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largely the same as that of the thirteenth. Nor is it left in the later period entirely to' humble men of industry; it is pursued with the diligence of a conscientious clerk by the men whose original genius and poetic inspiration might have been held to relieve them from duties towards philology and the other sciences. The Dark Ages reveal the prosaic ground of mediaeval romance. The foundations are laid by Orosius, Boethius, and Isidore, and not only that, but the builders of the crypts are recognised and honoured by the masters of the pinnacles; the poets in their greatest freedom of invention are loyal to the grammarians and moralists, the historians and lexicographers, upon whose work they build. They are also ready to take their turn at mason work in the lower regions of study, not only without grumbling, but apparently with zest. The classical encyclopedias of Boccaccio (De Genealogia Deorum, Be Gasibus Virorum Illustrium, and the rest), the moral and scientific essays of Chaucer, are conducted with as light a heart as any of their poetical vanities. They are composed with the same motives and in the same spirit as the treatises which gave instruction to the Dark Ages, and those treatises must be understood if these later authors are to be rightly estimated The honour of Boethius and the other doctors is that they were not found antiquated at the Eevival of Learning.



The historical work of the Dark Ages was hindered by the difficulties of language, and scarcely found in any writer a proper and convenient style. The classical tradition, while it kept before the minds of historians a lofty pattern of eloquence, also tended to restrict their liveliness by the requirements of good grammar: while those who, like Gregory of Tours and others, were indifferent to grammar had no vernacular idiom to fall back upon. In England and in the English Chronicle a valiant attempt was made to use the native language for historical prose; but, noble as it is in many respects, the English Chronicle wants the magnitude and fulness required for efficient history. One great difference between the earlier and the later Middle Ages is that the earlier time has nothing like the free idiomatic narrative of Snorri or Sturla, of Villani or Froissart. The historical genius is muffled in Latin prose.

Even so, however, the historical genius asserts itself. History more than anything else in the Latin literature of the Dark Ages reveals the character of the individual writers: more distinctly than the literature of theology or philosophy, more than the poetical works of the time. In history, dealing as it largely does with contemporary subjects, the author is left to express his own opinion about his matter and to choose his own form: he is tested in a different way from the author who has to expound more abstract themes. The homilist, the moralist, was allowed and expected to repeat what the elders had said before him: the master of the liberal arts incurred no blame for drawing upon Isidorus or any other encyclopedia. The historians also availed themselves, wherever they could, of previous histories, but the nature of their subject forced them to be original. The Latin chroniclers of the Middle Ages, though their language interferes with them, are as various in character as the authors of any other period: the commonplaces of their style, the conventions of respectable grammar, the tedious inherited phrases, are not able to smother up the differences of vision and sentiment. It is possible to take this historical literature and make it a store of specimens to illustrate faults of composition and errors of judgment: it is more cheerful and profitable to see in it a diversity of talent expressing itself vigorously in spite of adverse conditions. There are two opposite points of view, and both are justifiable. Eegarded in one way, the historians represent the Dark Ages and all the darkness of them; in another aspect they come out distinct from one another as original minds. There is as great a difference between Gregory of Tours and Bede, or Paulus Diaconus and Einhard, as between Froissart and Commines. Their qualities are felt to be mainly independent of the conditions of their time. Paulus Diaconus was a born storyteller, who only wanted a better language to make him one of the masters of narrative prose. The versatile humour of Liutprand might have worn in another age something different from his Greek-Latin Lombard motley, but as he is, he is unmistakable and distinct. The genius of Bede is perhaps the clearest demonstration in the whole world of the independence of genius: the sanity and dignity of his mind are his own, and transcend the limitations of his time: he has the historical gift, and he finds its proper application. If the first impression of early mediaeval Latin history is one of monotony, and if monotony never wholly disappears from the Latin page and its conventional formulas, nevertheless, the true, the ultimate judgment in respect of these authors will see them each for himself, each with characteristics of his own. There is no want of variety among them.

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In history there was no commanding authoritative model to interfere with the freedom of individual taste. It is true that Orosius has a place at the beginning of mediaeval history to some extent resembling that of Boethius in philosophy: his short history of the world is a prologue to the work of the following centuries which is not allowed to fall out of reputation at the close of the period. But while the two, Boethius and Orosius, are regarded in a similar way as authorities by King Alfred and by Dante, the value of the historian is inferior to that of the philosopher: Boethius not only introduces the course of mediaeval speculation but transcends it: he is not refuted: his doctrine is as fresh in the fourteenth century as in the sixth, a perennial source of moral wisdom. Orosius is much less important. Although his exposition of the meaning of history, his justification of the ways of Providence, is held in respect, he does not, like Boethius, command the whole field of operations. His religious view of history and his pathetic sermonisings are followed in spirit and style by many mediaeval authors, but the interest of history was too great and varied to be ruled by the formulas of Orosius: the chroniclers generally find their own points of view for themselves, and these in very many cases, fortunately, are not those of the preacher. Orosius could not teach anything to writers who, like Einhard, knew the character and business of a great statesman, or, like Paulus Diaconus, had stories to tell.


Classical literature perished from a number of contributory ailments, but of these none was more Mythology desperate than the want of romance in and Legend. the jjoman Empire, and especially in the Latin language. It may have been the original prose of the city of Home, the disastrous influence of the abstract gods, male and female, whom St Augustine describes satirically—Volupia, Cluacina, Vaticanus, Murcia, and the rest, turba deorum. It may have been the long-engrained habit of rhetoric, an absorption in the formal machinery of literature, that blighted the fancy of the poets, and turned the old mythology into a mere affair of diction. It is true that there were exceptions. Apuleius, with all his rhetorical tastes, was at home in a fanciful world utterly remote from the "hypocritical and hackneyed course of literature" as practised in the schools. He

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