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it must still be admitted that it is to the new impulse which the Conquest gave to a people who never were aggressive abroad, and who for some generations had ceased to be even active at home, that we must ascribe not only the dominant position which England has so long held among the surrounding nations, but also that marvellous internal industry which she has exhibited, it has come to be recognised that the roots of our liberty, of our laws, of our language, and above all of that deeper individual life to which we owe our poetry and our philosophy, are all to be traced to Saxon times. Every objection to the study of the political, social, or spiritual condition of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, on the ground of its want of interest or importance for a cultivated age, has thus been happily exploded, and thoughin so far as the domestic broils of their numerous petty states, or even perhaps their Danish wars, are concerned-some might still join with Milton, in asking “what more worth is it to recount them, than to chronicle the wars of kites and crows flocking and fighting in the air,” the observation is one which most of us would be disposed to extend to the minuter chronicling of all “flockings and fightings” whatsoever. A detailed account of the fightings of modern soldiers in the field, or of modern “citizens” round a barricade, would be little more edifying than if they belonged to the times of Egbehrt or Alfred.
There is an “obiter dictum” in one of Schelling's Academic Lectures, which occurs to us as not unimportant in considering the extent to which we ought to regard our Saxon ancestors as barbarians. “ Amongst the mass of false and idealess attempts of our day, stands prominently forward that so-called history of humanity, which takes its conception of the original condition of our species from traits of barbarous nations, compiled from books of travels. There is no such thing as a barbarous state which is not the result of a lost and degraded culture. It is a task which lies before those who shall in future endeavour to write the history of the world, to shew how even those who at present are in the condition of savages were torn loose from the rest of the world by revolutions, and are in fact the shattered remains of nations who, from being robbed of the already existing means of civilisation, have sunk down into their present condition. I regard the original condition of mankind as one of culture.” It was not very fair in the German professor thus to charge the frivolity of his own time with an error, which, if error it be, has at all events abundance of antiquity to recommend it. Without going back to the origin of the theory in Epicurus and his followers, the lines in which Horace has summed it up might at any rate have suggested themselves,
Difference between a Rude and a Savage People. 147 “Quum prorepserunt primis animalia terris,
Mutum et turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter,
Sat. i. 3, 99, et seq. The view of Schelling, viz., that all culture is the result of a revelation in which all the races of men originally participated, ought, at no time, one would think, to have been a novelty in a Christian land; and if he had chosen to enter into it at greater length, he could have had little difficulty in supporting it by considerations derived from profane as well as sacred history. But if it was not in place to discuss it farther in an Academic Lecture, much less would it be so in the pages of a Review, and we shall therefore content ourselves by deducing from it a distinction which it obviously suggests, and which we believe to be a sound one, that, viz., between a rude and a savage people.
That the Saxons were a rude people, in the sense of being but scantily supplied with the results of mechanical invention, is certain ; and it is probable that the code by which their social intercourse was regulated was vastly more simple than that which Lord Chesterfield imposed on their descendants
. They had few of the appliances, either physical or moral, which grow up in a densely peopled country, as the fruits of peace, and leisure, and time. But the question comes to be,-are these in truth the tests and only tests of civilisation ? must all culture clothe itself in the garments of external refinement and physical convenience? or does not the real test, on the contrary, consist in the presence of those qualities, in virtue of which man differs from the animal and approaches to the image after which he was framed ? In their outward circumstances the Germans of Tacitus did not greatly surpass the Canadian Indians of the present day, and they certainly fell short of the condition in which the Chinese have existed for centuries, and yet their life, in all the diviner qualities which belong to the life of man, differed far more from the thoughtless animal existence of the one, or the objectless and aimless artificial vegetation of the other, than from that of the most cultivated nations which the world has known. In place of being the slaves of those immediate impulses by which the conduct of savages is regulated, we can see that in their present life there was a constant reference at once to the future and the past. In the whole of their institutions, rude though they were, we discover not only those elements of progress, those upward tendencies, which are equally significant as an index of the present, and a guarantee for the future, but we farther recognise the presence of a developed moral life, of which in many respects we ourselves might be envious. The last stage of progress which Horace enumerates,
“Ne quis fur esset, neu latro, neu quis adulter," they had already reached, and such being the case, even if they had omitted some of its earlier steps, and had continued to fight for acorns with their fists, we should scarcely have been entitled to denominate them barbarians. History is but too conversant with forms of refinement in which the former stages have failed to act as a portal to the latter, and in which, though man's animal qualities have been curbed and weakened, the diviner element within him has by no means been strengthened in proportion.
It is no easy matter to form an estimate of the effects which the other great elements of our existing race may have had on our present condition. Whatever the original character of the companions of Rollo may have been, it is certain that their case was no exception to that historical law by which the nationality of the conqueror gives way before that of the vanquished, where the advantage in respect of civilisation is on the side of the latter.* They soon adopted the manners and the speech of the people among whom they settled, and it cannot be doubted that it is to the influences which they brought along with them from France that we owe those elements of dissimilarity which, since the Conquest, have existed between ourselves and the Germanic nations, of which till then we formed an integral part. Our insular position in itself would scarcely have given rise to a nationality very different from that of other seafaring Teutonic nations: those, for example, which surround the Baltic at the present day. Instead of that restless impulse towards external exertion, which we have in common with the French, we should alongside of a not very energetic application to mercantile pursuits, have retained that truest mark of a pure Teutonic peoplema tendency to relapse into subjectivity, so soon as external motives to exertion are withdrawn. Instead of seeking new lands to conquer and colonize, we should have dwelt contentedly among our own peoBede and Alfred as Saxons.
