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Title: The Ethnology of the British Islands

Author: Robert Gordon Latham

Release Date: January 11, 2010 [EBook #30931]

Language: English

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Transcriber's Note:

Archaic, dialect and variant spellings (including quoted proper nouns) remain as printed, except where noted. Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note; significant amendments have been listed at the end of the text.

Greek text appears as originally printed, but with a mouse-hover transliteration, Βιβλος.

THE
ETHNOLOGY
OF
THE BRITISH ISLANDS.


THE
ETHNOLOGY
OF
THE BRITISH ISLANDS.

BY
R. G. LATHAM, M.D., F.R.S.,
CORRESPONDING MEMBER TO THE ETHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY, NEW YORK, ETC.

Device
LONDON:
JOHN VAN VOORST, PATERNOSTER ROW.
MDCCCLII.

LONDON:
Printed by T. E. Metcalf, 63, Snow Hill.

[v]

CONTENTS.

PAGE
CHAPTER I.
Preliminary Remarks.—Present Populations of the British Isles.—Romans, &c.—Pre-historic Period.—The Irish Elk.—How far Contemporaneous with Man.—Stone Period.—Modes of Sepulture.—The Physical Condition of the Soil.—Its Fauna.—Skulls of the Stone Period.—The Bronze Period.—Gold Ornaments.—Alloys and Castings.—How far Native or Foreign.—Effect of the Introduction of Metals.—Dwellings.1
CHAPTER II.
Authorities for the Earliest Historical Period.—Herodotus.—Aristotle.—Polybius.—Onomacritus.—Diodorus Siculus.—Strabo.—Festus Avienus.—Ultimate sources.—Damnonii.—Phœnician Trade.—The Orgies.—South-Eastern Britons of Cæsar.—The Details of his Attacks.—The Caledonians of Galgacus.38
CHAPTER III.
Origin of the Britons.—Kelts of Gaul.—The Belgæ.—Whether Keltic or German.—Evidence of Cæsar.—Attrebates, Belgæ, Remi, Durotriges and Morini, Chauci and Menapii.58
CHAPTER IV.[vi]
The Picts.—List of Kings.—Penn Fahel.—Aber and Inver.—The Picts probably, but not certainly, Britons.76
CHAPTER V.
Origin of the Gaels.—Difficulties of its Investigation.—Not Elucidated by any Records, nor yet by Traditions.—Arguments from the Difference between the British and Gaelic Languages.—The British Language spoken in Gaul.—The Gaelic not known to be spoken in any part of the Continent.—Lhuyd's Doctrine.—The Hibernian Hypothesis.—The Caledonian Hypothesis.—Postulates.83
CHAPTER VI.
Roman Influences.—Agricola.—The Walls and Ramparts of Adrian, Antoninus, and Severus.—Bonosus.—Carausius.—The Constantian Family.—Franks and Alemanni in Britain.—Foreign Elements in the Roman Legions.90
CHAPTER VII.
Value of the Early British Records.—True and Genuine Traditions Rare.—Gildas.—Beda.—Nennius.—Annales Cambrenses.—Difference between Chronicles and Registers.—Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.—Irish Annals.—Value of the Accounts of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries.—Questions to which they apply.104
CHAPTER VIII.
[vii]The Angles of Germany: their comparative obscurity.—Notice of Tacitus.—Extract from Ptolemy.—Conditions of the Angle Area.—The Varini.—The Reudigni and other Populations of Tacitus.—The Sabalingii, &c., of Ptolemy.—The Suevi Angili.—Engle and Ongle.—Original Angle Area.142
CHAPTER IX.
The Saxons—of Upper Saxony—of Lower, or Old Saxony.—Nordalbingians.—Saxons of Ptolemy.—Present and Ancient Populations of Sleswick-Holstein.—North-Frisians.—Probable Origin of the name Saxon.—The Littus Saxonicum.—Saxones Bajocassini.165
CHAPTER X.
The Angles of Germany—Imperfect Reconstruction of their History—Their Heroic Age.—Beowulf.—Conquest of Anglen.—Anecdote from Procopius.—Their Reduction under the Carlovingian Dynasty.—The Angles of Thuringia.200
CHAPTER XI.
Recapitulations and Illustrations.—Propositions respecting the Keltic Character of the Original Occupants of Britain, &c.—The Relations between the Ancient Britons and the Ancient Gauls, &c.—The Scotch Gaels.—The Picts.—The Date of the Germanic Invasions.—The names Angle and Saxon.219
CHAPTER XII.
Analysis of the Germanic Populations of England.—The Jute Element Questionable.—Frisian Elements Probable.—Other German Elements, how far Probable.—Forms in -ing.232
CHAPTER XIII.[viii]
The Scandinavians.—Forms in -by: their Import and Distribution.—Danes of Lincolnshire, &c.; of East Anglia; of Scotland; of the Isle of Man; of Lancashire and Cheshire; of Pembrokeshire.—Norwegians of Northumberland, Scotland, and Ireland, and Isle of Man.—Frisian forms in Yorkshire.—Bogy.—Old Scratch.—The Picts possibly Scandinavian.—The Normans.244

[1]

ETHNOLOGY
OF
THE BRITISH ISLANDS.

CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY REMARKS.—PRESENT POPULATIONS OF THE BRITISH ISLES.—ROMANS, ETC.—PRE-HISTORIC PERIOD.—THE IRISH ELK.—HOW FAR CONTEMPORANEOUS WITH MAN.—STONE PERIOD.—MODES OF SEPULTURE.—THE PHYSICAL CONDITION OF THE SOIL—ITS FAUNA.—SKULLS OF THE STONE PERIOD.—THE BRONZE PERIOD.—GOLD ORNAMENTS.—ALLOYS AND CASTINGS.—HOW FAR NATIVE OR FOREIGN.—EFFECT OF THE INTRODUCTION OF METALS.—DWELLINGS.

The ethnologist, who passes from the history of the varieties of the human species of the world at large, to the details of some special family, tribe, or nation, is in the position of the naturalist who rises from such a work as the Systema Naturæ, or the Règne Animal, to concentrate his attention on some special section or subsection of the sciences of Zoology and Botany. If having done this he should betake himself to some ponderous folio, bulkier than the one which he read last, but devoted to a subject so specific and[2] limited as to have scarcely found a place in the general history of organized beings, the comparison is all the closer. The subject, in its main characteristics, is the same in both cases; but the difference of the details is considerable. A topographical map on the scale of a chart of the world, a manipulation for the microscope as compared with the preparation of a wax model, are but types and illustrations of the contrast. A small field requires working after a fashion impossible for a wide farm; often with different implements, and often with different objects. A dissertation upon the Negroes of Africa, and a dissertation upon the Britons of the Welsh Principality, though both ethnological, have but few questions in common, at least in the present state of our knowledge; and out of a hundred pages devoted to each, scarcely ten would embody the same sort of facts. With the Negro, we should search amongst old travellers and modern missionaries for such exact statements as we might be fortunate enough to find respecting his geographical position, the texture of his hair, the shade of his skin, the peculiarities of his creed, the structure of his language; and well satisfied should we be if anything at once new and true fell in our way. But in the case of the Briton all this is already known to the inquirer, and can be conveyed in a few sentences to the reader. What[3] then remains? A fresh series of researches, which our very superiority of knowledge has developed; inquiries which, with an imperfectly known population, would be impossible. Who speculates to any extent upon such questions as the degrees of intermixture between the Moors and the true Negroes of Nubia? Who grapples with such a problem as the date of the occupation of New Guinea? Such and such-like points are avoided; simply because the data for working them are wanting. Yet with an area like the British Isles, they are both possible and pertinent. More than this. In such countries there must either be no ethnology at all, or it must be of the minute kind, since the primary and fundamental questions, which constitute nine-tenths of our inquiries elsewhere, are already answered.

Minute ethnology must be more or less speculative—the less the better. It must be so, however, to some extent, because it attempts new problems. Critical too it must be—the more the better. It often works with unfamiliar instruments, whose manipulation must be explained, and whose power tested. Again, although the field in which it works be wide, the tract in which it moves may be beaten. An outlying question may have been treated by many investigators, and the results may be extremely different. In British ethnology, the history of opinions only, if[4] given with the due amount of criticism, would fill more than one volume larger than the present.

The above has been written to shew that any work upon such a subject as the present must partake, to a great degree, of the nature of a disquisition: perhaps indeed, the term controversy would not be too strong. The undeniable and recognized results of previous investigators are truisms. That the Britons and Gaels are Kelts, and that the English are Germans is known wherever Welsh dissent, Irish poverty, or English misgovernment are the subjects of notice. What such Kelticism or Germanism may have to do with these same characteristics is neither so well ascertained, nor yet so easy to discover. On the contrary, there is much upon these points which may be well un-learnt. Kelts, perchance, may not be so very Keltic, or Germans so very German as is believed; for it may be that a very slight preponderance of the Keltic elements over the German, or of the German over the Keltic may have determined the use of the terms. Such a point as this is surely worth raising; yet it cannot be answered off-hand. At present, however, it is mentioned as a sample of minute ethnology, and as a warning of the disquisitional character which the forthcoming pages, in strict pursuance to the nature of the subject, must be expected to exhibit.[5]

The extent, then, to which the two stocks that occupy the British Isles are pure or mixed; the characteristics of each stock in its purest form; and the effects of intermixture where it has taken place, are some of our problems; and if they could each and all be satisfactorily answered, we should have a Natural History of our Civilization. But the answers are not satisfactory; at any rate they are not conclusive. Nevertheless, a partial solution can be obtained; a partial solution which is certainly worth some efforts on the part of both the reader and the writer. Other questions, too, curious rather than of practical value, constitute the department of minute ethnology; especially when the area under notice is an island. The date of its occupancy, although impossible as an absolute epoch, can still be brought within certain limits. Whether, however, such limits would not be too wide for any one but a geologist, is another question.

Now, if I have succeeded in shewing that criticism and disquisition must necessarily form a large part of such an ethnology as the one before us, I have given a reason for what may, perhaps, seem an apparent irregularity in the arrangement of the different parts of the subject. With the civil historian, the earliest events come first; for, in following causes to their consequences, he begins with the oldest. The ethnologist, on the[6] other hand, whenever—as is rarely the case—he can lay before the reader the whole process and all the steps of his investigations, reverses this method, and begins with the times in which he lives; so that by a long series of inferences from effect to cause, he concludes—so to say—at the beginning; inasmuch as it is his special business to argue backwards or upwards. Yet the facts of the present volume will follow neither of these arrangements exactly; though, of course, the order of them will be, in the main, chronological. They will be taken, in many cases, as they are wanted for the purposes of the argument; so that if a fact of the tenth century be necessary for the full understanding of one of the fifth, it will be taken out of its due order. Occasional transpositions of this kind are to be found in all works wherein the investigation of doubtful points preponderates over the illustration of admitted facts, or in all works where discussion outweighs exposition.

The period when the British Isles were occupied by Kelts only (or, at least, supposed to have been so) will form the subject of the earlier chapters. The facts will, of course, be given as I have been able to find them; but it may be not unnecessary to state beforehand the nature of the principal questions upon which they will bear.

The date of the first occupancy of the British Isles by man is one of them. It can (as already[7] stated) only be brought within certain wide—very wide—limits; and that hypothetically, or subject to the accuracy of several preliminary facts.

The division of mankind to which the earliest occupants belonged is the next; and it is closely connected with the first. If the Kelts were the earliest occupants of Britain, we can tell within a few thousand years when they arrived. But what if there were an occupation of Britain anterior to theirs?

The civilization of the earliest occupants is a question inextricably interwoven with the other two; since the rate at which it advanced—if it advanced at all—must depend upon the duration of the occupancy, and the extent to which it was the occupancy of one, or more than one, section of mankind. But foreign intercourse may have accelerated this rate, or a foreign civilization may have altogether replaced that of the indigenæ. The evidence of this is a fourth question.

So interwoven with each other are all these questions, that, although the facts of the first three chapters will be arranged with the special view to their elucidation, no statement of the results will be given until the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons, or the introduction of the great Germanic elements of the British nation, leads us from the field of early Keltic to that of early Teutonic research; and that will not be until the details of[8] the Britons as opposed to the Gaels, of the Gaels as opposed to the Britons, and of the Picts (as far as they can be made out) have been disposed of.

One of the populations of the British Isles, at the present moment, speaks a language belonging to the Keltic, the other one belonging to the Teutonic class of tongues. However, it is by no means certain that the blood, pedigree, race, descent, or extraction coincides with the form of speech: indeed it is certain that it does so but partially. Though few individuals of Teutonic extraction speak any of the Keltic dialects as their mother-tongue, the converse is exceedingly common; and numerous Kelts know no other language but the English. Speech, then, is only primâ facie evidence of descent; nevertheless, it is the most convenient criterion we have.

The Keltic class falls into divisions and subdivisions. The oldest and purest portion of the Gaelic Kelts is to be found in Ireland, especially on the western coast. Situated as Connaught is on the Atlantic, it lies beyond the influx of any new blood, except from the east and north; yet from the east and north the introduction of fresh populations has been but slight. Here, then, we find the Irish Gael in his most typical form.

