Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II: Character and Manners of the Saxons. - An Historical View of the English Government
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAPTER II: Character and Manners of the Saxons. - John Millar, An Historical View of the English Government 
An Historical View of the English Government, From the Settlement of the Saxons in Britain to the Revolution in 1688, in four volumes, edited by Mark Salber Philips and Dale R. Smith, introduction by Mark Salber Philips (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Character and Manners of the Saxons.
Of those barbarians who passed under the denomination of Saxons, and who, at the time when they were invited to assist the Britons, inhabited the northern parts of Germany, it is of little moment to ascertain the origin, or to trace the several places in which they had previously resided. The Germans, who subdued the western provinces of the Roman empire, have been supposed to possess a singular character among the rude inhabitants of the world, and to be distinguished by their eminent qualities and virtues. Such an opinion may be ascribed to the elegant description of that people by the masterly pen of Tacitus; to the great revolutions which they atchieved in Europe; and, above all, to that national vanity which is more extravagant than the vanity of individuals, because the multitude of persons who are influenced by the same weakness keep one another in countenance. But there is reason to believe that the ancient inhabitants of Germany exhibited the same<40> dispositions and manners, and adopted similar institutions and customs, to those which may be discovered in such barbarians, of every age or country, as have been placed in similar circumstances.
Deriving their chief subsistence from the pasturing of cattle, they generally possessed considerable wealth in herds and flocks; but as they were little acquainted with tillage, they seem to have had no idea of property in land. Like the early nations described in the Sacred History,1 they were accustomed frequently to change their abode. Regarding chiefly the interest of their cattle, they often found it convenient to wander from one place to another, according as they were invited by the prospect of new pastures; and in their migrations, they were under no restraint, either from the cares of husbandry, or from the nature of their possessions.
But while the management of their cattle constituted the ordinary employment of these people, they were also frequently engaged in war. In common with all other barbarous nations, they were much addicted to theft and rapine. The right of property must be long<41> established, before the violations of it can be regarded as heinous offences; and it is necessary that men should be habituated to an extensive intercourse of society, before they are presented with sufficient inducements to sacrifice the immediate profits of fraud and violence, to the distant but superior advantages, derived from their living together upon good terms, and maintaining an amicable correspondence. The ancient Germans, inhabiting a country almost entirely overgrown with wood, or covered with marshes, were often reduced to great scarcity of provisions; and were therefore strongly instigated, by hunger and misery, to prey upon one another. Example, in such a case, found no difficulty to excuse or vindicate what custom had rendered universal.
The rude inhabitants of the earth appear, in all ages and countries, to have been divided into separate tribes and villages; a consequence of their hostile dispositions. When, from accidental circumstances, a family of such people had been planted, at so great a distance from their friends and acquaintance as to prevent all correspondence with them, its members, from inclination, as well as from a re-<42>gard to mutual defence, were usually disposed to live together, and to avoid much intercourse with neighbours by whom they were likely to be treated as enemies. If their multiplication rendered them too numerous to be all maintained under the same roof, they naturally subdivided themselves into different families, who erected their huts beside one another; and if at length their village had been so enlarged as to produce a difficulty in finding subsistence, they were led, by degrees, to remove that inconvenience, by sending out little colonies, with which, notwithstanding their distance, they frequently preserved an alliance and connection. The German tribes became larger and more extensive, according as, by the encrease of their cattle, they were enabled to live in greater affluence. In that part of Germany which was known to the Romans, there have been enumerated about forty different tribes or nations, many of which appear to have enjoyed considerable opulence and power. But concerning the number or extent of the villages belonging to each of these, little or no account can be given.
