Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/8

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The Imperial Peace

being almost wholly occupied with the most barren and useless problems, deducing unpractical and unreal inferences from fantastic and unreal principles by a capricious and purely subjective method of reasoning. It is true that the mediaeval thought in Europe worked itself out without care for the facts of science, or even for the apparent facts of the world around it. It lived and moved on a plane by itself: it evolved itself according to the laws of its own being: it did not work with an eye on the world of sense, or endeavour to keep step with the facts of common experience. Yet on that account its reasoning is perfectly free, untrammelled by what you may call 'common sense'; and therein lies its interest, its charm to a few, and the secret of its power and its truth.

Why should it accommodate itself to the alien world around? Why should it pay any heed to the wars, the cruelty, the horrors, the ignorance, that reigned in politics, in international relations, and in the administration of the law? It recognized that there was nothing true, nothing just, nothing real, in contemporary society, and it turned away from its surroundings to gaze on such truth and reality as it could make for itself.

In the unfolding of this mediaeval thought, the steps are—(1) this ought to be, for such is the will of God; (2) this must be; (3) this is. What ought to be is, such is the simple rule. The rest is sham, false, unworthy of the thinking man's attention, except as the delusive and misleading falsehood from which the thinker should try to emancipate himself and others. Only on one side, as a teacher and a preacher, did the thinker of the mediaeval time touch the world around him. Otherwise he lived apart.

Yet, after all, he was engaged on the same problems,