Abbildungen der Seite

man :

population à matter of deep concern to their ecclesiastical instructors. In the times when the Pagan Saxons were newly converted to Christianity, the missionaries were the great civilizers, and taught the people how to avail themselves of the abundant supply of food which the sea offered to the skilful and the enterprising. Bede tells us that Wilfred so taught the people of Sussex, “The bishop, when he came into the province, and found so great misery of famine, taught them to get their food by fishing. Their sea and rivers abounded in fish, and yet the people had no skill to take them, except only eels. The bishop's men having gathered eel-nets everywhere, cast them into the sea, and by the help of God took three hundred fishes of several sorts, the which being divided into three parts, they gave a hundred to the poor, a hundred to those of whom they had the nets, and kept a hundred for their own use." The Anglo-Saxons had oxen and sheep ; but their chief reliance for flesh meat, especially through the winter season, was upon the swine, which, although private property, fed by thousands in the vast woods with which the country abounded. Our word Bacon is “of the beechen-tree, anciently called bucon, and whereas swine's flesh is now called by the name of bacon, it grew only at the first unto such as were fatted with bucon or beech mast.” As abundant as the swine were the eels that flourished in their ponds and ditches. The consumption of this species of fish appears from many incidental circumstances to have been very great. Rents were paid in eels, boundaries of lands were defined by eel-dykes, and the monasteries required a regular supply of eels from their tenants and dependents. We find, however, that the people had a variety of fish, if they could aford to purchase of the industrious labourers in the deep. In the 'Dialogues of Alfric,' there is the following colloquy with a fisher

“What gettest thou by thine art ?—Big loaves, clothing, and money. How

take them ?-I ascend my ship, and cast my net into the river ; I also throw in a hook, a bait and a rod. Suppose the fishes are unclean ?-I throw the unclean out, and take the clean for food. Where do you sell your fish ?-In the city. Who buys them ?— The citizens ; I cannot take so many as I can sell. What fishes do you take ?—Eels, haddocks, minnies, and eel-pouts, skate and lampreys, and whatever swims in the river. Why do you not fish in the sea ?-Sometimes I do ; but rarely, because a great ship is necessary there. What do you take in the sea ?—Herrings and salmons, porpoises, sturgeons, oysters and crabs, muscles, winckles, cockles, flounders, plaice, lobsters and such like. Can you take a Whale ? —No, it is dangerous to take a whale ; it is safer for me to go to the river with my ship than to go with many ships to hunt whales. Why ?—because it is more pleasant for me to take fish which I can kill with one blow ; yet many take whales without danger, and then they get a great price ; but I dare not from the fearfulness of my mind." We thus see that three centuries after Wilfred had taught the people of Sussex to obtain something more from the waters than the rank eels in their mud-ponds, the produce of the country's fishery had become an article of regular exchange. The citizens bought of the fisherman as much fish as he could sell; the fisherman obtained big loaves and clothing from the citizens. The enterprise which belongs to the national character did not rest satisfied with the herrings and salmons of the sea. Though the little fisherman crept along his shore, there were others who went with many ships to hunt whales. We cannot have a more decisive indication of the general improvement which had followed in the wake of Christianity, even during a period of constant warfare with predatory invaders.

CLOTHING. The shepherd describes his duty in the Colloquy of Alfric: "In the first part of the morning I drive my sheep to their pasture, and stand over them in heat and in

do you

cold with dogs, lest the wolves destroy them. I lead them back to their folds and milk them twice a day, and I move their folds, and make cheese and butter ; and I am faithful to my lord.” The garments of the Anglo-Saxons, both male and female, were linen as well as woollen ; but we can easily judge that in a country whose population was surrounded by vast forests and dreary marshes, wool, the warmer material for clothing, would be of the first importance. The fleece which the shepherd brought home in the pleasant summer season was duly spun throughout the winter, by the females of every family, whatever might be their rank. King Edward the Elder commanded that his daughters should be instructed in the use of the distaff. Alfred, in his will, called the female part of his family the spindle side. At this day, true to their ancient usefulness (the form of which, we hope not the substance, has passed away), unmarried ladies are called spinsters. But the Anglo-Saxon ladies attained a high degree of skill in the ornamental work belonging to clothing. The Norman historians record their excellence with the needle, and their skill in embroidery.