Scotland, like Ireland, is Gaelic in respect to[9] its Keltic population, but the stock is less pure. However slight may be the admixture of English blood in the Highlands and the Western Isles, the infusion of Scandinavian is very considerable. Caithness has numerous geographical terms whose meaning is to be found in the Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic. Sutherland shews its political relations by its name. It is the Southern Land; an impossible name if the county be considered English (for it lies in the very north of the island), but a natural name if we refer it to Norway, of which Sutherland was, at one time, a southern dependency, or (if not a dependency), a robbing-ground. Orkney and Shetland were once as thoroughly Norse as the Faroe Isles or Iceland.

The third variety of the present British population is in the Isle of Man, where a language sufficiently like the Gaelic of Ireland and Scotland to be placed in the same division, is still spoken. Yet the blood is mixed. The Norsemen preponderated in Man; and the constitution of the island is in many parts Scandinavian, though the language be Keltic.

In Wales the language and population are still Keltic, though sufficiently different from the Scotch, Irish, and Manx, to be considered as a separate branch of that stock. It is conveniently called British, Cambrian, and Cambro-Briton.[10] It is quite unintelligible to any Gael. Neither can any Gael, talking Gaelic, make himself understood by a Briton. On the other hand, however, a Scotch and an Irish Gael understand each other; whilst, with some effort, they understand a Manxman, and vice versâ. So that the number of mutually unintelligible languages of the Keltic stock is two; in other words, the Keltic dialects of the British Isles are referable to two branches—the British for the Welsh, and the Gaelic for the Scotch, Irish, and Manx. The other language of the British Isles is the English, one upon which it is unnecessary to enlarge; but which makes the third tongue in actual existence at the present moment, if we count the Irish, Scotch, and Manx as dialects of the same language, and the fifth if we separate them.

By raising the Lowland Scotch to the rank of a separate language, we may increase our varieties; but, as it is only a general view which we are taking at present, it is as well not to multiply distinctions. I believe that, notwithstanding some strong assertions to the contrary, there are no two dialects of the English tongue—whether spoken east or west—in North Britain or to the South of the Tweed—that are not mutually intelligible, when used as it is the usual practice to use them. That strange sentences may be made by picking out strange provincialisms, and[11] stringing them together in a manner that never occurs in common parlance, is likely enough; but that any two men speaking English shall be in the same position to each other as an Englishman is to a Dutchman or Dane, so that one shall not know what the other says, is what I am wholly unprepared to believe, both from what I have observed in the practice of provincial speech, and what I have read in the way of provincial glossaries.

The populations, however, just enumerated, represent but a fraction of our ethnological varieties. They only give us those of the nineteenth century. Other sections have become extinct, or, if not, have lost their distinctive characteristics, which is much the same as dying out altogether. The ethnology of these populations is a matter of history. Beginning with those that have most recently been assimilated to the great body of Englishmen, we have—

1. The Cornishmen of Cornwall.—They are Britons in blood, and until the seventeenth century, were Britons in language also. When the Cornish language ceased to be spoken it was still intelligible to a Welshman; yet in the reign of Henry II., although intelligible, it was still different. Giraldus Cambrensis especially states that the "Cornubians and Armoricans used a language almost identical; a language which the Welsh,[12] from origin and intercourse, understood in many things, and almost in all."

2. The Cumbrians, of Cumberland, retained the British language till after the Conquest. This was, probably, spoken as far north as the Clyde. Earlier, however, than either of these were—

3. The Picts.—The Cumbrian and Cornish Britons were simply members of the same division with the Welshmen, Welshmen, so to say, when the Welsh area extended south of the Bristol Channel and north of the Mersey. The Picts were, probably, in a different category. They may indeed have been Gaels. They have formed a separate substantive division of Kelts. They may have been no Kelts at all, but Germans or Scandinavians.

But populations neither Keltic nor Teutonic have, at different times, settled in England; populations which (like several branches of the Keltic stock) have either lost their distinctive characteristics, or become mixed in blood, but which (unlike such Kelts) were not indigenous to any of the islands. Like the Germans or Teutons, on the other hand, they were foreigners; but, unlike the Germans or Teutons, they have not preserved their separate substantive character. Still, some of their blood runs in both English and Keltic veins; some of their language has mixed itself with both tongues; and some of their customs[13] have either corrupted or improved our national character. Thus—

1. The battle of Hastings filled England with Normans, French in language, French and Scandinavian in blood, but (eventually) English in the majority of their matrimonial alliances. And before the Normans came—

2. The Danes—and before the Danes—

3. The Romans.—Such is the general view of the chief populations, past and present, of England; of which, however, the Keltic and the Angle are the chief.

The English-and-Scotch, the Normans, the Danes, and the Romans have all been introduced upon the island within the Historical period—some earlier than others, but all within the last 2,000 years, so that we have a fair amount of information as to their history; not so much, perhaps, as is generally believed, but still a fair amount. We know within a few degrees of latitude and longitude where they came from; and we know their ethnological relations to the occupants of the parts around them.

With the Kelts this is not the case. Of Gael or Manxman, Briton or Pict, we know next to nothing during their early history. We can guess where they came from, and we can infer their ethnological relations; but history, in the strict sense of the term, we have none; for the Keltic[14] period differs from that of all the others in being pre-historic. This is but another way of saying that the Keltic populations, and those only, are the aborigines of the island; or, if not aboriginal, the earliest known. Yet it is possible that these same Keltic populations, whose numerous tribes and clans and nations covered both the British and the Hibernian Isles for generations and generations before the discovery of the art of writing, or the existence of a historical record, may be as well understood as their invaders; since ethnology infers where history is silent, and history, even when speaking, may be indistinct. At any rate, the previous notice of the ethnology of the British Isles during the Historical period, prepares us with a little light for the dark walk in the field of its earliest antiquity.

Nothing, as has just been stated, in the earliest historical records of Britain, throws any light upon the original occupation of the British Islands by man; indeed, nothing tells us that Britain, when so occupied, was an island at all. The Straits of Dover may have existed when the first human being set foot upon what is now the soil of Kent, or an isthmus may have existed instead. Whether then it was by land, or whether it was by water, that the population of Europe propagated itself into England, is far beyond the evidence of any historical memorial—far beyond the[15] evidence of tradition. Nothing at present indicates the nature of the primary migration of our earliest ancestors. Neither does any historical record tell us what manner of men first established themselves along the valleys of the Thames and Trent, or cleared the forests along their watersheds. They may have been as much ruder than the rudest of the tribes seen by Paulinus and Agricola, as those tribes were ruder than ourselves. They may, on the other hand, have enjoyed a higher civilization, a civilization which Cæsar saw in its later stages only; one which Gallic wars, and other evil influences, may have impaired.

For the consideration of such questions as these it matters but little whether we begin with the information which the ambition of Cæsar gave the Romans the opportunity of acquiring, or such accounts of the Phœnician traders as found their way into the writings of the Greeks; Polybius (for instance), Aristotle, or Herodotus. A few centuries, more or less, are of trifling importance. The social condition in both cases is the same. There was tin in Cornwall, and iron swords in Kent; in other words, there was the civilization of men who knew the use of metals, both on the side of the soldiers who followed Cassibelaunus to fight against Cæsar, and amongst the miners and traders of the Land's-end. In both cases,[16] too, there was foreign intercourse; with Gaul, where there was a tincture of Roman, and with Spain, where there was a tincture of Phœnician, civilization. This is not the infancy of our species, nor yet that of any of its divisions. For this we must go backwards, and farther back still, from the domain of testimony to that of inference, admitting a pre-historic period, with its own proper and peculiar methods of investigation—methods that the ethnologist shares with the geologist and naturalist, rather than with the civil historian. In respect to their results, they may be barren or they may be fertile; but, whether barren or whether fertile, the practice and application of them is a healthy intellectual exercise.

It must not be thought that the use of metals, and the contact with the Continent, which have just been noticed, invalidate the statement as to the insufficiency of our earliest historical notices. It must not be thought that they tell us more than they really do. It is only at the first view that the knowledge of certain metallurgic processes, and the trade and power that such knowledge developes, are presumptions in favour of a certain degree of antiquity in the occupancy of our island on the parts of its islanders; and it is only by forgetting the insular character of Great Britain that we can allow ourselves to suppose that,[17] though our early arts tell us nothing about our first introduction, they at any rate prove that it was no recent event. "Time," we may fairly say, "must be allowed for such habits as are implied by the use of metals to have developed themselves, and, consequently, generations, centuries, and possibly even millenniums must have elapsed between the landing of the first vessel of the first Britons, and the beginning of the trade with the Kassiterides." As a general rule, such reasoning is valid; yet the earliest known phenomena of British civilization are compatible with a comparatively modern introduction of its population. For Great Britain may have been peopled like Iceland or Madeira, i.e., not a generation or two after the peopling of the nearest parts of the opposite Continent, but many ages later; in which case both the population and its civilization may be but things of yesterday. In the twelfth century, Iceland had an alphabet and the art of writing. Had these grown up within the island itself, the inference would be that its population was of great antiquity; since time must be allowed for their evolution—even as time must be allowed for the growth of acorns on an oak. But the art may be newer than the population, or the population and the art may be alike recent. Hence, as the civilization of the earliest Britons may be newer than the stock to which it belonged, the[18] testimony of ancient writers to its existence is anything but conclusive against the late origin of the stock itself. It is best to admit an absolutely pre-historic period, and that without reservation; and as a corollary, to allow that it may have differed in kind as well as degree from the historic.

There is another fact that should be noticed. The languages of Great Britain are reducible to two divisions, both of which agree in many essential points with certain languages or dialects of Continental Europe. The British was closely, the Gaelic more distantly, allied to the ancient tongue of the Gauls. From this affinity we get an argument against any extreme antiquity of the Britons of the British Isles. The date of their separation from the tribes of the Continent was not so remote as to obliterate and annihilate all traces of the original mother-tongue. It was not long enough for the usual processes by which languages are changed, to eject from even the Irish Gaelic (the most unlike of the two) every word and inflection which the progenitors of the present Irish brought from Gaul, and to replace them by others. So that, at the first view, we have a limit in this direction; yet unless we have settled certain preliminaries, the limit is unreal. All that it gives us is the comparatively recent introduction of the Keltic stock. Varieties of the human species, other than Keltic, may have[19] existed at an indefinitely early period, and subsequently have been superseded by the Kelts. Philology, then, tells us little more than history; and it may not be superfluous to add, that the occupancy of Great Britain by a stock of the kind in question, earlier than the Keltic, and different from it, is no imaginary case of the author's, but a doctrine which has taken the definite form of a recognized hypothesis, and characterizes one of the best ethnological schools of the Continent—the Scandinavian.

For the ambitious attempt at a reconstruction of the earliest state of the human kind in Britain, we may prepare ourselves by a double series of processes. Having taken society as it exists at the present moment, we eject those elements of civilization which have brought it to its present condition, beginning with the latest first. We then take up a smaller question, and consider what arts and what forms of knowledge—what conditions of society—existing amongst the earlier populations have been lost or superseded with ourselves. The result is an approximation to the state of things in the infancy of our species. We subtract (for instance) from the sum of our present means and appliances such elements as the knowledge of the power of steam, the art of printing, and gunpowder; all which we can do under the full light of history. Stripped of these,[20] society takes a ruder shape. But it is still not rude enough to be primitive. There are parts of the earth's surface, at the present moment, where the metals are unknown. There was, probably, a time when they were known nowhere. Hence, the influences of such a knowledge as this must be subtracted. And then come weaving and pottery, the ruder forms of domestic architecture, and boat-building, lime-burning, dyeing, tanning, and the fermentation of liquors. When and where were such arts as these wanting to communities? No man can answer this; yet our methods of investigation require that the question should be raised.

Other questions, too, which cannot be answered must be suggested, since they serve to exhibit the trains of reasoning that depend upon them. Was Britain (a question already indicated) cut off from Gaul by the Straits of Dover when it was first peopled? If it were, the civilization required for the building of a boat must have been one of the attributes of the first aborigines; so that, whatever else in the way of civilization may have been evolved on British ground, the art of hollowing a tree, and launching it on the waves was foreign.

Now it is safe to say that the writers who are most willing to assign a high antiquity to the first occupation of the British Isles by Man, have[21] never carried their epoch so high as the time when Britain and Gaul were joined by an isthmus. On the contrary, they all argue as if the islands were as insular as they are at present, and attribute to the first settlers the construction and management of some frail craft—rude, of course, but still a seaworthy piece of mechanism—after the fashion of the boats of Gaul or Germany; and this is the reasonable view of the subject.

In Mr. Daniel Wilson's "Pre-historic Annals of Scotland," we have the best data for the next portion of the question, viz., the extent to which geological changes have occurred since the first occupancy of our islands. In the valley of the Forth,[1] alterations in the relations of the land and sea to the amount of twenty-five feet have occurred since the art of making deers' horns into harpoons was known in Scotland. Such at least is the inference from the discovery, in the Carse lands about Blair Drummond Moss, of the skeleton of a whale, with a harpoon beside it, twenty-five feet above the present tides of the Forth. As much as can be told by any single fact is told by this; its valuation being wholly in the hands of the geologists.

