Puslapio vaizdai




THIS family, which split (or, as a grammatical purist lately said to me, in a tone of expostulation, splat) into three national divisions, — English, French, and American, originally was Norwegian; and in the year of our Christian era one thousand spoke (I believe) the most undeniable Norse. Throughout the eleventh century, the heads of this family (in common with all the ruffians and martial vagabonds of Europe, that had Venetian sequins enough disposable for such a trip) held themselves in readiness to join any likely leader; and did join William the Norman. Very few, indeed, or probably none, of his brigands were Frenchmen, or native Neustrians; Normans being notoriously a name not derived from any French province, but imported into that province by trans-Baltic, and in a smaller proportion by cisBaltic aliens. This Norwegian family, having assumed a territorial denomination from the district or village of Quincy, in the province now called Normandy, transplanted themselves to England; where, (83)

and subsequently by marriage in Scotland, they ascended to the highest rank in both kingdoms, and held the highest offices open to a subject. A late distinguished writer, Mr. Moir, of Musselburgh, the Delta of "Blackwood's Magazine," took the trouble (which must have been considerable) of tracing their aspiring movements in Scotland, through a period when Normans transferred themselves from England to Scotland in considerable numbers, and with great advantages. This elaborate paper, published many years ago in "Blackwood's Magazine," first made. known the leading facts of their career in Scotland. Meantime in England they continued to flourish. through nine or ten generations; took a distinguished part in one, at least, of the Crusades; and a still more perilous share in the Barons' Wars, under Henry III. No family drank more deeply or more frequently from the cup of treason, which in those days was not always a very grave offence in people who having much territorial influence had also much money. But, happening to drink once too often, or taking too long a "pull" at the cup, the Earls of Winchester suddenly came to grief. Amongst the romances of astronomy, there is one, I believe, which has endeavored to account for the little asteroids of our system, by supposing them fragments of some great planet that had, under internal convulsion or external collision, at some period suddenly exploded. In our own planet Tellus, such a county as York, under a similar catastrophe, would make a very pretty little asteroid. And, with some miniature resemblance to such a case, some

times benefiting by the indulgence of the crown, sometimes by legal devices, sometimes by aid of matrimonial alliances, numerous descendants, confessedly innocent, from the guilty earl, projected themselves by successive efforts, patiently watching their opportunities, from the smoking ruins of the great feudal house; stealthily through two generations creeping out of their lurking holes; timidly, when the great shadows from the threatening throne had passed over, reässuming the family name. Concurrently with these personal fragments projected from the ancient house, flew off random splinters and fragments from the great planetary disk of the Winchester estates, little asteroids that formed ample inheritances for the wants of this or that provincial squire, of this or that tame villatic squireen.*

The kingly old oak, that had been the leader of the forest, was thus suddenly (in the technical language of wood-craft) cut down into a "pollard." This mutilation forever prevented it from aspiring cloudwards by means of some mighty stem, such as grows upon Norwegian hills, fit to be the mast of "some great ammiral." Nevertheless, we see daily amongst the realities of nature, that a tree, after passing through such a process of degradation, yet manifests the great arrears of vindictive life lurking within it, by throwing out a huge radiation of slender boughs and

* This last variety of the rustic regulus is of Hibernian origin ; and, as regards the name, was unknown to us in England until Miss Edgeworth had extended the horizon of our social experience. Yet, without the name, I presume that the thing must have been known occasionally even in England.

miniature shoots, small but many, so that we are forced exactly to invert the fine words of Lucan, saying no longer, trunco, non frondibus efficit umbram, but, on the contrary, non trunco sed frondibus efficit umbram. This great cabbage-head of this ancient human tree threw a broad massy umbrage over more villages than one; sometimes yielding representatives moody and mutinous, sometimes vivacious and inventive, sometimes dull and lethargic, until at last, one fine morning, on rubbing their eyes, they found themselves actually in the sixteenth century abreast of Henry VIII. and his fiery children. Ah, what a century was that! Sculptured as only Froude can sculpture those that fight across the chasms of eternity; grouped as only Froude can group the mighty factions, acting or suffering, arraigning before chanceries of man, or protesting before chanceries of God - what vast arrays of marble gladiators fighting for truth, real or imagined, throng the arenas in each generation of that and the succeeding century! And how ennobling. a distinction of modern humanity, that in Pagan antiquity no truth as yet existed, none had been revealed, none emblazoned, on behalf of which man could have fought! As Lord Bacon remarks, though strangely, indeed, publishing in the very terms of this remark his own blindness to the causes and consequences, religious wars were unknown to antiquity. Personal interests, and those only, did or could furnish a subject of conflict. But throughout the sixteenth century, whether in England, in France, or in Germany, it was a spiritual interest, shadowy and aerial, which embattled armies

against armies. Simply the nobility of this interest it was, simply the grandeur of a cause moving by springs transcendent to all vulgar and mercenary collisions of prince with prince, or family with family, that arrayed man against man, not upon petty combinations of personal intrigue, but upon questions of everlasting concern this majestic principle of the strife it was that constituted for the noblest minds its secret magnetism. Early in the seventeenth century, when it seemed likely that the interests of a particular family would be entangled with the principles at issue, multitudes became anxious to evade the strife by retiring to the asylum of forests. Amongst these was one branch of the De Quinceys. Enamored of democracy, this family, laying aside the aristocratic De attached to their name, settled in New England, where they subsequently rose, through long public services, to the highest moral rankas measured by all possible expressions of public esteem that are consistent with the simplicities of the great republic. Mr. Josiah Quincy, as head of this distinguished family, is appealed to as one who takes rank by age and large political experience with the founders of the American Union. Another branch of the same family had, at a much earlier period, settled in France. Finally, the squires and squireens that is, those who benefited in any degree by those "asteroids" which I have explained as exploded from the ruins of the Winchester estates-naturally remained in England. The last of them who enjoyed any relics whatever of that ancient territorial domain, was an elder kinsman of my father. I never had the honor

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