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his own writings contributed in a considerable degree to the progress of knowledge, and on that account is worthy the remembrance of posterity.
In the fourteenth century flourished Prince Don Juan Manual. He was alike distinguished for his bravery and his talents as a general, as for his learning and genius. As a writer, his principal work is “Count Lucanor," a collection of novels or tales, designed to convey instruction not only in morals but in politics. He sometimes laid aside the gravity of the statesman and moralist, and indulged himself in the composition of romances and love verses, which were written in that natural style that affects the heart and interests the feelings.
Contemporary with Prince Juan, was Vasco de Lobeira, the author of Amadis de Gaul, the most celebrated of the romances of the age of chivalry. He flourished in the beginning of the fourteenth century. The Amadis of Gaul is said to have been borrowed from the works of the French writers of the twelfth century. Although the scene is laid in France, and the hero never enters Spain, or 'engages in any adventures with the Moors, the contests with whom possessed the highest interest for every Spaniard, yet it became the favorite romance of the Spaniards, and was read with an avidity and enthusiasm, excited by few other works of a similar character, This work is easy and graceful in the narrative, and full of that animation and gaiety which render such works interesting. It breathes an amiable spirit of gallantry without that insipidity which characterizes love stories, and is remarkable for a chastity of expression which adds new grace to the images of voluptuous
This celebrated romance was imitated in a variety of works, which were held in the highest repute. They were sung by soldiers on their march, by the rustics in their daily labors, and by the women during their domestic occupations.
On the revival of learning, Spain produced several writers in the various walks of literature and science, who would do honor to any nation, particularly during the reign of Charles V, when she could boast of an Almagaver and Garcilaso de la Vega, distinguished as poets, and Hurtado de Mendoza, distin
* Cours de la Lit. tome 13, p. 368; Sis. Lit. of the South of Eu. vol. 2, p. 112
guished as a poet and prose writer. A further notice of them does not come within the plan of the present work.
History of literature from the accession of Charlemagne to the be
ginning of the eleventh century.
CHARLEMAGNE was the wonder of his age, the most extraordinary man who had appeared for many centuries. Endowed by nature with talents of a superior order, he projected and executed enterprises that elevated him to the highest rank among earthly potentates, and his empire to the highest pitch of glory. His vices, which we are constrained to acknowledge were many, may be attributed to the rude and uncultivated manners of the times, and the looseness of morals which then prevailed, rather than to a natural depravity of heart, or attachment to vicious indulgences. The restraints of religion were not then so efficacious as in modern times; its principles and directions were but imperfectly understood; the best christian was he who best supported the interests of the clergy. The virtues which Charlemagne often displayed in public and private life; the zeal he manifested for the good of his subjects and the prosperity of his empire, ought, like charity, to cover the vices with which contemporaneous history has stained his character. By the power of his genius alone, he was enabled to unite the discordant parts of his vast empire, and keep his nobles in subjection, who, in those turbulent times, were continually inclined to revolt. “In the history of the times,” says the historian of the middle ages, "he stands alone like a beacon upon a waste, or a rock in the broad
His sceptre was the bow of Ulysses, which could not. be drawn by any weaker hand. His reign a solitary resting place between two long periods of turbulence and anarchy, deriving the advantages of contrast, both from those of the preced
ing dynasty and of posterity, for whom he had formed an empire, which they were unworthy and unequal to sustain."* Charlemagne appears to much greater advantage, when compared with the greater number of his predecessors, from the time of Clovis, the founder of the French monarchy, after whose demise, with few exceptions, the kings of France were totally unworthy of the high stations they occupied. Ignorant, superstitious, and directed and controlled in every thing, whether rela. ting to church or state, by an aspiring and ambitious priesthood, they were incapable of accomplishing any thing, either for their personal or for the national glory; indeed, so much had they degenerated from the parent stock, that after Cloitaire II, the great grandson of Clovis, they were distinguished by the name of insensati, or idiots, and the royal power was exercised by the mayors of the palace. The turbulent and unsettled condition of the country, the internal commotions and contests for empire, and their almost continual wars with the Saracens of Spain, and with other neighboring nations, left the kings of France but little leisure, had they even possessed the taste and inclination to cultivate the seeds of science and nourish the plant of literature. It was reserved for Charlemagne, whose conquering sword, and firmly rooted power, had established peace at home, to set an cxample, as a patron of literature, worthy to be followed by his
The early years of Charlemagne are said to have been passed after the manner of the youth of those times, in military and other manly exercises and amusements; he paid but little attention to learning, until he was about thirty years of age, when, being struck with his importance, he invited to his court Alcuin, an Englishman celebrated for his extensive acquirements, and deservedly so, for the age in which he lived. Under Egbert, archbishop of York, Alcuin acquired a knowledge of the Latin, Greek and Hebrew languages, and also considerable knowledge of mathematics and other branches of science then taught. His arrival in France introduced a new era in her literary history. He became the instructer of the emperor himself in the various sciences then known and taught, in which he soon acquired considerable knowledge; he also made himself perfect master
* Hallam's view of the Middle Ages, vol. 1.
