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totle was the Syllogism, which, as every student of logic understands, contains:
1. Three terms, the extremes and the middle; or the major term (P) - predicate of the conclusion, the minor term (S) – subject of the conclusion, and the middle term (M)-medium of comparison.
2. Three propositions, the premises and the conclusion; or the major premise in which M and P are compared, the minor premise in which S and M are compared, and the conclusion in which the relation of S and P is inferred,- the proposition to be proved. Thus, symbolized:
Every responsible agent is a free agent, : Man is a responsible agent,
.:: Man is a free agent. Plato, Aristotle, the Apostles, and the Fathers, gave the premises; ingenuity piled up cathedrals of conclusion. What more agreeable exercise to speculative minds than tracing the consequences of assumed principles? It is deductive, like geometry, self-satisfying and inexhaustible. As there could be no genuine progress, so there was no tendency to come to an end. A ceaseless grinding of the air in metaphysic mills:
What does the reader think of the pregnant announcement that "an individual man is Peter, because his humanity is combined with Petreity'?- of the division of matter into firstly first, secondly first, and thirdly first? —of the chimerical questions, whether identity, similitude, and equality are real relations in God? whether, the place and body being retained, God can cause the body to have no position: whether the divine essence engendered the Son, or was engendered by the Father? why the three persons together are not greater than one alone? if God can know more things than He is aware of ? whether Christ at the first instant of conception had the use of free judgment ? whether He was slain by Himself or by another? whether the dove in which the Holy Spirit appeared was a real animal ? whether two glorified bodies can occupy one and the same place at the same time? whether in the state of innocence all children were masculine? ---of the puerile puzzles whether a person in the purchase of a whole cloak also buys the cowl? whether, when a hog is carried to market with a rope tied about its neck and held at the other end by a man, the hog is really carried to market by the man or by the rope ?
What truth could issue thence? What wonder that Scholasticism is a vast cemetery of departed reputation? Yet underneath this word-quibbling are the deepest problems of Ontology; and the human hearts which throb to them are, as we shall see, prophetic of the English soul:
A great delight is granted
Résumé.-Gradually the past is explaining the present. Through anarchy, conflict, and constraint, the Witan and Great Council are transformed into the English Parliament, which continues to this day the same in all essential points. The House of Commons, archetype of representative assemblies, holds its first sittings. French connections are sundered; Wales is annexed
forever to the English crown; Ireland is conquered, though not subdued; and the famous heroes, Wallace and Bruce, wrest from Edward I the liberties of Scotland.
The mass of the agricultural population is rising from the position of mere slaves to that of tenant-farmers; and the advance of society, as well as the natural increase of population, is freeing the laborer from local bondage. The government of the English towns passes from the hands of an oligarchy to those of the rising middle classes.
The space of about a thousand years, extending from the fall of the Western Empire, in the middle of the fifth century, to that of the Eastern, in the middle of the fifteenth, comprises two nearly equal periods,—the gradual decline and the gradual revival of letters. Convents, meanwhile, are the asylum of knowledge, and secure the thread which connects us with the literature of classic Greece and Rome. With few exceptions, the writers are priestly or monastic.
The Conquest, breaking the mental stagnation, introduces England into a free communion with the intellectual and artistic life of the Continent, and subjects it to the two ruling mediæval impulses, - Feudalism and the Church, the one producing the adventurous hero, the other the mystical monk; both working together for the amelioration of mankind, both running to excess, and degenerating by the violence of their own strength. Under the first, slavery is modified into serfdom; under the second, learning is preserved, and a sense of the unity of Christendom maintained; under both, springs up the idea of chivalry, moulding generous instincts into gallant institutions.
From the fifth to the thirteenth century, the Church elaborates the most splendid organization which the world has ever
During the last three centuries of the period, her destiny achieved, faith and reason begin to be sundered, and violence is used for the repression of inquiry. The spiritual power, grown. corrupt by growing ambitious, is resisted by the temporal. Kings war with popes, and popes struggle to put their feet upon the necks of kings. Religion, from a ceremonial, is being converted into a reality. Hermit and friar carry spiritual life home to the heart of the nation.