Then, the bone of an Irish elk, according to one view (but not according to another), gives us a second fact. A rib, with an oval opening, where[22] oval openings should not be, and with an irregular effusion of callus around it, is found under eleven feet of peat. Dr. Hart attributes this to a sharp-pointed instrument, wielded by a human hand, which without penetrating deep enough to cause death, effected a breach on the continuity of the bone, and caused inflammation to be set up. But Professor Owen thinks that a weapon of the kind in question, if left in, to be worked out by the vix medicatrix of Nature, would be fatal, and consequently he prefers the notion of the wound having been inflicted by a weapon which was quickly withdrawn, e.g., the horn of some combative rival of its own kind, rather than the human. Now if it be a difficult matter to say what will, and what will not kill a man in the year '52, much more so is it to speak chirurgically about Irish elks of the Pleiocene period. Hence the evidence of man having been cotemporary with the Megaceros Hibernicus is unsatisfactory.

That a certain amount, then, of change of level between the land and sea, in a certain part of Scotland, has taken place since Scotchmen first hunted whales is the chief fact, relative to the date of our introduction, that we get from geology. From archæology we learn something more. Those sepulchral monuments which have the clearest and most satisfactory signs of antiquity, contain numerous implements of stone and[23] bone, but none of metal. When metal is found, the concomitant characters of the tomb in which it occurs, indicate a later period. If so, it is a fair inference for the ethnological archæologist to conclude, that although the earliest colonists reached Britain late enough to avail themselves of boats, their migration was earlier than the diffusion of the arts of metallurgy. And this has induced the best investigators to designate the earliest stage in British ethnology by the name of the Stone Period, a technical and convenient term.

It is the general opinion, that during this period the practice of inhumation, or simple burial, was commoner than that of cremation or burning, though each method was adopted. Over the remains disposed of by the former process, were erected mounds of earth (tumuli or barrows), heaps of stone (cairns), or cromlechs. There are strong suspicions that the practice of Suttí was recognized. Around a skeleton, more or less entire, are often found, at regular distances, the ashes of bodies that were burnt; just as if the chief was interred in the flesh, but his subordinates given over to the flames. The posture is, frequently, one which, on the other side of the Atlantic, has called forth numerous remarks. Throughout America, it was observed by Dr. Morton, that one of the most usual forms of burial was to place the corpse in a half upright position, or a sitting attitude,[24] with the knees and hams bent, and the arms folded on the legs. Now this is a common posture in Britain—a clear proof of the extent to which similar practices are independent of imitation. If any ornaments be found with the corpse, they are chiefly of cannel coal. The implements are all of stone, or bone—the celt, the arrow, the spear-head, the adze, and the mallet.

What was the physical aspect of the country at this time? The present, minus the clearings—wood and fen, fen and wood, in interminable succession; woods of oak in the clay soils; of beech on the chalk; of birch, pine, and fir in the northern parts of the island. The boats were essentially monoxyla, i.e., single trees hollowed out, sometimes by stone adzes, oftener by fire. The chief dresses were the skins of beasts.

Such is what archæology tells us. The other questions belong to the naturalist. What was the ancient Fauna? Whether the earliest men were cotemporaneous with the latest of the extinct quadrupeds, has been already asked—the answer being doubtful. How far the earliest beasts of chase and domestication were the same as the present, is a fresh question. The sheep may reasonably be considered as a recent introduction; but with all the other domestic animals there are, perhaps, as good reasons for deriving them from native species as for considering them to be of foreign origin.[25] The hog of the present breed, may indeed be of continental origin; so may the present cat, horse, and ass. Nevertheless, the hog, cat, horse, and ass, whose bones are found in the alluvial deposits, may have been domesticated. The Devonshire, Hereford, and similar breeds of oxen may be new; but the bos longifrons may have originated some native breeds, which the inhabitants of even the earliest period—the period of stone and bone implements—may have domesticated. The opinion of Professor Owen is in favour of this view; and certainly, though it cannot be enforced by mere authority, it is recommended by its simplicity,—avoiding, as it does, the unnecessary multiplication of causes. The goat was certainly indigenous, but no more certainly domesticated than the equally indigenous deer. This indigenous rein-deer may or may not have been trained. The miserable aliments of the beach, shell-fish and crustacea, constituted no small part of the earliest human food; and so (for the northern part of the isle at least) did eggs, seals, and whales. Surely in these primitive portions of the Stone period our habits must have approached those of the Lap, the Samöeid, and the Eskimo, however different they may be now.

But metals, in the course of time, were introduced; first bronze, and then iron; gold and lead being, perhaps, earlier than either, earlier too[26] than silver. Of gold we take but little notice. It was not a useful metal; but subservient only to the purposes of barbaric ornament. The next fact is of great importance.

In those tombs where the implements are most exclusively of stone, and where the other signs of antiquity correspond, the skulls are of unusually small capacity. In the next period they are larger. There are also some notable points of difference in the shape. Such at least is the current opinion; although the proofs that such difference is not referable to difference of age or sex, is by no means irrefragable. Still we may take the fact as it is supposed and reported to be.

If we do this, we are prepared for another question. How far is the introduction of metal implements and of new arts, a sign of the introduction of a fresh stock or variety of the human species? How far, too, is the difference in the capacity of the skulls? How far the fact of the two changes coinciding? The answer has generally been in the affirmative. The men who used implements of bronze were Kelts; the men who eked out their existence with nothing better than adzes and arrow-heads of stone, were other than Keltic. They were ante-Keltic aborigines, whom a Keltic migration annihilated and superseded. Such is the widely-spread doctrine. Yet it is doubtful whether the premises bear out the inference—far[27] as it has been recognized. I doubt it myself; because, admitting (for the sake of argument) that there is a difference in the size and the shape of the skulls, it by no means follows that a difference of stock is the only way of accounting for it. Improved implements, taken by themselves, merely denote either a progress in the useful arts, or, what is more likely, some new commercial relations. The same improved implements, if considered as means to an end, denote an improvement in the nutrition of the individuals who used them. The bones of a man who hunts stags and oxen with bronze weapons will carry more flesh, and consequently be more fuller developed than those of a man who, for want of better instruments than flint and bone arrow-heads, feeds chiefly upon whale blubber and shell-fish. Now, what applies to the bones in general, applies—though perhaps in a less degree—to the skull. In the difference, then, between the crania of the Stone and Bronze periods I see no introduction of a new variety of our species, but merely the effects of a better diet, arising from an improvement in the instruments for obtaining it. If the assumption, then, of a pre-Keltic stock be gratuitous, the question as to the date of our population is considerably narrowed. Its introduction (as already indicated) must have been sufficiently late to allow the original affinities between[28] the Keltic dialects of the British Isles, and the Keltic dialects of the European Continent, to remain visible. But as many millenniums would be required for the opposite effect of obliterating the original similarity, this is saying but little. All that it is safe to assert is—

1. That the primitive Britons occupied the islands sufficiently early to allow of the relative levels of the land and sea on the valley of the Forth to alter to the amount of twenty-five feet—there or thereabouts.

2. That they occupied it sufficiently late to allow the common origin of the Gaelic and British tongues to remain visible in the nineteenth century.

This latter position rests upon the supposition that the early inhabitants in question were of the same stock as the present Welsh and Gaels—the contrary doctrine being held to be, not erroneous, but gratuitous and unnecessary.

We are now prepared to find that in certain monuments, less ancient than those of the Stone period, the enclosed relics are of metal, and that this metal is an alloy of copper and tin—bronze—not brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc. Not only are such relics more elaborate in respect to their workmanship, but the kinds of them are more varied. They are referable indeed to the three classes of warlike instruments, industrial implements, and personal ornaments, but the[29] varieties of each sort are comparatively numerous. Swords and shields, which would be well-nigh impossible accoutrements during the Stone period, now come into use; so do moulds for casting, as well as bracelets and necklaces. In short, the signs of a higher civilization and fresh means for the conquest of either Man or Nature appear.

The evidence that the Bronze period succeeded the Stone, is on the whole satisfactory; indeed its a priori likelihood is so great, as to make a little go a long way. At the same time, it must not be supposed that in each individual case the newest monuments wherein we find bone and stone are older than the oldest wherein we find bronze. No line of demarcation thus trenchant can be drawn; and no proofs of absolute succession thus conclusive can be discovered. Upon the whole, however, there was a time when the early Britons were in the position of the South Sea Islanders when first discovered, i.e., ignorant of the use of metals. As long as the arts of metallurgy are unknown, the notice of the physical conditions of the country is confined to its Flora, its Fauna, and its stone quarries. What was there to cultivate? What was there to hunt or to domesticate? What was there to build with? Now, however, the questions change. What were the mineral resources of the soil? It is not necessary[30] to enlarge on these. The use of coal as a fuel is wholly recent. On the other hand, certain varieties of it were used as ornaments—the cannel coal, and the bituminous shale of Dorsetshire (Kimmeridge clay). So was jet.

The metal first worked was gold; and its use dates as far back as the Stone period; indeed it may belong to the very earliest age of our island; since the localities where it has been found in Great Britain are by no means few; and in early times each was richer than at present. In England, from Alston Moor; in Scotland, from the head-waters of the Clyde; and in Ireland, from the Avonmore, gold for the adornment of even the hunters of the bone spear-head, and the woodsmen of the stone-hatchet might have been procured; and the simple art of working it, although it may possibly have been Gallic in origin, may quite as easily have been native. The chief gold ornaments, torcs, armillæ, and fibulæ have been found in association with bronze articles, but not exclusively.

With those archæologists and ethnologists who believe that the introduction of bronze implements coincided with the advent of a new variety of mankind, the question whether the art of alloying and casting metals was of native or foreign origin, is a verbal one; since it was native or foreign just as we define the term—native to the[31] stock which introduced it on the British soil, foreign to the soil itself. But as soon as we demur to the notion that the earliest Britons were a separate and peculiar stock, and commit ourselves to the belief that they were simply Kelts in a ruder condition, the problem presents itself in a different and more important form. Was the art of making an alloy of tin and copper self-evolved, or was it an art which foreign commerce introduced? Was the art of casting such alloys British? It is well to keep the two questions separate. The preliminary facts in respect to the history of the bronze metallurgy are as follows:—

1. The peculiar geographical distribution of tin, which of all the metals of any wide practical utility is found in the fewest localities, those localities being far apart, e.g., Britain and Malacca—

2. The wide extent of country over which bronze implements are found. Except in Norway and Sweden, where the use of iron seems to have immediately followed that of stone and bone, they have been found all over Europe—

3. The narrow limits to the proportions of alloy—nine-tenths copper, and one-tenth tin—there or thereabouts—in the majority of cases.

4. The considerable amount of uniformity in the shape of even those implements wherein a considerable variety of form is admissible. Thus the bronze sword—a point hereafter to be noticed—is[32] almost always long, leaf-shaped, pointed, and without a handle.

The last three of these facts suggest the notion that bronze metallurgy originated with a single population; the first, that that population was British. Yet neither of these inferences is unimpeachable.

The notion that the bronze implements themselves were made in any single country, and thence diffused elsewhere, has but few upholders; since, in most of the countries where they have been found, the moulds for making them have been found also. Hence the doctrine that the raw material—the mixed metal only—was brought from some single source is the more important one. Yet chemical investigations have modified even this.[2] The proportions in question are the best, and they are easily discovered to be so. Seven parts copper to one of tin has been shewn by experiment to be too brittle, and fifteen parts copper to one of tin too soft, for use. Within these proportions the chief analyses of the ancient bronze implements range. The exact proportion of ten copper to one of tin, Mr. Wilson has shewn to be an overstatement. All then that we are warranted to infer is, that Britain was the chief source of the tin.

[33]

This is a great fact in the annals of our early commerce, but not necessarily of much importance in the natural history of our inventions; since it by no means follows that because Cornwall supplied tin to such adventurous merchants as sought to buy it, it therefore discovered the art of working it.

The chief reason for believing that the art of working in any metal except gold was as foreign to Britain as the alphabet was to Greece, rests on a negative fact, of which too little notice has been taken. Copper is a metal of which England produces plenty. It is a metal, too, which is the easiest worked of all, except gold and lead. It is the metal which savage nations, such as some of the American Indians, work when they work no other; and, lastly, it is a metal of which, in its unalloyed state, no relics have been found in England. Stone and bone first; then bronze or copper and tin combined; but no copper alone. I cannot get over this hiatus—cannot imagine a metallurgic industry beginning with the use of alloys. Such a phenomenon is a plant without the seed; and, as such, indicates transplantation rather than growth.

This view assists us in our chronology. If the art of working in bronze be a native and independent development, its antiquity may be of any amount—going back to 3000 B.C. as easily as to[34] 2000 B.C., and to 2000 B.C. as easily as to 1000 B.C. It may be of any age whatever, provided only that it be later than the Stone period. But if it be an exotic art, it must be subsequent to the rise of the Phœnician commerce. Such I believe to have been the case. That the Britons were apt learners, and that they soon made the art their own, is likely. The existence of bronze and stone moulds for adzes and celts proves this.

The effects of the introduction of metal implements would be two-fold. It would act on the social state of the occupants of the British Isles, and act on the physical condition of the soil. The opportunities of getting stones and bones for the purposes of warfare, would be pretty equally distributed over the islands, so that the means of attack and defence would be pretty equal throughout; but the use of bronze would give a vast preponderance of power to certain districts, Cornwall, Wales, and the copper countries. The vast forests, too, upon which stone hatchets would have but little effect, would be more easily cleared, and their denizens would be more successfully hunted.

