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conception and of communication, even truth may change. The material is the same, whatever shape may be given to it.
But general observations will convey no definite idea to the reader; and we shall proceed to glance at the state of Anglo-Saxon intellect under the three ordinary forms of its manifestation : · I. In the arts of life. II. In literature. III. In science.
I. ARTS OF LIFE. The first inventions of man will regard his actual wants ; nor, until these are satisfied, will he have leisure or inclination for comforts, still less for elegancies. Of these, the first concern his food, and the skill necessary to procure it.
On the cultivation of the ground, and the breeding of cattle, must every social edifice be reared. That agriculture and rural economy were much esteemed by the Saxons, is evident from the very names of their months.*
Wolf-monat, or wolf-month; so called because in that month (January) the wolves were the most to be dreaded.
Sprout-kele (February), from the sprouting of the kele-wort, the ordinary pot-herb of the Saxons.
Lenct-monat (March) because the days were lengthening.
Oster-monat (April), whether from the easterly winds during that month, or from an ancient goddess, is perhaps doubtful.
Tri-milki (May), because the cows were now milked three times a day.
Weyd-monat (June), because in this month the cattle were sent to wade in the marshes.
Hey-monat (July), hay month.
Barn-monat (August), from the gathering of the harvest into the barns.
Berst-monat (September), bere or barley month.
Wyn-monat (October), wine month, when the grapes were pressed.
* The names of their months, under the pagan system (as given by Bede, De Ratione Temporum, Opera, vol. ii.), are sometimes different. On their conversion, the pagan names were changed into the agricultural.
Wint or winden monat (November,) the wind month. Winter-monat (December), winter month.
In their pagan state, however, the Saxons, like the other Germanic tribes, cared little for agriculture; so that its improvements must be referred to the influence of Christianity, which inspired them with a taste for peaceful occupations. From the twelve plates published by the industrious Strutt, we are enabled to form a satisfactory idea of their rustic occupations. In Janu. ary, three men are busy with the plough : the one leads the oxen; the second holds that instrument; the third scatters the seed in the furrow just made. The plough is of a ponderous rude construction, requiring four oxen to draw. In February, men are pruning their trees. In March, they are digging in the garden, and sowing or planting vegetables. In April, we no longer see the husbandman; but we have the noble regaling his friends with banqueting and music, evident remnant of the old superstition which welcomed the near approach of the sun. May presents us with sheep-shearing; June, with corn-shearing ; July, with the lopping of branches ; August, with the cutting of barley ; September, with hunting ; October, with hawking; November, with husbandmen preparing their tools ; December, with threshing and winnowing the corn. Most of these plates exhibit implements of the rudest * character, and no great skill in their use; yet they cannot fail to interest. They exhibit a social condition very different from that drawn by Tacitus, when every thing rural was beheld with contempt by the freeborn warrior. The sword had, indeed, been exchanged for the ploughshare; the spear for the shepherd's crook. And let us not forget, that, if the utensils were rude, much was effected by them; that labour supplied the place of mechanical skill. In agriculture, as in every other useful thing, the ecclesiastics were the instructors of the people. It was in a poor condition when the monks applied themselves to it. The great estates were cultivated by theowas, or slaves, who could not be ex .
pected to take much interest in their task: they worked with reluctance, and they wistfully looked for the setting sun. The lands bestowed on the monks were wild and desert, often marshy, or covered with wood; yet, as they lay beyond the bounds of social haunts, they were peculiarly suited to the contemplative life of their new owners.
As manual labour was still exercised, in conformity with the rule of St. Benedict, by the religious, they vigorously commenced their herculean task, doubly inspired by the prospect of a comfortable support, and by the motives of charity. In a short time the forests were felled, marshes drained, waste lands reclaimed, bridges erected, roads constructed; plentiful harvests started even from the fens of Lincolnshire, and waved even on the desert coast of Northumberland. Their example stimulated the industry of the lay proprietors; and whatever improvements they introduced, were soon adopted throughout the island. *
The produce of the earth and the flesh of their domestic animals, especially of their brethren the swine, appear to have continued the only diet of the Saxons, until the time of St. Wilfrid, who is said to have first taught the natives of Sussex the art of catching and cooking fish. Though this seems improbable, there can be no doubt that fish was not a general article of food before his time.t Afterwards it was plentiful enough. Of eels, especially, we read in abundance ; 4000 were annually presented by the monks of Ramsey to those of Peterborough ; and, in different charters of grants made to monastic bodies, we read of rivers and bays where quantities were caught, varying from 2000 to 60,000 annually. A dialogue, composed by Elfric, for the use of children learning the Latin tongue, acquaints us with some curious particulars :
* Bede, De Ratione Temporum (Opera, tom. ii. p. 81.) Tacitus, De Moribus Germanorum, p. 13. Strutt, Horda Angel Cynnan, vol. i. p. 43. Lingard, Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, p. 144.
