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of the arts, when the imagination conceived only the human figure in embryo, progreffively to the present hour, when portrait and hiftorical painting are matured to great perfection, artists could never be fatisfied with imitation; they feldom adhered flavishly to the fashion of the times in which they lived, but dreffed and diverfified their figures with fancies of their own. Let us look into plate XI. of this work, reprefenting the month of May, and see what a variety of dreffes make up the exhibition: particularly a fhepherd with his crook, in the true Arcadian foppery. The illuminators of those times, who were hired to decorate a literary work, were little better than the wood-cutters of thofe figures which ftand at the head of our halfpenny ballads, and almost as inattentive to the fubject they were to exhibit. Mr. Strutt inclines to this opinion in his note (page 44) where he acknowledges they have betrayed fome ignorance in mifplacing the months; but if Mr. Strutt had spoke out, he would have faid those pictures were fo little like what they were to represent, that those who drew them were puzzled to fettle the characters of them; or they were so disgusted at their own productions, that they fcattered the unnatural monsters abroad, and left the world to baptize them.-An artist may pick up fome hints, but he should be wary how he trufts to the correct propriety of dress in fuch rude representations, left he should fall into those chronological miftakes which Mr. Strutt wishes to warn him against.
Mr. Strutt begins, very methodically, with the ancient Britons; and to finish his picture of our venerable ancestors he has felected a variety of paffages from the beft authors, who have defcribed the customs and manners of thofe early days: and he has connected them with ingenuity and judgment. If the Reader will pay him that compliment to which the work has a claim, he may, by attention, fo poffefs himself of the fubject, as to furnifh a fund of contemplative amufement for his hours of leifure.
As Englishmen we are naturally interested in the ancient reputation of our country, and we acquiefce in Mr. Strutt's opinion, that the Britons, before the Roman invasion, were a brave people his words are," However barbarous we may fuppofe the ancient Britons to have been, they certainly were not unufed to war, for long before the coming of the Romans, they were continually making inroads into each other's provinces, with conftant disturbances and civil broils, that were generally decided by the fword. But here we should obferve, this war was only amongst themselves; their manners of making war, and their offenfive weapons were known to each other, the chance then depended much more on the courage, experience, and number of either army. But now 'tis not the naked Briton fighting against his fellow, but against a man cafed up in strong armour, and trained by long practice and experience, under the H 4
greatest generals, in the knowledge of every requifite to make a good foldier. Neither courage nor number could much avail the Britons, for from their want of military order and difcipline, joined with their own private controverfies (each scattered about and fighting after his own fashion) they were foon made the victorious triumph of the more experienced Romans.”
Our Author's remarks are very fignificant; Again we find them under the tuition of Agricola, building temples, houses, and places of affembly; the fons of the chief Britons were inftructed in the liberal fciences;' and after telling us from Tacitus, that already, even in this early dawn of knowledge, the natural capacity of the Britons was preferable to the ftudied acquirements of the Gauls; that they began to honour the Roman apparel; that the ufe of the gown became frequent amongst them; that they were proud of the arts, and learned the Roman tongue, which hitherto was not only hated but despised; that they e ected galleries and fumptuous baths, and were fond of grandeur and elegance in their banquetings;" he concludes his remark, Thus we fee them advancing with hafty strides to floth and luxury.--The crafty Romans meanwhile, as much as poffible, encouraged them in thefe purfuits, well knowing that by fuch means they fhould not only correct the natural ferocity of the Britons, but that in proportion as they gave way to luxury, the ufe of arms and military arts would gradually lofe ground.'
How muft the modern navigator exult when he fees explained, from Lucan, that the veflels in the dawn of commerce 66 were made of ofiers twisted and interwoven with each other, which were covered over with strong hides." And yet in these veffels the bold Britons ventured to fea, tailing from hence to Ireland, notwithstanding that the paflage is fo very rough and boiftrous.
