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The tribe of Phenician slaves fleeing from the avenging sword of the Egyptian to the desert valleys of Mount Sinai, is of more importance to the world than all the arts and learning of the kingdom of the Pharaohs, for they were to be the depositaries of that wonderful Hebrew Book that has made such a mark on the ages since past. The destruction of one Swiss Canton, or New-England State, would be a greater loss to the world than whole nations of Siberians or Tartars.
There are historical races as well as historical men. The hope of our world hangs, humanly speaking, on a very small portion of its vast population. This portion consists of those races whose moral position is in advance of the rest of mankind. On their fidelity in the discharge of their trust depends the character of the future. God guides these races. He uses them for his high and holy purposes. He sends a Moses and a fiery pillar and a cloud to lead the Hebrews from bondage to freedom, for he had a work for them to perform. He trains them to obedience and civil order by a forty years' sojourn in the wilderness. He sends them seers with light from heaven; and even in their terrible punishments for degeneracy and sin, when with a mark set upon them they become a byword and a hissing and a shaking of the head to the nations, they bear in their inflexible enthusiasm and power of endurance the impress of the archangel ruined. God gave intellectual acuteness and the delicate sense of beauty to the Greeks -"the vision and the faculty divine”—that they might show to all the world that neither beauty embodied in the
choicest forms of plastic art—nor poetry such as flowed in the liquid numbers of the Ionic ballad, “ the tale of Troy divine," or swept over the solemn harp of Eschylus, or poured forth in stormy dithyrambics from the deep-throated Pindar-not eloquence such as “shook the arsenal,” not philosophy such as Socrates brought from heaven and Plato taught beneath the plane trees of the Academy, was powerful enough so to train and educate a race that it could impregnate the world with the germs of moral order and progress. God gave Rome to be the legislator of the ancient world, that the power of organization and law without a basis in the law of revelation might be tried in their utmost perfection—that the capacity of a military aristocracy with its arms of iron might be tried to resist the tendency to disintegration in ancient society, without å moral power to change the heart and introduce the pulses of a new life into the veins of the dying nations. It is foreign to our purpose to allude even to more of the historical races of earth--to the Theocracy of Egypt—to the priestly and
SYOR, BOTH 1o--soqova man
military castes of the East—to the recently disinterred monuments of Assyrian glory.
We shall use the term race not perhaps with technical accuracy, but simply to denote the English and the Lowland Scotch and their descendants in both hemispheres.
Belonging as we do by our lineage to the Gothic stock, and consequently, in the ordinary sense of the term, to the modern world, we often speak of ourselves as of modern origin, as if our blood and institutions were of yesterday. Though the Englisḥ nation properly speaking had its rise (and thus we shall consider it for our present purpose) when the standard of the “white horse” was unrolled by the Saxon and Norse pirates on the shores of Britain, still as an integral portion of that great tribe of peoples stretching from the Ganges to Iceland, we are ancient. Our ancestors were not separated by an impassable gulf from the gray fathers of the Old World. We are not destitute of the evidence of a remote past. “We are of earth's first blood, and our language is the title deed of our descent.” Our noble mother tongue received its “ form and pressure” and drew the springs of its life from the high plains of Western Asia. Every sentence we utter tells the comparative philologist that the fathers of the stern Roman and the elegant Greek were our fathers also, and that the swarthy Brahmin of the Ganges and the fire worshipper of the land of Zoroaster belong to the same wide-extended family of nations.
A nation or a race has a life as well as an individual man, and all its history is the development and modification in various ways of that kind of mental activity and moral character that makes this life distinct and peculiar. Our national life has been drawn from that combination of Scandinavian, Saxon and Frisian elements known by the name of AngloSaxon.
Let us dwell for a moment upon the circumstances under which it was at first developed. We may suppose that the primary cause of the last great German emigration to Great Britain was the extended movement of nations which followed the irruption of the Huns into Europe. Those German warriors who had for so many centuries withstood the power of Rome, who under Arminius had cut in pieces the legions of Varus, divided, defeated and disheartened, were swept on in the whirlwind of the Hunnic cavalry and compelled to relinquish their ancient seats by the general displacement of the nations which followed. They were in part forced to seek a retreat beyond the sea, and eagerly followed the standVOL. XV.-NO. LIX.
ards of Hengist and Cerdic, of Ella and Edda, to the island where their descendants were destined to play such a part in the drama of history. The mighty heart of Rome had nearly ceased to beat, and the life-blood of her power was no longer sent to the extremities. The hour of her final agony was drawing nigh, hastened on by the hordes of Genseric and Attila. It was in all parts of Europe a time of confusion and turmoil, but it witnessed the birth of the modern world. The Burgundians and the Visigoths had encamped in southern Gaul and Spain. The shadow of the Roman power still lingered in northern Gaul under the administration of the Patrician Ætius. The Ripuarian and Salian Franks were gathering their tribes on the western banks of the Rhine, soon under Clovis to smite down the Romans at Soissons and the Visigoths at Vouglé, and lay the foundations of the empire of St. Louis and Napoleon. The very year before the landing of the Saxons in Britain, if we may trust the uncertain chronology of this dark and turbulent period, the great question had been decided on the plains between the Seine and the Marne, whether the Mongol or the German should give law to the forming empires of western Europe. Attila, the “Scourge of God," was met at Chalons, and, in that dreadful battle whose story is invested with such horror by the poets and chroniclers of the time, driven back finally from the West. The century during which, if we follow the chroniclers, the Saxons were effecting the conquest of Britain, was rendered memorable in the Eastern Empire by the reign of Justinian, the codification of the Roman law, and the shortlived triumphs of Belisarius and Narses. It was an age of movement and disorder and apparent confusion. But in the midst of these chaotic elements we can now see the workings of Providence. These masses of barbarian life were soon to arrange themselves into strata of races, and harden and crystallize into the crust of modern society.
