Edward Augustus Freeman.

Lectures to American audiences online

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Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.





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These two series of Lectures were read in several
American cities in the course of the autumn and winter
of 1881-1882. The .first course was read before the
Lowell Institute at Boston and the Peabody Institute
at Baltimore, and, in a condensed shape, at New York.
The second course was read at Ithaca, New Haven, and
Philadelphia, and some parts of the last lecture were
read at several other places. Each course was meant to
have a distinct character of its own. The first was meant
to be of a more popular kind ; the second, intended
originally for the members of Cornell University, was
meant to have more of an academic character. But I
was both surprised and pleased to find it appreciated
as it was by large and more general audiences, both at
Ithaca and elsewhere.

Each course has a distinct subject of its own, and
forms a whole by itself. But as the two subjects to a
certain extent overlap, some matters will be found dealt
with in both. Still, as they come in naturally in both



courses, and as they are looked at from different points
and dealt with on different scales, I saw no reason to cut
out any part of either course because some of the same
general thoughts and statements were to be found in the
other also.

In reading the lectures in different places, some mat-
ter of a specially local character was necessarily left
out and put in at each. Things for instance which had
a special fitness at Boston had no special fitness at Bal-
timore. In revising the lectures for the press, I have
for the most part kept such local references as belonged
specially to New England. In the first series there are
naturally a good many of these, and that from two
causes. The lectures were written first of all for de-
livery at Boston ; and it will be further easy to see that,
for the particular purpose which I had in hand, the name,
the institutions, and the history of New England supplied
me with much that specially suited my object.

In some parts of the second course, especially in the
last lecture, I have got upon questions of modern poli-
tics, though not on the immediate politics either of the
United States or of Great Britain. The last lecture, it
will be seen, is of unusual length. The whole of it was
not delivered in any one place; but parts of it were
read and spoken in different places. It was first written
in November 1881, when the resistance of the South-
Dalmatian highlands to Austrian oppression had not very


long begun. This struggle, it must be remembered,
began before the revolt in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
which arose out of it, and which drew to itself much
more general attention. Of the later stages of the strug-
gle it is very hard to say anything. For the Austrian
government, by arresting and expelling Mr. Evans and
forbidding Mr. Stillman to enter the country, has thor-
oughly succeeded in its attempt to hinder all truthful
reports from reaching any Western land. But there is,
I believe, no doubt that the Austrian troops have occu-
pied Crivoscia, but that, in so doing, they have simply
occupied a desert. The whole population, men, women,
and children, rather than submit to foreign tyranny, have
left their homes, and here taken shelter with their free
fellow-countrymen in Montenegro. Francis Joseph now
reigns in Crivoscia as Xerxes once reigned in Athens.
May the possession of the one despot be as short-lived
as that of the other.

The United States, as far as my experience goes, con-
tain no native partisan of either Turk or Austrian. That
such is the case forms one of the many ties which bind
me to a land to my sojourn in which I shall always look
back as one of the brightest times of my life. I cannot
let this little book go forth from an American press
without expressing my deep-felt thanks for the kindness
which I received wherever I went, from New York to
St. Louis. But where every memory is pleasant, I can-


not help picking out a few memories which are the
pleasantest of all. While giving my best thanks to my
American friends everywhere, I cannot help adding a
small special tribute to my friends at Ithaca and at New


July nth, 1882.






Old, Middle, and New England 7

The English Name 38

The First Voyage and the Second 68

The Oldest England and the Second 99

The English in their Second Home 135


The Second Voyage and the Third Home 169






Causes and their Effects 205

The Democratic City 238

The Aristocratic City . . . . 277

The Ruling City and its Empire 311

The Elder and the Newer England 358

Rome Transplanted 400








©ttr, iftlftrtrle, autr Jieto 35nglanir.

The subject which I have chosen for the course of lec-
tures which I am now called upon to give before you is
not a new theme in my hands. It may almost seem rash
on my part to choose for my first audience beyond the
Ocean a subject on which my pen and my voice have so
often been busy in my own hemisphere. Can I find any-
thing new to say about the English people, their origin,
their later history, unless I seek to say something new by
unsaying and refuting all that I have ever said before ?
Now I am certainly not going to seek for newness by
that course. I do not suppose that I shall, in the course
of these six lectures, say many things before you here
in Boston which I have not said, and often said, either be-
fore some gathering in my own island or in some of the
many writings with which I have cumbered the earth. But
change of place will, I trust, bring somewhat of newness
with it. The same subject, dealt with on a new side of



