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would have returned to invite fresh aggressions by tidings of the wealth and weakness of the islanders.
Without admitting the entire truthfulness of the representations which have been made of the priest-ridden, slavish, and effeminate condition into which the Anglo-Saxon people had fallen when the bloody Danes" came among them,-for there were still noble spirits in the country from the time of Alfred the Great to that of the Etheling Ironsides, and a noble stand the people made, when once roused, against the formidable force of the Northmen, so that though continually recruited, it never, or but for a short interval, was able to effect the complete subjugation of Anglo-Saxon England, and not discovering that any positively new elements were introduced into the national institutions, we yet feel that, amid the general decay, the time was come when it required the infusion of new and vigorous blood to put fresh life into the individual, social, and political, existence of the Anglo-Saxon people. But it was renovation, a fresh stimulus, the contagion of independent organization, that were alone wanting. Had the AnglcSaxons not partaken of the spirit inherent in all the members of the great Teutonic family, they would have been completely conquered; had their customs and institutions not been intrinsically the same as those of the tribe which was for a while predominant, they might have yielded and been changed in the presence of a polity framed in bolder lines. As it happened, in the wise dispensations of Providence, reciprocal benefits were conferred. The fierce spirit of the Northmen became tempered and humanized by their being brought into contact with a higher civilization and a purer faith, and the northern genius lent itself freely to the arts of peace; while the love of freedom of the Anglo-Saxon race was reanimated by fresh draughts from the stream which flowed direct from the fountain head, popular liberty found support in an independent class of settlers spread over the land, the industry of the native inhabitants received a new impulse from the maritime and commercial enterprise of the foreign colonists of their towns and sea-ports, and their courage was stimulated and tried by a long series of desperate conflicts with tribes whose swords were for many centuries the scourge of Europe.
The contest for supremacy between the two races, and more especially the exhaustion of Harold's force by the sanguinary
battle of Stanford bridge, prepared the way for the Norman conquest of England; while the Anglo-Danes of the northern districts were the last to submit to the Conqueror's yoke. We admit that their spirit, infused into the heart of the Anglo-Saxon people, greatly contributed to the long continued struggle for their antient liberties which animated them to resist the tyranny of our early kings, and had a most important influence in working out the English laws, institutions and character, as they at present exist. But we find no grounds for the assertion that "the Danes annihilated entirely and for ever the Anglo-Saxon power, and that as a people the latter sank entirely, and left only a part of their civilization and institutions to their successors in dominion, the Danes and Norwegians." On the contrary, every one knows that it was the laws of Edward the Confessor, originating in times before the Danish invasion, which William the Norman was prevailed on to confirm, and not the Anglo-Danish laws, for which we are told he had a strong and natural predilection. It was these laws of their old Anglo-Saxon kings which were passionately desired by the English people during the first centuries after the conquest, and the confirmation of which they wrung, as opportunity offered, from the reluctant hands of their Norman tyrants; and these were the foundation of the great charter of English liberties. What were the peculiarities of the Danish laws current in the districts they occupied we do not at all know. History, while it tells us that one third of England was for several centuries subject to these Danish laws, throws no light whatever on the particulars in which they differed from the Anglo-Saxon laws, nor on the nature of the institutions that were connected with them. They have passed away with the decline of the Danish power and left no record of their provisions, whatever may have been the indirect influence which we are willing to believe they probably had on the national character and institutions.
Whatever may have been the specific difference to which reference has just been made, the general correspondence in their laws and institutions, their common origin, and the affinity of their several dialects of the same mother tongue, formed connecting links between the two races which from the time of Alfred jointly occupied the soil of England. After the first
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excesses of the invasion by the ruder race were past, these sources of union divested it of half its evil consequences, and tended to a gradual and complete fusion of the whole population into one Anglo-Sa great united nation. The antipathy of race did not long continue, as it did in France between the German Franks and the h Romanized Gauls. There, as Thierry and other historical writers remark, the conquering race took possession of Gaul, without exterminating the conquered, but also without amalgamating with them. There were two nations-two hostile camps-on one soil. Diversity of origin, of language, of manners, and of laws, created a hostile spirit in the mingled population: and the traces of this antagonism were never, perhaps, entirely effaced,-whatever may have been the physical mixture between the two racesuntil the terrible revolution which sweeping away all former landmarks reduced the two distinct portions of the population to one common level. Happily for our own constitutional liberties and social advancement, no such distinctions long prevailed in England. Our Alfred wisely planted the first settled colony of the Danes, and he granted them equal rights with his native subjects. For many generations there was a contest for the ascendancy between the two races; but neither enslaved the other. Equality of rights in the eye of the law became the birth right of all who occupied the soil of England; and AngloSaxon and Anglo-Dane, already approximated by kindred ties, became indissolubly united in contending together for the glorious privilege which was consecrated equally by the traditions of both races.
