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THE DARK AGES.
of knowledge, and the blessings of religion."* In the eighth, the venerable Bede studied and translated the original Scriptures, and was, besides, a diligent compiler of our annals. He states, moreover, that in his time the Scots and Irish possessed portions of Scripturet in their own language, though all trace of them has now perished. Somewhat later, the school of York sent forth Alcuin, the friend of Charlemagne, who, by the assistance of that scholar, laid the foundation in his vast dominions for the revival of letters. Among the clergy themselves, the study of the Scriptures was not entirely neglected, the monks devoting a large part of their time to the multiplication of manuscripts of the sacred volume. In all Roman Catholic countries, moreover, the corruptions of the church, and the study of the Latin Vulgate, had called the attention of men to a holier morality and a purer faith than were to be found in her communion; so that, during the darkest parts of the niddle ages, there were many bright spots ; while the use of the Bible, and the very corruptions of the established system, suggested the need of a reform.
In the meantime, also, a new method of treating theology had been introduced. In the early ages of the church, theology was built upon Scripture. The fathers took the sacred text, and interpreted it according to what they deemed to be its meaning. This was the first and sound method. In the eighth century,
• Dr. Jobnson. † Bede, book i. cap. i. Sce Hody.
METHODS OF STUDY however, or somewhat earlier, (the Benedictines of St. Maur fixing the eighth, and Mosheim the sixth century, as the commencement of this practice, the fathers themselves began to be employed as authorities conjointly with Scripture and ecclesiastical decisions. Hence were formed loci communes, (common-places,) and catence patrum, which consisted of digested extracts, taken from the Fathers and placed under systematic heads. This was the second, or traditional method. A little later, a third method of study was introduced, not less mischievous. This system was founded on an application of the Aristotelian logic to theology, which thus became a science, not of interpretation, but of reasoning. It began with our countrymen, Anselm and Lanfranc; and commencing in the ninth century, had reached its perfection, such as it was, in the thirteenth. The influence of the second of these methods on the circulation of the Bible is obvious. Its origin it owed probably to a consciousness of inferiority on the part of the ecclesiastics of that day to the early fathers; in part, also, to a growing jealousy of the free exercise of individual judgment in matters of faith, especially under a system which combined with some Scripture doctrines much that was corrupt; in part to a desire to keep religion as far as possible under the control of the ecclesiastical order. Its effect was to make the study of Scripture a secondary duty, even with the clergy. The Bible alone was no longer the religion of the EUROPEAN VERNACULAR TONGUES. 71 church.* It must be added, that during these centuries the Romish church herself had become grossly degenerate. From the days of Gregory the Great (590,) the progress of the papacy is little else than an outrage on religion, inorality, and freedom. The five centuries following that time are admitted by even Fleury, the Roinan historian, to be “ destitute both of learning and of virtue.”
Meantime, changes of considerable importance to our history had taken place elsewhere. The Mohammedan power had arisen in Arabia, and pushed its conquests to Babylon on the one side, and to Spain on the other ; while on the east of Europe it was threatening Constantinople. It carried with it wherever it went the Arabic tongue, which soon became vernacular through all that region. Within the range of the old Roman empire in Western Europe, the Latin language was gradually undergoing modifications. In the seventh century, the clergy generally preached in Latin, and their teaching in that tongue was intelligible to their hearers. In the ninth, the council of Tours (813) ordered that homilies should be read to the people in the patois, or rustic Latin, as it was called, of the respective districts. In three centuries later, this rustic Latin had become Italian in Italy, French in France, Spanish and Portuguese in the Peninsula ; those languages being a mixture of Latin, with forms of speech peculiar to each of those countries. SOUTHERN FRANCE, In Eastern Europe, ancient Greek had continued for centuries to hold its place. The transference of the seat of the empire, from Rome to Constantinople, brought into it many Latin forms. Still later, the Venetian and French conquests, and the Crusades, introduced elements from Western Europe. The victories of the Arabs added inany Arabic terms ; so that, by the close of this period, Greek had become Romaic, a dialect bearing the same relation to the ancient language of Greece, as does the Italian to the Latin. For centuries later, however, the ancient Greek continued to be used for ecclesiastical purposes, In England, again, the original Celtic had given place to Anglo-Saxon, and this tongue was struggling, towards the close of the twelfth century, with the influence of the Norman-French—a struggle in which, however, it was ultimately the victor. By the fourteenth century, there was to be found in all these languages, to a small extent, a national literature,
* Hallam, vol. 1. p. 12.
. In the twelfth century, the south of France was the most flourishing and civilized district of Europe, The people had a distinct political existence, being independent of the house of Capet, who then ruled over their northern neighbours, and subject only to the counts of Toulouse. Their usages and language bespoke a wixed origin. There were traces among them of a Gothic element; and history teils ụs that many of the Visigoths had settled in their LANGUEDOC AND PROVENCE. 73 vicinity. Still more numerous were the traces of a Roman influence, their very language taking one of its titles (the Romance) from the prevalence in it of forms and expressions of the Latin tongue. There was some trace also of Greek, derived probably from intercourse with the city of Marseilles, which had been centuries before occupied by a Greek colony. The soil of this region was remarkably fruitful. Amidst vineyards and corn-fields arose many noble cities and stately castles, the whole tenanted by a generous-spirited people. Here the rude, warlike genius of the middle ages first took a graceful form. A literature, rich in story and in song, sprang up and amused the leisure of knights and ladies whose mansions adorned the banks of the Rhine. Professors of the “gay science” from Languedoc and Provence won golden opinions from the courtly Saladin and lionhearted Richard in Palestine, and nearly every court in Europe did honour to their skill. Elsewhere the naine of Mussulman made men's facey grow dark and fierce, but here the people lived in habits of courteous and profitable intercourse with the Moors of Spain, and gave welcome to scholars and learned leeches, who, in the Arabic seminaries of Cordova and Grenada, had become versed in the science of the east. Into this district, moreover, the inquisitive busy Greek had imported, not only the treasures of Syria and Ind, but some of the modes of thinking prevalent among his countrymen, and the marts of Toulouse and Narbonne