

29. Purbach died young, in 1461, when, by the advice of Cardinal
Bessarion, he was on the point of setting out for Italy, in order to
learn Greek. His mantle descended on Regiomontanus, a disciple, who went
beyond his master, though he has sometimes borne away his due credit. A
mathematician rather earlier than Purbach, was Nicolas Cusanus, raised
to the dignity of cardinal in 1448. He was by birth a German, and
obtained a considerable reputation for several kinds of knowledge.[344]
But he was chiefly distinguished for the tenet of the earth’s motion,
which, however, according to Montucla, he proposed only as an ingenious
hypothesis. Fioravanti, of Bologna, is said, on contemporary authority,
to have removed, in 1455, a tower with its foundation, to a
distance of several feet, and to have restored to the perpendicular one
at Cento seventy-five feet high, which had swerved five feet.[345]

  [344] A work upon statics, or rather upon the weight of bodies in
     water, by Cusanus, seems chiefly remarkable, as it shows both a
     disposition to ascertain physical truths by experiment, and an
     extraordinary misapprehension of the results. See Kästner, ii. 122.
     It is published in an edition of Vitruvius, Strasburg, 1550.

  [345] Tiraboschi. Montucla. Biogr. Univ.

                         SECT. III. 1460-1470.

  _Progress of Art of Printing--Learning in Italy and rest of Europe._

|Progress of printing in Germany.|

30. The progress of that most important invention, which illustrated the
preceding ten years, is the chief subject of our consideration in the
present. Many books, it is to be observed, even of the superior class,
were printed, especially in the first thirty years after the invention
of the art, without date of time or place; and this was, of course, more
frequently the case with smaller or fugitive pieces. A catalogue,
therefore, of books that can be certainly referred to any particular
period must always be very defective. A collection of fables in German
was printed at Bamberg in 1461, and another book in 1462, by Pfister, at
the same place.[346] The Bible which bears his name has been already
mentioned. In 1462 Fust published a Bible, commonly called the Mentz
Bible, and which passed for the earliest till that in the Mazarin
library came to light. But in the same year, the city having been taken
by Adolphus count of Nassau, the press of Fust was broken up, and his
workmen, whom he had bound by an oath to secrecy, dispersed themselves
into different quarters. Released thus, as they seem to have thought,
from their obligation, they exercised their skill in other places. It is
certain, that the art of printing, soon after this, spread into the
towns near the Rhine; not only Bamberg, as before mentioned, but
Cologne, Strasburg, Augsburg, and one or two more places, sent forth
books before the conclusion of these ten years. Nor was Mentz altogether
idle, after the confusion occasioned by political events had abated. Yet
the whole number of books printed with dates of time and place, in the
German empire, from 1461 to 1470, according to Panzer, was only
twenty-four; of which five were Latin, and two German, Bibles. The only
known classical works are two editions of Cicero de Officiis, at Mentz,
in 1465 and 1466, and another about the latter year at Cologne, by Ulric
Zell; perhaps also the treatise de Finibus, and that de Senectute, at
the same place. There is also reason to suspect that a Virgil, a
Valerius Maximus, and a Terence, printed by Mentelin at Strasburg,
without a date, are as old as 1470; and the same has been thought of one
or two editions of Ovid de Arte Amandi, by Zell of Cologne. One book,
Joannis de Turrecremata Explanatio in Psalterium, was printed by Zainer,
at Cracow, in 1465. This is remarkable, as we have no evidence of the
Polish press from that time till 1500. Several copies of this book are
said to exist in Poland; yet doubts of its authenticity have been
entertained. Zainer settled soon afterwards at Augsburg.[347]

  [346] Lambinet.

  [347] Panzer, Annales Typographici. Biographie Universelle, Zainer.

|Introduced into France.|

31. It was in 1469 that Ulric Gering, with two more, who had been
employed as pressmen by Fust at Mentz, were induced by Fitchet and
Lapierre, rectors of the Sorbonne, to come to Paris, where several books
were printed in 1470 and 1471. The epistles of Gasparin of Barziza
appear, by some verses subjoined, to have been the earliest among
these.[348] Panzer has increased to eighteen the list of books printed
before the close of 1472.[349]

  [348] The last four of these lines are the following:

          Primos ecce libros quos hæc industria finxit,
          Francorum in terris, ædibus atque tuis.
          Michael, Udalricus, Martinusque magistri
          Hos impresserunt, et facient alios.

  [349] See Greswell’s Early Parisian Press.

|Caxton’s first works.|

32. But there seem to be unquestionable proofs that a still earlier
specimen of typography is due to an English printer, the famous Caxton.
His Recueil des Histoires de Troye appears to have been printed during
the life of Philip duke of Burgundy, and consequently before June 15,
1467. The place of publication, certainly within the duke’s dominions,
has not been conjectured. It is, therefore, by several years the
earliest printed book in the French language. A Latin speech by Russell,
ambassador of Edward IV. to Charles of Burgundy, in 1469, is the next
publication of Caxton. This was also printed in the Low Countries.[350]

  [350] Dibdin’s Typographical Antiquities. This is not noticed in the
     Biographie Universelle, nor in Brunet; an omission hardly excusable.

|Printing exercised in Italy.|

33. A more splendid scene was revealed in Italy. Sweynheim and Pannartz,
two workmen of Fust, set up a press, doubtless with encouragement and
patronage, at the monastery of Subiaco in the Apennines, a place
chosen either on account of the numerous manuscripts it contained, or
because the monks were of the German nation; and hence an edition of
Lactantius issued in October, 1465, which one, no longer extant, of
Donatus’s little grammar is said to have preceded. An edition of Cicero
de Officiis, without a date, is referred by some to the year 1466. In
1467, after printing Augustin de Civitate Dei, and Cicero de Oratore,
the two Germans left Subiaco for Rome, where they sent forth not less
than twenty-three editions of ancient Latin authors before the close of
1470. Another German, John of Spire, established a press at Venice, in
1469, beginning with Cicero’s Epistles. In that and the next year,
almost as many classical works were printed at Venice as at Rome, either
by John and his brother Vindelin, or by a Frenchman, Nicolas Jenson.
Instances are said to exist of books printed by unknown persons at
Milan, in 1469; and in 1470, Zarot, a German, opened there a fertile
source of typography, though but two Latin authors were published that
year. An edition of Cicero’s Epistles appeared also in the little town
of Foligno. The whole number of books that had issued from the press in
Italy at the close of that year amounts, according to Panzer, to
eighty-two; exclusive of those which have no date, some of which may be
referrible to this period.

|Lorenzo de’ Medici.|

34. Cosmo de’ Medici died in 1464. But the happy impulse he had given to
the restoration of letters was not suspended; and in the last year of
the present decade, his wealth and his influence over the republic of
Florence had devolved on a still more conspicuous character, his
grandson Lorenzo, himself worthy, by his literary merits, to have done
honour to any patron, had not a more prosperous fortune called him to
become one.

|Italian poetry of fifteenth century.|

35. The epoch of Lorenzo’s accession to power is distinguished by a
circumstance hardly less honourable than the restoration of classical
learning,--the revival of native genius in poetry, after the slumber of
near a hundred years. After the death of Petrarch, many wrote verses,
but none excelled in the art; though Muratori has praised the poetry
down to 1400, especially that of Guisto di Conti, whom he does not
hesitate to place among the first poets of Italy.[351] But that of the
fifteenth century is abandoned by all critics as rude, feeble, and ill
expressed. The historians of literature scarcely deign to mention a few
names, or the editors of selections to extract a few sonnets. The
romances of chivalry in rhyme, Buovo d’Antona, la Spagna, l’Ancroja, are
only deserving to be remembered as they led in some measure to the great
poems of Boiardo and Ariosto. In themselves they are mean and prosaic.
It is vain to seek a general cause for the sterility in the cultivation
of Latin and Greek literature, which we know did not obstruct the
brilliancy of Italian poetry in the next age. There is only one cause
for the want of great men in any period;--nature does not think fit to
produce them. They are no creatures of education and circumstance.

  [351] Muratori della Perfetta Poesia, p. 193. Bouterwek, Gesch. der
     Ital. Poesie. i. 216.

|Italian prose of same age.|

36. The Italian prose literature of this interval from the age of
Petrarch would be comprised in a few volumes. Some historical memoirs
may be found in Muratori, but far the chief part of his collection is in
Latin. Leonard Aretin wrote lives of Dante and Petrarch in Italian,
which, according to Corniani, are neither valuable for their information
nor for their style. The Vita Civile of Palmieri seems to have been
written some time after the middle of the fifteenth century; but of this
Corniani says, that having wished to give a specimen, on account of the
rarity of Italian in that age, he had abandoned his intention, finding
that it was hardly possible to read two sentences in the Vita Civile
without meeting some barbarism or incorrectness. The novelists
Sacchetti, and Ser Giovanni, author of the Pecorone, who belong to the
end of the fourteenth century, are read by some; their style is familiar
and idiomatic; but Crescimbeni praises that of the former. Corniani
bestows some praise on Passavanti and Pandolfini; the first a religious
writer, not much later than Boccaccio; the latter a noble Florentine,
author of a moral dialogue in the beginning of the fifteenth century.
Filelfo, among his voluminous productions, has an Italian commentary on
Petrarch, of which Corniani speaks very slightingly. The commentary of
Landino on Dante is much better esteemed; but it was not published till

|Giostra of Politian.|

37. It was on occasion of a tournament, wherein Lorenzo himself and his
brother Julian had appeared in the lists, that poems were composed by
Luigi Pulci, and by Politian, then a youth, or rather a boy, the latter
of which displayed more harmony, spirit, and imagination, than any that
had been written since the death of Petrarch.[352] It might thus
be seen, that there was no real incompatibility between the pursuits of
ancient literature and the popular language of fancy and sentiment; and
that, if one gave chastity and elegance of style, a more lively and
natural expression of the mind could best be attained by the other.

  [352] Extracts from this poem will be found in Roscoe’s Lorenzo, and
     in Sismondi, Littérature du Midi, ii. 43, who praises it highly, as
     the Italian critics have done, and as by the passages quoted it
     seems well to deserve. Roscoe supposes Politian to be only fourteen
     years old when he wrote the Giostra di Giuliano. But the lines he
     quotes allude to Lorenzo as chief of the republic, which could not
     be said before the death of Pietro in December, 1469. If he wrote
     them at sixteen, it is extraordinary enough; but these two years
     make an immense difference. Ginguéné is of opinion, that they do
     not allude to the tournament of 1468, but to one in 1473.

|Paul II. persecutes the learned.|

38. This period was not equally fortunate for the learned in other parts
of Italy. Ferdinand of Naples, who came to the throne in 1458, proved no
adequate representative of his father Alfonso. But at Rome they
encountered a serious calamity. A few zealous scholars, such as
Pomponius Lætus, Platina, Callimachus Experiens, formed an academy in
order to converse together on subjects of learning, and communicate to
each other the results of their private studies. Dictionaries, indexes,
and all works of compilation being very deficient, this was the best
substitute for the labour of perusing the whole body of Latin antiquity.
They took Roman names; an innocent folly, long after practised in
Europe. The pope, however, Paul II., thought fit, in 1468, to arrest all
this society on charges of conspiracy against his life, for which there
was certainly no foundation, and of setting up Pagan superstitions
against Christianity, of which, in this instance, there seems to have
been no proof. They were put to the torture, and kept in prison a
twelvemonth, when the tyrant, who is said to have vowed this in his
first rage, set them all at liberty; but it was long before the Roman
academy recovered any degree of vigour.[353]

  [353] Tiraboschi, vi. 93. Ginguéné. Brucker. Corniani ii. 280. This
     writer, inferior to none in his acquaintance with the literature of
     the fifteenth century, but, though not an ecclesiastic, always
     favourable to the court of Rome, seems to strive to lay the blame
     on the imprudence of Platina.

|Mathias Corvinus.|

|His library.|

39. We do not discover as yet much substantial encouragement to
literature in any country on this side the Alps, with the exception of
one where it was least to be anticipated. Mathias Corvinus, king of
Hungary, from his accession in 1458 to his death in 1490, endeavoured to
collect round himself the learned of Italy, and to strike light into the
midst of the depths of darkness that encompassed his country. He
determined, therefore, to erect an university, which, by the original
plan, was to have been in a distinct city; but the Turkish wars
compelled him to fix it at Buda. He availed himself of the dispersion of
libraries, after the capture of Constantinople, to purchase Greek
manuscripts, and employed four transcribers at Florence, besides thirty
at Buda, to enrich his collection. Thus, at his death, it is said that
the royal library at Buda contained 50,000 volumes; a number that
appears wholly incredible.[354] Three hundred ancient statues are
reported to have been placed in the same repository. But when the city
fell into the hands of the Turks in 1527, these noble treasures were
dispersed, and in great measure destroyed. Though the number of books,
as is just observed, must have been exaggerated, it is possible that
neither the burning of the Alexandrian library by Omar, if it ever
occurred, nor any other single calamity recorded in history, except the
two captures of Constantinople itself, has been more fatally injurious
to literature; and, with due regard to the good intentions of Mathias
Corvinus, it is deeply to be regretted that the inestimable relics once
rescued from the barbarian Ottomans, should have been accumulated in a
situation of so little security against their devastating arms.[355]

  [354] The library collected by Nicolas V. contained only 5,000
     manuscripts. The volumes printed in Europe before the death of
     Corvinus would probably be reckoned highly at 15,000. Heeren
     suspects the number 50,000 to be hyperbolical; and in fact there
     can be no doubt of it.

  [355] Brucker. Roscoe. Gibbon. Heeren, p. 173, who refers to several
     modern books expressly relating to the fate of this library. Part
     of it, however, found its way to that of Vienna.

|Slight signs of literature in England.|

40. England under Edward IV. presents an appearance, in the annals of
publication, about as barren as under Edward the Confessor; there is, I
think, neither in Latin nor in English, a single book that we can refer
to this decennial period.[356] Yet we find a few symptoms, not to
be overlooked, of incipient regard for literature. Leland enumerates
some Englishmen who travelled to Italy, perhaps before 1460, in order to
become disciples of the younger Guarini at Ferrara: Robert Fleming,
William Gray, bishop of Ely, John Free, John Gunthorpe, and a very
accomplished nobleman, John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester. It is but
fairness to give credit to these men for their love of learning, and to
observe, that they preceded any whom we could mention on sure grounds
either in France or Germany. We trace, however, no distinct fruits from
their acquisitions. But, though very few had the means of attaining that
on which we set a high value in literature, the mere rudiments of
grammatical learning were communicated to many. Nor were munificent
patrons, testators, in the words of Burke, to a posterity which they
embraced as their own, wanting in this latter period of the middle ages.
William of Wykeham, chancellor of England under Richard II. and bishop
of Winchester, founded a school in that city, and a college at Oxford in
connection with it, in 1373.[357] Henry VI., in imitation of him, became
the founder of Eton school, and of King’s College, Cambridge, about
1442.[358] In each of these schools seventy boys, and in each college
seventy fellows and scholars, are maintained by these princely
endowments. It is unnecessary to observe, that they are still the
amplest, as they are much the earliest, foundations for the support of
grammatical learning in England. What could be taught in these, or any
other schools at this time, the reader has been enabled to judge; it
must have been the Latin language, through indifferent books of grammar,
and with the perusal of very few heathen writers of antiquity. In the
curious and unique collection of the Paston letters we find one from a
boy at Eton in 1468, wherein he gives two Latin verses, not very good,
of his own composition.[359] I am sensible that the mention of such a
circumstance may appear trifling, especially to foreigners: but it is
not a trifle to illustrate by any fact the gradual progress of knowledge
among the laity; first in the mere elements of reading and writing, as
we did in a former chapter; and now, in the fifteenth century, in such
grammatical instruction as could be imparted. This boy of the Paston
family was well born, and came from a distance; nor was he in training
for the church, since he seems by this letter to have had marriage in

  [356] The University of Oxford, according to Wood, as well as the
     church generally, stood very low about this time: the grammar
     schools were laid aside; degrees were conferred on undeserving
     persons for money. A.D. 1455, 1466. He had previously mentioned
     those schools as kept up in the university under the
     superintendence of masters of arts. A.D. 1442. The statutes of
     Magdalen College, founded in the reign of Edward, provide for a
     certain degree of learning.--Chandler’s Life of Waynflete, p. 200.

  [357] Lowth’s Life of Wykeham. He permits in his statutes a limited
     number of sons of gentlemen (gentilium) to be educated in his
     school. Chandler’s Life of Waynflete, p. 5.

  [358] Waynflete became the first head master of Eton in 1442. Chandler,
     p. 26.

  [359] Vol. i., p. 301. Of William Paston, author of these lines, it is
     said, some years before, that he had “gone to school to a Lombard
     called Karol Giles, to learn and to be read in poetry, or else in
     French. He said, that he would be as glad and as fain of a good
     book of French or of poetry as my master Falstaff would be to
     purchase a fair manor,” p. 173. (1459).

|Paston letters.|

41. But the Paston letters are, in other respects, an important
testimony to the progressive condition of society; and come in as a
precious link in the chain of the moral history of England, which they
alone in this period supply. They stand indeed singly, as far as I know,
in Europe; for though it is highly probable that in the archives of
Italian families, if not in France or Germany, a series of merely
private letters equally ancient may be concealed, I do not recollect
that any have been published. They are all written in the reigns of
Henry VI., and Edward IV., except a few, that extend as far as Henry
VII., by different members of a wealthy and respectable, but not noble,
family; and are, therefore, pictures of the life of the English gentry
in that age.[360] We are merely concerned with their evidence as to the
state of literature. And this, upon the whole, is more favourable than,
from the want of authorship in those reigns, we should be led to
anticipate. It is plain that several members of the family, male and
female, wrote not only grammatically, but with a fluency and facility,
an epistolary expertness, which implies the habitual use of the pen.
Their expression is much less formal and quaint than that of modern
novelists, when they endeavour to feign the familiar style of ages much
later than the fifteenth century. Some of them mix Latin with their
English, very bad, and probably for the sake of concealment; and
Ovid is once mentioned as a book to be sent from one to another.[361] It
appears highly probable, that such a series of letters, with so much
vivacity and pertinence, would not have been written by any family of
English gentry in the reign of Richard II., and much less before. It is
hard to judge from a single case; but the letter of Lady Pelham, quoted
in the first chapter, is ungrammatical and unintelligible. The seed,
therefore, was now rapidly germinating beneath the ground; and thus we
may perceive that the publication of books is not the sole test of the
intellectual advance of a people. I may add, that although the middle of
the fifteenth century was the period in which the fewest books were
written, a greater number, in the opinion of experienced judges, were
transcribed in that than in any former age.

  [360] This collection is in five quarto volumes, and has become scarce.
     The length has been doubled by an injudicious proceeding of the
     editor, in printing the original orthography and abbreviations of
     the letters on each left-hand page, and a more legible modern form
     on the right. As orthography is of little importance, and
     abbreviations of none at all, it would have been sufficient to have
     given a single specimen.

  [361] “As to Ovid de Arte Amandi, I shall send him you next week, for I
     have him not now ready.” iv. 175. This was between 1463 and 1469,
     according to the editor. We do not know positively of any edition
     of Ovid de Arte Amandi so early; but Zell of Cologne is supposed to
     have printed one before 1470, as has been mentioned above. Whether
     the book to be sent were in print, or manuscript, must be left to
     the sagacity of critics.

|Low condition of public libraries.|

42. It may be observed here, with reference to the state of learning
generally in England down to the age immediately preceding the
Reformation, that Leland, in the fourth volume of his Collectanea, has
given several lists of books in colleges and monasteries, which do not
by any means warrant the supposition of a tolerable acquaintance with
ancient literature. We find, however, some of the recent translations
made in Italy from Greek authors. The clergy, in fact, were now
retrograding, while the laity were advancing; and when this was the
case, the ascendency of the former was near its end.


|Clotilde de Surville.|

43. I have said that there was not a new book written within these ten
years. In the days of our fathers, it would have been necessary at least
to mention as a forgery the celebrated poems attributed to Thomas
Rowley. But, probably, no one person living believes in their
authenticity; nor should I have alluded to so palpable a fabrication at
all, but for the curious circumstance that a very similar trial of
literary credulity has not long since been essayed in France. A
gentleman of the name of Surville published a collection of poems,
alleged to have been written by Clotilde de Surville, a poetess of the
fifteenth century. The muse of the Ardèche warbled her notes during a
longer life than the monk of Bristow; and having sung the relief of
Orleans by the Maid of Arc in 1429, lived to pour her swan-like chant on
the battle of Fornova in 1495. Love, however, as much as war, is her
theme; and it was a remarkable felicity that she rendered an ode of her
prototype Sappho into French verse, many years before any one else in
France could have seen it. But having, like Rowley, anticipated too much
the style and sentiments of a later period, she has, like him, fallen
into the numerous ranks of the dead who never were alive.[362]

  [362] Auguis, Recueil des Poètes, vol. ii. Biogr. Univ., Surville.
     Villemain, Cours de Littérature, vol. ii. Sismondi, Hist. des
     Français, xiii. 593. The forgery is by no means so gross as that of
     Chatterton; but, as M. Sismondi says, “We have only to compare
     Clotilde with the Duke of Orleans, or Villon.” The following lines,
     quoted by him, will give the reader a fair specimen:--

          Suivons l’amour, tel en soit le danger;
          Cy nous attend sur lits charmans de mousse.
          A des rigueurs; qui voudroit s’en venger?
          Qui (meme alors que tout désir s’émousse)
          Au prix fatal de ne plus y songer?
          Règne sur moi, cher tyran, dont les armes
          Ne me sauroient porter coups trop puissans!
          Pour m’epargner n’en crois onc a mes larmes;
          Sont de plaisir, tant plus auront de charmes
          Tes dards aigus, que seront plus cuisans.

     It has been justly remarked, that the extracts from Clotilde in the
     Recueil des Anciens Poètes occupy too much space, while the genuine
     writers of the fifteenth century appear in very scanty specimens.

                         SECT. IV. 1471-1480.

      _The same Subjects continued--Lorenzo de’ Medici--Physical
                Controversy--Mathematical Sciences._

|Number of books printed in Italy.|

44. The books printed in Italy during these ten years amount, according
to Panzer, to 1297; of which 234 are editions of ancient classical
authors. Books without date are of course not included; and the list
must not be reckoned complete as to others.

45. A press was established at Florence by Lorenzo, in which Cennini, a
goldsmith, was employed; the first printer, except Caxton and Jenson,
who was not a German. Virgil was published in 1471. Several other
Italian cities began to print in this period. The first edition of Dante
issued from Foligno in 1472; it has been improbably, as well as
erroneously, referred to Mentz. Petrarch had been published in 1470, and
Boccace in 1471. They were reprinted several times before the close of
this decade.

|First Greek printed.|

46. No one had attempted to cast Greek types in sufficient number for an
entire book; though a few occur in the early publications by Sweynheim
and Pannartz;[363] while in those printed afterwards at Venice, Greek
words are inserted by the pen; till, in 1476, Zarot of Milan had the
honour of giving the Greek grammar of Constantine Lascaris to the
world.[364] This was followed in 1480 by Craston’s lexicon, a very
imperfect vocabulary; but which for many years continued to be the only
assistance of the kind to which a student could have recourse. The
author was an Italian.

  [363] Greek types first appear in a treatise of Jerome, printed at Rome
     in 1468. Heeren, from Panzer.

  [364] Lascaris Grammatica Græca, Mediolani ex recognitione Demetrii
     Cretensis per Dionysium Paravisinum, 4to. The characters in this
     rare volume are elegant and of a moderate size. The earliest
     specimens of Greek printing consist of detached passages and
     citations, found in a very few of the first printed copies of Latin
     authors, such as the Lactantius of 1465, the Aulus Gellius and
     Apuleius of Sweynheim and Pannartz, 1469, and some works of
     Bessarion about the same time. In all these it is remarkable that
     the Greek typography is legibly and creditably executed, whereas
     the Greek introduced into the Officia et Paradoxa of Cicero, Milan,
     1474, by Zarot, is so deformed as to be scarcely legible. I am
     indebted for the whole of this note to Greswell’s Early Parisian
     Greek Press, i. 1.

|Study of antiquities.|

47. Ancient learning is to be divided into two great departments; the
knowledge of what is contained in the works of Greek and Roman authors,
and that of the matériel, if I may use the word, which has been
preserved in a bodily shape, and is sometimes known by the name of
antiquities. Such are buildings, monuments, inscriptions, coins, medals,
vases, instruments, which by gradual accumulation have thrown a powerful
light upon ancient history and literature. The abundant riches of Italy
in these remains could not be overlooked as soon as the spirit of
admiration for all that was Roman began to be kindled. Petrarch himself
formed a little collection of coins; and his contemporary Pastrengo was
the first who copied inscriptions; but in the early part of the
fifteenth century, her scholars and her patrons of letters began to
collect the scattered relics, which almost every region presented to
them.[365] Niccolo Niccolì, according to the funeral oration of Poggio,
possessed a series of medals, and even wrote a treatise in Italian,
correcting the common orthography of Latin words, on the authority of
inscriptions and coins. The love of collections increased from this
time; the Medici and other rich patrons of letters spared no expense in
accumulating these treasures of the antiquary. Ciriacus of Ancona, about
1440, travelled into the East in order to copy inscriptions; but he was
naturally exposed to deceive himself and to be deceived; nor has he
escaped the suspicion of imposture, or at least of excessive

  [365] Tiraboschi, vols. v. and vi. Andrès, ix. 196.

  [366] Tiraboschi. Andrès, ix. 199. Ciriaco has not wanted advocates;
     some of the inscriptions he was accused of having forged have
     turned out to be authentic; and it is presumed in his favour, that
     others which do not appear may have perished since his time. Biogr.
     Univ., Cyriaque. One that rests on his authority is that which is
     supposed to record the persecution of the Christians in Spain under
     Nero. See Lardner’s Jewish and Heathen Testimonies, vol. i, who,
     though by no means a credulous critic, inclines to its genuineness.

|Works on that subject.|

48. The first who made his researches of this kind collectively known
to the world, was Biondo Flavio, or Flavio Biondo,--for the names may
be found in a different order, but more correctly in the
first,[367]--secretary to Eugenius IV., and to his successors. His long
residence at Rome inspired him with the desire, and gave him the
opportunity, of describing her imperial ruins. In a work, dedicated to
Eugenius IV., who died in 1447, but not printed till 1471, entitled,
Romæ Instauratæ libri tres, he describes, examines, and explains by the
testimonies of ancient authors, the numerous monuments of Rome. In
another, Romæ Triumphantis libri decem, printed about 1472, he treats of
the government, laws, religion, ceremonies, military discipline, and
other antiquities of the republic. A third work, compiled at the request
of Alfonso, king of Naples, and printed in 1474, called Italia
Illustrata, contains a description of all Italy, divided into its
ancient fourteen regions. Though Biondo Flavio was almost the first to
hew his way into the rock, which should cause his memory to be
respected, it has naturally happened, that, his works being imperfect
and faulty, in comparison with those of the great antiquaries of the
sixteenth century, they have not found a place in the collection of
Grævius, and are hardly remembered by name.[368]

  [367] Zeno, Dissertazioni Vossiane, i. 229.

  [368] A superior treatise of the same age on the antiquities of the
     Roman city is by Bernard Rucellai (de Urbe Româ, in Rer. Ital.
     Scrip. Florent., vol. ii.). But it was not published before the
     eighteenth century. Rucellai wrote some historical works in a very
     good Latin style, and was distinguished also in the political
     revolutions of Florence. After the death of Lorenzo, he became the
     protector of the Florentine academy, for the members of which he
     built a palace with gardens. Corniani, iii. 143. Biogr. Univ.,

|Publications in Germany.|

49. In Germany and the Low Countries the art of printing began to be
exercised at Deventer, Utrecht, Louvain, Basle, Ulm, and other places,
and in Hungary at Buda. We find, however, very few ancient writers; the
whole list of what can pass for classics being about thirteen. One or
two editions of parts of Aristotle in Latin, from translations lately
made in Italy, may be added. Yet it was not the length of manuscripts
that discouraged the German printers; for besides their editions of the
Scriptures, Mentelin of Strasburg published, in 1473, the great
encyclopædia of Vincent of Beauvais, in ten volumes folio, generally
bound in four; and, in 1474, a similar work of Berchorius, or
Berchœur, in three other folios. The contrast between these labours
and those of his Italian contemporaries is very striking.

|In France.|

50. Florus and Sallust were printed at Paris early in this decade, and
twelve more classical authors at the same place before its termination.
An edition of Cicero ad Herennium appeared at Angers in 1476, and one of
Horace at Caen, in 1480. The press of Lyons also sent forth several
works, but none of them classical. It has been said by French writers,
that the first book printed in their language is Le Jardin de Dévotion,
by Colard Mansion of Bruges, in 1473. This date has been questioned in
England; but it is of the less importance, as we have already seen that
Caxton’s Recueil des Histoires de Troye has the clear priority. Le Roman
de Baudouin comte de Flandres, Lyon, 1474, seems to be the earliest
French book printed in France. In 1476, Les Grands Chroniques de St.
Denis, an important and bulky volume, appeared at Paris.

|In England, by Caxton.|

51. We come now to our own Caxton, who finished a translation into
English of his Recueil des Histoires de Troye, by order of Margaret,
duchess of Burgundy, at Cologne, in September 1471. It was probably
printed there the next year.[369] But soon afterwards he came to England
with the instruments of his art; and in 1474, his Game of Chess, a
slight and short performance, is supposed to have been the first
specimen of English typography.[370] In almost every year from this time
to his death in 1483, Caxton continued to publish those volumes which
are the delight of our collectors. The earliest of his editions bearing
a date in England, is the “Dictes and Sayings,” a translation by Lord
Rivers from a Latin compilation, and published in 1477. In a literary
history it should be observed, that the Caxton publications are more
adapted to the general than the learned reader, and indicate, upon the
whole, but a low state of knowledge in England. A Latin translation,
however, of Aristotle’s ethics was printed at Oxford in 1479.

  [369] This book at the Duke of Roxburgh’s famous sale brought 1060_l._

  [370] The Expositio Sancti Hieronymi, of which a copy, in the public
     library at Cambridge, bears the date of Oxford 1468 on the
     title-page, is now generally given up. It has been successfully
     contended by Middleton, and lately by Mr. Singer, that this date
     should be 1478; the numeral letter x having been casually omitted.
     Several similar instances occur, in which a pretended early book
     has not stood the keen eye of criticism: as the Decor Puellarum
     ascribed to Nicolas Jenson of Venice in 1461, for which we should
     read 1471; a cosmography of Ptolemy with the date of 1462; a book
     appearing to have been printed at Tours in 1467, &c.

|In Spain.|

52. The first book printed in Spain was on the very subject we might
expect to precede all others, the Conception of the Virgin. It should be
a very curious volume, being a poetical contest, on that sublime theme,
by thirty-six poets, four of whom had written in Spanish, one in
Italian, and the rest in Provençal or Valencian. It appeared at Valencia
in 1474. A little book on grammar followed in 1475, and Sallust was
printed the same year. In that year printing was also introduced at
Barcelona and Saragossa, in 1476 at Seville, in 1480 at Salamanca and

|Translations of Scripture.|

53. A translation of the Bible by Malerbi, a Venetian, was published in
1471, and two other editions of that, or a different version, the same
year. Eleven editions are enumerated by Panzer in the fifteenth century.
The German translation has already been mentioned; it was several times
reprinted in this decade; one in Dutch appeared in 1477, one in the
Valencian language, at that city, in 1478;[371] the New Testament
was printed in Bohemian, 1475, and in French, 1477; the earliest French
translation of the Old Testament seems to be about the same date. The
reader will of course understand, that all these translations were made
from the Vulgate Latin. It may naturally seem remarkable, that not only
at this period, but down to the Reformation, no attempt was made to
render any part of the Scriptures public in English. But, in fact, the
ground was thought too dangerous by those in power. The translation of
Wicliffe had taught the people some comparisons between the worldly
condition of the first preachers of Christianity and their successors,
as well as some other contrasts, which it was more expedient to avoid.
Long before the invention of printing it was enacted, in 1408, by a
constitution of Archbishop Arundel, in convocation, that no one should
thereafter “translate any text of Holy Scripture into English, by way of
a book, or little book or tract; and that no book should be read that
was composed lately in the time of John Wicliffe, or since his death.”
Scarcely any of Caxton’s publications are of a religious nature.

  [371] This edition was suppressed or destroyed; no copy is known to
     exist; but there is preserved a final leaf containing the names of
     the translator and printer. M’Crie’s Reformation in Spain, p. 192.
     Andrès says (xix. 154), that this translation was made early in the
     fifteenth century, with the approbation of divines.

|Revival of literature in Spain.|

54. It would have been strange if Spain, placed on the genial shores of
the Mediterranean, and intimately connected through the Aragonese kings
with Italy, had not received some light from that which began to shine
so brightly. Her progress, however, in letters was but slow. Not but
that several individuals are named by compilers of literary biography in
the first part of the fifteenth century, as well as earlier, who are
reputed to have possessed a knowledge of languages, and to have stood at
least far above their contemporaries. Alfonsus Tostatus passes for the
most considerable; his writings are chiefly theological, but Andrès
praises his commentary on the Chronicle of Eusebius, at least as a bold
essay.[372] He contends that learning was not deficient in Spain during
the fifteenth century, though admitting that the rapid improvements made
at its close, and about the beginning of the next age, were due to
Lebrixa’s public instructions at Seville and Salamanca. Several
translations were made from Latin authors into Spanish, which, however,
is not of itself any great proof of Peninsular learning. The men to whom
Spain chiefly owes the advancement of useful learning, and who should
not be defrauded of their glory, were Arias Barbosa, a scholar of
Politian, and the more renowned, though not more learned or more early
propagator of Grecian literature, Antonio of Lebrixa, whose name was
latinised into Nebrissensis, by which he is commonly known. Of Arias,
who unaccountably has no place in the Biographie Universelle, Nicolas
Antonio gives a very high character.[373] He taught the Greek language
at Salamanca probably about this time. But his writings are not at all
numerous. For Lebrixa, instead of compiling from other sources, I shall
transcribe what Dr. M’Crie has said with his usual perspicuous brevity.

  [372] ix. 151.

  [373] In quo Antonium Nebrissensem socium habuit, qui tamen quicquid
     usquam Græcarum literarum apud Hispanos esset, ab uno Aria emanâsse
     in præfatione suarum Introductionum Grammaticarum ingenue
     affirmavit. His duobus amplissimum illud gymnasium, indeque
     Hispania tota debet barbariei, quæ longo apud nos bellorum dominatu
     in immensum creverat, extirpationem, bonarumque omnium
     disciplinarum divitias. Quas Arias noster ex antiquitatis penu per
     vicennium integrum auditoribus suis larga et locuplete vena
     communicavit, in poetica facultate Græcanicaque doctrina
     Nebrissense melior, a quo tamen in varia multiplicique doctrina
     superabatur. Bibl. Vetus.

|Character of Lebrixa.|

55. “Lebrixa, usually styled Nebrissensis, became to Spain what Valla
was to Italy, Erasmus to Germany, or Budæus to France. After a residence
of ten years in Italy, during which he had stored his mind with various
kinds of knowledge, he returned home, in 1473, by the advice of the
younger Philelphus and Hermolaus Barbarus, with the view of promoting
classical literature in his native country. Hitherto the revival of
letters in Spain was confined to a few inquisitive individuals, and had
not reached the schools and universities, whose teachers continued to
teach a barbarous jargon under the name of Latin, into which they
initiated the youth by means of a rude system of grammar, rendered
unintelligible, in some instances, by a preposterous intermixture of the
most abstruse questions in metaphysics. By the lectures which he read in
the universities of Seville, Salamanca, and Alcala, and by the
institutes which he published on Castilian, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew
grammar, Lebrixa contributed in a wonderful degree to expel barbarism
from the seats of education, and to diffuse a taste for elegant and
useful studies among his countrymen. His improvements were warmly
opposed by the monks, who had engrossed the art of teaching, and
who, unable to bear the light themselves, wished to prevent all others
from seeing it; but, enjoying the support of persons of high authority,
he disregarded their selfish and ignorant outcries. Lebrixa continued to
an advanced age to support the literary reputation of his native

  [374] M’Crie’s Hist. of Reformation in Spain, p. 61. It is probable
     that Lebrixa’s exertions were not very effectual in the present
     decennium, nor perhaps in the next, but his Institutiones
     Grammaticæ, a very scarce book, were printed at Seville in 1481.

|Library of Lorenzo.|

56. This was the brilliant æra of Florence, under the supremacy of
Lorenzo de’ Medici. The reader is probably well acquainted with this
eminent character, by means of a work of extensive and merited
reputation. The Laurentian library, still consisting wholly of
manuscripts, though formed by Cosmo, and enlarged by his son Pietro,
owed not only its name, but an ample increase of its treasures, to
Lorenzo, who swept the monasteries of Greece through his learned agent,
John Lascaris. With that true love of letters which scorns the
monopolising spirit of possession, Lorenzo permitted his manuscripts to
be freely copied for the use of other parts of Europe.

|Classics corrected and explained.|

57. It was an important labour of the learned at Florence to correct, as
well as elucidate, the text of their manuscripts, written generally by
ignorant and careless monks, or trading copyists (though the latter
probably had not much concern with ancient writers), and become almost
wholly unintelligible through the blunders of these transcribers.[375]
Landino, Merula, Calderino, and Politian were the most indefatigable in
this line of criticism during the age of Lorenzo. Before the use of
printing fixed the text of a whole edition--one of the most important of
its consequences--the critical amendments of these scholars could only
be made useful through their oral lectures. And these appear frequently
to have been the foundation of the valuable, though rather prolix,
commentaries we find in the old editions. Thus those of Landino
accompany many editions of Horace and Virgil, forming, in some measure,
the basis of all interpretative annotations on those poets. Landino in
these seldom touches on verbal criticism; but his explanations display a
considerable reach of knowledge. They are founded, as Heeren is
convinced, on his lectures, and consequently give us some notion of the
tone of instruction. In explaining the poets, two methods were pursued,
the grammatical and the moral, the latter of which consisted in
resolving the whole sense into allegory. Dante had given credit to a
doctrine, orthodox in this age, and long afterwards, that every great
poem must have a hidden meaning.[376]

  [375] Meiners, Vergleich. der Sitten, iii. 108. Heeren, p. 293.

  [376] Heeren, pp. 241, 287.

|Character of Lorenzo.|

58. The notes of Calderino, a scholar of high fame, but infected with
the common vice of arrogance, are found with those of Landino in the
early editions of Virgil and Horace. Regio commented upon Ovid,
Omnibonus Leonicenus upon Lucan, both these upon Quintilian, many upon
Cicero.[377] It may be observed, for the sake of chronological
exactness, that these labours are by no means confined, even
principally, to this decennial period. They are mentioned in connection
with the name of Lorenzo de’ Medici, whose influence over literature
extended from 1470 to his death in 1492. Nor was mere philology the
sole, or the leading, pursuit to which so truly noble a mind accorded
its encouragement. He sought in ancient learning something more elevated
than the narrow, though necessary, researches of criticism. In a villa
overhanging the towers of Florence, on the steep slope of that lofty
hill crowned by the mother city, the ancient Fiesole, in gardens which
Tully might have envied, with Ficino, Landino, and Politian at his side,
he delighted his hours of leisure with the beautiful visions of Platonic
philosophy, for which the summer stillness of an Italian sky appears the
most congenial accompaniment.

  [377] Id. 297.

|Prospect from his villa at Fiesole.|

59. Never could the sympathies of the soul with outward nature be more
finely touched; never could more striking suggestions be presented to
the philosopher and the statesman. Florence lay beneath them; not with
all the magnificence that the later Medici have given her, but, thanks
to the piety of former times, presenting almost as varied an outline to
the sky. One man, the wonder of Cosmo’s age, Brunelleschi, had crowned
the beautiful city with the vast dome of its cathedral; a structure
unthought of in Italy before, and rarely since surpassed. It seemed,
amidst clustering towers of inferior churches, an emblem of the Catholic
hierarchy under its supreme head; like Rome itself, imposing, unbroken,
unchangeable, radiating in equal expansion to every part of the earth,
and directing its convergent curves to heaven. Round this were
numbered, at unequal heights, the Baptistery, with its gates worthy of
Paradise; the tall and richly decorated belfry of Giotto; the church of
the Carmine, with the frescos of Masaccio; those of Santa Maria Novella,
beautiful as a bride, of Santa Croce, second only in magnificence to the
cathedral, and of St. Mark; the San Spirito, another great monument of
the genius of Brunelleschi; the numerous convents that rose within the
walls of Florence, or were scattered immediately about them. From these
the eye might turn to the trophies of a republican government that was
rapidly giving way before the citizen-prince who now surveyed them; the
Palazzo Vecchio, in which the signiory of Florence held their councils,
raised by the Guelf aristocracy, the exclusive, but not tyrannous
faction that long swayed the city; or the new and unfinished palace
which Brunelleschi had designed for one of the Pitti family, before they
fell, as others had already done, in the fruitless struggle against the
house of Medici; itself destined to become the abode of the victorious
race, and to perpetuate, by retaining its name, the revolutions that had
raised them to power.

60. The prospect, from an elevation, of a great city in its silence, is
one of the most impressive, as well as beautiful, we ever behold. But
far more must it have brought home thoughts of seriousness to the mind
of one who, by the force of events, and the generous ambition of his
family, and his own, was involved in the dangerous necessity of
governing without the right, and, as far as might be, without the
semblance of power; one who knew the vindictive and unscrupulous
hostility which, at home and abroad, he had to encounter. If thoughts
like these could bring a cloud over the brow of Lorenzo, unfit for the
object he sought in that retreat, he might restore its serenity by other
scenes which his garden commanded. Mountains bright with various hues,
and clothed with wood, bounded the horizon, and, on most sides, at no
great distance; but embosomed in these were other villas and domains of
his own; while the level country bore witness to his agricultural
improvements, the classic diversion of a statesman’s cares. The same
curious spirit which led him to fill his garden at Careggi with exotic
flowers of the east, the first instance of a botanical collection in
Europe, had introduced a new animal from the same regions. Herds of
buffaloes, since naturalised in Italy, whose dingy hide, bent neck,
curved horns, and lowering aspect, contrasted with the greyish hue and
full mild eye of the Tuscan oxen, pastured in the valley, down which the
yellow Arno steals silently through its long reaches to the sea.[378]

          Taliâ Fæsuleo lentus meditabar in antro,
          Rure suburbano Medicum, qua mons sacer urbem
          Mæoniam, longique volumina despicit Arni:
          Qua bonus hospitium felix placidamque quietem
          Indulget Laurens.
                                   _Politiani Rusticus._

          And let us from the top of Fiesole,
          Whence Galileo’s glass by night observed
          The phases of the moon, look round below
          On Arno’s vale, where the dove-coloured steer
          Is ploughing up and down among the vines,
          While many a careless note is sung aloud,
          Filling the air with sweetness--and on thee,
          Beautiful Florence, all within thy walls,
          Thy groves and gardens, pinnacles and towers,
          Drawn to our feet.

     It is hardly necessary to say that these lines are taken from my
     friend Mr. Rogers’s Italy, a poem full of moral and descriptive
     sweetness, and written in the chastened tone of fine taste. With
     respect to the buffaloes, I have no other authority than these
     lines of Politian, in his poem of Ambra, on the farm of Lorenzo at
     Poggio Cajano.

          Atque aliud nigris missum, quis credat? ab Indis,
          Ruminat insuetas armentum discolor herbas.

