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memorable; and we think these pictures of a country, at certain periods, “ in its habit as it lived,” are most interesting. Captain Franck writes honestly at any rate; for it is easy to trace the footsteps of the trooper and the angler through “ the flourishing fields" and by river-side. You find him revelling in the deeds of the Marquess Montrose on one page, and throwing a fly over the silver Trent, or “ dibbing on a torpid lake" in the next. He protests against repetition in more than one of his prefaces, and our readers will have seen how rigidly he has abstained from it.
Franck's heart was certainly bent upon angling. In angling he took delight, and could bear no rival. Fighting was his trade, and he followed it as long as it was profitable; but he did not envy great generals or warriors of larger fame, for he loved not the red sport well enough to be emulous of exceeding all other artists in it: but he must be first fisherman, or nothing. He could bear no partner near the scaly throne-and hence is to be attributed the mortal dislike which he entertained towards Isaac Walton. Did Isaac Walton merit unkindness of any man ?-No.
Franck, is the patient unaffected earnestness of old Isaac Walton ; who gave no flourishing description of rivers out of England, nor indulged in any impatient cavillings with other masters of the rod; who made not his book on fishing a receptacle for theological controversy, or polemic inferences, but wrote, as he proposed, on fish, and on the best way to take them; talking like an innocent old man on a favourite pastime, and giving way to piety or poetry, as his feelings and the love of the art naturally led him. In reading the Captain's account of Scotland, you are amused with his extravagant descriptions, but you are not familiarized with any spot, or beguiled into the love of any favourite river: Isaac Walton, on the contrary, does not merely describe; he takes you with him into the fields,--shews you Ware; walks with you by Tottenham, and on to Amwell Hill; rambles with you by the Lea. The purity of the morning light gleams over his language, and the freshness of the river-breezes breathes through his thoughts. Every turn of the Lea may, indeed, be unwound, and we seem to know and love its waters.
We had intended to indulge at considerable length in remarks on that delightful book The Complete Angler of our favourite Isaac Walton; but the length to which our notice of Captain Franck's work has extended compels us to desist, and we must still therefore postpone our observations on that kind and venerable Fisher to some other day. There is a new
VOL. VIII. PART I.
edition of the work lately published,* with engravings of fish and of the fishing spots about the river Lea and Dovedale, which make it fit company for Walton's own fish and Walton's own Lea. Fishing certainly is catching, for we are determined to become anglers ourselves this autumn, and to try our fortunes and our flies in the streams that run over “ the flourishing fields of Albion.”
* The Complete Angler, by J. Major, of Fleet Street.
END OF VOL. VIII. PART 1.
Vol. VIII. Part II.
Art. I.-Chronicon Saxonicum, seu Annales rerum in Anglia
præcipue gestarum a Christo nato ad annum 1554 deducti ac jam demum Latinitate dunati, cum Indice rerum chronologica. Accedunt Regulæ ad investigandas nominum locorum Origines et nominum locorum ac virorum in chronico memoratorum explicatio. Operâ et studio Edmundi Gibson, A.B. e Collegio Reginæ Oxonii. E Theatro Sheldoniano, A.D. 1692.
Among the desiderata of literary inquiry and research, there are not many perhaps to which it would be more desirable to direct an increased attention than the subject of Saxon antiquities. The constitutional history of our country, or, if we may so express ourselves, the philosophy of English history, can, in fact, be little understood without a much more extended and accurate acquaintance with the records of the earlier ages, than is to be had through the medium of our popular historians. How erroneous, nay, how completely contradictory to the ascertainable facts, many of the statements of
might (if time would permit) have abundant opportunities of observing in the course of this article ; and it will appear not a little extraordinary, that although, from the date of the revolution to the present time, we have had such a succession of new histories of England, by authors and compilers of such different views and principles, yet so little of new light should have been thrown upon the subject. The writers of those histories, as they are called, with respect to the ages in which
VOL. VIII. PART 11.
