Britannia, by William Camden



Embellished I IT is now six and twenty years, since Mr. Camden’s BRITANNIA, written originally in Latin, was published in an English Translation, with large Additions and Improvements. And though Enquiries of this nature may seem less proper for the Character and Function of a Divine, and especially for one of my Age and Station; yet I hope I shall not be censured for having continued this Work under my Care and Inspection, when it is consider’d, that all Ages and Stations must be allowed their Diversions, and that no Diversion can be more innocent or laudable, than the History and Antiquities of our Native Country: The Love of which being grafted in our Nature; it follows from thence, that the debarring any Part or Circumstance of Life from employing it’s leisure hours in those pleasing and innocent Amusements, would be an Unnatural Restraint.

Wherefore, about twelve Years since, I turn’d my Thoughts in earnest, towards the farther Improvement and Perfecting of this Work; and now, being about to send abroad another Impression of it, the Reader is to be acquainted, in what particulars, and to what degrees, this Second Edition is further Enlarged and Improved.

I. The TRANSLATION, from beginning to end, hath been collated with the original Latin, and, it is hoped, will be found much better accommodated, than before, to the Author’s Sense, and the English Idiom. The English Translation also hath been separately perused with another View, namely, Eavenness and Uniformity of Style; the want of which (not to be well avoided in a translation by several hands) was taken notice of in the former Edition, but is to a good degree supplied and remedied in this. In which Collation, and Revisal, the rule hath been, not to aim-at or affect Politeness and Elegancy, but (what was conceived to be more agreeable to the Subject) to see that the Author’s meaning was expressed in plain and proper Language, and, as much as might be, in the same Style.

I must add one thing more, concerning the Translation of this Work; That the adjusting it exactly to the Latin, will always lay it under one disadvantage with English Readers, which is this: The Original, as written in Latin, was chiefly intended for the Instruction of Foreigners; and this made it necessary for the Judicious and Learned Author, to insert particular Explications of many Terms, Customs, and Methods: Which being Peculiar to the English, could not otherwise have been understood by Foreigners; but being of vulgar and common use among Us, they are known before-hand to the meanest and most illiterate English Reader, and may therefore, in an English Translation calculated for English Readers, seem not only useless, but in many cases trifling. Notwithstanding which, it was judg’d most advisable in this as well as the former Edition, to translate Mr. Camden entire; and although such passages, as they stand in the English Tongue, may at first sight appear mean and low, yet can they be no diminution of Mr. Camden’s Judgment, or the Dignity of the Work, in the account of any Reader, who will be so fair and just, as to remember that they are Explications originally intended for the benefit of Foreigners.

The like Excuse must be made for the Translation, if in some places there appear more of the Poetical Style, than is usual in Prose; which could not be avoided without deviating from the Original, because in truth Mr. Camden’s Style, especially in the Britannia, leans much to the Poetical way; rising to a greater heighth, and abounding more with Epithets and Allusions, than Writings of that kind generally do.

II. The ADDITIONS, which in the former Impression were placed at the end of each County, and others which have been since made by way of Improvement in this, and which are very numerous; are now inserted at the Places to which they belong, and Incorporated with Mr. Camden’s Text, but with proper marks of distinction ( viz, this ⌈ at the beginning, and this ⌉ at the end, of every Addition, throughout the Work;) so plain, as to be discerned at first sight by any Reader who is attending to those Distinctions, and not plain enough to disfigure the page, or offend the eye. By which, the Reader is now eased of the frequent trouble of turning from place to place, and sees the full Account of every particular, at one view, and without the least Interruption; and yet has the Text, in effect, as entire and separate, as he had before.

III. Of the Additions so incorporated with the Text, very many (as hath been intimated) are New Discoveries and Observations, such, I mean, as have been made since the former Edition: the publication whereof conduced much to excite the Curiosity of many persons in this way, and led learned and judicious men, in their several Countries, to farther Enquiries and Observations; which (it must be said for their honour) they have communicated, with great freedom and readiness, towards the Improvement of this Work.

