Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

much quoted by writers on the Peasants' War; his statements about the Roman law have been uncritically accepted, and the idea that it was a cause of the Peasant Revolt has strengthened the idea that it was opposed and hated by the people. Finally Janssen, a Catholic historian anxious to show that Germany was worse off in the Lutheran age than earlier, and therefore inclined to magnify any influences which have been regarded as depressing to the peasant, has emphasized those passages in the sixteenth-century literature which serve his purpose, and given the legend the form from which later writers have largely quoted."

In summary, then, I would say that an examination of the writings of Zasius and other jurists and writers of the sixteenth century does not support the commonly accepted ideas that the introduction of the Roman law tended in the time of Luther to depress the German peasant into the condition of a Roman slave; nor that there was a “popular opposition” to it; nor that it was a grievance of the peasants and one of the causes of the Revolt of 1525. These ideas are of the nature of a legend which has grown up in later centuries, due partly to a confusion of peasant conditions east and west of the Elbe, partly to a nationalistic German feeling, and partly to unwarranted generalizations and an uncritical dependence of one secondary authority upon another.

SIDNEY BRADSHAW FAY.

individuals and whole villages from a free into an unfree condition, as could be proved by hundreds of documents and has been proved, for instance, by Arndt in regard to Pomerania. These juristic upstarts were the most zealous agents of the lords' usurpations and encroachments. They either misunderstood or purposely ignored and distorted the old German conditions. If they found in the case of a free rent-paying peasant a single indication which has any resemblance to Leibeigenschaft ... they forthwith applied to him the Roman law of Slavery." Zimmermann does not, however, cite a single one of these hundreds of documents". His only evidence for these sweeping generalizations is the combination of a quotation from Murner's “ Gild of Rogues ” (for its value cf. above, notes 4851) with an indefinite reference to Ernst Moritz Arndt's Geschichte der Leibeigenschaft in Pommern und Rügen (Berlin, 1803). This is a good little book in which Arndt describes the terrible depression of the Pomeranian peasantry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and in which he quotes the depressing Romanistic theories of Mevius (1646) and Balthasar (1779), two followers of Husanus; he holds these to be directly responsible in part for the Pomeranian peasant's unhappy lot.

** It is not, of course, simply the alleged effect of the Roman law on the peasant which is the basis of his attack on the Roman law; he has many other reasons for regarding it as “heathenish” and generally harmful in contrast to the “ Christian ” German law (cf. I. 474 seq.).

17

HORACE WALPOLE'S MEMOIRS OF THE REIGN OF

GEORGE THE THIRD, I.

What may be called the Whig view of the reign of George III. is as familiar to Americans as the traditional notion of the Revolution, of which it is, indeed, an integral part: the king ascended the throne with the fixed intention of overthrowing English constitutional liberty and of restoring the prerogative to its former high position; in this attempt he was steadily supported by the Scots and the Tories, and resisted as steadily by the Whigs; the attempt to subject the colonies to the crown was part of this deep-laid scheme; nevertheless, the king failed finally because of the assistance which the Whigs in America gave to their brethren in England, and thus, as Pitt professed to have conquered America in Germany, English patriots vanquished their king at Yorktown. An interpretation so flattering to national pride was bound to find ready acceptance in America, while to the English Whigs of the Reform Bill period it was almost equally attractive; it hardly needed the solemn pronouncements of Bancroft or the glitter of Macaulay's rhetoric to give it all the appearance of an axiomatic truth.