     But I must own, that Buffon tells us, though without quoting any
     authority, that the buffalo was introduced into Italy as early as
     the seventh century. I did not take the trouble of consulting
     Aldrovandus, who would perhaps have confirmed him--especially as I
     have a better opinion of my readers than to suppose they would care
     about the matter.

|Platonic academy.|

61. The Platonic academy, which Cosmo had planned, came to maturity
under Lorenzo. The academicians were divided into three classes:--the
patrons (mecenati), including the Medici; the hearers (ascoltatori,
probably from the Greek word ἀκρόαται [akroatai]); and the novices, or
disciples, formed of young aspirants to philosophy. Ficino presided over
the whole. Their great festival was the 13th of November, being the
anniversary of the birth and death of Plato. Much of absurd mysticism,
much of frivolous and mischievous superstition, was mingled with their

  [379] Roscoe. Corniani.

|Disputationes Camaldulenses of Landino.|

62. The Disputationes Camaldulenses of Landino were published during
this period, though, perhaps, written a little sooner. They belong to a
class prominent in the literature of Italy in this and the succeeding
century; disquisitions on philosophy in the form of dialogue, with more
solicitude to present a graceful delineation of virtue, and to kindle a
generous sympathy for moral beauty, than to explore the labyrinths of
theory, or even to lay down clear and distinct principles of ethics. The
writings of Plato and Cicero, in this manner, had shown a track, in
which their idolators, with distant and hesitating steps, and more of
reverence than emulation, delighted to tread. These Disputations of
Landino, in which, according to the beautiful patterns of ancient
dialogue, the most honoured names of the age appear--Lorenzo and his
brother Julian; Alberti, whose almost universal genius is now best known
by his architecture; Ficino, and Landino himself--turn upon a comparison
between the active and contemplative life of man, to the latter of which
it seems designed to give the advantage, and are saturated with the
thoughtful spirit of Platonism.[380]

  [380] Corniani and Roscoe have given this account of the
     Disputationes Camaldulenses. I have no direct acquaintance with the

|Philosophical dialogues.|

63. Landino was not, by any means, the first who had tried the theories
of ancient philosophy through the feigned warfare of dialogue. Valla,
intrepid and fond of paradox, had vindicated the Epicurean ethics from
the calumnious or exaggerated censure frequently thrown upon them,
contrasting the true methods by which pleasure should be sought with the
gross notions of the vulgar. Several other writings of the same
description, either in dialogue or regular dissertation, belong to the
fifteenth century, though not always published so early, such as
Franciscus Barbarus, De Re Uxoria,[381] Platina, De Falso et Vero Bono,
the Vita Civile of Palmieri, the moral treatises of Poggio, Alberti,
Pontano, and Matteo Bosso, concerning some of which little more than the
names are to be learned from literary history, and which it would not,
perhaps, be worth while to mention, except as collectively indicating a
predilection for this style, which the Italians long continued to

  [381] This, which has been already mentioned, may be considered as much
     the earliest, having been published about 1417. Shepherd’s Poggio,
     c. 3. Barbaro was a noble Venetian, who had learned Latin under
     Gasparin of Barziza. He was afterwards chiefly employed in public
     life. This treatise De Re Uxoria, of which some account may be
     found in Corniani (ii. 137) made a considerable impression at that
     early time. Corniani thinks it the only work of moral philosophy in
     the fifteenth century, which is not a servile copy of some ancient
     system. The more celebrated Hermolaus was grandson of this Francis

  [382] Corniani is much fuller than Tiraboschi on these treatises.
     Roscoe seems to have read the ethical writing of Matteo Bosso (Life
     of Leo X., c. xx.), but hardly adverts to any of the rest I have
     named. Some of them are very scarce.

|Paulus Cortesius.|

64. Some of these related to general criticism, or to that of single
authors. My knowledge of them is chiefly limited to the dialogue of
Paulus Cortesius, De Hominibus Doctis, written, I conceive, about 1490;
no unsuccessful imitation of Cicero, De Claris Oratoribus, from which
indeed modern Latin writers have always been accustomed to collect the
discriminating phrases of criticism. Cortesius, who was young at the
time of writing this dialogue, uses an elegant, if not always a correct
Latinity; characterising agreeably, and with apparent taste, the authors
of the fifteenth century. It may be read in conjunction with the
Ciceronianus of Erasmus, who, with no knowledge, perhaps, of Cortesius
has gone over the same ground in rather inferior language.

|Schools in Germany.|

65. It was about the beginning of this decade that a few Germans and
Netherlanders, trained in the college of Deventer, or that of Zwoll, or
of St. Edward’s near Groningen, were roused to acquire that extensive
knowledge of the ancient languages which Italy as yet exclusively
possessed. Their names should never be omitted in any remembrance of the
revival of letters; for great was their influence upon the subsequent
times. Wessel of Groningen, one of those who contributed most steadily
towards the purification of religion, and to whom the Greek and Hebrew
languages are said, but probably on no solid grounds, to have been
known, may be reckoned in this class. But others were more directly
engaged in the advancement of literature. Three schools, from which
issued the most conspicuous ornaments of the next generation, rose under
masters, learned for that time, and zealous in the good cause of
instruction. Alexander Hegius became, about 1475, rector of that at
Deventer, where Erasmus received his early education.[383] Hegius was
not wholly ignorant of Greek, and imparted the rudiments of it to
his illustrious pupil. I am inclined to ascribe the publication of a
very rare and curious book, the first endeavour to print Greek on this
side of the Alps, to no other person than Hegius.[384] Louis Dringeberg
founded, not perhaps before 1480, a still more distinguished seminary at
Schelstadt in Alsace. Here the luminaries of Germany in a more advanced
stage of learning, Conrad Celtes, Bebel, Rhenanus, Wimpheling
Pirckheimer, Simler, are said to have imbibed their knowledge.[385] The
third school was at Munster; and over this Rodolph Langius presided, a
man not any way inferior to the other two, and of more reputation as a
Latin writer, especially as a poet. The school of Munster did not come
under the care of Langius till 1483, or perhaps rather later; and his
strenuous exertions in the cause of useful and polite literature against
monkish barbarians extended into the next century. But his life was
long: the first, or nearly such, to awaken his countrymen, he was
permitted to behold the full establisment of learning, and to exult in
the dawn of the Reformation. In company with a young man of rank, and
equal zeal, Maurice, count of Spiegelberg, who himself became the
provost of a school at Emmerich, Langius visited Italy, and, as Meiners
supposes, though, I think, upon uncertain grounds, before 1460. But not
long afterwards, a more distinguished person than any we have mentioned,
Rodolph Agricola of Groningen, sought in that more genial land the taste
and correctness which no cisalpine nation could supply. Agricola passed
several years of this decade in Italy. We shall find the effects of his
example in the next.[386]

  [383] Heeren, p. 149, says that Hegius began to preside over the school
     of Deventer in 1480; but I think the date in the text is more
     probable, as Erasmus left it at the age of fourteen, and was
     certainly born in 1465. Though Hegius is said to have known but
     little Greek, I find in Panzer the title of a book by him, printed
     at Deventer in 1501, De Utilitate Lingua Græcæ. The life of Hegius
     in Melchior Adam is interesting. Primus hic in Belgio literas
     excitavit, says Revius, in Daventria Illustrata, p. 130. Mihi, says
     Erasmus, admodum adhuc puero contigit uti præceptore hujus
     discipulo Alexandro Hegio Westphalo, qui ludum aliquando celebrem
     oppidi Daventriensis moderabatur, in quo nos olim admodum pueri
     utriusque linguæ prima didicimus elementa. Adag. Chil. 1, cent. iv.
     39. In another place he says of Hegius, ne hic quidem Græcarum
     literarum omnino ignarus est. Epist. 411, in Appendice. Erasmus
     left Deventer at the age of fourteen; consequently in 1479 or 1480,
     as he tells us in an epistle, dated 17th Apr. 1519.

  [384] This very rare book, unnoticed by most bibliographers, is of some
     importance in the history of literature. It is a small quarto
     tract, entitled, Conjugations verborum Græcæ, Daventriæ noviter
     extremo labore et impressæ. No date or printer’s name appears. A
     copy is in the British Museum, and another in Lord Spencer’s
     library. It contains nothing but the word τυπτω [typtô] in all its
     voices and tenses, with Latin explanations in Gothic letters. The
     Greek types are very rude, and the characters sometimes misplaced.
     It must, I should presume, seem probable to every one who considers
     this book, that it is of the fifteenth century, and consequently
     older than any known Greek on this side of the Alps; which of
     itself should render it interesting in the eyes of bibliographers
     and of every one else. But fully disclaiming all such acquaintance
     with the technical science of typographical antiquity, as to
     venture any judgment founded on the appearance of a particular
     book, or on a comparison of it with others, I would, on other
     grounds, suggest the probability that this little attempt at Greek
     Grammar issued from the Deventer press about 1480. It appears clear
     that whoever “collected with extreme labour” these forms of the
     verb τυπτω [typtô], had never been possessed of a Greek and Latin
     grammar. For would it not be absurd to use such expressions about a
     simple transcription? Besides which, the word is not only given in
     an arrangement different from any I have ever seen, but with a
     nonexistent form of participle, τετυψαμενος [tetypsamenos] for
     τυψαμενος [typsamenos], which could not surely have been found in
     any prior grammar. Now the grammar of Lascaris was published with a
     Latin translation by Craston in 1480. It is indeed highly probable
     that this book would not reach Deventer immediately after its
     impression; but it does seem as if there could not long have been
     any extreme difficulty in obtaining a correct synopsis of the verb
     τυπτω [typtô].

     We have seen that Erasmus, about 1477, acquired a very slight
     tincture of Greek under Alexander Hegius at Deventer. And here, as
     he tells us, he saw Agricola, returning probably from Italy to
     Groningen. Quem mihi puero, ferme duodecim annos nato, Daventriæ
     videre contigit, nec aliud contigit. (Jortin, ii. 416.) No one
     could be so likely as Hegius to attempt a Greek grammar; nor do we
     find that his successors in that college were men as distinguished
     for learning as himself. But in fact at a later time it could not
     have been so extraordinarily imperfect. We might perhaps conjecture
     that he took down these Greek tenses from the mouth of Agricola,
     since we must presume oral communication rather than the use of
     books. Agricola, repeating from memory, and not thoroughly
     conversant with the language, might have given the false tense
     τετυψαμενος [tetypsamenos]. The tract was probably printed by
     Pafroet, some of whose editions bear as early a date as 1477. It
     has long been extremely scarce; for Revius does not include it in
     the list of Pafroet’s publications he has given in Deventria
     Illustrata, nor will it be found in Panzer. Beloe was the first to
     mention it in his Anecdotes of scarce books; and it is referred by
     him to the fifteenth century; but apparently without his being
     aware there was anything remarkable in that antiquity. Dr. Dibdin,
     in Bibliotheca Spenceriana, has given a fuller account; and from
     him Brunet has inserted it in the Manuel du Libraire. Neither Beloe
     nor Dibdin seems to have known that there is a copy in the Museum;
     they speak only of that belonging to Lord Spencer.

     If it were true that Reuchlin, during his residence at Orleans, had
     published, as well as compiled, a Greek grammar, we should not need
     to have recourse to the hypothesis of this note, in order to give
     the antiquity of the present decade to Greek typography. Such a
     grammar is asserted by Meiners, in his Life of Reuchlin, to have
     been printed at Poitiers: and Eichhorn positively says, without
     reference to the place of publication, that Reuchlin was the first
     German who published a Greek grammar. (Gesch. der Litt. iii. 275.)
     Meiners, however, in a subsequent volume (iii. 10), retracts this
     assertion, and says it has been proved that the Greek grammar of
     Reuchlin was never printed. Yet I find in the Bibliotheca
     Universalis of Gesner: Joh. Capnio [Reuchlin] scripsit de
     diversitate quatuor idiomatum Græcæ linguæ, lib. i. No such book
     appears in the list of Reuchlin’s works in Niceron, vol. xxv., nor
     in any of the bibliographies. If it ever existed, we may place it
     with more probability at the very close of this century, or at the
     beginning of the next.

  [385] Eichhorn, iii. 231. Meiners, ii. 369. Eichhorn carelessly follows
     a bad authority in counting Reuchlin among these pupils of the
     Schelstadt school.

  [386] See Meiners, vol. ii., Eichhorn, and Heeren, for the revival of
     learning in Germany; or something may be found in Brucker.

|Study of Greek at Paris.|

66. Meantime a slight impulse seems to have been given to the university
of Paris by the lessons of George Tifernas; for from some disciples of
his Reuchlin, a young German of great talents and celebrity, acquired,
probably about the year 1470, the first elements of the Greek language.
This knowledge he improved by the lessons of a native Greek, Andronicus
Cartoblacas, at Basle. In that city he had the good fortune, rare on
this side of the Alps, to find a collection of Greek manuscripts, left
there at the time of the council by a cardinal Nicolas of Ragusa. By the
advice of Cartoblacas, he taught Greek himself at Basle. After the lapse
of some years, Reuchlin went again to Paris, and found a new teacher,
George Hermonymus of Sparta, who had settled there about 1472. From
Paris he removed to Orleans and Poitiers; he is said to have taught,
perhaps not the Greek language, in the former city, and to have written
a Greek grammar in the second. It seems, however, now to be ascertained,
that this grammar was never printed.[387]

  [387] Meiners, i. 46. Besides Meiners, Brucker, iv. 358, as well as
     Heeren, have given pretty full accounts of Reuchlin; and a good
     life of him will be found in the 25th volume of Niceron: but the
     Epistolæ ad Reuchlinum throw still more light on the man and his

|Controversy of Realists and Nominalists.|


67. The classical literature which delighted Reuchlin and Agricola was
disregarded as frivolous by the wise of that day in the university of
Paris; but they were much more keenly opposed to innovation and
heterodoxy in their own peculiar line, the scholastic metaphysics. Most
have heard of the long controversies between the Realists and
Nominalists concerning the nature of universals, or the genera and
species of things. The first, with Plato and Aristotle, maintained their
objective or external reality; either, as it was called, _ante
rem_, as eternal archetypes in the Divine Intelligence, or _in
re_, as forms inherent in matter; the second, with Zeno, gave them
only a subjective existence as ideas conceived by the mind, and have
hence in later times acquired the name of Conceptualists.[388] Roscelin,
the first of the modern Nominalists, went farther than this, and denied,
as Hobbes and Berkeley, with many others, have since done, all
universality except to words and propositions. Abelard, who inveighs
against the doctrine of Roscelin as false logic and false theology, and
endeavours to confound it with the denial of any objective reality even
in singular things,[389] may be esteemed the restorer of the
Conceptualist school. We do not know his doctrines, however, by his own
writings, but by the testimony of John of Salisbury, who seems not well
to have understood the subject. The words Realist and Nominalist came
into use about the end of the twelfth century. But in the next, the
latter party by degrees disappeared; and the great schoolmen, Aquinas
and Scotus, in whatever else they might disagree, were united on the
Realist side. In the fourteenth century William Ockham revived the
opposite hypothesis with considerable success. Scotus and his disciples
were the great maintainers of Realism. If there were no substantial
forms, he argued, that is, nothing real, which determines the mode of
being in each individual, men and brutes would be of the same substance;
for they do not differ as to matter, nor can extrinsic accidents make a
substantive difference. There must be a substantial form of a horse,
another of a lion, another of a man. He seems to have held the
immateriality of the soul, that is, the substantial form of man. But no
other form, he maintained, can exist without matter naturally, though it
may, supernaturally, by the power of God. Socrates and Plato agree more
than Socrates and an ass. They have, therefore, something in common,
which an ass has not. But this is not numerically the same; it must,
therefore, be something universal, namely, human nature.[390]

  [388] I am chiefly indebted for the facts in the following paragraphs
     to a dissertation by Meiners, in the transactions of the Göttingen
     Academy, vol. xii.

  [389] Hic sicut pseudo-dialecticus, ita pseudo-christianus--ut eo loco
     quo dicitur Dominus partem piscis assi comedisse, partem hujus
     vocis, quæ est piscis assi, non partem rei intelligere cogatur.
     Meiners, p. 27. This may serve to show the cavilling tone of
     scholastic disputes; and Meiners may well say: Quicquid Roscelinus
     peccavit, non adeo tamen insanisse pronuntiandum est, ut Abelardus
     ilium fecisse invidiose fingere sustinuit.

  [390] Id. p. 89.

68. These reasonings, which are surely no unfavourable specimen of the
“subtle philosopher,” as Scotus was called, were met by Ockham with
others which sometimes appear more refined and obscure. He confined
reality to objective things, denying it to the host of abstract entities
brought forward by Scotus. He defines a universal to be “a particular
intention (meaning probably idea or conception) of the mind itself,
capable of being predicated of many things, not for what it probably is
itself, but for what those things are; so that, in so far as it has this
capacity, it is called universal, but inasmuch as it is one form really
existing in the mind, it is called singular.”[391] I have not examined
the writings of Ockham, and am unable to determine whether his
Nominalism extends beyond that of Berkeley or Stewart, which is
generally asserted by the modern inquirers into scholastic philosophy;
that is, whether it amounts to Conceptualism; the foregoing definition,
as far as I can judge, might have been given by them.

  [391] Unam intentionem sìngularem ipsius animæ, natam prædicari de
     pluribus, non prose, sed pro ipsis rebus; ita quod per hoc, quod
     ipsa nata est prædicari de pluribus, non pro se sed pro illis
     pluribus, illa dicitur universalis; propter hoc autem, quod est una
     forma existens realiter in intellectu, dicitur singulare. P. 42.

|Nominalists in university of Paris.|

69. The later Nominalists of the scholastic period, Buridan, Biel, and
several others mentioned by the historians of philosophy, took all their
reasonings from the storehouse of Ockham. His doctrine was prohibited at
Paris by pope John XXII., whose theological opinions, as well as secular
encroachments, he had opposed. All masters of arts were bound by oath
never to teach Ockhamism. But after the pope’s death the university
condemned a tenet of the Realists, that many truths are eternal, which
are not God; and went so far towards the Nominalist theory, as to
determine that our knowledge of things is through the medium of
words.[392] Peter d’Ailly, Gerson, and other principal men of their age
were Nominalists; the sect was very powerful in Germany, and may be
considered, on the whole, as prevalent in this century. The Realists,
however, by some management gained the ear of Louis XI., who, by an
ordinance in 1473, explicitly approves the doctrines of the great
Realist philosophers, condemns that of Ockham and his disciples, and
forbids it to be taught, enjoining the books of the Nominalists to be
locked up from public perusal, and all present as well as future
graduates in the university to swear to the observation of this
ordinance. The prohibition, nevertheless, was repealed in 1481; the
guilty books set free from their chains, and the hypothesis of the
Nominalists virtually permitted to be held, amidst the acclamations of
the university, and especially one of its four nations, that of Germany.
Some of their party had, during this persecution, taken refuge in that
empire and in England, both friendly to their cause; and this
metaphysical contention of the fifteenth century suggests and typifies
the great religious convulsion of the next. The weight of ability,
during this later and less flourishing period of scholastic philosophy,
was on the Nominalist side; and though the political circumstances to
which we have alluded were not immediately connected with their
principle, this metaphysical sect facilitated in some measure the
success of the Reformation.

  [392] Id. p. 45, scientiam habemus de rebus, sed mediantibus terminis.

|Low state of learning in England.|

70. We should still look in vain to England for either learning or
native genius. The reign of Edward IV. may be reckoned one of the lowest
points in our literary annals. The universities had fallen in reputation
and in frequency of students; where there had been thousands, according
to Wood, there was not now one; which must be understood as an
hyperbolical way of speaking. But the decline of the universities,
frequented as they had been by indigent vagabonds withdrawn from useful
labour, and wretched as their pretended instruction had been, was so far
from an evil in itself, that it left clear the path for the approaching
introduction of real learning. Several colleges were about this
time founded at Oxford and Cambridge, which, in the design of their
munificent founders, were to become, as they have done, the instruments
of a better discipline than the barbarous schoolmen afforded. We have
already observed, that England was like seed fermenting in the ground
through the fifteenth century. The language was becoming more vigorous,
and more capable of giving utterance to good thoughts, as some
translations from Caxton’s press show, such as the Dicts of
Philosophers, by Lord Rivers. And perhaps the best exercise for a
schoolboy people is that of schoolboys. The poetry of two Scotsmen,
Henryson and Mercer, which is not without merit, may be nearly referred
to the present decade.[393]

  [393] Campbell’s Specimens of British Poets, vol. i.



71. The progress of mathematical science was regular, though not rapid.
We might have mentioned before the gnomon erected by Toscanelli in the
cathedral at Florence, which is referred to 1468; a work, it has been
said, which, considering the times, has done as much honour to his
genius as that so much renowned to Bologna at Cassini.[394] The greatest
mathematician of the fifteenth century, Muller, or Regiomontanus, a
native of Königsberg, or Königshoven, a small town in Franconia, whence
he derived his latinised appellation, died prematurely, like his master
Purbach, in 1476. He had begun at the age of fifteen to assist the
latter in astronomical observations; and having, after Purbach’s death,
acquired a knowledge of Greek in Italy, and devoted himself to the
ancient geometers, after some years spent with distinction in that
country, and at the court of Mathias Corvinus, he settled finally at
Nuremberg; where a rich citizen, Bernard Walther, both supplied the
means of accurate observations, and became the associate of his
labours.[395] Regiomontanus died at Rome, whither he had been called to
assist in rectifying the calendar. Several of his works were printed in
this decade, and among others his ephemerides, or calculations of the
places of the sun and moon, for the ensuing thirty years; the best,
though not strictly the first, that had been made in Europe.[396] His
more extensive productions did not appear till afterwards; and the
treatise on triangles, the most celebrated, not till 1533. The solution
of the more difficult cases, both in plane and spherical trigonometry,
is found in this work; and with the exception of what the science owes
to Napier, it may be said, that it advanced little for more than two
centuries after the age of Regiomontanus.[397] Purbach had computed a
table of sines to a radius of 600,000 parts. Regiomontanus, ignorant, as
has been thought, which appears very strange, of his master’s labours,
calculated them to 6,000,000 parts. But perceiving the advantages of a
decimal scale, he has given a second table, wherein the ratio of the
sines is computed to a radius of 10,000,000 parts, or, as we should say,
taking the latter as unity, to seven places of decimals. He subjoined
what he calls Canon Fæcundus, or a table of tangents, calculating them,
however, only for entire degrees to a radius of 100,000 parts.[398] It
has been said, that Regiomontanus was inclined to the theory of the
earth’s motion, which indeed Nicolas Cusanus had already espoused.

  [394] This gnomon is by much the loftiest in Europe. It would be no
     slight addition to the glory of Toscanelli if we should suppose him
     to have suggested the discovery of a passage westward to the Indies
     in a letter to Columbus, as his article in the Biographie
     Universelle seems to imply. But the more accurate expressions of
     Tiraboschi, referring to the correspondence between these great
     men, leave Columbus in possession of the original idea, at least
     concurrently with the Florentine astronomer, though the latter gave
     him strong encouragement to persevere in his undertaking.
     Toscanelli, however, had, on the authority of Marco Polo, imbibed
     an exaggerated notion of the distance eastward to China; and
     consequently believed, as Columbus himself did, that the voyage by
     the west to that country would be far shorter than, if the
     continent of America did not intervene, it could have been.
     Tiraboschi, vi. 189, 207. Roscoe’s Leo X., ch. 20.

  [395] Walther was more than a patron of science, honourable as that
     name was. He made astronomical observations, worthy of esteem
     relatively to the age. Montucla, i. 545. It is to be regretted that
     Walther should have diminished the credit due to his name by
     withholding from the public the manuscripts of Regiomontanus, which
     he purchased after the latter’s death; so that some were lost by
     the negligence of his own heirs, and the rest remained unpublished
     till 1533.

  [396] Gassendi, Vita Regiomontani. He speaks of them himself, as quas
     vulgo vocant almanach; and Gassendi says, that some were extant in
     manuscript at Paris, from 1442 to 1472. Those of Regiomontanus
     contained eclipses, and other matters not in former almanacs.

  [397] Hutton’s Logarithms, Introduction, p. 3.

  [398] Kästner, i. 557.

|Arts of delineation.|

72. Though the arts of delineation do not properly come within the scope
of this volume, yet, so far as they are directly instrumental to
science, they ought not to pass unregarded. Without the tool that
presents figures to the eye, not the press itself could have diffused an
adequate knowledge either of anatomy or of natural history. As figures
cut in wooden blocks gave the first idea of letter-printing, and were
for some time associated with it, an obvious invention, when the latter
art became improved, was to arrange such blocks together with types in
the same page. We find, accordingly, about this time, many books adorned
or illustrated in this manner; generally with representations of saints,
or other ornamental delineations not of much importance; but in a few
instances with figures of plants and animals, or of human anatomy. The
Dyalogus creaturarum moralizatus, of which the first edition was
published at Gouda, 1480, seems to be nearly, if not altogether, the
earliest of these. It contains a series of fables with rude woodcuts, in
little more than outline. A second edition, printed at Antwerp in 1486,
repeats the same cuts, with the addition of one representing a church,
which is really elaborate.[399]

  [399] Both these editions are in the British Museum. In the same
     library is a copy of the exceedingly scarce work, Ortus Sanitatis.
     Mogunt. 1491. The colophon, which may be read in De Bure (Sciences,
     No. 1554), takes much credit for the carefulness of the
     delineations. The wooden cuts of the plants, especially, are as
     good as we usually find in the sixteenth century; the form of the
     leaves and character of the plant are generally well preserved. The
     animals are also tolerably figured, though with many exceptions,
     and, on the whole, fall short of the plants. The work itself is a
     compilation from the old naturalists, arranged alphabetically.



73. The art of engraving figures on plates of copper was nearly coëval
with that of printing, and is due either to Thomas Finiguerra about
1460, or to some German about the same time. It was not a difficult step
to apply this invention to the representation of geographical maps; and
this we owe to Arnold Buckinck, an associate of the printer Sweynheim.
His edition of Ptolemy’s geography appeared at Rome in 1478. These maps
are traced from those of Agathodæmon in the fifth century; and it has
been thought that Buckinck profited by the hints of Donis, a German
monk, who himself gave two editions of Ptolemy not long afterwards at
Ulm.[400] The fifteenth century had already witnessed an increasing
attention to geographical delineations. The libraries of Italy contain
several unpublished maps, of which that by Fra Mauro, a monk of the
order of Camaldoli, in the convent of Murano, near Venice, is the most
celebrated. It is still preserved there, and is said to attest the
cosmographical science of its delineator, such as he could derive from
Ptolemy, and from the astronomy of his own age.[401] Two causes, besides
the increase of commerce, and the gradual accumulation of knowledge, had
principally turned the thoughts of many towards the figure of the earth
on which they trod. Two translations, one of them by Emanuel
Chrysoloras, had been made early in the century, from the cosmography of
Ptolemy; and from his maps the geographers of Italy had learned the use
of parallels and meridians, which might a little, though inadequately,
restrain their arbitrary admeasurements of different countries.[402] But
the real discoveries of the Portuguese on the coast of Africa, under the
patronage of Don Henry, were of far greater importance in stimulating
and directing enterprise. In the academy founded by that illustrious
prince, nautical charts were first delineated in a method more useful to
the pilot, by projecting the meridians in parallel right lines,[403]
instead of curves on the surface of the sphere. This first step in
hydrographical science entitles Don Henry to the name of its founder.
And though these early maps and charts of the fifteenth century are to
us but a chaos of error and confusion, it was on them that the patient
eye of Columbus had rested through long hours of meditation, while
strenuous hope and unsubdued doubt were struggling in his soul.

  [400] Biogr. Univ. Buckinck, Donis.

  [401] Andrès, ix. 88. Corniani, iii. 162.

  [402] Andrès, 86.

  [403] Id. 83.

                         SECT. V. 1480-1490.

_Great Progress of Learning in Italy--Italian Poetry--Pulci--Metaphysical
Theology--Ficinus--Picus of Mirandola--Learning in Germany--Early
European Drama--Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci._

|Greek printed in Italy.|

74. The press of Italy was less occupied with Greek for several years
than might have been expected. But the number of scholars was still not
sufficient to repay the expenses of impression. The Psalter was
published in Greek twice at Milan in 1481, once at Venice in 1486.
Craston’s Lexicon was also once printed, and the Grammar of Lascaris
several times. The first classical work the printers ventured
upon, was Homer’s Battle of Frogs and Mice, published at Venice in 1486,
or, according to some, at Milan in 1485; the priority of the two
editions being disputed. But in 1488, under the munificent patronage of
Lorenzo, and by the care of Demetrius of Crete, a complete edition of
Homer issued from the press of Florence. This splendid work closes our
catalogue for the present.[404]

  [404] See Maittaire’s character of this edition quoted in Roscoe’s
     Leo X., ch. 21.

|Hebrew printed.|

75. The first Hebrew book, Jarchi’s commentary on the Pentateuch, had
been printed by some Jews at Reggio in Calabria, as early as 1475. In
this period a press was established at Soncino, where the Pentateuch was
published in 1482, the greater prophets in 1486, and the whole Bible in
1488. But this was intended for themselves alone. What little
instruction in Hebrew had anywhere hitherto been imparted to Christian
scholars, was only oral. The commencement of Hebrew learning, properly
so called, was not till about the end of the century, in the Franciscan
monasteries of Tubingen and Basle. Their first teacher, however, was an
Italian, by name Raimondi.[405]

  [405] Eichhorn, ii. 562.

|Miscellanies of Politian.|

76. To enumerate every publication that might scatter a gleam of light
on the progress of letters in Italy, or to mention every scholar who
deserves a place in biographical collections, or in an extended history
of literature, would crowd these pages with too many names. We must
limit ourselves to those best deserving to be had in remembrance. In
1480, according to Meiners, or, as Heeren says, in 1483, Politian was
placed in the chair of Greek and Latin eloquence at Florence; a station
perhaps the most conspicuous and the most honourable which any scholar
could occupy. It is beyond controversy, that he stands at the head of
that class in the fifteenth century. The envy of some of his
contemporaries attested his superiority. In 1489, he published his once
celebrated Miscellanea, consisting of one hundred observations
illustrating passages of Latin authors, in the desultory manner of Aulus
Gellius, which is certainly the easiest, and perhaps the most agreeable
method of conveying information. They are sometimes grammatical; but
more frequently relate to obscure (at that time) customs or mythological
allusions. Greek quotations occur not seldom, and the author’s command
of classical literature seems considerable. Thus he explains, for
instance, the crambe repetita of Juvenal by a proverb mentioned in
Suidas, δὶς χρὰμβη θὰνατος: χρὰμβη [dis chrambê thanatos: chrambê] being
a kind of cabbage, which, when boiled a second time, was of course not
very palatable. This may serve to show the extent of learning which some
Italian scholars had reached through the assistance of the manuscripts
collected by Lorenzo. It is not improbable that no one in England at
that time had heard the name of Suidas. Yet the imperfect knowledge of
Greek which these early writers possessed, is shown when they attempt to
write it. Politian has some verses in his Miscellanea, but very bald,
and full of false quantities. This remark we may have occasion to
repeat; for it is applicable to much greater names in philology than

  [406] Meiners has praised Politian’s Greek verses, but with very little
     skill in such matters, p. 214. The compliments he quotes from
     contemporary Greeks, non esse tam Atticas Athenas ipsas, may not
     have been very sincere, unless they meant _esse_ to be taken in the
     present tense. These Greeks, besides, knew but little of their
     metrical language.

|Their character, by Heeren.|

77. The Miscellanies, Heeren says, were then considered an immortal
work; it was deemed an honour to be mentioned in them, and those who
missed this made it a matter of complaint. If we look at them now, we
are astonished at the different measure of glory in the present age.
This book probably sprung out of Politian’s lectures. He had cleared up
in these some difficult passages, which had led him on to further
inquiries. Some of his explanations might probably have arisen out of
the walks and rides he was accustomed to take with Lorenzo, who had
advised the publication of the Miscellanies. The manner in which these
explanations are given, the light, yet solid mode of handling the
subjects, and their great variety, give in fact a charm to the
Miscellanies of Politian which few antiquarian works possess. Their
success is not wonderful. They were fragments, and chosen fragments,
from the lectures of the most celebrated teacher of that age, whom many
had heard, but still more had wished to hear. Scarcely had a work
appeared in the whole fifteenth century, of which so vast expectations
had been entertained, and which was received with such curiosity.[407]
The very fault of Politian’s style, as it was that of Hermolaus
Barbarus, his affected intermixture of obsolete words, for which it is
necessary in almost every page of his Miscellanies to consult the
dictionary, would, in an age of pedantry, increase the admiration of his

  [407] Heeren, p. 263. Meiners, Lebensbeschreibungen, &c., has written
     the life of Politian, ii. 111-220, more copiously than any one I
     have read. His character of the Miscellanies is in p. 136.

  [408] Meiners, pp. 155, 209. In the latter passage Meiners censures
     with apparent justice the affected words of Politian, some of which
     he did not scruple to take from such writers as Apuleius and
     Tertullian, with an inexcusable display of erudition at the expense
     of good taste.

|His version of Herodian.|

78. Politian was the first that wrote the Latin language with much
elegance; and while every other early translator from the Greek has
incurred more or less of censure at the hands of judges whom better
learning had made fastidious, it is agreed by them that his Herodian has
all the spirit of his original, and frequently excels it.[409] Thus we
perceive that the age of Poggio, Filelfo, and Valla was already left far
behind by a new generation: these had been well employed as the pioneers
of ancient literature; but for real erudition and taste we must descend
to Politian, Christopher Landino, and Hermolaus Barbarus.[410]

  [409] Huet. apud Blount in Politiano.

  [410] Meiners, Roscoe, Corniani, Heeren, and Greswell’s Memoirs of
     early Italian scholars, are the best authorities to whom the reader
     can have recourse for the character of Politian, besides his own
     works. I think, however, that Heeren has hardly done justice to
     Politian’s poetry. Tiraboschi is unsatisfactory. Blount, as usual,
     collects the suffrages of the sixteenth century.

|Cornucopia of Perotti.|

79. The Cornucopia sive Linguæ Latinæ Commentarii, by Nicolas Perotti,
bishop of Siponto, suggests rather more by its title than the work
itself seems to warrant. It is a copious commentary upon part of
Martial; in which he takes occasion to explain a vast many Latin words,
and has been highly extolled by Morhof, and by writers quoted in Baillet
and Blount. To this commentary is appended an alphabetical index of
words, which rendered it a sort of dictionary for the learned reader.
Perotti lived a little before this time; but the first edition seems to
have been in 1489. He also wrote a small Latin grammar, frequently
reprinted in the fifteenth century, and was an indifferent translator of

  [411] Heeren, 272, Morhof, i. 821, who calls Perotti the first compiler
     of good Latin, from whom those who followed have principally
     borrowed. See also Baillet and Blount for testimonies to Perotti.

|Latin poetry of Politian.|

80. We have not thought it worth while to mention the Latin poets of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They are numerous, and somewhat
rude, from Petrarch and Boccace to Maphæus Vegius, the continuator of
the Æneid in a thirteenth book, first printed in 1471, and very
frequently afterwards. This is, probably, the best versification before
Politian. But his Latin poems display considerable powers of
description, and a strong feeling of the beauties of Roman poetry. The
style is imbued with these, not too ambitiously chosen, nor in the
manner called Centonism, but so as to give a general elegance to the
composition, and to call up pleasing associations in the reader of
taste. This, indeed, is the common praise of good versifiers in modern
Latin, and not peculiarly appropriate to Politian, who is inferior to
some who followed, though to none, as I apprehend, that preceded in that
numerous fraternity. His ear is good, and his rhythm, with a few
exceptions, musical and Virgilian. Some defects are nevertheless worthy
of notice. He is often too exuberant, and apt to accumulate details of
description. His words, unauthorised by any legitimate example, are very
numerous; a fault in some measure excusable by the want of tolerable
dictionaries; so that the memory was the only test of classical
precedent. Nor can we deny that Politian’s Latin poetry is sometimes
blemished by affected and effeminate expressions, by a too studious use
of repetitions, and by a love of diminutives, according to the fashion
of his native language, carried beyond all bounds that correct Augustan
latinity could possibly have endured. This last fault, and to a man of
good taste it is an unpleasing one, belongs to a great part of the
lyrical and even elegiac writers in modern Latin. The example of
Catullus would probably have been urged in excuse; but perhaps Catullus
went farther than the best judges approved; and nothing in his poems can
justify the excessive abuse of that effeminate grace, what the stern
Persius would have called, “summa delumbe saliva,” which pervades the
poetry both of Italian and Cisalpine Latinists for a long period. On the
whole, Politian, like many of his followers, is calculated to delight
and mislead a schoolboy, but may be read with pleasure by a man.[412]

  [412] The extracts from Politian, and other Latin poets of Italy, by
     Pope, in the two little volumes, entitled Poemata Italorum, are
     extremely well chosen, and give a just measure of most of them.

|Italian poetry of Lorenzo.|

81. Amidst all the ardour for the restoration of classical literature in
Italy, there might seem reason to apprehend that native originality
would not meet its due reward, and even that the discouraging notion of
a degeneracy in the powers of the human mind might come to prevail.
Those who annex an exaggerated value to correcting an unimportant
passage in an ancient author, or, which is much the same, interpreting
some worthless inscription, can hardly escape the imputation of
pedantry; and doubtless this reproach might justly fall on many of the
learned in that age, as, with less excuse, it has often done upon their
successors. We have already seen that, for a hundred years, it was
thought unworthy a man of letters, even though a poet, to write in
Italian; and Politian, with his great patron Lorenzo, deserves no small
honour for having disdained the false vanity of the philologers. Lorenzo
stands at the head of the Italian poets of the fifteenth century in the
sonnet as well as in the light lyrical composition. His predecessors,
indeed, were not likely to remove the prejudice against vernacular
poetry. Several of his sonnets appear, both for elevation and elegance
of style, worthy of comparison with those of the next age. But perhaps
his most original claim to the title of a poet is founded upon the Canti
Carnascialeschi, or carnival songs, composed for the popular shows on
festivals. Some of these, which are collected in a volume printed in
1558, are by Lorenzo, and display a union of classical grace and
imitation with the native raciness of Florentine gaiety.[413]

  [413] Corniani. Roscoe. Crescimbeni (della volgar poesia, ii. 324)
     strongly asserts Lorenzo to be the restorer of poetry, which had
     never been more barbarous than in his youth. But certainly the
     Giostra of Politian was written while Lorenzo was very young.


82. But at this time appeared a poet of a truly modern school, in one of
Lorenzo’s intimate society, Luigi Pulci. The first edition of his
Morgante Maggiore, containing twenty-three cantos, to which five were
subsequently added, was published at Venice in 1481. The taste of the
Italians has always been strongly inclined to extravagant combinations
of fancy, caprices rapid and sportive as the animal from which they take
their name. The susceptible and versatile imaginations of that people,
and their habitual cheerfulness, enable them to render the serious and
terrible instrumental to the ridiculous, without becoming, like some
modern fictions, merely hideous and absurd.

|Character of Morgante Maggiore.|

83. The Morgante Maggiore was evidently suggested by some long romances
written within the preceding century in the octave stanza, for which the
fabulous chronicle of Turpin, and other fictions wherein the same real
and imaginary personages had been introduced, furnished the materials.
Under pretence of ridiculing the intermixture of sacred allusions with
the romantic legends, Pulci carried it to an excess; which, combined
with some sceptical insinuations of his own, seems clearly to display an
intention of exposing religion to contempt.[414] As to the heroes of his
romance, there can be, as it seems, no sort of doubt that he designed
them for nothing else than the butts of his fancy; that the reader might
scoff at those whom duller poets had held up to admiration. It has been
a question among Italian critics, whether the poem of Pulci is to be
reckoned burlesque.[415] This may seem to turn on the definition,
though I do not see what definition could be given, consistently with
the use of language, that would exclude it; it is intended as a
caricature of the poetical romances, and might even seem by anticipation
a satirical, though not ill-natured, parody on the Orlando Furioso. That
he meant to excite any other emotion than laughter cannot, as it seems,
be maintained; and a very few stanzas of a more serious character, which
may rarely be found, are not enough to make an exception to his general
design. The Morgante was to the poetical romances of chivalry, what Don
Quixote was to their brethren in prose.

  [414] The story of Meridiana, in the eighth canto, is sufficient to
     prove Pulci’s irony to have been exercised on religion. It is well
     known to the readers of the Morgante. It has been alleged in the
     Biographie Universelle, that he meant only to turn into ridicule
     “ces muses mendiantes du 14me siècle,” the authors of la Spagna or
     Buovo d’Antona, who were in the habit of beginning their songs with
     scraps of the liturgy, and even of introducing theological
     doctrines in the most absurd and misplaced style. Pulci has given
     us much of the latter, wherein some have imagined that he had the
     assistance of Ficinus.

  [415] This seems to have been an old problem in Italy. Corniani,
     ii. 302; and the gravity of Pulci has been maintained of late by
     such respectable authorities as Foscolo and Panizzi. Ginguéné, who
     does not go this length, thinks the death of Orlando, and his last
     prayer, both pathetic and sublime. I can see nothing in it but the
     systematic spirit of parody which we find in Pulci. But the lines
     on the death of Forisena, in the fourth canto, are really graceful
     and serious. The following remarks on Pulci’s style come from a
     more competent judge than myself.

     “There is something harsh in Pulci’s manner, owing to his abrupt
     transition from one idea to another, and to his carelessness of
     grammatical rules. He was a poet by nature, and wrote with ease,
     but he never cared for sacrificing syntax to meaning; he did not
     mind saying anything incorrectly, if he were but sure that his
     meaning would be guessed. The rhyme very often compels him to
     employ expressions, words, and even lines which frequently render
     the sense obscure and the passage crooked, without producing any
     other effect than that of destroying a fine stanza. He has no
     similes of any particular merit, nor does he stand eminent in
     description. His verses almost invariably make sense taken singly,
     and convey distinct and separate ideas. Hence he wants that
     richness, fulness, and smooth flow of diction, which is
     indispensable to an epic poet, and to a noble description or
     comparison. Occasionally, when the subject admits of a powerful
     sketch which may be presented with vigour and spirit by a few
     strokes boldly drawn, Pulci appears to a great advantage.”--Panizzi
     on romantic poetry of Italians, in the first volume of his Orlando
     Innamorato, p. 298.

