« 上一頁繼續 »
The event of the battle of Hastings II. over the Italians, that the House placed all England, ultimately, at the of Hohenzollern has triumphed over disposition of the Normans, though the House of Hapsburg, that President many years elapsed before the coun- Johnson rules at Washington, and that try was entirely conquered. Had the Queen Victoria sits in the seat of Akbar English possessed a good government, or Aurungzebe, are facts which must all or leaders who enjoyed general confi- be attributed to the decision made by dence, their defeat at Hastings would the sword at Hastings, no matter what not have reduced them to bondage, or may have been the particular process have converted their country into a of events after that battle. It is possinew world. But they, who were even
ble that the misery consequent on the slavishly dependent on their govern- victory of the Normans has been exagment for leading, had no government; gerated, though a great deal of sufferand they were just as destitute of chiefs ing must have followed from it. But who were competent to assume the lead there can be no exaggeration of the at so dark a crisis. Taking advantage general consequence of the success of of circumstances so favorable to his the Normans. That determined the purpose, William soon made himself future course of the world, and will king, but had most of his work to do continue to determine it long after long after he was crowned. The bat- the Valley of the Amazon shall be tle of Hastings, therefore, was decisive far more thickly inhabited, and better of the future of England and of the known, than to-day is the Valley of British race.
Saxon England disap- the Danube. peared; Norman England rose. The There is one popular error with rechange was perfect, and quite warrants gard to the Norman Conquest which Lord Macaulay's emphatic assertion, it may not be amiss to correct. It is that “the battle of Hastings, and the taken for granted by most persons who events which followed it, not only have written on it, that the triumph of placed a Duke of Normandy on the William was the triumph of an arisEnglish throne, but gave up the whole tocracy over a people, and we often population of England to the tyranny hear the Saxons spoken of as demoof the Norman race,” — and that “the crats who were subdued by aristocrats. subjugation of a nation by a nation This is an entirely erroneous view of has seldom, even in Asia, been more the whole subject. So far as there was complete.” The nation that finally was a contest at Hastings between aristoformed by a union of the Saxons and crats and democrats, the Normans were the Normans, and which was seven or champions of democracy, and the Saxeight generations in forming, was a ons of the opposite principle. The very different nation from that which Saxon aristocracy was very powerful, had been ruled by the Confessor. It and its power was steadily increasing was a nation that was capable of every for generations before the Conquest; form of action, and had little in com- and had there not been a foreign invamon with the Saxons of the eleventh sion, it is altogether probable that the century. It matters nothing whether English system soon would have bethe Conqueror introduced the feudal come strictly oligarchical. One of the system into England, or whether he chief causes of Harold's failure was his found it there, or whether that system inability to command the prompt supis almost entirely an imaginary crea- port of some of the greatest nobles, as tion, as most probably is the fact. We Earls Edwin and Morcar, who paid know that the event called the Nor- bitterly for their backwardness in after man Conquest wrought great changes in days. Something of this may be attribEngland, and through England in the uted to the weakness of his title to the world; and that Napoleon III. reigns crown, but the mere fact that such men over the French, and Victor Emanuel could so powerfully influence events at
a time when the very existence of the English more, than to see the fair and country was at stake, is enough to noble English maidens and widows show how strong were the insular aris- compelled to accept these despicable tocrats; and it was this selfish aris- adventurers as their husbands. Of this tocracy that was destroyed by the Nor- we have an example in Lucia, the mans, most of whom were upstarts, the daughter of Algar, for Talboys seems very scum of Europe having entered to have been a person of the lowest deWilliam's army. We doubt if ever gree." Ivo Talboys, or Taillebois, was there was a greater triumph effected by one of the Conqueror's followers, and the poor and the lowly-born over the rich his chief gave him lands in the fen and the well-born, than that which was country, near the monastery of Croygained at Hastings, though it required land; and this chance of a locality some years to make it complete. “Ac- may have had something to do with cording to the common report,” says the reputation he has, for it brought F. Palgrave, “sixty thousand knights him under the lash of the famous Inreceived their fees, or rather their liv- gulphus, Chronicler of Croyland, (if he ings, to use the old expression, from the was that Chronicler,) who charges him Conqueror. This report is exaggerat- with all manner of crimes, - and with ed as to number; but the race of