« The Lake of Alba | ‘Lost Articles’ | Duels »

France and England

THE following sensible observation on a union of England with France, is to be found in the Longuerana, p. 100.

“I said one day to an Englishman, You very narrowly missed taking France formerly; it but just escaped. The greatest misfortune, he answered, that could have happened to us, would have been that of conquering France. Our King, become King of France, would have made his chief residence there at first from necessity; and afterwards the children who would have been born there, from inclination; they would have forgotten their British extraction. England then would have become a province of the Kingdom of France; and its Kings would only have paid us occasional visits to take our money, and carry it away from our island. Was Anjou more fortunate when its counts became Kings of England, and Scotland likewise, whom we treat as you see, although it is the blood of her Kings that govern over us.” This observation was made before the abdication of James II.

In a Spanish book printed in the year 1556, and which bears for title “El Libro de las Costumbres de todas las Gentes del Mundo;” there is the following account of our own country. The information is trifling, but perhaps curious for its remote date.

After deducing our origin from the Trojans, the writer gives a correct account of our insular situation. He says, in describing its inhabitants, “The English have light blue eyes; they have such handsome faces, and their stature is so high, that it was not without reason the blessed Saint Gregory, when he saw several of their youths at Rome exclaimed, It is well they are called Angles since their face has the lustre of angels. In battle they enter without fear; they are excellent archers, and the women are beautiful to a miracle. The common people are fierce and inhuman, without charity. The nobility are more compassionate, and prompt to perform the offices of humanity. When they meet a stranger, they uncover their heads, and bending one knee salute him; if the person be a woman, they give her peace, and lead her to the tavern, and give her to drink, and carouse together. Neither is this held improper, since it is not accompanied with any indecency. When they go to war, they commit no devastations in the fields and cities; they only strive to destroy each other, and he who proves victorious becomes lord of all. Such were the customs which the English held not many years ago; for at present, indeed, they are somewhat altered.”