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Ought always to enquire, whether he is incommoded by the fault of the writer, or by his own.
Every author does not write for every reader; many questions are such as the illiterate part of mankind can have neither interest nor pleasure in discussing, and which therefore it would be an useless endeavour to level with common minds, by tiresome circumlocutions or laborious explanations ; and many subjects of general use may be treated in a different manner, as the book is intended for the learned or the ignorant. Diffusion and explication are necessary to the instruction ©f those who, being neither able nor accustomed to think for themselves, can learn only what is expressly taught ;v but they who can form parallels, discover consequences, and multiply conclusions, are best pleased with involution of argument and compression of thought; they desire on ly to receive the seeds of knowledge which they may branch out by their own power, to have the way to truth pointed out which they can then follow without a guide.
The Guardian directs one of his pupils" to think with the wife, but speak with the vulgar." This is a precept specious enough, but not always practicable. Difference of thoughts will produce difference of language. He that thinks with more extent than another will want words of larger meaning; he that thinks with more sub. tilty will seek for terms of more nice discrimination ; and where is the wonder, sincewords are but the imagesof things, that he who never knew the originals should not know the copies f 'Yet vanity inclines us to find faults any where rather than in ourselves. He that reads and grows wiser, seldom suspects his own deficiency; but complains of hard words and obscure sensentences, and asks why books are written which cannot be understood.
Among the hard words which are no longer to be used, it has been long the custom tonumber termsof art. "Kvery man (fays Swift) is more able to explain the subject of an art than its professors; a farmer will tell you, in two words, that he has broken his leg; but a sur
geon, after along discourse, shall leave you as ignorant as you were before'." This could only have been said but by such an exact observer of life, in gratification of malignity, or in ostentation of acuteness. Every hour produces instances of the necessity of terms of art. Mankind could never conspire in uni. form aF.'cctation; it is not but by necessity that every science and every trade has its peculiar language. They that content themselves with general ideas may rest in general terms; but those whose studies or employments force them upon closer inspection, mult have names for particular parts, and words by which they may express various modes of combination, such as none but themselves have occasion to consider.
Artists are indeed sometimes ready to suppose that none can be strangers to words to which themselves are familiar, talk to an incidental enquirer as they talk to one another, and make their knowledge ridiculous by injudicious obtrusion. An art cannot be taught but by its proper terms, but it is not always necessary to teach the art.
That the vulgar express their thoughts clearly is far from true; and what perspicuity can be found among them proceeds not from the easiness of their language, but the (hallowness of their thoughts. He that sees a building as a common spectator.contents himself with relating that it is great or little, mean, or splendid, lofty or low; all these words are intelligible and common, but they convey no distinct or limited ideas; if he attempts, without the terms of architecture, to delineate the parts, or enumerate the ornaments, his narration, at once becomes unintelligible. The terms, indeed, generally displease, because they are understood by few; but they are little understood only because few, that look upon an edifice, examine its parts, or analyse its columns into their members.
The state of every other art is the fame; as it is cursorily surveyed or accurately examined, different forms of expression become proper. In morality it is one thing to discuss the niceties of the casuist, and another to direct the practice of common life. In agriculture, Z a 2 he he th*t instructs the farmer to plough and sow, may convey his notions without the words which he would find necessary in explaining to philosophers the process of vegetation; and if he, who has nothing to do but to* be honest by the shortest way, will perplex his mini with subtle speculations; or if he whose task is to reap and thrash will not be contented without examining the evolution os the seed and circulation of the sap, the writers whom either (hall consult are very little to be blamed, though it should sometimes happen that they are read in vain. Idler.
§ 62. Discontent, the common Lot of all Mankind.
Such is the emptiness of human enjoyment, that we are always impatient of the present. Attainment is followed by neglect, and possession by disgust; and the malicious remark of the Greek epigrammatist on marriage, may be applied to every other course of life, that its two days of happiness are the first and the last.
