But HENGIST had a beautiful daughter named ROWENA; and when, at a feast, she filled a golden goblet to the brim with wine, and gave it to VORTIGERN, saying in a sweet voice, 'Dear King, thy health!' the King fell in love with her. My opinion is, that the cunning HENGIST meant him to do so, in order that the Saxons might have greater influence with him; and that the fair ROWENA came to that feast, golden goblet and all, on purpose.
At any rate, they were married; and, long afterwards, whenever the King was angry with the Saxons, or jealous of their encroachments, ROWENA would put her beautiful arms round his neck, and softly say, 'Dear King, they are my people! Be favourable to them, as you loved that Saxon girl who gave you the golden goblet of wine at the feast!' And, really, I don't see how the King could help himself.
Ah! We must all die! In the course of years, VORTIGERN died--he was dethroned, and put in prison, first, I am afraid; and ROWENA died; and generations of Saxons and Britons died; and events that happened during a long, long time, would have been quite forgotten but for the tales and songs of the old Bards, who used to go about from feast to feast, with their white beards, recounting the deeds of their forefathers. Among the histories of which they sang and talked, there was a famous one, concerning the bravery and virtues of KING ARTHUR, supposed to have been a British Prince in those old times. But, whether such a person really lived, or whether there were several persons whose histories came to be confused together under that one name, or whether all about him was invention, no one knows.
I will tell you, shortly, what is most interesting in the early Saxon times, as they are described in these songs and stories of the Bards.
In, and long after, the days of VORTIGERN, fresh bodies of Saxons, under various chiefs, came pouring into Britain. One body, conquering the Britons in the East, and settling there, called their kingdom Essex; another body settled in the West, and called their kingdom Wessex; the Northfolk, or Norfolk people, established themselves in one place; the Southfolk, or Suffolk people, established themselves in another; and gradually seven kingdoms or states arose in England, which were called the Saxon Heptarchy. The poor Britons, falling back before these crowds of fighting men whom they had innocently invited over as friends, retired into Wales and the adjacent country; into Devonshire, and into Cornwall. Those parts of England long remained unconquered. And in Cornwall now--where the sea-coast is very gloomy, steep, and rugged--where, in the dark winter-time, ships have often been wrecked close to the land, and every soul on board has perished--where the winds and waves howl drearily and split the solid rocks into arches and caverns--there are very ancient ruins, which the people call the ruins of KING ARTHUR'S Castle.
Kent is the most famous of the seven Saxon kingdoms, because the Christian religion was preached to the Saxons there (who domineered over the Britons too much, to care for what _they_ said about their religion, or anything else) by AUGUSTINE, a monk from Rome. KING ETHELBERT, of Kent, was soon converted; and the moment he said he was a Christian, his courtiers all said _they_ were Christians; after which, ten thousand of his subjects said they were Christians too.