* E.g., The Franks in Romanized Gaul, the Goths or Visigoths in Spain, the Lombards in Italy. The reverse was the case with the Greek and Roman colonies. In all the Italian and Sicilian colonies the language continued Greek ; and France and Spain, at the present day, are instances of the extent to which the Romans influenced the speech of their provinces. Where no women are brought, as in the case of the Normans, the tendency to adopt the language of the country is much greater. To the sons of the conquerors it is the mother-tongue. In ancient times, the public life of the men in the wyood, and of the youth in the Fanaíotea, along with the degraded position which the women held, prevented them from exerting their natural influence in this respect.
ple, meditating on the phenomena of individual consciousness, and revolving the problems of human destiny. It is remarkable that during the whole Saxon period there is not a single instance of an attempt at the acquisition of foreign influence; and when we find more than a century and a half before the times of Alfred the whole of the unobtrusive existence of a man so important as Bede, spent in the most varied mental avocations within the walls of his cloister of Jarrow, and behold him at last, as the only tokens of his good-will, distributing among his admiring and sorrowing disciples " the little articles of value which he had in his chest, such as pepper, napkins, and incense,” we seem to recognise in him rather the predecessor of the simple-minded Scholars and Theologians of Germany, than of the rich, busy, and business-like English Bishops of our own day.
But it is with King Alfred more directly that we have here to do, and in him we shall find, if we inistake not, precisely the ruler whom we should look for in a people amongst whom Bede had been a “servant of Christ and priest.” It may be thought that in taking the character of a man of remarkable endowments as the type of a people, we run a risk of adopting the exception as the rule, and no doubt exceptional characters, liable to the objection, exist in all times and places. Still, where we can find a man who differs from his contemporaries, not in kind but in degree, who carries out into actuality what they but imperfectly and fitfully indicate, the shortest method of arriving at an acquaintapce with their qualities and tendencies is by regarding them in the steadier light which his greater energy and consistency sheds upon them. We must be sure that our man is a man of his country and of his time, and then the more completely his genius is the culminating point of the life of his day, the more secure will be the glance with which we are enabled to look around us from the vantage ground which it affords. Now Alfred, as it seems to us, was a Saxon indeed, and when we come to consider him in the two leading relations in which he stood to his people, we shall find that the directions which his
took were those neither of a Norman nor of an Englishman, but of a leader of that purer Teutonic race which then inhabited our land.
The method which we purpose to follow in our endeavour to gather for our readers something of what Bacon would call the
vintage” of Dr. Pauli’s labours, is to view the great Saxon in the two main features in which he there presents himself, first as the spiritual," and then as the material leader of his people.
* It is necessary that we should explain that the sense in which we here use the word “spiritual” is different from that in which it is employed by theological writers. Though for many reasons we prefer it to such colder words as “intellectual” and “ mental,” we are far from intending by its use to liken the position of Alfred to
The youth of Alfred was remarkably favourable to the growth of a character naturally deep and thoughtful. Though his education, in the stricter sense, was neglected in a manner which to himself was the cause of many regrets, there were many circumstances which combined to supply its place. The care of his mother Osburh had familiarized his youth with the poetical treasures of his country. We are happy to find that Dr. Pauli's criticism has not deprived us of Asser's well-known story of the book which she promised to the first of her children who should become acquainted with its contents, and which was speedily awarded to Alfred, the youngest and fairest of them all.
Though his first journey to Rome, when little more than four years of age, could scarcely have exercised a conscious influence on his character, it is not impossible that impressions received even at this early period may have given a tinge to his future habits of thought.
The cause of the journey seems to have been the desire on the part of his father to obtain, as early as possible, for him into whose hand he, from the first, was desirous that the sceptre should descend, the benefits which he imagined would flow from the benediction of the head of the Church. Whether Alfred, in after life, retained any distinct recollection of his early anointing, * we are not informed, but it is probable that he was very far from attaching to it the same importance which it had in the eyes of his pious and somewhat superstitious father. But it was not by one journey alone that Alfred's infant powers of reflection were stimulated : scarcely had he returned when he again set forth, in company with his father, on the self-same pilgrimage. On this occasion, some time seems to have been spent at the Court of France, where Æthelwulf was received by Charles the Bald with every mark of honour; and no less than a year was devoted to his religious exercises, in the Christian Mecca, by the feeble king. This was the period between Alfred's sixth and seventh year, and the events connected with it, following so immediately upon those of his former journey, could not have failed to be deep and lasting. Dr. Pauli attributes to this second journey the presentiment (Ahnung) of what we call classic, which in
that which belonged to those human instruments by which the Jewish Theocracy was governed ; and if we find that his influence operated in a very high degree on the moral and religious, as well as on what may be more strictly called the mental progress of his people, we shall probably be furnished with a sufficient apology for using the word in our language which most nearly conveys the idea of his position. The corresponding word in German is "geistig."
As an instance of the carelessness with which the historians of the old school did their work, we may mention, that Hume supposes the anointing to have taken place on the second journey, and the first to have been in company with his father !