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Heptarchy which the Saxons had possessed should be called Engelond. John Carnotensis writes, that it was so called from the first coming in of the Angles ; and another somebody says, it was so named from Hengist, a Saxon Prince.”
Numerous laws of the Kings Ina, Alfred, Edward, Athelstan, Edmund, Edgar, Ethelred, and Knute, the Dane, were written in the Saxon language; the latter, according to William of Malmesbury, commanded that all those framed by preceding monarchs, particularly Ethelred, should be scrupulously observed, under pain of his displeasure and a heavy fine.
The learned Selden explains the origin of the word neighbour, which we are accustomed to use in a very different sense from that he assigns to it. Friburg, or borgh, signifies a surety; fri is free, in our language; a person giving his word for the propriety of conduct of another, and thus becoming his security, was said to have him in his borgh.
It is to be feared the information we derive on this head from Wilkins, Spelman, Ingulphus, and others, is rather too much inflated with speculation and fancied perfection. Those authors tell us, that these neighbours were connected by the most commendable and amiable ties; and, in the words of Dr. Henry," they fought in one band in the day of battle, and often eat at one table in the days of peace," Dissensions on the
latter occasions were punished by fining the offender: when any oppressions occurred, the neighbours united in obtaining redress; domestic losses of individuals were supplied by general presents; they supported each other in poverty, provided that misfortune could happen in a neighbourhood thus constituted. He that was incorrigible in offence was expelled, and became a perfect outcast; they mutually attended their customary celebrations, and, according to Ingulphus, such were the general benefits of this system, that perfect tranquillity and security reigned throughout the land. The reader will judge for himself between these statements, and some preceding and succeeding them.
Polydore Vergil asserts, that Sheriffs were derived from the Norman conquest. « The Governors of Provinces, says Selden, who before were styled Deputy Lieutenants (we return to Ingulphus and King Alfred), he divided into two offices; that is, into Judges, whom we now call Justices, and into Sheriffs, who do still retain the same name."
John Scot Erigena, or Duns Scotus, an advocate for the learning himself possessed, advised the reigning Monarch to promote the study of Letters, which was complied with; and an edict issued, compelling all freemen holding two hides of land, equal to two plough-lands, or as mucli as one plough could be made to prepare for seed
in a year, each to keep their children close to that laudable pursuit till the age
of fifteen. King Edgar, like a king of good fellows (adds Selden), or master of revels, made a law for Drinking. He gave orders that studs or knobs of silver or gold, so Malmesbury tells us, should be fastened to the sides of their cups or drinkingvessels, that, when every one knew his mark or boundary, he should, out of modesty, not either himself covet, or force another to desire, more than his stint.” This is the only law before the first parliament under King James, that lias been made against those swill-bowls,
Swabbers of drunken-feasts, and lusty rowers,
In full-brimm'd rummers that do ply their oars : who by their carouses (tippling up Nestor's years as if they were celebrating the goddess Anna Perenna), do, at the same time, drink others healths, and mischief and spoil their own and the publick."
The Danes do not come under particular review in this place, as their manners differed but in a trifling degree from those of the neighbouring states of Germany. But, however the Britons may
have been influenced by their domestic eustoms, we are very certain in their political they were treated as very slaves. Those followers of the fortune of Knute who remained with him in England were granted by that King a firm peace;
that is, if an Englishman killed a Dane, he was compelled to undergo the ordeal by fire and water ; or, in other words, walk blind - folded through pieces of red hot iron, or vessels of water, so placed as to render it impossible almost to escape touching them; if touched, summary punishment followed.
If the party offending absconded, a fine of Go marks was levied on the village or place where the murder occurred; and failing there, through inability, it was recoverable for the King from the hundred.
The Saxons had their grants subscribed by faithful witnesses, which had been the custom in the time of King Arthur, if we are to credit John Price; who declares, he ascertained the fact from a deed belonging to the church of Landaff. The names, till the days of Edward the Confessor, were accompanied by the impression of golden crosses, and other sacred emblems. Cedwalla, King of the South Saxons, made a conveyance to Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, anno 687, in the following curious form:
“1, Cedwalla, have laid a turf of the land aforesaid upon the holy altar of my
Saviour'; and with my own hand, being ignorant of letters, have set down and expressed the mark or sign of the Holy Cross."
Selden translated the instrument for founding an abbey by Ethelbald king of the Mercians, to
Kenulph abbot of Crowland; versified, as he observes, without “ Apollo's consent or knowledge,” by an antient poet; which, he says, “ in rhyme doggrel, will run much after this hobling rate:
If any English vex this Kenulph, shall
for us, that most holy priest,
The preceding particulars relating to the state of society amongst the Anglo-Saxons, will enable the reader to form a tolerable idea of the domestic habits of this branch of our ancestry, who, it is probable, with the exception of the Thanes, did not exhibit much splendour of living as compared with our modern habits of life. The Kings, it is said, maintained an extensive household; consisting of a governor of the palace, always a person of the royal blood, whose province it was to superintend the conduct of those attached to the immediate presence of the Sovereign. The privileges of this officer were numerous; as were those of the King's priest, the next in rank to