Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

began to be given to those who held these stores; stalls, or shops of all descriptions, being often denominated Stations. By degrees, however, the licensed Stationarii lost their monoply of the trade, and the custom became tolerated of allowing poor scholars to sell books of low price in order to obtain the means of pursuing their studies. The Librarii were the copyists of new books, who dealt also in parchment and writing materials, and exercised a very important profession before the days of printing; those who transcribed old books were considered a separate branch, and styled Antiquarii, and by this distinction the scholar in search of a volume knew at once from which Statio he might obtain the object of his desires.

The custom began to be introduced among the scholars of expending great sums on the adornment of their books with gilt letters and fantastic illuminations, and writers of the time complain of the extravagant sums thus dissipated. Thus Odofied speaks of a certain gentleman who sent his son to Paris, giving him an annual allowance of 100 livres. "What does he do? Why, he has his books ornamented with gold initials and strange monsters, and has a new pair of boots every Saturday.'

The Landit. Who has not heard of the great fair of St. Denis, the Landit, as it was called, originally held to enable the Bishop of Paris to display the relics preserved in the abbey to those devout multitudes whose numbers, being too great for any church to contain them, rendered it necessary to assemble them in the open fields ? A French poet describes this fair as he beheld it at the close of the twelfth century, crowded with tailors, furriers, linendrapers, leathersellers, shoemakers, cutlers, corn-merchants, jewelers, and goldsmiths. The enumeration of all the trades at last passes his powers, and he begs his readers to excuse his completing the catalogue. And what has this to do with the university ? it may be asked. Much, for thither also flocked the sellers of parchment. The rector of the university went there in state to choose the best article which the fair produced; nay, what is more, all dealers in parchment were forbidden by royal edict to purchase any on the first day of the fair, uutil the merchants of the king and the bishop, and the masters and scholars of the university, had laid their yearly provision. This going of the rector to the Landit was the grand annual holiday. He was attended by all the masters and scholars on horseback, and not unfrequently, says Lebæuf, in his History of the Diocese of Paris,' this expedition was the occasion of many falling sick, through heat and fatigue, especially the youngsters.

The Landit was not the only recreation day of the scholars; besides those red-letter days which in olden time were lavishly provided for solace and refreshment of mind and body, they took part in all popular rejoicings, and on occasion of the great victory of Bouvines claimed and obtained a whole week's vacation, during which time, says Lebæuf, they sang and danced continually.'

Their country walks to Chantilly and other rural villages were known as the Ire ad Campos, for which leave had to be asked by the inmates of colleges James of Vitry alludes to the national characteristics apparent in the different nations represented among the students, the luxurious habits of the French, the love of fighting exhibited by the Germans, and the propensity of the Eng lish to indulge in deep potations.

Oral Method of Instruction. In the schools their habits were simple enough. The lectures were begun punctually at the first stroke of the bells of Notre Dame, as they rung out the hour of Prime. Clocks were not then very common, and the cathedral bells, rung at the different hours and heard at a great distance, furnished citizens and scholars with their ordinary mode of reckoning time. At the last stroke the scholars were supposed to be all assembled; seated on trusses of hay or straw, which supplied the place of benches, they listened to the lecture of the master, delivered after the manner of a spoken harangue, and took such notes as they were able. The method of dictation, which had been in use in the earlier schools, appears to have been dropped, or to have been retained only in the more elementary schools. The vivâ voce lecture was, in fact, the speciality of the university system; and to its use may, in great part, be attributed that enthusiasm which animated the scholars of some popular master, who contrived to infuse the charm of his personal grace and eloquence into the bard syllogisms with which he dealt. "The act of instruction vivâ voce,' says one, himself a master, 'has I know not what hidden energy, and sounds more forcibly in the ears of a disciple, when it passes from the master's lips, than the written word can do.' Hence these dry logicians of the Middle Ages were possessed with as ardent an enthusiasm for their own pursuits as that which kindled the armies of the Crusaders; nay, when we read of the mad devotion of Abelard's followers, or the resistless impetuosity of those crowds who mustered in the Place Maubert to listen to the great Albert as he lectured on the Sentences, we need to bear in mind that the age was that of generous impulse; keenly susceptible to personal influence, capable of being roused to great enterprises by some strong word spoken to the heart, and ready to cast itself on the shores of Palestine, or to swell the ranks of a mendicant order, according to the deep emotions called forth by some eloquent tongue.

Prof. H. H. Vaughan, in his Oxford Reform, has felicitously expressed the superiority of the oral method.

