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have led the charge at Val-ès-dunes; others beside him might have chosen the happy moment for the ambush at Varaville; others beside him might have endured the weariness of the long blockade beneath the donjon of Brionne. Others, it may even be, beside him could have cut their way through palisade and shield-wall and battleaxe to the royal Standard of England.
7. But none in his own age, and few in any age, have shown themselves like him masters of every branch of the consummate craft of the statesman. Calm and clearsighted, he saw his object before him; he knew when to tarry and when to hasten; he knew when to strike and how to strike, and how to use alike the noblest and the vilest of men as his instruments. Utterly unscrupulous, though far from unprincipled, taking no pleasure in wrong or oppression for its own sake, always keeping back his hands from needless bloodshed, he yet never shrank from force or fraud, from wrong or bloodshed or oppression, when they seemed to him the straightest paths to accomplish his purpose. — Edward A. Freeman.
Questions on the lesson :—What of the place occupied by William's name?
What of his natural gifts? his achievements? What great acts of William are referred to? Give a brief account of each of them? What judgment is expressed of his work at the time? as he left it? What discrimination is made in paragraph 3 regarding his qualities? What feature of his character is singled out for special remark? What is said of his warlike exploits? In what other department was he specially distinguished?
Val-ès-dunes, a few miles east of Caen in Normandy in the northwest of France, where William's first battle was fought and his first victory won in 1047, that is, when he was only ninc teen years of age. The nobility of a portion of Normandy had risen against their sovereign. An attempt to seize or murder the Duke had been foiled by a warning given to him by his fool. In the war which followed William obtained help from his suzerain or over-lord, Henry, King of France. The battle at Val-ès-dunes was one vast tourney,"
“a struggle between two companies of mounted knights charging one another with shield, sword, and lance.” William's victory was complete, and, having thus conquered his own land and people, he was set free for the conquest of England.
Varaville, a small village N.E. of Caen. Here in 1058 William encountered the forces of Henry who had shared in the victory at Val-ès-dunes. The French had successfully carried out a plundering expedition in Normandy w. of the Seine, and were returning home with a large booty. Half of the French forces had crossed the river Dive when the rising of the tide cut their army in two. This was the moment selected by William for attack. Of the whole rear-guard of the French army not a man is said to have escaped.
Senlac.-See note on page 9.
Timoleon, was one of the noblest men of ancient Greece. He lived in the 4th century B.C. Such was his love of liberty that he caused his own brother to be put to death when he was discovered to be plotting to make himself tyrant in Corinth. At the head of a very inconsiderable force Timoleon expelled all the tyrants from Sicily, and established democratic government in the Greek cities. He refused any office or title, and died as a private citizen.
Aelfred, or Alfred, the Great, King of England, 871-901.
Cnut, a famous Danish king who ruled in England, 1016-1035. In the beginning of his reign he was passionate and revengeful, “uniting the guile of the savage with his thirst for blood.” “Abruptly he rose into a wise and temperate king.”
Nabuchodonosor, or Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.
Swegens, Danish leaders connected with the early history of England.
blockade of Brionne is said to have lasted for three years. Here one of the Norman nobles held out against William after the battle of Val-ès-dunes.
Such was the man, &c.—This refers to Sulla, (B.C. 138-78), a Roman general, who, after gaining many victories over the enemies of the Republic, returned to Rome and, aspiring to absolute power, murdered thousands of those who opposed him there. When at the height of his power he quietly laid down the sovereignty which he had filled Rome with blood in order to acquire, challenged examination of his proceedings, and retired to end his days among thousands whom he had cruelly wronged.
THE EMPIRE OF JAPAN.
“A NATION BORN AT ONCE."
1. Probably never before in the history of the world have changes so immense been wrought in so short a time, as within the last few years in the great empire of Japan. For
For ages she lived in mysterious seclusion from the rest of the world, but this state of things has entirely passed away. Now she seems wholly to have detached herself from her fellowship with the Oriental nations, and has been possessed with a rage for the civilisation of the West.
2. Since the 12th century the Feudal System had been in full blow in Japan. The Mikado, or Spiritual Emperor, was regarded as the fountain-head of all authority. His fabled descent from the gods to whose power the country owed its existence, constituted his “divine right” to rule. The substance of power and authority, however, had many centuries ago passed into the hands of his principal vassal, the Shôgun, or Temporal Emperor. His vassals were the daimiyô, or feudal princes, numbering nearly 300, who, while exercising jurisdiction over the lands they had conquered in war, owned the supremacy of the Shôgun, and paid him homage.
3. The daimiyô again were supported by their twosworded retainers, who occupied the lands assigned to them for their services in war. This class numbered somewhat less than half a million. The mass of the nation, upwards of 30 millions, had no recognised position, and were debarred from all political privileges. The better class of them were farmers, mechanics, artisans, or peasants, having below them, but separated by laws forbidding intermarriage, a pariah class, of whom some, from the nature of their occupations, were accounted unclean, others were regarded as scarcely human beings, and lived by beggary or the performance of the meanest offices.
4. In 1868 all this began to be changed. The Shôgun was dethroned and the Spiritual Emperor restored to the position he had held six centuries before. Two years later the feudal princes of their own accord proposed to resign their powers to the Mikado in order that the empire “might be able to take its place side by side with the other countries of the world.” A portion of their former revenues was continued to them, their retainers were suitably provided for, and in 1871 the Feudal System ceased to exist in Japan.
5. Representative government has already been introduced. The Mikado governs through a council of state, aided by a legislative assembly composed of the most distinguished men of the empire. Social improvements have followed in the train of these changes in the government with still more striking rapidity. Postal facilities, for example, are now nearly as great in Japan as in England. Letters, thousands of them registered as with us, PostCards and Newspapers, passed through the Post-office in a single year to the number of between 50 and 60 millions. Three-quarters of a million of money were transmitted by means of Money Orders, and the deposits in the Postoffice Savings Banks are annually increasing with amazing rapidity
6. Eight thousand miles of Telegraph are now in operation, over which more than a million of messages passed in a single year. Telephones are in use in connection with the principal offices of state, and the Newspapers supply telegraphic intelligence to their readers as is done by the best newspapers in England. The first newspaper was printed in 1871. Within eight years the number had risen to more than 200, with an aggregate circulation of nearly 30 millions of copies.
7. “Of the shadows,” says Miss Bird, “which hang upon the horizon of Japan the darkest, to my thinking, arises from the fact that she is making the attempt, for the first time in history, to secure the fruits of Christianity without transplanting the tree from which they spring.
The great hope for her is that she may grasp the truth and purity of primitive Christianity as taught by the lips and life of our Lord Jesus Christ as vigorously as she has grasped our arts and sciences; and that in the reception of Christianity with its true principles of manliness and national greatness, she may become in the highest sense THE LAND OF THE RISING Sun and the Light of Eastern Asia.”
Questions on the lesson :- What striking change has passed over the Empire of Japan within the last few years? What system had long prevailed in the country? Who was the fountain-head of authority? On what did his right to rule rest? Into whose hands had the substance of power passed? His vassals—who were they?
- how many?- what their jurisdiction? Who supported the daimiyô ?—how many were there?-how did they live? What of the mass of the nation—its number, position, occupations? What changes occurred in 1868? How is the country governed? What social changes have been introduced ?