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world of Anglo-Saxon leadership. — Possible perils from
“ It is a matter of the first consequence that the relation to one another of the two branches of the English-speaking race should be more fully understood and realized.”
“ The new building has been raised upon the old groundwork; the institutions of one age have always been modelled and formed from those of the preceding, and the lineal descent has never been interrupted or disturbed.”
SIR FRANCIS PALGRAVE: English Commonwealth, I, 6.
THE PRIMITIVE SAXONS.
100 B.C. - 449 A.D.
On the 30th of April, 1789, Washington, as the first President of the United States, took a solemn oath to maintain the Federal Constitution. The Declaration of Independence had been made fourteen years before; the Revolutionary War had been fought through; the Constitution painfully formulated, and after the most anxious fears, ratified. The first elections had been held in due form. The ship of state had been built and launched. One last anxious moment remained, when, for the first time, steam was turned into the new machinery. Would the contrivance work that had been set in order with such pains ? As Washington took the oath, the pulsations began of the mighty engine whose accomplishment through the hundred years need not here be rehearsed. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, went into operation, a thing at that time unknown elsewhere among civilized nations.
America to some extent
Unknown elsewhere; but had the world never before seen anything like it? As a polity, it was no The polity of original device, but a revival of something
most ancient. I once crossed the North of something Sea, and coming upon deck after a night most ancient. of storm, found the ship entering a great river, out from which rolled masses of ice. From the deck a monotonous, far-extending landscape could be seen, dotted here and there with compact red-roofed villages. Once landed, it was a journey of many leagues before the broad plains were left behind, and we reached a country more picturesque. If, however, the plains near the mouths of the rivers Weser and Elbe offer little attraction to the eye, no land is more interesting through its associations to the mind; for here lay the primeval home of the Angles and Saxons, with their kindred, the Jutes, just north, the remote forefathers of the imperial race which, now one hundred and twenty millions strong, retains substantially the language, institutions, and blood of those ancestors after the lapse of nearly two thousand years. In the ancient villages we can see distinctly a life proceeding, in some of its features, similar to that of English-speaking men at the present hour.1
The forefathers were not utter savages. Although fierce fighters, they were at the same time busy fisher
men and farmers. Though hard drinkers, legal aspects the scenes within their homes were often
not without a simple dignity, as the earl's wife with a troop of maidens bore the bowl
of the civilization of the Anglo-Saxons.
1 Tacitus: Germania, XI. Constitutional Histories of Stubbs, Freeman, Gneist, Taswell-Langmead, Hannis Taylor, etc. Von Maurer: Mark-verfassung. Waitz : Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, Band I, 4. Phillips: Geschichte des Angelsächsischen Rechts. J. Toulmin Smith : Local Self-Government and Centralization, p. 29, etc. Johns Hopkins University Studies, 1st Series, I, II. J. R. Green: History of the English People, Vol. I, Chap. I. Howard : Introduction to the Local Constitutional History of United States.
of ale or mead about the hall while the minstrels sang. They possessed the runic alphabet, and showed in dress and arms an appreciation of the beautiful. The freeman in times that soon follow wore a smockfrock of coarse linen or wool falling to his knees, identical almost with that of the modern English ploughman. While it was the common garb of all classes, it was among those of good station handsomely embroidered: about feet and legs were wound linen bands, parti-colored. In winter, a hood covered the head, and over the shoulders was thrown a blue cloak, sometimes fastened by a costly clasp. For their constant warfare, the coats of ringed mail that were necessary, the swords scored with mystic runes while the hilts were finely wrought in silver and bronze, the helmets with heads of boars, wolves, or falcons for crests, — all made plain the skill of the smiths. In the society all the ceorls, or land-owning freemen, stood equal; they were bound together in families in such a way that if one underwent an injury, all his kin lay under obligation to exact reparation; as also they lay under obligation to afford reparation, if one of their number had inflicted the injury. Each clan occupied its own mark, or village, a tract held by the occupiers in common. The homesteads within the tun (the stockade, quickset hedge, or protecting circle of earth) were held in severalty,
R. Green’s graphic picture at the beginning of the History of the English People.