Page images


of Charle

sapientia'. Such were the alleged motives of the emperor, — INTRO'prétextes', as Ampère regards them, 'qu'il mettait en avant pour motiver sa réforme. Gregory could not have impeached them, though there is sufficient reason for concluding that the emperor's reforms greatly exceeded what Gregory would have approved.

The emperor had already made the acquaintance of Alcuin The Schools at Parma; he now invited him over from England and placed mague. him at the head of the Palace school attached to his own court. Under Alcuin's directions a scheme of education was drawn up which became the model for the other great schools established at Tours, Fontenelle, Lyons, Osnaburg, and Metz ;-institutions which ably sustained the tradition of education on the continent, until superseded by the new methods and the new learning which belong to the commencement of the university era”.

The work of Charlemagne may be characterised as one of character of both renovation and innovation renovation as regarded the introduced already existing schools, innovation in the reconstruction of emperor in their methods and the extension of their teaching to other classes. Hitherto the privileges of the monastic schools had been jealously confined by the Benedictines to their own order. By the efforts of Charlemagne they were now thrown open to the secular clergy. The monasteries, in the new movement, made common cause in the work of instruction with the cathedral or episcopal schools, and a new impulse was thus communicated to education. If we add to these centres of activity the slight element of lay education that


1 Launoy, De Scholis Celebrioribus, et Monastiques of Léon Maitre, deuxetc., p. 7.

ième Partie. Gaillard, Histoire de It has been said that the manu- Charlemagne, II 87, speaks of them scripts which Alcuin procured from as 'écoles que l'université de Paris England were the means of forming peut regarder comme son berceau ;' a special school of transcribers and this, however, is a point with respect illuminators at Aix-la-Chapelle, which to which much diversity of opinion for many generations preserved the prevails; see commencement of Chaptraditionary style of the Anglo-Saxon ter I. Savigny's judgement on the artists. Edwards' Memoirs of Libra- question is emphatic: ‘ist doch eine ries, i 106.

unmittelbare Verbindung derselben 3' A full account of the method mit der späteren Universität ganz and discipline of these schools will unerweislich.' Geschichte des Röm. be found in Les Écoles Épiscopales Rechts, C. XXI sec. 126, note.


Retirement of Alcuin from the work.

INTRO. developed itself in the Palace school, where the emperor

himself participated in the instruction given, we shall perceive that a very general reform was initiated. The learned Benedictine, Dom Bouquet, dwells with enthusiasm on the benefits thus extended to the whole student class of the period".

It seems certain that, for a time at least, the English ecclesiastic heartily seconded the plans of his royal employer; but his zeal evidently declined with advancing age, and after fourteen years of service he was glad to seek refuge from the splendour of the court in the retirement of the monastery at Tours. Guizot has inferred that the demands made


his energies, and the continual tension at which his mind was kept, by the mental activity and insatiable curiosity of the emperor, urged him to this step, but there would appear to

be sufficient reason for surmising that the cause lay someHis apparent what deeper.

Those familiar with the history of these centuries, will remember the frequent feuds between the Benedictines and the secular clergy, and it would seem doubtful whether Alcuin ever cordially sympathized with the extension of instruction which Charlemagne brought about; his heart appears far more warmly given to the task of refuting the Adoptionists and denouncing image-worship; it is certain that he viewed with dislike the increased attention to pagan literature, which necessarily resulted from the mental activity thus aroused? The large designs and wide

mistrust of Pagan learning.

1 Tot enim gentes e Germania Regis exemplum statim secuti sunt cis Rhenum, et ex Italia cis Alpes Abbates et Episcopi. Publica per eruperunt, ut publicæ penitus evanu- Episcopia, per Monasteria mox streerint Scholæ, et curam privatarum puerunt Scholæ, aliæ Cænobilis, alie ad eruditionem Clericorum in Epi- Sacularibus edocendis destinata.' scopiis gesserint Episcopi, ut Abbates Bouquet, Rerum Gallicarum et Franin Cænobiis ad Monachorum instruc- cicarum Scriptores, v 621. tionem. Unde studia delitescebant ? A full account of the controversy in solis Episcopiorum Monasteriu- with the Adoptionists will be found rumque claustris. Sed quia tunc in the very able Life of Alcuin by quoque eæ languebant, eas pristino Lorenz, Professor of History at the splendori restituere Carolus etiam University of Halle, 1829. The sategit, directis Epistolis, de quibus Roman Catholic writers have genesupra. Verum cum privatarum hujus- rally sought to show that the paper cemodi Scholarum aditus Laicis liber found among the Carlovingian Docunon esset, Carolus publicas instituit, ments against image-worship is spuet in ipso regio Palatio alias erexit. rious, and have attributed it to