84. A foreigner must admire the vivacity of the narrative, the humorous
gaiety of the characters, the adroitness of the satire. But the
Italians, and especially the Tuscans, delight in the raciness of Pulci’s
Florentine idiom, which we cannot equally relish. He has not been
without influence on men of more celebrity than himself. In several
passages of Ariosto, especially the visit of Astolfo to the moon, we
trace a resemblance not wholly fortuitous. Voltaire, in one of his most
popular poems, took the dry archness of Pulci, and exaggerated the
profaneness, superadding the obscenity from his own stores. But Mr.
Frere, with none of these two ingredients in his admirable vein of
humour, has come, in the War of the Giants, much closer to the Morgante
Maggiore than any one else.

|Platonic theology of Ficinus.|

85. The Platonic academy, in which the chief of the Medici took so much
delight, did not fail to reward his care. Marsilius Ficinus, in his
Theologica Platonica (1482), developed a system chiefly borrowed from
the later Platonists of the Alexandrian school, full of delight to the
credulous imagination, though little appealing to the reason, which, as
it seemed remarkably to coincide in some respects with the received
tenets of the church, was connived at in a few reveries, which could not
so well bear the test of an orthodox standard. He supported his
philosophy by a translation of Plato into Latin, executed at the
direction of Lorenzo, and printed before 1490. Of this translation Buhle
has said, that it has been very unjustly reproached with want of
correctness; it is, on the contrary, perfectly conformable to the
original, and has even, in some passages, enabled us to restore the
text; the manuscripts used by Ficinus, I presume, not being in our
hands. It has also the rare merit of being at once literal, perspicuous,
and in good Latin.[416]

  [416] Hist. de la Philosophie, vol. ii. The fullest account of the
     philosophy of Ficinus has been given by Buhle. Those who seek less
     minute information may have recourse to Brucker or Corniani; or, if
     they are content with still less, to Tiraboschi, Roscoe, Heeren, or
     the Biographie Universelle.

|Doctrine of Averroes on the soul.|

86. But the Platonism of Ficinus was not wholly that of the master. It
was based on the emanation of the human soul from God, and its capacity
of reunion by an ascetic and contemplative life; a theory perpetually
reproduced in various modifications of meaning, and far more of words.
The nature and immortality of the soul, the functions and distinguishing
characters of angels, the being and attributes of God, engaged the
thoughtful mind of Ficinus. In the course of his high speculations he
assailed a doctrine, which, though rejected by Scotus and most of the
schoolmen, had gained much ground among the Aristotelians, as they
deemed themselves, of Italy; a doctrine first held by Averroes; that
there is one common intelligence, active, immortal, indivisible,
unconnected with matter, the soul of human kind, which is not in any one
man, because it has no material form, but which yet assists in the
rational operations of each man’s personal soul, and from those
operations which are all conversant with particulars, derives its own
knowledge of universals. Thus, if I understand what is meant, which is
rather subtle, it might be said, that as in the common theory particular
sensations furnish means to the soul of forming general ideas, so, in
that of Averroes, the ideas and judgments of separate human souls
furnish collectively the means of that knowledge of universals, which
the one great soul of mankind alone can embrace. This was a theory
built, as some have said, on the bad Arabic version of Aristotle which
Averroes used. But, whatever might have first suggested it to the
philosopher of Cordova, it seems little else than an expansion of the
Realist hypothesis, urged to a degree of apparent paradox. For if the
human soul, as an universal, possess an objective reality, it must
surely be intelligent; and, being such, it may seem no extravagant
hypothesis, though one incapable of that demonstration we now require in
philosophy, to suppose that it acts upon the subordinate intelligences
of the same species, and receives impressions from them. By this also
they would reconcile the knowledge we were supposed to possess of the
reality of universals, with the acknowledged impossibility, at least in
many cases, of representing them to the mind.

|Opposed by Ficinus.|

87. Ficinus is the more prompt to refute the Averroists, that they all
maintained the mortality of the particular soul, while it was his
endeavour, by every argument that erudition and ingenuity could supply,
to prove the contrary. The whole of his Platonic Theology appears a
beautiful, but too visionary and hypothetical, system of theism, the
groundworks of which lay deep in the meditations of ancient oriental
sages. His own treatise, of which a very copious account will be found
in Buhle, soon fell into oblivion; but it belongs to a class of
literature, which, in all its extension, has, full as much as any other,
engaged the human mind.

|Desire of man to explore mysteries.|

88. The thirst for hidden knowledge, by which man is distinguished from
brutes, and the superior races of men from savage tribes, burns
generally with more intenseness in proportion as the subject is less
definitely comprehensible, and the means of certainty less attainable.
Even our own interest in things beyond the sensible world does not
appear to be the primary or chief source of the desire we feel to be
acquainted with them; it is the pleasure of belief itself, of
associating the conviction of reality with ideas not presented by sense;
it is sometimes the necessity of satisfying a restless spirit, that
first excites our endeavour to withdraw the veil that conceals the
mystery of their being. The few great truths in religion that reason
discovers, or that an explicit revelation deigns to communicate,
sufficient as they may be for our practical good, have proved to fall
very short of the ambitious curiosity of man. They leave so much
imperfectly known, so much wholly unexplored, that in all ages he has
never been content without trying some method of filling up the void.
These methods have often led him to folly, and weakness, and crime. Yet
as those who want the human passions, in their excess the great
fountains of evil, seem to us maimed in their nature, so an indifference
to this knowledge of invisible things, or a premature despair of
attaining it, may be accounted an indication of some moral or
intellectual deficiency, some scantness of due proportion in the mind.

|Various methods employed.|

|Reason and inspiration.|

89. The means to which recourse has been had to enlarge the boundaries
of human knowledge in matters relating to the Deity, or to such of his
intelligent creatures as do not present themselves in ordinary
objectiveness to our senses, have been various, and may be distributed
into several classes. Reason itself, as the most valuable, though not
the most frequent in use, may be reckoned the first. Whatever deductions
have suggested themselves to the acute, or analogies to the observant
mind, whatever has seemed the probable interpretation of revealed
testimony, is the legitimate province of a sound and rational theology.
But so fallible appears the reason of each man to others, and often so
dubious are its inferences to himself, so limited is the span of our
faculties, so incapable are they of giving more than a vague and
conjectural probability, where we demand most of definiteness and
certainty, that few, comparatively speaking, have been content to
acquiesce even in their own hypothesis upon no other grounds than
argument has supplied. The uneasiness that is apt to attend suspense of
belief has required, in general, a more powerful remedy. Next to those
who have solely employed their rational faculties in theology, we may
place those who have relied on a supernatural illumination. These have
nominally been many; but the imagination, like the reason, bends under
the incomprehensibility of spiritual things; a few excepted, who have
become founders of sects, and lawgivers to the rest, the mystics fell
into a beaten track, and grew mechanical even in their enthusiasm.

|Extended inferences from sacred books.|

90. No solitary and unconnected meditations, however, either of the
philosopher or the mystic, could furnish a sufficiently extensive stock
of theological faith for the multitude, who, by their temper and
capacities, were more prone to take it at the hands of others than
choose any tenets for themselves. They looked, therefore, for some
authority upon which to repose; and instead of builders, became as it
were occupants of mansions prepared for them by more active minds. Among
those who acknowledged a code of revealed truths, the Jews, Christians,
and Mahometans, this authority has been sought in largely expansive
interpretations of their sacred books; either of positive obligation, as
the decisions of general councils were held to be, or at least of such
weight as a private man’s reason, unless he were of great name himself,
was not permitted to contravene. These expositions, in the Christian
Church, as well as among the Jews, were frequently allegorical; a hidden
stream of esoteric truth was supposed to flow beneath all the surface of
Scripture; and every text germinated, in the hands of the preacher, into
meanings far from obvious, but which were presumed to be not undesigned.
This scheme of allegorical interpretation began among the earliest
fathers, and spread with perpetual expansion through the middle
ages.[417] The Reformation swept most of it away; but it has frequently
revived in a more partial manner. We mention it here only as one great
means of enabling men to believe more than they had done, of
communicating to them what was to be received as divine truths, not
additional to Scripture, because they were concealed in it, but such as
the church could only have learned through its teachers.

  [417] Fleury (5me discours), xvii. 37. Mosheim, passim.

|Confidence in traditions.|

91. Another large class of religious opinions stood on a somewhat
different footing. They were in a proper sense, according to the notions
of those times, revealed from God; though not in the sacred writings
which were the chief depositories of his word. Such were the received
traditions in each of the three great religions, sometimes, absolutely
infallible, sometimes, as in the former case of interpretations, resting
upon such a basis of authority, that no one was held at liberty to
withhold his assent. The Jewish traditions were of this kind; and the
Mahometans have trod in the same path, we may add to these the legends
of saints: none, perhaps, were positively enforced as of faith; but a
Franciscan was not to doubt the inspiration and miraculous gifts of his
founder. Nor was there any disposition in the people to doubt of them;
they filled up with abundant measure the cravings of the heart and
fancy, till, having absolutely palled both by excess, they brought about
a kind of reaction, which has taken off much of their efficacy.

|Confidence in individuals as inspired.|

92. Francis of Assisi may naturally lead us to the last mode in which
the spirit of theological belief manifested itself; the confidence in a
particular man, as the organ of a special divine illumination. But
though this was fully assented to by the order he instituted, and
probably by most others, it cannot be said that Francis pretended to set
up any new tenets, or enlarge, except by his visions and miracles, the
limits of spiritual knowledge. Nor would this, in general, have been a
safe proceeding in the middle ages. Those who made a claim to such light
from heaven as could irradiate what the church had left dark seldom
failed to provoke her jealousy. It is, therefore, in later times, and
under more tolerant governments, that we shall find the fanatics, or
impostors, whom the multitude has taken for witnesses of divine truth,
or at least as interpreters of the mysteries of the invisible world.

|Jewish Cabbala.|

93. In the class of traditional theology, or what might be called
complemental revelation, we must place the Jewish Cabbala. This
consisted in a very specific and complex system, concerning the nature
of the Supreme being, the emanation of various orders of spirits in
successive links from his essence, their properties and characters. It
is evidently one modification of the oriental philosophy, borrowing
little from the Scriptures, at least through any natural interpretation
of them, and the offspring of the Alexandrian Jews, not far from the
beginning of the Christian æra. They referred it to a tradition from
Esdras, or some other eminent person, on whom they fixed as the
depositary of an esoteric theology communicated by divine authority. The
Cabbala was received by the Jewish doctors in the first centuries after
the fall of their state; and after a period of long duration, as
remarkable for the neglect of learning in that people as in the
Christian world, it revived again in that more genial season, the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, when the brilliancy of many kinds of
literature among the Saracens of Spain excited their Jewish subjects to
emulation. Many conspicuous men illustrate the Hebrew learning of those
and the succeeding ages. It was not till now, about the middle of the
fifteenth century, that they came into contact with the Christians in
theological philosophy. The Platonism of Ficinus, derived, in great
measure, from that of Plotinus and the Alexandrian school, was easily
connected, by means especially of the writings of Philo, with the Jewish
orientalism, sisters as they were of the same family. Several forgeries
in celebrated names, easy to affect and sure to deceive, had been
committed in the first ages of Christianity by the active propagators of
this philosophy. Hermes Trismegistus, and Zoroaster, were counterfeited
in books which most were prone to take for genuine, and which it was not
then easy to refute on critical grounds. These altogether formed a huge
mass of imposture, or, at best, of arbitrary hypothesis, which, for more
than a hundred years after this time, obtained an undue credence, and
consequently retarded the course of real philosophy in Europe.[418]

  [418] Brucker, vol. ii. Buhle, ii. 316. Meiners, Vergl. der Sitten,
     iii. 277.

|Picus of Mirandola.|

94. They never gained over a more distinguished proselyte, or one whose
credulity was more to be regretted, than a young man who appeared at
Florence in 1485, John Picus of Mirandola. He was then twenty-two years
old, the younger son of an illustrious family, which held that little
principality as an imperial fief. At the age of fourteen he was sent to
Bologna, that he might study the canon law, with a view to the
ecclesiastical profession; but after two years he felt an inexhaustible
desire for more elevated though less profitable sciences. He devoted the
next six years to the philosophy of the schools, in the chief
universities of Italy and France: whatever disputable subtilties the
metaphysics and theology of that age could supply, became familiar to
his mind; but to these he added a knowledge of the Hebrew and other
eastern languages, a power of writing Latin with grace, and of amusing
his leisure with the composition of Italian poetry. The natural genius
of Picus is well shown, though in a partial manner, by a letter which
will be found among those of Politian, in answer to Hermolaus Barbarus.
His correspondent had spoken with the scorn, and almost bitterness,
usual with philologers, of the Transalpine writers, meaning chiefly the
schoolmen, for the badness of their Latin. The young scholastic
answered, that he had been at first disheartened by the reflection that
he had lost six years’ labour; but considered afterwards, that the
barbarians might say something for themselves, and puts a very good
defence in their mouths; a defence which wants nothing but the truth of
what he is forced to assume, that they had been employing their
intellects upon things instead of words. Hermolaus found, however,
nothing better to reply than the compliment, that Picus would be
disavowed by the schoolmen for defending them in so eloquent a

  [419] The letter of Hermolaus is dated Apr. 1485. He there says, after
     many compliments to Picus himself: Nec enim inter autores Latinæ
     linguæ numero Germanos istos et Teutonas qui ne viventes quidem
     vivebant, nedum ut extincti vivant, aut si vivunt, vivunt in pœnam
     et contumeliam. The answer of Picus is dated in June. A few lines
     from his pleading for the schoolmen will exhibit his ingenuity and
     elegance. Admirenture nos sagaces in inquirendo, circumspectors in
     explorando, subtiles in contemplando, in judicando graves,
     implicitos in vinciendo, faciles in enodando. Admirentur in nobis
     brevitatem styli, fœtam rerum multarum atque magnarum, sub
     expositis verbis remotissimas sententias, plenas quæstionum, plenas
     solutionum, quam apti sumus, quam bene instructi ambiguitates
     tollere, scrupos diluere, involuta evolvere, flexanimis syllogismis
     et infirmare falso et vera confirmare. Viximus celebres, o
     Hermolae, et posthac vivemus, non in scholis grammaticorum et
     pædagogiis, sed in philosophorum coronis, in conventibus sapientum,
     ubi non de matre Andromaches, non de Niobes filiis, atque id genus
     levibus nugis, sed de humanarum divinarumque rerum rationibus
     agitur et disputatur. In quibus meditandis, inquirendis et
     enodandis, ita subtiles acuti acresque fuimus, ut anxii quandoque
     nimium et morosi fuisse forte videamur, si modo esse morosus
     quispiam aut curiosus nimio plus in indagando veritate potest.
     Polit. Epist. lib. 9.

|His credulity in the Cabbala.|

95. He learned Greek very rapidly, probably after his coming to Florence.
And having been led, through Ficinus, to the study of Plato, he seems to
have given up his Aristotelian philosophy for theories more congenial to
his susceptible and credulous temper. These led him onwards to wilder
fancies. Ardent in the desire of knowledge, incapable, in the infancy of
criticism, to discern authentic from spurious writings, and perhaps
disqualified, by his inconceivable rapidity in apprehending the opinions
of others from judging acutely of their reasonableness, Picus of
Mirandola fell an easy victim to his own enthusiasm and the snares of
fraud. An impostor persuaded him to purchase fifty Hebrew manuscripts,
as having been composed by Esdras, and containing the most secret
mysteries of the Cabbala. From this time, says Corniani, he imbibed more
and more such idle fables, and wasted in dreams a genius formed to reach
the most elevated and remote truths. In these spurious books of Esdras,
he was astonished to find, as he says, more of Christianity than
Judaism, and trusted them the more confidently for the very reason that
demonstrates their falsity.[420]

  [420] Corniani, iii. 63. Meiners, Lebensbeschreibungen berühmter Männer
     ii. 21. Tiraboschi, vii. 325.

|His literary performances.|

96. Picus, about the end of 1486, repaired to Rome, and with permission
of Innocent VIII., propounded his famous nine hundred theses, or
questions, logical, ethical, mathematical, physical, metaphysical,
theological, magical, and cabbalistical; upon every one of which he
offered to dispute with any opponent. Four hundred of these propositions
were from philosophers of Greece or Arabia, from the schoolmen, or from
the Jewish doctors; the rest were announced as his own opinions, which,
saving the authority of the church, he was willing to defend.[421] There
was some need of this reservation; for several of his theses were
ill-sounding, as it was called, in the ears of the orthodox. They raised
a good deal of clamour against him; and the high rank, brilliant
reputation, and obedient demeanour of Picus were all required to save
him from public censure or more serious animadversions. He was
compelled, however, to swear that he would adopt such an exposition of
his theses as the pope should set forth. But as this was not done, he
published an apology, especially vindicating his employment of
cabbalistical and magical learning. This excited fresh attacks, which in
some measure continued to harass him, till, on the accession of
Alexander VI. to the papal chair, he was finally pronounced free from
blameable intention. He had meantime, as we may infer from his later
writings, receded from some of the bolder opinions of his youth. His
mind became more devout, and more fearful of deviating from the church.
On his first appearance at Florence, uniting rare beauty with high birth
and unequalled renown, he had been much sought by women, and returned
their love. But at the age of twenty-five he withdrew himself from all
worldly distraction, destroying, as it is said, his own amatory poems,
to the regret of his friends.[422] He now published several works, of
which the Heptaplus is a cabbalistic exposition of the first chapter of
Genesis. It is remarkable that, with his excessive tendency to belief,
he rejected altogether, and confuted in a distinct treatise, the popular
science of astrology, in which men so much more conspicuous in
philosophy have trusted. But he had projected many other undertakings of
vast extent; an allegorical exposition of the New Testament, a defence
of the Vulgate and Septuagint against the Jews, a vindication of
Christianity against every species of infidelity and heresy; and
finally, a harmony of philosophy, reconciling the apparent
inconsistencies of all writers, ancient and modern, who deserved the
name of wise, as he had already attempted by Plato and Aristotle. In
these arduous labours he was cut off by a fever at the age of
thirty-one, in 1494, on the very day that Charles VIII. made his entry
into Florence. A man, so justly called the phœnix of his age, and so
extraordinarily gifted by nature, ought not to be slightly passed over,
though he may have left nothing which we could read with advantage. If
we talk of the admirable Crichton, who is little better than a shadow,
and lives but in panegyric, so much superior and more wonderful a person
as John Picus of Mirandola should not be forgotten.[423]

  [421] Meiners, p. 14.

  [422] Meiners, p. 10.

  [423] The long biography of Picus in Meiners is in great measure taken
     from a life written by his nephew, John Francis Picus, count of
     Mirandola, himself a man of great literary and philosophical
     reputation in the next century. Meiners has made more use of this
     than any one else; but much will be found concerning Picus, from
     this source, and from his own works, in Brucker, Buhle, Corniani,
     and Tiraboschi. The epitaph on Picus by Hercules Strozza is, I
     believe, in the church of St. Mark:--

          Joannes jacet hic Mirandola; cætera nôrunt
          Et Tagus et Ganges; forsan et Antipodes.

|State of learning in Germany.|


97. If, leaving the genial city of Florence, we are to judge of the
state of knowledge in our Cisalpine regions, and look at the books it
was thought worth while to publish, which seems no bad criterion, we
shall rate but lowly their proficiency in the classical literature so
much valued in Italy. Four editions, and those chiefly of short works,
were printed at Deventer, one at Cologne, one at Louvain, five perhaps
at Paris, two at Lyons.[424] But a few undated books might, probably, be
added. Either, therefore, the love of ancient learning had grown colder,
which was certainly not the case, or it had never been strong enough to
reward the labour of the too sanguine printers. Yet it was now striking
root in Germany. The excellent schools of Munster and Schelstadt were
established in some part of this decade; they trained those who were
themselves to become instructors; and the liberal zeal of Langius
extending beyond his immediate disciples, scarce any Latin author was
published in Germany in which he did not correct the text.[425] The
opportunities he had of doing so were not, as has been just
seen, so numerous in this period as they became in the next. He had to
withstand a potent and obstinate faction. The mendicant friars of
Cologne, the head-quarters of barbarous superstition, clamoured against
his rejection of the old school-books, and the entire reform of
education. But Agricola addresses his friend in sanguine language: “I
entertain the greatest hope from your exertions, that we shall one day
wrest from this insolent Italy her vaunted glory of pre-eminent
eloquence; and redeeming ourselves from the opprobrium of ignorance,
barbarism, and incapacity of expression which she is ever casting upon
us, may show our Germany so deeply learned, that Latium itself shall not
be more Latin than she will appear.”[426] About 1482, Agricola was
invited to the court of the elector palatine at Heidelberg. He seems not
to have been engaged in public instruction, but passed the remainder of
his life, unfortunately too short, for he died in 1485, in diffusing and
promoting a taste for literature among his contemporaries. No German
wrote in so pure a style, or possessed so large a portion of classical
learning. Vives places him in dignity and grace of language even above
Politian and Hermolaus.[427] The praises of Erasmus, as well as of the
later critics, if not so marked, are very freely bestowed. His letters
are frequently written in Greek; a fashion of those who could; and as
far as I have attended to them, seem equal in correctness to some from
men of higher name in the next age.

  [424] Panzer.

  [425] Meiners, Lebensbesch. ii. 328. Eichhorn, iii. 231-239.

  [426] Unum hoc tibi affirmo, ingentem de te concipio fiduciam,
     summamque in spem adducor, fore aliquando, ut priscam insolenti
     Italiæ, et propemodum occupatam bene dicendi gloriam extorqueamus;
     vindicemusque nos, et ab ignavia, qua nos barbaros, indoctosque et
     elingues, et si quid est his incultius, esse nos jactitant,
     exsolvamus, futuramque tam doctam et literatam Germaniam nostram,
     ut non Latinius vel ipsum sit Latium. This is quoted by Heeren, p.
     154, and Meiners, ii. 329.

  [427] Vix et hac nostra et patrum memoria fuit unus atque alter dignior,
     qui multum legeretur, multumque in manibus haberetur, quam
     Radulphus Agricola Frisius; tantum est in ejus operibus ingenii,
     artis, gravitatis, dulcedinis, eloquentiæ, eruditionis; at is
     paucissimis noscitur, vir non minus, qui ab hominibus
     cognosceretur, dignus quam Politianus, vel Hermolaus Barbarus, quos
     mea quidem sententia, et majestate et suavitate dictionis non æquat
     modo, sed etiam vincit. Vives, Comment. in Augustin. (apud Blount,
     Censura Auctorum, sub nomine Agricola.)

     Agnosco virum divini pectoris, eruditionis reconditæ, stylo minime
     vulgari, solidum, nervosum elaboratum, compositum. In Italia summus
     esse poterat, nisi Germanium prætulisset. Erasmus in Ciceroniano.
     He speaks as strongly in many other places. Testimonies to the
     merits of Agricola from Huet, Vossius, and others, are collected by
     Bayle, Blount, Baillet, and Niceron. Meiners has written his life,
     ii. pp. 332-363; and several of his letters will be found among
     those addressed to Reuchlin, Epistolæ ad Reuchlinum; a collection
     of great importance for this portion of literary history.

|Rhenish academy.|

98. The immediate patron of Agricola, through whom he was invited to
Heidelberg, was John Camerarius, of the house of Dalberg, bishop of
Worms, and chancellor of the Palatinate. He contributed much himself to
the cause of letters in Germany; especially if he is to be deemed the
founder, as probably he should be, of an early academy, the Rhenish
Society, which, we are told, devoted its time to Latin, Greek, and
Hebrew criticism, astronomy, music, and poetry; not scorning to relax
their minds with dances and feasts, nor forgetting the ancient German
attachment to the flowing cup.[428] The chief seat of the Rhenish
Society was at Heidelberg; but it had associate branches in other parts
of Germany, and obtained imperial privileges. No member of this academy
was more conspicuous than Conrad Celtes, who has sometimes been reckoned
its founder, which, from his youth, is hardly probable, and was, at
least, the chief instrument of its subsequent extension. He was
indefatigable in the vineyard of literature, and, travelling to
different parts of Germany, exerted a more general influence than
Agricola himself. Celtes was the first from whom Saxony derived some
taste for learning. His Latin poetry was far superior to any that had
been produced in the empire; and for this, in 1487, he received the
laurel crown from Frederic III.[429]

  [428] Studebant eximia hæc ingenia Latinorum, Græcorum, Ebræorumque
     scriptorum lectioni, cumprimis criticæ; astronomiam et artem
     musicam excolebant. Poesin atque jurisprudentiam sibi habebant
     commendatam; imo et interdum gaudia curis interponebant. Nocturno
     nimirum tempore, defessi laboribus, ludere solebant, saltare,
     jocari cum mulierculis, epulari, ac more Germanorum inveterato
     strenue potare. Jugler, Hist. Litteraria, p. 1993 (vol. iii.). The
     passage seems to be taken from Ruprecht, Oratio de Societate
     Litteraria Rhenana, Jenæ, 1752, which I have not seen.

  [429] Jugler, ubi suprà. Eichhorn, ii. 557. Heeren, p. 100. Biogr.
     Universelle, art. Celtes, Dalberg, Trithemius.


99. Reuchlin, in 1482, accompanied the duke of Wirtemberg on a visit to
Rome. He thus became acquainted with the illustrious men of
Italy, and convinced them of his own pretensions to the name of a
scholar. The old Constantinopolitan Argyropulus, on hearing him
translate a passage of Thucydides, exclaimed, “Our banished Greece has
now flown beyond the Alps.” Yet Reuchlin, though from some other
circumstances of his life a more celebrated, was not probably so learned
or so accomplished a man as Agricola; he was withdrawn from public
tuition by the favour of several princes, in whose courts he filled
honourable offices; and after some years more, he fell unfortunately
into the same seducing error as Picus of Mirandola, and sacrificed his
classical pursuits for the Cabbalistic philosophy.

|French language and poetry.|

100. Though France contributed little to the philologer, several books
were now published in French. In the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, 1486, a
slight improvement in polish of language is said to be discernible.[430]
The poems of Villon are rather of more importance. They were first
published in 1489; but many of them had been written thirty years
before. Boileau has given Villon credit for being the first who cleared
his style from the rudeness and redundancy of the old romancers.[431]
But this praise, as some have observed, is more justly due to the duke
of Orleans, a man of full as much talent as Villon, with a finer taste.
The poetry of the latter, as might be expected from a life of
dissoluteness and roguery, is often low and coarse; but he seems by no
means incapable of a moral strain, not destitute of terseness and
spirit. Martial d’Auvergne, in his Vigiles de la Mort de Charles VII.,
which, from its subject, must have been written soon after 1460, though
not printed till 1490, displays, to judge from the extracts in Goujet,
some compass of imagination.[432] The French poetry of this age was
still full of allegorical morality, and had lost a part of its original
raciness. Those who desire an acquaintance with it may have recourse to
the author just mentioned, or to Bouterwek; and extracts, though not so
copious as the title promises, will be found in the Recueil des Anciens
Poètes Français.

  [430] Essai du C. François de Neufchâteau sur les meilleurs ouvrages
     en prose; prefixed to Œuvres de Pascal (1819), i. p. cxx.

  [431] Villon fut le primer dans des siècles grossiers
        Debrouiller l’art confus de nos vieux romanciers.
                              Art Poétique, l. i. v. 117.

  [432] Goujet, Bibliothèque Française, vol. x.

|European drama.|


101. The modern drama of Europe is derived, like its poetry, from two
sources, the one ancient or classical, the other mediæval; the one an
imitation of Plautus and Seneca, the other a gradual refinement of the
rude scenic performances, denominated miracles, mysteries, or
moralities. Latin plays upon the former model, a few of which are
extant, were written in Italy during the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries, and sometimes represented, either in the universities, or
before an audience of ecclesiastics and others who could understand
them.[433] One of these, the Catinia of Secco Polentone, written about
the middle of the fifteenth century, and translated by a son of the
author into the Venetian dialect, was printed in 1482. This piece,
however, was confined to the press.[434] Sabellicus, as quoted by
Tiraboschi, has given to Pomponius Lætus the credit of having
re-established the theatre at Rome, and caused the plays of Plautus
Terence, as well as some more modern, which we may presume to have been
in Latin, to be performed before the pope, probably Sixtus IV. And James
of Volterra, in a diary published by Muratori, expressly mentions a
History of Constantine represented in the papal palace during the
carnival of 1484.[435] In imitation of Italy, but, perhaps, a little
after the present decennial period, Reuchlin brought Latin plays of his
own composition before a German audience. They were represented by
students of Heidelberg. An edition of his Progymnasmata Scenica,
containing some of these comedies, was printed in 1498. It has been said
that one of them is taken from the French farce Maitre Patelin[436];
while another, entitled Sergius, according to Warton, flies a much
higher pitch, and is a satire on bad kings and bad ministers; though,
from the account of Meiners, it seems rather to fall on the fraudulent
arts of the monks.[437] The book is very scarce, and I have never seen
it. Conrad Celtes, not long after Reuchlin, produced his own tragedies
and comedies in the public halls of German cities. It is to be
remembered, that the oral Latin language might at that time be tolerably
familiar to a considerable audience in Germany.

  [433] Tiraboschi, vii. 200.

  [434] Id. p. 201.

  [435] Id. p. 204.

  [436] Greswell’s Early Parisian Press, p. 124; quoting la Monnoye. This
     seems to be confirmed by Meiners, i. 63.

  [437] Warton, iii. 203. Meiners, i. 62. The Sergius was represented at
     Heidelberg about 1497.

|Orfeo of Politian.|

102. The Orfeo of Politian has claimed precedence as the earliest
represented drama, not of a religious nature, in a modern language. This
was written by him in two days, and acted before the court of Mantua in
1483. Roscoe has called it the first example of the musical drama, or
Italian opera; but though he speaks of this as agreed by general
consent, it is certain that the Orfeo was not designed for musical
accompaniment, except, probably, in the songs and choruses.[438]
According to the analysis of the fable in Ginguéné, the Orfeo differs
only from a legendary mystery by substituting one set of characters for
another; and it is surely by an arbitrary definition that we pay it the
compliment upon which the modern historians of literature seem to have
agreed. Several absurdities which appear in the first edition are said
not to exist in the original manuscripts from which the Orfeo has been
reprinted.[439] We must give the next place to a translation of the
Menæchmi of Plautus, acted at Ferrara in 1486, by order of Ercole I.,
and, as some have thought, his own production, or to some original plays
said to have been performed at the same brilliant court in the following

  [438] Burney (Hist. of Music, iv. 17) seems to countenance this; but
     Tiraboschi does not speak of musical accompaniment to the Orfeo;
     and Corniani only says, alcuni di essi sembrano dall’autor
     destinati ad accoppiarsi colla musica. Tali sono i canzoni e i cori
     alla Greca. Probably Roscoe did not mean all that his words imply;
     for the origin of recitative, in which the essence of the Italian
     opera consists, more than a century afterwards, is matter of

  [439] Tiraboschi, vii. 216. Ginguéné, iii. 514. Andrès (v. 125),
     discussing the history of the Italian and Spanish theatres,
     gives the precedence to the Orfeo as a represented play, though he
     conceives the first act of the Celestina to have been written and
     well known not later than the middle of the fifteenth century.

  [440] Tiraboschi, vii. 203, et post. Roscoe, Leo X., ch. ii. Ginguéné,
     vi. 18.

|Origin of dramatic mysteries.|

103. The less regular, though in their day not less interesting, class
of scenical stories, commonly called mysteries, all of which related to
religious subjects, were never in more reputation than at this time. It
is impossible to fix their first appearance at any single æra, and the
inquiry into the origin of dramatic representation must be very limited
in its subject, or perfectly futile in its scope. All nations, probably,
have at all times, to a certain extent, amused themselves both with
pantomimic and oral representation of a feigned story; the sports of
children are seldom without both; and the exclusive employment of the
former, instead of being a first stage of the drama, as has sometimes
been assumed, is rather a variety in the course of its progress.

|Their early stage.|

104. The Christian drama arose on the ruins of the heathen theatre: it
was a natural substitute of real sympathies for those which were effaced
and condemned. Hence we find Greek tragedies on sacred subjects almost
as early as the establishment of the church, and we have testimonies to
their representation at Constantinople. Nothing of this kind being
proved with respect to the west of Europe in the dark ages, it has been
conjectured, not improbably, though without necessity, that the
pilgrims, of whom great numbers repaired to the East in the eleventh
century, might have obtained notions of scenical dialogue, with a
succession of characters, and with an ornamental apparatus, in which
theatrical representation properly consists. The earliest mention of
them, it has been said, is in England. Geoffrey, afterwards abbot of St.
Albans, while teaching a school at Dunstable, caused one of the shows,
vulgarly called miracles, on the story of St. Catherine, to be
represented in that town. Such is the account of Matthew Paris, who
mentions the circumstance incidentally, in consequence of a fire that
ensued. This must have been within the first twenty years of the twelfth
century.[441] It is not to be questioned, that Geoffrey, a native of
France, had some earlier models in his own country. Le Bœuf gives an
account of a mystery written in the middle of the preceding century,
wherein Virgil is introduced among the prophets that come to adore the
Saviour; doubtless in allusion to the fourth eclogue.

  [441] Matt. Paris, p. 1007 (edit. 1684). See Warton’s 34th section
     (iii. 193-233), for the early drama, and Beauchamps, Hist. du
     Théâtre Français, vol. i., or Bouterwek, v. 95-117, for the French
     in particular; Tiraboschi, ubi suprà, or Riccoboni, Hist. du
     Théâtre Italien, for that of Italy.

|Extant English mysteries.|

105. Fitz-Stephen, in the reign of Henry II., dwells on the sacred plays
acted in London, representing the miracles or passions of martyrs. They
became very common by the names of mysteries or miracles, both in
England and on the Continent, and were not only exhibited within the
walls of convents, but upon public occasions and festivals for the
amusement of the people. It is probable, however, that the performers
for a long time were always ecclesiastics. The earlier of those
religious dramas were in Latin. A Latin farce exists on St. Nicholas,
older than the thirteenth century.[442] It was slowly that the
modern languages were employed; and perhaps it might hence be presumed,
that the greater part of the story was told through pantomime. But as
this was unsatisfactory, and the spectators could not always follow the
fable, there was an obvious inducement to make use of the vernacular
language. The most ancient specimens appear to be those which Le Grand
d’Aussy found among the compositions of the Trouveurs. He has published
extracts from three; two of which are in the nature of legendary
mysteries, while the third, which is far more remarkable, and may
possibly be of the following century, is a pleasing pastoral drama, of
which there seem to be no other instances in the mediæval period.[443]
Bouterwek mentions a fragment of a German mystery, near the end of the
thirteenth century.[444] Next to this it seems that we should place an
English mystery called The Harrowing of Hell. “This,” its editor
observes, “is believed to be the most ancient production in a dramatic
form in our language. The manuscript from which it is now printed is on
vellum, and is certainly as old as the reign of Edward III., if not
older. It probably formed one of a series of performances of the same
kind, founded upon Scripture history.” It consists of a prologue,
epilogue, and intermediate dialogue of nine persons, Dominus, Sathan,
Adam, Eve, &c. Independently of the alleged age of the manuscript
itself, the language will hardly be thought later than 1350.[445] This,
however, seems to stand at no small distance from any extant work of the
kind. Warton having referred the Chester mysteries to 1327, when he
supposes them to have been written by Ranulph Higden, a learned monk of
that city, best known as the author of the Polychronicon, Roscoe
positively contradicts him, and denies that any dramatic composition can
be found in England anterior to the year 1500.[446] Two of these Chester
mysteries have been since printed; but notwithstanding the very
respectable authorities which assign them to the fourteenth century, I
cannot but consider the language in which we now read them not earlier,
to say the least, than the middle of the next. It is possible that they
have in some degree been modernised. Mr. Collier has given an analysis
of our own extant mysteries, or, as he prefers to call them,
Miracle-plays.[447] There does not seem to be much dramatic merit, even
with copious indulgence, in any of them; and some, such as the two
Chester mysteries, are in the lowest style of buffoonery; yet they are
of some importance in the absolute sterility of English literature
during the age in which we presume them to have been written, the reigns
of Henry VI. and Edward IV.

  [442] Journal des Savans, 1828, p. 297. These farces, according to
     M. Raynouard, were the earliest dramatic representations, and gave
     rise to the mysteries.

  [443] Fabliaux, ii. 119.

  [444] ix. 265. The Tragedy of the Ten Virgins was acted at Eisenach
     in 1322. This is evidently nothing but a mystery. Weber’s
     Illustrations of Northern Poetry, p. 19.

  [445] Mr. Collier has printed twenty-five copies (why veteris tam parcus
     aceti?) of this very curious record of the ancient drama. I do not
     know that any other in Europe of that early age has yet been given
     to the press.

  [446] Lorenzo de’ Medici, i. 399. Roscoe thinks the few extracts in
     Bouterwek, is rather there is reason to conjecture that the
     Miracle-play acted at Dunstable was in dumb show; and assumes the
     same of the “grotesque exhibitions” known by the name of The
     Harrowing of Hell. In this we have just seen that he was mistaken,
     and probably in the former.

  [447] Hist. of English Dramatic Poetry, vol. ii. The Chester mysteries
     were printed for the Roxburgh Club, by my friend Mr. Markland; and
     what are called the Townley mysteries are announced for publication.

|First French theatre.|

106. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were fertile of these
religious dramas in many parts of Europe. They were frequently
represented in Germany, but more in Latin than in the mother-tongue. The
French scriptural theatre, whatever may have been previously exhibited,
seems not to be traced in permanent existence beyond the last years of
the fourteenth century. It was about 1400, according to Beauchamps, or
some years before, as the authorities quoted by Bouterwek imply, that
the Confrairie de la Passion de N. S. was established as a regular body
of actors at Paris.[448] They are said to have taken their name from the
mystery of the passion, which in fact represented the whole life of our
Lord from his baptism, and was divided into several days. In pomp of
show they far excelled our English mysteries, in which few persons
appeared, and the scenery was simple. But in the mystery of the passion,
eighty-seven characters were introduced in the first day; heaven, earth,
and hell combined to people the stage; several scenes were written for
singing, and some for choruses. The dialogue, of which I have only seen
similar to that of our own mysteries, though less rude, and with
more efforts at a tragic tone.[449]

  [448] Beauchamps, Recherches sur le Théâtre Français. Bouterwek, v. 96.

  [449] Bouterwek, p. 100.

|Theatrical machinery.|

107. The mysteries, not confined to scriptural themes, embraced those
which were hardly less sacred and trustworthy in the eyes of the people,
the legends of saints. These afforded ample scope for the gratification
which great part of mankind seem to take in witnessing the endurance of
pain. Thus, in one of these Parisian mysteries, St. Barbara is hung up
by the heels on the stage, and after uttering her remonstrances in that
unpleasant situation, is torn with pincers and scorched with lamps
before the audience. The decorations of this theatre must have appeared
splendid. A large scaffolding at the back of the stage displayed heaven
above and hell below, between which extended the world, with
representations of the spot where the scene lay. Nor was the machinist’s
art unknown. An immense dragon, with eyes of polished steel, sprung out
from hell, in a mystery exhibited at Metz in the year 1437, and spread
his wings so near to the spectators that they were all in
consternation.[450] Many French mysteries, chiefly without date of the
year, are in print, and probably belong, typographically speaking, to
the present century.[451] One bears, according to Brunet, the date of
1484. These may, however, have been written long before their
publication. Beauchamps has given a list of early mysteries and
moralities in the French language, beginning near the end of the
fourteenth century.

  [450] Bouterwek, pp. 103-106.

  [451] Brunet, Manuel du Libraire.

|Italian religious dramas.|

108. The religious drama was doubtless full as ancient in Italy as in
any other country; it was very congenial to people whose delight in
sensible objects is so intense. It did not supersede the extemporaneous
performances, the mimi and histriones, who had probably never
intermitted their sportive license since the days of their Oscan
fathers, and of whom we find mention, sometimes with severity, sometimes
with toleration, in ecclesiastical writers;[452] but it came into
competition with them; and thus may be said to have commenced in the
thirteenth century a war of regular comedy against the lawless savages
of the stage, which has only been terminated in Italy within very recent
recollection. We find a society del Gonfalone established at Rome in
1264, the statutes of which declare, that it is designed to represent
the passion of Jesus Christ.[453] Lorenzo de’ Medici condescended to
publish a drama of this kind on the martyrdom of two saints; and a
considerable collection of similar productions during the fifteenth
century was in the possession of Mr. Roscoe.[454]

  [452] Thomas Aquinas mentions the histrionatûs ars, as lawful if not
     abused. St. Antonin does the same. Riccoboni, i. 23.

  [453] Riccoboni. Tiraboschi, however, v. 376, disputes the antiquity
     of any scenical representations truly dramatic, in Italy; in which
     he seems to be mistaken.

  [454] Life of Lorenzo, i. 402.



109. Next to the mysteries came the kindred class, styled moralities.
But as these belong more peculiarly to the next century, both in England
and France, though they began about the present time, we may better
reserve them for that period. There is still another species of dramatic
composition, what may be called the farce, not always very
distinguishable from comedy, but much shorter, admitting more buffoonery
without reproach, and more destitute of any serious or practical end. It
may be reckoned a middle link between the extemporaneous effusions of
the mimes and the legitimate drama. The French have a diverting piece of
this kind, Maitre Patelin, ascribed to Pierre Blanchet, and first
printed in 1490. It was restored to the stage with much alteration,
under the name of l’Avocat Patelin, about the beginning of the last
century; and contains strokes of humour, which Molière would not have
disdained.[455] Of these productions there were not a few in Germany,
called Fastnachts-spiele, or Carnival plays, written in the license
which that season has generally permitted. They are scarce and of little
value. The most remarkable is the Apotheosis of Pope Joan, a tragi-comic
legend, written about 1480.[456]

  [455] The proverbial expression for quitting a digression, Revenons à
     nos moutons, is taken from this farce; which is at least short, and
     as laughable as most farces are. It seems to have been written not
     long before its publication. See Pasquier, Recherches de la France,
     l. viii. c. 59; Biogr. Univ., Blanchet; and Bouterwek, v. 118.

  [456] Bouterwek, Gesch. der deutschen Poesie, ix. 357-367. Heinsius,
     Lehrbuch der Sprachtwissenschaft, iv. 125.

|Mathematical works.|

110. Euclid was printed for the first time at Venice in 1482; the
diagrams in this edition are engraved on copper, and remarkably clear
and neat.[457] The translation is that of Campanus from the
Arabic. The cosmography of Ptolemy, which had been already twice
published in Italy, appeared the same year at Ulm, with maps by Donis,
some of them traced after the plans drawn by Agathodæmon, some modern;
and it was reprinted, as well as Euclid, at the same place in 1486. The
tables of Regiomontanus were printed both at Augsburg and Venice in
1490. We may take this occasion of introducing two names, which do not
exclusively belong to the exact sciences, nor to the present period.

  [457] A beautiful copy of this edition, presented to Mocenigo, doge
     of Venice, is in the British Museum. The diagrams, especially those
     which represent solids, are better than in our modern editions of
     Euclid. I will take this opportunity of mentioning, that the
     earliest book, in which engravings are found, is the edition of
     Dante by Landino, published at Florence in 1481. See Brunet, Manuel
     du Libraire, Dibdin’s Bibl. Spencer, &c.

|Leo Baptista Alberti.|

111. Leo Baptista Alberti was a man, who, if measured by the
universality of his genius, may claim a place in the temple of glory he
has not filled; the author of a Latin comedy, entitled Philodoxios,
which the younger Aldus Manutius afterwards published as the genuine
work of a certain ancient Lepidus; a moral writer in the various forms
of dialogue, dissertation, fable, and light humour; a poet, extolled by
some, though not free from the rudeness of his age; a philosopher of the
Platonic school of Lorenzo; a mathematician and inventor of optical
instruments; a painter, and the author of the earliest modern treatise
on painting; a sculptor, and the first who wrote about sculpture; a
musician, whose compositions excited the applause of his contemporaries;
an architect of profound skill, not only displayed in many works, of
which the church of Saint Francis at Rimini is the most admired, but in
a theoretical treatise, De Re Ædificatoriâ, published posthumously in
1485. It has been called the only work on architecture which we can
place on a level with that of Vitruvius, and by some has been preferred
to it. Alberti had deeply meditated the remains of Roman antiquity, and
endeavoured to derive from them general theorems of beauty, variously
applicable to each description of buildings.[458]

  [458] Corniani, ii. 160. Tiraboschi, vii. 360.

