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    Ch. 14 - Abelard

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    Chapter 14
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    Super cuncta, subter cuncta,
    Extra cuncta, intra cuncta,
    Intra cuncta nec inclusus,
    Extra cuncta nec exclusus,
    Super cuncta nec elatus,
    Subter cuncta nec substratus,
    Super totus, praesidendo,
    Subter totus, sustinendo,
    Extra totus, complectendo,
    Intra totus est, implendo.

    According to Hildebert, Bishop of Le Mans and Archbishop of Tours,
    these verses describe God. Hildebert was the first poet of his time;
    no small merit, since he was contemporary with the "Chanson de
    Roland" and the first crusade; he was also a strong man, since he
    was able, as Bishop of Le Mans, to gain great credit by maintaining
    himself against William the Norman and Fulk of Anjou; and finally he
    was a prelate of high authority. He lived between 1055 and 1133.
    Supposing his verses to have been written in middle life, toward the
    year 1100, they may be taken to represent the accepted doctrine of
    the Church at the time of the first crusade. They were little more
    than a versified form of the Latin of Saint Gregory the Great who
    wrote five-hundred years before: "Ipse manet intra omnia, ipse extra
    omnia, ipse supra omnia, ipse infra omnia; et superior est per
    potentiam et inferior per sustentationem; exterior per magnitudinem
    et interior per subtilitatem; sursum regens, deorsum continens,
    extra circumdans, interius penetrans; nec alia parte superior, alia
    inferior, aut alia ex parte exterior atque ex alia manet interior,
    sed unus idemque totus ubique." According to Saint Gregory, in the
    sixth century, God was "one and the same and wholly everywhere";
    "immanent within everything, without everything, above everything,
    below everything, sursum regens, dear sum continens"; while
    according to Archbishop Hildebert in the eleventh century: "God is
    overall things, under all things; outside all, inside all; within
    but not enclosed; without but not excluded; above but not raised up;
    below but not depressed; wholly above, presiding; wholly beneath,
    sustaining; wholly without, embracing; wholly within, filling."
    Finally, according to Benedict Spinoza, another five hundred years
    later still: "God is a being, absolutely infinite; that is to say, a
    substance made up of an infinity of attributes, each one of which
    expresses an eternal and infinite essence."

    Spinoza was the great pantheist, whose name is still a terror to the
    orthodox, and whose philosophy is--very properly--a horror to the
    Church--and yet Spinoza never wrote a line that, to the unguided
    student, sounds more Spinozist than the words of Saint Gregory and
    Archbishop Hildebert. If God is everywhere; wholly; presiding,
    sustaining, embracing and filling, "sursum regens, deorsum
    continens," He is the only possible energy, and leaves no place for
    human will to act. A force which is "one and the same and wholly
    everywhere" is more Spinozist than Spinoza, and is likely to be
    mistaken for frank pantheism by the large majority of religious
    minds who must try to understand it without a theological course in
    a Jesuit college. In the year 1100 Jesuit colleges did not exist,
    and even the great Dominican and Franciscan schools were far from
    sight in the future; but the School of Notre Dame at Paris existed,
    and taught the existence of God much as Archbishop Hildebert
    described it. The most successful lecturer was William of Champeaux,
    and to any one who ever heard of William at all, the name instantly
    calls up the figure of Abelard, in flesh and blood, as he sang to
    Heloise the songs which he says resounded through Europe. The
    twelfth century, with all its sparkle, would be dull without Abelard
    and Heloise. With infinite regret, Heloise must be left out of the
    story, because she was not a philosopher or a poet or an artist, but
    only a Frenchwoman to the last millimetre of her shadow. Even though
    one may suspect that her famous letters to Abelard are, for the most
    part, by no means above scepticism, she was, by French standards,
    worth at least a dozen Abelards, if only because she called Saint
    Bernard a false apostle.

    Unfortunately, French standards, by which she must be judged in our
    ignorance, take for granted that she philosophized only for the sake
    of Abelard, while Abelard taught philosophy to her not so much
    because he believed in philosophy or in her as because he believed
    in himself. To this day, Abelard remains a problem as perplexing as
    he must have been to Heloise, and almost as fascinating. As the west
    portal of Chartres is the door through which one must of necessity
    enter the Gothic architecture of the thirteenth century, so Abelard
    is the portal of approach to the Gothic thought and philosophy
    within. Neither art nor thought has a modern equivalent; only
    Heloise, like Isolde, unites the ages.

    The first crusade seems, in perspective, to have rilled the whole
    field of vision in France at the time; but, in fact, France seethed
    with other emotions, and while the crusaders set out to scale heaven
    by force at Jerusalem, the monks, who remained at home, undertook to
    scale heaven by prayer and by absorption of body and soul in God;
    the Cistercian Order was founded in 1098, and was joined in 1112 by
    young Bernard, born in 1090 at Fontaines-les-Dijon, drawing with him
    or after him so many thousands of young men into the self-immolation
    of the monastery as carried dismay into the hearts of half the women
    of France. At the same time--that is, about 1098 or 1100--Abelard
    came up to Paris from Brittany, with as much faith in logic as
    Bernard had in prayer or Godfrey of Bouillon in arms, and led an
    equal or even a greater number of combatants to the conquest of
    heaven by force of pure reason. None showed doubt. Hundreds of
    thousands of young men wandered from their provinces, mostly to
    Palestine, largely to cloisters, but also in great numbers to Paris
    and the schools, while few ever returned.

    Abelard had the advantage of being well-born; not so highly
    descended as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas who were to complete
    his work in the thirteenth century, but, like Bernard, a gentleman
    born and bred. He was the eldest son of Berenger, Sieur du Pallet, a
    chateau in Brittany, south of the Loire, on the edge of Poitou. His
    name was Pierre du Pallet, although, for some unknown reason, he
    called himself Pierre Abailard, or Abeillard, or Esbaillart, or
    Beylard; for the spelling was never fixed. He was born in 1079, and
    when, in 1096, the young men of his rank were rushing off to the
    first crusade, Pierre, a boy of seventeen, threw himself with equal
    zeal into the study of science, and, giving up his inheritance or
    birthright, at last came to Paris to seize a position in the
    schools. The year is supposed to have been 1100.

    The Paris of Abelard's time was astonishingly old; so old that
    hardly a stone of it can be now pointed out. Even the oldest of the
    buildings still standing in that quarter--Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre,
    Saint-Severin, and the tower of the Lycee Henri IV--are more modern;
    only the old Roman Thermae, now part of the Musee de Cluny, within
    the walls, and the Abbey Tower of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, outside,
    in the fields, were standing in the year 1100. Politically, Paris
    was a small provincial town before the reign of Louis-le-Gros (1108-
    37), who cleared its gates of its nearest enemies; but as a school,
    Paris was even then easily first. Students crowded into it by
    thousands, till the town is said to have contained more students
    than citizens, Modern Paris seems to have begun as a university town
    before it had a university. Students flocked to it from great
    distances, encouraged and supported by charity, and stimulated by
    privileges, until they took entire possession of what is still
    called the Latin Quarter from the barbarous Latin they chattered;
    and a town more riotous, drunken, and vicious than it became, in the
    course of time, hardly existed even in the Middle Ages. In 1100,
    when enthusiasm was fresh and faith in science was strong, the great
    mass of students came there to study, and, having no regular
    university organization or buildings, they thronged the cloister of
    Notre Dame--not our Notre Dame, which dates only from 1163, but the
    old Romanesque cathedral which stood on the same spot--and there
    they listened, and retained what they could remember, for they were
    not encouraged to take notes even if they were rich enough to buy
    notebooks, while manuscripts were far beyond their means. One
    valuable right the students seem to have had--that of asking
    questions and even of disputing with the lecturer provided they
    followed the correct form of dialectics. The lecturer himself was
    licensed by the Bishop.

