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slander, and persecute the word and the preachers and followers of it, with the selfsame names, calling it 'New Learning' and them 'new masters.' "'
The same meaning was popularly attached to the words even after the close of the reign of Henry VIII. A book published in King Edward's reign, to instruct the people "concerning the king's majesty's proceedings in the communion," bears the title, The olde Faith of Great Brittayne and the new learning of England. It is, of course, true, that the author sets himself to show that the reformed doctrines were the old teachings of the Christian Church, and that, when St. Gregory sent St. Augustine over into England, "the new learning was brought into this realm, of which we see much yet remaining in the Church at the present day.'" But this fact rather emphasises than in any way obscures the common understanding of the expression "New Learning," since the whole intent of the author is to show that the upholders of the old ecclesiastical system were the real maintainers of a "New Learning" brought from Rome by St. Augustine, and not the Lutherans. The same appears equally clearly in a work by Urbanus Regius, which was translated and published by William Turner in 1537, and called A comparison betwene the old learnynge and the newe. As the translator says at the beginning—
1 The Praier and Complaynte of the Ploweman unto Christ, sig. Aij.
2 R.V. The olde Faith of Great Brittayne, &c—The style of the book may be judged by the following passages :—" How say you (O ye popish bishops and priests which maintain Austen's dampnable ceremonies)—For truly so long as ye say masse and lift the bread and wine above your heads, giving the people to understand your mass to be available for the quick and the dead, ye deny the Lord that bought you; therefore let the mass go again to Rome, with all Austen's trinkets, and cleave to the Lord's Supper." . . . Again:—"Gentle reader: It is not unknown what an occasion of sclander divers have taken in that the king's majesty hath with his honourable council gone about to alter and take away the abuse of the communion used in the mass. . . . The ignorant and unlearned esteem the same abuse, called the mass, to be the principal point of Christianity, to whom the altering thereof appears very strange. . . . Our popish priests still do abuse the Lord's Supper or Communion, calling it still a new name of Missa or Mass." The author strongly objects to those like Bishop Gardiner and Dr. Smythe who have written iu defence of the old doctrine of the English Church on the Blessed Sacrament: "Yea, even the mass, which is a derogation of Christ's blood. For Christ left the sacrament of his body and blood in bread and wine to be eaten and drunk in remembrance of his death, and not to be looked upon as the Israelites did the brazen serpent. . . . Paul saith not, as often as the priest lifts the bread and wine above his shaven crown, for the papists to gaze at." All this, as "the New Learning" brought over to England by St. Augustine of Canterbury, the author would send back to Rome from whence it came.
"Some ther be that do defye
As the author of the previous volume quoted, so Urbanus Regius compares the exclamation of the Jews against our Lord: "What new learning is this?" with the objection, "What is this new doctrine?" made by the Catholics against the novel religious teaching of Luther and his followers. "This," they say, "is the new doctrine lately devised and furnished in the shops and workhouses of heretics. Let us abide still in our old faith. . . . Wherefore," continues the author, "I, doing the office of Christian brother, have made a comparison between the 'New Learning' and the olden, whereby, dear brother, you may easily know whether we are called worthily or unworthily the preachers of the ' New Learning.' For so did they call us of late." He then proceeds to compare under various headings what he again and again calls "the New Learning" and "the Old Learning." For example, according to the latter, people are taught that the Sacraments bring grace to the soul; according to the former, faith alone is needful. According to the latter, Christ is present wholly under each kind of bread and wine, the mass is a sacrifice for the living and the dead, and "oblation is made in the person of the whole church "; according to the former, the Supper is a memorial only of
j Christ's death, "and not a sacrifice, but a remembrance of the sacrifice that was once offered up on the cross," and that " all oblations except that of our Lord are vain and void."'