112. This great man seems to have had two impediments to his permanent
glory: one, that he came a few years too soon into the world, before his
own language was become polished, and before the principles of taste in
art had been wholly developed; the other, that, splendid as was his own
genius, there were yet two men a little behind, in the presence of whom
his star has paled; men, not superior to Alberti in universality of
mental powers, but in their transcendency and command over immortal
fame. Many readers will have perceived to whom I allude,--Lionardo da
Vinci, and Michael Angelo.

|Lionardo da Vinci.|

113. None of the writings of Lionardo were published till more than a
century after his death; and, indeed, the most remarkable of them are
still in manuscript. We cannot, therefore, give him a determinate place
under this rather than any other decennium; but as he was born in 1452,
we may presume his mind to have been in full expansion before 1490. His
Treatise on Painting is known as a very early disquisition on the rules
of the art. But his greatest literary distinction is derived from those
short fragments of his unpublished writings that appeared not many years
since; and which, according, at least, to our common estimate of the age
in which he lived, are more like revelations of physical truths
vouchsafed to a single mind, than the superstructure of its reasoning
upon any established basis. The discoveries which made Galileo, and
Kepler, and Mæstlin, and Maurolycus, and Castelli, and other names
illustrious, the system of Copernicus, the very theories of recent
geologers, are anticipated by Da Vinci, within the compass of a few
pages, not perhaps in the most precise language, or on the most
conclusive reasoning, but so as to strike us with something like the awe
of præternatural knowledge. In an age of so much dogmatism, he first
laid down the grand principle of Bacon, that experiment and observation
must be the guides to just theory in the investigation of nature. If any
doubt could be harboured, not as to the right of Lionardo da Vinci to
stand as the first name of the fifteenth century, which is beyond all
doubt, but as to his originality in so many discoveries, which,
probably, no one man, especially in such circumstances, has ever made,
it must be on an hypothesis, not very untenable, that some parts of
physical science had already attained a height which mere books do not
record. The extraordinary works of ecclesiastical architecture in the
middle ages, especially in the fifteenth century, as well as those of
Toscanelli and Fioravanti, which we have mentioned, lend some
countenance to this opinion; and it is said to be confirmed by
the notes of Fra Mauro, a lay brother of a convent near Venice, on a
planisphere constructed by him, and still extant. Lionardo himself
speaks of the earth’s annual motion, in a treatise that appears to have
been written about 1510, as the opinion of many philosophers in his

  [459] The manuscripts of Lionardo da Vinci, now at Paris, are the
     justification of what has been said in the text. A short account of
     them was given by Venturi, who designed to have published a part;
     but, having relinquished that intention, the fragments he has made
     known are the more important. As they are very remarkable, and not,
     I believe, very generally known, I shall extract a few passages
     from his Essai sur les Ouvrages Physico-mathématiques de Léonard de
     Vinci. Paris, 1797.

     En mécanique Vinci connaissait, entr’autres choses: 1. La théorie
     des forces appliquées obliquement au bras du levier; 2. La
     résistance respective des poutres; 3. Les lois du frottement
     données ensuite par Amontons; 4. L’influence du centre de gravité
     sur les corps en repos ou en mouvement; 5. L’application du
     principe des vitesses virtuelles à plusieurs cas que la sublime
     analyse a porté de nos jours a sa plus grande généralité. Dans
     l’optique il décrivit la chambre obscure avant Porta, il expliqua
     avant Maurolycus la figure de l’image du soleil dans un trou de
     forme anguleuse; il nous apprend la perspective aerienne, la nature
     des ombres colorées, les mouvemens de l’iris, les effets de la
     durée de l’impression visible, et plusieurs autres phénomènes de
     l’œil qu’on ne rencontre point dans Vitellion. Enfin non seulement
     Vinci avait remarqué tout ce que Castelli a dit un siècle après lui
     sur le mouvement des eaux; le premier me parait même dans cette
     partie supérieur de beaucoup à l’autre, que l’Italie cependant a
     regardé comme le fondateur de l’hydraulique.

     Il faut donc placer Léonard à la tête de ceux qui se sont occupés
     des sciences physico-mathématiques, et de la vraie méthode
     d’étudier parmi les modernes, p. 5.

     The first extract Venturi gives is entitled, On the descent of
     heavy bodies combined with the rotation of the earth. He here
     assumes the latter, and conceives that a body falling to the earth
     from the top of a tower would have a compound motion in consequence
     of the terrestrial rotation. Venturi thinks that the writings of
     Nicolas de Cusa had set men on speculating concerning this before
     the time of Copernicus.

     Vinci had very extraordinary lights as to mechanical motions. He
     says plainly, that the time of descent on inclined planes of equal
     height is as their length; that a body descends along the arc of a
     circle sooner than down the chord, and that a body descending an
     inclined plane will re-ascend with the same velocity as if it had
     fallen down the height. He frequently repeats, that every body
     weighs in the direction of its movement, and weighs the more in the
     ratio of its velocity; by weight evidently meaning what we call
     force. He applies this to the centrifugal force of bodies in
     rotation: Pendant tout ce temps elle pèse sur la direction de son

     Lorsqu’on employe une machine quelconque pour mouvoir un corps
     grave, toutes les parties de la machine qui ont un mouvement égal à
     celui du corps grave ont une charge égale au poids entier du même
     corps. Si la partie qui est le moteur a, dans le même temps, plus
     de mouvement que le corps mobile, elle aura plus de puissance que
     le mobile; et celà d’Autant plus qu’elle se mouvra plus vite que le
     corps même. Si la partie qui est le moteur a moins de vitesse que
     le mobile, elle aura d’Autant moins de puissance que ce mobile. If
     in this passage there is not the perfect luminousness of expression
     we should find in the best modern books, it seems to contain the
     philosophical theory of motion as unequivocally as any of them.

     Vinci had a better notion of geology than most of his
     contemporaries, and saw that the sea had covered the mountains
     which contain shells: Ces coquillages ont vécu dans le même endroit
     lorsque l’eau de la mer le recouvrait. Les bancs, par la suite des
     temps, ont été recouverts par d’Autres couches de limon de
     différentes hauteurs; ainsi, les coquilles ont été enclavées sous
     le bourbier amoncelé au dessus, jusqu’à sortir de l’eau. He seems
     even to have had an idea of the elevation of the continents, though
     he gives an unintelligible reason for it.

     He explained the obscure light of the unilluminated part of the
     moon by the reflection of the earth, as Mœstlin did long after.
     He understood the camera obscura, and describes its effect. He
     perceived that respirable air must support flame: Lorsque l’air
     n’est pas dans un état propre à recevoir la flamme, il n’y peut
     vivre ni flamme ni aucun animal terrestre ou aerien. Aucun animal
     ne peut vivre dans un endroit ou la flamme ne vit pas.

     Vinci’s observations on the conduct of the understanding are also
     very much beyond his time. I extract a few of them.

     Il est toujours bon pour l’entendement d’Acquérir des connaissances
     quelles qu’elles soient; on pourra ensuite choisir les bonnes et
     écarter les inutiles.

     L’interprète des artifices de la nature, c’est l’expérience. Elle
     ne se trompe jamais; c’est notre jugement qui quelquefois se trompe
     lui-même, parcequ’il s’attend à des effets auxquels l’expérience se
     refuse. Il faut consulter l’expérience, en varier les circonstances
     jusqu’à ce que nous en ayons tiré des règles générales; car c’est
     elle qui fournit les vraies règles. Mais à quoi bon ces règles, me
     direz-vous? Je réponds qu’elles nous dirigent dans les recherches
     de la nature et les opérations de l’art. Elles empêchent que nous
     ne nous abusions nous-mêmes ou les autres, en nous promettant des
     résultats que nous ne saurions obtenir.

     Il n’y a point de certitude dans les sciences où on ne peut pas
     appliquer quelque partie des mathématiques, ou qui n’en dépendent
     pas de quelque manière.

     Dans l’étude des sciences qui tiennent aux mathématiques, ceux qui
     ne consultent pas la nature, mais les auteurs, ne sont pas les
     enfans de la nature; je dirais qu’ils n’en sont que les petits
     fils: elle seule, en effet, est le maitre des vrais génies. Mais
     voyez la sottise! on se moque d’un homme qui aimera mieux apprendre
     de la nature elle-même, que des auteurs, qui n’en sont que les
     clercs. Is not this the precise tone of Lord Bacon?

     Vinci says, in another place: Mon dessein est de citer d’Abord
     l’expérience, et de démontrer ensuite pourquoi les corps sont
     contraints d’Agir de telle manière. C’est la méthode qu’on doit
     observer dans les recherches des phénomènes de la nature. Il est
     bien vrai que la nature commence par le raisonnement, et finit par
     l’expérience; mais n’importe, il nous faut prendre la route
     opposée: comme j’ai dit, nous devons commencer par l’expérience, et
     tâcher par son moyen d’en découvrir la raison.

     He ascribes the elevation of the equatorial waters above the polar
     to the heat of the sun: Elles entrent en mouvement de tous les
     côtés de cette éminence aqueuse pour rétablir leur sphéricité
     parfaite. This is not the true cause of their elevation, but by
     what means could he know the fact?

     Vinci understood fortification well, and wrote upon it. Since in
     our time, he says, artillery has four times the power it used to
     have, it is necessary that the fortification of towns should be
     strengthened in the same proportion. He was employed on several
     great works of engineering. So wonderful was the variety of power
     in this miracle of nature. For we have not mentioned that his Last
     Supper at Milan is the earliest of the great pictures in Italy, and
     that some productions of his easel vie with those of Raphael. His
     only published work, the Treatise on Painting, does him injustice;
     it is an ill-arranged compilation from several of his manuscripts.
     That the extraordinary works, of which this note contains an
     account, have not been published entire, and in their original
     language, is much to be regretted by all who know how to venerate
     so great a genius as Lionardo da Vinci.

                         SECT. VI. 1491-1500.

_State of Learning in Italy--Latin and Italian Poets--Learning in
France and England--Erasmus--Popular Literature and Poetry--Other
kinds of Literature--General Literary Character of Fifteenth
Century--Book-trade, its Privileges and Restraints._

|Aldine Greek editions.|

114. The year 1494 is distinguished by an edition of Musæus, generally
thought the first work from the press established at Venice by Aldus
Manutius, who had settled there in 1489.[460]

In the course of about twenty years, with some interruption, he gave to
the world several of the principal Greek authors; and though, as we have
seen, not absolutely the earliest printer in that language, he so far
excelled all others in the number of his editions, that he may be justly
said to stand at the head of the list. It is right, however, to mention,
that Zarot had printed Hesiod and Theocritus in one volume, and also
Isocrates, at Milan, in 1493; that the Anthologia appeared at Florence
in 1494; Lucian and Apollonius Rhodius in 1496; the lexicon of Suidas,
at Milan, in 1499. About fifteen editions of Greek works, without
reckoning Craston’s lexicon and several grammars, had been published
before the close of the century.[461] The most remarkable of the Aldine
editions are the Aristotle, in five volumes, the first bearing date of
1495, the last of 1498, and nine plays of Aristophanes in the latter
year. In this Aristophanes, and perhaps in other editions of this time,
Aldus had fortunately the assistance of Marcus Musurus, one of the last,
but by no means the least eminent, of the Greeks who transported their
language to Italy. Musurus was now a public teacher at Padua. John
Lascaris, son, perhaps, of Constantine, edited the Anthologia at
Florence. It may be doubted whether Italy had as yet produced any
scholar, unless it were Varino, more often called Phavorinus, singly
equal to the task of superintending a Greek edition. His Thesaurus
Cornucopiæ, a collection of thirty-four grammatical tracts in Greek,
printed 1496, may be an exception. The Etymologicum Magnum, Venice,
1499, being a lexicon with only Greek explanations, is supposed to be
chiefly due to Musurus. Aldus had printed Craston’s lexicon, in 1497,
with the addition of an index; this has often been mistaken for an
original work.[462]

  [460] The Erotemata of Constantino Lascaris, printed by Aldus, bears
     date Feb. 1494, which Menu to mean 1495. But the Musæus has no
     date, nor the Galeomyomachia, a Greek poem by one Theodoras
     Prodromus. Renouard, Hist. de I’Imprimerie des Aldes.

  [461] The grammar of Urbano Valeriano was first printed in 1497. It is
     in Greek and Latin, and of extreme rarity. Roscoe (Leo X., ch. xi.)
     says, “it was received with such avidity that Erasmus, on inquiring
     for it in the year 1499, found that not a copy of this impression
     remained unsold.” I have given, a little below, a different
     construction to these words of Erasmus.

  [462] Renouard. Roscoe’s Leo X., ch. xi.

|Decline of learning in Italy.|

115. The state of Italy was not so favourable as it had been to the
advancement of philosophy. After the expulsion of the Medici from
Florence, in 1494, the Platonic academy was broken up; and that
philosophy never found again a friendly soil in Italy, though Ficinus
had endeavoured to keep it up by a Latin translation of Plotinus.
Aristotle and his followers began now to regain the ascendant. Perhaps
it may be thought that even polite letters were not so flourishing as
they had been; no one, at least, yet appeared to fill the place of
Hermolaus Barbarus, who died in 1493, or Politian, who followed him the
next year.

|Hermolaus Barbarus.|

116. Hermolaus Barbarus was a noble Venetian, whom Europe agreed to
place next to Politian in critical learning, and to draw a line between
them and any third name. “No time, no accident, no destiny,” says an
enthusiastic scholar of the next age, “will ever efface their
remembrance from the hearts of the learned.”[463] Erasmus calls him a
truly great and divine man. He filled many honourable offices for the
republic; but lamented that they drew him away from that learning for
which he says he was born, and to which alone he was devoted.[464] Yet
Hermolaus is but faintly kept in mind at the present day. In his Latin
style, with the same fault as Politian, an affectation of obsolete
words, he is less flexible and elegant. But his chief merit was in the
restoration of the text of ancient writers. He boasts that he had
corrected about five thousand passages in Pliny’s natural history, and
more than three hundred in the very brief geography of Pomponius Mela.
Hardouin, however, charges him with extreme rashness in altering
passages he did not understand. The pope had nominated Hermolaus to the
greatest post in the Venetian church, the patriarchate of Aquileia; but
his mortification at finding that the senate refused to concur in the
appointment is said to have hastened his death.[465]

  [463] Habuit nostra hæc ætas bonarum literarum proceres duos,
     Hermolaum Barbarum atque Angelum Politianum: Deum immortalem!
     quam acri judicio, quanta facundia, quanta linguarum, quanta
     disciplinarum omnium scientia præditos! Hi Latinam linguam
     jampridem squalentem et multa barbariei rubigine exesam, ad
     pristinum revocare nitorem conati sunt, atque illis suus profecto
     conatus non infeliciter cessit, suntque illi de Latina lingua tam
     bene meriti, quam qui ante cos optimi meriti fuere. Itaque
     immortalem sibi gloriam, immortale decus paraverunt, manebitque
     semper in omnium eruditorum pectoribus consecrata Hermolai et
     Politiani memoria, nullo ævo, nullo casu, nullo fato abolenda.
     Brixeus Erasmo in Erasm. Epist. ccxii.

  [464] Meiners, ii. 200.

  [465] Bayle. Niceron, vol. xiv. Tiraboschi, vii. 152. Corniani, iii.
     197. Heeren, p. 274.


117. A Latin poet once of great celebrity, Baptista Mantuan, seems to
fall within this period as fitly as any other, though several of his
poems had been separately printed before, and their collective
publication was not till 1513. Editions recur very frequently in the
bibliography of Italy and Germany. He was, and long continued to be, the
poet of school-rooms. Erasmus says that he would be placed by posterity
not much below Virgil;[466] and the marquis of Mantua, anticipating this
suffrage, erected their statues side by side. Such is the security of
contemporary compliments! Mantuan has long been utterly neglected, and
does not find a place in most selections of Latin poetry. His Eclogues
and Silvæ are said to be the least bad of his numerous works. He was
among the many assailants of the church, or at least the court of Rome;
and this animosity inspired him with some bitter, or rather vigorous,
invectives. But he became afterwards a Carmelite friar.[467] Marullus, a
Greek by birth, has obtained a certain reputation for his Latin poems,
which are of no great value.

  [466] Et nisi me fallit augurium, erit, erit aliquando Baptista suo
     concive gloriâ celebritateque non ita multo inferior, simul
     invidiam anni detraxerint. Append. ad Erasm. Epist. cccxcv. (edit.
     Lugd.) It is not conceivable that Erasmus meant this literally; but
     the drift of the letter is to encourage the reading of Christian

  [467] Corniani, iii. 148. Niceron, vol. xxvii. Such of Mantuan’s
     eclogues as are printed in Carmina Illustrium Poetarum Italorum,
     Florent. 1719, are but indifferent. I doubt, however, whether that
     voluminous collection has been made with much taste; and his satire
     on the see of Rome would certainly be excluded, whatever might be
     its merit. Corniani has given an extract, better than what I had
     seen of Mantuan.


118. A far superior name is that of Pontanus, to whom, if we attend to
some critics, we must award the palm, above all Latin poets of the
fifteenth century. If I might venture to set my own taste against
theirs, I should not agree to his superiority over Politian. His
hexameters are by no means deficient in harmony, and may, perhaps, be
more correct than those of his rival, but appears to me less pleasing
and poetical. His lyric poems are like too much modern Latin, in a tone
of languid voluptuousness, and ring changes on the various beauties of
his mistress, and the sweetness of her kisses. The few elegies of
Pontanus, among which that addressed to his wife, on the prospect of
peace, is the best known, fall very short of the admirable lines of
Politian on the death of Ovid. Pontanus wrote some moral and political
essays in prose, which are said to be full of just observations
and sharp satire on the court of Rome, and written in a style which his
contemporaries regarded with admiration. They were published in 1490.
Erasmus, though a parsimonious distributor of praise to the Italians,
has acknowledged their merit in the Ciceronianus.[468]

  [468] Roscoe, Leo X., ch. ii. and xx. Niceron, vol. viii. Corniani.
     Tiraboschi. Pantanus cum illa quatuor complecti summa cura conatus
     sit nervum dico, numeros, candorem, venustatem, profecto est omnia
     consecutus. Quintum autem illud quod est horum omnium veluti vita
     quædam, modum intelligo, penitus ignoravit. Aiunt Virgilium cum
     multos versus matutino calore effudisset, pomeridianis horis novo
     judicio solitum ad paucorum numerum revocare. Contra quidem Pontano
     evenisse arbitror. Quæ prima quaque inventione arrisissent, isis
     plura postea, dum recognosceret, addita atque ipsis potius
     carminibus, quam sibi pepercisse. Scaliger de Re Poetica (apud

|Neapolitan academy.|

119. Pontanus presided at this time over the Neapolitan Academy, a
dignity which he had attained upon the death of Beccatelli, in 1471.
This was after the decline of the Roman and the Florentine, by far the
most eminent reunion of literary men in Italy; and though it was long
conspicuous, seems to have reached its highest point in the last years
of this century, under the patronage of the mild Frederic of Aragon, and
during that transient calm which Naples was permitted to enjoy between
the invasions of Charles VIII. and Louis XII. That city and kingdom
afforded many lovers of learning and poetry; some of them in the class
of its nobles; each district being, as it were, represented in this
academy by one or more of its distinguished residents. But other members
were associated from different parts of Italy; and the whole
constellation of names is still brilliant, though some have grown dim by
time. The house of Este, at Ferrara, were still the liberal patrons of
genius; none more eminently than their reigning marquis, Hercules I. And
not less praise is due to the families who held the principalities of
Urbino and Mantua.[469]

  [469] Roscoe’s Leo. X., ch. ii. This contains an excellent account of
     the state of literature in Italy about the close of the century.


120. A poem now appeared in Italy, well deserving of attention for its
own sake, but still more so on account of the excitement and direction
it gave to one of the most famous poets that ever lived. Matteo Maria
Boiardo, count of Scandiano, a man esteemed and trusted at the court of
Ferrara, amused his leisure in the publication of a romantic poem, for
which the stories of Charlemagne and his paladins, related by one who
assumed the name of Turpin, and already woven into long metrical
narrations, current at the end of the fourteenth and during the
fifteenth century in Italy, supplied materials, which are almost lost in
the original inventions of the author. The first edition of this poem is
without date, but probably in 1495. The author, who died the year
before, left it unfinished at the ninth canto of the third book.
Agostini, in 1516, published a continuation, indifferently executed, in
three more books; but the real complement of the Innamorato is the
Furioso.[470] The Orlando Innamorato of Boiardo has hitherto not
received that share of renown which seems to be its due; overpowered by
the splendour of Ariosto’s poem, and almost set aside in its original
form by the improved edition or remaking (rifaccimento), which Berni
afterwards gave, it has rarely been sought or quoted, even in

The style is uncouth and hard; but without style, which is the source of
perpetual delight, no long poem will be read; and it has been observed
by Ginguéné with some justice, that Boiardo’s name is better remembered,
though his original poem may have been more completely neglected,
through the process to which Berni has subjected it. In point of novel
invention and just keeping of character, especially the latter, he has
not been surpassed by his illustrious follower Ariosto; and whatever of
this we find in the Orlando Innamorato, is due to Boiardo alone; for
Berni has preserved the sense of almost every stanza. The imposing
appearance of Angelica at the court of Charlemagne, in the first canto,
opens the poem with a splendour rarely equalled, with a luxuriant
fertility of invention, and with admirable art; judiciously presenting
the subject in so much singleness, that amidst all the intricacies and
episodes of the story, the reader never forgets the incomparable
princess of Albracca. The latter city, placed in that remote Cathay
which Marco Polo had laid open to the range of fancy, and its
siege by Agrican’s innumerable cavalry, are creations of Boiardo’s most
inventive mind. Nothing in Ariosto is conceived so nobly, or so much in
the true genius of romance. Castelvetro asserts that the names Gradasso,
Mandricardo, Sobrino, and others which Boiardo has given to his
imaginary characters, belonged to his own peasants of Scandiano; and
some have improved upon this by assuring us, that those who take the
pains to ascertain the fact may still find the representatives of these
sonorous heroes at the plough, which, if the story were true, ought to
be the case.[472] But we may give him credit for talent enough to invent
those appellations; he hardly found an Albracca on his domains; and
those who grudge him the rest acknowledge that, in a moment of
inspiration, while hunting, the name of Rodomont occurred to his mind.
We know how finely Milton, whose ear pursued, almost to excess, the
pleasure of harmonious names, and who loved to expatiate in these
imaginary regions, has alluded to Boiardo’s poem in the Paradise
Regained. The lines are perhaps the most musical he has ever produced.

     Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
     When Agrican with all his northern powers
     Besieged Albracca, as romances tell,
     The city of Gallaphron, from thence to win
     The fairest of her sex, Angelica,
     His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,
     Both paynim and the peers of Charlemagne.[473]

  [470] Fontanini, dell’Eloquenza Italiana, edit. di Zeno, p. 270.

  [471] See my friend Mr. Panizzi’s excellent introduction to his edition
     of the Orlando Innamorato. This poem had never been reprinted since
     1544; so much was Roscoe deceived in fancying that “the simplicity
     of the original has caused it to be preferred to the same work, as
     altered or reformed by Francesco Berni.” Life of Leo X., ch. ii.

  [472] Camillo Pellegrino, in his famous controversy with the Academy of
     Florence on the respective merits of Ariosto and Tasso, having
     asserted this, they do not deny the fact, but say it stands on the
     authority of Castelvetro. Opere di Tasso, 4to, ii. 94. The critics
     held rather a pedantic doctrine; that though the names of private
     men may be feigned, the poet has no right to introduce kings
     unknown to history, as this destroys the probability required for
     his fiction.

  [473] Book iii.

|Francesco Bello.|

121. The Mambriano of Francesco Bello, sirnamed il Cieco, another poem
of the same romantic class, was published posthumously in 1497. Apostolo
Zeno, as quoted by Roscoe, attributes the neglect of the Mambriano to
its wanting an Ariosto to continue its subject, or a Berni to reform its
style.[474] But this seems a capricious opinion. Bello composed it at
intervals to amuse the courtiers of the marquis of Mantua. The poem,
therefore, wants unity. “It is a reunion,” says Mr. Panizzi, “of
detached tales, without any relation to each other, except in so far as
most of the same actors are before us.”[475] We may perceive by this,
how little a series of rhapsodies, not directed by a controlling unity
of purpose, even though the work of a single man, are likely to fall
into a connected poem. But that a long poem, of singular coherence and
subordination of parts to an end, should be framed from the random and
insulated songs of a great number of persons, is almost as incredible as
that the annals of Ennius, to use Cicero’s argument against the
fortuitous origin of the world, should be formed by shaking together the
letters of the alphabet.

  [474] Leo X., ch. ii.

  [475] Panizzi’s Introduction to Boiardo, p. 360. He does not highly
     praise the poem, of which he gives an analysis with extracts. See
     too Ginguéné, vol. iv.

|Italian poetry near the end of the century.|

122. Near the close of the fifteenth century we find a great increase of
Italian poetry, to which the patronage and example of Lorenzo had given
encouragement. It is not easy to place within such narrow limits as a
decennial period, the names of writers whose productions were frequently
not published, at least collectively, during their lives. Serafino
d’Aquila, born in 1466, seems to fall, as a poet, within this decade;
and the same may be said of Tibaldeo and Benivieni. Of these the first
is perhaps the best known; his verses are not destitute of spirit, but
extravagance and bad taste deform the greater part.[476] Tibaldeo unites
false thoughts with rudeness and poverty of diction. Benivieni, superior
to either of these, is reckoned by Corniani a link between the harshness
of the fifteenth and the polish of the ensuing century. The style of
this age was far from the grace and sweetness of Petrach; forced in
sentiment, low in choice of words, deficient in harmony, it has been
condemned by the voice of all Italian critics.[477]

  [476] Bouterwek, Gesch. der Ital. Poesie, i. 321. Corniani.

  [477] Corniani. Muratori, della perfetta Poesia. Crescimbeni, Storia
     della volgar poesia.

|Progress of learning in France and Germany.|

123. A greater activity than before was now perceptible in the literary
spirit of France and Germany. It was also regularly progressive. The
press of Paris gave twenty-six editions of ancient Latin authors, nine
of which were in the year 1500. Twelve were published at Lyons. Deventer
and Leipsic, especially the latter, which now took a lead in the German
press, bore a part in this honourable labour; a proof of the rapid and
extensive influence of Conrad Celtes on that part of Germany. It is to
be understood that a very large proportion, or nearly the whole,
of the Latin editions printed in Germany were for the use of
schools.[478] We should be warranted in drawing an inference as to the
progress in literary instruction in these countries from the increase in
the number of publications, small as that number still is, and trifling
as some of them may appear. It may be accounted for by the gradual
working of the schools at Munster and other places, which had now sent
out a race of pupils well fitted to impart knowledge in their turn to
others; and by the patronage of some powerful men, among whom the first
place, on all accounts, is due to the emperor Maximilian. Nothing was so
likely to contribute to the intellectual improvement of Germany as the
public peace of 1495, which put an end to the barbarous customs of the
middle ages, not unaccompanied by generous virtues, but certainly as
incompatible with the steady cultivation of literature as with riches
and repose. Yet there seems to be no proof that the Greek language had
obtained much more attention; no book connected with it is recorded to
have been printed, and I do not find mention that it was taught, even
superficially, in any university or school, at this time, though it
might be conjectured without improbability. Reuchlin had now devoted his
whole thoughts to cabbalistic philosophy, and the study of Hebrew; and
Eichhorn, though not unwilling to make the most of early German
learning, owns that, at the end of the century, no other person had
become remarkable for a skill in Greek.[479]

  [478] A proof of this may be found in the books printed at Deventer
     from 1491 to 1500. They consisted of Virgil’s Bucolics three times,
     Virgil’s Georgics twice, and the eclogues of Calpurnius once, or
     perhaps twice. At Leipsic the list is much longer, but in great
     measure of the same kind; single treatises of Seneca or Cicero, or
     detached parts of Virgil, Horace, Ovid, sometimes very short, as
     the Culex or the Ibis, form, with not many exceptions, the
     Cisalpine classical bibliography of the fifteenth century.

  [479] Eichhorn, iii. 236. This section in Eichhorn is valuable, but
     not without some want of precision.

     Reuchlin had been very diligent in purchasing Greek manuscripts.
     But these were very scarce, even in Italy. A correspondent of his,
     Streler by name, one of the young men who went from Germany to
     Florence for education, tells him, in 1491, Nullos libros Græcis
     hic venales reperio; and again, de Græcis libris coemendis hoc
     scias; fui penes omnes hic librarios, nihil horum prorsus reperio.
     Epist. ad Reuchl. (1562) fol. 7. In fact, Reuchlin’s own library
     was so large as to astonish the Italian scholars when they saw the
     catalogue, who plainly owned they could not procure such books
     themselves. They had of course been originally purchased in Italy,
     unless we suppose some to have been brought by way of Hungary.

     It is not to be imagined that the libraries of ordinary scholars
     were to be compared with that of Reuchlin, probably more opulent
     than most of them. The early printed books of Italy, even the most
     indispensable, were very scarce, at least in France. A Greek
     grammar was a rarity at Paris in 1499. Grammaticen Græcam, says
     Erasmus to a correspondent, summo studio vestigavi, ut emptam tibi
     mitterem, sed jam utraque divendita fuerat, et Constantini quæ
     dicitur, quæque Urbani. Epist. lix. See too Epist. lxxiii.


|His diligence.|

124. Two men, however, were devoting incessant labour to the acquisition
of that language at Paris, for whom was reserved the glory of raising
the knowledge of it in Cisalpine Europe to a height which Italy could
not attain. These were Erasmus and Budæus. The former, who had acquired
as a boy the mere rudiments of Greek under Hegius at Deventer, set
himself in good earnest to that study about 1499, hiring a teacher at
Paris, old Hermonymus of Sparta, of whose extortion he complains; but he
was little able to pay anything; and his noble endurance of privations
for the sake of knowledge deserves the high reward of glory it received.
“I have given my whole soul,” he says, “to Greek learning, and as soon
as I get any money I shall first buy Greek books, and then
clothes.”[480] “If any new Greek book comes to hand, I would rather
pledge my cloak than not obtain it; especially if it be religious, such
as a psalter or a gospel.”[481] It will be remembered that the books of
which he speaks must have been frequently manuscripts.

  [480] Epist. xxix.

  [481] Epist. lviii.

|Budæus; his early studies.|

125. Budæus, in his proper name Budé, nearly of the same age as Erasmus,
had relinquished every occupation for intense labour in literature. In
an interesting letter, addressed to Cuthbert Tunstall in 1517, giving an
account of his own early studies, he says that he learned Greek very ill
from a bad master at Paris, in 1491. This was certainly Hermonymus, of
whom Reuchlin speaks more favourably; but he was not quite so competent
a judge.[482] Some years afterwards Budæus got much better instruction;
“ancient literature having derived within a few years great improvement
in France by our intercourse with Italy, and by the importation of books
in both the learned languages.” Lascaris, who now lived at the court of
Charles VIII., having returned with him from the Neapolitan expedition,
gave Budæus some assistance, though not, according to the latter’s
biographer, to any great extent.

  [482] Hody (de Græcis Illustribus, p. 238) thinks that the master of
     Budæus could not have been Hermonymus; probably because the praise
     of Reuchlin seemed to him incompatible with the contemptuous
     language of Budæus. But Erasmus is very explicit on this subject,
     Ad Græcas literas utcunque puero degustatas jam grandior redii; hoc
     est, annos natus plus minus triginta, sed turn cum apud nos nulla
     Græcorum codicum esset copia, neque minor penuria doctorum. Lutetiæ
     tantum unus Georgius Hermonymus Græce balbutiebat; sed talis, ut
     neque potuisset docere si voluisset, neque voluisset si potuisset.
     Itaque coactus ipse mihi præceptor esse, &c. (A.D. 1524.) I
     transcribe from Jortin, ii. 419. Of Hermonymus it is said by Beatus
     Rhenanus in a letter to Reuchlin, that he was non tam doctrina quam
     patria clarus. (Epist. ad Reuchl. fol. 52.) Roy, in his Life of
     Budæus, says, that the latter, having paid Hermonymus 500 gold
     pieces, and read Homer and other books with him, nihilo doctior est

|Latin not well written in France.|

126. France had as yet no writer of Latin, who could be endured in
comparison with those of Italy. Robert Gaguin praises Fichet, rector of
the Sorbonne, as learned and eloquent, and the first who had taught many
to employ good language in Latin. The more certain glory of Fichet is to
have introduced the art of printing into France. Gaguin himself enjoyed
a certain reputation for his style, and his epistles have been printed.
He possessed at least, what is most important, a love of knowledge, and
an elevated way of thinking. But Erasmus says of him, that “whatever he
might have been in his own age, he would now scarcely be reckoned to
write Latin at all.” If we could rely on a panegyrist of Faustus
Andrelinus, an Italian who came about 1489 to Paris, and was authorised,
in conjunction with one Balbi, and with Cornelio Vitelli, to teach in
the university,[483] he was the man who brought polite literature into
France, and changed its barbarism for classical purity. But Andrelinus,
who is best known as a Latin poet of by no means a high rank, seems not
to merit his commendation. Whatever his capacities of teaching may have
been, we have little evidence of his success. Yet the number of editions
of Latin authors published in France during this decade proves some
diffusion of classical learning; and we must admit the circumstance to
be quite decisive of the inferiority of England.

  [483] This I find quoted in Bettinelli, Risorgimento d’ltalia, i. 250.
     See also Bayle, and Biogr. Univ., art. Andrelini. They were only
     allowed to teach for one hour in the evening; the jealousy of the
     logicians not having subsided. Crevier, iv. 439.

|Dawn of Greek learning in England.|

127. A gleam of light, however, now broke out there. We have seen
already that a few, even in the last years of Henry VI., had overcome
all obstacles in order to drink at the fountain-head of pure learning in
Italy. One or two more names might be added for the intervening period;
Milling, abbot of Westminister, and Selling, prior of a convent at
Canterbury.[484] It is reported by Polydore Virgil, and is proved by
Wood, that Cornelio Vitelli, an Italian, came to Oxford about 1488, in
order to give that most barbarous university some notion of what was
going forward on the other side of the Alps; and it has been probably
conjectured, or rather may be assumed, that he there imparted the
rudiments of Greek to William Grocyn.[485] It is certain, at least, that
Grocyn had acquired some insight into that language, before he took a
better course, and, travelling into Italy, became the disciple of
Chalcondyles and Politian. He returned home in 1491, and began to
communicate his acquisitions, though chiefly to deaf ears, teaching in
Exeter College at Oxford. A diligent emulator of Grocyn, but
some years younger, and, like him, a pupil of Politian and Hermolaus,
was Thomas Linacre, a physician; but though a first edition of his
translation of Galen has been supposed to have been printed at Venice in
1498, it seems to be ascertained that none preceded that of Cambridge in
1521. His only contribution to literature in the fifteenth century was a
translation of the very short mathematical treatise of Proclus on the
sphere, published in a volume of ancient writers on astronomy, by Aldus
Manutius, in 1499.[486]

  [484] Warton, iii. 247. Johnson’s Life of Linacre, p. 5. This is
     mentioned on Selling’s monument now remaining in Canterbury

          Doctor theologus Selling Græca atque Latina Lingua perdoctus.

     Selling, however, did not go to Italy till after 1480, far from
     returning in 1460, as Warton has said, with his usual indifference
     to anachronisms.

  [485] Polydore says nothing about Vitelli’s teaching Greek, though
     Knight, in his Life of Colet, translates bonæ literæ, “Greek and
     Latin.” But the following passages seem decisive as to Grocyn’s
     early studies in the Greek language. Grocinus, qui prima Græcaæ et
     Latinæ linguæ, rudimenta in Britannia hausit, mox solidiorem iisdem
     operam sub Demetrio Chalcondyle et Politiano præceptoribus in
     Italia hausit. Lilly, Elogia virorum doctorum, in Knight’s Life of
     Colet, p. 24. Erasmus as positively: Ipse Grocinus, cujus exemplum
     affers, nonne primum in Anglia Græcæ linguæ rudimenta didicit? Post
     in Italiam profectus audivit summos viros, sed interim lucro fuit
     ilia prius a qualibuscunque didicisse. Epist. ccclxiii. Whether the
     _qualescunque_ were Vitelli or any one else, this can leave no
     doubt as to the existence of some Greek instruction in England
     before Grocyn; and as no one can be suggested, so far as appears,
     except Vitelli, it seems reasonable to fix upon him as the first
     preceptor of Grocyn. Vitelli had returned to Paris in 1489, and
     taught in the university, as has just been mentioned; so that he
     could have little time, if Polydore’s date of 1488 be right, for
     giving much instruction at Oxford.

  [486] Johnson’s Life of Linacre, p. 152.

|Erasmus comes to England.|

128. Erasmus paid his first visit to England in 1497, and was delighted
with everything that he found, especially at Oxford. In an epistle dated
Dec. 5th, after praising Grocyn, Colet, and Linacre to the skies, he
says of Thomas More, who could not then have been eighteen years old,
“What mind was ever framed by nature more gentle, more pleasing, more
gifted?--It is incredible, what a treasure of old books is found here
far and wide.--There is so much erudition, not of a vulgar and ordinary
kind, but recondite, accurate, ancient, both Latin and Greek, that you
would seek nothing in Italy but the pleasure of travelling.”[487] But
this letter is addressed to an Englishman, and the praise is evidently
much exaggerated; the scholars were few, and not more than three or four
could be found, or at least could now be mentioned, who had any tincture
of Greek,--Grocyn, Linacre, William Latimer, who, though an excellent
scholar, never published anything, and More, who had learned at Oxford
under Grocyn.[488] It should here be added, that, in 1497, Terence was
printed by Pynson, being the first edition of a strictly classical
author in England; though Boethius had already appeared with Latin and
English on opposite pages.

  [487] Thomæ Mori ingenio quid unquam finxit natura vel mollius, vel
     dulcius, vel felicius?... Mirum est dictu, quam hic passim, quam
     dense veterum librorum seges efflorescat ... tantum eruditionis non
     illius protritæ ac trivialis, sed reconditæ, exactæ, antiquæ,
     Latinæ Græcæque, ut jam Italiam nisi visendi gratia non multum
     desideres. Epist. xiv.

  [488] A letter of Colet to Erasmus from Oxford in 1497, is written in
     the style of a man who was conversant with the best Latin authors.
     Sir Thomas More’s birth has not been placed by any biographer
     earlier than 1480.

     It has been sometimes asserted, on the authority of Antony Wood,
     that Erasmus taught Greek at Oxford; but there is no foundation for
     this, and in fact he did not know enough of the language. Knight,
     on the other hand, maintains that he learned it there under Grocyn
     and Linacre; but this rests on no evidence; and we have seen that
     he gives a different account of his studies in Greek. Life of
     Erasmus, p. 22.

|He publishes his Adages.|

129. In 1500 was printed at Paris the first edition of Erasmus’s Adages,
doubtless the chief prose work of this century beyond the limits of
Italy; but this edition should, if possible, be procured, in order to
judge with chronological exactness of the state of literature; for as
his general knowledge of antiquity, and particularly of Greek, which was
now very slender, increased, he made vast additions. The Adages, which
were now about eight hundred, amounted in his last edition to 4151; not
that he could find so many which properly deserve that name, but the
number is made up by explanations of Latin and Greek idioms, or even of
single words. He declares himself, as early as 1504, ashamed of the
first edition of his Adages, which already seemed meagre and
imperfect.[489] Erasmus had been preceded in some measure by Polydore
Virgil, best known as the historian of this country, where he resided
many years as collector of papal dues. He published a book of adages,
which must have been rather a juvenile, and is a superficial production,
at Venice in 1498.

  [489] Epist. cii., jejunum atque inops videri cœpit, posteoquam Græcos
     colui auctores.

|Romantic ballads of Spain.|

130. The Castilian poets of the fifteenth century have been collectively
mentioned on a former occasion. Bouterwek refers to the latter part of
this age most of the romances, which turn upon Saracen story, and the
adventures of “knights of Granada, gentlemen, though Moors.” Sismondi
follows him without, perhaps, much reflection, and endeavours to explain
what he might have doubted. Fear having long ceased in the bosoms of the
Castilian Christians, even before conquest had set its seal to their
security, hate, the child of fear, had grown feebler; and the romancers
felt themselves at liberty to expatiate in the rich field of Mohammedan
customs and manners. These had already exercised a considerable
influence over Spain. But this opinion seems hard to be supported; nor
do I find that the Spanish critics claim so much antiquity for the
Moorish class of romantic ballads. Most of them, it is acknowledged,
belong to the sixteenth, and some to the seventeenth century; and the
internal evidence is against their having been written before the
Moorish wars had become matter of distant tradition. We shall therefore
take no notice of the Spanish romance-ballads till we come to
the age of Philip II., to which they principally belong.[490]

  [490] Bouterwek, p. 121. Sismondi, iii. 222. Romances Moriscos, Madr.

|Pastoral romances.|

131. Bouterwek places in this decade the first specimens of the pastoral
romance which the Castilian language affords.[491] But the style is
borrowed from a neighbouring part of the peninsula, where this species
of fiction seems to have been indigenous. The Portuguese nation
cultivated poetry as early as the Castilian; and we have seen that some
remains of a date anterior to the fourteenth century. But to the heroic
romance they seem to have paid no regard; we do not find that it ever
existed among them. Love chiefly occupied the Lusitanian muse; and to
trace that passion through all its labyrinths, to display its troubles
in a strain of languid melancholy, was the great aim of every poet. This
led to the invention of pastoral romances, founded on the ancient
traditions as to the felicity of shepherds and their proneness to love,
and rendered sometimes more interesting for the time by the introduction
of real characters and events under a slight disguise.[492] This
artificial and effeminate sort of composition, which, if it may now and
then be not unpleasing, cannot fail to weary the modern reader by its
monotony, is due to Portugal, and having been adopted in languages
better known, became for a long time highly popular in Europe.

  [491] P. 123.

  [492] Bouterwek’s Hist. of Portuguese Literature, p. 43.

|Portuguese lyric poetry.|

132. The lyrical poems of Portugal were collected by Garcia de Resende,
in the Cancioneiro Geral, published in 1516. Some few of these are of
the fourteenth century, for we find the name of King Pedro, who died in
1369. Others are by the Infante Don Pedro, son of John I., in the
earlier part of the fifteenth. But a greater number belong nearly to the
present or preceding decade, or even to the ensuing age, commemorating
the victories of the Portuguese in Asia. This collection is of extreme
scarcity; none of the historians of Portuguese literature have seen it.
Bouterwek and Sismondi declare that they have caused search to be made
in various libraries of Europe without success. There is, however, a
copy in the British Museum; and M. Raynouard has given a short account
of one that he had seen in the Journal des Savans for 1826. In this
article he observes, that the Cancioneiro is a mixture of Portuguese and
Spanish pieces. I believe, however, that very little Spanish will be
found, with the exception of the poems of the Infante Pedro, which
occupy some leaves. The whole number of poets is but one hundred and
thirty-two, even if some names do not occur twice; which I mention,
because it has been erroneously said to exceed considerably that of the
Spanish Cancioneiro. The volume is in folio, and contains two hundred
and twenty-seven leaves. The metres are those usual in Spanish; some
_versos de arte mayor_; but the greater part in trochaic
redondillas. I observed no instance of the assonant rhyme; but there are
several glosses, or, in the Portuguese word, _grosas_.[493] The
chief part is amatory; but there are lines on the death of kings, and
other political events.[494]

  [493] Bouterwek, p. 30, has observed, that the Portuguese employ the
     glosa, calling it volta. The word in the Cancioneiro is grosa.

