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of my master, the Archbishop of Canterbury, there are several very learned men, famous for their knowledge of law and politics, who spend the time between prayers and dinner in lecturing, disputing, and debating causes. To us all the knotty questions of the kingdom are referred, which are produced in the common hall, and every one in his order, having first prepared himself, declares, with all the eloquence and acuteness of which he is capable, but without wrangling, what is wisest and safest to be done. If God suggests the soundest opinion to the youngest amongst us, we all agree to it without envy or detraction." *
Study in every department must have been still greatly impeded by the scarcity and high price of books; but their multiplication now went on much more rapidly than it had formerly done. We have already noticed the immense libraries said to have been accumulated by the Arabs, both in their oriental and European seats of empire. No collections to be compared with these existed anywhere in Christian Europe; but, of the numerous monasteries that were planted in every country, few were without libraries of greater or less extent. A convent without a library, it used to be proverbially said, was like a castle without an armoury. When the monastery of Croydon was burnt in 1091, its library, according to lngulphus, consisted of 900 volumes, of which 300 were very large. "In every great abhey," says Warton, "there was an apartment called the Scriptorium; where many writers were constantly busied in transcribing not only the service-books for the choir, but books for the library. The Scriptorium of St. Alban's abbey was built
* Ep. vi., as translated in Henry's History of Britain.
by Abbot Paulin, a Norman, who ordered many volumes to be written there, about the year 1080. Archbishop Lanfranc furnished the copies. Estates were often granted for the support of the Scriptorium .... I find some of the classics written in the English monasteries very early. Henry, a Benedictine monk of Hyde Abbey, near Winchester, transcribed, in the year 1178, Terence, Boethius, Suetonius, and Claudian. Of these he formed one book, illuminating the initials, and forming the brazen bosses of the covers with his own hands." Other instances of the same kind are added. The monks wero much accustomed both to illuminate and to bind books, as well as to transcribe them. "The scarcity of parchment," it is afterwards observed, "undoubtedly prevented the transcription of many other books in these societies. About the year 1120, one Master Hugh, being appointed by the convent of St. Edmondsbury, in Suffolk, to write and illuminate a grand copy of the Bible for their library, could procure no parchment for this purpose in England." * Paper made of cotton, nowever, was certainly in common use in the twelfth century, though no evidence exists that that manufactured from linen rags was known till about the middle of the thirteenth.
THE LATIN LANGUAGE.
During the whole of the period embraced in the present Book, and down to a much later date, in England as in the other countries of Christendom, the common language of literary composition, in all works intended for the perusal of the educated classes, was still the Latin, * Introd. of Learning into Eng. p. cxlvi.
the language of religion throughout the western world, as it had been in the first ages of the church. Christianity had not only, through its monastic institutions, saved from destruction, in the breaking up of the Roman empire, whatever we still possess of ancient literature, but had also, by its priesthood and its ritual, preserved the language of Rome in some sort still a living and spoken tongue—corrupted indeed by the introduction of many new and barbarous terms, and illegitimate acceptations, and by much bad taste in style and phraseology, but still wholly unchanged in its grammatical forms, and even in its vocabulary much less altered than it probably would have been if it had continued all the while to be spoken and written by an unmixed Roman population. It would almost seem as if, even in the Teutonic countries, such as England, the services of the church, uninterruptedly repeated in the same words since the first ages, had kept up in the general mind something of a dim traditionary understanding of the old imperial tongue. We read of some foreign ecclesiastics, who could not speak English, being accustomed to preach to the people in Latin. A passage quoted above from the Croydon History seems to imply that Gislebert, or Gilbert, one of the founders of the University of Cambridge, used to employ Latin as well as French on such occasions. So, Giraldus Cambrensis tells us that, in a progress which he made through Wales in 1186, to assist Archbishop Baldwin in preaching a new crusade for the delivery of the Holy Land, he was always most successful when he appealed to the people in a Latin sermon; he asserts, indeed, that they did not understand a word of it, although it never failed to melt them into tears, and to make them come in crowds to take the cross; no doubt they were acted upon chiefly through their ears and their imaginations, and for the most part only supposed that they comprehended what they were listening to; but it is probable that their self-deception was assisted by their catching a word or phrase here and there the meaning of which they really understood. The Latin tongue must in those days have been heard in common life on a thousand occasions from which it has now passed away. It was the language of all the learned professions, of law and physic as well as of divinity, in all their grades. It was in Latin that the teachers at the Universities (many of whom, as well as of the ecclesiastics, were foreigners) delivered their prelections in all the sciences, and that all the disputations and other exercises among the students were carried on. It was the same at all the monastic schools and other seminaries of learning. The number of persons by whom these various institutions were attended was very great; they were of all ages from boyhood to advanced manhood; and poor scholars must have been found in every village, mingling with every class of the people, in some one or other of the avocations which they followed in the intervals of their attendance at the Universities, or after they had finished their education, from parish priests down to wandering beggars.
LATIN POETS—MAPES, ETC.
Much Latin poetry was written in this age by Englishmen, some of it of a popular character. Warton enumerates Joannes Grammaticus, Lawrence Prior of Durham, . Robert Dunstable, the historians Henry of Huntingdon, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Eadmer, William of Malmesbury, Giraldus Cambrensis, and Geoffrey de Vinesauf; John Hanvil, Alexander Neckham, Walter Mapes Archdeacon of Oxford, and above all Joseph Iscanus, or Joseph of Exeter, whom he characterises as "a miracle in classical composition;" adding, in regard to one of his works, an epic on the subject of the Trojan war, " The diction of this poem is generally pure, the periods round, and the numbers harmonious; and on the whole the structure of the versification approaches nearly to that of polished Latin poetry." * Walter Mapes, or rather Map, who was Archdeacon of Oxford, has the credit of having been the author of most of the pieces of Latin poetry belonging to the latter part of the twelfth century, which from their form and character may be supposed to have acquired any thing like general popularity. In particular the famous drinking song, in rhyming, or Leonine verse, beginning—
"Meum est proposition in taberna mori," is attributed to this "genial archdeacon." f
* Dissertation on the Introd. of Learning into England, cxlix.—clxiii.
t The expression is Warton's (Diss. on Introd. of Learning, p. clxi.). 'The Latin Poems commonly attributed to Walter Mapes' have lately been printed by the Camden Society, as 'collected and edited by Thomas Wright, Esq., M.A., F.S.A.' &c. &c . &c., 4to., Lon. 1841. In an Introduction to this volume Mr. Wright remarks, "The common notion that Walter Mapes was a 'jovial toper' must be placed in the long list of vulgar errors." On what grounds of reason or evidence this imperative dictum may rest does not appear. The drinking song as commonly given forms part of one of the pieces which Mr. Wright has printed, one which he admits has been constantly attributed to Mapes, and the authorship of which, he says, he hesitates, without any direct