Britannia, by William Camden



Small I I am now come to Kent; a Country, which William Lambard, a person eminent for Learning and piety, has describ’d so much to the life in a complete Volume, and who has withal been so happy in his searches; that he has left very little for those that come after him. Yet in pursuance of my intended method, I will survey this among the rest; and lest (as the Comedian says) any one should suspect me * * Sublesta fide agere.of Plagiarism, or Insincerity, I here gratefully acknowledge, that his Work is my Foundation.

Time has not yet depriv’d this Country of it’s ancient name;Carion, corruptly read in Diodorus Siculus. but as Cæsar, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Ptolemy, and others, call it Cantium; so the Saxons (as Ninnius tells us) nam’d it Saxon cant-guar-lantd; ie. the country of Men inhabiting Kent; and we now, Kent. Lambard derives this name from Cainc, signifying in British a green leaf, because it was formerly much shaded with woods. But for my part (if I may be allow’d the liberty of a conjecture,) when I observe that, here, Britain shoots out into a large corner eastward, and do further take notice, that such a corner in Scotland is call’d Cantir, that the inhabitants also of another corner in that part of the Island are by Ptolemy call’d Cantæ, and that the Cangani were possess’d of another corner in Wales, (not to mention the Cantabri, inhabiting a corner among the Celtiberians, who as they had the same original, so did they speak the same language with our Britains;) upon these grounds, I should guess it to have had that name from the situation. And the rather, because our French have us’d ¦ ¦ From whence in Heraldry, Canton is put for a corner; and the country of the Helvetii, is call’d by the French, Cantones, as if one should say, Corners.Canton for a corner, borrowing it, probably, from the ancient language of the Gaules (for it is neither from the German nor Latin; which two, together with that ancient one, are the only ingredients of our modern French;) as also because this County is call’d Angulus, or a corner, by all the old Geographers. For it faces France with a large corner, surrounded on every side by the Æstuary of Thames and the Ocean, except to the west, where it borders upon Surrey; and upon part of Sussex, to the south. ⌈Whether the Greek of Herodotus, are the Cantii of Cæsar and our Kentish-men, as some have thought, I shall not take upon me to determine.⌉

Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06