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The Progress of the Nation page 4


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But, perhaps, the finest draught of golden fishes which the imperial representative of Peter of Galilee ever made in England, was twenty-five years before the passing of this act, when he had induced Henry III. to nominate his son Edmund to the fatal crown of Naples, and, 011 pretence of supporting his claim, the Pope drew from England, within a few years, no less a sum than 950,000 marks, equal in value and purchasable power to 12,000,000 sterling of our present money.

Boniface VIII., famous in his day as the most haughty and uncompromising of the Popes, issued a bull prohibiting all princes, in all countries, levying taxes on the clergy without his consent. Winchelsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, produced this bull, and forbad Edward I. to touch the sacred patrimony of the Church. But Edward was a monarch of the true British breed, and soon proved himself more than a match for the archbishop and his Roman master. He held a Parliament at Edmondsbury, in 1296, and demanded a fifth of the movables of the clergy. They refused. Edward gave them till the next Parliament, in January, 1297, to consider of it, when, still refusing, and supposing themselves victorious, the king coolly told them that, as they refused to contribute to the support of the state, they should enjoy no protection from the state. He forthwith outlawed them in a body, and ordered all the sheriffs in England "to seize all the lay fees of the clergy, as well secular as regular, with all their goods and chattels, and retain them till they had further orders from him." He gave orders to all the judges, also, "to do every man justice against the clergy, but to do them justice against no man."

This was a state of things which they had never expected; no monarch had ever dreamt of, or had dared to attempt such a measure. It came like a thunder-clap upon the clergy. They found themselves insulted, abused, and plundered on all sides. The archbishop himself, the author of all this mischief, was stripped of everything, and on the very verge of starvation, and was glad to submit and pay his fifth to recover the rest of his property.

The power of the Popedom had thus been brought into collision with the royal prerogative and the issue was such as was most damaging to the Papal prestige all over the world. But Winchelsey, having regained his possessions, was too indignant to remain quiet. He held a second synod at Her ton, and denounced the utmost terrors of the Church against all sacrilegious invaders of the Church property, and would not rest till Edward obtained his suspension from the next Pope, Clement, and expelled him the kingdom.

These contests betwixt the civil and ecclesiastical power in England continued through the whole period we are reviewing, that is, from 1307 to 1399, or from the commencement of the reign of Edward II. to the end of that of j Richard II. To increase the influence of Rome there had arrived two new orders of friars, the Franciscan and Dominican, in the reign of Henry III. The Franciscans appeared in England in 1216, and the Dominicans in 1217. Before their arrival the country swarmed with monks, but these were styled mendicant friars, as devoted to a species of holy beggary. But, in 1311, in the early part of the reign of Edward II., the Church suffered a great defeat by the overthrow and annihilation of the famous military order of Knights Templars. To prevent the Pope thrusting foreigners into the English prelacies and benefices, Edward III. passed a second statute of provisors, and followed it by the statute of premunire, ordering the confiscation of the property and the imprisonment of the person of every one who should carry any pleas out of the kingdom, as well as of the procurators of such person; and this was again renewed in 1392 with additional severity by Richard II., including all who brought into the kingdom any Papal bull, excommunication, or anything of the kind.

Eight years prior to this Wycliffe died. His doctrines were rapidly spreading; the reformers, under the name of Lollards, were becoming numerous; the Papal hierarchy was proportionally alarmed, and Arundel, the Archbishop of York, became their most active enemy. But before he could mature his designs against them, he was involved in the prosecution of the adherents of the Duke of Gloucester for procuring a commission to control the king, for which his brother, the Earl of Arundel, was beheaded, and he himself banished. The dawn of the Reformation already reddened in the east, but the day was yet far off.

