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of changes according to the circumstances The rigorous and scientific investigation in which it is placed, nowhere departs so which has been made of all the members far from its original as not to preserve its of the Indo European family, has enabled essential features. In like manner, lan. philologists to distinguish two stages guage, which depends upon the combined through which languages naturally pass, constitution of both mind and body for its and which are characterised by the preform and character, while it changes as sence or absence of inflection. All lanthey change, preserves under every vary- guages in their primary stage are highly ing condition a unity of feature, and exhi- inflected. They have their roots clothed bits evident marks of its primitive pattern. with a rich garniture of prefixes and sufMoreover, it is one of the most distinguish- fixes, of initial and final increments, by ing and universal characteristics of human which case, gender, person, state, and time pature that it recognises, and voluntarily are clearly and fully expressed. They submits itself to, inherent laws of order have, moreover, a living power of framing and harmony ; and hence, in all the pro- at will, new compounds, by which they can, cesses of transmutation through which out of their own resources, keep pace with languages pass, they never entirely lose every enlargement of the national mind. sight of the principles of euphony, but, as Their structure is, in consequence, very if forced by necessity, they regulate by complicated, and their sentences are supthem the form which their various changes plied with a large power of inversion. shall assame, and they thus receive an ar. They are, in general, more adapted to tistical consistency and symmetry by which that condition of society when the imagithey continue ever after to be characterised. nation delights to bring forth the exube
We see, then, that, in the midst of an rance of its stores, and lay them at the endless variety of languages and dialects, feet of external nature-before internal a constant tendency in the individual to reflection has moulded the intellectual faassimilate itself to the universal; and, on culties into a systematic method of thinkthe other hand, while language everywhere ing. The ancient Greek is, however, in preserves an essential unity of form, it is that stage of development when, to a always controlled and changed according highly etymological structure, it adds a to the wants or wishes of the individual. clear and copious syntax ; and it presents It is this principle of order in variety-of the picture of a nation which has given agreement in difference-of similitude in itself to the cultivation of the rational dissimilitude which constitutes the great powers, without the loss of a brilliant and never-failing source of pleasure and fancy and rich imagination. It is the instruction that we feel in contemplating transition language between the primary the works of the Creator, and which makes state, which may be considered to be reus bow in reverence before the power and presented by the Sanscrit, and that more wisdom of Him who so orders all His laws modern form of which English may be that they can satisfy the wants of the in- mentioned as a type. dividual, while every passing change bo. In the course of time languages begin dies forth its dependance upon, and agree to lose their inflections and their power ment with, some grand original.
of composition, and to substitute in their There is a limit within which language stead circumlocutions, by means of auximay change its forms and structure. liary verbs and prepositions, together with There is a principle of freedom which en- a more regular and uniform syntax. This ables the individual to suit his speech to passage from a primary to a secondary the occasions on which he gives utterance state generally succeeds the introduction to his thoughts. But there is a limit be- of some foreign nation, either by conquest yond which language cannot pass, and or by immigration, and takes place upon which it has never attempted to overstep. the amalgamation of the two peoples. It It may suffer loss or it may gain additions cannot, however, with any degree of jusin its vocabulary; it may lose its inflec- tice be alleged that languages in this contions, and, like the trees of autumn, it dition are in any way inferior to the may be bereft of its foliage-its beauty others. Both stages are natural and both and its strength ; but the trunk will still are necessary. The first is suited to that remain, its vitality will not have perished, period in a nation's history when the ima. and in the spring season it will be ready gination tinges with its pencil of light to bud forth again, and to crown itself with every passing object, and when the intela new glory and honour,
lect goes forth to seek the materials of its thought almost exclusively in the objec- sweeter and more graceful than the Lative world. The secondary stage is the tin; the French, as the language of soconcomitant of large advances in scientific ciety, has been uuequalled in either anresearch and social improvement; when cient or modern times, and its prose the abstract comes to exercise more power literature is eminently distinguished for over the mind than the concrete ; when precision and distinctness of expression ; man endeavours to comprehend the prin- while the Spanish has always been celeciples of things and the laws by which brated for the dignity of its prose writings all are regulated. Our own language fure and the sonoroas richness and fulness of nishes a striking proof of the height of its poetic vocabulary. It would thus be excellence which an uninflected and com- an ungrateful task to make a preference posite tongue can attain ; for it combines, of one condition of a language over the within the compass of its literature, a other. Both form a reflection of the poetry never excelled in the solemnity and thought of the people ; both have their nervousness of its diction, and a philoso- own purposes to effect, and both are phy which speaks with an eloquent enthu- adapted to the state of society to which siasm to the inmost depths of the soul. they belong. The Italian, for the purposes of poetry, is
LINES WRITTEN IN REPLY TO A SUGGESTION THAT AN OLD IRISH
HARP SHOULD BE RE-STRUNG.
Say—if the envious hand of Time,
By Rafaëlle's will,
By modern limner's skill?
Since, then, the Hand once clasped so near
In tones of poesy-
Poured forth its minstrelsy,
Let the harp mourn ; its broken strings,
His magic songs on high,
Nor tell their misery.
