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misfortunes, which he made great use of. *Abelard was reputed the most handsome, as well as most learned, man, of his time; according to the kind of learning then in vogue. An old chronicle, quoted by + Andrew du Chefne informs us, that scholars flocked to his lectures from all quarters of the latin world. And his cotemporary St. Bernard relates, that he numbered among his disciples many principal ecclefiaftics, and cardinals, at the court of Rome. Abelard himself boasts, that when he retired into the country, he was followed by fuch immenfe crowds of scholars, that they could get neither lodgings nor provifions fufficient for them; " ut nec locus

*He was born born at Palais near Nantes in Britanny, at the beginning of the twelfth century, and ftudied at Paris under William Champeaux.

+ In Hif. Cal. Abel. p. 1155. And the high opinion that was held of his learning, may appear from his epitaph by Pet. de Clugny.

Gallorum Socrates, Plato maximus Hefperiarum,
Nofter Ariftoteles, Logicis, quicunque fuerunt,
Aut par, aut melior, ftudiorum cognitus orbi
Princeps, ingenio varius, fubtilis & acer.
Omnia vifuperans rationis & arte loquendi.

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hofpitiis, nec terra fufficeret alimentis.*" He met with the fate of many learned men, to be embroiled in controverfy, and accused of herefy; for St. + Bernard, whose influence and authority was very great, got his opinion of the Trinity condemned, at a council held at Sens, 1140. But the talents of ‡ Abelard were not confined to theology, jurifprudence, philofophy, and the thorny paths of fcholafticism: he gave proofs of a lively

* Abelardi Opera, p. 19.

The character of this St. Bernard was fingular, the prefident Henault thus fpeaks of him. "Il avoit etè donnè a cet homme extraordinaire de dominer les efprits", one beholds him pass in a moment from the depth of a defert to a court, where he never was displaced, where he lived without titles, without a public character, enjoying that perfonal weight which is above authority. Yet no less a man of fanctity, and a man of wit, than a great politician: His fermons are masterpieces of fentiment and energy. Hiftoire de France: Trofieme Race.

P. 145.

One is fometimes furprized to fee the honours and veneration formerly paid to men of literature, in comparison of what they meet with at prefent. "As every human advantage is attended with inconveniences, the change of men's ideas in this particular, may probably be afcribed to the invention of PRINTING; which has rendered books fo common, that even men of flender fortunes can have access to them." HUME'S Hiftory of Great-Britain, p. 149.



genius, by many poetical performances; infomuch, that he was reputed to be the author of the famous Romance of the Rofe; which, however, was indifputably written by JOHN OF MEUN, a little city on the banks of the Loire, about four leagues from Orleans; which gave occafion to Marot to exclaim;

De Jean de Meun s'enfle le cours de Loire.

Of this ancient French poet much more will be faid, in the courfe of this work, when we come occafionally to speak of Chaucer; fuffice it at present to observe, that he certainly continued and finished the Romance of the Rose, which* William de Lorris had left imperfect, forty years before. If chronology did not abfolutely contradict the notion of Abelard's being the author of this very celebrated piece, yet are there internal arguments fufficient to confute it. The mistake feems

* Whom Marot praises as the Ennius of France,

Notre Ennius Guillaume de Lorris.

He took his name from the town of Lorris where he was born.


to have flowed, from his having given Eloifa the name of ROSE, in one of the many fonnetts he addreft to her. In this * romance, there are many fevere and fatirical ftrokes on the character of Eloifa, which the pen of +Abelard never would have given. In one paffage, he is introduced fpeaking with indecency and obfcenity; in another, all the vices and bad qualities of women are reprefented, as affembled together in her alone,

In a very

Qui les mœurs feminins favoit,

Car tres-tous en foi les avoit.

old epistle dedicatory, addreffed to

* Which was certainly written an hundred years after Abelard flourished.

Eloifa fpeaks thus of Abelard's poetry and skill also in mufic; for he fung his own verses. "Duo autem fateor, tibi fpecialiter inerant, quibus fœminarum quarumlibet animos ftatim allicere poteras; dictandi videlicet & cantandi gratia. Quæ cæteros minimè philofophos affecutos effe novimus. Quibus quidem quafi ludo quodam laborem exercitii recreans philoso phici, pleraque amatorio metro vel rithmo compofita reliquisti carmina, quæ præ nimiâ fuavitate tam dictaminis, quam cantus, fæpius frequentata, tuum in ore omnium nomen inceffanter tenebant; ut etiam illiteratos melodiæ dulcedo tui non fineret effe immemores. Epift. 1. Heloiffe. p. 51. Edit. 1718.


It is obfervable, that POPE judiciously foftened and harmonized her name to Eloisa from Heleissa.

Philip the fourth of France, by this fame John of Meun, and prefixed to a French translation of Boetius, a very popular book at that time, it appears, that he also translated the epiftles of Abelard to Heloisa, which He menwere in high vogue at the court. tions also that he had tranflated Vegetius, on the Art Military, and a book called the Wonders of Ireland; these works fhew us the taste of the age: his words are; "t' envoye ores * Boece de confolation, que j' ai tranflaté en Francois, jacoit que bien entendes le Latin". It is to be regretted, that we have no exact picture of the person and beauty of Eloifa; Abelard himself fays, that fhe was, "facie non infima ;" her extraordinary learning many circumftances concur to confirm ; particularly one, which is, that the nuns of the Paraclete are wont to have the office of Whitsunday read to them in Greek, to per

*Chaucer alfo tranflated this piece.-Boetius was a moft admired claffic of that age; indeed he deserves to be so of any.

This fentence ftrongly also characterises the times.


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