During the fourteenth century, the leading men of the Church in Scotland distinguished themselves rather in the patriotic defence of their country against the English, than in theological matters. Amongst the most distinguished of these were Lambeton, of St. Andrew's; Wishart, of Glasgow; Landells, who was Bishop of St. Andrew's from 1341 to 1385, forty-four years; and Dr. Robert Trail, Primate of Scotland, who built the castle of St. Andrew's, and died in 1401, leaving a great name for strict discipline and wisdom. It is singular that, during this period, the doctrines of Wycliffe, which had made such a ferment in England, appear to have excited little or no attention in Scotland.

LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

During the period now under review, the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the language of the learned was still Latin, and the circle of education included little more than the Trivium and Quadrivium of the former age, that is, the course of three sciences - grammar, rhetoric, and logic; and the course of four - music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. The grammar was almost exclusively confined to the Latin, for Roger Bacon says that there were not more than three or four persons in his time that knew anything of Greek or the Oriental languages; nay, so gross was the ignorance of the students of the time of the common elementary forms of Latin itself, that Kilwarby, Archbishop of Canterbury, on a visit to Oxford in 1276, upbraided the students with such corruptions as these: - "Ego currit; tu currit; currens est ego," &c.

When grammar was so defective, the rhetoric taught could not be very profound. The mendicant friars seem to have cultivated it with the greatest assiduity, as necessary to give effect to their harangues, and Bederic de Bury, provincial of the Augustinians, in the fourteenth century, was greatly admired for the eloquence of his preaching.

But logic was the all-absorbing study of the time. The clergy who had attended the Crusaders had brought back from the East a knowledge of Aristotle, through Latin translations and the commentaries of his Arabian admirers His logic was now applied not only to such metaphysics as were taught, but also to theology. Hence arose the school divinity, in which the doctrines taught by the Church were endeavoured to be made conformable to the Aristotelian modes of reasoning, and to be defended by it. If we are to judge of the logic of this period by what remains of it, we should say it was the art of disputing without meaning or object; of perplexing the plainest truths, and giving an air of plausibility to the grossest absurdities. As, for instance, it was argued with the utmost earnestness that "two contrary propositions might be both true." At this time there were no less than 30,000 students at Oxford, and Hume very reasonably asks, what were these young men all about? Studying bad logic and worse metaphysics.

The metaphysics of these ages were almost engrossed by the great controversy of the Nominalists and the Realists; the question, agitated with all the vehemence of a matter of life and death, being, whether general ideas were realities, or only the particular ideas of things were real. The Nominalists declared that a general idea, derived from comparing a great number of individual facts, was no reality, but a mere idea or name; the Realists contended that these general ideas were as absolute actualities as the individual ones on which they were based. Rocelin of Compiegne revived this old question at the end of the eleventh century, and thus became the head of the schoolmen of those ages; but William of Ockham, in the fourteenth century, again revived this extraordinary question with all its ancient vehemence, his partisans acquiring the name of Ockhamists. Ockham was a Nominalist, and, says an old historian, he and his party "waged a fierce war against another sect of schoolmen, called Realists, about certain metaphysical subtilties which neither of them understood."

Moral philosophy could not be much more rationally taught when metaphysics and logic were so fantastic. Many systems of moral philosophy were taught by the schoolmen, abounding in endless subtle distinctions and divisions of virtues and vices, and a host of questions in each of these divisions. By the logic, metaphysics, and moral philosophy of the schoolmen combined, the most preposterous doctrines were often taught. For instance, Nicholas de Ultricuria taught this proposition in the University of Paris in 1300: - "It may be lawful to steal, and the theft can be pleasing to God. Suppose a young gentleman of good family meets with a very learned professor (meaning himself), who is able in a short time to teach him all the speculative sciences, but will not do it for less than 100, which the young gentleman cannot procure but by theft; in that case theft is lawful - which is thus proved: "Whatever is pleasing to God is lawful. It is pleasing to God that a young gentleman learn all the sciences, but he cannot do this without theft; therefore theft is lawful, and pleasing to God."