Wake it not now !-be none so bold
Let slumbers soothe its pain,
And wake its chords again.
April 11th, 1852.
ON THE CONDITION OF THE BRITONS UNDER THE ROMAN
Who were the Druids? This question is, these, during a period of the Indian like a great many others, far more easily empire when its limits were most exasked than answered. The amount of tended in Asia, mingling with the satisfactory information regarding the Celto-Scythian tribes who tenanted the origin and character of the Druids, immense deserts of Grand Tartary, bewhich has come within our reach, is came gradually incorporated, though very limited indeed. But one thing is not confounded, with that ancient nacertain: the more we know of them, the tion, introduced among them the rites more we are inclined to consider them of the Brahmin religion, occasionally the most remarkable class of men to be adopting those of the Scythians, and, met with in all pagan antiquity. The together with them, finally emigrated conjectures as to their origin are various. to the western regions of Europe.” As usual, the resources of philology Although we are totally incompetent have been largely drawn upon, to fur- to form an opinion on this very difficult nish a satisfactory explanation of the question, still, we confess this theory term Druid. The Hebrew D'
W , has an air of truth about it that almost that is contemplatores, (the latter word wius our assent. It clears away diffisignifying strictly, according to the ge- cultiesma circumstance which goes very nerally received etymology, one who far to produce assent to any theory. studies or is conversant in sacred mat. The cast of Druidical thought appears ters,) has been thought by some to be to us, on the whole, decidedly Oriental; the origin of the term Druid. Others but it is wanting in the warmth, feeblethink the Druids have had their name ness, and monstrous extravagance which from Druis, or Dryïus, their leader. characterise Oriental speculations.This is a simple and easy mode of set. Druidism, viewed as a complete system, tling the question, which possesses this is simple, majestic, commanding, and peculiar advantage, that it is equally severe. It is either Oriental thought, available in all cases. Others, again, cooled down and tempered by being think with Pliny that the name Druid made to pass through minds whose speis from deus, quercus, oak, because of culative tendencies were kept in check their dwelling chiefly and teaching in and variously modified by the influence forests : and thus author after author of a northern climate, or else it is all might be quoted till a long essay could this, together with a mixture of northern be written, not on Druidism, but on the gloom and ferocity. origin of the name; and the worst of all However, the Druids in Britain were would be the usual conclusion in such the sole repositories of all literature and investigations—a profound antiquarian science, the executors as well as the shake of the head, and “much uncer- propounders of the law, and the ministainty, however, hangs over the whole ters of religion ; so that a short notice subject.”
of them in each of these capacities will But, what says history on the point? be, at the same time, an account of the Not much on which we can implicitly Britons in these respects. rely, and a great deal upon which we First, then, as regards literature and cannot. Mr. Maurice, author of “A science, their attainments were, consiDissertation on the Origin of the dering the age in which they lived, of Druids," supposes them to be of Oriental no mean kind. Poetry, eloquence, meorigin. He writes thus concerning dicine, and astronomy are mentioned them :-“The celebrated order of the as having received their special attenDruids, anciently established in this tion. They communicated their instruccountry, were the immediate descend- tions orally, either for the purpose of ants of a tribe of Brahmins situated in preventing the general diffusion of their the high northern latitudes bordering principles among the masses of the peoon tho vast range of the Caucasus ; ple, or, as has been more charitably supposed, for the sake of strengthening Their views on medicine seems to the faculty of memory in their pupils : have been of a very medley descrip. the method, no doubt, effectually an- tion. All sorts of fantastic notions, swered both purposes. Nevertheless, theological, astrological, and magical, it seems certain that they made use of were interwoven with the leaves, sterns, letters on ordinary occasions. It has and flowers of various plants; but the been remarked as a singular circum- healing virtue was considered to reside stance, that, in the number and power chiefly in the imaginary supernatural of letters, the Celtic alphabet, which qualities which they attributed in such has been in use time immemorial in profusion to these simple natural obIreland, is exactly similar to the Greek jects. The ingenious and intricate alphabet, said to have been brought mysticism which their healing art preover by Cadmus from Phoenicia. sents, bears a striking analogy to the
Poetry, and its most intimate sister, secret sciences to be met with among Music, were, no doubt, assiduously cul- many ancient people—such as the mys. tivated by a particular class of the teries of the Pythagoreans or the Jewish Druids, called the Bards. If their Cabala. Can the various silly quackpoetry and music were at all similar to eries called charms, which are so much the ancient Irish productions of this in use among the lower classes in Irekind, with which we happen to be in land, even in the present day, be some degree acquainted (especially mu- remnants of the teachings of this sinsic), they must have been of a very gular race of beings? interesting character, and calculated to What were the exact notions of the produce a powerful effect on those who Druids on the subject of astronomy, it were capable- of appreciating them. is difficult to say; but there is every Nothing can be more exquisite than reason to believe that they were aware some of the very ancient Irish airs, of all the important astronomical truths which have escaped the ravages of time, known in those times. If this be so, and have come down to our day, we it forms strong presumptive evidence of have every reason to believe, compara- their Eastern origin. tively pure.
