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or Millot, and Robertson-his Preface to the History of Charles V.; and that this course of reading I think very practicable.
One word more, and I conclude.
I have now to add, that I think there are certain subjects which may be selected from the immense general subject of the dark ages, and which may give you an idea of the whole in the shortest and best manner.
I hope, by mentioning them, to save you from being somewhat bewildered by the variety of topics and the multiplicity of researches in which you might be engaged, if you properly studied even such writers, and no more than such writers, as I have just recommended; much more, if you passed on from them to others, such as I shall mention to-morrow.
These subjects are the following.
First, in the French history-Clovis, the founder of the French monarchy and the Merovingian or first race of kings.
Second, the Pepins and Charles Martel, the Mayors of the Palace. They administered, and the second Pepin at last seized the government and founded the second or Carlovingian race of kings.—And then,
The third object of attention is Charlemagne.
Out of the immense empire of Charlemagne arose the two great empires of Germany and France, which become the fourth point to be considered.
Or rather, the point to be considered is, the manner in which the crown in the one case became hereditary, in the other elective.
Again, in consequence of the intercourse which took place between the French princes and the Pope, the latter became a temporal prince. Which makes the temporal power of the Pope the fifth object of consideration.
During this period the Feudal System had its origin—the sixth.
Chivalry is the seventh.
In the German history, the great objects of attention are the struggles between the popes and the emperors—the eighth.
The rise and prosperity of the free and imperial Cities and commercial communities in Italy and every part of Europe, more particularly of the Hanseatic league—the ninth.
You will thus reach the subject of the Crusades—the tenth.
These are, I conceive, the main subjects; but there is one yet remaining, which in point of order I should have mentioned first, the Laws of the Barbarians—the eleventh.
You will find this subject alluded to in the books I have mentioned, and you will immediately see its importance the laws of a people, you cannot but be aware, will always give you the best and readiest insight into their political situation.
The laws of the Barbarians will therefore best shew you what was the more immediate result of the collision we have so often alluded to between the civilized and uncivilized portions of mankind.
This subject, however, is a large subject, and many of you may be unwilling to undertake it.
I must endeavour to propose it to you in some way or other, that may afford me a proper chance of your considering it, and this I will do to-morrow.
It may be as well too, perhaps, if I then enter a little more into the subjects I have just mentioned ; and this therefore I will do, though I must necessarily be very brief.
I cannot but remember how I have been affected myself by this portion of modern history in my progress through it as a student; in other words, and to confess the truth, how disheartened and overpowered I have at times been; and I must now therefore remind you of what I have proposed to myself as the great end and hope of these lectures—the enabling of you to read history with better advantage for yourselves.
I shall be too fortunate if it is possible for me so to assist you in your labours; and so to furnish you with prefatory principles and information, that you may hereafter approach the subject at once as masters and as scholars; with the curiosity of the one, and the philosophic views of the other.
LAWS OF THE BARBARIANS.
1st, to that crisis of human affairs which took place during the contest of the northern nations with the Romans for the empire of Europe; and, 2ndly, to the dark ages which immediately followed. I did so, because in that contest and in those dark ages, not only one of the most interesting epochs may be found in the history of the human race, but also the first outlines and the great original sources and elements of the character of the European individual and of the European governments.
I mentioned to you the books to which you might refer for information ; and those subjects which I thought you might select from the rest, as the most likely to give you, in the shortest time, a commanding view of the whole.
I announced to you, as I concluded my lecture, that I should furnish you to-day with a few observations on each of these subjects, the better to enable you to form some general notion of them at present, and to study them hereafter.
This I will now do, and shall therefore have to mention more books than I have hitherto done. The fact is, that I had orginally drawn up, with considerable labour, such statements and observations on these subjects, and on the earlier parts of the French and German histories, as I had conceived would have given my hearer an adequate view of them, and saved him much fatigue of his spirits and occupation of his time.
But after considering what I had written, I became satisfied that I had attempted too much; that all such subjects and all such periods of history must be left to the study, more or
less laborious, of every man for himself; and that they cannot be discussed or described in any such general manner, as can save him from the necessity of his own exertions.
Allusions must be made at every moment to characters and events, which have been scarcely heard of, and which cannot therefore be understood.
Estimates must be given, the propriety of which cannot be judged of; criticisms entered upon, necessarily unintelligible; and on the whole, that which it would be a labour to consider, if offered in the shape of a book to a reader in his closet, cannot be presented in the shape of a lecture to a hearer.
I can therefore only mention the exertions I have really made, the most fatiguing I have had to make, the better to justify myself in requiring what I esteem but necessary exertions from others; and I shall sufficiently exercise your patience, if, instead of discussing these subjects, as I had endeavoured to do, in several lectures, which I have now dismissed, I make an observation on each subject, as I yesterday proposed to do, merely to assist you in taking proper measures for
your own instruction. Ist. then, an account of Clovis and the earlier portions of the French history is to be found in Gibbon.
2nd. With respect to the mayors of the palace. The observations of Montesquieu are here very satisfactory.
But in all and in every part of these subjects, and of all this history, the work of the Abbé de Mably is inestimable.
The French history to one not a native of France, would be a subject of despair, would be totally unintelligible without his assistance; and when I recommend him to others, I ought to do it in the language of the most perfect gratitude for the relief he has so often or rather so continually afforded me.
3rd. With respect to Charlemagne, the great conqueror of
There is a life by Eginhart, who lived in his family; and as it is very concise and intelligible, more especially as it is an original document, it is well worthy of your perusal.
But it is too much in the nature of an eloge—nothing is criticized—nothing censured. The reader must think for himself. Eginhart never speculates or enters into the causes of events or their consequences.
Thus he mentions the great defeat of the Mahometans in the plains of France, by Charles Martel, and the elevation of Pepin to the throne, “per auctoritatem Romani Pontificis, without the slightest comment.
Eginhart gives a few, but too few, of the particulars of the private life and manners of the emperor. That he in vain endeavoured, when too late, to learn to write, &c. &c.
Montesquieu is loud in the praise of this prince the Abbé de Mably is still more distinct in his approbation. Their approbation is valuable, and should be weighed by the student; for a less favourable, but masterly estimate of his merits is given by Mr. Gibbon in his forty-ninth chapter. His animadversions seem but too just, yet the estimate on the whole is not sufficiently indulgent. In judging of Charlemagne the student will no doubt recollect the nature of all genius and all merit, that it is relative to the age in which it appears.
So much for the third subject I mentioned—the subject of Charlemagne.
4th. After the decease of Charlemagne his immense empire fell into the great divisions of Italy, France, and Germany.
And now, the point which should attract, I think, your attention, is the manner in which the crown in France became hereditary, but in Germany elective, and the consequences of these two different events. There are some conclusions that may be drawn from the nature of man so clearly, that they may be extended to politics, and even formed into maximse. g. that hereditary is preferable to elective monarchy. The objections to elective monarchy have been always verified in the history of mankind. A thousand years ago it might have been foretold that if in France, the crown became hereditary, and in Germany elective, the one kingdom would be compact and powerful, the other comparatively divided and weak; that from their vicinity these empires would subsist in a state of mutual jealousy; and that in all contests with its great neighbour, Germany would, from its constitution, lose all its natural strength; that as the crown was elective, and as the great lords had fallen into a few exclusive combinations, the event must be, either that one of these