Few moments- are more pleasing than those in which the mind is concerting measures for a new undertaking. From the first hint that wakens the fancy to the hour of actual execution, nil is improvement and progress, triumph and felicity. Every hour brings additions to the original scheme, suggests some new expedient to secure success, err discovers consequential advantages not hitherto foreseen. While preparations are made and materials accumulated, day glides after day through elysian projects, and the heart dances to the song of hope.
Such is the pleasure of projecting, that many content themselves with a succession of visionary schemes, and wear out their allotted time in the calm amusement of contriving what theyneTer attempt or hope to execute.
Others, not able to feast their imagination with pure ideas, advance somewhat nearer to the grossness of action, with great diligence collect whatever is requisite to their design, and, after a thousand researches and consultations, are snatched away by death, as they
stand in procinilu waiting for a proper opportunity to begin.
If there were no other end of life, than to find some adequate solace for every day, I know not whether any condition could be preferred to that of the man who involves himself in his ownthoughts, and never suffers experience to (how him the vanity of speculation j for no sooner are notions reduced topractice, than tranquillity and confidence fersake the breast; every daybrings its task, and often without bringing abilities' to perform it: difficulties embarrass, uncertainty perplexes, opposition retards, censure exasperates, or neglect depresses. We proceed, because we have begun; we complete our design, that the labour already spent may not be vain: but as expectation gradually dies away, the gay smile of alacrity disappears, we are necessitated to implore severer powers, and trust the event to patience and constancy.
When onee our labour has begun, the comfort that enables us to endure it is the prospect of its end; for though in every long work there are some joyous intervals of self-applause, when the attention is recreated by unexpected facility, and the imagination sooihed by incidental excellencies not comprised in the first plan, yet the toil with which performance struggles after idea, is so irksome and disgusting, and so frequent is the necessity of resting below that perfection which we imagined within our reach, that seldom any man obtains more from his endeavours than a painful conviction of his defects, and a continual resuscitation of desires which he feels himself unable to gratify.
So certainly is weariness and vexation the concomitant of our undertakings, that every man, in whatever he is engaged, consoles himself with the hope of change. He that has made his way by assiduity and vigilance to public employment, talks among his friends of nothing but the delight of retirement: he whom the necessity of solitary application secludes from the world, Ihlens. with a beating heart to its distant noises, longs to mingle with living beings, and resolves, when he can regulate his hours by his own choice, to
taltf take his fill of merriment and diversions, or to display his abilities on the Universal theatre, and enjoy the pleasure of distinction and applause.
Every desire, however innocent or natural, grows dangerous, as by long indulgence it becomes ascendant in the mind. When we have been much accustomed to consider any thing as capable of giving happiness, it is not easy to restrain our ardour, or to forbear some precipitation in our advances and irregularity in our pursuits. He that has long cultivated the tree, watched the swelling bud, and opening blossom, and pleased himself with computing how much every sun and shower added to iti growth, scarcely stays till the fruit has obtained its maturity, but defeats his own cares by eagerness to reward them. When we have diligently laboured for any purpose, we are willing to believe that we have attained it, and, because we have already done much, too suddenly conclude that no more is to be done.
All attraction is encreased by the approach of the attracting body. We never find ourselves so desirous to finish, as in the latter part of our work, or so impatient of delay, as when we know that delay cannot be long. Part of this unseasonable importunity of discontent may be justly imputed to languor and weariness, which must always oppress us more as our toil has been longer continued; but the greater part usually proceeds from frequent contemplation of that ease which we now confider as near and certain, and which, when it has once flattered our hopes, we cannot sufFer to be longer withheld. Rambler.
§ 63. Feodal System, History of its
The constitution of feuds had its original from the military policy of the Northern or Celtic nations, the Goths, the Hunns, the Franks, the Vandals, and the Lombards, who all migrating from the fame officina gcnlium, as Craig very justly intitles it, pnurea themselves in vast quantities into all the regions of Europe, at the declension of the Roman empire. It was brought by them from
their own countries, and continued In their respective colonies as the moll likely means to secure their new acquisitions: and, to that end, large districts or parcels of land were allotted by the conquering general to the superior officers of the army, and by them dealt out again in smaller parcels or allotments to the inferior officers and most deserving soldiers. These allotments were called feoda, feuds, fiefs, or fees; which last appellation in the northern languages signifies a conditional stipend or reward. Rewards or stipends they evidently wire; and the condition annexed to them was, that the possessor mould do service faithfully, both at home and in the wars, to him by whom they were given; for which purpose he took the juramentum fidelitatis, or oath of fealty: and in case of the breach of this condition and oath, by not performing the stipulated service, or by deserting the lord in battle, the lands were again to revert to him who granted them.