The type is a poor substitute for the human voice. It has no means of arousing, moderating, and adjusting the attention. It has no emphasis except italics, and this meagre notation can not finely graduate itself to the needs of the occasion. It can not in this way mark the heed which should be specially and chiefly given to peculiar passages and words. It has no variety of manner and intonation, to show, by their changes, how the words are to be accepted, or what comparative importance is to be attached to them. It has no natural music to take the ear, like the human voice; it carries with it no human eye to range, and to rivet the student, when on the verge of truancy, and to command his intellectual activity by an appeal to the common courtesies of life. Half the symbolism of a living language is thus lost when it is committed to paper; and, that symbolism is the very means by which the forces of the hearer's mind can be best economized, or most pleasantly excited. The lecture, on the other hand, as delivered, possesses all these instruments to win, and hold, and harmonize attention; and above all, it imports into the whole teaching a human character, which the printed book can never supply. The Professor is the science or subject vitalized and humanized in the student's presence. He sees him kindle into his subject; he sees reflected and exhibited in him, his manner, and his earnestness, the general power of the science to engage, delight, and absorb a human intelligence. His natural sympathy and admiration attract or impel his tastes, and feelings, and wishes, for the moment, into the same current of feeling; and, his mind is naturally, and rapidly, and insensibly strung and attuned to the strain of truth which is offered to him.

PERSONAL FIGURES IN THE PARISIAN SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITY. The history of the university, indeed, is not without its chapters of romance At one time we may wander in imagination out into the green meadows of St. Germains, and watch a group of young scholars, John, the Englishman, and William Scot, with another John of Provençal blood, and his Italian fellowstudent, the young Lothairius Conti, as they join together in familiar talk, little thinking of the changes which a few short years are to make in the destinies of each; when the Provençal will have become the founder of the Trinitarian Order, and his old companions, John and William, shall have flung away their doctors' caps to assume the blue and crimson cross, and it shall be from Lothaire himself, now seated in the chair of St. Peter as Pope Innocent III., that he is to receive its first formal confirmation,

Maurice of Sully. Or, shall we gaze for a moment on that poor ragged boy, begging his bread in the streets of Paris, where, like a rustic simpleton, he has come in hopes of finding the way to fame and fortune? Yet, a simpleton he is not;-he struggles on ill-fed, ill-lodged, but, thanks to pious alms, just able to scrape together the means of study. He passes from one grade to another; and in time Paris learns to be proud of her great doctor, Maurice of Sully, and forgets that be owes his surname to the lordly territory where his fathers cultivated the soil. At last his fame reaches his vative place, and his old mother who is still living, resolves to go and find out her boy, whom she always knew would make his fortune. So, taking staff in hand, she found her way to the great city, and asked the first fine ladies whom she met in the streets, if they could tell her where she could find the Doctor Maurice. The good ladies, taking pity on her, took her to their house, gave her refreshment, and throwing a better kind of mantle over the course woolen petticoat which she wore, after the fashion of French peasants, led her to Maurice, and introduced her to him as his mother. Not so,' said Maurice, my mother is a poor peasant woman, she wears no fine clothes like these; I will not believe it is her unless I see her in her woolen petticoat.' Then she threw off her cloak, and seeing her in her own garb he embraced her, and introduced her to the great people who stood about him, saying, “This is indeed my mother.' 'Arid the thing spread through the city,' says the chronicler, and did good honor to the master, who afterwards became Bishop of Paris;' in which office he did many notable things, and among others built the present Cathedral of Notre Dame.

John of St. Quentin. Let us look into that same cathedral where crowds have assembled to hear the preaching of the famous doctor, John of St. Quentin. He has chosen the subject of holy poverty, and he seems inspired by some unwonted strain of eloquence as he speaks of the spares, the emptiness, and the vanity of the world. At last he stops, and descends the pulpit stairs. Is his discourse finished, or what is he about to do? the crowd moves hither and thither with curiosity, and sees him kneeling at the feet of the Dominican Prior of St. James, of whose Order little was then known, save that its members were mendicants, and owed their lodging in the city to the bounty of this very John. But now the white habit is thrown over his doctor's gown, the black mantle, the garb of poverty and humility, is added, and he returns to finish his dis

[subsumed][ocr errors]

course, exhibiting to his wondering audience that he can teach not by words only, but by example.

St. Edmund of Canterbury. Once more let us wander into that old church of St. Mery, which even to this day retains a certain air of quaint antiquity; where the long lancet windows, and the Ladye chapel with its carved wooden reredos, black with age, and adorned with silver statuettes, and its walls frescoed with the figures of saints, carry us back to mediaeval times; and the cool air with its sweet frangrance of incense, and the silence broken only by a passing footstep on the worn and broken pavement, soothe and tranquilize us as though we had passed out of the busy streets into the atmosphere of another world. In that church, and be ore that Ladye altar, you might nightly have seen an English scholar, who had passed over to Paris whilst still a mere boy to study his course of arts. Every night he comes hither to assist at Matins, and remains there till daybreak, kneeling absorbed in heavenly contemplation till the hour strikes which is the signal for him to betake himself to the schools. Against those very pillars, perhaps, he leant his weary head; that dusty and shattered pavement was once watered with his tears; and who is there that loves and venerates the memory of St. Edmund of Canterbury, who will not, for his sake, be glad to escape from the thoroughfares of the brilliant capital to spend an hour of pilgrimage in the church of St. Mery?

