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state of discipline, taking that word in its comprehensive sense, than those of later times. This was owing to their constitution, for the soldiers were not taken from the lowest classes of society. There existed no such class in the ancient world as that, which, by a word of recent invention, is called the* mob. Their place was supplied by slaves. The Roman soldiers had the pride of rank and character to support; and in their westward and northward movement, wherever they went as conquerors, they went as civilizers also. They were worse colonists than those whom Greece sent forth in the happiest age of Greece; but better, far better, than any that have succeeded them.
Yet the worst subjects must, in all ages, have taken shelter in a military life from the punish
* Roger North, speaking of the King's Head, or Green Ribbon Club, which was a more visible administration, mediate, as it were, between his Lordship (Shaftsbury) and the greater and lesser vulgar, who were to be the immediate
“I may note that the Rabble first changed their title, and were called the Mob, in the assemblies of this club. It was their beast of burthen, and called first mobile vulgus, but fell naturally into the contraction of one syllable, and ever since is become proper English."--Examen. part. 3, c. vii. $ 89.
ment which they deserved, or the misfortunes which they had brought upon themselves.
SIR THOMAS MORE.
That could only be where men were loose in society, in which point it is that one main difference consists between modern and ancient governments. As soon as the Roman armies, instead of being composed of Roman and Italian soldiers, were recruited from all nations, they became less efficient for the defence of the empire, and more ripe for mutinies and mischiefs of every kind.
MONTESINOS. The nations by whom that empire was overthrown, made the military a privileged order, for motives of policy as well as of pride. But we read of mercenaries early in the middle ages. It is apparent that every chief who could afford to entertain such men would gladly have them in his pay, because, so long as he could depend upon them, they were more effectually at his service than the followers whom he could bring into the field by virtue of the feudal system. But they are always mentioned with horror as the scourge and curse of the country wherein they were employed.
SIR THOMAS MORE.
They had no character to preserve, except for courage; and perhaps the reputation of ferocity enhanced the value of their service in making them feared as well as hated by the people. For the most part they must have been men who were disposed by inclination not less than circumstances rather for evil than for good. The great body of them consisted of persons whose violent temper, or lawless habits, led them to a roving life. Your earliest laws speak of robbers, whom they class according to their number, * either in companies, or troops, or armies; and they were so numerous, that if a traveller or stranger were met with out of the road, it was lawful,t unless he were blowing a horn, or shouting aloud, to put him to death. This is proof how greatly the people were infested by such outlaws. But as soon as the state of public affairs afforded employment for mercenaries, these men were glad to exchange their appellation and better their quarters,.. especially as they were to pursue a similar course of life under the sanction and protection of the great, and to receive pay for it.
*“ Fures appellamus societatem septem hominum; e septem usque ad xxxv turmam, et deinde esto exercitus.” This is in one of Ina's laws.-Canciani, t. iv. 237.
+ By a law of Wihtræd's which was repeated by Ina.-Canciani, t. iv. 234. 337.
These robbers, however, were men who, like Robin Hood and his companions, might have made out a strong case in exculpation of themselves. At first they were, beyond a doubt, those Britons who, amid the ruin and misery which was brought upon them by the Saxon conquest, found consolation in the exercise of vengeance, and instead of retiring with their countrymen to the mountainous parts of the island, remained in their own country, and trusted to the cover of the woods and marshes. When that race was extinct, runaway slaves supplied their place. The Norman invasion reduced many of the Saxons to this condition; and under the Norman kings the forest laws made outlaws, just as in these days, the fashion of preserving game for what, upon the scale which it is carried on, deserves rather to be called butchery than sport, makes poachers. Similar causes operated upon the continent, though not to an equal extent: political revolutions, and the intolerable oppression and injustice which they produced, made men desperate; and then they turned upon society as much for self-preservation as for vengeance. We know of only one country which was acquired by occupancy, not by conquest: with respect to soil, climate, and every physical circumstance, it might be considered as the most unhappy part of the whole habitable world; but looking at its history, and the moral condition of its inhabitants, it is that spot upon the earth which may be regarded with most pleasure.
SIR THOMAS MORE. See how men are the creatures of circumstances! The Norwegians, who settled upon Iceland, were neither more advanced in knowledge, nor under the influence of better principles, than their countrymen and contemporaries : and had they sought their fortune in Ireland, Scotland, or the smaller British isles, their posterity would not have been what certainly they were, always the most peaceful, and, during the darkest ages, the most intellectual of all Christian people. But let us return to the continent from whence they came. It was cleared for one generation of its most restless spirits by William the Conqueror, who gathered them together first for winning, and afterwards for securing his kingdom. In the days of his nephew, Stephen, the mercenaries were chiefly drawn from the same countries which supplied the adventurous part of William's armies.