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Yet it may be said, that in the various parts of Cumbria certain differences of dialect and manners are observable; but this is only what might reasonably be expected, as the district is mountainous and difficult of access, and the population could only for a long period hold intercourse and mix according to the natural divisions of the country. Cumbria has, moreover, been always open to the influence of the rest of England.
Scottish intercourse has unceasingly acted on the north, as Lancashire influence on the south. And as it is along the high roads, the arteries of traffic, that foreign influence makes itself felt, these localities are exactly the places that will be found to differ most from the secluded dales and fellsides. On these districts foreign influence can only act indirectly, or through the market-towns, and this it is doing effectually of late years, fast removing all traces and relics of the olden time.
Various essays have been made to find a resemblance between the people of Cumbria and the Scandinavians of the continent, but especially of Norway, the latter being presumptively unmixed. As regards the appearance of the men, quite as striking a likeness may be traced in the people of some parts of Ireland, where, in all probability, the population is mixed. The diet of this district approaches very nearly that of North Wales, the reason being obvious,—the produce of the mountains is in both places the same.* The stature of the people, with perhaps some exceptions, may easily be paralleled in other parts of the British Isles; and the prevailing fairness of complexion observable in certain districts, is an argument that cannot well be used in the present case, as this characteristic of races is no longer the same as it was known to the ancients. Wherever a similarity of complexion at present exists, it may be traced to local causes. On this subject Prichard observes : “The ancient Germans are said to have had universally yellow or red hair, and blue eyes. This, says Niebuhr, has now in most parts of Germany become uncommon.
The Chevalier Bunsen has assured me, that he has often looked in vain
* Kohl, the German traveller, observed a great similarity between the Welsh and Tyrolese.
for the auburn or golden locks, and the light cerulean eyes of the old Germans, and never verified the picture given by the ancients of his countrymen, till he visited Scandinavia; there he found himself surrounded by the Germans of Tacitus.
The climate of Germany has in fact changed since the country was cleared of forests." And the difference between the two races, as he shows by ample evidence, was that the Germans were more redhaired, and the Celts more flaxen-haired.*
The clan system, which prevailed amongst the Scandinavians and Celts, must have continued to a late period in Cumbria, and to this we owe the numerous names ending in son, which is an exact equivalent to the prefixed Mac, 0 or Ap of the Celtic peoples. This class of names appears to have come generally into use with the final spread of Christianity, and of course wherever the clan system then prevailed, the termination son was adopted. The class of names mentioned was preceded by a very extensive stock more especially belonging to heathen times. Some part of these were no doubt derived from qualities, but that a large proportion were local names is equally certain. The custom of taking names from the dwellings, observes W. von Humboldt, must prevail wherever the people have given up the nomade life, without yet uniting to form cities. He cites the case of the Old Prussians, amongst whom every dwelling is said to have given its name to its possessor.
The Angles appear to have adopted the termination son to some extent; Hanson and Ianson are Angle, and both equivalent to Johnson. But it is especially under the class of local names that Angle names of persons are to be looked for. With these modern Saxon names form a remarkable contrast, being, generally speaking, taken from trades, occupations, colours, and all sorts of peculiarities.
The Celtic and Scandinavian names have been enriched by a very considerable interchange. An example or two must suffice to show the manner in which this has taken place. The English
* Natural History of Man.
name Nelson (common in some parts of Ireland) is generally explained from Nicholas, the correct form of which must therefore be Nicholson. How was the name converted into Nelson? There is no doubt it is identical with the Irish O'Neill, a genitive form, the nominative of which is Niall, a word that may be found in Irish dictionaries explained as a “hero.” If, then, we are not willing to take the name as of Celtic origin, we are driven to the conclusion, that some Christian Northman so signalised himself in Ireland that his name became a synonyme for a hero, and that from him are descended the O'Neills of Ireland, which genitive passing back into Scandinavia, made out the equivalent Nelson. Again, the Cumbrian name so long spelt Grame, is of course correctly Graham, for in the same way Brougham is pronounced very plainly broom. Graham is a local name in ham, the first part being found in M'Grath (pr. magrah); and Grath is the Scandinavian garth, a field, Celticised.*
The extensive stock of names claimed as exclusively belonging to the heathen Northmen, numerous enough to overrun the etymology of all England, must have received many additions of the kind described. It is possible, too, that many of them are Tartar. But at least one thing is certain, that the native etymology of the Norse names is quite unreliable. Some of the mixed kind have found their way into Cumbria, but for the most part it is now difficult to recognise them. It may be objected that we have no pure Celtic names remaining in Cumbria, but their absence is still less surprising here than in Wales.f
The clan names of the north continued long unbroken, especially on the Border. Scott tells a story corroborative of this, concerning a certain beggar woman who, one evening in a Border village,
* Cf. the Russ. gorad, grad.