of the Latin language, and attained such a knowledge of the Greek, as to be able to read it—a rare accomplishment even among the higher clergy. He was so assiduous in the prosecution of his studies, that in addition to the acquirements above-mentioned, he was able to converse with foreign ambassadors in Arabic, Scotch, German and English. Charlemagne collected about his person all such as were distinguished for learning, and established in his palace an academy, or literary society, composed principally of ecclesiastics. Of this academy or society, he was himself a member. At its meetings, those subjects which constituted the chief learning of the times were discussed, and as Charlemagne valued himself on his great skill in theology, the discussion of subjects connected therewith, occupied a considerable portion of their time. The discussion of points of doctrine, although of itself, not very well calculated to promote general literature, in this particular instance had, no doubt, a considerable influence in extending knowledge, as it induced those concerned in the discussion, to examine more minutely, the grounds of their respective opinions, and by thus instituting a spirit of inquiry, led them sometimes to enter the more expanded field of science.
Charlemagne established schools, academies and universities in various parts of his empire, particularly at Paris, Tours and Soissons, and rewarded Alcuin with princely munificence. He conferred upon him three abbeys of great value, the lands attached to which, contained a population of twenty thousand souls, all contributing to support the splendor and dignity of this powerful abbot. This unexampled liberality, on the part of the emperor, affords conclusive proof, if other proofs were wanting, of his disposition to encourage learned men, and extend the benefits of learning.
As Alcuin, under the patronage of Charlemagne, may be considered as the restorer of learning in France, some of our readers may be curious to know something of the plan of education recommended by him. Great attention to orthography and pronunciation, which had been previously much neglected, was first recommended to the pupil; he was then instructed, in succession, in grammar, dialectics, rhetoric and the higher branches of philosophy; this constituted the whole course of study, and was communicated in Latin, the language of the learned, in
which all the works of the times were composed. The mode of instruction adopted by Alcuin, and which was probably followed in all the schools, appears to have been catechetical, as the best means of making a lasting impression. The following extract from his “Treatise on Dialectics,” will serve as a specimen of his manner. It purports to be a dialogue between Charlemagne and Alcuin:
Charlemagne. Into how many parts is philosophy divided ? Alcuin. Into three, viz. physics, ethics and logic. C. Express these in Latin phrase. A. Physics is natural philosophy; ethics is moral philosophy, and logic is rational philosophy, or the art of reasoning.
C. Explain their meaning more fully. A. Physics is the investigation of natural causes; ethics, of the principles and conduct of life; logic, the principles or method of understanding.
C. Into how many parts are physics divided?
C. Into how many parts are ethics divided?
C. Into how many parts is logic divided?
A. The same difference as between a closed and an open hand. The former contracts, the latter copiously enlarges the subject; the one is more acute to invent, the other more eloquent to address and persuade; the first requires retirement and study, the second an audience; it may be one or more persons, or a crowded assembly.
Although Charlemagne established schools and encouraged learned men by his liberality, literature did not make that progress throughout his empire, that might have been expected. His efforts were directed to this great end with a praiseworthy perseverance, but neither his power nor his example, could overcome the barbarism of the times, and inspire his nobles with a love of literature. Could they have been induced to have seconded his generous design, and encouraged learning among their vassals, we might have beheld it throwing aside the shackles which had so long bound it to the earth, and springing into vigorous existence.
The state and condition of learning will be best understood by mentioning some of the literary foundations of Charlemagne, and the different branches of science taught in them. Primary schools were established in different parishes for the instruction of children. These schools were under the direction of the