BREAD. “ August they call Arn-monat, more rightly Barn-monat, intending thereby the then filling of their barns with corn.” The arable portion of an estate was probably comparatively small. The population of the towns was supplied with corn from the lands in their immediate vicinity. There was no general system of exchange prevailing throughout the country. In the small farms enough corn was grown for domestic use ; and when it failed, as it often did, before the succeeding harvest, the cole-wort and the green pulse were the welcome substitutes. Wheaten bread was not in universal use. The young monks of the Abbey of St. Edmund ate the cheaper barley bread. The baker, in Alfric's Colloquy, answers to the question of “What use is your art ? we can live long without you :”—“You may live through some space without my art, but not long nor so well ; for without my craft every table would seem empty, and without bread all meat would become nauseous. I strengthen the heart of man, and little ones could not do without me."

In a picture representing a dinner party, some food is placed on the table ; but the kneeling servants offer the roasted meat on spits, from which the guests cut slices into their trenchers. We smile at these primitive manners, but they were a refinement upon those of the heroes of Homer, who were their own cooks.

“ Partoclus did his dear friend's will: and he that did desire
To cheer the lords (come faint from fight) set on a blazing fire
A great brass pot, and into it a chine of mutton put,
And fat goat's flesh; Automedon held, while he pieces cut
To roast and boil, right cunningly: then of a well fed swine,
A huge fat shoulder he cut out, and spits it wondrous fine:
His good friend made a goodly fire; of which the force once past,
He laid the spit low, near the coals, to make it brown at last:
Then sprinkled it with sacred salt, and took it from the racks :
This roasted and on dresser set, his friend Patroclus takes
Bread in fair baskets ; which set on, Achilles brought the meat,
And to divinest Ithacus took his opposed sea
Upon the bench: then did he will his friend to sacrifice;
Who cast sweet incense in the fire, to all the Deities.
Thus fell they to their rearly food.”

CHAPMAN'S TRANSLATION OF THE ILIAD, Book ix. An illumination amongst the Harleian Manuscripts exhibits to us an interesting


part of the economy of a lori's house in the Saxon times. In the foreground are collected some poor people, aged men, women, and children, who are storing in their vessels, or humbly waiting to receive, the provisions which the lord and the lady are distributing at their hall door. It was from this highest of the occupations of the rich and powerful, the succour of the needy, that the early antiquaries derived our titles of Lord and Lady. The modern etymologists deny the correctness of this derivation, and maintain that the names are simply derived from a Saxon verb which means to raise up, to exalt. Horne Tooke, in his ‘Diversions of Purley,' maintains this opinion ; and our recent dictionary-makers adopt it. Nevertheless, we shall transcribe old Verstegan's ingenious notion of the origin of the terms, which has something higher and better in it than mere word-splitting : “I find that our ancestors used for Lord the name of Laford, which (as it should seem) for some aspiration in the pronouncing, they wrote Hlaford, and Hlafurd. Afterward it grew to be written Loverd, and by receiving like abridgement as other of our ancient appellations have done, it is in one syllable become Lord. To deliver therefore the true etymology, the reader shall understand, that albeit we have our name of bread from Breod, as our ancestors were wont to call it, yet used they also, and that most commonly, to call bread by the name of Hlaf, from whence we now only retain the name of the form or fashion wherein bread is usually made, calling it a loaf, whereas loaf, coming of Hlaf or Laf, is rightly also bread itself, and was not of our ancestors taken for the form only, as now we use it. Now was it usual in long foregoing ages, that such as were endued with great wealth and means above others, were chiefly renowned (especially in these northern regions) for their house-keeping and good hospitality ; that is, for being able, and using to feed and sustain many men, and therefore were they particularly honoured with the name and title of Hlaford, which is as much to say, as an afforder of Laf, that is, a bread-giver, intending (as it seemeth) by bread, the sustenance of man, that being the substance of our food the most agreeable to nature, and that which in our daily prayers we especially desire at the hands of God. The name and title of Lady was anciently written Hleafdian, or Leafdian, from whence it came to be Lafdy, and lastly Lady. I have showed here last before how Hlaf or Laf was sometime our name of bread, as also the reason why our noble and principal men came to be honoured in the vame of Laford, which now is Lord, and even the like in correspondence of reason must appear in this name of Leafdian, the feminine of Laford ; the first syllable whereof being anciently written Hleaf, and not Hlaf, inust not therefore alienate it from the like nature and sense, for that only seemeth to have been the feminine sound, and we see that of Leafdian we have not retained Leady, but Lady. Well then both Hlaf and Hleaf, we must here understand to signify one thing, which is bread; Dian is as much to say as serve; and so is Leafdian a bread-server. Whereby it appeareth that as the Laford did allow food and sustenance, so the Leafdian did see it served and disposed to the guests. And our ancient and yet continued custom that our ladies and gentlewomen do use to carve and serve their guests at the table, which in other countries is altogether strange and unusual, doth for proof hereof well accord and correspond with this our ancient and honourable feminine appellation."