Whenever Mr. Strutt ventures to protest against the decifion of claffical authority, he enters his diffent with a becoming diffidence; and explains his difagreeing fentiments with that candour, which does him honour as a man; and as an author will ferve as a letter of credit to every liberal and ingenuous mind Our Readers hall judge for themselves: I here take the liberty, fays he, of offering fome few words concerning thofe venerable remains of antiquity, Stonehenge, Aubury, &c. Dr. Stukely and Mr. Borlafe have, between them, given a complete account of the ancient Druids; and Dr. Stukely has taken infinite pains to prove Stonehenge, and Aubury, to be not only of Druid conftruction, but that they were alfo the temples of worship of the Druids. Mr. Borlafe has partly agreed with the Doctor in their being temples of worship, but imagines, that they may also have been made ufe of as courts of judicature.
My thoughts are, that they are beyond a doubt the rude struc tures of the Britons, but I think they were intended as courts of judicature only.
All ancient authors have told us, that the temples of the Druids were neither more or less than a thick grove of oaks; or at least, if there should have been a rude temple, it was on a hill surrounded with oaken trees. Indeed Mr. Borlafe nas advanced an affertion, that would entirely confirm the Doctor's opinion; when he fays, that Salisbury plain, however it is now a wild and barren plain, was anciently a thick wood; and in the middle of which wood, he fuppofes Stonehenge to have been built. But I am afraid Mr. Borlafe has gone a little too far in his affertion, to be able to keep pace with proofs.
Dr. Stukely himself did not start fuch a conjecture, but thought Cæfar (or rather the tranfcribers of Cæfar) had miftakenly placed laco, pro loco,-a grove for a place. In fhort with all fubmiffion) the Doctor's account is moft undoubtedly very learned and ingenious, but to me it does not feem conclufive, fince he is obliged to gainfay the very authority that his ftrongest arguments are founded upon.
Cæfar tells us, that the Druids of Gaul met once a year at Chartres, to determine fuch difficult matters in public affembly, as each Druid, or private meeting of the Druids of each province, had not been able to fettle. Certainly thofe of England also, had their annual meetings; for the fame author informs us, that the Gaulish Druids in all respects resembled those of Britain. Allowing this, where can we fuppofe a better place for fuch a public affembly, than a large extenfive plain? where all bufinefs might be tranfacted in the fair face of day. Neither does the fuppofed altar, or the burnt bones of animals, &c. found near it, in the leaft difprove this conjecture; for it is very clear that the Druids never began any important business, without first facrificing to the gods. Nor is the form, and conftruction, in the leaft unfit for fuch a purpofe -And for those of more common structure, as Aubury, Roll-Rech, &c. they may have been the courts of judicature, for fuch particular provinces or kingdoms, where the Druids of fuch provinces might meet at certain ftated times, to determine publicly all fuch matters as might not require the decifion of the whole affembly of Druids, &c. I hope the candid Reader will (if this opinion fhould feem vague, and unlikely to him) recollect that I mean it only as a conjecture of my own, and as fuch have given it in as few words as poffible; and, however flight or trifling it may appear, it has coft me an infinite deal of pains in fearching and comparing the different authors that have written on this fubject; and to get good reafons (or at leaft fuch as feemed to me conclufive) to eftablish this conjecture in my own mind,
without which I should have never prefumed to prefent it to the Public.'
