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this fact, that, in the reign of king John, the nobility were unacquainted with the charter which had been granted by Henry the First. It might perhaps for ever have been loft, had it not been found in a monastery, and brought to light by Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, at a season when the lords spiritual and temporal were conlulting about the redress of grievances, and the security of their privileges. They were extremely rejoiced at the acquisition, and made it the foundation of their own demands; for it is worthy of observation, that in this age of darkness the English conftirution acquired fresh strength, and the rights of the subject were considerably enlarged. Henry the Second confirmed the laws of Edward the Confeffor, and appointed itinerant judges; an excellent inftitution, of which we experience the benefit to the present day. From king John were obtained the celebrated charters, so justly regarded as the basis of British freedom; and the reign of Henry the Third is distinguished by the origin of the house of commons; which from small degrees of power and influence, has risen to the height of authority and splendor, has become an essential part of our government, the guardian of our liberties, and the glory of our country.

From the view we have given of the deplorable state of things, with respect to real knowledge, we may be ready to imagine that there were no places of education, no opportunities for Itudy, and the improvement of the mind; and yec it is an undoubted truth, that there were in this period a great number of professed icholars. Monaftcries abounded, and were in a flourishing condition ; new religious orders were continually instituted ; and there were many literary foun: dations and seminaries. Multitudes appear to have been brought up at the two universities; and 10 numerous were the students at Oxford, that, on a certain occasion, we read of three thousand quitting the city, and retiring to. Cam. bridge and Reading. Paris likewise was, at this time, ex: treniely celebrated as a feat of learning; and its reputation drew to it a large quantity of youth from England. 'Ie may therefore seem surprising, that the age should, in general, be so extremely ignorant. But it is to be observed, that the


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literature of the day was almost totally confined to monks and
priests: the laity had little concern with it, and did not con.
lider it as an object of their attention. Moreover, the en:
quiries in which the clergy were engaged had but a small
connection wich genuine science. They did not search into
the true meaning of Scripture; they did not pursue that sound
philosophy which examines the real nature of things; they
did not cultivate their reason, or refine their taste. The sube
jeets they studied were often contemptible, or if valuable
and important in their own nature, were rendered contemp-
tible by the manner in which they were treated. It was an
unpardonable crime to deviate from a certain track of sen-
timents; and the favourite authors, the models held out for
imitation, were, for the most part, such as were calculated
to mislead, instead of improving the understanding. If ex-
ceptions may be mentioned to this representation of facts,
it must be acknowledged that they were very few in num-


One grand object of study, that employed the whole lives of many persons, was the canon law, to which we may add the decretals of the popes: nor is it to be wondered at that these things should engage the attention of numbers, and take up all their time, when we consider, that the constitutions of councils, and the ordinances of the Roman pontiff, were deemed of sacred obligation, and were every day growing more complex and voluminous.

Another matter, of greater value and importance, which was then pursued, was the civil law; but, unhappily, it was pursued to the detriment and exclusion of nobler and more useful branches of science.

A copy of Justinian's Pandects, which had been discoyered in the twelfth century, occasioned the civil law to be received and embraced in the western parts of Europe, where it had long been almost entirely forgotten. Many nations adopted it, and united it with their feudal customs; some countries giving it a more, and some a lets, extenfive authority. It was brought into England by Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, during the Norman period; and there came along with him several learned proficients in it, particularly


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Vacarius, whom he placed at Oxford. But though it was at:
tempted to be universally introduced into this country, it
could never be effected. The ancient common law had sub-
sisted immensoriably in the kingdom; had, in a considerable
measure, maintained its ground, against the innovations of
the Conqueror, and his successors; and, being founded on
more equal and moderate principles than the Justinian code,
the people were attached to it with the strongest degree of
affection. In the knowledge of it great part of the literarure
of these times con Gifted. It was taught in the monasteries,
the universities, and the houses of the principal nobility; and
ti.e clergy, in particular, applied to it with the utmost at-
tention; so that it was the usual character of them, Nullus
clericus nisi causidicus. Out of this order the judges were
created, and the inferior offices in che courts of judicature
were supplied from the lower ranks of the priesthood. But
a remarkable alteration, in this respect, was occafioned by
the introduction of the study of the civil law. As it was
enforced by the authority of the popes, it naturally drew the
veneration and regard of the monks, to which another cirq
cumstance greatly contributed. The Norman conquest had
brought into the church multitudes of foreigners, who had
no acquaintance with, and consequently, no relish for the
English jurisprudence. Hence they obitinately adhered to
the Roman inftitutions; and though an application to the
new science was forbidden by Stephen, they considered the
prohibition as an impiety, and continued to teach it in the
schools. The clergy afterwards endeavoured, by every pos-

