« AnteriorContinuar »
Yet bread often did fail him. Every reader of his works must know by heart the prediction addressed to him by the shade of his ancestor in Paradise. (Parad. Cant. 17.) · Thou shalt prove how • salt is the taste of the bread of others, and how hard the road.
is going up and down the stairs of others.' But there is another passage in which, with designed obscurity, and a strength of expression and feeling which makes the reader tremble, he discovers an exact portrait of himself in a man who, stripping his visage of all shame, and, trembling in his very vitals, places himself in the public way, and stretches out his hand for charity. * It was by such sacrifices he preserved his principles and sustained the magnanimity of his character.
ART. III. Mélanges d'Histoire et de Litterature. 8vo. pp. 454,
his volume has never, we understand, been published; and
it is accompanied by no preface or notice which might lead the reader to a knowledge, either of the author, or of the grounds for believing in the authenticity of its contents. But having accidentally obtained a copy, and been informed at the same time of its history, we feel justified in giving our readers an account of it, which there is no reason for believing will prove offensive in any quarter.
dem duo ridenda et male perconciliata sunt. Pater, dico male perconciliata per illos qui tali expresserunt : nam vestre litere discretius et consultius clausulate nicil de talibus continebant. estne ista revocatio gloriosa qua d. all. (i. e. DANTES ALLIGHERIUS) revocatur ad patriam per trilustrium fere perpessus exilium ? hecne meruit conscientia manifesta quibuslibet ? hec sudor èt labor continuatus in studiis ? absit a viro philosophie domestico temeraria terreni cordis humilitas, ut more cujusdam cioli et aliorum infamiam quasi vinctus ipse se patiatur offerri. absit a viro predicante Justitiam, ut perpessus injuriam inferentibus. velud benemerentibus, pecuniam suam solvat. non est hec via redeundi ad patriam, Pater mi, sed si alia per vos, aut deinde per alios invenietur que fame d. (Dantis) que onori non deroget, illam non lentis passibus acceptabo. quod si per nullam talem Florentia introitur, nunquam Florentiam introibo. quid ni? nonne solis astrorumque specula ubique conspiciam ? nonne dulcissimas veritates potero speculari ubique sub celo, ni prius inglorium, imo ignominiosum populo, Florentineque civitati me reddam? quippe panis non deficiet.
* See Purgat. Cant. 11. towards the end.
The editor and compiler is Mr Quintin Crawford, a very respectable gentleman, of a Scotch family, but who has long been settled at Paris, where he is alike known for his hospitality and for the elegance of his literary leisure. Having become possessed of the original papers, which form the groundwork of this volume, he appears to have justly thought that the press furnished the best means of preserving them; and we trust that he will be further prevailel upon to allow the public at large access to them. Soine of them are indeed curious and interesting, in a high degree, to the lovers of Literary History. Those tracts which are not expressly stated to be the productions of others, we presume are written by Mr Crawford himself.
The first piece relates to Abelard and Eloisa, and the Paraclete. It consists of two modern letters upon the story of those unfortunate persons, written by a person whom Mr Crawford praises highly as a sound and sagacious critic, but does not name; and of two antient epistles from Petrus Venerabilis, Abbot of Cluni, to Eloisa, together with a catalogue and short account of all the Abbesses of the Paraclete, to the number of twenty-nine, justo ly regarded by the editor as only interesting
to the families from which those holy persons sprung, and a few Papal Bulls respecting the same establishment. The author of the two critical letters, rather triumphs a little too much over his unfortunate predecessors—upon his superior felicity and discernment in the rectification of certain points of much antiquarian_importance, chiefly connected with the grand matter of dates : But this is by immemorial usage the undoubted right of all criticks and antiquaries; and we must allow him the praise of adding considerably to the knowledge hitherto possessed on the subject. The common story, indeed, of Abelard being employed as a tutor to Eloisa, and his being punished as soon as her uncle knew of her dishonour, is exceedingly remote from the truth. It is well known that Abelard was a person of the very highest eminence in philosophy and all the literature of his age ;-that he became enamoured of Eloisa, and tempted the avarice of the old Canon, Hubert, with whom she lived, by offering him a large board on condition of his taking him into the house ; that the Canon added to the bargain, the further obligation of instructing his niece ;-and that upon her proving with child, they both made their escape, she lying-in at his sister's, and he soon after returning-apparently without any loss of respectto prosecute his studies, and continue his school of philosophy.