+ Names of persons ending in stone are of doubtful origin. Ton is a much • more probable termination, as such words should first become names of places. Johnstone and Edmonstone, the most usual of this class, seem to have originated in eu ony. Yet it would be difficult to account in any other way for the names Robespierre, Robert's stone, Shakspeare (Jacques pierre) James's stone, Breakspeare, etc., all of which are Norman French.
sought lodging in vain at every door. 66 Are there no Christians here?" she asked at length. Nay,” returned the person addressed, “ we're a' Johnstones and Jardines.” Another proof of the cohesion of the clan names may be found in the necessity that so long existed of distinguishing persons with “ by-names,” as well as with a singular combination of patronymics. In certain districts Nan-Rob-Jack was well understood to mean John, son of Robert, son of Ann; but the same mode of expression is still usual enough—“Our Jo Bella” signifying “ brother Jo's wife, Bella.
Any mention of the modern people would be incomplete without some account of that peculiar section called the potters—a phenomenon in civilised society-now more especially when altered circumstances threaten to bring about their extinction. The Potter belongs almost exclusively to the northern counties. In Northumberland and Durham the name is generally exchanged for that of the Tinkers, whilst in Lancashire he is (or was) really a potter or seller of pots (earthenware). But the Cumbrian Potter, a year or two since, was understood to be a man who ignored civilised life, put up his tent on the moor, or by the road-side, and slept as contentedly as a Tartar. His chief trade is that of making besoms, which his wife sells ; but he is also sometimes found selling earthenware, and engaged in other occupations that need not be particularised. He was, in fact, the gipsy of the north of England, but is as unmistakeably indigenous as the latter is foreign. Now that the potters are no longer suffered by the police to encamp on the road-side, they keep together in the towns as much as possible, and will probably for some time form a separate community; but they seem destined to return into a society from whence they emerged.
The origin of the potter must probably be identified with that of vagrants in England generally. As bondage declined, vagrancy flourished, potterism apparently being the peculiar form taken by it in the north. But even the name is involved in obscurity. He may have been so called in late times because a part of the community sold pots, or much earlier on account of “ pattering,” or
begging. It is well known that the great epoch of vagrancy in this country was the suppresion of the monasteries. Legislation was indeed directed against it before, but still vagrancy was recognised and fed. Nor has legislation been more successful since, for vagrancy still flourishes, reminding civilised, smoke-dried society of its origin. The peculiar dialect or “cant" of the vagrants points unmistakeably to a monastic state of society. *
The potter's language has nothing older than the period of the monasteries, and of course the greater part of it is pure
Cumbrian. Many of the peculiar words are of modern introduction, for instance, when he camps it for the winter, the screen that he provides for his fire is a barricade. But a considerable number of his terms are inventions and corruptions of an older date. When he puts his horse by night into a lane or field, he slangs him (an active derivative from the verb to slink, slinge); the three sticks to which he hangs his kettle over the fire, are the chitty-box (kettlebalks); and the master of the house, whom the “potter-wife” is careful to avoid, is called the gaagy, which, though I do not undertake to explain it, has evidently the same stamp as the rest. It seems highly probable on the whole, that when the shelter and food afforded by the monasteries were taken away, the vagrants of the moorland districts 'commenced the manner of life which they have ever since followed. They encamped and lived on the heaths and commons, then, as these were enclosed, in the lanes, until driven by the police into the scarcely habitable dens of towns that they had so long and so wisely eschewed.
* The term for the country at large, the munkery, I understand to be the Monkery—“He is on the munkery," that is, he is living by his wits—and telling a feigned story to excite pity, or pattering, was once simply the repeating of the Pater, the only return required for alms at a certain period.