Amber ornaments are found along with the implements of bronze. Do these imply foreign commerce—commerce with the tribes of Courland and Prussia—the pre-eminent amber localities? Not necessarily. Amber, in smaller quantities, is found in Britain.[35]

Glass beads, too, are found. This, I think, does imply commerce. At any rate, I am slow to believe that the art of fusing glass was of indigenous growth. The use of it was, most probably, a concomitant of the tin trade.

Undoubted specimens of weaving and undoubted specimens of pottery, occur during the Bronze period. Lead, too, is found in some of the bronze alloys; the word itself being, apparently, of Keltic origin. Whether the same could not be referred to the Stone period is uncertain. It is probable, however, that whilst the implements were of stone and bone, the dress was of skin.

Nothing has yet been said about the dwellings of the early islanders. This is because it is difficult to assign a date to their remains. They may belong to the Bronze—they may belong to the Stone period. They may be more recent than either. At any rate, however, relics of ancient domestic architecture exist. A foundation sunk in the earth, with stone walls of loose masonry, and covered, most probably, with reeds and branches, suggests the idea of a subterranean granary, for which the old houses of the earliest Britons have been mistaken; but, nevertheless, it belonged to a house. On the floor of this we find charred bones, and enormous heaps of oyster and mussel shells. Stone handmills, too, denote the use of corn; though from the character of the ancient[36] Flora, vegetable forms of food must have been rarer than animal.

Iron was known in Cæsar's time. How much earlier is doubtful. So was silver. Both were of later date than gold and bronze; and more than this it is not safe to say. Of the great monolithic buildings, it is reasonable to suppose that they are later than the Stone, and earlier than the Historical, period. Druidism, however, in its germs may be of any antiquity; not, however, if we suppose that the first introduction of bronze coincided with the first introduction of the Kelts.

An Iron period succeeds the Bronze; but it will not be the subject of our immediate consideration, inasmuch as it coincides pretty closely with the historic epoch. The sequence, however, requires further notice. That there should be a period in the history of mankind when the use of metals, and the arts of metallurgy were wholly unknown, and that during such a period, imperfect implements of bone and stone should minister to the wants of an underfed and defenceless generation, is not so much a particular fact in British ethnology as a general doctrine founded upon our a priori views, and applicable to the history of man at large. For if each of the useful arts have its own proper origin, referrible to some particular place, time, and community, there must have been an era when it was wanting to mankind. Hence,[37] an ante-metallic age is as much the conception of the speculator, as the discovery of the investigator.

The order in which the metals are discovered, the leading problem in what may be called the natural history of metallurgy, is far more dependant upon induction. Induction, however, has given the priority to copper, just as is expected from the comparative reducibility of its ores—lead and gold being put out of the question. So that it is not so much the general fact of the order of succession in respect to the Stone, Copper, and Iron periods that the laudable investigations of British archæologists have established as the nature of the concomitant details, the modifications of the periods themselves, and the exact character of their sequence. Under each of these heads there is much worth notice. The difference between the shape and size of the skulls of the Stone and Bronze periods has been broadly asserted—perhaps it has been exaggerated, at any rate it has formed the basis of an hypothesis. The substitution of a Bronze for a Copper period in Britain is an important modification, mainly attributable to the existence of tin. The comparative completeness of the sequence is interesting. It by no means follows that it should be regular. In Norway there is no Bronze period at all; but Bone and Stone in the first instance, and Iron immediately afterwards.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] See Wilson's "Pre-historic Annals of Scotland."

[2] This is well worked out by Mr. Wilson, in his "Pre-historic Annals of Scotland."—Pp. 238 &c.


[38]

CHAPTER II.

AUTHORITIES FOR THE EARLIEST HISTORICAL PERIOD.—HERODOTUS.—ARISTOTLE.—POLYBIUS.—ONOMACRITUS.—DIODORUS SICULUS.—STRABO.—FESTUS AVIENUS.—ULTIMATE SOURCES.—DAMNONII.—PHŒNICIAN TRADE.—THE ORGIES.—SOUTH-EASTERN BRITONS OF CÆSAR.—THE DETAILS OF HIS ATTACKS.—THE CALEDONIANS OF GALGACUS.

The extant writers anterior to the time of Julius Cæsar, in whose works notice of the British islands are to be found, are, at most, but four in number. They are all, of course, Greek.

Herodotus is the earliest. He writes "of the extremities of Europe towards the west, I cannot speak with certainty ... nor am I acquainted with the islands Cassiterides, from which tin is brought to us."[3]—iii. 115.

Aristotle is the second. "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules," he tells us, "the ocean flows round the earth; in this ocean, however, are two islands, and those very large, called Britannic, Albion and Ierne, which are larger than those beforementioned, and lie beyond the Celti; and other two not less than these, Taprobane, beyond the Indians, lying obliquely in respect of the main land, and that called Phebol, situate over against[39] the Arabic Gulf; moreover not a few small islands, around the Britannic Isles and Iberia, encircle as with a diadem this earth; which we have already said to be an island."—De Mundo, §. 3.

Polybius comes next. "Perhaps, indeed, some will inquire why, having made so long a discourse concerning places in Libya and Iberia, we have not spoken more fully of the outlet at the Pillars of Hercules, nor of the interior sea, and of the peculiarities which occur therein, nor yet indeed of the Britannic Isles, and the working of tin; nor again, of the gold and silver mines of Iberia; concerning which writers, controverting each other, have discoursed very largely."—iii. 57.

Lastly come half-a-dozen lines of doubtful antiquity, which the editors of the "Monumenta Britannica" have excluded from their series of extracts, on the score of their being taken from a non-existent or impossible author—a bard of no less importance than Orpheus. The ship Argo is supposed to speak, and say—

"For now by sad and painful trouble
Shall I be encompassed, if I go too near the Iernian Islands.
For unless, by bending within the holy headland,
I sail within the bays of the land, and the barren sea,
I shall go outward into the Atlantic Ocean."

An important sentence occurs a few lines lower. The British Isles are spoken of—

——"where (are) the wide houses of Demeter."

[40]This will be noticed in the sequel.

No reason for excluding these lines lies in the fact of their being forgeries. Provided that they were composed before the time of Cæsar, the authorship matters but little. If, as is the common practice, we attribute them to Onomacritus, a cotemporary of Mardonius and Miltiades, they are older than the notice of Herodotus.

It cannot be denied that these data for the times anterior to Cæsar are scanty. A little consideration will shew that they can be augmented. Between the time of Julius Cæsar and Claudius—a period of nearly a hundred years—no new information concerning Britain beyond that which was given by Cæsar himself, found its way to Rome; since neither Augustus nor Tiberius followed up the aggressions of the Great Dictator. Consequently, the notices in the "Bellum Gallicum" exhaust the subject as far as it was illustrated by any Roman observers. Now if we find in any writer of the time of Augustus or Tiberius, notices of our island which can not be traced to Cæsar, they must be referred to other and earlier sources; and may be added to the list of the Greek authorities.

If we limit these overmuch, we confine ourselves unnecessarily. Inquiry began as early as the days of Herodotus; and opportunities increased as time advanced. The Baltic seems to have been visited when Aristotle wrote; and between[41] his era and that of Polybius the intellectual activity of the Alexandrian Greeks had begun to work upon many branches of science—upon none more keenly than physical geography.

From the beginning of the Historical period, the first-hand information—for it is almost superfluous to remark that none of the Greek authors speak from personal observation—flows from two sources; from the inhabitants of western and southern Gaul, and from the Phœnicians. The text of Herodotus suggests this. In the passage which has been quoted, he speaks of the Kassiterides; and Kassiterides is a term which a Phœnician only would have used. No Gaul would have understood the meaning of the word. It was the Asiatic name for either tin itself, or for some tin-like alloy; and the passage wherein it occurs is one which follows a notice of Africa.

In two other passages, however, the consideration of the populations and geography of Western Europe is approached from another quarter. The course of the Danube is under notice, and this is what is said:—

"The river Ister, beginning with the Kelts, and the city of Pyrene, flows so as to cut Europe in half. But the Kelts are beyond the Pillars of Hercules; and they join the Kynesii, who are the furthest inhabitants of Europe towards the setting-sun."—ii. 33.[42]

"The Ister flows through the whole of Europe, beginning with the Kelts who, next to the Kynetæ, dwell furthest west in Europe."—iv. 49.

The Kynetæ have reasonably been identified with the Veneti of Cæsar, whose native name is Gwynedd, and whose locality, in Western Brittany, exactly coincides with the notice of Herodotus. If so, the name is Gallic, and (as such) in all probability transmitted to Herodotus from Gallic informants. So that there were two routes for the earliest information about Britain—the overland line (so to say), whereon the intelligence was of Gallic origin; and the way of the Mediterranean, wherein the facts were due to the merchants of Tyre, Carthage, or Gades. Direct information, too, may have been derived from the Greeks of Marseilles, though the evidence for this is wanting.

The two foremost writers to whose texts the preceding observations have been preliminary, are Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, both of whom lived during the reign of Augustus, too early for any information over and above that which was to be found in the pages of Cæsar. Yet as each contains much that Cæsar never told, and, perhaps, never knew, the immediate authorities must be supposed to be geographical writers of Alexandria, one of whom, Eratosthenes, is quoted by Cæsar himself; the remoter ones being the[43] Phœnician and Gallic traders. The thoroughly Phœnician origin of the statement of these two authors is well collected from the following extracts, which we must consider to be as little descriptive of the Britannia of Cæsar and the Romans, as they are of the Britannia of the year 51 B.C. Cæsar's Britain is Kent, in the last half-century before the Christian era. Diodorus' Britain is Cornwall, some 300 years earlier. "They who dwell near the promontory of Britain, which is called Belerium, are singularly fond of strangers; and, from their intercourse with foreign merchants, civilized in their habits. These people obtain the tin by skilfully working the soil which produces it; this being rocky, has earthy interstices, in which, working the ore and then fusing, they reduce it to metal; and when they have formed it into cubical shapes they convey it to certain islands lying off Britain, named Ictis; for at the low tides, the intervening space being laid dry, they carry thither in waggons the tin in great abundance. A singular circumstance happens with respect to the neighbouring islands lying between Europe and Britain; for, at the high tides, the intervening passage being flooded, they seem islands; but at the low tides, the sea retreating and leaving much space dry, they appear peninsulas. From hence the merchants purchase the tin from the natives, and carry it across into Gaul;[44] and finally journeying by land through Gaul for about thirty days, they convey their burdens on horses to the outlet of the river Rhone."—v. 21, 22.

So is Strabo's.—"The Cassiterides are ten in number, and lie near each other in the ocean, towards the north from the haven of the Artabri. One of them is a desert, but the others are inhabited by men in black cloaks, clad in tunics reaching to the feet, and girt about the breast. Walking with staves, and bearded like goats; they subsist by their cattle, leading for the most part a wandering life. And having metals of tin and lead, these and skins they barter with the merchants for earthenware, and salt, and brazen vessels. Formerly the Phœnicians alone carried on this traffic from Gadeira, concealing the passage from every one; and when the Romans followed a certain ship-master, that they also might find the mart, the ship-master, out of jealousy, purposely ran his vessel upon a shoal, and leading on those who followed him into the same destructive disaster, he himself escaped by means of a fragment of the ship, and received from the State the value of the cargo he had lost. But the Romans, nevertheless, making frequent efforts, discovered the passage; and as soon as Publius Crassus, passing over to them, perceived that the metals were dug out at a little depth, and that the men being at peace were already beginning, in consequence of[45] their leisure, to busy themselves about the sea, he pointed out this passage to such as were willing to attempt it, although it was longer than that to Britain."—Lib. iii. p. 239.

Pliny is, to a great degree, in the same predicament with Strabo and Diodorus. Some of the statements which are not common to him and Cæsar, are undoubtedly referrible to the information which the conquest of Britain under Claudius supplied. Yet the greater part of them is old material—Greek in origin, and, as such, referrible to Western rather than Eastern Britain, and to the era of the Carthaginians rather than the Romans. Solinus' account is of this character; his Britain being Western Britain and Ireland almost exclusively.

A poem of Festus Avienus, itself no earlier than the end of the fourth century, concludes the list of those authors who represent the predecessors of Cæsar in the description of Britain. Recent as it is, it is important; since some of the details are taken from the voyage of Himilco, a Carthaginian. He supplies us with a commentary upon the word Demeter, in the so-called Orphic poem—a commentary which will soon be exhibited.

The points then of contact between the British Isles and the Continent of Europe, were two in number. They were far apart, and the nations that visited them were different. Both, indeed,[46] were in the south; but one was due east, the other due west. The first, or Kentish Britain, was described late, described by Cæsar, commercially and politically connected with Gaul, and known to a great extent from Gallic accounts. The second, or Cornish Britain, was in political and commercial relation with the Phœnician portions of Spain and Africa, or with Phœnicia itself; was known to the cotemporaries of Herodotus, and was associated with Ireland in more than one notice. Both were British. But who shall answer for the uniformity of manners throughout? It is better to be on our guard against the influence of general terms, and to limit rather than extend certain accounts of early writers. A practice may be called British, and yet be foreign to nine-tenths of the British Islands. There were war-chariots in Kent and in Aberdeenshire, and so far war-chariots were part of the British armoury; but what authority allows us to attribute to the old Cornishmen and Devonians? Better keep to particulars where we can.

