Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Chapter I
 Chapter II
 Chapter III
 Chapter IV
 Chapter V
 Chapter VI
 Chapter VII
 Chapter VIII
 Chapter IX
 Chapter X
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Title: Glimpses of our island home /
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00015593/00001
 Material Information
Title: Glimpses of our island home /
Physical Description: 242, 6 p. : ill. ; 17 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Geldart, Thomas, 1819 or 20-1861
George Routledge and Sons ( Publisher )
Savill, Edwards and Co ( Printer )
Publisher: George Routledge and Sons
Place of Publication: London ;
New York
Manufacturer: Savill, Edwards and Co.
Publication Date: 1875
Copyright Date: 1875
Edition: New ed., with ill.
Subject: History -- Juvenile literature -- Great Britain   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Juvenile literature -- England   ( lcsh )
Pictorial cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1875   ( rbbin )
Onlays (Binding) -- 1875   ( rbbin )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1875   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1875
Genre: Pictorial cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
Onlays (Binding)   ( rbbin )
Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
Statement of Responsibility: by Mrs. Thomas Geldart.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00015593
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA8105
notis - ALG6786
oclc - 50332914
alephbibnum - 002226500

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Chapter I
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    Chapter II
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
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        Page 41
        Page 42
    Chapter III
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
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    Chapter IV
        Page 69
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    Chapter V
        Page 85
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        Page 88
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        Page 91
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        Page 103
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        Page 105
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        Page 108
        Page 109
    Chapter VI
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
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        Page 119
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        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
    Chapter VII
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 140a
        Page 140b
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
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        Page 174
        Page 174a
        Page 174b
    Chapter VIII
        Page 175
        Page 176
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        Page 196
        Page 197
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    Chapter IX
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
    Chapter X
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
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    Back Matter
        Page 249
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    Back Cover
        Page 251
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Full Text

The Baldwin Library
F orida
L.' E









THE following pages have been compiled for the use of
those who, having laid aside, among other childish
things, the more elementary books on English history,
are scarcely prepared to sit down voluntarily to pore
over those old chronicles, so charming to the elders,
and who shrink from the black letter of Holinshed and
Stowe, and the close print of Lingard, Henry, or Hume;
whilst Macaulay begins too late in the history of our
country to meet their requirements (even if they quite
understood the learned man), and Miss Strickland only
writes about the Queens, whereas it is natural to wish
to hear a little of the Kings and their doings.
So the attempt has been made to provide a reading-
book for out of school; not so dry, it is to be hoped,
as to drive the young student to a story book, nor so
like a story book, as to make wise mothers and teachers
shake their heads.
It is not the design of "Glimpses of our Island
Home" to supersede the lesson books in use. No
solid knowledge of history can be obtained without
strict attention to a systematic arrangement of dates,


those great lamps" of all authentic narrative; but as
glimpses of a road, or prospect, often make us long for
a closer survey, so it is to be hoped, that this glance at
the records of the past may lead the young reader to
cultivate a taste for solid and useful reading.
The period of which this work treats, although
embracing so many years, is by no means so full of
interest as that stirring time which the reign of the
Red King ushers in, when at the cry of the humble
hermit of Amiens, the nations of Continental Europe
flew to arms, and forgetting their private quarrels and
their national feuds, went as in one great company to
the rescue of Jerusalem from the infidel Saracens.
To have entered at length on this subject, however,
would have swelled the volume before us to more than
double its size, and a history of the Middle Ages, which
is in course of preparation, is therefore reserved for a
second series, when the principal contemporary sove-
reigns of Europe, and their connexion with our country-
men in the expedition to Palestine, will form no incon-
siderable a part of the work, and cannot fail to be
interesting and instructive to those who are prepared
by a careful perusal of these Glimpses," to enter into
the causes which led to so important a result as the
Crusades or Holy Wars.


Britain yesterday and to-day-Where our forefathers came from-
Druids-A scene in an oak grove-A British village-A day in
a Briton's life-Dress, habits, &c.-Story of Bladud and Leir
pp. 1-18
The Roman era-The Queen of Cities and her fall-Fifty years
before Christ-Julius Casar conquered the British Chief Cassi-
belaunus-A.D. 50, the soldiers of Claudius conquered Carac-
tacus-Fall of the Druids-Nero conquered Boadicea, the
Queen warrior-Troubles north and south-The Britons are
left alone pp. 19-42

The Britons alone-Our ancestors-Seven Kings at one time too
many for peace-The wonderful King Arthur-His Tomb dis-
covered-Bards and Triads-The Roman market-place-What
came of the thoughts of one man-The visit of the Romans a
peaceful one this time-Disputes of the Christians-The Council
under the oak tree-Story of Edwin-The bold Pagan Priest-
Ladies' enthusiasm-The Abbess of Ely-Monks and their
labours-The dark and the light side of Monastic life-A page
from a Saxon lesson-book-How the Saxons lived and dressed
pp. 43-6P


The pious Monk of Jarrow-The spirit of Reformation-The death
of Bede-His Tomb-Offs and his Deeds-The Wicked Ead-
burga-Poverty of the Daughter and Wife of a King-The
Emperor Charlemagne-Eginhardt and Emma-Egbert's Recall
-The Fall of the Heptarchy-Superstition- The Sea King-
The King's Journey to Rome-The Marriage pp. 69-84
The Story of a Book-Illuminated Manuscripts-Early troubles of
the new-made King-Story of the Monks of Croyland-The
year of the Seven Battles-The King and the Cowherd-The
Home in the Isle-The last Loaf-The Danish Standard taken-
The Royal Harper-The Battle-Sunshine through the Clouds
-The Danes settled at last-The Lantern-Trial by Jury-
Alfred's Wife and Children-Parting words pp. 85-109
Alfred's successors-Royal spinsters-Athelstane-Story of a Monk
-A Ventriloquist in 955-The cell at Glastonbury-Dunstan's
vision-The Monk at Court- A stormy Coronation Feast-The
cruelty of Odo-Love Story of Edgar-The concealed Countess
-The Hunting Party and its consequences-The Queen-The
New Coronation-The second Great Crime-The weak King-
Fierce Vikings again The weak King's wicked act-The
King's Flight-His Death-New Master-The Danes at Home
at last pp. 110-137
The Story of an Earl-The Danish King-The Royal gifts-Ca-
nute's verses- The Pilgrimage Relics- The Letter-The
King's Death-The disputed Crown-The Hunting King-The
Exile's return-A sad Story-The last of the Danes-The Earl
and the King-Quarrels-The Rose among Thorns-The
Queen's Ordeal-Emma's Death-Unwelcome Visitors-New
Fashions-A Norman Count's visit and its consequences-
Godwin an Exile-The Duke in England-The return--The
death of Godwin-The forgotten Promise-The Shipwreck-
The Oath- The Tapestried History-The Confessor's Death-bed
-His Tomb . . . . . .pp. 133-174


The last of the Saxons-A Scene at Rouen-Normandy astir-
Story of Lanfranc-The Unnatural Brother-The Battle-The
Expedition- Discontent among the Soldiers-A Glance at Pe-
vensey-The Field of Senlac-The Camp at Midnight-Soldiers'
Sorrows-The Conflict-The pretended Flight-The Saxon
King Slain-The Battle-field and its Scenes-The Abbey
pp. 175-197
Review of the Anglo-Saxon History-Manners-Customs-Dress
-Language, &c. pp. 199-208

"See the Conquering Hero comes"-Old London-The bold Abbot
-A cold Coronation-A Visit to Normandy-The Siege of
Exeter-The Northern Journey--Domestic Sorrows-Forest
Days-The Death-bed pp. 209-242




Britain yesterday and to-day-Where our forefathers came from
-Druids-A scene in an oak grove-A British village-
A day in a Briton's life-Dress, Habits, &c.-Story of Bladud
and Leir.
A.C. 60.
DID you ever try to picture our Island Home, as it
must have appeared in those very old times, when little
British children ran almost as wild as the goats and
sheep on the hill side, and their fathers and mothers, in
their clothing of skins, with long hair and brown sun-
burnt faces, spent their time in providing food for their
families, without any care or thought beyond that of
tending their flocks, hunting in the large forest for
game, and preparing the hides of the animals they cap-
tured for clothing ? The island itself indeed, in days of
yore, was surrounded, as at present, by the same stormy
ocean, but a traveller landing on its shores would have


looked in vain for our safe ports and fine harbours, and
the well-rigged vessels which now lie in our docks.
Advancing inland, where now we see flourishing towns,
handsome cities, and pretty 'rur; villages, nothing
would have met his eye, but barren plains and desolate
tracts, with here and there a few scattered dwellings,
less resembling an English house of the nineteenth
century than an English pigsty, or at best a low barn.
It is hard to realize this, and to believe that where
the busy engine now rushes between green embank-
ments, and through dark tunnels, the work of British
hands, leaving its white wreath of steam behind it,
over smiling meadows and green pastures, where rich
flocks are feeding, there once lay unwholesome fens or
trackless forests, undrained and uninhabitable lands,
and miles of gloomy, deserted country.
The noble river now full of animation, and teeming
with life and business, bearing on its stream vessels
laden with merchandize, and steamers full of curious
and enterprising travellers, once rolled onwards to the
blue sea, quiet and undisturbed in its course, except
perhaps by an old Briton paddling in his coracle, a
queer little boat of slight framework, covered with
hides, specimens of which may still be seen amongst the
fishermen on the banks of the river Wye.
Such was Britain at and before the time when it
entered into the head of that ambitious warrior, Julius
Caesar, to add our little Island to the already vast
dominions of Rome. It is a pity that we have so few
records of the Kings, and of their lives and habits, pre-
vious to this era, on which we can depend; but early


British story is so mixed up with fables and incredible
marvels, that, were I to tell you any of them, you would
think I had been borrowing from some old fairy tale,
and would soon recognize your favourite nursery heroes
in my pages. But tales, pleasant merry pastime as they
are, should be kept by themselves, and history carefully
guarded from any mixture of fiction.

It is possible, indeed, that even some of those occur-
rences I shall relate have been exaggerated by the old
Chroniclers; for you must remember, that the art of
writing was unknown to the ancient Britons, and that
the only method they had of preserving the memory of
events was by means of their Bards, who received the
stories in succession, and handed them down to the
Monkish historians, when writing was first introduced
into our country.
And now let us inquire who our forefathers were ?


Everything you know must have a beginning: Islands
and Countries were not originally peopled by chance,
nor did the first inhabitants spring out of the ground
like trees. Most learned historians, I think, agree that
the ancient Britons were descended from Gomer, a son
of Japhet, who in a division of nations received "the
Isles of the Gentiles" as his portion (Gen. x. 5), By
these were the Isles of the Gentiles divided in their
lands. Every one after his tongue, after their families
in their nations." And now for their name. It may
sometimes puzzle you to hear them called Cimbri, Cymri,
or Kimbri, but you must remember that many nations
have two or more designations, that which properly
belongs to them, and that which is given to them by
foreigners; and the Greeks and Romans called a large
multitude of people in central Europe by the name of
Cimbri.* We call the people of Bohemia, Bohemians,
they call themselves Czecki; and the Hungarians give
themselves the name of Magyar. In common old Eng-
lish speech all foreigners would be called Welshmen,
a term formed from the English or Saxon word Wilisc,
an adjective, meaning strange or foreign. Hence Italy
is Welshland to modern Germans, who would speak of
Italians generally as Welshers. So much for the origin,
as far as it can be ascertained, of the Britons. We will
now turn to something more interesting, and learn as
much of their habits, laws, and religion, as we can glean
from the very scanty materials which remain to us.
The old Britons were no travellers, their habits were
The first discoverers of Britain called the island Prydain,
meaning simply the land where they were found.


decidedly stay at home, and like all Celtic* nations
they were afraid of the dangers of the sea. Now and
then the people living in the southern part of the island
were much excited by a visit from a merchant vessel
coming from the celebrated country of Phonicia, or
Phcenice. This was a small but very important nation,
extending along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean,
from the town of Aradus on the north, to Mount Carmel
on the south. The Phoenicians were the first merchants,
and their voyages were longer and more enterprising
than those of any people of that early age. Possibly
this superiority may be traced to the favourable situation
they occupied, their position enabling them to supply
western nations with the productions of the east, and
the east with those of the west.
The discovery of Britain was kept a profound secret
by these wily traders from all other countries, for they
set great store by the tin, lead, and skins with which
the island abounded, and wished to have no partners in
commerce; but in spite of their art the Greeks found
out the existence of Britain, and commenced trading
voyages on their own account, receiving salt, earthen-
ware, tin, &c., in exchange for bracelets, and chains of
brass, or gold, which the British ladies were very eager
to obtain.
Britain was originally divided into small tribes or
nations, each having its own king, but the kings had no
share whatever either in making or enforcing the laws.
In speaking of Celts you must understand it as the general
term applied to the nations of central Europe. They were dis-
tinguished by two divisions, the Celts, or Gauls, and the Cymri.


