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the ease and variety of Virgil. They put their feet in-irons, and showed their smartness by running in shackles; they weighted themselves with rules of modern rhyme and rules of ancient metre; they added the necessity of beginning each verse with the same letter that began the last. A few, like Adhelm, wrote square acrostics, in which the first line, repeated at the end, was found also to the left and right of the piece. Thus made up of the first and last letters of each verse, it forms a border to the whole piece, and the morsel of verse is like a piece of tapestry. Strange literary tricks, which changed the poet into an artisan. They bear witness to the difficulties which then impeded culture and nature, and spoiled at once the Latin form and the Saxon genius.
Beyond this barrier, which drew an impassable line between civilization and barbarism, there was another, no less impassable, between the Latin and Saxon genius. The strong Gerrnan imagination, in which glowing and obscure visions suddenly meet and abruptly overflow, was in contrast with the reasoning spirit, in which ideas gather and are developed only in a regular order; so that if the barbarian, in his classical attempts, retained any part of his primitive instincts, he succeeded only in producing a grotesque and frightful monster. One of them, this very Adhelm, a relative of King Ina, who sang on the town-bridge profane and sacred hymns alternately, too much imbued with Saxon poesy, simply to imitate the antique models, adorned his Latin prose and verse with all the "English magnificence." You might compare him to a 'Barbarian who seizes a flute from the skilled hands of a player of Augustus' court, in order to blow on it with inflated lungs, as if it were the bellowing horn of an aurochs.
The sober speech of the Roman orators and senators becomes in his hands full of exaggerated and incoherent images; he violently connects words, uniting them in a sudden and extravagant manner; he heaps up his colors, and utters extraordinary and unintelligible nonsense, like that of the later Skalds; in short, he is a latinized Skald, dragging into his new tongue the ornaments of Scandinavian poetry, such as alliteration, by dint of which he congregates in one of his epistles fifteen consecutive words, all beginning with the same letter; and in order to make up his fifteen, he introduces a barbarous Græcism amongst the Latin words. Amongst the
i William of Malmesbury's expression.
2 Primitus (pantorum procerum prætorumque pio potissimum paternoque præsertim privilegio) panegyricum poemataque passim prosatori sub polo promulgantes, stridula vocum symphonia ac melodiæ cantile, næque carmine modulaturi hymnizemus.
others, the writers of legends, you will meet many times with deformation of Latin, distorted by the outburst of a too vivid imagination; it breaks out even in their scholastic and scientific writing. Here is part of a dialogue between Alcuin and prince Pepin, a son of Charlemagne, and he uses like formulas the little poetic and bold phrases which abound in the national poetry. “What is winter? the banishment of summer. What is spring ? the painter of the earth. What is the year ? the world's chariot. What is the sun ? the splendour of the world, the beauty of heaven, the grace of nature, the honour of day, the distributor of the hours. What is the sea ? the path of audacity, the boundary of the earth, the receptacle of the rivers, the fountain of showers.” More, he ends his instructions with enigmas, in the spirit of the Skalds, such as we still find in the old manuscripts with the barbarian songs. It was the last feature of the national genius, which, when it labors to understand a matter, neglects dry, clear, consecutive deduction, to employ grotesque, remote, oft repeated imagery, and replaces analysis by intuition.
VIII. Such was this race, the last born of the sister races, which, in the decay of the other two, the Latin and the Greek, brings to the world a new civilization, with a new character and genius. Inferior to these in many respects, it surpasses them in not a few. Amidst the woods and mire and snows, under a sad, inclement sky, gross instincts have gained the day during this long barbarism. The German has not acquired gay humor, unreserved facility, the feeling for harmonious beauty; his great phlegmatic body continues savage and stiff, greedy and brutal; his rude and unpliable mind is still inclined to savagery, and restive under culture. Dull and congealed, his ideas cannot expand with facility and freedom, with a natural sequence and an instinctive regularity. But this spirit, void of the sentiment of the beautiful, is all the more apt for the sentiment of the true. The deep and incisive impression which he receives from contact with objects, and which as yet he can only express by a cry, will afterwards liberate him from the Latin rhetoric, and will vent itself on things rather than on words. Moreover, under the constraint of climate and solitude, by the habit of resistance and effort, his ideal is changed. Manly and moral instincts have gained the empire over him; and amongst
them the need of independence, the disposition for serious and strict manners, the inclination for devotion and veneration, the worship of heroism. Here are the foundations and the elements of a civilization, slower but sounder, less careful of what is agreeable and elegant, more based on justice and truth.1 Hitherto at least the race is intact, intact in its primitive coarseness; the Roman cultivation could neither develop nor deform it. If Christianity took root, it was owing to natural affinities, but it produced no change in the native genius. Now approaches a new conquest, which is to bring this time men, as well as ideas. The Saxons, meanwhile, after the wont of German races, vigorous and fertile, have within the past six centuries multiplied enormously. They were now about two millions, and the Norman army numbered sixty thousand. In vain these Normans become transformed, gallicized; by their origin, and substantially in themselves they are still the relatives of those whom they conquered. In vain they imported their manners and their poesy, and introduced into the language a third part of its words; this language continues altogether German in element and in substance. Though the grammar changed, it changed integrally, by an internal action, in the same sense as its continental cognates. At the end of three hundred years the conquerors themselves were conquered; their speech became English; and owing to frequent intermarriage, the English blood ended by gaining the predominance over the Norman blood in their veins. The race finally remains Saxon. If the old poetic genius disappears after the Conquest, it is as a river disappears, and flows for a while underground. In five centuries it will emerge once more.3
11a Iceland, the country of the fiercest sea-kings, crimes are unknown; prisons have been turned to other uses; fines are the only punishment.
