November.

This was the Wint-monat, the wind-month, of the Anglo-Saxons. Its emblems were the blazing hearth and the swine-killing (Fig. 273). The great slaughter-time was come,—the days of fresh meat were passing away. The beeves, and the sheep, and the hogs, whose store of green feed was now exhausted, were doomed to the salting-tubs. The Martinmas beef,—the beef salted at the feast of St. Martin—is still known in the northern parts of the island; and the proverb which we adopted from Spain, “His Martinmas will come, as it does to every hog,” speaks of a destiny as inevitable as the fate of the acorn-fed swine at the salting season.

Mr. Strutt, in his explanation of the illumination of the Saxon Calendar, says, “This month returns us again to the labourers, who are here heating and preparing their utensils.” He then refers us to another drawing of a blacksmith. The Saxon illumination is very rude. In the centre of the composition there is a blazing fire upon the floor; a group on the right are warming their hands; whilst one man on the left is bearing a bundle of fuel, and another doing something at the fire with a rough pair of tongs. We believe that our artist has translated the illumination correctly, in considering this the fire of the domestic hearth, which the labourers are supplying with fresh billets. But as the subject is interpreted by Mr. Strutt, it refers to the craft of the smith, the most important occupation of early times; and we may therefore not improperly say a few words upon this great handicraftsman, who has transmitted us so many inheritors of his name even in our own day. Verstegan says, “Touching such as have their surnames of occupations, as Smith, Taylor, Turner, and such others, it is not to be doubted but their ancestors have first gotten them by using such trades; and the children of such parents being content to take them upon them, their after-coming posterity could hardly avoid them, and so in time cometh it rightly to be said,—

‘From whence came Smith, all be he knight or squire,

But from the smith that forgeth at the fire.’ ’

But the author of an ingenious little book, lately published, on “English Surnames,” Mr. Lower, points out that the term was originally applied to all smiters in general. The Anglo-Saxon Smith was the name of any one that struck with a hammer,—a carpenter, as well as a worker in iron. They had specific names for the ironsmith, the goldsmith, the coppersmith; and the numerous race of the Smiths are the representatives of the great body of artificers amongst our Saxon ancestors. The ironsmith is represented labouring at his forge in Fig. 294, and in Fig. 295, where, in another compartment of the drawing, we have the figure of a harper. The monks themselves were smiths; and St. Dunstan, the ablest man of his age, was a worker in iron. The ironsmith could produce any tool by his art, from a ploughshare to a needle. The smith in Alfric’s Colloquy says, “Whence the share to the ploughman, or the goad, but for my art? Whence to the fisherman an angle, or to the shoewright an awl, or to the sempstress a needle, but for my art?” No wonder then that the art was honoured and cultivated. The antiquaries have raised a question whether the Anglo-Saxon horses were shod; and they appear to have decided in the negative, because the great districts for the breed of horses were fenny districts, where the horses might travel without shoes (See ‘Archæologia,’ vol. iii.). The crotchets of the learned are certainly unfathomable. Mr. Pegge, the writer to whom we allude, says, “Here in England one has reason to think they began to shoe soon after the Norman Conquest. William the Conqueror gave to Simon St. Liz, a noble Norman, the town of Northampton, and the whole hundred of Falkley, then valued at forty pound per annum, to provide shoes for his horses.” If the shoes were not wanted, by reason of the nature of the soil in Anglo-Saxon times, the invading Normans might have equally dispensed with them, and William might have saved his manor for some better suit and service. Montfaucon tells us, that when the tomb of Childeric, the father of Clovis, who was buried with his horse in the fifth century, was opened in 1653, an iron horseshoe was found within it. If the horse of Childeric wore iron horseshoes, we may reasonably conclude that the horses of Alfred and Athelstane, of Edgar and Harold, were equally provided by their native smiths. There is little doubt that the mines of England were well worked in the Saxon times. “Iron-ore was obtained in several counties, and there were furnaces for smelting. The mines of Gloucestershire in particular are alluded to by Giraldus Cambrensis as producing an abundance of this valuable metal; and there is every reason for supposing that these mines were wrought by the Saxons, as indeed they had most probably been by their predecessors the Romans. The lead-mines of Derbyshire, which had been worked by the Romans, furnished the Anglo-Saxons with a supply of ore (Fig. 296); but the most important use of this metal in the Anglo-Saxon period, that of covering the roofs of churches, was not introduced before the close of the seventh century.” (‘Pictorial History of England,’ Book II. Chap. VI.) It is not impossible that something more than mere manual labour was applied to the operations of lifting ore from the mines, and freeing them from water, the great obstacle to successful working. In the Cotton Manuscripts we have a representation of the Anglo-Saxon mode of raising water from a well with a loaded lever (Fig. 297). At the present day we see precisely the same operation carried on by the market-gardeners of Isleworth and Twickenham. A people that have advanced so far in the mechanical arts as thus to apply the lever as a labour-saving principle, are in the direct course for reaching many of the higher combinations of machinery. The Anglo-Saxons were exporters of manufactured goods in gold and silver; and after nine hundred years we are not much farther advanced in our commercial economy than the merchant in Alfric’s Colloquy, who says, “I send my ship with my merchandise (Fig. 298), and sail over the sea-like places, and sell my things, and buy dear things, which are not produced in this land. . . . . Will you sell your things here as you bought them there?—I will not, because what would my labour benefit me? I will sell them here dearer than I bought them there, that I may get some profit to feed me, my wife, and children.” The geographical knowledge of the Anglo-Saxons was no doubt imperfect enough; but it was sufficient to enable them to carry on commercial operations with distant lands. The Anglo-Saxon map (Fig. 299) is taken from a manuscript of the tenth century, in the Cottonian Library. It was published in the ‘Penny Magazine,’ No. 340, from which we extract the following remarks upon it:—“The defects of the map are most apparent in the disproportionate size and inaccurate position of places. The island to the left of Ireland is probably meant for one of the Western Islands of Scotland; but it is by far too large, and is very incorrectly placed. The same remark will apply to the islands in the Mediterranean. The form given to the Black Sea appears just such as would be consequent upon loose information derived from mariners. However, in the absence of scientific surveys of any coast, and considering the little intercourse which took place between distant countries, the Anglo-Saxon map presents as accurate an outline as perhaps ought to be expected.”

Figure spread at pages 72 and 73:

Figure 283
283.—Royal Costume, and the Harness and Equipment of Horses. (Cotton M.S.)
Figure 284
284.—The Harp, Accompanied by Other Instruments (cotton MS.).
Figure 285
285.—Saxon Cloaks, Plain and Embroidered Tunics, and Shoes. (Cotton MS.)
Figure 287
287.—Anglo-Saxon Females
Figure 289
289.—Coffin and Grave Clothes.