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while we admire his acquirements, we are inclined to believe that there were others among his brethren who had pursued the same course ; and that the late primate and his African friend had b'en able to excite a desire of intellectual cultivation, the beneficial effects of which were extensively diffused.
The third book describes the state of learning from the reign of Charlemagne, 774, to the end of the tenth century. Of this prince our author observes that he was himself ignorant, but he had talents, and a mind susceptible of every liberal impression. From such a prince much was to be expected. The ninth century opened with very flattering prospects, and the following reasons are urged why no success followed. The teachers whom Charlemagne appointed, though endowed with the natural powers of intellect, knew not how to excite attention, or to rouse into action the latent capacities of the mind. The subjects called sciences, or the seven liberal arts-grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomywere so taught as to disgust by their barbarous elements: the first rudiments of education, as of reading and writing, were neglected in the higher orders of society; they were too fondly attached to martial exercises, and to amusements that kept up the image of war.' The successors of Charlemagne now pass in review before us, and we are presented with an account of the state of learning in Rome, and other parts of Europe.-A king and a philosopher is next introduced to our notice, whose name must fill every Englishman's breast with respect. Both natives and foreigners, contemplating his virtues and mental endowments, regarded Alfred as the greatest prince, who, after Charlemagne, had appeared in Europe; and posterity has ratified the encomiums which they pronounced. The heroic actions, and the noble exertions of this distinguished character in the cause of letters are everywhere well known ; so that we pass on to the fourth book which details the state of learning and the arts in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
After some severe, but just strictures on the profligacy and ignorance of the Roman court and its adherents, as well as on the fictitious donation of Constantine, quoted by Leo IXth with an audacious temerity of imposture, the author describes the settlement of the Normans in Italy, and in England after the conquest. This leads him to consider the political and literary state of our country.
“We pass with a sigh," says he, “over the turbulent reign of Stephen, to come to that of Henry Plantagenet, who in 1154 ascended the English throne. He had passed his youth in France, and had not neglected the
opportunities of instruction which that country afforded. His talents were great, and his love of letters auspicious; and through the whole course of his reign, as often as the cares of government would allow an interval of recreation, he was fond of passing it in the society of learned men. Under such a prince, and during a reign of little less than forty years, the arts of peace prospered as far as the taste of the times gave encouragement to their progress; the seminaries of learning were protected, teachers abounded, and came over to this from less tranquil countries; the convents furnished an undisturbed retreat to the studious; and in short, letters were generally patronised and cultivated."
Some interesting particulars respecting Oxford, together with a sketch of the rise and progress of Cambridge, are followed by remarks on the writers of that age. Of John of Salisbury he speaks with particular satisfaction, as a man whose elegance of learning was above the level of his age, and who was its principal ornament. After some observations on the foolish object of the crusades, and combating, with much plausibility, and perhaps truth, the idea of the benefits derived to Europe from them, we are presented with an account of the introduce tion of scholasticism, and of the memorable contention between St. Bernard and the famous Abeillard, the lover of Heloisa. Here we cannot but admire the modesty of Mr. Berington, who, in this short abstract of the lives of those celebrated but unfortunate characters, never once alludes to the elegant production he some years since gave to the public, containing their lives in full, with a spirited and faithful translation of the letters that passed between them. Some observations on the architecture and other arts of this period close the fourth book, and introduce us to the fifth, which makes us acquainted with the state of learning in the thirteenth century:
The most remarkable features of this period are the formation of the modern languages, and the introduction of a new species of poetry by the Trouvers or Troubadours.
The history of these itinerant minstrels is familiar to most readers, and our reason for gravely mentioning their apparently trifling and uninstructive productions is, to show the influence they had upon the advancement of letters. To see any thing diffused in their vernacular tongue, to hear the exploits of their favorite heroes chanted in verse, which they could easily commit to memory, was a novelty too attractive not to make a lasting impression. The motives to improve this new and familiar language were numerous and powerful, and it was soon dignified by being rendered the vehicle of loftier and more important ideas. Upon this subject our author is copious, and abounds with just and appropriate remarks. Intimately connected with
this topic is the history of the Saxon and early language of Britain ; accordingly we are presented with a full detail of the poetical, and rhetorical attainments of our rude ancestors, as well as with hints respecting their historical compositions. Mr. B. thus speaks of Mathew of Paris :
“ For sincerity of narration, truth of coloring; and extent of information the Historia Major may justly be esteemed as valuable a work as this or any other age had produced. His siyle is, however, unequal. It is sometimes remarkable for its spirit and elegance, at others for its inflation and insipidity; in other words, it is ever in unison with the character of the age. He was ever a warm advocate for justice and for truth: while abuses, from whatever quarter they might proceed, provoked his inexorable enmity: Trojan and Tyrian equally smart under bis lash. It is with strong approbation we see, that when either monk, prelate, prince, emperor or pore, has deviated from what he deems the line of rectitude, lie is unreserved in his censure, and his language is that of vigour and intrepidity. Those who have been too servilely devoted to the Ruman court, have blamed this undaunted freedom of the English monk, whom they represent as ill-affected towards their bishop; and have seized with avidity every opportunity of aspersing his fame and loading him with invectives.”