Ocean, will be in some sort a new subject The things
and persons spoken of may be the same, but they will
put on new relations and proportions. We may speak
of no fresh things, of no fresh persons— we may bring in
no names that we have not often heard before ; but we
may have to speak of some of them in such a way that
the last may become first and the first last. The side of
things which is most prominent when they are looked at
from European soil may not always be the most promi-
nent when they are looked at from American soil. When
two great societies of men have for many ages a common
history, and when at a certain point the common history
parts into two distinct histories, both should alike look
back to the common possession, both should alike cleave
to the common possession, both should feel that it is a
common possession and not the exclusive right of either.
Yet the later separation, the new thoughts, the new feel-
ings, which cannot fail to follow on that separation,
are sure to cause the older and common possession
to be looked on with somewhat different eyes by those
who, from the point of parting have walked in one direc-
tion, and by those who have walked in another.

I stand before you this day as a member of one great
community, addressing members of another great com-
munity, both of which communities have an equal right
in such a common possession as I speak of. And that
common possession is no mean one. It is no other than
the history, the tongue, the laws, the freedom, of the
English folk, from the first moment when history or
legend gives us any glimpses of the English folk in any
of the homes which they have made their own. In these
later times those homes have become many ; but in the


long course of the history with which we have to deal
there are some, there are three, which stand forth con-
spicuous above all others. The title which I have chosen
for our subject of these evenings is " The English People
in its Three Homes." I trust that there is no one here
who will not take my words as they are meant to be
taken — I trust that there is no one who will not welcome
me as I ask to be welcomed — when I say that of these
three homes I am now standing in the latest and the
vastest. I have more than once said, sportively yet in
all seriousness, that what I have to speak of is Old,
Middle, and New England. That, here in Boston, I am
standing on the soil of New England I need not go about
to prove. But I would ask, even in Boston, to be allowed
to use that familiar name in a somewhat wider sense than
that which it technically bears. I think that the New Eng-
land of the seventeenth century, the New England of the
eighteenth, can afford to allow me, for the nonce at least,
to extend its name to all the independent English-speak-
ing lands on its own side of Ocean. The New England
of which I have to speak — of which I have to speak in
its relations to two older Englands — can acknowledge no
bounds narrower than those of the United States of

Now New England, by its very name, implies an older
England. And the older England which that name im-
plies is the England which is my own home and birth-
place. And it is of the ties which bind this newer
England to that older one, that older England to this
newer one, that I have now mainly to speak before you.
I have to speak of all things, past and present, which
can set forth those two great communities, older and
younger, as alike members of one yet greater whole.


I have to set forth whatever can serve to draw together
the two communities and those who form them — what-
ever can serve to draw the greater child to its elder
parent, the elder parent to its greater child. I have to
enlarge on all that can draw together those whom geo-
graphical position, whom historical destiny, has parted
asunder into two distinct political societies, but who
ought still to deem themselves one, as brethren in a high-
er brotherhood, born of one ancient stock, speaking one
ancient tongue, sharers under different forms in one an-
cient freedom — a freedom that was struggled for and won
by the common forefathers of both. All this is part of
my subject, its highest and worthiest part. But it is not
the whole of my subject ; it is not, in historical order, its
earliest part. If I ask you in this newer England to look
back to the older, I have to ask that older England in its
turn to look back in the like sort. If I call on you here
in this newer England to look to the rock from whence
you were hewn and to the hole of the pit whence you
were digged, I have to preach the same lesson to the men
of my own older England also. If I ask you to look to
the land which is truly your motherland, I must ask both
you and the men of the motherland herself to look to
the land which is truly the motherland of the mother.
Mark that, while I have spoken of your land as the
New England, I have not ventured to speak of my
own land as the Old. I have spoken of an older and
a newer England, but I hav? not ventured to speak of
that older England as Old England. For the true his-
tory of our race, the true history of our own branch
of that race, will never be fully taken in unless we ever
bear in mind that, beyond that England which with most


