« НазадПродовжити »
ON THE CONDITION OF THE BRITONS UNDER THE ROMAN
IN à former paper we attempted to state attacks, or seeking refuge as best they briefly what appear to have been the might among the vast forests of their general features of the people who, for country, from the assaults of still more the most part, inhabited Britain about powerful plunderers. The ancient Brithe time that Cæsar first became ac- ton, as here represented, is rather a mequainted with it. But let us endeavour lancholy object of contemplation to the to consider the subject a little more in highly-favoured Englishman of modern detail.
times. The germ of romance exists For this purpose we shall begin with more or less in all miods. Mankind the industrial arts, the degree of pro- has, in all ages and countries, exhibited gress in which will attest, in some mea- a strong tendency to undervalue the sure, the extent to which the ancient present and to magnify the worth Britons were capable of making sur- of the past ; to become dissatisrounding circumstances minister to their fied with existing things because they personal comfort and advantage, or to are existing things, and to sigh for a retheir progress in at least material civili. turn to what is always loosely, and zation. Progress in the industrial arts sometimes mosterroveously, denominated is the sure foundation of the moral aud the “good old times.” It has, indeed, intellectual development of a nation. been gravely alleged, that mankind has The latter, however, is not the neces- lost and not gained by what is called sary result of the former. A nation advancement in the arts and sciences ; may be distinguished for its toy-makers that civilization is a misnomer. But and its potters, its chemists and its romantic and fantastic notions of No. architects, and yet be a total stranger madic and every other form of uncivis to the exercise and enjoyment of those lized life are speedily dissipated before inalienable rights of humanity, deprived the light of facts. It is, no doubt, a of which MAN, in an individual as well very pleasant pastime to indulge in as in a national point of view, is robbed speculations on the beautiful simplicity of half his real worth and greatness. of character, the freedom from the cares But it is evident that the application of of civilized life, which are considered to the term industrial arts to the rude belong pre-eininently to the wandering productions of the Britons, is allowable haphazard mode of existence pursued only by a very liberal extension of its by Nomades ; but on closer inspection, meaning.
all this is found to be mere fancy. The The remarkable difference between untrammelled wanderers of the wilds the inhabitants of what may be called are not exempt from their full share of maritime Britain and those of the inte- the inconveniences, calamities, and rior and northern parts, which has been miseries incident to humanity. They already noticed, must be always borne are in one of the worst schools for trainin mivd. The people of Britain gene- ing and developing the nobler parts of rally, except parts of the south, present man's nature. There is peculiar to us with one of the most primitive forms this condition of life a total want of that of social union—the Nomadic : the arts looking to the future, which, when of tillage unknown or unpractised, no formed into a habit, becomos one of the fixed habitations, the means of subsis- chief springs of progress and civilizatence derived either from the chance tion. Force is the law everywhere : produce of the chase, or from herds; and, in most instances, this basest and clothing of skins, scarcely any social tie most degrading of all modes of govornexcept that of clanship ; a number of ment is exercised under the influence of families combining and preying upon fierce passion or unrestrained selfishness. their neighbours when this could be “One by one," writes Mr. Stephens, the done with impunity ; these again de modern American traveller, concerning tending themselves in turn from similar the Bedouin Arabs, “ one by one I had seen the many illusions of my waking rate of two or three hundred cart loads dreams fade away; the gorgeous pic- per acre. The Britons, we are told, tures of Oriental scenes melt into no- made use of one white chalky sort, the thing ; but I had still clung to the prin effects of which had been found to conmitive simplicity and purity of the chil- tinue eighty years. No man, it is said, dren of the desert; their temperance had ever occasion to manure the same field and abstinence, their contented poverty twice in his lifetime. Of the British inand contempt for luxuries, as approach- struments, and methods of ploughing, ing the true nobility of man's nature, sowing, and reaping, we have no inforand sustaining the poetry of the land mation that can be at all relied on; but of the East.' But my last dream was it is very probable that they were simi. broken; and I never saw among the lar to those used in Belgium and Gaul. wanderers of the desert any traits of We have spoken in another place of character, or any habits of life, which the habitations of the Britons. It may did not make me prize and value more be here mentioned, on the authority of the privileges of civilization.”
Strabo, that the cottages of the Gauls Wretched indeed then, all things (to which Cæsar likens those of the Briconsidered, must have been the state of tons) were of a circular form, and had the northern Britons twenty centuries lofty roofs of a conical shape. It is not ago. But in the maritine districts of a little remarkable that some of the southeru Britain a very different form of Welsh pigsties fully correspond, as recivilization presents itself to view. Vi- gards form, to this description. cinity to the sea, which gave rise to What may be called the forest-towns easy and frequent intercourse with dif- of the Britons were military posts; and ferent nations, was the means of civil- it is to be noted that the position and izing in no ordinary degree, the inhabi- fortification of some of them displayed, tants of these parts. Here we perceive in a very conspicuous manner, that me. the humble origin of that extraordinary chanical skill and acuteness for which modern phenomenon, British commerce, the Celtic race is remarkable. The which now exerts its powerful influence judgment and art manifested by the Briin improving and elevating mankind in tish king Cassivelaunus, in the fortificaevery part of the world. In the history tion of his capital, elicited expressions of of this people, we see the first faint admiration from Cæsar; and when we glimmering of that which afterwards consider the high attainments of the increased gradually and steadily till at latter in military science, we may realength it spread over the whole earth ; sonably conclude that the abilities of just as a puny streamlet, trickling down Cassivelaunus were of no ordinary kind. the hill-side, destined in time to become On the whole, these towns of theirs were a mighty river, mingles its waters with of a very rude description, in many rethe vast ocean, and at last washes the spects worthy-only of the better order shores of every region of the globe. of savages ; but the fortresses, castles,
The settled, peaceful, and industrious huge stone circles, and other mysterious mode of life of these maritime Britons, monuments of the ancient British which together with the natural fertility of the remain scattered over the island, abunsoil and the congeniality of the climate, dantly testify to the fact, that the conenabled them to attain to a respectable dition of the hardy and brave, but deeply proficiency in agriculture and other use- superstitious race, who constructed these ful arts. It has been stated, on the huge fabrics, was very far indeed reauthority of Pliny, that they were not moved from that of savage tribes. only acquainted with the modes of ma- Nothing whatever is certainly known nuring the soil in use in other countries, regarding the furniture and decorations but that they also practised one peculiar of their houses. But it may be reasonto themselves and the Gauls. For this ably inferred that those of them who had purpose they made use of marl, a sub- intercourse with the Phænicians, Gauls, stance which is still used very extensively and other nations, were possessed of in England for the improvement of land. many of the comforts and a few of what In Norfolk, for instance, a marl is met one might suppose were considered in with in many places containing a large those days the elegancies of life. A proportion of clay, and this is frequently great deal might be said about their spread over the surface of the soil at the carriages for war, their mining opera
tions, and various other matters which possession of the implements necessary the industry and zeal of British Archæ- for this purpose. But this is a subject ologists have brought to light; but we with the details of which we have not have neither space, time, nor ability to the slightest acquaintance. expatiate on such curious topics. The A very disgusting practice prevailed foregoing observations on the industrial among the Britons, namely, staining the arts and kindred subjects will, we hope, be body with a plant called woad (Isatis sufficient to indicate, generally, the state Tinctoria). It would appear from some of advancement to which the maritime accounts that two methods of staining Britons had attained in these respects. the body were in use. In some parts
We shall next say a few words on the of South Britain the people merely manners and customs of the Britons, and, painted the body; but the inhabitants for the sake of brevity, shall notice only of the interior and northern parts of the those of a remarkable kind. Passing island had recourse to the savage pracover their domestic life generally, con. tice of tatooing. Cæsar says, “ omnes cerning which a good deal has been vero se Britapni vitro inficiunt." Conwritten, but very little clearly brought to cerning this statement, Dr. Lingard light, we shall make a few observations makes the following remark : " As, howon their clothing
ever, he bad not seen any of the remote Dress, considered either as an article tribes, it is uncertain whether his obserof comfort or of luxury, is, generally vation should be applied to them.” speaking, a pretty accurate index of the But of all their strange customs, that civilization of a people. Tbe almost which had reference to the matrimonial naked savage, whose feeble intellect can relationship, if indeed that can be called not, in the article of dress, so far adapt a relationship which, if we believe some means to ends as to make sorne kind of historians, was, strictly speaking, no regeneral covering to protect himself from lationship whatever. “ Those rights of the disagreeable changes of climate to exclusive property in a wife,” we quote which every country is more or less lia- from a modern historical work, " which ble, is a specimen of a human being of even among the rudest tribes are prized the most degraded kind. Every ad- so highly, and guarded with such jealous vance from such a state as this, will, as care, are asserted to have been strangely a general rule, indicate a corresponding disregarded by the early inhabitants of advance in civilization. The case of the this island. According to Cæsar, ten