  [494] A manuscript collection of Portuguese lyric poetry of the
     fifteenth century belonged to Mr. Heber, and was sold to Messrs.
     Payne and Foss. It would probably be found on comparison to contain
     many of the pieces in the Cancioneiro Geral, but it is not a copy
     of it.

|German popular books.|

133. The Germans, if they did not as yet excel in the higher department
of typography, were by no means negligent of their own great invention.
The books, if we include the smallest, printed in the empire between
1470 and the close of the century, amount to several thousand editions.
A large proportion of these were in their own language. They had a
literary public, as we may call it, not merely in their courts and
universities, but in their respectable middle class, the burghers of the
free cities, and, perhaps, in the artizans whom they employed. Their
reading was almost always with a serious end; but no people so
successfully cultivated the art of moral and satirical fable. These, in
many instances, spread with great favour through cisalpine Europe. Among
the works of this kind, in the fifteenth century, two deserve mention;
the Eulenspiegel, a book which became popular afterwards in England by
the name of Howleglass, and a superior and better known production, the
Narrenschiff, or Ship of Fools, by Sebastian Brandt of Strasburg, the
first edition of which I do not find referred to any date; but the Latin
translation appeared at Lyons in 1488. It was translated into English by
Barclay, and published early in 1509. It is a metrical satire on the
follies of every class, and may possibly have suggested to Erasmus his
Encomium Moriæ. But the idea was not absolutely new; the theatrical
company established at Paris, under the name of Enfans de San Souci, as
well as the ancient office of jester or fool in our courts and castles,
implied the same principle of satirising mankind with ridicule so
general, that every man should feel more pleasure from the humiliation
of his neighbours, than pain from his own. Brandt does not show much
poetical talent; but his morality is clear and sound; he keeps the pure
and right-minded reader on his side; and in an age when little better
came into competition, his characters of men, though more didactic than
descriptive, did not fail to please. The influence such books of simple
fiction and plain moral would possess over a people, may be judged by
the delight they once gave to children, before we had learned to vitiate
the healthy appetite of ignorance by premature refinements and
stimulating variety.[495]

  [495] Bouterwek, ix. 332-354, v. 113. Heinsius, iv. 113. Warton,
     iii. 74.

|Historical works.|

|Ph. de Comines.|

134. The historical literature of this century presents very little
deserving of notice. The English writers of this class are absolutely
contemptible; and if some annalists of good sense and tolerable skill in
narration may be found on the Continent, they are not conspicuous enough
to arrest our regard in a work which designedly passes over that
department of literature, so far as it is merely conversant with
particular events. But the memoirs of Philip de Comines, which, though
not published till 1529, must have been written before the close of the
fifteenth century, are not only of a higher value, but almost make an
epoch in historical literature. If Froissart, by his picturesque
descriptions, and fertility of historical _invention_, may be
reckoned the Livy of France, she had her Tacitus in Philip de Comines.
The intermediate writers, Monstrelet and his continuators, have the
merits of neither, certainly not of Comines. He is the first modern
writer, (or, if there had been any approach to an exception among the
Italians, it has escaped my recollection,) who in any degree has
displayed sagacity in reasoning on the characters of men, and the
consequences of their actions, or who has been able to generalise his
observation by comparison and reflection. Nothing of this could have
been found in the cloister; nor were the philologers of Italy equal to a
task which required capacities and pursuits very different from their
own. An acute understanding and much experience of mankind gave Comines
this superiority; his life had not been spent over books; and he is
consequently free from that pedantic application of history, which
became common with those who passed for political reasoners in the next
two centuries. Yet he was not ignorant of former times; and we see the
advantage of those translations from antiquity, made during the last
hundred years in France, by the use to which he turned them.


135. The earliest printed treatise of algebra, for that of Leonard
Fibonacci is still in manuscript, was published in 1494, by Luca Pacioli
di Borgo, a Franciscan, who taught mathematics in the university of
Milan. This book is written in Italian, with a mixture of the Venetian
dialect, and with many Latin words. In the first part, he explains the
rules of commercial arithmetic in detail, and is the earliest Italian
writer who shows the principles of Italian book-keeping by double entry.
Algebra he calls l’arte maggiore, detta dal volgo la regola de la cosa,
over alghebra e almacabala, which last he explains by restauratio et
opposito. The known number is called _n_ᵒ or _numero_; _co._ or _cosa_
stands for the unknown quantity; whence algebra was sometimes called the
cossic art. In the early Latin treatises _Res_ is used, or _R._, which
is an approach to literal expression. The square is called _censo_ or
_ce._; the cube, _cubo_ or _cu._; _p._ and _m._ stand for _plus_ and
_minus_. Thus, _3co. p. 4ce. m. 5cu. p. 2ce. ce. m. 6nᵒ_ would have been
written for what would now be expressed 3_x_ + 4_x_² - 5_x_³ + 2_x_⁴ - 6.
Luca di Borgo’s algebra goes as far as quadratic equations; but though
he had very good notions on the subject, it does not appear that he
carried the science much beyond the point where Leonard Fibonacci had
left it three centuries before. And its principles were already familiar
to mathematicians; for Regiomontanus, having stated a trigonometrical
solution in the form of a quadratic equation, adds, quod restat,
præcepta artis edocebunt. Luca di Borgo perceived, in a certain sense,
the application of algebra to geometry, observing, that the rules as to
surd roots are referrible to incommensurable magnitudes.[496]

  [496] Montucla. Kästner. Cossali. Hutton’s Mathem. Dict., art. Algebra.
     The last writer, and perhaps the first, had never seen the book of
     Luca Pacioli.

     Mr. Colebrooke, in his Indian Algebra, has shown that the Hindoos
     carried that science considerably farther than either the Greeks or
     the Arabians (though he thinks they may probably have derived their
     notions of the science from the former), anticipating some of the
     discoveries of the sixteenth century.

|Events from 1490 to 1500.|

136. This period of ten years from 1490 to 1500, will ever be memorable
in the history of mankind. It is here that we usually close the long
interval between the Roman world and this our modern Europe, denominated
the Middle Ages. The conquest of Granada, which rendered Spain a
Christian kingdom; the annexation of the last great fief of the French
crown, Britany, which made France an entire and absolute monarchy; the
public peace of Germany; the invasion of Naples by Charles VIII., which
revealed the weakness of Italy, while it communicated her arts and
manners to the cisalpine nations, and opened the scene of warfare and
alliances which may be deduced to the present day; the discovery of two
worlds by Columbus and Vasco de Gama, all belong to this decade. But it
is not, as we have seen, so marked an era in the progression of

|Close of fifteenth century.|

137. In taking leave of the fifteenth century, to which we have been
used to attach many associations of reverence, and during which the
desire of knowledge was, in one part of Europe, more enthusiastic and
universal than perhaps it has since ever been, it is natural to ask
ourselves what harvest had already rewarded their zeal and labour, what
monuments of genius and erudition still receive the homage of mankind?

|Its literature nearly neglected.|

138. No very triumphant answer can be given to this interrogation. Of
the books then written how few are read! Of the men then famous how few
are familiar in our recollection! Let us consider what Italy itself
produced of any effective tendency to enlarge the boundaries of
knowledge, or to delight the taste and fancy. The treatise of Valla on
Latin grammar, the miscellaneous observations of Politian on ancient
authors, the commentaries of Landino and some other editors, the
Platonic theology of Ficinus, the Latin poetry of Politian and Pontanus,
the light Italian poetry of the same Politian and Lorenzo de’ Medici,
the epic romances of Pulci and Boiardo. Of these, Pulci alone, in an
original shape, is still read in Italy, and by some lovers of that
literature in other countries, and the Latin poets by a smaller number.
If we look on the other side of the Alps, the catalogue is much shorter,
or rather does not contain a single book, except Philip de Comines, that
enters into the usual studies of a literary man. Froissart hardly
belongs to the fifteenth century, his history terminating about 1400.
The first undated edition, with a continuation by some one to 1498, was
printed between that time and 1509, when the second appeared.

|Summary of its acquisitions.|

139. If we come to inquire, what acquisitions had been made between the
years 1400 and 1500, we shall find that, in Italy, the Latin language
was now written by some with elegance, and by most with tolerable
exactness and fluency; while, out of Italy, there had been, perhaps, a
corresponding improvement, relatively to the point from which they
started; the flagrant barbarisms of the fourteenth century having
yielded before the close of the next to a more respectable, though not
an elegant or exact kind of style. Many Italians had now some
acquaintance with Greek, which in 1400 had been hardly the case with any
one; and the knowledge of it was of late beginning to make a little
progress in cisalpine Europe. The French and English languages were
become what we call more polished, though the difference in the former
seems not to be very considerable. In mathematical science, and in
natural history, the ancient writers had been more brought to light, and
a certain progress had been made by diligent, if not very inventive
philosophers. We cannot say that metaphysical or moral philosophy stood
higher than it had done in the time of the schoolmen. The history of
Greece and Rome, and the antiquities of the latter, were, of course,
more distinctly known after so many years of attentive study bestowed on
their principal authors; yet the acquaintance of the learned with those
subjects was by no means exact or critical enough to save them from
gross errors, or from becoming the dupes of any forgery. A proof of this
was furnished by the impostures of Annius of Viterbo, who, having
published large fragments of Megasthenes, Berosus, Manetho, and a great
many more lost historians, as having been discovered by himself,
obtained full credence at the time, which was not generally withheld for
too long a period afterwards, though the forgeries were palpable to
those who had made themselves masters of genuine history.[497]

  [497] Annius of Viterbo did not cease to have believers after this
     time. See Blount, Niceron, vol. ii., Corniani, iii. 131, and his
     article in Biographie Universelle. Apostolo Zeno and Tiraboschi
     have imputed less fraud than credulity to Annius, but most have
     been of another opinion; and it is unimportant for the purpose of
     the text.

|Their imperfection.|

140. We should, therefore, if we mean to judge accurately, not
over-value the fifteenth century, as one in which the human mind
advanced with giant strides in the kingdom of knowledge. General
historians of literature are apt to speak rather hyperbolically in
respect of men who rose above their contemporaries; language frequently
just, in relation to the vigorous intellects and ardent industry of such
men, but tending to produce an exaggerated estimate of their absolute
qualities. But the question is at present not so much of men, as of the
average or general proficiency of nations. The catalogues of printed
books in the common bibliographical collections afford, not quite a
gauge of the learning of any particular period, but a reasonable
presumption, which it requires contrary evidence to rebut. If these
present us very few and imperfect editions of books necessary to the
progress of knowledge, if the works most in request appear to have been
trifling and ignorant productions, it seems as reasonable to draw an
inference one way from these scanty and discreditable lists, as on the
other hand we hail the progressive state of any branch of knowledge from
the redoubled labours of the press, and the multiplication of useful
editions. It is true that the deficiency of one country might be
supplied by importation from another; and some cities, especially Paris,
had acquired a typographical reputation somewhat disproportioned to the
local demand for books; a considerable increase of readers would but
naturally have created a press, or multiplied its operations, in any
country of Europe.

|Number of books printed.|

141. The bibliographies, indeed, even the best and latest, are always
imperfect; but the omissions, after the immense pains bestowed on the
subject, can hardly be such as to affect our general conclusions. We
will therefore illustrate the literary history of the fifteenth century
by a few numbers taken from the typographical annals of Panzer, which
might be corrected in two ways; first, by adding editions since brought
to light, or secondly, by striking out some inserted on defective
authority; a kind of mistake which tends to compensate the former. The
books printed at Florence down to 1500 are 300; at Milan, 629; at
Bologna, 298; at Rome, 925; at Venice, 2835; fifty other Italian cities
had printing presses in the fifteenth century.[498] At Paris, the number
of books is 751; at Cologne, 530; at Nuremberg, 382; at Leipsic, 351; at
Basle, 320; at Strasburg, 526; at Augsburg, 256; at Louvain, 116; at
Mentz, 134; at Deventer, 169. The whole number printed in England
appears to be 141; whereof 130 at London and Westminster; seven at
Oxford; four at St. Albans. Cicero’s works were first printed entire by
Minutianus, at Milan, in 1498; but no less than 291 editions of
different portions appeared in the century. Thirty-seven of these bear
date on this side of the Alps; and forty-five have no place named. Of
ninety-five editions of Virgil, seventy are complete; twenty-seven are
cisalpine, and four bear no date. On the other hand, only eleven out of
fifty-seven editions of Horace contain all his works. It has been
already shown, that most editions of classics printed in France and
Germany are in the last decennium of the century.

  [498] I find this in Heeren, p. 127, for I have not counted the number
     of cities in Panzer.

142. The editions of the vulgate registered in Panzer are ninety-one,
exclusive of some spurious or suspected. Next to theology, no science
furnished so much occupation to the press as the civil and canon laws.
The editions of the digest and decretals, or other parts of those
systems of jurisprudence, must amount to some hundreds.

|Advantages already reaped from printing.|

143. But while we avoid, for the sake of truth, any undue exaggeration
of the literary state of Europe at the close of the fifteenth century,
we must even more earnestly deprecate the hasty prejudice, that no good
had been already done by the culture of classical learning, and by the
invention of printing. Both were of inestimable value, even where their
immediate fruits were not clustering in ripe abundance. It is certain
that much more than ten thousand editions of books or pamphlets (a late
writer says fifteen thousand)[499] were printed from 1470 to 1500. More
than half the number appeared in Italy. All the Latin authors, hitherto
painfully copied by the scholar, or purchased by him at inconvenient
cost, or borrowed for a time from friends, became readily accessible,
and were printed, for the most part, if not correctly, according to our
improved criticism, yet without the gross blunders of the ordinary
manuscripts. The saving of time which the art of printing has
occasioned, can hardly be too highly appreciated. Nor was the cisalpine
press unserviceable in this century, though it did not pour forth so
much from the stores of ancient learning. It gave useful food, and such
as the reader could better relish and digest. The historical records of
his own nation, the precepts of moral wisdom, the regular metre, that
pleased the ear and supplied the memory, the fictions that warmed the
imagination, and sometimes ennobled or purified the heart, the
repertories of natural phenomena, mingled as truth was on these
subjects, and on all the rest, with error, the rules of civil and canon
law, that guided the determinations of private right, the subtle
philosophy of the scholastics, were laid open to his choice; while his
religious feelings might find their gratification in many a treatise of
learned doctrine, according to the received creed of the church, in many
a legend on which a pious credulity delighted to rely, in the devout
aspirations of holy ascetic men; but, above all, in the Scriptures
themselves, either in the Vulgate Latin, which had by use acquired the
authority of an original text, or in most of the living languages of

  [499] Santander, Dict. Bibliogr. du 15me siècle. I do not think so many
     would be found in Panzer. I have read somewhere that the library of
     Munich claims to possess 20,000 Incunabula, or books of the
     fifteenth century: a word lately so applied in Germany. But unless
     this comprehends many duplicates, it seems a little questionable.
     Books were not in general so voluminous in that age as at present.

|Trade of bookselling.|

144. We shall conclude this portion of literary history with a few
illustrations of what a German writer calls “the exterior being of
books,”[500] for which I do not find an equivalent in English idiom. The
trade of bookselling seems to have been established at Paris and at
Bologna in the twelfth century; the lawyers and universities called it
into life.[501] It is very improbable that it existed in what we
properly call the dark ages. Peter of Blois mentions a book which he had
bought of a public dealer (a quodam publico mangone librorum). But we do
not find, I believe, many distinct accounts of them till the next age.
These dealers were denominated Stationarii, perhaps from the open stalls
at which they carried on their business, though statio is a general word
for a shop, in low Latin.[502] They appear, by the old statutes of the
university of Paris, and by those of Bologna, to have sold books upon
commission; and are sometimes, though not uniformly, distinguished from
the Librarii; a word which, having originally been confined to the
copyists of books, was afterwards applied to those who traded in
them.[503] They sold parchment and other materials of writing, which,
with us, though, as far I know, nowhere else, have retained the name of
stationery, and naturally exercised the kindred occupations of binding
and decorating. They probably employed transcribers: we find at least
that there was a profession of copyists in the universities and in large
cities; and by means of these, before the invention of printing, the
necessary books of grammar, law, and theology were multiplied to a great
extent for the use of students; but with much incorrectness, and far
more expense than afterwards. That invention put a sudden stop to their
honest occupation. But whatever hatred they might feel towards the new
art, it was in vain to oppose its reception: no party could be raised in
the public against so manifest and unalloyed a benefit; and the
copyists, grown by habit fond of books, frequently employed themselves
in the somewhat kindred labour of pressmen.[504]

  [500] Aüsseres bucher-wesen. Savigny, iii. 532.

  [501] Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. 142.

  [502] Du Cange, in voc.

  [503] The librarii were properly those who transcribed new books; the
     Antiquarii old ones. This distinction is as old as Cassiodorus; but
     doubtless it was not strictly observed in later times. Muratori,
     Dissert. 43. Du Cange.

  [504] Crevier, ii. 66, 130, et alibi. Du Cange, in voc. Stationarii,
     Librarii. Savigny, iii. 532-548. Chevillier, 302. Eichhorn, ii.
     531. Meiners, Vergleich der Sitten, ii. 539. Greswell’s Parisian
     Press, p. 8.

     The parliament of Paris, on the petition of the copyists, ordered
     some of the first printed books to be seized. Lambinet calls this
     superstition; it was more probably false compassion, and regard for
     existing interests, combined with dislike of all innovation. Louis
     XI., however, who had the merit of esteeming literature, evoked the
     process to the counsel of state, who restored the books. Lambinet,
     Hist. de l’Imprimerie, p. 172.

|Books sold by printers.|

145. The first printers were always booksellers, and sold their own
impressions. These occupations were not divided till the early part of
the sixteenth century.[505] But the risks of sale, at a time when
learning was by no means general, combined with the great cost of
production, paper and other materials being very dear, rendered this a
hazardous trade. We have a curious petition of Sweynheim and Pannartz to
Sixtus IV., in 1472, wherein they complain of their poverty, brought on
by printing so many works, which they had not been able to sell. They
state the number of impressions of each edition. Of the classical
authors they had generally printed 275; of Virgil and the philosophical
works of Cicero, twice that number. In theological publications
the usual number of copies had also been 550. The whole number of copies
printed was 12,475.[506] It is possible that experience made other
printers more discreet in their estimation of the public demand.
Notwithstanding the casualties of three centuries, it seems from the
great scarcity of these early editions, which has long existed, that the
original circulation must have been much below the number of copies
printed, as indeed the complaint of Sweynheim and Pannartz shows.[507]

  [505] Conversations-Lexicon, art. Buchhandlung.

  [506] Maittaire. Lambinet, p. 166. Beckmann, iii. 119, erroneously says
     that this was the number of volumes remaining in their warehouses.

  [507] Lambinet says, that the number of impressions did not generally
     exceed three hundred, p. 197. Even this seems large, compared with
     the present scarcity of books unlikely to have been destroyed by
     careless use.

|Price of books.|

146. The price of books was diminished by four-fifths after the
invention of printing. Chevillier gives some instances of a fall in this
proportion. But not content with such a reduction, the university of
Paris proceeded to establish a tariff, according to which every edition
was to be sold, and seems to have set the prices very low. This was by
virtue of the prerogatives they exerted, as we shall soon find, over the
book-trade of the capital. The priced catalogues of Colinæus and Robert
Stephens are extant, relating, of course, to a later period than the
present; but we shall not return to the subject. The Greek Testament of
Colinæus was sold for twelve sous, the Latin for six. The folio Latin
Bible, printed by Stephens in 1532, might be had for one hundred sous, a
copy of the Pandacts for forty sous, a Virgil for two sous and six
deniers; a Greek grammar of Clenardus for two sous, Demosthenes and
Æschines, I know not what edition, for five sous. It would of course be
necessary, before we can make any use of these prices, to compare them
with that of corn.[508]

  [508] Chevillier, Origines de l’Imprimerie de Paris, p. 370 et seq.
     In the preceding pages he mentions what I should perhaps have
     introduced before, that a catalogue of the books in the Sorbonne,
     in 1292, contains above 1000 volumes, which were collectively
     valued at 3,812 livres, 10 sous, 8 deniers. In a modern English
     book on literary antiquities, this is set down 3,812_l._ 10_s._
     8_d._; which is a happy way of helping the reader.

     Lambinet mentions a few prices of early books, which are not
     trifling. The Mentz Bible of 1462 was purchased in 1470 by a bishop
     of Angers for forty gold crowns. An English gentleman paid eighteen
     gold florins, in 1481, for a missal: upon which Lambinet makes a
     remark:--Mais on a toujours fait payer plus cher aux Anglais qu’aux
     autres nations, p. 198. The florin was worth about four francs of
     present money, equivalent perhaps to twenty-four in command of
     commodities. The crown was worth rather more.

     Instances of an almost incredible price of manuscripts are to be
     met with in Robertson and other common authors. It is to be
     remembered that a particular book might easily bear a monopoly
     price; and that this is no test of the cost of those which might be
     multiplied by copying.

|Form of books.|

147. The more usual form of books printed in the fifteenth century is in
folio. But the Psalter of 1457, and the Donatus of the same year, are in
quarto; and this size is not uncommon in the early Italian editions of
classics. The disputed Oxford book of 1468, Sancti Jeronymi Expositio,
is in octavo, and would, if genuine, be the earliest specimen of that
size, which may perhaps furnish an additional presumption against the
date. It is at least, however, of 1478, when the octavo form, as we
shall immediately see, was of the rarest occurrence. Maittaire, in whom
alone I have had the curiosity to make this search, which would be more
troublesome in Panzer’s arrangement, mentions a book printed in octavo
at Milan in 1470; but the existence of this, and of one or two more that
follow, seems equivocal; and the first on which we can rely is the
Sallust, printed at Valencia in 1475. Another book of that form, at
Treviso, occurs in the same year, and an edition of Pliny’s epistles at
Florence in 1478. They become from this time gradually more common; but
even at the end of the century form rather a small proportion of
editions. I have not observed that the duodecimo division of the sheet
was adopted in any instance. But it is highly probable that the volumes
of Panzer furnish means of correcting these little notices, which I
offer as suggestions to persons more erudite in such matters. The price
and convenience of books are evidently not unconnected with their size.

|Exclusive privileges.|

148. Nothing could be less unreasonable than that the printer should
have a better chance of indemnifying himself and the author, if in those
days the author, as probably he did, hoped for some lucrative return
after his exhausting drudgery, by means of an exclusive privilege. The
senate of Venice granted an exclusive privilege for five years to John
of Spire in 1469, for the first book printed in the city, his edition of
Cicero’s epistles.[509] But I am not aware that this extended to
any other work. And this seems to have escaped the learned Beckmann, who
says that the earliest instance of protected copyright on record appears
to be in favour of a book insignificant enough, a missal for the church
of Bamberg, printed in 1490. It is probable that other privileges of an
older date have not been found. In 1491, one occurs at the end of a book
printed at Venice, and five more at the same place within the century;
the Aristotle of Aldus being one of the books: one also is found at
Milan. These privileges are always recited at the end of the volume.
They are, however, very rare in comparison with the number of books
published, and seem not accorded by preference to the most important

  [509] Tiraboschi, vi. 139. I have a recollection of some more decisive
     authority than this passage, but cannot find it.

  [510] Beckmann’s Hist. of Inventions, iii. 109.

|Power of universities over bookselling.|

149. In these exclusive privileges, the printer was forced to call in
the magistrate for his own benefit. But there was often a different sort
of interference by the civil power with the press. The destruction of
books, and the prohibition of their sale, had not been unknown to
antiquity; instances of it occur in the free republics of Athens and
Rome; but it was naturally more frequent under suspicious despotisms,
especially when to the jealousy of the state was superadded that of the
church, and novelty, even in speculation, became a crime.[511] Ignorance
came on with the fall of the empire, and it was unnecessary to guard
against the abuse of an art which very few possessed at all. With the
first revival of letters in the eleventh and twelfth centuries sprang up
the reviving shoots of heretical freedom; but with Berenger and Abelard
came also the jealousy of the church, and the usual exertion of the
right of the strongest. Abelard was censured by the council of Soissons
in 1121, for suffering copies of his book to be taken without the
approbation of his superiors, and the delinquent volumes were given to
the flames. It does not appear, however, that any regulation on this
subject had been made.[512] But when the sale of books became the
occupation of a class of traders, it was deemed necessary to place them
under restraint. Those of Paris and Bologna, the cities, doubtless,
where the greatest business of this kind was carried on, came altogether
into the power of the universities. It is proved by various statutes of
the university of Paris, originating, no doubt, in some authority
conferred by the crown, and bearing date from the year 1275 to 1403,
that booksellers were appointed by the university, and considered as its
officers, probably matriculated by entry on her roll; that they took an
oath, renewable at her pleasure, to observe her statutes and
regulations; that they were admitted upon security, and testimonials to
their moral conduct; that no one could sell books in Paris without this
permission; and that they could expose no book to sale without
communication with the university, and without its approbation; that the
university fixed the prices, according to the tariff of four sworn
booksellers, at which books should be sold, or lent to the scholars;
that a fine might be imposed for incorrect copies; that the sellers were
bound to fix up in their shops a priced catalogue of their books,
besides other regulations of less importance. Books, deemed by the
university unfit for perusal were sometimes burned by its order.[513]
Chevillier gives several prices for lending books (pro exemplari
concesso scholaribus) fixed about 1303. The books mentioned are all of
divinity, philosophy, or canon law; on an average, the charge for about
twenty pages was a sol. The university of Toulouse exercised the same
authority; and Albert III., archduke of Austria, founding the university
of Vienna about 1384, copied the statutes of Paris in this control over
bookselling as well as in other respects.[514] The stationarii of
Bologna were also bound by oath, and gave sureties, to fulfil their
duties towards the university; one of these was, to keep by them copies
of books to the number of one hundred and seventeen, for the hire of
which a price was fixed.[515] By degrees, however, a class of
booksellers grew up at Paris, who took no oath to the university, and
were consequently not admitted to its privileges, being usually poor
scholars, who were tolerated in selling books at a low price. These were
of no importance, till the privileged, or sworn traders, having been
reduced by a royal ordinance of 1488 to twenty-four, this lower class
silently increased, at length the practice of taking an oath to the
university fell into disuse.[516]

  [511] Id.

  [512] Hist. Litt. de la France, ix. 28.

  [513] Chevillier, Origines de l’Imprimerie de Paris, p. 302, et seq.
     Crevier, ii. 66.

  [514] Chevillier, ibid.

  [515] Savigny, iii. 540.

  [516] Chevillier, 334-351.

|Restraints on sale of printed books.|

150. The vast and sudden extension of the means of communicating and
influencing opinion which the discovery of printing afforded, did not
long remain unnoticed. Few have temper and comprehensive views
enough not to desire the prevention by force of that which they reckon
detrimental to truth and right. Hermolaus Barbarus, in a letter to
Merula, recommends that, on account of the many trifling publications
which took men off from reading the best authors, nothing should be
printed without the approbation of competent judges.[517] The
governments of Europe cared little for what seemed an evil to Hermolaus.
But they perceived that, especially in Germany, a country where the
principles that were to burst out in the Reformation were evidently
germinating in this century, where a deep sense of the corruptions of
the church pervaded every class, that incredible host of popular
religious tracts, which the Rhine and Neckar poured forth like their
waters, were of no slight danger to the two powers, or at least the
union of the two, whom the people had so long obeyed. We find,
therefore, an instance, in 1480, of a book called Nosce Teipsum, printed
at Heidelberg with the approving testimonies of four persons, who may be
presumed, though it is not stated, to have been appointed censors on
that occasion.[518] Two others, one of which is a Bible, have been found
printed at Cologne in 1479; in the subscription to which, the language
of public approbation by the university is more express. The first known
instance, however, of the regular appointment of a censor on books is in
the mandate of Berthold, archbishop of Mentz, in 1486. “Notwithstanding,”
he begins, “the facility given to the acquisition of science by the
divine art of printing, it has been found that some abuse this
invention, and convert that which was designed for the instruction of
mankind to their injury. For books on the duties and doctrines of
religion are translated from Latin into German, and circulated among the
people, to the disgrace of religion itself; and some have even had the
rashness to make faulty versions of the canons of the church into the
vulgar tongue, which belong to a science so difficult, that it is enough
to occupy the life of the wisest man. Can such men assert, that our
German language is capable of expressing what great authors have written
in Greek and Latin on the high mysteries of the Christian faith, and on
general science? Certainly it is not; and hence they either invent new
words, or use old ones in erroneous senses; a thing especially dangerous
in sacred Scripture. For who will admit that men without learning, or
women, into whose hands these translations may fall, can find the true
sense of the gospels, or of the epistles of St. Paul? much less can they
enter on questions which, even among catholic writers, are open to
subtle discussion. But since this art was first discovered in this city
of Mentz, and we may truly say by divine aid, and is to be maintained by
us in all its honour, we strictly forbid all persons to translate, or
circulate when translated, any books upon any subject whatever from the
Greek, Latin, or any other tongue, into German, until, before printing,
and again before their sale, such translations shall be approved by four
doctors herein named, under penalty of excommunication, and of
forfeiture of the books, and of one hundred golden florins to the use of
our exchequer.”[519]

  [517] Beckmann, iii. 98.

  [518] Beckmann, 99.

  [519] Beckmann, 101, from the fourth volume of Guden’s Codex
     Diplomaticus. The Latin will be found in Beckmann.

|Effect of printing on the Reformation.|

151. I have given the substance of this mandate rather at length,
because it has a considerable bearing on the preliminary history of the
Reformation, and yet has never, to my knowledge, been produced with that
view. For it is obvious that it was on account of religious
translations, and especially those of the Scripture, which had been very
early printed in Germany, that this alarm was taken by the worthy
archbishop. A bull of Alexander VI., in 1501, reciting that many
pernicious books had been printed in various parts of the world, and
especially in the provinces of Cologne, Mentz, Treves, and Magdeburg,
forbids all printers in these provinces to publish any books without the
licence of the archbishops or their officials.[520] We here perceive the
distinction made between these parts of Germany and the rest of Europe,
and can understand their ripeness for the ensuing revolution. We
perceive, also, the vast influence of the art of printing upon the
Reformation. Among those who have been sometimes enumerated as its
precursors, a place should be left for Schœffer and Gutenberg; nor has
this always been forgotten.[521]

  [520] Id. 106.

  [521] Gerdes, in his Hist. Evangel. Reformati, who has gone very
     laboriously into this subject, justly dwells on the influence of
     the art of printing.

                             CHAPTER IV.


                         SECT. I. 1501-1510.

_Classical Learning of Italy in this Period--Of France, Germany, and
England--Works of Polite Literature in Languages of Italy, Spain, and

|Decline of learning in Italy.|

1. The new century did not begin very auspiciously for the literary
credit of Italy. We may, indeed, consider the whole period between the
death of Lorenzo in 1492, and the pontificate of his son in 1513, as
less brilliant than the two ages which we connect with their names. But
when measured by the labours of the press, the last ten years of the
fifteenth century were considerably more productive than any which had
gone before. In the present decade a striking decline was perceptible.
Thus, in comparing the numbers of books printed in the chief towns of
Italy, we find--

            1491-1500         1501-1510
     Florence  179               47
     Rome      460               41
     Milan     228               99
     Venice   1491              536[522]

Such were the fruits of the ambition of Ferdinand and of Louis XII., and
the first interference of strangers with the liberties of Italy. Wars so
protracted within the bosom of a country, if they do not prevent the
growth of original genius, must yet be unfavourable to that secondary,
but more diffused excellence, which is nourished by the wealth of
patrons and the tranquillity of universities. Thus the gymnasium of
Rome, founded by Eugenius IV., but lately endowed and regulated by
Alexander VI., who had established it in a handsome edifice on the
Quirinal hill, was despoiled of its revenues by Julius II., who, with
some liberality towards painters, had no regard for learning; and this
will greatly account for the remarkable decline in the typography of
Rome. Thus, too, the Platonic school at Florence soon went to decay
after the fall of the Medici, who had fostered it; and even the rival
philosophy which rose upon its ruins, and was taught at the beginning of
this century with much success at Padua by Pomponatius, according to the
original principles of Aristotle, and by two other professors of great
eminence in their time, Nifo and Achillini, according to the system of
Averroes, could not resist the calamities of war: the students of that
university were dispersed in 1509, after the unfortunate defeat of

  [522] Panzer.

|Press of Aldus.|

2. Aldus himself left Venice in 1506, his effects in the territory
having been plundered, and did not open his press again till 1512, when
he entered into partnership with his father-in-law, Andrew Asola. He had
been actively employed during the first years of the century. He
published Sophocles, Herodotus, and Thucydides in 1502, Euripides and
Herodian in 1503, Demosthenes in 1504. These were important accessions
to Greek learning, though so much remained behind. A circumstance may be
here mentioned, which had so much influence in facilitating the
acquisition of knowledge, that it renders the year 1501 a sort of epoch
in literary history. He that year not only introduced a new Italic
character, called Aldine, more easily read perhaps than his Roman
letters, which are somewhat rude; but, what was of more importance,
began to print in a small octavo or duodecimo form, instead of the
cumbrous and expensive folios that had been principally in use. Whatever
the great of ages past might seem to lose by this indignity, was more
than compensated in the diffused love and admiration of their writings.
“With what pleasure,” says M. Renouard, “must the studious man, the
lover of letters, have beheld these benevolent octavos, these Virgils
and Horaces contained in one little volume, which he might carry in his
pocket while travelling or in a walk; which besides cost him hardly more
than two of our francs, so that he could get a dozen of them for the
price of one of those folios, that had hitherto been the sole furniture
of his library. The appearance of these correct and well printed octavos
ought to be as much remarked as the substitution of printed books for
manuscripts itself.”[523] We have seen above, that not only quartos,
nearly as portable perhaps as octavos, but the latter form also, had
been coming into use towards the close of the fifteenth century, though,
I believe, it was sparingly employed for classical authors.

  [523] Renouard, Hist. de l’Imprimerie des Aldes. Roscoe’s Leo. X.
     ch. ii.

|His academy.|

3. It was about 1500, that Aldus drew together a few scholars into a
literary association, called Aldi Neacademia. Not only amicable
discussions, but the choice of books to be printed, of manuscripts and
various readings, occupied their time, so that they may be considered as
literary partners of the noble-minded printer. This academy was
dispersed by the retirement of Aldus from Venice, and never met

  [524] Tiraboschi. Roscoe. Renouard. Scipio Forteguerra, who latinized
     his name into Carteromachus, was secretary to this society, and
     among its most distinguished members. He was celebrated in his time
     for a discourse, De Laudibus Literarum Græcarum, reprinted by Henry
     Stephens in his Thesaurus. Biogr. Univ., Forteguerra.

|Dictionary of Calepio.|

4. The first edition of Calepio’s Latin Dictionary, which, though far
better than one or two obscure books that preceded it, and enriched by
plundering the stores of Valla and Perotti, was very defective, appeared
at Reggio in 1502.[525] It was so greatly augmented by subsequent
improvers, that calepin has become a name in French for any voluminous
compilation. This dictionary was not only of Latin and Italian, but
several other languages; and these were extended in the Basle edition of
1581 to eleven. It is still, if not the best, the most complete
polyglott lexicon for the European languages. Calepio, however moderate
might be his erudition, has just claim to be esteemed one of the most
effective instruments in the restoration of the Latin language in its
purity to general use; for though some had by great acuteness and
diligence attained a good style in the fifteenth century, that age was
looked upon in Italy itself as far below the subsequent period.[526]

  [525] Brunet. Tiraboschi (x. 383) gives some reason to suspect that
     there may have been an earlier edition.

  [526] Calepio is said by Morhof and Baillet to have copied Perotti’s
     Cornucopia almost entire. Sir John Elyot long before had remarked:
     “Calepin nothing amended, but rather appaired that which Perottus
     had studiously gathered.” But the Cornucopia was not a complete
     dictionary. It is generally agreed, that Calepio was an indifferent
     scholar, and that the first editions of his dictionary are of no
     great value. Nor have those who have enlarged it done so with
     exactness, or with selection of good latinity. Even Passerat, the
     most learned of them, has not extirpated the unauthorised words of
     Calepio. Baillet, Jugemens des Savans, ii. 44.

     Several bad dictionaries, abridged from the Catholicon, appeared
     near the end of the fifteenth century, and at the beginning of the
     next. Du Cange, præfat in Glossar, p. 47.

|Books printed in Germany.|

5. We may read in Panzer the titles of 325 books printed during these
ten years at Leipsic, 60 of which are classical, but chiefly, as before,
small school-books; 14 out of 214 at Cologne; 10 out of 208 at
Strasburg; 1 out of 84 at Basle; but scarcely any books whatever appear
at Louvain. One printed at Erfurt in 1501 deserves some attention. The
title runs “Εισαγωγη προς των γραμματων Ελληνων [Eisagôgê pros tôn
grammatôn Ellênôn], Elementale Introductorium in idioma Græcanicum,”
with some more words. Panzer observes: “This Greek grammar, published by
some unknown person, is undoubtedly the first which was published in
Germany since the invention of printing.” In this, however, as has
already been shown, he is mistaken; unless we deny to the book printed
at Deventer the name of a grammar. But Panzer was not acquainted with
it. This seems to be the only attempt at Greek that occurs in Germany
during this decade; and it is unnecessary to comment on the ignorance,
which the gross solecism in the title displays.[527]

  [527] Panzer, vi. 494. We find, however, a tract by Hegius, De
     Utilitate Linguæ Græcæ printed at Deventer in 1501; but whether it
     contains Greek characters or not, must be left to conjecture.
     Lambinet says, that Martens, a Flemish printer, employed Greek
     types in quotations as early as 1501 or 1502.

|First Greek press at Paris.|

6. Paris contributed in ten years 430 editions, thirty-two being of
Latin classics. And in 1507 Giles Gourmont, a printer of that city,
assisted by the purse of Francis Tissard, had the honour of introducing
the Greek language on this side, as we may say, of the Alps; for the
trifling exceptions we have mentioned scarcely affect his priority.
Greek types had been used in a few words by Badius Ascensius, a learned
and meritorious Parisian printer, whose publications began about 1498.
They occur in his edition (1505) of Villa’s Annotations on the Greek
Testament.[528] Four little books, namely, a small miscellaneous
volume preceded by an alphabet, the Works and Days of Hesiod, the Frogs
and Mice of Homer, and the Erotemata or Greek grammar of Chrysoloras, to
which four a late writer has added an edition of Musæus, were the first
fruits of Gourmont’s press. Aleander, a learned Italian, who played
afterwards no inconsiderable part in the earlier period of the
Reformation, came to Paris in 1508, and received a pension from Louis
XII.[529] He taught Greek there, and perhaps Hebrew. Through his care,
besides a Hebrew and Greek alphabet in 1508, Gourmont printed some of
the moral works of Plutarch in 1509.

  [528] Chevillier, Origines de l’Imprimerie de Paris, p. 246. Greswell’s
     View of early Parisian Greek Press, i. 15. Panzer, according to Mr.
     Greswell, has recorded nearly 400 editions from the press of
     Badius. They include almost every Latin classic, usually with
     notes. He also printed a few Greek authors. See also Bayle and
     Biogr. Univ. The latter refers the first works from the Parisian
     press of Badius to 1511, but probably by misprint. Badius had
     learned Greek at Ferrara. If Bayle is correct, he taught it at
     Lyons before he set up his press at Paris, which is worthy of
     notice; but he gives no authority, except for the fact of his
     teaching in the former city, which might not be the Greek language.
     It is said, however, that he came to Paris in order to give
     instruction in Greek about 1499. Bayle, art. Badius, note H. It is
     said in the Biographie Universelle, that Denys le Fevre taught
     Greek at Paris in 1504, when only sixteen years old; but the story
     seems apocryphal.

  [529] Aleander was no favourite with Erasmus, and Luther utters many
     invectives against him. He was a strenuous supporter of all things
     as they were in the church, and would have presided in the council
     of Trent, as legate of Paul III., who had given him a cardinal’s
     hat, if he had not been prevented by death. His epitaph on himself
     may be mentioned, as the best Greek verses by a Frank that I
     remember to have read before the middle of the eighteenth century,
     though the reader may not think much of them.

          κάτθανον οὐκ ἀέκων, ὅτι πάυσομαι ὣν ἐπιμάρτθς
          πόλλων, ὥνπερ ἰδεῖν ἀλγίον ἤν θανάτου.
          [katthanon ouk aekôn, hoti pausomai hôn epimartus
          pollôn, hônper idein algion ên thanatou.]

     It is fair to say of Aleander, that he was the friend of Sadolet.
     In a letter of that excellent person to Paul III., he praises
     Aleander very highly, and requests for him the hat, which the Pope
     in consequence bestowed. Sadolet. Epist. l. xii. See, for Aleander,
     Bayle; Sleidan, Hist. de la Réformation, l. ii. and iii.; Roscoe’s
     Leo X., ch. xxi.; Jortin’s Erasmus, passim.

|Early studies of Melanchthon.|

7. We learn from a writer of the most respectable authority, Camerarius,
that the elements of Greek were already taught to some boys in parts of
Germany.[530] About 1508, Reuchlin, on a visit to George Simler, a
schoolmaster in Hesse, found a relation of his own, little more than ten
years old, who, uniting extraordinary quickness with thirst for
learning, had already acquired the rudiments of that language; and
presenting him with a lexicon and grammar, precious gifts in those
times, changed his German name, Schwartzerd, to one of equivalent
meaning and more classical sound, Melanchthon. He had himself set the
example of assuming a name of Greek derivation, being almost as much
known by the name of Capnio as by his own. And this pedantry, which
continued to prevail for a century and a half afterwards, might be
excused by the great uncouthness of many German, not to say French and
English, surnames in their latinised forms. Melanchthon, the precocity
of his youth being followed by a splendid maturity, became not only one
of the greatest lights of the Reformation, but, far above all others,
the founder of general learning in Germany.[531]

  [530] Jam enim pluribus in locis melius quam dudum pueritia institui
     et doctrina in scholis usurpari politior, quod et bonorum autorum
     scripta in manus tenerentur, et elementa quoque linguæ Græcæ
     alicubi proponerentur ad discendum, cum seniorum admiratione
     maxima, et ardentissima cupiditate juniorum, cujus utriusque tum
     non tam judicium quam novitas causa fuit. Similerus, qui postea ex
     primario grammatico eximius jurisconsultus factus est, initio hanc
     doctrinam non vulgandam aliquantisper, arbitrabatur. Itaque
     Græcarum literarum scholam explicabat aliquot discipulis suis
     privatim, quibus debat hanc operam peculiarem, ut quos summopere
     diligeret. Camerarius, Vita Melanchthonis. I find also in one of
     Melanchthon’s own epistles, that he learned the Greek grammar from
     George Simler. Epist. Melanchthon, p. 351 (edit. 1647.)

  [531] Camerarius. Meiners, i. 73. The Biographie Universelle, art.
     Melanchthon, calls him nephew of Reuchlin: but this seems not to be
     the case; Camerarius only says, that their families were connected
     quadam cognationis necessitudine.

|Learning in England.|

8. England seems to have been nearly stationary in academical learning
during the unpropitious reign of Henry VII.[532] But just hopes were
entertained from the accession of his son in 1509, who had received in
some degree a learned education. And the small knot of excellent men,
united by zeal for improvement, Grocyn, Linacre, Latimer, Fisher, Colet,
More, succeeded in bringing over their friend Erasmus to teach Greek at
Cambridge in 1510. The students, he says, were too poor to pay him
anything; nor had he many scholars.[533] His instruction was
confined to the grammar. In the same year, Colet, dean of St. Paul’s,
founded there a school, and published a Latin grammar; five or six
little works of the kind had already appeared in England.[534] These
trifling things are mentioned to let the reader take notice that there
is nothing more worthy to be named. Twenty-six books were printed at
London during this decade; among these Terence in 1504; but no other
Latin author of classical name. The difference in point of learning
between Italy and England was at least that of a century; that is, the
former was more advanced in knowledge of ancient literature in 1400 than
the latter was in 1500.

