Page 1240

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

the future.

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