    Five thousand students are supposed to have swarmed about the
    cloister of Notre Dame, across the Petit Pont, and up the hill of
    Sainte-Genevieve; three thousand are said to have paid fees to
    Abelard in the days of his great vogue and they seem to have
    attached themselves to their favourite master as a champion to be
    upheld against the world. Jealousies ran high, and neither scholars
    nor masters shunned dispute. Indeed, the only science they taught or
    knew was the art of dispute--dialectics. Rhetoric, grammar, and
    dialectics were the regular branches of science, and bold students,
    who were not afraid of dabbling in forbidden fields, extended their
    studies to mathematics--"exercitium nefarium," according to Abelard,
    which he professed to know nothing about but which he studied
    nevertheless. Abelard, whether pupil or master, never held his
    tongue if he could help it, for his fortune depended on using it
    well; but he never used it so well in dialectics or theology as he
    did, toward the end of his life, in writing a bit of autobiography,
    so admirably told, so vivid, so vibrating with the curious intensity
    of his generation, that it needed only to have been written in
    "Romieu" to be the chief monument of early French prose, as the
    western portal of Chartres is the chief monument of early French
    sculpture, and of about the same date. Unfortunately Abelard was a
    noble scholar, who necessarily wrote and talked Latin, even with
    Heloise, and, although the Latin was mediaeval, it is not much the
    better on that account, because, in spite of its quaintness, the
    naivetes of a young language--the egotism, jealousies, suspicions,
    boastings, and lamentations of a childlike time--take a false air of
    outworn Rome and Byzantium, although, underneath, the spirit lives:--

    I arrived at last in Paris where for a long time dialectics had
    specially flourished under William of Champeaux, rightly reckoned
    the first of my masters in that branch of study. I stayed some time
    in his school, but, though well received at first, I soon got to be
    an annoyance to him because I persisted in refuting certain ideas of
    his, and because, not being afraid to enter into argument against
    him, I sometimes got the better. This boldness, too, roused the
    wrath of those fellow students who were classed higher, because I was
    the youngest and the last comer. This was the beginning of my series
    of misfortunes which still last; my renown every day increasing,
    envy was kindled against me in every direction.

    This picture of the boy of twenty, harassing the professor, day
    after day, in his own lecture-room before hundreds of older
    students, paints Abelard to the life; but one may safely add a few
    touches that heighten the effect; as that William of Champeaux
    himself was barely thirty, and that Abelard throughout his career,
    made use of every social and personal advantage to gain a point,
    with little scruple either in manner or in sophistry. One may easily
    imagine the scene. Teachers are always much the same. Pupils and
    students differ only in degrees of docility. In 1100, both classes
    began by accepting the foundations of society, as they have to do
    still; only they then accepted laws of the Church and Aristotle,
    while now they accept laws of the legislature and of energy. In
    1100, the students took for granted that, with the help of Aristotle
    and syllogisms, they could build out the Church intellectually, as
    the architects, with the help of the pointed arch, were soon to
    enlarge it architecturally. They never doubted the certainty of
    their method. To them words had fixed values, like numbers, and
    syllogisms were hewn stones that needed only to be set in place, in
    order to reach any height or support any weight. Every sentence was
    made to take the form of a syllogism. One must have been educated in
    a Jesuit or Dominican school in order to frame these syllogisms
    correctly, but merely by way of illustration one may timidly suggest
    how the phrases sounded in their simplest form. For example, Plato
    or other equally good authority deemed substance as that which
    stands underneath phenomena; the most universal of universals, the
    ultimate, the highest in order of generalization. The ultimate
    essence or substance is indivisible; God is substance; God is
    indivisible. The divine substance is incapable of alteration or
    accident; all other substance is liable to alteration or accident;
    therefore, the divine substance differs from all other substance. A
    substance is a universal; as for example, Humanity, or the Human, is
    a universal and indivisible; the Man Socrates, for instance, is not
    a universal, but an individual; therefore, the substance Humanity,
    being indivisible, must exist entire and undivided in Socrates.

    The form of logic most fascinating to youthful minds, as well as to
    some minds that are only too acute, is the reductio ad absurdum; the
    forcing an opponent into an absurd alternative or admission; and the
    syllogism lent itself happily to this use. Socrates abused the
    weapon and Abelard was the first French master of the art; but
    neither State nor Church likes to be reduced to an absurdity, and,
    on the whole, both Socrates and Abelard fared ill in the result.
    Even now, one had best be civil toward the idols of the forum.
    Abelard would find most of his old problems sensitive to his touch
    to-day. Time has settled few or none of the essential points of
    dispute. Science hesitates, more visibly than the Church ever did,
    to decide once for all whether unity or diversity is ultimate law;
    whether order or chaos is the governing rule of the universe, if
    universe there is; whether anything, except phenomena, exists. Even
    in matters more vital to society, one dares not speak too loud. Why,
    and for what, and to whom, is man a responsible agent? Every jury
    and judge, every lawyer and doctor, every legislator and clergyman
    has his own views, and the law constantly varies. Every nation may
    have a different system. One court may hang and another may acquit
    for the same crime, on the same day; and science only repeats what
    the Church said to Abelard, that where we know so little, we had
    better hold our tongues.

    According to the latest authorities, the doctrine of universals
    which convulsed the schools of the twelfth century has never
    received an adequate answer. What is a species? what is a genus or a
    family or an order? More or less convenient terms of classification,
    about which the twelfth century cared very little, while it cared
    deeply about the essence of classes! Science has become too complex
    to affirm the existence of universal truths, but it strives for
    nothing else, and disputes the problem, within its own limits,
    almost as earnestly as in the twelfth century, when the whole field
    of human and superhuman activity was shut between these barriers of
    substance, universals, and particulars. Little has changed except
    the vocabulary and the method. The schools knew that their society
    hung for life on the demonstration that God, the ultimate universal,
    was a reality, out of which all other universal truths or realities
    sprang. Truth was a real thing, outside of human experience. The
    schools of Paris talked and thought of nothing else. John of
    Salisbury, who attended Abelard's lectures about 1136, and became
    Bishop of Chartres in 1176, seems to have been more surprised than
    we need be at the intensity of the emotion. "One never gets away
    from this question," he said. "From whatever point a discussion
    starts, it is always led back and attached to that. It is the
    madness of Rufus about Naevia; 'He thinks of nothing else; talks of
    nothing else, and if Naevia did not exist, Rufus would be dumb.'"

    Abelard began it. After his first visit to Paris in 1100, he seems
    to have passed several years elsewhere, while Guillaume de Champeaux
    in 1108, retired from the school in the cloister of Notre Dame, and,
    taking orders, established a class in a chapel near by, afterwards
    famous as the Abbaye-de-Saint-Victor. The Jardin des Plantes and the
    Gare d'Orleans now cover the ground where the Abbey stood, on the
    banks of the Seine outside the Latin Quarter, and not a trace is
    left of its site; but there William continued his course in
    dialectics, until suddenly Abelard reappeared among his scholars,
    and resumed his old attacks. This time Abelard could hardly call
    himself a student. He was thirty years old, and long since had been
    himself a teacher; he had attended William's course on dialectics
    nearly ten years before, and was past master in the art; he had
    nothing to learn from William in theology, for neither William nor
    he was yet a theologist by profession. If Abelard went back to
    school, it was certainly not to learn; but indeed, he himself made
    little or no pretence of it, and told with childlike candour not
    only why he went, but also how brilliantly he succeeded in his

    I returned to study rhetoric in his school. Among other
    controversial battles, I succeeded, by the most irrefutable
    argument, in making him change, or rather ruin his doctrine of
    universals. His doctrine consisted in affirming the perfect identity
    of the essence in every individual of the same species, so that
    according to him there was no difference in the essence but only in
    the infinite variety of accidents. He then came to amend his
    doctrine so as to affirm, not the identity any longer, but the
    absence of distinction--the want of difference--in the essence. And
    as this question of universals had always been one of the most
    important questions of dialectics--so important that Porphyry,
    touching on it in his Preliminaries, did not dare to take the
    responsibility of cutting the knot, but said, "It is a very grave
    point,"--Champeaux, who was obliged to modify his idea and then
    renounce it, saw his course fall into such discredit that they
    hardly let him make his dialectical lectures, as though dialectics
    consisted entirely in the question of universals.

