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sirable,-arts, sciences, peace, stability. The seas of blood which had been poured out in the intestine struggles of the French nobles, had washed away every tincture of literature which had been left by the Romans. The arts and the commerce which, even as late as the reign of Dagobert, had been seen flourishing in luxuriance, were now all crushed under the iron steps of civil war. Long arrears of hatred and vengeance had been accumulated between each family and each province of the land. No principle of law or justice remained to restrain the strong, or to protect the weak; and no acknowledged power of legislation existed, except in the sword. Such was the state of the kingdom over which Charles Martel fixed his sway. Under his administration, order was in some degree restored by the sole vigour of the hand which held the reins of government; but the sciences which had fled, and the arts which had been lost, remained unrecovered, till a brighter era opened, and a more comprehensive mind awoke, to recall the treasures of the former days. p. 68.
Charles Martel, although the founder of the Carlovingian dynasty, does not appear in the line of French kings. His son Pepin, A.D. 752, first assumed the crown, having obtained the sanction of his title from the Church. The birth of Charlemagne dates about ten years before the coronation of his father. He is stated to have been scarcely twelve years of age when he was despatched by Pepin to welcome the Roman pontiff to the Frankish territory; a circumstance which would seem to indicate a physical precocity in the youthful deputy. In 768, Pepin, on his death-bed, divided his whole dominions between his two sons, Charles, afterwards called Charlemagne, and Carloman. The opportune and sudden death of the latter, three years after, left him, by the choice of the nobles of Carloman's dominions, the master of the undivided French empire.
We shall not enter upon the life of Charlemagne, as a mere analysis would be uninteresting, and we have no leisure for entering into historical disquisition. Mr. James asserts, that no accurate life of Charlemagne has ever been written; and it is now, perhaps, too late for accuracy. His correction of the errors to be found in former statements, entitles him, however, to our thanks; and although we have not compared his work with M. Gaillard's “Histoire de Charlemagne”, which Gibbon praises for its industry and elegance', we have no doubt that the palm of correctness and fidelity must be awarded to the present Writer. Where is the French historian that does not occasionally run into romance? In several instances, Mr. James represents the learned Frenchman as substituting specious theory for historical fact, and as reversing the order of events, and then deducing a long series of false conclusions from his own blunder, owing to his not having, apparently, examined with attention the very works he cites. Dubot and De Buat, our Author has seldom been tempted to cite. “Both', he says, 'were bigoted theorists ;
• and, notwithstanding their learning and research, it is almost as troublesome to sift the historical truths they have collected,
from the loose hypotheses in which they have involved them, as 'to seek them out in the original authorities. The latter is, at least, the only safe and workmanlike plan of proceeding. The most prominent fault in the present work, is the evident and almost amusing anxiety which its Author displays, to place the character of his hero in the most exalted light. The love of his torical truth will scarcely account for the warmth with which he vindicates it on every occasion from what he styles the historical
puritanism of the present age'. He is particularly angry against the French writers who have stigmatised the wars of Charlemagne against the Saxons as unjust ', and ' his severity 6 on one occasion, after many years of abused clemency, as ini
quitous cruelty'. He complains, that a sickly affectation of 'humanity has blinded the eyes to a perception of justice; and
historical truth has been concealed or distorted to favour a vain • hypothesis.' (p. 235.) Now allowing his view of the matter to be the right one, this is not precisely the proper style of dealing with an historical question. It is true, that the Saxons were
barbarians '; but what better were the Franks ? Again, Mr. James says:
Some of the French writers, I know not why, for they are unsupported by even a shadow of historical authority, have chosen to represent these (Saxon) wars as a struggle for independence on the part of the German tribes. (See Gaillard, p. 249, 340, &c.) It only requires to be remarked, that the German tribes were always the aggressors; that none of these wars in Germany were undertaken, but for the purpose of punishing some great predatory inroad into the territories of France, or of securing the frontier against a fresh attack; and that none of the German nations tributary to France, joined the Saxons in their wars.' p. 146, note.
