BRITAIN, called also Albion, and by the Greeks and the most famous Island in the World; is divided from the Continent of Europe, by the Ocean. It lies over-against Germany and France, in a * * Figura Triquetra.Triangular form, having three Promontories shooting out three several ways, viz. Belerium [the Land’s end] towards the West; Cantium [the Kentish Foreland] towards the East; and Tarvisium or Orcas [Cathness] towards the North. On the West, between it and Ireland, the Vergivian or Irish Sea breaks in; on the North it is washed by the vast and wide Northern Ocean; on the East, where it faceth Germany, by the German Ocean; on the South over-against France, by the British Chanel. Thus, divided by a convenient distance from the neighbouring Nations on all sides, and fitted by its open harbours for the traffick of the whole World, it seems to have spread it self into the sea, for the general benefit of mankind. For between KentSee in Kent. and Calais in France, it runs so far into the sea, and the Chanel is so contracted, that (a) some are of opinion that a breach was made there to receive the sea, which till that time had been excluded: and to confirm it, they bring Virgil’s Authority in this Verse,
Et penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos.
And Britain quite from all the world disjoyn’d.
Because, says Servius Honoratus, Britain was anciently joyn’d to the Continent. And they also urge that of Claudian, in imitation of Virgil,
—Nostro diducta Britannia mundo .
And Britain sever’d from our World.
And it is not unlikely, that the face and figure of the earth may by the Deluge and other causes have been alter’d; that some mountains may have been rais’d and heighten’d, and many high places sunk into plains and vallies; lakes and meers may have been dried up, and dry places turn’d into lakes and meers; and some Islands may have been torn and broken off from the Continent. But whether this be indeed true, and whether there were any Islands at all before the Flood, I shall not here argue, nor give a rash judgment upon God’s Works. All know, that the Divine Providence hath dispos’d things very different, to one and the same end. And indeed it hath always been allow’d, as well by Divines as Philosophers, that Isles, scatter’d in the sea, do no less contribute to the beauty of the World, than lakes dispers’d in the Continent, and mountains rais’d above plains.
(a) White’s Hist. Brit. L. 11. Not. 11. Burton’s Comment. on Antonin, p. 18, 19. Twin. de Rebus Albion. & Britan. Sammes Britan. l. 1. c. 4. Verstegan, l. 1. c. 4. Some Foreigners also, Dominicus Marius Niger, Antonius Volscus, Vivianus, and Du Bartas have favour’d this Opinion.
Livy and Fabius Rusticus have made the Form of this Island to resemble an † † Scutulæ Oblongæ. oblong Platter, or ¦ ¦ Bipenni. two-edg’d Ax; and such certainly is its shape towards the South (as * * Vid. Sir H. Savile’s Comment.Tacitus observes,) which yet hath been ill apply’d to the whole Island. For Northward, the vast tract of land shooting forward to the utmost shore, groweth narrow and sharp like a wedge. Caesar The AncientsThe Panegyrick spoken to Constantius, falsly entitled to Maximian. thought it so great, and so very large in circumference, that Cæsar, the first of the Romans who discover’d it, wrote, that he had found out another world, supposing it to be so great, that it seem’d not to be surrounded with the sea, but even to encompass the Ocean. And Julius Solinus Polyhistor asserts, that for largeness, it almost deserv’d to be call’d another World. But our age, by the many surveys made by several persons, hath well-nigh found the exact Dimensions of the whole Isle. For from Cathness to the Land’s end, reckoning the windings and turnings of the shores, along the West-side, are computed about 812 miles. From thence along the Southern coast to the Kentish Foreland, 320 miles. Hence, coasting the German Ocean, with crooked bays and inlets for 704 miles, it reaches Cathness. So that by this computation, the whole Island is in circuit 1836 miles; which measure, as it falls much short of Pliny’s, so is it also somewhat less than Cæsar’s.Com. l. 5. † † Schymnus.Schitinius Chius is not worth the mentioning, who in Apollonius de Mirabilibus (having told us strange stories of fruit growing in Britain without kernels, and grapes without stones) makes its circuit 400 † † Stadiis.furlongs and no more. But Dionysius Afer in his Description of the World, hath given a much better account of the British Islands, that is, of Britain and Ireland.
Vast is the compass of the British coasts;
A like extent no rival Island boasts.
And with him Aristides and other Greek Writers agree, who by way of distinction have truly call’d Britain, the great Island.
They who have accurately compar’d the spaces of the Heavens with the tracts of the Earth, have plac’d Britain under the 8th Climate, and within the 18th and 26th Parallels; computing the longest Day at eighteen Equinoctial Hours and an half. The Land’s end, according to the Spherical figure of the Earth, they place at sixteen degrees and fifty scruples, and the Kentish Foreland twenty one degrees in Longitude. As for the Latitude, they measure in the Southern-parts fifty degrees ten scruples; at Cathness fifty-nine degrees forty scruples. (b) Britain, by this situation, must needs enjoy both a fertile soil, and a most temperate air. The Summers here are not scorching, by reason of the constant breezes which fan the air, and moderate the heats. These, as they invigorate every thing that grows, so they give both to man and beast, at the same time, health and refreshment. The Winters also here are mild and gentle. This proceeds, not only from the thickness and closeness of the air, but also from the frequency of those still showers, which with us do much soften and break the violence of the cold. Besides that, the seas which encompass it, do so cherish it with their gentle warmth, that the cold is much less severe, than in some parts of France and Italy. Upon this consideration, Minutius Felix, proving that the Divine Providence consults, not only the benefit of the world in general, but also of each part; makes use of our Island as an instance. Though BritainDe Nat. Deor. l.2. (saith he) enjoys not so much the aspect and influence of the sun, yet instead thereof, it is refreshed and comforted by the warmth of the sea which surrounds it. Neither need we think this observation strange, which he makes upon the warmth of the sea; since Cicero makes the very same. The seas, faith he, tossed to fro with the winds, grow so warm, that from thence it may certainly be inferred, that there is a heat that lies concealed in that vast fluid body. To the temperate state also of this Island Cescenius Getulicus, a very ancient Poet, seems to allude in these verses concerning Britain.
Non illic Aries verno serit aera cornu,
Probus in Virg. Geor.Gnossia nec Gemini præcedunt cornua Tauri,
Sicca Lycaonius resupinat plaustra Bootes.
Not there the spring the Ram’s unkindness mourns,
Nor Taurus sees the Twins before his horns,
His Northern wain where dry Bootes turns.
caesar Cæsar also takes notice, That some parts of this country are more temperate than Gaule, and the cold less piercing. And Cornelius Tacitus observes, That in this Island there is no extremity of cold: And farther adds, That, except the olive, the vine, and some other fruits peculiar to the hotter climates, it produceth all things else in great plenty: and, That the fruits of the earth, in coming-up, are forward in Britain, but very slow in ripening. Of both which the Cause is one and the same, the excessive moisture of the earth and air. For our air (as Strabo hath observed) is more subject to rain than snow. However, so happy is Britain in a most plentiful product of all sorts of grain, that (c) Orpheus hath called it The very seat of Ceres. For to this Island (d) we are to apply that expression,
—— See here the stately Court
Of Royal Ceres!——
(b) But later Discoveries have better defined the site of Britain; the Longitude of the Land’s end being but 11 Degrees from Teneriff, and Cantium or the Foreland but 58 and an half: the Latitude of the Lizard 50 degrees, and of Cathness scarce 18 and an half. Whence, the longest Tropical day is from 16 hours 10 minutes to 18 hours 2 minutes; that is, from the 18th to the 25th parallel.
(c) Or more truly Onomacritus, as saith a late Author.
(d) This (if clearly applicable to Britain,) shows it to have been known to the Ancients very early.
And in former times, this was as it were the granary and magazine of the Western Empire. For from hence the Romans were wont every year, in 800 vessels larger than * * Lembis. Zosimus Eunapius barks, to transport vast quantities of corn, for the supply of their armies in garrison upon the frontiers of Germany. But perchance I may seem too lavish in the praises of my own Country: and therefore you shall hear an old Orator deliver its Encomium. O fortunate BritainPanegyric to Constantine., the most happy country in the world, in that thou didst first behold Constantine our Emperour. Thee hath Nature deservedly enrich’d with the choicest blessings of heaven and earth. Thou neither feelest the excessive colds of Winter, nor the scorching heats of Summer. Thy harvests reward thy labours with so vast an encrease, as to supply thy Tables with bread, and thy Cellars with liquor. Thy woods have no savage beasts; no serpents harbour there to hurt the traveller. Innumerable are thy herds of cattle, and the flocks of sheep, which feed thee plentifully, and cloath thee richly. And as to the comforts of life, the days are long, and no night passes without some glimpse of light. For whilst those utmost plains of the sea-shore are so flat and low, as not to cast a shadow to create night; they never lose the sight of the heavens and stars; but the sun, which to us appears to set, seems there only to pass by. I shall here introduce another OratorPanegyric to Constantius., using these expressions to Constantius, father of Constantine the Great. And I assure you, no small damage was it, not only to lose the name of Britain, but the great advantages thence accruing to our Common-wealth; to part with a land so stored with corn, so flourishing in pasture, so rich in variety of mines, so profitable in its tributes; on all its coasts so furnished with convenient harbours, and so immense in its extent and circuit. Also, Nature’s particular indulgence to this our Island, is thus express’d by a Poet of some antiquity, addressing himself to Britain in this Epigram; which has been judg’d worthy the Publication:
Tu nimio nec stricta gelu nec sydere fervens,
Clementi cœlo temperieque places.
Cum pareret natura parens, varioque favore
Divideret dotes omnibus una locis,
Seposuit potiora tibi, matremque professa,
Insula sis fœlix plenaque pacis, ait.
Quicquid amat luxus, quicquid desiderat usus,
Ex te proveniet, vel aliunde tibi.
Nor cold nor heat’s extreams thy people fear,
But gentle seasons turn the peaceful year.
When teeming nature’s careful hand bestow’d
Her various favours on her numerous brood,
For thee th’ indulgent mother kept the best,
Smil’d in thy face, and thus her daughter blest,
In thee, my darling Isle, shall never cease
The constant joys of happiness and peace.
What e’re can furnish luxury or use
Thy sea shall bring thee, or thy land produce.
insulae fortunatae This fertility and pleasantness of Britain, gave occasion to some to imagine that these were the Fortunate IslandsInsulæ Fortunatæ, or the Fortunate Islands., and those Seats of the Blessed, where the Poets tell us, the whole face of Nature smiled with one perpetual spring. This is affirmed by Isacius TzetzesIn his Comment upon Lycophron., a writer of reputation among the Greeks: And our own Ancestors, it seems, considered the same notion, as literally true. For when Pope Clement VI. (as we read in Robert of Avesbury) had declared Lewis of Spain, King of the Fortunate Islands, and to effect his project, had begun to levy forces in France and Italy1344.; our Countrymen were presently possess’d with an opinion, that the Pope’s intent was to make him King of our Island, and that all these preparations were designed for Britain, as one of those Fortunate Islands. Nay, so prevalent was this conceit, that even our grave Ambassadors, then resident at Rome, immediately withdrew, and hastn’d home to acquaint their country with its approaching danger. Nor indeed would any man in our age be of another mind, who knows and considers the Fortunate state and the happy circumstances of this Island. It is the master-piece of Nature, perform’d when she was in her best and gayest humour; which she placed as a little world by itself, by the side of the greater, for the diversion of mankind; the most accurate model, which she proposed to her self, by which to beautify the other parts of the Universe. For which way soever we turn our eyes, we are entertain’d with a charming variety, and prospects extreamly pleasant. I need not enlarge upon its Inhabitants, nor extol, the vigour and firmness of their constitution, their good humour, their civility, and their courage and bravery, so often try’d both at home and abroad; and not unknown to the remotest corners of the earth.
