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duced him to the queen, by whom he was graciously CHAP. received. As he afterwards chose the path of devotion, she recommended him to one of the nobles who accompanied the king, but who was induced, by the pressure of a paralytic disease, to exchange the court for the cloister.
The Anglo-Saxons distinguished the period between childhood and manhood by the term cnihthade, knighthood. It is stated in Ina's laws, “ that a cniht of ten winters old might give evidence'';” and Bede's expression, of a boy about eight years old, is translated by Alfred, “pær eahta pintra cniht." "I A A king also mentions of a circumstance, that he saw it cniht wesende, being a cniht, or while a boy. It will be considered in another place how far the term bore the meaning of chivalry among the Anglo-Saxons. A daughter was under the power of her parents till the age of thirteen or fourteen, when she had the disposal of her person herself; at fifteen, a son had the right of choosing his path of life, and might then become a monk, but not before. 13
In this season of cnihthood, or youth, we find them striving to excel each other at a horse-race. A person in Bede describes himself as one of a party, who on their journey came to a spacious plain, adapted to a horse-course. The young men were desirous to prove their horses in the greater course, or, as the Saxon translator expresses it, that “we might run and try which had the swiftest horse. “ The individual spoken of at last joined
9 Eddius, p. 44.
10 Wilkins, Leg. p. 16. Il Bede, lib. v. c. 18. Alf. Transl. 635. 12 Bede. Alf. Transl. p.518.
13 1 Wilk. Concil. 130. VOL. III.
BOOK them ; but his animated horse, attempting to clear
a concavity in the way, by a violent leap, the youth was thrown senseless against a stone, and with difficulty brought to life."
The Saxon youth seem to have been accustomed to habits of docility and obedience. The word cniht was also used to express a servant's, and Wilfrid is characterised as having in his youth attentively ministered to all his father's visitors, whether royal attendants or their servants.
The education of the Saxons was much assisted by the emigrations or visits of Irish ecclesiastics. We have mentioned Maildulf at Malmsbury; it is also intimated, in Dunstan's life, that some Irishmen had settled at Glastonbury, whose books Dunstan diligently studied. This great but ambitious man was arraigned in his youth for studying the vain songs of his Pagan ancestors, and the frivolous charms of histories. 17
After the prevalence of Christianity, a portion of the youth was taken into the monasteries. We have a description, in Saxon, of the employment of the boys there. One of these, in answer to the question, What have you done to day?' says,
Many things. When I heard the knell, I rose from my bed and went to church, and sang the song for before-day with the brethren, and afterwards of All Saints, and, at the dawn of day, the song of praise. After these, I said the first and seventh Psalms, with the litany and first mass. Afterwards, before noon, we did the mass for the day, and after this, at mid-day, we sang, and ate, and drank, and slept, and again we rose and sang
the noon, and now we are here before thee, ready to hear what thou shalt say to us.”
14 Bede, lib. v. c. 6. 16 Eddius, p. 44.
15 Gen. xxiv. 65. Luke, xii. 45. 17 MS. Cleop. B. 13.
The interrogation proceeds :
• When will ye sing the evening or the night song? “When it is time." _Wert thou flogged to day?' « No." —No ?' Every one knows whether he has been flogged to-day or not."
• Where do you sleep?' “In the sleeping room with the brethren." • Who rouses you to the song before day ?' “ Sometimes I hear the knell and rise : sometimes my master wakes me, sternly, with his rod.”
On being questioned why they learnt so industriously, he is made to reply,
“ Because we would not be like the stupid animals, who know nothing but their grass and water.” 18
That they used personal castigation in their education is also intimated by Alcuin ", who in the preface to his Dialectica, adds a warm exhortation to his young contemporaries to improve themselves by education. “O ye, who enjoy the youthful age, so fitted for your lessons ! Learn. Be docile. Lose not the day in idle things. The passing hour, like the wave, never returns again. Let your early years flourish with the study of the virtues, that your age may shine with great honours. Use these happy days. Learn, while young, the art of eloquence, that you may be a safeguard and defender of those whom you value. Acquire the conduct and manners so beautiful in youth, and
18 MS. Tib. A. 3. 19 Thus Alcuin :
:-“ As scourges teach children to learn the ornament of wisdom, and to accustom themselves to good manners.” p. 1631. He says to the brethren of York Minster, where he was educated : “ You cherished the weak mind of my infancy with maternal affection. You sustained my wanton day of childhood with pious patience. You brought me to the perfect age of manhood by the disciplines of paternal castigation, and confirmed my mind by the erudition of sacred instruction.” p. 1627.
your name will become celebrated through the world. But as I wish you not to be sluggish; so neither be proud. I worship the recesses of the devout and humble breast.” Oper. p. 1353.
We have a short sketch of the better kind of intellectual education in Alcuin's description of the studies which, after he was invited from England by Charlemagne, he superintended at Tours. It is not expressed in the best taste, but it shows the studies that were valued in the eighth century. He writes to the emperor:
“ According to your exhortations and kind wish, I endeavour to administer, in the schools of St. Martin, to some the honey of the Sacred Writings: I try to inebriate others with the wine of the ancient classics. I began to nourish some with the apples of grammatical subtlety. I strive to illuminate many by the arrangement of the Stars, as from the painted roof of a lofty palace."
6 But,” he adds, “ I want those more exquisite books of scholastic erudition which I had in my own country. - May it then please your wisdom, that I send some of our youths to procure what we need; and to convey into France the flowers of Britain, that they may not be locked up in York only, but that their fragrance and fruit may adorn, at Tours, the gardens and streams of the Loire.'”20
Some of the Anglo-Saxons, if we may judge from Alcuin, had a high and just idea of the efficacy of literary education in meliorating the temper, and in forming a noble character; and it appears that the sentiments of Charlemagne were as enlightened as those of his preceptor. Alcuin says to him :
“ Yet as you wish that the fierceness of your youths should be mitigated by the sweetness of all kinds of poetry, you have
20 Alc. Ep. p. 1463.
provided for this with the wisest counsel. Sometimes the asperity of the mind does not feel the effects of sagacious advice, and sometimes the continued gentleness of the temper tends to enervate the spirit. But among these diseases the prudent temperament will arise from the middle path ; now softening the swelling fury of the soul, and now rousing its slothfulness. This kind of virtue is peculiarly necessary to warriors. We read in ancient history, that a wise command of temper ought to guide and govern every thing that is done." 21
In another place he expatiates ardently on the benefit of lettered education.
“ Nothing tends to acquire more nobly a happy life; nothing is more pleasant for our recreation, nor more powerful against vice; nothing is more laudable in the highest ranks, nor more necessary for the due government of a state; nothing is more efficacious in forming life to the most becoming manners, than Wisdom, Study, and Knowledge !" — He adds, “ Exhort, O King ! all the noble youths in your palace to acquire and possess these advantages by their daily studies, that their blooming spring may so profit from them as to lead them to an honoured old age, and a blessed immortality.” ?
21 Alc. Ep. p. 1473.
22 Ibid. p. 1464.