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"keels" or vessels bore towards the land. The white horse -the noble animal sacred to their tutelary Woden—was the ornament of their standards at the mast-head; and the pirate chiefs, who happened also to be brothers, obtained from those bearings the names of Hengist and Horsa, being, in the languages of the Baltic, the names respectively of "Horse" and "Mare." The services of this Horse and Mare were repaid by the gratitude of Vortigern with the gift of all the isle of Thanet—a rich and level plain divided from the rest of the country by a channel at that time a mile in width, and therefore the strongest and most desirable position for aggression which a maritime nation could possess.
§ 4. The common story that Vortigern summoned the Saxons to aid him against the Picts and Scots is contradicted by the place of their landing and the ground they retained as owners. The Isle of Thanet is not an advanced position against the inhabitants of Berwickshire and Dumfries. The rovers came over to help the ancient Celtic party to regain its superiority over the Roman. In this it was successful, although the son of Vortigern resisted the new supporters of his father's cause, and when the British annalists introduce the incident of the captivating Rowena, the daughter of Horsa, presenting the wine cup to Vortigern, saying "Waes Hael," and subduing him by her beauty till he forgot his duties as patriot, we are to take it as a legend invented by their national vanity to account for the rapid successes of the northern strangers. That their successes were rapid and their numbers greatly augmented, we may conclude from the undoubted portions of their story; for we find in 488 that Eric, the son of Hengist, had stretched his authority over the whole of what is now the county of Kent, and became the founder of the first of the Saxon kingdoms.
While Cantwarra-land, or Kent, was receiving its new lords, fresh shiploads of armed colonists had come over from
the mainland, and in a very few years the kingdom of the South Saxons-now converted into Sussex-took its place as a recognised state.
Stretching westward from Sussex, a new establishment of Saxons rose on the boundaries of the present Hampshire, Dorset, Berks, and Wilts, and gave to their confederacy the name of the "Land of the West Saxons" or Wessex. Their territories extended to the Thames, but did not include the great trading town of London. Beyond the noble river, which the Romans had adapted for navigation by deepening its channel and restraining it within artificial banks, lay the seat of another detachment of the northern rovers, which, extending from Wallingford to Bedford, took the name of the "Land of the East Saxons," or Essex, and enclosed the citizens of London and its contiguous domain between the eastern and western realms, enforcing on them by this means the name of Middle-Saxons, or men of Middlesex.
§ 5. There was a vast promontory of firm and fertile land, at that time separated from the rest of England by swollen rivers and impassable fens, which lay above the kingdom of the Eastern Saxons, and tempted the ambition of a multitude of savage warriors from a nook or angle of land on the banks of the Eyder. The whole population of that desolate region embarked for the great expedition, and succeeded in establishing a kingdom of the East Angles, which was divided into two tribes, called, according to their geographical positions, the Northfolk and the Southfolk, in which it is not difficult to trace the present Norfolk and Suffolk. An enormous fortification which these new arrivals drew across the country where the marshy defences ended, protecting it from the incursions of the Britons or the more dangerous hostility of their countrymen of the midlands, kept them also so divided from the interests of the rest of the island that little is known of their progress. It is only ascertained that by the year 590
they possessed a compact and fertile territory, and were ruled in peace and quiet by hereditary chiefs descended from their first leader, who bore the name of Offa.
A large tract of country at a distance from the sea, and surrounded on three sides by the Saxon settlements, and on the west by the hills and forests behind which the ancient Britons had retired, fixed up the landmarks of its extent along the whole external line of its possessions. Hence the name was given to it of the "Land of the Marches" (or limits), which took the Latinized form of Mercia.
§ 6. The two most formidable enemies of this strangely enclosed domain were Wessex and the kingdom of Northumbria —a land of varying extent, consisting of two independent and yet connected peoples, the Deirians and Bernicians—but too busy with its enemies on the Pictish border to retain more than a momentary predominance over its southern neighbours. Northumbria, however, prevented for a long time the expansion of the inland Mercians towards the north, and left them to maintain their military discipline by continual battles on the west with the barbarized refugees of Wales.