As the ancient name for the populations of Cornwall and Devonshire was Damnonii, the Damnonii will be dealt with separately. It will be time enough to call them Britons when a more general term becomes necessary. Two-thirds of the notice of them have been given already in the extracts from Strabo and Diodorus, in which the[47] long beards and black dress must be noticed for the sake of contrast. No such description would suit the Britons of the eastern coast.

The so-called Orphic poem places the wide houses of the goddess Demeter in Britain. Standing by itself, this is a mysterious passage. But it has been said that an extract from Avienus will help to explain it—

——"Hic chorus ingens
Faminei cœtus pulchri colit orgia Bacchi.
Producit noctem ludus sacer; aera pulsant
Vocibus, et crebris late sola calcibus urgent.
Non sic Absynthi prope flumina Thracis alumnæ
Bistonides, non qua celeri ruit agmine Ganges,
Indorum populi stata curant festa Lyæo."

There were maddening orgies amongst the sacred rites of the Britons—orgies, that whilst they reminded one writer of the Bacchic dances, reminded another of the worship of Demeter. That these belonged to the western Britons is an inference from the fact of their being mentioned by the Greek writers, i.e., from those who drew most from Phœnician authorities. Avienus, as we have seen, thinks of the Bacchæ as a parallel. So does Pausanius—

"Nec spatii distant Nesidum litora longe;
In quibus uxores Amnitum Bacchica sacra
Concelebrant, hederæ foliis tectæque corymbis."

So does Dionysius Periegetes; indeed the three accounts seem all referrible to one source. But[48] not so Strabo. That writer, or rather his authority Artemidorus, finds his parallel in Ceres. "Artemidorus states, with regard to Ceres and Proserpine, what is more worthy of credit. For he says, that there is an island near Britain wherein are celebrated sacred rites, similar to such as are celebrated in Samothrace to these goddesses."

Strabo's—or rather Artemidorus'—parallel is the same as that of the Orphic poem, and, probably, is referrible to the same source. Damnonian Britain, then, or the tin-country, had its orgies—orgies which may as easily have been Phœnician as indigenous, and as easily indigenous as Phœnician: orgies, too, may have been wholly independent of Druidism, and representative of another superstition.

B.C.
57.

Between the Damnonian Britons of the Land's-end and the Britons of Kent, as described by Cæsar, there may or there may not have been strong points of contrast. That there were several minor points of difference is nearly certain. The a priori probabilities arising from the peculiarities of their industrial occupations and commercial relations suggest the view; the historical notices confirm rather than invalidate it. Fragments, however, of this history is all that can be collected. We have followed the Alexandrian critics in the west; let us now follow a personal[49] observer in the east, Cæsar—himself a great part of the events that he describes. The Britons of Kent first appear as either tributaries or subjects to one of the Gallic chiefs, Divitiacus, king of the Suessiones, or people of Soissons in Champagne; so that they are the members of a considerable empire, or at least of an important political confederation, before a single Roman plants his foot on their island. But the vassalage is either partial or nominal, nor is it limited to the members of the Belgic branch of the Gauls; for the Veneti were a people of Brittany, whose name is still preserved under the form Vannes, the name of a Breton district, and who were true Galli. Yet, in the next year, they call upon the Britons for assistance, which is afforded them, in the shape of ships and sailors; the Veneti being amongst the most maritime of the Gallic populations.

B.C.
56.

In looking at these two alliances it may, perhaps, be allowed us to suppose that the parts most under the control of Divitiacus were the districts that lay nearest to him, Kent and Herts; whereas it was the southern coast that was in so intimate a relation with the Veneti. This is what I meant when I said that the sovereignty of Divitiacus might have been partial.

B.C.
55.

Cæsar prepares to punish the islanders for their assistance to his continental enemies;[50] partly tempted by the report of the value of the British pearls, a fact which indicates commerce and trade between the two populations. The Britons send ambassadors, whom Cæsar sends back, and along with them Commius the Attrebatian, a man of the parts about Artois. Commius the Crooked, as, possibly, he was named, from the Keltic Cam, and a namesake of the valiant Welshman David Gam, who fought so valiantly more than 1300 years afterwards at Agincourt. He was a king of Cæsar's own making, and had had dealings with the Britons before; with whom he had, also, considerable authority. From him Cæsar seems to have obtained his chief preliminary information. But he applied to traders as well; telling us, however, that it was only the coast of Britain that was at all well known. He is resisted and cut off from supplies at landing, and unexpectedly attacked after he has succeeded in doing so. So that he finds reason to respect both the valour and the prudence of his opponents; and, eventually leaves the country for Gaul, having demanded hostages from the different States. Two, only, send them.

B.C.
54.

The following year the invasion is repeated. In the first we had a few details, but no names of either the clans, or their chief. The second is more fruitful in both. It gives us the campaign of Cassibelaunus. The most formidable[51] part of the British armoury was the war-chariots. These were driven up and down, before and into, the hostile ranks, by charioteers sufficiently skilful to keep steady in rough places and declivities, to take up their master when pressed, to wheel round and return to the charge with dangerous dexterity. Meanwhile the master, himself, either hurled his javelins on the enemy from a short distance, or jumping from the chariot—from the body or yoke indifferently—descended on the ground, and fought single-handed. When pressed by the cavalry they retreated to the woods; which, in many cases, were artificially strengthened by stockades.

About eighty miles from the sea, Cæsar reached the boundaries of the kingdom of Cassibelaunus, now the head of the whole Britannic Confederacy; but until the discordant populations became united by a sense of their common danger, an aggressive and ambitious warrior, involved in continuous hostilities with the populations around. His name is evidently compound. The termination, -belaunus, or -belinus, we shall meet with again. The Cass- is not unreasonably supposed to exist at the present moment in the name of the Hundred of Cassio, in Herts (whence Cassio-bury).

This is the first British proper name. The next is that of the Trinobantes—beginning with[52] the common Keltic prefix (tre-) meaning place. Imanuentius, the king, had been slain in some previous act of aggression by Cassibelaunus, and his son Mandubratius had fled to Cæsar whilst in Gaul. He is now restored upon giving hostages.

In the list which follows of the population who sent hostages to Cæsar, we find the name of the Cassi; which suggests the notion of Cassibelaunus' own subjects have become unfaithful to him. The others are Cenimagni, the Segontiaci, the Ancalites, and the Bibroci.

Cæsar seems now to be in Hertfordshire, west of London, i.e., about Cassio-bury, the stockaded village, or head-quarters, of Cassibelaunus—Cassibelaunus himself being in Kent. Here he succeeds in exciting four chiefs, Cingetorix (observe the Keltic termination, -orix), Carvilius, Taximagulus, and Segonax, to attack the ships; in which attempt they are repulsed with the loss of one of their principal men, Lugot-orix.

The campaign ends in Cæsar coming to terms with Cassibelaunus, forbidding any attacks during his absence on Mandubratius and the Trinobantes, and returning to Gaul with hostages.

From an incidental notice of the British boats in a different part of Cæsar's books, we learn that those on the Thames, like those on the Severn, were made of wicker-work and hides—coracles in short; and from a passage of Avienus we learn[53] that the Severn boats were like those of the Thames—

Non hi carinas quippe pinu texere
Acereve norunt, non abiete, ut usus est,
Curvant faselos; sed rei ad miraculum
Navigia juncta semper aptant pellibus,
Corioque vastum sæpe percurrunt salum.

Cæsar's conquest was to all intents and purposes no conquest at all. Nevertheless, Augustus received British ambassadors, and, perhaps, a nominal tribute. Probably, this was on the strength of the dependence of the Eastern Britons on some portion of Gaul. At any rate, there was no invasion.

A.D.
20
to
43.

The latter part of the reign of Tiberius, and the short one of Caligula, give us the palmy period for native Britain—the reign of Cynobelin, the father of Caractacus, the last of her independent kings.

Coins have been found in many places; but as it is not always certain that they were not Gallic, the proofs of a very early coinage in Britain is inconclusive. Indeed, the notion that the tin trade—to which may be added that in fur and salt—was carried on by barter is the more probable. But the coins of Cynobelin are numerous. They have been well illustrated;[4] are of gold and silver; and whether stamped in Gaul or Britain,[54] indicate civilization of commerce and industry. The measure of the progress of Britain from the Stone period upwards, partly referrible to indigenous development, partly to Gallic, and partly to Phœnician, intercourse, is to be found in these coins. It is the civilization of a brave people endowed with the arts of agriculture and metallurgy, capable of considerable political organization, and with more than one point of contact with the continent—their war-chariots, their language, and their Druidism being their chief distinctive characters. Iron was in use at this time—though, perhaps, it was rare.

The conquests under Claudius carry us over new localities; and they are related by a great historian, with more than ordinary means of information. In Tacitus we read the accounts of Agricola. Yet the information, with the exception of a few interesting details, is confirmatory of what we have been told before, rather than suggestive of any essential differences between the Britons of the interior and the Britons of the southern coast. The war-chariot was limited to certain districts. The rule of a woman was tolerated. The wives and mothers looked-on upon the battles of the husbands and daughters. They may be said, indeed, to have shared in them. Their cries, and shrieks, and reproaches, their dishevelled hair, all helped to stimulate the warriors,[55] who opposed Suetonius Paulinus in the fastnesses of the Isle of Anglesey. The Druids added fuel to the fiery energy thus excited. There was the political organization that consolidates kingdoms. There was the spirit of faction which disintegrates them. As were the Brigantes, so were the Iceni; as were the Iceni, so were the Silures and Ordovices. The same family likeness runs throughout; likeness in essentials, difference in detail. In Caledonia the hair was flaxen; in South Wales curled and black. The complexion too was florid, from which Tacitus has drawn certain inferences.

The conquests under Vespasian carry us further still into Scotland, and to the Grampians, against the Caledonians under Galgacus. The extent to which they differed from the Britons is not to be collected from the account of Tacitus. We expect that they will be as brave; but ruder. Still, the details which we get from the life of Agricola are few. They fought from chariots, and their swords were broad and blunt. As the swords of the Bronze period were thin and pointed, this is an argument in favour of iron having become the usual material for warlike weapons as far north as the Grampians. The historical testimony to the inferior civilization of the North Britons, or Caledonians, is to be found in a later writer, Dio Cassius, in his history[56] of the campaigns of Severus. "Amongst the Britons the two greatest tribes are the Caledonians and the Mæatæ; for even the names of the others, as may be said, have merged in these. The Mæatæ dwell close to the wall which divides the island into two parts; the Caledonians beyond them. Each of these people inhabit mountains wild and waterless, and plains desert and marshy, having neither walls nor cities, nor tilth, but living by pasturage, by the chase, and on certain berries; for of their fish, though abundant and inexhaustible, they never taste. They live in tents, naked and barefooted, having wives in common, and rearing the whole of their progeny. Their state is chiefly democratical, and they are above all things delighted by pillage; they fight from chariots, having small swift horses; they fight also on foot, are very fleet when running, and most resolute when compelled to stand; their arms consist of a shield and a short spear, having a brazen knob at the extremity of a shaft, that when shaken it may terrify the enemy by its noise; they use daggers also; and are capable of enduring hunger, thirst, and hardships of every description; for when plunged in the marshes they abide there many days, with their heads only out of water; and in the woods they subsist on bark and roots; they prepare, for all emergencies,[57] a certain kind of food, of which, if they eat only so much as the size of a bean, they neither hunger nor thirst. Such, then, is the Island Britannia, and such the inhabitants of that part of it which is hostile to us."

Of Ireland, we have no definite accounts till much later, so that, with the exception of a few details, the characteristics of the social condition of that island must be inferred from the analogy of Great Britain, and from the subsequent history of the Irish. Now a rough view of even the British characteristics is all that has been attempted in the present chapter. No historic events have been narrated, except so far as they elucidate some national or local habit; and no such habits and customs have been noted unless they could be referred to some particular branch of our populations; for the object has been specification rather than generalization, the indication of certain Cornubian, Kentish, or Caledonian peculiarities rather than of British ones. At the same time, the fact that all the occupants of the British Islands are referrible to the great Keltic stock, implies the likelihood of these differences lying within a comparatively small compass.

The step that comes next is the history of the stock itself.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] The translations of this and all the following Greek extracts are from the "Monumenta Historica Britannica."

[4] See the papers of Mr. Beale Post in the "Archæological Journal."


[58]

CHAPTER III.

ORIGIN OF THE BRITONS.—KELTS OF GAUL.—THE BELGÆ.—WHETHER KELTIC OR GERMAN.—EVIDENCE OF CÆSAR.—ATTREBATES, BELGÆ, REMI, DUROTRIGES AND MORINI, CHAUCI AND MENAPII.

Of the two branches of the Keltic stock the British will be considered first, and that in respect to its origin.

