« AnteriorContinuar »
a court of justice compared with the twelve men in the jury-box.
To these views of Mill may be added those of another energetic writer. Popular government af
fords the only true education. It is not schools and colleges that can ever give that
education. They may be the means of imposing cramps and fetters on the mind; they may dull out half the faculties by giving undue exercise to others; they may drill into a lifeless routine of proprieties and conventionalisms; they may even impart what is called refinement and politeness; but they never are, and never can be, the means of training up to the great business of life. For that a greater and wider school is necessary,—the school of the active exercise of all the faculties in the earnest work of real life. But the great instrument for drawing forth the powers of mind and sharpening the wit in every useful way will be the free schools of manly discussion and intercommunication which popular institutions will keep always open and attended. Both as to thought and action, the faculties of man will have this as their best training. Men cannot discuss without first having paid some attention to the subject-matter of discussion. As long as everything is done for them, they have no occasion to think at all, and will soon become incapable of thinking. But the moment they are thrown on their own resources, the moment selfreliance and self-dependence are made necessary to their existence, they wake from their torpor, put forth their energies, and rouse their faculties. It becomes
1 Considerations respecting Representative Government, American ed., p. 62, etc,
necessary that they should act; and to act they should think.1
If, then, Anglo-Saxon freedom is a matter of such paramount importance, time will be well spent in tracing its course in history. It has been seen that a considerable similarity exists among the popular institutions of the primitive Aryan stocks, a similarity extending in some degree to savage races in general. No such development, however, has anywhere else taken place as that in the case of Anglo-Saxon freedom. The English-speaking race is the only race in which there has been an unbroken institutional growth from the forest beginnings. “No other society,” says Macaulay, “ has yet succeeded in uniting revolution with prescription, progress with stability, the energy of youth with the majesty of immemorial antiquity.” 2
In the conquest of England there was a complete transfer to the island, of the continental order. Veritable war-keels of the times of Hengist and Horsa have been preserved in the peat- conquest of bogs of Sleswick, so that an accurate idea may be formed of the fleets in which was effected this memorable deportation. They were flat-bottomed, so that they might be easily beached, seventy feet in length, eight or nine in width, with sides of oak planks fastened by bark ropes and iron bolts. Besides the sails, the power of fifty oars forced the dragon figure-head through the sea. Along the bulwarks were ranged the war-boards, the round shields of the crew, of yellow limewood, with an iron boss in the centre. In the holds of the preserved ships have been found still lying the weapons and armor held ready for the landing, the short seax, at once dagger and knife; the sword, with its blade runeinscribed; the long spear of ash; the falcon or boarcrested helmet. In the effete Roman world upon the border of which they had lived, scarcely touched by influences from it either good or bad, the basis of society was the peasant crushed by deepening fiscal tyranny into the slave ; the basis of political life was the hardly less enslaved proprietor, disarmed, bound like a serf to the soil, powerless to withstand the greed of the government in which he himself had not the slightest part. The society and polity with which those rude barks, breasting far and near the bleak German Ocean, were freighted, was, on the other hand, that of freemen, brave ceorls, judging, fighting for themselves ; farmers and herdsmen by land, by sea the boldest of sailors.
1 J. Toulmin Smith: Local Self-Government and Centralization, London, J. Chapman, 1851, p. 50, etc.
2 History of England, Vol. I, p. 20, Harper's ed.
After the foray of Jute, Angle, and Saxon warriors, wife and child presently followed; just as distinctly
in the transplantation passed ætheling, ceorl, læt, and slave, who presently set in order tun, hundred, and shire, each with its appropriate moot. The movement has not the attestation of documents, but, comparing the account of Tacitus with the reports of annalists who after an interval appeared, the intermediate history becomes plain to us. As before, the land-owning freemen possessed all substantial power; the unit of the political body was the tun-scipe, township; and this, whether it was a settlement of kindred colonizing on their own account, or the estate of some rich man occupied by a body of dependents, or a neighborhood of small landholders brought to act together simply from their nearness to each other with no tie of relationship, possessed a vigorous vitality. In exceptional cases the reeve of the tun was not elected, but nominated by the great proprietor; nevertheless, in all the tuns the ceorls had their moots with power
Transference of the conti. nental civili. zation to the new home.
1 J. R. Green: The Making of England, p. 148.
2 It must be noted here that there are scholars who find no evidence of such a transference of life and institutions from the Elbe and Weser plains to Britain, at the time of the Anglo-Saxon conquest. Mr. H. C. Coote in his “Romans of Britain” (London, F. Norgate, 1878), argues at length, that during the Roman period the greater part of the island was occupied by the Belgæ, who had begun to settle here before the
time of Cæsar. They were Teutons, and to them we owe what we have called the Anglo-Saxon element in our institutions and language. When the Anglo-Saxons came, they did not exterminate, but lived among the Romanized population (the Belgæ, namely, who had risen in civilization under the masters from the Seven Hills), as conquerors and controllers, though in a far more barbarous condition than their victims. The institutions and language that prevailed were derived entirely from these Romanized Belgæ; for the Anglo-Saxons were at last all killed by the Danes. Then the “Roman burgesses” came up, obtaining concessions almost amounting to independence. Through influences proceeding from them, feudalism was overcome, and a place in the national council at last won for the Commons, this last achievement being but the revival of a right which had been possessed under the Roman empire. These ideas, so at variance with the ordinary teaching as regards early English history, are presented with much learning and ingenuity. They have made upon the world little impression, however, and since the death of Mr. Coote, in 1885, they have found no conspicuous champion. The vast weight of authority remains in favor of the view stated in the text. Nevertheless, the fact that a theory so utterly subversive of this view admits of a presentment so plausible, must cause a feeling that here statements quite too definite may be made, and that the margin of uncertainty, as regards events in these dark years, is very large.
of making their local laws. The burh, or borough, was only a more strictly organized tun-scipe, with a ditch or rampart of earth instead of the hedge or paling. The hundred, or wapentake, was a union of townships. These again were collected into divisions called in the North ridings, in Sussex rapes, in Kent lathes; the shire at last comprehended all, the chief officers of which were the shire-reeve, and the ealdorman, officials originally elective, but tending, as time goes forward, to become hereditary.
The most important change to be noticed, as the German invaders make their new homes, is that the
King appears. In some tribes of the TeuAppearance of kingship. tons there had been in the earliest historic day a shadowy functionary, in a certain sense an over-lord through the suffrages of the freemen. The conquerors of Britain were not among these tribes, the folk-moot being supreme. Still, in carrying on war, the army-chiefs, heretogas, elected from among the athelings by the people, each surrounded by a personal retinue of warlike youths attracted by his prowess, headed the military expeditions. As the necessity for one-man power became pressing in order to make effective the extraordinary undertakings upon which the barbarians at length entered, more and more authority was given to that heretoga who showed himself valiant and wise, until in chieftains like Hengist, Horsa, Alla, and Cerdic, personages stepped forth among them in a character quite new. Like the old heretogas, they possessed no authority
1 In the constitutional sketch, Stubbs at present is mainly followed, with side-lights, however, from a number of other authorities.