of us passes for Old England, there is an older England

You will bear with me while I speak of your newer
England as the child and colony of my older England,
if I speak of my own older England as itself the child
and colony of that oldest England of all. That oldest
England sent forth her sons to the shores of the isle of
Britain, as in after-times the isle of Britain sent forth her
sons to the vaster mainland of America. In the general
history of our race, as part of the general history of the
world, while I call on you — not only here in Massachu-
setts and her immediate neighbours, but through the
whole length and breadth of your vast Union — to look
on yourselves as men of a New England, I cannot claim
the name of Old England for the land which I ask you
to look on as a motherland and to look on her sons as
brethren. The island from which I come, the island from
which your fathers came, is, in the general history of our
folk, not Old England, but only Middle England. For
Old England in the strictest sense, for the oldest Eng-
land of all, for the first land in which we know that men
bore the English name and spoke the English tongue,
you must, when you have crossed the Ocean to come to
us, again cross that narrower arm of Ocean which parts
the great Teutonic island from the older Teutonic main-
land. In the true historic map of the English folk, be-
tween the Old England on the mainland of Europe and
the New England on the mainland of America, lies that
England which is the child of the one, the parent of the
other, the Middle England in the isle of Britain. You
are well pleased, and rightly pleased, to tell the tale how
your fathers came from the isle of Britain to plant the


first germs of the mighty fabric of this New England
on American soil. And so we of the Middle England
must not forget, and along with us you of the New
England must not forget either, how our forefathers,
your remoter forefathers, came in the like sort from the
continent of Europe, from the oldest England of all, to
plant the germs of the Middle England, and thereby of
the New England also, upon the conquered shores of
Britain. We must go back together to those early days
of our race when

" From the east hither
Angles and Saxons
Up became.
Over broad sea
Britain they sought."

And we must remember that in crossing the sea, in
seeking Britain, if they founded the great settlement of
the English folk in our European island, they founded
also, as a germ that was to bear fruit after many
ages, this vaster settlement of the English folk on your
American mainland. In founding the kingdom of Eng-
land and all that that name implies, they founded, not in
a figure, but as a remote father may be said to found his
remote children, the confederation of the United States
of America and all that that name implies.

I can well believe that I have just now said some things
which may to some sound startling; I have indeed purpose-
ly thrown some things into a somewhat startling shape. I
may have said some things already — I shall certainly
say some things as I go on — which to some minds may
sound doubtful, and which may seem capable of being


met by argument. Be it so ; any old arguments I think
I can answer ; to any new arguments I shall be ready to
listen. But let us not have them yet. I shall come to
the stage of disputation later. I ask leave, first of all, to
tell my tale — if it be so, to set forth my paradox — in my
own way, and to keep clear of disputings, and even of
arguments, on this our first night of meeting. I trust
that I have already made plain what I mean by my par-
able of Old, Middle, and New England ; I trust that I
have pointed out beyond chance of mistake where the
three homes of the English people are to be looked for.
We have found one England on the mainland of Europe,
another in the isle of Britain, a third on the mainland
of America. Let me now go on for the rest of this first
lecture to work out this general sketch in somewhat
more of detail. And I will ask leave to do this some-
what positively, somewhat dogmatically. I will ask leave
to state my own view with some confidence, taking for
the present very little heed to the views of others.
Let me say my own say to-night on this my first ap-
pearing before a gathering here on the soil of the
third England. In other lectures I may come to such
difficulties, such objections, as I have as yet heard
of. If any fresh difficulties or objections should be
brought to my knowledge before I next meet you
here, it may be hard to grapple with them at such
short notice, but I will at least do my best.

Let us then, before we go into any details, dis-
puted or undisputed, take a wide and general view of
the history of the English people. I say the Eng-
lish people, because so to speak best sets forth what


I have in my own mind. I cannot, with any accuracy,
speak of the English race; that would be claiming
for ourselves too great a place among the nations
of the earth. The English people, in its three
homes, is, after all, but one member of a greater fam-
ily ; we are not a race, but only part of a race. Wider
than the bond which binds together all the speakers of
the English tongue, narrower than the bond which binds
together all the nations of Aryan Christendom, comes
the bond which binds, or should bind, together all the
many branches of the Teutonic race. Of that race we
are one great division, or rather, in truth, we are a
division of a division. On the other hand, I could not,
for my present purpose, speak, with any accuracy, of
the English nation. For the word nation has in practice
taken to itself a meaning which is not implied in the
word itself, a meaning partly local, partly political. It
commonly means that those to whom it is applied live
under one common government; indeed it almost
seems to imply that they occupy a continuous terri-
tory, or, at all events, a territory whose parts do not lie
far asunder. I think we never apply the word nation to
people who are under different governments, unless we
mean to imply, or at least to suggest, that they ought to
be under one government. If I speak, as I often have
spoken, of the Greek, the Servian, or the Bulgarian
nation as divided among several governments, I have
always meant to imply that that division is a wrongful
thing, and that the whole of each of those nations ought
to be united under one common national government.
Now assuredly there is nothing further from the
thoughts of any sane man on either side of Ocean