First English poems are of war and religion,-never of love.
The greatest are Beowulf, an epic imported from the Continent, and re-written in parts by a Christian Englishman; and Cædmon's Paraphrase of the Bible, written about 670, and for us the beginning of English poetry. Of scattered pieces after Cæcmon, all Christian in tone, the finest are Judith, The Ruin, and The Grave. The war poetry, sung from feast to feast and in the halls of kings, dies out after the English are trodden down by the Normans. English literature - in a state of languishing depression at the Conquest — is thereafter displaced by the romance, in which, as favorite heroes, Arthur, Alexander, and Charlemagne, dressed as feudal knights, slay dragons and giants, storm enchanted castles, set free beautiful ladies, and perform other wondrous deeds. Not, however, till nearly a century has passed away —when Norman noble and English yeoman, Norman abbot and English priest, are welded into one-is the rhyming romantic poetry of France naturalized. In its rise under Edward I, native genius, in the vernacular, is poetical. The poetry is religious, story-telling, and lyric, typified in the Ormulum, the Brut, the Owl and Nightingale. As a whole the literature is characterized by reality, directness, and truth to nature. Elerated in tone, eminently practical in aim,-owing in a considerable degree to its insular position, it contrasts strongly with much of the contemporaneous expression of Continental genius, which is less the reflection of earnest, active life, than a magic mirror showing forth the unsubstantial dreams of an idle, luxurious, and fantastic people.
Latin is the key to erudition,- the prevailing language of the learned professions, of law and physic, as well as of divinity, in all their grades. French, the language of romance, lives upon the lips of royalty, rank, and beauty. In the storm of national calamity English ceases to be generally either written or read; and when in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it begins to raise its diminished head, it has been converted, substantially, from an inflectional to a non-inflectional tongue, a natural mutation accelerated by the Norman invasion. The Chronicle, the Brut, and the Ormulum prove its continuity and victory.
The enthusiasm of the Crusades is succeeded by an enthusiasm of study, imprisoned and limited by the scholastic logic and metaphysics, under whose ascendaney elegant literature pales.
Scholasticism reveals already the dominant tendencies of English thought,- subordination of theory to practice, in John of Salisbury; scepticism as to ultimate philosophical questions, in Scotus; devotion to physical science as a thing of demonstrative and practical utility, in Bacon.
The twelfth and thirteenth centuries are the seed-time of all modern language and literature. The former is the great turning point of the European intellect. Then it is that a general revival of Latin literature takes place; then the first time for many centuries — the long slumber of untroubled orthodoxy is broken by hydra-headed heresies; then the standard of an impartial philosophy is first planted by Abelard; then the passion for astrology and its fatalism revives with the revival of pagan learning, and penetrates into the halls of nobles and the palaces of kings; men are learning to doubt, without learning that doubt is innocent, compelled, by the new mental activity, to a variety of opinions, while the old credulity persuades them that all opinions but one are suggestions of the devil. The latter is a decisive epoch, not more for the constitutional history of England than for its intellectual progress. Its general activity and ardor are shown by the great concourse of students to the universities, by the number and eminence of the schoolmen, by religious and political satires, by that fiame of zeal which sweeps the masses from their native soil to hurl them upon Holy Land.
Then the French romantic poetry with its craving for excitement, begins to be transfused into a medium intelligible throughout England; then, above all, a definite language is formed, and there is room for a great writer.
Slowly, step by step, the England of the Doomsday Book, the England of the Curfew, the England of crusaders, monks, astrologers, serfs, and outlaws, is becoming the England of liberty, knowledge, and trade,- the England that spreads her dominion over every quarter of the globe, and scatters the seeds of empires and republics in the jungles of India and the forests of America.