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Jul. The blue one, sir ?
Duke. No, love, the white. Thus modestly attired,
The Middle Ages - Progress of Freedom. — HUME.*
1. Those who cast their eye on the general revolutions of society will find that, as almost all improvements of the human mind had reached nearly to their state of perfection about the age of Augustus, there was a sensible decline from that point or period; and men thenceforth gradually relapsed into ignorance and barbarism.
2. The unlimited extent of the Roman empire, and the consequent despotism of its monarchs, extinguished all emulation, debased the generous spirits of men, and depressed the noble flame by which all the refined arts must be cherished and enlivened.
* Born 1711 ; died 1776.
3. The military government which soon succeeded rendered even the lives and properties of men insecure and precarious ; and proved destructive to those vulgar and more necessary arts of agriculture, manufactures and commerce ; and, in the end, to the military art and genius itself, by which alone the immense fabric of the empire could be supported.
4. The irruption of the barbarous nations which soon followed overwhelmed all human knowledge, which was already far in its decline; and men sunk every age deeper into ignorance, stupidity, and superstition; till the light of ancient science and history had very nearly suffered a total extinction in all the European nations.
5. But there is a point of depression, as well as of exaltation, from which human affairs naturally return in a contrary direction, and beyond which they seldom pass, either in their advancement or decline.
6. The period in which the people of Christendom were the lowest sunk in ignorance, and consequently in disorders of
every kind, may justly be fixed at the eleventh century, about the age of William the Conqueror; and from that era the sun of science, beginning to reäscend, threw out many gleams of light, which preceded the full morning when letters were revived, in the fifteenth century.
7. The Danes, and other northern people, who had so long infested all the coasts, and even the inland parts of Europe, by their depredations, having now learned the arts of tillage and agriculture, found a certain subsistence at home, and were no longer tempted to desert their industry, in order to seek a precarious livelihood by rapine, and by the plunder of their neighbors.
8. The feudal governments, also, among the more southern nations, were reduced to a kind of system; and though that strange species of civil polity was ill fitted to insure either liberty or tranquillity, it was preferable to the universal license and disorder which had everywhere preceded it.
9. It may appear strange, that the progress of the arts, which seems, among the Greeks and Romans, to have daily increased the number of slaves, should, in later times, have proved so general a source of liberty ; but this difference in the events proceeded from a great difference in the circumstances which attended those institutions.
10. The ancient barons, obliged to maintain themselves continually in a military posture, and little emulous of eloquence or splendor, employed not their villains * as domestic servants, much less as manufacturers; but composed their retinue of freemen, whose military spirit rendered the chieftain formidable to his neighbors, and who were ready to attend him in every warlike enterprise.
11. The villains were entirely occupied in the cultivation of their master's land; and paid their rents either in corn and cattle, and other produce of the farm, or in servile offices which they performed about the baron's family, and upon the farms which he retained in his own possession.
12. In proportion as agriculture improved, and money increased, it was found that these services, though extremely burdensome to the villain, were of little advantage to the master; and that the produce of a large estate could be much more conveniently disposed of by the peasants themselves, who raised it, than by the landlord or his bailiff, who were formerly accustomed to receive it.
13. A commutation was therefore made of rents for services, and of money-rents for those in kind; and as men, in a subsequent age, discovered that farms were better cultivated where the farmer enjoyed a security in his possession, the practice of granting leases to the peasant began to prevail, which entirely broke the bonds of servitude, already much relaxed from the former practices.
14. After this manner villainage went gradually into disuse throughout the more civilized parts of Europe ; the interest of the master, as well as that of the slave, concurred in this alteration. The latest laws which we find in England, for enforcing or regulating this species of servitude, were enacted in the reign of Henry VII.
15. 'And, though the ancient statutes on this head remain unrepealed by parliament, it appears that before the end of Elizabeth the distinction of villain and freeman was totally though insensibly abolished, and that no person remained in the state to whom the former laws could be applied.
16. Thus personal freedom became almost general in Europe ; an advantage which paved the way for the increase of political or civil liberty, and which, even where it was not attended with this salutary effect, served to give the members of the community some of the most considerable advantages of it.
