Britannia, by William Camden

Conclusion of the General Description of BRITAIN.⌉

Under what Sign Britain lies. Big SSOme perhaps will expect to be told from the Astrologers, under the influence of what Sign and Planet our Britain lies. I am not wholly a stranger in those learned Errors; and therefore for the satisfaction of the Curious, I will say something; tho’ the conjectures of Astrologers are so different in this point, that the variety of opinions seems to shake the reality of the thing, and to leave no room even for truth. M. Manilius, an ancient Poet, intimates that Capricorn presides here, according to that verse,

Tu, Capricorne, regis quicquid sub sole cadente
Expositum
.—

Thou, Capricorn, presidest o’re
What e’re lies on the Western shore.

Ptolemy, Albumazar and Cardan, made Aries; John de Muris would have Saturn; the Frier Perscrutator, Esquidus, and Henr. Silenus, make the Moon the ruling Planet, because it is, as they say, in the seventh Climate. Roger of Hereford, Thomas of Ravenna the Philologer, and Hispalensis, prefer Pisces. To conclude, Schonerus and Pitatus subject us to Gemini upon no better grounds than the rest; so that there is no manner of agreement among them.

NOW, by God’s assistance, I will begin my journey through the Counties of England; in which (according to the old Wish at first setting out) may Success and Happiness attend me. The method of the succeeding Work. In my Description of each County, I will shew with as much plainness and brevity as I can, who were the ancient inhabitants, what was the reason of the name, what are the bounds of the County, the nature of the soil, the places of greatest antiquity, and of greatest eminence at present; and lastly, who have been Dukes or Earls of each, since the Norman Conquest. In the successions of the Earls (to own ingenuously the assistance which I have had) I must freely acknowledge that Thomas Talbot (a person excellently vers’d in the publick Records, and a compleat master of our Antiquities) has given me very great light.

I will begin this work at the remotest point westward, that is, at Cornwall, and thence will proceed to a Survey of the other Counties; in imitation of Strabo, Ptolemy, and the most ancient Geographers, who in their descriptions always begin at the most Western parts, as first from the great Meridian.

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