This was the business of the Druids, who were the law-
givers, priests, and philosophers of the people. This
remarkable race consisted of three classes. The Priests
or vates who conducted all religious services, and who
wore long white garments; the Bards, who were poets,
musicians, and historians; and the common Druids,
who taught philosophy and astrology, and also practised
physic. The worship of the true God was unknown to
them; they had many false gods to whom they offered
sacrifice. They believed in one whom they called
Apollo, who was said to be the god of sick people, and
understood medicine. There was another who was
reputed to take care of merchants, and a third who was
called the god of war.* Besides these they worshipped
the sun. They seemed to have some notions of the
soul's immortality, but they were clouded by those of
transmigration; that is to say, they thought the spirit
after death passed into the body of some animal, and
did not go into the unseen world. Fierce and gloomy
were the doctrines which they taught, and a Druid's
service was oftentimes an awful scene. In some spot
where you may now see a pretty village church pointing
to the blue sky, its pleasant sounding bells inviting us
to worship a God of peace and love, in days of yore the

Caesar says :-Their chief deity is Mercury, of him they
have many images, and they consider him to be the inventor of
all their arts, and their guide in all their journies. Next to him
they worship Apollo and Mars, Jupiter and Minerva; Jupiter
being ruler of the celestials, and Mars of war. Cesar gives these
gods the same names as the Roman and Grecian idols, but we
do not learn under what titles the Britons worshipped these false


teachers of a mysterious and melancholy religion used
to gather the wild and ignorant people together to
witness scenes of horror, and to listen to cries of woe.
The midst of some forest of oaks, dark, solemn, and
shady, they would usually choose as the site of their
temple, which was built in a circle of stones, some of
them of enormous dimensions. Within the circle, then,
the crowd of worshippers was gathered, some kneeling
or standing in solemn silence, whilst their teachers per-
formed their mysterious rites. At a distance was the
altar, surrounded by the white-robed priests, whose
beards reached to their girdles, and who delighted to
inspire the poor Britons with awe and veneration.
Strange-looking men they must have been, and strange
sounds they made, singing wild melancholy songs, and
playing on their harps. And now a solemn tread is
heard, and every eye is directed to a huge image of
osier twigs, standing at a short distance from the altar.
The image has head, body, arms, and legs like a gigantic
man, and in every corner of it are crowded living beings,
frequently men, women, and young children.* There
is a silence broken only by the wailing of the victims,
when suddenly the priests renew their songs, and the
Arch-Druid or chief priest with a lighted torch ap-
proaches, and sets fire to the wicker image, and, un-
mindful of the screams of the sufferers, the hissing of
the burning twigs, and the glare of the towering flames,
sings louder still, until nothing is left of the image, nor
of the wretched victims, but smouldering ashes. Such
The Druids usually devoted criminals to sacrifice, filling up
empty space if needful by innocent victims.


was the Druid's temple worship on great occasions, but
it was only at stated times that these sacrifices took
place. Generally their religious ceremonies were more
simple, sometimes indeed joyful, when they cut down
the mistletoe, a plant which they held sacred, and feasted
in their oak groves.
They were not without their uses, these old Druids,
and apart from their religious services, Britain owed a
great deal to these early philosophers. The Druid
doctors, notwithstanding the charms they used to con-
ceal their ignorance, were the only physicians of the
country, and understood the uses and qualities of
different herbs, which they applied in the healing art.
A Druid doctor's surgery must have been a curious
apothecaries' hall. Instead of phials neatly labelled,
jars, crucibles, mortars, and glass tubes, you would in
all probability only have seen bunches of selago, a kind
of hedge hyssop, vervain, and abundance of mistletoe;
whilst such surgical instruments as they possessed must
have been of the rudest description, and would terrify a
patient now-a-days.
The account of the Druids would be incomplete if I
did not mention the wonderful remains of their archi-
tecture, which exist in Salisbury plain, in Wiltshire,
and of which no description will give you so correct an
idea as the accompanying drawing. With regard to its
circular form, you must remember that circles of stones
are recorded not only in ancient history, but also in the
Scriptures, to have been set up for religious purposes.
The stones taken by Joshua out of Jordan form an
example, the name Gilgal itself signifying a circle.


The name of Stonehenge is probably derived from the
Saxon, Stan, stone, and heng or hang, to hang or sup-
port. The stones are surrounded by a circular vallum,
or bank of earth, with a ditch or foss. Withinside this
bank are three stones, two of which are in an upright
position, and the other is prostrate. In the centre of
the enclosed space is what is usually called the temple
itself, which originally comprised an outer circle of
thirty upright stones at nearly equal distances apart,
each sustaining other stones in a horizontal position.
The upright stones had two projections on the top,
which were made to fit into and fill up two mortices (or
hollows into which another substance fits), in the two
slabs resting on each upright stone.
Within the large circle was another, consisting of the
same number of perpendicular stones, smaller, but
without the stones lying across, called imposts. This
circle again contained a circle of large and small stones,
called an elliptical circle, the former divided into
groups of three stones each, that is two upright stones
and an impost. These groups' of three stones, called
trilithons, had before each, three small upright stones,
and in the central space was a large flat stone, called
the altar.*
There are also a great many mounds or barrows in
the neighbourhood of Salisbury plain, some of which

SDiameter of the space within the vallum or bank, 300 feet;
Height of vallum, 15 feet; Height of stones of outer circle, 7 feet
by 3 feet; Diameter of outer circle, 100 feet; Ditto second, 83
feet; Trilithons, 16 feet 3 inches, 17 feet 2 inches, 21 feet
6 inches.


have been opened and found to contain chests, kists, or
cists filled with burned bones, and relics both of British
and Roman art. It was the custom of the Britons to
burn the bodies of their dead and then to collect their
ashes, which if belonging to Princes or great men, were
laid in these stone chests, and rude monuments raised
over them. We will now see what kind of dwellings
the ancient Britons provided for the living, and how
they fared in their every-day life.
The dwellings of the Britons were, before Cssar's
invasion, of the rudest description. They were prin-
cipally built of the boughs of trees, covered or plastered
with clay, with a conical straw thatched roof, and a
hole left for the wood smoke to find its way out as it
could. You must not imagine that a British village or
town consisted of regular streets. No, their houses
were literally detached villas, built singly, and without
any regard to order and arrangement. They chose the
banks of a river, or the shades of a forest, for their
settlement; and as soon as a neighbourhood consisting
of fifty or sixty huts was formed, they raised a high
mound of earth, and not unfrequently dug a moat or
ditch around their new town, in order to protect it from
the incursions of their neighbours, for the Britons were
but a quarrelsome race, and had not very strict notions
of honesty. The Prince, who lived in the colony, had
always a house in the centre and most commodious part
of the village, but poor was the best of their accommoda-
tion, even among the wealthiest; and in our cold, wet,
and changeable climate, I fear the Britons led but
comfortless lives. We who can go to the convenient


shop and purchase the necessaries and luxuries of life,
even in our remote villages, can form little idea of the
labour necessary to an ancient Briton in obtaining food
for a single day. Early in the morning he would rise,
and taking his bow and arrow, for he had of course no
gun, would set out with his dog and some little half-clad,
rough boy, if he were a father, and spend a long, weary
day in chasing the animals of the forest, after all
perhaps in vain; and then he was forced to content
himself with carrying home roots, berries, and acorns,
to his hungry wife and children, hoping for better
luck on the morrow. Then forth again at daybreak,
with his bow and his quiver to the wood, or to the river
with his clumsy tackle, and great were the rejoicings if
he bore home a deer on his shoulder, a bird perhaps, or
a fine fish, of which indeed there was ample provision in
the streams.
The Northern parts of England were, however, far
behind the Southerners in civilization. They led mere
hunters' lives, their huts were yet less commodious, and
frequently they knew no better dwellings than caves
and rocks. The visits of the Phoenician trader had
already been of service to the Islanders of the South,
who began to tame the wild animals of the forest, those
fierce cattle which had previously been only objects of
terror to the children, so that now on the broad pasture
land flocks of sheep and herds of kine were seen to
graze, and the clothing, flesh, and milk, which they
provided, were great improvements on the coarse fare
with which they had hitherto been content. In Cantia,
that portion of Britain which we call Kent, they were


yet further advanced than the shepherds of the western
and more midland districts. The white cliffs of Dover,
which can plainly be seen from the opposite coasts of
France, or Gaul, as it was called, attracted the notice of
the inhabitants, some of whom made voyages over the
narrow straits, and commenced a trade with their British
neighbours. These Gauls* knew some things which
were quite strange to the early inhabitants of our island
home, and their visits were very useful. They were
quite amazed to see fine acres of land lying unploughed
and waste, whilst there were so many strong able-
bodied men, whose business it ought to have been to
till the soil, instead of leading the lives of savages,
content with the coarsest fare obtained from day to day,
and without thought or care for the morrow. The
Britons took the hint of their visitors, who encouraged
them to break up the rough soil and to manure it
with a kind of fat marl or clay. Great was the joy of
the Islanders, when, in process of time, the fields first
shone with emerald green, then glittered in golden waves,
and at last corn was cut, in places so long waste and
desolate, and harvest home triumphs were doubtless
sung, as they stowed away the precious grain in subter-
ranean granaries and store-houses. So well indeed was
the soil of Britain found to suit corn, that they were

You must not confound the history of the Gauls with that
of the French. The former were originally a wild people, inha-
biting the forests of central Europe and the north of Italy, with
whom the Romans had many conflicts, and 124 years before
Christ they established their dominion over the Gauls beyond the
Alps, and formed the province now called Aix-en-Provence.


soon able to export it, and there were abundance of
customers for the British wheat, although at present the
only mode they had of doing business was by exchange
of goods, not through money. There is no doubt, that
from the wild and barbarous habits of the Britons, and
th ignorance into which they had lapsed, they had for
the most part lost the art of working metals or weaving
cloths; and although the Druids wore white, blue, and
green garments, the large mass of the people were clad
only in skins, according to the particular calling they
followed. Thus the shepherd would wear a sheep skin,
the hunter that of some forest animal, but the hide of
the brindled cow was in the greatest favour, and they
adorned themselves moreover with the beads, brass
necklaces, and rings procured from the Phenician
merchants. Their appearance, in short, was not very
unlike that of the South Sea Islanders, as described by
Cook, the navigator. Pliny, the historian, tells us
that mothers and nurses used the art of puncturing, a
kind of tattooing, on the British babes, and that after
the punctures were made in sundry patterns, the juice
of a plant called woad was squeezed into the wounds,
which left the flesh dyed of a blue colour, from which some
historians describe the Britons as painting their bodies.
Not at any time within the reach of authentic history,
however, do we read of their going without clothing.
We have no doubt received this common impression
through the early accounts of the Romans, at the time of
whose invasi n the Britons, according to the custom of
many uncivilized nations, threw off their outer garments
in battle. Cesar, who certainly tries to give as formid-


able a picture as possible of the people, declares that
even within the country the barbarians wore skins, and
that the Kent and Southern folk (whom the Gauls had
civilized), were dressed in Gaulish fashion, in clothes
of various coloured cloths:" whilst two other historians,
Diodorus Siculus and Pliny, describe the garments as
made of wool, dyed in various colours, and woven in
chequer work," like our Scotch plaids, in fact. They
wore trousers moreover, called brace, and a short
cloak. The hair was turned back from the forehead,
and flowed in long bushy curls behind, being now and
then covered with a cappan or cap, so called from the
British hut or cab, which it resembled in its conical
form. The ancient pointed cappan is, I am told, still
exhibited by Welsh children in their plays, in the rush
cappan or cyrnicyll."*
The Druid's dress, as I have told you, was not always
white: it was only the priests who wore that garment.
Sky-blue garments were worn by the bards, and the
poets, doctors, and astronomers were clad in green.
Taliesin, a celebrated Welsh bard, makes an ovate to
say, With my robe of bright green do I hold my
place in this assembly."
The British weapons were but clumsy, although
copied as far as their ignorance and inferior tools ad-
mitted, from those of the Greek and Phenician traders.
The lance was of bone, ground to a fine point, and
placed in an oaken shaft. By and bye, however, when
they had learned to work the metals, their lances were

* Planche's History of Costume.


very formidable in battle, and their war chariots, with
the dreadful scythes in the axle-trees, frightened the
Roman soldiers terribly.


Fli t.

One of their shields is still preserved in the British
Museum, and is a curious specimen of their early work-
manship. It is ornamented with circles, between each


of which are raised as many little knobs of metal as the
pace admits.


And now we are come to a very great era in our
nation's story. The Britons were no longer to continue
in undisturbed possession of their native country, which
rude and uncivilized as it was, was dear to them as their
home and their native land. They had never seen the
southern countries of Spain and Italy, nor known,
except by report, of the riches and grandeur of Rome
and Greece; and they loved Britain, its mountains and
valleys, its shining rivers, and its pleasant, pastures.
They were free in their lives, and free in their nature,
and to bow their necks to the yoke of any conqueror, it
had never entered into their hearts to conceive.
There can be no connected history written, which a
child or a young person would understand, of the
British kings, before the period of the invasion by the
Romans. You have doubtless heard of King Lud, but
his story is so mixed up with fables, that it is almost


impossible to separate the probable from the doubtful.
Geoffrey of Monmouth, a monk, who wrote a great deal
of nonsense, as well as much sense, and actually seemed
to have believed in the legends handed down by the
bards, asserts, and perhaps not incorrectly, that Lud
founded the city of London, and was buried beneath one
of its gates, which to this day bears his name, as
Ludgate Hill. Then there are marvellous tales related
by the same Geoffrey, of a certain King Bladud, who
had a temple to Minerva, at Bath, where the fires never
went out, nor consumed to ashes, but as soon as they
began to decay turned to balls of stone. There is men-
tion, too, of hot baths, made by this king, or his son: so
you see that the hot springs of Bath have long been
celebrated. Bladud's end was very tragic. He was a
great necromancer, it is said; and one day, in attempting
to fly with a pair of new wings, which he had made, he
fell down from some eminence in.or near his city of
Bath, and was dashed to pieces. His son Leir, whose
story has been made so famous by Shakespeare, succeeded
him on the throne. He had three daughters, Gonerilla,
Regan, and Cordelia. And it is told that he asked each
in turn how much she loved him. The two elder pro-
fessed the most vehement affection and were each
rewarded with good husbands, and a third of the
kingdom; but Cordelia was not so ardent in her
professions of attachment, ana the old king, provoked at
her coldness, disinherited the maiden, and promised the
whole of his kingdom to the other sisters at his death.
Soon a king of the Franks, who owned a third part of
Gaul, married Cordelia, and a long time after, when


Leir grew old and infirm, the two British dukes who
had married Gonerilla and Regan, rebelled against Leir,
and took his government from him. He lived by turns
with his sons-in-law, in a kind of captivity, but by
degrees his indulgences were taken from him, and he
fled, miserable and poor, in a ship to Gaul, hoping to
excite Cordelia's compassion. She received him very
kindly in her town of Calais, went over to Britain with
an army, and replaced her father on the throne, and on
his death, three years after, reigned herself; but her
nephews, the children of the British dukes, rebelled
against her, and threw her into prison, where she put an
end to her life by poison. So ends the story of King
Leir, but it rests on somewhat doubtful authority, and I
fear I cannot recommend you to Geoffrey of Monmouth,
as a safe guide; although there is always some truth
beneath the rubbish of legends and the inventions of
false historians.

carterr 5tconnb.

The Roman era-The Queen of Cities and her fall-Fifty years
before Christ-Julius Cesar conquered the British Chief Cas-
sibelaunus-A.D. 50, the soldiers of Claudrus conquered
Caractacus-Fall of the Druids-Nero conquered Boadicea,
the Queen warrior-Troubles north and south-The Britons
are left alone.
A.C. 55.

FAR away from our Island Home there stood on the
sloping banks of a river a great city. This city and the
country around have been more celebrated than any
other in Europe for their arts, monuments of antiquity,
heroes, poets, painters, and learned men.
Who has not heard of Rome ? Children in old times
learned to lisp its name with a kind of wondering awe,
and children of the present day read the history of her
glory as a tale that is told, or listen to descriptions of
her ruined palaces, her triumphal processions, and her
luxurious inhabitants, as to one of the thousand stories
of eastern splendour, now and then told by the nursery
fire as a rare treat, by mothers and nurses too wise to
put the Arabian Nights" unpruned into their young
ones' hands.


