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disappeared from among us, in consequence of the neglect of our ancestors ; we would excite by our own example all well-disposed persons to the study of the liberal arts. To this purpose we have already, by God's constant help, accurately corrected the books of the Old and New Testament, which had become corrupted by the ignorance of copyists. We could not endure that among the sacred lessons in the worship of God there should constantly occur discordant and ungrammatical errors ; and we therefore conceived the design of reforming these lessons. We entrusted this work to our servant Paul. We commanded him to go diligently through the writings of the fathers, and culling thence the finest and most useful passages, to blend them, as it were, into a fragrant and beneficial garland. Eager to obey our command, he reperused the writings of the orthodox fathers, and, selecting the best of these, bas presented to us, in two volumes, a series of divina discourses adapted to every day
We have examined these volumes, and find them worthy of our sanction. We therefore transmit them to you to be read in the churches under your care."
The bishops were subsequently enjoined to have this Homilarium translated, with the utmost plainness and simplicity, into the various dialects of the districts under their charge, “so that all persons might be able easily to understand the things which
were said." This compilation continued in common use
in the year.
in Germany till the close of the fifteenth century.
These extracts may suffice to give some idea of the ecclesiastical legislation of this extraordinary man. It is impossible to read even these brief quotations from it without perceiving that a clear conviction was present to his mind that civilization and good order were to be promoted, and that anarchy and barbarism were to be repressed only by the influences of Christianity--and that Christianity was to be promoted only by the promulgation of the truths of the gospel. It is due, however, to the illustrious Englishman, Alcuin, who was the most trusted counsellor and friend of the emperor, to say, that much of this ecclesiastical policy was the result of his influence. Even when Charlemagne sought to diffuse Christianity by other means, as, for instance, when he attempted to convert the Saxons at the sword's point, this faithful adviser thus counselled his royal master :-“Let your majesty cease from uttering threats, and abandon violence. Send missionaries, not soldiers ; missionaries not bent upon enriching themselves, but who shall count it more blessed to give than to receive.' Men are to be attracted to the faith, not forced into
You may compel them to receive baptism, but without faith this is useless. majesty therefore provide preachers, upright in conduct, thoroughly conversant with religious truth, imbued with the Divine precepts, and intent upon following the examples set before us
in God's word. Let them feed their converts with sound doctrines and mild precepts, as an infant is fed with milk, since they are but babes in Christ. And let especially care be taken that the preaching of God's word go together with the administration of the sacraments, for the washing of the body in baptism will profit nothing to the convert unless it have been preceded by an acknowledgment of the truth." Happy the monarch who has such a counsellor; and happy the nation whose prince listens to such advice!
From Charlemagne's ecclesiastical we pass on to his social legislation. And here, first in importance, come his enactments for the diffusion of education. We have already seen how zealous he was to promote sacred learning among his clergy; we have now to speak of his efforts to spread general knowledge among all classes.
A royal ordinance, issued to the bishops and abbots of his dominions, in the year 787, will perhaps illustrate his feelings on this subject:“We beg to inform your devotion to God, that, in concert with our councillors, we have deemed it beneficial that, in the bishoprics and monasteries confided to our care by God, we should see to it, not only that persons live piously and according to our holy religion, but that, moreover, they should give instruction in the knowledge of literature to all who, by God's help, are able and willing to learn. For though, of. the two, it is better to be good than to be learned, yet to have learning leads to being
good. In the various letters addressed to us we have remarked that, whilst the sentiments are for the most part excellent, yet the language in which they are expressed is often rude and illiterate ; so that the fine thoughts which piety dictates, an unskilful and uneducated tongue mutilates in the delivery. This inspires us with the apprehension lest the same ignorance should keep them from a due understanding of the Scriptures. It is at all events certain that the language of the sacred writings will be better understood by those who are likewise versed in general learning. We therefore would have you select from among your brethren those who are fitted, first for learning themselves, and then for teaching others; and let such at once proceed to their work of instruction with the least possible delay. As you value our favour, take care to communicate this decree to all the bishops and monasteries in your neighbourhood immediately."
Among the schools thus established, those of Tours, Lyons, Orleans, Rheims, Fulda, Old and New Corvey, Reichenau, and St. Gall, became especially famous, and laid the foundations of important universities in after years. The studies pursued in these places were divided into two classes, the Trivia and the Quadrivia, which together made up the seven liberal arts. The Trivia* consisted of grammar, logic, and rhetoric ; the Quadrivia, of music, arithmetic,
* Hence probably our word trivial—the trivia being the simplest rudiments taught on entering school.
geography, and astronomy. Within these narrow boundaries was then contained the whole sum of human knowledge. Yet poor and, as far as practical utility went, of little worth as this learning was, it was a mighty advance upon the utter ignorance of the preceding generations. Mental activity, however ill directed, and though barren of immediate results, is immensely better than absolute stagnation and inaction. The movement of mind thus excited by Charlemagne never entirely ceased. With intervals of collapse, with alternate progress and retrogression, there was still motion, and, on the whole, advance ; till the glorious era of the Reformation came, when the mind of Europe, bursting its fetters, and shaking off the sloth of ages, came forth from its dark prison-house, and asserted and vindicated its inalienable right to knowledge, and its determination to possess it. In reference to recent efforts to disseminate doctrines which would bring us back again to an age of ignorance, the words of Milton may be appropriately employed : “Oh ! let them not bring about their accursed designs, who now stand at the entrance of the bottomless pit, expecting the watchword to open, and let out those dreadful locusts and scorpions, to reinvolve us in that pitchy cloud of infernal darkness, where we shall never more see the sun of Thy truth again, never hope for the cheerful dawn, never more hear the bird of morning sing."*
* Milton on the Reformation in England.