Monday, November 06, 2017


The Highest Form of Life

Louis John Paetow, paraphrase of John of Garland, Morale Scolarium, chapter XII (In Praise of the Modest Life of Scholars), in "Morale Scolarium of John of Garland (Johannes of Garlandia), a Professor in the Universities of Paris and Toulouse in the Thirteenth Century," Memoirs of the University of California 4.2 (1927) 69-273 (at 162-163):
Jesus Christ, blessed son of holy Mary, guide and companion of life, excellent judge, avenger of Uriah, come to the assistance of poor scholars, you who have pity on the poor, who suffer the strong to fall ill and who heal the sick. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, penetrating into our inmost thoughts, govern us. Son of Mary, light of the sea, O Christ, with supernal power, take away from us the persecutions of the world, visit the humble lodgings of harried students, the firstborn of Egypt, thou who dost shine in the glory of the clergy. The poor scholar is overcome by study, not deprived of virtue; moreover, the rich man, who does not study and who lives in his high houses, gives poor scholars the heehaws and even blows. I eat sparingly in my little room, not high up in a castle; I have no silver money, nor do the Fates give me estates. Beets, beans, and peas are here looked upon as fine dishes, and we joke about meat which is not on our menu for a very good reason. The size of the bottle of wine on the table depends on the burse which is never large, and which is the weekly statement of expenditure made on oath. Intellectual virtue becomes potent only when it is followed by active or customary virtue which deserves reward because it leads to good works. This scholastic life is the highest form of life; it gives boys such a cleansing of mind and of body that these erstwhile dummies can explain the causes of eclipses of sun and moon, what keeps the sea within bounds, by what force the earth is rent asunder in earthquakes, whence come hail, snow, rain, and lightning, and what makes the days long in summer and short in winter.

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