But the Rome of to-day is as little like the Rome of
the Caesars, as the Britain of 1856 is like that which the
Roman victor found on landing on her shores. Whilst
our little spot of green land in the ocean, on which the
queen of cities looked down so proudly as a nation of
barbarians and savages, has risen to a height of civiliza-
tion and knowledge of which Rome never dreamed, she
has fallen to rise no more; and we may sing over
her those beautiful lines of the Roman girl's song,
translated by our plaintive English poetess.

Rome, Rome thou art no more
As thou hast been !
On thy seven hills of yore
Thou sat'st a queen.
Thou hadst thy triumphs then
Purpling the street,
Leaders and sceptred men
Bow'd at thy feet.
Rome thine imperial brow
Never shall rise:
What hast thou left thee now t
Thou hast thy skies !
Blue, deeply blue, they are
Gloriously bright I
Veiling thy wastes afar
With colour'd light.
Thou hast the sunset's glow,
Rome for thy dower,
Flushing tall cypress bough,
Temple and tower I
Yet wears thy Tiber's shore
A mournful mien;
Rome, Rome! thou art no more
As thou hast been I


There had been many long and bloody wars raging in
the east for years, before the birth of our Saviour, which,
sorrowful as they were in their process, had the effect of
civilizing the wilder portions of Europe, and of intro-
ducing many oriental luxuries and improvements,
especially at Rome. Many men of rank and talent took
up their abode in the rising city, living within the walls
in winter time, and in summer retiring to beautiful
villas in different parts of the surrounding country, very
unlike the British houses at that time. Fine substan-
tial brick or stone buildings were the Roman homes,
ornamented with columns and statues, and valuable
pictures, painted by the already noted Italian artists.
These houses are usually built around three sides of an
open court, the entrance door leading into a hall or
atrium as it was called, where visitors were received, or
waited until announced, when they could generally amuse
themselves by looking at the images of their host's an-
cestors, which formed part of the adornments of the
atrium. There was a reservoir for water in the centre,
and the hall was lighted by an aperture in the roof, a
kind of skylight, as few of the rooms on the ground
floor looked into the street. Those in the upper part of
the house had windows closed with shutters, curtains, or
network; for the use of glass was not common in Rome
until a later period. Some writers, indeed, mention a
transparent stone brought from Spain, which was
capable of being split into thin leaves of sufficient size
for window panes.* The floors were seldom boarded,
Lapis specularis, possibly the same as we know by the name
of Talc.


but in the houses of the rich were made of white stone,
or of that beautiful mosaic work called tessellated pave-
ment, so many fine specimens of which were discovered
at Pompeii, the long-buried city; and worn fragments,
similar to these you may see in our own Westminster
Abbey, near Edward the Confessor's shrine, which were
brought from Rome to London by Abbot Ware. The
walls were mostly painted with figures or scenery, in a
style called fresco, from the Italian word fresco or fresh,
the colours being laid on while the ground was still wet.
The ceilings were richly ornamented with ivory carving,
and fine gilding, and were some of them very splendid.
Several families frequently shared the same dwelling,
each having a separate floor. The villas outside the
city were even grander than the town houses, the style
of them being copied from the eastern palaces and
dwellings. These had long galleries and saloons, along
which marble statues were ranged, and valuable pictures
hung. Around the houses were fine parks and gardens,
in which the Romans took great pride. The trees and
shrubs were carefully tended, and many of them which
had lately been brought from the east were much prized.
The rose and the lily, violet, narcissus, amaranth, and
iris, all well known to us, flourished in the flower-garden
of a Roman lady; but until some time after th'e Chris-
tian era, we do not hear that they had any hothouses or
conservatories, or any means of preserving the more
delicate plants during winter.
They were an enterprising, intelligent race, these
Romans, and continually making advances and improve-
ments. Indeed, it is wonderful that a people so con-


stantly engaged in war, should have been able to gather
together such an amount of luxury and comfort as their
homes possessed. They were capital farmers as well as
gardeners, and their implements of husbandry were not
very unlike those in use with us at present. Their
plough, which was drawn by oxen, was guided by a
handle behind, and held by the ploughman.
They understood the art of some manufactures too,
and a loom was a very common article of furniture in
the houses of the great; many an hour did the Roman
mother and her young daughters pass in the superin-
tendence of the weaving of cloth, at which the female
slaves were kept pretty closely at work. The loom
was a simple upright frame, standing on two feet, and
a very important property it was in Roman families.
The use of silk or linen being little known to the ladies,
the trade of dyers and fullers was a thriving one, and
they had almost as much to do at Rome as our London
laundresses. The clothes being principally made of
wool were always sent, when soiled, to the fuller for
cleansing. The female dress was gay and of various
colours; the tunics, as well as the gowns or stolas as
they were called, were adorned with flounces, fringes,
and embroidered borders. They adopted the frightful
habit of wearing patches on their faces, and a quantity
of rouge. The hair was worn curled with irons, in stiff
rows one above another to an enormous height, the
back tresses being gathered up in coiffures resembling
the German nets lately in use in our own country.
Their mirrors were of highly-polished steel or brass,
those of glass being at this time very costly. They


dined or supped at three or four in the afternoon, and
always bathed before that meal. Singers and dancers
were employed to amuse them during their long re-
pasts; and, in the time of Pompey the Great, there
was a celebrated actor of the name of Roscius, who was
a favourite with the Roman gentry. Rome was rich
in great men. Besides Casar, to whose history we are
now coming, and who was not only a skilful general,
but a very talented author, there was Cicero, a noted
orator, Virgil and Horace, poets, who both resided near
Rome, and many others whose names I could mention.
But this is not intended to be a history of Rome, and
the little sketch has only been written to show yau the
contrast between our little sea-girt Britain, and the
great rich Italian city in Csasar's time, as well as to
introduce you to those early conquerors, who exercised
so important an influence over our country in past ages.
Those of you who are at all acquainted with Roman
history, will remember that on the death of Sylla, who
had been created Dictator for life at Rome, after many
changes in the form of government had taken place,
two persons named Pompey and Crassus, very powerful
men in the state, greatly disturb d the public peace by
their jealousies and disputes. Pompey was the people's
favourite, and a great and skilful general; Crassus, a
rich man; whilst Julius Cesar, who at the time of
Sylla's death was Pretor (an office resembling that of
our Lord Mayor), a man of talent and a great scholar,
was elected Consul, and formed a league with Pompey
and Crassus, which led to the formation of the Trium-
virate, and to endless disputes between men each secretly
bent on absolute power.


Rome was in a state of much confusion at this time.
Casar had left it, and was gone to reside in those pro-
vinces in the south of Gaul, which fell to his share
when the territories were divided. Crassus went to
take possession of his property in Syria, and Pompey,
who had been made Consul after Caesar's year of office
was expired, remained in Rome. Caesar, who could
never be at rest, now determined to reduce the whole
of Gaul, a country of immense extent, as you have
learned, and divided into different tribes or nations,
each governed by its chief. War succeeded war;
nothing damped the zeal of the Roman general, and at
length his wish was fulfilled. Gaul was subdued. His
pauses from battle were but short, and it was during
one of the few periods of rest in his warlike life, that
he turned his thoughts to the "Little Island in the
Cesar, however, to whom the conquest of Britain,
after the important victories which he had gained in
Gaul, seemed easy of attainment, did not rush blindly
on the undertaking. He was very particular in his
inquiries of the Phoenician merchants, as well as of the
kind Gaulish neighbours who had been so useful to the
Britons, and from these he obtained information of the
extent of the island, the reputed number of its inhabi-
tants, and their military force. Not satisfied with their
reports, he sent over a trusty general, a certain Caius
Volusenus, who was instructed to take private observa-
tions of the coast, and to make as many discoveries as
So called by the ancients, to distinguish it from the many
islands in the Mediterranean.


possible of the means which Britain possessed for re-
sistance and defence. The Gaulish merchants mean-
while pitying their old pupils, in whom they took a
friendly interest, and not very anxious to oblige their
new conqueror, gave the islanders private notice of the
Roman's intentions; and the Britons, judging it wiser
to avoid a contest with a man so universally victorious,
sent ambassadors over to Gaul, with humble proffers of
alliance. The ambassadors were courteously received,
and Casar on his return sent one on his part, with an
earnest recommendation to the Britons to seek the
friendship of the Romans; but the messenger met with
an ill reception, and being looked upon as a spy was
thrown into prison, an injury naturally resented by
CGesar, who determined at once on the total subjugation
of the insolent people. Accordingly on the 26th of
August, fifty-five years before the birth of Christ, some
heavy, awkward, Roman vessels, not very unlike our
coal barges, were seen crossing the channel, and battling
with the strong current of the straits of Dover. The
first attempt may be said to have been a failure. As
the great ships neared the coast, the practised military
eyes of Julius Casar and his men perceived that the
landing would be no easy matter, for there, on the tall
white cliffs of Dover, where in the present day sea-side
visitors love to walk and breathe the fresh invigorating
breezes of the channel, stood hosts of fierce Britons in
no friendly attitude, armed in their rude manner, and
prepared to resist the intruders to the death. Their
position was in their favour, for from the elevated
ground of the heights, they were able to hurl stones and


other missiles on the enemy below, and their shouts and
warlike cries, wild as they were, proved the hardy
Britons to be in earnest in their resistance. Csesar
accordingly retreated, and as is generally believed re-
newed the attempt at Deal; but here again the siuc of
his vessels was an obstacle to landing at all. Clusters
of Britons met him on the shore, and impatient of delay
he was obliged to give orders for the somewhat un-
dignified act of leaping into the water. The encounter
was sharper even than Casar had anticipated, but ended
in the defeat of the inhabitants, who finally begged for
I am sorry to give you such a bad character of the
Britons, but both on this and subsequent occasions, they
proved sad truce-breakers, and soon forgetting their
humble promises, and amicable professions, broke out
into rebellion, and in the next battle the slaughter was
It has been wisely remarked by one of our historians,
that the old fable of the bundle of sticks would have
been a useful lesson to the people at this time. Had
the inhabitants of our country been united, and at peace
among themselves, there is reason to believe, that with
the energy and determination which they possessed,
they might have resisted and possibly overcome their
adversaries; but they were distracted with petty quarrels
and home discord, and divided into at least forty tribes,
few of whom were prepared cordially to unite in an
undertaking where such union would have been both
strength and safety.*
Lingard-History of England.


Casar's invasion now taught them the folly of civil
war; and, resolved to forget their private feuds for the
time, in this common necessity, they chose as their
leader Cassibelaunus, Prince of the Cassi or Cativellauni,
the ancient inhabitants of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire,
and Buckingham. Not the wisdom and prudence of
one brave man, however, could retrieve the fallen for-
tunes of Britain, which from that time might be called
a conquered nation.
Casar has written a book known well by the name of
" Commentaries," and in one of these he gives a curious
description of Britain, and of this his first expedition,
which he rather affects to call a mere voyage of dis-
covery. Certainly he did not achieve a great deal
during his stay in our island, but great were the re-
joicings at Rome, and the affair was looked upon there
as but the forerunner of splendid victories.

A kind of conquest
Cesar made here; but made not here his brag
Of, came, and saw, and overcame; with shame
(The first that ever touched him) he was carried
From off our coast, twice beaten ; and his shipping
(Poor ignorant baubles) on our terrible seas,
Like egg shells mov'd upon their surges, crack'd
As easily againstt our rocks.
Shakespeare's Cymbeline.

A second visit took place soon after, and this time
the Romans advanced through the country as far as
Windsor, by the banks of the Thames, and remained in
Britain four months, studying the manners and habits
of the people, and meeting with an honourable recep-


tion. It was during this visit that the British princes
made full submission, and agreed to pay tribute (the
custom of conquered nations), in order to get rid of
their troublesome visitors.
Cesar was nothing loth to go. Ill news reached him
from Rome. Pompey, his rival, was at work against
him there; and, accustomed to the refinements of his
native country, he looked on the Britons, even in their
most princely condition, as little better than barbarians.
To add to his discomfort, on the eve of his quitting
Britain the Gauls broke out into open rebellion, and on
landing in his new dominions he found them all in
arms; when a struggle ensued which deluged the
country with blood, but which decided the victory for
Casar; and Gaul thenceforward became a Roman pro-
vince. The warrior was indeed triumphant; his darling
wish of becoming supreme commander of the Roman
empire was fulfilled by the death of Pompey. He was
chosen perpetual Dictator, the name only of Emperor
being denied him, but his honours were of short dura-
tion. As he sate in the senate house at Rome he fell
by an assassin's hand, and the ashes of the dead in the
funeral urn, were soon all that remained of the con-
quering Casar. He was fifty-six years old when he
died, and our month of July was named Julius by the
Romans in commemoration of the event, which occurred
at that time of the year.
Time passed on. The Britons fed their flocks, hunted
in their forests, ploughed their lands, and trafficked
with their neighbours, whilst the Romans, almost for-
getting the Little Island in the Ocean," continued to


beautify their city, giving feasts at home, and con-
tinually adding to their conquests abroad; whilst in a
humble Judean village, far away, an event occurred
which angels from heaven came down to proclaim.
Not to the Emperor Augustus in his purple robes, nor
to the conqueror on the battle field, but to the simple
shepherds keeping their flocks on the Galilean hills
were the glad tidings of great joy announced, even that
Jesus the .Saviour was born into the world. A few
years longer and the death through which we obtained
life, the memorable crucifixion of Christ, took place in
the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. Caligula, that
monster of vice, who succeeded Tibsrius, was dead, and
ninety-three years had passed since the first Roman
invasion, when the almost forgotten island received a
visit from the Emperor Claudius Caesar himself, a very
weak man. He remained a fortnight in Britain, took
one of its chief towns, probably Colchester, formed it
into a Roman colony, received t' image of the
people, and then returned to Rome in peace, where great
rejoicings awaited him; triumphal arches were erected,
and for this little harmless uneventful expedition,
Claudius received more honour than for any act of his
Britain, however, was not so entirely subdued as the
Romans imagined. The Silures, inhabitants of South
Wales, rebelled; and, led by their king, Caractacus, kept
the Romans who were stationed in Britain in perpetual
alarm, but they were at length subdued. The British
king was taken prisoner, an iron collar, that badge of
slavery more hateful to a Briton than death itself, was
placed on his neck; and Caractacus thus humbled was


