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fice of his slave, if it but gratify his ambition. · Human life is dog-cheap till he comes to sell his own. It is surely lamentable enough to think how the mass have always been made “hewers of wood and drawers of water," to those who happened to possess the power at the time.
We have not space to speak at length of serfs and vassals who composed the large majority of the people, and who had no appeal from the will of their masters. So deeply were the millions degraded, that“ the serf,” we are told by De Tocqueville, “ looked upon his own inferiority as a consequence of the immutable order of nature.” How grinding and lasting must have been the tyranny that brought him so low.
Man has never yet been rightly estimated. Those who are familiar with the forest and game laws, know the comparative value English kings have placed upon a man and the game of the woods. William the Conqueror, “not satisfied with sixty-nine forests, lying in almost every part of the kingdom, such, and so many, says Evelyn, as no other realm of Europe had, laid waste a vast tract of country in Hampshire, and created another, thence called New Forest, because it was the last added to the ancient ones, except that of Hampton Court, the work of Henry VIII. Such was the origin and extent of the ancient royal forests of England; all preserved and maintained for the especial and exclusive pastime of the kings. Truly the state of a king was then kingly indeed. Sixty-nine forests, thirteen chases, and upwards of seven hundred and fifty parks existing in England. There were in Yorkshire alone in Henry VIII's time, two hundred and seventy-five woods, besides, parks and chases, most of them containing five hundred acres. Over all these the king could sport, for it was the highest honor to a subject to receive a visit from the king to hunt in his chase, or free warren ; while no subject, except by special permission and favor, could hunt in the royal parks. These sixty-nine forests of immense extent, lying in all parts of England, and occupying no small portion of its surface, all stood then for the sole gratification of the royal pleasure of the chase, and supplying the king's household, and few persons have now any idea of the state, dignity, and systematic severity of this great hunting establishment of England, maintained through all succeeding reigns to the time of the Commonwealth, and some parts of it much longer."
During one of my rides through Essex, in the summer of 1840, I took up an ancient book on the Game Laws of England, which I found in turning over the antique library of my host, from which I gathered the following information. William the Conquerer decreed that the eyes of any person should be pulled out who killed either a buck or a boar in the royal hunting grounds. Rufus had any man hanged who stole a doe. Several successive kings made no distinction between him who killed a buck, made to be killed, and him who killed his brother man, although at one time there was this distinction, the killer of the game died without benefit of clergy, or the game either, which latter was probably of more consequence to the hungry serf than the mummery of the priest over his grave; and the mankiller could have his crime commuted by a fine of a few shillings paid to the lord of the estate where the deed was committed. Thousands of hungry serfs had their eyes put out, their legs chopped off, their arms torn from their bodies, for taking small game which ran at large over the island.
Any man in the kingdom could be summoned to attend on the chase, and have his property confiscated if he did not attend. He might have a good excuse for staying away; his wife might be dying, and he wish to hear her last request, and then close her eyes in death's sleep; but what cared the king for any such operation until it was likely to be performed on himself?
Old John of Salisbury, who was quite apt to have “a mind of his own,” and a free tongue withal, had no very exalted opinion of this Game Code. He says: “what is more extraordinary is, that it is often made by law criminal to set traps or snares for birds, to allure them by springes and pipes, or use any craft to take; and offenders are punished by forfeiture of goods, loss of limbs, and
even death. One would suppose that the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea were common to all; but they belong to the crown, and are claimed by the forest laws wherever they fly. Hands off! keep clear! lest you incur the guilt of high treason and fall into the clutches of the hunters. The swains are driven from their fields, while the beasts of the forest have a liberty of'roving,' and the farmer's meadows are taken from him to increase their pasture. The new-sown grounds are taken from the farmer, the pastures from the grazier and shepherd, the beehives are turned away from the flowery bank and the very bees are hardly allowed their natural liberty." This sounds very like Chartism! A man must be made of strange stuff to read of such outrages on his race without indignation. But what have we in these times to do, some one will ask, with the game laws of the Norman Conqueror? Much every way. Humanity has been affected by them much, as stocks are on 'Change by failures. Think for a moment what would have been the condition of the race in this age had they never been crushed under the wheels of despotism ! How much loftier would have been its elevation in intellect, science and religion! And how much more valuable would existence have been to every man. He would have commenced life under fairer auspices. He would have called to his aid the genius of millions who had enlarged the bounds of science, and made the world better and brighter. He would have been
saved the fruitless experiment and endless blundering that have cost the happiness of whole generations. The hoof of oppression has trampled out in its ruthless stampings many a Milton and Newton and Bacon and Shakspeare that would have lighted up the ages through which man has made his dark pilgrimage. In wandering by fancy over this wilderness he has travelled, where the wrecks of humanity have been strewed, we can adopt the touching lines of Grey,
“Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood."
Power has hitherto "shut the gates of mercy on mankind,”—this is its History.
THE CRIMINAL CODE of England, which remained in force even till our own times, was probably the most bloody that ever obtained in any nation, savage or civilized. Holinshed states that no less than seventy-two thousand persons died by the hands of executioners during the reign of Henry VIII. Sir William Blackstone mentions it as one of the most melancholy facts in the world's history, that “among the variety of actions men are daily liable to commit, no less than one hundred and sixty have been declared