He next gives a fhort fketch of the ancient national Saxons, before he introduces the Anglo-Saxons; which, like the foregoing account of the Britons, is a compilation from the best authorities: it is extremely entertaining to look back upon the manners, we may even say fentiments, of our progenitors, and by comparing their actions and thoughts with our own, see in what articles of u'e or refinement we may boaft an advantage. We are aware that every lady will decide against us in point of addrefs, and moft ardently with we had preferved the old gallantry, when he is told that those venerable husbands would never go to battle, or undertake any enterprize of moment, without firft confulting their wives, to whofe advice they paid the greatest regard. And those few austere matrons who would rather hear their virtues extolled, than their beauties admired, may perhaps, in vindication of their fex's honour, fufpend for a while their natural foftnefs, and in part approve the sentence executed upon those who took liberties, fcarcely difcountenanced in our happier days of freedom. The adultrefs had first her hair cut off, and then she was turned forth. ftark naked (or at leaft with her cloaths cut off to her girdle ftead) from her husband's house, in the prefence of all her kindred, and was whipped from town to town till fhe died, without the leaft regard being paid either to her fex, wealth, or beauty. Her feducer was generally hanged on a tree. Those that were unnaturally lewd were ftifled in filthy mud, and covered with hurdles.'—There is no doubt but the women of those days affented to this fevere judgment for valuntary fhame, when they had fortitude to execute a more cruel punishment upon themselves to fecure their virtue against the brutish violence of the Danes. The fingular inftance of modefty and virtue fhewn by the chafte Ebba, abbess of Coddingham, and the virtuous nuns, ought, to the eternal honour of the Saxon ladies, to ftand upon record. The abbey being hard befet by the inhuman Danes, the abbess took a knife and flit her nofe, and cut off her lips; by her persuasion caufing all the beautiful young damfels to do the fame, and fo difguiling themfelves in the moft frightful manner, waited the coming of the lafcivious conquerors, who, in revenge of their difappointed lufts, fet fire to the abbey, and every foul therein perished in the flames.' The authenticity of the fact is, however, doubtful.
If time has impaired the gallantry of men, it has done very little in favour of the domeftic accomplishments of women; the feminine amufements of the Anglo-Saxons were fimple and heroic; they gave ardour to one fex, and were honourable to the other; instead of tambouring waistcoats, they embroidered ftandards for their heroes; the fpinning-wheel was preferred to
the pillow and bobbins; and it was more refpectable to be affociated with the maidens in the culinary duties of the house, than fhut up in their chamber, manufacturing of knotted fringe and fprigged aprons. The four daughters of King Edward the Elder, were highly praised and diftinguished, on account of their great affiduity and fkill in fpinning, weaving, and needlework. And Edelfeda, widow of Brithned, Duke of Northumberland, prefented to the church of Ely a curtain, in which was pictured the history of the great actions of her deceased lord, in order to preserve the memory of his great valour, and other virtues.'
It reflects fhame on our boafted modern civility when we read that the ancients were particularly attentive to preserve the chastity of their young maidens; no illiberal jefts were fuffered to give a fhock to the grace of modefty; the nuptial benediction was received by the bride under a veil, to conceal her virgin blushes this kind of refpect to maiden delicacy is particularly marked, where we find the ceremony of the veil is difpenfed with, when a widow is impatiently waiting for a fecond bleffing.
Mothers yielded to the tender inftructions of Nature in the nutrication of their children; the Saxon matron, a ftranger to the falle delicacies of later times, nurfed and fuckled her own young, "unlefs fickness or fome fimilar accident prevented it, they holding it (fays Verftegan) among them for a general rule, that the child by fucking a ftrange nurse, would rather incline unto the nature of her, than unto the nature of its own father or mother,"
To give some idea of the ancient fimplicity and plainness of Saxon manners, our Author quotes this inftance from Ingulphus: "I have often feen, fays Ingulphus, Queen Edgetha, while I was yet a boy, when my father was at the King's palace, and as I came from fchool, when I have met her, fhe would examine me in my learning, and from grammar fhe would proceed to logic (which she also underflood) concluding with me in the moft fubtle argument, then causing one of her attendant maids' to prefent me with three or four pieces of money I was dismissed, being fent to the larder, where I was fure to get fome eatables :" Mr. S. clofes with this reflection of his own; which plainness would but ill fuit the refinement of this more polifhed age; this honeft national fimplicity has been with fcorn put forth, to make room for the infincere compliments, and foolish fopperies of a giddy rival people.'
The origin of drinking healths is placed in the time of the Anglo-Saxons, as appears from Verftegan: The old health by hiftorians reported to have been drank by Rowena (the daughter or niece of Hengeft) to Vortergren King of the Bri