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with a great number of his Danish allies, having been slain in the sanguinary and otherwise doubtful conflict of A.D. 905, and Eowils and Healfden, kings of Northumbria and East Anglia, having also been slain, with many thousands of their men, A.D.911,) the politic victor pursued his advantages over the Danes of East Anglia ; while, : “ A.D. 921, Earl Thurferth and the captains of all the army northward of the Welland returned to him, and sought him for their lord and protector;" as did also “ all the population of Mercia (both Danish and English), who before were subject to Æthælfleda. And the kings in North-Wales, Howel and Cledauc, and Jeothwel, and all the people of North-Wales sought him for their lord."* And although " King Reynold [the Dane) won York,” yet we find that in 924, “ The King of Scotland, with all his people, chose him as father and lord ; as did [this same] Reynold, the son of Eadulf, and all that dwell in Northumbria, both English and Danish, both Northmen and others; also the King of the Strathclydwallians [the Strathclwd Britons], and all his people.”
Here were, indeed, something like the foundations laid of a general sovereignty; and the superstructure proceeds accordingly.
“A.D. 925, This year died King Edward at Farndon in Mercia; and Ælward, his son,t died very soon after in Oxford. Their bodies lie at Winchester. And Æthelstan (though an illegitimate offspring] was chosen king in Mercia, and consecrated at Kingston. He gave his sister to Otho, son of the king of the Old-Saxons” (Otho the Great, Emperor of Germany]. And - this year King Æthelstan and Sithric, King of the Northumbrians, came together at Tamworth, the sixth day before the calends of February; and Æthelstan gave away his [other] sister to him.”
* This magnanimous prince, whose exploits have hitherto been too generally passed over with a careless hand, was not merely a warrior, whose power was exerted only to vanquish and destroy; he seems to have been equally attentive to consolidate and restore. .
“ A.D. 923. This year went King Edward with an army, late in the harvest, to Thelwall (on the borders of Cheshire]; and ordered the borough to be repaired, and inhabited, and manned. And he ordered another army, also, from the population of Mercia, the while he sat there, to go to Manchester in Northumbria, to repair and man it.” And in the ensuing year he repaired also Nottingham, “and the bridge over the Trent betwixt the two towns."
Another legitimate son, however, of the great Edward followed the illegitimate successor to the Scottish wars ; and his exploits there are celebrated, together with those of the king, in the strains of Saxon poetry.
So that even yet the supremacy amounted not to an undivided sovereignty. However, in the ensuing year, we find that
all the kings that were in this island: first, Howell, king of West Wales; and Constantine, king of the Scots; and Owen, king of Monmouth; and Aldred, the son of Eadulf, of Bamburgh. And with covenants and oaths, they ratified their agreement in the place called Emmet, on the fourth day before the ides of July; and renounced all idolatry, and afterwards returned in peace.'
This was an extent of consolidated sovereignty which had never before been so unequivocally enjoyed by any single potentate in this island. The whole, however, of this extended dominion did not, as is notorious, remain undisputed, either in Æthelstan or his successors; and, indeed, his after wars with the King of Scots, especially in 938, furnish the subject of what may be called a noble contemporary ode; an almost literal version of which, in something like the original rhythmus, will be found in Mr. Ingram's translation of the work we are reviewing. Æthelstan, however, as has been ascertained by authentic documents, assumed (and, we repeat it, was the first of our Saxon ancestors who did assume) the title of King of England; and bequeathed to his successors, at least, the undivided sovereignty of what had heretofore constituted the states of the Saxon Heptarchy. To him, therefore, and not to Egbert, is to be assigned the honour of founding what has since been called the English Monarchy.
We have dwelt so largely upon this subject, so erroneously represented in our popular histories, that we have neither time nor space for the quotation of those many valuable passages, obviously from the pens of contemporary annalists, which might rectify other misapprehensions. Of these, there are many in this work, which might place in a clearer point of view the circumstances that prepared the way for the Norman conquest, and bring into fair comparison the comparative bearings of the Norman and Saxon systems upon the character and condition of the people. But, for satisfaction upon these subjects, we must refer the student to the Saxon annals themselves, and to the archives and documents by which those annals may be illustrated.
We cannot, however, take leave of this long article, without a farewell quotation of one highly interesting extract: thé character of William the First, from the pen of a contemporary and near observer.
.« A. D. 1087.-In the one-and-twentieth year after William began to govern and direct England, as God granted him, was a very
heavy and pestilent season in this land. Such a sickness came on men, that full nigh every other man was in the worst disorder, that is, in the diarrhea ; and that so dreadfully, that many men died in the disorder. Afterwards came, through the badness of the weather, as we before mentioned, so great a famine over all England, that many hundreds of men died a miserable death through hunger.* Alas! how wretched and how rueful a time was there! when the poor wretches lay, full nigh driven to death prematurely, and afterwards came sharp hunger, and dispatched them withal! Who will not be penetrated with grief at such a season? or who is so hard-hearted as not to weep at such misfortune? Yet such things happen for folk's sins, that they will not love God and righteousness. So it was in those days, that little righteousness was in this land with any men but with the monks alone, wherever they fared well. The king and the head men loved much, and over much, covetousness in gold and in silver; and recked not how sinfully it was got, provided it came to them. The king let his land at as high a rate as he possibly could; then came some other person, and bade more than the former one gave, and the king let it to the men that bade him more. Then came the third, and bade yet more; and the king let it so hard to the men that bade him most of all: and he recked not how very sinfully the stewards got it of wretched men, nor how many unlawful deeds they did ; but the more men spake about right law, the more unlawfully they acted. They erected unjust tolls, and many other unjust things they did, that are difficult to reckon.”