Much has been written upon the ancient culture of the vive in England. Bude says, “

“The island excels for grain and trees, and is fit for feeding of beasts of burden and cattle. It also produces vines in some places.” The later chroniclers, who knew the fact, quote Bede without disputing his assertion. Winchester, according to some of the earlier antiquaries, derived its name from Vintonia, the city of the vine ; but this is very questionable. The Bishop of Rochester had a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

vineyard at Halling; and one of the bishops, as Lambarde tells us, sent to Edward II, “ a present of his drinks, and withal both wine and grapes of his own growth in his vineyard at Halling, which is now a good plain meadow.” The same authority says, “ History hath mention that there was about that time [the Norman invasion] great store of vines at Santlac [Battle).” He has a parallel instance of the early culture of the vine :-“ The like whereof I have read to have been at Windsor, insomuch as tithe of them hath been there yielded in great plenty ; which giveth me to think that wine hath been made long since within the realm, although in onr memory it be accounted a great dainty to hear of.” Lambarde then particularly describes the tithe of the Windsor vineyard, as

of wine pressed out of grapes that grew in the little park there, to the Abbot of Waltham; and that accompts have been made of the charges of planting the vines that grew in the said park, as also of making the wines, whereof some parts were spent in the household, and some sold for the king's profit.” This is an approach to a wine-manufacture upon a large scale. There can be little doubt that many of the great monasteries in the South of England had their vineyards, and made the wine for the use of their fraternities. They might not carry the manufacture so far as to sell any wine for their profit; but the vineyard and the wine-press saved them the cost of foreign wines, for their labour was of little account. The religious houses founded in the Anglo-Saxon period had probably, in many cases, their vineyards as well as their orchards. There is an express record of a vineyard at Saint Edmundsbury ; Martin, Abbot of Peterborough, is recorded in the Saxon Chronicle to have planted a vineyard ; William Thorn, the monastic chronicler, writes that in his abbey of Nordhome the vineyard was “ad commodum et magnum honorem -a profitable and celebrated vineyard. Vineyards are repeatedly mentioned in Domesday-Book. William of Malmesbury thus notices vineyards in his description of the abundance of the County of Gloucester :—"No county in England has so many or so good vineyards as this, either for fertility or sweetness of the grape. The vine has in it no unpleasant tartness or eagerness [sourness, from aigre), and is little inferior to the French in sweetness." Camden, in quoting this passage, adds, “We are not to wonder that so many places in this country, from their vines are called vineyards, because they afforded plenty of wine ; and that they yield none now is rather to be imputed to the sloth of the inhabitants than the indisposition of the climate.” This question of the ancient growth of the vine in England was the subject of a regular antiquarian passage-at-arms in 1771, when the Honourable Daines Barrington entered the lists to overthrow all the chroniclers and antiquaries, from William of Malmesbury to Samuel Pegge, and to prove that the English grapes were currants—that the vineyards of Domesday-book and other ancient records were nothing but gardens—that the climate of England would never have permitted the ripening of grapes for wine. The throug of partisans to this battle-field was prodigious. The Antiquarian Society inscribed the paper pellets shot on this occasion as “The Vineyard Controversy.'

