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became a Christian. The title of first baron of France could be better explained if we understood by France the province of Ile de France, in which the old seigneury of Montmorency is situated. The pride of a French nobleman chiefly consists in the fact of being descended from one of the counts, dukes, or princes who occupied the great territorial domaids under monarchy. The Dukes de Gramont retained their sovereignty over Bidache up to the year 1781. The pretensions raised at the present time in France consist in having had an ancestor at the Crusades, and we find in the Annuaire de la Noblesse a number of names claiming this honour ; but it cannot be decided with certainty, except in the case of families whose arms are visible in the Hall of the Crusades at Versailles. · The oldest and most illustrious of all great families, says Gibbon, is indubitably the French royal house : it has sat on the throne for above a thousand years, and has a direct descent from male to male since the middle of the ninth century. Bonaparte, in 1808, created a new nobility in France, and distributed the titles of dukes, counts, and barons, but not those of marquis and viscount-several old marquises were forced to content themselves with the title of count, or even of baron. The hereditary peerage was destroyed in 1831, and all titles were abolished in 1848. The new Empire restored them, and the present laws regard names and arms as a property standing under their protection.
Could the modern Roman nobility prove they were really descended from the Patricians of ancient Rome, they would be the oldest nobility in the world, but Gibbon and Muratori unhesitatingly deny the fact. Petrarch, who addresses the Romans in his celebrated letter to Rienzi, says: “Your lords are foreign adventurers. Inquire into their origin. They came from the valley of Spoleto, from the valleys of the Rhine and the Rhône, and from the remotest and darkest corners of the earth.” In truth, the Ursinis came from Spoleto in the twelfth century. The Colonnas, who turn up for the first time in 1100, themselves confess that they came from the banks of the Rhine ; but their flatterers, for all that, gave them a Roman origin, by asserting that their ancestor was a cousin of Nero, who fled from Rome and founded Mayence. The claims of the Massimi, to be descended from Fabius Maximus, are only based on the resemblance of name. If this substantiate a claim, the Annibali are exceedingly modest for not giving themselves out to be descendants of the Carthaginian hero, and the Cossés in France could then claim the inheritance of Cocceius Nerva.
The nobles of Venice, who are inscribed in the celebrated golden book, formed four classes of very unequal rank; the last consisted of the descendants of those who had acquired nobility by purchase ; the first, or most illustrious, comprised the descendants of the twelve persons who, in 697, undertook the election of the first doge, and to them were added the families of four other Venetians, who signed the acts for the foundation of the Church of San Georgio Maggiore, in 800. The families of the Ponti (bridges) quarrelled with the Canali (canals), and asserted that the Ponti stood above the Canali ; but their rivals objected that the canals must have existed before the bridges. The Council of Ten, which heard their arguments, put an end to the discussion by stating that it could not only pull down the bridges, but fill up the canals.
The two most renowned Florentine houses are the Medici and the Strozzi. A branch of the Medicis lives in Naples, and not long ago two Strozzis were in the Austrian service. A Medici was, in the year 1295, elected gonfalonier of the Florentine republic, at a time when the nobles were excluded from this office, which appears to justify their “medical" origin, ascribed to them on account of their name, and the celebrated palle in their arms. The Strozzi, who are said to be descended from a Roman pro-consul, first made themselves known in the thirteenth century; that is something; and more than this, they played a brilliant part in the French armies during the reign of Henri II. The Alighieris became extinct in 1558. The immortal Dante Alighieri was convinced that he was the descendant of an old Roman family, which fled to Florence upon the overthrow of the empire. The noble race of the Ariostos at Bologna has equally ceased to exist.
In Spain, excepting in the mountains, the asylum of Pelagus and the first Christians, it is difficult to find any blood never commingled with Moorish, African, Mexican, or even Jewish. A peculiar privilege here separated the noble from the bourgeois class, of which the following is an instance : The relations of a highwayman, who was condemned to death with three other bandits, claimed for him the privilege of his birth, and offered to pay all the expenses incurred. Hence, while his accomplices were hung on ordinary gallows, he was garroted on a scaffold hung with black cloth, after which a protocol was drawn up and handed to his family as a title-deed of nobility. The Spanish grandees of the first class have, it is well known, the privilege of remaining covered in the presence of the sovereign, and as one and the same person can hold several grandeeships--for both male and female line can succeed-people say that he has several hats, in order to express that he has more than one claim to remain covered before the king or queen, The Duke of Ossuna has many hats, and a quire of paper is needed to record all his titles.
The “ Almanach de Gotha" is the best authority for the present condition of the highest nobility on the Continent, and especially for the branches of the mediatised German princely houses.
The true test of a nobleman is to know whether his arms have been transmitted to him through several generations, or whether the Heralds' College has found them for him. The difference between the English peers and the other citizens is only a political distinction, which has no influence on the privileges which a person may have a right to claim through his birth in other countries. A Howard of Corby cannot officially use the title of esquire, unless he is a member of parliament or a magistrate, but for all that he stands on a level, and rightly so, with the princes of Russia or Sicily, the dukes of Naples or Rome, the grandees of Spain, the counts of France, and the barons of Vienna or Berlin.
Formerly, the heralds made visitations through all the counties, and held meetings for the verification of titles, which the nobility were invited to attend. The corrected genealogies were then formally registered, and at the end of each list may generally be found the names of persons who give up the right of bearing arms. The last of these visitations took place in 1687. In 1737 an attempt was made to establish a noble court, but it failed. Still, it is reported that when the actor O'Keeffe amused himself by driving through the streets of Dublin in a carriage on which the arms of the kings of Ireland were emblazoned, the heralds stopped the carriage in the street and ordered the arms to be removed.
People have grown accustomed to the idea that our age is, above all, one of movement and transition, that property changes hands more quickly than ever, and, hence, that the old territorial nobility of England will disappear before the children of trade and speculation, like the redskins of America before the white population. If we examine into this more closely, however, we shall probably arrive at a very different opinion. In former times there were more sudden and frequent changes of proprietorship than we see in our days. The civil wars, which entailed the im. poverishment and destruction of so many families, will never again, let us trust, break out in England. The time when a favoured minister was able to secure a princely revenue, and found earldoms and marquisates, is gone never to return. Under the Plantagenets, the disorder was so great that persons who felt a desire for a rich estate needed only to take it by force. When the Earl of Warren was ordered by Edward I. to produce his title-deeds, he fetched an old sword, and said, “ That is the document in power of which I hold my estates, and with whose help I will defend them.” Under Henry VIII., the confiscation and plundering of the abbeys afforded the king the means to enrich favoured families, without laying any sacrifice on the crown. Under Elizabeth, Burleigh certainly fished in troubled waters without attracting great attention, but, for all that, he left his heirs a colossal fortune, though at the beginning of his career he had only been a briefless barrister. The Revolution of 1688 so little interfered with the custom of making presents at the cost of the crown lands, that the parliament was compelled to interfere in order to set limits to it; and when William III. wished to add to his immense presents to his friend Bentinck another large territory, the murmurs of the parliament and the people compelled him to desist. Eventually the crown lands were declared inalienable ; but up to the middle of the eighteenth century, pensions and offices gave the favourites no cause for complaint. Thus, when Montagu was nominated Duke of Mauchester and peer of the realm, with a revenue of 12,0001., his enemies amused themselves by asking him whether he remembered the time when he found great difficulty in earning 501. a year. In his notes to Bishop Burnet, Lord Dartmouth calculates that the salaries of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, together, amounted to 90,0001. a year. Robert Walpole also amassed a stupendous fortune, and it is nothing to the purpose to say that a portion of it was acquired by his speculations in the South Sea Company
It must also be taken into consideration that the development of trade and commerce improves the position of the landed gentry by raising the value of their estates. The increased revenue of Lords Bedford, Portland, Grosvenor, Portman, and Berkeley, in London and its vicinity, gives us an example of the change produced when the population and wealth of a city are increased. The proprietors of mines also find their revenues augmented.
The present age, therefore, appears to us to be much less favourable than olden times to those persons who are called, whether justly or unjustly, parvenus, and we believe, on the contrary, that the advantage is now on the side of the historically established nobility, whose position and proprietorship have attained the strength of a fait accompli.
THE FEDERAL SPY.