The political regulations established among<43> the ancient Germans were few and simple, and such as their situation could hardly fail to suggest. Every society, whether great or small, that had occasion to act in a separate military capacity, required a separate leader: for which reason, as every family was under the direction of the father, so every village had its own chief; and at the head of the whole tribe or nation there was a great chief or king. How far the king, or the inferior chiefs, enjoyed their dignity by election, or by hereditary descent; it may be difficult to determine; but their authority was far from being absolute. It was the business of every chief to compose the differences, and, probably, to command the forces, of that village over which he presided. The king too seems to have acted with their advice in the ordinary administration of public affairs; but in matters of great moment, such as the making of laws, or the trial of capital offences, he was obliged to procure the concurrence of a great council, composed of all the heads of families.* <44>
The general character of these barbarians was such as might be expected from their manner of life. It consisted not of many features, but they were distinctly and strongly marked. As in the carnivorous brute animals, obliged very often to fight for their food, and exposed to continual strife and contention in the pursuit of mere necessaries, their passions,<45> though excited by few objects, were strong, and violent. Their situation, at the same time, occasioned a wonderful similarity in the dispositions and habits of individuals. In every polished nation, the labour and application of the people is usually so divided, as to produce an endless variety of characters in those who follow different trades and professions. The soldier, the clergyman, the lawyer, the physician, the taylor, the farmer, the smith, the shopkeeper; all those who earn a livelihood by the exercise of separate employments, whether liberal or mechanical, are led, by the different objects in which they are conversant, to contract something peculiar in their behaviour and turn of thinking. But the ancient inhabitants of Germany had made too little progress in arts, to require that a single person should bestow his whole attention upon any one branch of labour, in order to acquire the usual degree of skill and proficiency in it. Every man therefore was accustomed to exercise indiscriminately the few employments with which they were acquainted. Every family built its own cottage, fashioned its own tools and utensils, managed its own cattle, and took precautions for its own<46> support and defence. Thus the whole people, being employed nearly in the same manner, and having no pursuits but such as were suggested by their most immediate wants, were trained up in an uniform sort of discipline, and acquired that uniformity of manners and customs,2 which is commonly observed in persons of the same trade or profession. Even the nations inhabiting the most distant regions of that extensive country appear to have been no otherwise discriminated than by the different shades of barbarism and ferocity which the climate or situation, more or less favourable to improvement, might easily be supposed to produce.
Among people who are constantly exposed to the attacks of their neighbours, and who are almost continually employed in war, courage and other military qualities are naturally intitled to hold the first rank. There is an active and a passive courage, which may be distinguished from each other, as they seem to depend upon different principles, and are not always to be found in the same persons. The former is displayed in the voluntary encountering of danger, the latter in bearing pain and<47> distress with firmness and constancy. Valour, which demands a sudden and violent effort of resolution, may be regarded as a masculine quality; while fortitude, which, in many cases, is the fruit of calmer but more continued exertion, is often conspicuous in the weaker sex. In order that, with our eyes open, we may expose our lives to imminent danger, we must be excited by a strong desire of procuring esteem and applause, either from others, or from the reflection of our own minds. Efforts of this kind, it is evident, are most likely to be made in those countries where, from long practice, and frequent emulation in fighting, martial exploits have come to be universally admired, and looked upon by every one as the infallible road to honour and distinction. Fortitude under pain and distress may, on the contrary, be promoted by the opposite circumstances, by the want of sensibility, or by a conviction that our sufferings are beheld with unconcern and indifference. To complain or repine, in the midst of affliction, is an attempt to procure relief, or at least compassion, from others; and when we find that our complaints are disregarded, or treated with scorn and deri-<48>sion, we are led to exert our utmost resolution in order to smother and restrain them.
The savages, who live by hunting and fishing, are placed in a situation more favourable to fortitude than to valour.3 Exposed by their manner of life to innumerable hardships and calamities, they are too much loaded by the pressure of their own wants and sufferings, to feel very sensibly those of their neighbours. They disdain, therefore, to solicit that sympathy, which they know by experience will not be afforded them; and having, from their daily occurrences, been long inured to pain, they learn to bear it with astonishing firmness, and even to endure every species of torture without complaining. As, on the other hand, they live in very small societies, and, in order to find subsistence, are obliged to remove their different villages to a great distance from one another, they are not apt to be engaged in frequent or extensive military enterprizes, nor to attain any degree of refinement in the methods of conducting their hostilities. The punctilios of military honour are unknown to them. They scruple not to take any unfair advantage in fighting, and can seldom be<49> brought to expose themselves in the open field. The unrelenting and blood-thirsty Indian of America is accustomed to lie concealed for weeks, that he may have a convenient opportunity of shooting his enemy, and may then with safety enter his cabin, to rob and murder the family.