sible method, to bring it into general practice; but the laity
stood firmly against it, and declared, in the famous parlia-
ment of Merton, that they would not change the laws of
England. From this æra the priests gradually withdrew
from the municipal courts; and, ac length, it was ordered,
by the episcopal canons, that they should not appear as ad-
vocates in foro seculari. Nor did they long act as judges,
the office of chancellor excepted: but in thole places where
their authority remained, they preserved the form and max.
ims of the Justinian cude.
In consequence of this quarrel between the clergy and the

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laity, the study of the common law was laid aside at Oxford and at Cambridge ; and the professors of it, being driven from these seats of learning, came to London, and erected an university of a new kind; a juridical university, in the inps of court and chancery, where exercises were performed, lectures were read, and degrees conferred.

Among the princes of this period, Henry the Second and Richard the First are the most entitled to distinction in a history of literature. Henry is celebrated by Leland as a scholar, and Richard is known to have been a famous Troubadour. The song which was compered by him, during his imprisonment in Austria, has obtained him a place in the Catalogue of Royal Authors.

From the reign of Alfred, through a succession of several centuries, we meet with few literary characters excepting divines and historians : but as we advance in the period we are treating of, we behold some faint glimmerings of the philosophical and other sciences.

The glimmerings, indeed, are very faint : nevertheless, the appearance of them is extremely pleasing, and we cannot avoid hailing the least dawn of ewilight with joy, after being involved in a long and gloomy night.

We have already remarked, that the civil and canon laws were principal objects of attention. As to the civil law, though the monks were very fond of it, the prefent æra did not afford any such considerable proficients in the Roman code, as to merit particular notice. With re. spect to the canon law, Alexander Hales, who obtained the title of the Irrefragable Doctor, was famous in his day; and it would be ealy to specify other persons that were celebrated on the same account, were it worth while to bring names into public view, which have deservedly funk into oblivion.

Nor was the English jurisprudence entirely disregarded : for Bracton, who was a judge in Henry the Third's reign, and probably chief justice, composed an excellent treatise upon the laws, called Brito, which has always been held in the highest esteem. Beeton, also, wrote a book De Legibus Anglicanis, which was vastly serviceable to Edward the First, the Justinian of England, and to the whole nation :

and, and, that we may not speedily have occasion to resume the subject, we shall here mention the Fleta, another old law performance, which is in great credit even at present, and is studied along with Bracton, by-those who desire to bave a thorough knowledge of our ancient customs, statutes, and conftitution.

Towards the close of the period before us, there was a considerable tendency to the study of philosophy, geometry, and physic. The weltern world had, for ages, utterly neglected all science of this kind; but it now began to pay a little regard to these important matters; and the sources from which it drew its first acquaintance with them were not, as might naturally be expected, the writings of the Greeks and the Romans, but the works of the Arabians. After the Saracens had established large kingdoms in the East, and brought them to a state of security, magnificence, and refinement, they applied themselves to the arts of peace, and to the cultivation of knowledge. The objects that more particularly engaged their attention, were the mathematics, aitronomy, medicine, and chemistry. History and poetry were, likewise, in much esteem with them; and the latcer they carried to a high degree of perfection. So ardent was their desire of improvement, that they translated the principal authors of Greece into their own tongue, and, for several hundred years, were the only people among whom Science greatly flourished. There were, indeed, no small remainders of literature, at Constantinople, and the adjacent places; but they lay concealed under the depression of the Byzantine empire, and produced no extenlive or general effects.

From Babylon and Egypt, where learning was chiefly cultivated, it spread westward, following the career of the Saracen conquests, and, at length, settled in Spain, under the protection of the Moorish princes, whose courts were adorned with men of eminence in various branches of knowledge, and especially in natural philosophy, physic, and geometry. The studies of the Arabians gradually made their way from Spain into France, and from France into England. To them we are indebted for the admirable and useful method of reckoning


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