Allotments thus acquired, naturally engaged such as accepted them to defend them : and, as they all sprang from the same right of conquest, no part could subsist independent of the whole; wherefore all givers as well as receivers were mutually bound to defend each other's possessions But, as that could not essectaally be done in a tumultuous irregular way, government, and to that purpo/e subordination, was necessary. Every receiver of lands, or feudatory, was therefore bound, when called upon by his benefactor, or immediate lord of his feud or fee, to do all in his power to defend him. Such benefactor or lord was likewise subordinate to and 1 under the command of his immediate benefactor or superior; and so upwards to the prince or general himself. And the several lords were also reciprocally bound, in their respective gradations, to protect the poss'slions they had given. Thus the feodal connection was established, a proper military subjection was naturally introduced, and an army of feudatories Were always ready inlisted, and mutually prepared to muster, not only in defence of each man's own several property, but also in defence of Z z 3 the
tlie whole, and os every part of this their newly acquired country: the prudence of which constitution was soon sufficiently visible in the strength and spirit with which they maintained their conquests.
The universality and early use of this feodal plan, among all those nations which in complaisance to the Romans we- still call Barbarous, may appear from what is recorded of the Cimbri and Teutones, nations of the fame northern original as those whom we have been describing, at their first irruption into Italy about a century before the Christian .æra. They demanded of tht Romans, "ut martiui fepulus aliquidJibi terra daret, quafeJii. fen aim: cœterum, ut •uellet, manibus atque arm'u suis uteretur." The fense of which may be thus rendered ; " ihey desired llipendarv lands (that is, feuds) to be allowed them, to be held by military and other pcnon;i! services, whenever their lords ihould call upon them." This was evidently the sjine constitution, that displayed itself more fully about seven hundred year, afterwards ;■ when the Saiii, Burgundians, and Franks, broke in upon Gaul, the Visigoths on Spain, and the Lombards upon Italy, and introduced with themselves this northern plan of polity, serving at once to diitribure, and to protect, the territories they had newly gained. And from hence it is>probable that the emperor Alexander Sever.us took the hint, of dividing lands conquered from the enemy am ng his generals and victorious soldiery, on condition of receiving military service from them and their heirs for ever.
Sen ce had these northern conquerors established themselves in their new dominions, when the wisdom of their constitutions, as well as their personal valour, alarmed all th: princes of Europe; that is, of those countries which had formerly been Roman provinces, but had revoked, or were deserted by their old masters, in the general wreck of the empire. Wherefore molt, if not all, of them thought it necessary to enter into the fame or a similar plan of policy. For whereas, before, the posJcstions of their subjects were perfectly
allodial (that is, wholly independent, and heldofno superior at all) now they parcelled out their royal territories, or persuaded their subjects to surrender up and retake their own landed property, under the like feodal obligation of military fealty. And' thus, in the compass of a very few years, the feodal constitution, or the doctrine of tenure, extended itself over all the western worl;1. Which alteration of landed property, in so very material a point, necessarily drew after it an alteration of laws and customs ; so that the feodal l;iws soon drove out the Roman, which had hitheito universally obtained, but now became for many centuries loll and forgotten; and Italy itself (as some of the civilians, with more spleen than judgment, have expressed it) belluinas, atqur ferinas, immancjque Longobardorum lega eccepit.
Bu: this feodal polity, which was thus by degrees established over all the continent of Europe, soems not to have been received in this part of our island, at least not universally, and as a part of the national constitution, till the reign of William theNoraian. Not but that it is realonab'c to believe, from abundant traces in our history and laws, that even in the times of the Saxons, who were a swarm from what Sir William Temple calls the fame northern hive, something similar to this was in use: yet not so extensively, nor attended with all the rigour that was afterwards imported by the Normans. For the Saxons were firmly fettled in this island, at . least as early as the year 600: and it was not till two centuries after, that feuds arrived to their full vigour and maturity, even on the continent of Europe.
