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Sæhrimnir, which every day was renewed entire. " But what have the heroes to drink ?" asked Gangler, “ do they drink only water?” “A very silly question that," replied Har; “ dost thou imagine that All-Father would invite kings, and jarls, and other great men, and give them nothing to drink but water? In that case, methinks, many of those who had endured the greatest hardships and received deadly wounds in order to obtain access to Valhalla, would find that they had paid too great a price for their water drink, and would complain of their poor entertainment. But the case is quite otherwise--the goat Heidrun stands above Valhalla, and gives from her teats such abundance of mead that the heroes are all filled with it each night.”*
All history proves the power of superstition to assimilate its votaries to itself, and testifies to the truth of the psalmist's assertion, when speaking of the gods of the heathen, " They that make them are like unto them.” Man elevates his own natural tendencies, embodies them in the persons of his gods, falls down and worships before the deified reflection of his own vices and crimes, and thus sanctions, confirms, and renders intense the devices and desires of his own evil heart. The religion of a people and their prevailing dispositions reciprocally act and react on each other, and combine to form the national character. Thus in the coarse, sensual, and savage creed of the
* TT 1:10
Saxons, we have an infallible indication of their ferocity and brutality. It becomes us with reverence and gratitude to contrast with this barbarous and barbarizing system, the benign influences of the doctrines of Christianity, so pure, spiritual, and gracious. But for the grace of God, which alone makes us to differ, the cruel and bloody worship of our Saxon ancestors would have been ours. How deep are our obligations to God who has cast our lot in these happier days! God forbid that the woe denounced against Chorazin and Bethsaida should fall upon us, as it assuredly will should we remain negligent of our transcendent privileges !
Whilst the Saxons were thus to be feared from their fierce spirit, as indicated and confirined by their religious creed, they were yet more to be dreaded from the military strength of their confederation. This arose from two
First, their. numbers were very considerable, as we may gather from the extent of territory they occupied. It included modern Denmark, Hanover, and all Germany, east of the Saal, and north of Bohemia.
This district, it is true, was but thinly peopled, but when we remember that every man was a soldier, and that every soldier deemed death in battle to be the sure and only passport to immortal joy, their military prowess will be evident. A further cause of apprehension was to be found in the fact, that there arose among them at that time
many chiefs of ability and influence suffi
cient to unite their otherwise desultory efforts in the pursuit of one common end, and to conduct their enterprises to a successful issue, even when directed against troops more numerous and better disciplined than their own. What Arminius had been to the Germans in their conflict with the Romans on the same territory, that Witikird * and Alboin were to the Saxons in their wars with the Franks.
The presence of such a race in the very centre and heart of Europe, placed in imminent peril the
peace and safety of all those countries which had made any progress toward a permanent settlement. A very short march from their own frontiers would bring them to those of Italy or Greece, and involve a repetition of the carnage and desolation wrought by the hordes under Alaric and Attila. tion was one of special danger to the Franks. Occupying opposite banks of the Saal, the two races, like all uncivilized and half civilized nations, were constantly at war; and whenever a few of the Saxon leaders so far relinquished their intestine feuds as to combine, they could at any time carry their arms into the
heart of the Frank territory.
As it was from this quarter that danger was chiefly to be apprehended, it was to it that the attention of Charlemagnef was first directed. * That is, Wise Child. + It may be as well to mention, that we shall througbout speak of him as Charlemagne, that being the name by which he is known in history, though its employment at the early period of his reign involves an anachronism, the epithet Magnus not having been added till many years later.
In the year 772, immediately upon his accession to the sole sovereignty of the Franks, he took measures to destroy the dangerous power of his neighbours. In that year the usual annual muster of the Frankish warriors was held at Worms, to review their military strength and to discuss their projects for the ensuing campaign. There had been a fresh outbreak of bigotry and ferocity on the part of the Saxons in the previous winter. Libuinus, a pious and devoted missionary among them, had succeeded in gathering around him a band of converts, and in erecting a church at Daventer. The invariable results of the introduction of Christianity had followed. Savage warriors were reclaimed from their fierce and brutal pursuits and pleasures ; and under the influence of their peaceful industry, the desert and the solitary place were glad, and the wilderness rejoiced and blossomed as a rose.
Upon this little garden in the desert the pagan Saxons had burst, burned the church, slaughtered the converts, and only allowed the missionary to escape with life, at the intercession of an old man, who argued that since he came as ambas-. sador from the King of heaven, he ought to enjoy impunity. Charlemagne availed himself of this outrage to excite afresh the old national feud. He had no difficulty in persuading the Franks to consider the massacre of their fellowChristians as a provocation which it behoved them to avenge, and marching at the head of his troops into the Saxon territory, routed the
enemy in their stronghold at Ehresburg, destroyed the temple and idol of Hermansaul, and having devastated the surrounding country, bore back in triumph to France a vast treasure of gold and silver. The Saxons, terrified at this sudden blow, gave hostages to the conqueror, and consented to the establishment of strong military posts throughout their territory.
Charlemagne was probably the more disposed to grant peace to the Saxcns, from the fact that he had received the most urgent entreaties from pope Adrian 1. to rescue Rome from the hands of the Lombards. Apart from all considerations of policy, there were many personal reasons which induced him to lend a favourable ear to the papal entreaties. It will be remembered that the widow and orphans of Carloman took refuge at the court of Desiderius, the Lombard monarch, who not only afforded them shelter, but now warmly espoused their cause, and demanded that the dominions of the deceased king should be restored to them. A still more private and personal cause of rupture existed in the fact that Charlemagne, having espoused a daughter of Desiderius, had divorced her at the command of the pope. Notwithstanding these grounds of quarrel, Charlemagne attempted negotiation, and even offered a sum of money as the price of peace.
To this he was probably led by the disinclination of his subjects to engage in Italian wars, and by the danger still to be apprehended on the Saxon frontier, which rendered him unwilling to lead