1240 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
developed into statutory forms. But they existed. Man was bound to man. The one
conceded rights, the other rendered service.
Ideas and sentiments hitherto unknown sprang
up and prevailed. Honor and loyalty came
in as the sanctions of human conduct which
hitherto had had no guaranty but violence.
The principles of fidelity were substituted for
the argument of force, and personal devotion
took the place of written statutes and maxims
of the crown.
As it respected the feudal baron and his
family, it can hardly be denied that this peculiar system which took possession of Europe
was beneficial-salutary. The character of
the lord and his household grew and expanded
under the stimulus of the institution which
he had created. The baronial castle became
the seat of sentiment and affection. Here the
wandering minstrel, that forlorn, idealistic
spirit, drifting up and down the ways and
byways of half-barbaric Europe, found a
resting place at night. Here he was entertained by the amused lord and his household.
Here that long haired harper of the dawn
sang the first songs and ballads of the new
era by and by to break upon the world. It
was the twitter of the adventurous bird
in the gray light of the early morning. Albeit the untutored baron and his sons and
daughters were not that in the general destinies of the world they were entertaining
the weird precursor of the mighty bards of
Not so, however, respecting the intellectual
development of the serfs. To them the system was wormwood and despair. They
must toil and give to another. They must
patiently endure the brutal treatment and
exactions of the lords. They must live
without ambition and die without encomium.
They must transmit their hard estate to a
household of squalid wretches like themselves.
They must consent without a murmur to
half-starvation of the body and total starvation of the mind. They must accept a life
with no tradition except the memory of
hardship, with no fruition except the sour
bread of poverty, and with no prospect
except a gloomy mass of shadow and cloud
out of which shot two tongues of fire, the one
in the shape of a sword and the other in the
shape of a lash.
The great system which has thus been