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The NoncoNFORMIST. No. XXVI. Mahometan Influence on Christian Literature and Opinions. CCIDENTAL circumstances ity, than the inveterate hostility which devote considerable attention to the sading wars, would, at first sight, inliterature, customs and opinions of duce us to suppose capable of having the inhabitants of the South of France, ever existed between the rival folamong whom arose the first blossoms lowers of such widely different faiths. of the modern European, as opposed In the earliest period of Mahometan to the classic school of poetry, and proselytism we may, I think, very on whom the Arabian spirit of lite- safely conceive it possible and probarary enterprise is generally considered ble, that even among many who refused to have exerted so much influence. to acknowledge the miraculous misIn these inquiries it has often struck sion of the Prophet, the corruptions me as, at any rate, rather a curious of the church, and the corrective tencoincidence, that the same people who dency of the new opinions, would took the earliest strides in the pro- neutralize opposition if they did not gress of literary and political civili- conciliate inclination in favour of the zation, should also be the most pro- Reformer, a character on which it minently fixed with the stigma of appears that he long rested his claims heresy for opinions little understood, on public consideration. On the other but certainly in many respects bearing hand, policy, as well as a congenial the marks of a very peculiar origin. feeling of opposition to the vices of The result has been an endeavour to the Christian establishment, would draw up a few remarks on the influ- dispose the triumphant Mahometan ence which the various connexions of to protect and encourage those sects Europe with the Arabian schools of which it found most widely opposed manners and science can at this dis- to the prevailing corruptious. Certain tance of time be discovered to have it is, that they tolerated, encouraged, exercised; and though the following and even zealously fought for sectarians observations are only put together who were in open rebellion to the hastily to meet the present occasion, Greek Church, and particularly those they may, perhaps, at least, suggest who were stigmatized as favourers of some points of inquiry, and supply a Gnostic and Manichæan heresies, and sort of sequel to the remarks which I who, under the later epithet of Pausubmitted on a former occasion. licians, every where signalized them
I then briefly noticed the brilliant selves by the purity of their practice, progress, particularly in Spain, of the if not by the simplicity of their creed. Arabian poets, philosophers and me- The orientalism of the peculiar dogtaphysicians, at a period when all mas of these sectarians would doubt. Christian Europe was sunk in the less tend greatly to soften the distinclowest depths of ignorant sloth; and tion between them and their protecit remains for me to call your atten- tors, and it would be very easy to tion to the influence which they exer- point out several obvious coincidences cised during the early ages on the in the results which each deduced theological opinions and divisions of from the topics of their most favourite their contemporaries and immediate speculations. successors, and to the circumstances With the Jews the same feelings which seemed to mark that influence seem to have early operated to prowith the character of toleration, as well duce among the learned professors of as of freedom in speculative inquiry. the Mahometan faith, during the days These, I think it will be plain, facili- of its literary greatness, a courteous tated a much more cordial feeling, on reception, a zealous union in the culthe part of the professors of Christian- tivation of common pursuits, and an
unrestrained free:lom of speculative little is to be found of that anti-infidel inquiry, on a variety of subjects spirit of exasperation which soon afequally interesting to both classes of terwards animated the Christian world. believers. But without dwelling on Even for some time after, the thepoints necessarily involved in great ob- ologians on either side took little scurity, it is sufficient here to observe, share in the contest. Christian mothat at the period when the literary ralists and divines were proud to draw greatness of Moorish Spain was in its their faith from Averroes, and to exzenith, when it was exercising its pound the Aristotelian philosophy on widest influence on Europe, the genius the principles of the Arabian commenof Arabian cultivation was strikingly, tators; and it may not be undeserving and to an extent never since equalled, of reinark, that even the earliest tales tolerant and conciliatory towards the of romantic chivalry (those of the votaries of faiths, apparently most Round Table) breathe nothing of the widely and irreconcilcably opposed - bigoted spirit of religious intolerance and Christiau, Jew and Islamite united towards the Heathen, which distinin one harmonious effort for the pro- guishes the similar productions of a motion of what was thought science later age. If the deadly animosity and philosophical inquiry.
