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THE IDENTIFICATION CONCLUDED.
“ If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath,
The holy of the Lord, honourable;
And shalt honour him,
Isa. lviii. 13, 14.
Dress of the Anglo-Saxons.—Use of the Bow.--Form of Battle.—Use of Ensigns.—Were Freemen at the same time that they were Soldiers.--Agriculture.Architecture.--Gothic Arch.—Proficiency in the Fine Arts.---Laws regarding Property.--Poetry.—Music. --Their ancient Ideas of the Supreme Being.- Reception of Odin as the Incarnation of Deity.—Symmetrical Arrangements of their Objects of Worship, as written in the days of the Week.- Arrangements of their great Temples, and Worship in Groves.--Israelitish Days, Weeks, and Festivals. Their three Grand Convocations. Their Priesthood.Tithes.—Retention of Israelitish Forms, when they professed Christianity.—Gradual and continual Development of God's Favour to his Church in England.
The very dress of the Anglo-Saxons witnessed to the truth of their Israelitish origin. Their garments are said to have been loose and flowing, and chiefly made of linen, and adorned with broad borders. It had been commanded of God, that the border around their garments should be of blue; but from the strictness of this rule they had perhaps departed,—as it is said, they were now woven or embroidered with various colours. With regard to the women, much the same variety and elegance of dress appear to have prevailed, as among their mothers in ancient Israel. They had, also, the same sort of muffling ; wearing upon the head, a hood or veil, — which,
falling down before, was wrapped round the neck and breast. And, as identifying these Anglo-Saxons with the people who built the tombs near the Euxine, to which we before referred, and in one of which the large golden bracelet was found; it may be noticed, that, among them, the men of consequence or wealth usually had expensive bracelets on their arms, as well as rings on their fingers. In an Anglo-Saxon will, the testator bequeaths to his lord, a beah, or bracelet, of eighty golden mancusa.
Even before they possessed the land which is blessed, “ for the deep that coucheth beneath," the Saxons gave very clear indications of being des
ANGLO-SAXON ARTS OF WAR AND PEACE.
tined to the empire of the sea. Thus they are described by an author of the fifth century:
"This enemy is fiercer than any other ; if
you be unguarded, they attack; if prepared, they elude you. They despise the opposing, and destroy the unwary; pursue, they overtake ; if they fly, they escape. Shipwrecks discipline them, not deter; they do not merely know, they are familiar with all the dangers of the sea; in the midst of waves and threatening rocks they rejoice at their peril, because they hope to surprise."
It may be worthy of remark, that the ancestors of the English were generally in the habit of forming their battle lines in the form of a hollow wedge, something like the Greek letter Δ, the point of which, towards the enemy, is very sharp; and the sides of which gradually diverge, by which it becomes broadest at the rear. It is curious enough to observe, that not only was this the figure of their portion of Britain; but it was, also, much the form of their settlement, as holdding military possession of the land of Canaan,- from the time of Joshua to the breaking up of their kingdom. The tribes along the border of the Great Sea, formed the base ; whilst part of the tribeships of Simeon, Judah, and Reuben, formed the right side ; and Asher, Manasseh, and Gad, the left. The main angle pointed eastward. Among the Anglo-Saxons, when an army was composed of several distinct battalions, or the troops of several different countries, they often formed as many of these hollow wedges as there were battalions. Each of these battalions being formed of the inhabitants of the same country, were expected to fight the more bravely for the honour of their country, and in defence of their relations and friends. This farther supports our idea, that the counties were so named, from the circumstance of their each containing what belonged to a distinct standard. As was the case with Israel ; the different tribes or battalions, had their different standards, with suitable emblems. And as the Israelites were em
boldened by the presence among them of the ark, so did the Saxon army carry before them the ensigns of their gods. When they were converted to Christianity, such as it then was, the heathen relics gave way to the relics of the saints, or some other representation of then- new religion ; as, also, did the blessing of their arms by the heathen high priest, to the benediction of the Christian bishop. They used their arms with skilfulness, as well as with force ; and they were equally prudent in negociation, as valiant in fight; and they seem to have been scarcely more zealous in overcoming their enemies, than anxious to secure themselves against the oppression of those that led them on to victory. They were individually to be respected, as well as collectively to be feared.
The Anglo-Saxons were, like ancient Israel, much a pastoral people; but they seem to have been also well acquainted with agriculture ; or, at least, they easily fell into this way of life, as if it had not been foreign to their former habits. The lands seem to have been, at once, divided among the great leaders, and subdivided among their followers, upon such terms as implied a knowledge of the value of land, and the power to make use of it. And soon each soldier became a husbandman, or was otherwise usefully employed in the civil affairs of life. Like ancient Israel, they, at first, used only hand-mills in converting their corn into meal ; and such mills were, also, in this case, turned by women.