views of the emperor ranged beyond the conceptions of the INTROsomewhat cold and decorous ecclesiastic. Though an ardent admirer of the De Civitate Dei, Charlemagne had other sentiments sympathies, sympathies which strongly inclined him to that peror. secular learning so strongly condemned by Gregory. By his directions steps were taken for the collection and revision of manuscripts, a care especially necessary now that Egypt under Saracen occupation no longer furnished the papyrus for the use of Europe. One of the numerous letters of Alcuin consists of a reply to two grammatical questions propounded by the emperor,—the proper gender of rubus, and whether despexeris or dispexeris be the preferable form. The letter attests no contemptible scholarship, supported as its decisions are by references to Priscian and Donatus ; it is moreover an important piece of evidence with respect to Alcuin's knowledge of Greek, for it contains seven quotations in that language, and illustrates the force of di, in such Latin compounds as divido, diruo, discurro, by the Greek διά'.

Such enquiries on the part of the emperor, together with The special those interesting dialogues wherein Alcuin unfolded to the the neglect of courtly circle at Aix-la-Chapelle the mysteries of logic and succeeded by grammar, unmistakeably evidence the presence of a spirit very founded on different from that of Gregory and altogether in advance of morality. the ecclesiastical ideas of the time. It might seem indeed not unreasonable to suppose that when the dark forebodings that derived their strength from calamity and invasion drew off at the approach of a more hopeful age, and that as the horizon that bounded human life regained the charms that belong to the illimitable and the unknown, men might well again find leisure to draw delight and inspiration from the page of Grecian and Roman genius. Such happiness how

pagan literature

Karlstadt, who heralded the crusade against image-worship th preceded the Reformation.

1 Epist. 27. The tone of this letter, wherein Alcuin mildly expresses his surprise that the emperor should have summoned him from his retire.

ment to act as arbiter in a literary
controversy, and should be willing
emeritæ nomen militie in castra revo-
care pugnantia, plainly shows how
he sought in his latter life to with-
draw himself from the study of pagan


[ocr errors]

ever the scholar was not yet destined to enjoy. The course of
events, it is true, had tended to weaken the belief which
Gregory had held', but there had at the same time been
growing up in the Church a subsidiary theory with respect
to pagan literature, which equally served to discredit and
discourage the study. From considerations which led to an
estimate of pagan learning as a thing wherein the Christian
had no longer part or lot, objectors now turned to considera-
tions derived from the morality of the literature. The spirit
of Tertullian and Arnobius long survived in the Latin Church;
and the most learned ecclesiastics of these centuries are to
be found ignoring that very culture which in a later age has
proved the road to ecclesiastical preferment, on grounds
precisely similar to those assumed by the most illiterate and
bigoted zealots of more modern times. Thus Alcuin himself,
who had been wont as a boy to conceal in his bed his Virgil
from the observation of the brother who came to rouse the


1 It is remarkable how the anticipations of Gregory assume at the hands of Alcuina comparatively vague and indefinite character:Quædam videlicet signa, quæ ipse Dominus in Evangelio ante finem mundi futura esse prædixit, transacta leguntur; quædam vero imminentia quotidie sentiuntur. Quædam itaque necdum acta sunt, sed futura esse certissime regnum Antichristi et crudelitas ejus in sanctos; hæc enim erit novissima persecutio, novissimo imminente judicio, quam sancta Ecclesia toto terrarum orbe patietur; universa scilicet civitas Christi, ab universa diaboli civitate.' De Pide Sanc. Trinitatis, Bk. III c. 19. Migue, ci 51. It is easy to note in this passage, perhaps the most definite in Alcuin's writings, how the phraseology of Augustine continued to be repeated while the application of his theory was longer insisted on with the same distinctness. In his brief commentary on the Apocalypse we observe a singular reticence in interpreting any portion of the prophecy by specific events; and in the Libellus de Antichristo, once attributed to him, but now proved to be by an Abbot of the

monastery at Montier-en-Der, and
written more than a century later,
we find the following remarkable
passage: 'Quicumque enim, sive
laicus, sive canonicus, sive monachus
contra justitiam vivit, et ordinis sui
regulam impugnat, et quod bonum
est blasphemat, Antichristus et mi-
nister Satanæ est.' This brief tract,
successively attributed to Augustine,
Alcuin, and Rabanus Maurus (see
edition of the last named, published
at Col. Agripp. vi 178, also Migne,
ci 1291), while it specifies a definite
period of persecution, assigns the
East as the quarter from whence
Antichrist would appear, and ranges
against him the Western Powers.
The whole has a marked resem.
blance to Lactantius, Institutiones,
Bk, vii.

