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1. THEIR ORIGIN.-2. Their WARLIKE DEEDS
3. THEIR RELIGION—4. THEIR POLITY.-5. THEIR LOVE AND
MODE OF WAR.–6. THEIR MANNERS, CUSTOMS, AND OCCU
1. The original of this extraordinary race is said to be of the very highest antiquity.' The Danes, Goths, Scythians or Getæ,for so they are variously denominated,-are offshoots of that great primitive stock, which migrating westward, settled in the Scandinavian peninsula or in the Cimbrian chersonese (Jutland); and called this region Danemarck, from Dan, their first king. Another branch passed over from the coast of Asia Minor to the islands, and thence expatiated over the western continent. “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” GEN. X, That the former branch originated from Northern Asia, there is a further proof, that the Danes, before they became known by this name, were called Cimbri ; from the resemblance of which word to Cimmerian, we cannot doubt but that they sprang from the Cimmerian Scythians, whom the ancients place to the north of the Euxine and Caspian Seas.
2. But,—not to dilate upon antiquarian ethnography—though this piratical nation was known to their Southern enemies by the (1) Hoc autem regnum est primum et vetustissimum regnum mundi. Pet. Olaus.
common appellation of Danes, their armaments were composed not merely of the natives of Denmark, but of all the tribes dwelling near the Baltic, and in Scandinavia. These predatory hordes were sometimes called also by the general term of Northmen, including all those numerous tribes, that issued, from time to time, from the north of Europe, whether Danes, Norwegians, Sweons, Jutes, Goths &c. Too populous for their own inhospitable clime,
, cultivating an ungrateful soil, destitute of arts, manufactures, and almost of commerce, they sought a home and sustenance in more favoured climes. Brigandage and piracy were their occupation, and as necessary to them, as carnage to wild beasts. Such adventurers, hardy, vigorous, brave, herculean in stature, and like their kir ed the Saxons, having the same language, manners, habits, the same heathenish rites and superstitions, rude, cruel, indefatigable, and enterprising from necessity, would, under an able leader, prove indomitable ; with the spirit of the old Romans, they were as numerous as the ancient Persians. For, how great soever their losses of life either by field or flood, yet, like the fabled hydra, they seemed to gain strength and courage from disaster and defeat; the warrior-sons of Thor and Woden were often vanquished, but never subdued. And in England, though they were, by the genius of Alfred, compelled to quit the kingdom (A. D. 879), after having been harassed, hunted, and almost exterminated by disease, famine, and the sword ; yet in the reign of his successor, eleven years after, we find that “ England was inhabited by an equal number of Saxons and Danes.?”
A Danish writer, with a national vanity savouring more of romance and fiction than of truth and reality, gives a pompous enumeration of the regions and kingdoms subjugated by his warlike ancestors; these comprehend almost every part of the known world, even India, which is said to owe to one of their monarchs the blessing of Gospel light. But such fables deserve to be mentioned, only to be ridiculed. For, whatever passed in Denmark, prior to the Christian era, is unknown to us, if we except the famous expedition of the Cimbri and Teutones, into Gaul.. This incident affords but a faint ray of light, which for a moment
brightens ages of obscurity; short and transient however as it is, we gain an unerring glimpse at the character of this people.
2. The history of Rome informs us, that the ancient Danes were as formidable in their invasions by land, as their descendants proved by sea. Issuing from their forests, they spread like locusts over Gaul, and threatened Italy. But the Roman ambassadors, having remonstrated with them for having invaded the territories of their allies the Norici, the Cimbri—as they were then called, because they came from the Cimbrian peninsula chiefly—excused themselves by answering, that they knew not that the Norici were allies of the Romans, that they respected the Roman name and nation, and honoured martial valour even in an enemy; and with this apology, retired into Dalmatia, little apprehensive of hostilities especially from the Romans, upon whose vaunted good faith they relied. But they were suddenly attacked by a Roman consul. This outrage on the law of nations opened the flood-gates to a long and sanguinary war, most disastrous to the Romans, till their city was filled with grief and terror, so that many began to despair of the safety of the Republic. At length, the famous Marius, that most consummate general, was appointed to the conduct of the war, by whom the Cimbri, and the Teutones, their allies and a kindred race-another swarm from the great Northern hive,—were defeated, with the loss of 100,000 men, as Plutarch says, or according to others, of 200,000, and 70,000 prisoners, in a battle at Aquæ Sextiæ in Provence, and in the following year, of 120,000 slain, and 60,000 prisoners.' Other writers content themselves with affirming, that the number of the slain was incredible; and that the inhabitants of Marseilles, for a long time after, made enclosures for gardens and vineyards with their bones, and the soil in the suburbs was so saturated with blood, that its fertility was prodigious. So highly appreciated were the victories of Marius, that there was bestowed on him the glorious title of the third founder of Rome.