† Probably St. Wilfrid merely taught them to fishi with the net.
Q. “ Fisherman, what gainest thou by thine art ?"
A. “ I ascend my vessel, and cast my net into the river. I also throw in a hook, a bait, and a rod.”
Q. “ Suppose the fishes are unclean ?”
Q. “ What fishes dost thou catch.”
A. “ Eels, haddocks, minnows, eel-pouts, skate, lampreys, and any thing else that swims in the river.”
Q. “ Why dost thou not fish in the sea ?”
A. “ Sometimes I do, but not often; because, there, a great ship is necessary.”
Q.“ What dost thou take in the sea ? "
A. “ Herrings, salmon, porpoises, sturgeons, oysters, crabs, muscles, winkles, cock les, flounders, plaice, lobsters, and such things.
Q. “ Canst thou take a whale ?"
A. “ No: it is dangerous to catch whales. It is safer to go into the river with my vessel, than to go with many ships in quest of whales.”
Q. “ Why ?”
A. “ Because it is more pleasant to take fish which I can kill with one blow. Yet many catch whales without danger, and then they receive a great price; but I dare not, such is my natural timidity.”.
The cheapness of fish accounts for its general use : by the poor, flesh meat could not be used as a general article of food, and the same may be said of fine wheat; barley bread was their ordinary support. Similar was the case as to the beverage: water or milk for the poor ; ale for the more easy in circumstances; mead and wine for the rich. That wine was made in this country is indisputable. The emperor Probus first allowed to the Britons the cultivation of the grape ; and Bede speaks of it as a common art. From William of Malmesbury we learn that, even in his time, the wines of Gloucestershire were little inferior to those of France. The fact
is confirmed by the seventh plate in Strutt's collection, where grapes are gathered, put into a wine-press, and pressed out by two men. We may observe that the Saxons carried both eating and drinking to excess, defect derived from their Germanic source.
When the first wants of nature are supplied, man will pay some attention to comfort in his habitation. the domestic architecture of the Saxons, we find little to praise. The houses even of nobles were of wood, as indeed were the temples and churches down to the latter half of the seventh century. Those of the rich appear to have been extensive enough ; but they long were rude, low, and uncomfortable. All these have long been swept away; and it is only from incidental hints that we can conceive some idea of their structure. The walls were of wood, with bricks or stone at the corners ; the roof consisted of branches of trees covered with thatch, an aperture being left in the centre for the transmission of smoke. Even the palace of the Northumbrian king appears to have consisted merely of a large hall, with two openings for doors : but this was in more ancient times. The churches, forts, &c. alone will enable us to form any idea of the state of the art prior to the con. quest. That the only material known to the more ancient Saxons was wood, is evident from their word to build, getymbrian, to make of wood,” which continued to be their ordinary term when timber were replaced by stone walls. Thus the temple profaned by the high-priest Coifi † was of that material ; so also were the churches successively built by St. Augustine at Canterbury, and by St. Paulinus at York. In the earlier ages of Christianity, church architecture was far from uniform : the Scottish missionaries built in one way, the Irish in another. Thus Bede calls the churches built of split oak the Irish method ; the Scottish used
* Wilhelmus Malmesburiensis, De Pontificibus, lib. iv. Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica Ang. lib. i. cap. i. Eddius, Vita S. Wilfridi (apud Bollandistas, Acta ss. die Aprilis xxiv.) Turner, Anglo-Saxons, vol. iii. book 7. chap 3, 4.
t See Vol. III. page 177.