which afterwards prevailed had exFrom this union resulted a mu- isted in the days of Charlemagne, it tual agreement to declare, as neutral is not probable that Salernuin, the ground (open to all, and considered central point of the political warfare by none as constituting the essentials of the European and Asiatic powers, of their respective faiths) a vast field would have been selected by him for of speculative inquiry into the deepest the foundation of an University where theological questions. The European European students might freely resort Universities did not consider it incon- for the cultivation of science, or that sistent with their religious faith to such a spot could have maintained its unite zealously with them in the same celebrity for the next three centuries. pursuit, and the schoolmen followed Of all European nations, not imit up to the most subtle refinements, mediately under the Arabian yoke, the subject, however, to the continual pro- inhabitants of Provence seem, on test of the more orthodox supporters many accounts, to have been most of the church. The latter soon saw subjected to its influence, on their that these freedoms could not be per- opinions, literature and customs. Their mitted without danger to the system of poetry is generally allowed to have absolute ecclesiastical authority, and, been modelled on the tender and pasin the end, they were justified in their sionate tone of Eastern luxury. Their predictions by the excitement to in. institutions were gay, chivalric, liberal quiry and resistance which these spe- and courteous ; and even in their culations created.
courts and parliaments of love, with The external influence of the ener. all their frivolity, we may perceive getic spirit of Arabian literature and one useful principle established. Pubrefinement on the neighbouring En- lic opinion was brought to bear upon ropean courts, need hardly be dwelt the highest ranks of society, and even upon. Strangers flocked from all sides lawless power was confined within to the Saracen Universities for in- conventual limitations, which it was struction. The Arabian geographers, not prudent to violate or set at definaturalists and philosophers, were in ance. The earliest efforts of this deall the Southern courts; and when mocratic freedom of the Troubadour the Gothic monarchies began to culti- poets was manifested in eager satire vate the sciences for themselves, their and invectives against the vices of the teachers and professors were almost church ; and the opinions of the speall drawn from the Infidels, whom, as culative heretics, whom the Arabians yet, they had not grown wise enough had protected and brought in their to despise and butcher. Those who train to seek an asylum from perseinspect the scanty evidences which the cution, here found a fruitful soil for literary remains of these early ages propagation. Thus the great princiwill afford of the state of political and ples of literary energy and social culreligious feeling, prior to the Crn- tivation, which the Arabian influence sades, will be surprised to find how established in the South of Europe, were from the first associated with with Manichæan and other Oriental rebellion to church authority, with errors. free inquiry, and a spirit of concilia- But the free spirit of the Troubation among rival professors. Nothing dour school, and indeed almost every is more obvious than that the whole Arabian relation, soon became the genius of the Arabian policy and lite- object of vehement attack from the rature in Spain, was one of liberality church. It will not be necessary for and charity, and one which the church me to dwell here on the details of the did not till late see the policy of op- blind and bigoted warfare in which posing by all its temporal and spiri- the Christian world was engaged, espetaal authority.
cially during the 12th century, or to It is singular that the earliest here- point out how effectually the church tics of Europe should be the earliest accomplished its object. The Crupoets ; and if it be (as almost all the sades were the first result of its powriters on the subject contend) clear licy, and the same zeal was soon dithat the poetry of the South of Europe rected to uprooting the freedom of owed its form and character to the opinion which the Mahometan spirit Moorish school, that circumstance, had encouraged in the countries imalone would lead us to suspect some mediately subject to its operation. considerable influence of the same Domestic crusading against free inschool on the character of their theo- quiry among Christians, was the prological speculations.
per companion of intolerance towards The literature of the Vaudois, which unbelievers. The gay and smiling certainly belongs to the 17th century, plains of Provence and Languedoc will not, perhaps, at first view, be were soon deluged with blood; and admitted to be very closely connected the gay creations of chivalry and poewith that of Provence. Yet the iden- try fled from the scene of horror. tity of the language, the vagueness But in the midst of all the fury of with which the terms of Vaudois, the Inquisition, which commenced its Albigeois, &c., were applied, and the reign of horrors in the native soil of obscurity in which their respective poetry and romance, we still see the histories and opinions are involved, strongest traces yet uneffaced of the would lead me to suspect a much peculiar literary spirit which had been greater affinity, and antiquity of these impressed upon society. We actually sectaries, than is usually allowed. find a mock tribunal, not like the old The religious poetry of the Vaudois, parliaments of love for the decision of which has lately been published by M. knotty points in amatorial casuistry, Raynouard, would form in itself an but one of the same external form, interesting subject for examination, devoted to the investigation and conparticularly as furnishing evidence of demnation of theological heresies. Inthe real tendency of the opinions of stead of the Teuson being directed, as these heretics, which hitherto we have before, to the solution of tender diffibeen compelled to take on credit from culties and equivocal obligations, we their enemies.
