Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 10.djvu/581

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

12 s. x. JUNE 17, 1922.] NOTES AND QUERIES, 479 within the volume before us is important as a| counteracting influence. Although it covers a long period within comparatively small compass it is not in any sense a handbook. It is at once i wide in scope and generous of detail, and for' this it has been necessary to assume some measure of knowledge in the reader. The chapter on Geography, for instance, is a well-inspired opening for those already fascinated by French studies, but might prove baffling to a novice, and chap, vii., which treats of Dialects and Language, makes a severe demand on erudition. Having found our bearings among the provinces of France, we pass to the chapter on History contributed by M. Langlois. Here in 120 pages we are given a brilliant summary of the com- plicated developments of five centuries. Abridg- ments of history have, only too frequently, been entrusted to hack-writers without special quali- tications for their difficult task. In the chapter before us we have the short survey of the expert. M. Langlois would appear to be saturated in knowledge of the subjects which he treats. In place of the series of statements which so often does duty as abbreviated history he keeps before us the link between effect and cause, and shows us how continually the fate of nations has been determined at the dictation of a familiar human impulse. Feudal Organization can be a dreary topic, but it is here presented so that it makes appeal to the imagination, and the drawback to each method of government, as one succeeds another, is indicated with the impartiality of the true historian. We should have liked to know the views of M. Langlois, had he thought it well to give them to us, on the theories of Fustel de Coulanges in their relation to this period. The opinions of that vigorous writer, so little known in England, are of the kind that provoke reflection and research, and government by an aristocracy particularly concerned him. Such government leased to be practicable in France after the sixteenth century had wrought havoc with the power of the nobles as a class, but before that date there were many opportunities for speculation with regard to it. The chapter as it stands, however, provides suHicieiit incentive to independent thought, j There is no slavish adherence to tradition and old landmarks take new significance. The victory of Hugh Capet in 987 ceases to be sensational, and becomes merely the inevitable end of a long process. Even " the magnificent episode of Jeanne d'Arc " seems to owe its effectiveness to coincidence with the exact moment of the turning of a tide. The chapter on Industry and Commerce has closer relation to M. Langlois's History than those on the Army and the Navy which actually follow it, but in work of this kind the correct rotation of the subjects must be difficult to determine. The facts regarding Labour in Medieval France might be read with profit by students of social questions in modern England ; they demonstrate j the extreme of abuse that was possible to every system in those early times. In the eleventh century an industrial class began to be recognized ; in the twelfth the principle of trade-unions was accepted ; in the thirteenth trade-union was synonymous with tyranny ; in the fourteenth a system framed for the protection of the yorker had become a weapon in the hand of the capitalist , and the most rigorous exclusiveness dominated social and business relations. This melancholy development of the trade-union idea in relation to the artisan is balanced by the account of its utility when adapted to the service of the cl-:-rk. When we pass on to consider the Universities it is plain that they were indebted for their statutes to the rules drawn up for the protection of in- dustries. It was as necessary that the scholar's knowledge should be tested before he taught as that the apprentice should prove his skill in handicraft, and the principle of exclusion was essential to protect the rights of a corporation whether of scholars or of craftsmen. Those who desire to grasp the history of France during five centuries will find welcome assistance from Mr. A. G. Little's study of the early develop- ment of the University in Paris, for at certain crises the fate of France seems to have been in- dissolubly linked with these developments. He shows us how the Gallican doctrine, originating in the rivalry of monk and secular priest, achieved such vast importance. Here again the interest centres upon individuals, and names such as those of Abelard, of Thomas Aquinas, or of Gerson are thrown into relief. The life of a poor scholar may have been arduous in those days, but it was not monotonous. The possibilities of learning grew in correspondence with the need, and a university existed in idea rather than in fact. It depended on the gathering of scholars, and suppressed in one locality it could rise up in another. Thus the element of adventure was never lacking. Where so much is admirable the critic's task is an mgrateful one, yet we must note a blemish that might have been avoided. There are quali- fications besides familiar knowledge of two languages necessary to a good translator. The chapter on Literature, in matter as valuable as any in the book, is difficult reading, and there are other passages whose function as "a rendering into English " is unduly prominent. Tudor Constitutional Document^. A.I>. 1603, with an Historical ( '<>i>tin">t/<tri/. Hy J. R. Tanner. (Cambridge University 1'ress. 1 17s? (id.) DR. TANNER in his Preface strikes us as somewhat over-sanguine. In his opinion, with the :id of documents the student may not only construct a proper historical background, and create the real historical atmosphere, but also be enabled " to test for himself the generalizations and epigrams of historians and to find out what really is behind them." This encouragement needs to be qualified by some sober warning. Old documents present manifold pitfalls. The recognition of " common form " alone demands no inconsiderable study, and when we add to this the detection of propaganda and official bluff we have still only mentioned one or tAvo of the ordinary and general difficulties to be en- countered, beyond which lie the innumerable difficulties of the particular order. To be com- petent to test even epigrams the student must have a thorough acquaintance with many documents, and series of documents, or he will