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Harold : the Last of the Saxon Kings — Volume 02 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
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Four meals a day, nor those sparing, were not deemed too extravagant
an interpretation of the daily bread for which the Saxon prayed. Four
meals a day, from earl to ceorl! "Happy times!" may sigh the
descendant of the last, if he read these pages; partly so they were
for the ceorl, but not in all things, for never sweet is the food, and
never gladdening is the drink, of servitude. Inebriety, the vice of
the warlike nations of the North, had not, perhaps, been the pre-
eminent excess of the earlier Saxons, while yet the active and fiery
Britons, and the subsequent petty wars between the kings of the
Heptarchy, enforced on hardy warriors the safety of temperance; but
the example of the Danes had been fatal. Those giants of the sea,
like all who pass from great vicissitudes of toil and repose, from the
tempest to the haven, snatched with full hands every pleasure in their
reach. With much that tended permanently to elevate the character of
the Saxon, they imparted much for a time to degrade it. The Anglian
learned to feast to repletion, and drink to delirium. But such were
not the vices of the court of the Confessor. Brought up from his
youth in the cloister-camp of the Normans, what he loved in their
manners was the abstemious sobriety, and the ceremonial religion,