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boast. Among the masters, whose reputation was great in the Parisian schools, William de Champeaux was the most eminent.
Cotemporary writers speak highly of his abilities and of his virtues, and he was deeply versed, they tell us, and well exercised in all the arts of the dialectic discipline. As with painful emulation he had risen to the highest honours in his profession, so was he jealous of the fame he had acquired, and feared the most distant rival. The lessons of this man Abeillard frequented, and he was much pleased with the choice he had made. His fluency of language, and the acuteness of his reasoning, seemed to throw new charms over his favourite art. In animation of spirit, he soon began to skirmish with the foremost of the scholars, and sometimes he dared to question even de Champeaux himself. The veteran was delighted with the prompt character of his disciple, and augured to himself a fresh increase of fame from the exertion of abilities, which he flattered himself, he should soon be able to draw out in the support of his own opinions.
• In these dispositions of mutual benevolence, from which the youthful mind of Abeillard pictured to itself scenes of future happiness, a commerce of friendship began, and he was taken to board into the house of his master. From this circumstance, as he had more frequent opportunities of improvement, so might he soon learn that de Champeaux was not a hero at all times; and the blaze of glory which had seemed to surround him among the plaudits of his scholars, insensibly vanished when viewed with a familiar eye. He began to suspect that this wide-spreading tree was perhaps rather loaded with leaves than fruit.—The stripling now walked with a bolder step into the schools: he dared publicly to contend with Champeaux; he attacked, in serious language, some even of his most favoured opinions; he repeated these attacks daily with more petulance; and sometimes, says he, I seemed to feel a superiority in argument. The eye of the philosopher looked benevolence no longer; confused, angry, mortified, he left his seat; and Abeillard was soon obliged to provide himself with another establishment.
“The schools, as we know from the histories of the age, were not only filled with students, as at present; but men in years, persons of distinction, fathers of families, and ministers of state, after the toils of the day were over, crowded to them as to a theatre of amusement. There was novelty in the scene, and Latin, the language of the disputants, was very generally understood. The tournaments and other martial exercises, which soon after prevailed in Europe, were to the body, what these controversies had been to the mind. The gauntlet of defiance was here also thrown down, and bold or presumptuous was the man, who dared to take it up.
* After six months of intrigue and contest, the old professor gave way, and Abeillard entered Melun at the head of a numerous band of followers. The victory was signal.
'The schools opened with eclat. The late opposition had but given lustre to his name, and animation to his talents. His les. sons were thronged: curiosity was on tiptoe to see the youth, who had discomfited the Goliath of Paris; and the most brilliant success attended his exertions.'
An absence of two years on account of his health, impaired by excessive study, gave his rival de Champeaux an opportunity to regain the public favour, but Abeillard's return to Paris was fol. lowed by a second victory-after a great deal of controversy and bitter contests for superiority, and left him master of the field.
* This may be regarded as the most brilliant epoch in the life of Abeillard. He rose every morning to the smiles of an approving public; and the church, at the same time, willing to testify the high opinion she entertained of his merit, presented him with a canonicate in the cathedral of Paris.—It was a sinecure, and the emoluments were bestowed on him without any further obligation; for I do not find he was at all engaged in the ecclesiastical state.'
But satiated with success, or disgusted with the frivolous sophistry which under the name of logic and philosophy had occupied his attention-or perhaps meditating other triumphs, he applied himself to the study of theology, and placed himself under the tuition of Anselm, a canon who had long taught at Laon with the greatest applause. But he liked his theological professor no better than he had de Champeaux his master in philosophy, and he soon undertook to be a lecturer himself. His subject was the prophecy of Ezekiel.
* But few were present at the first lecture: the attempt was deemed both arrogant and ridiculous. He acquitted himself, however, so much to the satisfaction of his hearers, that they requested he would proceed, and they complimented him on the precision and sublimity of his comment. The following days, the whole town pressed to hear him; every word he uttered was carefully taken down; and, as it had before happened at Melun and Paris, the streets of Laon echoed with the name of Abeillard.'