The theory is to be found, of course, in newspapers and party pamphlets from the time of the Stamp Act. These, however, even Whig historians would regard with suspicious eye. But in 1845, the year after Macaulay's second essay on Chatham appeared in the Edinburgh Review, there was published in England a work which seemed to give to the Whig contention the support of solid contemporary evidence, inasmuch as it indicated that the designs of the king were apparent to unprejudiced observers from the beginning of his reign. Horace Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of King George the Third professed to have been written between the years 1766 and 1772. The author was a member of Parliament, a friend of men in power and out, a close observer, an indefatigable notetaker, a lively gossip, and a successful ferreter-out of secrets. He pretended to be indifferent to all parties, a mere dabbler in bric-abrac who recorded impartially, for the edification of posterity, the tale of passing events. And yet the theory of the Memoirs, in so far as they present any general interpretation of the reign, is the Whig theory; and one might suppose, if the mere matter of chronology

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

did not forbid it, that Macaulay came fresh from reading Walpole when he sat down to write the essay on Chatham."

It is quite true that Walpole was not accepted as an oracle by the Whigs any more than by the Tories. Macaulay, at least, would scarcely have relished being told that his own work embodied the opinions of the man whom he had already called a fool in as many balanced sentences as his copious vocabulary could furnish forth.? Of the Memoirs themselves, indeed, he said nothing, leaving it to the amiable Croker to tell the world that Walpole was actuated by nothing but vanity and cupidity, and that he wrote, besides, in bad temper. Nevertheless, the Memoirs were favorably reviewed in Blackwood's4 at the time of their publication, and half a century later Leslie Stephen took occasion to call them “good old-fashioned history”, comparing them, to their great advantage, with the "fashion now prevalent, in which six portly folios are allotted to a year, and an event takes longer to describe than to occur”.5 A new edition of the Memoirs in 1894, and of the letters in 1903, together with the reviews they called forth, have in a measure completed the rehabilitation of Walpole's works as historical sources of first-rate importance. I believe that they are so indeed. Whether the letters are worth more or less, in that respect, than the Memoirs is perhaps an open question, but one which need not be considered here. It may, however, be worth while to consider whether the Memoirs, since they contain what I have called the Whig view of the reign of George III., are precisely what they profess to be. To what extent are they contemporaneous with the events they chronicle?

The memoir" rover the period from the accession of George III., October 25, 174

to the death of the princess dowager in 1772. Walpole says he legan the Memoirs August 18, 1766.9 During the

1 Macaulay was of course familiar with Walpole's letters, which, after 1775, express the Whig vic v even more clearly than the Memoirs. Macaulay's famous saying about Tories being fools may have come from Walpole. “A Whig may be a fool, a Tory must be so", etc. Letters, X. 273. Leslie Stephen asserts that much of Walpole's light has been transfused through the pages of Macaulay. Hours in a Library, II. 156.

2 Cf. Macaulay's review of the letters to Mann. Essays (Longmans, 1898),

[ocr errors]

66

2

II. 314.

[ocr errors]

3 Quarterly Review, LXXVII. 136.
• LVII. 353.
5 Hours in a Library, II. 154.

© By G. F. Russell Barker, in four volumes. (London: Lawrence and Bullen; New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.) The citations in this article are to this edition.

? By Mrs. Paget Toynbee, in sixteen volumes. (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1903-1905 The citations in this article are to this edition.

8 Notes of my Life, printed in the preface of Mrs. Paget Toynbee's edition of the Letters.

7

next two years he did little, apparently, for at the close of 1768 he was still writing the first volume, having brought the narrative down only to March, 1764.' In January, 1769, the second volume was under way, and he was occupied with the events of the winter of 1765.10 In July and August of 1769, we are told, he “finished two more books of my Memoirs for the years 1765, 1766”.11 In October, 1769, he was narrating the events of March, 1767, having nearly completed the second volume.12 When he reached the end of the first Parliament of George III., March, 1768, which brought him to the end of chapter six of volume three, Walpole threw the work aside, having tired of it, and he did not know whether he would ever take it up again.13 However, he did take it up again after the peace with Spain in 1771,14 and completed the work sometime in 1772.15 The larger part of the original draft was thus written in 1768–1769 and 1771-1772; and the editors18 have left us to infer that the printed Memoirs are the same as the original draft which Walpole completed at that time. Such, however, is not the case. The original draft was revised as late as 1784, and evidence of this fact, which is as plain as printed dates can make it, is scattered from one end of the book to the other.

