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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 Bede, 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 modern 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,+
The period at which Britain was first peopled, and the district from which its population proceeded, are subjects entirely open to the conjectures of the inquisitive. In common 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 chimere 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,
• Vide Turner's Hist, of the Anglo-Saxons, Vol. i. p. 58 ; and Camden's Introduction. - . . . . . > * * Wide Beauties, Vol. XVII. p. 1–4––According to the Welsh Triads, three names, of a different etymology to those noticed above, were bestowed, at different periods, on the island of Britain. See these presumed appella
tions mentioned, p. 7. note.
who having by birth and by accident, destroyed both the one and the other of his parents, fled 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, some 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 neighbouring shores of Gaul. The similitude of manners, language, and religion, which is known to have existed between the two countries, in the century previous to the Christian era, is in itself an argument of considerable force. A further argument is deducible from the presumed similarity of name 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 term bestowed on each. These were the Cimbri, frequently denominated the Cimmerii, Cumri, or Gumri; and the Celtie. 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 term Cymry (colloquially pronounced Kumri) applied to themselves by the Welsh; whilst that of Gathel, or Gael, is retained by the highlanders of Scotland.t - . - The
'• Nennius, who was an abbot of Bangor in the seventh century, likewise gave, at the earlier period in which he flourished, the pedigree of the fanciful King Bruto, which he traced up to Jupiter himself. * The historical Triads of the Welsh, describe Britain as being first peopled by the “ nation of the Cymry,” and colonized at different periods. Respecting the testiuony of these very curious Triads, and the contents of those o, . . . . . . . . . . . . * * * * * * * * * : * ~ * - - - $. . which
The encroachments of Belgic tribes on the Celtae, and their share in the ancient possession of the island, will be noticed in a
future page. . . The compulsory brevity of a writer who treats on the first population of Britain, a subject naturally obscure, will create no surprise, and perhaps little regret.” It may be lamented that an oppressive paucity of legitimate information prevails concerning the history of the early inhabitants of the island, and the state of B 4 their
which relate to the early history of Britain, I present an extract from a judi. cious modern historian : “It may not be improper to state, in one view, all that the Welsh traditions doliver of the ancient inhabitants of the island. How far individuals may cluse to accredit them, is a matter for their own discretion to determine. But in the mean time, they ought to be preserved from absolute oblivion. 3. . “According to the Welsh Triads, while the island was uninhabited by human colonies, and was full of bears, wolves, beavers, and a peculiar kind of wild cattle, it had the name of Clas Merddhin. In this state, Hy Cadarn led the first colony of Cymry to it, of whom some went to Bretagne. It then acquired the name of Y vél Ynys, the Honey laland. In the course of time Prydain, the son of Aedd the Great, reigned in it, and from him it was called Ynys Prydain, the isle of Prydain, which is its present denomination in Welsh, and which the Greeks and Romans seem to have extended into Britannia. It was afterwards visited by two foreign tribes, of Kimmerian origin, the Lloegrwys, from Gwasgwyn, or Gascony; and the Brython, from Llydaw, or Bretagne. Both of these were peaceable colonists. The Lloegrwys impressed their name upon a large portion of the island At subsequent periods other people have come with inore or less violence. The Romans; the Gwyddyl Ficti (the Picts) to Alban, or Scotland, on the part which lies nearest to the Baltic; the Celyddon (Caledonians) to the north parts of the island; the Gwyddy! to other parts of Scotland; the Corraniaid. from Pwyll (perhaps Poland) to the Humber; the men of Galedin, or Flanders, to Wyth; the Saxons ; and the Llychlynians, or Northmen.”— Turner's Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons. Vol I. pp. 14, 15. * The reader who is desirous of investigating more deeply a subject so recondite, is referred to some ingenious speculatious in Turner's introduc. ...w tion to the history of the Anglo-Saxons; and to three letters from the Rev. Samuel Greatheed, respecting the origin of the inhabitants of the British islauds ; Archaeologia, Vol. XVI.
their moral attainments, manners, arts, and manufactures, before these took a new bias from the victories of the Roman arms. But the manners of all nations in an infantile state of society, have so near an approximation, with an allowance for the slight difserence of colouring imparted by external circumstances, that probably neither philosophy nor mere curiosity sustains any serious deprivation by this sterility of intelligence. 2 A narration of the wars carried on by rival Clans, affords but little interest when the very names of the parties are preserved with difficulty by antiquarian care; and in the tangible remains of the early British tribes we have still emphatical monuments of their warlike spirit, mingled with indications of such rudeness in works of art as might be expected from a people little conversant with commerce, and not united under that salutary result of mature congregation, one consolidated head of government. Our knowledge of the internal polity, of the customs, and even of the geographical circumstances, of the early Britons, commences with the Roman invasion of the island. The Druids, who, in their various classes, engrossed of the learning of those ages first known in British history, and who were the chroniclers of events, used no other than an oral method of record. Thus we rest for solid information, concerning the first periods of our national story, on Roman and Greek writers; and chiefly on Julius Cæsar and Tacitus. Fortunately for literature, those authors were possessed of minds equally comprehensive and acute. Although vanity, and motives of personal interest, may have induced the ambitious Caesar to have partially misrepresented some circumstances connected with the dubious success of his own arms, his statements in other respects are unloubtedly veracious. The elegant and judicious Tacitus either personally visited Britain in the first century, or obtained intelligence from his father-in-law, Agricola. To these great writers of antiquity, assisted chiefly by some Greek authors, whose assertions must often be regarded as of a questionable character, because seldom founded on actual investi
gation, all modern historians are indebted for the foundati n on
which they build, when treating of the manners of the early In aid of the sober methodical writer, who presents as credible only that which he finds stated in specific terms, there have occurred in recent years, some authors of a bold and inquisitive disposition, who have endeavoured to bestow illumination on the gloom of our early annals, and to supply the deficiencies of the scanty pages, by ineans of probable deduction. Like Goguet, they insist on national arts and manners undergoing a logical process; and while, by an acceptable inference, they aver that the people who used chariots must have been acquainted with various branches of mechanical knowledge, they advert to the practices of art connected with such an usage, and contend that the country could not, at its interior, have been in the first state of rudeness, since there must have been roads, probably improved by the labour of the hand, to render the carriage a vehicle capable of easy transit.—Foremost amongst these writers stands Mr. Whitaker, whose history of Manchester is an Essay on the early History of Britain at large. If received with caution, his ingenious work is eminently useful, as he not only elicits, by a ra. * tional pursuit of argument, many novelties of intelligence, but In the following remarks on the probable condition of the early Britons, I first notice circumstances generally connected with the geographical positions and relations of the different tribes; and afterwards present, in a very succinct form, such observations on their religion, customs, polity, and progress in arts and manusactures, as appear to be necessary for an illustration of their vestiges, both moral and tangible. - N. It has been observed that the patriarchal form of government, in its simple state, has never been of long duration in any country; for as independent families increased in number, they gradually approached nearer to each other; and disputes respecting boundaries, as naturally united several into one tribe or clan, as the tribes, by alliances and intermarriages, Were afterwards con; . & . solidated