  [532] “The schools were much frequented with quirks and sophistry. All
     things, whether taught or written, seemed to be trite and inane. No
     pleasant streams of humanity or mythology were gliding among us,
     and the Greek language, from whence the greater part of knowledge
     is derived, was at a very low ebb, or in a manner forgotten.”
     Wood’s Annals of Oxford, A.D. 1508. The word “forgotten” is
     improperly applied to Greek, which had never been known. In this
     reign, but in what part of it does not appear, the university of
     Oxford hired an Italian, one Caius Auberinus, to compose the public
     orations and epistles, and to explain Terence in the schools.
     Warton, ii. 420, from MS. authority.

  [533] Hactenus prælegimus Chrysoloræ grammaticam, sed paucis; fortassis
     frequentiori auditorio Theodori grammaticam auspicabimur. Ep.
     cxxiii. (16th Oct. 1511.)

  [534] Wood talks of Holt’s Lac Puerorum, published in 1497, as if it
     had made an epoch in literature. It might be superior to any
     grammar we already possessed.

|Erasmus and Budæus.|

9. It is plain, however, that on the continent of Europe, though no very
remarkable advances were made in these ten years, learning was slowly
progressive, and the men were living who were to bear fruit in due
season. Erasmus republished his Adages with such great additions as
rendered them almost a new work; while Budæus, in his Observations upon
the Pandects, gave the first example of applying philological and
historical literature to the illustration of Roman law, by which others,
with more knowledge of jurisprudence than he possessed, were in the next
generation signally to change the face of that science.

|Study of eastern languages.|

10. The eastern languages began now to be studied, though with very
imperfect means. Hebrew had been cultivated in the Franciscan
monasteries of Tubingen and Basle before the end of the last century.
The first grammar was published by Conrad Pellican in 1503. Eichhorn
calls it an evidence of the deficiencies of his knowledge, though it
cost him incredible pains. Reuchlin gave a better, with a dictionary, in
1506; which, enlarged by Munster, long continued to be a standard book.
A Hebrew psalter, with three Latin translations, and one French, was
published in 1509 by Henry Stephens, the progenitor of a race
illustrious in typographical and literary history. Petrus de Alcala, in
1506, attempted an Arabic vocabulary, printing the words in Roman

  [535] Eichhorn, ii. 562, 563; v. 609. Meiners’s Life of Reuchlin, in
     Lebensbeschreibungen berühmter Männer, i. 68. A very few instances
     of Hebrew scholars in the fifteenth century might be found, besides
     Reuchlin and Picus of Mirandola. Tiraboschi gives the chief place
     among these to Giannozzo Manetti, vii. 123.

|Dramatic works.|

|Calisto and Melibœa.|

11. If we could trust an article in the Biographie Universelle, a
Portuguese, Gil Vicente, deserves the high praise of having introduced
the regular drama into Europe; the first of his pieces having been
represented at Lisbon in 1504.[536] But, according to the much superior
authority of Bouterwek, Gil Vicente was a writer in the old national
style of Spain and Portugal; and his early compositions are Autos, or
spiritual dramas, totally unlike any regular plays, and rude both in
design and execution. He became, however, a comic writer of great
reputation among his countrymen at a later period, but in the same vein
of uncultivated genius, and not before Machiavel and Ariosto had
established their dramatic renown. The Calandra of Bibbiena, afterwards
a cardinal, was represented at Venice in 1508, though not published till
1524. An analysis of this play will be found in Ginguéné; it bears only
a general resemblance to the Menæchmi of Plautus. Perhaps the Calandra
may be considered as the earliest modern comedy, or at least the
earliest that is known to be extant; for its five acts and intricate
plot exclude the competition of Maitre Patelin.[537] But there is a more
celebrated piece in the Spanish language, of which it is probably
impossible to determine the date; the tragi-comedy, as it has been
called, of Calisto and Melibœa. This is the work of two authors; one
generally supposed to be Rodrigo Cota, who planned the story, and wrote
the first act; the other, Fernando de Rojas, who added twenty more acts
to complete the drama. This alarming number does not render the play
altogether so prolix as might be supposed, the acts being only what with
us are commonly denominated scenes. It is, however, much beyond the
limits of representation. Some have supposed Calisto and Melibœa to
have been commenced by Juan de la Mena before the middle of the
fifteenth century. But this, Antonio tells us, shows ignorance of the
style belonging to that author and to his age. It is far more probably
of the time of Ferdinand and Isabella; and as an Italian translation
appears to have been published in 1514, we may presume that it was
finished and printed in Spain about the present decade.[538]

  [536] Biogr. Univ., art. Gil Vicente. Another Life of the same
     dramatist in a later volume, under the title Vicente, seems
     designed to retract this claim. Bouterwek adverts to this supposed
     drama of 1504, which is an Auto on the festival of Corpus Christi,
     and of the simplest kind.

  [537] Ginguéné, vi. 171. An earlier writer on the Italian theatre is in
     raptures with this play. “The Greeks, Latins, and moderns have
     never made, and perhaps never will make, so perfect a comedy as the
     Calandra. It is, in my opinion, the model of good comedy.”
     Riccoboni, Hist. du Théátre Italien, i. 148. This is much to say,
     and shows an odd taste, for the Calandra neither displays character
     nor excites interest.

  [538] Antonio. Bibl. Hisp. Nova. Andrès, v. 125. La Celestina, says the
     later, certo contiene un fatto bene svolto, e spiegato con episodj
     verisimili e naturali, dipinge con verità i caratteri, ed esprime
     talora con calore gli affetti; e tutto questo à mio giudizio potrà
     bastare per darli il vanto d’essere stata la prima composizione
     teatrale scritta con eleganza e regolarità.

|Its character.|

12. Bouterwek and Sismondi have given some account of this rather
remarkable dramatic work. But they hardly do it justice, especially the
former, who would lead the reader to expect something very anomalous and
extravagant. It appears to me, that it is as regular and well-contrived
as the old comedies generally were: the action is simple and
uninterrupted; nor can it be reckoned very extraordinary, that what
Bouterwek calls the unities of time and place should be transgressed,
when for the next two centuries they were never observed. Calisto and
Melibœa was at least deemed so original and important an accession to
literature, that it was naturalised in several languages. A very early
imitation, rather than version, in English, appears to have been printed
in 1530.[539] A real translation, with the title Celestina (the name of
a procuress who plays the chief part in the drama, and by which it has
been frequently known), is mentioned by Herbert under the year 1598. And
there is another translation, or second edition, in 1631, with the same
title, from which all my acquaintance with this play is derived.
Gaspar Barthius gave it in Latin, 1624, with the title,
Pornobosco-didascalus.[540] It was extolled by some as a salutary
exposition of the effects of vice--

                          Quo modo adolescentulæ
          Lenarum ingenia et mores possent noscere,--

and condemned by others as too open a display of it. Bouterwek has
rather exaggerated the indecency of this drama, which is much less
offensive, unless softened in the translation, than in most of our old
comedies. The style of the first author is said to be more elegant than
that of his continuator; but this is not very apparent in the English
version. The chief characters throughout are pretty well drawn, and
there is a vein of humour in some of the comic parts.

  [539] Dibdin’s Typographical Antiquities. Mr. Collier (Hist. of Dramatic
     Poetry, ii. 408) has given a short account of this production,
     which he says “is not long enough for play, and could only have
     been acted as an interlude.” It must therefore be very different
     from the original.

  [540] Clement, Bibliothèque Curieuse. This translation is sometimes
     erroneously named Pornodidascalus; the title of a very different

|Juan de la Enzina.|

13. The first edition of the works of a Spanish poet, Juan de la Enzina,
appeared in 1501, though they were probably written in the preceding
century. Some of these are comedies, as one biographer calls them, or
rather, perhaps, as Bouterwek expresses it, “sacred and profane
eclogues, in the form of dialogues, represented before distinguished
persons on festivals.” Enzina wrote also a treatise on Castilian poetry,
which, according to Bouterwek, is but a short essay on the rules of

  [541] Bouterwek, Biogr. Univ., art. Enzina. The latter praises this
     work of Enzina more highly, but whether from equal knowledge I
     cannot say. The dramatic compositions above mentioned are most

|Arcadia of Sannazzaro.|

14. The pastoral romance, as was before mentioned, began a little before
this time in Portugal. An Italian writer of fine genius, Sannazzaro,
adopted it in his Arcadia, of which the first edition was in 1502.
Harmonious prose intermingled with graceful poetry, and with a fable
just capable of keeping awake the attention, though it could never
excite emotion, communicate a tone of pleasing sweetness to this volume.
But we have been so much used to fictions of more passionate interest,
that we hardly know how to accommodate ourselves to the mild languor of
these early romances. A recent writer places the Arcadia at the head of
Italian prose in that age. “With a less embarrassed construction,” he
says, “than Boccaccio, and less of a servile mannerism than Bembo, the
style of Sannazzaro is simple, flowing, rapid, harmonious; if it should
seem now and then too florid and diffuse, this may be pardoned in a
romance. It is to him, in short, rather than to Bembo, that we owe the
revival of correctness and elegance in the Italian prose of the
sixteenth century; and his style in the Arcadia would have been far more
relished than that of the Asolani, if the originality of his poetry had
not engrossed our attention.” He was the first who employed in any
considerable degree the sdrucciolo verse, though it occurs before;
but the difficulty of finding rhymes for it drives him frequently upon
unauthorised phrases. He may also be reckoned the first who restored the
polished style of Petrarch, which no writer of the fifteenth century had
successfully emulated.[542]

  [542] Salfi, Continuation de Ginguéné, x. 92. Corniani, iv. 12. Roscoe
     speaks of the Arcadia with less admiration, but perhaps more
     according to the feelings of the general reader. But I cannot
     altogether concur in his sweeping denunciation of poetical prose,
     “that hermaphrodite of literature.” In many styles of composition,
     and none more than such as the Arcadia, it may be read with
     delight, and without wounding a rational taste. The French
     language, which is not well adapted to poetry, would have lost some
     of its most imaginative passages, with which Buffon, St. Pierre,
     and others now living have enriched it, if a highly ornamented
     prose had been wholly proscribed; and we may say the same with
     equal truth of our own. It is another thing to condemn the peculiar
     style of poetry in writings that from their subject demand a very
     different tone.

|Asolani of Bembo.|

15. The Asolani of Peter Bembo, a dialogue, the scene of which is laid
at Asola in the Venetian territory, were published in 1505. They are
disquisitions on love, tedious enough to our present apprehension, but
in a style so pure and polite, that they became the favourite reading
among the superior ranks in Italy, where the coldness and pedantry of
such dissertations were forgiven for their classical dignity and moral
truth. The Asolani has been thought to make an epoch in Italian
literature, though the Arcadia is certainly a more original and striking
work of genius.


16. I do not find at what time the poems in the Scottish dialect by
William Dunbar were published; but the Thistle and the Rose, on the
marriage of James IV. with Margaret of England in 1503, must be presumed
to have been written very little after that time. Dunbar, therefore, has
the honour of leading the vanguard of British poetry in the sixteenth
century. His allegorical poem, The Golden Targe, is of a more extended
range, and displays more creative power. The versification of Dunbar is
remarkably harmonious and exact for his age; and his descriptions are
often very lively and picturesque. But it must be confessed that there
is too much of sunrise and singing-birds in all our mediæval poetry; a
note caught from the French and Provençal writers, and repeated to
satiety by our own. The allegorical characters of Dunbar are derived
from the same source. He belongs, as a poet, to the school of Chaucer
and Lydgate.[543]

  [543] Warton, iii. 90. Ellis (Specimens, i. 377) strangely calls Dunbar
     “the greatest poet that Scotland has produced.” Pinkerton places
     him above Chaucer and Lydgate. Chalmers’s Biogr. Dict.

|Anatomy of Zerbi.|

17. The first book upon anatomy, since that of Mundinus, was by Zerbi of
Verona, who taught in the university of Padua in 1495. The title is,
Liber Anatomiæ Corporis Humani et singulorum Membrorum illius, 1503. He
follows in general the plan of Mundinus; and his language is obscure, as
well as full of inconvenient abbreviations; yet the germ of discoveries
that have crowned later anatomists with glory is sometimes perceptible
in Zerbi; among others that of the Fallopian tubes.[544]

  [544] Portal, Hist. de l’Anatomie. Biogr. Univ., art. Zerbi.

|Voyages of Cadamosto.|

18. We now, for the first time, take relations of voyages into our
literary catalogue. During the fifteenth century, though the old travels
of Marco Polo had been printed several times, and in different
languages, and even those of Sir John Mandeville once; though the
Cosmography of Ptolemy had appeared in not less than seven editions, and
generally with maps, few, if any, original descriptions of the kingdoms
of the world had gratified the curiosity of modern Europe. But the
stupendous discoveries that signalised the last years of that age could
not long remain untold. We may, however, give perhaps the first place to
the voyages of Cadamosto, a Venetian, who, in 1455, under the protection
of prince Henry of Portugal, explored the western coast of Africa, and
bore a part in discovering its two great rivers, as well as the Cape de
Verde islands. “The relation of his voyages,” says a late writer, “the
earliest of modern travels, is truly a model, and would lose nothing by
comparison with those of our best navigators. Its arrangement is
admirable, its details are interesting, its descriptions clear and
precise.”[545] These voyages of Cadamosto do not occupy more than thirty
pages in the collection of Ramusio, where they are reprinted. They are
said to have first appeared at Vicenza in 1507, with the title Prima
Navigazione per l’Oceano alle Terre de’ Negri della Bassa Ethiopia di
Luigi Cadamosto. It is asserted, however, by Brunet, that no edition
exists earlier than 1519, and that this of 1507 is a confusion with the
next book. This was a still more important production, announcing the
great discoveries that Americo Vespucci was suffered to wrest, at least
in name, from a more illustrious though ill-requited Italian: Mondo
Nuovo, e Paeso nuovamente ritrovati da Alberico Vesputio Florentino
intitolati. Vicenza, 1507. It does not appear that any earlier work on
America had been published; but an epistle of Columbus himself, de
Insulis Indiæ nuper inventis, was twice printed about 1493 in Germany,
and probably in other countries; and a few other brief notices of the
recent discovery are to be traced. We find also in 1508 an account of
the Portuguese in the East, which, being announced as a translation from
the native language into Latin, may be presumed to have appeared

  [545] Biogr. Univ., art. Cadamosto.

  [546] See Brunet, art. Itinerarium, &c.

                         SECT. II. 1511-1520.

_Age of Leo X.--Italian Dramatic Poetry--Classical Learning,
especially Greek, in France, Germany, and England--Utopia of
More--Erasmus--His Adages--Political Satire contained in them--
Opposition of the Monks to Learning--Antipathy of Erasmus to
them--Their attack on Reuchlin--Origin of Reformation--Luther--
Ariosto--Character of the Orlando Furioso--Various Works of Amusement
in modern Languages--English Poetry--Pomponatius--Raymond Lully._

|Leo X., his patronage of letters.|

19. Leo X. became pope in 1513. His chief distinction, no doubt, is
owing to his encouragement of the arts, or, more strictly, to the
completion of those splendid labours of Raffaelle, under his
pontificate, which had been commenced by his predecessor. We have here
only to do with literature; and in the promotion of this he certainly
deserves a much higher name than any former pope, except Nicolas V.,
who, considering the difference of the times, and the greater solidity
of his own character, as certainly stands far above him. Leo began by
placing men of letters in the most honourable stations of his court.
There were two, Bembo and Sadolet, who had by common confession reached
a consummate elegance of style, in comparison of which the best
productions of the last age seemed very imperfect. They were made
apostolical secretaries. Beroaldo, second of the name, whose father,
though a more fertile author, was inferior to him in taste, was
intrusted with the Vatican library. John Lascaris and Marcus Musurus
were invited to reside at Rome;[547] and the pope, considering it, he
says, no small part of his pontifical duty to promote the Latin
literature, caused search to be made everywhere for manuscripts. This
expression sounds rather oddly in his mouth; and the less religious
character of transalpine literature is visible in this as in everything

  [547] John Lascaris, who is not to be confounded with Constantine
     Lascaris, by some thought to be his father, and to whom we owe a
     Greek Grammar, after continuing for several years under the
     patronage of Lorenzo at Florence, where he was editor of the
     Anthologia, or collection of epigrams, printed in 1494, on the fall
     of the Medici family entered the service of Charles VIII., and
     lived many years at Paris. He was afterwards employed by Louis XII.
     as minister at Venice. After a residence of some duration at Rome,
     he was induced by Francis I., in 1518, to organise the literary
     institutions designed by the king to be established at Paris. But
     these being postponed, Lascaris spent the remainder of his life
     partly in Paris, partly in Rome, and died in the latter city in
     1535. Hody de Græcis Illustribus.

|Roman gymnasium.|

20. The personal taste of Leo was almost entirely directed towards
poetry and the beauties of style. This, Tiraboschi seems to hint, might
cause the more serious learning of antiquity to be rather neglected. But
there does not seem to be much ground for this charge. We owe to Leo the
publication, by Beroaldo, of the first five books of the Annals of
Tacitus, which had lately been found in a German monastery. It appears
that in 1514 above one hundred professors received salaries in the Roman
university, or gymnasium, restored by the pope to its alienated
revenues.[548] Leo seems to have founded a seminary distinct
from the former, under the superintendence of Lascaris, for the sole
study of Greek, and to have brought over young men as teachers from
Greece. In this academy a Greek press was established, where the
scholiasts on Homer were printed in 1517.[549]

  [548] We are indebted to Roscoe for publishing this list. But as the
     number of one hundred professors might lead us to expect a most
     comprehensive scheme, it may be mentioned that they consisted of
     four for theology, eleven for canon law, twenty for civil law,
     sixteen for medicine, two for metaphysics, five for philosophy
     (probably physics), two for ethics, four for logic, one for
     astrology (probably astronomy), two for mathematics, eighteen for
     rhetoric, three for Greek, and thirteen for grammar, in all a
     hundred and one. The salaries are subjoined in every instance; the
     highest are among the medical professors; the Greek are also high.
     Roscoe, ii. 333, and Append. No. 89.

     Roscoe remarks that medical botany was one of the sciences taught,
     and that it was the earliest instance. If this be right, Bonafede
     of Padua cannot have been the first botanical professor in Europe,
     as we read that he died in 1533. But in the roll of these Roman
     professors we only find that one was appointed ad declarationem
     simplicium medicinæ. I do not think this means more than the
     materia medica; we cannot infer that he lectured upon the plants

  [549] Tiraboschi. Hody, p. 247. Roscoe, ch. 11. Leo was anticipated in
     his Greek editions by Chigi, a private Roman, who, with the
     assistance of Cornelio Benigno, and with Calliergus, a Cretan, for
     his printer, gave to the world two good editions of Pindar and
     Theocritus in 1515 and 1516.

|Latin Poetry.|

21. Leo was a great admirer of Latin poetry; and in his time the chief
poets of Italy seem to have written several of their works, though not
published till afterwards. The poems of Pontanus, which naturally belong
to the fifteenth century, were first printed in 1513 and 1518; and those
of Mantuan, in a collective form, about the same time.

|Italian tragedy.|

|Sophonisba of Trissino.|

22. The Rosmunda of Rucellai, a tragedy in the Italian language, on the
ancient regular model, was represented before Leo at Florence in 1515.
It was the earliest known trial of blank verse; but it is acknowledged
by Rucellai himself, that the Sophonisba of his friend Trissino, which
is dedicated to Leo in the same year, though not published till 1524,
preceded and suggested his own tragedy.[550] The Sophonisba is strictly
on the Greek model, divided only by the odes of the chorus, but not into
five portions or acts. The speeches in this tragedy are sometimes too
long, the style unadorned, the descriptions now and then trivial. But in
general there is a classical dignity about the sentiments, which are
natural, though not novel; and the latter part, which we should call the
fifth act, is truly noble, simple, and pathetic. Trissino was thoroughly
conversant with the Greek drama, and had imbibed its spirit; seldom has
Euripides written with more tenderness, or chosen a subject more fitted
to his genius; for that of Sophonisba, in which many have followed
Trissino with inferior success, is wholly for the Greek school; it
admits, with no great difficulty, of the chorus, and consequently of the
unities of time and place. It must, however, always chiefly depend on
Sophonisba herself; for it is not easy to make Masinissa respectable,
nor has Trissino succeeded in attempting it. The long continuance of
alternate speeches in single lines, frequent in this tragedy, will not
displease those to whom old associations are recalled by it.

  [550] This dedication, with a sort of apology for writing tragedies in
     Italian, will be found in Roscoe’s Appendix, vol. vi. Roscoe quotes
     a few words from Rucellai’s dedication of his poem, L’Api, to
     Trissino, acknowledging the latter as the inventor of blank verse.
     Voi foste il primo, che questo modo di scrivere, in versi materni,
     liberi delle rime, poneste in luce. Life of Leo X. ch. 16. See also
     Ginguéné, vol. vi. and Walker’s Memoir on Italian Tragedy, as well
     as Tiraboschi. The earliest Italian tragedy, which is also on the
     subject of Sophonisba, by Galeotto del Carretto, was presented to
     the Marchioness of Mantua in 1502. But we do not find that it was
     brought on the stage; nor is it clear that it was printed so early
     as the present decade. But an edition of the Pamphila, a tragedy on
     the story of Sigismunda, by Antonio da Pistoja, was printed at
     Venice in 1508. Walker, p. 11. Ginguéné has been ignorant of this
     very curious piece, from which Walker had given a few extracts, in
     rhymed measures of different kinds. Ginguéné indeed had never seen
     Walker’s book, and his own is the worse for it. Walker was not a
     man of much vigour of mind, but had some taste, and great knowledge
     of his subject. This tragedy is mentioned by Quadrio, iv. 58, with
     the title Il Filostrato e Panfila, due Amanti.

     It may be observed, that, notwithstanding the testimony of Rucellai
     himself above quoted, it is shown by Walker (Appendix, No. 3), that
     blank verse had been occasionally employed before Trissino.

|Rosmunda of Rucellai.|

23. The Rosmunda falls in my opinion below the Sophonisba, though it is
the work of a better poet; and perhaps, in language and description it
is superior. What is told in narration, according to the ancient
inartificial form of tragedy, is finely told; but the emotions are less
represented than in the Sophonisba; the principal character is less
interesting, and the story is unpleasing. Rucellai led the way to those
accumulations of horrible and disgusting circumstances which deformed
the European stage for a century afterwards. The Rosmunda is divided
into five acts, but preserves the chorus. It contains imitations of the
Greek tragedies, especially the Antigone, as the Sophonisba does of the
Ajax and the Medea. Some lines in the latter, extolled by modern
critics, are simply translated from the ancient tragedians.

|Comedies of Ariosto.|

24. Two comedies by Ariosto seem to have been acted about 1512, and were
written as early as 1495, when he was but twenty-one years old, which
entitles him to the praise of having first conceived and carried into
effect the idea of regular comedies, in imitation of the ancient, though
Bibbiena had the advantage of first occupying the stage with his
Calandra. The Cassaria and Suppositi of Ariosto are, like the Calandra,
free imitations of the manner of Plautus, in a spirited and natural
dialogue, and with that graceful flow of language which appears
spontaneous in all his writings.[551]

  [551] Ginguéné, vi. 183, 218, has given a full analysis of these
     celebrated comedies. They are placed next to those of Machiavel by
     most Italian critics.

|Books printed in Italy.|

|Cælius Rhodiginus.|

25. The north of Italy still endured the warfare of stranger armies:
Ravenna, Novara, Marignan, attest the well-fought contention. Aldus,
however, returning to Venice in 1512, published many editions before his
death in 1516. Pindar, Plato, and Lysias first appeared in 1513,
Athenæus in 1514, Xenophon, Strabo, and Pausanias in 1516, Plutarch’s
Lives in 1517. The Aldine press then continued under his father-in-law,
Andrew Asola, but with rather diminished credit. It appears that the
works printed during this period, from 1511 to 1520, were, at Rome 116,
at Milan 91, at Florence 133, and at Venice 511. This is, perhaps, less
than from the general renown of Leo’s age we should have expected. We
may select, among the original publications, the Lectiones Antiquæ of
Cælius Rhodiginus (1516), and a little treatise on Italian grammar by
Fortunio, which has no claim to notice but as the earliest book on the
subject.[552] The former, though not the first, appears to have been by
far the best and most extensive collection hitherto made from the stores
of antiquity. It is now hardly remembered; but obtained almost universal
praise, even from severe critics, for the deep erudition of its author,
who, in a somewhat rude style, pours forth explanations of obscure, and
emendations of corrupted passages, with profuse display of knowledge in
the customs and even philosophy of the ancients, but more especially in
medicine and botany. Yet he seems to have inserted much without
discrimination of its value, and often without authority. A more perfect
edition was published in 1550, extending to thirty books instead of

  [552] Regole Grammaticali delle Volgar Lingua. (Ancona, 1516.) Questo
     libro fuor di dubbio è stato il primo che si videsse stampato, a
     darne insegnamenti d’Italiana, eon già eloquenza, ma lingua.
     Fontanini dell’Eloquenza Italiana, p. 5. Fifteen editions were
     printed within six years; a decisive proof of the importance
     attached to the subject.

  [553] Blount. Biogr. Univ., art. Rhodiginus.

|Greek printed in France and Germany.|

26. It may be seen, that Italy, with all the lustre of Leo’s reputation,
was not distinguished by any very remarkable advance in learning during
his pontificate; and I believe it is generally admitted, that the
elegant biography of Roscoe, in making the public more familiar with the
subject, did not raise the previous estimation of its hero and of its
times. Meanwhile the cisalpine regions were gaining ground upon their
brilliant neighbour. From the Parisian press issued in these ten years
eight hundred books; among which were a Greek Lexicon by Aleander, in
1512, and four more little grammatical works, with a short romance in
Greek. This is trifling indeed; but in the cities on the Rhine something
more was done in that language. A Greek grammar, probably quite
elementary, was published at Wittenberg in 1511; one at Strasburg in
1512,--thrice reprinted in the next three years. These were succeeded by
a translation of Theodore Gaza’s grammar by Erasmus in 1516, by the
Progymnasmata Græcæ Literaturæ of Luscinius, in 1517, and by the
Introductiones in Linguam Græcam of Croke, in 1520. Isocrates and Lucian
appeared at Strasburg in 1515; the first book of the Iliad next year,
besides four smaller tracts;[554] several more followed before the end
of the decade. At Basle the excellent printer Frobenius, an intimate
friend of Erasmus, had established himself as early as 1491.[555]
Besides the great edition of the New Testament by Erasmus, which issued
from his press, we find, before the close of 1520, the Works and Days of
Hesiod, the Greek Lexicon of Aldus, the Rhetoric and Poetics of
Aristotle, the first two books of the Odyssey, and several grammatical
treatises. At Cologne two or three small Greek pieces were printed in
1517. And Louvain, besides the Plutus of Aristophanes in 1518, and three
or four others about the same time, sent forth in the year 1520 six
Greek editions, among which were Lucian, Theocritus, and two tragedies
of Euripides.[556] We may hence perceive, that the Greek
language now first became generally known and taught in Germany and in
the Low Countries.

  [554] These were published by Luscinius (Nachtigall), a native of
     Strasburg, and one of the chief members of the literary academy,
     established by Wimpheling in that city. Biogr. Univ.

  [555] Biogr. Univ.

  [556] The whole number of books, according to Panzer printed from
     1511 to 1520 at Strasburg, was 373; at Basle, 289; at Cologne, 120;
     at Leipsic, 462; at Louvain, 57. It may be worth while to remind
     the reader once more that these lists must be very defective as to
     the slighter class of publications, which have often perished to a
     single copy. Panzer is reckoned more imperfect after 1500 than
     before. Biogr. Universelle. In England, we find thirty-six by
     Pynson, and sixty-six by Wynkyn de Worde within these ten years.

|Greek scholars in these countries.|

27. It is evident that these works were chiefly designed for students in
the universities. But it is to be observed, that Greek literature was
now much more cultivated than before. In France there were, indeed, not
many names that could be brought forward; but Lefevre of Etaples,
commonly called Faber Stapulensis, was equal to writing criticism on the
Greek Testament of Erasmus. He bears a high character among contemporary
critics for his other writings, which are chiefly on theological and
philosophical subjects; but it appears by his age that he must have come
late to the study of Greek.[557] That difficult language was more easily
mastered by younger men. Germany had already produced some deserving of
remembrance. A correspondent of Erasmus, in 1515, writes to recommend
Œcolampadius as “not unlearned in Greek literature.”[558] Melanchthon
was, even in his early youth, deemed competent to criticise Erasmus
himself. At the age of sixteen, he lectured on the Greek and Latin
authors of antiquity. He was the first who printed Terence as
verse.[559] The library of this great scholar was in 1835 sold in
London, and was proved to be his own by innumerable marginal notes of
illustration and correction. Beatus Rhenanus stands perhaps next to him
as a scholar; and we may add the names of Luscinius, of Bilibald
Pirckheimer, a learned senator of Nuremberg, who made several
translations, and of Petrus Mosellanus, who became about 1518 lecturer
in Greek at Leipsic.[560] He succeeded our distinguished countryman,
Richard Croke, a pupil of Grocyn, who had been invited to Leipsic in
1514, with the petty salary of 15 guilders, but with the privilege of
receiving other remuneration from his scholars, and had the signal
honour of first imbuing the students of northern Germany with a
knowledge of that language.[561] One or two trifling works on Greek
grammar were published by Croke during this decennium. Ceratinus, who
took his name, in the fanciful style of the times, from his birthplace,
Horn in Holland, was now professor of Greek at Louvain; and in 1525, on
the recommendation of Erasmus, became the successor of Mosellanus at
Leipsic.[562] William Cop, a native of Basle, and physician to Francis
I., published in this period some translations from Hippocrates and

  [557] Jortin’s Erasmus, i. 92. Bayle, Fevre d’Etaples. Blount. Biogr.
     Univ., Febure d’Etaples.

  [558] Erasmus himself says afterwards, Œcolampadius satis novit Græcè,
     Latini sermonis rudior; quanquam ille magis peccat indiligentia
     quam imperitia.

  [559] Cox’s Life of Melanchthon, p. 19. Melanchthon wrote Greek verse
     indifferently and incorrectly, but Latin with spirit and elegance:
     specimens of both are given in Dr. Cox’s valuable biography.

  [560] The lives and characters of Rhenanus, Pirckheimer, and Mosellanus,
     will be found in Blount, Niceron, and the Biographie Universelle;
     also in Gerdes’s Historia Evangel. Renov., Melchior Adam, and other
     less common books.

  [561] Crocus regnat in Academia Lipsiensi, publicitus Græcas docens
     litteras. Erasm. Epist. clvii. 5th June 1514. Eichhorn says, that
     Conrad Celtes and others had taught Latin only, iii. 272.
     Camerarius, who studied for three years under Croke, gives him a
     very high character; qui primus putabatur ita docuisse Græcam
     linguam in Germania, ut plane perdisci illam posse, et quid momenti
     ad omnem doctrinæ eruditionem atque cultum hujus cognitio allatura
     esse videretur, nostri homines sese intelligere arbitrarentur. Vita
     Melanchthonis, p. 27; and Vita Eobani Hessi, p. 4. He was received
     at Leipsic “like a heavenly messenger:” every one was proud of
     knowing him, of paying whatever he demanded, of attending him at
     any hour of the day or night. Melanchthon apud Meiners, i. 165. A
     pretty good life of Croke is in Chalmers’s Biographical Dictionary.
     Bayle does not mention him. Croke was educated at King’s College,
     Cambridge, to which he went from Eton in 1506 and is said to have
     learned Greek at Oxford from Grocyn, while still a scholar of

  [562] Erasmus gives a very high character of Ceratinus. Græcæ linguæ
     peritia superat vel tres Mosellanos, nec inferior ut arbitror,
     Romanæ linguæ facundia. Epist. Dccxxxvii. Ceratinus Græcanicæ
     literaturæs tam exacte callens, ut vix unum aut alteram habeat
     Italia quicum dubitem hanc committere. Magnæ doctrinæ erat
     Mosellanus, spei majoris, et amaban unicè hominis ingenium, nec
     falso dicunt odiosas esse comparationes; sed hoc ipsa causa me
     compellit dicere, longe alia res est. Epist. Dccxxxviii.

|Colleges at Alcala and Louvain.|

28. Cardinal Ximenes, about the beginning of the century, founded a
college at Alcala, his favourite university, for the three learned
languages. This example was followed by Jerome Busleiden, who by his
last testament, in 1516 or 1517, established a similar foundation at
Louvain.[563] From this source proceeded many men of conspicuous
erudition and ability; and Louvain, through its Collegium
trilingue, became in a still higher degree than Deventer had been in the
fifteenth century not only the chief seat of Belgian learning, but the
means of diffusing it over parts of Germany. Its institution was
resisted by the monks and theologians, unyielding though beaten
adversaries of literature.[564]

  [563] Bayle, Busleiden.

  [564] Von der Hardt, Hist. Litt. Reformat.

|Latin style in France.|

29. It cannot be said, that many yet on this side of the Alps wrote
Latin well. Budæus is harsh and unpolished; Erasmus fluent, spirited,
and never at a loss to express his meaning; nor is his style much
defaced by barbarous words, though by no means exempt from them; yet it
seldom reaches a point of classical elegance. Francis Sylvius (probably
Dubois), brother of a celebrated physician, endeavoured to inspire a
taste for purity of style in the university of Paris. He had, however,
acquired it himself late, for some of his writings are barbarous. The
favourable influence of Sylvius was hardly earlier than 1520.[565] The
writer most solicitous about his diction was Longolius (Christopher de
Longueil), a native of Malines, the only true Ciceronian out of Italy;
in which country, however, he passed so much time, that he is hardly to
be accounted a mere cisalpine. Like others of that denomination, he was
more ambitious of saying common things well, than of producing what was
well worthy of being remembered.

  [565] Bayle, art. Sylvius.

|Greek scholars in England.|

30. We have the imposing testimony of Erasmus himself, that neither
France nor Germany stood so high about this period as England. That
country, he says, so distant from Italy, stands next to it in the esteem
of the learned. This, however, is written in 1524. About the end of the
present decennial period we can produce a not very small number of
persons possessing a competent acquaintance with the Greek tongue, more,
perhaps, than could be traced in France, though all together might not
weigh as heavy as Budæus alone. Such were Grocyn, the patriarch of
English learning, who died in 1519; Linacre, whose translation of Galen,
first printed in 1521, is one of the few in that age that escape censure
for inelegance or incorrectness; Latimer, beloved and admired by his
friends, but of whom we have no memorial in any writings of his own;
More, known as a scholar by Greek epigrams of some merit;[566] Lilly,
master of St. Paul’s school, who had acquired Greek at Rhodes, but whose
reputation is better preserved by the grammars that bear his name;
Lupsett, who is said to have learned from Lilly, and who taught some
time at Oxford; Richard Croke, already named; Gerard Lister, a
physician, to whom Erasmus gives credit for skill in the three
languages; Pace and Tunstall, both men well known in the history of
those times; Lee and Stokesley, afterwards bishops, the former of whom
published Annotations on the Greek Testament of Erasmus at Basle in
1520;[567] and probably Gardiner; Clement, one of Wolsey’s first
lecturers at Oxford;[568] Brian, Wakefield, Bullock, and a few more,
whose names appear in Pits and Wood, or even who are not recorded; for
we could not without presumption attempt to enumerate every person who
at this time was not wholly unacquainted with the Greek language. Yet it
would be an error, on the other hand, to make a large allowance for
omissions; much less to conclude that every man who might enjoy some
reputation in a learned profession could in a later generation have
passed for a scholar. Colet, for example, and Fisher, men as
distinguished as almost any of that age, were unacquainted with the
Greek tongue, and both made some efforts to attain it at an advanced
age.[569] It was not till the year 1517 that the first Greek lecture was
established at Oxford by Fox, bishop of Hereford, in his new foundation
of Corpus Christi College. Wolsey, in 1519, endowed a regular
professorship in the university. It was about the same year that Fisher,
chancellor of the university of Cambridge, sent down Richard Croke,
lately returned from Leipsic, to tread in the footsteps of Erasmus as
teacher of Greek.[570] But this was in advance of our neighbours; for no
public instruction in that language was yet given in France.

  [566] The Greek verses of More and Lilly, Progymnasmata Mori et Lilii,
     were published at Basle, 1518. It is in this volume that the
     distich, about which some curiosity has been shown, is found:
     Inveni portum, spes et fortuna valete, &c. But it is a translation
     from the Greek.

     Quid tandem non præstitisset admirabilis ista naturæ felicitas, si
     hoc ingenium instituisset Italia? si totum Musarum sacris vacasset?
     si ad justam frugem ac velut autumnum suum maturuisset? Epigrammata
     lusit adolescens admodum, ac pleraque puer; Britanniam suam nunquam
     egressus est, nisi semel atque iterum principis sui nomine
     legatione functus apud Flandros. Præter rem uxoriam, præter curas
     domesticas, præter publici muneris functionem et causarum undas,
     tot tantisque regni negotiis distrahitur, ut mireris esse otium vel
     cogitandi de libris. Epist. clxix. Aug. 1517. In the Ciceronianus
     he speaks of More with more discriminating praise, and the passage
     is illustrative of that just quoted.

  [567] Erasmus does not spare Lee. Epist. ccxlviii. Quo uno nihil unquam
     adhuc terra produxit, nec arrogantius, nec virulentius, nec
     stultius. This was the tone of the age towards any adversary, who
     was not absolutely out of reach of such epithets. In another place,
     he speaks of Lee as nuper Græcæ linguæ rudimentis initiatus. Ep.

  [568] Knight says (apud Jortin, i. 45) that Clement was the first
     lecturer at Oxford in Greek after Linacre, and that he was
     succeeded by Lupsett. And this seems, as to the fact that they did
     successively teach, to be confirmed by More. Jortin, ii. 396. But
     the Biographia Britannica, art. Wolsey, asserts that they were
     appointed to the chair of rhetoric or humanity; and that
     Calpurnius, a native of Greece, was the first professor of the
     language. No authority is quoted by the editors; but I have found
     it confirmed by Caius in a little treatise De Pronuntiatione Græcæ
     et Latinæ Linguæ. Novit, he says, Oxoniensis schola, quemadmodum
     ipsa Græcia pronuntiavit. ex Matthæo Calpurnio Græco, quem ex
     Græciâ Oxoniam Græcarum literarum gratia perduxerat Thomas Wolseus,
     de bonis literis optime meritus cardinalis, cum non alia ratione
     pronuntiant illi, quam quâ nos jam profitemur. Caius de Pronunt.
     Græc. et Lat. Linguæ, edit. Jebb, p. 228.

  [569] Nunc dolor me tenet, says Colet in 1516, quod non didicerim
     Græcum sermonem, sine cujus peritia nihil sumus. From a later
     epistle of Erasmus, where he says, Coletus strenue Græcatur, it
     seems likely that he actually made some progress; but at his age it
     would not be very considerable. Latimer dissuaded Fisher from the
     attempt, unless he could procure a master from Italy, which Erasmus
     thought needless. Epist. ccclxiii. In an edition of his Adages, he
     says, Joannes Fischerus tres linguas ætate jam vergente non vulgari
     studio amplectitur, Chil. iv. Cent. v. 1.

  [570] Greek had not been neglected at Cambridge during the interval,
     according to a letter of Bullock (in Latin Bovillus) to Erasmus in
     1516 from thence. Hic acriter incumbunt literis Græcis, optanque
     non mediocritur tuum adventum, et hi magnopere favent tuæ huic in
     Novum Testamentum editioni. It is probable that Cranmer was a pupil
     of Croke: for in the deposition of the latter before Mary’s
     commissioners in 1555, he says that he had known the archbishop
     thirty-six years, which brings us to his own first lectures at
     Cambridge. Todd’s Life of Cranmer, ii. 449. But Cranmer may have
     known something of the language before, and is, not improbably, one
     of those to whom Bullock alludes.

|Mode of teaching in schools.|

31. By the statutes of St. Paul’s school, dated in 1518, the master is
to be “lerned in good and clene Latin literature, and also in Greke, iff
such may be gotten.” Of the boys he says, “I wolde they were taught
always in good literature both Latin and Greke.” But it does not follow
from hence that Greek was actually taught; and considering the want of
lexicons and grammars, none of which, as we shall see, were published in
England for many years afterwards, we shall be apt to think that little
instruction could have been given.[571] This, however, is not
conclusive, and would lead us to bring down the date of philological
learning in our public seminaries much too low. The process of learning
without books was tedious and difficult, but not impracticable for the
diligent. The teacher provided himself with a lexicon which was in
common use among his pupils, and with one of the grammars published on
the Continent, from which he gave oral lectures, and portions of which
were transcribed by each student. The books read in the lecture-room
were probably copied out in the same manner, the abbreviations giving
some facility to a cursive hand; and thus the deficiency of impressions
was in some degree supplied, just as before the invention of printing.
The labour of acquiring knowledge strengthened, as it always does, the
memory; it excited an industry which surmounted every obstacle, and
yielded to no fatigue; and we may thus account for that copiousness of
verbal learning which sometimes astonishes us in the scholars of the
sixteenth century, and in which they seem to surpass the more
exact philologers of later ages.

  [571] In a letter of Erasmus on the death of Colet in 1522, Epist.
     ccccxxxv (and in Jortin’s App., ii. 315), though he describes the
     course of education at St. Paul’s school rather diffusely, and in a
     strain of high panegyric, there is not a syllable of allusion to
     the study of Greek. Pits, however, in an account of one William
     Horman, tells us, that he was ad collegium Etonense studiorum causa
     missus, ubi avide haustis litteris humanioribus, _perceptisque
     Græcæ linguæ rudimentis_, dignus habitus est qui Cantabrigiam ad
     altiores disciplinas destinaretur. Horman became Græcæ linguæ
     peritissimus, and returned, as head master, to Eton: quo tempore in
     litteris humanioribus scholares illic insigniter erudivit. He wrote
     several works, partly grammatical, of which Pits gives the titles,
     and died, _plenus dierum_, in 1535.

     If we could depend on the accuracy of all this, we must suppose
     that Greek was taught at Eton so early, that one who acquired the
     rudiments of it in that school might die at an advanced age in
     1535. But this is not to be received on Pits’s authority. And I
     find, in Harwood’s Alumni Etonenses, that Horman became head master
     as early as 1485: no one will readily believe, that he could have
     learned Greek while at school: and the fact is, that he was not
     educated at Eton, but at Winchester.

     The Latin grammar which bears the name of Lilly was compiled partly
     by Colet, partly by Erasmus.

|Few classical works printed here.|

32. It is to be observed, that we rather extol a small number of men who
have struggled against difficulties, than put in a claim for any
diffusion of literature in England, which would be very far from the
truth. No classical works were printed except four editions of Virgil’s
Bucolics, a small treatise of Seneca, the first book of Cicero’s
Epistles (the latter at Oxford in 1519), all merely of course for
learners. We do not reckon Latin grammars. And as yet no Greek types had
been employed. In the spirit of truth, we cannot quite take to ourselves
the compliment of Erasmus; there must evidently have been a far greater
diffusion of sound learning in Germany; where professors of Greek had
for some time been established in all the universities, and where a long
list of men ardent in the cultivation of letters could be adduced.[572]
Erasmus had a panegyrical humour towards his friends, of whom there were
many in England.