sent to Rome, there to be led through her magnificent
streets a spectacle to the proud victors. It must indeed
have been astonishing to the simple king, fresh fron
his native mountains and his cottage palace in Wales,
to think that Rome with her marble dwellings, her
noble statues, splendid arches, and immense riches and
luxury, should desire to add to her possessions any
portion of his humble dominions beyond the sea. And
thus he spoke when he stood before the Emperor, who,
touched by this simple honest question, Why envy me
my poor cottage in Britain ?" set him at once at liberty,
and sent him in safety to his country.
A prosperous country, however, Britain was not yet
to be. Nero, that notoriously cruel man, and bad
Emperor, now ruled at Rome, and among many other
black crimes, the frightful massacre of the Druids, at
his command, is perhaps not the least.
Look at the map of Great Britain, and you will see
on the nort1' 1; coast of Wales, an island separated
from the main land, by a very narrow channel called
the Menai Straits. In early British history this corner
of the country was known as Ynys Dowell, or the dark
island; Ynys Ion, or the farthermost, or Ynys Cedeirn,
the Island of Heroes. It was quite the Druid's strong-
hold. Here the Arch-Druid had his see, and great
matters were generally decided in Anglesea; but sud-
denly an alarm spread through the island, that a Roman
general, authorised by the Emperor Nero, was about
to land with an army, and put every Druid to the
sword. It was but too true. Suetonius Paulinus and
his soldiers had no mercy. An old historian who had
received the account of the massacre from the bards,


gives a graphic description of this frightful scene.
Women with dishevelled hair screamed piteously, chil-
dren who caught the terror, although ignorant of its
cause, mingled their cries with those of their mothers,
and still the soldiers rushed on, cutting down the oak
groves as they passed, those shades so dear and sacred
to the Druids. Then brandishing lighted torches they
set fire to huts and trees without pity, destruction and
murder tracking their steps. Vainly did the priests,
uttering dreadful imprecations, threaten the bold Romans
with every evil which their gods had power to inflict,
vainly did bleeding and dying women cling to the white
robes of their teachers in the universal slaughter, and
those who would not have dared to address themselves
to the priest, now in agony implored their protection.
The work of destruction was complete, priests and
followers alike lay in heaps on the earth, or were thrust
back at spear's point into the burning groves, to consume
miserably in the very spot where the smoke of their
human sacrifices had often ascended.
The greater part of the Druids received their death-
blow in Anglesea; the remnant fled to the mountains,
and the race never again asserted any authority in the
country. Suetonius had scarcely time to rejoice over
his victory, before he was summoned to a distant part
of the island, the Iceni, a people who inhabited the
present counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridge-
shire, having broken out into rebellion.
You have doubtless read of Boadicea the warlike.
She was Queen of this district, a woman of wonderful
courage and patriotism, bitterly hating the Romans, and


heart and soul a Briton. She married Arviragus, the
third son of Cartismandua, who was the widow of a
Roman knight, called Cymbeline.* The Iceni were a
very powerful people. Tacitus, the historian, describes
them as being extremely rich, and little affected by the
Roman power.
Arviragus and Boadicea appear to have lived at one
time in Norwich, but little is known about them for
many years of their married life, except that they had
two daughters and a son, and, in the course of time, in
order to make up some quarrel with the Roman Emperor
Claudius, Boadicea was divorced from her husband
Arviragus, who was compelled to marry Gwenissa, the
Emperor's daughter. Great was the indignation of the
Britons at this oppression, and Caractacus, her brother,
was determined to avenge the injury, but after much
quarrelling and fighting, Arviragus deserted the Emperor's
daughter, and returned to his first wife Boadicea, so
entirely in those barbarous times were the most sacred
ties disregarded for the indulgence of ambition or revenge.
It would be a long task, and not a pleasant one, to
recount all the trials of this British queen. The fate of
Arviragus is not known, but Boadicea, when left a
widow, suffered dreadful oppression and cruelty at the
hands of the Romans. Queen as she was, her resistance
subjected her to the scourge, and her two young daughters
were equally ill-used. Such injuries inflicted upon a
woman excited the greatest sympathy, and she had
Cymbeline attained to great power, lie was the first King in
Britain who issued a coinage of tribute money, instead of rings
of brass, &c.


little difficulty in gathering forces from different parts
of the island, which she succeeded in persuading to
join her in rebellion.
Before the contest began, she mounted an eminence
of turf, and made a speech of a very exciting kind to no
less than 80,000 men. She is described by old histo-
rians as a woman of the -largest stature, her face not
beautiful; fierce and stern; "terrible of aspect, savage
of countenance," says a Latin chronicler. Her com-
plexion was very fair, and her hair immensely long and
yellow. She wore a chequered robe, such as the north
Britons wore, and a massive gold collar round her neck.
The speech ended, and a prayer being offered up to the
deity of woman worshipped by the British, they pre-
pared for battle, and the Roman colony of Camalodunum
(Colchester) was taken shortly after. Tacitus gives a
fearful description of the slaughter. "The sea," he
says, was purpled with Roman blood, and no less than
70,000 fell on this occasion." The victory would have
been less complete, but it must be remembered that
Suetonius was at this very time in Anglesea, and the
Roman colony was but ill prepared with soldiers for its
defence. The rejoicings after the horrible carnage were
unbounded, and the cruelty of the British Queen cer-
tainly deprives her of the sympathy which her injuries
would otherwise excite. Once more the victorious army
marched forth, the King of Scots, the Queen's brother,
joining her on the way to Verulam,* a place of great
importance, and the object of Boadicea's especial
St. Alban's is supposed to have been erected within the
limits of Verulam.


vengeance, not so much because it was a Roman colony,
but because it contained Britons who had been favour-
ably disposed to the conquerors, and had left the religion
of their fathers. Romans and Britons shared the same
fate as those at Colchester, and were destroyed by fire
and sword.
But by this time Suetonius had taken the alarm, and
was marching boldly to London: he did not however
encamp there, but in the neighbourhood, and there
awaited the arrival of Boadicea the "warlike." At
length she came, her yellow hair floating in the breeze,
driving one of those famous British war chariots with

their destructive scythes, and on either side was a fair
daughter. The army of Suetonius amounted to but



10,000 men, that of Boadicea to 220,000. The Queen
was, however, defeated, and the Roman sword used
without mercy. It is asserted that 80,000 Britons,
many of whom were women, were left on the field,
which is known to this day as Battle Bridge. There
is some doubt, however, as to the actual scene of the
Boadicea would not survive the shame of defeat, and
fearing to become a spectacle for a Roman triumph, as
had been the fate of her brother Caractacus, she took
poison, and was interred some say at Winchester, and
others at Stonehenge, the celebrated temple of the
Druids; but the place of her interment, like that of the
conflict, must remain a matter of doubt. The disturb-
ances caused by the warlike queen were at last quelled,
and the Britons were again quiet under the Roman
Julius Agricola, the father-in-law of the learned
Tacitus, to whom reference has frequently been made,
succeeded Paulinus Suetonius as commander of the
Roman forces in Britain, and soon proved himself a true
friend to the warlike people. He it was who gave them
the first taste of the blessings of peace, encouraging
them to cultivate the arts of agriculture and commerce,
and to repair by patient industry the destructive
ravages which the late wars had occasioned. The fields
trodden down by the large armies were again turned up
by the busy ploughman; once more the corn waved in
the autumnal sun, and the storehouses were rich in
grain. How powerful is the weapon of love I The
poor Britons, unaccustomed to feel that any one was


really interested in their welfare, soon learned to trust
their general; and that which the force of arms had
been unable to effect was accomplished by the law of
kindness practised by a plain and simple man. Agricola
by degrees won the islanders from many of their rude
and savage habits, inducing them, although with more
difficulty, to adopt the language and customs of the
Romans; yet so sweet is the breath of freedom, that
the Britons even under the gentle rule of Agricola felt but
as caged birds that long to spread their wings in liberty.
God often suffers good to spring out of apparent evil,
and hard as it seemed to the free-born Britons to be
compelled to bend to the Roman joke, the conquest had
been of real advantage to them. Their conquerors had
taught them many useful things. Their huts were
giving place to well-built and commodious dwellings,
and pretty gardens, such as the Romans had taught
them to plant, surrounded their houses. Broad hard
roads connected the different towns in the country, and
milestones were placed upon them. Such famous roads
were these, that many of them have lasted nearly 1800
years, even to this day. They built cities also, sur-
rounded by strong walls, such as York, Bath, and
Chester. Their laws were wiser than those of the
Druids, and they taught the people to read and write, and
to buy and sell for money, instead of bartering goods.
As years passed on the Britons found troubles arising
from another quarter, nearer than Rome. Their northern
neighbours, the Picts* and Scots, who lived beyond the
Picts, possibly so called from the habit they preserved of
depicting or painting coloured figures on their flesh.


Tweed, and who were far behind them in civilization,
were a terrible annoyance, plundering their possessions,
carrying off their flocks and herds, and otherwise mal-
treating them. They were in fact as wild a race as the
South Britons had once been, and the Emperor Severus,
who had come to pay his British province a visit, pitying
their distress, built a wall for the defence of the people,
extending from the Solway Frith to the Tyne's mouth.


Severus was old and infirm when he undertook this
expedition, and was accompanied by his wife Julia and
his two sons. He kept his court at York for two years,
at which city he ended his days, and his remains were
interred at the distance of two miles and a half from the
walls, in a spot called Severs Hill to this day. Galen,
the great physician, lived in the time of Severus.
Little occurred of any interest in the history of


Britain until the year 388, when the Roman governor
Maximus was suddenly summoned to assist in suppress-
ing a revolt in Gaul, taking with him a large number
of Britons; but he fell in battle, and the Britons found
themselves in a foreign country without the means of
returning to their own, and with their native horror of
the sea strong- within them. They accordingly resolved
to content themselves in France, and making friends
with some people ca.tued Belgne, they finally settled
among them in the counti;v of Armorica, now known
by the name of Bretagne 01- Brittany, that French
province which juts out into the -sea, and which, with
the Spanish coast, forms the Bay owf Biscay. Many
points of similarity may still be traced between the
Welsh and the inhabitants of Bretagne, aLnd in lower
Brittany, the language although mixed has a great
resemblance to the ancient Celtic, whilst the Br,.:tons
are very unlike either Normans or French.
Troubles now began to increase at Rome, and after
a few years the troops so long stationed in the island
were entirely withdrawn from Britain, for the defence
of the falling empire. With aching hearts did the poor
Britons watch the receding ships as they crossed the
channel; and well might they fear, for they knew that
the departure of the Romans would be but a signal for
a fresh attack from the north, and that Picts and Scots
would pour in like a flood. Again and again did they
send piteous requests to Rome, complaining that the
wall was broken down by the hideous dusky crew,"
as they were called by a writer of the time, and again
and again did the Romans good-naturedly comply.


Enterprise was not in British nature at that period, and
lazy people as they were, instead of imitating the stone
wall which the Romans had left, they only made one of
earth, at which of course the Picts and Scots laughed,
and came across the Tweed and Cheviot, helping them-
selves to sheep and cattle, and meeting with but faint
resistance. The troubles were not confi~& to the
north. In the south of the island hands of piratical
Saxons and Franks came over yearly, and when the
Romans, in compliance wit, their piteous request, sent
troops to their aid, theyfound work enough on their
hands. Their conquers had not taught the Britons
self-dependence, fr they lacked spirit and perseverance,
one of the ill eff -
ects of the Roman conquest.
In the y
nte ar of our Lord 420, and 475 years from
Julius '
o l sisar's first invasion, the Britons were left
alon e
Gallo the commander, in bidding them farewell,
gave this parting advice, Stand bravely in defence of
your native rights, for it is no more convenient for us
to come to your assistance, and you are neither inferior
in bodily strength nor mental endowments to your
Well, would it have been," says Bede, a celebrated
Saxon historian, "if that noble spirit which the Romans
would have taught had continued, but what avails the
possession of strong places to those who have no courage
to defend them."
The Romans certainly had done their best with the
island; strong garrisons, handsome cities, well-tilled
fields, smiling gardens, and good roads, had taken the
place of waste and neglected districts, and the Britons


had in some parts learned to read and write, as well as
to till the ground. It was in the reign of the Emperor
Valentinian the younger, that the soldiers were recalled
to Rome, and after nearly 400 years dependence the
Britons were left to their own resources.
Thus ends the Roman period, and a new era now
opens on our country, but before concluding this chapter
it will be natural to inquire what was the religious
condition of the people, now that Druidism was at an
end; and whether amidst all the wise and valuable
things which the Romans had taught, they had omitted
to tell them of that great event in which the Little Isle
in the Ocean was as much concerned as the queen of
cities, even the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. There
is every reason to believe, that before the end of the
first century, the Britons had heard the good news;
but you must remember that Christianity was not gladly
accepted at Rome, and that since the martyrdom of St.
Paul and St. Peter, all its professors had suffered more
or less persecution; therefore, but few of the conquered
people of Britain would have courage to adopt the new
faith of the gospel. The opinion generally received,
however, is, that a British king called Lucius was the
first who embraced it; and, desiring to be further in-
structed in its doctrines, on which he was but partially
enlightened, through the visit of some Christians to the
shores of Britain, he wrote to Pope Elentherius for aid,
who dispatched two learned doctors to administer
baptism to the king, and to all who desired to profess
Christianity. But, after the departure of the Romans,
when the time and strength of the poor Britons was


expended in the defence of their country, both frorl
northern and southern foes, the little which they had
learned of Christianity was soon forgotten, and they
relapsed into ignorance and carelessness. Their con-
dition at this time was pitiable in the extreme, and it
seemed as though they were about to resume their
barbarous habits, to neglect the cultivation of their soil,
and the defence of their towns and garrisons, and to give
up all for lost. Of all they did in their trouble we
shall read in a following chapter, in which we shall
commence that which is usually called the Saxon era.
It may be well to give you the opinion of D'Aubigne,
the author of the History of the Reformation, relative
to the introduction of Christianity into England. In
the second century of the Christian era, vessels were
often sailing to the shores of Britain from the ports of
Asia Minor, Greece, Alexandria, or the Greek colonies
in Gaul. Among the merchants busy in their worldly
affairs, would occasionally be found a few pious men,
conversing peacefully on the birth, life, death, and re-
surrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and rejoicing in the
prospect of saving by these glad tidings the pagan people.
It is of little consequence to know whether one of the
first converts were a prince called Lucius or no. It is
certain that the tidings of the Son of Man, crucified and
raised again, had spread through the island, and that
before the end of the second century many worshipped
Christ in those mountains, forests, and western isles,
which the Druids had once filled with their mysteries
and sacrifices."-D'Aubigne's History, vol. 5, p. 23.

The Britains alone-Our ancestors-Seven Kings at one time
too many for peace-The wonderful King Arthur-His tomb
discovered-Bards and Triads-The Roman market-place-
What came of the thoughts of one man-The visit of the
Romans a peaceful one this time-Disputes of the Christians
-The Council under the oak-tree-Story of Edwin-The
bold Pagan priest-Ladies' enthusiasm-The Abbess of Ely
---Monks and their labours-The dark and the light side of
Monastic life-A page from a Saxon lesson-book-How the
Saxons lived and dressed.


