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begun to be collected about the reign of Ethelred, anno 990, as
some writers suppose, ob pacandos Danos patriam infestantes,' or ; according to others, for hiring Danish and other soldiers, or mari: ners, to oppose the incursions of foreign invaders. But we adhere to the opinion of Sir H. Spelman, who describes this tax to be “a tribute imposed on the English, sometimes for pacifying the Danes, sometimes for keeping them off the island,” and a little after, “ an annual tribute of 8000 pounds, was wrung out of the people.”. It was originally an annual tax of two shillings on every hide of land in the kingdom; and was in its nature a land-tax, and the first of that kind, mentioned by our historians.
But this, like many other imposts, retained its name, after it ber came appropriated to uses entirely different. Mr Tat
Mr Tate reckons the number of hides in England to have amounted to 246,000; consequently, the gross income of the tax was £24, 600; an estimate coinciding with that of Spelman, nearly ; if we take the pound weight Troy, usually valued at three pounds sterling. The Author of the “Dialogue on the Exchequer” makes the subjoined comment upon this odious and extortionate impost :
“ Our island, content with its own riches and blessings, needs E
not those of the foreigner. This country, therefore, was justly called by our ancestors,
Divitiisque sinum, deliciisque larem
The lap of riches, and the home of joys. On this account, it sustained innumerable injuries at the hands É of foreigners; for it is written, things valuable entice the thief.
And so, pirates from the circumjacent countries made inroads E upon and laid waste the maritime parts, carrying off gold, silver,
and other valuables. But, when the king at the head of the natives prepared for a vigorous defence of the land, these intruders fled by sea. Among these, the principal and those more inclined to do mischief were that warlike and populous nation, who, besides the avarice common to robbers, were more frequent and formidable in their attacks, because they made some claim, by an ancient right, to the sovereignty of the kingdom, as the History of the Britons more fully relates. Therefore, to keep off these enemies, it was enacted by the English kings, that for every hide
(4) Spelman's Glossary, p. 181.
of land two shillings be paid as a perpetual tax, for the service of warlike men, who were to guard the sea-coasts and be a check on the enemy's attacks.”
6. The extravagant love of war among the ancient Scandinavians, is the prominent feature in their character. Their prejudices, customs, daily occupations, and amusements, in short, the whole tenor of their life, took a colouring and bias from this passion. The greater part of their existence was spent in the camp, or on board the fleet, in actual warfare, or in preparation for it. They had constantly reviews, sham fights which often proved serious encounters, and other military diversions; and, even when forced to live in peace, the representations of war were
, their liveliest entertainment; while hunting, the discussion of public affairs, drinking and sleeping, and the pleasures of the table occupied the rest of their time. The bravest and the most active consigned the care of the house and family to women, old men, or the infirm. “The same people, by a strange contradiction, cannot live in inactivity, and yet love idleness.”?
Like the modern English, they had the highest zest for the festive board. Among them was no public assembly, no civil or religious festival, no birth-day, marriage, or funeral duly solemnized, no friendship or alliance was properly cemented, in which feasting did not form the chief part. The plentiful tables of the grandees were the wages of their dependents. A great lord could not more effectually succeed in drawing around him a great number of followers, than by giving magnificent and frequent repasts. At table they deliberated upon political matters, on war, peace, &c. and on the following day, reviewed what had been concluded upon the previous evening, thinking that a proper season for taking a man's opinion, when his heart, cheered and laid open by the copious and generous bowl, is free from disguise and dissimulation, and for taking his resolution, when he is cool and sober. At those carousals beer or mead was the usual beverage, or wine, when they could procure it. These were drunk from earthern or wooden pitchers, or from the horns of wild bulls, with which
(6) Quotiens bella non ineunt, multum venatibus, plus per otium transigunt, dediti somno ciboque. Tacit. Germ. c. 15. (7) Id. c. 2.
(8) Pelloutier, I. b. 2, c. 12.
their forests abounded. And, as the guests drank one after the other, he who was the first to drink, said, I drink before you, and I wish this draught may do you as much good as myself ; whereby he gave a kind of assurance, that he had infused neither poisons nor sorcery into the cup. Hence arose the custom of drinking to the health of the guests; as well as that of drinking to the memory of the departed; which is evidently a relic of the Celtic superstition of drinking to the manes of kings, heroes, and friends.
