« ElőzőTovább »
in proportion, perhaps because they were more difficult to rear.
With large tracts of moor and morass, and with uniform forests of one or two varieties of tree, the country in Anglo-Saxon times was less beautiful than it has since become under cultivation; and the system of fallows, while it covered a large portion with patches, interposed a wide interval between different homesteads. Adders and other reptiles swarmed in the woods, wolves and thieves lurked in the covert, and the traveler went armed on his journey. Yet from some points the aspects of life 4 were more cheerful and picturesque than they are now. The portion of daily labor exacted from the workingman was as much as human toil could accomplish; but the working-days were fewer, less was done in the winter months, and saint-days and Sundays were mercifully interspersed in the seasons of fair weather. Games of every sort were the lawful amusements of idle hours and of festivals; we have lost infinitely more from the Saxon book of sports than we have added to it. It is melancholy to know that in the eighth century a laboring-man was disgraced among his fellows if he could not sing to the harp, and to consider that one of the noblest arts has died out in the class that most need to be refined. In 5 another respect, the love of dress, we have less to fear from a comparison; though whether our taste is improved may, perhaps, be questionable. The Saxons seem to have adopted the Roman tunic, which reached to the knees, and to have completed it by long sleeves for the arms. A cloak over it was added for out-of-doors. The AngloSaxon lady wore a hood with long pendants, and a loose dress reaching to the ground. Wool and flax, with silk for the lappets and the eyelet-holes, were the common materials, which the wearer herself would sometimes embroider. Bracelets and rings were favorite ornaments,
and both sexes delighted in bright colors. Unfortunately, they extended this to the use of pigments for the complexion, and rouge was as much a part of the furniture of a Saxon lady's toilet-table as the crisping-irons. The abuse of colored dresses even invaded the sanctuary and the cloister; Charlemagne was scandalized at the laxity of English discipline, and Alcuin and Aldhelm inveighed 6 with apostolic vehemence against the guilty fashion. But history tells us that it was not stemmed by the joint authority of two saints and an emperor; and the English monks, in the times of the Norman Conquest, were still sinners in gay dress, against the rigid rules of their order. Unluckily, our ancestors were fonder of dress than of cleanliness ; the warm bath, indeed, was a luxury, but the cold bath was a penance of the Church ; and the Danes are accused of having won the affections of English ladies by combing their hair, by bathing once a week, by frequent changes of clothing, and “such like frivolities." Yet, as an ivory comb and tweezers, or scissors, were among the treasures buried with St. Cuthbert, we may hope that Englishmen of rank were as frivolous in these matters as the Danes.
THE NORMAN CONQUEST.-ITS INFLUENCE UPON
ENGLAND IN THE EARLY AND MIDDLE AGES."
The effects of the Norman Conquest have been discussed in the note on the battle of Hastings. Its consequences were most momentous, and they have in some form affected almost every phase of English historical development. An admirable summary will be
found in Freeman's “Norman Conquest,” volume v. 1 The rival prejudices of Norman and English writers
make it difficult to decide which of the two peoples was
the more civilized. Norman literature before the conquest is worthless; their law-courts have nothing to match the splendid series of Anglo-Saxon charters. But these are rather proofs that their civilization was modern than that it did not exist. For a century and a half English literature had been almost barren, while within thirty years the Italians Lanfranc and Anselm had founded a school in Normandy which was unrivaled in its own days, and which almost reconstructed philosophical thought in Europe. The English were renowned throughout Europe 2 for their perfection in the mechanical arts and embroidery; but they imported their artists from Germany; and they produced nothing in architecture to rival those magnificent castles and cathedrals which the Normans have scattered broadcast over the land. It seems certain that the Normans were more cleanly in their habits and more courtly in their manners; their vices were rather passionate than gross, and they had the virtues of gentlemenlarge-handedness and the love of adventure. Timid devotion bound the Englishman to his Church, while a narrow insular spirit was separating him from the European center of religion. The Norman distinguished better between the dues of Cæsar and of God: he built churches, and attended mass; but he drew a line between the citizen and the priest which the latter was never allowed to overpass. He connected the country with Europe and Roman law, but he kept it free from foreign tyranny. The Italian legate or tax-gatherer might venture here 3 under a weak king, but the barons repeatedly drove him back or foiled him; and under an able sovereign-Henry II or Edward I—the see of Rome was limited to its natural functions of directing the European Church and adjusting the law of nations. To sum up all, England without the Normans would have been mechanical, not
artistic; brave, not chivalrous; a state governed by its priests instead of a state controlling its Church. It had lost the tradition of Roman culture, and during half a century of peace had remained barren of poets, legists, and thinkers. We owe to Normandy the builder, the knight, the schoolman, and the statesman.
THE LAST YEARS OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.
PEARSON's “ ENGLAND IN THE EARLY AND MIDDLE AGES."
This estimate of William the Conqueror should be compared with the elaborate sketch of his character in Freeman's “Norman Conquest."
1 The last four years of William's life were darkened by the loss of his queen, and occupied by petty wars in Maine and rumors of Danish invasion. At last, in A. D. 1087, the old grudge against France broke out into war. The plunder of several Norman districts and a coarse jest by the French King enraged William beyond bounds ; and, on surprising the town of Mantes, he gave it up to pillage and the flames. Churches and men were consumed; two recluses, who lived in niches of the city walls, were unable or unwilling to escape. William was riding round the town enjoying the havoc wrought there, when his horse started on some burning ashes; the King was bruised by the pommel of his saddle; fever supervened, and the injury proved fatal. With the true sentiments of a Christian gentleman of the eleventh century, William ordered his treasures to be divided among the churches, the poor, and his household. He could not
deprive Robert of Normandy, and he feared to dispose of England, which had been acquired by bloodshed; but he committed it to the hands of God, and instructed Williain how he might best secure it. To Henry, who had received his mother's inheritance, he bequeathed five thousand pounds, prophesying that he would one day transcend his brothers in greatness. He sustained his dying moments with the recollection that he had founded ten abbeys and twenty-three monasteries in Normandy alone. It was true he had governed roughly, and had much bloodshed and some treachery on his conscience; but the law of God had taught him to put down evildoers, that they might not oppress the innocent. Never-3 theless, as he hoped for mercy, he would now show mercy himself. Morcar, Roger de Breteuil, and all the prisoners except Eudes of Bayeux, should be set at liberty, under pledge to keep the peace. He at last agreed to release even Eudes. Hitherto he had been in great pain, though his mind was clear; but mortification now set in, and he died toward morning, commending himself to the Virgin (September 9, A. D. 1087). The respite from suffering had been mistaken by his physicians for amendment; but, when the mistake was discovered, the very shadow of royal state passed away from the dead King. The courtiers mounted horse to put their castles in defense; the servants stripped the house of everythingarms, furniture, and dress—and fled. William's body lay naked in the deserted palace till the Archbishop of Ronen ordered it to be taken to Caen, and a private gentleman, Herluin, defrayed the expenses. When the funeral mass 4 had been said, and the body was about to be lowered into the grave, Asselin Fitz-Arthur stepped forth and forbade the burial to proceed : “ The land where ye stand was once covered by my father's house, which this man for