    Why was this point so "very grave"? Not because it was mere
    dialectics! The only part of the story that seems grave today is the
    part that Abelard left out; the part which Saint Bernard, thirty
    years later put in, on behalf of William. We should be more
    credulous than twelfth-century monks, if we believed, on Abelard's
    word in 1135, that in 1110 he had driven out of the schools the most
    accomplished dialectician of the age by an objection so familiar
    that no other dialectician was ever silenced by it--whatever may
    have been the case with theologians--and so obvious that it could
    not have troubled a scholar of fifteen. William stated a settled
    doctrine as old as Plato; Abelard interposed an objection as old as
    Aristotle. Probably Plato and Aristotle had received the question
    and answer from philosophers ten-thousand years older than
    themselves. Certainly the whole of philosophy has always been
    involved in the dispute.

    The subject is as amusing as a comedy; so amusing that ten minutes
    may be well given to playing the scene between William and Abelard,
    not as it happened, but in a form nearer our ignorance, with liberty
    to invent arguments for William, and analogies--which are figures
    intended to serve as fatal weapons if they succeed, and as innocent
    toys if they fail--such as he never imagined; while Abelard can
    respond with his true rejoinder, fatal in a different sense. For the
    chief analogy, the notes of music would serve, or the colours of the
    solar spectrum, or an energy, such as gravity--but the best is
    geometrical, because Euclid was as scholastic as William of
    Champeaux himself, and his axioms are even more familiar to the
    schoolboy of the twentieth, than to the schoolman of the twelfth

    In these scholastic tournaments the two champions started from
    opposite points--one, from the ultimate substance, God--the
    universal, the ideal, the type--the other from the individual,
    Socrates, the concrete, the observed fact of experience, the object
    of sensual perception. The first champion--William in this instance--
    assumed that the universal was a real thing; and for that reason he
    was called a realist. His opponent--Abelard--held that the universal
    was only nominally real; and on that account he was called a
    nominalist. Truth, virtue, humanity, exist as units and realities,
    said William. Truth, replied Abelard, is only the sum of all
    possible facts that are true, as humanity is the sum of all actual
    human beings. The ideal bed is a form, made by God, said Plato. The
    ideal bed is a name, imagined by ourselves, said Aristotle. "I start
    from the universe," said William. "I start from the atom," said
    Abelard; and, once having started, they necessarily came into
    collision at some point between the two.

    William of Champeaux, lecturing on dialectics or logic, comes to the
    question of universals, which he says, are substances. Starting from
    the highest substance, God, all being descends through created
    substances by stages, until it reaches the substance animality, from
    which it descends to the substance humanity: and humanity being,
    like other essences or substances, indivisible, passes wholly into
    each individual, becoming Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, much as
    the divine substance exists wholly and undivided in each member of
    the Trinity.

    Here Abelard interrupts. The divine substance, he says, operates by
    laws of its own, and cannot be used for comparison. In treating of
    human substance, one is bound by human limitations. If the whole of
    humanity is in Socrates, it is wholly absorbed by Socrates, and
    cannot be at the same time in Plato, or elsewhere. Following his
    favourite reductio ad absurdum, Abelard turns the idea round, and
    infers from it that, since Socrates carries all humanity in him, he
    carries Plato, too; and both must be in the same place, though
    Socrates is at Athens and Plato in Rome.

    The objection is familiar to William, who replies by another

    "Mr. Abelard, might I, without offence, ask you a simple matter? Can
    you give me Euclid's definition of a point?"

    "If I remember right it is, 'illud cujus nulla pars est'; that which
    has no parts."

    "Has it existence?"

    "Only in our minds."

    "Not, then, in God?"

    "All necessary truths exist first in God. If the point is a
    necessary truth, it exists first there."

    "Then might I ask you for Euclid's definition of the line?"

    "The line is that which has only extension; 'Linea vocatur illa quae
    solam longitudinem habet.'" "Can you conceive an infinite straight

    "Only as a line which has no end, like the point extended."

    "Supposing we imagine a straight line, like opposite rays of the
    sun, proceeding in opposite directions to infinity--is it real?"

    "It has no reality except in the mind that conceives it."

    "Supposing we divide that line which has no reality into two parts
    at its origin in the sun or star, shall we get two infinities?--or
    shall we say, two halves of the infinite?"

    "We conceive of each as partaking the quality of infinity."

    "Now, let us cut out the diameter of the sun; or rather--since this
    is what our successors in the school will do,--let us take a line of
    our earth's longitude which is equally unreal, and measure a degree
    of this thing which does not exist, and then divide it into equal
    parts which we will use as a measure or metre. This metre, which is
    still nothing, as I understand you, is infinitely divisible into
    points? and the point itself is infinitely small? Therefore we have
    the finite partaking the nature of the infinite?"


    "One step more, Mr. Abelard, if I do not weary you! Let me take
    three of these metres which do not exist, and place them so that the
    ends of one shall touch the ends of the others. May I ask what is
    that figure?"

    "I presume you mean it to be a triangle."

    "Precisely! and what sort of a triangle?"

    "An equilateral triangle, the sides of which measure one metre

    "Now let me take three more of these metres which do not exist, and
    construct another triangle which does not exist;--are these two
    triangles or one triangle?"

    "They are most certainly one--a single concept of the only possible
    equilateral triangle measuring one metre on each face."

    "You told us a moment ago that a universal could not exist wholly
    and exclusively in two individuals at once. Does not the universal
    by definition--THE equilateral triangle measuring one metre on each
    face--does it not exist wholly, in its integrity of essence, in each
    of the two triangles we have conceived?"

    "It does--as a conception."

    "I thank you! Now, although I fear wearying you, perhaps you will
    consent to let me add matter to mind. I have here on my desk an
    object not uncommon in nature, which I will ask you to describe."

    "It appears to be a crystal."

    "May I ask its shape?"

    "I should call it a regular octahedron."

    "That is, two pyramids, set base to base? making eight plane
    surfaces, each a perfect equilateral triangle?"

    "Concedo triangula (I grant the triangles)."

    "Do you know, perchance, what is this material which seems to give
    substantial existence to these eight triangles?"

    "I do not."

    "Nor I! nor does it matter, unless you conceive it to be the work of

    "I do not claim it as man's work."

    "Whose, then?"

    "We believe all actual creation of matter, united with form, to be
    the work of God."

    "Surely not the substance of God himself? Perhaps you mean that this
    form--this octahedron--is a divine concept."

    "I understand such to be the doctrine of the Church."

    "Then it seems that God uses this concept habitually to create this
    very common crystal. One question more, and only one, if you will
    permit me to come to the point. Does the matter--the material--of
    which this crystal is made affect in any way the form--the nature,
    the soul--of the universal equilateral triangle as you see it
    bounding these eight plane surfaces?"