This invasion of the prerogatives of Anselm soon brought down an interdiction upon Abeillard's lectures, and he was obliged to leave Laon. He repaired, however, to Paris, and pursued his object there with signal success.
He began his lectures with the prophecy of Ezekiel, completing the exposition he had commenced in the country. His auditors were charmed; the first philosopher, they said, was become the first divine. Multitudes of fresh scholars flowed in from all
quarters: he therefore judged proper to resume his old lecture of philosophy. The sister sciences were pleased with this amiable union; they had too long been kept asunder from each other; and both from the mouth of Abeillard received new strength and new charms.'
* In the following words does a contemporary speak of these times in a letter addressed to Abeillard: “ No distance of country, no height of mountains, no depth of vallies, no intricate journey beset with perils and thieves, could withhold your scholars from you. Rome sent her children to receive your instruction: she who had been the mistress of every science now confessed her inferiority. The youth of Britain crowding to their shores were not intimidated by the sea which met their eyes, or the billows that broke at their feet: in spite of danger, they cleared the dreadful pass. The more remote islands dismissed their savage sons. Germany, Spain, Flanders, the people of the north and of the south, flocked
in their mouths your name only was heard; they admired, they praised, they extolled your abilities. I speak not of those whom the walls of Paris enclosed, nor of the inhabitants of our neighbouring or more distant provinces: from you they as ardently sought for wisdom, as if all its treasures had been there locked up. In a word, moved by the splendor of your* genius, by the charms of your elocution, and by the acuteness of your penetration, to you they all approached, as to the source from which science Aowed in the purest stream.”'
He was now the spoiled child of fortune, but Paris was a scene of general licentiousness, and he could not withstand the temptations of debauchery and vice.
Speaking of himself at this period, he says: “ It is in the lap of prosperity that the mind swells with foolish vanity; its vigor is enervated by repose, while the indulgence of pleasure completes the victory. At a time, when I thought myself the first philosopher in Europe, nor feared to be disturbed in my seat of eminence, then it was, that I who had been a pattern of virtue, first loosened the rein at the call of passion. In proportion as I had risen higher on the scale of literary excellence, the lower did I sink into vicious depravity. I quitted those paths of virtue, which all my predecessors had trodden with so much renown. Pride and pleasure were the monsters that subdued me.
It was at this moment his acquaintance began with the accomplished Heloisa, she had just reached her eighteenth year, he was not far from his fortieth. Heloisa lived at Paris with her uncle Fulbert a canon of the Cathedral church, who had spared no expense in the education of his niece.
• In other regards niggardly, here he was profuse; and what. ever, in the literary arts of the age, the best masters had to give, that he endeavoured to procure for Heloisa.—She is represented as a prodigy in science: but it should seem as if her encomiasts, willing to delineate a phenomenon in the female world, had brought together every excellence their minds could fancy, and had presented the rich gift to the niece of Fulbert. It was not only in the
circles of Paris, they say, that her name was familiar: it had penetrated to the extreme parts of the kingdom.'
The professor of theology seems and indeed he stands selfconvicted-to have cherished a deliberate scheme of the most atrocious villainy against the virtue and happiness of this unfortunate young woman.
He began to show great attention to some of Fulbert's friends; and when he thought them secure, he opened to them his wishes, which were, that they would propose to the good man to take him into his house as a boarder. Its being so near to the schools, he said, would be a great conveniency; that he should not hesitate upon terms, however high they might be; that the bustle and solicitude, necessarily attendant on house-keeping, deranged that equanimity, which study called for; and that his expenses were heavier than he could conveniently support. Fulbert, 'he knew, was very fond of money; and as the first of his desires was to procure for his niece every means for her further improvement, he trusted, that his proposal, coming in so eligible a form, would not be rejected.