It is rare that the population of an island is without clear, definite, and not very distant affinities with that of the nearest part of the nearest continent. The Cingalese of Ceylon can be traced to India; the Sumatrans to the Malayan Peninsula; the Kurile Islanders to the Peninsula of Sagalín; the Guanches of Teneriffe to the coast of Barbary. The nearest approach to isolation is in the island of Madagascar, where the affinities are with Sumatra, the Moluccas and the Malay stock rather than with the opposite parts of Africa, the coasts of Mozambique and Zanguibar. But Madagascar has long been the great ethnological mystery. Iceland, too, was peopled from Scandinavia and not from Greenland.

It is in Gaul, then, that we must look for the mother-country of Kelts; at least in the first[59] instance, for Gaul is the nearest point—the white cliffs of Folkstone being within sight of the opposite shore. Yet (as an example of the extent to which one ethnological question depends upon another) the Gallic origin of the earliest Britons has been objected to. For a Keltic population, indeed, it has been admitted to be the natural area; but we have seen that a population other and earlier than the Keltic has been inferred from the shape of the skulls, and other phenomena of the Stone period. Now for such a population as this, Jutland or Sleswick has been considered the more likely locality, since the skulls in question have been compared to those of the Laplanders and Finns; and, if this be true, the further north we carry the home of the British aborigines, the less we find it necessary to bring the Finn or Lap families southward. This reasoning is valid if the original fact of any pre-Keltic population be true. Those, however, who doubt the premises, have no need to refine upon the current notion of Gaul being the original home of the Britons. Gaul, then, is the ground from which we take our view of the great Keltic division of the human species in its integrity; for, hitherto, we have seen but the western offsets of it.

That the country between the Seine and Garonne, corresponding with the provinces of[60] Normandy, Brittany, Maine, Anjou, Poitiers, the Isle of France, and the Orleannois, was Keltic, has never been doubted. The evidence of Cæsar is express; and there is neither objection nor cavil to set against it. There it is, where, at the present moment, the Keltic Breton of Brittany continues to be the language of the common people.

The central and south-eastern parts of France—the Nivernois, Burgundy, the Bourbonnois, the Lionnois, Auvergne, Dauphiny, Languedoc, Savoy, and Provence—were chiefly Keltic. Perhaps they were wholly so; but as the Ligurians of Italy, and Iberians of Spain are expressly stated to have met on the lower Rhone, it is best to qualify this assertion. At the same time, good reasons can be given for considering that the Ligurians were but little different from the other Gauls.

South of the Garonne the ancient population was Iberic.

Switzerland, or the ancient Helvetia, was Keltic, and beyond Switzerland, along the banks of the Danube, and in the fertile plains of Northern Italy, intrusive and conquering Kelts were extended as far east as Styria, and as far south as Etruria; but these were offsets from the main body of the stock, whose true area was Gaul and the British isles.[61]

The parts between the Seine and Rhine, the valleys of the Marne, the Oise, the Somme, the Sambre, the Meuse, and the Moselle were Belgic. Treves was Belgian; Luxembourg, Belgian; the Netherlands, Belgian. Above all, French Flanders, Artois, and Picardy—the parts nearest Britain—the parts within sight of Kent—the parts from whence Britain was most likely to be peopled—were Belgian.

Now, as Britain was originally Keltic, unless Belgium be Keltic also, we shall meet with a difficulty.

In my own mind Belgium was originally Keltic; and, perhaps, nine ethnologists out of ten hold the same opinion. At the same time, fair reasons can be given for an opposite doctrine, fair reasons for believing the Belgæ to have been German—as German as the Angles of old, as German as the present Germans of Germany, as German as the Dutch of Holland, and, what is more to the purpose, as German as the present Flemings of Flanders, possibly occupants of the ancient, and certainly occupants of the modern, Belgium.

Upon the latter fact we must lay considerable weight. Modern Belgium is as truly the country of two languages and of a double population as Wales, Ireland, or Scotland. There is the French, which has extended itself from the[62] south, and the Flemish, which belongs to Holland and the parts northwards; a form of speech which differs from the true Dutch less than the Lowland Scotch does from the English, and far less than the Dutch itself does from the German. More than this. South of the line which separates the French and Flemish, traces of the previous use of the latter language are both definite and numerous, occurring chiefly in the names of places such as Dunkirk, Wissant, &c.

Now, as the French language has encroached upon the Flemish, and the Flemish has receded before the French, nothing is more legitimate than the conclusion than that, at some earlier period, the dialects of the great Germanic stock extended as far south as the Straits of Dover; and, if so, Germans might have found their way into the south-eastern counties of England 2000 years ago, or even sooner. Hence, instead of the Angles and Saxons having been the first conquerors of the Britons, and the earlier introducers of the English tongue, Belgæ of Kent, Belgæ of Surrey, Belgæ of Sussex, and Belgæ of Hampshire, may have played an important, though unrecorded, part in that long and obscure process which converted Keltic Britain into German England, the land of the Welsh and Gaels into the land of the Angles and Danes, the clansmen of Cassibelaunus, Boadicea, Caractacus and Galgacus[63] into the subjects of Egbert, Athelstan, and Alfred.

Such views have not only been maintained, but they have been supported by important testimonies and legitimate arguments. Foremost amongst the former come two texts of Cæsar, one applying to the well-known Belgæ of the continent, the others to certain obscurer Belgæ of Great Britain. When Cæsar inquired of the legates of Remi, the ancient occupants, under their ancient name, of the parts about Rheims, what States constituted the power of the Belgæ, and what was their military power, he found things to be as follows—"The majority of the Belgæ were derived from the Germans (plerosque Belgas ortos esse ab Germanus). Having in the olden time crossed the Rhine, they settled in their present countries, on account of the fruitfulness of the soil, and expelled the Gauls, who inhabited the parts before them. They alone, with the memory of our fathers, when all Gaul was harassed by the Teutones and Cimbri, forbid those enemies to pass their frontier. On the strength of this they assumed a vast authority in the affairs of war, and manifested a high spirit. Their numbers were known, because, united by relationships and affinities (propinquitatibus ad finitatibusque conjuncti), it could be ascertained what numbers each chief could bring[64] with him to the common gathering for the war. The first in numbers, valour, and influence were the Bellovaci. These could make up as many as 100,000 fighting men. Of these they promised 40,000; for which they were to have the whole management of the war. Their neighbours were the Suessiones, the owners of a vast and fertile territory. Their king Divitiacus was yet remembered as the greatest potentate of all Gaul, whose rule embraced a part of Britain as well. Their present king was Gallus. Such was his justice and prudence, that the whole conduct of the war was voluntarily made over to him. Their cities were twelve in number; their contingent 50,000 soldiers. The Nervii, the fiercest and most distant of the confederacy, would send as many; the Attrebates 15,000, the Ambiani 10,000, the Morini 22,000, the Menapii 9,000, the Caleti 10,000, the Velocasses and Veromandui 10,000, the Aduatici 29,000; the Condrusi, Eburones, Cærasi, and Pæmani, who were collectively called Germans (qui uno nomine Germani appellantur) might be laid at 40,000."—Bell. Gall., ii. 4.

Let us consider this as evidence (to a certain extent) of the north of Gaul having been German, without, at present, asking how far it is conclusive. If we look to Cæsar's description of Britain we shall find the elements of a second proposition, viz., that "what is true of the northern coast[65] of Gaul, is true of the southern coast of Britain."[5] So that if the Belgæ were Germans in the time of Cæsar, the populations of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex were German also.

Cæsar's statement is, "that the interior of Britain is inhabited by those who are recorded to have been born in the island itself; whereas the sea-coast is the occupancy of immigrants from the country of the Belgæ, brought over for the sake of either war or plunder. All these are called by names nearly the same as those of the States they came from, names which they have retained in the country upon which they made war, and in the land whereon they settled."—B. G., v. 12.

I submit that these two statements would give us unexceptionable evidence in favour of the Belgæ being Germans, and the south-eastern Britons being Belgæ, in case they stood with no conflicting assertions to set against them, and no presumptions in favour of an opposite doctrine; in which case the inference that Kent was German would be irrefragable, and would stand thus—

The Belgæ were Germans[66]

The south-eastern Britons were the same class with the Belgæ—

Therefore they were Germans.

Such a syllogism, I repeat, would be in proper form, and the inference satisfactory.

But there is a great deal to set against both: so much as to make it extremely probable that the utmost that can be got from the first statement is, that a part of the Belgæ, and more especially the Condrusi, Eburones, Cærasi, and Pæmani were Germans only in the way that the people of Guernsey and Jersey are English, i.e., politically but not ethnologically; and that the second only proves that certain national names occurred on both sides of the channel.

If we look at the numerous local, national, and individual names of the Belgæ, we find that they agree so closely in form with those of the undoubted Gauls, as to be wholly undistinguishable. The towns end in -acum, -briva, -magus, -dunum, and -durum, and begin with Ver-, Cær-, Con-, and Tre-, just like those of Central Gallia; so that we have—to go no farther than the common maps—Viriovi-acum, Minori-acum, Origi-acum, Turn-acum, Bag-acum, Camar-acum, Nemet-acum, Catusi-acum, Gemini-acum, Blari-acum, Mederi-acum, Tolbi-acum; Samaro-briva; Novio-magus, Moso-magus; Vero-dunum; Marco-durum, Theo-durum; Ver-omandui; Cær-asi; Con-drusi; Tre-viri—all[67] Gallic compounds on Belgian ground, and all forms either wholly foreign to any German area, or else exceedingly rare. Now it is no objection to this remarkable and exclusive preponderance of Gallic names in Belgian geography, to say that there is no proof of the designations in question being native; and that, although they existed in the language of Cæsar's informants, who were Gauls, they were strange to the Belgæ, even as the word Welsh is strange to a Cambro-Briton—being the name by which he is known to an Englishman, but not the true and native denomination. I say that all argument of this kind, valid as it is in so many other cases where it is never applied, has no place here; since Cæsar's informants about the Belgic populations were the Belgæ themselves, and it is inconceivable that they should have used nothing but Gallic terms when they spoke of themselves, if they had not been Gauls.

The names of the individual Belgic chiefs are as Gallic as those of the towns and nations, e.g., Commius and Divitiacus, and so are those of such Britons as Cassibelaunus.

I submit that this is, as far as it goes, a reason for limiting rather than extending all such statements as the ones in question. And it is by no means a solitary one. A statement of Strabo confirms it:—"The Aquitanians are wholly different"[68] (i.e., from the other Gauls) "not only in language, but in their bodies,—wherein they are more like the Iberians than the Gauls. The rest are Gallic in look; but not all alike in language. Some differ a little. Their politics, too, and manners of life differ a little."—Lib. iv. c. 1.

With the external evidence, then, of Strabo, coinciding with the internal evidence derived from the geographical, national, and individual names, it seems illegitimate to infer from the text of Cæsar more than has been suggested.

Unless we believe the Belgæ of Picardy to have been Germans, the second fact stated by Cæsar, viz., the Belgic origin of the south-eastern Britons is comparatively unimportant, since it merely shews that between the Britons of the south-eastern coast, and those of the interior, there were certain points of difference, the former being recent immigrants, and Belgium being the country from which they migrated. Nevertheless, this introduces a difficulty; since, by drawing a distinction between the men of Kent, and the men of the Midland Counties, we are precluded from arguing that the Britons in general belonged to the same class as the Gauls; inasmuch as Cæsar's description may fairly be said to apply to the Belgic Britons only.

I think, myself, that Cæsar's statement must[69] be taken as an inference rather than as evidence; in other words, he must not be considered to say that certain Attrebates and Belgæ crossed the Straits of Dover and settled in Britain, but that, as certain portions both of Belgium and Britain bore the same names, a migration had taken place; such being the explanation of the coincidence. Or, if we suppose Cæsar himself to have been too acute a reasoner to confound a conclusion with a fact (as, perhaps, he was), we may attribute the inference to his informants. Whoever is in the habit of sifting ethnological evidence, is well aware that a confusion of kind in question is one of the commonest of the difficulties he must deal with.

At the same time, that there were some actual Belgæ in Britain is likely enough; but that they were a separate substantive population, of sufficient magnitude to be found in all the parts of Britain where Belgic names occurred, and still more that they were Germans, is an unsafe inference; safe, perhaps, if the two texts of Cæsar stood alone, but unsafe, if we take into consideration the numerous facts, statements, and presumptions which complicate and oppose them.

The Belgic names themselves, which occurred in Britain, were as follows:—

a. Attrebates.—There were Attrebates both in Belgium and Britain; the Gaelic ones in Artois,[70] which is only Attrebates in a modern form. Considerable importance attaches to the fact, that before Cæsar visited Britain in person, he sent Commius, the Attrebatian, before him. Now, this Commius was first conquered by Cæsar, and afterwards set up as a king over the Morini. That Commius gave much of his information about Britain to Cæsar is likely; perhaps he was his chief informant. He, too, it was who, knowing the existence of Attrebates in Britain, probably drew the inference which has been so lately suggested, viz., that of a Belgæ migration, or a series of them. Yet the Attrebates of Britain were so far from being on the coast, that they must have lain west of London, in Berkshire and Wilts; since Cæsar, who advanced, at least, as far as Chertsey, where he crossed the Thames, meets nothing but Cantii, Trinobantes, Cenimagni, Segontiaci, Ancalites, Bibroci and Cassi. It is Ptolemy who first mentions the British Attrebatii; and he places them between the Dobuni and the Cantii. Now, as the Dobuni lay due west of the Silures of South Wales, we cannot bring the Attrebatii nearer the coast than Windsor.

b. The Belgæ.—These—like the Attrebatii, first mentioned by Ptolemy—are placed south of the Dobuni, and on the sea-coast between the Cantii and Damnonii of Devonshire; so that Sussex,[71] Hants, and Dorset, may be given them as their area.

c. The Remi are mentioned by no better an authority than Richard of Cirencester, as Bibroci under another name.

d. The Durotriges, too, or people of Dor-set, are stated by the same authority to have been called Morini.

e. f. In Ireland we have two populations with German names; the Menapii and the Chauci, both in the parts about Dublin, and in the neighbourhood of one another. And these are mentioned by Ptolemy.