We have no hesitation in believing that those who put faith in the truth of the ancient records were right;—that vineyards were plentiful in England, and that wine was made from the English grapes. It was not a change in the climate, not the sloth of the people, that rendered the vineyards less and less profitable in every age, and finally produced their complete extinction. The wine of France was largely imported into England soon after the Norman Conquest. It is distinctly recorded that a passion for French wines was a characteristic of the court and the nobility in the reign of Henry III. The monks continued to cultivate their vines,

, -as in the sunny vale of Beaulieu, where the abbey, which King John founded, had its famous vineyard; but the great supply of wine, even to the diligent monks, was from the

shores of France, where the vine could be cultivated upon the commercial principle. Had the English under the Plantagenets persevered in the home cultivation of the vine for the purpose of wine-making, whilst the claret of a better vine-country, that could be brought in a few hours across the narrow sea, was excluded from our ports, the capital of England would have been fruitlessly wasted in struggles against natural disadvantages, and the people of England would have been for the most part deprived of the use and enjoyment of a superior drink to their native beer. The English vineyards were gradually changed into plain meadows, as Lambarde has said, or into fertile corn-fields. Commercially the vine could not be cultivated in England, whilst the produce of the sunny hills of France was more accessible to London and Winchester than the corn which grew in the nearest inland county, The brethren of a monastery, whose labour was a recreation, might continue to prune their vines and press their grapes, as their Saxon ancestors had done before them; but for the people generally, wine would have been a luxury unattain able had not the ports of Sandwich and Southampton been freely open to the cheap and excellent wine of the French provinces. This is the course of every great revolution in the mode of supplying the necessities, or even the luxuries, of a people amongst whom the principle of exchange has been established. The home growth for a while supplies the home consumption. A cheaper and better supply is partially obtained through exchange and easy communication—from another parish, another county, another province, and finally from another country. Then the home growth lingers and declines ; capital is diverted into other channels, where it can be more profitably employed. Governments then begin to strive against the natural commercial laws, by the establishment of restrictive or prohibitory duties. A struggle goes on, perhaps prolonged for centuries, between the restrictions and the principle of exchange. The result is certain. The law of exchange is a law of progress; the rule of restriction is a rule of retrogression. The law of exchange goes on to render the communications of mankind, even of those who are separated by mighty oceans, as easy as the ancient communications of those who were only separated by a river or a mountain. The rule of restriction, generation after generation, and year

after year, narrows its circle, which was first a wide one, and held a confiding people within its fold; but, as it approaches to the end, comes to contain only a class, then a few of the more prejudiced of a class, and lastly, those who openly admit that the rule is for their exclusive benefit. The meadows and the corn-fields of England have profitably succeeded her unprofitable vineyards ; and the meadows and the corn-fields will flourish because the same law of exchange that drove out the vineyards will render the home exchange of corn and meat more profitable, generally, to producer and consumer than the foreign exchange. England is essentially a corn-growing and a mutton-growing country ; and we have no fear that her fields will have failing crops, or her downs not be white with flocks, if the law of exchange should free itself from every restriction, England was not a winegrowing country, and therefore her vineyards perished before the same natural laws that will give the best, because the most steady, encouragement to her breadgrowing and beer-growing capacity.

HANDICRAFTS. Verstegan says, Touching such as have their surnames of occupations, as Smith, Taylor, Turner, and such others, it is not to be doubted but their ancestors have first gotten them by using such trades; and the children of such parents being content to take them upon them, their after-coming posterity could hardly avoid them, and so in time cometh it rightly to be said,

"From whence came Smith, all he he knight or squire,
But from the smith that forgeth at the fire.""

« ZurückWeiter »