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CHAP. IV. his final 'determination' is greeted with but faint applause, and he hurries out of the crowded buzzing schools, thankful that he shall have to stand in quadragesima no more. Heedless of college statute and apostolic precedent, solitary and dejected, he seeks some lonely country path, troubled less by a sense of his recent failure than by a feeling of dissatisfaction at whatever he has yet learned or achieved. If this be all, he thinks, that Cambridge can do for him, it were better he were back at home, again guiding his father's plough or casting the falcon in the dear old fields. And so he wanders on, until the waning day warns him that he must be turning back if he would reach his college before dark. The dull level landscape, we may well suppose, has small power to win him to a less sombre mood. Communion with nature is not for him the fountain at which he renews his strength. The painter's pencil and the poet's song have never stimulated his fancy or thrilled his heart. Yet even to this poor student as he hastens homewards,-what time the sun, now approaching the horizon, is gathering new splendour amid the mists that rise over the marish plain, while tower and battlement gleam refulgent in the western sky,-there rises up a vision of a city not made with hands. And as the twilight descends, and ere he reaches his college gate the stars come forth overhead, he seems to see, very near, the mansions of the blest. He sees that mystic chain of sentient being of which Dionysius and Bonaventura have told, that chain of which he is himself a link,-vanishing in the immortal and the divine. And he believes with a perfect faith, for which our modern scientific enlightenment seems but a poor exchange, that when a few fitful, feverish years are over, he too shall be admitted to those bright abodes, and the doubts and anxieties that have harassed him here shall be exchanged for full assurance and unending peace.
CAMBRIDGE AT THE REVIVAL OF CLASSICAL
PART I:-THE HUMANISTS.
It was at Avignon, in the early part of the fourteenth cen- CHAP. V. tury, that a father and his son might one day have been seen standing by a fire into which the former was thrusting 150. books. Had the volumes represented the literature of some condemned heresy, and had the son, the guilty and obstinate student of their contents, been destined to perish martyrwise in the same flames, he could hardly have exhibited more emotion. The father half relents as he witnesses his sorrow, and rescuing two of the volumes hands them to the lad. 'Take this,' he says, as he hands him back a Virgil, ‘as a rare amusement of your leisure hours, and this' (the Rhetoric of Cicero), 'as something to aid you in your real work.'
In this chapter the sources of information to which I have been mainly indebted, in addition to the original authors whose works I have frequently consulted, are the following, and throughout the chapter the reference to each author will be given with merely his name:-(1) Hody, De Græcis Illustribus Linguæ Græcæ Instauratoribus (ed. Jebb), 1742; (2) Boerner, De Doctis Hominibus Græcis, Lipsiæ, 1750; (3) Ambrosii Traversarii Generalis Camuldulensium Aliorumque ad Ipsum et ad Alios de eodem Ambrosio Latinæ Epistolæ, etc. Accedit ejusdem Ambrosii vita in qua Historia Litteraria Florentina ab Anno 1192 usque ad Annum 1440 ex Monumentis potissimum nondum editis deducta est a Laurentio Mehus Etrusca Academiæ Cortonensis Socio, Florentiæ, 1759. Of these three Hody is probably the best known in England, but his work is a much less careful production than that of Boerner, who, as well as Mehus, writing somewhat later, has pointed out not a few important errors in the treatise of the Oxford professor. To these I must add professor Georg Voigt's very able volume Die Wiederbelebung des Classischen Alterthums oder das erste Jahrhundert des Humanismus, Berlin, 1859.
CHAP. V. It was an experience of a kind far from uncommon in the history of early genius,-a total inability on the part of the well-meaning but mediocre parent to recognise or to sympathise with the as yet undeveloped genius of its own offspring. The worldly prudence of Francesco di Petracco designed that his son should gain his livelihood as a professor of civil law; while the ardent intellect of the youthful Francesco was already being attracted, as by some magnetic power, to the neglected and almost forgotten literature of antiquity.
