[ocr errors][merged small]


PAGE Charles H. Grandgent. Dante's Verse..

1 Charles Read Baskervill. Dramatic Aspects of Medieval Folk Festivals in England...

19 E. S. Sheldon. Romance and Romanic...

Tom Peete Cross. A Welsh Tristan Episode.
William M. Dey. A Note on Old French "Por-” in English 111
Oliver Towles. Forms of Asseverative and Adjurative
Prepositional Phrases in Old French...

113 Robert Withington. Scott's Contribution to Pageantic De

velopment A Note on the Visit of George IV to
Edinburgh in 1822.

121 Henry David Gray. The “Titus Andronicus” Problem.. 126 Merrit Y. Hughes. Spenser and Utopia..

132 Allan H. Gilbert. Milton and the Mysteries...

147 Thornton S. Graves. Notes on the Elizabethan Theatres.. 170 Raymond Macdonald Alden. The Lyrical Conceits of the “Metaphysical Poets”

183 Hyder E. Rollins. William Elderton: Elizabethan Actor and Ballad-Writer.

199 Recent Literature....

246 Alwin Thaler. Milton in the Theatre..

269 James Holly Hanford. The Date of Milton's " De Doctrina Christiana”

309 Edwin Greenlaw. Spenser's Influence on “ Paradise Lost” 320 G. H. Harrer and J. S. Moffatt, Jr. A Thirtcenth-century Fragment of Justinian's Digest.....

361 B. L. Ullman. The Present Status of the Satura Question. 379 John C. Rolfe. Marginalia...

402 George Howe. An Applied Literature...

423 Edwin Greenlaw. Spenser and Lucretius.


[blocks in formation]

There used to be current in Cambridge a story, true I hope, of Mr. Lowell's definition for the class in Government of the rare species, philosophers. For the youths about to read the prescribed portions of Plato and Aristotle, it may have cleared the ground to have the concrete example presented, “A philosopher is Mr. Santayana; we have him here, across the street from my house, to write beautiful books to tell later ages what we are like now,you and me.”

It was at some generations removed from Cambridge — back somewhere on the confines of the Wars of Religion in a region that some penetrating spirits from the Yard have tended to envisage as ballad-land for the sudden motor quality of its reactions to differences of opinion,—that I had to consider the genus, philosopher, as represented by Montaigne, with a body of young women also all in their eighteenth or nineteenth year. The circumstances of somewhat complex duty had made me accept this charge. French Canadians abound in the region and it was hoped that some might be persuaded, as happened, to enter the War. It was also hoped that the young wo nen who had taken French might be a little more clever in dealing with them, if French authors were made to appear less strange than worth while. What, then, was my sense of confusion, when after quite an orgy of sermons, in which Pessimism was set up before us as a Latin bogey, or a moral Tam O’Lin, given to devouring the young descendants of those who had tried their hand at a little witch burning, Montaigne was turned over to us with the label, pessimist, firmly affixed. Moreover, with the help of this label, and a sort of sausage-link diagram arrangement of the devious ways of the Renaissance and Reformation, I was to obtain in some six weeks' time a paper or report from these classes including the Apology of Raimond Sébond !

If my previous farings had disposed me to a very moderate gratitude for these leading strings, once the first sense of the comic about them had worn off a little, I did have my own sense of obligation, and indeed of privilege in presenting Montaigne to youth on any terms. It seemed to me that from Emerson to Pierre Villey a good many clever people had been working to help us understand him. And in spite of these quaint survivals I had to deal with there was the hope that with some tact and candor a few traits might be presented which would not be belied, or even seem to be, by later profane studies in which the young women, might indulge.

If I read, then, certain well-worn passages from Representative Men to start with, and with lively appreciation renewed, the volumes of Miss Norton and Professor Strowski, I also set myself at the texts that were indicated with as much fresh concern for the virgin soil before me as possible, as I marked the texts. What, after all, were the indubitable and salient facts about this “pessimist” or whatever,—what we like to call the essentials ?

May I summarize very briefly, then, the impression I thus received and tried to convey? I found myself, on the simple approach, as convinced as I had been with what we call the research' one I had made hitherto, that the Neo-Platonic atmosphere of the second half of the sixteenth century is the natural background for Montaigne. On the broadest basis of explanation we have a man concerned like Plato and his disciples with politics and ideas together, in relation with both private ethics and public duty. If any modern books are significant in his connection they would seem to be, not so much any particular volumes called Essays before his own as the Dialectique and Gramère of Ramus, and the printed volumes of the political theorists of the same generation as Raimond Sébond which about this time begin to appear.

some more

That is to say, Montaigne really existed in a circumambient atmosphere of the Neo-Platonic speculation which had come down like the Rhone in its underground passage from Classical times to his own. I say Neo-Platonic in the literal sense of the term, for the new Platonism that he approaches, like many other moments of it through the Middle Ages, is often singularly and freshly Platonic. It is not Plotinian, I mean, not esoteric, and in the more usual sense, mystical, so much as it is a kind of creative imitation of Plato himself, and of his authentic disciples like Plutarch. Montaigne, like his mediæval predecessors, perhaps among them Sébond himself, is imitating the Dialogues and Plutarch's Morals at once? The number of specific citations and references, however interesting, may be of less critical value than some few peculiarly forceful allusions and tricks of manner, or

or less hidden inspiration, susceptible of sympathetic rather than external detection. We may call this psychology or tact according to the situation, and none of us has ever too much if we use all we have.

In the Preface to Faguet's 16th Century, which is so rare an example of this quality, there is in especial one bit of analysis which we need to lay hold on firmly in Montaigne's connection, not only because or if we are addressing ourselves in America to non-Latin minds, for the most part, to descendants of Puritan romantics, in the majority:

L'humaniste a deux hommes en lui, l'un pour lui et l'autre pour l'art, l'un qui est chrétien, qui est Parisian, qui và à Notre-Dame, qui aime son roi et qui aime sa femme; l'autre qui est païen, qui est Romain, qui adore Jupiter, qui est républicain, et qui aime Glycère; et que le premier vit la vie pratique, et que le second écrit, et que le second ne met dans ses écrits rien ou presque rien du premier. Et, ceci reconnu, la conséquence qu'en en tire est curieuse.

Curious," the word has long seemed appropriate to the Essays. May not one aspect of that blend or antimony be with Montaigne his purpose, but half avowed from the modesty before antiquity which goes with the Renaissance pride before the scholastics, to construct some such new philosophic mirror as Plato's, and how many through the Middle Ages! reflecting the highest criticism of his time? The place of Etienne de la Boëtie in the Essays as a kind of Socrates to his Plato seems to me to emerge from such a consideration, in his work and art at least analogous. The

« VorigeDoorgaan »