ButThe first Inhabitants, and reason of the name. concerning the most antient or the very first Inhabitants of this Island, as also the original of the name of Britain, divers opinions have been started; and a great many (as a certain writer has express’d it) who knew very little, have been very positive. Nor ought we Britains to expect more certain evidences in this case, than other nations. For, except those in particular, whose originals the holy Scriptures have delivered; all the rest, as well as we, remain under a dark cloud of error and ignorance, concerning their first rise. Nor indeed could it otherwise be, considering how deep the revolutions of so many ages must have sunk and buried Truth. The first Inhabitants of countries had other cares and thoughts, than the transmitting their several originals to posterity. Nay, supposing they had ever so much desired it, yet could they never have effectually done it. For their life was altogether uncivilized, perfectly rude, and wholly taken up in wars; so that they were a long time without Learning; which as it is the effect of a civiliz’d life, of peace, and leisure, so is it the only sure and certain means of preserving and transmitting to posterity the memory of things past. Moreover, the Druids, who were the Priests among the Britains and Gauls, and to whose care was committed the preservation of their ancient Traditions; and likewise the Bards, who made it their business to celebrate all gallant and remarkable adventures; both the one and the other thought it unlawful to commit any thing to books or writing. But, supposing they had left any matters upon record; without doubt, at so vast a distance and after so many and so great alterations, they must needs have been long since lost. For we see, that even Stones, Pyramids, Obelisques, and other Monuments, that were esteem’d more durable than brass it self for preserving the memory of things, have long since perished by the injuries of time. But in following ages, there arose in many nations a sort of men, who were studious to supply these defects out of their own invention. For when they could not tell what to deliver for Truth; that they might at least delight and please, they invented divers stories (every one according to the strength and turn of his own imagination) about the original and names of People. These fancies many rested in, without any further search into the truth; and most men were so taken with the pleasure of the fables, that they swallow’d them without more adoe.
But, to omit other writers, one of our own nation, Geoffry ap Arthur of MonmouthGeoffry of Monmouth. (whom I would not misrepresent in this point) publish’d, in the reign of Henry II. a History of Britain, translated, as he pretends, out of the British Tongue. Wherein he tells us, That one Brutus, a Trojan by descent, the Son of Silvius, Grandchild to Ascanius, and Great-grandchild to the famous Æneas, Aenius (whose mother was Venus, and consequently himself descended from Jove;) That this man, at his birth, cost his mother her life; and by chance having kill’d his Father in hunting (which thing the Magicians had foretold,) was forc’d to fly into Greece; That there he rescued from slavery the progeny of Helenus son of Priam, overcame King Pandrasus, marry’d his daughter, put to sea with the small remainder of the Trojans, and falling upon the Island of Leogetia, was there directed by the Oracle of Diana to steer his course towards this western Island. Accordingly, that he sail’d through the † † Per Herculis Columnas.Streights of Gibraltar (where he escap’d the Syrens) and afterwards, passing through the Tyrrhenian Sea, arrived in Aquitain. That in a pitch’d battle, he routed Golfarius Pictus, King of Aquitain, together with twelve Princes of Gaule, who assisted him. And then, after he had built the city of Tours (as, he says, Homer tells us) and over-run Gaule, he crossed over into this Island, then inhabited by Giants. That having conquered them (together with Gogmagog, who was the greatest of them all;) from his own name he gave this Island the name of BritainBrutus in the year of the world 2855, before the birth of Christ, 1108., in the year of the world 2855, and 334 years before the first Olympiad, and before the nativity of Christ, 1108. Thus far Geoffry. But there are (e) others, who offer other grounds and reasons for this name of Britain. Sir Thomas Eliot, Kt. a very learned man, derives it from a Greek Word, , which term among the Athenians signified their publick revenues. Humphrey Lloyd, who hath the reputation of one of the best Antiquaries of this Kingdom, with much assurance fetches its original from the British word Pridcain, that is to say, of a white Colour.LaetusVid. Cornwall. Pomponius Lætus tells us, that the Britains of Armorica (f) in France, gave it the name. Goropius Becanus will have it, that the Danes settled themselves here, and called it Bridania, i.e. Free Dania. Athenaeus Others derive it from Prutenia [Prussia,] a part of Germany. Bodin supposes it took its name from Bretta, a Spanish word, which signifies Earth; and Forcatulus, from Brithin, which, as it appears in Athenæus, was the name of a sort of drink among the Grecians. Others derive it from the Brutii in Italy, whom the Greeks called . But those Pedants are by no means to be endur’d, who would have it call’d Britain, from the brutish manners of the Inhabitants.
(e) The most ancient Irish Antiquities deduce the name from Brittan, Son of Fergus Fitz-Nemech; and say, it was formerly called Inis Mor, agreeably to Aristides’s Insula magna, Ogyg. p.11, 12, 66, 170. Seld. Mare clausum.
(f) In opposition to which, the same Learned Writer affirms, that we meet with no mention of that Britannia Minor, or Little Bretagne, before Sidonius Apollinaris.
These are all the Opinions (so far as I know) touching the name of Britain. But as we cannot chose but think the fictions of Foreigners in this matter extreamly ridiculous; so divers of our own Country-men give us no very satisfactory account. And indeed, in these and the like cases, it is much easier to detect a falsity, than to establish a truth. For, besides that it is in it self absurd to seek the ground of this name in a foreign language; the general consent of the more noted Historians doth confute Lœtus; all informing us, that those Britains of France went from hence, and carried the name along with them. Also, Britain was famous under this name, several hundred years before the names of Dania and Prutenia were known in the world. And what hath our Britain to do with the Spanish Bretta? (of which indeed I make a question, whether it be a Spanish word;) and why should this Island be so call’d, rather than any other country? It can hardly be made out, that the drink Brithin was ever used in our country; and to deduce the name of our nation from a liquor of the Grecians, is ridiculous. The Italian Brutii were indeed, as Strabo notes, called by the Lucani, , which implies as much as Fugitives or Rovers; But that the Brutii rov’d so far as Britain, can never be prov’d. To come now to the conjectures of our own Country-men: Eliot’s seems very improbable, since that word was peculiar to the Athenians; and the Greeks were wont to call this Island , not . Lloyd’s Pridcain, from whence he derives Britain, seems so far fetch’d and so overstrain’d an Etymology, that I need not observe that the word Cain comes from the Latin Candidus; which had crept into the provincial language of the Britains.
But, now, could we be once well satisfied, that this History of Brutus is true and certain; there would be no farther occasion for Enquiries after the Original of the British nation: that business would be at an end, and Antiquaries excus’d from a very troublesom and tedious Search. For my part, I am so far from labouring to discredit that History, that I assure you I have often strain’d my Invention to the utmost, to support it. Absolutely to reject it, would be to wage war against Time, and to fight against a receiv’d Opinion. For shall one of my mean capacity, presume to give sentence in a point of so much consequence? I refer the controversie intirely to the College of (g) Antiquaries, and, leaving every man to the liberty of his own Judgment, shall not be much concerned at any one’s opinion.
(g) A learned Antiquary hath made some attempts towards a defence of it. Seld. Polyolb. p. 17.
And yet here, I find my self oblig’d to take notice (and I hope, since I search after nothing but truth, with the Reader’s pardon) that there are very learned and judicious men, who endeavour divers ways to invalidate this relation, and are wont to attack me, when I offer to defend it, with these or the like arguments. Their first objection they draw from the age wherein these things are said to have been done; and peremptorily assert, that all is purely fabulous (the sacred Histories excepted) whatever is delivered by Historians as done before the first Olympiad, i.e. the year 770. before the birth of our Saviour. Now, these things which are told us concerning Brutus, precede that period by above 300 years. ThisCensorinius. exception they ground upon the Authority of Varro, the most learned among the Roman writers, in whom the first period of time, which was from the creation to the deluge, bears the title of , i.e. obscure and uncertain, so called from our ignorance of the transactions of those times. The secondThe fabulous time, or age., which was from from the deluge to the first Olympiad, he calls , i.e. fabulous, because most of those Histories are fabulous, even among the Greek and Roman Authors, who were the learned part of the world; and much more, among a barbarous and unlearned people, such as were, at that time, all the inhabitants of these Northern parts. In the next place they alledge, that this relation is not confirmed by any Authentick writer; which in all Histories must be allowed to be the thing most material. Now, they call those, authentick writers, who have antiquity and learning agreeable; and in proportion to these, they give more or less credit to them. But to all this sort of Authors, as well as to the antient Britains themselves, they confidently aver that the very name of Brutus was perfectly unknown. caesar Farther, they say, that Cæsar himself hath assured us, that above * * 1600, C.1700 years ago, upon the strictest enquiry, he could only discover thus much, that the inland-parts of Britain were inhabited by such as were the true and ancient natives; but that the Sea-coasts were peopled with foreigners, who had cross’d over thither out of Belgium. Tacitus also (above † † 1400, C.1500 years ago) who had made diligent search into these matters, says, What sort of men did at first inhabit Britain, whether bred and born in that Island, or whether they came thither from foreign parts; among such a barbarous people, cannot now be discovered. Also Gildas Sapiens (who himself was a Britain, and lived ¦ ¦ 1000, C.1100 years since) says not one word concerning this Brutus; nay, even declares himself unsatisfied, whether the ancient Britains had any records or writings at all, whereby they might transmit their history and original to posterity. And therefore he plainly confesses, That he took all out of foreign writers, and not out of any writings or records left by his own country-men. For if there ever had been such, they were in his time quite lost, having either been burnt by the enemy at home, or carried by exiles into foreign parts. Ninius also, a disciple of Eluodugus, in the preface to his Chronicle, written * * 800, C.900 years since, complains, That the greatest Scholars among the Britains, had but little learning, and that they had left no memorials: And confesses, that whatever he had written, was collected out of the Annals and Chronicles of the Holy Fathers. They also argue, That Bede, William of Malmsbury, and all the rest who wrote before the year 1160, seem not so much as to have heard of the name of our Brutus; there is as to this particular such an universal silence among them.
They observe hereupon, that the very name of this Brutus was a stranger to the world, till a barbarous and ignorant age gave opportunity to one Hunnibald, a trifling writer, to obtrude his Francio, a Trojan, Son to King Priam, as the Founder of the French name and nation. Hence they conclude, that when our country-men had once heard, that their neighbours the French derived their pedigree from the Trojans, they thought it below them to come behind a people in descent, whom they equall’d in valour. And hereupon, † † 400, C.500 years ago, our Geoffry ap Arthur of Monmouth, first of all gratify’d the Britains with this Brutus, as Founder of the British Nation, and made him not only of a Trojan, but of Divine extraction. Before which time they urge, that there never was the least mention made of such a man as Brutus.