This introduction however of the feodal tenures into England, by king William, does not seem to have been effected immediately after the conquest, nor by the mere arbitrary will and power of the conqueror; but to have been consented to by the great council of the nation long aster his title was established. Indeed, from the prodigious slaughter of the English nobility at the battle of Hastings, and the fruitless insurrections of those who survived,
such such numerous forfeitures had accrued, that he was able to reward his Norman followers with very large and extensive possessions: which gave a handle to the monkish historians, and such as have implicitly followed them, to represent him as having by the right of the sword seized on all the lands of England, and dealt them out again to his own favourites. A supposition, grounded upon a mistaken fense of the word conqutst; which, in its feodal acceptation, signifies no more than acquisition: and this has led many hasty writers into a strange historical mistake, and one which upon the flightest examination will he found to be most untrue. However, certain it is, that the Normans now began to gain very large possessions in England: and their regard for their feodal law, under which they had long lived, together with the king's recommendation of this policy to the English, as the best way to put themselves on a military footing, and thereby to prevent any suture attempts from the continent, were probably the reasons that prevailed to effect his establishment here. And perhaps we may be able to ascertain the time of this great revolution in our landed property with a tolerable degree of exactness. For we learn from the Saxon Chronicle, that in the nine. teenth year of king William's reign an invasion was apprehended from Denmark; and the military constitution of the Saxons being then laid aside, and no other introduced in its stead, the kingdom was wholly defenceless : which occasioned the king to bring over a large army of Normans and Bretons, who were quartered upon every landholder, and greatly oppressed the people. This apparent weakness, together with the grievances occasioned by .a foreign force, might co-operate with the king's remonstrances, and the better incline the nobility to listen to his proposals forputting them in a posture of defence. For, as soon as the danger was over, the king held a great council to enquire into the state of the nation; the immediate consequence of which was the compiling of the great survey called Domesday book, which was , finished ia the next year; and in the
latter end of that very year the king wa» attended by all his nobility at Sarum; where all the^ principal landholders submitted their lands to the yoke of military tenure, became the king's vassals, and did homage and fealty to his person. This seems to have been the æra of formally introducing the feodal tenures by law; and probably the very law, thus made at the council of Sarum, is that which is still extant, and couched in these remarkable words: "siatuimus, ut omnes liberi homines fae ~ dere Cff sacramento ajfirmcnt, quod intra & extra universum regnum Anglite Wilbelmo regi domino suo fideles ejse <volunt; terras 15 honor es illius omni fidelitate ubique servare cum eo, et contra inimicos et alienigenas defendere." The terms of this law (as Sir Martin Wright has observed) are plainly feodal: for, first, it requires the oath of fealty, which made in the sense of the feudists every man that took it a tenant or vassal; and, secondly, the tenants obliged themselves to defend their lords territories and titles against all enemies foreign and domestic. But what puts the matter out of dispute is another law of the fame collection, which exacts the performance of the military feodal services, as ordained by the general council: "Omnes comites, & barones, & milites, Cif fer'vientes, eff uni'versi liberi homines totius regni neftri prœdicti, habeant Cif teneant fe semper bene in armis cif in equis, ut decet 13 oportet: Cjf fint semper prompti tS>* bete parati ad servitium suum integrum nobis explendum & peragendum cum opus /suerit; secundum quod nobis debent de fat dis y tenement is suis dejure facer e ; iff ficut illis statuimus per commune toncilium totius regni nostri pr<edi£li."
This new polity therefore seems not to have been imposed by the conqueror, but nationally and freely adopted by the general assembly of the whole realm, in the same manner as other nations of Europe had before adopted it, upon the fame principle of self-security. And, in particular, they had the recent example of the French nation before their eyes, which had gradually surrendered up all its allodial or free lands into the king's hands, who restored them to the owners as a bencf.cium or
Z z 4 ieud,