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probably very slight between races of the same great family, and Angles and Saxons would have more in common than natives of Jutland and Holstein in the present century. Mercia, or the March country, was the meeting-ground of the nationalities, and the inconsistencies of its history, which wavers from Briton to Saxon, and from Saxon to Dane, are best explained by the want of a common origin in its people.1
It is popularly assumed that the light-haired, blue-eyed, broad-shouldered English peasant, represents the type of our Teutonic ancestors. The assumption is probably true, but is worthless for all purposes of distinction except from the Kymric tribes, as brown or red hair, blue eyes, a sanguine complexion, and in many instances a tall stature, characterised the Belgæ and other Kelts who peopled most of England proper under the Romans. But the Britons seem, when tall, to have been loosely knit, and rather solid than sinewy when they were short; while the Saxon and Angle were long-limbed and muscular. Judging by the remains of the two races, the AngloSaxon had a less regular but a longer skull than the Briton, with a greater developement of brain, especially at the base and back; while his massive under-jaw gave the stamp of strength to the face. The spatula hand with a large palm, and short, straight,
1 Mr. Kemble's Appendix on English Marks shows how freely names re-appear in different counties; compounds of Hemingas, e.g., in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Huntingdon, Suffolk, Northamptonshire, and Somersetshire; and of Manningas in Wiltshire, Yorkshire, Dorsetshire, Norfolk, Essex, and Herefordshire. Again, the Meonwaras of South Hampshire are an instance of Jutes settled among Saxons. Facts of this kind show that adventurers from the different tribes mixed freely in each other's enterprises, though perhaps we need not always assume that common names indicate a common origin. The distinction of Saxon and Angle was present to the minds of all native writers down to the time when the Anglian kingdom was swamped by the Danes. How Mercia was peopled can never be known with precision. In Bede's time the Angles had pushed farthest into it.-H. E., lib. i., c. 15.; and Ethelbald of Mercia styles himself king "of all the provinces which are called South Anglian."-Cod. Dip., 80-83. Yet the fortunes of the kingdom, its civilization and its alliances, connect it with Wessex. Probably the Hwiccas of Worcestershire were Saxon.
2 Strabo, lib. iv., p. 278; M.B., p. vi.
3 Abundant proof of this may be found in the illustrations to Crania Britannica.
LAWS AND LITERATURE.
thick-jointed fingers, is rather that of a mechanician than an artist. Altogether, strength and energy, rather than sensibility or intellect, are the characteristics of the physique. These indications are confirmed by what we know from other sources of the race. The Anglo-Saxon laws exhibit much practical good sense, but are eminently wanting in organic unity; they have clearly been made as occasion required, not developed as parts of a system within which the nation was to live. A vigorous self-reliance, a belief that laws are made for man, not man for laws, are quite as much at the bottom of this incompleteness, as any deficiency in the creative powers of the mind. It is difficult to judge the literature of the two great tribes as a whole; but so far as we can distinguish districts, the Saxon parts of the isle are almost barren of all except chronicles and theology. Northumbria was richer in thought: it produced one great historian, Bede; a single philosopher, Alcuin; and a great poet, Cadmon, whose name, however, has a very Keltic sound. These results are not in themselves contemptible for a country where all progress was suddenly impeded by the Danes, and at a time when night brooded over Europe. But the poverty of the national ballads and sagas goes far to show that the Anglo-Saxon race was deficient in fancy; its great epic, Beowulf, was derived from a Danish source; its richest legends belong to the border counties of the west and north; the real merits of our old poetry, reflection, pathos, and an earnest questioning spirit, bear the stamp of a thoughtful rather than an artistic character. But with this want of imaginativeness the great virtue of the people is connected: they had a wholesome reverence for facts, and spoke guardedly; their national hero was surnamed the Truthteller. How this acted upon their institutions is seen by the system of Frank-pledge, or mutual police, which demanded an amount of confidence between man and man of which no other nation in those times was capable. The energy that did not waste itself in words found scope in action, and the Saxon was great in all the arts in which dogged patience subdues nature to its will; he excelled as a smith or a jeweller, and fenced off the foe, or
shut out the ocean, with gigantic dykes. His nature, rather intense than broad, and prone to feed upon itself, was easily swayed by a superstitious reverence for the unknown and invisible powers; and he made atonement for sin with human sacrifices. But, except on these occasions, he was not cruel; he never learned from the Roman to fight man against man for the pastime of a holiday; he never made the duel a legal process; he admitted the unarmed suppliant to peace; in his war-poem he praised the king who was careful of man's life; in his mythology he made the gods spare the lives of the very foes who were one day to destroy them. He had the vices of a barbarian-gluttony, drunkenness, and the coarser sins of the flesh; but he was not immoral in light-heartedness or on principle; he respected marriage and womanly purity; he never sang the praises of illicit love.