They add, that much about the same time, the Scotch writers set-up their (h) Scota, Daughter of Pharaoh King of Egypt, as the Foundress of their Nation. That then-abouts, some persons (abusing their parts, and mis-spending their time,) without any ground of truth, forged for the Irish their Hiberus; for the Danes, their Danus; for the Brabanders, their Brabo; for the Goths, their Gothus; for the Saxons, their Saxo; as the Founders of their several nations. But now this knowing age hath discovered all these Impostures; and since the French have rejected their Francio as a counterfeit, (The French, saith the most learned Turnebus, when they lay claim to a Trojan original, do it purely in emulation of the Romans. For when they saw this people so much build upon that, as the most noble Original, they thought it convenient to vest themselves with the same honour: ) Since also the more sober and thinking part of the Scots have cast off their Scota; and the force of Truth hath at last entirely prevailed against that Hiberus, Danus, Brabo, and all the rest of these mock-princes; they much wonder, why the Britains should so fondly adhere to their Brutus (as the original of their Island’s name,) and to their Trojan extraction; as if there had been no Britains here before the destruction of Troy (which happen’d about 1000 years after the deluge;) or, as if there had not lived many valiant men in the world before Agamemnon.
(h) The Irish and Scotch, in the business of Pharaoh’s Daughter, should not be made two different Nations. Ogyg. p.69, 344, 463. Usser. Primord. c.16.
Farther yet they tell us, that the greatest part of the learned Writers, as Boccatius, Vives, Hadrianus Junius, Polydore, Buchanan, Vignier, Genebrardus, Molinæus, Bodinus, Molinaeus and other persons of great judgment, do unanimously affirm, that there never was such a man as Brutus. Nay more, that very many of our own Country-men, persons eminent for their learning, reject him as a meer Impostor. Among whom in the first place, they produce John of Wheathamsted, Abbot of St. AlbansHe lived about the year 1440., a man of excellent judgment, who wrote long ago concerning this matter in his Granarium. According to other histories (which in the judgment of some men deserve much more credit) that whole relation concerning Brutus, is rather poetical than historical, and is for several reasons to be accounted rather fanciful than real. As first, we find no where in the Roman Histories, the least mention, either of the killing of the father, or the begetting or banishment of the son. Secondly, Ascanius, according to several authors, had no son, whose proper name was Silvius. For they give us an account but of one that he had, to wit, Iulus, from whom afterward the Julian family had its original, &c. And thirdly, Silvius Posthumus, whom possibly Geoffry may mean, was the Son of Æneas Aeneas by his wife Lavinia, and he having had a son named Æneas in the 38th year of his Reign, ended his life, not by any mischance, but by a natural death. By all which it is apparent, that the Kingdom which is now called England, was not heretofore named Britain, from Brutus the son of Silvius, as many will have it. But others look upon the whole as a ridiculous piece of foppery and vanity, to lay claim to this nobility of descent, when we cannot ground our pretence upon any probable foundation. It is Virtue alone that gives nobility to a nation; and it is a greatness of mind, with an accomplish’d judgment, that makes the true man of Honour. Suitably hereunto, SenecaEpist. 44. in his Epistles tells us out of Plato, That there is no King, who had not his extraction from slaves; nor any slave that descended not from Kings. Let this therefore content the British nation, as an evidence of their honourable original, that they are couragious and valiant in war, that they have been superior to all their enemies round them, and that they have a natural aversion to servitude. In the second place, they produce William of Newbourgh, a much more ancient writer, who in his rough way fixed the charge of forgery upon Geoffry, the compiler of the British History, as soon as ever he had published it. A certain writer, started up in our days, hath devised strange and ridiculous tales concerning the Britains, and with an impudent vanity hath extolled them far above the gallantry of the Macedonians and Romans. His name is Geoffry, but he hath the additional one of Arthur too, because he sent abroad, under the honourable title of a history, the Fables of King Arthur, taken out of the old fictions of the Britains, with some additions of his own, which he hath dress’d up in Latin. The same man, with yet greater boldness hath publish’d, as authentick Prophesies (pretending that they are grounded upon certain Evidence) the fallacious predictions of one Merlin; to which also, in translating them into Latin, he hath added a good deal of his own invention. And a little after; Besides, in that book of his which he entitles The History of the Britains, how impudently and bare-faced he forges every thing, is obvious to any one who reads it and is not wholly a stranger to the ancient histories. For men, who have not informed themselves of the truth, swallow all Fables that come to hand. I say nothing of those great adventures of the Britains before Julius Cæsar's Caesar landing and government; which he either feign’d himself, or handed down the fabulous inventions of others, as authentick. Insomuch, that Giraldus CambrensisDescript. Cambr. c.7., who lived and wrote in the same age, made no scruple to call it, the Fabulous History of Geoffry. Others deride Geoffry’s foolish Topography in this narration, and his counterfeit testimony from Homer; and tell us that the whole Story is a heap of incongruities and absurdities. They remark further, that these his writings, together with his Merlin, stand condemned, among other prohibited books, by the Church of Rome. Others observe, that the greatest admirers of this Brutus, are themselves wavering and unresolved in the point: that Author (say they) who takes upon him the name and title of Gildas, and has tack’d a little Gloss to Ninnius, in the first place imagineth this our Brutus to have been a Roman Consul; in the next, to have been the son of one Silvius, and then at last of one Hessicion. I have heard also, that there is a certain Count Palatine very earnest to have our Brutus called Brotus, because his birth was fatal to his mother, , in Greek signifying mortal. In the judgment of others, these men might have bestowed on the Britains a more probable, and yet a more illustrious original, if they had drawn their descent either from Brito the CentaurBretanus., mention’d by Higinus, or from that Bretanus, upon whose daughter Celtice (according to Parthenius Nicæus,Nicaeus a very ancient author) Hercules begat Celtus, the father of the Celtæ; Celtae and from which Bretanus, Hesychius deriveth the word Britain.
Thus have I laid before you the Observations and Opinions of other men upon this subject. If I have any way impaired
the credit of that history concerning Brutus, none can reasonably quarrel with me; since in matters of this
nature every man is allowed the liberty of his own thoughts, and of publishing those of other men. For my part, it
shall never trouble me, if Brutus pass current for the father and founder of the British Nation. Let
the Britains descent stand good, as they deduce it from the Trojans. I shall never contradict it: nay, I shall
shew hereafter, how with truth it may be maintained. I am not ignorant, that in old time, Nations had recourse to
Hercules, in later ages to the Trojans, for their originals.Livy
V. Cornwall, Herculis Promontorium. And let Antiquity herein be pardoned, if she sometime disguise truth with the mixture of a fable, and bring in the Gods themselves to act a part, when she design’d thereby to render the Beginnings, either of a city or a nation, more noble and majestick. For Pliny well observes, That even falsly to pretend a descent from illustrious persons, argues a respect for vertue. And I readily agree with Varro, the most learned of the Romans, That these originals, fetch’d from the Gods, though in themselves false, yet are at least thus far useful, that men, presuming upon a divine extraction, may thereby be excited to generous enterprises, and pursue them with more than ordinary zeal; which makes them seldom fail of extraordinary success. From which words (by the way) St. AustinAugustin. de Civitat. Dei. lib. 3. cap. 4. gathers, that Varro was inclined to think, that all such opinions were really groundless; though he did not openly and expresly own it.
Since therefore men are not yet agreed, either concerning the original of the name, or the first Inhabitants of Britain; (and whether as to these points the truth will hereafter be more clearly discovered, now it hath lain so long, and so deeply buried, I must declare my self extreamly doubtful:) I hope the reader will excuse me too, if I modestly interpose my own conjecture, without prejudice to or against any person: not in a contentious humour, but as becomes a person, who desires only to discover truth; which I am now attempting with such a dis-interested zeal, that even the just apprehensions of censure could not persuade me to desist. And that I may with the more ease and success discover the original of this name, if possible; I will in the first place endeavour to find out, as near as I can, who were the first Inhabitants of this Island. Though indeed these first Planters lie so in the dark hidden Depths of Antiquity, (as it were in some thick grove;) that there is very small or no hopes of retrieving by my diligence, what hath for so many ages lain buried in oblivion.
Caesar To run up our enquiries therefore as high as we can; (omitting Cæsar, Diodorus, and
other writers, who will have the Britains to be
and Aborigines, home-bred, and not transported from any other place; imagining that mankind at first sprung
out of the earth like mushroons;) we are informed by Moses in the sacred History, that after the Flood, the
three Sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japhet, when their issue were greatly multiplied, left the
mountains of Armenia, where the Ark had rested; separating themselves into the several quarters of the earth;
and that by them the whole world was peopled. It may also farther be proved, as well by reason, as by the authority of
Theophilus Antiochenus, that when their families came to be dispersed by little and little, some of their
Posterity at last arrived in this our Island. Whereas (says he) in old time there were but few People
in Arabia and Chaldea; after the division of tongues they encreas’d more and more. Hereupon some took
their way toward the East, others to the great and wide Continent; others travelling towards the North, and seeking a
place to settle in, still marched on, taking possession of all that lay before them, till at last they came even
to Britain, seated in the northern climate. Moses himself doth also expresly assert the same thing, when
he informs us, that the Islands of the Gentiles were divided, in the respective Countries, by the posterity of Japhet.
The Islands of the Gentiles, Divines do interpret to be those, which lay farthest off: and Wolphgangus
Musculus, a Divine of considerable repute, is of opinion that the nations and families which descended from
Japhet, were the first possessors of the European Islands; such are (saith he) England, Sicily,
&c. Now, that Europe fell to the share of Japhet and his posterity, besides Divines, Josephus and other
Authors have delivered as their opinion. To which purpose, Isidore cites this passage out of an ancient
writer.Origen. l. 9. cap. 2. The Nations which sprang from Japhet,
possess from the mountain Taurus to the North, all the middle part of Asia, and all Europe,
as far as the British Ocean, and gave their names both to the Places and to the People; a great many whereof have
been since changed; but the rest remain the same. And we see in the Europeans, that
[prophetical]Genesis ix. benediction of Noah fulfilled, God shall enlarge Japhet,
and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. For it was Europe, as Pliny saith, which
produced that people, who were the Conquerors of all other Nations, and have more than once triumphed over the other
parts, which were the share of Shem and Cham: and this was peopled by Japhet and his
posterity. For from his several Sons, came the several nations; from Magog, the Massagetæmassagetae; from Javan, the Ionians; from Thubal the Spaniards; and from Mesech,
the Moscovites. And his eldest son Gomer, in these our most remote parts of Europe, gave both original and
name to the Gomerians, who were afterward calledCimbri, Cimmerii. (i)
Cimbri and Cimmerii. That name of the Cimbri or Cimmerii, did, in process of time, almost fill all
these parts of the world, and spread it self not only in Germany,
but in Gaule also. (k) Josephus and Zonaras both observe, that Those who are now called Gauls,
were from Gomer formerly named Gomari, Gomeræi, and Gomeritæ. Gomeraei
Gomeritae And from these Gomari or Gomeri of Gaule, I have always been of opinion that our
Britains had both their original and name; in which I am confirm’d by the proper and genuine name of
the Britains. For the Welch to this day call themselves Kumero, Cymro, and Kumeri; a Welch
woman, Kumeraes; and their language, Kumeraeg. Neither do they own any other name, although some
pretenders to learning † † Of late, C.in the last age, have from thence coin’d the new names of
Cambri and Cambria. And the Grammarian whom VirgilLib. 8. c.
