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“ Anger is one of the sinews of the soul: he that wants it hath a maimed mind.”—P. 158.
“ Generally Nature hangs out a sign of simplicity in the face of a fool, and there is enough in his countenance for an Hue and Crie to take him on suspicion, or else it is stamped in the figure of his body: their heads sometimes so little that there is no room for wit, sometimes so long that there is no wit for so much room.”-P. 168.
“ They that marry ancient people, merely in expectation to bury them, hang themselves in hope that one will come and cut the halter." -P. 208.
“He that impoverisheth his children to enrich his widow, destroys a quick hedge to make a dead one.”—P. 9.
We must now conclude our remarks on this book; and we do, in fine, most seriously recommend it to those of our readers, who are not deterred by the appearance of a moderate-sized folio, as a treasure of good sense, information, and entertainment. It is only by contrasting the works of Fuller with the lumbering and heavy productions of his contemporaries that we can properly estimate the value of the former, or give due honour to the memory of one, who, in his most arduous and sterile undertakings, in the darkness of antiquities or the cloudy atmosphere of polemical divinity, never lost the vivifying spirit of his humour or the exhilarating play of his wit, or suffered his keenness of observation to be blunted by the blocks it had to work on. To him every subject was alike : if it was a dull one, he could enliven it; if it was an agreeable one, he could improve it; if it was a deep one, he could sound it; if it was a tough one, he could grapple with it. In him learning was but subsidiary to wit, and wit but secondary to wisdom; and, if his quaintness of humour gave something of the grotesque to his productions, it but added to the gloss of the admirable matter which it shone on. To him and to his pages may we always come, secure of entertainment and instruction of finding an agreeable olio of humourous wit and diverting sense, which re, ciprocally relieve and play upon each other, the latter sobering and steadying the former, the former barbing and pointing the latter. In short, his works are an inexhaustible fund of sound and solid thought-a quarry, or rather mine, of good old English heartiness, where the lighter and less elaborate artificers of modern times may seek, and seek fearlessly, for materials for their own more fragile and graceful structures. Of Fuller himself we can only observe, that his life was meritoriously passed, and exemplary throughout; that his opinions were independently adopted and unshrinkingly maintained. In the darkest and gloomiest period of our national history he had the sense and the wisdom to pursue the right way, and to persevere in an even tenor of moderation, as remote from interested lukewarm
ness as it was from mean-spirited fear. Unwilling to go all lengths with either party, he was of consequence vilified by both : willing to unite the maintainers of opposite and conflicting sentiments, he only united them against himself. Secure in the strength of his intellectual riches, the storms and hurricanes which uprooted the fabric of the constitution had only the effect of confining him more to his own resources, and of inciting him to the production of those numerous treatises and compilations for which he received from his contemporaries respect and reputation, and for which posterity will render him its tribute of unfailing gratitude.
Art. V. Joannis Physiophili Specimen Monachologia, Metho
do Linnæaná. Augusta Vindelicorum, 1782.
No part of our labors is more congenial to our feelings than that which leads us to the consideration of the studies, the manners, and institutions of the middle ages. The pleasure attendant on such inquiries would be of the highest order, even though it should extend no farther than the gratification necessarily arising from a visit to those spots and scenes which witnessed the humble efforts of our forefathers in literature and science; where the rude Northman commenced his struggles for liberty and independence, or emerged from the gloom of barbarism to brighter prospects of freedom and civilization; where the great and good, who are now mingled with the dust, saw their sun of glory rise and set. Who does not feel his breast expand with the liveliest feelings of respect and veneration, at the mere recollection that he is treading on a spot, however barren, which was the witness of the triumphs or the joys of days that are passed and gone: and shall we need any apology for investigations, which bring to our remembrance the deeds and virtues of the warrior and saint; the lay of the minstrel, as it róused the mind to emulation and exertion; the interesting memorials of painting, of sculpture, and architecture; the proud walls of the baron; and the magnificent sublimity of church or abbey ?
The field which these studies open to our view is as boundless as it is interesting. In their progress we are to behold the lamp of learning, smothering for a while in obscurity, only to burst forth with hundred-fold brilliancy; fed and nourished in its revival by institutions admirably calculated to ensure its permanence and general diffusion; gradually extending its influence to all classes and nations, and dazzling the world by a ga
laxy of historians, poets, philosophers, and artists, starting, at once, into existence, and emulating each other in the brilliancy of their course, and their beneficial influence on the hopes and prospects of mankind.-We are to explore the rise and progress of our most valuable political institutions—the ripening of apparently barbarous and arbitrary regulations into the refined and well cemented policy of feudal relations—wonderfully, adapting themselves to the spirit of the times in which they had their birth and maturity, in contributing to rear up the fabric of well balanced power, curbing the encroaching influences of despotism, and in the fullness of time moulding themselves, by energies inherent in their formation, into institutions which experience has proved well adapted to all stages of society, when allowed to accommodate themselves to its progress. We are to watch the pure and lofty spirit of chivalry, the school of moral discipline, the embodier of those feelings which tempered the rugged habits and passions of unpolished barbarians, and mingled the fierce bravery of the warrior with the courteous honor of the blameless knight-which supplied an office capable of being performed, in those days, by no other earthly agent ; that of a power which brought valour within the subjection of reason and justice-enforced the rules of plighted honor-shewed injured innocence the promise of redress and protection and which (when it had done these, its earliest and, perhaps, most eminently useful services to mankind) melted down into those finer feelings of honor and generosity that form the chain and cement of modern society, and continues, even now, to execute its most vaunted function of freeing the captive damsel, by restoring one-half of the human race to its birthright, and placing woman in the rank which nature designed her, not the slave or servant of man, (as in the boasted æras of civilized Greece and Rome) but his equal, the friend of his bosom, the soother of his griefs, and partaker of his joys.