than to wish to see all the speakers of the English
tongue united under one common government. Some
perhaps might even wish, without losing the character
of sane persons, to see the number of independent
English-speaking governments in the world greater
than it now is. And the geographical position of the
countless speakers of the English tongue is such that
each creation of a fresh English-speaking government
would be the creation of a fresh English-speaking na-
tion. As there is now one independent English-speak-
ing nation in Britain, another independent English-
speaking nation in America, I know not why there
should not be a third such in Australia, perhaps even
a fourth in Africa. I must therefore speak of you,
citizens of the United States, as members of an Eng-
lish nation, as members of one English nation, while
I am a member of another. I cannot use the word
nation so as to take us both in. It implies a political
and a local connexion which cannot exist between two
independent political societies with the Ocean rolling
between them. But, if we do not belong to the same
nation, I do hold that we belong to the same people, or
rather, to use a word of our own tongue, to the same
folk. By that I mean that we come of the same stock,
that we speak the same tongue, that we have a long
common history and a crowd of common memories. I
mean, in short, that we are one folk in all things except
that local and political separation which the hand of
nature and the facts of history have wrought. And
these ties of blood and speech and memory surely rise
above the lesser facts of local and political separation to
make us feel ourselves in the highest sense one people.


We dwell in different quarters of the globe, but we are
surely more to one another than dwellers in the same
quarter of the globe who do not come of the com-
mon stock, who do not speak the common tongue.
Let me say that the words " foreign " and " foreigner "
are words which should never be spoken between
men of the English folk in Britain and men of
the English folk in America. It grates a little on my
ear when I see in some of your newspapers news from
the British England set down among " news from foreign
lands." Yet this may perhaps be borne ; the mere land
may in a sense be called " foreign." It grated much
more on my ear when, in an American edition of a lit-
tle book, not of my own writing, but one in which I
have a kind of fatherly interest, I saw its author spoken
of as " a foreign writer." This, I must say, was too
much. It grated even more on my ears when I heard
myself, in a speech otherwise highly honourable to me,
spoken of as one of a " foreign nationality." But I was
relieved and comforted by the hearty zeal with which
the rest of the company accepted my strong disclaimers
of anything foreign about rae, and welcomed me as
one of their own kin. "Foreign," "foreigner," "foreign
nationality ;" away with such forms of words ! You are
not foreigners; we do not look on you as foreigners,
when you come to visit the older England in Britain.
And I am not a foreigner, I will not deem myself a fo-
reigner, I will not bear that you should look on me as a
foreigner, when I come to visit this newer England in
America. Here on your soil I am not indeed in mine
own home, but I am none the less among mine own
folk. I am among men of mine own blood and mine


own tongue, sharers in all that a man of either England
deems it his pride and happiness to share in. How can
we be strangers and foreigners to one another, how can
we be other than kinsfolk and brethren of the same
hearth, when we think that your forefathers and mine
may have sailed together from the oldest England of
all in the keels of Hengest or of Cerdic — that they may
have lurked together with yElfred in the marshes of
Athelney — that they may have stood side by side in the
thick shield-wall on the hill of Senlac — that they may
have marched together as brethren to live and die for
English freedom alike on the field of overthrow at
Evesham and on the field of victory at Naseby ?

I surely need not remind you that the whole heritage
of the past, the history, the memories, the illustrious
names, which belong to the earlier days of the English
folk in Britain, are yours as well as ours. They are
in the stricter sense your own. The men who piled
up the mighty fabric of English law and English free-
dom were your fathers, your brethren, no less than ours.
In the long line of hero-kings who built up the king-
dom of England you have as full a share as we have ;
in building up the kingdom of England they were build-
ing up the commonwealth of America. If yours is the
king who lurked in Athelney, yours too is the king who
won the fight of Brunanburh. Yours are the king who
waged the year of battles with the Dane and the king
who waged the day of battle with the Norman. And if
the kings are yours as well as ours, so are the men who
curbed the power of kings. Yours are the men who wrung
the Great Charter from the kingly rebel ; yours are


the men who dictated the Provisions of Oxford and the
men who gathered round the victor of Poitiers on the
nobler field of the Good Parliament Your share is
alike with ours in every blow struck on behalf of free-
dom, from the day of Lewes to the day of Marston.
And if we boast that we won to ourselves the men of
other lands, if we changed the Dane and the Norman
into Englishmen as true as if their forefathers had first
seen the shores of Britain from the keels of Hengest,

Online LibraryEdward Augustus FreemanLectures to American audiences → online text (page 1 of 32)