Scalig. Annot. p.222. lashes in his Catalects and calleth the British Thucydides, Quintilian saith was a Cimbrian. And from whence can we imagin these names should be derived, but from that antient Gomer, and from those Gomeri, who were so near to us in Gaule, the seat of the old Gomerians? The learned are of opinion, that the Germans are descended from Aschenaz, the Turks from Togormah, both sons of Gomer; because the Jews at this day call the latter Togormah, and the former Aschenaz; That the Thracians, Ionians, Ripheans, and the Moschi or Muscovites, &c. are the Posterity of Thirax, Javan, Riphat, and Moschus, no man questions; for the affinity of the names sufficiently proves it: Likewise, that the Ethiopians descended from Chus, and the Egyptians from Misraim, the sons of Cham, there is no man but will readily grant; because the two people are call’d by those very names in their own languages. Why then should not we allow that our Britains or Cumeri, are the true genuine posterity of Gomer; and that from him they derive this name? For the name it self seems very much to favour this derivation. And it is confess’d on all hands, that the posterity of Gomer planted themselves in the utmost parts of Europe. Which also the very name of GomerPhil. Melanct. intimates; a name, which he ow’d not to chance, but to divine designation.Finiens. For * * , and is Phrygia.
Sammes.Gomer in the Hebrew signifieth bounding, or the utmost border. And here let no man, with intention to defame our Cumeri or Cimbri, object what Sextus Pompeius writes, that (l) Thieves in the old Gallick language were called Cimbri. For altho’ the Cimbri (of whom it is likely our Cumeri of Britain were a part) did in that warlike Age of the world, wherein the Soldier was the only man of honour, rove from those parts of Europe, as Possidonius tells us, plundering all along as they went, as far as the lake MœotisMoeotis; yet the word Cimber signifies no more a thief, than Egyptian doth a superstitious person; Chaldean, an Astrologer; or Sybarite, a nice delicate man. But because the several nations had a general propensity to such or such things, the name of the nation was applied to those who agreed with them in the same humour. In this point, the great Oracle of Learning Joseph Scaliger concurs with me.Upon Sextus Pompeius.
Censure of Berosus. But as to Berosus, let no man wonder that I make no use of him, from whom our Writers have borrowed so much assistance. To declare my mind once for all, I have no opinion of the authority of that history, which passeth under the name of Berosus. For I am of the same mind with several of the most learned men of the present age, as Volaterranus, Vives, Antonius Augustinus, Melchior Canus, and especially Gaspar Varrerius; who all of them esteem it no better than a ridiculous invention of some obscure Impostor. Varrerius, in his censure of Berosus printed at Rome, hath said enough in reason to spoil any man’s opinion of that Author.
(i) Of these the name of Cimbri seems to be the later, and only a Contraction from Cimmerii; which owes its original to the Greek name and , whereby they expressed the nature of the climate wherein they lived, for that being under the extreamest part of the mountain Taurus, the air was cloudy and misty; and as to the season, there was a perpetual kind of winter.
(k) A later writer is of opinion, that this is not the sense of Josephus. For though (says he) Josephus does say, that Gomer was the father of the Galatæ; yet it must be understood of those Galatæ, who invaded the Phrygians and possessed themselves of their Seats. For by Gomer is meant Phrygia (as Bochartus proves) and by Ezekiel it is placed north of JudæaJudaea, nigh to Togarmah. From these Gauls Gallogræcia Gallograeciaand Galatia is derived; all which is far enough from being any part of Gallia, properly so called. Sammes Brit. p.11.
(l) And Plutarch, , i.e. the Germans call Robbers, Cimbri. And in the German tongue, Kempher, Kemper, Kimber, and Kamper, according to different dialects, signify a Warriour; which was formerly only another name for a Robber.
This is my judgment concerning the original of the Britains; or rather my conjecture. For in matters of so great antiquity, it is easier to proceed by conjecture, than to offer at positive determinations. Now, this account of our descent from (m) Gomer and Gaule, seems much more subtantial, more antient, and better grounded, than that from Brutus and Troy. Nay, I do not despair to prove, that our Britains are really the off-spring of the Gauls, by arguments taken from the name, situation, religion, customs, and language of both nations: For in all these, the most ancient Gauls and the Britains seem to have agreed, as if they had been but one people. And, that I may prove this assertion, give me leave to make a large digression.
(m) This opinion of peopling Britain from Gaule is opposed by some, who are inclin’d rather to think they came from Germany; not only because Caesar, Caesar telling us the Inland Britains were Aborigines, seems to imply that he could not discover any thing of the Gaulish tongue among them; but also upon Tacitus’s inferring from the make of their limbs, and other circumstances, that the Germans planted the most northern parts of it.
As touching the NameThe name., because I have spoken of it before, thus much only shall be repeated; That as the ancient Gauls were called Gomeræi, Gomeritæ, and by contraction Cimbri; so likewise our Britains are called Cumeri and Kimbri. Now, that the Gauls were called Gomeri, Josephus and Zonaras, as I said before, do both testify. And that they were also called Cimbri, may be gather’d out of Cicero and Appian. Those Barbarians, whom Marius defeated, Cicero plainly terms Gauls. Caius MariusDe Proconsul. (saith he) gave a check to the Gaulish forces, who were pouring into Italy. Now all Historians agree, that these were the Cimbri; and the Coat-armour of Beleus, their King, dug-up at Aix in Provence where Marius routed them, does evince the same. For these words, Beleos Cimbros, were engraven upon it in a strange character.Forcatulus out of the French Annals. 1235. Also, Writers unanimously agree, that those were Gauls, who under the conduct of Brennus, robb’d the Temple of Delphos in Greece; and yet that the same were called Cimbri, we learn from Appian in his Illyricks. The Celtæ or Gauls, Celtae saith he, who are called Cimbri. And now, I think it needless to have recourse to Lucan, who calls the Ruffian that was hir’d to kill Marius, a Cimbrian; whereas Livy and others affirm him to have been a Gaul: or to Plutarch, by whom the Cimbri are called Galloscythians; or to Reinerus Reineccius, an excellent Historian, who grounding upon Plutarch’s words in his Sertorius, is very positive that the Gauls and Cimbrians us’d the same language. Nor will I insist upon that Cimbrian word, the only one to be met with, which Pliny produces out of Philemon, to wit, MorimarusaMorimarusa., i.e. the dead sea, which is purely British; for Mor in the British tongue signifieth Sea, and Marw, dead.
Seeing therefore these Nations agree in their most antient nameThe Situation.; whence can we conceive that that name should pass over into this Island, but with the first Planters that came hither out of Gaul; a country separated from it by a very narrow chanel? For the world was not peopled all at the same time; but it must be granted as a certain truth, that those countries which lay nearest to the Mountains of Armenia (where the ark rested after the flood, and from whence mankind was propagated) were first of all inhabited. As for instance, the Lesser Asia and Greece, before Italy; Italy before Gaule; and Gaule before Britain.Erasmus Michael of Navigation. On this occasion, we may reflect with pleasure, how the great Creator, when he fram’d the world, contrived this connexion between the several parts; and placed the Islands at such convenient distances, that no one is so remote, but that it is within a clear view of some other land. With this design, probably, that when countries should come to be over-burthen’d with people, they might see where to discharge themselves; till, to the glory of it’s Creator, the Universe in all its parts should be replenish’d with people. We may therefore reasonably imagine, that the antient Gomeri were either push’d on by such as press’d forward for room, or sent abroad to ease an over-peopled country, or carry’d from home by the natural itch which mankind hath to see foreign countries. Upon some one or other of these accounts, those antient Gomeri might probably at first cross the chanel into this our Island, which lay so near them, that they could easily discern it from the Continent. For Reason it self tells us, that every country must have received its first Inhabitants, rather from neighbouring, than from remote places. Who would not judge, that Cyprus had its first Inhabitants from Asia, next to it; Crete and Sicily, from their neighbour Greece; Corsica, from it’s neighbour Italy; and, to come nearer home, Zealand from Germany which borders upon it; and Iseland from Norway; rather than from the remote parts of Tartary, or Mauritania? In like manner, why should we not think that our Britain was peopled by the Gauls, which were our next Neighbours; rather than that the Trojans, Italians, Albans, or Brutians, who lie at such a vast distance, were the first Inhabitants? Nor indeed do [Judicious] writers fetch the first Inhabitants of Britain from any other place, than from Gaul its next neighbour. The innermost parts of Britain, saith Cæsar,Caesar are inhabited by those, who, according to tradition, are believ’d to be Aborigines; the Sea-Coasts, by such as came out of Belgium in Gaul on purpose to make new conquests; and these people are generally called by the names of the cities from whence they came, now they are settled in their new Plantations. For there were in Britain, as well as in Gaule, people called Belgæ,Belgae Atrebatii, Parisii, Cenomanni, &c. Tacitus also saith, If we consider all circumstances, it is probable that the Gauls first peopled Britain, which lies so near them. Bede too, of all our writers the most constant friend to truth, gives this as his opinion: At first, saith he, this Island was inhabited only by those Britains (from whom also it took its name) who from Armorica, as it is said, crossed over into Britain, and there planted themselves upon the Southern Coasts. The Armorican Tract he calls the Sea-coast of Gaul, which lies directly opposite to our Island. It makes also very much to our purpose, what Cæsarcaesar relates; how in his time Divitiacus, who govern’d a great part of Gaul, had Britain at the same time under his Dominion. And what is of yet greater moment, PlinyBritains in Gaul. Some copies of Pliny have Brianni, not Britanni. reckons the Britanni or Britains, among the maritim people of Gaul, and places them over-against our Island of Britain, near the County of Bullen: which also Dionysius Afer, a more antient writer, hath done in these verses,
Near the great pillars on the farthest land,
The old Iberians, haughty souls, command
Along the Continent, where Northern Seas
Rowl their vast tides, and in cold billows rise:
Where British nations in long tracts appear,
And fair-skinn’d Germans ever fam’d in War.
For these words, , [where Britains] seem to have respect to those other, . And Eustathius, who wrote a Comment upon him, thinks the Britains in Gaul to be here meant; , are his words, [and from these Britains, the Isles of Britain over-against them took their denomination. But Avienus, and Stephanus in his book of Cities, are of another opinion.