“ He died in Normandy, on the next day after the nativity of St. Mary, and he was buried at Caen, in St. Stephen's minster, which he had formerly reared, and afterwards endowed with manifold gifts. Alas! how false and how uncertain is this world's weal! He that was before a rich king, and lord of many lands, had not then of all his land more than a space of seven feet ! and he that was whilom enshrouded in gold and gems, lay there covered with mould !” +
* Query. What was the proportion of this famine, thus attributed to mere badness of the weather, which ought in justice to be ascribed to that desolation of homesteds, pastures, farms, and villages, so extensively made by this Norman lover of harts and hinds and boars, and beasts of all chace, to extend his parks and forests? How much to the rude trampling of the native peasantry and cultivators of the soil, beneath the armed hoofs of those sons of rapine and military violence, who left the high roads and fastnesses of France and Normandy for the more permanent spoil of Saxon England, and brought with them the same improvident contempt of industry and the industrious, which had accompanied them in their former scenes of pillage and depredation ?
+ Who would not imagine that Shakspeare had been looking into this page of the Saxon Chronicle, when he put those fine lines into the mouth of the expiring Warwick, in the fifth act of the third part of Henry the Sixth?
.. " If any person wishes to know what kind of man he was, or what honour he had, or of how many lands he was lord, then will we write about him as well as we understand him; we who often looked upon him, and lived some time in his court. This King William, then, that we speak about, was a very wise man, and very rich; more splendid and powerful than any of his predecessors were. He was mild to the good men that loved God (the monks and priests), and beyond all measure severe to the men that gainsayed his will. On that same spot where God granted him that he should gain England, he reared a mighty minster, and set monks therein, and well endowed it.-In his days was the great monastery in Canterbury built, and also very many others over all England. This land was moreover well filled with monks, who modelled their lives after the rule of St. Benedict. But such was the state of Christianity in his time, that each man followed what belonged to his profession-he that would. He was also very dignified. Thrice he bare his crown each year, as oft as he was in England. At Easter, he bare it in Winchester; at Pentecost, in Westminster; at midwinter, in Gloucester. And then were with him all the rich men over all England; archbishops and diocesan bishops, abbots and earls, thanes and knights. So very stern was he also, and hot, that no man durst do any thing against his will. He had earls in his custody, who acted against his will. Bishops he hurled from their bishoprics, and abbots from their abbacies, and thanes into prison. At length, he spared not his own brother Odo, who was a very rich bishop in Normandy. At Baieux was his episcopal stall; and he was the foremost man of all to aggrandize the king. He had an earldom in England; and when the king was in Normandy, then was he the mightiest man in this land, him he confined in prison.
“But amongst other things is not to be forgotten, that good peace that he made in this land; so that a man of any account might go over his kingdom unhurt with his bosom full of gold. No man durst stay another, had he never so much evil done to the other; and if any churl lay with a woman against her will, he soon lost the limb that he played with. He truly reigned over England; and by his capacity so thoroughly surveyed it, that there was not a hide of land in England that he wist not who had it, or what it was worth, and afterwards set it down in his book. The land of the Britons was in his power; and he wrought castles therein ; and ruled Anglesey withal. So also he subdued Scotland by his great strength. As to Normandy, that was his native land; but he reigned also over the earldom called
“ Lo! now my glory smear’d in dust and blood!
Maine; and if he might have yet lived two years more, he would have won Ireland by his valour, and without any weapons. Assuredly in his time had men much distress, and very many sorrows. Castles he let men build, and miserably swink the poor. The king himself was so very rigid; and extorted from his subjects many marks of gold, and many hundred pounds of silver; which he took of his people, for little need, by right and by unright. He was fallen into covetousness, and greediness he loved withal. He made many deer parks; and he established laws therewith; so that whosoever slew a ħart, or a hind, should be deprived of his eyesight. As he forbade men to kill the harts, so also the boars; and he loved the tall deer as if he were their father. Likewise he decreed by the hares, that they should go free. His rich men bemoaned it, and the poor men shuddered at it. But he was so stern, that he recked not the hatred of them all; for they must follow withal the king's will, if they would live, or have land, or possessions, or even his peace. Alas! that any man should presume so to puff himself up, and boast over all men. May the almighty God show mercy to his soul, and grant him forgiveness of his sins !"
If such be the picture drawn of this founder of the Norman dynasty, by the priesthood whom he so favoured, what would be the account accumulated against him by that Saxon laity whom he so unmercifully oppressed.
We lament that our limits do not allow us to bring together, in a connected point of view, those many detached passages and notices of facts, scattered through this invaluable record, which might not only be highly interesting in a literary and antiquarian point of view; but might place in a new and unexpected light the arts, the commerce, the internal and external resources, and the wealth even in the precious metals of our supposed ignorant and barbarous forefathers. But these are subjects for which a few lines or paragraphs would not suffice; and here accordingly we must take our reluctant leave of the steadiest and most authentic of all our historical guides, the Saxon Chronicle.
Art. II.-The Poetical Works of Mr. Samuel Daniel, Author of
the English History; to which is prefixed, Memoirs of his Life and Writings. 2 vols. 12mo. London, 1718.
We learn little more from the Memoir prefixed to this edition of Daniel's Poems, than that he was the son of a music master; was born at Taunton, in Somersetshire, about the middle of Queen Elizabeth's reign; was groom of the privy
VOL. VIII. PART II.