Asto Architecture, consistent with the idea of their being Israel in dispersion, they seem to have used only wooden tabernacles, as it were, for their more ordinary religious assemblies : but we are expressly told, that their national temples were of the most splendid description ; they were of the most curious workmanship, and glittering with gold. This was even before coming into Britain. During their sojourn in the northern wilderness, they seem to have got greatly into the habit of
ATTAINMENTS AS TO THE FINE ARTS.
building with wood, just as their descendants in North America, at this day. Before they began to build in wood, they seem to have acquired a great predilection for the arch. The perfection of their arch is particularly noted, with regard to their early tombs, as described by Dr. Clarke.
They seem to have attained to great perfection in the carving of wood, and also in the gilding of wood, and the inferior metals; but this, indeed, they had from their fathers, even from the time of the erection of the tabernacle in the wilderness, as coming up out of Egypt. The English Cathedrals appear to have been built after the fashion of the temples they frequented previous to their conversion to Christianity. And these cathedrals, it has been observed, seem evidently to be built after the design of the temple at Jerusalem. Like this, they have their most holy place, the altar; and their holy place the choir ; and the court outward from thence, for the body of the people. The more minute parts and ornaments will, in general, be found exceedingly correspondent.
The working in lead and iron must have been well understood by the Anglo-Saxons : with the former, almost all their churches were covered ; and they had abundance of warlike instruments provided from the latter. They were also well skilled in the use of the precious metals, which they wrought up into coronets, chains, bracelets, half-circles for dressing their hair upon, collars, and similar articles of usefulness and ornament—into such articles as we know to have been in use among the Israelites. Even the art of polishing and setting precious stones, were
not unknown among them. Nay, the English goldsmiths were so famous for their art, that the curious caskets, adorned with gold, silver, and precious stones, in which the relics of saints were kept, became generally known as opera Anglica. The art of making gold and silver thread, for weaving and embroidery, they also possessed : and the AngloSaxon ladies became equally famous
for their needlework, as the English goldsmiths were in their department.
-As they knew the value of property, and had skill to acquire it, and valour to defend, and prudence to make use of it ; so were they equally well provided with laws for the regulations of matters of this kind, and, indeed, of almost every other. In criminal cases, there was much effort at making compensation for the injury committed, both to the injured party, and to the king as representative of the law : much the same as we find was appointed in ancient Israel. The farther we go back in the history of the Anglo-Saxons, we find their laws approximate more and more nearly to those of Moses.
If these were the descendants of Israel, we may also expect them to have indications of having been a race whose poetical genius was great, and whose taste in this respect was highly cultivated. And, after the examples of David and Solomon, it might be well expected that the employment of their genius in poetry, for the delight and improvement of mankind, would not be thought beneath the most exalted in character and station. And, accordingly, we read that never were poetry and poets so much admired as among the Anglo-Saxons. The greatest princes were no less ambitious of the laurel, than of the regal crown.
Alfred the Great was not only a poet himself, but he never neglected to spend some part of every day in getting Saxon poems by heart, and in teaching them to others. He made himself intimately acquainted with the wisdom of his Saxon ancestors: and thus, doubtless, as well as from other sources, were so many reforms produced in his reign, after the preceding troubles. He has, in several important cases, obtained credit for having given a commencement to institutions which he merely restored. Canute the Great was also a famous poet. The ancient bards of the Saxon and Danish race, are said to have produced the most astonishing effects upon those who heard them. To have such power, they must have
ANGLO-SAXON POETRY, MUSIC, RELIGION,
been greatly assisted by nature : but nature was evidently vastly improved by art. They are said to have used prodigious artifice, and an almost endless variety of kinds and measures of verse. The harmony of these different kinds of verse, did not consist in only the succession of long and short syllables, as among the Greeks and Romans; nor in the similar sounds of the terminating syllables, as among the moderns; but in a certain consonancy and repetition of the same letters, syllables, and sounds, in different parts of the stanzas, which produced the most musical tones, and affected the hearers with the most marvellous delight. Much the same seems to be the genius of Hebrew poetry, upon which the rules of ancient Saxan poetry may be expected to throw considerable light.
As to Music, for which the children of Zion were so distinguished, and for which the descendants of that people have been so remarkable all over the world, we have the following account of the Anglo-Saxons:
“ Music was as much admired and cultivated as poetry. The halls of all the kings and nobles of Britain rung with the united melody of the poet's voice and musician's harp: while every mountain, hill, and dale, was vocal."
As an example, Alfred the Great excelled as much in music, as in war ; and ravished his enemies with his harp, before he subdued them by his
Music appears to have constituted a principal part of their heathen worship,- for which they, like the Hebrews, had an immensity of songs ; and, after their embrace of Christianity, their public, and even private worship, consisted mostly in psalmody. In some cathedrals and large monasteries, perhaps as rivalling what had taken place in their heathen temples, and derived from their still more early and pure way of worship, this exercise of singing was continued both day and night, without intermission, by a constant succession of priests and singers; with whom the laity occasionally joined. Besides the harp, which was,
as in ancient Israel, their most admired instrument of music, all the other kinds in use among the Israelites, appear to have been equally possessed by this portion of the people who were to come of Jacob,—a people created for the praise of the God of Israel.