Period of Saxon Invasion, 450-600, to Heptarchy, 827.

WE left the Britons in a sad plight, and- matters con-
tinued to grow worse and worse with them, as will
always be the case with people who want moral courage
to face difficulties, and instead of resisting them, fold
their hands in idleness or wring them in despair. It
certainly was heartless work enough to sow corn, which
as soon as it ripened their enemies came over the hills
to eat, and to tend flocks which only served to tempt
the Picts and Scots to still further depredations, and
yielded their owners neither food nor clothing. All


their bravest soldiers had been taken to Rome, where
they were fighting for their conquerors, who were at
this time in some trouble themselves. The letters
which they had addressed to the governor in Gaul, had
received no reply, and their condition, as described by
Gildas, the historian, was pitiable indeed. There still
creep," he wrote, in great crowds out of their little
narrow holes, in caroghes or carts, a duskish swarthy
vermin, a hideous crew of Picts and Scots, who finding
the Romans departed and refusing to return, put on
greater boldness. To withstand these the towers were
defended by a lazy garrison, undisciplined, and too
cowardly to engage an enemy. In the meantime the
naked enemy advanced with hooked weapons, by which
the miserable Britons were pulled to the ground, dashed
to pieces, and perished."
In the reign of Vortigern, a very bad king, about the
year 448 or 449,* after a great consultation among the
chiefs and nobles, they resolved to send for aid to a
tribe of wandering pirates, who had long been increasing
in the north of Germany, and who had taken possession
of all the sea-coasts from the Rhine's mouth to Jutland,
a people not altogether strangers to the Britons, having
made several plundering voyages to the east of the
island in times past. These were the Saxons, one of the
most dreaded and warlike of the German tribes, who
had long dwelt in the vast black forests of the country,
moving from place to place, with neither settled home
nor lawful property, living entirely by plundering their
neighbours, and glorying only in war and bloodshed.
Holinshed's Chronicles, &c.


Wild, roving follows, were these our ancestors, tall,
strong, and muscular, with broad flat faces, round blue
eyes, and lightish brown hair; and such were the
visitors whom Britain invited to her help. They were
willing enough to come, and some of them had already
intended indeed to come unasked; for besides being
tempted by the reports of the pirates, who had pre-
viously seen the eastern and southern coasts of the
island, the Saxons thought that Britain being a Roman
province must needs share in Roman splendour. Not
many days after the dispatch of the letter from Britain,
therefore, three large ships of burden called ceorls or
ceols, manned with about 1600 men, were seen to
approach the Isle of Thanet, a place near Margate, on
the Kentish coast. Vortigern went to meet them
without delay, and greeted the Saxons most courteously,
promising them a settlement in Thanet if they would
assist in driving back their northern enemies, who
emboldened by success had by this time reached Lin-
A battle was accordingly fought at Stamford in that
county, and the Picts and Scots were subdued and
driven to their hiding-places beyond the border. The
Britons were very grateful; but their gratitude did not
last long, when they found their guests, far from being
content with Thanet, prepared to help themselves to the
best of everything; and Jutes, Goths, and Angles, all
tribes of the same character as the Saxons, pouring in
on them like a flood, determined to make Britain their
own. Hengist and Horsa were the first Saxons who
landed in the island, and Hengist seems for some time


to have managed Vortigern very well, and to have de-
ceived him as to his real projects against his country.
Some historians say, that in order to conciliate the king,
Hengist sent for his beautiful daughter Rowena, and
bestowed her on Vortigern in marriage, in return for
the kingdom of Kent, which was thenceforward settled
on him; although Holinshed asserts that Vortigern had
a wife living at the time.
But Vortigern and his father-in-law were not long on
friendly terms, and after continual quarrels between
them and other Britons, the king was killed, some say
in battle, and others that he was burned to death in a
castle in Wales, whither he had retreated for safety.
After Hengist's death several other tribes came over.
A leader named Ella, and his three sons, had already
seized that part of the country now including Surrey,
Sussex, and part of Kent, and thus founded the kingdom
of the South Saxons or Sussex. Another tribe headed
by Cerdic and Kenric landed in the west, and established
the third Saxon kingdom, including Hants, Dorset,
Wilts, Berks, and the Isle of Wight. Uffa founded
that of East Anglia, comprising Norfolk, Suffolk, and
Cambridge; and three others were formed including
Essex and Middlesex, the midland part of Britain, called
Mercia, and the portion of land reaching from Mercia
to the Scottish border. Each of these seven allotments
had its own king and laws, but as you may readily
imagine these kings did not live in great amity, and the
history of the disputes during the Heptarchy, as the
seven kingdoms were called, would be very wearisome
to you to read. Of the Britons, but few remained to


trouble the Saxons, and although those few occasionally
broke out into rebellion, the greater part took refuge in
the mountains of Wales, which country was defended by
them for many years, and never formed a part of the
Saxon dominions. The only descendants from the
ancient Britons are the Welsh, and a few of the inhabi-
tants of Cornwall.
It was in the time of Cerdic that the celebrated
Prince Arthur acquired his fame. IHe certainly fought
vigorously for the rights of his people, but there have
been so many absurd and untrue stories told of him,
that some writers, and our poet Milton among the
number, have disbelieved in his existence altogether.
Cerdic, Ulla, and other Saxon heroes, have all been
represented as performing great feats in war, exaggerated
possibly by their friends, as many other deeds have been
by partial historians and biographers since the time of
The oldest specimens of Welsh poetry, the Triads,*
as well as the later works of Nennius and Geoffrey of
Monmouth, all agree in the existence of Arthur. He
was a Prince of the tribe of Silures, in South Wales,
and the records which we possess of his early life are by
no means creditable. Besides attempting to take away
the wife of a British chieftain, who was fleeing from his
enemies, he destroyed and plundered a monastery, and
engaged in other dishonest transactions. That he could
fight well, appears to have been his greatest virtue,
although the miracles of strength asserted to have been

Triads.-The ancient Welsh bards were in the habit of
arranging their histories in Triads or a collection of three events.


performed by him in the destruction of the great
Spanish giant, and the slaughter he committed with his
own hand of 440 men in one battle, are too marvellous
to be true.
After his twelve victorious battles with the Saxons,
he met his death in an engagement with his own
nephew, Modred, at Camlan, in Cornwall, in the year
542. When Arthur fell on the field mortally wounded,
his friends taking up their bleeding chief conveyed him
by sea to Glastonbury Abbey, in Somersetshire, where
he died shortly after and was buried. The greatest
wonders attached to Arthur's history do not appear to
have occurred until after his death, for his followers,
fearing that the news might dispirit the already dis-
heartened Britons, whilst it would embolden the Saxons,
resolved to keep the event a secret, and found no difficulty
in persuading the ignorant people that Arthur was not
dead. They added, moreover, that he was only gone to
fairy-land to be cured of his wounds, and would one
day appear among his brave and faithful soldiers, and
lead the oppressed Cymri in triumph through their
native land. So sacredly was the secret preserved, that
his very burying-place was unknown until 1189, in the
latter part of Henry the Second's reign, when the bards
who had written so many romantic tales of the Prince,
excited the king's curiosity to discover where the hero's
bones were laid. One of these bards at length offered
a clue to the spot; Glastonbury Abbey was sought, and
the body discovered. A heavy stone was raised,
and then a leaden cross bearing the following inscrip-
tion :-


Hic jacet inclitus Rex Arthurus."
Here lies buried the famous King Arthur.

Nine feet lower, enclosed in oak, were the warrior's
bones. The account of an abbot of Glastonbury to
Giraldus Cambrensis, an historian of the time, was that
the skeleton was of enormous size, so much so, that the
shin-bone of Arthur being set up by a very tall man,
reached above his knee three fingers' length, and that
the skull was of such wonderful largenesse," that the
space of his forehead between his two eyes was a span
broad. There appeared moreover in his head the
signes and prints of ten wounds." By the fallen giant's
side lay a female skeleton, that of his queen Guinever, a
beautiful but very wicked woman, whose tresses of
hair whole and perfect, and finely platted, of colour like
to burnished gold, on being touched immediately
crumbled to dust. The abbot, who was nephew to
King Henry the Second, removed the bones of Arthur
and his Queen into a marble tomb in the great church
(they had hitherto lain between two pillars in the
churchyard), and there they were preserved until the
reign of Henry the Eighth, by whose command the
Abbey was destroyed, and the ashes of the British King
were thus scattered to the wind.
You have several times heard mention made of bards.
As the only chroniclers of those early times, we cannot,
notwithstanding their inaccuracies and exaggerations,
refrain from an expression of veneration and gratitude
for their services, ere the industrious monks had begun
their labours; for although there were in Arthur's days
several monasteries in Britain, the monastic lives were


not so strict as they afterwards became, and literature
was but in its infancy. The historical bards then have
great claims on our gratitude, but you must remember
that not all who went by that name even pretended to
teach history. Some used to go about from place to
place spreading news true or false as the case might be,
singing songs of wondrous and mysterious romance, or
telling tales full of absurd nonsense to such an extent,
that the wiser and more respectable bards were seriously
annoyed at the discredit which the wandering minstrels
brought on their name and profession. Taliesen, one
of the most truthful and intelligent of the number, thus
expresses his opinion of them :-

The minstrels exercise themselves in false customs;
Their praise is not in the regular melody,
They sing the fame of insipid heroes,
They are always diffusing falsehoods.
In the night they carouse, in the day they sleep.
Idle, they get food without labour,
They hate the churches, they love the liquor shop,
They respect neither Sunday nor holiday,
They care not for the day of necessity (death),
From every gluttony they flee not.
Birds fly, bees collect honour,
Fishes swim, reptiles creep;
Every thing labours for subsistence,
Except minstrels, vagrants, and worthless thieves.

Now I will give you an example of a triad said to be
copied from a book written in the 12th century, but
possibly is in itself of older date than the book.
Three names have been given to the Isle of Britain
since the beginning. Before it was inhabited it was


called Clas Merddin, or the country with sea-cliffs; then
Fel Yrn, Isle of Honey; and when government had
been imposed on it by Brydain, son of Aedd the Great,
it was called Prydain."
Another Triad, said to have been composed by
Arthur himself, is even a greater curiosity, and is a
good sample of the rest.

To me there are three heroes in battle,
Mael the tall ; Llyr with his army;
And Caradoc the pillar of the Cymry.

After Arthur's death, the Britons, although fighting
bravely under Urien, the kinsman of Arthur, were
finally driven into the Welsh mountains, but they
always preserved the memory of Urien with great
affection, and Taliesen called him the thunderbolt of
the Cymry, the most generous of men, bounteous as the
Now we are come to a time in the history of our
country when a little light breaks in on the darkness
which had long covered it, even the light of that gospel
which had almost died out in poor war-distracted
Britain. Christians had taken refuge among rocks and
caves for many a day. For 150 years past, idolatry
had been the only religion of the Britons, except among
a few Christians in Wales and remote parts of the
island, and the Roman temples to Diana and Apollo
were only supplanted by those of the deities introduced
by the Saxons, Woden, Friga, and Thor. Their wor-
ship also extended to the sun and moon. The idol of
the sun is described like the bust of a man set upon a


pillar, holding a burning wheel before him. The first
day of the week was dedicated to him, which they
termed the sun's daeg, or day, hence our word Sunday.
The moon, worshipped on the second day of the week,
was represented as a woman habited in a short coat, and
a hood with two long ears, hence the name Monday.
Woden was, however, the supreme deity of all the
northern nations; his exploits and achievements were
believed in implicitly. Thor was his eldest son, and
Friga his wife. From these are derived our Wednes-
day, Thursday, and Friday. This was the religion
which the Saxons taught the conquered Britons, and it
was from these idols that they were about to be won
to the worship of the true God, and to faith in his son
Jesus Christ.
It was in the time of Ethelbert, King of Kent, in the
year 596, that a famous Roman Archdeacon, named
Gregory, who afterwards became Pope, was one day
walking through the market-place at Rome, when a
large number of foreign slaves, with other merchandise,
arrived for sale. Among the group, the priest noticed
several fair-haired, blue-eyed boys, waiting mournfully
for the highest bidder. He stopped, and, struck by
their appearance, asked whence they came. A person
who heard the question, replied, that they came from
Britain, where the inhabitants were generally of that
fresh fair complexion, and that they were of the nation
called Angles (a tribe of the Saxons who had settled
in Britain). "Angles 1" replied Gregory, "right
worthily, for they have angels' faces, but are they
Christians?" On being told that they were idolaters,


and hearing that they came from Deira, or Northum-
berland, he said, Ah, it is well, they are to be delivered
de ira Dei (from the wrath of God), and made truly
angels." Again he asked the name of their king, and
when he heard that it was Alla, he said, that Alleluia,
he hoped, would soon be sung in that king's dominions;
and so went on his way. But he did not forget the
Saxons, and when a short time after he was made Pope,
he sent forty missionaries, headed by Augustine, upon
the important journey. We are told that after they
had been gone a short distance on their way, a sudden
fear entered into their hearts,"* and they returned,
begging to be released from the engagement, for the
people amongst whom they were to labour were rude
and barbarous, according to report, given to idolatry,
and their language strange to these Romans; but
Gregory comforted and encouraged the failing hearts of
the monks, and accordingly they again set forth on their
expedition, believing it to be as Gregory declared, the
work of the Lord. They landed in Kent, the dominions
of King Ethelbert, about the year 597, and were
hospitably received on our shores. Ethelbert, although
an idolater, was not ignorant ot the principles of
Christianity, for his Queen Bertha, a French princess,
had already been instructed in its doctrines, and had a
small church of her own, and chaplains to perform
service there without the walls of Canterbury. This
was, however, only an act of sufferance, and when
Augustine landed it does not appear that any of the
Saxons had been prevailed upon to subscribe to her faith.
f Holinshed.