The old canon swallowed the bait with eagerness. Money, and with it the prospect of benefitting Heloisa, accorded with all the feelings of his heart.
· When Abeillard had obtained the old man's permission to remove to his house, the first thing the latter proposed to him was, that he would take some charge of his niece. The philosopher assented. That he would dedicate much of his time to her instruction, seemed an unreasonable request: finally, however, he entreated him that, should he have any vacant moments after his return from school, either by night or day, them he would give to Heloisa; and still to evince how much he prized his instruction, it was his request, he said, that should he find her negligent or inattentive, he would chastise her severely.
· Viewing this simplicity of the uncle, I was not less astonished, observes Abeillard, than if I had beheld a shepherd entrusting his lamb to the care of a hungry wolf. He committed his niece to me, to be taught, and to be corrected, as I pleased; which in fact, was supplying me with every occasion, not only of gaining her affections, but likewise with a power of forcing her, by chastisement, to comply with my desires, should persuasion prove ineffectual. But there were two considerations, with which all suspicion of evil was incompatible; the love he felt for Heloisa, and the opinion he entertained of my virtue.'
We need not dwell upon the sequel; his arts were but too successful. And in the indulgence of his guilty love he became neglectful of his school and his reputation. Their connexion was every where talked of before her uncle discovered it. When it became known to him, Abeillard was of course obliged to leave the house; and soon after he carried off Heloisa in the night, and conveyed her to his relations in Britanny. Here she was delivered of a son, for whom however neither one of his parents seem to have felt much affection or solicitude in their correspondence they never mention him, and although he lived to be a canon of the church, they never concerned themselves in the smallest degree in his behalf.
Abeillard now offered to old Fulbert to marry Heloisa, provided the marriage should be kept secret. The old man gladly consented to a reconciliation on these terms, and Abeillard went again to Britany, where Heloisa still remained for the purpose of bringing her back to Paris to be married.
Heloisa, at first, refused to marry him, urging, besides the reasons which Mr. Pope attributes to her, that Abeillard's prospects of advancement in the church would be thereby destroyed, and his reputation otherwise injured.
• Is it by disgracing you that I must be exalted? What reproaches should I merit from the world, from the church, from the schools of philosophy, were I to draw from them their brightest star: and shall a woman dare to take to herself that man, whom nature meant to be the ornament and the benefactor of the human race? No, Abeillard, I am not yet so shameless. Then reflect on the state of matrimony itself: with its littlenesses and its cares, how inconsistent is it with the dignity of a wise man! St. Paul earnestly dissuades from it; so do the saints; so do the philosophers of ancient and modern times. Think on their admonitions, and imitate their example.--I will suppose you engaged in this honourable wedlock. What an enviable association; the philosopher and chamber-maids, writing desks and cradles, books and distaffs, pens and spindles! Intent on speculation, when the truths of nature and religion are breaking on your eye; will you bear the sudden cry of children, the lullaby of nurses, or the turbulent bustling of disorderly servants? I speak not of your delicacy which, at every turn, must be disagreeably offended. In the houses of the rich these inconveniences, I own, can be avoided: with you and me, Abeillard, it must be otherwise. In the serious pursuits of wisdom, I am well aware, there is no time to lose; worldly occupations are inconsistent with the state. Is philosophy only to have your vacant hours? Believe me, as well totally withdraw from literature, as at. tempt to proceed in the midst of avocations. Science admits no participation with the cares of life. View the sages of the heathen world, view the philosophising sects among the Jews, and among us view the real monks of the present day. It was in retirement, in a total seclusion from noisy solicitudes, that these men pretended to give ear to the inspiring voice of wisdom.—May I speak of sobriety and continence, Abeillard? But it does not become me to instruct you. I know, however, how the sages of whom I speak, did live.-You moreover are a churchman, bound to severer duties. Is it in wedlock you mean to practise them? Will you rise from my side to sing the holy praises of the Lord?--The preroga