  [572] Such a list is given by Meiners, i. 154, of the supporters of
     Reuchlin; who comprised all the real scholars of Germany: he
     enumerates sixty-seven, which might doubtless be enlarged.

|State of learning in Scotland.|

33. Scotland had, as might naturally be expected, partaken still less of
Italian light than the south of Britain. But the reigning king,
contemporary with Henry VII., gave proofs of greater good-will towards
letters. A statute of James IV., in 1496, enacts that gentlemen’s sons
should be sent to school in order to learn Latin. Such provisions were
too indefinite for execution, even if the royal authority had been
greater than it was; but it serves to display the temper of the
sovereign. His natural son, Alexander, on whom, at a very early age, he
conferred the archbishopric of St. Andrews, was the pupil of Erasmus in
the Greek language. The latter speaks very highly of this promising
scion of the house of Stuart in one of his adages.[573] But, at the age
of twenty, he perished with his royal father on the disastrous day of
Flodden Field. Learning had made no sensible progress in Scotland; and
the untoward circumstances of the next twenty years were far from giving
it encouragement. The translation of the Æneid by Gawin Douglas, bishop
of Dunkeld, though we are not at present on the subject of poetry, may
be here mentioned in connection with Scottish literature. It was
completed about 1513, though the earliest edition is not till 1553.
“This translation,” says Warton, “is executed with equal spirit and
fidelity; and is a proof that the Lowland Scotch and English languages
were now nearly the same. I mean the style of composition, more
especially in the glaring affectation of anglicising Latin words. The
several books are introduced with metrical prologues, which are often
highly poetical, and show that Douglas’s proper walk was original
poetry.” Warton did well to explain his rather startling expression,
that the Lowland Scotch and English languages were then nearly the same:
for I will venture to say, that no Englishman, without guessing at every
other word, could understand the long passage he proceeds to quote from
Gawin Douglas. It is true that the differences consisted mainly in
pronunciation, and consequently in orthography; but this is the great
cause of diversity in dialect. The character of Douglas’s original
poetry seems to be that of the middle ages in general,--prolix, though
sometimes animated, description of sensible objects.[574]

  [573] Chil. ii. cent. v. 1.

  [574] Warton, iii 111.

|Utopia of More.|

34. We must not leave England without mention of the only work of genius
that she can boast in this age; the Utopia[575] of Sir Thomas More.
Perhaps we scarcely appreciate highly enough the spirit and originality
of this fiction, which ought to be considered with regard to the
barbarism of the times, and the meagreness of preceding inventions. The
Republic of Plato no doubt furnished More with the germ of his perfect
society; but it would be unreasonable to deny him the merit of having
struck out the fiction of its real existence from his own fertile
imagination; and it is manifest, that some of his most distinguished
successors in the same walk of romance, especially Swift, were largely
indebted to his reasoning, as well as inventive talents. Those who read
the Utopia in Burnet’s translation, may believe that they are in
Brobdignag; so similar is the vein of satirical humour and easy
language. If false and impracticable theories are found in the Utopia
(and perhaps he knew them to be such), this is in a much greater degree
true of the Platonic Republic; and they are more than compensated by the
sense of justice and humanity that pervades it, and his bold censures on
the vices of power. These are remarkable in a courtier of Henry VIII.;
but, in the first year of Nero, the voice of Seneca was heard
without resentment. Nor had Henry much to take to himself in the
reprehension of parsimonious accumulation of wealth, which was meant for
his father’s course of government.

  [575] Utopia is named from a King Utopus. I mention this, because some
     have shown their learning by changing the word to Eutopia.

|His inconsistency with his opinions.|

35. It is possible that some passages in the Utopia, which are neither
philosophical nor reconcilable with just principles of morals, were
thrown out as mere paradoxes of a playful mind; nor is it easy to
reconcile his language as to the free toleration of religious worship
with those acts of persecution which have raised the only dark cloud on
the memory of this great man. He positively indeed declares for
punishing those who insult the religion of others, which might be an
excuse for his severity towards the early reformers. But his latitude as
to the acceptability of all religions with God, as to their identity in
essential principles, and as to the union of all sects in a common
worship, could no more be made compatible with his later writings or
conduct, than his sharp satire against the court of Rome for breach of
faith, or against the monks and friars for laziness and beggary. Such
changes, however, are very common, as we may have abundantly observed,
in all seasons of revolutionary commotions. Men provoke these, sometimes
in the gaiety of their hearts with little design, sometimes with more
deliberate intention, but without calculation of the entire
consequences, or of their own courage to encounter them. And when such
men, like More, are of very quick parts, and, what is the usual
attendant of quick parts, not very retentive of their opinions, they
have little difficulty in abandoning any speculative notion, especially
when, like those in the Utopia, it can never have had the least
influence upon their behaviour. We may acknowledge, after all, that the
Utopia gives us the impression of its having proceeded rather from a
very ingenious than a profound mind; and this apparently, is what we
ought to think of Sir Thomas More. The Utopia is said to have been first
printed at Louvain in 1516;[576] it certainly appeared at the close of
the preceding year; but the edition of Basle in 1518, under the care of
Erasmus, is the earliest that bears a date. It was greatly admired on
the Continent; indeed there had been little or nothing of equal spirit
and originality in Latin since the revival of letters.

  [576] Of an undated edition, to which Panzer gives the name of editio
     princeps, there is a copy in the British Museum, and another was in
     Mr. Heber’s library. Dibdin’s Utopia, 1808, preface, cxi. It
     appears from a letter of Montjoy to Erasmus, dated 4th Jan. 1516,
     that he had received the Utopia, which must therefore have been
     printed in 1515; and it was reprinted once at least in 1516 or
     1517. Erasm. Epist. cciii. ccv. Append. Ep. xliv. lxxix. ccli, et
     alibi. Panzer mentions one at Louvain in December 1516. This volume
     by Dr. Dibdin is a reprint of Robinson’s early and almost
     contemporary translation. That by Burnet, 1685, is more known, and
     I think it good. Burnet, and I believe some of the Latin editions,
     omit a specimen of the Utopian language, and some Utopian poetry;
     which probably was thought too puerile.

|Learning restored in France.|

36. The French themselves give Francis I. the credit of having been the
father of learning in that country. Galland, in a funeral panegyric on
that prince, asks if at his accession (in 1513) any one man in France
could read Greek or write Latin? Now this is an absurd question, when we
recollect the names of Budæus, Longolius, and Faber Stapulensis; yet it
shows that there could have been very slender pretensions to classical
learning in the kingdom. Erasmus, in his Ciceronianus, enumerates among
French scholars, not only Budæus, Faber, and the eminent printer,
Jodocus Badius (a Fleming by birth), whom, in point of style, he seems
to put above Budæus, but John Pin, Nicolas Berald, Francis Deloin,
Lazarus Baif, and Ruel. This was however in 1529, and the list assuredly
is not long. But as his object was to show that few men of letters were
worthy of being reckoned fine writers, he does not mention Longueil, who
was one; or whom, perhaps, he might omit, as being then dead.

|Jealousy of Erasmus and Budæus.|

37. Budæus and Erasmus were now at the head of the literary world; and
as the friends of each behaved rather too much like partizans, a kind of
rivalry in public reputation began, which soon extended to themselves,
and lessened their friendship. Erasmus seems to have been, in a certain
degree, the aggressor; at least, some of his letters to Budæus indicate
an irritability, which the other, as far as appears, had not provoked.
Budæus had published in 1514 an excellent treatise, De Asse, the first
which explained the denominations and values of Roman money in all
periods of history.[577] Erasmus sometimes alludes to this with covert
jealousy. It was set up by a party against his Adages, which he
justly considered more full of original thoughts and extensive learning.
But Budæus understood Greek better; he had learned it with prodigious
labour, and probably about the same time with Erasmus, so that the
comparison between them was not unnatural. The name of one is at present
only retained by scholars, and that of the other by all mankind; so
different is contemporary and posthumous reputation. It is just to add
that, although Erasmus had written to Budæus in far too sarcastic a
tone,[578] under the smart of that literary sensitiveness which was very
strong in his temper, yet when the other began to take serious offence,
and to threaten a discontinuance of their correspondence, he made amends
by an affectionate letter, which ought to have restored their good
understanding. Budæus, however, who seems to have kept his resentments
longer than his quick-minded rival, continued to write peevish letters;
and fresh circumstances arose afterwards to keep up his jealousy.[579]

  [577] Quod opus ejus, says Vives, in a letter to Erasmus (Ep. Dcx.),
     Hermolaos omnes, Picos, Politianos, Gazas, Vallas, cunctam Italiam

  [578] Epist. cc. I quote the numeration of the Leyden edition.

  [579] Erasmi Epistolæ, passim. The publication of his Ciceronianus in
     1528, renewed the irritation; in this he gave a sort of preference
     to Badius over Budæus, in respect to style alone; observing that
     the latter had great excellences of another kind. The French
     scholars made this a national quarrel, pretending that Erasmus was
     prejudiced against their country. He defends himself in his
     epistles so prolixly and elaborately, as to confirm the suspicion,
     not of this absurdly imputed dislike to the French, but of some
     little desire to pique Budæus. Epigrams in Greek were written at
     Paris against him by Lascaris and Toussain; and thus Erasmus, by an
     unlucky inability to restrain his pen from sly sarcasm, multiplied
     the enemies, whom an opposite part of his character, its spirit of
     temporising and timidity, was always raising up. Erasm. Epist.
     Mvxi. et alibi.

     This rather unpleasing correspondence between two great men,
     professing friendship, yet covertly jealous of each other, is not
     ill described by Von der Hardt, in the Historia Litteraria
     Reformationis. Mirum dictu, qui undique aculei, sub mellitissima
     oratione, inter blandimenta continua. Genius utriusque
     argutissimus, qui vellendo et acerbe pungendo nullibi videretur
     referre sanguinem aut vulnus inferre. Possint profecto hæ literæ
     Budæum inter et Erasmum illustre esse et incomparabile exemplar
     delicatissimæ sed et perquam aculeatæ concertationis, quæ videretur
     suavissimo absolvi risu et velut familiarissimo palpo. De
     alterutrius integritate neuter visus dubitare; uterque tamen semper
     anceps, tot annis commercio frequentissimo. Dissimulandi artificium
     inexplicabile, quod attenti lectoris admirationem vehat, eumque præ
     dissertationum dulcedine subamara in stuporem vertat. p. 46.

|Character of Erasmus.|

38. Erasmus diffuses a lustre over his age which no other name among the
learned supplies. The qualities which gave him this superiority were his
quickness of apprehension, united with much industry, his liveliness of
fancy, his wit and good sense. He is not a very profound thinker, but an
acute observer: and the age for original thinking was hardly come. What
there was of it in More produced little fruit. In extent of learning, no
one perhaps was altogether his equal. Budæus, with more accurate
scholarship, knew little of theology, and might be less ready perhaps in
general literature than Erasmus. Longolius, Sadolet, and several others,
wrote Latin far more elegantly; but they were of comparatively
superficial erudition, and had neither his keen wit, nor his vigour of
intellect. As to theological learning, the great Lutheran divines must
have been at least his equals in respect of scriptural knowledge, and
some of them possessed an acquaintance with Hebrew, of which Erasmus
knew nothing; but he had probably the advantage in the study of the
fathers. It is to be observed, that by far the greater part of his
writings are theological. The rest either belong to philology and
ancient learning, as the Adages, the Ciceronianus, and the various
grammatical treatises, or may be reckoned effusions of his wit, as the
Colloquies and the Encomium Moriæ.

|His Adages severe on kings.|

39. Erasmus, about 1517, published a very enlarged edition of his
Adages, which had already grown with the growth of his own erudition. It
is impossible to distinguish the progressive accessions they received
without a comparison of editions; and some probably belong to a later
period than the present. The Adages, as we read them, display a
surprising extent of intimacy with Greek and Roman literature.[580] Far
the greater portion is illustrative; but Erasmus not unfrequently
sprinkles his explanations of ancient phrase with moral or literary
remarks of some poignancy. The most remarkable, in every sense, are
those which reflect with excessive bitterness and freedom on kings and
priests. Jortin has slightly alluded to some of these; but they
may deserve more particular notice, as displaying the character of the
man, and perhaps the secret opinions of his age.

  [580] In one passage, under the proverb, Herculei labores, he
     expatiates on the immense labour with which this work, his
     Adages, had been compiled; mentioning, among other difficulties,
     the prodigious corruption of the text in all Latin and Greek
     manuscripts, so that it scarce ever happened that a passage could
     be quoted from them, without a certainty or suspicion of some
     erroneous reading.

|Instances in illustration.|

40. Upon the adage, Frons occipitio prior, meaning, that every one
should do his own business, Erasmus takes the opportunity to observe,
that no one requires more attention to this than a prince, if he will
act as a real prince, and not as a robber. But at present our kings and
bishops are only the hands, eyes, and ears of others, careless of the
state, and of everything but their own pleasure.[581] This, however, is
a trifle. In another proverb, he bursts out: “Let any one turn over the
pages of ancient or modern history, scarcely in several generations will
you find one or two princes, whose folly has not inflicted the greatest
misery on mankind.” And after much more of the same kind: “I know not
whether much of this is not to be imputed to ourselves. We trust the
rudder of a vessel, where a few sailors and some goods alone are in
jeopardy, to none but skilful pilots; but the state, wherein the safety
of so many thousands is concerned, we put into any hands. A charioteer
must learn, reflect upon, and practise his art; a prince need only be
born. Yet government, as it is the most honourable, so is it the most
difficult of all sciences. And shall we choose the master of a ship, and
not choose him, who is to have the care of many cities, and so many
souls? But the usage is too long established for us to subvert. Do we
not see that noble cities are erected by the people; that they are
destroyed by princes? that the community grows rich by the industry of
its citizens, is plundered by the rapacity of its princes? that good
laws are enacted by popular magistrates, are violated by these princes?
that the people love peace; that princes excite war?”[582]

  [581] Chil. i. cent. ii. 19.

  [582] Quin omnes et veterum et neotericorum annales
     evolve, nimirum ita comperies, vix sæculis aliquot unum aut alterum
     extitisse principem, qui non insigni stultitiâ maximam perniciem
     invexerit rebus humanis.... Et haud scio, an nonnulla hujus mali
     pars nobis ipsis sit imputanda. Clavum navis non committimus nisi
     ejus rei perito, quod quatuor vectorum aut paucarum mercium sit
     periculum; et rempublicam, in qua tot hominum millia periclitantur,
     cuivis committimus. Ut auriga fiat aliquis discit artem, exercet,
     meditatur; at ut princeps sit aliquis, satis esse putamus natum
     esse. Atqui rectè gerere principatum, ut est munus omnium longe
     pulcherrimum, ita est omnium etiam multo difficillimum. Deligis,
     cui navem committas, non deligis cui tot urbes, tot hominum capita
     credas? Sed istud receptius est, quam ut convelli possit.

     An non videmus egregia oppida a populo condi, a principibus
     subverti? rempublicam civium industria ditescere, principum
     rapacitate spoliari? bonas leges ferri a plebeiis magistratibus, a
     principibus violari? populum studere paci, principes excitare

41. “It is the aim of the guardians of a prince,” he exclaims in another
passage, “that he may never become a man. The nobility, who fatten on
public calamity, endeavour to plunge him into pleasures, that he may
never learn what is his duty. Towns are burned, lands are wasted,
temples are plundered, innocent citizens are slaughtered, while the
prince is playing at dice, or dancing, or amusing himself with puppets,
or hunting, or drinking. O race of the Bruti, long since extinct! O
blind and blunted thunderbolts of Jupiter! We know indeed that those
corrupters of princes will render account to Heaven, but not easily to
us.” He passes soon afterwards to bitter invective against the clergy,
especially the regular orders.[583]

  [583] Miro studio curant tutores, ne unquam vir sit princeps.
     Adnituntur optimates, ii qui publicis malis saginantur, ut
     voluptatibus sit quam effæminatissimus, ne quid eorum sciat, quæ
     maxime decet scire principem. Exuruntur vici, vastantur agri,
     diripiuntur templa, trucidantur immeriti cives, sacra profanaque
     miscentur, dum princeps interim otiosus ludit aleam, dum saltit,
     dum oblectat se morionibus, dum venatur, dum amat, dum potat. O
     Brutorum genus jam olim extinctum! o fulmen Jovis aut cæcum aut
     obtusum! Neque dubium est, quin isti principum corruptores pœnas
     Deo daturi sint, sed sero nobis.

42. In explaining the adage, Sileni Alcibiadis, referring to things
which, appearing mean and trifling, are really precious, he has many
good remarks on persons and things, of which the secret worth is not
understood at first sight. But thence passing over to what he calls
inversi Sileni, those who seem great to the vulgar, and are really
despicable, he expatiates on kings and priests, whom he seems to hate
with the fury of a modern philosopher. It must be owned he is very
prolix and declamatory. He here attacks the temporal power of the church
with much plainness; we cannot wonder that his Adages required
mutilation at Rome.

43. But by much the most amusing and singular of the Adages is Scarabæus
aquilam quærit; the meaning of which, in allusion to a fable that the
beetle, in revenge for an injury, destroyed the eggs of the eagle, is
explained to be, that the most powerful may be liable to the resentment
of the weakest. Erasmus here returns to the attack upon kings
still more bitterly and pointed than before. There is nothing in the
Contre un of La Boetie, nothing, we may say, in the most seditious libel
of our own time, more indignant and cutting against regal government
than this long declamation: “Let any physiognomist, not a blunderer in
his trade, consider the look and features of an eagle, those rapacious
and wicked eyes, that threatening curve of the beak, those cruel cheeks,
that stern front, will he not at once recognise the image of a king, a
magnificent and majestic king? Add to these a dark, ill-omened colour,
an unpleasing, dreadful, appalling voice, and that threatening scream,
at which every kind of animal trembles. Every one will acknowledge this
type, who has learned how terrible are the threats of princes, even
uttered in jest. At this scream of the eagle the people tremble, the
senate shrinks, the nobility cringes, the judges concur, the divines are
dumb, the lawyers assent, the laws and constitutions give way; neither
right nor religion, neither justice nor humanity avail. And thus, while
there are so many birds of sweet and melodious song, the unpleasant and
unmusical scream of the eagle alone has more power than all the

  [584] Age si quis mihi physiognomon non omnino malus vultum ipsum et
     os aquilæ diligentius contempletur, oculos avidos atque improbos,
     rictum minacem, genas truculentas, frontem torvam, denique illud,
     quod Cyrum Persarum regem tantopere delectavit in principe γρυπὸν
     [grypon], nonne plane regium quoddam simulacrum agnoscet,
     magnificum et majestatis plenum? Accedit huc et color ipse
     funestus, teter èt inauspicatus, fusco squalore nigricans. Unde
     etiam quod fuscum est et subnigrum, aquilum vocamus. Tum vox
     inamœna, terribilis, exanimatrix, ac minax ille querulusque
     clangor, quem nullum animantium genus non expavescit. Jam hoc
     symbolum protinus agnoscit, qui modo periculum fecerit, aut viderit
     certè, quam sint formidandæ principum minæ, vel joco prolatæ.... Ad
     hanc, inquam, aquilæ stridorem illico pavitat omne vulgus,
     contrahit sese senatus, observit nobilitas, obsecundant judices,
     silent theologi, assentantur jurisconsulti, cedunt leges, cedunt
     instituta; nihil valet fas nec pietas, nec æquitas nec humanitas.
     Cumque tam multæ sint aves non ineloquentes, tam multæ canoræ,
     tamque variæ sint voces ac modulatus qui vel saxa possint flectere,
     plus tamen omnibus valet insuavis ille et minime musicus unius
     aquilæ stridor.

44. Erasmus now gives the rein still more to his fancy. He imagines
different animals, emblematic no doubt of mankind, in relation to his
eagle. “There is no agreement between the eagle and the fox, not without
great disadvantage to the vulpine race; in which however they are
perhaps worthy of their fate, for having refused aid to the hares when
they sought an alliance against the eagle, as is related in the Annals
of Quadrupeds, from which Homer borrowed his Battle of the Frogs and
Mice.”[585] I suppose that the foxes mean the nobility, and the hares
the people. Some allusions to animals that follow I do not well
understand. Another is more pleasing: “It is not surprising,” he says,
“that the eagle agrees ill with the swans, those poetic birds; we may
wonder more, that so warlike an animal is often overcome by them.” He
sums up all thus: “Of all birds the eagle alone has seemed to wise men
the apt type of royalty; not beautiful, not musical, not fit for food;
but carnivorous, greedy, plundering, destroying, combating, solitary,
hateful to all, the curse of all, and with its great powers of doing
harm, surpassing them in its desire of doing it.”[586]

  [585] Nihil omnino convenit inter aquilam et vulpem, quanquam id sane
     non mediocri vulpinæ gentis malo; quo tamen haud scio an dignæ
     videri debeant, quæ quondam leporibus συμμαχιαν [symmachian]
     adversus aquilam petentibus auxilium negarint, ut refertur in
     Annalibus Quadrupedum, a quibus Homerus Βατραχομυομαχιαν
     [Batrachomyomachian] mutuatus est.... Neque vero mirum quod illi
     parum convenit cum oloribus, ave nimirum poetica; illud mirum, ab
     iis sæpenumero vinci tam pugnacem belluam.

  [586] Ex universis avibus una aquila viris tam sapientibus idonea visa
     est, quæ regis imaginem repræsentet, nec formosa, nec canora, nec
     esculenta, sed carnivora, rapax, prædatrix, populatrix, bellatrix,
     solitaria, invisa omnibus, pestis omnium; quæ cum plurimum nocere
     possit, plus tamen velit quam possit.

45. But the eagle is only one of the animals in the proverb. After all
this bile against those the royal bird represents, he does not forget
the beetles. These of course are the monks, whose picture he draws with
equal bitterness and more contempt. Here, however, it becomes difficult
to follow the analogy, as he runs a little wildly into mythological
tales of the Scarabæus, not easily reduced to his purpose. This he
discloses at length: “There are a wretched class of men, of low degree,
yet full of malice; not less dingy, nor less filthy, nor less vile than
beetles; who nevertheless by a certain obstinate malignity of
disposition, though they can never do good to any mortal, become
frequently troublesome to the great. They frighten by their ugliness,
they molest by their noise, they offend by their stench; they buzz round
us, they cling to us, they lie in ambush for us, so that it is
often better to be at enmity with powerful men than to attack those
beetles, whom it is a disgrace even to overcome, and whom no one can
either shake off, or encounter, without some pollution.”[587]

  [587] Sunt homunculi quidam, infimæ quidem sortis, sed tamen malitiosi,
     non minus atri quam scarabæi, neque minus putidi, neque minus
     abjecti; qui tamen pertinaci quadam ingenii malitia, cum nulli
     omnino mortalium prodesse possint, magnis etiam sæpenumero viris
     facessunt negotium. Territant nigrore, obstrepunt stridore,
     obturbant fœtore; circumvolitant, hærent, insidiantur, ut non paulo
     satius sit cum magnis aliquando viris simultatem suscipere, quam
     hos lacessere scarabæos, quos pudeat etiam vicisse, quosque nec
     excutere possis, neque conflictari cum illis queas, nisi discedas
     contaminatior. Chil. iii. cent. vii. 1.

     In a letter to Budæus, Ep. ccli., Erasmus boasts of his παρρησια
     [parrêsia] in the Adages, naming the most poignant of them; but
     says, in proverbio αετον κανθαρος μαιευεται [aeton kantharos
     maieuetai], plane lusimus ingenio. This proverb, and that entitled
     Sileni Alcibiadis, had appeared before 1515; for they were
     reprinted in that year by Frobenius, separately from the other
     Adages, as appears by a letter of Beatus Rhenanus in Appendice ad
     Erasm. Epist. Ep. xxviii. Zasius, a famous jurist, alludes to them
     in another letter, Ep. xxvii., praising “fluminosas disserendi
     undas amplificationis immensam ubertatem.” And this, in truth, is
     the character of Erasmus’s style. The Sileni Alcibiadis were also
     translated into English, and published by John Gough; see Dibdin’s
     Typographical Antiquities, article 1433.

     There is not a little severity in the remarks Erasmus makes on
     princes and nobles in the Moriæ Encomium. But with them he seems
     through life to have been a privileged person.

46. It must be admitted, that this was not the language to conciliate;
and we might almost commiserate the sufferance of the poor beetles thus
trod upon; but Erasmus knew that the regular clergy were not to be
conciliated, and resolved to throw away the scabbard. With respect to
his invectives against kings, they proceeded undoubtedly, like those,
less intemperately expressed, of his friend More in the Utopia, from a
just sense of the oppression of Europe in that age by ambitious and
selfish rulers. Yet the very freedom of his animadversions seems to
plead a little in favour of these tyrants, who, if they had been as
thorough birds of prey as he represents them, might easily have torn to
pieces the author of this somewhat outrageous declamation, whom on the
contrary they honoured and maintained. In one of the passages above
quoted, he has introduced, certainly in a later edition, a limitation of
his tyrannicidal doctrine, if not a palinodia, in an altered key.
“Princes,” he says, “must be endured, lest tyranny should give way to
anarchy, a still greater evil. This has been demonstrated by the
experience of many states; and lately the insurrection of the German
boors has taught us, that the cruelty of princes is better to be borne
than the universal confusion of anarchy.” I have quoted these political
ebullitions rather diffusely, as they are, I believe, very little known,
and have given the original in my notes, that I may be proved to have no
way over-coloured the translation, and also that a fair specimen may be
presented of the eloquence of Erasmus, who has seldom an opportunity of
expressing himself with so much elevation, but whose rapid, fertile, and
lively, though not very polished style, is hardly more exhibited in
these paragraphs, than in the general character of his writings.

|His Greek Testament.|

47. The whole thoughts of Erasmus began now to be occupied with his
great undertaking, an edition of the Greek Testament with explanatory
annotations and a continued paraphrase. Valla, indeed, had led the
inquiry as a commentator; and the Greek text without notes was already
printed at Alcala by direction of Cardinal Ximenes; though this edition,
commonly styled the Complutensian, did not appear till 1522. That of
Erasmus was published at Basle in 1516. It is strictly therefore the
princeps editio. He employed the press of Frobenius, with whom he lived
in friendship. Many years of his life were spent at Basle.

|Patrons of letters in Germany.|

48. The public, in a general sense of the word, was hardly yet recovered
enough from its prejudices to give encouragement to letters. But there
were not wanting noble patrons who, besides the immediate advantages of
their favour, bestowed a much greater indirect benefit on literature, by
making it honourable in the eyes of mankind. Learning, which is held
pusillanimous by the soldier, unprofitable by the merchant, and pedantic
by the courtier, stands in need of some countenance from those before
whom all three bow down; wherever at least, which is too commonly the
case, a conscious self-respect does not sustain the scholar against the
indifference or scorn of the prosperous vulgar. Italy was then, and
perhaps has been ever since, the soil where literature, if it has not
always most flourished, has stood highest in general estimation. But in
Germany also, at this time, the emperor Maximilian, whose character is
neither to be estimated by the sarcastic humour of the Italians, nor by
the fond partiality of his countrymen, and especially his own, in his
self-delineation of Der Weisse König, the Wise King, but really a brave
and generous man of lively talents, Frederic, justly denominated the
Wise, elector of Saxony, Joachim elector of Brandeburg, Albert
archbishop of Mentz, were prominent among the friends of genuine
learning. The university of Wittenberg, founded by the second of these
princes in 1502, rose in this decade to great eminence, not only as the
birthplace of the Reformation, but as the chief school of philological
and philosophical literature. That of Frankfort on the Oder was
established by the elector of Brandeburg in 1506.

|Resistance to learning.|

49. The progress of learning, however, was not to be a march through a
submissive country. Ignorance, which had much to lose, and was proud as
well as rich, ignorance in high places, which is always incurable,
because it never seeks for a cure, set itself sullenly and stubbornly
against the new teachers. The Latin language, taught most barbarously
through books whose very titles, Floresta, Mammotrectus, Doctrinale
Puerorum, Gemma Gemmarum, bespeak their style,[588] with the scholastic
logic and divinity in wretched compends, had been held sufficient for
all education. Those who had learned nothing else could of course teach
nothing else, and saw their reputation and emoluments gone all at once
by the introduction of philological literature and real science. Through
all the palaces of Ignorance went forth a cry of terror at the coming
light--“A voice of weeping heard and loud lament.” The aged giant was
roused from his sleep, and sent his dark hosts of owls and bats to the
war. One man above all the rest, Erasmus, cut them to pieces with irony
or invective. They stood in the way of his noble zeal for the
restoration of letters.[589] He began his attack in his Encomium Moriæ,
the praise of folly. This was addressed to Sir Thomas More, and
published in 1511. Eighteen hundred copies were printed, and speedily
sold; though the book wanted the attraction that some later editions
possess, the curious and amusing engravings from designs of Holbein. It
is a poignant satire against all professions of men and even against
princes and peers; but the chief objects are the mendicant orders of
monks. “Though this sort of men,” he says, “are so detested by everyone,
that it is reckoned unlucky so much as to meet them by accident, they
think nothing equal to themselves, and hold it a proof of their
consummate piety, if they are so illiterate as not to be able to read.
And when their asinine voices bray out in the churches their psalms,
which they can count, but not understand,[590] then it is they fancy
that the ears of the saints above are enraptured with the harmony;” and
so forth.

  [588] Eichhorn, iii. 273, gives a curious list of names of these early
     grammars: they were driven out of the schools about this time.
     Mammotrectus, after all, is a learned word: it means, μαμμοθρεπτος
     [mammothreptos], that is, a boy taught by his grandmother; and a
     boy taught by his grandmother means one taught gently.

     Erasmus gives a lamentable account of the state of education when
     he was a boy, and probably later: Deum immortalem! quale sæculum
     erat hoc, cum magno apparatu disticha Joannis Garlandini
     adolescentibus operosis et prolixis commentariis enarrabantur! cum
     ineptis versiculis dictandis, repetendis et exigendis magna pars
     temporis absumeretur; cum disceretur; Floresta et Floretus; nam
     Alexandrum iter tolerabiles numerandum arbitror.

     I will take this opportunity of mentioning, that Erasmus was
     certainly born in 1465, not in 1467, as Bayle asserts, whom Le
     Clerc and Jortin have followed. Burigni perceived this; and it may
     be proved by many passages in the Epistles of Erasmus. Bayle quotes
     a letter of Feb. 1516, wherein Erasmus says, as he transcribes it:
     Ago annum undequinquagesimum. But in the Leyden edition, which is
     the best, I find, Ego jam annum ago primum et quinquagesimum.
     Epist. cc. Thus he says also, 15th March, 1528: Arbitror me nunc
     ætatem agere, in quo M. Tullius decessit. Some other places I have
     not taken down. His epitaph at Basle calls him, jam septuagenarius,
     and he died in 1536. Bayle’s proofs of the birth of Erasmus in 1467
     are so unsatisfactory, that I wonder how Le Clerc should have so
     easily acquiesced in them. The Biographie Universelle sets down
     1467 without remark.

  [589] When the first lectures in Greek were given at Oxford about 1519,
     a party of students arrayed themselves, by the name of Trojans, to
     withstand the innovators by dint of clamour and violence, till the
     king interfered to support the learned side. See a letter of More
     giving an account of this in Jortin’s Appendix, p. 662. Cambridge,
     it is to be observed, was very peaceable at this time, and suffered
     those who liked it to learn something worth knowing. The whole is
     so shortly expressed by Erasmus that his words may be quoted.
     Anglia duas habet Academias.... In utraque traduntur Græcæ litteræ,
     sed Cantabrigiæ tranquillè, quod ejus scholæ princeps sit Johannes
     Fischerus, episcopus Roffensis, non eruditione tantum sed et vitâ
     theologicâ. Verum Oxoniæ cum juvenis quidam non vulgariter doctus
     satis feliciter Græcè profiteretur, barbarus quispiam in populari
     concione magnis et atrocibus convitiis debacchari cœpit in Græcas
     literas. At Rex, ut non indoctus ipse, ita bonis literis favens,
     qui tum forte in propinquo erat, re per Morum et Pacœum cognitâ,
     denunciavit ut volentes ac lubentes Græcanicam literaturam
     amplecterentur. Ita rabulis impositum est silentium. Id. p. 667.
     See also Erasm. Epist. ccclxxx.

     Antony Wood, with rather an excess of academical prejudice,
     insinuates that the Trojans, who waged war against Oxonian Greek,
     were “Cambridge men, as it is reported.” He endeavours to
     exaggerate the deficiencies of Cambridge in literature at this
     time, as if “all things were full of rudeness and barbarousness;”
     which the above letters of More and Erasmus show not to have been
     altogether the case. On the contrary, More says that even those who
     did not learn Greek contributed to pay the lecturer.

     It may be worth while to lay before the reader part of two orations
     by Richard Croke, who had been sent down to Cambridge by Bishop
     Fisher, chancellor of the university. As Croke seems to have left
     Leipsic in 1518, they may be referred to that, or perhaps more
     probably the following year. It is evident that Greek was now just
     incipient at Cambridge.

     Maittaire says of these two orations of Richard Croke: Editio
     rarissima, cujusque unum duntaxat exemplar inspexisse mihi
     contigit. The British Museum has a copy, which belonged to Dr.
     Farmer; but he must have seen another copy, for the last page of
     this being imperfect, he has filled it up with his own hand. The
     book is printed at Paris by Colinæus in 1520.

     The subject of Croke’s orations, which seem not very correctly
     printed, is the praise of Greece and of Greek literature, addressed
     to those who already knew and valued that of Rome, which he shows
     to be derived from the other. Quin ipsæ quoque voculationes Romanæ
     Græcis longe in suaviores, minusque concitatæ sunt, cum ultima
     semper syllaba rigeat in gravem, contraque apud Græcos et
     inflectatur nonnunquam et acuatur. Croke of course spoke Greek
     accentually. Greek words, in bad types, frequently occur through
     this oration.

     Croke dwells on the barbarous state of the sciences, in consequence
     of the ignorance of Greek. Euclid’s definition of a line was so ill
     translated, that it puzzled all the geometers till the Greek was
     consulted. Medicine was in an equally bad condition; had it not
     been for the labours of learned men, Linacre, Cop, Ruel, quorum
     opera felicissime loquantur Latinè Hippocrates, Galenus et
     Dioscorides, cum summa ipsorum invidia, qui, quod canis in præsepi,
     nec Græcam linguam discere ipsi voluerunt, nec aliis ut discerent
     permiserunt. He then urges the necessity of Greek studies for the
     theologian, and seems to have no respect for the Vulgate above the

     Turpe sanè erit, cum mercator sermonem Gallicum, Illyricum,
     Hispanicum, Germanicum, vel solius lucri causa avide ediscat, vos
     studiosos Græcum in manus vobis traditum rejicere, quo et divitiæ
     et eloquentia et sapientia comparari possunt. Imo perpendite rogo
     viri Cantabrigienses, quo nunc in loco vestræ res sita sunt.
     Oxonienses quos ante hæc in omni scientiarum genere vicistis, ad
     literas Græcas pertugere, vigilant, jejunant, sudant et algent;
     nihil non faciunt ut eas occupent. Quod si contingat, actum est de
     fama vestra. Erigent enim de vobis tropæum nunquam succumbuturi.
     Habent duces præter cardinalem Cantuariensem, Wintoniensem, cæteros
     omnes Angliæ episcopos, excepto uno Roffensir summo semper fautore
     vestro, et Eliensi, &c.

     Favet præterea ipsis sancta Grocini et theologo digna severitas,
     Linacri πολυμαθεια [polumatheia] et acre judicium, Tunstali non
     legibus magis quam utrique linguæ familiaris facundia, Stopleii
     triplex lingua, Mori candida et eloquentissima urbanitas, Pacei
     mores doctrina et ingenium, ab ipso Erasmo, optimo eruditionis
     censore, commendati; quem vos olim habuistis Græcarum literarum
     professorum, utinamque potuissetis retinere. Succedo in Erasmi
     locum ego, bone Deus, quam infra illum, et doctriná et famâ,
     quamquam me, ne omnino nihili fiam, principes viri, theologici
     doctores, jurium etiam et medicinæ, artium præterea professores
     innumeri, et præceptorem agnovere, et quod plus est, a scholis ad
     ædes, ab ædibus ad scholas honorificentissime comitati perduxere.
     Dii me perdant, viri Cantabrigienses, si ipsi Oxonienses stipendio
     multorum nobilium præter victum me non invitavere. Sed ego pro mea
     in hanc academiam et fide et observantia, &c.

     In his second oration, Croke exhorts the Cantabrigians not to give
     up the study of Greek. Si quisquam omnium sit qui vestræ reipublicæ
     bene consulere debeat, is ego sum, viri Cantabrigienses. Optime
     enim vobis esse cupio, et id nisi facerem, essem profecto longe
     ingratissimus. Ubi enim jacta literarum mearum fundamenta, quibus
     tantum tum apud nostrates, tum vero apud exteros quoque principes,
     favoris mihi comparatum est; quibus ea fortuna, ut licet jam olim
     consanguineorum iniquitate paterna hæreditate sim spoliatus, ita
     tamen adhuc vivam, ut quibusvis meorum majorum imaginibus videar
     non indignus. He was probably of the ancient family of Croke. Peter
     Mosellanus calls him, in a letter among those of Erasmus, juvenis
     cum imaginibus.

     Audio ego plerosque vos a litteris Græcis dehortatos esse. Sed vos
     diligenter expendite, qui sint et plane non alios fore comperitis,
     quam qui igitur linguam oderunt Græcam quia Romanam non norunt.
     Cæterum jam deprehendo quid facturi sint, qui nostras literas odio
     prosequuntur, confugiunt videlicet ad religionem, cui uni dicent
     omnia postponenda. Sentio ego cum illis, sed unde quæso orta
     religio, nisi è Græciâ? quid enim novum testamentum, excepto
     Matthæo? quid enim vetus? nunquid Deo auspice a septuaginta Græcè
     redditum? Oxonia est colonia vestra; uti olim non sine summa laude
     a Cantabrigia deducta, ita non sine summo vestro nunc dedecore, si
     doctrina ab ipsis vos vinci patiamini. Fuerunt olim illi discipuli
     vestri, nunc erunt præceptores? Utinam quo animo hæc a me dicta
     sunt, eo vos dicta interpretemini; crederetisque, quod est
     verissimum, si quoslibet alios, certe Cantabrigienses minime decere
     literarum Græcarum esse desertores.

     The great scarcity of this tract will serve as an apology for the
     length of these extracts, illustrating, as they do, the
     commencement of classical literature in England.

  [590] Numeratos illos quidem, sed non intellectos. I am not quite sure
     of this meaning.

|Unpopularity of The monks.|

50. In this sentence Erasmus intimates, what is abundantly confirmed by
other testimony, that the mendicant orders had lost their ancient hold
upon the people. There was a growing sense of the abuses prevailing in
the church, and a desire for a more scriptural and spiritual religion.
We have seen already that this was the case seventy years before. And in
the intermediate period the exertions of a few eminent men, especially
Wessel of Groningen, had not been wanting to purify the doctrines and
discipline of the clergy. More popular writers assailed them with
satire. Thus everything was prepared for the blow to be struck by
Luther; better indeed than he was himself; for it is well known that he
began his attack on indulgences with no expectation or desire of the
total breach with the see of Rome which ensued.[591]

  [591] Seckendorf, Hist. Lutheranismi, p. 226. Gerdes, Hist. Evang.
     sæc. xvi. renovat. vols. i. and iii. Milner’s Church History, vol.
     iv. Mosheim, sæc. xv. et xvi. Bayle, art. Wessel. For Wessel’s
     character as a philosopher, who boldly opposed the scholastics of
     his age, see Brucker, iii. 859.

|The book excites odium.|

51. The Encomium Moriæ was received with applause by all who loved
merriment, and all who hated the monks; but grave men, as usual, could
not bear to see ridicule employed against grave folly and hypocrisy. A
letter of one Dorpius, a man, it is said, of some merit, which may be
read in Jortin’s Life of Erasmus,[592] amusingly complains, that while
the most eminent divines and lawyers were admiring Erasmus, his unlucky
Moria had spoiled all, by letting them see that he was mischievously
fitting asses’ ears to their heads. The same Dorpius, who seems, though
not an old man, to have been a sworn vassal of the giant Ignorance,
objects to anything in Erasmus’s intended edition of the Greek
Testament, which might throw a slur on the accuracy of the Vulgate.

  [592] ii. 336.

|Erasmus attacks the monks.|

52. Erasmus was soon in a state of war with the monks; and in his second
edition of the New Testament printed in 1518, the notes, it is said, are
full of invectives against them. It must be confessed that he had begun
the attack, without any motive of provocation, unless zeal for learning
and religion is to count for such, which the parties assailed could not
be expected to admit, and they could hardly thank him for “spitting on
their gaberdine.” No one, however, knew better how to pay his court; and
he wrote to Leo X. in a style rather too adulatory, which in truth was
his custom in addressing the great, and contrasts with his free language
in writing about them. The custom of the time affords some excuse for
this panegyrical tone of correspondence, as well as for the opposite
extreme of severity.

|Their contention with Reuchlin.|

53. The famous contention between Reuchlin and the German monks, though
it began in the preceding decennial period, belongs chiefly to the
present. In the year 1509, one Pfeffercorn, a converted Jew, induced the
inquisition at Cologne to obtain an order from the emperor for burning
all Hebrew books except the Bible, upon the pretext of their being full
of blasphemies against the Christian religion. The Jews made complaints
of this injury; but before it could take place, Reuchlin, who had been
consulted by the emperor, remonstrated against the destruction of works
so curious and important, which, from his partiality to Cabbalistic
theories, he rated above their real value. The order was accordingly
superseded, to the great indignation of the Cologne inquisitors, and of
all that party throughout Germany which resisted the intellectual and
religious progress of mankind. Reuchlin had offended the monks by
satirising them in a comedy which he permitted to be printed in 1506.
But the struggle was soon perceived to be a general one; a struggle
between what had been and what was to be. Meiners has gone so far as to
suppose a real confederacy to have been formed by the friends of truth
and learning through Germany and France, to support Reuchlin against the
mendicant orders, and to overthrow, by means of this controversy, the
embattled legions of ignorance.[593] But perhaps the passages he adduces
do not prove more than their unanimity and zeal in the cause. The
attention of the world was first called to it about 1513; that is, it
assumed about that time the character of a war of opinions, extending,
in its principle and consequences, beyond the immediate dispute.[594]
Several books were published on both sides; and the party in power
employed its usual argument of burning what was written by its
adversaries. One of these writings is still known, the Epistolæ
Obscurorum Virorum; the production, it is said, of three authors, the
principal of whom was Ulric von Hutten, a turbulent hotheaded man, of
noble birth and quick parts, and a certain degree of learning, whose
early death seems more likely to have spared the reformers some degree
of shame, than to have deprived them of a useful supporter.[595] Few
books have been more eagerly received than these epistles at their first
appearance in 1516,[596] which surely proceeded rather from their
suitableness to the time, than from much intrinsic merit; though it must
be owned that the spirit of many temporary allusions, which delighted or
offended that age, is now lost in a mass of vapid nonsense and bad
grammar, which the imaginary writers pour out. Erasmus, though not
intimately acquainted with Reuchlin, could not but sympathise in a
quarrel with their common enemies in a common cause. In the end the
controversy was referred to the pope; but the pope was Leo; and it was
hoped that a proposal to burn books, or to disgrace an illustrious
scholar, would not sound well in his ears. But Reuchlin was
disappointed, when he expected acquittal, by a mandate to supersede, or
suspend, the process commenced against him by the inquisition of
Cologne, which might be taken up at a more favourable time.[597] This
dispute has always been reckoned of high importance; the victory in
public opinion, though not in judicature, over the adherents to the old
system, prostrated them so utterly, that from this time the study of
Greek and Hebrew became general among the German youth; and the cause of
the Reformation was identified in their minds with that of classical

  [593] Lebensbeschreib. i. 144. et seq.

