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which constitutes what we now call History. “Is it even possible to represent them as they were? The old story of Sir Walter Raleigh's looking from his prison-window, on some street-tumult, which afterwards three witnesses reported in three different ways, himself differing from them all, is still a true lesson for us. Consider how it is that historical documents and records originate; even honest records, where the reporters were unbiased by personal regard ; & case which, were nothing more wanted, must ever be among the rarest. The real leading features of a historical Transaction, those movements that essentially characterises it, and alone deserve to be recorded, are nowise the foremost to be noted. At first, among the various witnesses, who are also parties interested, there is only vague wonder, and fear, or hope, and the noise of Rumour's thousand tongues; till, after a season, the conflict of testimonies has subsided into some general issue. . . Suppose, however, that the majority of votes was all wrong; that the real cardinal points lay far deeper ; and had been passed over unnoticed, because no Seer, but only mere Onlookers, chanced to be there !"*
But this is carrying us too far afield. Meanwhile it is both pertinent and piquant to note that every modern writer who alludes to Sir Walter's Tower story, utterly differs in details from every other.
MR. WILLIAM SIDNEY GIBSON is one of our northern worthies. We can picture him to ourselves seated in his study, overlooking the Tyne, with the calm, pleasant dignity of the true philosopher. Those who are eminent in science are not always gifted with literary tastes, and their valuable discoveries are too often made known only through the most matter-of-fact pages of some learned transactions. On the other hand, the mere literary man is too frequently learned in nothing save what wit and fancy can supply him with. Mr. Gibson combines learning with a pleasant mode of conveying facts, and if he is not always amusing, he is at least ever interesting. He brings the stories of wide-spread research -in archæology, in history, in biography, in literature, and in natural history and the physical sciences—to bear upon the descriptions of localities in his own neighbourhood, as well as upon more general topics, and he fashions this various learning to the character of the subject treated of with all the refined taste of a gentleman of a well-stored and highly-cultivated mind.
We have before noticed his “ Memoir of Northumberland,” of which
* Carlyle's Miscellanies, vol. ii., “On History."
† Miscellanies, Historical and Biographical; being a Second Series of Essays, Lectures, and Reviews. By William Sidney Gibson, Esq., M.A., of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister-at-Law, F.S.A., F.G.S., &c. &c. Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green.
it is not too much to say that it is a perfect model of what a county monograph ought to be. That ancient seat of worthy prelates-Auckland Castle—the architectural importance of which old historic building cannot be regarded in its present state as at all commensurate with the dignity of its associations, is treated of, as read before the Lord Bishop of Durham himself; that is to say, submitted from the onset to the most close and trying criticism. It is, indeed, a delightful essay, that leaves nothing to be desired, save, perchance, an illustration. Finchale Priory, which has a history earlier than that of Durham itself, and seems to have been a place of some importance in days when the primeval forest still over. spread the hill on which the remains of St. Cuthbert finally rested
Where his cathedral, huge and vast,
Looks down upon the Wearis from those very circumstances, if possible, more graphically sketched than Auckland. Literary labours were also carried on within the walls of Finchale, and this wins over to it, and to its toiling monks of old, all the genuine sympathies of its historian. The same remark might be made to apply to the sketch of Newstead Abbey, which is brief but brimful of curious matter. The chief of the baronial castles of Northumberland Alnwick-is even still more briefly described; whereas what it was in olden times derives all the more interest from its noble owner, stricken down by sickness, devoting all his later years to its renovation and embellishment. “Summer Days in Scotland,” and “Scandinavian Travel,” lead us to new realms, with the same pleasant accompaniment of quaint and original inquiry. “The Mediterranean” was a more ambitious theme, as was also “Science and Royalty under Highland Skies,” the latter a comprehensive view of the labours of the British Association at Aberdeen, followed up by an equally tasteful account of the meeting of the same itinerant body of philosophers on the steepled plain of Oxford.