Now, whatever these Belgic names prove, they do not prove Cæsar's statement that it was the maritime parts of Britain which were Belgic; since the Menapii and Chauci must have been wholly unknown to him, and the Attrebatii lay inland.

At the same time, they prove something. They also introduce difficulties in the very simple view that Britain was solely and exclusively British. This leads to a further consideration of the details. The Remi may be disposed of first. They stand on bad authority, viz., that of a monk of the twelfth century.

So may the Morini. Though I admit the ingenuity and soundness of the doctrine that the existence of a double nomenclature such as that[72] by which the Durotriges are called Morini, and the Morini, Durotriges, is well explained by the assumption of a second language, and the notion that the inhabitants of certain districts were sometimes called by a British, sometimes by a German, name, the hypothesis is not valid where the facts can be more easily explained otherwise. No one would thus explain such words as Lowlander and Borderer applied to the people of the Cheviot Hills. Yet both are current; one being given when their relation to England, the other when their difference from the Highland Gaels, is expressed.

Now, it so happens that Morini and Durotriges are words that can as little be considered as synonymous terms belonging to different languages as Lowlander and Borderer; since good reasons can be given for referring them both to the Keltic. Their exact import is difficult to ascertain; but if we suppose them to mean coasters and watersidemen, respectively, we get a clear view of the unlikelihood of one being German and the other Keltic. Thus—

Duro-triges coincides with the Latin compound ponticolæ, since dwr in Welsh, Cornish, and Armorican means water, and trigau means to remain or to inhabit; trig-adiad denoting dwellers, or inhabitants, as is well remarked by Prichard, v. iii. 128.[73]

Môr, in Morini, is neither more nor less than the Latin word mare.[6] Surely this sets aside all arguments drawn from the supposed bilingual character of the words Morini and Durotriges.

The Cauci and Menapii of Ireland tell a different[74] tale. One name without the other would prove but little; but when we find Cauci in Germany not far from Menapii, and Menapii in Ireland not far from Chauci, the case becomes strengthened. Yet the likelihood of Menap, being the same word as the Menai of the Menai Straits in Wales, suggests the probability of that word being a geographical term. Nevertheless, the contiguity of the two nations is an argument as far as it goes.

And here I must remark, that the process by which words originally very different may become identified when they pass into a fresh language is not sufficiently attended to. Cauci is the form which an Irish, Chauci that which a German, word takes in Latin. And the two words are alike. Yet it is far from certain that they would be thus similar if we knew either the Gaelic original of one, or the German of the other. A dozen forms exceedingly different might be excogitated, which, provided that they all agreed in being strange to a Roman, would, when moulded into a Latin form, become alike. Still the argument, as far as it goes, is valid.

Such are the reasons for believing, at one and the same time, that the Britons came from Belgic Gaul, and that the Belgæ from whence they came were Kelts.

We cannot, however, so far consider the origin[75] of the British branch of the Keltic stock to be disposed of, as to proceed forthwith to the Gaelic; another population requires a previous notice. This is the Pict.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] These are the exact words of one of the ablest supporters of the Germanic origin of the south-eastern Britons, Mr. E. Adams, in a paper entitled, "Remarks on the probability of Gothic Settlements in Britain Previously to A.D. 450."—Philological Transactions, No. ciii.

[6] This root is important. As it means sea in more European languages than one, it has created a philological difficulty in the case of a very interesting gloss, Mori-marusa, meaning dead sea; where by a strange coincidence the same consonants (m-r) are repeated, but with a difference of meaning.

Prichard, who drew attention to this remarkable compound, having stated that a passage in Pliny informed us that the Cimbri called the sea in their neighbourhood Mori-marusa, inferred that the name was Cimbric; and further argued, that as mor mawth in Welsh meant the same, the Cimbric tongue was Welsh, Cambrian, or British. As far as it went the inference was truly legitimate; but the reasoning which led to it was deficient. The likelihood of there being more languages than one wherein both mor meant sea, and mor meant dead, was overlooked; though one of the languages that supplied the coincidence was the Latin—mare mort-uum.

Another such a tongue was the Slavonic; and to that tongue I imagine Morimarusa to be referrible. I also imagine that by the Cimbri of Pliny were meant the Cimmerii; so that the Sea of Azof was the true Dead Sea; or, perhaps, the Propontis; in which case its present name, the Sea of Marmora, is explained.

The name of the Province, Ar-mor-ica, means the country on the sea, and if rendered in Latin would be ad mare. Ar-gail is such another word; and it was the name of the landing-place of the Gael=ad Gallos.

To the Gaelic Ar-mor-ica, the Slavonians have an exact parallel in the word Po-mor-ania; where po means on, and mor the sea.


[76]

CHAPTER IV.

THE PICTS.—LIST OF KINGS.—PENN FAHEL.—ABER AND INVER.—THE PICTS PROBABLY, BUT NOT CERTAINLY, BRITONS.

The Picts have never been considered Romans; but, with that exception, a relationship with every population of the British Isles has been claimed for them. As Germans on the strength of Tacitus' description of their physical conformation of the Caledonian, and as Germans on the strength of the supposed Germanic origin of the Belgæ, the Picts have been held the ancestors of the present Lowland Scotch. They have been considered Scandinavians also. On the other hand, they have been made Gaels, in which case it is the Highlanders who are their offspring. They have been considered Britons, and they have been considered a separate stock.

That they were Kelts rather than Germans is the commonest doctrine, and that they were Britons rather than Gaels is a common one; the arguments that prove the latter proving the first a fortiori.

We approach the subject with a notice of the Irish missionary St. Columbanus, whose native tongue was, of course, the Irish Gaelic. This was[77] unintelligible to the Northern Picts, as is expressly stated on in Adammanus:—"Alio in tempore quo Sanctus Columba in Pictorum provincia per aliquot demorabatur dies, quidam cum tota plebeius familia, verbum vitæ per interpretatorem, Sancto prædicante viro, audiens credidit, credensque baptizatus est."—Adamn. ap. Colganum. l. ii. c. 32.

This, however, only shews that the Pict was not exactly and absolutely Irish. It might have approached it. It might also be far more unlike than the Welsh was.

A document known as the Colbertine MS., from being published from the Colbertine Library, contains a list of Pictish kings. This has been analysed by Innes and Garnett; and the result is, that two names only are more Gaelic in their form than Welsh—viz., Cineod or Kenneth, and Domhnall or Donnell. The rest are either absolutely contrary to what they would be if they were Gaelic, or else British rather than aught else. Thus, the Welsh Gurgust appears in the Irish Annal as Fergus, or vice versâ. Now the Pict form of this name is Wrgwst, with a final T, and without an initial F. Elpin, Drust, Drostan, Wrad, and Necton are close and undoubted Pict equivalents to the Welsh names Owen, Trwst, Trwstan (Tristram), Gwriad, and Nwython.[78]

The readers of the Antiquary well know the prominence given to the only two common terms of the Pict language in existence pen val, or as it appears in the oldest MSS. of Beda peann fahel. This is the head of the wall, or caput vall, being the eastern extremity (there or thereabouts) of the Vallum of Antoninus. Now the present Welsh form for head is pen; the Gaelic cean. Which way the likeness lies here, is evident. For the fahel (or val) the case is less clear. The Gaelic form is fhail, the Welsh gwall; the Gaelic being the nearest.

But some collateral evidence on this subject more than meets the difficulty. "In the Durham MSS. of Nennius, apparently written in the twelfth century, there is an interpolated passage, stating that the spot in question was in the Scottish or Gaelic language called Cenail. Innes and others have remarked the resemblance between this appellation and the present Kinneil; but no one appears to have noticed that Cenail accurately represents the pronunciation of the Gaelic cean fhail, literally head of wall, f being quiescent in construction. A remarkable instance of the same suppression occurs in Athole, as now written, compared with the Ath-fothla of the Irish annalists. Supposing, then, that Cenail was substituted for peann fahel by the Gaelic conquerors of the district, it would follow that the older appellation[79] was not Gaelic, and the inference would be obvious."[7]

In thus making pen val a Pict gloss, I by no means imagine that any of the three forms were originally Keltic at all; since val, gwal, fhail all seem variations of the Roman vallum, at least, in respect to their immediate origin. Still, if out of three languages, adopting the same word, each gives a different form, the variation which results is as much a gloss of the tongue wherein it occurs, as if the word were indigenous. Hence, whether we say that pen val are Pict glosses, or that pen is a Pict gloss, and val a Pict form is a matter of practical indifference.

The Vallum Antonini was a work of man's hands, and its name is of less value than those of natural objects, such as mountains, rivers, or lakes. Nevertheless, these latter have been examined: thus the Ochel Hills in Perthshire are better explained by the Welsh form uchel than by the Gaelic nasal. But the most important word of all is the first element of the words Aber-nethy, and Inver-nethy. Both mean the same, i.e., the confluence of waters, or something very much of the sort. Both enter freely into composition, and the compounds thus formed are found over the greater part of the British Isles as the names of the mouths of the larger and more important[80] rivers. But it is only a few districts where the two names occur together. Just as we expect a priori aber occurs when inver is not to be found, and vice versâ. Of the two extremes Ireland is the area where aber, Wales where inver is the rarer of the two forms; indeed so rare are they that the one (aber) rarely, if ever, occurs in Ireland, the other (inver) rarely, if ever, in Wales. Now as Ireland is Gaelic, and Welsh British, the two words may fairly be considered to indicate, where they occur, the presence of these two different tongues respectively.

The distribution of the words in question has long been an instrument of criticism in determining both the ethnological position of the Pict nation, and its territorial extent; and the details are well given in the following table of Mr. Kemble's:

"If we now take a good map of England and Wales and Scotland, we shall find the following data:—

"In Wales:

"In Scotland:

"The line of separation then between the Welsh or Pictish, and the Scotch or Irish, Kelts, if measured by the occurrence of these names, would run obliquely from S.W. to N.E., straight up Loch Fyne, following nearly the boundary between Perthshire and Argyle, trending to the N.E. along the present boundary between Perth and Inverness, Aberdeen and Inverness, Banf and Elgin, till about the mouth of the river Spey. The boundary between the Picts and English may have been much less settled, but it probably ran from Dumbarton, along the upper edge of Renfrewshire, Lanark and Linlithgow till about Abercorn, that is along the line of the Clyde to the Frith of Forth."[8]

It cannot be denied that, in the present state of our knowledge, the inference from the preceding[82] table is that, whether Pict or not, more than two-thirds of Scotland exhibit signs of British rather than Gaelic occupancy.

This is as much as can be said at present: for it must be added that all the previous criticism has proceeded upon the notion that PENN FAHEL, &c., are Pict words. What, however, if they be Pict only in the way that man, woman, &c., are Welsh; i.e., words used by a population within the Pict area, but not actually Pict? The refinement upon the opinion suggested by the present chapter, which arises out of the view, will be noticed after certain other questions have been dealt with.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] Mr. Garnett, Philological Transactions, No. II.

[8] Saxons in England.—Vol. ii. pp. 4, 5.


[83]

CHAPTER V.

ORIGIN OF THE GAELS.—DIFFICULTIES OF ITS INVESTIGATION.—NOT ELUCIDATED BY ANY RECORDS, NOR YET BY TRADITIONS.—ARGUMENTS FROM THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BRITISH AND GAELIC LANGUAGES.—THE BRITISH LANGUAGE SPOKEN IN GAUL.—THE GAELIC NOT KNOWN TO BE SPOKEN IN ANY PART OF THE CONTINENT.—LHUYD'S DOCTRINE.—THE HIBERNIAN HYPOTHESIS.—THE CALEDONIAN HYPOTHESIS.—POSTULATES.

The origin of the Britons has been a question of no great difficulty. They could not well have come from the west, because Britain lies almost on the extremity of the ancient world; so we look towards the continent of Europe, and find, exactly opposite to the Britons, the Gauls, speaking a mutually intelligible language. On this we rest, just pausing for a short time to dispose of one or two refinements on the natural inference.

But if no such language as that of the ancient Gauls, a language closely akin to the British, had been discovered, the ethnologist would have been put to straits; indeed, he would have had to be satisfied with saying that Gaul was the likeliest part of Europe for the Britons to have come from. No more. A strong presumption is all he would have obtained. The similarity, however, of the languages has helped him.

