Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/451

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John
John
445

nominalism of his master. John is not only the best reporter of the philosophical debates of his day; he also shows us how a mature and all-embracing learning made it possible to extract their valuable elements and reject their eccentricities and excesses. He has the virtues of the humanists of the fifteenth century; but he is free from their vices. Imbued as he is with the classical spirit, no man was ever less inclined to revive the intellectual or moral code of paganism. John would have himself judged before all things as a theologian. His theology was based upon an extensive patristic learning. Sound as it was, its rigour was tempered not only by bis devotion to the Platonic tradition, which he took as he found it, filtered through the teaching of many, but also by that calm moderation of judgment which marked alike his public career and the books into which he poured the abundance of his thought. He has a worthy record in the necrology of his church at Chartres: 'Vir magnæ religionis totiusque scientise radiis illustratus, verbo vita moribus pastor omnibus amabilis; soli sibi crudelis'—it is added, after the example of St. Thomas—'a pedibus usque ad collum cilicio sempercarnem domante' (Gall. Christ viii. 1148).

His writings consist first of his letters. These he collected, edited, and arranged in four books, not long after St. Thomas's death, with the help of Guy, canon of Merton, afterwards prior of Southwick (see a nearly contemporary book of selections from them made by Guy, and formerly belonging to Southwick, now in St. John's College, Oxford, cod. cxxvi. f. 79); but the existing collection does not preserve this division, and includes a few letters of later date. They are printed by J. A. Giles in the first two volumes of John's 'Opera' (1848). They number 326, but among them are some letters by other writers, and many which John wrote as secretary to Archbishop Theobald. To them should be added a letter to the church of Canterbury incorporated by William of Canterbury in his 'Miracula Sancti Thomæ' (Robertson, Materials, i. 458 ff.) 2. 'The Policraticus,' in eight books, fills the third and fourth volumes of Giles's edition (five books in vol. iii., three in vol. iv.) It was completed before September 1159, and dedicated to Thomas as chancellor. The name was probably intended to mean 'The Statesman's Book;' but its twofold design is indicated by the alternative title 'De Nugis Curialium et Vestigiis Philosophorum.' The book is neither a satire 'on the vanities of courtiers' nor a set treatise on morals. It deals with the principles of government, with philosophy and learning; but the digressions, illustrations, reminiscences are so numerous that the work is less a systematic composition, though it has a scheme of its own, than an encyclopædia of miscellanies, the aptest reflection of the cultivated thought of the middle of the twelfth century. Probably the first printed edition appeared in 1476 at Brussels, under the care of the Fratres communis vitæ. 3. The 'Metalogicus,' in four books (Giles, v. 1-207), was finished a little later in the autumn of 1159 than the 'Policraticus,' and is likewise dedicated to Thomas. It was written in reply to the gainsaying of an unknown critic, and contains a more or less orderly defence of the method and use of logic. It furnishes the first mediæval work in which the whole of Aristotle's 'Organon' is made available. 4. 'The Entheticus' (possibly for 'Nutheticus') was first printed by C. Peterson (Hamburg, 1843; in Giles, v. 239-97). It is an elegiac poem of 1,852 lines, and was written probably some time earlier than the completion of the 'Policraticus,' to which it was apparently intended to serve as an introduction (a shorter poem bearing the same title now occupies that position). It deals in a briefer compass with many of the characteristic subjects of the 'Policraticus.' 5. The 'Vita Sancti Anselmi' (Giles, v. 305-57) was written not long before June 1163 (see above, p. 442 α). 6. The 'Vita Sancti Thomæ Cantuar.'(Giles, v. 359-380) has been already mentioned (p. 444 α). 7. To the works contained in Giles's edition must be added the 'Historia Pontificalis,' first published as an anonymous work by W. Arndt (Monumenta Germanic Historica, xx. 517-45, 1868), and identified by Giesebrecht (ubi supra). Giles has printed further a poem, 'De Membris conspirantibus' (v. 299-304), which has no claim to be regarded as John's, and a fragmentary work, 'De septem Septenis' (v. 209-38), which is justly suspected by Hauréau (in the Nouvelle Biographie Générale, xxv. 539, 1858) and Schaarschmidt (pp. 278 ff.)

[The materials for John's biography are found chiefly in his own writings (here cited from Giles's edition), above all in his letters (Nos. i cxc. in vol. i., cxci–cccxxvii. in vol. ii.); to which must be added the correspondence of Peter of LaCelle, especially epistt. lxvii-lxxv., cxviii–cxxv. in Migne's Patrol. Lat. ccii. Many of these letters are included, with much more of importance in the Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, edited by J. C. Robertson, v–vii. (the last edited by J. B. Sheppard). Other special authorities are cited in the text. Among modern biographies, besides the notice in the Histoire Littéraire de la France, xiv. 89–161 (1817), there are separate lives by Hermann Reuter (Johannes