Moreover, there was one and the same Religion in both these Nations.Religion. Among the Britains, saith Tacitus, you will find the Religion of the Gauls, and the people possess’d with the same superstitions. The Gauls, saith Solinus, after a detestable manner, to the injury rather than the honour of Religion, offer’d human Sacrifices. That the Britains did the very same, amongst others Dio Cassius assures us in his Nero. That both Nations had also their DruidsDruids., appears plainly by Cæsar and Tacitus; and out of the first, I shall here insert an entire passage concerning this subject. The Druids are present at all divine offices, look after the Sacrifices publick and private, and interpret the mysteries of religion. The youth in great numbers apply themselves to these Druids for education; and all persons have a great reverence for them. For generally in all controversies, as well publick as private, it is they that make the determination: And whenever there is any outrage or murder committed, when any suites arise about estates, or disputes about bounds, all is left to their judgment. They appoint rewards and punishments at their discretion. If any, either private person, or body of people, abide not by their decree, they forbid him the Sacrifices. This, among them, is esteem’d the most grievous of all punishments. They who are thus interdicted, are reckon’d the most profligate of mankind; all men studiously decline their company and conversation, and shun their approach, as if they feared some infection. They are excluded from the benefit of the law, can sue no man, and are uncapable of all honours. Amongst all these Druids, there is one Chief, who hath the supream authority. Upon his death, his Successor is some one of the most distinguish’d merit amongst them, if there be any such; but if there be several of equal worth and merit, one succeeds by the election of the Druids. Sometimes the Sword decides, which party shall carry it. These Druids, at a set time every year, have a general assembly in the territory of the Carnutes, which lies about the midst of Gaul, in a certain place consecrated to that purpose. Hither resort from all parts such as have any controversies depending; and they are wholly determin’d by the Druids, (n) This sort of religious profession is thought to have been first in Britain, and from thence carry’d over into Gaul: And even now, those that desire throughly to be instructed in their mysteries, for the most part go over into Britain. The Druids are exempt from all military duties; nor do they pay tribute, like the rest of the People. And as they are excused from serving in the wars, so are they also from all other troublesome Offices whatsoever. These great privileges are the cause that they have so many disciples; some address themselves to be admitted, others are sent to them by their parents or kindred. There they make them (as it is said) learn by heart a great number of verses; and thus they continue under discipline for several years, not being allow’d by their rules to commit what they are taught to writing; although in most other affairs, both publick and private, they make use of the (o) Greek Character. This rule they have settled amongst tbem, I suppose, for two reasons. First, because they would not have the vulgar made acquainted with their mysterious learning; and next, because they would have their scholars exercise their memories, and not trust to what they have in writing; as we see it often happens, that when men rely too much upon that help, their diligence in learning, and care in retaining, do equally abate. One of the principal points they teach, is, the Immortality and Transmigration of Souls. And this doctrine, removing the fear of death, they look upon as most proper to excite them to Courage. They also make discourses to their Scholars concerning the stars and their motions, concerning the magnitude of the heaven and the earth, the natures of things, and the power and majesty of the immortal Gods. Whereupon Lucan thus addresses himself to them,
Et vos barbaricos ritus moremque sinistrum
Sacrorum, Druidæ, positis repetistis ab armis,
Solis nosse Deos, & cœli sydera vobis,
Aut solis nescire datum: Nemora alta remotis
Incolitis lucis, vobis authoribus umbræ
Non tacitas Erebi sedes Ditisque profundi
Pallida regna petunt. Regit idem spiritus artus,
Orbe alio longæ, canitis si cognita, vitæ
Mors media est. Certe populi quos despicit Arctos,
Fælices errore suo, quos ille timorum
Maximus haud urget lethi metus; inde ruendi
In ferrum mens prona viris, animæque capaces
Mortis, & ignavum est redituræ parcere vitæ.
And you, O Druids, free from noise and arms
Renewed your barbarous rites and horrid charms.
What Gods, what Powers in happy mansions dwell
Or only you, or all but you can tell.
To secret shades and unfrequented groves,
From world and cares your peaceful tribe removes.
You teach, that Souls, eas’d of their mortal load,
Nor with grim Pluto make their dark abode,
Nor wander in pale troops along the silent flood:
But on new regions cast resume their reign,
Content to govern earthy frames again.
Thus death is nothing but the middle line,
Betwixt what lives will come, and what have been.
Happy the people by your charms possest,
Nor fate, nor fears disturb their peaceful breast.
On certain dangers unconcern’d they run,
And meet with pleasure what they would not shun.
Defie Death’s slighted power, and bravely scorn
To spare a life that will so soon return.
(n) If the discipline of the Druids, so considerable both for Religion and Government, was, as Cæsar observes, first found in Britain, and thence conyey’d into Gaul, does it not seem to intimate that Britain must have been peopled before Gaul; as having by longer experience arriv’d at a more compleat scheme of religion and government? Besides, if our Island had been peopled from Gaul, would it not look probable, to say they must bring along with them the religion and discipline of the place?
(o) But from hence we must not conclude that they had any knowledge of the Greek tongue. Nay, Cæsar himself, when he writ to Quintus Cicero, (besieg’d at that time somewhere among the Nervians) penn’d his Letter in Greek, lest it should be intercepted, and so give intelligence to the Enemy. Which had been but a poor project, if the Druids (who were the great Ministers of State) had been masters of that language. The learned Selden is of opinion, that the word Græcis has crept into the copies, and is no part of the original. And it was natural enough for Cæsar, in his observations of the difference between the management of their discipline, and their other affairs; to say in general, that in one they made use of letters, and not in the other, without specifying any particulars.
By what name soever these PriestsAn Oak in Welch is Derw. were known to their Celtæ celtaeand to the Britains, in their own tongues; this word Druidæ druidaeseems derived from a Greek original; to wit, , an Oak: not only because they esteem’d nothing more sacred than the Misselto of an Oak; whence Ovid writeth thus,
At viscum Druidæ, Druidæ clamare solebant,
Run Druids to the Misselto, they sung.
but also because their usual residence was in groves, amongst Oaks; nor did they perform any of their ceremonies without some of the branches or leaves of that Tree. This their practice, PlinyLib. 16. c.44. hath particularly describ’d; The Druids ( so the Gauls call their men of Religion) hold nothing more sacred than the Misselto, and the tree on which it grows; provided it be an Oak. Therefore they choose solitary groves, wherein are no trees but Oaks; nor do they perform any ceremonies without * * Fronde.the branches or leaves of that Tree: So that from thence (if we attend to the Greek signification) they may very well be thought to have taken the name of Druidæ. Indeed, whatsoever they find † † Adnascatur illis.growing to, or upon an Oak, they take to be sent from Heaven, and look upon it as a certain sign, That their God hath made choice of that particular Tree for himself. But it is a thing very rare to be met withal; and when it is found, they resort to it with great Devotion. In these ceremonies, they principally observe, that the Moon be just six days old; with which they begin the computation of their months and years, and of that period, which with them is called an age, i.e. thirty years compleat. And they choose the sixth day, because they reckon the Moon is then of a considerable strength, when she is not as yet half full; and they call it by a name answering to Sui dimidia.¦ ¦ Omnia Sanantem.All-heale. The sacrifice, and a festival entertainment, being prepared under the Oak, they bring thither two white Bulls, whose horns are then, and not till then, tied. This done, the Priest habited in a white vestment, climbs the Tree, and with a golden pruning-knife, cuts off the Misselto, which is carefully received in a * * Candido Sago.white woollen cloth by them that attend below. Then they proceed to kill the beasts for sacrifice, and make their prayers to their God, that he would bless this his own gift to those to whom they shall dispense it. They have a conceit that a decoction of this Misselto, given to any barren Animal, will certainly make it fruitful: also, that it is a most soveraign antidote against all sorts of poyson. So much Religion do people commonly place in Trifles.Celtae saronidae It is farther observable, That Diodorus Siculus calls these Priests of the Gauls, in the same sense, ;Saronidæ. a word signifying Oaks, as all know who understand the Greek tongue. And Maximus Tyrius writes, That the Celtæ or Gauls worship Jupiter; of whom they make the highest Oak, saith he, to be the representation. It may also seem to proceed from the Druids, that our Saxon Ancestors (as we read in Alfric) call’d a Magician in their language, .Dry. If you have a mind to be farther inform’d concerning these things, you may consult Mela, Lactantius, Eusebius de Præparationepraeparatione Evangelica, and the Comedy Aulularia of Pseudoplautus.
Among their Religious, the Gauls had also their Bards;Bardi. whose office it was to sing to the harp the songs they had made upon the Exploits of famous men; on which account the same Lucan thus speaks to them,
Vos quoque qui fortes animas belloque peremptas
Laudibus in longum vates dimittitis ævum,
Plurima securi fudistis carmina Bardi.
And you, old Bards, who made it all your care
To sing of War, and Men renown’d in war,
When Peace returning rais’d your joyful tongue,
Secure continu’d your immortal Song.
The same sort of Men have the same name among the modern Britains. For they now call such Men Bards; who, besides this their Poetical function, do also apply themselves particularly to the study of Genealogies. But there is no account left us, whether the Britains believ’d, as the Gauls did, that they were descended from Dis. For this reason it was, that the Gauls always reckon’d by nights and not by days, and set the night before the day in their account of time. And in this point, it is certain, our Britains agreed with them: for that space of time which the Latins call Septimana, and two Septimana’s, the Welsh term Withnos, i.e. eight nights, and Pymthecnos, i.e. fifteen nights. (p)
(p) So the Saxons express’d 20, 30, 40 years, by so many Winters. And we at this day retain that old way of reckoning by nights in our sennight and fortnight, which are plainly contracted out of seven-night and fourteen-night. And whereas Strabo observes, that the Britains worship’d Ceres and Proserpina, the infernal Goddesses, above any other; Sir Henry Spelman concludes from thence, that this gave occasion to reckoning by nights and winters; and that the winter particularly was consecrated to the infernal Goddesses, because they had a fancy, that in this season, the seeds of every thing did owe their preservation, to their care. Iceni.
LikewiseTheir common-wealth. both nations seem to have fallen into one and the same form of government; for neither of them was under the rule of a single person; but as Gaul, so also Britain, had many kings. And as the Gauls, upon extraordinary emergencies, us’d to call a publick Council of the whole nation, and chuse one to be Commander in chief; so the Britains did the very same upon the like occasions, as we gather from these words of Cæsar, The chief command,caesar saith he, and management of the war was by unanimous consent committed to * Cassivellaunus.* Cassibellinus.
NorTheir Manners. were these nations unlike in their manners, customs, and ways of living. Both were stout and warlike; both delighted in blood, and both of equal boldness and bravery, whether in Engagements, or in exposing themselves to other dangers; as we find by Strabo, Tacitus, Dion, Herodian, and others. In their manners and customs, saith Strabo, the Britains are something like the Gauls; and immediately he adds, As to their fighting, they are for the most part fierce and cruel, like some of the Gauls. With him Tacitus agrees, The Britains, that part of them which the Romans have not yet conquer’d, still remain such as the Gauls were formerly. And in another place, The Britains are next to the Gauls, and much like them. Mela tells us, That the Britains, when they fought, were armed after the fashion of the Gauls.
The Britains, says Strabo, in their wars, us’d a great number of chariots, as do some of the Gauls.
It was the Custom of both nations, in the field, to draw up their men distinct, according to their Provinces; that the several People might have an opportunity to signalize their valour. That this was the practice of the Gauls, appears by that place in Cæsar; The Gauls, saith he, drawn up in distinct Bodies, according to their several cities, secured the fords. Tacitus affirms the same of the Britains, in the fight of Caratacus, The troops of the several Countries stood before the fortifications.
The Gauls, saith Strabo, are of a quick docile wit, and readily take any sort of learning. Nor were the Britains herein inferiour to them; nay, Agricola, in Tacitus, prefers their parts and ingenuity, before that of the Gauls; so that the same Britains, who formerly rejected even the Roman language, were now become admirers of Eloquence.
That the Gauls were a well-meaning honest People, we have Strabo’s authority; and the same is implied in Tacitus, concerning the Britains, where he tells us, that they chearfully and readily bore the levies both of Men and money, and all other burdens imposed upon them by the Empire, if they intermix’d not injuries and provocations.
Cæsar relates, that the Gauls were much inclined to alterations in Government, out of a natural inconstancy and levity. The Britains in like manner, saith Tacitus, were divided into several parties and factions.
By means of this levity of the Gauls, which Cæsar calls by the gentle name of Infirmity; they at last became so credulous, that the Credulity of the Gauls grew proverbial, and gave occasion to that of the Poet,
Et tumidus Galla credulitate fruar.