  [594] Meiners brings many proofs of the interest taken in Reuchlin, as
     the champion, if not the martyr, of the good cause.

  [595] Herder, in his Zerstreute Blätter, v. 329, speaks with
     unreasonable partiality of Ulric von Hutten; and Meiners has
     written his life with an enthusiasm which seems to me quite
     extravagant. Seckendorf, p. 130, more judiciously observes that he
     was of little use to the Reformation. And Luther wrote about him in
     June, 1521: Quid Huttenus petat vides. Nollem vi et cæde pro
     evangelio certari, ita scripsi ad hominem. Melanchthon of course
     disliked such friends. Epist. Melanchth., p. 45 (1647), and
     Camerarius, Vita Melanchth. Erasmus could not endure Hutten; and
     Hutten, when he found this out, wrote virulently against Erasmus.
     Jortin, as biographer of Erasmus, treats Hutten perhaps with too
     much contempt; but this is nearer justice than the veneration of
     the modern Germans. Hutten wrote Latin pretty well, and had a good
     deal of wit; his satirical libels, consequently, had great
     circulation and popularity, which, in respect of such writings, is
     apt, in all ages, to produce an exaggeration of their real
     influence. In the mighty movement of the Reformation, the Epistolæ
     Obscurorum Virorum had about as much effect as the Mariage de
     Figaro in the French Revolution. A dialogue severely reflecting on
     pope Julius II., called Julius exclusus, of which Jortin suspects
     Erasmus, in spite of his denial, ii. 595, is given by Meiners to

  [596] Meiners, in his Life of Hutten, Lebensbesch. iii. 73, inclines to
     fix the publication of the first part of the Epistles in the
     beginning of 1517; though he admits an earlier date to be not

  [597] Meiners, i. 197.

  [598] Sleidan, Hist. de la Réformat. l. ii. Brucker, iv. 366. Mosheim.
     Eichhorn, iii. 238, vi. 16. Bayle, art. Hochstrat. None of these
     authorities are equal in fulness to Meiners, Lebensbeschreibungen
     berühmter Männer, i. 98-212; which I did not consult so early as
     the rest. But there is also a very copious account of the
     Reuchlinian controversy, including many original documents, in the
     second part of Von der Hardt’s Historia Litteraria Reformationis.

|Origin of the Reformation.|

54. We are now brought, insensibly perhaps, but by necessary steps, to
the great religious revolution which has just been named. I approach
this subject with some hesitation, well aware that impartiality is no
protection against unreasonable cavilling; but neither the history of
literature, nor of human opinion upon the most important subjects, can
dispense altogether with so extensive a portion of its materials. It is
not required, however, in a work of this nature, to do much more than
state shortly the grounds of dispute, and the changes wrought in the
public mind.

55. The proximate cause of the Reformation is well known. Indulgences,
or dispensations granted by the pope from the heavy penances imposed on
penitents after absolution by the old canons, and also, at least in
later ages, from the pains of purgatory, were sold by the papal
retailers with the most indecent extortion, and eagerly purchased by the
superstitious multitude, for their own sake, or that of their deceased
friends. Luther, in his celebrated theses, propounded at Wittenberg, in
November 1517, inveighed against the erroneous views inculcated as to
the efficacy of indulgences, and especially against the notion of the
pope’s power over souls in purgatory. He seems to have believed, that
the dealers had exceeded their commission, and would be disavowed by the
pope. This, however, was very far from being the case; and the
determination of Leo to persevere in defending all the abusive
prerogatives of his see, drew Luther on to levy war against many
other prevailing usages of the church, against several tenets maintained
by the most celebrated doctors, against the divine right of the papal
supremacy, and finally to renounce all communion with a power which he
now deemed an antichristian tyranny. This absolute separation did not
take place till he publicly burned the pope’s bull against him, and the
volumes of the canon law, at Wittenberg, in November 1520.

|Popularity of Luther.|

56. In all this dispute Luther was sustained by a prodigious force of
popular opinion. It was perhaps in the power of his sovereign, Frederic
elector of Saxony, to have sent him to Rome, in the summer of 1518,
according to the pope’s direction. But it would have been an odious step
in the people’s eyes, and a little later would have been impossible.
Miltitz, an envoy despatched by Leo in 1519, upon a conciliatory errand,
told Luther that 25,000 armed men would not suffice to make him a
prisoner, so favourable was the impression of his doctrine upon Germany.
And Frederic himself, not long afterwards, wrote plainly to Rome, that a
change had taken place in his country; the German people were not what
they had been; there were many men of great talents and considerable
learning among them, and the laity were beginning to be anxious about a
knowledge of Scripture; so that unless Luther’s doctrine, which had
already taken root in the minds of a great many both in Germany and
other countries, could be refuted by better argument than mere
ecclesiastical fulminations, the consequence must be so much disturbance
in the empire, as would by no means redound to the benefit of the Holy
See.[599] In fact, the university of Wittenberg was crowded with
students and others, who came to hear Luther and Melanchthon. The latter
had at the very beginning embraced his new master’s opinions with a
conviction he did not in all respects afterwards preserve. And though no
overt attempts to innovate on the established ceremonies had begun in
this period, before the end of 1520 several preached against them, and
the whole north of Germany was full of expectation.

  [599] Seckendorf. This remarkable letter will be found also in Roscoe’s
     Leo X., Appendix No. 185. It bears date April 1520. See also a
     letter of Petrus Mosellanus, in Jortin’s Erasmus, ii. 353; and
     Luther’s own letter to Leo, of March 1519.

|Simultaneous reform by Zwingle.|

57. A counterpart to the reformation that Luther was thus effecting in
Saxony might be found at the same instant in Switzerland, under the
guidance of Zwingle. It has been disputed between the advocates of these
leaders, to which the priority in the race of reform belongs. Zwingle
himself declares, that in 1516, before he had heard of Luther, he began
to preach the gospel at Zurich, and to warn the people against relying
upon human authority.[600] But that is rather ambiguous, and hardly
enough to substantiate his claim. In 1518, which of course is after
Luther’s appearance on the scene, the Swiss reformer was engaged in
combating the venders of indulgences, though with less attention from
the court of Rome. Like Luther, he had the support of the temporal
magistrate, the council of Zurich. Upon the whole, they proceeded so
nearly with equal steps, and were so little connected with each other,
that it seems difficult to award either any honour of precedence.[601]

  [600] Zwingle apud Gerdes, i. 103.

  [601] Milner, who is extremely partial in the whole of this history,
     labours to extenuate the claims of Zwingle to independence in the
     preaching of reformation; and even pretends that he had not
     separated from the church of Rome in 1523, when Adrian VI. sent him
     a civil letter. But Gerdes shows at length that the rupture was
     complete in 1520. See also the article Zwingle in Biogr.

     The prejudice of Milner against Zwingle throughout is striking, and
     leads him into much unfairness. Thus he asserts him, v. 510, to
     have been consenting to the capital punishment of some Anabaptists
     at Zurich. But, not to mention that their case was not one of mere
     religious dissidence, it does not by any means appear that he
     approved their punishment, which he merely relates as a fact. A
     still more gross misrepresentation occurs in p. 526.

|Reformation prepared beforehand.|

58. The German nation was, in fact, so fully awakened to the abuses of
the church, the disclaimer of papal sovereignty in the councils of
Constance and Basle had been so effectual in its influence on the public
mind, though not on the external policy of church and state, that, if
neither Luther nor Zwingle had ever been born, there can be little
question that a great religious schism was near at hand. These councils
were to the Reformation what the parliament of Paris was to the French
Revolution. Their leaders never meant to sacrifice one article of
received faith; but the little success they had in redressing what they
denounced as abuses, convinced the laity that they must go much farther
for themselves. What effect the invention of printing, which in Italy
was not much felt in this direction, exerted upon the serious minds of
the Teutonic nations, has been already intimated, and must appear to
every reflecting person. And when this was followed by a more extensive
acquaintance with the New Testament in the Greek language, nothing could
be more natural than that inquisitive men should throw away much of what
seemed the novel superstructure of religion, and, what in other times
such men had rarely ventured should be encouraged by the obvious change
in the temper of the multitude to declare themselves. We find that
Pellican and Capito, two of the most learned scholars in western
Germany, had come, as early as 1512, to reject altogether the doctrine
of the real presence. We find also that Œcolampadius had begun to preach
some of the protestant doctrines in 1514.[602] And Erasmus, who had so
manifestly prepared the way for the new Reformers, continued, as it is
easy to show from the uniform current of his letters, beyond the year
1520, favourable to their cause. His enemies were theirs, and he
concurred in much that they preached, especially as to the exterior
practices of religion. Some, however, of Luther’s tenets he did not and
could not approve; and he was already disgusted by that intemperance of
language and conduct, which, not long afterwards, led him to recede
entirely from the Protestant side.[603]

  [602] Gerdes, i. 117, 124, et post. In fact the precursors of the
     Reformation were very numerous, and are collected by Gerdes in his
     first and third volumes, though he has greatly exaggerated the
     truth, by reckoning as such Dante and Petrarch, and all opponents
     of the temporal power of the papacy. Wessel may, upon the whole, be
     fairly reckoned among the Reformers.

  [603] In 1519 and 1520, even in his letters to Albert archbishop of
     Mentz, and others by no means partial to Luther, he speaks of him
     very handsomely, and with little or no disapprobation, except on
     account of his intemperance, though professing only a slight
     acquaintance with his writings. The proofs are too numerous to be
     cited. He says, in a letter to Zwingle, as late as 1521, Videor
     mihi fere omnia docuisse, quæ docet Lutherus, nisi quod non tam
     atrociter, quodque abstinui a quibusdam ænigmatis et paradoxis.
     This is quoted by Gerdes, i. 153, from a collection of letters of
     Erasmus, published by Hottinger, but not contained in the Leyden
     edition. Jortin seems not to have seen them.

|Dangerous tenets of Luther.|

59. It would not be just, probably, to give Bossuet credit in every part
of that powerful delineation of Luther’s theological tenets, with which
he begins the History of the Variations of Protestant churches. Nothing,
perhaps, in polemical eloquence is so splendid as this chapter. The
eagle of Meaux is there truly seen, lordly of form, fierce of eye,
terrible in his beak and claws. But he is too determined a partizan to
be trusted by those who seek the truth without regard to persons and
denominations. His quotations from Luther are short, and in French; I
have failed in several attempts to verify the references. Yet we are not
to follow the Reformer’s partizans in dissembling altogether, like Isaac
Milner, or in slightly censuring, as others have done, the enormous
paradoxes which deform his writings, especially such as fall within the
present period. In maintaining salvation to depend on faith as a single
condition, he not only denied the importance, in a religious sense, of a
virtuous life, but asserted that every one who felt within himself a
full assurance that his sins were remitted (which, according to Luther,
is the proper meaning of Christian faith), became incapable of sinning
at all, or at least of forfeiting the favour of God, so long, but so
long only, as that assurance should continue. Such expressions are
sometimes said by Seckendorf and Mosheim to have been thrown out
hastily, and without precision; but I fear it will be found on
examination that they are very definite and clear, the want of precision
and perspicuity being rather in those which are alleged as inconsistent
with them, and as more consonant to the general doctrine of the
Christian church.[604] It must not be supposed for a moment that Luther,
whose soul was penetrated with a fervent piety, and whose integrity as
well as purity of life are unquestioned, could mean to give any
encouragement to a licentious disregard of moral virtue; which he
valued, as in itself lovely before God as well as man, though in
the technical style of his theology, he might deny its proper
obligation. But his temper led him to follow up any proposition of
Scripture to every consequence that might seem to result from its
literal meaning; and he fancied that to represent a future state as the
motive of virtuous action, or as any way connected with human conduct,
for better or worse, was derogatory to the free grace of God, and the
omnipotent agency of the Spirit in converting the soul.[605]

  [604] See in proof of this Luther’s works, vol. i. passim (edit. 1554).
     The first work of Melanchthon, his Loci Communes, published in
     1521, when he followed Luther more obsequiously in his opinions
     than he did in after-life, is equally replete with the strongest
     Calvinism. This word is a little awkward in this place; but I am
     compelled to use it, as most intelligible to the reader; and I
     conceive that these two reformers went much beyond the language of
     Augustin, which the schoolmen thought themselves bound to recognise
     as authority, though they might elude its spirit. I find the first
     edition of Melanchthon’s Loci Communes in Von der Hardt, Historia
     Litteraria Reformationis, a work which contains a great deal of
     curious matter. It is called by him, opus rarissimum, not being in
     the edition of Melanchthon’s theological works; which some have
     ascribed to the art of Peucer, whose tenets were widely different.

  [605] I am unwilling to give these pages too theological a cast by
     proving this statement, as I have the means of doing, by extracts
     from Luther’s own early writings. Milner’s very prolix history of
     this period is rendered less valuable by his disingenuous trick of
     suppressing all passages in these treatises of Luther, which
     display his Antinomian paradoxes in a strong light. Whoever has
     read the writings of Luther up to the year 1520 inclusive, must
     find it impossible to contradict my assertion. In treating of an
     author so full of unlimited propositions as Luther, no positive
     proof as to his tenets can be refuted by the production of
     inconsistent passages.

60. Whatever may be the bias of our minds as to the truth of Luther’s
doctrines, we should be careful, in considering the Reformation as a
part of the history of mankind, not to be misled by the superficial and
ungrounded representations which we sometimes find in modern writers.
Such is this, that Luther, struck by the absurdity of the prevailing
superstitions, was desirous of introducing a more rational system of
religion; or, that he contended for freedom of inquiry, and the
boundless privileges of individual judgment; or, what others have been
pleased to suggest, that his zeal for learning and ancient philosophy
led him to attack the ignorance of the monks, and the crafty policy of
the church, which withstood all liberal studies.

|Real explanation of them.|

61. These notions are merely fallacious refinements, as every man of
plain understanding, who is acquainted with the writings of the early
reformers, or has considered their history, must acknowledge. The
doctrines of Luther, taken altogether, are not more rational, that is,
more conformable to what men, à priori, would expect to find in
religion, than those of the church of Rome; nor did he ever pretend that
they were so. As to the privilege of free inquiry, it was of course
exercised by those who deserted their ancient altars, but certainly not
upon any latitudinarian theory of a right to judge amiss. Nor, again, is
there any foundation for imagining that Luther was concerned for the
interests of literature. None had he himself, save theological; nor are
there, as I apprehend, many allusions to profane studies, or any proof
of his regard to them, in all his works. On the contrary, it is probable
that both the principles of this great founder of the Reformation, and
the natural tendency of so intense an application to theological
controversy, checked for a time the progress of philological and
philosophical literature on this side of the Alps.[606] Every solution
of the conduct of the reformers must be nugatory, except one, that they
were men absorbed by the conviction that they were fighting the battle
of God. But among the population of Germany or Switzerland, there was
undoubtedly another predominant feeling; the sense of ecclesiastical
oppression, and scorn for the worthless swarm of monks and friars. This
may be said to have divided the propagators of the Reformation into such
as merely pulled down, and such as built upon the ruins. Ulric von
Hutten may pass for the type of the one, and Luther himself of the
other. And yet it is hardly correct to say of Luther, that he erected
his system on the ruins of popery. For it was rather the growth and
expansion in his mind of one positive dogma, justification by faith, in
the sense he took it (which can be easily shown to have preceded the
dispute about indulgences[607]), that broke down and crushed
successively the various doctrines of the Romish church; not because he
had originally much objection to them, but because there was no longer
room for them in a consistent system of theology.[608]

  [606] Erasmus, after he had become exasperated with the reformers,
     repeatedly charges them with ruining literature. Ubicunque regnat
     Lutheranismus, ibi literarum est interitus. Epist. Mvi. (1528).
     Evangelicos istos, cum multis aliis, tum hoc nomine præcipue odi,
     quod per eos ubique languent, frigent, jacent, intereunt bonæ
     literæ, sine quibus quid est hominum vita? Amant viaticum et
     uxorem, cætera pili non faciunt. Hos fucos longissime arcendos
     censeo a vestro contubernio. Ep. Dccccxlvi. (eod. an.) There were
     however at this time, as well as afterwards, more learned men on
     the side of the Reformation than on that of the church.

  [607] See his disputations at Wittenberg, 1516; and the sermons
     preached in the same and the subsequent year.

  [608] The best authorities for the early history of the Reformation
     are Seckendorf, Hist. Lutheranismi, and Sleidan, Hist. de la
     Réformation, in Courayer’s French translation; the former being
     chiefly useful for the ecclesiastical, the latter for political
     history. But as these confine themselves to Germany, Gerdes (Hist.
     Evangel. Reformat.) is necessary for the Zuinglian history, as well
     as for that of the northern kingdoms. The first sections of Father
     Paul’s History of the Council of Trent are also valuable. Schmidt,
     Histoire des Allemands, vols. vi. and vii., has told the story on
     the side of Rome speciously and with some fairness; and Roscoe has
     vindicated Leo X. from the imputation of unnecessary violence in
     his proceeding against Luther. Mosheim is always good, but concise;
     Milner far from concise, but highly prejudiced, and in the habit of
     giving his quotations in English, which is not quite satisfactory
     to a lover of truth.

     The essay on the influence of the Reformation by Villers, which
     obtained a prize from the French Institute, and has been extolled
     by a very friendly, but better-informed writer in the Biographie
     Universelle, appears to me the work of a man who had not taken the
     pains to read any one contemporary work, or even any compilation
     which contains many extracts. No wonder that it does not represent,
     in the slightest degree, the real spirit of the times, or the
     tenets of the reformers. Thus, e. gr., “Luther,” he says, “exposed
     the abuse of the traffic of indulgences, and the danger of
     believing that heaven and the remission of all crimes could be
     bought with money; while a sincere repentance and an amended life
     were the only means of appeasing the divine justice.” (p. 65 Engl.
     Transl.) This at least is not very like Luther’s antinomian
     contempt for repentance and amendment of life; it might come near
     to the notions of Erasmus.

|Orlando Furioso.|

62. The laws of synchronism, which we have hitherto obeyed, bring
strange partners together, and we may pass at once from Luther to
Ariosto. The Orlando Furioso was first printed at Ferrara in 1516. This
edition contained forty cantos, to which the last six were added in
1532. Many stanzas, chiefly of circumstance, were interpolated by the
author from time to time.

|Its popularity.|

63. Ariosto has been, after Homer, the favourite poet of Europe. His
grace and facility, his clear and rapid stream of language, his variety
and beauty of invention, his very transitions of subject, so frequently
censured by critics, but artfully devised to spare the tediousness that
hangs on a protracted story, left him no rival in general popularity.
Above sixty editions of the Orlando Furioso were published in the
sixteenth century. There was not one, says Bernardo Tasso, of any age,
or sex, or rank, who was satisfied after more than a single perusal. If
the change of manners and sentiments have already in some degree
impaired this attraction, if we cease to take interest in the prowess of
Paladins, and find their combats a little monotonous, this is perhaps
the necessary lot of all poetry, which, as it can only reach posterity
through the medium of contemporary reputation, must accommodate itself
to the fleeting character of its own time. This character is strongly
impressed on the Orlando Furioso; it well suited an age of war and pomp,
and gallantry; an age when chivalry was still recent in actual life, and
was reflected in concentrated brightness from the mirror of romance.

|Want of seriousness.|

64. It has been sometimes hinted as an objection to Ariosto, that he is
not sufficiently in earnest, and leaves a little suspicion of laughing
at his subject. I do not perceive that he does this in a greater degree
than good sense and taste permit. The poets of knight-errantry might in
this respect be arranged in a scale, of which Pulci and Spenser would
stand at the extreme points; the one mocking the absurdities he coolly
invents, the other, by intense strength of conception, full of love and
faith in his own creations. Between these Boiardo, Ariosto, and Berni
take successively their places; none so deeply serious as Spenser, none
so ironical as Pulci. It was not easy in Italy, especially after the
Morgante Maggiore had roused the sense of ridicule, to keep up at every
moment the solemn tone which Spain endured in the romances of the
sixteenth century; nor was this consonant to the gaiety of Ariosto. It
is the light carelessness of his manner which constitutes a great part
of its charm.

|A continuation of Boiardo.|

65. Castelvetro has blamed Ariosto for building on the foundations of
Boiardo.[609] He seems to have had originally no other design than to
carry onward, a little better than Agostini, that very attractive story;
having written, it is said, at first, only a few cantos to please his
friends.[610] Certainly it is rather singular that so great and renowned
a poet should have been little more than the continuator of one who had
so lately preceded him; though Salviati defends him by the example of
Homer; and other critics, with whom we shall perhaps not agree, have
thought this the best apology for writing a romantic instead of an
heroic poem. The story of the Orlando Innamorato must be known before we
can well understand that of the Furioso. But this is nearly what
we find in Homer; for who can reckon the Iliad anything but a fragment
of the tale of Troy? It was indeed less felt by the compatriots of
Homer, already familiar with that legendary cyclus of heroic song, than
it is by the readers of Ariosto, who are not in general very well
acquainted with the poem of his precursor. Yet experience has even here
shown that the popular voice does not echo the complaint of the critic.
This is chiefly owing to the want of a predominant unity in the Orlando
Furioso, which we commonly read in detached parcels. The unity it does
possess, distinct from the story of Boiardo, consists in the loves and
announced nuptials of Rogero and Bradamante, the imaginary progenitors
of the house of Este; but Ariosto does not gain by this condescension to
the vanity of a petty sovereign.

  [609] Poetica d’Aristotele (1570). It violates, he says, the rule of
     Aristotle, αρχη εστιν, ὁ εξ αναγκης μη μετ' αλλο εστι [archê estin,
     ho ex anankês mê met' allo esti]. Camillo Pellegrini, in his famous
     controversy with the Academicians of Florence, repeats the same
     censure. Salviati, under the disguised name l’Infarinato (Opere di
     Tasso, ii. 130), defends Ariosto by the example of Homer, which
     Castelvetro had already observed to be inapplicable.

  [610] Quadrio, Storia d’ogni Poesia, vi. 606.

|In some points inferior.|

66. The inventions of Ariosto are less original than those of Boiardo,
but they are more pleasing and various. The tales of old mythology and
of modern romance furnished him with those delightful episodes we all
admire, with his Olimpia and Bireno, his Ariodante and Geneura, his
Cloridan and Medoro, his Zerbino and Isabella. He is more conversant
with the Latin poets, or has turned them to better account, than his
predecessor. For the sudden transitions in the middle of a canto or even
a stanza, with which every reader of Ariosto is familiar, he is indebted
to Boiardo, who had himself imitated in them the metrical romancers of
the preceding age. From them also, that justice may be rendered to those
nameless rhymers, Boiardo drew the individuality of character, by which
their heroes were distinguished, and which Ariosto has not been so
careful to preserve. His Orlando has less of the honest simplicity, and
his Astolfo less of the gay boastfulness, that had been assigned to them
in the cyclus.

|Beauties of its style.|

67. Corniani observes of the style of Ariosto, what we may all perceive
on attending to it to be true, that he is sparing in the use of
metaphors, contenting himself generally with the plainest expression; by
which, if he loses something in dignity, he gains in perspicuity. It may
be added, that he is not very successful in figurative language, which
is sometimes forced and exaggerated. Doubtless this transparency of
phrase, so eminent in Ariosto, is the cause that he is read and
delighted in by the multitude, as well as by the few; and it seems also
to be the cause that he can never be satisfactorily rendered into any
language less musical, and consequently less independent upon an
ornamental dress in poetry, than his own, or one which wants the
peculiar advantages, by which conventional variances in the form of
words, and the liberty of inversion, as well as the frequent recurrence
of the richest and most euphonious rhymes, elevate the simplest
expression in Italian verse above the level of discourse. Galileo, being
asked by what means he had acquired the remarkable talent of giving
perspicuity and grace to his philosophical writings, referred it to the
continual study of Ariosto. His similes are conspicuous for their
elaborate beauty; they are familiar to every reader of this great poet;
imitated, as they usually are, from the ancients, they maintain an equal
strife with their models, and occasionally surpass them. But even the
general strain of Ariosto, natural as it seems, was not unpremeditated,
or left to its own felicity; his manuscript at Ferrara, part of which is
shown to strangers, bears numerous alterations, the _pentimenti_,
if I may borrow a word from a kindred art, of creative genius.

|Accompanied with faults.|

68. The Italian critics love to expatiate in his praise, though they are
often keenly sensible to his defects. The variety of style and of rhythm
in Ariosto, it is remarked by Gravina, is convenient to that of his
subject. His rhymes, the same author observes, seem to spring from the
thoughts, and not from the necessities of metre. He describes minutely,
but with much felicity, and gives a clear idea of every part; like the
Farnesian Hercules, which seems greater by the distinctness of every
vein and muscle.[611] Quadrio praises the correspondence of the sound to
the sense. Yet neither of these critics is blindly partial. It is
acknowledged indeed by his warmest advocates, that he falls sometimes
below his subject, and that trifling and feeble lines intrude too
frequently in the Orlando Furioso. I can hardly regret, however, that in
the passages of flattery towards the house of Este, such as that long
genealogy which he deduces in the third canto, his genius has deserted
him, and he degenerates, as it were wilfully, into prosaic tediousness.
In other allusions to contemporary history, he is little better. I am
hazarding a deviation from the judgment of good critics when I add, that
in the opening stanzas of each canto, where the poet appears in his own
person, I find generally a deficiency of vigour and originality,
a poverty of thought and of emotion, which is also very far from unusual
in the speeches of his characters. But these introductions have been
greatly admired.

  [611] Ragion Poetica, p. 104.

|Its place as a poem.|

69. Many faults of language in Ariosto are observed by his countrymen.
They justly blame also his inobservance of propriety, his hyperbolical
extravagance, his harsh metaphors, his affected thoughts. These are
sufficiently obvious to a reader of reflecting taste; but the
enchantment of his pencil redeems every failing, and his rapidity, like
that of Homer, leaves us little time to censure before we are hurried
forward to admire. The Orlando Furioso, as a great single poem, has been
very rarely surpassed in the living records of poetry. He must yield to
three, and only three, of his predecessors. He has not the force,
simplicity, and truth to nature of Homer, the exquisite style and
sustained majesty of Virgil, nor the originality and boldness of Dante.
The most obvious parallel is Ovid, whose Metamorphoses, however, are far
excelled by the Orlando Furioso, not in fertility of invention, or
variety of images and sentiments, but in purity of taste, in grace of
language, and harmony of versification.

|Amadis de Gaul.|

70. No edition of Amadis de Gaul has been proved to exist before that
printed at Seville in 1519, which yet is suspected of not being the
first.[612] This famous romance, which in its day was almost as popular
as the Orlando Furioso itself, was translated into French by Herberay
between 1540 and 1557, and into English by Munday in 1619. The four
books by Vasco de Lobeyra grew to twenty by successive additions, which
have been held by lovers of romance far inferior to the original. They
deserve at least the blame, or praise, of making the entire work
unreadable by the most patient or the most idle of mankind. Amadis de
Gaul can still perhaps impart pleasure to the susceptible imagination of
youth; but the want of deep or permanent sympathy leaves a naked sense
of unprofitableness in the perusal, which must, it should seem, alienate
a reader of mature years. Amadis at least obtained the laurel at the
hands of Cervantes, speaking through the barber and curate, while so
many of Lobeyra’s unworthy imitators were condemned to the flames.

  [612] Brunet, Man. du Libraire.


71. A curious dramatic performance, if it may deserve such an
appellation, was represented at Paris in 1511, and published in 1516. It
is entitled Le Prince des Sots et la Mère sotte, by one Peter Gringore,
who had before produced some other pieces of less note, and bordering
more closely on the moralities. In the general idea there was nothing
original. A prince of fools had long ruled his many-coloured subjects on
the theatre of a joyous company, les Enfans sans souci, who had diverted
the citizens of Paris with their buffoonery, under the name, perhaps, of
moralities, while their graver brethren represented the mysteries of
scripture and legend. But the chief aim of La Mère sotte was to turn the
pope and court of Rome into ridicule during the sharp contest of Louis
XII. with Julius II. It consists of four parts, all in verse. The first
of these is called The Cry, and serves as a sort of prologue, summoning
all fools of both sexes to see the prince of fools play on Shrove
Tuesday. The second is The Folly. This is an irregular dramatic piece,
full of poignant satire on the clergy, but especially on the pope. A
third part is entitled The Morality of the Obstinate Man; a dialogue in
allusion to the same dispute. Finally comes an indecent farce,
unconnected with the preceding subject. Gringore, who represented the
character of La Mère sotte, was generally known by that name, and
assumed it in his subsequent publications.[613]

  [613] Beauchamps, Recherches sur le Théâtre Français. Goujet, Bibl.
     Française, xi. 212. Niceron, vol. xxxiv. Bouterwek, Gesch. der
     Französen Poesie, v. 113. Biogr. Univers. The works of Gringore,
     says the last authority, are rare, and sought by the lovers of our
     old poetry, because they display the state of manners at the
     beginning of the sixteenth century.

|Hans Sachs.|

72. Gringore was certainly at a great distance from the Italian stage,
which had successfully adapted the plots of Latin comedies to modern
stories. But, among the _barbarians_, a dramatic writer, somewhat
younger than he, was now beginning to earn a respectable celebrity,
though limited to a yet uncultivated language, and to the inferior class
of society. Hans Sachs, a shoemaker of Nuremberg, born in 1494, is said
to have produced his first carnival play (Fast nacht spiel) in 1517. He
belonged to the fraternity of poetical artizans, the meister-singers of
Germany, who, from the beginning of the fourteenth century, had a
succession of mechanical (in every sense of the word) rhymers to boast,
to whom their countrymen attached as much reverence as might have
sufficed for more genuine bards. In a spirit which might naturally be
expected from artizans, they required a punctual observance of
certain arbitrary canons, the by-laws of the corporation Muses, to which
the poet must conform. These, however, did not diminish the fecundity,
if they repressed the excursiveness, of our meister-singers, and least
of all that of Hans Sachs himself, who poured forth, in about forty
years, fifty-three sacred and seventy-eight profane plays, sixty-four
farces, fifty-nine fables, and a large assortment of other poetry. These
dramatic works are now scarce, even in Germany; they appear to be ranged
in the same class as the early fruits of the French and English
theatres. We shall mention Hans Sachs again in another chapter.[614]

  [614] Biogr. Univ. Eichhorn, iii. 948. Bouterwek, ix. 381. Heinsius,
     iv. 150. Retrospective Review, vol. x.

|Stephen Hawes.|

73. No English poet, since the death of Lydgate, had arisen whom it
could be thought worth while to mention.[615] Many, perhaps, will not
admit that Stephen Hawes, who now meets us, should be reckoned in that
honourable list. His “Pastime of Pleasure, or the Historie of Graunde
Amour and La bel Pucel,” finished in 1506, was printed by Wynkyn de
Worde in 1517. From this title we might hardly expect a moral and
learned allegory, in which the seven sciences of the trivium and
quadrivium, besides a host of abstract virtues and qualities, play their
parts in living personality, through a poem of about six thousand lines.
Those who require the ardent words or the harmonious grace of poetical
diction, will not frequently be content with Hawes. Unlike many of our
older versifiers, he would be judged more unfavourably by extracts than
by a general view of his long work. He is rude, obscure, full of
pedantic latinisms, and probably has been disfigured in the press; but
learned and philosophical, reminding us frequently of the school of
James I. The best, though probably an unexpected, parallel for Hawes is
John Bunyan; their inventions are of the same class, various and novel,
though with no remarkable pertinence to the leading subject, or
naturally consecutive order; their characters, though abstract in name,
have a personal truth about them, in which Phineas Fletcher, a century
after Hawes, fell much below him; they render the general allegory
subservient to inculcating a system, the one of philosophy, the other of
religion. I do not mean that the Pastime of Pleasure is equal in merit,
as it certainly has not been in success, to the Pilgrim’s Progress.
Bunyan is powerful and picturesque from his concise simplicity; Hawes
has the common failings of our old writers, a tedious and languid
diffuseness, an expatiating on themes of pedantry in which the reader
takes no interest, a weakening of every feature and every reflection by
ignorance of the touches that give effect. But if we consider the
Historie of Graunde Amour less as a poem to be read than as a measure of
the author’s mental power, we shall not look down upon so long and
well-sustained an allegory. In this style of poetry much was required,
that no mind ill stored with reflection, or incapable of novel
combination, could supply; a clear conception of abstract modes, a
familiarity with the human mind, and with the effects of its qualities
on human life, a power of justly perceiving and vividly representing the
analogies of sensible and rational objects. Few that preceded Hawes have
possessed more of these gifts than himself.

  [615] I have adverted in another place to Alexander Barclay’s
     translation of the Ship of Fools from Sebastian Brandt; and I may
     here observe, that he has added many original strokes on his own
     countrymen, especially on the clergy.

74. This poem has been little known till Mr. Southey reprinted it in
1831; the original edition is very rare. Warton had given several
extracts, which, as I have observed, are disadvantageous to Hawes, and
an analysis of the whole;[616] but though he praises the author for
imagination, and admits that the poem has been unjustly neglected, he
has not dwelt enough on the erudition and reflection it displays. Hawes
appears to have been educated at Oxford, and to have travelled much on
the Continent. He held also an office in the court of Henry VII. We may
reckon him therefore among the earliest of our learned and accomplished
gentlemen; and his poem is the first-fruits of that gradual ripening of
the English mind, which must have been the process of the laboratory of
time, in the silence and darkness of the fifteenth century. It augured a
generation of grave and stern thinkers, and the omen was not vain.

  [616] Hist. of Engl. Poetry, iii. 54.

|Change in English language.|

75. Another poem, the Temple of Glass, which Warton had given to Hawes,
is now by general consent restored to Lydgate. Independently of external
proof, which is decisive,[617] it will appear that the Temple of Glass
is not written in the English of Henry VII.’s reign. I mention
this only for the sake of observing, that in following the line of our
writers in verse and prose, we find the old obsolete English to have
gone out of use about the accession of Edward IV. Lydgate and bishop
Pecock, especially the latter, are not easily understood by a reader not
habituated to their language; he requires a glossary, or must help
himself out by conjecture. In the Paston Letters, on the contrary, in
Harding, the metrical chronicler, or in Sir John Fortescue’s discourse
on the difference between an absolute and limited monarchy, he finds
scarce any difficulty; antiquated words and forms of termination
frequently occur; but he is hardly sensible that he reads these books
much less fluently than those of modern times. These were written about
1470. But in Sir Thomas More’s History of Edward V., written about 1509,
or in the beautiful ballad of the Nut-brown Maid, which we cannot place
very far from the year 1500, but which, if nothing can be brought to
contradict the internal evidence, I should incline to refer to this
decennium, there is not only a diminution of obsolete phraseology, but a
certain modern turn and structure, both in the verse and prose, which
denotes the commencement of a new æra, and the establishment of new
rules of taste and polite literature. Every one will understand, that a
broad line cannot be traced for the beginning of this change: Hawes,
though his English is very different from that of Lydgate, seems to have
had a great veneration for him, and has imitated the manner of that
school, to which, in a marshalling of our poets, he unquestionably
belongs. Skelton, on the contrary, though ready enough to coin words,
has comparatively few that are obsolete.

  [617] See note in Price’s edition of Warton, ubi suprà: to which I add,
     that the Temple of Glass is mentioned in the Paston Letters, ii.
     90, long before the time of Hawes.


76. The strange writer, whom we have just mentioned, seems to fall well
enough within this decade; though his poetical life was long, if it be
true that he received the laureate crown at Oxford in 1483, and was also
the author of a libel on Sir Thomas More, ascribed to him by Ellis,
which, alluding to the Nun of Kent, could hardly be written before
1533.[618] But though this piece is somewhat in Skelton’s manner, we
find it said that he died in 1529, and it is probably the work of an
imitator. Skelton is certainly not a poet, unless some degree of comic
humour, and a torrent-like volubility of words in doggrel rhyme, can
make one; but this uncommon fertility, in a language so little copious
as ours was at that time, bespeaks a mind of some original vigour. Few
English writers come nearer in this respect to Rabelais, whom Skelton
preceded. His attempts in serious poetry are utterly contemptible; but
the satirical lines on Cardinal Wolsey were probably not ineffective. It
is impossible to determine whether they were written before 1520. Though
these are better known than any poem of Skelton’s, his dirge on Philip
Sparrow is the most comic and imaginative.[619]

  [618] Ellis’s Specimens, vol. ii.

  [619] This last poem is reprinted in Southey’s Selections from the
     older Poets. Extracts from Skelton occur also in Warton, and one in
     the first volume of the Somers Tracts. Mr. Dyce has it, I believe,
     in contemplation to publish a collective edition.

|Oriental languages.|

77. We must now take a short survey of some other departments of
literature during this second decade of the sixteenth century. The
oriental languages become a little more visible in bibliography than
before. An Æthiopic, that is, Abyssinian grammar, with the Psalms in the
same language, was published at Rome by Potken in 1513; a short treatise
in Arabic at Fanno in 1514, being the first time those characters had
been used in type; a psalter in 1516, by Giustiniani at Genoa, in
Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, and Greek;[620] and a Hebrew Bible, with the
Chaldee paraphrase and other aids, by Felice di Prato, at Venice in
1519. The book of Job in Hebrew appeared at Paris in 1516. Meantime the
magnificent polyglott Bible of Alcala proceeded under the patronage of
Cardinal Ximenes, and was published in five volumes folio, between the
years 1514 and 1517. It contains in triple columns the Hebrew, the
Septuagint Greek, and Latin Vulgate; the Chaldee paraphrase of the
Pentateuch by Onkelos being also printed at the foot of the page.[621]
Spain, therefore, had found men equal to superintend this
arduous labour. Lebrixa was still living, though much advanced in years;
Stunica and a few other now obscure names were his coadjutors. But that
of Demetrius Cretensis appears among these in the title-page, to whom
the principal care of the Greek was doubtless intrusted; and it is
highly probable, that all the early Hebrew and Chaldee publications
demanded the assistance of Jewish rabbis.

  [620] It is printed in eight columns, which Gesner, apud Bayle,
     Justiniani, Note D., thus describes; Quarum prima habet Hebræam
     editionem, secunda Latinam interpretationem respondentem Hebrææ de
     verbo in verbum, tertia Latinam communem, quarta Græcam, quinta
     Arabicam, sexta paraphrasim, sermone quidem Chaldæo, sed literis
     Hebraicis conscriptam; septima Latinam respondentem Chaldeæ, ultima
     vero, id est octava, continet scholia, hoc est, annotationes
     sparsas et intercisas.

  [621] Andrès, xix. 35. An observation in the preface to the
     Complutensian edition has been often animadverted upon, that
     they print the Vulgate between the Hebrew and the Greek, like
     Christ between two thieves. The expression, however it may have
     been introduced, is not to be wholly defended; but at that time it
     was generally believed, that the Hebrew text had been corrupted by
     the Jews.


78. The school of Padua, renowned already for its medical science, as
well as for the cultivation of the Aristotelian philosophy, laboured
under a suspicion of infidelity, which was considerably heightened by
the work of Pomponatius, its most renowned professor, on the immortality
of the soul, published in 1516. This book met with several answerers,
and was publicly burned at Venice; but the patronage of Bembo sustained
Pomponatius at the court of Leo; and he was permitted by the inquisition
to reprint his treatise with some corrections. He defended himself by
declaring that he merely denied the validity of philosophical arguments
for the soul’s immortality, without doubting in the least the authority
of revelation, to which, and to that of the church, he had expressly
submitted. This, however, is the current language of philosophy in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which must be judged by other
presumptions. Brucker and Ginguéné are clear as to the real disbelief of
Pomponatius in the doctrine, and bring some proofs from his other
writings, which seem more unequivocal than any that the treatise De
Immortalitate affords. It is certainly possible, and not uncommon, for
men to deem the arguments on that subject inconclusive, so far as
derived from reason, while they assent to those that rest on revelation.
It is on the other hand impossible for a man to believe inconsistent
propositions when he perceives them to be so. The question therefore can
only be, as Buhle seems to have seen, whether Pomponatius maintained the
rational arguments for a future state to be repugnant to known truths,
or merely insufficient for conviction; and this a superficial perusal of
his treatise hardly enables me to determine; though there is a
presumption, on the whole, that he had no more religion than the
philosophers of Padua generally kept for a cloak. That university was
for more than a century the focus of atheism in Italy.[622]

  [622] Tiraboschi, vol. viii. Corniani. Ginguéné. Brucker. Buhle.
     Niceron. Biogr. Universelle. The two last of these are more
     favourable than the rest to the intentions of the Paduan

     Pomponatius, or Peretto, as he was sometimes called, on account of
     his diminutive stature, which he had in common with his predecessor
     in philosophy, Marsilius Ficinus, was ignorant of Greek, though he
     read lectures on Aristotle. In one of Sperone’s dialogues (p. 120
     edit. 1596) he is made to argue, that if all books were read in
     translations, the time now consumed in learning languages might be
     better employed.

|Raymond Lully.|

|His method.|

79. We may enumerate among the philosophical writings of this period, as
being first published in 1516, a treatise full two hundred years older,
by Raymond Lully, a native of Majorca; one of those innovators in
philosophy, who, by much boasting of their original discoveries in the
secrets of truth, are taken by many at their word, and gain credit for
systems of science, which those who believe in them seldom trouble
themselves to examine, or even understand. Lully’s principal treatise is
his Ars Magna, being, as it professes, a new method of reasoning on all
subjects. But this method appears to be only an artificial disposition,
readily obvious to the eye, of subjects and predicables, according to
certain distinctions; which, if it were meant for anything more than a
topical arrangement, such as the ancient orators employed to aid their
invention, could only be compared to the similar scheme of using
machinery instead of mental labour, devised by the philosophers of
Laputa. Leibnitz is of opinion that the method might be convenient in
extemporary speaking; which is the utmost limit that can be assigned to
its usefulness. Lord Bacon has truly said of this, and of such idle or
fraudulent attempts to substitute trick for science, that they are “not
a lawful method, but a method of imposture, which is to deliver
knowledges in such manner, as men may speedily come to make a show of
learning, who have it not;” and that they are “nothing but a mass of
words of all arts, to give men countenance, that those which use the
terms might be thought to understand them.”

80. The writings of Lully are admitted to be very obscure; and those of
his commentators and admirers, among whom the meteors of philosophy,
Cornelius Agrippa and Jordano Bruno, were enrolled, are hardly less so.
But, as is usual with such empiric medicines, it obtained a great deal
of celebrity, and much ungrounded praise, not only for the two centuries
which intervened between the author’s age and that of its appearance
from the press, but for a considerable time afterwards, till the
Cartesian philosophy drove that to which the art of Lully was
accommodated from the field; and even Morhof, near the end of the
seventeenth century, avows that, though he had been led to reckon it a
frivolous method, he had very much changed his opinion on fuller
examination.[623] The few pages which Brucker has given to Lully do not
render his art very intelligible;[624] but they seem sufficie