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reflectio as amusinde it exci
pearance of erudition, the text is unaccompanied with notes or illustrations of any kind ; the authorities are merely indicated at the bottom of the page, but without any reference by which the corresponding passage may be found. A few pages comprise all the preliminary information which he has thought necessary, and there is nothing retrospective throughout the work. He tells his story circumstantially, livelily, faithfully, investigating nothing, explaining nothing, but selecting every thing characteristic or which to him appears important: he carries on the reader with a busy narrative, which, while it excites a worthier and more abiding interest, is as amusing as a romance, and he never delays him with reflections. The only work in our language which resembles this in the fulness and minuteness of its details, is the history of Edward III, by Joshua Barnes, which is, as it professes to be, 'faithfully and carefully collected from the best and most ancient authors, domestic and foreign, printed books, manuscripts, and records." But excellent as this is, in other respects, Joshua was one of those scholars who wrote better in Greek or Latin than in their mother tongue; M. de Barante, on the contrary, has adapted his style as well as the plan of his history, with perfect judgment, to the public taste.
He has adapted his work also with equal skill to the national feelings of his countrymen, than whom (to their praise be it spoken) no people are more national. It is the history of Burgundy and the Netherlands, under the dukes of the Valois dynasty ;no earlier—no later time is included. But the dukes of Bure gundy during that age appear conspicuously in the affairs of France; the former part of this period comprises that portion of French history in which the better qualities of that nation are most brilliantly displayed, and during which, though they suffered one of their most signal and memorable defeats from the English, they nevertheless ultimately obtained their most important successes against that enemy. The latter part exhibits the successful policy of France under the most politic of its kings, in dismembering the estates of a formidable neighbour. The work, therefore, belongs in fact to French history, and precisely to that portion of it which is best calculated, in its details, to excite, and, in its results, to gratify the patriotic feelings of a Frenchman. To say that M. de Barante has been eminently fortunate in his subject would be an insufficient and inappropriate praise : he has been eminently judicious in selecting it.
Philippe de Rovre, duke of Burgundy, died in 1361, in the castle, near Dijon, where he was born, and from which he derived his surname. The estate fell, by succession, to the French king Jean, then a prisoner to the English, but at that time in France
belone ostatece under the lattelheir most rom the sufferere
on his paro boasted served his home the stipulated with the
duchy omdy, letters departure, he stipulated sun.religion
with all the lig in perpetuity, to be hand made it or
on his parole, endeavouring to raise money for his ransom. What Francis I. boasted of in his misfortunes was emphatically true of this king: he preserved his honour, and, with a religious sense of duty, not being able to provide the stipulated sum, returned into captivity. Before his departure, he deposited with the chancellor of Burgundy, letters of donation, by which he separated that duchy from the crown of France, and made it over to his fourth son, Philippe, in perpetuity, to be held by him and his successors, with all the rights belonging to the former dynasty, reserving only that homage, as duke and premier peer of France, which the preceding dukes had been accustomed to pay. The donation was to take effect at his death, which soon occurred. King Jean had reason for thus distinguishing Philippe his favourite son; for, at the battle of Poicters, when the Dauphin, and his brothers, the Dukes of Anjou and Berri, had been persuaded, more discreetly than valiantly, to leave the field with clean hands,' Philippe, the youngest of the four, (then only in his sixteenth year,) stood by his father, and emulated his prowess, and was wounded and taken in defending him : · He exposed himself,' said the king, *with a good will, to death with me; and, wounded as he was, stood firm and without fear in the battle, and was made prisoner with me, and has never ceased to give me proofs of his constant and filial love. From this, according to some writers, he was called Philippe the Hardy; which appellation was confirmed to him (if not then first given) upon a characteristic circumstance occurring during his abode at the English court Waiting, with other young nobles of both nations upon the two kings at dinner, he observed that one of them, who was English, served his own sovereign before the stranger ; upon which, (the reader shall have it in Joshua Barnes's words,) this Philip up with his fist and gave him a wherret on the ear, saying, Dare you serve the King of England first, when the King of France sits at the table ?" The offended noble drew his dagger, but Edward loudly forbade him to strike, and with his wonted magnanimity, commending the fearless spirit of the young French prince, said to him, Vous êtes bien Philippe le Hardi.
King Jean soon died, and Philippe did homage to his brother Charles V., and took possession of his estates. The late Duke of Burgundy, who died in boyhood, left a maiden widow, younger than himself, Margaret by name, daughter to Louis de Male, Count of Flanders, and his presumptive heiress. No other woman in that age had the prospect of so rich a dower, and Charles was blamed for not seeking her in marriage for himself; but, preferring love to ambition, he chose for himself a handsomer wife: having done this, he made it his business to secure so desir
dyd, Margare and his prospecher in whimself a he so desite
able a match for Philippe, with whom the want of personal attractions was no objection. Louis de Male had promised her to Edmund, Earl of Cambridge, one of Edward III.'s sons, an alliance to which he was well inclined, and which was earnestly desired by the Flemings, on account of the great trade which they carried on with England, and the mutual good will which a sense of mutual interest had produced between the two nations. But Urban V., being French by birth and at heart, interposed his negation, and refused to grant a dispensation for the remote relationship which existed between the parties. The Count's mother, also, Madame Marguerite of France, took what may more fitly be called a ferocious than a decided part against the English alliance : she went to her son, who, under pretence of illness, had avoided an interview upon this matter with the King of France, and, throwing her robe aside, when her arguments failed to persuade him, she laid bare her bosom, and said, “Since thou wilt not obey the will of thy king and of thy mother, I will cut off this bosom, which has suckled thee and none but thee, and throw it to the dogs for food! I will disinherit thee also, and thou shalt never have my county of Artois !'-Such a speech may prepare the reader for the atrocious acts which characterize this period of history. Louis de Male yielded, and though the degree of relationship in which the youthful widow stood to Philippe le Hardị was precisely the same as that which was made by the Pope an insuperable bar to her marriage with the English prince, the said Pope, without scruple, granted his dispensation. As this power was one of the most preposterous and contradictory to common sense of any that the Popes exercised, so was it one which contributed, at one time, most effectually to their influence and power, and afterwards became as serviceable to their rapacity, as it had formerly been to their ambition.
