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THE ANCIENT BRITONS.
IN THREE PARTS.
BY G. D. BARBER, A.M.,
G. D. BARBER BEAUMONT.
J. R. SMITH, 36, SOHO-SQUARE.
The present work is to be received as a collection of notes, to be added to and better arranged by the qualified reader. The most fastidious will forego the usual desiderata of style and composition, and pass over the want of an introduction for its author, when he considers that the carrying out to completeness the suggested inquiry would transcend the power or compass of an individual, however high in any rank of literature. Let him reflects to what these disjecta membra belong. No man has ever set on foot this general question of who were the ancient Britons,-the race to be accredited with the peculiarity of British institutions, Hundred, Shire, and Tything, Knighthood (including its orders, the “Garter” and “Bath,") that safeguard of order and morals in the middle ages, Jury, as well the “Grand Assize" as the Common Jury, or in Norman phrase, Jujement du pais, the Druid faith and Christian Church in Britain before the Emperor Constantine, the bard and dateless harp.
These are, and have been, waiting a recognition of their origin; some of them are loosely referred to the Welsh, that
is, to a race in vocabulary Celtic; Celts no where out of Wales, if there, exhibiting claim or title to the majority of those institutional particulars; nor, out of Wales, to any of them. While a great mystery, or an inordinate assumption, hangs over or attaches to that corner of Britain, and the Cambraic people, the history of Wales prior to the close of the sixth century of our era, and that of the Britons, except from the scanty notices of their subjugation and occasional revolts, on the classic page, and in the Saxon chronicle, being a mere blank; the names of Cunobeline, Cassivelan, Caractacus, and Bonduca, in Cæsar and Tacitus, of Carausius, and of other heads of insular pretenders to the Roman purple in other accounts, followed by the names of Owen, Gwrthrwyn, and Maelgwin, with Cadwallader, and his two immediate ancestors; these are the sum, or nearly the sum, of events, cycles, and titles, of the insular Britons. And for all beyond the island, we have “Brute the Trojan,” and a list of apocryphal outlandish kings, with mythical circumstances, -the latter characteristic attaching to Prince Arthur, the nero of a battle, and supposed tenant of a tomb at Glastonbury, which proved a monkish deception.
Was it not competent to any man loving his country much, and truth more, to suggest something to move an inquiry, and hope some result to ten years of toiling and moiling about the proofs ?
Criticism passing over Cimric ground might almost have heard a warning from its hollow echoes.
The name of “ Troy" is extant on the Welsh Border, and as title to a game among Welsh boys, akin to that more familiarly known as “Hop Scot.” Now, the Aramitic names here introduced, " Troy," a gate, and “ Hop-Scot,” face about
the water-trough (one of the incidents in the game), were suggestive of the ground on which all that is exclusively British rests. Whether a Celtic Brutus (see Part II., chap. v.) really existed, with Archaic circumstances, may be scarcely worth the inquiry; but that “ Troy” has come to Wales, involving apparently an appropriate idea, is a matter carrying its own evidence; and if such particulars, connected with a mass of others, point to an eastern origin, the Troy, or rather both the Troes of Asia (that on the Dardanelles, and the other near Xanthus), may have been the gates that once closed between the Cimri and Europe. This is simply a hint to the obstinate opponents and defenders of one point in a case of pedigree purporting to be older than the first civilization of Europe, unless it be the mere creation of fancy.
But the British Constitution is a something without an exponent in Roman, Saxon, or Norman institutions, or in Roman, Saxon, Norman, or Celtic language. This case we enunciate. We offer suggestions to elucidate a strange mystery, or to fill an acknowledged vacuum in history, and what a history, comprising that of Europe in and before the classic era ! We have Welsh records, in tolerable continuity, and extent of words, phrases, lines, pages, and volumes; but what are they to Britons, or Britons to them? What is their meaning ? What do all, or what does a single page of them convey? Anything. Nothing.