? Herwerden, in his Commentatio
De Caroli Magni, etc., one of his
earliest productions, has very happily
characterised this prejudice of the
time: • Veteribus Latinis Græcisque
litteris pestifera præsertim erat su-
perstitiosissimi ejus ævi opinio, stu-
dium earum et exercitationem Chris-
tiano contumeliosa esse, eique notain
impietatis inurere, quæ æternæ ejus
saluti ac beatitudini nociva sit.'




sleepers to nocturns, lived to set a bann upon the 'impure NTROeloquence of the poet, and forbade him to his pupils'. The guardian of the library at York, who had once so enthusiastically described its treasures?, employed his later years in testifying to the vanity of all pagan learning. The difference we have noted in the spirit of the emperor and the ecclesiastic is apparent to the close. The former withdrew, as far as he was able, from the anxieties of political life, to devote himself with yet greater ardour to his literary labours; the latter put aside his secular learning to cultivate more closely the asceticism of the monastery. The one died while occupied in restoring the text of the Gospels; the other, worn out by the austerities of the cloister,

If we pursue our enquiry beyond the time of Alcuin it is long before we find this tradition materially impaired.

1 Sufficiunt divini poetæ vobis,
nec egetis luxuriosa sermonis Vir.
gilii vos pollui facundia. Alcuini
Vita, Migne, c 90.
2 • Illic invenies veterum vestigia

Quidquid habet pro de Latio

Romanus in orbe,
Græcia vel quidquid transmisit

clara Latinis;
Hebraicus vel quod populus bi-

bit imbre superno

Africa lucifluo, etc. Poema de Pontificibus et Sanctis Ecclesia Eboracensis. Migne, ci 843. This description is of course exaggerated; in the actual enumeration of authors the only Greek pagan writers mentioned by Alcuin are Ari. stotle and Aratus ; the only Greek Fathers, Clemens, Chrysostom, and Athanasius. The poem itself, it may be observed, is of little historic value, as it is little more than a versification of the passages in Bede's history of the Anglo-Saxon Church relating to York, with additions respecting those dignitaries who had filled the archiepiscopal seat since Bede's time.

3 “La pensée de la mort était devenue pour lui une véritable consolation. En lui s'était réalisé, apres bien des transformations, l'idéal du spiritualiste: il vivait par l'âme. Au sein des grandeurs, le corps ne lui avait semblé qu'une prison, la vie

qu'un exil. Ce qui n'était alors qu'une sorte de rêve était maintenant une vérité. Son plus cher désir était de mourir le jour de la Pentecôte. En ce jour où les apôtres reçurent une nouvelle existence, la mort lui paraissait être le souffle divin qui réveillerait son âme du sommeil de la vie humaine. Il avait choisi le lieu de sa sépulture non loin de l'église de Saint Martin. Des que la nuit était venue, il se rendait à la dérobée dans cet endroit solitaire, et après avoir récité des prières sur sa tombe en espérance, il disait: 0 clef de David, sceptre de la maison d'Israël, toi qui ouvres pour que personne ne ferme, toi qui fermes sans que personne puisse ouvrir, viens, prends celui qui est enchaîné dans la prison, qui est assis dans les ténèbres et à l'ombre de la mort.' Les fêtes du Carême, de Pâques et de l'Ascension, ranimèrent ses forces. Mais la maladie augmenta dans la nuit de l'Ascension. Il tomba sur son lit, épuisé et sans mouvement. La connaissance et la parole lui reviverent les jours suivants, et il récita sa prière : O clef de David, viens. Et ce fut le matin du jour de la Pentecôte, qu'entouré de ses élèves en larmes, au moment même où il entrait ordinairement au chæur, il rendit le dernier soupir." Monnier, Alcuin et son Influence, pp. 249-50.

« PreviousContinue »