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AN EPITOME OF
THE SCIENCE, GEOGRAPHY, ANIMAL AND
PLANT FOLK-LORE AND MYTH OF
THE MIDDLE AGE:
ON THE PROPERTIES OF THINGS.
It is not long since the Middle Ages, of the literature of which this book gives us such curious examples, were supposed to be an unaccountable phenomenon accidentally thrust in betwixt the two periods of civilization, the classical and the modern, and forming a period without growth or meaning; a period which began about the time of the decay of the Roman Empire, and ended suddenly, and more or less unaccountably, at the time of the Reformation. The society of this period was supposed to be lawless and chaotic; its ethics a mere conscious hypocrisy; its art gloomy and barbarous fanaticism only; its literature the formless jargon of savages; and as to its science, that side of human intelligence was supposed to be an invention of the time when the Middle Ages had been dead two hundred years.
The light which the researches of modern historians, archaeologists, bibliographers, and others, have let in on our view of the Middle Ages, has dispersed the cloud of ignorance on this subject which was one of the natural defects of the qualities of the learned men and