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most other races of mankind. They exhibited a toughness of character not unlike that of Rome herself, and which was one of the principal sources of her power. How unlike they were to their western neighbors the Celts, who forgot their nationality in a few generations, or to the great Slavonian race on the other side, in whom the passive qualities are predominant, who have more potter's clay in them than iron! We must suppose that the freedom of the German,-which, by the way, in the mark and the gau (the pagus or canton) was trained into the habits of a rude, civil liberty,—was an attribute of character, not the mere lawless will of a barbarian, but the self-dependent energy of a man, endowed in all his wildness with a capacity for free political society. On the other hand, we find among the early Germans capacities for improvement, and susceptibilities to the higher emotions, which place them above most of the so-called barbarians. The Anglo-Saxon monasteries soon outstripped those of the rest of Europe in learning, and became in the early part of the eighth century the centers of missions to the heathen of their race in Germany. The Normans, when once settled in France, turned in a few years from lawless pirates into the most orderly and flourishing inhabitants of their new home. The passion of an unsensual love between the sexes, and the soarings of a romantic imagination, soon make themselves manifest on the east side of the Rhine, while old Gaul was even in the age of its epics as prosaic as possible. Facts like these, unless we deny all differences between the portions of mankind, seem to show that the race in question had the rudiments of a more than average capacity for liberty and culture in its native wilderness.
And again: great as was the lawlessness and disorder of the conquering Germans who established themselves on Roman soil, it was not as great as some of the French writers represent it to be. It has been an opinion more or less in repute that the whole system of the barbarian armies was built upon the relation of chief and follower-the comitatus as described by Tacitus-and that in the Frank kingdom, under the Merovingian dynasty, the great personages next in power to the
king had each his band of followers, and were practically independent of their sovereign. This will now be admitted, we believe, to be an untenable position.*
The Merovingians endeavored in their administration to continue in a good degree the Roman system which they found in Gaul; and the prince alone before the invasion, to whom the king of the Franks, after the invasion succeeded, had his train of followers or antrustiones. At least this was the case
until a late period of that dynasty. Mr. Guizot is generally more impartial and more true to fact than most of his countrymen who have treated of the rise of modern civilization, yet even he has too exaggerated an idea of the barbarism of the times which succeeded the Roman sway over Gaul. Thus, in lecture VI, he represents the bishops as adopting a barbarian life, becoming chiefs of bands of marauders, and wandering over the country to pillage and destroy, like so many companions of Clovis. Gregory of Tours, he adds, "gives an account of several bishops who thus passed their lives, and among others Salone and Sagittarius." But it so happens that Gregory mentions the case of these two brothers as something remarkable, and that no similar instance is on record. And again, in his history of civilization in France, he seems to be ignorant of the oath of allegiance which was taken under the Merovingians from the beginning of the monarchy onward. A striking passage which furnishes more than one charge against Mr. Guizot's justness of statement is contained in the fourth lecture, and which, as it treats of a point in modern society no less important than the position of woman, demands a somewhat extended consideration. In that lecture the feudal chief is spoken of as isolated from most of those around him, by his superiority, and thus thrown back upon his family, for all sympathy in his joys and sorrows.
* Comp. especially Waitz, deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, I, 145, and II, 228. In the first passage he says, "only the chief of such a people-the duke or king-could stand at the head of a comitatus." Here the times before the Frank settlement in Gaul are referred to. In the other passage relating to the Merovingian time, he extends the same remark down into the history of the Frank constitution under that dynasty.
"It could not but happen," he then adds, "in such circumstances that domestic life must have acquired a vast influence, nor is there any lack of proofs that it did so. Was it not in the bosom of the feudal family that the importance of women, that the value of the wife and mother at last made itself known? In none of the ancient communities did women ever attain to anything like the place which they acquired in Europe under the feudal system. It is to the progress, to the preponderance of domestic manners in the feudal halls and castles that they owe this change, this improvement in their condition. The cause of this has been sought for in the peculiar manners of the ancient Germans; in a national respect, which they are said to have borne, in the midst of their forests, to the female sex. Upon a single phrase of Tacitus, German patriotism has founded a high degree of superiority,—of primitive and ineffaceable [in Hazlitt's translation ineffable] purity of manners in the relations between the two sexes among the Germans. Pure chimeras! Phrases like this of Tacitus, sentiments and customs analogous to those of the Germans of old, are found in the narratives of a host of writers, who have seen or inquired into the manners of savage or barbarous tribes. There is nothing primitive, nothing peculiar to a certain race in this matter. It was in the effect of a very decided social situation—it was in the increase and preponderance of domestic manners that the importance of the female sex in Europe had its rise, and the preponderance of domestic manners in Europe very early became an essential characteristic in the feudal system."