And be a Gaul in fond credulity.
Neither in this respect have our Britains degenerated; for they have an ear always open to every idle story, and, out of a superstitious fear or hope, give credit to the silliest Predictions.
We read in Strabo, that the Gauls would be highly concern’d, when they saw any abuse offer’d to * * Propinquis.their relations. That the same Sympathy dwells in our Britains, above any other nation, is a thing so notorious, and so commonly observed, that it needs no proof.
caesar The Gauls, as we find in Cæsar, according to their distinction from the rest either in birth or riches, had in proportion so many more servants and dependants in their retinue: these they call’d AmbactiAmbacti.; and this was the only piece of State amongst them. Nor do our British NobilityWelch. or Gentry, at this day, account any thing so honourable as a great retinue; from whom it is thought the English learn’d to travel with such troops of Attendants. In which humour, not long since, they far outwent all other Europeans.
Cæsar and Strabo both tell us, that the Houses of the Britains were in all points like those of the Gauls, and seated in the midst of woods.
The Gauls, as Strabo writes, wore chains of gold about their necks; and Bunduica the British Queen (saith Xiphilin) wore a golden chain, with a garment of many colours. Nor is that sort of ornament any where more in use in our days, than in this Island, amongst us and our modern Britains.boadicea
That both the Britains and the Gauls wore a Ring upon their middle finger, we learn from Pliny.
Strabo observes, That the Gauls took a pride in having long Hair. Cæsar tells us, That the Britains wore their hair at full length.
It appears from several Authors, that the Gauls used a certain sort of Garment, which in their language they called BrachæBrachæ.:brachae that these were also common to our Britains, is proved by that Verse of Martial,
Quam veteres Brachæ Britonis Pauperis.
Then the coarse Brachæ the poor Britains wore.
I pass over what Silius Italicus writes of the Gauls,
Quinetiam ingenio fluxi, sed prima feroces
Vaniloquum Celtæ genus ac mutabile mentis.
And talking Celtæ, changeable and vain,
All fire at first, but soon grown cold again.
because these qualities are common to most nations. I might here give many more instances of the great agreement there was, between these two nations; but I forbear, lest what I say should give occasion of scandal to ill-natur’d people. Besides, I always lik’d that rule, Moderation is good in every thing; and perhaps this argument from a community of manners, will be reckon’d but an argument of the weaker sort.
But now we come to the LanguageLanguage.; a particular, upon which the main stress of this controversie lies, as being the surest evidence of the original of any nation. For there is no man, I suppose, but will readily allow, that those People who speak the same Language, must necessarily be derived from one common original. For instance, suppose all our Histories that ever were written, had been lost, and no Author had told us, that we English are descended from the Germans, or the natural Scots from the Irish, or the Britains of Bretagne in France, from our Britains of this Island; yet the affinity of language alone would manifestly prove it: nay, would be of much more weight, than the authority of the best Historians. If therefore I can make it appear, * * See the opinion of Is. Pontanus, in Camden’s Epistles, p.90that the ancient Gauls and our Britains spoke the same language; the consequence is undeniable, that they most certainly had the same original. Nor is it of any consequence in this case, what Cæsar hath written, that the Gauls themselves spoke divers languages; since Strabo tells us, that they differed only in Dialect. They did not all, saith he, use a language every way the same, but in some small matters vary’d from one another. But that the language of the ancient Gauls was the same with that of the Britains (making allowance for some small variety in the Dialect) we may reasonably infer from Cæsar, where he writes, that it was usual for the Gauls, who would be throughly instructed in the Discipline of the Druids, to go over into Britain to our Druids to learn it. Now, seeing the Druids had no Books, of necessity we must conclude that their instructions were given in the language which was used by the Gauls. And this, Cornelius Tacitus expresly affirms, The Britains and Gauls, saith he, differ not much in their speech. Upon these reasons, Beatus Rhenarius, Gesner, Hottoman, Peter Daniel, Picardus, and all others who have searched into the depths of Antiquity, concur with me in this opinion: Except some few, who are very earnest to have it believed, that the Gauls spoke the German language. ButIn these words I made use of the British Lexicon of William Salisbury, and another old MS. that no man may ever be able hereafter to perplex this Truth, I will make a collection of ancient Gaulish words, as many at least as can be met with in Authors; (for the body of that language hath been long since bury’d in oblivion.) And it will soon appear that very many of them, without the least straining, nay, with much ease and scarce any alteration, agree very well with our British words, both in sound and sense.
That DivonaDivona. in the Gaulish tongue, signifies the Fountain of the Gods, we have Ausonius’s Authority in that Verse of his concerning a Fountain at Bourdeaux,
Divona Celtarum lingua fons addite Divis.
Divona fountain of the Gods in Gaul.
Now, our Britains call God (q) Dyw, and a fountain Vonan; of which two words Divonan is a compound, turn’d according to the Latin idiom, for verse-sake, into Divona.
We find in several Authors, that Jupiter, whom from Thunder the Greeks called , and the Latins Tonans, i.e. The Thunderer, was worship’d by the Gauls under the name of (r) Taranis. Now TaranTaranis. in British signifies Thunder; and suitably to this sense, the Germans may be conceived to have given Jupiter the name of Thonder; for, they call Thursday Thonderdach, as much as to say, The Thunderer’s day.
(q) Fynnon Dhuw, in British signifies Fons Dei; but it would be improper to say Duwfynnon in the same sence; for that wou’d signifie Deus fontis.
(r) Mr. Camden is charged by a modern writer, as putting Taranis instead of Taramis, on purpose to reconcile it better to his Taran, i.e. Thunderer. The charge is too heavy, unless he had proved his Taramis to be the true reading, which I do not find attempted; and why may it not as well be said that he espoused that reading, to make it agree better with the PhœnicianPhoenician Tarem? The Chester-Altar (the inscription whereof see in Cheshire) which gives Jupiter the title of Tanarus, seems to favour our Author’s conjecture. For, Taran being the British, Tanarus instead of Taranus is a slip easie enough, especially to strangers, whom we may imagine not to be so well acquainted with the language.
The Gauls had another God, called by Lucan (s) HesusHesus., by Lactantius (t) Heus: the Author of the Querolus termed him the Barking Anubis, because he was pictur’d in the shape of a Dog. Now (u) Huad among our modern Britains signifies a Dog.
(s) Hizzus and Hazis in the Syrian language is strong and powerful in war. Sammes’s Brit. p.61.
(t) Heus, Mr. Sammes thinks ought not to be put the same with Hesus, but rather, that he is confounded by Lactantius with the known name of Bacchus and Hues, worshiped in these parts. See p.62.
(u) Huad in British is now obsolete; but Bathuad (which is a Compound of it, is their common word for a hound; viz. from Baedhu, to bait; and huad, a dog. The English use (t) where the Germans have (s) as, foot, fus; white; weis; water, wasser, &c. and the same difference might possibly be between the Gaulish and British.
It is very certain, that the Gauls worshiped Mercury, under the name of TeutatesTeutates., as the Inventer of Arts, and the Guide to Travellers. And (w) Duw-Taith in the British, imports as much as The God of Journeys. Nor am I ignorant, that Mercury, by Plato, in his Phædrus Phaedrus and Philebus, is called Theut. Tho’ I know, some will have Teutates to be the German Tuisco mentioned in Tacitus, and the same with Mars; and that from him, we who are descended from the Germans, call Mars’s day, TuesdayTuesday.. Concerning these three Gods of the Gauls, take, if you please, these three Verses of Lucan.Lib. 1.
Et quibus immitis placatur sanguine diro
Teutates, horrensque feris altaribus Hesus,
Et Taranis Scythicæ non mitior ara Dianæ.
And those vile wretches that with human blood
Teutate’s and fierce Hesus’s altars load,
And barbarous Taranis his shrine that vies
With curst Diana’s Scythian cruelties.
We learn from St. Austin and Isidore, that the foul Spirits, commonly called Incubi, were termed by the Gauls DusiiDusii., because they daily and continually practise their uncleannesses. Now that which is Continual and daily, the Britains do still express by the word (x) Dyth.
(w) Duw-Faith, is the true writing.
(x) It is dydh; but the relation between that and Dusii, seems to be too much forc’d.
Pomponius Mela writes, That a sort of Religious Women, devoted to the service of a certain Deity in Gaul under a Vow of perpetual Virginity, were by them called SenæSenae . I would rather read it (y) LenæLenæ.Lenae if I might be allow’d. For, those Religious Virgins whom we call Nuns, the Britains, as we find in an ancient Glossary, called (z) Leanes; from whence came originally the name of Lean-minster, now Lemster, a very ancient Nunnery among the Britains. The Gauls, saith Polybius, called their mercenary soldiers, GæssatæGæssatæ.Gaessatae . And the Britains at this day call their hired Servants (a) Guessin.
(y) This reading cannot be allow’d; for, besides that Mela expresly says Senæ, He also tells us they were called by the Gauls Cenæ; now the pronunciation of (s) and (c) is so near, that it makes no difference.
(z) Lheian in British is a Nun. But (s) and (th) are sibilating Letters, so that Sene and Lheian may possibly have had the same original, though their initials be different.
(a) GwâsGwas, a Servant; Gwesin a petty Servant.
Servius tells us, that valiant men were by the Gauls called GessiGessi.; and (b) Guassdewr among the Britains signifies a stout and valiant man.
(b) GuâsdewrGuasdewr signifies a stout Servant.
To which also may be referred GesumGesum., a weapon proper to the Gauls, as Pilum was to the Romans, and Framea to the Germans. But of this, by and by.
As PhalanxCaterva. was the proper Name of a Legion among the Macedonians, so was Caterva among the Gauls, as you may see in Vegetius. Nor is this word yet out of date among our Britains, who term a Troop (c) Caturfa; and war, Kad; and the warlike strength of a Legion, Kaderne: in some Copies of Vegetius it is read Caterna.
(c) Catyrva or Katerva, at this day denotes in British an infinite number: but formerly it is probable it signified a vast army, for Kâdkad does not imply war in general, but a set-battle; and Kadarn is strong.
To this Kad may not improperly be referr’d CateiaCateia., which was a sort of warlike weapon among the Gauls, as you have it in Isidore.
(d) GessaGessa., a Gaulish weapon, is interpreted by Servius a Spear or Pike; to which the British (e) Cethilou seems to be a-kin; and that (according to Ninnius’s exposition) signifies stakes burnt at the ends, as also, a warlike seed or generation.
(d) Concerning Gessa, Rheda, Covinus, Essedum, Cateia, Brachæ, Petoritum, words alledg’d by Mr. Camden to confirm his opinion; see more in Vossius de Vitiis Serm. lib. 1. c. 2, and 3.
(e) This is long since obsolete. But if it ever was the same with the Gaulish Ges, we must suppose it a compound, from Kerh, a word that might signifie a Dart or Spear, and Ulw, hot embers.
Pausanias tells us, that the Gauls whom Brennus led into Greece, call’d that sort of fight which consists of three Horses [a breast] Trimarcia.Trimarcia. For an horse, saith he, was among the Gauls called Marca. Now this is purely a British word; for Tri with them signifies three, and March, a horse.
In the same Book, Pausanias writes, that the Gauls call’d their own Country-Shields, ThireosThireos.; which to this day the Britains call Tarian.