These, then, are the states and principalities known as the Heptarchy, which means the seven realms. Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Essex, East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, form the exact number which gave rise to the collective name, yet it is undoubted that those seven kingdoms never existed in their separate form at the same time. Sometimes bearing rule over their neighbours, sometimes subordinated themselves, and sometimes split into still more numerous combinations, the independent states varied from five to eight or nine, for we occasionally find Northumbria acting as paramount to Mercia, and Wessex again dominating Essex and Sussex; and, on the other hand, we find Middlesex asserting its independence, the Isle of Wight erected into a separate power, and Bernicia and Deira asserting their alternate claims to the sovereignty of Northumbria.
§ 7. Battles were fought during all these alternations of aggression and defence, of which the monuments remain to us in the heaps of bones which are turned up by the plough and the spade. Names also have continued, the landmarks of a dark and stormy period, on some of which the genius of the greatest of our poets has poured fresh light, and given a renewed existence to the shadowy impersonations of Romance. We love to recal the heroic Arthur-more heroic in his gentleness than in the exercise of his military and knightly skill -and almost persuade ourselves that his victory at Baden Hill over the West Saxon, Cerdic, the combats at Glem, and Duglas, and Bassa were distinguished by the valour and courtesy which never deserted "the Blameless King." We use fresh efforts to trace the course of this noblest of knights and gentlemen, from his palace at Caerleon to his grave at Glastonbury beside the magic mere, but are forced backward from the enchanted ring, in which all noble things are true, into the world of cold and real existences, where Arthur and his Table Round disappear before the light of common day. The contest between the combined invaders and the remote defenders of the west was sure to terminate in the triumph of the more vigorous race. Many of the defeated tribes crossed over the Severn sea from Cornwall and Devon, and found refuge in the fastnesses of the opposite shore; adding new bitterness to the feelings of their countrymen, who had long ago found a shelter from the Roman conquest in the same inaccessible defiles.
From the Straits of Dover to the mouth of the Forth, the whole land was occupied by its Saxon lords in less than a hundred and fifty years after the withdrawal of the Romans. It is impossible to over-estimate the sufferings of that extended period. In a very short time the superficial civilization introduced by the legions was effaced by the pirates from the north. The only opposition made to the ferocity of their new oppressors was by the indomitable bar
barism of the original Celts, which had offered an equal resistance to the arts and laws of the Romans. Pursued by the fresh hordes of heathen invaders as enemies, and equally hated by the ancient Britons as traitors, the Romanized natives had no chance of transmitting their refinement or experience to their posterity after the first generation. In thirty years, the few terrified inhabitants of the magnificent cities which studded the land must have looked with helpless despair on the infuriated savages who brought in their ferocious habits and terrible gods. The next generation must have betaken themselves to the woods and wildernesses, or hidden amid the half-buried ruins of the temples and public halls which marked the sites of the dilapidated towns. Christianity fled before those sea rovers as fearfully as civilization and wealth; and before sixty years were expired we may picture to ourselves a wasted realm and ruined population, the arts of life trampled under the feet of a pitiless immigration, and bands of ravagers ransacking all the land for whatever spoil the excesses of their predecessors had left them.
§ 8. Gradually a feeling of the advantages of property and order must have dawned upon their minds; and a great step was gained when the place of leader, which the necessity of warfare had created, by the nomination of the expeditionary tribe, was converted into that of hereditary chief or king, who should regulate their affairs in peace as well as in battle. It is the first great step to political improvement when a barbaric host give their adhesion to an office and not a man. The wise and elevating thought takes possession of their minds that obedience is no longer a proof of inferiority; for the object of their submission, the king, is himself subordinated to the law, and represents the power of the nation of which the subject forms a part. The hereditary principlemodified, however, by the fact that elections might still appoint any member of the blood royal, to the exclusion of the lineal heirs-was accordingly the first element of the