Effects of the revival of classical learning con
The new influence to which our attention must now be directed is distinguished from all the preceding influences trasted with that affected the course of learning by one important feature, -its purely secular character. The canon law was the direct outcome of the exigencies and corruptions of the Romish Church; the civil law was the favorite study of the ecclesiastic and, in his hands, as we have already seen, was closely combined with the canon law; the New Aristotle had for the most part been manipulated into supposed agreement with Christian theology; the Sentences were nothing more than a formal exposition of that theology as interpreted by four eminent doctors of the Latin Church. But the revival of classical learning involved the study of a literature altogether differing from these: it was of its very essence that the student should for a time forget his scholastic culture and identify himself in feeling with the spirit of cultivated paganism; the cowl and the gown,' to use the language of Voigt, 'had to be flung aside for the tunic and the toga;' and from the monotonous rounds and arid abstractions of the schools men now entered into a world of thought which, more than any other, may be said to express the aims and aspirations of civilised but not christianised humanity,-whose whole concern is
Quidquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas,
And with this new experience there awoke again a keen
was as the shining of a soft and bright spring day after a CHAP. V. long and uninterrupted reign of wintry frost and gloom'.
It was indeed time that some new spirit breathed upon Extravagan the waters over which the ancient darkness seemed threat- Averroists at ening to resume its reign. Scholasticism was reaching the length of its tether with the nominalism of Occam, while its method was being exhibited in all its impotence by the follies of the Averroists. That method, as embodied in the writings of Aquinas or Duns Scotus in enquiries concerning the divine nature or the mysteries of Christian doctrine, even though it failed to establish a single conclusive result, might still perhaps be defended as an invigorating and elevating exercise of the human faculties: but when the pseudo-science of the Averroists, while it discarded with undisguised contempt all efforts at demonstrating the logical consistency of the orthodox theology, proceeded to apply the same method in discussing the nature of the phoenix or the crocodile, the subject matter no longer shielded it from criticisms that successfully exposed its radical defects. The prospect was General descarcely more encouraging in other fields. Gleams of classic attention to culture like those that have from time to time engaged our thors. attention were becoming rarer and rarer. The Latin literature was less and less studied; and Dante, happily for his fame, had abandoned a language so imperfectly understood by his contemporaries, and enshrined the great masterpiece of his genius in the beautiful dialect of Si.
cline in the
In the prose works of Francesco Petrarch we have the Petrarch as a earliest indications of the verdict which the modern mind has either tacitly or formally passed upon the method, the conceptions, and the aims of the scholastic era; the verdict,
1 'Die Italiener,' says Burckhardt, 'sind die frühsten unter den Modernen welche die Gestalt der Landschaft als etwas mehr oder weniger Schönes wahrgenommen und genossen haben.' See his interesting sketch of the progress of this tendency in the chapter entitled Die Entdeckung der Welt und der Menschen, in Die Cultur der Renaissance, pp. 222–82.
'Leider kennen wir diese wissen
schaftliche Secte nur aus Petrarca's
3 What Voigt says of Petrarch in relation to his entire volume, I may apply to the present chapter:-'Die Saat, die er ausgeworfen, hat Tausende von Menschen zu ihrer Pflege gerufen und Jahrhunderte zur Reife
CHAP. V. it must be added, unaccompanied by those reservations and
His estimate cians of his
of the logi
and of the universities.
It would be a difficult and almost an endless task, to endeavour to trace out all the different channels through which Petrarch's genius acted upon the succeeding age, but the two most important innovations upon mediæval culture
bedurft. Nicht nur auf allen Seiten
1 Rerum Memorand. Lib. 1 Opera,
'Juvenis cathedram ascendit, nes. cio quid confusum murmurans. Tunc majores certatim ut divina locutum laudibus ad cælum tollunt; tinniunt interim campanæ, strepunt tuba, volant annuli, figuntur oscula, vertici rotundus ac magistralis biretus apponitur; his peractis descendit sapiens, qui stultus ascenderat.' De Vera Sapientia, Opera, 324.