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immediate neighbours, they began to canvass more rigorously each other's established rights and honours. Abroad, in the assemblies and festivities at which English knights were present, the question of precedence would be certainly mooted. It became, therefore, important to the nobility of England that their noble status should be definitely fixed and defined, so as to insure to them and their families a permanent grade of honour. “The introduction of letters-patent, fixing precisely the nature of the dignity granted, and the limitation of succession to that dignity to the heirs of the body of the grantee, was well calculated” to carry out their wishes, and also “ to rescue the chief legislative body of the kingdom from that undue influence which had been obtained by the arbitrary issue of writs, which at the most seem only to have conferred a life-estate in the dignity. The grantee of the patent might in himself be the servant of the crown; but he became at the same time the root of that hereditary principle which, uninfluenced either by the crown or the people, was destined (to quote the words of Blackstone) 'to support the rights of both, and form a barrier to withstand the encroachments of either.'"
The first instance of a barony created by letters-patent is that of John de Beauchamp of Holt, Steward of Richard II.'s household, who was created by that monarch Lord of Beauchamp, Baron of Kyderminster, on October 10, 1387—“ to him and the heirs male of his body.” The principle thus introduced did not, however, make much progress till the reign of Henry VI.: but from the twenty-fourth year of that king "the practice became general; and between that time and the termination of the reign of King Edward IV. there are found eleven instances, of which three are by charter and eight by patent. Out of these eleven cases, two embody the old principle of barony by tenure, five are limited to the heirs male of the body, three to heirs male, and one without words of limitation at all.”
In the period from the reign of Richard II. to the accession of the House of Tudor, we must confine ourselves to the bare mention of some of the leading noble families; and, indeed, their history is so generally known that nothing more than this is required. Besides the Percies, Mowbrays, and Fitz-Alans, to whom we have already alluded, and the two latter of whom were succeeded in their dignities at the close of this period by the Howards, dukes of Norfolk and earls of Arundel and Surrey, we may mention the Beauforts, dukes of Somerset (descended from a natural son of John of Gaunt), who played so important a part in the Wars of the Roses, the last duke dying in exile and under attaint in the reign of Edward IV. The De la Poles
derived their honours from Michael de la Pole, first baron, who was created Earl of Suffolk in 1385, and was lord chancellor; but afterwards was attainted, and died in exile at Paris. Michael de la Pole, the third earl, was slain at Agincourt. His brother William, created Marquis and Duke of Suffolk, was lord chancellor and lord high admiral in the reign of Henry VI., and was beheaded at sea in 1450. His name and imputed character are well known from Shakespeare's historical plays. His son married a sister of Edward IV., and died in 1491. Edward de la Pole, their son, who succeeded, was compelled by Henry VII., “ for a consideration," to surrender his dignity of duke, and content himself with that of earl. He was attainted in 1503, and beheaded in 1513. With him the house of De la Pole was extinguished. The fate of the Nevills, earls of Salisbury and Warwick, is well known. Another family of Nevill, earls of Westmoreland, lasted through this period, and became extinct in the latter part of the sixteenth century. John, twelfth Baron Talbot, the celebrated general in the French wars, gained the higher title of Earl of Shrewsbury in 1443; and this has descended in his family to the present day. The De Cliffords, old barons by tenure, obtained a great name in the Wars of the Roses, and were promoted to be earls of Cumberland under the Tudors, becoming extinct in the seventeenth century.
The accession of the House of Tudor closes the history of the old nobility. The Wars of the Roses swept away nearly all the earldoms and baronies which had survived from the times of the early Plantagenets. Henry VII. could summon only twenty-nine peers to his first parliament; and of these, the greater proportion were recent creations. With one or two exceptions, the old names with which we are previously familiar never again meet our eyes; and those which do so, appear in a character entirely subordinate to their former proud dignity. The time was gone for ever when a great noble could reply with Earl Warren to questions of title on the part of his sovereign by drawing his sword, and protesting, “By this instrument do I hold my lands, and by the same I intend to defend them. Our ancestors, coming into this realm with William the Bastard, acquired their possessions by their good swords. William did not make a conquest alone, or for himself solely; our ancestors were helpers and participators with him !" The Warrens, Bohuns, and Bigods, have passed away for ever, and their title-deeds with them :
“The good knights are dust, and their swords are rust;
Their souls are with the saints, we trust." A new generation of nobles—Howard, Seymour, Sidney, Devereux, Paulet, Cecil, Grevile, Russell, Herbert, Wharton, Paget,
Stanhope, Grenville, - take their place in history, but under very different conditions. Court favour was now the slippery and dangerous step to the old territorial dignity of noble.
“Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall,” was the secret aspiration and dread of the prospective barons of England. Such was not the spirit in which their predecessors struck heavy blows at Hastings, and charged at Falkirk and Crecy. Some of the new race of nobles won glory and a great name in our annals for themselves and their families in other fields of distinction, and come down to us with the memory of being good and faithful servants of king or people in the great movements of their days. The peerage also outlived the base origin of many of its creations during the degraded rule of the Stuarts; and both then and since has contributed its fair quota to the great names of the century. But the true nobility of England has long ceased to rest its influence on the position of a peer in parliament: its limits are now once more extended to the whole territorial aristocracy of England. The Representative Council of the days of Edward I. has ceased to take the lead in the State, and the House of Commons has virtually superseded its functions as coadjutor of the sovereign. But the influence of the aristocracy was never greater, though the House of Lords is the least operative of its channels
. It is strongly felt in the “popular assembly," and it is predominant in the country at large. It has retired to its original seats in the early Norman days,—those strongholds of hereditary dignity, the family estates and manors of England. These were the originals and basis of the baronial dignity, and with these living and recognised claims the history of the nobility begins and ends. They are so recognised, not merely from the actual power which they imply, but from their connection in the minds of the most independent Englishmen with the old historical associations of the past centuries. They are the foster-brothers of our constitutional liberties, coeval with, and nourished or starved by, the same social and political vicissitudes. Mayfair and Belgravia cannot in themselves confer such a title to respect. The modern nobility of England derive their true and special greatness from the feudal traditions of country life. There they may still find nearly every thing harmonising with the idea of permanency which "land" brings with it, and of which an hereditary nobility is the expression. There they may still inspire, even among those brought up under the most unaristocratic associations, that feeling of respectful interest so well explained by Washington Irving: “It is incumbent, then, on the high and generous spirit of an ancient nation to
cherish these sacred groves that surround their ancestral mansions, and to perpetuate them to their descendants. Republican as I am by birth, and brought up as I have been in republican principles and habits, I can feel nothing of the servile reverence for titled rank merely because it is titled; but I trust that I am neither churl nor bigot in my creed. both see and feel how hereditary distinction, when it falls to the lot of a generous mind, may elevate that mind into true nobility. It is one of the effects of hereditary rank, when it falls thus happily, that it multiplies the duties and, as it were, extends the existence of the possessor. He does not feel himself a mere individual link in creation, responsible only for his own brief term of being. He carries back his existence in proud recollection, and he extends it forward in honourable anticipation. He lives with his ancestry, and he lives with his posterity: to both does he consider himself involved in deep responsibilities. As he has received much from those who have gone before, so he feels bound to transmit much to those who are to come after him. His domestic undertakings seem to imply a longer existence than those of ordinary men: none are so apt to build and plant for future centuries as noble-spirited men, who have received their heritages from foregone ages.
“I cannot but applaud, therefore, the fondness and pride with which I have noticed English gentlemen, of generous temperaments and high aristocratic feelings, contemplating those magnificent trees, which rise like towers and pyramids from the midst of their paternal lands. There is an affinity between all nature, animate and inanimate: the oak, in the pride and lustihood of its growth, seems to me to take its range with the lion and the eagle, and to assimilate, in the grandeur of its attributes, to heroic and intellectual man. With its mighty pillar rising straight and direct towards heaven, bearing up its leafy honours from the infirmities of earth, and supporting them aloft in free air and glorious sunshine, it is an emblem of what a true nobleman should be ; a refuge for the weak, a shelter for the oppressed, a defence for the defenceless ; warding off from them the peltings of the storm, or the scorching rays of arbitrary power. He who is this, is an ornament and a blessing to his native land. He who is otherwise, abuses his eminent advantages; abuses the grandeur and prosperity which he has drawn from the bosom of his country. Should tempests arise, and he be laid prostrate by the storm, who would mourn over his fall ? Should he be borne down by the oppressive hand of power, who would murmur at his fate ?--'why cumbereth he the ground ?
ART. VI. — RELIGION AND SOCIETY: PALEY AND
Channing, sa Vie et ses Euvres; avec une Préface par M. Charles
de Rémusat. 1857. Palej's Natural Theology. Edited by Lord Brougham and Sir C.
Bell. 3 vols. 1855. The publication of the elegant and compendious French memoir of Dr. Channing, which we have placed at the head of this article, is scarcely likely, we think, to answer satisfactorily what is obviously and pointedly the authoress's immediate purpose. The French people are now permanently living—at least as regards their social and political life-under what, according to Paley's definition, may be termed a high sense of “ obligation ;” in other words, they are “urged by a violent motive resulting from the command of another.”* But to the student and disciple of Dr.
' Channing “ obligation" of this kind appears to be rather a condition of disease than an element of happiness; and mourning over the choked-up springs of spiritual liberty in France, our authoress obviously desires to bring a profound moral and religious influence to dispel what she no doubt truly regards as a profound moral and religious insensibility. But we greatly doubt whether-notwithstanding the vivid and constant interest in the destinies of France which Dr. Channing's life and writings display-his be the kind of faith and teaching to take a powerful hold even of the most cultivated portion of the French people. There can be no doubt that that clear simplicity of mind and intellect, which scems to some extent an American, and certainly a New England characteristic, might give him great advantages with a French audience; and there can be no doubt at all that the one central enthusiasm of his life is likely to appeal powerfully at the present moment to the French people. He was possessed, we may truly say, by a deeply-meditated and enthusiastic reverence for the moral and spiritual individuality of every human mind; and it was this rooted reverence for the inward freedom of human life which made him resist so stoutly the contagious despotism of Bonaparte's policy, and afterwards sympathise so eagerly with the popular party which the Revolution of 1830 brought forward in France. He held that the “ only glory of a state” consisted in promoting “ the free and full development of human nature ;' and his first intense political im
* Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy, book ii, chap. ii.