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2S2 THEIR LOVE OF GAMING [ch. IX.
delight in sloth, they detest tranquillity.” The languid soul, oppressed with its own weight, anxiously required some new and powerful sensation; and war and danger were the only amusements adequate to its fierce temper. The sound that summoned the German to arms was grateful to his ear. It roused him from his uncomfortable lethargy, gave him an active pursuit, and by strong exercise of the body, and violent emotions of the mind, restored him to a more lively sense of his existence. In the dull intervals of peace, these barbarians were immoderately addicted to deep gaming and excessive drinking; both of which, by different means, the one by inflaming their passions, the other by extinguishing their reason, alike relieved them from the pain of thinking. They gloried in passing whole days and nights at table; and the blood of friends and relations often stained their numerous and drunken assemblies.f Their debts of honour (for in that light they have transmitted to us those of play) they discharged with the most romantic fidelity. The desperate gamester, who had staked his person and liberty on a last throw of the dice, patiently submitted to the decision of fortune, and suffered himself to be bound, chastised, and sold into remote slavery, by his weaker but more lucky antagonist.: Strong beer, a liquor extracted with very little art from wheat or barley, i corrupted (as it is strongly expressed by Tacitus)S into a certain semblance of wine, was sufficient for the gross purposes of German debauchery. . But those who ...i tasted the rich wines of Italy, and afterwards of Gaul, sighed for that more delicious species of intoxication. They attempted not, however (as has since been executed with so much success), to naturalize the vine on the banks pf the Rhine and Danube; nor did they endeavour to procure by industry the materials of an advantageous commerce. To solicit by labour what might be ravished by arms, was esteemed unworthy of the German spirit." The intemperate thirst of strong liquors often urged the barbarians to invade the provinces on which art or nature had bestowed those much envied presents. The Tuscan who betrayed his country to the Celtic nations, attracted them into Italy by the prospects of the rich fruits and delicious wines, the productions of a happier climate ;” and in the same manner the German auxiliaries, invited into France during the civil wars of the sixteenth century, were allured by the promise of plenteous quarters in the provinces of Champagne and Burgundy.t Drunkenness, the most illiberal, but not the most dangerous of our vices, was sometimes capable, in a less civilized state of mankind, of occasioning a battle, a war, or a revolution. The climate of ancient Germany has been mollified, and the soil fertilized, by the labour of ten centuries from the time of Charlemagne. The same extent of ground which at present maintains, in ease and plenty, a million of husbandmen and artificers, was unable to supply a hundred thousand lazy warriors with the simple necessaries of life.: The Germans abandoned their immense forests to the exercise of hunting, employed in pasturage the most considerable part of their lands, bestowed on the small remainder a rude and careless cultivation, and then accused the scantiness and sterility of a country that refused to maintain the multitude of its inhabitants. When the return of famine severely admonished them of the importance of the arts, the national distress was sometimes alleviated by the emigration of a third, or perhaps, a fourth part of their youth.Ş. The possession and the enjoyment of property are the pledges which bind a civilized people to an improved country. But the Germans, who carried with them what they most valued, their arms, their cattle, and their women, cheerfully abandoned the vast silence of their woods for the unbounded hopes of plunder and conquest. The innumerable swarms that issued, or seemed to issue,
* Tacit. Germ. 15. + Ibid. 22, 23. st Ibid. 24. The Germans might borrow the arts of play from the Romans, but the passion is wonderfully inherent in the human species. § Potui
humor ex hordeo aut frumento in quandam similitudinem wini corruptus. Tacit. Germ. c. 23.-Schi REITER. * Tacit. Germ. 24.
* Plutarch. in Camillo. T. Liv. 5, 33. + Dubos, Hist. de la Monarchie Françoise, tom. i., p. 193. † The Helvetian nation, which issued from the country called Switzerland, contained, of every age and sex, three hundred and sixty-eight thousand persons (Caesar de Bell. Gall. 1, 29). At present the number of people in the Pays de Vaud (a small district on the banks of the Leman lake, much more distinguished for politeness than for industry), amounts to one hundred and twelve thousand five hundred and ninety-one. See an excellent tract of M. Muret, in the Mémoires de la Société de Berne. § Paul Diaconus, c. 1, 3. Machiavel, Davila, and the rest of Paul's followers, represent these emigrations too much as regular and concerted meagures. * Sir William Temple and Montesquieu have indulged, on this subject, the usual liveliness of *heir fancy. + Machiavel, Hist. de Firenze, l. 1. Mariana, Hist. Hispan. l. 5, c. 1. + Robertson's Charles V. Hume's Political Essays. § Tacit. Germ. 44, 45. Frenshemius (who dedicated his Supplement to Livy to Christina of Sweden) thinks proper to be very angry with the Roman who expressed so very little reverence for northern queens. * May we not suspect that superstition was the parent of despotism? The descendants of Odin (whose race was not extinct till the year 1060) are said to have reigned in Sweden above a thousand years. The temple of Upsal was the ancient seat of religion and empire. In the year 1153, I find a singular law, prohibiting the use and profession of arms to any except the king's guards. Is it not probable that it was coloured by the pretence of reviving an old institution? See Dallin's History of Sweder, in the Bibliothèque Raisonnée, tom. xl. and xlv.
