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English, compositions. Wherever I have done this I have reproduced the original text without, as a rule, attempting to modernise it; but I have given in the footnotes either a translation of each passage, or such a vocabulary as will enable the reader, without much difficulty, to gather the drift of the meaning.
These words of explanation and apology must be concluded with a word of grateful acknowledgment. To one who, like myself, can devote only a limited portion of time to research, it is all-important to have quick access to the sources of reference. My warmest thanks are therefore due to the authorities of the British Museum, who have in this respect made a task now continued for some years easy and agreeable to me. From every one of the officers and staff in the reading-room of that unrivalled institution I have received unfailing marks of courtesy and attention. I scarcely know how to acknowledge in adequate words my debt to Mr. G. K. Fortescue, superintendent of the reading-room, for the unwearied kindness he has shown in providing me with all the materials I have required, and in directing me to possible channels of information. I desire also to express my special gratitude to Mr. R. Wilson and to Mr. G. W. Barwick for the patience with which they have ministered to my frequent wants; and to Mr. H. Jenner, for the readiness with which he has more than once placed at my disposal his wide knowledge of the mediaeval romances.
W. J. C.
ANALYSIS OF CONTENTS
The Scope of the Subject.
English Poetry the reflection not simply of the imagination of individual poets, but of the inward life of the nation.
English Poetry the product of (i) National Character and Institutions, (2) Ecclesiastical Education, (3) Ancient Civilisation.
The Poetry of Chaucer the fitting starting-point of the History.
Difficulty of tracing the History of English Poetry backward beyond Chaucer.
Since the Poetry of Chaucer has no connection with the Poetry of the Anglo-Saxons, it follows that Chaucer's originals must be looked for through the line of Education and Ancient Civilisation.
A sketch of the plan of the History.
The Method of Criticism to be employed.
The composite character of Chaucer's Poetry due to the character of the Middle Ages.
No real breach of continuity between the Civilisation of the Ancient World and the Civilisation of Modern Europe.
The changes in the continuous imaginative life of the Western World to be explained by (1) The Decline of the Civic Spirit under the Roman Empire, and the corresponding decay of Classic Taste, (2) The Transformation of the system of Imperial Education by the Latin Church, (3) The Rise of a New Mythology among the nations embraced within the system of Latin Christianity, (4) The influence of Feudal Institutions, Scholastic Logic, Oriental Culture.
I. THE DECLINE OF CIVIC LIBERTY AND CLASSIC TASTE
The iroXiTiid) ircudda, in the Greek and Roman Republics, the natural product of political liberty.
The 4yKrjK\tos Trcu5e/a, the accompaniment of Imperial despotism.
The greatest literary works of Greece and Rome the fruits of the Ttoxitlkt) Tratdeia.
The literature of the Roman Empire, a reflection of the ey/ci5/c\ios waideia: its decadence and corruption.
II. THE TRANSFORMATION OF EDUCATION IN THE CHURCH SCHOOLS
The Church takes over from the Empire the duty of providing for public instruction, and the encyclopaedic system of education.
The School of Tertullian prevails over the School of Origen in determining the principle of Church Education; the objection to the study of grammar.
Counter influences in Church Education.
The Compromise: illustrated by Alcuin's Poem in the Library at York.
Final character of the Educational System of the Middle Ages.
III. THE RISE OF A NEW MYTHOLOGY
Mythology, the parent of Poetry.
The essential difference between Pagan and Christian Mythology as shown in (i) The Supernatural Machinery of Poetry, (2) The Character of Heroic Legend.
The gods in Greek literature the offspring of Polytheism and Oral Tradition.
The supernatural agents in Modern Poetry derived from Dualism and Imagination operating on the text of Scripture: Metamorphosis of Pagan Superstition: The Satanic Legend: Works of the so-called Dionysius the Areopagite: The Gospel of Nicodemus.
The Heroic Legends of Greece the product of the Greek mind.
The Heroic Legends of Mediaeval Europe the result of (1) The Decay of Civil History, (2) The Substitution of the Ecclesiastical Chronicle, (3) The Union between the Ecclesiastical Chronicle and the Principle of Romance.
The growth of the Legends of—
(1) The Destruction of Troy.
(2) The Wars of Alexander.
(3) The Deeds of Charlemagne.
(4) The History of Arthur.
IV. THE INFLUENCE ON POETRY OF FEUDAL INSTITUTIONS, SCHOLASTIC LOGIC, ORIENTAL CULTURE
The Teutonic Scop, the original fountain of Modern Poetry.
Gradual transformation of the character of the Scop from the contact of the barbarians with Latin Civilisation.
Jongleur, Trouvere, Troubadour.
The genealogical song of the Scop branches into the Chanson de Geste, Roman, Lai, Dit, Fabliau.
These varieties of poetry modified to suit the tastes of audiences and readers in the Castle or the Town.