2 Following Doomsday Book, Mr. Turner reckons at three hundred thousand the heads of families mentioned. If each family consisted of five persons, that would make one million five hundred thousand people. He adds five hundred thousand for the four northern counties, for London and several large towns, for the monks and provincial clergy not enumerated. We must accept these figures with caution. Still they agree with those of Mackintosh, George Chalmers, and several others. Many facts show that the Saxor population was very numerous, and quite out of proportion to the Norman population.
3 Warton, History of English Poetry, 1840, 3 vols. preface.
I. A CENTURY and a half had passed on the Continent since, amid the universal decay and dissolution, a new society had been formed, and new men had risen up. Brave men had at length made a stand against the Norsemen and the robbers. They had planted their feet in the soil, and the moving chaos of the general subsidence had become fixed by the effort of their great hearts and of their arms. At the mouths of the rivers, in the defiles of the mountains, on the margin of the waste borders, at all perilous passes, they had built their forts, each for himself, each on his own land, each with his faithful band; and they had lived like a scattered but watchful army, encamped and confederate in their castles, sword in hand, in front of the enemy. Beneath this discipline a formidable people had been formed, fierce hearts in strong bodies," intolerant of restraint, longing for violent deeds, · born for constant warfare because steeped in permanent warfare, heroes and robbers, who, as an escape from their solitude, plunged into adventures, and went, that they might conquer a country or win Paradise, to Sicily, to Portugal, to Spain, to Palestine, to England.
II. On the 27th of September 1066, at the mouth of the Somme, there was a great sight to be seen : four hundred large sailing vessels, more than a thousand transports, and sixty thousand men,
i See, amidst other delineations of their manners, the first accounts of the first Crusade. Godfrey clove a Saracen down to his waist.-In Palestine, a widow was compelled, up to the age of sixty, to marry again, because no fief could remain without a defender.—A Spanish leader said to his exhausted soldiers after a battle, “You are too weary and too much wounded, but come and fight with me against this other band; the fresh wounds which we shall receive will make us forget those which we have.” At this time, says the General Chronicle of Spain, kings, counts, and nobles, and all the knights, that they might be ever ready, kept their horses in the chamber where they slept with their wives.
were on the point of embarking. The sun shone splendidly after long rain ; trumpets sounded, the cries of this armed multitude rose to heaven; as far as the eye could see, on the shore, in the widespreading river on the sea which opens out thence broad and shining, masts and sails extended like a forest; the enormous fleet set out wafted by the south wind. The people which it carried were said to have come from Norway, and they might have been taken for kinsmen of the Saxons, with whom they were to fight; but there were with them a multitude of adventurers, crowding from all quarters, far and near, from north and south, from Maine and Anjou, from Poitou and Brittany, from Ile-de-France and Flanders, from Aquitaine and Burgundy;' and, in short, the expedition itself was French.
How comes it that, having kept its name, it had changed its nature ? and what series of renovations had made a Latin out of a German people? The reason is that this people, when they came to Neustria, were neither a national body, nor a pure race. They were but a band; and as such, marrying the women of the country, they introduced foreign blood into their children. They were a Scandinavian band, but swelled by all the bold knaves and all the wretched desperadoes who wandered about the conquered country:4 and as such they received foreign blood into their veins. Moreover, if the nomadic band was mixed, the settled band was much more so; and peace by its transfusions, like war by its recruits, had changed the character of the primitive blood. When Rollo, having divided the land amongst his followers, hung the thieves and their abettors, people from every country gathered to him. Security, good stern justice, were so rare, that they were enough to re-people a land. He invited strangers, say the old writers, “and made one people out of so many folk of different natures.” This assemblage of barbarians, refugees, robbers, immi
1 For difference in numbers of the fleet and men, see Freeman, Hist. of the Norm. Conq., 3 vols. 1867, iii. 381, 387.-Tr.
2 For all the details, see Anglo-Norman Chronicles, iii. 4, as quoted by Aug. Thierry. I have myself seen the locality and the country.
3 Of three columns of attack at Hastings, two were composed of auxiliaries. Moreover, the chroniclers are not at fault upon this critical point; they agree in stating that England was conquered by Frenchmen.
4 It was a Rouen fisherman, a soldier of Rollo, who killed the Duke of France at the mouth of the Eure.' Hastings, the famous sea-king, was a laborer's son from the neighborhood of Troyes.
5“In the tenth century," says Stendhal, “a man wished for two things: ist, not to he slain; 2d, to have a good leather coat." See Fontenelle's Chronicle.