the reason good, for he bore himself with Anglo - Danish and English nobility great harshness toward the brethren and gentry, the Earls and the greater of the great Croyland monastery, — an Thanes, disappears; and with some unpardonable offence. Low as he was exceptions, remarkable as exemplifying by birth, Taillebois received the hand of the general rule, all the superiorities of Lucia, sister of the Saxon Earls Edwin the English soil became vested in the and Morcar, and became very wealthy. Conqueror's Baronage. Men of a new From this union came “the great line race and order, men of strange man- whence sprang the barons of Kendal ners and strange speech, ruled in Eng- and Lancaster.” The last descendant land. There were, however, some of this Norman baron of William's great mitigations, and the very suffer- creation and of the Saxon Lucia died ings of the conquered were so inflicted in 1861, a pauper in the workhouse of as to become the ultimate means of Shrewsbury, — Emily Taillebois, a girl national prosperity; but they were to of eighteen. be gone through, and to be attended There were thousands of such fellows with much present desolation and mis- as Taillebois in William's army, and, ery. The process was the more pain- though all were not so lucky as he, many ful because it was now accompanied of them drew good prizes in the lottery by so much degradation and contumely. of war, and founded, at the expense of The Anglo-Saxons seem to have had the noblest Saxons, families from which a very strong aristocratic feeling, - men are proud to be descended. Sir great respect for family and dignity of Walter has used this fact in “ Ivanhoe,” blood. The Normans, or rather the when he makes the usually silent Athhost of adventurers whom we must of elstane reply with so much eloquence necessity comprehend under the name to De Bracy's insolent remark that the of Normans, had comparatively little; princes of the House of Anjou conand not very many of the real old and ferred not their wards on men of such powerful aristocracy, whether of Nor- lineage as his. "My lineage, proud mandy or Brittany, settled in England. Norman,” replied Athelstane, “is drawn The great majority had been rude, and from a source more pure and ancient poor, and despicable in their own coun- than that of a beggarly Frenchman, try,- the rascallions of Northern Gaul: whose living is won by selling the these, suddenly enriched, lost all com- blood of the thieves whom he assempass and bearing of mind; and no one bles under his paltry standard. Kings circumstance vexed the spirit of the were my ancestors, strong in war and
wise in council, who every day feast- compared with it. The silver, the gold, ed in their hall more hundreds than the vases, vestments, and crucifixes thou canst number individual follow- crested with jewels, the silken garers; whose names have been sung by ments for men and women, the rings, minstrels, and their laws recorded by necklaces, bracelets, wrought delicately Wittenagemotes; whose bones were in gold and resplendent in gems, ininterred amid the prayers of saints, and spired the Continental barbarians with over whose tombs minsters have been rapture, and in their imaginations builded.” There can be no doubt that made England appear the Dorado of Saxons as far-descended as Scott rep- those times.” One of the writers of resents Athelstane to have been were that day states that “incredible treastreated worse than he, and that Saxon ures in gold and silver were sent from ladies of the highest birth and greatest the plunder of England to the Pope, wealth experienced the fate of the con- together with costly ornaments, which quered in much severer measure than would have been held in the highest it became known to Rowena. Scott estimation even at Byzantium, then has been accused of exaggerating the universally regarded as the most opueffects of the Conquest, but his glow- lent city in the world.” All this ing picture is by no means overcharged, implies that the Saxon aristocracy were if we look at the effect of that change very rich, and it is far from unlikely on the higher classes of the vanquished that it was the desire to preserve their people. The Saxons were very wealthy, property that led them to offer so little and the invaders obtained an amount resistance to William, - a fatally misof spoil that astonished them, the ac- taken course, for the invading advencounts of which remind the reader of turers had entered England in search what was told of the extraordinary of other men's property, and were not acquisitions made by the ruffians who to be kept quiet by the quietness of the formed the force of Pizarro in Peru. owners thereof. The aristocracy alone Years after the day of Hastings, we could afford such plunder as that deare told, William “bore back with scribed, and that so much of it was him, to his eager and hungry country, obtained shows how extensive must the plunder of England, which was have been the spoliation, and how so varied in kind, so prodigious in thoroughly Saxon nobles were stripped amount, that the awe-stricken chroni- of their possessions by the low-born clers maintain that all the Gauls, if ragamuffins who were induced by Wilransacked from end to end, would have liam's recruiting sergeants to enlist failed to supply treasures worthy to be under his black banner.