It is foreign to our present purpose to enter into an ethnographical examination of the number and relative proportion of the elements which have contributed to form the English race. It is enough for our present purpose to state what will be admitted by all—that the mixture of Saxon, Norse, and Frisian elements called, as we have already hinted, Anglo-Saxon, is that which has given character to, or absorbed all others. It has overlaid the Celtic below it, and absorbed the Norman above it, while it has pervaded and given character to every thing that is distinctive in English social life, polity, language, and literature. The ancient Britons have given very little of the form and pressure to English law, government or character. We suppose, though contrary to the general opinion, that large numbers of the Celtic inhabitants were enslaved in the centuries of war between them and the Danes and Saxons, and formed at a later period the body of Theows in Saxon times, and the serfs that cultivated the feudal acres under the successors of the Conqueror—the "villains' regardant,” and “ villains in. gross," described by Littleton-and still later the poorer tenants at will and the holders of small farms by servile tenure. The Norman-French army of William, in connection with the few wealthy Saxon families who managed by timely submission to save their estates, formed the old feudal nobility and gentry, and are to this day represented by the more ancient noble and gentle English families. If we may credit the account of William of Malmsbury, the Normans were superior in education and cultivation of the arts of civilized life to the Anglo-Saxons. Having been placed by the events of the Conquest in the position of lords of the land, freed from all apprehension of want and from the necessity of labor so long as the ascendency of their own race should continue, they necessarily were soldiers and politicians. The high places in the Church, too, were filled by those of the dominant race whose cupidity or ambition could be thus gratified. The Normans, thus holding the soil of England by conquest, and consequently all offices of emolument and honor and trust, gained power by the exercise of their faculties, and for a time outstripped the ruder Saxons in the march of civilization and improvement. They formed what in the language of Burke may be called “the Corinthian capitals of society.” They have given tone to the order which they founded, and as in the process of time men of talent have fought and forced their way from other races into the ranks of the English nobility, they have become imbued with the old Norman traditions, and become partakers of the spirit of those fierce barons who received the titles to their broad acres from the sword of the Conqueror. Though much that is great and worthy in the English annals is connected with this race, it cannot be denied that they have been in every age, as a whole, the oppressors of the people. They have had interests apart from the body of the nation. They have been a foreign element in the State. The spirit of caste, their landed estates, their hereditary privileges, have placed them under the most powerful temptations to be recreant to the cause of progress and freedom. Whoever from their ranks espouses heartily and efficiently the cause of the people, is so
far false to his order and to his own family interest. Every step of real advance on the part of the masses of the English population, renders the hold of the nobles upon their privileges less strong.
Beneath these Corinthian capitals of English society, stand the plain shafts of the columns of English power—the middling interest, those who form the rank and file of the nation, the substantial citizens and merchants in the towns, and the yeomanry in the country. These are the representatives of the Anglo-Saxon portion of the population. This class have, in every age, been the depositaries of those privileges and principles, those aspirations after liberty and that jealousy of oppression, that are birthrights and characteristics of the “true-born Englishman.” This portion of the English people has infused its spirit into the lower orders, who are the descendants of the old servile part of the population, and have continually assisted them in forcing themselves upward, and in claiming their proper influence in society and government. These men, intermediate between the other two strata of English society, have formed the House of Commons. They consolidated the Reformation. They smote down Charles I. and Laud. They carried the Petition of Right. They formed the armies of Cromwell. They expelled the Stuarts. They have emancipated the Catholics. They have passed the Reform Bill, and repealed the Corn Laws. We do not mean to intimate that members of the patrician order have not contributed, more or less, to all these objects, but the body of the nobility have been their opponents.
Doubtless the distinction of races in England has been made to account for too many facts by such men as Michelet and Thierry, and we are not unaware that historical generalizations, like all others, contain in them an element of error, inasmuch as they are inadequate statements of separate facts in the same degree that they are general. Individual exceptions to these statements occur spontaneously to the minds of all persons at all familiar with English history; still we believe that an accurate classification of all the known facts will sustain the views which we have given. English historians do not, for obvious reasons, wish to give prominence to the facts which show that the distinction of orders and privileges in their constitution, had its origin in a barbaric conquest, in which justice and mercy were alike disregarded. Nevertheless we should remember that the person who in modern times most successfully directed attention to this view of the distinctions in English society, was a high