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other than a branch of the Cantii, which spread over all Middlesex and Essex, and, as “Novantes, or Newcomers, into Middlesex, had their fortress distinguished by the appellation of Tre-Novantum, or the town of the Novantes.” It may, however, be observed that an etymology of this term, quite different from that given by Mr. Whitaker, is presented in that page of the Beanties of England, to which I have referred for some further particulars concerning these ancient inhabitants of Middlesex,
In concluding this brief geographical survey of the population of ancient Britain, it is desirable to remind the reader that we shall certainly fall into a considerable error, if we believe that the present boundary marks of the different counties afford a close resemblance to those of the kingdoms, or petty states, into which Britain was divided before the interference of the Romans.- In forming an estimate of the probable limits of such territories, we, perhaps, find the best guide in a careful consideration of natural circumstances. Rivers and ranges of mountains formed lines of natural boundary, which, in most instances, must have been adopted by a rude people, and which do, in fact, constitute the limits of many countries in the present improved state of society. A mode of calculation on the extent of territory possessed by each British tribe, formed on such a consideration of imperative natural circumstances, will be obvious in many of the remarks submit. ted in the preceding pages.
The reader who compares the above statements, concerning the territories of the various British tribes, with the accounts of those petty nations prefixed to respective portions of the Beauties of England and Wales, will not neglect to hold in remembrance that the Map of ancient Britain, and the observations by which it is accompanied, apply entirely to one period,—the first invasion of the island under Julius Cæsar. Such a view was chosen, on the principle of its en bracing the point of history most useful and interesting to the English and Welsh topographer,
A perusal of the foregoing historical Analysis, and a reference
to the tables of division between the Celtic and Belgic tribes, will enable the reader to detect any casual errors of appropriation into which the editors of this work may have fallen, whilst merely engaged in the description of a particular district.
Each of the numerous small states mentioned above, whether Celtic or Belgic, constituted a separate monarchy, the right of succession to which was of an hereditary nature. Thus divided into distinct communities, each under its respective head, the whole of the Britons were evidently in that state of society which immediately succeeds to the patriarchal, when they were first called to defend their country against so potent an enemy as the Romans. Their want of general unanimity is noticed, by several Roman and Greek writers, as one of the great causes of their. want of success in opposing the Roman invasion. But, notwithstanding the remarks of those writers, it is certain that the British tribes were accustomed to unite their forces under one leader, on the advance of a common enemy. This officer appears, however, to have been merely a military commander-in-chief, and was one of the British kings, created, on the approach of danger, Pendragon, or commandant over the other allied sovereigns. Such were Cassivellaupus and Caractacus.
As we are not informed of any difference between the political constitution, the religious ceremonials, and prevailing laws, of the Celtic and Belgic Britons, the following observations on these subjects, apply to them collectively, as forming the population of this island at the date of the Roman inva
It is believed that the power of the respective British Kings was far from being arbitrary or extensive; and that the chief civil duties of the state, including the privileges of forming and administering laws, were vested in the ministers of religion.
The members of this potent priesthood, are known by the general name of Druids; but they are described, on the testimony of ancient writers, as being divided into three classes, appropriated to different branches of learning, and engaged in performing dis
tinct offices. These three classes are usually denominated Bards, Druids, and Faids.* Some of the peculiar duties of each class, together with the nature of the religion which they taught, and many of its ceremonials, may be thus stated, on the authority of contemporary Roman and Greek writers.
The Bards exercised the office of historical and genealogical poets. The Druids, who were far more numerous than either of the other classes, performed the principal offices of religion; whilst the Faids were the religious poets and presumptive prophets of the association. They composed hymns in honour of the Gods, which they chanted on sacred occasions; and devised such pretended revelations as were calculated to impress the multitude with reverence and awe.