From this incident, authenticated by the most veritable historian of Roman affairs, we learn that these Cimbri, or Danes, were the most formidable enemies the conquering Romans ever encountered.
(5) Aspen's Universal History.
(6) Sed et hostes terram Massiliensem, quam vivi vastaverant, mortui magno affecerunt commodo, nam ossa in sepes vinearum versa, tabo carnium ita pinguefacta arva sunt, ut nunquam largiori segete luxuriaverint. Liv. Epitome LIB. 68, 31.
Their inexhaustible numbers, their uncommon prowess, tallness of stature, and unusual manner of fighting, and their former victories, overawed the veteran legions of Rome, whom nothing short of the vigour, discipline, and address of a general like Marius, could induce to face such an enemy.
This memorable expedition drew, for the time, the attention of Europe ; but, as arts and literature alone can ensure lasting celebrity to a nation, and because men quickly forget those evils which they no longer fear, this torrent of an army had no sooner retired within its former bounds, than the Romans themselves lost sight of it ; so that we scarcely find in their writers any further mention of these once formidable Cimbri. Strabo merely informs us, that they subsequently sought the friendship of Augustus Cæsar,-a proof of their fallen fortunes; and Tacitus, that their state was, in his day, inconsiderable, but their renown was as ancient as extensive.
But redoubtable as the Danes were as warriors, and far and wide as they carried their arms, they never succeeded in founding an empire in foreign lands; they became amalgamated with hostile people ; but never established an independent dominion. Though often victors in the field, they were never the conquerors of nations ; for the true and permanent conqueror is he, who knows how to make laws for the vanquished, to administer a good policy, and to rule with equity and moderation; and such
1 was the policy of the Romans, “ Parcere subjectis,” which gave them the dominion of the world. It was the Senate by its wisdom, not the Roman army by its prowess, that made them the lords of the earth. It is mind, not matter, sage counsel, not brute force, that gains a lasting ascendant. Arms abroad avail but little, unless there is wisdom at home. The Northmen, therefore, entirely ignorant of the arts of peace,—whose commanders were soldiers, whose object was plunder rather than glory,—had the means, but not the policy, to make themselves masters of Europe. In England they domineered for a while ; but so intolerable was their yoke, that the overjaded English threw it off, and the kingdom reverted to the ancient Saxon line.
(6) Parva nunc civitas ; sed gloria ingens, veterisque famæ late vestigia manent. Tac. GERM. c. 37.
Warriors they were; but no legislator or politician among them, till Rollo the Peaceable acquired the dominion of Neustria or Normandy, which he consolidated by a wise system of jurisprudence. Under such a head the Northmen were no longer pirates, but
conquerors. We know with what inflexibility he dispensed justice. He abolished theft among his subjects, who had hitherto lived by rapine ; and long after his death the very mention of his
name was a summons to the officers of justice to run and suppress Å violence. He thus perpetuated his power and dynasty in France,
over the fairest province of that kingdom for five centuries, and Duke William, treading in the steps of his renowned ancestor,
became the conqueror and king of England, over which his posteErity have reigned for eight hundred years.
The Danes have been by all historians stigmatised as a cruel people; and such a charge is more than probable. For nations, even the more civilized, whose chief occupation is warfare, becoming familiar with scenes of blood, are steeled against human suffering. It is not, then, surprising that a rude, stern race from a rugged climate, inured to hardship and danger both by land and sea, should be ferocious and sanguinary. Nothing can be more dreadful and revolting, than the manner in which these barbarians made their invasions ; they spared neither age, sex, nor condition. One of their own chieftains, protesting against the custom of the soldiery,—that of tossing infants upon the points of their spears, acquired the nicname of Burnakal, or the Preserver of infants. But let us take their moral portraiture from our own historian Holinshed, who drew his facts from the most veracious sources : “ So great was their lordliness, cruelty, and insatiable desire of riches, beside their detestable abusing of chaste matrons and young virgins (whose husbands and parents were daily enforced to become their drudges and slaves, whilst they sat at home and fed like drone bees, of the sweet of their travail and labours) that God would not suffer them to continue any while over us, but when He saw his time, he removed their yoke, and gave us liberty as it were to breathe us, thereby to see whether this his sharp scourge could have moved us to repentance and amendment of our lewd and sinful lives, or not. But when no sign thereof
appeared in our hearts, he called in another nation to vex us, I mean the Normans, a people mixed with Danes, and of whom it is