If the essays on " Mineral Springs” and “ Hailstorms" are technical and instructive, that on “ Rivers and their Associations” is brilliant and suggestive. It is, indeed, a noble and inspiring theme, worthily treated. The “Impressions of the International Exhibition," and the " Account of the Art-Treasures at Kensington," attest to the varied taste, judgment, and aoumen of the writer; as much as the sketch of “ Augustus Cæsar: his Court and Companions," the elaborate portraiture of “Canterbury and its Archbishops” during the Saxon and Norman periods, separately treated of, and the essays on the “Eminent Judges of England," do to the scholarship, erudition, and professional capacities of their author. His versatility is equally shown in “ Désormais : a Story of Skepton Castle,” the sketch of James Howell, the first historiographer royal, the story of Richard Savage, and the feeling tribute to the memory of the gifted, industrious, and amiable Edward Forbes. Some of these essays have appeared before the public previously in the pages of different periodicals, more especially Bentley's Miscellany. Nor is there a periodical that would not be benefited by the contributions of so agreeable, so contemplative, and so competent a writer as Mr. William Sidney Gibson, and that ought not to take an honest pride in his co-operation.
COUNT WALA, THE FIRST PRISONER OF CHILLON.
FROM THE FRENCH OF L. VULLIEMIN.
Upon the rock which is now covered by the Castle of Chillon, rose a massive tower, a thousand years ago ; it was bathed on all sides by the waters of the lake, and no drawbridge connected it with the shore. This tower, which was gloomy and of difficult access, served as a political prison. It had no name—at least, it has not left one in history. From its walls the prisoner could only see the sky, the summits of the Pennine Alps, and the clear mirror of Lake Leman. The road which led to this spot wound round the foot of the Alps, which descend abruptly to the lake from the high ridges of Naie. This Thermopylæ* was so closed in by the lake and the mountains that two horsemen could scarcely advance abreast.
One day, in the reign of Louis le Débonnaire, son of Charlemagne, and during the year 830, a troop of armed men advanced towards this pass, evidently endeavouring to conceal their march, and threw a prisoner with all possible secresy into the lonely tower. Yet the act was not sufficiently shrouded in mystery to prevent the name of the prisoner from soon being whispered from mouth to mouth. It was that of one of the principal personages in the empire, of one who had commanded the armies of Charlemagne, governed Saxony, and who, in the closing years of that prince's life, had occupied one of the first places in his confidence and in his palace. How, then, did it happen that the grandson of Charles Martel, the cousin of Charles the Great, Count Wala, had fallen from the high position which he occupied to the condition of a captive? To make this comprehensible, it will be necessary to review the existing state of society and the relations which the civil and ecclesiastical powers bore to each other in the empire under the Carlovingian kings.
I. The Roman empire having fallen into decay had been torn to pieces by the barbarians. In their course they destroyed laws, monuments, institutions, all that remained of the ancient world. One power alone had resisted them. Whilst armies Aled, the ministers of Christ, as young at heart as the people of the north-like them, strangers to fear, although their valour sprang from a different source-confronted the conquerors, and placed themselves between the swords of the barbarians and the heads of the subjugated population. The former, amazed, were vanquished in their turn, and bowed before a heroism of a new and unknown description. They bent the knee before the cross of Christ. From that moment two powers sat side by side-one only recognising the sword, the other preaching peace. Thus the modern world began with a union of Church and State. Ere long, the Romans and the barbarians, prompted either
* The strait of Thermopylæ, a narrow pass leading from Thessaly into Socris and Phocis, was famous in Grecian history for a battle fought between Xerxes, King of Persia, and Leonidas, King of Sparta; the latter, with three hundred Spartans, defeating the former, who was at the head of an army of above five million Persians.
by gratitude or by a desire to purchase heaven, hastened to enrich the Church. They laid gold and precious vases before her, and presented considerable lands. In vain the more religious of the bishops sought to persuade the heads of the parishes to refuse the gifts of a faith which was for the most part superstitious ; they received the treasures, and became proprietors of a large portion of the soil. Henceforth the Church presented a new aspect. She was a moral power, and now she found herself a civil and political power; she had a religion to preach, and now interests to defend ; with one hand she was building the temple of God on earth, and with the other covering her own possessions. She showed herself liberal-minded in her new sphere, for she protected the serfs and agriculturists; from the mere “ machines” that they were she made them men. The soil, cultivated by a more intellectual race, became once again productive. Still, the twofold task which the Church had accepted was full of peril; it was impossible for her to engage in the affairs of the age, and not lose the spiritual character which is proper to the empire of Christ. This situation became still more perilous when the kings of France, having distributed all the lands which formed the public domain in rewards to their brave soldiers, were reduced to casting eager eyes on the possessions of the Church for the future remuneration of military services. Charles Martel having conquered the Saracens at Poitiers, knew not how to reward his courageous followers save by giving them bishoprics and monasteries. It was thus that the chiefs of the warrior bands wore the mitre and were transformed into abbots, and soldiers who could scarcely read introduced their rude manners into the Church. Discipline was lost, councils ceased to be held, and the Church was confounded with the camp. At the first sound of the trumpet calling brave men to arms, the prelates, equipped in helmet and coat of mail, hastened to range themselves beneath the flag of battle. The Christian Church was in this condition when Charlemagne mounted the throne of France. Charles's grand figure rides majestically between the ancient and modern world ; it alone suffices to fill that period.