have Izarn, the Dominican Inquisitor, During the violent persecutions of bringing forth a refractory heretic, to the Paulicians in the 9th century, it is wrestle with him on points of faith, certain that a strict alliance, existed and forcing him, under the pain of between them and the Mahometan burning with more material flames, government; that they afterwards fol. to confess before the court the blaslowed its armies; that in various ways phemy of his creed, and the superior they directed their course into Europe, power of persuasion of his fiery antaand, apparently, chiefly by way of gonist. I do not mean, however, to Spain, through which they followed place the poetry of these heresy hunthe Moorish course to the South of ters on a footing with that of the obFrance, and were there patronized by jects of their wrath, and that I may the Troubadour courts, and especially not be mistaken, will give a specimen by the Counts of Toulouse. Here of the holy Inquisitor's style, in which their followers afterwards acquired I have attempted peither to elevate nor the undefined title of Albigeois, and depress the flight of his muse. After xere supposed to be deeply tainted a long argument, which had hitherto
been attended with little success, the stigma of favouring the Mahometan orthodox champion throws in the fol faith itself. Frederic Barbarossa, and lowing powerful motive for choice : his successor Frederic II., are both
striking instances of this. They were As you declare you wout believe,
both zealous patrons of literature, and "Tis fit that you should burn, And as your fellows have been burnt,
where could they, if they cast their That you should blaze in turu.
eyes around them, see more compe
tent inodels and instructors than in And as you disobey the will Of God and of St. Paul,
the Moorish schools? They were Which ne'er was found within your brave and generous warriors, and unheart,
doubtedly those qualities were more Nor passed your lips at all
strikingly developed in some of the The fire is lit, the pitch is hot,
leaders of the Musselmen armies than And ready is the stake,
in the bigoted warriors of ChristenThat thro’ these tortures for your sins dom, generally the mere slaves of an Your passage you may take.
ignorant hierarchy. We can thereThis extraordinary piece is particu- fore little wonder that their fame was larly worthy of notice, as containing a through life aspersed by attacks on view of the opinions then generally the orthodoxy of their creeds. attributed to the proscribed religion- But whatever zeal was displayed in ists, and among these the most pro- eradicating all traces of Infidel prinminent are those in which Orientalism ciples and associations, it is impossi. prevails, and in which a Mahometan ble not to observe great and durable and a Christian schoolman would have effects upon the opinions and literafound little difficulty in agreeing, at ture of Europe. Its poetry (if, inany rate, to coosider as fair matter of deed, it be so clearly traced, as is innocent discussion. These chiefly generally supposed, to an Oriental relate to speculations on the princi- origin,) received, through the medium ple of evil, the nature of angels, de- of the Troubadours, a new and permons, &c., and, what is more extraor. manent character. Its scientific purdinary, a transmigration of the soul. suits, its natural and moral philoso
One peculiar instance, both of the phy, were for many ages entirely Arainclination among many Christians to bian; and out of the subtle inquiries favour the liberal spirit and specula- of these schools sprung the greater tive freedom of the Mahometans, and part of the current dreams on dæmoof the zeal of the church in controul- nology, magic, witchcraft and astroing this spirit, and rendering religious logy. discord as vehement as possible, may be We shall have occasion to notice found, I think, in the strange and other. hereafter the graver speculations which wise almost inexplicable persecution of were borrowed by the labouring learnthe Templars. Amongst the mass of ed of the European schools : at preabsurd charges which were brought sent we have only to advert to an forward on the trials of the members acknowledged fact, that all which was of this devoted order, it is impossible in those days dignified by the name not to suspect that there must have of science, whether experimental or been some very urgent ground for occult, took its rise in the speculations alarm on the part of their prosecutors, of the Arabian Universities. Peter and a great degree of favourable in- Maurice, the venerable Doctor, the clination towards their Mahometan friend of Abeillard, who went to study opponents, who had, perhaps, in many in Spain in the 12th century, bears respects, really a good title to their testimony to the number of men of respect and esteem.
For the same learning from England and other counreasons, the history of these times re- tries, whom he there found sedulously cords several instances of the most applying themselves to the study of distinguished sovereigns of Europe, such sciences as astrology. In such (who lead the Christian armies either pursuits the Jew, the Christian and from political motives, or from de. the Islamite, were at all times found ference to the enthusiasm of the age,) cordially united, and that not only in at constant variance with the church, the Mahometan states, but even at and as constantly under the singular the courts of Christian moparchs, of