    "That I do not know, and do not think essential to decide. As far as
    these triangles are individual, they are made so by the will of God,
    and not by the substance you call triangle. The universal--the
    abstract right angle, or any other abstract form--is only an idea, a
    concept, to which reality, individuality, or what we might call
    energy is wanting. The only true energy, except man's free will, is

    "Very good, Mr. Abelard! we can now reach our issue. You affirm
    that, just as the line does not exist in space, although the eye
    sees little else in space, so the triangle does not exist in this
    crystal, although the crystal shows eight of them, each perfect. You
    are aware that on this line which does not exist, and its
    combination in this triangle which does not exist, rests the whole
    fabric of mathematics with all its necessary truths. In other words,
    you know that in this line, though it does not exist, is bound up
    the truth of the only branch of human knowledge which claims
    absolute certainty for human processes. You admit that this line and
    triangle, which are mere figments of our human imagination, not only
    exist independent of us in the crystal, but are, as we suppose,
    habitually and invariably used by God Himself to give form to the
    matter contained within the planes of the crystal. Yet to this line
    and triangle you deny reality. To mathematical truth, you deny
    compulsive force. You hold that an equilateral triangle may, to you
    and all other human individuals, be a right-angled triangle if you
    choose to imagine it so. Allow me to say, without assuming any claim
    to superior knowledge, that to me your logic results in a different
    conclusion. If you are compelled, at one point or another of the
    chain of being, to deny existence to a substance, surely it should
    be to the last and feeblest. I see nothing to hinder you from
    denying your own existence, which is, in fact, impossible to
    demonstrate. Certainly you are free, in logic, to argue that
    Socrates and Plato are mere names--that men and matter are phantoms
    and dreams. No one ever has proved or ever can prove the contrary,
    Infallibly, a great philosophical school will some day be founded on
    that assumption. I venture even to recommend it to your acute and
    sceptical mind; but I cannot conceive how, by any process of
    reasoning, sensual or supersensual, you can reach the conclusion
    that the single form of truth which instantly and inexorably compels
    our submission to its laws--is nothing."

    Thus far, all was familiar ground; certainly at least as familiar as
    the Pons Asinorum; and neither of the two champions had need to feel
    ruffled in temper by the discussion. The real struggle began only at
    this point; for until this point was reached, both positions were
    about equally tenable. Abelard had hitherto rested quietly on the
    defensive, but William's last thrust obliged him to strike in his
    turn, and he drew himself up for what, five hundred years later, was
    called the "Coup de Jarnac":--

    "I do not deny," he begins; "on the contrary, I affirm that the
    universal, whether we call it humanity, or equilateral triangle, has
    a sort of reality as a concept; that it is something; even a
    substance, if you insist upon it. Undoubtedly the sum of all
    individual men results in the concept of humanity. What I deny is
    that the concept results in the individual. You have correctly
    stated the essence of the point and the line as sources of our
    concept of the infinite; what I deny is that they are divisions of
    the infinite. Universals cannot be divided; what is capable of
    division cannot be a universal. I admit the force of your analogy in
    the case of the crystal; but I am obliged to point out to you that,
    if you insist on this analogy, you will bring yourself and me into
    flagrant contradiction with the fixed foundations of the Church. If
    the energy of the triangle gives form to the crystal, and the energy
    of the line gives reality to the triangle, and the energy of the
    infinite gives substance to the line, all energy at last becomes
    identical with the ultimate substance, God Himself. Socrates becomes
    God in small; Judas is identical with both; humanity is of the
    divine essence, and exists, wholly and undivided, in each of us. The
    equilateral triangle we call humanity exists, therefore, entire,
    identical, in you and me, as a subdivision of the infinite line,
    space, energy, or substance, which is God. I need not remind you
    that this is pantheism, and that if God is the only energy, human
    free will merges in God's free will; the Church ceases to have a
    reason for existence; man cannot be held responsible for his own
    acts, either to the Church or to the State; and finally, though very
    unwillingly, I must, in regard for my own safety, bring the subject
    to the attention of the Archbishop, which, as you know better than
    I, will lead to your seclusion, or worse."

    Whether Abelard used these precise words is nothing to the point.
    The words he left on record were equivalent to these. As translated
    by M. de Remusat from a manuscript entitled: "Glossulae magistri
    Petri Baelardi super Porphyrium," the phrase runs: "A grave heresy
    is at the end of this doctrine; for, according to it, the divine
    substance which is recognized as admitting of no form, is
    necessarily identical with every substance in particular and with
    all substance in general." Even had he not stated the heresy so
    bluntly, his objection necessarily pushed William in face of it.
    Realism, when pressed, always led to pantheism. William of Champeaux
    and Bishop or Archbishop Hildebert were personal friends, and
    Hildebert's divine substance left no more room for human free will
    than Abelard saw in the geometric analogy imagined for William.
    Throughout the history of the Church for fifteen hundred years,
    whenever this theological point has been pressed against churchmen
    it has reduced them to evasion or to apology. Admittedly, the weak
    point of realism was its fatally pantheistic term.

    Of course, William consulted his friends in the Church, probably
    Archbishop Hildebert among the rest, before deciding whether to
    maintain or to abandon his ground, and the result showed that he was
    guided by their advice. Realism was the Roman arch--the only
    possible foundation for any Church; because it assumed unity, and
    any other scheme was compelled to prove it, for a starting-point.
    Let us see, for a moment, what became of the dialogue, when pushed
    into theology, in order to reach some of the reasons which reduced
    William to tacit abandonment of a doctrine he could never have
    surrendered unless under compulsion. That he was angry is sure, for
    Abelard, by thus thrusting theology into dialectics, had struck him
    a full blow; and William knew Abelard well:--

    "Ah!" he would have rejoined; "you are quick, M. du Pallet, to turn
    what I offered as an analogy, into an argument of heresy against my
    person. You are at liberty to take that course if you choose, though
    I give you fair warning that it will lead you far. But now I must
    ask you still another question. This concept that you talk about--
    this image in the mind of man, of God, of matter; for I know not
    where to seek it--whether is it a reality or not?"

    "I hold it as, in a manner, real."

    "I want a categorical answer--Yes or No!"

    "Distinguo! (I must qualify.)"

    "I will have no qualifications. A substance either is, or not.

    To this challenge Abelard had the choice of answering Yes, or of
    answering no, or of refusing to answer at all. He seems to have done
    the last; but we suppose him to have accepted the wager of battle,
    and to answer:--

    "Yes, then!"

    "Good!" William rejoins; "now let us see how your pantheism differs
    from mine. My triangle exists as a reality, or what science will
    call an energy, outside my mind, in God, and is impressed on my mind
    as it is on a mirror, like the triangle on the crystal, its energy
    giving form. Your triangle you say is also an energy, but an essence
    of my mind itself; you thrust it into the mind as an integral part
    of the mirror; identically the same concept, energy, or necessary
    truth which is inherent in God. Whatever subterfuge you may resort
    to, sooner or later you have got to agree that your mind is
    identical with God's nature as far as that concept is concerned.
    Your pantheism goes further than mine. As a doctrine of the Real
    Presence peculiar to yourself, I can commend it to the Archbishop
    together with your delation of me."

    Supposing that Abelard took the opposite course, and answered:--

    "No! my concept is a mere sign."

    "A sign of what, in God's name!"

    "A sound! a word! a symbol! an echo only of my ignorance."

    "Nothing, then! So truth and virtue and charity do not exist at all.
    You suppose yourself to exist, but you have no means of knowing God;
    therefore, to you God does not exist except as an echo of your
    ignorance; and, what concerns you most, the Church does not exist
    except as your concept of certain individuals, whom you cannot
    regard as a unity, and who suppose themselves to believe in a
    Trinity which exists only as a sound, or a symbol. I will not repeat
    your words, M. du Pallet, outside this cloister, because the
    consequences to you would certainly be fatal; but it is only too
    clear that you are a materialist, and as such your fate must be

    decided by a Church Council, unless you prefer the stake by judgment
    of a secular court."