Though the minds of these rough warriors were engrossed by the pursuit of arms and the pleasures of the table, they were yet especially susceptible of the tender passion, which is the strongest of ties, and the greatest charm of society. But in this particular as in many others, the Northmen of Europe were differently affected to the Southerns and Asiatics. The latter seem to have for the sex much sensual passion, but little esteem ; among the former, on the contrary, they were less regarded as the means of sensual gratification, than as companions and equals, whose regard as well as favours could be procured only by attention, generous conduct, and a display of courage : an inference that these rude warriors had a high sense of honour and regard for female virtue. He who had played his part well in the field of Mars, had commonly the same success in the court of Venus. It was for his mistress, no less than for his king and country, that the youthful warrior fought. Patriotism led him to the field; but love nerved his arm. This spirit of chivalry was diffused through Europe, engendering that moderation and generosity of the stronger towards the weaker sex, which is to this day one of the chief characteristics of modern manners, so little known among ancient nations. So great was the respect of the Germans, according to Tacitus,'• for women, that they admitted them to their councils; being of opinion that there is in the sex a certain forecast, almost prophetic; and so they were careful of disregarding their counsels, or neglecting their answers.' And the same sentiments prevailed among the Scandinavians generally. The husbands were
(9) Heroum, regum, amicorum, et in bello fortiter gerentium, memoriales scyphos exhauriebant, quibus eorum manibus parentare se credebant. Wormius apud Bartholin, p. 127.
(10) Germ. c. 8.
(1) See Keysler's Dissertation, De mulieribus fatidicis veterum Celtarum, gentiumque Septentrionalium.
almost inseparable from the wives ; taking them in their company on the most distant expeditions, listening to the female monitions with respect, and, in defeat, fearing their reproaches as much as the blows of the enemy.
But this ascendancy of woman is easily explicable. Knowledge is power; the men, being mostly employed in war or the chace, left to their partners or daughters, the more leisurely task of acquiring divers branches of useful knowledge. These acquirements caused them to be regarded by the males as oracles in civil or domestic matters. It was the female alone, 'that studied the properties of simples, and the art of healing wounds ; ? an art as mysterious in those days, as the want of it was frequent.
There was also another consideration, which mutually bound the sexes by stronger ties of esteem and affection. In an age when piracies and a thirst for dangers and adventures, exposed weakness to unforeseen insults and attacks, the women had often occasion for deliverance from captivity, and always for defenders. And all know, that nothing is so likely to win the affections of a timid female, as her conviction that her lover is able and willing to protect her. Therefore, every young warrior, who was greedy of glory, and had a heart to dispose of, would fly to the rescue, would encounter every danger by flood and field, with the prospect of so just and sweet a reward, as the hand and heart of his beloved. Besides, our admiration and esteem for any object, is always redoubled, when it has cost us great exertions. How honourable and happy must alliances have been in a society thus constituted! And emulation would quickly multiply the number of such gallant cavaliers ; chivalry became the mode; and woman was looked upon as little inferior to a divinity.
But, as young men, at least those of condition, could not arrive at honourable marriages, but through the road of honour and glory, we infer, that they did seldom marry at an early age. Cæsar says of the Germans—and what is said of this nation, is we
— repeat equally applicable to those dwelling to the north of them,
—“ that the longer the men continue in celibacy, the more they are esteemed ;” and Tacitus, that“ the Germans retain their vigour
(2) Scire potestates herbarum, usumque medendi. Virgil, Æn. 12, 396.
longer by deferring their union with the other sex.” But polygamy prevailed among the Danes, even after their conversion to Christianity ;: it was not uncommon for them to espouse two wives, and often more. Rich and powerful men considered a plurality of wives as a mark of grandeur ; a vice this, which Christianity, not without great difficulty, triumphed over, but not till the end of the tenth century. The children had an equal right of succession ; and the title of bastard was applied to those only, born without any sort of marriage. Nevertheless, one of the wives, generally the most beloved, enjoyed a certain pre-eminence, being regarded as the most legitimate; and her prerogative consisted in following her deceased husband to the tomb or funeral pile, to be there interred or burnt with him,-a prerogative which would not make her an object of envy or jealousy to the ladies of our own age! But their fidelity and chastity were ever in repute ; Tacitus affirms, that adulteries were very rare among the Germans; and this crime was punished with the utmost severity. Marriages were, therefore, commonly fruitful among them ; but awful is the fact, that the rich, no less than the poor, scrupled not to expose to death such of their children, as they had no mind to rear. This barbarous custom was not uncommon among the Greeks and Romans also, long before they enjoyed prosperity, luxury, and the arts. So true is it, that ignorance is no security against vice, and men always know enough to conceive crimes.
It is no less remarkable, on the other hand, that, long before the light of Christianity penetrated the dark North, a sort of Baptism was there celebrated. Snorro Sturleson the chronicler, speaking of a Norwegian nobleman, who lived under Harald Harfagre, affirms, that he poured water upon the head of a new. born infant, and called him Haguin after the father's name. It is probable, that the object of this ceremony was, to counteract the effects of conjuration and witchcraft, which evil spirits were supposed to employ at the moment of birth. The Livonians, as well as the Germans, observed a similar rite, as we learn from the Letter of the celebrated pontiff Gregory the third to the apostle Boniface (Epist. 122.), wherein he directs him how to act in this
(4) Germ. c. 19. (5) Historia Regum Septentrionalium ante sæcula, &c. 70.
(6) Mallet. Essays