THE NOVELS OF GEORGE ELIOT.
HE critic's first duty in the pres- in other cases he will have to content
nce of an author's collective works himself with conscientious inductions. is to seek out some key to his method, In a writer so fond of digressions as some utterance of his literary convic- George Eliot, he has reason to expect tions, some indication of his ruling the- that broad evidences of artistic faith ory. The amount of labor involved in will not be wanting. He finds in “ Adan inquiry of this kind will depend very am Bede" the following passage: much upon the author. In some cases “ Paint us an angel if you can, with the critic will find express declarations ; a floating violet robe and a face paled
by the celestial light; paint us yet avowed predilections as these, a brief oftener a Madonna, turning her mild glance over the principal figures of her face upward, and opening her arms to different works would assure us that welcome the divine glory ; but do not our author's sympathies are with comimpose on us any æsthetic rules which mon people. Silas Marner is a linenshall banish from the region of art weaver, Adam Bede is a carpenter, those old women scraping carrots with Maggie Tulliver is a miller's daughter, their work-worn hands, — those heavy Felix Holt is a watchmaker, Dinah clowns taking holiday in a dingy pot- Morris works in a factory, and Hetty house, - those rounded backs and stu- Sorrel is a dairy-maid. Esther Lyon, pid weather-beaten faces that have bent indeed, is a daily governess; but Tito over the spade and done the rough Melema alone is a scholar. In the work of the world, - those homes with “Scenes of Clerical Life," the author their tin cans, their brown pitchers, is constantly slipping down from the their rough curs, and their clusters of clergymen, her heroes, to the most igonions. In this world there are so norant and obscure of their parishionmany of these common, coarse people, ers. Even in “ Romola” she consewho have no picturesque, sentimental crates page after page to the conversawretchedness. It is so needful we tion of the Florentine populace. She should remember their existence, else is as unmistakably a painter of bourwe may happen to leave them quite out geois life as Thackeray was a painter of of our religion and philosophy, and the life of drawing-rooms. frame lofty theories which only fit a • Her opportunities for the study of the world of extremes. ..... There are few manners of the solid lower classes have prophets in the world, - few sublimely evidently been very great. We have beautiful women, - few heroes. I can't her word for it that she has lived afford to give all my love and reverence much among the farmers, mechanics, to such rarities; I want a great deal of and small traders of that central rethose feelings for my every-day fellow- gion of England which she has made men, especially for the few in the fore- known to us under the name of Loamground of the great multitude, whose shire. The conditions of the popular faces I know, whose hands I touch, for life in this district in that already diswhom I have to make way with kindly tant period to which she refers the accourtesy... .... I herewith discharge tion of most of her stories - the end my conscience,” our author continuesof the last century and the beginning “and declare that I have had quite en- of the present - were so different from thusiastic movements of admiration to any that have been seen in America, ward old gentlemen who spoke the that an American, in treating of her worst English, who were occasionally, books, must be satisfied not to touch fretful in their temper, and who had upon the question of their accuracy never moved in a higher sphere of in- and fidelity as pictures of manners fluence than that of parish overseer ;
and customs. He can only say that and that the way in which I have come they bear strong internal evidence of to the conclusion that human nature is truthfulness. If he is a great admirer lovable — the way I have learnt some- of George Eliot, he will indeed be thing of its deep pathos, its sublime tempted to affirm that they must be mysteries has been by living a great true. They offer a completeness, a deal among people more or less com- rich density of detail, which could be monplace and vulgar, of whom you the fruit only of a long term of conwould perhaps hear nothing very sur- scious contact, - such as would make prising if you were to inquire about it much more difficult for the author them in the neighborhoods where they to fall into the perversion and supdwelt.”
