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Abelard And Eloisa
by [?]

Abelard, so famous for his writings and his amours with Eloisa, ranks amongst the Heretics for opinions concerning the Trinity! His superior genius probably made him appear so culpable in the eyes of his enemies. The cabal formed against him disturbed the earlier part of his life with a thousand persecutions, till at length they persuaded Bernard, his old friend, but who had now turned saint, that poor Abelard was what their malice described him to be. Bernard, inflamed against him, condemned unheard the unfortunate scholar. But it is remarkable that the book which was burnt as unorthodox, and as the composition of Abelard, was in fact written by Peter Lombard, Bishop of Paris; a work which has since been canonised in the Sarbonne, and on which the scholastic theology is founded. The objectionable passage is an illustration of the Trinity by the nature of a syllogism!–“As (says he) the three propositions of a syllogism form but one truth, so the Father and Son constitute but one essence. The major represents the Father, the minor the Son, and the conclusion the Holy Ghost!” It is curious to add, that Bernard himself has explained this mystical union precisely in the same manner, and equally clear. “The understanding,” says this saint, “is the image of God. We find it consists of three parts: memory, intelligence, and will. To memory, we attribute all which we know, without cogitation; to intelligence, all truths we discover which have not been deposited by memory. By memory, we resemble the Father; by intelligence, the Son; and by will, the Holy Ghost.” Bernard’s Lib. de Anima, cap. i. num. 6, quoted in the “Mem. Secretes de la Republique des Lettres.” We may add also, that because Abelard, in the warmth of honest indignation, had reproved the monks of St. Denis, in France, and St. Gildas de Ruys, in Bretagne, for the horrid incontinence of their lives, they joined his enemies, and assisted to embitter the life of this ingenious scholar, who perhaps was guilty of no other crime than that of feeling too sensibly an attachment to one who not only possessed the enchanting attractions of the softer sex, but, what indeed is very unusual, a congeniality of disposition, and an enthusiasm of imagination.

“Is it, in heaven, a crime to love too well?”

It appears by a letter of Peter de Cluny to Eloisa, that she had solicited for Abelard’s absolution. The abbot gave it to her. It runs thus:–“Ego Petrus Cluniacensis Abbas, qui Petrum Abaelardum in monachum Cluniacensem recepi, et corpus ejus furtim delatum Heloissae abbatissae et moniali Paracleti concessi, auctoritate omnipotentis Dei et omnium sanctorum absolvo eum pro officio ab omnibus peccatis suis.”

An ancient chronicle of Tours records, that when they deposited the body of the Abbess Eloisa in the tomb of her lover, Peter Abelard, who had been there interred twenty years, this faithful husband raised his arms, stretched them, and closely embraced his beloved Eloisa. This poetic fiction was invented to sanctify, by a miracle, the frailties of their youthful days. This is not wonderful;–but it is strange that Du Chesne, the father of French history, not only relates this legendary tale of the ancient chroniclers, but gives it as an incident well authenticated, and maintains its possibility by various other examples. Such fanciful incidents once not only embellished poetry, but enlivened history.

Bayle tells us that billets doux and amorous verses are two powerful machines to employ in the assaults of love, particularly when the passionate songs the poetical lover composes are sung by himself. This secret was well known to the elegant Abelard. Abelard so touched the sensible heart of Eloisa, and infused such fire into her frame, by employing his fine pen, and his fine voice, that the poor woman never recovered from the attack. She herself informs us that he displayed two qualities which are rarely found in philosophers, and by which he could instantly win the affections of the female;–he wrote and sung finely. He composed love-verses so beautiful, and songs so agreeable, as well for the words as the airs, that all the world got them by heart, and the name of his mistress was spread from province to province.