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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Norman and Saxon

A.D. 1100
"My son," said the Norman Baron, "I am dying, and you will
    be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for
    share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little
    handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:--

"The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice
      right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow--with his sullen set eyes 
     on your own,
And grumbles, 'This isn't fair dealing,' my son, leave the Saxon
     alone.

"You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your
      Picardy spears;
But don't try that game on the Saxon; you'll have the whole 
     brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained 
              serf in the field,
They'll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise,
                  you  will  yield.

"But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs
              and songs.
Don't trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale
              of their own wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they are saying; let them feel
               that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear 'em out if it takes
                you all day.

They'll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour
     of the dark. 
It's the sport not the rabbits they're after (we've plenty of game
     in the park).
Don't hang them or cut off their fingers. That's wasteful as well
     as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man-
     at-arms you can find.

"Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and
     funerals and feasts.                                         
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish
   priests.
Say 'we,' 'us' and 'ours' when you're talking, instead of 'you
    fellows'  and  'I.'
Don't ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell 'em
     a lie!"

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