The Curé Fulk and the Fifth Crusade. It was about the year 1199, just when the princes of Europe were deliberating on a fifth crusade, that there lived at Neuilly-sur-Marne, half-way between Paris and Lagny, a simple country Curé, named Fulk, unlearned in worldly and even in divine science, but full of holy zeal, governing his parish with all diligence, and preaching with a certain rude eloquence-not sparing of his reproofs, but ready at all times to speak the truth boldly and freely alike to rich and poor. He who, of old, chose unlettered fishermen to be the heralds of His Word, made choice of this poor priest to reform the follies of those vain scholars who, to use the words of James of Vitry, 'intent on vain wranglings and questions of words, cared not to break the bread of life to little ones.' Feeling his own want of knowledge, and specially his ignorance of the Holy Scriptures, Fulk determined, old as he was, to commence a regular course of study in the schools, and began to go regularly into the city, attending the theological lectures of Puter the Chanter. How the gay scholars stared and wondered at the sight of the rustic Curé, in his coarse frock and grey hairs, humbly entering the school, with his note-book in his hand, wherein he entered only a few phrases, such as his poor capacity was able to gather from the lips of the speaker. He understood little and cared less for all the terms of art which the dialecticians of those days so lavishly dispensed to their hearers; and if his companions had glanced over his shoulder, they would have read on the parchment page nothing but some scattered texts of Scripture, sprinkled here and there with trite and practical maxims. Yet these were enough for Fulk: they were the seed falling into good ground, watered with prayer and meditation, and bringing forth the hundred-fold. Often did he read and ponder over his little book, and commit his maxims to his memory, and on Sundays and Festival days, returning to his own parish, he gave forth to his flock what he bad thus carefully gathered in the schools. His master observing the zeal

and fervor of his new disciple, and penetrating through that rough exterior which concealed a richly-gifted soul, required of him at last that he should preach in the Church of St. Severinus before himself, and a great number of students. Fulk obeyed with his accustomed simplicity, and lol 'the Lord gave to his servant such grace and power that it seemed as if the Holy Spirit spoke by his mouth; and from that day, masters and scholars began to flock to his rude and simple preaching. They would invite one another, saying, 'Come and hear the priest Fulk-he is another Paul.'

One day a vast multitude were assembled to hear him in the Place de Champeaux, for the churches were not large enough to contain those who gathered to the preaching; and he spoke with such eloquence that hundreds, pierced to the very heart, fell at his feet, and, presenting him with rods, besought him to chastise them for their sins, and guide them in the way of penance. He embraced them all, giving thanks to God, and to each one he gave some suitable words of advice. He had something appropriate to say to all, to usurers and public sinners, fine gentlemen, men-at-arms, and scholars. He admonished the masters to give more pithy, wholesome, and profitable lectures in the fear of God; he bade the dialecticians put away what was unprofitable in their art, and retain only that which bore fruit; the canonists he reproved for their long and wearisome disquisitions; the theologians for their tediousness and oversubtlety; and so, in like manner, he fearlessly rebuked and admonished the teachers of other arts, and called on them to leave their vain babblings, and apply themselves to what was profitable to salvation.

The tide had now fairly turned, and those who, awhile before, were ready to turn the poor Curé into ridicule, gladly changed places with him, and brought their note-books to his preaching, that they might take down the words from his mouth. Many even entreated him to accept them as his followers, and missions began to be preached through all the neighboring towns and villages by the company of learned doctors, who put themselves under the direction of the Curé of Neuilly. Among these were Peter the Chanter, his former master; Alberic de Laon, afterwards Archbishop of Rheims; Robert de Courçon, of whom we have already spoken; and our own Stephen Langton.

Fulk and his followers preached throughout France, Burgundy, Flanders, and a great part of Germany. "Their missions were followed by a great reform of manners, and the sanctity of Fulk is said to have been attested by miracles. He had a vein of pleasantry in him, and sometimes treated his audience with a somewhat rough familiarity; and, if he could obtain silence by no other means, would freely use his stick over the shoulders of the disorderly. But the people esteemed his very blows a blessing; wherever he appeared, they pressed around him to tear away morsels of his babit. One day he was nearly suffocated, and owed his deliverance to an ingenious device-My habit is not blessed,' he cried, 'to what purpose, then, would you carry it away? But I will bless the clothes of yonder man, and you may take as much as you choose.' The individual whom he indicated was at once surrounded, and thought himself happy to escape with the loss of his mantle.

These scenes were of daily occurrence when Fulk, having himself assumed the Cross, began to preach the Holy War; and, in fact, the throngs who joined the 5th Crusade from France and Flanders were chiefly induced to do so by his eloquence. He chanced, on one occasion, to hear that Count Thibault of

« AnteriorContinuar »