It was high time that something tangible and substantial should come to the rescue of the human mind from this destructive cobwebry of metaphysics; and the first thing which did this was the study of the canon law. The civil and the canon laws not only gave their students lucrative employment as pleaders, but were the road to advancement in the Church. The clergy in these ages were not only almost the only lawyers, but also the doctors, though, some of the laity now entered the profession as a distinct branch. "The civil and canon laws," says Robert Holcot, a writer of that time," are in our days so exceedingly profitable, procuring riches and honours, that almost the whole multitude of scholars apply to the study of them."

What was the real knowledge of the science of medicine at this period we may imagine from the great medical work of John Gaddesden, who was educated at Merton College, Oxford, and declared to be the grand luminary of physic in the fourteenth century. "He wrote," says Leland, "a large and learned work on medicine, to which, on account of its excellences, was given the illustrious title of the 'Medical Rose.' This is a recipe in the Illustrious Medical Rose' of Gaddesden for the cure of small-pox: - 'After this (the appearance of the eruption), cause the whole body of your patient to be wrapped in red scarlet cloth, or in any other red cloth, and command everything about the bed to be made red. This is an excellent cure. It was in this manner I treated the son of the noble King of England, when he had the smallpox, and I cured him without leaving any marks.'"

The royal patient thus treated must have been Edward III., or his brother, Prince John of Eltham.

To cure epilepsy Gaddesden orders the patient "and his parents" to "fast three days and then go to church. The patient must first confess, he must have mass on Friday and Saturday, and then on Sunday the priest must read over the patient's head the Gospel for September, in the time of vintage, after the feast of the Holy Cross. After this the priest shall write out this portion of the Gospel reverently, and bind it about the patient's neck, and he shall be cured."

That is a sample of the practice of medicine from the great work of the great physician of the age. As to the surgery of the time, it is thus described by Guy de Cauliac, in his "System of Surgery," published in Paris in 1363: - "The practitioners in surgery are divided into five sects. The first follow Roger and Roland, and the four masters, and apply poultices to all wounds and abscesses. The second follow Brunus and Theodoric, and in the same cases use wine only. The third follow Saliceto and Lanfranc, and treat wounds with ointments and soft plasters. The fourth are chiefly Germans, who attend the armies, and promiscuously use potions, oil, and wool. The fifth are old women and ignorant people, who have recourse to the saints in all cases."

It was high time that a man like Roger Bacon should appear, and teach men to come out of all this jugglery and mere fancy-work both in science and philosophy, and put everything to the test of experiment - a mode of philosophising, however, which made little progress till the appearance, three centuries later, of another Bacon, the great Verulam. For the knowledge of geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and chemistry - or rather astrology and alchemy - as taught at that period, we may refer to our notice of Bacon amongst the great men of the era.

But the number of schools and colleges which were erected during this period, are a striking proof that the spirit of inquiry and the love of knowledge was taking rapid and deep root in the nation. In Oxford alone seven colleges were founded during this period. University hall or College was founded by King Alfred, but its foundation was overturned and its funds dissipated long before this period. William, Archdeacon of Durham, who died in 1249, bequeathed 310 marks to the university, and may be considered the founder of this college: his money was expended for this purpose. baliol college was founded by John Baliol, the father of John the King of Scotland, about 1268, and completed by the Lady Devorgilla, his widow. merton college was founded by Walter Merton, Bishop of Rochester, in 1268. exeter college was founded by Walter Stapleton, Bishop of Exeter, and Peter de Skelton, a clergyman, in 1315. It was first called Stapleton College. oriel college was founded by Edward II., and his almoner, Adam de Brun, about 1342, and was called the Hall of the Blessed Virgin of Oxford, but derived its permanent name from a fresh endowment by Edward III. queen's college was founded by Robert Englefield, chaplain to Philippa, queen 1 of Edward III., and named in her honour because she greatly aided him in establishing it. new college was named St. Mary's College by its builder and founder, William of Wykeham, who also built one at Winchester. It was finished in 1386.

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