With the same energy of language and justness of criticism are reviewed the works of Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, Albertus magnus, Roger Bacon, and Robert Groteste, writers who flourished during this period.
The sixth and last book describes the state of learning from the beginning of the fourteenth century, to the invention of the art of printing, about the year 1450. This period commences under the most happy omens. After the long and dreary night of ignorance that has enveloped the western world, it is not a little cheering to see the clouds beginning to disperse ; the human faculties, enfeebled either by disuse or by a vitiating exercise, recovering energy and assuming a judicious direction; religion, which vain controversies had disfigured, casting off its adscititious coverings, and appearing in the charms of primitive simplicity: to behold a system of ethics by which the heart might be improved and the understanding invigorated, taking place of legendary tales, of fancied miracles and imaginary virtues ; and the rights of man in the different orders of society, ecclesiastical and civil, ascertained with more distinctness ; in a word to see the lamp of science relumed and leading by its steady beams to the most happy and glorious results. Italy was the first to catch the irradiations of the sun of science, and it is astonishing to what a perfection even at $0 early a period, the Italian language attained. Dante and
Petrarca were the twin stars that first became visible in the literary horizon. The perfection to which their writings attained may be conceived from a single observation of one of the Italian critics : « The style of Petrarca, says he, after the lapse of four hundred years is still followed as the most perfect model of writing; hardly a word will be found in his compositions which is become obsolete or antiquated.'
A general spirit of inquiry was now awakened, and the works of the ancients were sought after with the utmost avidity and enthusiasm. When I met strangers,' says Petrarca, Sand they asked me what I desired from their country ? nothing, I replied, but the works of Cicero.' To the scrutinizing researches of the learned Poggio Bracciolini we are indebted for the recovery of the Institutions of Quintilian, Valerius Flaccus, Vitruvius, Lucretius, Silius Italicus, the orations of Cicero and his treatise de Finibus and de Legibus, together with a long list of inferior writers. After being presented with an account of the life and writings of Boccaccio, we are brought back to the writers of our own island. John Wickliff is characterised as having aided the cause of English literature by his translation of the scriptures, and by such of his tracts as were written in his native tongue and dispersed among the people. The public mind, thus agitated by novelty and the discussion of various subjects, could not but throw off a portion of the lethargy under which it had so long slumbered: And the man to whom our literature at this period owed the most serious obligations was Chaucer the poet. Our author does ample justice to his exertions, draws an able comparison between his acquirements and those of his contemporaries, and gives an accurate estimate of the success of his literary efforts when contrasted with those of Petrarca and Boccaccio. The book closes with a farther account of the state of the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford; of the revival and progress of the Greek language in Europe : and of the advantages consequent on the invention of the art of printing.
The body of Mr. Berington's work, as the reader has seen, describes the state of literature in the west of Europe; but in order to omit nothing relative to the progress of learning, he presents us with two long Appendixes, the first describing the literature of the Greeks from the sixth century to the fall of the Eastern empire in 1459; the second giving a general view of the Arabian or Saracenic learning. This part of the work is marked with the same enlightened views, the same critical acuteness, and the same justness of description which every
reader will admire in the former part of the volume. We cannot close this article without observing, that the public is under great obligations to Mr. Berington. He has supplied a desideratum in English literature. His performance may justly be regarded as an excellent introduction to the celebrated Lives of Lorenzo de Medici and Leo the tenth : and it closes at the period when Mr. Roscoe's literary labors commence.
The present work, independently of its merits in a critical point of view, is marked throughout by a noble freedom of enquiry, and much candor and liberality of thinking. This spirit will, perhaps, be more admired when it is known, that Mr. Berington is a priest of the Roman Catholic communion ; and due respect will be paid to the man who has thus the courage to rise above the prejudices of his profession. The vices of the popes, the ecclesiastics, and the monks, he exposes with boldness, and condemns without reserve ; he reprobates with manly freedom, the lawless assumption of power and the tyrannical conduct of the Roman court. We would willingly gratify the reader with a conversation which he details as having passed between pope Adrian the 4th and John of Salisbury, who were both our countrymen. But from want of room we must be content with referring the reader to the volume itself, page 317. Mr. Berington has illustrated his work by frequent quotations from a MS, of his own, entitled : The History of the Papal power :' and we add that from the many very interesting extracts with which he has favored us from it, we are induced to wish that he would lay the whole before the public
and the sooner the better.
ART. IV. Researches, concerning the institutions and monu
ments of the ancient inhabitants of America, with descriptions and views of some of the most striking scenes in the Cordibleras! Translated from the French of ALEXANDER DE HUMBOLDT, by Helen MARIA WILLIAMS. 2 vols. 8vo.
Longman and Co., Murray, and Colburn. London, 1814. We have already dedicated a few pages to the “ Personal Narrative" of this author, which should be read in conjunction with his « Picturesque Atlas,”—a work containing numerous researches into the ancient monuments of America, descriptions of many striking scenes in the Cordilleras, and of the manners of the inhabitants. But as this Atlas is too large and expensive