In the first place, many of the foot-notes with which Walpole supplemented the text allude to events that enable us to fix their composition subsequent to the composition of the original draft: some refer to dates earlier than 1772 but later than the date of the composition of the particular part of the text to which they are appended ;17 many refer to events subsequent to the year 1772; as, for example, to 1773, 1774, or 1775,18 to the entrance of France into the American war,19 to the loss of the colonies, or to the years 1783

12

13

Memoirs, I. 310. 9 n 10 Ibid., II. 53. 11 Notes of my Life. Memoirs, II. 308. Ibid., III. 107. 14 Ibid., p. 125. 15 Notes of my Life.

16 The Memoirs were first edited by Denis Le Marchant, who says in his preface that they were "printed exactly as the author left them, except that it has been thought right to suppress a few passages of indecent tendency". Mr. Barker printed his edition from the Le Marchant text and inserted most of the notes of Le Marchant. Yet he says nothing as to the time of writing the Memoirs. except that “Walpole commenced the task of writing the Memoirs ... on 18th August 1766, and finished them in 1772." Preface, p. XX.

Memoirs, I. 139, 242, 281, 289 ; II. 11, 67. 18 Ibid., I. 113, 183 ; II. 191, 231, 237, 272, 280, 301 ; III. 24; IV. 13, 167, 169. 19 Ibid., II. 63 ; III. 253.

17

1784,2o and there is one note that refers to the year 1786,21 and two that refer to the year 1788.22

The revision of the Memoirs was not confined to the notes, however. In the third volume, page 24, there is a note in which Walpole says that the attempt to impose taxes on America has caused a civil war there, “whence is just arrived notice of the first bloodshed, as I transcribe these Memoirs-in June, 1775". In volume four, page 83, there is the following note: “ This paragraph, from the words and was disabled, was added in July, 1781." These are the only references to any revision of the Memoirs that Walpole himself anywhere makes; and it might be in ferred, therefore, that he simply copied out the original draft in 1775 and added part of a paragraph and some notes in 1784. But it is clear that the single paragraph which Walpole says was inserted in 1784 is not the only one inserted at that time, and it is probable that some insertions were made during the “transcribing" of 1775. Let us establish these points.

First, there are a number of passages, inserted after the original draft was finished in 1772, that may have been inserted in 1775. Volume one, page 16: “the revenues of the Crown were so soon squandered in purchasing dependants, that architecture, the darling art of Lord Bute, was contracted from the erection of a new palace to altering a single door-case in the drawing-room at St. James's.” This part of the Memoirs was originally written in 1766, yet the palace which the king designed to build was not given up till 1771, as Walpole himself says in volume four, page 205. Volume one, page 164, originally written before 1769, contains a reference to Lord Kinnoul, who “came no more to London till the year 1770”. Volume two, page 291: Lord Chatham “appeared no more in the House of Lords, really becoming that invisible and inaccessible divinity which Burke has described ”. This I suppose to refer to the speech on American Taxation, in which Burke paid his famous tribute to Lord Chatham. Volume three, page 21: Townshend's revenue plan of March, 1767, was adopted by the House “before it had been well weighed, and the fatal consequences of which did not break out till six years after”. Volume four, page 18: “In 1775, on the Princesse de Lamballe being placed above the Princesse de Chimay ”, etc.

Second, the paragraph which Walpole takes pains to specify as being added in 1784 is not the only one that was added at that time. Volume four, page 54: “Lord North's conduct in the American war

20 Memoirs, I. 305; II. 116, 242, 321 ; III. 24; IV. 69, 88, 92, 118, 142, 149, 154. 21 Ibid., I. 305. 22 Ibid., pp. 22, 86.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »