Зображення сторінки

anxiliary of intellect. - In the following brief review of circumstances generally connected with the topography of South Britain and Cambria, I shall make it my pleasing task to direct, at every possible opportunity, the attention of the reader to such events as appear to illustrate the Data of national advancement in morals, science, or taste; convinced that a majestic ruin, or modern uninjured work of art, depends for leading interest on a knowledge of the spirit which induced the erection of the decaying structure, or which preserves the existing fabric.

The island of Great Britain, of which England and Wales constitute the predominating parts, extends from fifty to fifty-eight and a half degrees of north latitude; and is, consequently, about 500 geographical miles in length. Its greatest breadth is found between the Land's End, Cornwall, and the North Foreland, in Kent; and is, in this direction, 320 geographical miles. In British miles the length is computed at 580, and the extreme breadth at 370.

This is the most considerable island of Europe, and approaches, in general outline, towards the form of a triangle. The circuit of the ihree sides, allowing for the devious character of the coast, is, by a free estimale, supposed to be about 1800 miles.

England, including Wales, is situated between 50° and 56' north latitude. The greatest length from south to north is about 400 miles; and the extent in square miles is computed at 49,150.* England is bounded on the east by the German ocean; on the south by the English Channel; on the west by St. George's Channel; and is divided from Scotland, on the north, by the river Tweed, the Cheviot Hills, and that artificial line before noticed, which proceeds from the Cheviot Hills to the southwest, and meets the Firth of Sulway. This island was originally termed ALBION; a name which ap


* This statement of the extent and contents of Great Britain, is chiefly toni de on Pinkerton's Modern Ge graply, colluted with other authorie

pears to have been an usual Celtic term for heights or eminences, and is reasonably thought to have been bestowed on it by the Gauls of the opposite shore, from a contemplation of the tall cliffs which rise to the view of those who inhabit the coast in the neighbourhood of Calais.*

The name of BRITAIN was substituted for the original mode of designation at a very early period, and probably soon after the first settlement of inhabitants in the island. The conjectures of antiquaries concerning the etymology of this term are extremely numerous.- Camden, with the diffidence usual to a man of true genius, when he feels that probable surmise is all that can be offered, submits it as possible that the first syllable, or radical part of the appellation, alludes to the custom of the inhabitants painting their bodies in various colours and devices. But it is not by any means clear that the word Brit, or Brith properly implies painted in the Celtic.

Bochart, having recourse to the Greek name of this island, is willing to derive it from Baratanac; which, in the Phænician tongue, signifies a land of Tin.

I pass unnoticed the surmises of various minor writers, and state the opinions of Borlase † and Whitaker, $ as those which appear most ingenious, while they partake least of fancy. On viewing the usual character of the whole range of primary local appellations, it may be rationally believed, with Dr. Borlase, that the word Brit, or Brith, signifies some circumstance relating to natural situation, rather than to any thing so variable as custom or manner. The idea of the disjunction of this country from Gaul would be necessarily a prevailing feature in the consideration of those who resided on the Continent, and of those who

B 2

boldly • Vide Hist. of Manchester, Vol. I. p. 10. octavo edit. (to which edition of M:. Whitaker's work, I, likewise, refer on every subsequent occasion, unless the contrary be noticed ;) and Genuine Hist, of the Britons asserted, p. 91. et seq. + Vide Antiquities of Cornwall, Chap. 1.

Hist. of Mancliester, Vol. I. p. 10–12; and Genuine Hist. of the BriTons asserted, p. 29–39, 71-74, 91-93, 95103.

boldly quilted its security and first colonized the shores of Albioria Hence, an etymon expressive of the circumstance of separation may be sought for with propriety; and such a mode of explaining the term is readily found.

According to Whitaker, the appellation of Britain was first applied to the inhabitants rather than to the region; and the radical part of the term is derived from a Celtic word, primarily denoting separation and division. The same intelligent writer observes that the original word appears to have been equally pronounced Brict, Brit, aud Brioth; Breact, Breac, and Brig; and is still retained in the Welsh Brith, and the Irish Breact, any thing divided or striped. “ Brit is enlarged into Brit-on, or Britall, in the plural, and Brit-an-ec in the relative adjective; and so forms the appellation Brit-on•es, Brit-an-i, and Brit-an-ic-i; as Brig, in the plural, is altered into Brig-an, and Briy-ant, and forins the denomination Briy-ant-es."*

This argument as to the derivation of the second name by which our island was distinguished, is not offered to the reader of these pages as probably conclusive, but as one that is quite problematical. Still, it appears the more plausible amongst the great varicty of conjectures.--. It must be added that the appellation of Britain was vol anciently peculiar to the island primarily denominated Albion, but was common lo many of the smaller neighbouring isles; and it may be remarked that several writers, foreign and native, notice it as a felicitous circumstance that the parent-island retains to the existing day the name by which it was known in the first period of its credible history, while almost every other country has lost its early appellation.

The comparatively modern term of England), by which the south part of Britain is now distinguished, is derived from the dngles, a people ascribed to different parts of the north of Gerwany, but who, at the era of the Saxon invasion, were resident

• Hist. of Manchester, p. 11.

in the district of Anglen, in the duchy of Sleswick.* They were among the most numerous and bold of the successful German invaders; but, according to the conjecture of a modern writer, “the Ecclesiastical history of Bedle, which was written in that part of the country, that was possessed by the Angli, contributed greatly to the extension and general acceptation of the nodern name." There is not any solid authority for believing that Egbert arbitrarily abolished the distinctions between the Saxons, Jutes, and Angli, and commanded that the island should thenceforward be called England.

A compendious statement of the opinions of different etymologists, respecting the probable derivation of the names of CAMBRIA, and WALES, usually given to that part of Britain which is situated to the west of the rivers Severn and Dee, is presented in the preliminary pages of the seventeenth volume of this work. 4


The period at which Britain was first peopled, and the district froin which its population proceeded, are subjects entirely open to the conjectures of the inquisitive. In coinmon with most other nations, the British possesses no record as to its original ; but pseudo-historians have risen as abundantly in this as in other countries, to shape chimeræ from obscurity, and to allure by fable where fact is wanting. No instruction can be conveyed by an analysis of such extravagant representations; and it appears that little entertainment is implicated in wild tales respecting " Bruto, or Brito, of 'Trojan extraction, great grandson of Æneas, B3


• Vide Turner's Hist, of the Anglo-Saxons, Vol. I. p. 58 ; and Camden's Introduction.

+ Vide Beauties, Vol. XVII.p. 1-1.- sccording to the Welsh Triads, thrce nanies, of a different etymology to those noticed above, were bestowed, at different periods, on the island of Britain. See these presumed appella lions mentioned, p. 7. note.

who having by birth and by accident, destroyed both the one and the other of his parents, fed his native shore; and, after various exploits in Gaul, arrived with his Trojan compeers in this country, then inhabited by giants, whose chieftain, Gogmagog, he overthrew, and left his own name to the conquered island.” But such is the narration presented by Geoffrey of Monmouth, in the reign of Henry the Second.* The story was treated with contempt by the reflecting, even of his own era; but did not fail to gain, in different modifications, sonie popular credit through the medium of subsequent monkish and superstitious writers. .

According to the most rational hypothesis, and that which is received as probable by the majority of modern judicious writers, this island was first peopled from the weighbouring shores of Gaul. The similitude of mammers, language, and religion, which is known 'to have existed between the two countries, in the century pre

vious to the Christian era, is in itself an argument of considerable force. A further argument is deducible from the presumed similarity of naine to be discovered between the two nations. It appears that Gaul was inhabited, at a very early period, by two branches of the Cimmerians, both of which nations often partook, in usual acceptation, of the specific lerm bestowed on each. These were the Cimbri, frequently denominated the Cimmerii, Cumri, or Gumri; and the Celtæ. The latter name prevailed amongst themselves, even when they were denominated Gael by the Romans. The appellation of Cimbri is thought to be still perceptible in the terin Cymry (colloquially pronounced Kumri) applied to themselves by the Welsh; whilst that of Gathel, or Guel, is retained by the highlanders of Scotland.t


* Nennius, who was an abbot of Bangor in the seventh century, likewise gave, at the earlier period in which be flourished, the pedigree of the fanciful hing Bruto, which he traced up to Jupiter himself.

+ The historical Triads of the Welsh, describe Britain as being first peopled by the “ walion of the Cymry," and colonized at different periods. Respecting the te:timony of those very curious Triads, and the contents of those

« НазадПродовжити »