ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

W. Agricultural operations of the Ancient Britons. Such was the state of things in the During this long period, the manners year 55 B. C., when Cæsar first crossed of the Britons were greatly changed. the British channel from Calais, and The arts of Rome were adopted in the made his descent on Britain. As he country; towns and cities were built ; approached the cliffs of Dover and Deal, Christianity was introduced ; and civilihe saw them crowded with armed men, zation, to a certain extent, was spread and therefore stood northward and en- over the island.

Thus the original tered Pegwell bay. He was obliged, Celtic Britons became mixed with the however, to land in the face of the na- Romans, and were partially Romanized. tives, who had watched his motions, and But the Roman empire at last became were here ready to receive him. They weakened, and tottered to its fall. The filled the air with their hostile arrows; Roman soldiers were called home for they approached the water's edge, and the defence of the capital, and Britain rushing into the waves, met and strug- was once more left to herself. gled furiously with the Roman soldiers The Romans quitted England about in the sea. But their courage and the year 410, and for a time,

the Britons strength were vain; Roman discipline continued in a feverish state of indeprevailed, and Cæsar made good his pendence, divided into small republics. landing. This first attack was followed But soon these became subject to ambiby other expeditions, and Rome, having tious leaders, who involved the peotaken possession of the island, held it ple in repeated struggles. Constant infor nearly five hundred years.

roads were also made by the Scots and

[ocr errors]

Picts from the north. To aid in defend- like race, were savage and cruel in the ing the people from these, fifteen hun- extreme. They drove such of the Britdred Saxons, who came accidentally to ons as resisted, to the mountains of the coast from Sweden and Norway, Cornwall and Wales, and the adjacent were employed by a British chief named islands, making slaves of those who Vortigern. In a few years more Saxons submitted. Thus they established their arrived, and in about one hundred and dominion, and became not only the rulfifty years the whole island was sub- ing people in the country, but the stock jected to these intruders. The Britons which was to give a distinctive characfought bravely for their liberties, but ter to the nation ever after. They were they were divided among themselves, a mixture of Angles, Picts, and Saxons, and were sacrificed piece-meal by the and were, taken together, called Anglohordes of Saxons that came like succes. Saxons. It is from this race, chiefly, sive waves to overspread the country. that the English people, as well as

The Saxons, though a brave and war- ourselves, derive existence.

[graphic]

Anglo-Saxons. The Saxons were robust in their domitable courage and great ferocity: make, tall, at least as compared with the In their social state they acknowledged Romans, possessed of fair complexions, four ranks or classes of men, among blue eyes, and, in almost all instances, whom intermarriages rarely, if ever, oclight or sandy hair. They were distin- curred; namely, their nobles, their free., guished, from the earliest ages, for in- men, their freedmen, and their slaves.

They were particularly jealous of the during the prevalence of the wildest honor of their wives. In ordinary times storms, because they took it for granted they acknowledged no single chief, but that their intended victims would, at were governed by an aristocracy; from such moments, be least prepared to among the members of which, in the escape or to resist them. When the event of war, they chose a king. But first of these bands arrived in England, the authority of the sovereign lasted they came under the guidance of two only while hostilities continued : at their nobles, Hengist and Horsa, whom they close, he returned to his original station had themselves elected as leaders in a piamong the nobles.

ratical expedition; and whom they conThe Saxons delighted in the perpetra- tinued to obey, only because the war, in tion of cruelties, and were themselves re- which they became engaged, lasted durgardless of danger. They carried on ing the lifetime of those who began it. their predatory warfare chiefly by sea; The religion of the Anglo-Saxons, as launching their vessels most cheerfully they imported it into Britain, was a wild

[ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors]

and hideous polytheism, which demand- still attach to the days of the week. ed from its votaries, among other rites, They worshipped the Sun, thence our the occasional offering up of human Sunday; the Moon, thence our Monday; victims. Of some of their gods we re- Tiw, thence Tuesday; Woden, thence tain a remembrance in the names which Wednesday; Thurse, thence Thursday;

Friga, thence Friday; and Saterne, The Danes came from Norway, whence Saturday.

Sweden, and Denmark, and in many About the year 800, the Danes, a na- respects resembled the Saxons. They tion of sea rovers and robbers, began to were pirates by profession, who took to infest England. This country had been themselves the appellation of Sea-kings; divided into seven kingdoms, called the and Europe has never produced a race Saxon Heptarchy; but these had been of men more ined with the crimes of condensed into three, and at last the treachery and cruelty. Not content, whole Saxon portion of the nation be- like the generality of savage warriors, to came subject to one king, for the first slay, without remorse, all by whom they time. This king was Egbert. He died were opposed in battle, the Sea-kings in 836, and the sceptre passing into fee- appeared to delight in the infliction of ble hands, the country was exposed to unnecessary torture; razing to the the incursions of the people whom we ground every town of which they obhave mentioned above.

tained possession, and slaughtering men,

[graphic]

TELY

Normans.

women, and children indiscriminately years, and spread desolation over the upon its ruins.

country. The wars occasioned by the It would lead us beyond our present Danes were replete with suffering, crulimits to detail all the struggles with elty, and crime. They were finally these invaders of Britain. It is suffi- checked, and many who had settled in cient to say that they continued for many the country were driven away; but

others became mingled with the in- fathers and grandmothers to these vahabitants, and made another ingredient rious nations and tribes. It is from in the compound of British blood and them we derive our blood, our language, bone.

and our customs. The last introduction of foreign people It is true that the Anglo-Saxons form into Britain took place in 1066, when the basis of our ancestry: the mixture of William, Duke of Normandy in France, the other races with them is not concame with an army, and triumphed over siderable. Our language may afford a King Harold in the battle of Hastings, pretty fair index to the proportion which and established himself and his family the Saxon stock bears to the others. on the throne. Many French people The foundation of our language is Saxo came over with William and settled in on, and consisting chiefly of the short the country. The French language be- expressive words called monosyllables. came the language of the court and the To this original stock, we have added laws, and French customs were largely words from the Celtic Britons, the Rointroduced among the people.

mans, the Danes, and the Norman From this brief sketch, we can see French. Our language may be comthat the English people derive their pared to a patched garment, the main origin from five races: the Celts, Ro- cloth of which is a Saxon texture; but mans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, and Nor- the patches are furnished by the other mans; and we, descendants of the Eng- nations that have worn it. It is, howlish, must look back for our first grand- ever, a pretty good language, after all.

[graphic]

The Month of March.

Of all the months, March is the least and fruits of the warmer seasons. It is of a favorite. It has neither the brilliant a capricious mixture of cold and warm, snows of winter, with its keen and wet and dry, sometimes visiting us with bracing breezes, nor has it the flowers storms of sleet and snow, and suddenly

« 前へ次へ »