    In truth, pure nominalism--if, indeed, any one ever maintained it--
    afforded no cover whatever. Nor did Abelard's concept help the
    matter, although for want of a better refuge, the Church was often
    driven into it. Conceptualism was a device, like the false wooden
    roof, to cover and conceal an inherent weakness of construction.
    Unity either is, or is not. If soldiers, no matter in what number,
    can never make an army, and worshippers, though in millions, do not
    make a Church, and all humanity united would not necessarily
    constitute a State, equally little can their concepts, individual or
    united, constitute the one or the other. Army, Church, and State,
    each is an organic whole, complex beyond all possible addition of
    units, and not a concept at all, but rather an animal that thinks,
    creates, devours, and destroys. The attempt to bridge the chasm
    between multiplicity and unity is the oldest problem of philosophy,
    religion, and science, but the flimsiest bridge of all is the human
    concept, unless somewhere, within or beyond it, an energy not
    individual is hidden; and in that case the old question instantly
    reappears: What is that energy?

    Abelard would have done well to leave William alone, but Abelard was
    an adventurer, and William was a churchman. To win a victory over a
    churchman is not very difficult for an adventurer, and is always a
    tempting amusement, because the ambition of churchmen to shine in
    worldly contests is disciplined and checked by the broader interests
    of the Church: but the victory is usually sterile, and rarely harms
    the churchman. The Church cares for its own. Probably the bishops
    advised William not to insist on his doctrine, although every bishop
    may have held the same view. William allowed himself to be silenced
    without a judgment, and in that respect stands almost if not quite
    alone among schoolmen. The students divined that he had sold himself
    to the Church, and consequently deserted him. Very soon he received
    his reward in the shape of the highest dignity open to private
    ambition--a bishopric. As Bishop of Chalons-sur-Marne he made for
    himself a great reputation, which does not concern us, although it
    deeply concerned the unfortunate Abelard, for it happened, either by
    chance or design, that within a year or two after William
    established himself at Chalons, young Bernard of Citeaux chose a
    neighbouring diocese in which to establish a branch of the
    Cistercian Order, and Bishop William took so keen an interest in the
    success of Bernard as almost to claim equal credit for it. Clairvaux
    was, in a manner, William's creation, although not in his diocese,
    and yet, if there was a priest in all France who fervently despised
    the schools, it was young Bernard. William of Champeaux, the chief
    of schoolmen, could never have gained Bernard's affections. Bishop
    William of Chalons must have drifted far from dialectics into
    mysticism in order to win the support of Clairvaux, and train up a
    new army of allies who were to mark Abelard for an easy prey.

    Meanwhile Abelard pursued his course of triumph in the schools, and
    in due time turned from dialectics to theology, as every ambitious
    teacher could hardly fail to do. His affair with Heloise and their
    marriage seem to have occupied his time in 1117 or 1118, for they
    both retired into religious orders in 1119, and he resumed his
    lectures in 1120. With his passion for rule, he was fatally certain
    to attempt ruling the Church as he ruled the schools; and, as it was
    always enough for him that any point should be tender in order that
    he should press upon it, he instantly and instinctively seized on
    the most sensitive nerve of the Church system to wrench it into his
    service. He became a sort of apostle of the Holy Ghost.

    That the Trinity is a mystery was a law of theology so absolute as
    in a degree to hide the law of philosophy that the Trinity was meant
    as a solution of a greater mystery still. In truth, as a matter of
    philosophy, the Trinity was intended to explain the eternal and
    primary problem of the process by which unity could produce
    diversity. Starting from unity alone, philosophers found themselves
    unable to stir hand or foot until they could account for duality. To
    the common, ignorant peasant, no such trouble occurred, for he knew
    the Trinity in its simpler form as the first condition of life, like
    time and space and force. No human being was so stupid as not to
    understand that the father, mother, and child made a trinity,
    returning into each other, and although every father, every mother,
    and every child, from the dawn of man's intelligence, had asked why,
    and had never received an answer more intelligible to them than to
    philosophers, they never showed difficulty in accepting that trinity
    as a fact. They might even, in their beneficent blindness, ask the
    Church why that trinity, which had satisfied the Egyptians for five
    or ten-thousand years, was not good enough for churchmen. They
    themselves were doing their utmost, though unconsciously, to
    identify the Holy Ghost with the Mother, while philosophy insisted
    on excluding the human symbol precisely because it was human and led
    back to an infinite series. Philosophy required three units to start
    from; it posed the equilateral triangle, not the straight line, as
    the foundation of its deometry. The first straight line, infinite in
    extension, must be assumed, and its reflection engendered the
    second, but whence came the third? Under protest, philosophy was
    compelled to accept the symbol of Father and Son as a matter of
    faith, but, if the relation of Father and Son were accepted for the
    two units which reflected each other, what relation expressed the
    Holy Ghost? In philosophy, the product of two units was not a third
    unit, but diversity, multiplicity, infinity. The subject was, for
    that reason, better handled by the Arabs, whose reasoning worked
    back on the Christian theologists and made the point more delicate
    still. Common people, like women and children and ourselves, could
    never understand the Trinity; naturally, intelligent people
    understood it still less, but for them it did not matter; they did
    not need to understand it provided their neighbours would leave it

    The mass of mankind wanted something nearer to them than either the
    Father or the Son; they wanted the Mother, and the Church tried, in
    what seems to women and children and ourselves rather a feeble way,
    to give the Holy Ghost, as far as possible, the Mother's attributes
    --Love, Charity, Grace; but in spite of conscientious effort and
    unswerving faith, the Holy Ghost remained to the mass of Frenchmen
    somewhat apart, feared rather than loved. The sin against the Holy
    Ghost was a haunting spectre, for no one knew what else it was.

    Naturally the Church, and especially its official theologists, took
    an instinctive attitude of defence whenever a question on this
    subject was asked, and were thrown into a flutter of irritation
    whenever an answer was suggested. No man likes to have his
    intelligence or good faith questioned, especially if he has doubts
    about it himself. The distinguishing essence of the Holy Ghost, as a
    theological substance, was its mystery. That this mystery should be
    touched at all was annoying to every one who knew the dangers that
    lurked behind the veil, but that it should be freely handled before
    audiences of laymen by persons of doubtful character was impossible.
    Such license must end in discrediting the whole Trinity under
    pretence of making it intelligible.

    Precisely this license was what Abelard took, and on it he chose to
    insist. He said nothing heretical; he treated the Holy Ghost with
    almost exaggerated respect, as though other churchmen did not quite
    appreciate its merits; but he would not let it alone, and the Church
    dreaded every moment lest, with his enormous influence in the
    schools, he should raise a new storm by his notorious indiscretion.
    Yet so long as he merely lectured, he was not molested; only when he
    began to publish his theology did the Church interfere. Then a
    council held at Soissons in 1121 abruptly condemned his book in
    block, without reading it, without specifying its errors, and
    without hearing his defence; obliged him to throw the manuscript
    into the fire with his own hands, and finally shut him up in a

    He had invited the jurisdiction by taking orders, but even the
    Church was shocked by the summary nature of the judgment, which
    seems to have been quite irregular. In fact, the Church has never
    known what it was that the council condemned. The latest great work
    on the Trinity, by the Jesuit Father de Regnon, suggests that
    Abelard's fault was in applying to the Trinity his theory of

    "Yes!" he says; "the mystery is explained; the key of conceptualism
    has opened the tabernacle, and Saint Bernard was right in saying
    that, thanks to Abelard, every one can penetrate it and contemplate
    it at his ease; 'even the graceless, even the uncircumcised.' Yes!
    the Trinity is explained, but after the manner of the Sabellians.
    For to identify the Persons in the terms of human concepts is, in
    the same stroke, to destroy their 'subsistances propres.'"

