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the new orders from their high professions, until it culminates CHAP. IL
with the sixteenth century, in the polished sarcasms of the
Encomium Morice and the burning hexameters of the Fran-
ciscanus of George Buchanan.


to his genera

Grosseteste died in 1253, within five years of the day Death of when the Franciscan emissaries knocked at his door. It marks the reputation which he had even in his lifetime. achieved, that though his closing years were vexed by arduous contention, though the Pope appeared to him as Antichrist, and his dauntless spirit as a reformer had called up unnumbered enemies at home, it was yet believed that at the hour of his death celestial music was heard in the air, and bells of more than earthly melody chimed untouched by human hand'. Legend has surely often graced a far less deserving name. His friend Simon de Montfort wrought not a greater work in the world politic, than did Grosseteste in that of literature and in the Church. He had stimulated His services education; he had revived learning; he had enriched the tion. stores of the theologian; he had brought back discipline and suppressed abuses among the older religious orders, he had been a father to the new; he had confronted the extortion of the Roman pontiff, in the noonday of the papal power, with a courage which still endears his memory to Englishmen; and, though his hand had been heavy on the Benedictines, the contemporary historian, notwithstanding the ties that bound him to that order, has left it on record, in pregnant if not classic phrase, that he was prælatorum Testimony of correptor, monachorum corrector, presbyterorum director, Paris to his clericorum instructor, scholarium sustentator, populi prædicator, incontinentium persecutor, scripturarum sedulus perscrutator diversarum, Romanorum malleus et contemptor.


behalf of the

During the latter part of his life Grosseteste's attention His efforts on appears to have been given to the new learning scarcely less new learning. than to the new orders, and he had sought to promote the

1 Matthew Paris, pp. 876, 877.

2 In qua, si quis omnes tyrannides quas exercuit recitaret, non

severus sed potius austerus et in-
humanus censeretur.' Ibid. p. 815.

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CHAP. II study of Greek by inviting Greek scholars over to this country, whom he appears to have placed on the foundation at St. Alban's. His own scholarship did not enable him to translate from the original unaided, but as soon as he had gained the assistance of others, he at once perceived that by far the greater number of the difficulties that obstructed the comprehension of Aristotelian thought were to be attributed to the wretched character of the existing translations and the mechanical spirit in which the translators had performed their task. To this conviction we may refer the fact, which He translates there seems no good reason for calling in question, that he himself caused to be prepared, and superintended the production of, a new translation of the Ethics'. Of such His opinion translations as were already in use he utterly despaired, and translations asserted that those who wished to understand Aristotle

the Ethics.

of the existing

of Aristotle.

must study him in the original. His views were fully shared Roger Bacon. by his disciple and admirer, Roger Bacon. 'Sure am I,' says

b. 1214. d. 1292.

the latter, 'that it would have been better for the Latins had the wisdom of Aristotle remained untranslated, than that it should be handed down amid such obscurity and perversity, as it now is by those who expend thereon the labours of thirty or forty years; and who the more they toil the less they know; as I have ascertained to be the case with those who have adhered to the writings of Aristotle. On which account my lord Robert, formerly bishop of Lincoln of holy memory, entirely neglected the books of Aristotle and their modes of reasoning...... Had I the power, I would have all the books of Aristotle burnt, as it is but waste time and the cause of error to study them.' Of the practical inconveniences resulting from the use of such translations, he had, indeed, himself had some experience, for when lecturing on Aristotle in the schools at Oxford, he had on one occasion alighted on some Lombard or Spanish words inserted by the translator to supply the place of the unknown Latin

1 The fact has been called in question by M. Émile Charles, Roger Bacon, sa Vie, ses Ouvrages, etc.

(Paris, 1861), p. 328: but see Jourdain, Recherches Critiques, p. 59, and Mr Luard's Preface to the Epistolæ.


of the


equivalents, and on his stumbling over the strange difficulty, CHAP. II. his scholars, with the rudeness characteristic of the times, had openly derided his perplexity'. The efforts of Aquinas towards remedying defects like these, do not appear to have elicited any eulogium from the Oxford Franciscan, while William of Moerbecke is singled out by him for special attack and the following verdict, delivered in his Compendium Studii Theologiæ, shortly before his death, may probably be regarded as representing his deliberate opinion :-Though His account we have numerous translations of all the sciences by Gerard translators. of Cremona, Michael Scot, Alfred the Englishman, Hermann the German, there is such an utter falsity in all their writings that none can sufficiently wonder at it. For a translation to be true, it is necessary that a translator should know the language from which he is translating, the language into which he translates, and the science he wishes to translate. But who is he? and I will praise him, for he has done marvellous things. Certainly none of the above named had any true knowledge of the tongues or the sciences, as is clear, not from their translations only, but their condition of life. ......Hermann the German, who was very intimate with Gerard, is still alive, and a bishop. When I questioned him about certain books of logic which he had to translate from the Arabic, he roundly told me he knew nothing of logic and therefore did not dare to translate them; and certainly if he was unacquainted with logic he could know nothing of any other science as he ought. Nor did he understand Arabic, as he confessed, because he was rather an assistant in the translations than the real translator. For he kept Saracens about him in Spain who had a principal hand in his translations. In the same way Michael the Scot claimed the merit of numerous translations. But it is certain that Andrew, a Jew, laboured at them more than he did. And even Michael, as Hermann reported, did not understand either the sciences or the tongues. And so of the rest, especially the notorious William Fleming who is now in such reputation. Whereas it is well known to all the literati of 1 Comp. Studii Theologiæ, quoted in Wood-Gutch, p. 287.

