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present; it was the same with their liquors, exclusive of those still used in England.
The gallantry and general tendency of knighthood, as the term is now understood, or a fraternity of military men, who made the redressing of wrong the first and only principle of action, would be a very erroneous idea of the order which made its appearance in England with the Normans; as it is utterly impossible to reconcile the manners and conduct just noticed even with the impelling motives of a Don Quixote, who committed all kinds of injustice with the best intentions. The Norman knights evidently associated, and increased their numbers, for the sole purpose of oppression and usurpation. In the first instance, the inventors of this system contrived to involve the profession in a mysterious veil of high reputation and military importance, which was alone a sufficient inducement for the appearance of candidates on all sides. The noviciate was removed at an early age from the superintendance of females, and placed under the care of a knight; the youth was then considered in the light of a page, and received the polish necessary for his appearance at court, and such instructions in the use of arms as his time of life permitted : in due time he became an esquire, when the more inanly operations of attack and defence were practised, and he was admitted into the company of ladies, and partook of all the diversions of his
patron : at the same time, he made rapid advances in all the accomplishments of the day. At stated periods, numbers of noviciates met in the field, well mounted and armed; when combats took place, calculated to improve them in their movements as compact military bodies. The last act in this series of preparation was the conferring of the title of knight by the prince, earl, or baron, with whom the party had passed his seven or eight years of probation ; the knight elect fasted, prayed, performed penance, received the sacrament, confessed, was exhorted, bathed; and at length, clothed in white, went in procession to the altar, where he delivered his sword to the officiating priest, who, having consecrated it, replaced it on his body. The candidate then went to the place appointed for the ceremony, which was not confined to a church, but might be in the open air, in the court of a castle, or in the hall. On approaching the prince, or noble, he kneeled, and offered his sword; the former, receiving it, enquired why he desired the honour of knighthood; upon the return of a satisfactory answer, a solemn oath was administered ; and this was the signal for the advance of certain knights and ladies, who put on his various pieces of armour, and finally the sword: the prince, or baron, then descended from his seat, and struck his face thrice gently with the palm of his hand, or his shoulder with 2 sword, repeating, “ In the name of God, St.
Dlichael, and St. George, I make thee a knight: be thou brave, hardy, and loyal.” The knight was immediately assisted to rise; and having received his helmet, lance, and shield, he vaulted upon his charger, and performed such exercises as were customary in war.
be supposed, that the new brother had been long provided with a mistress, to whom he dedicated all the tenderness of his nature, and practised towards her the most punctilious veneration. It was customary, besides, for a knight to form a firm friendship with some companion of his probation, and to him he swore constant fraternal affection. A curious instance of the inviolability sometimes attached to the word of honour of a knight occurred in the case of king Stephen-a man who violated every moral principle without scruple, and yet having given his word that he would conduct the empress Maud, his determined enemy, out of his own reach, when on the point of becoming his prisoner, he punctually performed his promise. It would be unjust not to acknowledge there were many knights who did the profession honour, and literally fulfilled their vows to protect the innocent, Hence originated the present various orders.
It has been a subject for dispute in what degree William innovated upon the laws and usages of his conquered people : that he meditated more than the exact observance of them may be col
lected from his Domesday book, and the liberal manner in which he provided for his adherents ; still it appears, that he did not very materially alter the national laws.
According to Ingulph, the Normans introduced the custom of calling their grants charters, and were in the habit of confirming their authenticity by impressions in wax from seals, besides the signatures of the principals and witnesses.
The same author farther informs us, that the natives of England, and the descendants of their naturalized invaders, insensibly adopted the Norman manners: the French language, being that of the conqueror's court, was of necessity used by such of the English as could obtain admission there; hence it may well be supposed to have descended to the lower ranks of people rapidly, and, with the language, numberless traits of national character. Had not the thrice antient propensity of imitation then existed, the invader possessed means to force his idiom on us; nor did he omit every opportunity of so doing : he had his primary schools, where French was taught, and the English language forbidden ; and all his deeds, laws, and charters, were in that language. Matthew Paris says the Saxons and Mercians used the Saxon character in all their writings till the time of Alfred, after which it was disused gradually, from the circumstance of that king having received his eclucation through the me
dium of French tutors. It is however certain, that, for a very long period after, our antient charters exhibit an intermixture of the Saxon All judicial proceedings were in French till 36 Edward III.
One of the rude and unsafe customs of these remote days was the gift of lands verbally, with the trivial additional security of the donor's spur, helmet, bow or arrow, or drinking cup. Edgar divided his staff with the abbot and convent of Glastonbury in testimony of a grant to that foundation ; and Camden gives an instance of the absurd folly of the times in the case of Godwin earl of Kent, who said to the archbishop of Canterbury, “Give me Boseham;" the prelate, at a loss to comprehend his meaning, hesitating, replied, “ I give you Boseham.” The artful noble immediately took possession of an estate so named, on the coast of Sussex, belonging to the see, and supported his claim by repeating the archbishop's inconsiderate reply before the king, corroborated by the evidence of his attendants, purposely placed in hearing of the words of the gift.
Prudence, necessity, or apprehension, induced William to issue an edict, commanding a bell to be rung,
in every district, at eight o'clock in the evening, which was to be received as the signal for extinguishing fire of every description. The well-known curfew is still sounded even in London.