* Villains is here used in the sense of serfs, or those who held their lands subject to the control of a feudal' lord.
LESSON CIV. The Opening of the Eyes of Mrs. Chick. - DICKENS. 1. Miss Tox,-all unconscious of any
such rare appearance, in con nection with Mr. Dombey's house, as scaffoldings and ladders, and men with their hands tied up in pocket-handkerchiefs, glaring in at the windows like flying genii or strange birds, — having breakfasted one morning, at about this eventful period of time, on her customary viands; to wit, one French roll, rasped, one egg, new laid (or warranted to be), and one little pot of tea, wherein was infused one little silver scoop-full on behalf of the tea-pot,- a flight of fancy in which good housekeepers delight; went up stairs to set forth the bird-waltz on the harpsichord, to water and arrange the plants, to dust the knick-knacks, and, according to her daily custom, to make her little drawing-room the garland of Princessplace.
2. Miss Tox endued herself with the pair of ancient gloves, like dead leaves, in which she was accustomed to perform these avocations, - hidden from human sight at other times in a table-drawer, -and went methodically to work ; beginning with the bird-waltz ; passing, by a natural association of ideas, to her bird — a very high-shouldered canary, stricken in years, and much rumpled, but a piercing singer, as Princess-place well knew ; taking, next in order, the little china ornaments, paper fly-cages, and so forth; and came round, in good time, to the plants, which generally required to be snipped here and there with a pair of scissors, for some botanical reason that was very powerful with Miss Tox.
3. Miss Tox was slow in coming to the plants, this morning. The weather was warm, the wind southerly; and there was a sign of the summer time in Princess-place, that turned Miss Tox's thoughts upon
the country: 4. The pot-boy attached to the Princess' Arms had come out with a can, and trickled water, in a flowing pattern, all over Princess-place, and it gave the weedy ground a fresh scent, - quite a growing scent, Miss Tox said. There was a tiny blink of sun peeping in from the great street round the corner, and the smoky sparrows hopped over it and back again, brightening as they passed; or bathed in it, like a stream, and became glorified sparrows, unconnected with chimneys.
5. They were making late hay, somewhere out of town; and though the fragrance had a long way to come, and many counter fragrances to contend with among the dwellings of the poor, yet it was wafted faintly into Princess-place, whispering of Nature and her wholesome air, as such things will, 'even unto prisoners and captives, and those who are desolate and oppressed, in very spite of aldermen, and knights to boot ; at whose sage nod, — and how they nod!.
the rolling world stands still.
6. In her pensive mood, Miss Tox's thoughts went wandering on Mr. Dombey's track.
Was he more cheerful ? thought Miss Tox. Was he reconciled to the de. crees of fate? Would he ever marry again ? and if yes, whom? What sort of a person, now?
7. A flush - it was warm weather overspread Miss Tox's face, as, while entertaining these meditations, she turned her head, and was surprised by the reflection of her thoughtful image in the glass. Another flush succeeded, when she saw a little carriage drive into Princess-place, and make straight for her own door. : Miss Tox arose, her scissors hastily, and so coming to the plants, was very busy with them when Mrs. Chick* entered the room.
The same subject, continued. 1. “How is my sweetest friend ?” exclaimed Miss Tox, with open arms, “Lucretia, thank you, I am pretty well. 1 hope you are the same Hem ! Mrs. Chick was laboring under a peculiar little monosyllabic cough ; 2 sort of primer, for easy introduction to the art of .coughing.
2. * You call very early; and how kind that is, my dear!” pursued Miss Tox.
“Now, have you breakfasted ?" “ Thank you, Lucretia. I took breakfast with my brother, who has come home.” “ He is better, I trust, my love,” faltered Miss Tox. — “He is greatly better, thank you. Hem !”
3. “My dear Louisa must be careful of that cough.” “It's nothing; merely change of weather; we must expect
* Mrs. Chick is the sister of Mr. Dombey, whom, in this extract, she calls Paul; Mrs. Chick's own name is Louisa, that of Miss Tox is Lucretia.