The researches through which the reader has now accompanied us, have exhibited the Danish and Norwegian invaders of England, in and about the time of Alfred the great, under a very different aspect from that which is presented from the single point of view generally taken of them, from whence they are regarded as hordes of ferocious and uncivilized barbarians, who, with the change of their religion, acquired the first elements of civilization by their connection with the Anglo-Saxons. It cannot have failed to occur to the reader that it must have been an extraordinary cultivation, bearing fruits as rapidly as those that ripen in a northern summer, which could have transformed the piratical vikings and their
followers, being such as they are represented, in the short space of half a century from the time of Alfred, into skilful moneyers, and accomplished dignitaries, filling the highest offices in the Anglo-Saxon church.
Some allowance may doubtless be made for exaggerations occasioned by the terror and alarm which visitations so tremendous must have inspired in the minds of an unwarlike and defenceless people on whom the onset of these inroads fell, and of the secluded and peaceful men by whom they are described. It is also to be observed that the Saxon Chronicle contains much fewer accounts of the pagan barbarities than later and less authentic records. Independently of this however, had the strength of the native population been prepared to stand the brunt of such attacks, and to protect the helpless, their hearths, their families and their substance from the violence of the marauders by their valour and organization, though the slaughter in battle might have been great, we should have had less fearful records of wholesale massacre, destruction and pillage. But has not war been often waged by highly civilized nations with a severity equal to that of the Northmen who devastated the coasts and the river banks of England and France? Do we suppose that the Romans were less sparing of fire and sword, when they invaded and subjugated Britain? History gives very terrible accounts of their dealings with the wretched inhabitants who were crushed by their power. It tells us also that in all ages the most polished nations have relentlessly pursued, even to extermination, the native races whose territories have become the objects of their cupidity or ambition. Even in our own times, the razzias of two of the most civilized nations of Europe on the frontiers of their colonies in northern and southern Africa-the indiscriminate destruction of villages, substance and crops, and the spoliation of cattle-have not been less fraught with misery and ruin to the innocent and unoffending, less calculated to inspire terror, and, excepting promiscuous slaughter of women and children, not less revolting to every feeling of humanity than the forays of the Scandinavian pirates in a ruder age.
The truth is, there is nothing incompatible in the accounts with which we are furnished of the cruelties of the piratical Danes, on the one hand, and those which describe them as living under
regular laws and institutions, addicted to commerce, and instructed in many of the useful arts of industry, on the other. We all know how among barbarous nations, the passions are roused by the excitement of war and rapine. Life-whether their own or their enemies, is held cheap; expeditions for the purpose of plunder are held to be most honourable exploits, and they are unscrupulous as to the horrors attending them. The character of the northern tribes was unusually bold, enterprising and ruthless. They felt a stern delight in braving the storms of a tempestuous ocean, and the perils of descents on unknown and hostile shores. The foray ended, the parties engaged in it returned to their homes and peaceful occupations. They were owners and occupiers of land as well as sailors and warriors. In their maritime adventures, the same men were often alternately merchants and pirates.
The first incursions on the coast of England were probably planned and undertaken by some of the boldest and fiercest spirits of the north. Plunder was their sole object, and after a successful inroad they loaded their ships with booty, and the close of summer was the signal for their voyage homeward. The expeditions of these marauders prepared the way for other classes of adventurers. They were led by chiefs of the highest rank and included vast numbers of the free Udallers, the very pith and marrow of the population. These were not merely actuated by the love of plunder, but they fled from the encroachments of a tyrannical power unknown to their fathers to seek for freedom and independence in a foreign land. They were colonists in the proper sense of the word. They sought a country, more fertile than their own, where they might establish communities living under their own cherished laws, and practise in freedom the arts which were necessary to their subsistence; but they were prepared to carve out their new inheritance with their swords. Such, we believe, were, in large proportion, the men who in the ninth and tenth centuries invaded, conquered and settled large districts of Anglo-Saxon England-the men who founded the Norman chivalry and the Norman architecture. Ruthless as were the contests which preceded and accompanied their first regular immigration, such a class of free and independent settlers could not but eventually add to the strength and resources of the people among