In the eighth lecture on civilization in France, the analogies above referred to between the Germans and other barbarous tribes are given at length, and will be convincing to those who believe that every small round black seed will produce the same plant.
In this passage-where, by the way, the modern estimate of woman is indirectly derived from the Germanic element of our civilization through feudalism—a cause is assigned which is inadequate to the effect, and other causes are undervalued or overlooked, which had no small part in producing it. Mr. Guizot's view is that owing to the isolation of the feudal chief, a feeling in regard to domestic life and the female sex then began in the highest class of society, which by degrees penetrated literature, and spread through the burgher and rustic classes, and has continued until now, notwithstanding the extinction or at least the extreme feebleness of the feudal principle. Now in regard to this theory we have to say first, that if the cause is adequate we cannot see why it should have borne fruit so late. In all the colder countries, during the severer portions of the year, the man is thrown back into his family for society. Why should not this all-pervading cause
have produced its effects at least among those races which have shown a more than usual capacity for improvement? Why should not the vikings and yarls, why should not the entire free peasantry of the Scandinavian countries have learned domesticity and the value of woman, centuries before feudalism showed its head in the world?
But again: although it is easy to understand that fashions. and usages, modes of speech, of dress and of living, should spread downward from the highest rank of society, it is not so easy to conceive of feelings and interior habits being thus transmitted. There must be some preparation of the national mind, some similarity between the feelings of the nobility and of the people, some common cause, in short, for the common effect. The upper class from their more favorable position might catch an impulse first, but they could not make it universal, unless the nation was ready to receive it. Nor does it seem very philosophical to attribute to a mere circumstance of situation so great and lasting a result.
Furthermore, if feudalism was in any just sense the cause of the modern position of woman, we should expect that when feudalism began to wane, this feeling of modern society would lose one of its supports, and that where feudalism never held any sway, woman would sink in the scale. But it is quite otherwise, as will be evident to any one who notices her social importance and the state of domestic life in our times, and especially in our utterly unfeudal country, above all in those portions of it whose institutions are built on human equality.
This, however, is to be admitted, that feudalism brought chivalry and a certain style of courtesy in its train, of which woman reaped the benefit. But was not the idea of chivalry of higher origin than feudalism itself, and in some sort external to it? The idea found its material on hand and strove to ennoble it, to leaven it with a principle drawn from a higher source. Nor was chivalry, although engaged to help the unprotected, peculiarly favorable to domestic life. The dame for whom the knight tilted and whose graces he sought to win, was not his wife, but some being on whom romantic regards might fasten.
Mr. Guizot's cause for the modern higher estimate of woman would seem, then, to be an inadequate one. Is he right in affirming that German habitudes had nothing to do with this feature of our civilization? We are willing to admit that modern German patriotism has represented the ancestors of the race in too vivid colors, while we are constrained to believe that the race itself must rank among the most highly endowed portions of mankind. And while the opinion that Tacitus, whether with or without the purpose of so doing, exaggerates the virtues of the Germans by way of contrast to the sinking character of Rome, must be regarded as untenable, we do not think that his descriptions make it out that woman was held in higher respect among them than among some other nations of the northern temperate zone. The principal particulars, in his account of the family ties in Germany, are that monogamy was almost universal, and adultery very infrequent, that the wife was held to be a companion in labor and dangers, and even mingled in wars, and that woman especially had prophetical power. Doubtless parallels may be found to some or all of these items from the journals of travelers in various parts of the world. But the chief points to be taken into view mainly lie outside of the question, what were the particular characteristics of the Germanic race? The first of these is, that by the constitution of man the sexes were to be companions and equals, and that this condition is disturbed and rendered impossible by polygamy. Wherever this exists, woman sinks towards the condition of a thrall and is a mere object of animal desire. In no polygamic nation, then, can there be a just estimate, a true idea of the destination of the woman.
Nearly the same is true of those degraded conditions of civilization, where the virgin, to be kept pure, must be shut up in strict seclusion. Being thus unfit to be a companion of one whose life is in the outer world, used only to the narrowest range of thought, a plaything and a simpleton, how can she command respect or grow up to the level of her husband; or how can family life be understood or valued?
There is another division of mankind among whom the position of woman will be still more degraded from a general