or people we are considering affords a very twelve families used to live under the fair 'illustration of this statement. Of same roof, the husbands having their the inhabitants of the interior and nor wives in common. The ties of previous thern parts of Britain, whom we de consanguinity also, so far from being a scribed as being almost savages in com- check, seem rather to have been conparison with those of the southern parts, sidered as a recommendation in these some are represented as entirely naked, strange associations, in which, weare told, which most probably is not correct; for the most part brothers joined with others, as wretchedly clad in the skins brothers, and parents with their sons." of aniinals : while those who lived in the Sonne have been disposed to look maritiine districts, we are told, wore upon this description of matrimonial tuuies of dyed cloth, close trowsers, and union as one of those wild fables which over the tunic a short cloak called a are so frequently to be met with in early sagum. There is an evident correspon- history. The evidence brought forward dence between the dress and civilization to prove that such a state of things ac. of these two classes of the ancient Bri- tually existed, is by no means satisfactons.
tory. It is quite possible that Cæsar Dr. Lingard states, apparently on the may have been led to form this hasty authority of Pliny, that the dress of conclusion on observing that these these maritime Britons was of their own wretched people slept promiscuously in manufacture. This is important if true, their miserable dwellings, and like many because it follows that the art of weav- other Latin writers, he does not hesitate ing must have been known to them, and to go a little beyord the truth in order that consequently they must have been to produce an antithesis. We know able to make instruments for weaving, that even to this day among the lowest in fact looms, and must have been in class of the Irish and Scotch, whole fami
lies are frequently found dwelling in one of war were quietly laid by his side ; small apartment, and it is well known such simple fare as he was accustomed that in these trying circumstances the to through life were provided in what poor people often exhibit an amount of might be deemed sufficient quantity, and delicacy of feeling, and of virtuous sonti- human affection added whatever it ment, which entitles them to our admi- could procure in the way of amusement, ration and respect. Let us then run in order to shorten the slow bours which the risk of erring on “ virtue's side,” were supposed to intervene before the and say that the Roman has wronged departed arrived at the end of his the Briton.
journey. The difference in the size and We shall now consider the ancient shape of those wonderful structures, the Briton in a most interesting point of old British barrows, have afforded view, namely, at the grave of a beloved grounds for probable conjecturė as to friend. It is here that we see at once the period of their formation, and the the noblest and the weakest phase of the rank of the individuals for whom they Celtic, and we may add, of human na-. were constructed. Their formation inture. Here we see human affections, dicatos a vast amount of labour and strong and deep, called into play in con- skill, a circumstance which may be renexion with a lively and unwavering garded as a proof of the existence of faith, both of which glorious portions of those powerful religious feelings to which our pature frequently find their expres. we have just alluded. It has been found sion in actions the most childish and that the Britons sometimes burned the degrading. Nor is this strange feature body, and collected the ashes in an urn; of the religious nature of man peculiar but as this method of disposing of the dead to any age or race; but it is most pro- body was confined to certain parts of bably more characteristic of the Celt South Britain, it is more than probable than of any other race in Europe. this practice was derived from the RoPractises, on the occasion of death, mans. quite as degrading, considering the Strange feelings arise in the mind period of the world in which we live, as when we attempt to compare the religiany peculiar to the Britons, are, or were ous feelings of the Heathen Briton with a very short time ago, to be met with those of the Christian Englishman, at many of our Irish wakes and funerals. The state of human consciousness in the
Of the particular ceremonies used by matter of religion is essentially the same the Britons when performing the last now as it was in ages gone by. The solemn offices, we know nothing except mystery of the Present, and the unfrom inference and conjecture. The known Future, the fears and hopes incontents of their graves have been care- spired by the contemplation of such fully examined. It would in all proba- solemn topics, these fill the thoughtful bility lead to highly interesting results, mind of the nineteenth century as they if the various skulls and skeletons which did that of the first, with images of awe. are to be met with from time to time in The poor Briton had not even the twithese ancient graves, were subjected to light of Christianity we have the ad accurate ethnological examination. noon-day ; but we cannot enter upon The ideas of the Britons as to the re- this subject. quirements of the departed person, bear In order to complete our brief sketch a striking resemblance to those of the of the ancient Britons, there remain North American Indians. When a three important matters which require Briton died, he was prepared for his to be noticed, namely their literature journey into that mysterious and utterly and science, their form of government, unknown region' to which the grave is and their religion. But from the pecuthe sombre entrance, in a manner suited liar circumstances of the case, these to the rank which be filled, and the es- may all be very conveniently treated of timation in which he was held while he under the one head--Druidism, This dwelt here on earth. His instruments we shall attempt in our next.