The form of government among the These relics of the musical genius of Britons was, according to Cæsar, moour Celtic forefathers, which are to be narchical. But this opinion cannot be had from our peasantry as abundantly received as near the truth unless with as wild flowers in summer, and like considerable modification. It is, we them, too, for the gathering, will bear think, manifest that the Britons, like comparison with the finest productions, all other Celtic people, always exhibited in the same style, of either Italy or Ger- a strong tendency to centralize power; many. We have been told that the but that this tendency invariably asgreat and good Haydn had such a fond- sumed a monarchical form appears ness for our Irish and Scotch airs, that very doubtful. In all probability the he had some of them framed and hung appointment of kings or chiefs, and all up in his bed-room. We know that he the other important state regulations, admired them exceedingly, and at were entirely under the control of the tempted to clothe some of them in his Druids. own immortal harmonies ; but, some- The religion of the Druids was the what like their authors, not a few of religion of the Britons. The following them disdained the trammels of art, account of this remarkable order of and put to defiance even the fertile ge- men, in respect of their religion, is exnius of Haydn-one of the instances tracted from a modern work, to which we now and then meet with, in works we are chiefly indebted for all we know of imagination, where Nature stands, of the present subject:-" The Druids," not in opposition to, but above art. according to Cæsar, “ formed through
Among the Druids, eloquence received out the whole of Gaul one of the two a high degree of attention; and they honourable classes of the population, also bad very creditable pupils in this the Equites, or military order, forming branch of literature, if we may judge the other. The office of the Druids was · froni the harangues of Galgacus and that of presiding over sacred things, of Queen Boadicea, as preserved by the performing all public and private sacriRoman writers.
fices, and generally of directing all re
ligious matters. They were also the changes which the Roman invasion teachers of great numbers of youth who produced upon the British people, of resorted to them for instruction in their whose individual, social, and national discipline. But the function which characteristics we have just been treatprocured them the highest honour was ing. that which they discharged as the 2.-We shall now state, as briefly as judges, by whom were determined al- possible, the most important events most all disputes or litigation, both which took place in Britain from the public and private.
invasion of Cæsar till the period of “ Cæsar goes on to state that the Agricola. Druids were not accustomed to take The great Roman commander, Julius part in war, nor did they pay any Cæsar, by means of extraordinary skill, taxes, enjoying both exemption from perseverance, and prudence, at the head military service and freedom from all of a powerful and well-disciplined Roman other public burdens.
army, had succeeded in completely sub“He then proceeds to give an ac duing the Gauls, an old and frequently count of the doctrines taught by the dangerous enemy of Rome. During Druids. The chief doctrine which they the course of the war, Cæsar, in various inculcated was that commonly known ways, became acquainted with Britain, by the name of the metempsychosis, or and either from motives of personal transmigration of souls-a favourite ambition, or advantage, or both, reprinciple of some of the most aucient solved upon adding Britain to his other religious and philosophical creeds, both conquests. On the 26th of August, of the east and of the west. They fifty-five years before the birth of Christ, asserted that when a man died, bis Cæsar set sail from Calais with the inspirit did not perish, but passed imme- fantry of two legions. The strait was diately into another body; and this soon crossed ; and he found himself bearticle of faith, by its power of van- fore the chalk cliffs of Old England, and quishing the fear of death, they con- in the presence of swarms of armed sidered to be the most efficacious that men, from whom he clearly saw he was could be instilled into the minds of men to have a very unpleasant reception. for the excitement of heroic virtue. He tried to effect a landing near the They also discussed and delivered to place now occupied by the town of Deal, their pupils many things respecting the and at last succeeded. British valour heavenly bodies and their motions, the and patriotism soon gave way to the magnitude of the universe and the superior discipline of the Roman legions. earth, the nature of things, and the The conqueror, however, was not long force and power of the immortal gods." in perceiving that he could not, with
Offerings of fruits and animals were safety, proceed farther. So, having exmade to the gods on ordinary occasions; torted a promise of submission from the but when sudden calamity, individual Britons, which was not meant to be or national, came upon them, then re- kept, he immediately returned to Gaul. course was had to that horrible climax In the following spring he again inof pagan superstition-human sacrifice. vaded Britain with an immense army; There, in the dim religious light of the he defeated the natives everywhere ; deep forest, in the magic circle of oaks, but still Britain could not be said to be amid the shrieks and groans of immo- conquered. He concluded a peace with lated human beings, and the yells of one of his most formidable enemies, and fanatic worshippers, the gloomy priest one of the bravest of the British kings, offered up his prayers, and from the Cassivelaunus, King of the Cassii, and agonies of human beings “ disclosed the again returned to Gaul. Britain refates."
inained unmolested for a period of The foregoing is a rude, and we are ninety-seven years after the departure but too conscious, imperfect account of of Cæsar. The Emperor Claudius rethe theatre on which the Roman solved upon making himself master of power, very shortly after, played so the island. He sent against Britain, conspicuous a part, and of the materials under the command of Aulus Plautius, with which it came in contact. In the a powerful army, amounting, it is remainder of our article, it will be only thought, to fifty thousand men. The * necessary to notice any remarkable Romans succceded in conquering sove.