Many of the Druids appear to have lived in fraternities, near the temple which they served; thus resembling, in one habit of familiar life, the monastic churchmen of succeeding ages. It is probable that they preserved celibacy; but it is believed that they were uot on that account, entirely deprived of female society. The softer sex, ever conspicuous for a tender zeal of piety, claimed a participation in the honours of the priesthood; and they were found useful auxiliaries in the pageants of superstitious devotion. These druidesses are said to have been also divided into three classes, and those of the upper order were much esteemed by the people, for their pretended skill in divination and prophecy. Their numbers were considerable, and their zeal unbounded. It will be recollected that when Suetonius invaded the Isle of Anglesey, numerous bands of these consecrated females were seen hurrying along the ranks of the British army, bearing
• Bard bruynt, Derwydd, and Ovydd. See Beauties for Wales, (Vol. XVII.) p. 35.- It must be noticed that, in the opinion of many Welsh antiquaries, the Druidicul or Bardic system, consisted of classes whose duties they thus appropriate : the Burd proper attended to philosophy and poetry; the Druid was the minister of religion ; and the Opate was the mechanic and artist. See a dissertation on the Bardic system and institutions, in the intro. duction to Owen's Translations of the Elegies of Llywarch Hên.
flaming torches in their hands, and with wild gestures and dishevelled hair, imprecating the wrath of heaven on the sacrilegious foe.
Very little is known concerning the secret doctrines and fundamental principles of Druidism. The common policy of those who endeavour to 'subjugate the human mind by superstitious practices, throws a veil of mystical obscurity over the engines of the base attempt; and the Druids adopted a method of secrecy most perniciously effectual, by religiously prohibiting the use of letters amongst their association. From the few remarks contained in Roman and Greek writers who have treated on this subject, it is evident that they taught the doctrine of the immortality of the soul; but, according to Cæsar and Diodorus, they publicly instilled the notion of the transmigration of the spirit into other bodies.
It is not improbable that the Druids secretly cherished a pure and simple belief in the existence of one God, the great Creator of themselves and all around, above, and beneath them; but as the emoluments of their brotherhood were derived from the blind veneration of bigotry, they raised a long train of phantasies for the delusion and amusement of the human imagination. Under their influence, the Briton was induced to worship the san, the moon, and the minor luminaries of the heavens; streams were deified by them, and honoured with devotional rites; warlike Princes were exalted after death to the rank of gods.
In a religious system calculated to stimulate and reuder pro. fitable the mundane hopes and fears of mankind, offerings, sacrifices, and the practices of augury and divination, would necessarily form primary objects of attention; and the want of simplicity in the mode of faith would, as naturally, be attended with a studied solemnity of ceremonials.- The Druids held it unlawful to adore the Gods within walls and under roofs. Their places of worship were invariably in the open air, and covered only by the canopy of the heavens. Here they formed huge temples, (if such a terin may be bestowed on their religious structures,) consisting of ranges of unhewn stone, which enclosed a circular area. To increase the solemn effect of the scene, by conducting the devotee to the vicinity of the altar through mysterious gloom and deep tranquillity, their stupendous temples were usually surrounded with thick groves of oak; and even the majestic trees of which these groves were composed, were consecrated by druidical super. stition, and associated with the attributes of divinity. When the priests performed religious ceremonies, they wore garlands of oakleaves. The misletoe which grew on these sacred trees was regarded with particular reverence, and was gathered for religious purposes with much pomp and ceremony. On this important occasion, as we are told by Pliny, one of the Druids, clothed in white, ascended the tree, and with a knife of gold cut the precious branch, which was received into a sagum of pure white. Sacrifices and a banquet concluded the festival.
The wild and gloomy spot of druidical worship was sometimes surrounded by a ditch and a vallum of earth; and was often choseu on an eminence, as such a situation allowed a free view of the heavenly bodies. It is probable that religions ceremonies were performed daily in these sacred recesses; and it is known that the Druids held certain fixed festivals. The sixth day of every moon (from which day the Britons dated the commencement of the lunar month,) was appropriated to devotion; and several annual festivals were observed with great solemnity. On all occasions of public danger, or triumph, the rude grandeur of this captivating but perverse religion, was exerted to its greatest possible extent.
Frequent sacrifices formed an essential part of the Druidical superstition. The living creatures sacrificed to the gods by these priests, were sometimes entirely consumed by fire upon the altar; but more frequently a portion only was thus offered in oblation, and the remainder was divided between the officiating Druid, and the person who presented the sacrifice. Unbappily the victims were not always of a kind which allowed of such an innoxious participation. In the early stages of heathenism, most nations