Nations who subsist by pasturing cattle, as they live in larger societies, and are supplied with food in greater abundance, are more at leisure, and have greater incitements to cultivate their social dispositions. But their magnanimity, in bearing pain and affliction with apparent unconcern, is naturally diminished by their advancement in humanity; and according as individuals discover that their distresses meet with greater attention from their companions and acquaintance, they are more encouraged to display their sufferings, and to seek the tender consolation of pity, by giving way to the expression of sorrow and uneasiness. They are also likely to acquire a much higher degree of the military spirit. The wandering life of shepherds is the occasion of bringing frequently into the same neighbourhood a variety of stranger tribes; among whom any<50> accidental jealousy, or interference of interest, is apt to kindle animosity, and to produce quarrels and hostilities. In the frequent wars that arise from such a situation, and which are carried on with the ardour and ferocity natural to barbarians, the victors, having no fixed residence, are at full liberty to prosecute their success without interruption; and as, in every migration, such people are obliged to carry along with them their wives, and children, and servants, together with their herds and flocks, and even their furniture and utensils, a decisive battle never fails to reduce one tribe completely under the power of another. With the same ease with which the conquerors may pursue their victory, they can incorporate with themselves the vanquished party, and make use of their assistance in any future enterprize. Thus by repeated successes, and by a gradual accumulation of forces, a single tribe may, in a short time, become so powerful, as to meet with no enemy in a condition to cope with them, and be excited with great rapidity to overrun and subdue a vast extent of country. History is accordingly filled with the rapid and extensive conquests made by nations in<51> this early state of society; of which, in particular, there occur many celebrated examples among the Arabs and Tartars.
Such was the condition of the ancient Germans; of whom it is remarked by the historian, that they were less distinguished by their patience of labour, or by their capacity to bear the extremities of heat and cold, of hunger and of thirst, than by their active courage, and their ardent love of military reputation.* “They are more easily persuaded,” says Tacitus, “to march against an enemy, and to expose themselves in the field, than to plough the earth, and to wait the returns of the season. They account it unmanly to acquire with sweat what may be procured with blood. When they engage in battle, it is a disgrace for the chief to be surpassed in valour; it is a disgrace for his followers not to equal the bravery of their chief; it is perpetual infamy to escape with safety, after the fall of their leader. To defend and protect his person, to devolve upon him the glory<52> of all their brave actions, is the principal point of honour. The chiefs fight for victory, their followers for the reputation and dignity of the chief.”†
The same circumstances which gave rise to frequent hostilities between the members of different tribes, produced a strong attachment between the individuals belonging to each of those little societies. United by a sense of their common danger, and by their common animosity, against all their neighbours, they were frequently required by their situation to defend and relieve one another, and even to hazard their lives for their mutual safety. Living in a small circle of acquaintance, and having scarcely any intercourse with the rest of mankind, they naturally contracted such prejudices and prepossessions as tended to flatter their own vanity, and to increase their partial regard for that village or tribe of which they were members. But however warmly attached to their kindred and friends, it could not be expected that, in their ordinary behaviour, they would exhibit much delicacy or<53> refinement of manners. They were too little acquainted with the dictates of prudence and sober reflection, to be capable of restraining the irregular sallies of passion; and too little conversant in the arts of polished society, to acquire a facility of yielding up their own opinions, and of sacrificing their own inclinations and humours, to those of their companions. The head of every family, unaccustomed to bear opposition or controul, demanded an implicit submission and obedience from all its members. When he met with great provocation, it was not unusual for him to take away the life of a servant; and this was regarded as an exercise of domestic authority, for which he could not be subjected to any punishment.* Even the feelings of natural affection did not prevent the children from being, in like manner, subjected to the arbitrary power of the father, and from experiencing, on many occasions, the unhappy effects of his casual displeasure. Neither does the condition of the mother appear to have been<54> superior to that of her children: the little attention which, in a rude age, is usually bestowed upon the pleasures of sex, and the inferiority of the women in strength, courage and military accomplishments, deprived them of that rank and consequence which they enjoyed in a civilized nation. There is great reason to believe that the husband commonly bought his wife from her father, or other male relations, and that he considered her in the light of a servant or slave. If she
was guilty of adultery (a crime which, from the general simplicity of manners, was probably not very frequent, but which, by introducing a connection with a stranger, was highly prejudicial to the interest of the family) the punishment inflicted by the husband, was that of stripping her naked, turning her out of doors, and whipping her through the village.*