Yet the common phrases about Teutonic reverence for women have been somewhat loosely applied. Tacitus, living in a generation which read Petronius and remembered Tiberius, might well contrast the purity of the barbarian women with Julia and Messalina, or with the votaries of Isis. The northern nations were not yet sufficiently civilized to explain away adultery by "elective affinities;" but they had not that sympathy with weakness which is the foundation of chivalry. The wife stood to her husband in the relation of vassal or child, not of equal; she came to her new home professedly neither by choice nor by constraint, but by act of sale indemnifying her family; she received as her marriage present oxen and arms; the very symbols of marriage indicated her position of mingled honour and duty: she was lifted up in the air like a newlychosen king; she was taken on the knee, covered in the folds of the garment, and pressed to the heart like an adopted child. The marriage formula, whose very words have perhaps been preserved in our Prayer-book, warned her that she came to share her husband's dangers and labours.
1 Beowulf, i., 147.
In the old times a
2 See the Legends of the Wolf Fenrir, and of Loki.-Prose Edda, 34-50.
3 Taciti Germania, c. 18. Grimm, Deutsche Rechts-Alterthümer; Formeln, Ehe.
POSITION OF WOMEN.
woman of family was expected to kill herself on her husband's funeral pyre; under Christian kings the suttee was of course abolished, but the widow forfeited her dowry if she married again.1 The only seeming inconsistency in this dependent position was the law which transferred the liability for her fine, if she shed blood, from her husband to her family; and this probably means, that she had been sold with a warranty, which the kindred had to make good. Under circumstances like these, the type of character in the Saxon woman seems to vary between two extremes: she is either the virago, who treads to her object through blood, an Eadburga or Elfrida; or the patient housewife, submitting to every outrage, and fawning like a spaniel upon her oppressor, the Griselda or Maid Ellen of our early romances. In her relations to the state, she was still more circumscribed in heathen times; it is probable that she could not inherit, if there was any male heir; it is doubtful if her evidence was admissible in a court of justice. The mingled influences of Christianity and Roman law raised her position, and placed her by the side of man in church membership and citizenship; we find Saxon queens and abbesses taking part in public business and signing charters; a superstitious value was even attached to the testimony of nuns. Yet in spite of this important change, the influence of women upon society is not strongly marked in Anglo-Saxon times; the Amazons of Selavonic legend, the Keltic heroines of King Arthur's court, the Cornelias of Roman history, have no proper counterpart among any Germanic people. A resolute will and a strong hand were the best titles of the Saxon woman to respect. This position
1 Thus in the Völund-Saga, Brynhild kills herself, and Gudrun is disgraced by not doing it.-Thorpe's Northern Mythology, vol. i., p. 103; Laws of King Edmund; A. S. Laws, vol. i., p. 255.
2 The Gnomic verses speak out with a brutal plainness. woman scatters words
a man thinks of her with contempt, oft her
cheek smites."-Codex Exoniensis, p. 337.
3 Grimm, Deutsche Rechts-Alterthümer, pp. 407, 408.
I differ with regret from Mr. Kemble.-Saxons in England, vol. i., pp. 232-3. But the high position he assigns to the Germanic women he supports chiefly by the part they took in war, and by their connection with religion as
WEAKNESS OF THE FAMILY FEELING.
of wives and mothers in England no doubt re-acted upon the family relations. It is a remarkable feature of Anglo-Saxon history, that the race, when we first know it, has already ceased to be a clan or cluster of families. Of course this must be taken with some limitations; relationship still carried with it the obligations of taking vengeance for blood, and of paying the fines incurred by the act of one of the kindred: but there are no traces of that vendetta, which was the sombre glory of the Welsh. Perhaps no single cause has more largely contributed to the political progress of the English people, than their freedom in the earliest times from the narrow family spirit. With nothing to restrict his marriages or friendships within the limits of previous connections, the AngloSaxon has wandered freely over earth, conquering or colonizing, and certain to make a home where he settled down. In all this there is a little disruption of the ties between parents and children, a certain disregard of the sacred household gods; self-reliance and the love of adventure pass easily into hardness and over-readiness for change. But the state has gained incalculably by transforming clansmen into citizens; and the life of all nature is quickened when men traverse land and sea, mixing the blood of different races, exchanging the thoughts and experiences of distant countries, instead of clinging like lichens to their native inch of rock.
It is difficult to apply such vague terms as civilized and barbarous so as to convey a definite impression. But it would be unjust to judge the Teutonic tribes of the fifth century by the low developement of the mechanical arts among them. They were still and long continued to be impatient of the restraints of a walled city; land was held in joint pro
priestesses and goddesses. The first fact, I think, tells against their womanhood, and against its estimation in the tribe. Priestesses and goddesses are common features, found in Gaul, Greece, and Syria, although only partially naturalized in Rome. M. Renan, in his Essais, p. 385, has vindicated the claims of the Keltic races to creating the chivalrous ideal of woman. Baron Haxthausen in his Russia has commented on the superior position of Russian to German women in the 19th century.