IV. That it might not be unknown or forgotten, to whose Assistance the Improvements in the former Impression were chiefly owing; it was reckoned a point of justice to repeat in this Edition a particular Account of their * * See at the end of this Preface.Names, as it stood in the former: Especially, since many of them have been pleased to revise and enlarge their Observations, in order to perfect the present Work; so far as a Subject, in its nature perpetually growing and varying, is capable of Perfection. And although the Learned Mr. Llwyd (to whom Britannia stands indebted for those most useful Additions in Wales) is since dead, to the great detriment of Natural History and Antiquities; yet it fell out Providentially for this Work, that before his death he had Revised the whole Principality, in order to this new Impression.

musaeum museum V. Some of those Curious and Learned Persons, who contributed to the Improvement of particular Counties in the last Edition, have, in order to this, extended their Enquiries to other Counties also: The Right Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Bishop of * * Now of Derry, in Ireland.Carlisle, to Cumberland and Westmorland (mostly, his Lordship’s own Diocese:) Dr. Kennet, Dean, and now Bishop, of Peterburrow, to Buckinghamshire, as bordering upon Oxfordshire, and, in part, the subject of his Parochial Antiquities: Dr. Tanner, Chancellor of Norwich, to Norfolk and Suffolk, the two Counties, of which that Diocese consists: Mr. Thoresby, to the East and North-Ridings of Yorkshire, as having carried his Enquiries and Observations throughout that County in a general way, while he was making more particular Preparations for his useful and accurate Account of the Antiquities of Leeds. The same worthy person hath also enrich’d this Impression with additional Annotations upon Mr. Camden’s four Tables of Saxon Coins, and hath join’d to them a fifth Table out of his own excellent Musæum, with Remarks upon it.

VI. Besides the Assistances from former Benefactors; this Edition hath also receiv’d great Improvement from several other persons, of known Skill in the Subject of Antiquities. Cornwall, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire, have been greatly enlarged from Observations communicated by Dr. Musgrave; Dorsetshire, by Mr. Bennett; Leicestershire, by Mr. Rogers late Archdeacon of Leicester; Huntingdonshire, by Mr. Astry; Worcestershire, by Mr. Oliver; the Bishoprick of Durham, by Dr. Smith Prebendary of that Church; the Account of the Picts-wall, by another very worthy person of the same Name and Country, whose accurate Survey of it is here printed at large; the Isle of Man, by the Right Reverend the present Lord Bishop of Man, in a Description of it, entirely new; and the Islands of Jersey, Guernsey &c. in a like Description by the Reverend Mr. Fall.

VII. Mr. Camden had furnish’d his Reader with some General Rules for discovering the Original and Import of the ancient English names of Persons; but it seem’d to be a Defect in the Undertaking, that there was no Help of the like kind, to discover the Original and Import of the names of Places; especially, in a Topographical Work. Which defect is now supply’d, by the addition of a like Scheme of General Rules concerning the names of Places; whereby the Reader is directed to the genuin meaning and signification of them in the Saxon tongue, from whence they were taken. And because, since the former Edition of this Work, England and Scotland have receiv’d a mutual Increase of Peace, Happiness, and Strength, by being united and incorporated into one Kingdom; it was judg’d proper and convenient to connect the Descriptions of those two Countries, with an Historical Account of that happy Union.

VIII. When Mr. Camden enters upon the Description of Scotland, he makes a general Apology for all Defects, as being much a Stranger to the Affairs of that Kingdom; and for the same reason, a like Apology is still more needful, when we pass over into Ireland. But it is to be hop’d, that even these Defects will have one good fruit, namely, to Provoke some learned Persons in those two Countries to undertake separate Surveys of them, and to give us a full and perfect Account of their ancient and modern State. More particularly, it is to be wish’d, that some able hand in Ireland, would do the same justice to the Nobility of that Nation, that Mr. Crawford has lately done to the Nobility of Scotland; to whose Accounts, and to Sir James Dalrymple’s Edition of the Britannia for Scotland, this Work stands greatly indebted; as doth Ireland to the kind and useful Assistances of Sir Richard Cox.

