Page 1044

1044 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

the stature is increased, the strength augmented, and the whole body nerved with additional strength." In the barbarian society

little care was taken to conceal the person,

and no shame was felt on account of the exposure. The men and women of the tribe

bathed promiscuously, but preserved the utmost respect. For clothing, skins of deer were

used, but nakedness was the rule.

Caesar goes on to say that the Germans

were little given to the cultivation of the soil.

"Nor," says he, "has any one a fixed portion

of land or definite boundaries to his possessions. In each year the magistrates and chiefs

allot to each one, in what place it is considered best, a certain portion of ground, and in

the following year they compel the occupants

to remove to another tract." For this custom

they ascribed the following reasons; namely,

that the possessors of lands might lose then warlike disposition by the acquirement of

estates, and that the more powerful would

absorb the lands of the weak and humble. To

this the additional reason is added that the

common people, seeing the lands of the great

held by the same tenure as their own, would be

more likely to remain contented with their lot.

There was another fiction of the Teutonic

barbarians that that state has the greatest

praise whose borders are solitudes and whose

frontiers are a waste. "They think it a peculiar evidence of their valor," adds the Roman

historian, "that their neighbors, expelled from

their lands, abandon them, and that no one

dare settle near their boundaries." At the

beginning of war an officer corresponding to

the military dictator of the Romans was chosen

who, during the continuance of hostility,

wielded the power of life and death, but in

peace there was no such supreme magistrate,

the chiefs of each canton resuming control of

their respective tribes. The Germans are said

by Caesar, perhaps not without a touch of

slander, to have held robbery as no crime

when committed beyond the limits of their

own state. They even regarded depredation

abroad as a healthful exercise for the youth

of the nation.

The peculiar usage of self-election to leadership is cited by the Roman historian as another feature of German political life. It appears that any chief sitting in the council of the tribes might proclaim himself a leader and call upon those who desired to follow his fortunes to express their preference by announcing their names. When such a choice had once been made it might not be revoked, and those who had enlisted and then failed to follow the chieftain were reckoned as deserters and traitors.

In common with the other Aryan races the

Germans recognized the rights of hospitality.

They thought it not lawful to injure guests or

to fail in courtesy to those whom will or accident had thrown into their communities. The

stranger coming to the German village must

be housed and fed. His person was inviolable, and, if necessary, the German sword

must be drawn to protect him from injury.

Another feature of Teutonic life, to omit

the mention of which would be resented by

the descendants of the old barbarians of the

North, is the chivalrous respect which they

are said to have shown to woman. Upon a

passage of Tacitus, Germanic pride has reared

the temple of traditional honor and sentiment.

The German wife and mother is said to have

been regarded not only by those of her own

household, but also by all the members of her

nation, with a sentiment of veneration bordering on awe and worship. Although so great

a thinker and historian as Guizot has declared

the statement of Tacitus, regarding the superior honor of womanhood among the Germans,

to be a pure chimera, it would nevertheless

appear from the rank which woman attained

under German auspices, in the age of chivalry,

and from the strong domestic ties manifested

to the present day in households of the Fatherland, that the claim of German patriotism may

well be allowed to stand unchallenged.

It is, however, with the influences of the

ancient Teutonic peoples upon modern civilization that the historian of today is mostly concerned. There appear to be at least two of the sentiments upon which the modern world

is largely framed which owe their origin to

the barbarians. The first of these is the notion of personal independence, which constituted, indeed, the very essence of all that is