CæsarCaesar relates in his Ephemerides or Journals, as we have it from Servius, that once being taken by the enemy in Gaul, and carry’d away on horseback in his armour, they were met by a Gaul that knew him, who insultingly cry’d out Cetos CæsarCetos., which in the Gaulish language was as much as to say, Let go Cæsar. Now, (f) Geduch among the Britains, is a word of the same import.
(f) Gadwch Gaisar, signifies in British, CæsaremCaesarem dimittite: as Kedwch [ or Cedwch] Gaisar, custodite Cæsarem.
RhedaRheda. among the Gauls, saith Quintilian, is a word of the same signification as Caruca (i.e. a Chariot) among the Latins. This word is not now to be found in the British Tongue; but it is apparent that it hath been in it by the words at this day us’d; Rhediad (a course) (g) Rhedec (to run) and Redeefa (a race.) For, that all these came originally from Rheda, is beyond dispute. Nor should I think it absurd, to deduce EporediaEporedia., the name of a City among the Salassi, from the same original; since Pliny saith it took that name from Horse-tamers.
(g) Rhedeg in British.
There was also another sort of Chariot, much us’d in both nations, and call’d by one name, CovinusCovinus., and the driver of it Covinarius. And tho’ the word is lost, and the Chariot too, yet the Primitive thereof, if I may so say, remains among our Britains; in whose language the word Kowain signifies (h) to carry in a Wagon.
(h) To carry corn from the fields to the barn.
EssedumEssedum. was also a Gaulish Wagon, or rather a Chariot fitted for the wars; which Propertius, as well as Cæsar, attributes to the Britains:
Esseda cælatis siste Britanna jugis.
And stop the British Chariots with engraven yokes.
CirciusCircius. is a wind, very well known by that name, to which Augustus Cæsarcaesar not only vow’d, but actually built, a Temple in Gaul. Now Phavorinus, a Gaul by birth, declares in Agellius, that it is a word of Gallic original. Our Gauls, saith he, call by the name of Circius, that wind, which blows from their own coast, and which is the fiercest in all those parts; so named, I suppose, from its blustering and whirling. It is certain, that this particular wind is more raging and violent than any other: And that Cyrch amongst our modern Britains signifies force and violence, (i) plainly appears by the Welch-Litany.
(i) And so Kyrch-wynt would signifie a violent wind; but why Circ alone should signifie that particular piece of violence, there is no reason.
From Livy we learn, that the Pennine AlpsPenninus., by Cæsar call’d Summæsummae Alpes, as over-topping the rest, took not that name from Annibal Pænus paenus[i.e. the Carthaginian] but from the very highest Mountain thereabouts, the top whereof was consecrated, and had the name of Penninus given it by the Mountaineers of Gaul. Now the (k) tops of Mountains are called Pen by our Britains at this day:Appeninus. For instance, (l) Penmon-maur, Pendle, Pen, Pencoh-cloud, and (m) Pennigent, the highest mountains among us, have all borrow’d their names from this word: and so hath also the Apennine in Italy.
(k) And also Promontories.
(l) The true writing is Pen maen maur.
(m) Which is possibly a Corruption from Pen y gwynt, which signifies a windy Promontory.
The Cities of GaulArmorica., which border upon the sea, Cæsar tells us, were call’d by the Gauls AremoricæAremoricae; with whom our modern Britains agree, in applying the same word exactly in the same way. For Armor with them signifies By the Sea, or Upon the Sea. And in the very same notion Strabo calls them in Greek .
In the reign of the Emperor Dioclesian, the Peasants in Gaul raised a rebellion, and gave their party the name of (n) BaucadæBaucadae .Baucadæ. Now, Swine-herds and Rusticks are called (o) Beichiad by the Britains.
(n) They are called by different Authors Bagaudæ, Vacaudæ, BacaudæBagaudae, Vacaudae, Bacaudae; nor (as Salvianus witnesseth) did they consist wholly of Country-people or Swine-herds, but of many of the better sort too, who, being intolerably oppress’d by the Romans, were forced to take Arms. See Sammes Brit. p.64.
(o) It signifies no more than the bellowing of Oxen; nor does it appear that it ever expressed a Neatherd.
The Thieves of their own Country, saith Sidonius, are called by the Gauls, VargæVargae .Vargæ, L.4. Ep.6. Now, I have observed in the Glossary of the Church of Llandaffe, that Thieves were formerly called (p) Veriad in British.
(p) There is no word in British beginning with V consonant, but instead of that they make use of Gw. However, were there any such as Gweriad or Veriad, it seems too remote from Varga.
The Allobrogæ Allobrogae Allobroges., saith that antient and excellent Scholiast upon Juvenal, were so called, because BrogæBrogae among the Gauls signifies a Country, and (q) Alla, another; as being translated thither from some other country. Now, Bro in Welch signifies a Country, and (r) Allan, without or extraneous; so that the Etymology is just the same in both languages.
(q) Alla (says Sammes) does not signifie another in French, but only in Greek; and the British Bro comes from the PhœnicianPhoenician Baro, in the same sense.
(r) Alh in composition signifies another, as alhtudh extraneus. Alhtvroich in old British might also signify the Inhabitants of the mountains.
There is, saith Pliny, an herb like Plantain, called by the Gauls GlastumGlastum.; with which, writers tell us, the Britains us’d to paint themselves. This is the herb
which we now call WoadWoad.: It makes a blue or sky colour, which colour is called
Glas by the Welch to this day. This herb, according to Pliny, was by the Greeks called
The Herb Vitrum.
Luteum in Cæsar.
Pomp. Mela corrected. and the Dyers termed it Vitrum, as we learn from Oribasius. Out of whom Pomponius Mela may easily be corrected, by inserting vitro instead of ultro, in that place where he saith, Britanni, &c. ultro corpora infecti, that is, it is uncertain whether it were for ornament, or some other end, that the Britains dyed their bodies with Vitrum, or Woad.
The GallathæGallathae , [in Asia Minor] who spake the same language with our antient Gauls, as we learn from St. Jerom, had a little shrub which they call’d CoccusCoccus., wherewith they made a deep red or scarlet colour; and that very colour is at this day called Coch in the British language.
That the BrachæBrachaeBrachæ. was a sort of habit common to the Gauls and Britains, we have shewn before. Diodorus Siculus describes these Brachæ to be a sort of coarse party-colour’d garment. Now, foul tatter’d cloaths are by the present Britains called (s) Brati.
(s) Brattian; and from thence by our North-country-men Brats.
If LainaLaina. was an old Gaulish word, as is hinted in that place of Strabo, The Gauls weave themselves thick coats of coarse wooll, which they call LainæLainae; the Britains have not departed much from it, who now call wooll, by the name of (t) Glawn.
(t) Gwlan in British is wool.
Festus Pompeius tells us, that (u) BardusBardus., in the language of the Gauls, signifies a Singer: and that word is absolutely British.
(u) Concerning the manner of their singing, Quantities of their verses, &c. see Drayton’s Polyolb. p.67. as Selden there quotes it from Dr. Powel, as also p.97.
We learn out of Martial and others, that BardocucullusBardocucullus. was a sort of garment worn by the Gaulish Bards: now as (x) Bard, so the other part of that word, remains entire among the modern Britains, who call a cloak (y) Cucul.
(x) Barah in British, Vates.
(y) Cochol, cucullus.
Gaul, saith Pliny, yieldeth a peculiar sort of corn, which the natives call BranceBrance., we Sandalum, a very fine sort of grain. Among the Britains likewise, a sort of grain which yields a pure white flower, is call’d (z) Guineth Vranc, and with us, in Norfolk, Branke.
(z) Gwenith Ffrank in British; but it is a modern word, and signifies French-wheat, so that we must not fansy it to have any relation to the Gaulish Brance.
The Herb, which the Greeks from its five leaves call Pentaphyllon, was by the Gauls called PempedulaPempedula., as we find in Apuleius. Now, (a) Pymp in British signifies five, and Deilen a Leaf.
(a) Pump-dail in British is quinque folia.
As Pymp for five, so Petor was the word among the Gauls for four; as we learn from Festus, who will have PetoritumPetoritum., a Gaulish chariot or waggon, to be so nam’d from its four wheels. Now, the word Pedwar signifies four among the Britains. (b)
(b) And (which makes the relation greater) Rhod is rota.
(c) Gwyn is the truer name, though the modern Authors, usually writing f for v, spell it gwif.
BetullaBetulla., Pliny saith, was a Gaulish tree; we call it Birch. He would say it was a British tree too, if he were now alive: for it grows very plentifully in Britain; and is called in Welch (d) Bedw.
(d) In the plural Badwen; but this looks something forc’d.
Wine diluted with water, AthenæusAthenaeus saith, the Gauls called DercomaDercoma.; and Dwr signifies water among our Britains.
In like manner (not to trouble you with too many instances) Fearne, according to Dioscorides, was called RatisRatis. by the antient Gauls; and is now by the Britains called (e) Redin. The Elder-tree was called ScoviesScovies. by the Gauls; and now by the Britains (f) Iscaw. Serratula in Latin, in Gaulish VetonicaVetonica., is now (g) by the Britains, and by us also, called Betony. That which in Pliny the Latins call’d TerræTerrae adeps, i.e. the fatness of the earth, and the Gauls Marga, is by our Britains call’d Marle.Marga. That which the Latins call candida Marga, white Marle, and the Gauls GliscomargaGliscomarga., might probably be call’d Gluysmarl by the Britains: for Gluys in Welch is bright or shining. TripetiaTripetia., a word in Sulpitius Severus, said to be used by the Gauls for a three-footed stool, is by the Britains termed (h) Tribet. The measure of 100 foot, was called by the Gauls, according to Columella, CandetumCandetum.; in British it is (i) Cantroed. We read in Suetonius, that the bill or beak of a bird was by the Gauls called BeccoBecco.; the same is called (k) Pic by the Britains.
(g) Betony is no British word, but express’d by Cribeu St. Frêd.Fred
Nor should I be so wild in my conjectures, as Goropius is, if I should fansy some likeness between Suetonius’s
GalbaGalba., which signifies one over-fat, and the British word
(l) Galluus, denoting One of a very big size: Or Verrius Flaccus’s
BulgaBulga. for a leathern Budget, and the British word (m)
Butsiet; or SolduriiSoldurii. in CæsarCaesar
(which, in him, are such as had vow’d to live and die together) and (n) Sowdiwr; or Pliny’s
PlanaratPlanarat., for a Plow, and (o) Arat, which in
British signifies the same thing; or Isidore’s TaxeaTaxea., for Lard, and the
British (p) Tew; or Diodorus Siculus’s ZithumZithum,
Cyder., and their (q) Cider; or Cervisia, [beer] and KeirchCervisia,
Ale., i.e. Oats, of which the Welch in many places make beer; or rather (r) Cwrwf, which we in English call Ale.
(l) The present British know nothing of any such word.
(m) Budget has nothing of British: Bol indeed in that language is a belly, which may suit that fancy well enough.
(n) Sowder is probably pure English; for the British always use Milwr in that sense.
(o) Aradr in British is a plough.
(p) Tew, is fat.
(q) Cider is not British.
(r) Cerevisia and the Welch Kwrwv, are no doubt the same original.
That all these words properly belong’d to the antient Gauls, appears by the Authors we have cited; and you see how exactly they agree in sound and signification with our British words.