IX. At the end of the whole, are the Additions which were made by Philemon Holland, in his English Translation of the Britannia; together with the pages and lines of the present Edition, to which those Interpolations relate. And if it be ask’d, why these also were not inserted in their proper places, with some mark of distinction; the Answer is, That the Translator appears not to have been skill’d in the Subject of Antiquities, but seems to have undertaken that Work merely as a person who found much delight in the translating of Latin Authors into English; That his receiving those Interpolations from Mr. Camden (however conjectur’d by some) is neither pretended by himself, nor shown by others to any degree of satisfaction; and, That he has not thought fit to acquaint us, upon what Information or Authority those Additions were made. For which reasons, it was judged most advisable to dispose of them in a middle way, that is, neither wholly to reject them, nor yet to incorporate them with the Text; but (leaving every one to his own Opinion, concerning the value and usefulness of them,) to print them separately at the end of this Work, and, by distinct references, to make the recourse to their proper places as easy to the Reader, as was possible in that Separate State.

X. Having said thus much of the present Edition, and of the Improvements made in it, first, in the Translation and Method, and then in a multitude of Additions and Enlargements; it remains to be observ’d, that the Maps also have been revised by knowing and skilful Persons in each County, and the Errors in the Spellings carefully amended in the Plates, according to the Corrections return’d, so far as they appear’d to be needful; that is, where the Name of the Place, as it stood in the former Edition of the Map, did not answer either the way of writing or the common way of pronouncing among the People. If it answer’d either of these, it was judged sufficient; if neither, it is corrected.

But tho’ the Maps thus amended, serve the purposes of the present Work, by carrying the eye of the Reader from place to place as he peruses the Descriptions, and do also, in the main, answer the other purposes of such Topographical Surveys; and tho’, of late years, particular Surveys have been taken of some few Counties, and Maps of them publish’d with good degrees of Care and Accuracy: Yet it is much to be wish’d, for the honour of these Nations, that due Encouragement might be found for some skilful and diligent hands, to take New Surveys of the several Counties of Great Britain and Ireland, in order to one uniform Body of Maps; so fair, with regard to the Letter, and so disentangled with regard to the distances of the Names from each other, as to be not only useful, but easy and delightful to the Eye.

XI. But tho’ so great Care and Pains has been taken in Revising, Augmenting, and Digesting this Work, in order to send it to the Press, accurate and complete; and tho’ most of the Counties, after they were printed off, have been transmitted to skilful hands for their perusal, and their Corrections and Amendments (so far as was judg’d necessary) are inserted at the end; yet are we not to suppose, that a Work of so great Compass and Extent, and consisting of such a variety of Matter, can be without it’s Errors and Mistakes. This was by no means the case of Mr. Camden’s own Performance, even after it had receiv’d his last hand; and much less will it be the case of any other person. And therefore there is great need, on this occasion, to bespeak the Reader’s Candour, and favourable Allowance; which, being granted, will be no more than a just and equitable Return, for the great Pains that has been taken to provide for his Instruction and Entertainment. But if any Errors which were originally in Mr. Camden’s Text, or in the Additions to the former Impression, shall happen to be repeated in this; so far, the Reader must be content to take the blame to himself, for having neglected to give timely notice of such Errors, when notice was given to him, in the most publick manner, of the design of a new Edition.

XII. After so particular an Account of the present Work; I will observe but one thing more. It is usual with Mr. Camden, to bestow proper marks of Respect upon Persons who liv’d in his own time, and whose eminent Abilities, and Services to their Country, had either acquir’d them new Honours from their Prince, or were an Ornament to those which they had receiv’d from their Ancestors. And he vindicates this, as an act of Justice, which was due not only to the Persons, but to the Age; that Posterity might see how fruitful it was in Virtue, Wisdom, Learning, Eloquence, and other great and laudable Attainments. The like liberty is taken, here and there, in the Additional parts of this Work; as well by way of accommodation to Mr. Camden’s method, as to let Posterity see that the present Age had it’s Share of worthy and honourable Accomplishments in all kinds; and this, the Reader will find to be done with great Justice and Impartiality.


Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06