Yet, a few pages onward, we meet with the following theory as to the motives which induced Charlemagne to undertake these wars; and our readers will judge whether the hypothesis which Mr. James represents to be unsupported by even a shadow of historical authority, is not countenanced by an authority which he cannot dispute,--his own language.
Such was the state of the Saxons at the reunion of the French monarchy under Charlemagne; and it would seem, that the first step he proposed to himself, as an opening to all his great designs, was completely to subdue a people, which every day ravaged his frontier provinces, and continually threatened the very existence of the nations around.
Against them, consequently, were turned the first efforts of his arms, as soon as he became the sole sovereign of France; but to overthrow and to subjugate was not alone his object. Doubtless, to de
fend his own infringed territory, and to punish the aggressors, formed a part of his design; but beyond that, he aimed at civilizing a people whose barbarism had been for centuries the curse of the neighbouring countries, and, at the same time, communicating to the cruel savages, who shed the blood of their enemies less in the battle than in the sacrifice, the bland and mitigating spirit of the Christian religion.
· That in the pursuit of this object he should have ever committed, either on a principle of policy, or of fanaticism, or of necessity, a great and startling act of severity, is to be much lamented. But no inference can be drawn from a single fact in opposition to the whole tenor of a man's conduct ; and Charlemagne proved incontestably, by every campaign against the Saxons, that his design was as much to civilize as to subdue.' pp. 150–151.
In order to impress these cruel savages' with the bland and mitigating spirit of the Christian religion', which the Frankish Timour so well understood, 'entering the enemy's territory, he
laid waste the whole land with fire and sword. This was an admirable method of civilizing the idolaters; the same that the Khalifs had practised with so much success, in order to propagate a religion scarcely less Christian ; the same that, in later ages, Cortes adopted in Mexico. Yet, as all nations have a reasonable objection against being either civilized or converted at the sword's point, we do not see why the resistance of the Saxons against Charlemagne's avowed plan of conquest, might not be fairly represented as a struggle for independence; as much so as the wars of the Scotch against the English, in the reign of our Edwards, when the ambition of the English monarchs never wanted a pretext for invasion in the border forays.
Mr. James will have it, however, that Karl the Great was a philanthropist, who had nothing so much in view as “the weal of human nature'.
· The most pacific disposition, joined to the most benevolent mind, would never have won for Charlemagne the repose of his German frontier ; but, in fact, the disposition of that monarch, by the habits of his nation by the circumstances of his country-by the character of his age—by the education of his youth — by the constitution of his body -by the very qualities of his mind—was warlike. His benevolence shewed itself continually in his government, in his laws, in his efforts to soften and to civilize, in his treatment of enemies, in his affection for his friends, in his placability after personal offence, and in his active intercession for the unhappy and the unfortunate. In all these points, the beneficence of his heart rose above the rudeness of his age, trampled on its prejudices, and cast away its passions ; but still, by nature he was a warrior, and he could not have remained a king unless he had been a conqueror.' pp. 191-192.
• I have been led into this digression', adds the Author (in à note), ' by some remarks tending to censure the French monarch ' for not sitting still, and suffering the Saxons to plunder his provinces, with philosophical tranquillity.' It was hardly worth while to be tempted by such remarks to deviate from the proper line of the historian; but assuredly, the censure' is not to be turned aside by such—we beg Mr. James's pardon-mere twaddle as the above paragraph.
In a subsequent note, our Author enters the lists with Gibbon; and we must transcribe both the note and the passage to which it refers, containing a highly coloured panegyric upon the civil government of the Frankish Emperor.
- Ascending the throne in a barbarous period, when internal policy was perfectly in its infancy, and the whole mechanism of society rude and irregular, Charlemagne could not be expected to change, by the simple power of his own mind, the constitution of his whole race, rekindle in an instant the extinguished light of past ages, or hurry into maturity the whole fruits of coming years. The performance of such a task was not within the grasp of human faculties; but what he did do, when joined with the circumstances in which he was placed-surrounded on every side by darkness, superstition, and prejudices, and having to vanquish them all-shews him as great a conqueror in the moral as in the physical world; and raises him to the highest pitch of human grandeur, by evincing that he not only overcame the barbarians of his time, but also overcame the barbarism itself.