    Although the Saviour seems to have felt no compunctions about
    identifying the persons of the Trinity in the terms of human
    concepts, it is clear that tourists and heretics had best leave the
    Church to deal with its "subsistances propres," and with its own
    members, in its own way. In sum, the Church preferred to stand firm
    on the Roman arch, and the architects seem now inclined to think it
    was right; that scholastic science and the pointed arch proved to be
    failures. In the twelfth century the world may have been rough, but
    it was not stupid. The Council of Soissons was held while the
    architects and sculptors were building the west porch of Chartres
    and the Aquilon at Mont-Saint-Michel. Averroes was born at Cordova
    in 1126; Omar Khayyam died at Naishapur in 1123. Poetry and
    metaphysics owned the world, and their quarrel with theology was a
    private, family dispute. Very soon the tide turned decisively in
    Abelard's favour. Suger, a political prelate, became minister of the
    King, and in March, 1122, Abbot of Saint-Denis. In both capacities
    he took the part of Abelard, released him from restraint, and even
    restored to him liberty of instruction, at least beyond the
    jurisdiction of the Bishop of Paris. Abelard then took a line of
    conduct singularly parallel with that of Bernard. Quitting civilized
    life he turned wholly to religion. "When the agreement," he said,
    "had been executed by both parties to it, in presence of the King
    and his ministers, I next retired within the territory of Troyes,
    upon a desert spot which I knew, and on a piece of ground given me
    by certain persons, I built, with the consent of the bishop of the
    diocese, a sort of oratory of reeds and thatch, which I placed under
    the invocation of the Holy Trinity ... Founded at first in the name
    of the Holy Trinity, then placed under its invocation, it was called
    'Paraclete' in memory of my having come there as a fugitive and in
    my despair having found some repose in the consolations of divine
    grace. This denomination was received by many with great
    astonishment, and some attacked it with violence under pretext that
    it was not permitted to consecrate a church specially to the Holy
    Ghost any more than to God the Father, but that, according to
    ancient usage, it must be dedicated either to the Son alone or to
    the Trinity."

    The spot is still called Paraclete, near Nogent-sur-Seine, in the
    parish of Quincey about halfway between Fontainebleau and Troyes.
    The name Paraclete as applied to the Holy Ghost meant the Consoler,
    the Comforter, the Spirit of Love and Grace; as applied to the
    oratory by Abelard it meant a renewal of his challenge to
    theologists, a separation of the Persons in the Trinity, a
    vulgarization of the mystery; and, as his story frankly says, it was
    so received by many. The spot was not so remote but that his
    scholars could follow him, and he invited them to do so. They came
    in great numbers, and he lectured to them. "In body I was hidden in
    this spot; but my renown overran the whole world and filled it with
    my word." Undoubtedly Abelard taught theology, and, in defiance of
    the council that had condemned him, attempted to define the persons
    of the Trinity. For this purpose he had fallen on a spot only fifty
    or sixty miles from Clairvaux where Bernard was inspiring a contrary
    spirit of religion; he placed himself on the direct line between
    Clairvaux and its source at Citeaux near Dijon; indeed, if he had
    sought for a spot as central as possible to the active movement of
    the Church and the time, he could have hit on none more convenient
    and conspicuous unless it were the city of Troyes itself, the
    capital of Champagne, some thirty miles away. The proof that he
    meant to be aggressive is furnished by his own account of the
    consequences. Two rivals, he says, one of whom seems to have been
    Bernard of Clairvaux, took the field against him, "and succeeded in
    exciting the hostility of certain ecclesiastical and secular
    authorities, by charging monstrous things, not only against my
    faith, but also against my manner of life, to such a point as to
    detach from me some of my principal friends; even those who
    preserved some affection for me dared no longer display it, for
    fear. God is my witness that I never heard of the union of an
    ecclesiastical assembly without thinking that its object was my
    condemnation." The Church had good reason, for Abelard's conduct
    defied discipline; but far from showing harshness, the Church this
    time showed a true spirit of conciliation most creditable to
    Bernard. Deeply as the Cistercians disliked and distrusted Abelard,
    they did not violently suppress him, but tacitly consented to let
    the authorities buy his silence with Church patronage.

    The transaction passed through Suger's hands, and offered an
    ordinary example of political customs as old as history. An abbey in
    Brittany became vacant; at a hint from the Duke Conan, which may
    well be supposed to have been suggested from Paris, the monks chose
    Abelard as their new abbot, and sent some of their number to Suger
    to request permission for Abelard, who was a monk of Saint-Denis, to
    become Abbot of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys, near Vannes, in Brittany.
    Suger probably intimated to Abelard, with a certain degree of
    authority, that he had better accept. Abelard, "struck with terror,
    and as it were under the menace of a thunderbolt," accepted. Of
    course the dignity was in effect banishment and worse, and was so
    understood on all sides. The Abbaye-de-Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys, though
    less isolated than Mont-Saint-Michel, was not an agreeable winter
    residence. Though situated in Abelard's native province of Brittany,
    only sixty or eighty miles from his birthplace, it was for him a
    prison with the ocean around it and a singularly wild people to deal
    with; but he could have endured his lot with contentment, had not
    discipline or fear or pledge compelled him to hold his tongue. From
    1125, when he was sent to Brittany until 1135 when he reappeared in
    Paris, he never opened his mouth to lecture. "Never, as God is my
    witness,--never would I have acquiesced in such an offer, had it not
    been to escape, no matter how, from the vexations with which I was
    incessantly overwhelmed."

    A great career in the Church was thus opened for him against his
    will, and if he did not die an archbishop it was not wholly the
    fault of the Church. Already he was a great prelate, the equal in
    rank of the Abbe Suger, himself, of Saint-Denis; of Peter the
    Venerable of Cluny; of Bernard of Clairvaux. He was in a manner a
    peer of the realm. Almost immediately he felt the advantages of the
    change. Barely two years passed when, in 1127, the Abbe Suger, in
    reforming his subordinate Abbey of Argenteuil, was obliged to
    disturb Heloise, then a sister in that congregation. Abelard was
    warned of the necessity that his wife should be protected, and with
    the assistance of everyone concerned, he was allowed to establish
    his wife at the Paraclete as head of a religious sisterhood. "I
    returned there; I invited Heloise to come there with the nuns of her
    community; and when they arrived, I made them the entire donation of
    the oratory and its dependencies ... The bishops cherished her as
    their daughter; the abbots as their sister; the laymen as their
    mother." This was merely the beginning of her favour and of his. For
    ten years they were both of them petted children of the Church.

    The formal establishment of Heloise at the Paraclete took place in
    1129. In February, 1130, on the death of the Pope at Rome, a schism
    broke out, and the cardinals elected two popes, one of whom took the
    name of Innocent II, and appealed for support to France. Suger saw a
    great political opportunity and used it. The heads of the French
    Church agreed in supporting Innocent, and the King summoned a Church
    council at Etampes to declare its adhesion. The council met in the
    late summer; Bernard of Clairvaux took the lead; Peter the
    Venerable, Suger of Saint-Denis, and the Abbot of Saint-Gildas-de-
    Rhuys supported him; Innocent himself took refuge at Cluny in
    October, and on January 20, 1131, he stopped at the Benedictine
    Abbey of Morigny. The Chronicle of the monastery, recording the
    abbots present on this occasion,--the Abbot of Morigny itself, of
    Feversham; of Saint-Lucien of Beauvais, and so forth,--added
    especially: "Bernard of Clairvaux, who was then the most famous
    pulpit orator in France; and Peter Abelard, Abbot of Saint-Gildas,
    also a monk and the most eminent master of the schools to which the
    scholars of almost all the Latin races flowed."

    Innocent needed popular support; Bernard and Abelard were the two
    leaders of popular opinion in France. To attach them, Innocent could
    refuse nothing. Probably Abelard remained with Innocent, but in any
    case Innocent gave him, at Auxerre, in the following November, a
    diploma, granting to Heloise, prioress of the Oratory of the Holy
    Trinity, all rights of property over whatever she might possess,
    against all assailants; which proves Abelard's favour. At this time
    he seems to have taken great interest in the new sisterhood. "I made
    them more frequent visits," he said, "in order to work for their
    benefit." He worked so earnestly for their benefit that he
    scandalized the neighbourhood and had to argue at unnecessary length
    his innocence of evil. He went so far as to express a wish to take
    refuge among them and to abandon his abbey in Brittany. He professed
    to stand in terror of his monks; he excommunicated them; they paid
    no attention to him; he appealed to the Pope, his friend, and
    Innocent sent a special legate to enforce their submission "in
    presence of the Count and the Bishops."