He reminds us (at least those amongst us who saw how but one man engrossed the attention of all nations in the opening years of the nineteenth century) how all was summed up in the name of Napoleon, which from one end of Europe to the other was echoed morning, noon, and night. So it was for half a century with the name of Charlemagne.
A revolution was at hand. The Franks were impatient under the laws of one man; in vain had the Merovingians striven to re-establish the ancient state ; in vain had they attempted to compose a regular government out of the wreck of the ancient world and the elements of the new; their efforts had roused the pride of the free Germans, who would receive no laws but from themselves.
Always accustomed to have lance or battle-axe in hand, these people only regarded their king as the head of the army. Everything tended towards a separation of power when Charlemagne, succeeding to Charles Martel and Pepin, reunited it in his own person, and by the vigour of his arm retarded the coming of the feudal age. He separated the contending interests, carrying elsewhere those which struggled in the interior of the empire. The Saxons and Sclaves agitated the north, the Greeks and Saracens the south. Charles, like Napoleon, made his
presence everywhere felt ; he extended the boundaries of the kingdom of the Franks, to the south as far as the Ebro and Garigliano, to the north as far as the Eider and Vistula. He was tolerant in his dealings with the people of the south, but he fought to extermination the bar. barians of the north, who were always menacing, always ready for fresh invasions. It was thus he put an end to the migrations of these people, and prepared the base upon which modern society was built.
Yet Charlemagne could not contemplate his work without sorrow. History, like the world, which is the theatre of history, rests upon two poles, and the social powers are ever revolving from one to the other. The requireinents for order contend with the requirements of independence ; the tendency to centralise the strength of a nation, with that to disperse it. At the epoch of which we are speaking men were vigorous and energetic: tempers violent, and wills unruly. The sword of Charles scarcely kept them in obedience. It was necessary for the elements of society to be completely changed ere a new order of things could be brought about.
Charlemagne was aware that his work would not survive him. Vainly did he multiply the machinery of administration ; vainly did he simplify it; it was his powerful hand alone which kept all in motion. Seeing that his efforts towards civilisation were lost in the clamour of arms, he turned his attention to the Church, as to the only power which could pacify the disturbed spirits of men, and oppose a barrier to the contending interests of individuals. Once again, it was needful, ere the Church could resume her mission of peace, that she should disengage herself from the feudal element with which she was more or less entangled, abandon secular weapons, and adorn herself with the manners becoming a religious institution. Charles therefore strove to restore her to what she had been. One day, whilst holding the May courtleet at Ais, surrounded by the nobles and the prelates of the empire, a petition from the Frank people was laid before him. They demanded that the clergy should be interdicted from serving in the ranks of the army. They reminded him, that whilst Moses prayed with hands raised towards heaven, Israel had been victorious; but that when he lowered them to earth, Israel lost heart before the enemy. The soldiers declared that the presence of the clergy in their ranks weakened their resolution, for when they saw a bishop's blood flowing, they were discomforted, and general disorder ensued amongst their ranks. The bishops were by no means pleased at hearing such language. They well knew that, in the eyes of the Franks, no honour equalled that gained by arms, and that arms alone could protect the riches of the Church against the encroachments of the laity, whose eyes were ever fixed with envy on the possessions of the clergy. The laity, in their turn, sought to repudiate the motives imputed to them.
" Things dedicated to God, belong to God,” they said. “They are the price of sin. It would be sacrilege to touch them ; we would not do 50; we swear this before God, the emperor, and the Frank nation.”
The emperor, with his usual caution, formed no hasty resolution; he consulted the Pope, reasoned with the bishops, and ended by making a statute, “ with the consent of all the Franks,” conformable to the wishes