Above all, they travelled back along the tradition, tapping it and drawing inspiration from it, nearer to its source. Very rarely does the pioneer himself work out his seam: he leaves it to successors along with his technical discoveries.
Of his style and manner, if we think first of the romance-poetry and then of Chaucer's divine liquidness of diction, his divine fluidity of movement, it is difficult to speak temperately. They are irresistible, and justify all the rapture with which his successors speak of his "gold dew-drops of speech."
Giotto's work did not end with himself; he was the founder of the earliest worthy school of Italian art, so worthy in this very glorious idealism, that, as I have already said, the men whose praise is most to be coveted, have learned to turn back to Giotto and his immediate successors, and, forgetting and forgiving all their ignorance, crudeness, quaintness, to dwell never wearied, and extol without measure these oldest masters' dignity of spirit, the earnestness of their originality, the solemnity and heedfulness of their labour.
The project of Sanuto, anticipating the achievements of England in our own day, was doubtless as vain as it was splendid. For the times, in fourteenth-century Europe, were out of joint. Clement V and his successors at Avignon, scarcely able to hold the Papal States, were little inclined to attempt the conquest of Syria. The Empire had lost its commanding position.
But the first result of the alliance between the Empire and the Church was to give added dignity to the latter and renewed energy to the former. The partial revival of letters in the fourth century may induce us to extend our survey so far as to include Ausonius and Claudian as legitimate, though remote, successors of the Augustan poets.
Heresy had torn from her arms a great number of her children, and repeated schisms were dividing those who, in appearance and even in intention, remained faithful to the Holy See. The successors of St. Peter had removed the seat of their residence to Avignon, and the Eternal City presented the aspect of one vast battle-field, on which daily and hourly conflicts were occurring.
Daily service began as soon as Henderson was his own master, and was better attended than it is now; for the old people to whom it was a novelty took up the habit more freely than their successors, to whom the bell has been familiar through their days of toil.
The pride of our ancestors was hurt by a petty constable; the interest of us, their successors, would be hurt by a mayor: a more simple government cannot be instituted, or one more efficacious: that of some places is designed for parade, ours for use; and both answers their end. A town governed by a multitude of governors, is the most likely to be ill-governed.
At the death of their kings the Lacedemonians met in large numbers and tore the flesh from their foreheads with pins and needles. It is said that when Odin was near his death he ordered himself to be marked with a spear; and Niort, one of his successors, followed the example of his predecessor. Shakespeare speaks of "such as boast and show their scars."
Failing these, he gives it, secondly, to successors having a statutory title: thirdly, to the ten persons whom he preferred to the manumitter of a free person, if a stranger in relation to the latter, namely the latter's father and mother, grandparents paternal and maternal, children, grandchildren by daughters as well as by sons, and brothers and sisters whether of the whole or of the half blood only.