Our author fixes the date of her delivery in the year 1118, when she was eighteen, and he thirty-eight years old. He soon found means to appease Hubert, by promising marriage ; but Eloisa,
(as we know from one of those exquisite letters which Pope has imitated), * in a fit of romantic attachment, refused to be any thing more (or less) than his mistress, –and would not listen to it project which, according to the customs of the age, would have put an end to the principal occupation of his life. A secret marriage was then agreed upon, to satisfy the uncle, with whom she continued to reside; while the lover pursued his ordinary occupations-seeing her very seldom. At length some worthy nuns began to gossip, and to complain of the reverend canon's complaisance. He assured them of the marriage, which the lovers denied; and this produced a quarrel with Hubert, and a second elopment of his niece. Our author judiciously suggests, that the extreme unwillingness of Abelard to terminate all their difficulties by a public marriage, and his suffering Eloisa to sacrifice herself for his advantage, may show that (as not unfrequently happens in such attachments) there was more love on her side than on his. The catastrophe followed in all probability soon after the second elopment; and five persons were engaged in it, beside Hubert, and a treacherous servant of Abelard's. Of these, only one and the servant were taken; they suffered by the ler talionis, and had their eyes put out besides; and Hubert's goods were confiscated to the Church.
Abelard, resolving now to retire from the world, made his unfortunate mistress do the same; though she seems not to have finally made up her mind for two years. She took the veil in 1122, at Argenteuil, after the usual noviciate of a year; and he soon after professed at St Denis. Being of a turbulent, austere, and even quarrelsome disposition, he could not remain long in this fraternity, but retired to a wild forest, near Nagent-sur-Seine, where he founded the Paraclete, sometime between 1128 and 1130. Although, at first, he had only a log-house for a chapel, and a few miserable huts for habitations, his great fame attracted
* The closeness of the imitation in many places approaches to translation.-- Wharton has cited part of the original of the celebrated
passage alluded to in the text; but he has stopt short where the resemblance becomes strongest. Etsi uxoris nomen sanctius et validius videtur, dulcius mihi semper extitit Amicæ vocabulum, aut si non indigneris, Concubinæ vel Scorti. Deum testem invoco, si me Augustus, universo præsidens mundo, matrimonii honore dignaretur, totumque mihi orbem confirmaret in perpetuo præsidendum, charius mihi et dignius mihi videtur tua dici Meretrix quam illius Imperatrix.' Many of the amplifications of Pope upon the various parts of the original are to be found in the Count Bussy Rabutin's publication of the Letters, and in the Histoire d' Heloise et d'Abeilard, 'Hague, 1693 - if we may judge from the citations in Baylc.,
scholars, who flocked around him, and led the life of hermits, to receive his instructions. In this situation, he was chosen Abbot of St Gildas de Ruyr, whither he immediately repaired. Meantime Eloisa's convent was dissolved, by the appropriation of its lands to another house; and Abelard invited her to become Abbess of the Paraclete, where she established herself with some other refugees, among whom were two nieces of his. At St. Gildas, to which he returned as soon as he had put Eloisa in possession of the Paraclete, he, as usual, quarrelled with his monks :-his misfortunes, indeed, seem to have soured his temper, naturally irritable. Peter of Cluni afforded him a retreat; and he died in that monastery, of a cutaneous disease, in April 1142, at the age of sixty-three. Eloisa survived him twenty years, and died at the same age. Their only child, who, from his extraordinary beauty, was named Astrolabe, took orders, obtained a canonry through the interest of the good Abbot of Cluni, and survived his father ; but has left no further traces of himself in history. Some of Eloisa's letters speak of her anxiety for his advancement in the Church, with her characteristic earnestness and warmth of affection.