It was at the beginning of the present American civil war, whose first battles were fought in Western Missouri, no great distance from the Indian border ; all the young Germans in St. Louis who could carry & musket and were not bound to remain in the town had enlisted in the volunteer regiments, in order to oppose the desire of the governor to sever the state from the Union and make it join the Confederation. The adherence of Missouri to the North was for the German element in the state not only a political but a vital question; the Germans had ever been the sharpest opponents of slavery in that state, and under the rule of the Southern barons they would have become utter pariahs. In addition, business was at such a stand-still, there was such a lack of money and work, that many took to soldiering, in order at least to make certain of a livelihood. Still the entire force with which the commander-in-chief, General Lyons, undertook his first expedition into the interior of the state, hardly exceeded seven thousand men, of whom only the officers wore uniforms, but the exercise had been learned wonderfully quick under the pressure of circumstances. I had the good fortune to be elected lieutenant, and confirmed by government, but soon after the general took me on his staff, privcipally because I was a ready writer,
It was an oppressively warm evening, and the main corps of our small army was encamped in front of a wooded hill, waiting for Colonel Sigel to join us with a still smaller corps. We had but very undecided news about the enemy: we knew that Governor Jackson had summoned the entire male population in these parts under arms, and led them to join the force of the rebels under General Price; but how far off this force might be, or what its strength was, were questions which we had been unable to answer, in spite of all the information we had collected. The entire district in which we now were was attached to the Confederation. Usually, when we approached a farm, we did not see a single white face, but merely gripning negroes, who stared at us with amazement; but whenever we got hold of an American or a farmer's wife, we had found nothing but an ostensibly entire ignorance about our opponents : for a long time past no one bad seen or heard anything of them, and even the blacks, who were at length induced to speak, seemed to have a thorough understanding with their masters.
I was lying in front of the general's tent on the grass, enjoying the light cool breeze which blew on us from the mountains, and listening to the songs which echoed from amid the encamped troops. We had entire singing clubs among us, who, in spite of the fatigue of the march, allowed no evening to pass without singing splendid quartets. There was one song to a march tune, written expressly for the Missouri Volunteers, which specially attracted me, and which deserved to become the Marseillaise of the Germans in the commencing struggle. At least I thought so then, while. I was still surrounded by all the enthusiasm for our cause, the romance and poetry of the first beginning of our “ holy war"-to-day, when we have been so bitterly deluded, when the Germans have perished by thousands through the treachery of the commissariat and the ignorance of the so-called generals, the said song sounds like a living mockery.
When the last sounds of this song died out on this evening, I was, as usual, so excited by it that I should have liked to risk my life in some heroic deed, careless of the danger. At this moment the entrance of the tent was opened, and the general stepped out, with a sharp glance around him. I was on my feet in a second, and he gave a pleased nod on noticing me. “Let us step on one side for a moment, Reuter,” he said to me, and pushed back his grey bushy hair-a movement I had constantly noticed when any grave thoughts occupied him ; “I should like to speak a couple of words with you." He walked in front of me out of the camp, until we stood half way between it and our pickets, looked sharply around the landscape, which was brightly illumined by the moon, and then began, in a cautiously suppressed voice :
“I have received some vague information about the present position of General Price, but am still utterly in the dark as to the strength and nature of his force. The terrain is growing difficult, demands the utmost caution, and, if we have to fight a superior force, which has been, besides, recruited from the best strength of the counties, our young fellows, in spite of their bravery, may suffer a defeat, which must have a most deleterious effect on the whole state at the present moment. Everything depends on my obtaining an accurate report of the strength and position of the Confederates. Do you know any one among our people who will expose himself to the risk, but, at the same time, speaks English so fluently, and is so well acquainted with the state of affairs, that he can pass as a settler of many years' standing in these parts ?”
He uttered the last sentence niore slowly, but his flashing eye was fixed so inquiringly on me, that I at once knew what he intended by his question, though I did not for a moment hesitate to satisfy his expectations :
“ If you consider it necessary that I should go, general, you have only to give the order," I replied.
My explanation seemed to be almost too quick for him, for he looked at me as if undecided, and passed his hand through his hair.
“I confess that I certainly thought of you,” he at last said, slowly. " It is an enterprise, on the success of which the fate of all of us probably depends ; still, Reuter, I must say one thing to you, if you are detected, you will not be treated as a prisoner of war, or shot, but be dishonourably hanged.”
I may possibly have turned pale on hearing this, for he turned away with a painful frown.
“I am aware that few would undertake this duty,” he muttered “ The strictest secresy is the first requirement, and I dare pot confide in many— "
"I will go, general," I interrupted him. I had quickly overcome the sudden attack of moral weakness which had taken possession of me. “ If I am hanged, I know why I have sacrificed myself, and you will defend my honour. However, I have to be caught first. Give me your instructions, general.”