A message was sent on the arrival of the missionaries
to request an audience with the king. He hesitated at
first, but at length complied only on these conditions:
that the meeting should take place in the open air, where
he believed he should be safe from the magic arts which
he suspected the strange monks to possess. A spot of
ground therefore was appointed in Thanet, and thither
Ethelbert and Queen Bertha repaired.
It must have been a remarkable scene. The Saxon
monarch, half-frightened, half-displeased; the French
princess anxious and trembling for the result; the
missionaries bearing a silver cross for their ensign, and
pictures of the Saviour upon a banner, singing, as they
drew near, solemn psalms and litanies. The king bade
them be seated, when Augustine, after a few moments,
rose and delivered his message. Ethelbert listened
attentively, and in reply informed Augustine that his
promises were fair and had the appearance of much
good, but that having been differently taught, he could
not rashly leave the religion of his fathers for a new and
uncertain faith; nevertheless that he would treat them
hospitably as strangers, and would not forbid them to
use means to win his people by preaching to adopt the
new Christian religion. He gave them, moreover, per-
mission to reside in Canterbury, whither, as soon as the
conference had ended, they betook themselves.
As they entered the city, Augustine and the monks
sang in one of the fine old chants, still known by the
name of Gregorian, the Latin words, Deprecamur te
Domine in omnia miserecordia tua ut auferatur furor
tuus," &c.-" We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech


thee, turn away thy wrath and indignation from this
city and thy holy house, for we have sinned. Hallelujah.
Praise be to thee, 0 Lord."
The conduct of Augustine and his monks, as much,
perhaps, as their teaching during their residence in
Canterbury, won the ignorant Saxons to their doctrines.
They were, from the accounts which have come down
to us, men given to prayer, denying themselves, and
living temperately and peaceably among the idolatrous
Saxons. Their simplicity and earnestness, joined to the
beauty of the religion which they taught, at length so
wrought on the people, that many believed and were
baptized, and the king himself was prevailed upon to
make an open profession of his faith in Christianity.
Ethelbert's moderation was a lesson which his suc-
cessors would have done well to follow. Instead of
forcing on the Saxons a religion which they were not
prepared to receive, he allowed full liberty to all,
although his influence was so extensively felt that num-
bers, not only in Canterbury but other places, became
converts. Pope Gregory was thankful at receiving the
news of the success of the mission, and appointed
Augustine Archbishop of Canterbury; Mellitus, whom
he sent from Rome, Bishop of London; Justus, Bishop
of Rochester; and Paulinus some time after was created
Archbishop of York.
Meantime the few Christian clergy among the Britons
who had taken refuge in Bangor looked jealously on the
new comers, whom they regarded as intruders, and not
without some cause, feared that the Romish priests
would corrupt the simplicity of the faith of Christ. A


meeting was therefore appointed to take place on the
borders of the West Saxons' dominions under the shade
of a spreading oak, long after called Augustine's oak,
when the British doctors or bishops came to the council.
The points of difference between the British and foreign
Christians were not very great-the time of observing
the feast of Easter, the form of the tonsure, and the
mode of performing the rite of baptism differed in the
two churches, but at the first synod they parted on
tolerably friendly terms. Soon after another council
was called, at which a great many learned men from
the monastery at Bangor were present, and the proceed-
ings this time were less peaceful. As the monks were
travelling to the assembly, Dionoth, the abbot, bethought
himself of consulting a certain hermit as to the answer
they should give the Roman clergy. Shall we," he
asked the solitary man, forsake our traditions for this
Augustine's preaching or not?" The hermit replied,
"If he be a man of God, follow him." Then said
Dionoth, the abbot, "How shall we know whether he
be so or not ?" "The Lord saith," answered the
hermit, Take up my yoke and learn of me, for I am
meek and humble in heart.' If Augustine be not meek,
but proud, it is certain he is not of God, nor his word
to be regarded." And how shall we see and perceive
that ?" inquired the abbot. If he arise to receive you
when you come to the council," answered the hermit,
"know that he is the servant of God, and obey him; if
he arise not at your coming and despise you, then let
him be despised of you." Whether Augustine were
tired with the journey he had taken, or considered


himself so far the superior of the British Christians that
it would have been undignified to rise, I know not, but
certain it is that he kept his seat, and greatly offended
the Britons by so doing.* The end was that they flatly
refused subjection to Augustine, nor would they, as
he proposed, join with him in preaching to the Saxons,
saying, As to the subjection you require of us, in the
bond of love and charity, we are all alike subjects and
servants of the church of God, including the Pope of
Rome among the rest. Other obedience owe we none;
neither to him nor to you, seeing we have our own
Bishop of Caerleon, who is quite able to oversee us in
all matters." Augustine's spirit was aroused, and he
replied that if they would not have peace with their
brethren they should have war or death with their
enemies; certainly not a very Christianlike answer, and
thus the conference ended; but not so the dispute and
bitterness. After Augustine's death, which happened
when he had been archbishop about twelve years, there
was a dreadful slaughter of the monks at Bangor, and
1200 British Christians lost their lives by the Saxons'
hands, and that Augustine's prophecy,t says Bede, was
fulfilled. In process of time, all the kingdoms of the
Heptarchy, outwardly at least, professed Christianity.
Bede gives the order of their conversion thus:-Kent,
A.D. 598; East Saxons, A.D. 704; Northumberland,
A.D. 628; East Anglia, 636; Wessex, 686; Mercia,
669; South Saxons, 686.
Bede, Holinshed, &c.
+ Thus was the prophecy of Augustine fulfilled, though he had
long since departed this life.-Bede.


Edwin, King of Northumbria, married Ethelberga,
daughter of the Christian King, Ethelbert of Kent. He
was not, at the time of their union, a professor of
Christianity, and only obtained the princess's hand on
condition that he would never interfere with her reli-
gion, and that Paulinus, one of the missionaries whom
Gregory had sent over, might attend at her court.
Paulinus was a very gentle-spirited and prudent man,
and the king soon became much attached to him. An
event occurred in the first year of his married life which
was greatly blessed to the young king. Edwin was
keeping court, say the old historians, at his royal palace
on the banks of the river Derwent, with his Queen
Ethelberga, when a messenger arrived from an enemy of
Edwin's, Cuichelm, King of the West Saxons, pretend-
ing that he had business of importance to communicate
to Edwin from his master. It was Easter Monday
when the interview was granted, and whilst the assassin,
for such he was, engaged the king in his pretended
mission, he drew a poisoned dagger from beneath his
garment and aimed at the king. A good servant, called
Lilla, who loved Edwin dearly, and saw the murderer's
intention, boldly threw himself before his master and
received the dagger through his own body, thus saving
the life of Edwin. An affray ensued, the assassin was
killed, and great was the tumult in the court. That
very night the young Queen Ethelberga had a daughter,
and Edwin, full of joy at his new possession, his own
safety, and that of his queen, gave thanks to his gods
very heartily; but Paulinus checked him, Give thanks
to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," said


the good priest, to whom I prayed for you and your
queen." Edwin was much struck by these and other
remarks of Paulinus, but being a cautious and sincere
man would not promise at that time to renounce idol-
atry. He however permitted his little daughter to be
baptized, and she, with twelve of the court, were the
first Northumbrians who were admitted into the Chris-
tian church; and Edwin promising Paulinus that if he
were successful in his expedition of revenge against his
enemy, Cuichelm, he too would receive baptism, set
forth with his army and returned victorious. Still he
hesitated, and as a thoughtful intelligent man, resolved
first to examine thoroughly into the subject and the
reasons for belief. He had given up his sacrifices to
idols it is true, but he was not yet prepared to acknow-
ledge the faith of Christ, and very long and earnest
were his deliberations.
Bede says, in his second book, that whilst Edwin was
in this doubtful state, Pope Boniface wrote him a letter,
full of loving and gentle persuasions. There is a touch
of popish doctrine at the end, but as a whole it is, as
Bede has transcribed it, a very good sound piece of
advice. The story of his conversion is too long to relate
here. He had many long conversations with Paulinus
and the wise men of his court, and was much struck
with the judgment of Coifi, the high priest of the
idolaters, who declared his belief in the inability of the
gods of the Saxons to do anything for their worshippers,
and then asked Paulinus to explain before the whole
assembled council the great and wonderful doctrines of
the gospel. After Paulinus had declared them, and


explained to his hearers the plan of salvation through
Jesus Christ, Coifi, the priest, exclaimed, I advise, O
king, that we at once desecrate and demolish the altars
and images of our idols. Supply me with arms and a
war horse and I will do it." Every one was amazed,
for a priest to carry arms or to mount a horse was
deemed unlawful, and many thought Coifi mad; but he
was not mad, only firm and in earnest, and speedily
mounting his steed he rode forth to the pagan temple on
his mission.
This temple was an unsightly, rude sort of building,
and contained images of the gigantic Woden and Thor.
It stood near York on the river Derwent, and was not
far from the place of the late conference. Coifi dashed
boldly into the temple, hurled his spear at Woden, and
turning to the people, who expected he would have
been smitten to the ground, he said, Be secure; these
gods are no Gods. Only the Christian's God is able to
smite or save." This daring act of the priest had great
effect on the people. On Easter Sunday, in the year
627, the king, his nobles, and many Saxon people,
Coifi no doubt among the rest, were baptized, and
Paulinus was made Archbishop of York. The cathedral
was at that time only a rude wooden building, but a
handsome church of stone was begun by the king shortly
Paulinus was, according to Bede, a man tall in stature,
a little stooping, with black hair, an oval face, and an
aspect sweet and majestic. He was a good and faithful
friend to Queen Ethelberga, and at the death of Edwin,
in battle, took her to her brother King Eadbald's house


in Kent, who had succeeded to King Ethelbert. Edwin's
character is very superior to that of most kings of the
Heptarchy. Historians generally agree in their testimony
to the order and happiness of the Northumbrians during
his reign. Robberies on the highway, so common in
many parts of Britain, were scarcely known in his
dominions. He was very thoughtful for his people's
comfort, and it is recorded that in many places where
he saw clear sweet springs of water, he caused posts to
be set up, and iron or brass dishes to be fastened thereto
with chains, that travellers might refresh themselves as
they passed along. A kind and wise thought in days
when roads were bad, and houses of entertainment for
wayfarers were confined to the scattered monasteries
which here and there opened their doors to the weary.
This good king died, A.D. 633, in the 47th year of his
age. After Edwin's death came a bad king, named
Penda, and Northumbria relapsed once more into
Paganism, but he was dethroned, and Oswald, a Chris-
tian prince, succeeded him, a good man, of whom many
stories of wisdom and benevolence are recorded.
About this time the religious enthusiasm of the people
was very high, monasteries and churches multiplied,
and women of the highest rank, whose duties to hus-
bands and children should have kept them at home,
thought they did God service by shutting themselves up
in convents, and spending their time in prayer and
fasting. Ethelreda, queen of the East Angles, who
had a husband to whom she was much attached, thought
it her duty to leave him and shut herself up in a monas-
tery at Ely, a place standing among the swamps and


marshes, which even now render that city a most un-
healthy abode. She became abbess of the convent, and
was very strict in the duties of her religion, eating only
once a day, and rarely-washing in a hot bath, unless
before Easter, Whit Sunday, and the Epiphany, and
then she did it last of all, after having, with the assist-
ance of those about her, first washed the other servants
of God then present. She wore woollen clothes, never
making use of linen. These clothes were seldom
changed, and it is no wonder that in Ely monastery, as
well as many others, sickness was always prevalent, so
little attention did the inmates pay to personal clean-
liness. Ethelreda died of a painful swelling in her jaw,
on which affliction she remarked, I deservedly bear
the weight of my sickness on my neck, for I remember,
when young, I bore the needless weight of jewels there,
and therefore I endure the pain, praying that I may be
absolved from the guilt of my levity, having now instead
of gold and precious stones, a red swelling on my
It would have been well had the evils of monastic
institutions been of no more serious a nature than those
incident to the neglect of personal cleanliness and proper
ventilation; but in course of time the abuses which
crept into those religious houses became a great scandal
to the teachers of God's Word. The original intention
however of such institutions, if somewhat mistaken,
was undoubtedly good, and we must look back to
the times of darkness and ignorance at and before
the visit of Augustine, really to estimate our debt to


You must remember, first, in how distracted and
lawless a condition were the people of Britain; how
difficult, nay impossible, it was to carry on any pursuit
or study, without the sanctity which superstition attached
to the walls of the monastery or abbey, and how rare
and precious were manuscripts of the JHoly Scriptures
and other religious books, manuscripts not written in
the language of the country, but in tongues requiring
the hard labour of the priests and monks to decipher,
both for their own benefit and for that of the people.
The copying of the Bible then formed a most important
part of the monks' employment; and do not let us forget
that God, who can bring good out of evil, certainly
permitted the inestimable treasure of Holy Scripture to
be preserved in the British monasteries.
Again, the monks were the only educators of that
day. It is true their knowledge was limited, and they
might not impart much to their scholars, but such as it
was it was better than nothing. They were the principal
architects, too, and many a beautiful column and richly-
ornamented roof in the cathedrals of our native land,
and in the ruined abbeys which remain, bear witness
to their skill in this art. The brilliantly-illuminated
Saxon manuscripts, although they do not give us a
very high opinion of their artistic powers, still show us
that they understood the art of colouring and gilding,
and are useful as memorials of habits and costume,
which we could have gleaned from no other source.
They were excellent goldsmiths and even blacksmiths;
Ethelwald, a Saxon bishop, made church bells, and
Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, was no mean artist
and worker in metals.


The monks were moreover physicians, and the nuns,
who paid great attention to the healing art, could dress
wounds and apply herbs and fomentations better, I
suspect, than many of our modern nurses; no mean
acquirement for females at any time, but especially
important in those days of war and commotion, when
bloodshed was the rule; peace and comfort the excep-
tion. Great gardeners, too, they were, and some fine
avenues of trees planted by them still exist to prove a
taste and attention, which landscape gardeners in the
present day might imitate with advantage. But alas,
the tendency of man's heart to be puffed up with know-
ledge, no monastery walls, solitary cells, nor hard
penances can overcome I A few there were, let us
hope more than a few, who lived:near to their God,
and were anxious for the salvation of their ignorant
fellow-creatures; but too many, and perhaps the larger
proportion, proud of the superiority which their attain-
ments gave them over their unlettered countrymen,
kept back instruction from the people; and, instead of
giving them the pure Word of God, so mixed it up with
fables and traditions, that the minds of their hearers
became confused and superstitious, and learned to reve-
rence and fear man rather than the Creator.
I hope in another chapter to give you the history of
a really good monk; and we will now leave them for the
present, and see how the other people lived in the time
of the Saxon Heptarchy.
There were four classes of men among the Anglo-
Saxons: athelings or nobles, free men, freed men, and
slaves or thralls. An Anglo-Saxon general was called
0 1


an ealdorman or elder man, eldest or greatest. In the
Saxon Gospel the disciples are spoken of as disputing
who should be eldest, and the highest seats in the syna-
gogue are called the yldelstan setl."
Saxon lads were called cnihts; cnihts were usually
brought up in monkish schools, as soon, at least, as they
were old enough to leave their mothers or foster-mothers,
for whom they entertained great affection. Edgar, a
king, once ordered considerable grants of land to be
given to a noble lady who had nursed him. And
Ethelstan, a Saxon Atheling or noble, writes, I give
to Alfswytha, my foster-mother, for her deservingnesse,
certain lands." There are some dialogues in the Saxon
language still extant, which will give you a little idea
of their educational plans.
What have you done to-day ?" asks the examining
monk at the evening catechism. Many things," answers
the lad; when I rose from my bed I went to church,
and sang the song for before day with the brethren, and
afterwards, at the dawn of day, the song of praise. I
said the first and seventh Psalms, with litany." This
you must understand was in Latin, and, I fear, to the
little lads it was but an unmeaning service. Before
noon," continues the boy, I did the mass for the day,
after this there was mid-day song, and I ate some bread (or
food), and now we are come to hear what thou shalt say."
Being questioned as to the reason for industry, the
child answers, because we should not be as the stupid
animals who know nothing but their grass."
The fisherman is asked in the dialogues, "What
gettest thou by thine art ?"