The remains of Abelard were transported to the Paraclete by Eloisa's desire, and she was herself buried in the same coffin. The bodies were afterwards separated, but in 1779 they were again united; and, in opening the coffins, it was then observed that Abelard's bones were reduced to dust, except the skull, which was of an extraordinary thickness; that Eloisa's were much better preserved; that her skull was also peculiarly thick, and the teeth of a beautiful whiteness. These remains were, during the Revolution, carried to Paris, and were, till lately, in the Museum of Ancient Monuments; but the piety of the restored government has consigned them to a more consecrated place in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise. The following account of the Paraclete, when visited by our author, may interest the curious reader; but we give it as an example of better regulations than are usually to be found in such establishments; and we may add, that the narrative confirms an opinion entertained by many, that such cloysters might, under proper management, be productive of excellent effects, even in our times, provided voluntary residence could be reconciled with the infirmities of the human temper. The reader will perceive, that some particulars are quite at variance with the account of a similar excursion given in the Annual Register for 1768,--for instance, the statement in the latter, that none of the inhabitants seemed to know any thing about the founders, or their adventures.
• En entrant dans le parloir ou salle de compagnie de l'abbesse, les yeux sont frappés par plusieurs portraits gravés d'Abeillard et
d'Heloise ; elle les a sur sa tabatiere et dans toutes les pièces de son appartement, même au chevet de son lit. J'entrai dans plusieurs cellules des religieuses, où les mêmes portraits dominent parmi les crucifix et les reliques. Le Paraclet est, je crois, dans le monde, l'unique convent où les plaisirs et les malheurs de deux amans soient un sujet continuel de reflexions et de discours.
· Le monaster est chef d'ordre, soumis à la regle de St Benoit, qui ne prescrit aucune austerité, et qui fût d'ailleurs adoucie par les modifications qu'y apportât Abeillard. Les religieuses sont proprement et commodement logées, les murs bien blanchis, les parquets et les meubles d'un travail assez grossier, mais cirés avec le même soin que la plus belle marqueterie. Les lits m'ont paru bons ; on les garnit l'été des rideaux de toile de coton blanche; et l'hiver, de serge bleue. Les religieuses sont bien nourries, portent des chemises de toile quand elles les preferent à celles de laine, se couchent à huit ou neuf heures, se levent à quatre heures du matin en été, et à six heures en hiver, et ont en tout cinque ou six heures d'offices, à differentes époques de la journée. Le vêtement des religieuses, semblable dit-on à celui que portoit Heloise, est assez agreable; et quoiqu'elles aient la tête rasée, leur genre de coiffure ne deplait pas.
Lorsqu'une fille se presente pour être reçue au Paraclet, elle commence selon l'usage par un noviciat ; après lequel on l'exhorte à bien consulter sa vocation ; et afin de lui donner une idée infiniment juste du monde qu'elle veut quitter, on lui en fait, autant qu'on le peut dans ce lieu, eprouver tous les agremens. D'abord on la laisse promener, autant qu'il lui plait, dans une garenne voisine du convent. L'abbesse la mene diner chez le curé d'Avant, village à une lieue du Paraclet, et qui leur fait la meilleure chere qu'il peut. C'est de ce curé lui-même que je tiens ces details qu'il me les raconta en riant. Quand la novice a ainsi passé le terme de son noviciat, si sa vocation se soutient, on l'admet à faire profession, et à prononcer les vwux. Ces victimes volontaires ne m'ont paru ni tristes ni farouches.'
Our author adds, that the tradition of the place is not very favourable to the amenity of Eloisa's temper and manners in her retreat, however exalted a notion it may give of the charms of her conversation--charms to which all accounts bear witness 3 and, indeed, the remains of her correspondence themselves imá press us with an extraordinary sense of her merits. The best judges, as is here remarked, have given to her style the preference over that of her friend and master, for purity and natural grace. Her temper, like his, was in all likelihood affected by their calamities. · The letters of Peter of Cluni are curious specimens of monkish correspondence. They are translated from the Latin, and begin, “ Peter, humble Abbot of Cluni, wishes the eternal life which God has promised those who love him, to the venerable Abbess Eloisa, his very dear sister in Jesus Christ.” He ex VOL. XXX, NO. 60.