Another Argument is, that since the antient names of places in both kingdoms had the same terminations,The ends of the names of places. to wit, Dunum, Briva, Ritum, Durum, Magus, &c. it may be inferr’d that those Nations could not be wholly different. For this is a convincing evidence, that we English are descended from the Germans, because the modern names of our Towns do end in Burrow, Berry, Ham, Sted, Ford, Thorp, and Wich; all which do, in like manner, exactly correspond with the German terminations of Burg, Berg, Heim, Stadt, Furdt, Dorpe, Wic. On the other hand, so rational an account may be given of some Gaulish words, out of our British language, as answering exactly to the nature and property of the things so nam’d; that of necessity we must conclude, either those to have been names imposed by the Britains, or else that the Britains spoke the language of the Gauls. An instance or two to this purpose may be sufficient.
A third part of Gaul, saith Cæsar, is inhabited by those who in their own tongue are called CeltæCeltæ.Celtae, in ours Galli; by the Greeks GallathæGallathae. But whence these people were called Celtæ and Gallathæ, the most learned among the French could never tell us. I wish they would consider, whether this may not be deduc’d from the British word (s) GualtGualt., which to this day signifies the hair of the head; as Gualtoc doth Comata, i.e. long-haired: from whence the names of Celtica, and Gallathæ, and Galli, may very well have been derived; only mollified a little into some difference, in the pronunciation. Now, that the Celtæ were called Comati, from their large heads of hair, which they always wore at its full length, is generally agreed among the Learned:Lipsius de pronunciatione, p.66. and as for the Letters C, K, Q, and G, whether in power or sound, there is but little difference.
That the noble River of GaronneGarumna, Garonne. in France runs with a mighty violent force, is very well known: From whence the Poets have given it the epithets of the strong, the sea-like, the rapid, Garonne. All which the British word (t) Garrw doth import.
(t) Garw or Garwv, is rough, and Arar, gentle.
The river Arar, or SaonneArar, Saonne., moves so incredibly slow, that you cannot tell by the eye, which way it flows. Hence by the Poets it is called the slow, and the still Arar. Now, Ara among the Britains signifies slow and still.
RhodanusRhodanus, Rhosne., the Rhosne, which receives the Arar, runs with a very swift and violent current; and is therefore term’d quick, swift, and headlong. The word sounds not much unlike Rhedec, which signifies swiftness in running.
Strabo and others tell us, that the Mountains GebennæGebennae [the
Cevennes] run out a long way in one continued ridge, in Gaul.Gebennæ.
Mountains of Auvergne, Cevennes. And that (u) Kevin signifies the ridge of a hill among our Britains, appears by the British Lexicon. There is also near Otteley in Yorkshire, a long ridge of hills which I have seen; at this day call’d the Kevin by the people of those parts.
(u) The British call mountains Kevn, and in the Plural Number Kevneu, that is, backs.
Whereas stones were in old time erected in Gaul upon the Roads, at the distance of fifteen hundred paces from each other; and whereas the French LeucaLeuca. or League containeth, as Jornandes observes, just the same number, and (x) Leach in the British signifies a Stone; I would desire the learned among the French to consider, whether their word Leuca may not be derived from thence.
Near the Sea-side, in that part of France which was heretofore called NarbonensisStony Fields. Campi Lapidei., where Hercules and Albion fought (if we believe the old Fable,) the stones lie so thick, for many miles together, that one would almost think it had rain’d stones there. From whence it is by writers called the Stony Shore, and the Stony Field.
The French at this day call it le Craux; and yet they know not the reason of that name: But in British, stones are call’d (y) Craig.
(y) Stones are called Kerig; but Kraig is a rock; from whence in our Northern parts we still call them Crags.
The PeopleMorini. which in old time inhabited the Sea-coast of Gaul, lying nearest to Britain, were in their own language called Morini. Now, Mor is in British the Sea, from whence that word seems to have been derived. For, the Britains call such as live upon the sea-coast, Morinwyr; as Aremorica in the old Gaulish, and now in the British, signifies by the Sea-side.
So, ArelateArelate, Arles., a famous city of Gaul, which is seated in a marshy and watry soil, seems to have taken the name purely from its situation: For Ar in British, signifies upon, and Laith, moist.
UxellodunumUxellodunum., saith CæsarCaesar, is a Town having on all sides a rocky access, and situate on the top of a high hill. Now, (z) Uchel in British is lofty, and DunumDunum. among the antient Gauls signified an high ground, or a hill, as Plutarch in his little book of Rivers tells us out of Clitiphon; And the same word was also used in that sense by the antient Britains.
(z) This is very often us’d in compound names of places.
Pliny places the Promontory CytharistesCytharistes. in Gaul, near Marseilles, where the town of Toulon now stands. And if you ask our present Britains what they call Cythara, i.e. an harp, they will tell you, (a) Telen.
(a) Telyn is a harp.
Again (to put this matter out of dispute) it is very evident, that though the modern French is made up for the most part of the Latin and German; yet there still remain in it a great many old Gaulish words. And I have had it from some who are skill’d in both languages, that very many of those French words, which can be reduced neither to a Latin nor to a German original (and therefore may be presumed to be remains of the old Gaulish language,) do come as near the British as is possible. For example; The French at this day use the word Guerir, the Britains Guerif, to heal. The French use Guaine, the Britains Guain, for a Sheath. The French Derechef, the Britains Derchefu, for, † † Denuòdenuo.Moreover. The French Camur, the Britains Cam, for Crooked. The French Bateau, the Britains Bad, for a Boat. The French Gourmond for a Glutton, the Britains Gormod, for, Too much, or beyond measure. The French Baston, the Britains Pastwn, for a Staff. The French Accabler, the Britains Cablu, for, To oppress. The French Havre, the Britains Aber, for a Haven. And Comb is yet in use in both nations, for a Valley.
Many more words there are of this sort, by the recital whereof I should only tire my Reader; tho’ they immediately tend to confirm this Point.
Whereas Tacitus tells us, that the ÆstiiAEstii, a people of Germany, used the habits and customs of the Suevians, but a language that came nearer to the British; this makes nothing against my assertion. For the languages that are most of all remote, may yet agree in some particulars. Epist. 4. So, Augerius Busbequius, late Embassador from the Emperor to the Grand Signior, observed many German and English words in the Taurica Chersonesus, or Crim-Tartary.
From all which instances, this conclusion may be drawn; That the antient Gauls and Britains spake the same language; and from thence, this other necessary consequence, That the Original of the Britains is to be referr’d to the Gauls. For it is not to be denied, what we before observed, that Gaul, as nearer to Armenia, must of course have been peopled before Britain. Besides (according to Strabo) as Gaul abounded in corn, so did it much more in men. It is therefore reasonable to conclude, that since the Gauls sent Colonies into Italy, Spain, Germany, Thrace, and Asia; they did the same much rather into Britain, a country so much nearer, and as plentiful as any of the rest. And it must redound much to the glory of the British nation, that they had their original from those antient Gauls, who were so famous for military Atchievements; and with whom the Romans for many years maintain’d a war, not for Honour and Empire, but for Self-preservation. And these Gauls were they, who, to use the Poet’s words rather than my own,
Invecti Europam, quasi grando Aquilone vel Austro
Importata, gravi passim sonuere tumultu:
Scit Romanus adhuc, & quam Tarpeia videtis
Arx attollentem caput illo in monte superbum,
Pannones Æmathii nôrunt, scit Delphica rupes.
On Europe’s spacious tracts, like winter’s hail
Urg’d by the North, or boist’rous South, they fell
With furious noise; as yet the Roman state
Feels the sad blow, and mourns her turn of fate.
Too well Tarpeian tow’rs their force have known,
And Delphick Rocks, and Plains of Macedon.
And a little after,
Intravere Asiæ fines: prope littora Ponti
In gentem crevere novam, quæ tenditur usque
Ad juga Pamphilûm, Garamantica sydera contra
Inter Cappadoces posita, & Bythinica regna.
O’er-running Asia’s bounds, their barbarous power
Fix’d a new kingdom near the Pontick shore,
Between Bythinia and Cappadocian lands,
Far as Pamphilian cliffs and Garamantick strands.
Nor ought we, on this occasion, to omit the arguments brought by Others, to prove that the Britains are descended from the Gauls. George Buc, a person eminent for his extraction and learning, observes out of Mekercus, that the Germans call a French-man, Wallon; and that, when the German Saxons first came hither and heard the Britains speak the Gaulish tongue, they call’d them Walli, i.e. Gauls. (b) Buchanan adds, that Walch does not barely signify a Stranger among the Germans, but most properly a Gaul. And withal he observes, that the French at this day call that country Galles, which we call Wales: and that the antient Scots divided all the British Nations into Gaol, and Galle, that is (according to his interpretation) into the GallæciGallaeci and the Galli.
(b) How true soever that may be, it is certain that the Opinion he advances of Wales having its name from Gaul, is altogether false, as is prov’d in Cornwall. And besides, why might not the Welsh and the Gauls both of them have their name upon the same occasion, the latter, as being strangers to the Germans, and the former, to the Saxons?
⌈It may not be improper, just to mention in this place, that a † † Mr. Sammes.late Author who fetches the original of the Britains from the PhœniciansPhoenicians, though he cannot deny the affinity between the Gaulish and British languages, proved in so many instances before; doth yet endeavour to reconcile that to his own Conjecture, by saying, 1. That the Commerce of these two Nations (intimated by CæsarCaesar, and other Writers) and that of the Phœnicians with both, might easily cause such a common and promiscuous use of particular Words and Names. To inforce which, he endeavours to show, 2. That those very Words, alledged to prove the Britains of a Gaulish original, are all, or most of them, found in the Phœnician Language; and therefore must be brought by that People, immediately, both into Britain and Gaul.⌉
But, when all is done, if our Britains, right or wrong, are resolved to claim a Trojan Original, I will not make it my business to oppose them: but yet (c) if they will take my advice, they may best ground their Relation to the Trojans, upon their descent from the Gauls. For it is said by some (these are the words of Ammianus) that after the destruction of Troy, a few who fled thence, possess’d themselves of Gaul, at that time unpeopled.
(c) Our Author, where he discourses of the Continuance of the Romans in Britain, delivers it as his Opinion, that the Britains may best claim a relation to the Trojans, by their intercourse for so many hundreds of years with the Romans, who were certainly descended from them.
And here,The British Language. while we have these languages under consideration, we cannot but admire and celebrate the divine goodness towards our Britains, the posterity of Gomer; who, though they have been conquer’d successively by the Romans, Saxons, and Normans; do hitherto enjoy the true Name of their Ancestors, and have also preserv’d their primitive language entire, although the Normans set themselves to abolish it by express laws. The replyGiraldus in his Topography of Wales. of that noble old Gentleman of Wales was not impertinent, who, being ask’d by Henry the second, King of England, what he thought of the strength of the Welch, and of his royal expedition against them, made his answer in these words: This nation, Great Sir, may suffer much, and may be in a great measure ruin’d, or at least weaken’d, by your present and future attempts, as formerly it hath often been; but we assure our selves, it will never be wholly destroyed * * Propter hominis iram.by the anger or power of any mortal man, unless the anger of Heaven concur in that destruction. Nor (whatever changes may happen as to the other parts of the world) can I believe that any other nation or language besides the Welch, shall answer at the last day for the greater part of this corner of the world.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48