In the intercourse of different families, and in their common amusements, their behaviour<55> was suited to the spirit and disposition of a martial, but rude and ignorant people. Their military life, which was incompatible with industry, prevented the growth of avarice, the usual attendant of constant labour and application in every lucrative profession. Their employments were such as united them by a common tie, instead of suggesting the idea of a separate interest, or engaging them in that struggle for riches, by which the pursuits of every man are, in some measure, opposed to those of his neighbour. Their herds and flocks, in which their wealth principally consisted, being under the management and direction of a whole village or tribe, were considered, in some sort, as the joint property of all; so far at least, as to render individuals willing, on all occasions, to relieve their mutual wants, by sharing their goods with one another. Hence that hospitality and generosity which is so conspicuous among shepherd nations in all parts of the world. “No nation,” says the author above quoted,† “is more hospitable than the Germans. They make no difference, in<56> this respect, between a stranger and an acquaintance. When a person has been liberally entertained in one house, he is conducted to another, where he is received with the same hearty welcome. If a guest, at his departure, should ask a present from his entertainers, it is seldom refused; and they will ask any thing of him with the same freedom. They are fond of making presents, which are scarcely understood to lay the receiver under any obligation.”4
Their military operations, no doubt, required a violent, though an irregular and transient exertion; but upon the conclusion of an expedition they were completely at liberty to indulge themselves in rest and idleness. From these opposite situations, they contracted opposite habits, and became equally restless and slothful. When not engaged in the field, the warriors disdained to assist in domestic offices,5 they even seldom exercised themselves in hunting; but, leaving the care of their cattle, and of their houshold, to the women and children, or to the old and infirm, they were accustomed to pass their time in listless indolence, having little other enjoyment but what they derived<57> from food or from sleep.* That from such dispositions they found great delight in convivial entertainments, and were given to great excesses in eating and drinking, may easily be supposed. By the pleasures of intoxication, they sought to dissipate the gloom of that languor and weariness with which they were oppressed, and to enliven the barren prospect which the ordinary course of their thoughts and sentiments was capable of presenting to them. For the same reason they were addicted to games of hazard; insomuch that persons who had lost their whole fortune at play would afterwards, it is said, venture to stake their liberty; and having still been unlucky, would voluntarily become the slaves of the winner.† The prac-<58>tice of gaming must have been carried to a high pitch, when fashion, even among such barbarians, had made it a point of honour to discharge a game-debt of that extraordinary nature. It is observable, that in countries where men have exhausted the enjoyments arising from the possession of great riches, they are apt to feel the same want of exercise and occupation, as in that simple age when they have not yet contracted those habits of industry by which wealth is acquired; and they are forced to make use of the same expedient to deliver them from that taedium vitae,6 which is the most oppressive of all misfortunes. The opposite extremes of society appear in this respect to coincide; and excessive gaming is therefore the vice, not only of the most opulent and luxurious nations, but of the most rude and barbarous.
Among all the German nations, the Saxons, who appear to have been scattered over the pe-<59>ninsula of Jutland,7 and along the neighbouring shores of the Baltick Sea, were the most fierce and barbarous, as they were most completely removed from that civility and improvement which every where attended the progress of the Roman arms. Their maritime situation, at the same time, had produced an early acquaintance with navigation, and had even qualified them to undertake piratical expeditions to several countries at a distance. They had, accordingly, long infested the coasts of Britain and Gaul; insomuch that in the former country it was found necessary to appoint a military officer, with a regular force, to guard against their depredations.
Making allowance, however, for such differences as might arise from this peculiarity of situation, their character and manners were similar to those of the other inhabitants of Germany, and, in general, to those of the wandering tribes of shepherds in every age or country.
Upon the whole, when we examine the accounts delivered by the best historians, concerning the ancient inhabitants of Germany, as well as the Saxons in particular, we find<60> nothing, either in their public or private institutions, or in their habits and ways of thinking, which we can reasonably suppose to have occasioned any peculiarity in the government established by the latter people in Britain. Whatever peculiarity therefore is observable in the Anglo-Saxon government, it must have arisen from causes posterior to the migration of that people into Britain; from the nature of the country in which they settled; from the manner in which their settlements were formed; or from other more recent events and circumstances.
