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most striking in literature. Since the publication of Rousseau's Memoirs, a depraved passion for self-analysis and self-exposure would seem to have become universal. Every season witnesses the appearance of some half-dozen novels in which the most sacred experiences of private life are recorded with scarcely the affectation of disguise. To be naked and not ashamed is a great evil in itself ; but this publicity of sentiment has led further to the disbelief in its existence; and because passion has been travestied on the stage, we begin to think that it is by its nature theatrical. We cannot dissect a corpse and believe in its life. Fortunately for mediæval authors, their genius was rather constructive than analytical ; they did not care for the intricacies of sentiment, and habit and a manly reserve forbade them to make capital of their old emotions. The poet spoke openly of his love as the knight wore his lady's colours upon his crest. The times were gross, and their literature is often impure, but it is not immoral; it does not debauch the soul, The shades in Dante's Inferno are better company than the creations of Messrs. Balzac and Feydeau; the damned spirits have not lost all their goodness; they have not confounded right and wrong; they are not casuists against God. A deep sense of sin was paralleled by a vivid conception of the unapproached ideal. The knights of the Morte d' Arthur, Petrarch's Laura, and Dante's Beatrice, have a certain statuesque completeness at once from the absence of petty detail, and from the greatness of the original design. To match one of Mr. Thackeray's characters against these, would be to place the photograph of a street-beggar by the side of the Moses of Michael Angelo.
The Middle Ages, then, through their manliness and their artistic sense of beauty, were idealist, and chiefly regarded the better side of life. Probably it was this feature that mainly determined the higher position of women.
More importance has been attached to this than it deserves; apart from poetry the woman of the thirteenth century was regarded on biblical grounds as man's inferior, as impure, and inheriting a curse; practically she grew up without education, was married without love, and was employed chiefly in household drudgery. Still the nature of the marriage connection had been elevated, and Cato's good-natured loan of his wife for a few months to a friend would have been looked upon as something worse than a naïveté by the barons who signed Magna Charta. Again, the steady praise of love as the reward of success and the occupation of lite, in literature of a widely different kind from the Milesia Crimina, had its share in raising women to the dignity of companions. The popular explanations of this change, from
Teutonic reverence for women, or from the worship of the Virgin, have only a partial truth. In fact, there is no evidence that the German tribes have ever had a characteristic feeling of the kind; they did not trade in dishonour, like the Roman senators whom Tacitus knew; but throughout history_their favourite types of womanhood have been the virago like Brunhilda, or the patient slave like Griselda. The cultus of the Virgin is at least as much a consequence as a cause; it served to excuse a feeling which the coarse monastic contempt for the sex depreciated. It seems simpler to view it as part of a newlydeveloped feeling for good, and regard for all who had any part in humanity.
There is something at once strange and melancholy in the sentiments with which we, who are gray with the experience
of four additional centuries, look back upon the splendid daydreams of our forefathers. It is no question of a sudden enthusiasm, like that which accompanied the Crusades, the Renaissance, or the French Revolution. Men, whose intellects we cannot affect to despise, regarded the future of the world as altogether in their own hands for good or bad. They were not hopeful, rather they doubted the issue, and expected to see the approaching triumph of Antichrist. Their pages burn with predictions of coming doom. But they never questioned the power of the mind to distinguish what was real and divine in the crumbling systems under whose shadow they dwelt, and they therefore looked upon all law as matter of eternal interest, based upon God's will, taught in Scripture, and applicable with an infinite elasticity to the smallest as well as the greatest concerns of life. They punished mercilessly because they regarded all offences as crimes. Yet the mere fact that they believed in a system external to themselves, saved them from the austerity of tone which marked the English Puritans of a
'a later date. 'Enclosed by what seem to us the most arbitrary of church and state politics, directed in every action, living in public, they were all the more at liberty to give free play to temperament and character within the ordained limits. The whole constitution of society partook of the universality which the Church represented; within its narrow limits the widest differences of art and thought, devotion and mirth, found a home.
Our object has been to prove that the Middle Ages had a civilisation of their own; that they were not merely a chaotic period, during which society was struggling upwards out of the abyss, and “pawing to set free its hinder parts.” But the mere fact that a society is highly organised does not of course imply that its individual members have attained a high stage of development, or that the masses are happy. There was probably nothing in those times which ordinary men and women of the present day need regret. The chances of life were more uncertain ; food and clothing scarcer than now ; disease prevalent in its most loathsome forms; and the modern conception of comfort yet uncreated. The externals of a comprehensive church system concealed every shape of sin; the grosser vices of the flesh prevailed in forms which no modern history can record; murder and rapine contended with law for victory; and perjury was the great weapon of the weak against the strong, Our own vices are undoubtedly more decorous and less violent. Yet these centuries were not altogether miserable in their own account; population did not die out as in the decline of the Roman and Spanish empires; men lived and were glad to live. It seems as if by a subtle forethought of nature the very evils of this period brought with them a certain compensation, so that vigour and decision of character were brought out by the pitiless training of necessity. Moreover, the very fact that ranks were unalterably distinct. promoted their intercourse: down to a late period the lord and his household dined at the same table; and the peasant who could never be knighted might yet rise, like Breakspear, to be pope. Taking all this into account, considering the manifold influences of the Church, and the diversity of occupations which were thrust upon every man, we are inclined to believe that the people generally were better educated than they are now, and that fearless original character was more commonly to be met with. That dead level of opinion which newspapers and railways create, the rigid conventions of modern society, and the abject cowardice that submits to them, were comparatively unknown in the old times; the men were less patient of control, and the forces acting upon them were weaker in degree. It has been reserved to our own days to preach up the fear of men as the law of life; to believe that success can make a hero, and public opinion a truth; to calculate what enjoyment of earth will not disqualify for heaven. It is true that we in England have not yet sunk to the ideal of Neapolitan sovereignty, which desires to see its subjects “ little asses and little saints." Our struggle for existence requires that we should breed engineers, and chemists, and navigators, and factory operatives. To have all these, and to make them work with the smallest possible waste, is modern progress. We have reached a Pisgah from which we can look back contemptuously on the desert in which our fathers wandered,- on the abstract thought of Athens, the faith of Galilee, and the chivalry that saved Europe from the Mussulman. Instead of Plato and his Republic, we have Prince Albert and the Exhibition; instead of Charlemagne, Louis Napoleon; and in place of St. Paul, Mr. Spurgeon.
