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conceits and far-fetched interpretations can always quarrel with the substance of Adam of St Victor. But those who care for merits rather than for defects will never be weary of admiring the best of these hymns, or of noticing and, as far as possible, understanding their perfection. Although the language they use is old, and their subjects are those which very competent and not at all irreligious critics have denounced as unfavourable to poetry, the special poetical charm, as we conceive it in modern days, is not merely present in them, but is present in a manner of which few traces can be found in classical times. And some such students, at least, will probably go on to examine the details of the hymn-writers' method, with the result of finding more such things as have been pointed out above. Let us, for instance, take the rhythm of Bernard the Englishman (as he was really, though called of The room Morlaix). “Jerusalem the Golden" has of her” made some of its merits common property, while its practical discoverer, Archbishop Trench, has set those of the original forth with a judicious enthusiasm which cannot be bettered." The point is, how these merits, these effects, are produced. The piece is a crucial one, because, grotesque as its arrangement would probably have seemed to an * Sacred Latin Poetry (2d ed., London, 1864), p. 304. This admirable book has not been, and from its mixture of taste and learning is never likely to be, superseded as an introduction to, and chrestomathy of, the subject. Indeed, if a little touch of orthodox prudery had Augustan, its peculiarities are superadded to, not substituted for, the requirements of classical prosody. The writer does not avail himself of the new accentual quantification, and his other licences are but few. If we examine the poem, however, we shall find that, besides the abundant use of rhyme — interior as well as final—he avails himself of all those artifices of what may be called word-music, suggesting beauty by a running accompaniment of sound, which are the main secret of modern verse. He is not satisfied, ample as it may seem, with his doublerhyme harmony. He confines himself to it, indeed, in the famous overture-couplet—
not made the Archbishop exclude the Stabat, hardly a hymn of the very first class could be said to be missing in it.
“Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt, vigilemus !
But immediately afterwards, and more or less throughout, he redoubles and redoubles again every possible artifice—sound-repetition in the imminet, imminet, of the third line, alliteration in the recta remuneret of the fourth, and everywhere trills and roulades, not limited to the actually rhyming syllables of the same vowel—
“Tunc nova gloria pectora sobria clarificabit . . .
He has instinctively discovered the necessity of varying as much as possible the cadence and composition of the last third of his verse, and carefully avoids anything like a monotonous use of his only spondee; in a batch of eighteen lines taken at random, there are only six end-words of two syllables, and these only once rhyme together. The consequence of these and other devices is that the whole poem is accompanied by a sort of swirl and eddy of Sound and cadence, constantly varying, constantly shifting its centres and systems, but always assisting the sense with grateful clash or murmur, according as it is loud or soft, of word-music. The vernacular languages were not as yet in case to produce anything so complicated as this, and some of Literary per- them have never been quite able to produce fection of the it to this day. But it must be obvious at ” once what a standard was held up before poets, almost every one of whom, even if he had but small Latin in a general way, heard these hymns constantly sung, and what means of producing like effects were suggested to them. The most varied and charming lyric of the Middle Ages, that of the German Minnesingers, shows the effect of this Latin practice side by side, or rather inextricably mingled, with the effects of the preciser French and Provençal versescheme, and the still looser but equally musical, though half-inarticulate, suggestions of indigenous song. That English prosody — the prosody of Shakespeare and Coleridge, of Shelley and Keats—owes its origin to a similar admixture the present writer at least has no doubt at all, while even those who deny this can hardly deny the positive literary achievement of the best mediaeval hymns. They stand by themselves. Latin —which, despite its constant colloquial life, still even in the Middle Ages had in profane use many of the drawbacks of a dead language, being either slipshod or stiff-here, owing to the millennium and more during which it had been throughout Western Europe the living language and the sole living language of the Church Universal, shakes off at once all artificial and all doggerel character. It is thoroughly alive: it comes from the writers' hearts as easily as from their pens. They have in the fullest sense proved it; they know exactly what they can do, and in this particular sphere there is hardly anything that they cannot do. The far-famed and almost more abused than famed Scholastic Philosophy" cannot be said to have added scholastic to positive literature any such masterpieces ” in prose as the hymn-writers (who were very commonly themselves Scholastics) produced in verse. With the exception of Abelard, whose interest is rather biographical than strictly literary, and perhaps Anselm, the heroes of mediaeval dialectic, the Doctors Subtle and Invincible, Irrefragable and Angelic, have left nothing which even on the widest interpretation of pure literature can be included within it, or even any names that figure in any but the least
* I should feel even more diffidence than I do feel in approaching this proverbially thorny subject if it were not that many years ago, before I was called off to other matters, I paid considerable attention to it. And I am informed by experts that though the later (chiefly German) Histories of Philosophy, by Ueberweg, Erdmann, Windelband, &c., may be consulted with advantage, and though some monographs may be added, there are still no better guides than Hauréau, De la Philosophie Scolastique (revised edition) and Prantl, Geschichte der Logik im Abendlande, who were our masters five-and-twenty years ago. The last-named book in especial may be recommended with absolute confidence to any one who experiences the famous desire for “something craggy to break his mind upon.”
select of literary histories. Yet they cannot but receive some notice here in a history, however condensed, of the literature of the period of their chief flourishing. This is not because of their philosophical importance, although at last, after much bandying of not always well-informed argument, that importance is pretty generally allowed by the competent. It has, fortunately, ceased to be fashionable to regard the dispute about Universals as proper only to amuse childhood or beguile dotage, and the quarrels of Scotists and Thomists as mere reductions of barren logomachy to the flatly absurd. Still, this importance, though real, though great, is not directly literary. The claim which makes it impossible to pass them over here is that excellently put in the two passages from Condorcet and Hamilton which John Stuart Mill (not often a scholastically minded philosopher) set in the forefront of his Logic, that, in the Scottish philosopher's words, “it is to the schoolmen that the vulgar languages are indebted for what precision and analytical subtlety they possess;” and that, as the Frenchman, going still further, but hardly exaggerating, lays it down, “logic, ethics, and metaphysics itself owe to Scholasticism a precision unknown to the ancients themselves.” There can be no reasonable or well-informed denial of the fact of this: and the reason of it is not hard to Its influence understand. That constant usage, the effect on phrase and of which has been noted in theological verse, method. had the same effect in philosophico-theological prose. Latin is before all things a precise lan