: But, in pursuing these speculations, we have, also, to weigh the effects of a yet more powerful “ spirit that has moved upon the face of the waters," that of religion, the principle which established monastic institutions; which assembled, in the same field of warfare, the nations of the east and west, the followers of Mahomet and of Christ; and, by this collision, produced results of incalculable importance on the literature and political relations of Europe; which imparted the inspiration that warmed the painter and the sculptor, and raised the almost imperishable beauties of ecclesiastical architecture.
The work which appears at the head of this article naturally suggests a few brief observations on monastic institutions, for which we are not at all unwilling to stand forward to claim more consideration and esteem, than are popularly considered
to be their due and we are not to be deterred from this design, because, in the progress of our inquiries, we may be obliged to admit the justice of many of those aspersions which were ungratefully cast, with no sparing hand in the day of their decay, on institutions which had, indeed, discharged their office and become superannuated by the progress of knowledge and information, and by a gradual change in all the relations of society, in the opinions and moral feelings of mankind; but were still eminently entitled to our gratitude for numberless valuable services. There is a time for all things; but let us not delight in “skimming, like the flesh-fly, over what is sound, to detect and settle on some spot which is tainted;" let us not join in one undiscriminating cry against persons and institutions, which must occupy an important position in history and furnish many topics for impartial speculation.-Institutions, worn out by time, are not treated fairly, if they are considered only in those relations, and at those periods, when their decay was fast approaching; when numbers were leagued in a common endeavour to sacrifice the character and fortunes of the minority to the majority, and when abuses, are apt to be placed as prominently as if they were original characteristics of the system, instead of mere blemishes incidental to almost all establishments, political or religious, in some stage or other of their existence. It is easy to exclaim, with the Old Play, in The Monastery ;
“O aye, the monks, the monks, they did the mischief,
But to such charges we gladly answer, in the energetic language of the same poet,
_"May he be prais'd who sent the healthful tempest,
It is impossible, we conceive, for instance, to deny the political advantage of establishments which gave refuge and sanctuary to the victims of lawless tyranny, supplied gratuitous ministration to the spiritual wants of their surrounding neighbourhoods, and often breathed the spirit of genuine religion, though clouded by the corruptions of a degenerate superstition; which professed, at any rate, as their ethical code, meekness, self-denial, and charity, and supplied the wants of those whom the world had otherwise left destitute.—“Can we regret,” (to borrow from the forcible observations of Mr. Hallam) “ that there should have been some green spots in the wilderness where the feeble and the persecuted could find refuge? How must this right [of sanctuary] have enhanced the veneration for religious institutions! How gladly must the victims of internal warfare have turned their eyes from the baronial castle, the dread and scourge of the neighbourhood, to those venerable walls, within which not even the clamor of arms could be heard to disturb the chant of holy men, and the sacred service of the altar!”.
While we admire, however, the political and, perhaps, in that point of view, temporary benefits which those foundations shed around them, our attention will be more permanently attracted to their literary influence on Europe.-We shall perceive in the cloister not the tomb or charnel-house of learning, but its asylum in times of external gloom and trouble, till a more genial sun should rise, in which the germ of science and literature might expand and blossom.-We shall not always condemn the monastery as the parent and fosterer of idle superstition, but reflect, while the word of censure is on our lips, that the holy edifice alone preserved for ages the records of divine truth, the classic models of antiquity, the treasures of ancient philosophy ;—that to its inhabitants we owe almost all we possess, for a long period, of historical information ;-that even its superstitions, its legends, and idle controversies, supplied the place of patrons to the fine arts, to literature, and philosophy, enlisted, we may own, often in a bad cause, but still preserved by such an application to times when mankind should be better prepared for their culture and application. “ Even then," in the beautiful language of Mrs. Barbauld, “the Muses with their attendant arts (in strange disguise, indeed, and antique trappings) were not idle in the cloister—Statuary carved a Madonna or a crucifix-Painting illuminated a missal – Eloquence made the panegyric of a saint-and History composed a legend :-still they breathed, and were ready at any happier period to emerge from obscurity with all their native charms and undiminished lustre.”
The lovers of poetry will need no persuasion to engage their approbation of our views. The most expanded imagination has never found prouder, more ennobling subjects to heighten its conceptions or enrich its imagery, than the sublime fabrics of conventual pomp in every period of their existence, whether in the pride of their original magnificence, the interesting progress of gradual decay, or even the last, but most affecting stage of mouldering ruin-and the raptures of enthusi