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This work, first published in 1863, relates the biography of a complex, visionary reformer from his birth in 1091 to his death in 1153, capturing in the process the major currents of twelfth-century politics, culture and faith. From the foundation of the Cistercian Abbey of Clairvaux to its rise as a centre of monastic austerity and devotion, the book traces Saint Bernard's participation in the seismic events of his day, including the creation of the Knights Templar, the rise of scholasticism and the preaching of the Second Crusade. Told in a lucid, anecdotal style by the Victorian essayist, biographer and political reformer James Cotter Morison (1832-88), whose friends included Matthew Arnold and Thomas Carlyle, this is an important work of Victorian medievalist criticism, capturing the spirit of its own age even as it evokes the spirit of another.
Described by his biographer as the author of 'monumental and supreme' histories, Edward Gibbon (1737-94) is widely acknowledged as a major figure of the Enlightenment and the father of modern historical scholarship. However, despite these epithets, the personal life of one of the eighteenth century's most successful authors remains unknown to many of his readers. Published in the first series of English Men of Letters in 1878 (and going into a second edition in the same year), this biography by James Cotter Morison (1832-88) provides a learned but accessible account of the man who wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Starting with a childhood plagued by ill health and infirmity, and covering Gibbon's time in the militia and travelling on the Grand Tour, Morison leads readers through a life which was apparently unremarkable, but in fact resulted in a work of enduring scholarly achievement.