Some writers fondly imagine,8 that they can discover, in the political state of the Saxons, while they remained in their native forests, the seeds of that constitution which grew up in England during the government of the Anglo-Saxon princes. With respect to those innate principles of liberty which have been ascribed to this people, it must be observed, that in proportion as mankind recede from civilized manners, and approach to the infancy of society, they are less accustomed to authority, and discover greater aversion to every sort of restraint or controul. In this sense the<61> Saxons may be said to have possessed a stronger relish for freedom than many of the other German tribes; as the present Indians of America, who are mere hunters and fishers, discover a still freer spirit than appeared among the Saxons. But as this love of liberty proceeds from the mere want of the common means of improvement, and from no original peculiarity of character, it is not likely to be retained by such barbarians, after they have opportunities of improving their condition, by acquiring property, and by extending the connexions of society. When the Saxons in Britain became as opulent as the German or Scythian tribes, who settled in other provinces of the Roman empire, there is no reason to believe, that in consequence of their primitive poverty and barbarism, they were with more difficulty reduced into a state of subordination, and submission to civil authority. The ancestors of almost every civilized people may be traced back to the most rude and savage state, in which they have an equal title to be distinguished, as men impatient of all restraint, and unacquainted with the commands of a superior.<62>
[1. ]This comparison of the manners of the Germans to those of the patriarchs in the Hebrew Bible recalls similar passages in the Origin of the Distinction of Ranks, where, for example, the biblical history of Jacob illustrates the manners of “those families or tribes of shepherds which were anciently scattered over the country of Arabia.” DR, 348. For a similar use of biblical history in Adam Smith, see, for example, LJ, 405.
[* ]“In pace, nullus est communis magistratus; sed principes regionum atque pagorum inter suos jus dicunt, controversiasque minuunt. Ubi quis ex principibus in concilio dixit se ducem fore—qui sequi velint prositeantur; consurgunt ii qui et causam et hominem probant, suumque auxilium pollicentur, atque ab multitudine conlaudantur: qui ex iis secuti non sunt, in desertorum ac proditorum numero ducuntur, omniumque iis rerum postea fides derogatur.” Caesar de Bel. Gal. 6. § 23. [[“In time of peace there is no general officer of state, but the chiefs of districts and cantons do justice among their followers and settle disputes ... when any of the chiefs has said in public assembly that he will be leader, ‘Let those who will follow declare it,’ then all who approve the cause and the man rise together to his service and promise their own assistance, and win the general praise of the people. Any of them who have not followed, after promise, are reckoned as deserters and traitors, and in all things afterwards trust is denied to them.” Gaius Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico, 6.23. See The Gallic War, trans. H. J. Edwards (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1966), 349. There is material omitted in Millar’s Latin text.—“Reges ex nobilitate, duces ex virtute sumunt. Nec regibus infinita aut libera potestas; et duces exemplo potius quam imperio, si prompti, si conspicui, si ante aciem agunt, admiratione praesunt.”——“De minoribus rebus principes consultant, de majoribus omnes: ita tamen, ut ea quoque, quorum penes plebem arbitrium est, apud principes pertractentur.”——“Ut turbae placuit, considunt armati. Silentium per sacerdotes, quibus tum et coercendi jus est, imperatur. Mox rex, vel principes, prout aetas cuique, prout nobilitas, prout decus bellorum prout facundia est, audiuntur, auctoritate suadendi magis quam jubendi potestate.”——“Licet apud concilium accusare quoque, et discrimen capitis intendere.”——“Eliguntur in iisdem conciliis et principes, qui jura per pagos vicosque reddunt.”—Tacit. de Mor. German. c. 7. 11. 12. “They take their kings on the ground of birth, their generals on the basis of courage: the authority of their kings is not unlimited or arbitrary; their generals control the people by example rather than command, and by means of the admiration which attends upon energy and a conspicuous place in front of the line.... On small matters the chiefs consult; on larger questions the community; but with this limitation, that even the subjects, the decision of which rests with the people, are first handled by the chiefs.... when the mob is pleased to begin, they take their seats carrying arms. Silence is called for by the priests, who thenceforward have power also to coerce: then a king or a chief is listened to, in order of age, birth, glory in war, or eloquence, with the prestige which belongs to their counsel rather than with any prescriptive right to command.... At this assembly it is also permissible to lay accusations and to bring capital charges.... At the same gatherings are selected, among others, chiefs, who administer law through the cantons and villages....” Tacitus, Germania, 7, 11, 12. See Tacitus in Five Volumes, vol. 1, Agricola, Germania, Dialogus, trans. M. Hutton, Sir W. Peterson, et al. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970), 141, 147, 149, 151).]]