CHAP. II. Paris, that he is ignorant of the sciences in the original Greek, to which he makes such pretensions; and therefore he translates falsely, and corrupts the philosophy of the Latins. For Boethius alone was well acquainted with the tongues and their interpretation. My lord Robert, by reason of his long life and the wonderful methods he employed, knew the sciences better than any other man; for though he did not understand Greek or Hebrew he had many assistants'.'

Difficulties of his career.

Special value of his writings.

Roger Bacon was of the Franciscan order, and the persecution he underwent at the hands of that community at Oxford when he essayed to prosecute his scientific researches, is a familiar tale. While Albertus and Aquinas were the guests of royalty and expounded their interpretation of Aristotle to admiring throngs at Cologne and Paris, the poor English friar, as far as we can trace out the obscure records of his life, was atoning for a mental activity in no wise less honorable, by isolation, disgrace, and banishment; and while Aquinas was trusting to such aid as he could find in men like William of Moerbecke for a clearer insight into the thought of Aristotle, the occupant of the humble cell at Oxford had, by his almost unaided efforts, raised himself to be the first scholar of his age.

The writings of Roger Bacon have a value of an almost unique kind. They not only give us an insight into the learning of the age, such as is afforded by the writings of no other Englishman in the thirteenth or the succeeding century, but they also supply us with that most assuring of all corroborations in our estimate of a remote and obsolete culture, the concurring verdict of a contemporary observer. When the Oxford friar denounces the extravagance, the frivolity, and the shortcomings of his time, we feel less diffident lest our own impressions may be chiefly those of mere prejudice and association; and, in bringing to a termination our sketch of this era, we can scarcely do better than record the conclusions wherein his penetrating intellect has summed up

1 Quoted and translated by Prof. Brewer, Preface to R. Baconi Opera Inedita, p. lx.



of the defects

the age.

its stern indictment, as his eagle glance ranged over the CHAP. II. domain of knowledge, and noted with what caprice, what perversity, what blindness, the labourers yet tilled, planted, and essayed to gather fruit on an ungrateful soil, while all around them broad and fertile acres stretched far and wide or faded from the gaze on the dim and distant horizon: It His three was in the year 1267 that Bacon completed those three trea- composed tises which he had, in obedience to the wishes of his patron Pope Clement IV, drawn up in illustration of his views, and which, known as the Opus Majus, the Opus Minus, and the Opus Tertium', are still extant, and constitute so remarkable a monument of his genius. It is from these writings, together His censures with two other treatises written at a later period, that we and vices of gain an insight into the actual education of the time, such as we should vainly seek elsewhere; and as the writer reviews with scornful impartiality the errors and defects of the prevailing methods, we seem rather to hear the voice of his great namesake, speaking from the vantage ground of three additional centuries, than that of a humble friar of the days of Henry III. His censure falls alike upon Dominican and Franciscan; upon Aquinas and his method,-wherein he can only see philosophy aspiring to usurp the province of theology, and upon Alexander Hales, to whom the true thought of Aristotle had never been known, and whose writings, he notes with satisfaction, are already falling into neglect3; upon the superstitious reverence yielded to the Sentences while the Scriptures were neglected and set aside; on the

1 It may be of service here to enumerate the different treatises by Bacon to which reference will frequently be made, with the assumed dates of their composition:-(a) Opus Majus (edited by Dr Jebb, 1733); *(8) Opus Minus (extant only as a fragment); *(7) Opus Tertium (intended as a preface to the two former), composed 1266-67 in compliance with the request of Pope Clement Iv; *(8) Compendium Studii Philosophia, 1271; (e) Compendium Studii Theologiæ (still in manuscript), 1292. The asterisk denotes the treatises included in Professor

Brewer's edition for the Rolls se-

2 Opus Minus, ed. Brewer, p. 322.
3 Ibid. p. 325-327.

4 Nam ibi est tota gloria theologo-
rum, quæ facit onus unius equi. Et
postquam illum legerit quis, jam
præsumit se de magistro theologiæ,
quamvis non audiat tricesimam par-
tem sui textus. Et bacularius qui
legit textum succumbit lectori Sen-
tentiarum Parisius. Et ubique et in
omnibus honoratur et præfertur.
Nam ille qui legit Sententias habet
principalem horam legendi secundum
suam voluntatem, habet et socium

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