284 THEIR LOVE OF WAR. [CH. Ix
from the great storehouse of nations, were multiplied by the fears of the vanquished, and by the credulity of succeeding ages. And from facts thus exaggerated, an opinion was #. established, and has been supported by writers of istinguished reputation, that in the age of Caesar and Tacitus, the inhabitants of the north were far more numerous than they are in our days.” A more serious inquiry into the causes of population seems to have convinced. modern philosophers of the falsehood, and indeed the impossibility, of the supposition. To the names of Mariana and of Machiavel,t we can oppose the equal names of Robertson and Hume.j: A warlike nation like the Germans, without either cities, letters, arts, or money, found some compensation for this savage state in the enjoyment of liberty. Their poverty secured their freedom, since our desires and our possessions are the strongest fetters of despotism. “Among the Suiones,” says Tacitus, “riches are held in honour. They are therefore subject to an absolute monarch, who, instead of intrusting his people with the free use of arms, as is practised in the rest of Germany, commits them to the safe custody, not of a citizen, or even of a freedman, but of a slave. The neighbours of the Suiones, the Sitones, are sunk even below servitude; they obey a woman.”$ In the mention of these exceptions, the great historian sufficiently acknowledges the general theory of government. We are only at a loss to conceive by what means riches and despotism could penetrate into a remote corner of the north, and extinguish the generous flame that burned with such fierceness on the frontier of the Roman provinces; or how the ancestors of those Danes and Norwegians, so distinguished in latter ages by their unconquerable spirit, could thus tamely resign the great character of German liberty." Some tribes, however, on the coast of the Baltic, acknowledged the authority of kings, though without relinquishing the rights of men;” but in the far greater part of Germany, the form of government was a democracy, tempered indeed, and controlled, not so much by general and positive laws, as by the occasional ascendant of birth or valour, of eloquence or superstition.t Civil governments, in their first institutions, are voluntary associations for mutual defence. To obtain the desired end, it is absolutely necessary that each individnal should conceive himself ji. to submit his private opinion and actions to the judgment of the greater number of his associates. The German tribes were contented with this rude, but liberal, outline of political society. As soon as a youth, born of free parents, had attained the age of manhood, he was introduced into the general council of his countrymen, solemnly invested with a shield and spear, and adopted as an i. and worthy member of the military commonwealth. The assembly of the warriors of the tribe was convened at stated seasons, or on sudden emergencies. The trial of É. offences, the election of magistrates, and the great usiness of peace and war, were determined by its independent voice. Sometimes, indeed, these important questions were previously considered, and prepared in a more select council of the principal chieftains.: The magistrates might deliberate and persuade, the people only could resolve and execute; and the resolutions of the Germans were for the most part hasty and violent. Barbarians, accustomed to place their freedom in gratifying the present passion, and their courage in overlooking all future consequences, turned away with indignant contempt from the remonstrances of justice and policy, and it was the practice to signify by a ollow murmur their dislike of such timid counsels. But whenever a more popular orator proposed to vindicate the meanest citizen from either foreign or domestic injury, whenever he called upon his fellow-countrymen to assert the
* Tacit. Germ. c. 49, + Ibid. c. 11, 13, &c.
: Grotius changes an expression of Tacitus, pertractantur into pravirtute sum unt. Tacit. Germ. 7. "| Cluver. Germ. Ant. l. 1, c. 38. ** Caesar, 6, 26, Tacit. Germ. 26. ++ Tacit. Germ. 7.
286 COUNCILS OF THIE TRIBES. [Ch. Ix.
national honour, or to pursue some enterprise full of danger and glory, a loud clashing of shields and spears expressed the eager applause of the assembly. For the Germans always met in arms, and it was constantly to be dreaded, lest an irregular multitude, inflamed with faction and strong liquors, should use those arms to enforce, as well as to deckare, their furious resolves. We may recollect how often the diets of Poland have been polluted with blood, and the more numerous party has been compelled to yield to the more violent and seditious.* A general of the tribe was elected on occasions of danger; and if the danger was pressing and extensive, several tribes concurred in the choice of the same general. The bravest warrior was named to lead his countrymen into the field, by his example rather than by his commands. But this power, however limited, was still invidious. It expired with the war, and in time of peace the German tribes acknowledged not any supreme chieff Princes were, however, appointed in the general assembly, to administer justice, or rather to compose differences, in their respective districts. In the choice of these magistrates, as much respect was shown to birth as to merit.' ... To each was assigned, by the public, a guard, and a council of a hundred ersons; and the first of the princes appears to have enjoyed a pre-eminence of rank and honour which sometimes tood the Romans to compliment him with the regal title."[ The comparative view of the powers of the magistrates, in two remarkable instances, is alone sufficient to represent the whole system of German manners. The disposal of the landed property within their district was absolutely vested in their hands, and they distributed it every year according to a new division.** At the same time they were not authorized to punish with death, to imprison, or even to strike, a private citizen.ft. A people thus jealous of their persons, and careless of their possessions, must have been totally tractantwr. The correction is equally just and ingenious. * Even in owr ancient parliament, the barons often carried a question, not so much by the number of votes, as by that of their armed followers, + Caesar de Bell. Gall. 6, 23. f Minuunt controversias, is a happy expression of Caesar's. § Reges ex nobilitate, duces ex