Ans. Big loaves, clothing, money."
Ques. "How do you take the fish ?"
Ans. I cast my net into the water, or I throw in a
bait, or hook, or rod."
Ques. "What fishes do you take ?"
Ans. "Eels, haddocks, skait, and lampreys."
Ques. "Why not fish in the sea ?"
Ans. "Sometimes I do, but a great ship is needful
This will, I think, be enough to quote from a Saxon
boy's book. We will now see on what the boys, as well
as grown people, fared about the time of the close of the
Heptarchy. Their bread was usually a kind of porridge,
or pudding of flour or meal mixed with water, and even
when at a later period the method of kneading became
common, the bread was sadly tough. There were no
bakers' shops in those days, and the mistress of the
house was called the laef dien, or loaf server, which is
thought by some to be the origin of the word lady. In
the early part of the Saxon rule in Britain, the use of
ovens was not known, but the cake when kneaded was
toasted on a gridiron or warm hearth. The earliest
bakers were the monks, and bakehouses were attached
to most monasteries, where the host" or consecrated
bread was baked with much ceremony.
At Crickhowel, in Brecon, Wales, some years since,
on taking down part of an ancient church, a room was
discovered with an oven in it. Meat was not always to
be obtained, and we read an account of a kind-hearted
king and queen who, on visiting a monastery, were
grieved to see the boys eating only coarse dry bread for


their mid-day meal. This bread was more often made
of barley than wheat.
According to the practice of northmen, they frequently
ate horse flesh, but as civilization advanced they began
to discontinue this practice. Deer, goats, hares, oxen,
and sheep, were the summer food of those who had the
means of obtaining it, but hog's flesh was the most
common meat; and fresh meat was seldom used in
winter. The Saxons ate porpoises, and were extremely
fond of fish. The monks of Ramsey made a yearly
present to the monks of Peterborough of 4000 eels.
They drank ale, mead, and metheglin, and, according
to all accounts, were somewhat gross livers, with four
good meals a-day. The pictures of Saxon feasts always


represent the meat being handed round on spits, from
which the guests helped themselves with knives and
fingers, for forks they had none. Benches, not chairs,


were used, and there was always a dish placed in the
midst of the table for contributions for the poor.
The Saxon dames twisted their hair, and used curling-
tongs or crisping-pins. They sometimes rouged, and
were as fond of bracelets and ornaments as the Roman
ladies centuries before them. Their robes were often
richly embroidered, and St. Dunstan, the archbishop,
thought it not beneath him to design a pattern for a
lady's gown.
The hair of the men was worn long, and divided in
the middle. They wore loose robes, lined in winter
with fur or wool.
Their amusements were hunting, hawking, teaching
bears to dance, listening to glee singing, or witnessing
tricks with balls; and some people think that a game
common among them, called scaccorum, differed but
little from our chess. Scacchi is Italian for chess.*
The Heptarchy was even now about to be dissolved,
the Britons to enter upon a new system of government,
and we shall in our next chapter see the commencement
of another era in the history of our Island Home.

Chronicles of Merrie England.

Oauttr tori4.

A.D. 673 To 857.

The pious Monk of Jarrow-The Spirit of Reformation-The
death of Bede-His tomb-Offa and his deeds-The wicked
Eadburga-Poverty of the Daughter and Wife of a King-
The Emperor Charlemagne-Eginhardt and Emma-Egbert's
Recall-The Fall of the Heptarchy-Superstition-The Sea
King-The King's Journey to Rome-The Marriage.

BEFORE again referring to the warlike annals of Britain,
we will glance at a quiet nook of our Island Home,
where one of the best and holiest of the Anglo-Saxon
monks passed his useful and peaceable life, and whose
name has come down to us from the year of his birth in
673, to the present day, as a name to love and reverence,
even that of the venerable Bede. At the mouth of the
river Tyne, in the county of Durham, there stood in
olden times two famous abbeys, the one dedicated to
St. Peter, the other to St. Paul. They were founded
by a Saxon abbot named Benedict, and were at Jarrow
and Wearmouth. The site of Jarrow or Yarrow is
between Newcastle and South Shields, and it was to one
of these monastic buildings, most probably Wearmouth,


that, at seven years of age, the boy who was one day to
become so useful and important a man was removed
from his father's house. Of his parents Bede gives no
account. "All my life long," he writes, "I spent in
that monastery, giving attention to the Holy Scriptures,
and teaching reading and writing likewise." With the
abbot Benedict he appears to have been in high favour.
The abbot himself was a learned man, and both he and
his successor, Ccolfrid, paid much attention to the lad's
education. Benedict was so anxious to add to his
collection of books in the abbey, that he made several
journeys to Rome, and brought home with him many
valuable manuscripts, as well as a goodly number of
church ornaments. He was almost the first (according
to Bede, who wrote his history,) to introduce the
Romish fashion of stone churches, which were very rare
in England before this era. Very rarely," to use
Bede's own words, "were buildings of stone seen in
Britain before his (Benedict's) time, nor did the solar
ray cast in its light through the transparent glass."* In
the 19th year of his age, Bede took the office of priest,
or mass priest as it was called, the terms for the holding
of which are so curious that I will copy them; as they
will give you some idea of the requirements of the
teachers of religion in the early history of the church

Benedict, or St. Bennett, seems to have had a taste for the
beautiful, not common in those times, or at least rare among our
Saxon ancestors. He brought among the valuable manuscripts
pictures representing the actions of our Saviour, "in order," as
it is expressly said, "that the ignorant might learn from them
as others did from books."


in our country, and will prove to you how much atten-
tion was paid to external observances, to the neglect too
often of those qualifications of heart and mind which
alone can make a man a fit teacher of others. In an
Anglo-Saxon manuscript of the time, we read this
counsel:-" Priests, ye ought to be well provided with
books and apparel as suiteth your condition. The mass
priest should have his missal, singing-book, and reading-
book. His sacramental cup should be of gold or silver,
glass, or tin, but by no means of earth. The altar
should be clean, well clothed, not defiled with dust."
And after these and many more particular directions for
the external arrangements, follows the advice : Take
care that you are wiser and better in your spiritual craft
than worldly men are in theirs, so that ye be fit teachers
of true wisdom. No priest should be a covetous trader,
or drunk oft in wine-houses, nor may he carry arms.
Neither a wife nor a battle becometh a priest."
Bede, however, was not satisfied with attention to
merely moral duties, nor the performance of outward
observances alone; and you may notice that his superi-
ority over others of his class mainly consisted in his
great love and reverence for the Word of God. He
was very busily engaged in writing a work called The
Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation," when
Pope Sergius, hearing of the fame of the Durham monk,
wrote to Abbot Ceolfrid a request that Bede might be
sent to Rome, where his learning and piety would be of
great assistance to him; but Bede declined the honour,
foreseeing, perhaps, the dangers and temptations of a
sojourn in Rome, and feeling his retirement at Yarrow,


his pupils, and the precious manuscripts there, dearer
than Roman splendours or church preferment. There
is a letter addressed to an Archbishop of York, named
Egbert, in which Bede seems to anticipate coming
danger to the purity of the church from the multiplica-
tion of religious houses, and the abuses which had
crept into these establishments. He was very ill when
he wrote this letter, and at all times suffered much
from asthma, which he bore with the greatest meekness
and patience. There is a beautiful account of his last
hours, written by Cuthbert, one of his pupils, and
addressed to an old schoolfellow who had left the
monastery. It begins thus-" To his fellow reader and
schoolfellow beloved in the Lord." "Latterly," writes
Cuthbert, he had been much oppressed with his
breathing, yet he daily read the lesson to us, his dis-
ciples ceasing not to give thanks to God with uplifted
hands. Oh! truly happy man! Often when between
hope and fear he would cry, It is a fearful thing to
fall into the hands of the living God.' He chanted
continually, and admonished us at intervals to put off
the sleep of the soul, and to think of our latter end.
By turns we wept, and by turns we prayed, and we wept
as we prayed. He often said, when speaking of his
sufferings, God scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.'
During the last few days of his dying illness, his prin-
cipal anxiety was to translate into a tongue that the
people could read and understand the Gospel of St. John.
When within three days of his death his feet began to
swell, but he continued his work, and on arriving at
those words, 'What are these among so many?' in


spite of his agony he dictated cheerfully, saying, Go
on quickly, I know not how long I shall hold out.'
One of us seeing a change in him, said, Dear master,
there is yet one chapter wanting, do you think it
troublesome to be asked questions?' He said, meekly,
'It is no trouble. Take your pen and make ready to
write fast.' Dear master,' said the youth at last,
plainly seeing that death drew on, 'yet there is one
sentence more not written.' Write quickly,' was his
reply, and soon the lad said, 'It is written.' 'It is
well,' said Bede, Consummatum est.' It is finished.' "
And truly it was finished, the good man's work on
earth was done, and he was about to rest from his
labours. He then begged to be seated opposite to the
spot where he had been wont to pray, that he might
once more lift up a petition from thence; and being
placed on the floor of his cell, he said, Glory be to the
Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," and
then fell asleep to wake no more on earth. His
remains were interred at Jarrow, but it is asserted that
the body was secretly taken from the church of the
abbey, by a Durham priest called Elfred, who was missed
from his place, and who at length re-appeared with
the report that Bede's bones had been miraculously
translated from their first resting-place to Durham,
which henceforth obtained a rich source of revenue in
the Saxon monk's remains.
The reason for the anxiety of all abbeys and monas-
teries to possess the bones of those who stood high for
sanctity in the church, was, that in those superstitious
ages people were accustomed to offer handsome presents


to their shrines, or the altars raised over their tombs;
rich cloths of fine linen, aid costly vessels of gold and
silver, with sums of money to needy priests, in order
to sing masses for the departed soul. In Durham
cathedral, then, did the dust of the venerable Bede
remain until the time of Henry the Eighth, when that
covetous sovereign, who used the Reformation as a pre-
text for robbing many a rich church and monastery,
demolished the shrine, and appropriated the treasures
which it contained to his own use; but the visitor to
Durham cathedral is still shown the resting-place of the
good man. Bede's most famous work is The Eccle-
siastical History," from which you have seen several
quotations, and this is, I believe, one of the best and
safest authorities which we possess of the early annals of
our country. Bede died in the year 735, according to
Holinshed the historian.
The plan of the Heptarchy, as we have seen, answered
very badly, and although a kind of agreement had been
made, that one of the kings should be considered as
Bretwalda, or principal ruler, to whom in cases of
dispute the others might appeal, the title was but nominal,
*each sovereign endeavouring to have his own way. We
can only briefly notice a few of the later kings of the
Heptarchy. There was a king Iva, famous for his laws,
who rebuilt Glastonbury Abbey, and after thirty years'
reign, at his wife's request, he resigned the crown, and
went to lead a life of retirement and religious observance
at Rome. Then followed many kings and many wars,
until we come to the times of Offa, who lived in the
reign of the celebrated Charlemigne, and of whom I


I shall have occasion to speak presently. Offa was a
very wicked man, and made war on several of the Saxon
kingdoms. His wife, the celebrated Quendrida, a French
princess, who had been condemned by Charlemagne's
officers of justice for some crime, is said to have been
sent to sea in an open boat, and the frail bark was
wrecked on the Welsh coast, where her half lifeless body
was carried to the young prince Offa, to whom she told
a very piteous story, and who shortly afterwards married
her. Great crimes are recorded both of him and his
wife, among others the murder of Ethelbert, King of
Kent. Offa's whole reign was disturbed by the incur-
sions of the Welsh. Remains of the celebrated dyke
which he made from the mouth of the Dee to the Wye,
may still be traced, and are known by the name of Offa's
pyke. Offa and Charlemagne lived in constant corre-
spondence, and several presents were exchanged between
them; but they had a quarrel at one time which
threatened serious consequences to Britain, owing to
Charlemagne's refusal to grant his daughter Bertha in
marriage to the son of the Saxon King. There was at
this time a learned monk named Alcuin, a pupil of
Bede's, who had been on friendly terms with Charle-
magne, and had instructed him in mathematics and
logic. He was dispatched to France as a mediator
between the disputing kings, and succeeded in his
mission so well that peace was restored. Eadburga,
Offa's daughter, married Brithric, King of Kent, and
encouraged her husband to banish Egbert, the rightful
heir to the crown, to the French court. Eadburga was
a bad wife, and a proud, ambitious woman. Amongst


her husband Brithric's courtiers was a young ealdorman
named Worr, to whom the king was much attached, but
for whom Eadburga entertained a great aversion, and
having used every art to destroy her husband's confidence
in his friend, she resolved to put an end to his life by
poison. At a repast at which both Worr and the king
were present, she presented the former with a cup pre-
viously drugged by her own hand, of which he drank
without suspicion, but before she could prevent him, her
husband took the cup from his friend and finished the
draught, whilst she had the horror of seeing both her
victims expire in agony before her eyes. Terrified at
the result of this wicked act she fled to France, where
Charlemagne gave her a monastery of which she became
an unworthy abbess, and so wicked was her conduct
there that she was at last expelled, and the daughter of
the powerful Offa was reduced to such poverty, that she
was compelled to beg her bread about the streets of
Pavia, where she ended her days. So great was the
detestation in which the memory of Eadburga was held,
that on Brithric's death, the West Saxons passed a law,
that no female should afterwards assume the title of
queen in their country, on pain of the deposition of the
After the murder of Brithric, the banished Egbert
was summoned by the West Saxons from the court of
Charlemagne to take his seat on the vacant throne.
This was in the 24th year of the reign of Charlemagne,
that extraordinary man, who possessed the empire not

* Saxon Chronicles.