the bases of our institutions are indisputably to be sought, have been content to transcribe, without examination, the errors and misrepresentations of their predecessors; and what is still worse, in too many instances, to continue the marginal quotations of reference to original authorities, without ever referring to those authorities themselves :—which, if referred to, would occasionally be found to negative, rather than to affirm, the supposititious facts they are thus popularly quoted to uphold.*
The negligent manner in which the earlier periods of our history are thus skimmed over, will, perhaps, in some degree account (though it is not the only reason) for the little estimation in which our Saxon ancestors are generally held. The study of English history has been erroneously supposed to require no commencement more remote than the period of the Norman conquest; and, perhaps, those great and powerful families who have their descent from no higher origin, by a feeling very natural to the human mind, may have little inclination for a more extended retrospect; or little suspicion, that beyond that era there is any thing to be learned that could repay the labour of inquiry : while, at the same time, the historians of the succeeding epochs have been little solicitous to elucidate the fact, that all the important and comparatively popular struggles of the early Norman periods, (and if we were to make the assertion in much broader terms, the proofs would bear us out,) were little other than struggles for the restoration of those principles and institutions, which constituted the essence of the government of our Saxon ancestors; and which the Norman sword had brought into a state of abeyance. Even the Norman barons, and Feudal proprietaries themselves, found it necessary in the process of time, for the protection of their privileges and the security of their acquired possessions, to recur to the axioms and usages of the people they had subdued ; and our vaunted Magna Charta will be found, upon investigation, to be only a partial restoration of the imprescriptible claims of the Saxon constitution.
* It would be perfectly startling to popular credulity, should all the instances be quoted, in which the text of Hume, in the remoter periods more especially, is at the most positive variance with the authorities he pretends to rest upon. In a series of historical inquiries, which the writer of this article had some years since particular occasion to superintend, aberrations of this kind were so frequently detected, that it became necessary to lay it down as a rule never to admit of a quotation from that popular historian, when the authorities he pretends to refer to were not accessible for the purpose of previous comparison and confirmation.
The accession of William of Normandy to the English throne was quickly followed by as great a change in our constitution as in our language, and alternate struggle and compromise was as much a consequence in the one as in the other. The ancient Saxon system was that of Allodialism, in which the freemen were the absolute proprietors, with no other condition annexed to their tenures, than that which resulted, as a necessity, from the mere possession—the duty of defending, by associate arms, the soil which, as independent warriors, in voluntary association, their arms had successively acquired. The free population, in the primitive spirit of the establishment, were accordingly an aggregate militia. Nobility (the result of established estimation) was indeed inherent in the families of their chieftains, but political rank and office rose from the people; as elevation to the throne did also from the united choice of the free population and their functionaries. The crown was therefore hereditary only in family, and the states of the kingdom decided upon what distinguished individual of that family the succession should devolve. This will be put beyond all dispute, by a diligent perusal of the ancient chronicles, and an attentive comparison of the genealogies of the respective kingdoms of the Heptarchy; and will even be confirmed by reference to the many collateral successions to the throne of the united realm. There are instances in the history of several of the Heptarchic states, and especially in the kingdom of Wessex, (which ultimately swallowed up all the rest,) of the elevation of relatives in the fourteenth or fifteenth remove, in preference to the son or next of kin. With the policy of such a system of compromise between the apparently hostile principles of election and descent we, of course, have nothing to do. No doubt instances enough might be produced from Saxon records, of the inconveniences occasionally resulting from so loose a principle of succession : but there is proof abundant that such was the Saxon tenure of the crown; and the title of our chief magistrate to the present day, King, or Conning—that is to say, the wise--continues to record the primitive condition or elective tenure of the office. The states of the kingdom designing to elevate to that station of trust and power whoever should be deemed the wisest among the descendants of the regal family: valour and ability in the field of battle being, of course, in those rude ages, necessarily regarded as among the foremost of the attributes of regal wisdom.* Such was, in its original purity, the allodial system of our Saxon ancestors.
* Our Saxon ancestors seemed to have pushed this principle to all its consequences : for the instances are not few of the deposition of their kings in several of the states of the Heptarchy.