It is a remarkable circumstance that don, for love or money, it should be at climate should have any influence upon my disposal. Accordingly the man bimthe nature of compliments. As we ad- self walked up with the fish, all the way vance towards the East, language as. from Billingsgate to Sussex Place, in sumes a more adulatory strain, until at the Regent's Park. Now, if that be length all common sense appears to be not substantial literary reputation, I lost in hyperbole ; towards the North it know not what is." grows cold with the climate, and I sup. Cowper, after the publication of the pose in Spitzbergen, or amongst Esqui- Task, notes with much satisfaction a maux, that a compliment is rarely dealt compliment in many respects of a simiout, and reserved for the most important lar nature. “He had occasion to send occasions.
a man to the George Inn, at Woburn. The compliments common to the Mr. Marten, the master of the inn, havUnited Kingdom are, like our climate, ing learned whose servant he was, told of the temperate kind ; and as we are him that he had never seen Mr. Cowsaid to be approaching the Pole, so our per, but he had heard hiin frequently compliments are certainly growing cold- spokeu of by the coinpanies at his house, er.
and then when Sam would have paid I know not whether there be an im- for bis breakfast, he took nothing from provement in the sincerity of the present him.” “Who says,” observes the poet, age, but undoubtedly the language of “that fame is a breath? on the conadulation is totally out of fashion. Li. trary, it is good ale and cold beef into terary inen now dedicate their volumes, the bargain.” even to royalty, like men of independent Paying family compliments is also an feeling, and poets no longer seek the indirect, as well as being a delicate, method temple of fame through sycophancy. of pleasing. There are few families who
Indirect compliments, on the whole, cannot with truth be complimented on may be considered the most flattering some particular point. “A fine family,” kind. Demosthenes confessed he was “a clever family," " an ancient family," pleased by even a fishwoman of Athens “a punctual family," "a wealthy fapointing him out.
mily.” The last-mentioned epithet, I When Petrarch was passing by his lately heard coaxingly applied to a native town, he was received with the friend of mine, by a lady who was col. honours due to his fame; but when the lecting subscriptions. “ You and all heads of the town conducted him to the your family are so wealthy." The aphouse where he was born, and informed peal was irresistible. To be supposed him that the proprietor had often wished not to have a single poor relation-it to make alterations, but that the towns. was at least worth £50. people had risen to insist that the house, - Personal compliments, generally rank which was consecrated by the birth of with einpty compliments, excepting on Petrarch, should be preserved unchang- particular ocoasions, when they proceed ed, this was a triumph more affecting to from an ebullition of uatural feeling. him than his coronation in the capitol I remember an anecdote (I forgot who at Rome.
the parties were) of a child who gained « The greatest honour," observed Sir an estate by one day saying to bis aunt, Walter Scott to Captain Basil Hall, with perfect simplicity, " What a pretty “which has yet been paid to my cele- nose you have!” and it is a well-known brity, was by a fishmonger in London, fact, that the beautiful Duchess of Dewho was applied to by the servant of vonshire never felt so flattered by the the house in which I was living, for compliment of a courtier, as she did some cod believe for dinner ; but when a London dustinan one day asked it being rather late in the day, there her to allow him to light his pipe by a was none left. On the servant's men- spark from her eye! tioning who it was wanted for, the fish Of splendid compliments, D’Israeli monger said that altered the matter, relates some good illustrations. He menand that if a bit was to be had in Lon- tions that Fontenelle, in his éloge on