    Even since that, they would not keep quiet. And quite recently,
    since the expulsion of those of whom I have spoken, when I returned
    to the abbey, abandoning myself to the rest of the brothers who
    inspired me with less distrust, I found them even worse than the
    others. It was no longer a question of poison; it was the dagger
    that they now sharpened against my breast. I had great difficulty in
    escaping from them under the guidance of one of the neighbouring
    lords. Similar perils menace me still and every day I see the sword
    raised over my head. Even at table I can hardly breathe ... This is
    the torture that I endure every moment of the day; I, a poor monk,
    raised to the prelacy, becoming more miserable in becoming more
    great, that by my example the ambitious may learn to curb their

    With this, the "Story of Calamity" ends. The allusions to Innocent
    II seem to prove that it was written not earlier than 1132; the
    confession of constant and abject personal fear suggests that it was
    written under the shock caused by the atrocious murder of the Prior
    of Saint-Victor by the nephews of the Archdeacon of Paris, who had
    also been subjected to reforms. This murder was committed a few
    miles outside of the walls of Paris, on August 20, 1133. The "Story
    of Calamity" is evidently a long plea for release from the
    restraints imposed on its author by his position in the prelacy and
    the tacit, or possibly the express, contract he had made, or to
    which he had submitted, in 1125. This plea was obviously written in
    order to serve one of two purposes:--either to be placed before the
    authorities whose consent alone could relieve Abelard from his
    restraints; or to justify him in throwing off the load of the
    Church, and resuming the profession of schoolman. Supposing the
    second explanation, the date of the paper would be more or less
    closely fixed by John of Salisbury, who coming to Paris as a
    student, in 1136, found Abelard lecturing on the Mont-Sainte-
    Genevieve; that is to say, not under the license of the Bishop of
    Paris or his Chancellor, but independently, in a private school of
    his own, outside the walls. "I attached myself to the Palatine
    Peripatician who then presided on the hill of Sainte-Genevieve, the
    doctor illustrious, admired by all. There, at his feet, I received
    the first elements of the dialectic art, and according to the
    measure of my poor understanding I received with all the avidity of
    my soul everything that came from his mouth."

    This explanation is hardly reasonable, for no prelate who was not
    also a temporal lord would have dared throw off his official duties
    without permission from his superiors. In Abelard's case the only
    superior to whom he could apply, as Abbot of Saint-Gildas in
    Brittany, was probably the Pope himself. In the year 1135 the moment
    was exceedingly favourable for asking privileges. Innocent, driven
    from Rome a second time, had summoned a council at Pisa for May 30
    to help him. Louis-le-Gros and his minister Suger gave at first no
    support to this council, and were overruled by Bernard of Clairvaux
    who in a manner drove them into giving the French clergy permission
    to attend. The principal archbishops, a number of bishops, and
    sixteen abbots went to Pisa in May, 1135, and some one of them
    certainly asked Innocent for favours on behalf of Abelard, which the
    Pope granted.

    The proof is a papal bull, dated in 1136, in favour of Heloise,
    giving her the rank and title of Abbess, accompanied by another
    giving to the Oratory of the Holy Trinity the rank and name of
    Monastery of the Paraclete, a novelty in Church tradition so
    extraordinary or so shocking that it still astounds churchmen. With
    this excessive mark of favour Innocent could have felt little
    difficulty in giving Abelard the permission to absent himself from
    his abbey, and with this permission in his hands Abelard might have
    lectured on dialectics to John of Salisbury in the summer or autumn
    of 1136. He did not, as far as known, resume lectures on theology.

    Such success might have turned heads much better balanced than that
    of Abelard. With the support of the Pope and at least one of the
    most prominent cardinals, and with relations at court with the
    ministers of Louis-le-Gros, Abelard seemed to himself as strong as
    Bernard of Clairvaux, and a more popular champion of reform. The
    year 1137, which has marked a date for so many great points in our
    travels, marked also the moment of Abelard's greatest vogue. The
    victory of Aristotle and the pointed arch seemed assured when Suger
    effected the marriage of the young Prince Louis to the heiress
    Eleanor of Guienne. The exact moment was stamped on the facade of
    his exquisite creation, the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis, finished in
    1140 and still in part erect. From Saint-Denis to Saint-Sulpice was
    but a step. Louis-le-Grand seems to stand close in succession to

    Fortunately for tourists, the world, restless though it might be,
    could not hurry, and Abelard was to know of the pointed arch very
    little except its restlessness. Just at the apex of his triumph,
    August 1, 1137, Louis-le-Gros died. Six months afterwards the anti-
    pope also died, the schism ended, and Innocent II needed Abelard's
    help no more. Bernard of Clairvaux became Pope and King at once.
    Both Innocent and Louis-le-Jeune were in a manner his personal
    creations. The King's brother Henry, next in succession, actually
    became a monk at Clairvaux not long afterwards. Even the
    architecture told the same story, for at Saint-Denis, though the
    arch might simulate a point, the old Romanesque lines still assert
    as firmly as ever their spiritual control. The fleche that gave the
    facade a new spirit was not added until 1215, which marks Abelard's
    error in terms of time.

    Once arrived at power, Bernard made short work of all that tried to
    resist him. During 1139 he seems to have been too busy or too ill to
    take up the affair of Abelard, but in March, 1140, the attack was
    opened in a formal letter from William of Saint-Thierry, who was
    Bernard's closest friend, bringing charges against Abelard before
    Bernard and the Bishop of Chartres. The charges were simple enough:--

    Pierre Abelard seized the moment, when all the masters of
    ecclesiastical doctrine have disappeared from the scene of the
    world, to conquer a place apart, for himself, in the schools, and to
    create there an exclusive domination. He treats Holy Scripture as
    though it were dialectics. It is a matter with him of personal
    invention and annual novelties. He is the censor and not the
    disciple of the faith; the corrector and not the imitator of the
    authorized masters.

    In substance, this is all. The need of action was even simpler.
    Abelard's novelties were becoming a danger; they affected not only
    the schools, but also even the Curia at Rome. Bernard must act
    because there was no one else to act: "This man fears you; he dreads
    you! if you shut your eyes, whom will he fear? ... The evil has
    become too public to allow a correction limited to amicable
    discipline and secret warning." In fact, Abelard's works were flying
    about Europe in every direction, and every year produced a novelty.
    One can still read them in M. Cousin's collected edition; among
    others, a volume on ethics: "Ethica, seu Scito teipsum"; on theology
    in general, an epitome; a "Dialogus inter Philosophum, Judaeum et
    Christianum"; and, what was perhaps the most alarming of all, an
    abstract of quotations from standard authorities, on the principle
    of the parallel column, showing the fatal contradictions of the
    authorized masters, and entitled "Sic et Non"! Not one of these
    works but dealt with sacred matters in a spirit implying that the
    Essence of God was better understood by Pierre du Pallet than by the
    whole array of bishops and prelates in Europe! Had Bernard been
    fortunate enough to light upon the "Story of Calamity," which must
    also have been in existence, he would have found there Abelard's own
    childlike avowal that he taught theology because his scholars "said
    that they did not want mere words; that one can believe only what
    one understands; and that it is ridiculous to preach to others what
    one understands no better than they do." Bernard himself never
    charged Abelard with any presumption equal to this. Bernard said
    only that "he sees nothing as an enigma, nothing as in a mirror, but
    looks on everything face to face." If this had been all, even
    Bernard could scarcely have complained. For several thousand years
    mankind has stared Infinity in the face without pretending to be the
    wiser; the pretension of Abelard was that, by his dialectic method,
    he could explain the Infinite, while all other theologists talked
    mere words; and by way of proving that he had got to the bottom of
    the matter, he laid down the ultimate law of the universe as his
    starting-point: "All that God does," he said, "He wills necessarily
    and does it necessarily; for His goodness is such that it pushes Him
    necessarily to do all the good He can, and the best He can, and the
    quickest He can ... Therefore it is of necessity that God willed and
    made the world." Pure logic admitted no contingency; it was bound to
    be necessitarian or ceased to be logical; but the result, as Bernard
    understood it, was that Abelard's world, being the best and only
    possible, need trouble itself no more about God, or Church, or man.