The series of works which is now passing through the press under the auspices of the Record Commission ought to add largely to the popular appreciation of the Middle Ages. Messrs. Brewer, Shirley, Riley, and Stevenson have enhanced the value of their publications by prefaces, which deserve on many accounts to be collected and published separately. Failing this, it is to be hoped that Mr. Brewer and Mr. Shirley at least will attempt more original work; a history of the schoolmen from the former, or of Wycliffe and his times from the latter, would be sterling additions to literature. Mr. Luard has contented himself with the comparatively unambitious task of constructing a sound critical text, and has succeeded to admiration. Perhaps it was unavoidable that some failures should occur in a large series. In one instance the Master of the Rolls selected an editor of great and deserved reputation, who from age or neglect has produced a most slovenly work; in another case the gentleman chosen was compelled to learn his work as he went on, and unluckily published his first volume before he had mastered the rudiments of the subject. Again, why the Saxon Chronicle, which has mostly appeared in the Monumenta Britannica, should have been prepared for a second publication, when it is known that the Oxford press will soon issue it, for the third time in thirty years, from the hand of the most competent Oxford scholar, is a question which ought to receive an official answer. In matters where few are interested, and fewer still in a position to criticise, it is only right that public opinion should be satisfied on all questionable points.
There is yet another subject of some importance. Sir John Romilly is understood to have laid it down as a rule, that no work already in print shall be published in the Rolls Series till the manuscripts in the public archives are exhausted. This latter event is not likely to occur during the present century. Now it is not too much to say that the works of Ockhain, the Opus Majus of Roger Bacon, and the writings of Grosteste, or of Wycliffe, are much more important for the student of history than the Chronicles of Capgrave or John of Oxenedes, They are also for practical purposes inaccessible ; either not to be bought at all, or only to be bought by rich men; and the black-letter text of the old editions is a great drawback to study. The four writers whom we have mentioned were more or less under church censure, and do not therefore find a place in the series of the Abbé Migne. It is disgraceful to England that the greatest productions of Oxford men in the Middle -Ages have never found a publisher in their own country. It
will be doubly discreditable if the preference of fact over thought, and a mere official rule, prevail to perpetuate our neglect; and if the meanest monk who can be called a chronicler obtains an immortality of broad type and fair margins which is denied to the founder of physical science and to the precursor of Locke.
Art. VI.—THE NATURAL HISTORY OF CEYLON.
Ceylon: an Account of the Island, physical, historical, and topo. graphical, with Notices of its Natural History, Antiquities, and "Productions. By Sir James Emerson Tennent, K.C.S., LL.D., &c. In two vols. London: Longmans.
. No poem was ever produced without some classical allusion until Mr. Moore received his celebrated order which resulted in Lalla Rookh ; and no book of Eastern travel will, we suppose, ever be produced without the fata morgana and the banyantree, until a similar order be given from the Row or Albemarle Street. The book that heads our Article is by a traveller in the East, and so, of course, we have the fata morgana and the banyan-tree. But, excepting these points of likeness, we must confess that the work which Sir Emerson Tennent has produced is unlike the common books of travels, and displays no ordinary amount of patient research, careful observation, and various erudition. It is an elaborate and admirable essay on the physical geography, the natural history, the political history, and the antiquities of Ceylon, in which the writer, not content with the superficial results of travel and official residence, has called to his assistance, in all the various departments of his work, the aid of those who have heretofore written, and of many living authorities of eminence. The preface contains acknowledgments not only to many gentlemen of local knowledge and authority, but to Sir Roderick I. Murchison, Professors Faraday and Owen, Dr. Hooker, and other scientific gentlemen at home.
Sir Emerson Tennent has not only endeavoured to give us some sketch of what is known with regard to Ceylon, but, imitating in his narrower field of study the method of one whose range was over all knowledge, he has indicated the deficiencies of our information, and pointed out the gaps which remain to be filled up by future observation and research. The natural history of this curious island still offers ample room and verge enough for the most aspiring students; for the variety of soil and situation presented by this comparatively small surface vastly enhances its interest to the naturalist. There are the sand