This marriage was most important in its results. It connected the Count of Flanders more closely with the royal family of France, and gave him, in his son-in-law, a powerful support, of which he stood in need, against a people who were as turbulent as they had hitherto been free and prosperous. The early history of the Netherlands has never yet been well elucidated; they were in a state of prosperous industry altogether different from any other part of Christendom when we begin to read of them; and it is vain to seek for any satisfactory account of the rise of that prosperity, either in their own writers, or in those of any other country. What can be recovered upon this curious subject, from existing documents of any kind, has been collected by. Bilderdijk, the most distinguished man of letters whom Holland has for many generations produced, and inferior to no one in her best ages :-it
is not indeed possible to speak too highly of his great and various erudition; his comprehensive and commanding mind, his genius and his moral worth. But evil times, and a more than common share in the calamities of his country, prevented him from arranging his materials in the form which he alone could give them; and now, when the burthen of age and infirmity is upon him, the hope can no longer be entertained of seeing a history of Holland from the person who, of all others, was best qualified, in every way, to have performed that service to literature and to his native land.
There is a precocity to which communities, as well as individual constitutions, are liable, and its effects are not less to be dreaded. Powers (for example) may be acquired by men, when they can only be hurtful to them, because they will certainly be misemployed ; this is seen wherever savages have learnt the use of the horse, or have obtained fire-arms. So, also, advances in civilization may be made by one part of the social body, with which the other is not in a situation to keep pace, and thus a principle of disunion is introduced : when this occurs, rash attempts at sudden changes are made,-equally to be lamented whether they succeed or fail; and well-meant endeavours at reformation end but too surely in confirming and aggravating the evils which they were intended to remove. This had taken place in Flanders and the adjacent countries, where manufactures and commerce had, for many generations, been carried on with an intelligence and enterprise not surpassed in subsequent times. A middle class had consequently arisen there,—the aristocracy of trade—who were in that age undoubtedly the best informed and most liberal part of the community. They seem to have arisen as soon as the northern pirates were suppressed; and about the same time the invasion of England by the Normans drew off from those countries the greater part of those turbulent adventurers, who had been almost as great a curse to the land they left, as they proved to that where they established themselves by conquest. Eventual good was produced by the conquest-immediate by the comparative tranquillity which this emigration occasioned in the Low Countries, and that intermission or abatement of internal feuds was prolonged by the crusades. It was improved with surprising industry and success. The Netherlands, at this day, excite the admiration of a foreigner from whatever country he may come; yet five centuries ago they were more populous and more prosperous than they are now; how much greater then must have been their relative superiority and civilization to the rest of Europe! But their progress had been too fast. Part of the Low Countries (and it is that part which has been of most
importance importance for the influence which it has exercised over other parts of Europe and the world) was inhabited and cultivated, before nature in its slow, but certain operation, had prepared it for human inhabitancy. Rivers, which in the course of another millennium might have raised the land to a safe level, were too soon controlled and directed in some instances erroneously) by man; whole tracts have, in consequence, been drowned; and it is to be feared that more extensive districts will, at no distant time, be in like manner irretrievably lost, unless the new powers which science has disclosed, be, with extraordinary exertion and expense, brought to aid the people in their perpetual endeavours to protect the land against the superincumbent water.
These physical circumstances in some degree resemble what took place in the political history of those countries. As the too much and the too little in the dispensation of worldly goods, call forth melancholy reflections when we contemplate the condition of individuals, so may the too early and the too late in the affairs of nations. We see them possessed of means and strength before they have acquired experience and wisdom for employing them well; and they learn what their true policy should have been, when the consequences of having followed an erroneous system are irretrievable. A great commercial body had arisen in the Low Countries before the territorial proprietors were disposed to abate any of those haughty pretensions which they had inherited from a race of conquerors. Between these classes there was no intermixture; they were distinct castes in society, with as proud a feeling, on one side, as exists among the military or the twice-born Bramins in Hindostan, but not with the same abject submission, on the other, for insolent contempt was repaid by a resolute and vindictive hatred. There was nothing in the manners of the age that could tend to mitigate this mutual ill will; and for its religion,-it held out to all parties its dispensations, at a certain rate, for any crimes, however atrocious, which they might be pleased to commit. The troubles which arose from this enmity were not like the insurrection of the Jacquerie in France, or of Wat Tyler in England, or the peasants of a later age in Germany,cases in all which the servile parts of the community rose in arms against those by whom they were oppressed. Those were sudden and dreadful efforts of despair and rage. But here was the great body of a free people, possessing rights and privileges which they were ready to defend and to abuse. With all the elements for a democratic government, and much disposition for it, they had wealth and intelligence as well as numbers on their side ; and if these advantages were counterbalanced by the martial habits of their adversaries, and the chivalrous feeling which was always