Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

who had slain his predecessor. The whole island was divided under such kings and chieftains; four of them ruled in Kent alone. In fact, England was then very much like what Ireland was some centuries after-divided between kings and Druids, chieftains and priests, always at war with one other, carrying off each other's cattle and wives, burning, or selling, or ransoming their prisoners. One would have called it a barbarous life, and fit only for barbarians. Of this Trinovant, which fantastic 2 Celtic antiquaries in after-ages called Troynovant, or New Troy, and, fashioning a history to suit their invention, attributed the foundation of it to Æneas and the Trojans, we get only very scattered and unsatisfactory notices. We leave it, therefore, under that name, and follow it under its more modern name of London. Under that name it was not known to Cæsar; but it is mentioned by Tacitus, whose father-in-law, Julius Agricola, was the Roman governor here in the time of Domitian. As early as the middle of the first century of the Chris-3 tian era, in the days of Nero, the historian speaks of London “as a wealthy and important town for the multitude of its wares and traders.” After a short and sharp struggle with its conquerors, the town must have shot forward with wonderful rapidity. At Cæsar's landing (B. c. 55) it was no more than a barbarian inclosure in a thick wood, defended by swamps, the Thames overflowing its banks, the rivers and brooks standing in heavy pools all about the low grounds. A century after, it had risen to so much importance as to be worthy the care and notice of the Romans. How it got the name of London, or Londinium, antiquaries are not agreed. Whatever may 4 be the origin of the name, you must dissever it from all the associations connected with the modern name of London. In appearance and extent, and in the appearance

of all the surrounding country, it would be impossible to conceive a greater contrast than between the early and modern London. A dense forest of many miles in extent reached to the very walls of the old town, and covered it

in on all sides, except on the east and the river quarters. 5 The Thames, not then so deep and so narrow as it is now, spread itself out into a broad expanse of waters. The vast banks of the Thames, artificially constructed by the Romans, with great cost and labor, confined the river within a narrower channel, scoured by the ebbing and flowing of the tide, continually deepened by dredging and ballastheaving. This early London, though built on the rising ground, did not reach to the water originally. It stood well away from it, though the river then rising higher than it does now, and the soil on which the city stands being at least twenty feet lower, brought up the river at 6 high tide very near to the city walls. . . . St. Paul's stood on an eminence outside the original city, on a sandhill caused by the winds and the tides. The heart of the city was the old London stone, or near it. The east side, which by nature was less strong than any other, was fortified by the Romans by the Tower, which then stood outside the city, but soon rapidly joined it. The natives, trading with the garrison, gathering around it for protection and commerce, would settle in the district, as they did in other cities, and in case of danger would make no difficulty of abandoning their huts and retiring into the city. Of course I do not mean the present Tower, but a ny fortress which stood on the same site. I have stated that the present St. Paul's stands outside the old city. I will now say why. It was once thought that this was the site of a temple built in pagan times to the goddess Diana. “Diana," says Fuller, “ was most especially reverenced, Britain being then all a forest, where hunting was not the

recreation but the calling, and venison not the dainties but the diet of the common people. There is a place near St. Paul's, in London, called in old records · Diana's Chamber,' where, in the days of King Edward I, thousands of the heads of oxen were digged up, whereat the ignorant wondered whilst the learned well understood them to be the proper sacrifices to Diana, whose great temple was built thereabout. This rendereth their conceit not altogether unlikely, who will have London so called from Llan-Dian, which signifieth in British “the temple of Diana.'Unfortunately for this conjecture, 8 which was long a favorite with London antiquarians, when the foundations were dug for the present St. Paul's by Sir Christopher Wren, no bullocks' heads, and no remains of such cattle were found; but remains of far more interest than these. St. Paul's churchyard, though greatly shorn of its original proportions, and though no longer used as a receptacle for the dead, still testifies by its name to the older usages to which it was applied, from times long before the Saxon or Roman set foot upon this island. This was the great burial-place of the forgotten 9 dead. Who knows, as he treads the sounding pavement, on what dust below he is trampling; what king's bones are moldering there; what hearts are there gone to ache no more; of chieftains who fought for rule against their neighbor chiefs; of priests who pondered over the mysteries of the sacred oak, or people that saw with wonder Cæsar's arms first glittering on the Thames? Here Sir 10 Christopher Wren found a semicircular chancel of Roman work, showing that the first church had been the work of Roman colonists. Here on the north side were innumerable remains of the dead from British and Roman times. Layer upon layer, there they lay; there they lie still, the successive generations which possessed the

land: back and back, from Stuarts, Tudors, Plantagenets, Normans, Saxons—still further back to Romans and Romanized Britons—layer upon layer, race upon race. Here were Saxons securely entombed between sarcophagi

formed of great upright and horizontal flags, imbedded 11 in cavities lined with chalk-stones. Here were Britons

and Romans mixed, the ivory and boxwood pins which had fastened their shrouds still remaining to tell what these dead bones once had been; and, lowest of all, eighteen feet below the surface, were fragments of Roman urns and British funeral remains, testifying to a still earlier age when Roman and Celt alike worshiped the gods of their own hands or their own imaginations; when wolves and foxes prowled around the grim inclosure, or, hunger-starved, swept down from the neighbor

ing forest to glut themselves on the remains of slaugh12 tered victims or the fresh corpses. The fact of the Ro

mans not burying their dead within the city walls proper, and for various reasons introducing the same restrictions into the countries which they conquered, is a strong reason for supposing that the hill on which St. Paul's now stands was not inclosed within the walls of the original city.

THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE.

This selection, as well as the succeeding one, is from Bryce's “Holy Roman Empire," perhaps the most philosophic discussion of any historical question that has appeared in our day. The theory of the Holy Roman Empire, that splendid vision of the mediæval age, has been already explained. It was a brilliant conception, and a proper understanding of its design, as well as its effects, is indispensable to an accurate comprehension of mediæval history. Mr.

[ocr errors]

Freeman's essay on the same subject should be read in connection with Mr. Bryce's monograph.

Of those who, in August, 1806, read in the English 1 newspapers that the Emperor Francis II had announced to the Diet his resignation of the imperial crown, there were probably few who reflected that the oldest political institution in the world had come to an end. Yet it was

The empire which a note issued by a diplomatist on the banks of the Danube extinguished, was the same which the crafty nephew of Julius had won for himself, against the powers of the East, beneath the cliffs of Actium; and which had preserved almost unaltered, through eighteen centuries of time, and through the greatest changes in extent, in power, in character, a title and pretensions from which all meaning had long since departed. Nothing else so directly linked the old world 2 to the new-nothing else displayed so many strange contrasts of the present and the past, and summed up in those contrasts so much of European history. From the days of Constantine till far down into the Middle Ages it

was, conjointly with the Papacy, the recognized center and head of Christendom, exercising over the minds of men an influence such as its material strength could never have commanded.

It is of this influence and of the causes that gave it power, rather than of the external history of the empire, that the following pages are designed to treat. That history is indeed full of interest 3 and brilliancy, of grand characters and striking situations. But it is a subject too vast for any single canvas. out a minuteness of detail sufficient to make its scenes dramatic and give us a lively sympathy with the actors, a narrative history can have little value and still less charm. But to trace with any minuteness the career of the empire would be to write the history of Christendom from

With

« ElőzőTovább »