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current even in the time of Wycliffe for he translates the passage in the Gospel according to St. Matthew c. xxii., v. 5: "But thei dispisiden, and wenten oon to his toun, another to his marchaundise"; where the modern Anglican translation has, "They made light of it, and went one to his farm, and another to his merchandise." Even at the present day, there are single farm houses in England the names of which end in ton, still pointing to this Anglo-Saxon seclusiveness. In many cases, however, the isolated ton became the nucleus of a village, and the village grew into a town; and last stage of all, the word ton or town has come to signify, not the one small farm, enclosed from the forest by the Saxon settler, but the dwelling-place of a vast population greater than that of which the whole of Saxon England could boast. Still, though Botolph's ton has grown into Bo'ston, yet the love of seclusion and impatience of intrusiveness characteristic of the first settlers have descended as an heirloom to each inhabitant of the modern Boston, and, carried across the Atlantic, by the first Puritan settlers in this country, are to this day the characteristics of its American namesake.
In the study of the origin of national social customs, a knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature often discloses points of especial interest. It is well known
that Anglo-Saxon notions of hospitality, though well intentioned, were inimical to sobriety. It was considered the duty of the host to offer mead or wine to every guest of distinction who might be journeying past his home. The kings and nobles, on their journeys of state or pleasure, stopped to drink at every house on their sparsely settled route; and as, at such times, they were exposed to the danger of assassination by secret foes, a system was introduced, the rememberance of which, has permeated the whole of our literature, and the vestiges of which remain in many of the pleasant amenities of the English social life of to-day.
Spenser, in the Faerie Queene, speaking of the mariner, says:
Soone as the port from far he has espide,
And Nereus crownes with cups; his mates
Similarly, Ben Jonson sings in his often quoted
Drink to me only with thine eyes
Here the word "pledge," to a modern reader, would convey but a very small amount of meaning; but to the Anglo-Saxon student this word is full of signifi
cance. When a Saxon warrior, travelling through the country, stopped to quench his thirst with a glass of mead at the nearest ton he might pass on his road, he was exposed to the danger of assassination by unsuspected enemies. The Saxon drinking-cups were large and horn-shaped, and required to be held in both hands. While the hands were thus in use, and the head raised in the act of drinking, a warrior offered a fine opportunity to the assassin. Hence a custom was introduced as a protection to life. A Saxon about to drink, asked his companion to be his pledge, or guardian, while so doing. The pledger, accordingly, drew his sword and protected the drinking man, who, in his turn, guarded his companion while he drank. When personal security became better ensured this practice died out, and the sword gave place to the various substitutes of modern times.
As an instance of the survival, in England, of this custom in the social usages of the present day, we may mention the passing of the "Loving Cup," which is observed at many of the more formal functions at the English Universities; and more particularly at the Lord Mayor's banquets at the Mansion House, where both the customs and dress of an earlier age are scrupulously maintained. At such entertainments, when the Loving Cup is passed
around, the ceremony brings vividly to mind the Anglo-Saxon custom of olden times. The guest whose turn it is to drink, rises from his seat, and receiving the Loving Cup in both hands from the guest on his left hand, turns to the guest on his right, who removes the massive lid; the guest on either side standing guard while he drinks the accustomed toast, in accordance with the traditions of an earlier age.
To the student of language, of literature, and of social observances, this study is all-important. But it has practical bearings as well. A strong and steady light may be reflected from this quarter on many points of municipal and common law; the theory of our political constitution; and the internal history of our Church polity. The Saxon charters and laws throw a strong light upon the Saxon political and religious institutions, and enable us to gain a tolerably clear insight into Saxon times. They show the rank, the rights, and the duties of the several orders of society; they disclose to us the mode in which our ancestors punished public wrongs or redressed civil injuries; they explain the constitution and jurisdiction of the several courts; they discover interesting facts respecting the tenure of land; and they show the amount of authority possessed by the Anglo-Saxon Church. The whole
fabric of our laws, indeed, ecclesiastical as well as civil, is built upon an Anglo-Saxon foundation. To the lawyer who is not content with simply the prac tical knowledge of modern law requisite for the every-day business of life, but who aspires to a thorough mastery of any particular branch of his profession, a knowledge of Anglo-Saxon law is as indispensable as a knowledge of Roman law. "Where," asks an eminent authority on this subject, "is the lawyer who will not derive an accession of solid information from a perusal of the Anglo-Saxon laws published by Lambard, Wheloc, and Wilkins, not to mention the various charters and legal instruments that are still extant, together with the ancient records of our county courts, on the foundation of which is erected the whole superstructure of our forensic practice? What patriot is there whose heart does not burn within him while he is reading the language in which the immortal Alfred, and other Saxon kings, composed the elements of our envied code of laws, and portrayed the grand outlines of our free constitution?" And yet how few even of our most prominent members of the Bar have ever read one line of these, although the contents of the Corpus Juris Civilis may be as familiar to them as Blackstone or Kent! The lawyer who possesses this intimate acquaintance with his subject