[2. ]Millar’s observations on the uniformity of manners in a society without the division of labor recall Smith’s teaching. “The difference of employment occasions the difference of genius; and we see accordingly that amongst savages, where there is very little diversity of employment, there is hardly any diversity of temper or genius.” LJ, 348. See also his observations on the ways the division of labor results in the differentiation of talents in WN, 1:28.
[3. ]Adam Ferguson, similarly, writes: “The principal point of honour among the rude nations of America ... is fortitude.” Essay on the History of Civil Society, ed. Fania Oz-Salzberger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 90.
[* ]Laboris atque operum non eadem patientia; minimeque sitim aestumque tolerare, frigora atque inediam coelo solove assueverunt. Tacit. de Mor. German. c. 4. [[“Not correspondingly tolerant of labor and hard work, and by no means habituated to bearing thirst and heat; to cold and hunger, thanks to the climate and the soil, they are accustomed.” Tacitus, Germania, 4. See Tacitus in Five Volumes, 1:137.]]
[† ]Tacit. de Mor. German. c. 14. [[For a modern translation of this passage, see Agricola and Germany, trans. Anthony R. Birley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 44. For a similar summary, also derived from Tacitus, see Ferguson, Essay, 96.]]
[* ]“Occidere solent, non disciplina et severitate, sed impetu et ira, ut inimicum, nisi quod impune.” Tacit. de Mor. German. c. 25. [[“If they are killed, it is not usually to preserve strict discipline, but in a fit of fury, like an enemy, except that there is no penalty to be paid.” Tacitus, Germania, 25. See Tacitus in Five Volumes, 1:169.]]
[* ]Tacit. de Mor. German. c. 18. 19. The conformity of the German manners with those of other barbarous nations, in relation to the condition of women and children, I have endeavoured to illustrate, in a treatise entitled, An Enquiry into the Origin of Ranks. [[See DR, especially chap. 1, “Of the Rank and Condition of Women in Different Ages.”]]
[† ]Tacit. de Mor. Germ. § 21.
[4. ]For a modern translation of this passage, see Agricola and Germany, trans. Anthony R. Birley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 48–49.
[5. ]As Ferguson notes, “Every servile occupation they commit to women or slaves.” Essay, 97.
[* ]“Quoties bella non ineunt, non multum venationibus, plus per otium transigunt, dediti somno, ciboque. Fortissimus quisque ac bellicosissimus nihil agens, delegata domus et penatium et agrorum cura foeminis senibusque, et infirmissimo cuique ex familia, ipsi hebent mira diversitate naturae, cum iidem homines sic ament inertium et oderint quietem.” Tacit. de Mor. Germ. c. 15. [[“When they are not entering on war, they spend [not] much time in hunting, but more in idleness—creatures who eat and sleep, the best and bravest warriors doing nothing, having handed over the charge of their home, hearth, and estate to the women and the old men and the weakest members of the family: for themselves they lounge about, by that curious incongruity of temperament which makes of the same men such lovers of laziness and such haters of quiet.” Tacitus, Germania, 15. See Tacitus in Five Volumes, 1:153, 1:155.
[† ]Aleam (quod mirere) sobrii inter seria exercent, tanta lucrandi perdendique temeritate, ut cum omnia defecerunt, extremo ac novissimo jactu de libertate et de corpore contendant. Victus voluntariam servitutem adit. Quamvis junior, quamvis robustior, adligari se ac venire patitur. Ea est in re prava pervicacia: ipsi fidem vocant. Tac. de Mor. Germ. c. 24. [[“Gambling, one may be surprised to find, they practise as one of their serious pastimes in their sober hours, with such recklessness in winning or losing that, when all else has been lost, they stake personal liberty on a last and final throw: the loser faces voluntary slavery: though he be the younger and the stronger man, he suffers himself to be bound and sold; such is their persistence in a wicked practice, or their good faith, as they themselves style it.” Tacitus, Germania, 24. See Tacitus in Five Volumes, 1:167.]]
[6. ]Weariness of life.
[7. ]Peninsula that forms part of Denmark.
[8. ]Many political writers traced English liberty to Saxon origins, a view that is often associated with the idea that the Norman conquest had deprived Englishmen for a time of this inheritance (a position sometimes referred to as “the Norman yoke”). Among those who, in quite different ways, emphasized the Saxon heritage were the Whig jurist William Blackstone (1723–80) and the Tory statesman Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke (1678–1751).