Whatever were the warlike undertakings in which the monarch was engaged, and whatever were the immense demands upon his time and attention, no evil to his fellow creatures which was brought before him, ever passed without notice and correction,-no effort to purify and improve the state of society was forgotten. pp. 238, 9.
I have been led into this imperfect defence of Charlemagne's internal administration from a passage in Gibbon. « They (his laws) compose not a system, but a series of occasional and minute edicts, for the correction of abuses, the reformation of manners, the economy of his farms, the care of his poultry, and even the sale of his eggs, &c." and again, in a note, “ Yet Schmidt, from the best authorities, represents the interior disorders and oppressions of his reign.” The portion of Mr. Gibbon's work in which this appears, does not reflect the greatest lustre upon his name as an historian. Had he really, on the present occasion, compared the garbled accounts of the modern historians whom he cites, with the original authorities, he would have found, that amidst misstatements and errors innumerable, the oppresa sions and disorders of the reign of Charlemagne do not amount to what the assizes of a petty county town in England can produce; and had he chosen to reason, rather than sneer, he would have perceived, that, though the mind of that monarch did not suffice at once to dispel the darkness of four hundred years, yet it enlightened all that it touched, corrected the abuses of his age, and cast back for a century the load of barbarism that was falling fast upon the world. The interior disorders and oppressions represented by Schmidt, upon careful perusal, I find to be derived, with scarcely an exception, not from the reign of Charlemagne, but from that of Louis le Debonnaire; and not, even then, from the earlier part of that reign.' p. 238, note.
· The language of Gibbon is worth transcribing, as it is unusually cautious, and, we think, unexceptionably just. 'I touch ' with reverence the laws of Charlemagne, so highly applauded by a respectable judge. They compose not a system, but a series, of occasional and minute edicts, for the correction of abuses, the reformation of manners, the economy of his farms, the care of his poultry, and even the sale of his eggs. He wished to improve the laws and the character of the Franks ; ! and his attempts, however feeble and imperfect, are deserving
of praise: the inveterate evils of the times were suspended or mollified by his government; but in his institutions I can sel• dom discover the general views and the immortal spirit of a le
gislator, who survives himself for the benefit of posterity. The union and stability of his empire depended on the life of a
single man: he imitated the dangerous practice of dividing his • kingdom among his sons; and, after his numerous diets, the
whole constitution was left to fluctuate between the disorders of 'anarchy and despotism.'
But, if Mr. James is indignant against Gibbon and his French authorities (Gaillard and Schmidt), what would he say to M. Thierry's unceremonious manner of dealing with this greatest 'man of the middle ages '? The following passage, which occurs in the first volume of his “ History of the Norman Conquest”, may perhaps in some measure explain why the great Frank is not more a favourite with French writers.
• The grandson of Karl' (Charles Martel, i. e. the Forgehammer), called by the same name as his grandfather, was,
like his father Pippinn, invited to march into Italy, and conquer more towns for the apostle Peter, whose ambition, once excited, ' was not easily allayed. Karl forced the barriers which closed the
passes of the mountains; drove from Upper Italy the Germanic • race of the Long-bard Kings, political rivals of the Lateran . conclave; and, on Easter-day, in the year 801, the chief of that .conclave placed a golden diadem on his head in the name of the
senate and people of Rome, and saluted him by the name of • Emperor instituted by God, great, pious, happy, clement, ' triumphant, and ever august. Karl carried with him these
titles, new to a German, to the city of Aaken or Aix on the • Meuse, which then became the imperial city of the West, as • Byzantium was that of the East. The German soldiers called their chief Kaisar; and his flatterers never afterwards approached him without bending one knee to the earth.
The recollections linked with a name, whose splendor was not ' yet extinct, caused the new Cæsar to be regarded as superior to 'all Kings. Karl, however, did not rely upon this moral in
fluence alone; but, to help the nations to feel it more profoundly, passed his life in arms; going, at the head of his Teutonic