As to that for which this people might be expected to be most distinguished, - Religion, or the knowledge of the Supreme Being, and of the service more immediately required by Him, the Anglo-Saxons, and their brethren in the north of Europe, gave equally clear indications of their Israelitish origin. They are described “as having been acquainted with the great doctrine of one Supreme Deity ; the Author of every thing that existeth ; the Eternal, the Ancient, the Living, and Awful Being ; the Searcher into concealed things ; the Being that never changeth ; who liveth and governeth during the ages; directeth every thing which is high, and every thing which is low." Of this glorious Being, they had anciently esteemed it impious to make any visible representation, or to imagine possible that he could be confined within the walls of a temple. These great truths, the same as, we know, were taught to Israel, had, in a great measure, become lost or obscured, before this people's coming into Britain. But this very obscuration itself speaks of their origin: it having chiefly taken place, it is said, in consequence of their receiving a mighty conqueror from the east, as their God in human nature, correspondent to the expectation of Israel with regard to the Messiah. This supposed God incarnate is thought to have presented himself among these people, about the same time as the true Messiah appeared among the Jews in the land of Israel ; or perhaps it may have been shortly after that, when the false Christs were deceiving the Jews. The name of this pretender was Odin, or Woden,—the same word, apparently, as that from which we have Eden, and signifying delight. And he was esteemed the great dispenser of happiness to his followers, as well as fury to his enemies.
TEMPLES, AND DIVISION OF TIME.
When Woden was removed from them, they placed his image in their most holy place, where was a kind of raised place or ark, as if in imitation of that at Jerusalem, where, between the Cherubim, the Divine Presence was supposed to abide. Here, as if on the mercy seat, or throne of the God of Israel, did they place the image of him whom they reckoned Immanuel, or God in our nature. There, also, they placed the image of his wife Frigga ; and, between these two, they fixed the image of Thor, who sat crowned in the centre. Outward of these three, by the side of Woden, was the image of Tuesco; and by the side of Frigga, was Seater or Saturn; and outward of Tuesco, was a representation of the Moon; and outward of Saturn, was placed an image of the Sun. Thus Thor, after whom we still call the middle day of the week Thursday, was in the centre ; his father Woden, from which we have Wednesday ; and his mother Frigga, from which we have Friday, were with armour, on either side of him : whilst outwards from these are the more peaceful deities; Tuesco, from which we have Tuesday; and Saturn, from which we have Saturday ;—and, most outward of all, we have the two great luminaries, the moon, from which we have Monday, and the sun, after which we have Sun, day. In the arrangement of these false objects of worship, and in the correspondent naming of the several days of the week, they manifested that same regard to symmetry, in which ancient Israel was trained, and for which their English descendants are so remarkable. These gods, it may be also remarked, are the very same they had been threatened with. They were the sun and moon, and new gods which had come newly up. Before this elevation, or ark, in this most holy place, on which the symbols of their worship were placed, they had an altar, on which the holy fire burned continually ; and near it was a vase for receiving the blood of the victims, and a brush for sprinkling the blood upon the people ; reminding us again of
what was done in ancient Israel. They had generally, one great temple for the whole nation, and in one of these, it is particularly noticed, they had twelve priests, presided over by a high priest, and having under their charge the religious concerns of the whole people. This temple is said to have been of the most splendid description,—of incredible grandeur and magnificence. It was at Upsala, in Sweden. In the neighbourhood of the same place, was, and still is preserved a pavement of eleven or twelve stones, where the person took his stand that conducted the election of the king among the people inhabiting that country. Israel, it may again be remarked, had one great temple for the whole nation :—but, beside this, they had their rural worship, which was generally in groves; and the Anglo-Saxons had the very same arrangement. We have, in short, every agreement of these people with ancient Israel, as to religion; except in those respects which have been anticipated by the Spirit of prophecy, and that from their very commencement as a nation, under Moses; and which, therefore, no less than what they had retained of the Mosaic institutions, tend to fix their identity.
Nor should we forget that these people had the Israelitish division of Time. Their day was from evening to evening, and their weeks, as we have seen, consisted, like those of the Hebrews, of seven days: and by our still retaining the heathen names for the days of the week, it is quite evident that this division of time had long existed among the people, previous to their becoming acquainted with the institutions of Moses through their Christian instructors. It may also be observed, that there were three great festivals among the Hebrews, in the course of the year, at which all their males were to present themselves before the Lord. These are repeatedly mentioned in the books of Moses, as in Dent. xvi. 16, 17:
“ Three times in a year shall all thy males
appear before the Lord thy God, in the place which He shall choose;