only of France,* but of a large portion of central
Europe. It may not be out of place to give you a
slight sketch of this emperor. He was a great warrior,
a man of immense firmness and perseverance, a patron
of learning, and a great promoter of trade and commerce.
His palaces at Aix-la-Chapelle were very famous, and
at Ingelheim on the Rhine stood another of his magnifi-
cent abodes, the ruinous remains of which fell not many
years since, and some of its columns may still be seen
in the court of Heidelberg castle. Among other trea-
sures Charlemagne possessed one golden and three silver
tables. He was of immense strength, and seven feet in
height. His crown, which is preserved at Vienna, is of
enormous size. He wielded an iron lance as if it had
been a toy, and by never indulging in luxury or excess,
preserved his strength to extreme old age. His dress
was simple and warlike, composed of the fur of the otter.
When it became the fashion with his courtiers to wear
silk dresses, he one day led them into the heavy rain,
which quickly spoiled their gay attire. He was married
five times. His secretary Eginhardt, who has left
valuable records of the emperor, fell in love with his
beautiful daughter Emma, but knowing the pride of the
great Charlemagne they kept their affection a secret, and
despaired of ever being permitted to marry. It happened
that one night, during one of their stolen interviews,

You may remark that before this time that part of Gaul had
changed its name to France, a tribe of Germans having at the
decline of the Roman empire in Gaul settled there; and Clovis,
the fourth king, named the land France, or the land of Franks,
or Freedmen.


whilst Eginhardt was in Emma's sitting-room, a fall
of snow took place. What was to be done ? To cross
the palace court would betray that a man had been
there by the footprints. Time pressed, and Emma at
length bethought herself of a plan; so taking her lover
on her back she bore him across the court, and he sped
away. The emperor, who chanced to be looking out of
his window, saw the strange sight in the moonlight, and
the next day sent for the lovers, who stood trembling
before him. Great was their joy, however, to hear him
say that he permitted their union, which shortly after-
wards took place. The tomb of Eginhardt and Emma
may still be seen at Erbach. Charlemagne died in 814,
and was buried at Aix-la-Chapelle, where his tomb was
opened many years after by Otto the Third, when the
body was discovered in a sitting posture clad in the
imperial robes.
We will now return to Egbert, to whom the Emperor
Charlemagne showed great kindness for some years, and
whose residence in his court was considered a consider-
able advantage to the less civilized Saxon; for, says
William of Malmesbury, an old historian, the French
were eminent for politeness, civility, and valour, beyond
all western nations, and by their instructions Egbert
learned to polish the rudeness of the Saxons." Shortly
after Egbert's return the Heptarchy was dissolved, but
it is doubtful whether this king could truly be said to
reign over all Britain. At the time of his accession
indeed only three of the seven kingdoms were really
independent, the others being extremely weak. These
were Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex, and it is


worthy of notice, that although we generally understand
Egbert to have been king over all England, there is but
one charter in which he is styled Rex Anglorum," or
King of the English, and both he and his successors
usually styled themselves Kings of the West Saxons.
Turner in his history of the Anglo Saxons remarks on
this subject, that although Egbert asserted his supremacy
over the other kingdoms, he never added either Mercia
or Northumbria to his possessions, these countries
simply acknowledging him as Bretwalda. Egbert's was
a mild, wise, and strong rule, and the greatest troubles
during his reign arose from the Danes, who frequently
molested our coasts under the command of their famous
sea king Ragner Lodbrog. Egbert died in the year
837, and was buried at Winchester.
The condition of the country at his death was in a
religious point of view far from healthy. Rome had
tainted the church with her corruptions; reverence for
saintly characters became saint-worship, and belief in
many things as means of atoning for sin, led men sadly
to undervalue the one only atonement made by Jesus on
the cross. Rome had declined as a state, only to assert
greater power in the church, and now the pope began
to interfere in all Christian countries. Pilgrimages
became so common, that noblemen and ladies of rank,
even in those days of bad roads and dangerous tra-
velling, from the unsettled state of the country, were
frequently planning expeditions to the Romish see, either
to pacify their consciences for some great sin, or to make
sure, as they thought, their claim to heaven. New
reliques were constantly crossing the sea to our Island


Home, and a certain Pope Agathos possessed so much
influence over the people's minds, that he made them
believe that to St. Peter's custody the keys of heaven
were entrusted, and that he would refuse admission to
any who should fail in submission to his successors, the
popes. The knowledge of Bible truth was scarce; Bede
was gone, and his mantle had fallen on no man of equal
enlightenment and piety. Such was the state of our
country, when at Egbert's death the Danes assumed
still greater boldness, and came in large and yet larger
numbers to our shores.
The Danes or sea kings (Vikings as they called them-
selves) came from the scattered isles of the Baltic, and
the peninsula of Jutland, and were even more fierce and
piratical than their predecessors the Saxons had been in
their wildest days. These tribes were called Normen or
Northmen on the continent; in Britain, Danes, no matter
from what part of northern Europe they came. Odin,
whom the Saxons worshipped as Woden, was their
principal god, a deity of terror, devastation, and blood-
shed, and the Danes believed that whoever killed the
most men during his life would be Odin's favourite
after death, and that such brave men as he delighted in,
would go to his palace in the next world, and drink ale
(the common beverage of the northern tribes) out of the
skulls of their foes. Fear was forbidden to a Dane, and
for a man to die on any spot but a battle field, was
deemed an affliction and disgrace. Indeed those whom
sickness or old age had rendered useless, would some-
times beg to be dragged to the scene of conflict and
perish there. The country in which the Danes lived


was very barren, it had few towns or cities, and the
principal part of their possessions consisted of wild
forests or salt marshes. No wonder then that they
were tempted by the pleasant shores of England to
penetrate still further into the island.
The horrors of old times now seemed renewed in
England, for the Danes not only stole all they could lay
their hands on, but burned whole towns and villages,
respecting neither church nor monastery. In the reign
of Ethelwulf, son of Egbert, both Canterbury and
London were burned to the ground, and it was as
though a band of robbers had been let loose on the
land. Prayers were put up in churches for preservation
from the Northmen, still sad traces were left by them of
their destructive and cruel spirit. Miserable times were
these The poor Saxon farmer dare scarcely rejoice at
the golden harvest, for the better the crop the more
numerous the thieves, and the cry of the Danes! the
Danes 1" made him drop his reaping-hook ere he could
store his corn in the granary. The monks in their quiet
cells at prayer, busy over their parchments in the
Scriptorium, or labouring in their pleasant gardens and
orchards, at the alarm of those terrible words, hastened
to bury their church ornaments and treasured relics, or
to yield them to the fierce intruders, but too happy if
the monastery itself escaped the flames. King Ethelwulf
was in despair, but at length he resolved to go to Rome,
thinking that if he made a pilgrimage to that city God
would surely hear his prayers, and preserve him from
the oppression of his enemy. Ethelwulf's character was
by no means warlike, and there is no doubt that it


better suited his inclination to go on pilgrimage than to
enter the battle field. He had been educated by a priest
named Swithum, or Swithin, of Winchester, and had
even, it is said, taken the office of deacon, when he was
called to the throne. He married Osburga, the daughter
of his cup-bearer, of whom we read but little in Saxon
history, but she has claims on our remembrance as the
mother of one of the most illustrious of our Anglo-Saxon
kings, the immortal Alfred. This prince was born at
Wantage, in Berkshire, where there was a royal manor-
house of the Anglo-Saxon monarchs, and was very early
placed under the care of the old instructor of his father,
the noted Bishop Swithin, whom we are apt to associate
with rain, from the day which is dedicated to him falling
in a very unsettled season of the year. Osburga died
when Alfred was but young, and it is recorded by
Asser* that the little lad was his father's companion on
the pilgrimage to Rome, where he remained a whole
year, and was very honourably received. Ethelwulf
was provided with many valuable gifts to the pope, who
had previously made acquaintance with the young Saxon
prince, when he had been sent to the imperial city two
years before to be consecrated king by the Roman
pontiff, and to be received as his adopted son. The
presents were very costly, consisting of a crown of gold,
weighing four pounds; two golden tassels, called baucas;
a sword, two golden images, and four Saxon dishes of
silver-gilt, besides some grand robes. In addition to

Asser, the Bishop of St. David's, and friend and biographer
of Alfred the Great.


these offerings, Ethelwulf made a perpetual grant of 300
mancuses* or marks annually, for the expenses of lighting
the lamps of St. Peter's and St. Paul's. He also rebuilt
a Saxon school at Rome, which had been founded by
King Iva, and which had been burned down, and
Holinshed informs us that he obtained a promise from
Pope Leo, that no English exile should thenceforward
be bound with iron. On Ethelvulf's return through
France he married Judith, daughter of the French king,
and shortly after he and his young bride embarked for
England. Bad news met him on his arrival; an in-
surrection had been raised against him, headed by his
eldest son Ethelbald, whose jealousy was roused on ac-
count of Alfred's having been anointed king by the pope.
The people, moreover, were by no means pleased at
Ethelwulf's marriage, complaining that Judith had no
right to the title of queen without the consent of the
country; and yet he had not only eaten at the same
table with her, but had placed her by his side in a chair
of state, in violation of the law made by the West
Saxons on the death of Brithric. The dispute was,
however, at length settled, and it was agreed that Ethel-
bald should govern Wessex, and the king retain the
eastern portion, Kent, Essex, and Sussex; but Ethelwulf
would not yield upon the question of the titles of honour
and respect due to the young queen, and she was
crowned with all solemnity accordingly. His reign

The value of a Saxon mancus or mark was thirty pence,
equal to six shillings of their money. The mancus was the only
gold coin in use, about the weight of our half-crown.-Spelman.


ended in 827, and his remains were interred in the
cathedral church of St. Swithin,* in Winchester.

*St. Swithin desired to be buried in the open churchyard,
instead of the chancel of the minster, where the ashes of the great
reposed, that the drops of rain might wet his grave, saying that
no vault was so good to cover his grave as the vault of heaven.
The popular Scotch proverb has possibly its origin from the ex-
pression he used :-
Saint Swithin's day if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain;
Saint Swithin's day if thou be fair,
For forty days 'twill rain na mair."


rhe Story of a Book-Illuminated Manuscripts-Early troubles
of the new-made King-Story of the Monks of Croyland-
The year of the Seven Battles-The King and the Cowherd
-The Home in the Isle-The last Loaf-The Danish Standard
taken-The Royal Harper-The Battle-Sunshine through
the Clouds-The Danes settled at last-The Lantern-Trial
by Jury-Alfred's Wife and Children-Parting Words.

Alfred Born A.D. 849. Began to Reign A.D. 871.
Died A.D. 900.

WE ended our last chapter with the death of Ethelwulf,
and now we must for a few moments retrace our steps
and look at a scene in our hero's childhood. The
pilgrimages to Rome being over, the little anointed
prince, heir to the throne of our Island Home, settled
down to the everyday life of a Saxon lad, and to his
tasks, such as they were, under the direction of his
tutor, St. Swithin. He was more than twelve years old
on his return from Italy, but appears to have made little
progress in learning, so little indeed, that many persons
have an idea that he was unable to read at that age, but


I do not think we ought too hastily to come td this
conclusion. The story runs thus, however; when
Alfred and his brothers were one day standing by the
side of the young queen Judith, the new French wife of
King Ethelwulf, she showed them a beautiful book of
Saxon poetry, with the promise that the lad who should
first learn to read and recite its contents should have
the volume for his own. Alfred, the only one ambitious
for the prize, eagerly accepted the offer, and clasping
the precious and gaily illuminated book to his bosom
carried it to his tutor, mastered its difficulties, and in
due time received it for his reward. But we must
remember that this was a Saxon book, written in Saxon
letters, very different in form from the Latin characters
in which Alfred's instructions had no doubt been written.
Few books as yet had come to light in the Saxon
language, and thus it was as great a difficulty for Alfred
to decipher these poems as it would be in the present
day for an English boy to learn the Greek alphabet.
Well then did he deserve his reward, and a far greater
one it was than you would imagine. In his childhood
books were rare possessions. Kings and nobles had
been known to exchange rich and extensive lands for
one such treasure. And so great indeed was their
scarcity, and the decay of learning in the country, that
scarcely a monk could be found below the Humber to
tell you the meaning of the prayers he recited daily,
whilst the very noblemen could only sign their names
with a cross, and knew not a letter in a book.
You have doubtless heard of illuminated books; I
will try and describe one or two which I have seen, and


which may serve as fair samples of the rest. The monks
spent a great deal of time and labour in ornamenting
their manuscripts, which were written very closely on
parchment, and a wide margin left for ornament. The
ground of this margin was usually of a deep purple,
sometimes of a delicate lilac colour. Those which I
have seen in the British Museum are principally of the
former, bordered with gold letters and gaily painted
flowers, or pictures of gorgeously clad saints. It is
difficult to believe that these very books, with all the
brilliancy and freshness of a picture painted yesterday,
were more than 900 years ago in the scriptorium of
some abbey, now crumbled away, and are the work of
hands long since mouldering in the dust. Yet so it is,
and Saxon missals of as early a date as Alfred's are still
preserved in different libraries of our country, and
furnish us not only with histories of the past, the poems
and devotions of the Saxons, but the illustrations convey
a very good idea of the clothing, dwellings, and habits
of our ancestors, and carry us back to old times with a
truth and reality which perhaps no dry statement of
facts could effect.
There is in a collection of manuscripts in the British
Museum, called the Cottonian, a curious Saxon calendar,
illuminated very beautifully, which is descriptive of the
pursuits both within and without doors of the Anglo-
Saxons at a somewhat later time. The emblem for
March shows us their mode of seed-sowing, but the im-
plements of husbandry are only the spade and pickaxe.
March they called Lenet Monat, or length month, owing
to the lengthening of the days. The emblem for No-


vember, the Wint Monat, or wind month, is a blazing
hearth, and the process of swine killing; for on that
useful animal, the pig, the Saxons principally depended
for food in the long winter months; and perhaps it may
not be uninteresting to you to know that our word bacon
is derived from bucon, a beech-tree, on the mast of which
the hogs intended for killing were principally fatted.
The whole calendar is extremely interesting, and although
the pictures do not give us a very high idea of the
artistic powers of our ancestors, inasmuch as the per-
spective is often bad, and the figures in strange dis-
tortion, we cannot but value them highly as descriptive
of costume and habit, and must remember that the
Saxons were not altogether so ignorant of the pictorial
art as these particular drawings may lead us to suppose.
Some of their illuminated letters are indeed exquisitely
beautiful, and the patterns in the margins of many of
the more rare manuscripts display the utmost skill and
taste. We must not, however, linger over the illumi-
nated books. You can read of them more at length in
many valuable and interesting works on the history of
the Anglo-Saxons,* and we must now return to Alfred,
who has by means of his book led us away from the
graver portion of his eventful history.
At the time of Ethelwulf'st death the Danes were
overrunning England, and we will hastily pass over the
short and troubled reigns of the elder brothers of Alfred.
Ethelred, a bad, unprincipled man, married his father's

Turner, Strutt, Palgrave, &c.
t The word Ethel before a name simply means noble, and is
merely a title of honour.

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