In view of passages such as the above, and in the absence of any contemporary evidence of the use of the expression to denote the revival of letters, it is obvious that any judgment as to a general hostility of the clergy to learning based upon their admitted opposition to what was then called the " New Learning" cannot seriously be maintained. It would seem, moreover, that the religious position of many ecclesiastics and laymen has been completely misunderstood by the meaning now so commonly assigned to the expression. Men like Erasmus, Colet, and to a great extent, More himself, have been regarded, to say the least, as at heart very lukewarm adherents of the Church, precisely because of their strong advocacy of the movement known as the literary revival, which, identified by modern writers with the "New Learning," was, it is wrongly assumed, condemned by orthodox churchmen. The Reformers are thus made the champions of learning; |
«Catholics, the upholders of ignorance, and the hereditary and bitter foes of all intellectual improvement. No one, however, saw more clearly than did Erasmus that the rise of Lutheran opinions was destined to be the destruction of true learning, and that the atmosphere of controversy was not the most fitting to assure its growth. To Richard Pace he expressed his ardent wish that some kindly Deus ex mackind would put an end to the whole Lutheran agitation, for it had most certainly brought upon the humanist movement unmerited hatred." In subsequent
1 Urbanus Regius, A comparison betwene the old learnynge and the newe, translated by William Turner. Southwark: Nicholson, 1537, sig. Aij to Cvij.
2 Opera (ed. Le Clerc), Ep. 583.
/fetters he rejects the idea that the two, the Lutheran and the humanist movements, had anything whatever in common; asserting that even Luther himself had never claimed to found his revolt against the Church on the principles of scholarship and learning. To him, the storm of the Reformation appeared—so far as concerned the revival of learning—as a catastrophe. Had the tempest not risen, he had the best expectations of a general literary renaissance and of witnessing a revival of interest in Biblical and patristic studies among churchmen. It was the breath of bitter and endless controversy initiated in the Lutheran revolt and the consequent misunderstandings and enmities which withered his hopes.V > There remains, however, the broader question as to the real position of the ecclesiastical authorities generally, in regard to the revival of learning. So far as England is concerned, their attitude is hardly open to doubt in view of the positive testimony of Erasmus, which is further borne out by an examination of the material available for forming a judgment. This proves beyond all question, not only that the Church in England on the eve of the change did not refuse the light, but that, both in its origin and later development, the movement owed much to the initiative and encouragement of English churchmen.
It is not necessary here to enter very fully into the subject of the general revival of learning in Europe during the course of the fifteenth century. At the very beginning of that period what Gibbon calls "a new and perpetual flame" was enkindled in Italy. As in the thirteenth century, so then it was the study of the literature and culture of ancient Greece that re-enkindled the lamp of learning in the Western World. Few things, indeed, are more remarkable than the influence of Greek forms and models on the Western World. The very language seems as if destined by Providence to do for the Christian nations of Europe what in earlier ages it had done for pagan Rome. As Dr. Dollinger has pointed out, this is "a fact of immense importance, which even in these days it is worth while to weigh and place in its proper light," since "the whole of modern civilisation and culture is derived from Greek sources. Intellectually we are the offspring of the union of the ancient Greek classics with Hellenised Judaism." One thing is clear on the page of history: that the era of great intellectual activity synchronised with re-awakened interests in the Greek classics and Greek language in such a way that the study of Greek may conveniently be taken as representing a general revival of letters.
1 Ibid., Ep. 751.
By the close of the fourteenth century, the ever-increasing impotence of the Imperial sway on the Bosphorus, and the ever-growing influence of the Turk, compelled the Greek emperors to look to Western Christians for help to arrest the power of the infidels, which, like a flood, threatened to overwhelm the Eastern empire. Three emperors in succession journeyed into the Western world to implore assistance in their dire necessity, and though their efforts failed to save Constantinople, the historian detects in these pilgrimages of Greeks to the Courts of Europe the providential influence which brought about the renaissance of letters. "The travels of the three emperors," writes Gibbon, "were unavailing for their temporal, or perhaps their spiritual salvation, but they were productive of a beneficial consequence, the revival of the Greek learning in Italy, from whence it was propagated to the last nations of the West and North."
What is true of Italy may well be true of other countries and places. The second of these pilgrim emperors, Manuel, the son and successor of Palaeologus, crossed the Alps, and after a stay in Paris, came over the sea into England. In December, 14os, he landed at Dover, and was, with a large retinue of Greeks, entertained at the monastery of Christchurch, Canterbury. It requires little