pression of facts, than to set them But even in the absence of any such down literally. It is very probable that her colors are a little too bright, Donnithorne; so, although he will perand her shadows of too mild a gray, sist in going without a cravat, is Felix that the sky of her landscapes is too Holt. So, with perhaps the exception sunny, and their atmosphere too redo- of Maggie Tulliver and Stephen Guest, lent of peace and abundance. Local is every important character to be found affection may be accountable for half in our author's writings. They all of this excess of brilliancy; the au- share this fundamental trait, – that in thor's native optimism is accountable each of them passion proves itself for the other half. I do not remem- feebler than conscience. ber, in all her novels, an instance of The first work which made the name gross misery of any kind not directly of George Eliot generally known, concaused by the folly of the sufferer. tains, to my perception, only a small There are no pictures of vice or pov- number of the germs of her future erty or squalor. There are no rags, power. From the “Scenes of Clerical no gin, no brutal passions. That av- Life” to “ Adam Bede” she made not erage humanity which she favors is so much a step as a leap. Of the three very borné in intellect, but very genial tales contained in the former work, I in heart, as a glance at its representa- think the first is much the best. It is tives in her pages will convince us. In short, broadly descriptive, humorous, " Adam Bede," there is Mr. Irwine, the and exceedingly pathetic. “ The Sad vicar, with avowedly no qualification Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barfor his profession, placidly playing ton" are fortunes which clever storychess with his mother, stroking his tellers with a turn for pathos, from dogs, and dipping into Greek trage- Oliver Goldsmith downward, have dies ; there is the excellent Martin found of very good account, — the forPoyser at the Farm, good-natured and tunes of a hapless clergyman of the rubicund; there is his wife, somewhat Church of England in daily contentoo sharply voluble, but only in behalf tion with the problem how upon eighty of cleanliness and honesty and order; pounds a year to support a wife and six there is Captain Donnithorne at the children in all due ecclesiastical genHall, who does a poor girl a mortal tility. “Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story,” the wrong, but who is, after all, such a second of the tales in question, I cannot nice, good-looking fellow; there are hesitate to pronounce a failure. George Adam and Seth Bede, the carpenter's Eliot's pictures of drawing - room life sons, the strongest, purest, most dis- are only interesting when they are creet of young rustics.
linked or related to scenes in the tavbroad felicity prevails in “ The Mill ern parlor, the dairy, and the cottage. on the Floss.” Mr. Tulliver, indeed, Mr. Gilfil's love-story is enacted enfails in business; but his failure only tirely in the drawing-room, and in conserves as an offset to the general in- sequence it is singularly deficient in tegrity and prosperity. His son is force and reality. Not that it is vulobstinate and wilful; but it is all on gar,- for our author's good taste never the side of virtue. His daughter is forsakes her, — but it is thin, flat, and somewhat sentimental and erratic; but trivial. But for a certain family likeshe is more conscientious yet. Con- ness in the use of language and the science, in the classes from which rhythm of the style, it would be hard to George Eliot recruits her figures, is a believe that these pages are by the universal gift. Decency and plenty same hand as “Silas Marner.” In and good-humor follow contentedly in “ Janet's Repentance," the last and its train. The word which sums up longest of the three clerical stories, we the common traits of our author's vari- return to middle life, — the life repreous groups is the word respectable. sented by the Dodsons in “ The Mill Adam Bede is pre - eminently a re- on the Floss.” The subject of this spectable young man ; so is Arthur tale might almost be qualified by the - NO. 108.