    Strange as the paradox seems, Saint Bernard and Lord Bacon, though
    looking at the world from opposite standpoints, agreed in this: that
    the scholastic method was false and mischievous, and that the longer
    it was followed, the greater was its mischief. Bernard thought that
    because dialectics led wrong, therefore faith led right. He saw no
    alternative, and perhaps in fact there was none. If he had lived a
    century later, he would have said to Thomas Aquinas what he said to
    a schoolman of his own day: "If you had once tasted true food,"--if
    you knew what true religion is,--"how quick you would leave those
    Jew makers of books (literatoribus judaeis) to gnaw their crusts by
    themselves!" Locke or Hume might perhaps still have resented a
    little the "literator judaeus," but Faraday or Clerk-Maxwell would
    have expressed the same opinion with only the change of a word: "If
    the twelfth century had once tasted true science, how quick they
    would have dropped Avicenna and Averroes!" Science admits that
    Bernard's disbelief in scholasticism was well founded, whatever it
    may think of his reasons. The only point that remains is personal:
    Which is the more sympathetic, Bernard or Abelard?

    The Church feels no doubt, but is a bad witness. Bernard is not a
    character to be taken or rejected in a lump. He was many-sided, and
    even toward Abelard he showed more than one surface. He wanted no
    unnecessary scandals in the Church; he had too many that were not of
    his seeking. He seems to have gone through the forms of friendly
    negotiation with Abelard although he could have required nothing
    less than Abelard's submission and return to Brittany, and silence;
    terms which Abelard thought worse than death. On Abelard's refusal,
    Bernard began his attack. We know, from the "Story of Calamity,"
    what Bernard's party could not have certainly known then,--the
    abject terror into which the very thought of a council had for
    twenty years thrown Abelard whenever he was threatened with it; and
    in 1140 he saw it to be inevitable. He preferred to face it with
    dignity, and requested to be heard at a council to meet at Sens in
    June. One cannot admit that he felt the shadow of a hope to escape.
    At the utmost he could have dreamed of nothing more than a hearing.
    Bernard's friends, who had a lively fear of his dialectics, took
    care to shut the door on even this hope. The council was carefully
    packed and overawed. The King was present; archbishops, bishops,
    abbots, and other prelates by the score; Bernard acted in person as
    the prosecuting attorney; the public outside were stimulated to
    threaten violence. Abelard had less chance of a judicial hearing
    than he had had at Soissons twenty years before. He acted with a
    proper sense of their dignity and his own by simply appearing and
    entering an appeal to Rome. The council paid no attention to the
    appeal, but passed to an immediate condemnation. His friends said
    that it was done after dinner; that when the volume of Abelard's
    "Theology" was produced and the clerk began to read it aloud, after
    the first few sentences the bishops ceased attention, talked, joked,
    laughed, stamped their feet, got angry, and at last went to sleep.
    They were waked only to growl "Damnamus--namus," and so made an end.
    The story may be true, for all prelates, even in the twelfth
    century, were not Bernards of Clairvaux or Peters of Cluny; all
    drank wine, and all were probably sleepy after dinner; while
    Abelard's writings are, for the most part, exceedingly hard reading.
    The clergy knew quite well what they were doing; the judgment was
    certain long in advance, and the council was called only to register
    it. Political trials were usually mere forms.

    The appeal to Rome seems to have been taken seriously by Bernard,
    which is surprising unless the character of Innocent II inspired his
    friends with doubts unknown to us. Innocent owed everything to
    Bernard, while Abelard owed everything to Innocent. The Pope was not
    in a position to alienate the French Church or the French King. To
    any one who knows only what is now to be known, Bernard seems to
    have been sure of the Curia, yet he wrote in a tone of excitement as
    though he feared Abelard's influence there even more than at home.
    He became abusive; Abelard was a crawling viper (coluber tortuosus)
    who had come out of his hole (egressus est de caverna sua), and
    after the manner of a hydra (in similitudinem hydrae), after having
    one head cut off at Soissons, had thrown out seven more. He was a
    monk without rule; a prelate without responsibility; an abbot
    without discipline; "disputing with boys; conversing with women."
    The charges in themselves seem to be literally true, and would not
    in some later centuries have been thought very serious; neither
    faith nor morals were impugned. On the other hand, Abelard never
    affected or aspired to be a saint, while Bernard always affected to
    judge the acts and motives of his fellow-creatures from a standpoint
    of more than worldly charity. Bernard had no right to Abelard's
    vices; he claimed to be judged by a higher standard; but his temper
    was none of the best, and his pride was something of the worst;
    which gave to Peter the Venerable occasion for turning on him
    sharply with a rebuke that cut to the bone. "You perform all the
    difficult religious duties," wrote Peter to the saint who wrought
    miracles; "you fast; you watch; you suffer; but you will not endure
    the easy ones--you do not love (non vis levia ferre, ut diligas)."

    This was the end of Abelard. Of course the Pope confirmed the
    judgment, and even hurried to do so in order that he might not be
    obliged to give Abelard a hearing. The judgment was not severe, as
    judgments went; indeed, it amounted to little more than an order to
    keep silence, and, as it happened, was never carried into effect.
    Abelard, at best a nervous invalid, started for Rome, but stopped at
    Cluny, perhaps the most agreeable stopping-place in Europe.
    Personally he seems to have been a favourite of Abbot Peter the
    Venerable, whose love for Bernard was not much stronger than
    Abelard's or Suger's. Bernard was an excessively sharp critic, and
    spared worldliness, or what he thought lack of spirituality, in no
    prelate whatever; Clairvaux existed for nothing else, politically,
    than as a rebuke to them all, and Bernard's enmity was their bond of
    union. Under the protection of Peter the Venerable, the most amiable
    figure of the twelfth century, and in the most agreeable residence
    in Europe, Abelard remained unmolested at Cluny, occupied, as is
    believed, in writing or revising his treatises, in defiance of the
    council. He died there two years later, April 21, 1142, in full
    communion, still nominal Abbot of Saint-Gildas, and so distinguished
    a prelate that Peter the Venerable thought himself obliged to write
    a charming letter to Heloise at the Paraclete not far away,
    condoling with her on the loss of a husband who was the Socrates,
    the Aristotle, the Plato, of France and the West; who, if among
    logicians he had rivals, had no master; who was the prince of study,
    learned, eloquent, subtle, penetrating; who overcame everything by
    the force of reason, and was never so great as when he passed to
    true philosophy, that of Christ.

    All this was in Latin verses, and seems sufficiently strong,
    considering that Abelard's philosophy had been so recently and so
    emphatically condemned by the entire Church, including Peter the
    Venerable himself. The twelfth century had this singular charm of
    liberty in practice, just as its architecture knew no mathematical
    formula of precision; but Peter's letter to Heloise went further
    still, and rang with absolute passion:--

    Thus, dear and venerable sister in God, he to whom you are united,
    after your tie in the flesh, by the better and stronger bond of the
    divine love; he, with whom, and under whom, you have served the
    Lord, the Lord now takes, in your place, like another you, and warms
    in His bosom; and, for the day of His coming, when shall sound the
    voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God descending from
    heaven, He keeps him to restore him to you by His grace.
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