Now the difficulty which has just been noticed[84] as a possible one in the investigation of the origin of the Britons, is a real one in the case of the Gaels. The exact parallel to the Gaelic language cannot be found on any part of the continent. Hence, whilst the British branch of the Keltic is found in both England and Gaul,—on the continent as well as in the Islands,—the Gaelic is limited to the British Isles exclusively. Neither in Gaul itself, nor the parts either north or south of Gaul can any member of the Gaelic branch be found.

Even within the British Islands the Gaelic is limited in its distribution. There is no British in Ireland, and no Gaelic in South Britain. In Scotland both the tongues occur, the Gaelic being spoken north of the British. Now this position of the Gaelic to the west and north of the British increases the difficulty—since it is cut off from all connexion with the continent, and unrepresented by any continental tongue.

The history, then, of the Gaels is that of an isolated branch of the Keltic stock; and it is this isolation which creates the difficulties of their ethnology. No historical records throw any light upon their origin—a statement which the most sanguine investigator must admit. But tradition, perhaps, is less uncommunicative. Many investigators believe this. For my own part I should only be glad to be able to do so. As[85] it is, however, the arguments of the present chapter will proceed as if the whole legendary history of Ireland and Scotland, so far as it relates to the migrations by which the islands were originally peopled by the Gaels, were a blank—the reasons for the scepticism being withheld for the present. But only for the present. In the seventh chapter they will be given as fully as space allows.

The present arguments rest wholly upon a fact of which the importance has more than once been foreshadowed already, and which the reader anticipates. Let us say, for the sake of illustration, that the British and Gaelic differ from each other as the Latin and Greek. The parallel is a rough one, but it will suffice as the basis of some criticism.

Languages thus related cannot be in the relation of mother and daughter, i.e., the one cannot be derived from the other, as the English is from the Anglo-Saxon, or the Italian from the Latin. The true connexion is different. It is that of brother and sister, rather than of parent and child. The actual source is some common mother-tongue; a mother-tongue which may become extinct after the evolution of its progeny. Hence, in the particular case before us, the Gaelic and British must have developed themselves, each independently of the other, out of some common[86] form of speech. And the development must have taken place within the British Islands; the doctrine being that out of a language which at some remote period was neither British nor Gaelic, but which contained the germs of both, the western form of speech took one form, the southern another—the results being in the one case the British, in the other the Gaelic, tongue.

But that common mother-tongue at the remote period in question, the period of the earliest occupancy of Britain, must have been spoken on both sides of the Channel—in Gaul as well as the British Islands. And here (i.e., in Gaul) it may have done one of two things. It may have remained unaltered; or, it may have undergone change. Now in either case it would be different from both the Gaelic and the British. In the former alternative it would have been stereotyped as it were, and so have preserved its original characters, whilst the Gaelic and British had adopted new ones. In the latter it would have altered itself after its own peculiar fashion; and those very peculiarities would have made it other than British as well as other than Gaelic. Yet what is the fact? The ancient language of Gaul, though as unlike the Gaelic as a separate and independent development was likely to make it, was not unlike the British. On the contrary,[87] it was sufficiently like it to be intelligible to a Briton. Now I hold this similarity to be conclusive against the doctrine that the British and Gaelic languages were developed out of some common mother-tongue within the British Islands. Had they been so the dialects of Gaul would have been far more unlike the British than they were.

The British then, at least, did not acquire its British character in Britain, but on the continent; and it was introduced into England as a language previously formed in Gaul.

For the Gaelic there is no such necessity for a continental origin; indeed at the first view, the probabilities are in favour of its having originated in Britain. It cannot be found on the continent; and, such being the case, its continental origin is hypothetical. One thing, however, is certain, viz., that if the Gaelic were once the only language of the British Isles, the conquests and encroachments of the Britons who displaced it, must have been enormous. In the whole of South Britain it must certainly have been superseded, and in half Scotland as well: whilst, if, before its introduction into Great Britain, it were spoken on any part of the continent, the displacement must have been greater still.

Now, the hypothesis as to the origin of the Gaels may take numerous forms. I indicate the following three.[88]

1. The first may be called Lhuyd's doctrine, since Humphrey Lhuyd, one of the best of our earlier archæologists, suggested it. Mr. Garnett has spoken of it with respect; but he evidently hesitates to admit it. And it is only with respect that it should be mentioned; for, it is highly probable. It makes the original population of all the British Isles—England as well as Scotland and Ireland—to have been Gaelic, Gaelic to the exclusion of any Britons whatever. It makes a considerable part of the continent Gaelic as well. In consequence of this, the Britons are a later and intrusive population, a population which effected a great and complete displacement of the earlier Gaels over the whole of South Britain, and the southern part of Scotland. Except that they were a branch of the same stock as the Gaels, their relation to the aborigines was that of the Anglo-Saxons to themselves at a later period. The Gaels first; then the Britons; lastly the Angles. Such is the sequence. The general distribution of these two branches of the Keltic stock leads to Lhuyd's hypothesis; in other words, the presumptions are in its favour. But this is not all. There are certainly some words—the names, of course, of geographical objects—to be found in both England and Gaul, which are better explained by the Gaelic than the British language. The most[89] notable of these is the names of such rivers as the Exe, Axe, and (perhaps) Ouse, which is better illustrated by the Irish term uisge (whiskey, water), than by any Welsh or Armorican one.

2. The second doctrine may be called the Hibernian hypothesis. It allows to the Britons of England, and South Scotland any amount of antiquity, making them aboriginal to Great Britain. The Gaels of the Scottish Highlands it derives from Ireland; a view supported by a passage in Beda.[9] Ireland is thus the earliest insular occupancy of the Gael. But whence came they to Ireland? From some part south and west of the oldest known south-western limits of the Keltic area, from Spain, perhaps; in which case a subsequent displacement of the original Kelts of the continent by the Iberians—the oldest known stock of the Peninsula—must be assumed. But as there must be some assumptions somewhere, the only question is as to its legitimacy.

3. The third hypothesis—the Caledonian—reverses the second, and deduces the Irish Gaels from Scotland, and the Scotch Gaels from some part north of the oldest known Keltic boundary and in the direction of Scandinavia. Like both the others, this involves a subsequent displacement of the mother-stock.

FOOTNOTES:

[9] See Chapter viii.


[90]

CHAPTER VI.

ROMAN INFLUENCES.—AGRICOLA.—THE WALLS AND RAMPARTS OF ADRIAN, ANTONINUS, AND SEVERUS.—BONOSUS.—CARAUSIUS.—THE CONSTANTIAN FAMILY.—FRANKS AND ALEMANNI IN BRITAIN.—FOREIGN ELEMENTS IN THE ROMAN LEGIONS.

The steady and continuous operation of Roman influences may be said to begin in the reign of Claudius, A.D. 43; the sceptre of Cynobelin having passed into the hands of his sons. Against these, and against the other princes of Britain, such as Caradoc (Caractacus) and Cartismandua, the active commanders Aulus Plautius and Ostorius Scapula are employed. Three lines diverging from the parts about London give us the direction of their conquests. One running along the valley of the Thames takes us to the Dobuni of Gloucestershire, and the Silures of South Wales; both of which are specially enumerated as subdued populations. The other, almost at right angles with the last, gives us the operations against the town of Camelodunum in Essex, the Iceni who afterwards revolted, and the Brigantes of Yorkshire. The third is indicated by Paulinus' campaigns in North Wales, and his bloody deeds in the Isle of Anglesey, a line of conquest which probably arose out of the reduction of the midland counties[91] of Northampton, Leicester, Derby, Stafford, and Shropshire. I do not say that these give us the actual movements of the Roman army. They serve, however, to note the points where the special evidence of Roman occupation is most definite.

In the reign of Vespasian the conquests were not only consolidated but extended. Agricola builds his line of forts from the Forth to the Clyde, and penetrates as far north as the Grampians. Whether the warriors whom he here met under Galgacus were Britons, like those whom he had seen in the south, or Gaels, is a matter which will be considered hereafter; but he fought against them with foreign as well as with Roman soldiers. The German Usipii formed one, if not more, of his cohorts; a circumstance which shews what will be illustrated, with fuller details, in the sequel, viz., that the Roman conquerors of Britain were far from being exclusively Roman. The Usipii, however, are the first non-Roman soldiers mentioned by name. On the west coast of Britain, Agricola had to deal with the pirates from Ireland—undoubted Gaels whatever the warriors of the Grampians may have been.

Roman civilization took root rapidly in Britain, though in a bad form. The early existence of lawyers and money-lenders shew this. During the reign of Domitian the advocates of Britain were[92] known to the satirists of Rome; and, as early as that of Nero, the calling-in of a loan by the philosopher Seneca helped to create the great revolt under Boadicea. But except in respect to the use of the Roman language, it is doubtful whether the culture was much different from that which had developed itself under Cynobelin—a civilization which though being due, in a great degree, to Gaul, was also, more or less indirectly, Roman as well; but, nevertheless, a civilization which was unattended with any loss of nationality.

The rampart from the mouth of the Tyne to the Solway is referred to the reign of Adrian; the conversion of Agricola's line of forts into a continuous wall to that of Aurelius Antoninus. These boundaries give us two areas. North of the Antonine frontier the Roman power was never consolidated, although the eastern half was occasionally traversed by active commanders like the Emperor Severus. It was the county of the Caledonians and Mæatæ.

Between the frontier of Agricola and the rampart of Adrian, the occupation was less incomplete. Incomplete, however, it was; even when, in the fourth century, it was made a province by Theodosius, and in honour of the Emperor of Valens, called Valentia. A.D. 211, Severus, after strengthening the Antonine fortifications, dies at[93] York; his reign being an epoch of some importance in the history of Roman Britain. In the first place, it is only up to this reign that our authorities are at all satisfactory. Cæsar, Tacitus, and Dio Cassius, have hitherto been our guides. For the next eighty years, however, we shall find no cotemporary historian at all, and when our authorities begin again, the first will be one of the worthless writers of the Panegyrics. In the next place, the great divisions of the Britannic populations have hitherto been but two—the Britons proper and the Caledonians. The next class of writers will complicate the ethnology by speaking of the Picts. The chief change, however, is that in the British population itself. The contest, except on the Welsh and Scotch frontiers, is no longer between the Roman invader and the British native; but between Britain as a Romano-Britannic province, and Rome as the centre and head of the empire: in other words, the quarrels with the mother-country replace the wars against the aborigines. This, however, is part of the civil history of Rome, rather than the natural history of Britain. The contests of Albinus against Severus, and of Proculus and Bonosus against Probus, are the earliest instances of the attempts upon the Imperial Purple from these quarters; attempts which give us the measure of the extent to[94] which the island was Roman rather than Keltic—at least in respect to its political history.

Bonosus, himself, had British blood in his veins although born in Spain, for his mother was a Gaul; but as he is called "Briton in origin," we may infer that his father was from our own island. Probus allowed the Britons the privilege of growing vines and of making wine.

In the last ten years of the third century events thicken. The revolt of Carausius, the assumption of the empire by Allectus, and the adoption of Constantius Chlorus by Diocletian as Cæsar, are events of ethnological as well as political influence. This they are, because they indicate either the introduction of foreign elements into Britain, or the infusion of British blood in other quarters. Carausius, for instance, was a Menapian, and he is not likely to have been the only one of his times. The Constantian family, I believe, to have been more British than even the usual opinion makes them.

A little consideration will tell us that the three names of this important pedigree—Constans, Constantius, and Constantinus, have no etymological connexion with the substantive Constantia; in other words, that Constans does not mean the constant Man, just as prudens means the prudent, or sapiens the wise. No[95] such signification will account for the forms in -ius and -inus. To this it may be added that the family was of foreign extraction, as were the families of nearly half the later emperors. The name, I believe, was foreign also. If so, it was most probably Keltic; since con, both as a simple single term, and as an element of compounds is a common Keltic proper name. The only fact against this view is the descent of the first of the three emperors—Constantius. He was not born in either Gaul or Britain. On the contrary, his father was a high official in the Diocese of Illyricum, and his mother, a niece of the Emperor Claudius;[10] circumstances which, at the first view, seem to contradict the inference from the name. They do so, however, in appearance only. The most unlikely man to have been high in office in Illyricum was a native Illyrian; for it was the policy of Rome to put Kelts in the Slavonic, and Slavonians in the Keltic, provinces; just as, at the present moment, Russia places Finn regiments in the Caucasus, and Caucasian in Finland. If this view be correct, a Keltic name is evidence, as far as it goes, of Keltic blood.

In the next generation we have to deal with both historical facts and traditions connected with the pedigree of Constantine the Great. That he was born in Britain, and that his[96] mother was of low origin, are the historical facts; that she was the daughter of King Coel of Colchester is the tradition. The latter is of any amount of worthlessness, and no stress is laid upon it. The former are considered confirmatory of the present view. The chief support, however, lies in the British character of the name.

In the Panegyric of Mamertinus on the Emperor Maximian, one of the Augusti, who shared the imperial power with Diocletian, we have the first mention of the Picts. Worthless as the Panegyrists are when we want specific facts, they have the great merit of being cotemporary to the events they allude to; for allusions of a tantalizing and unsatisfactory character is all we get from them. However, Mamertinus is the first writer who mentions the Picts, and he does it in his notice of the revolt of Carausius.

More important than this is a passage which gives us an army of Frank mercenaries in the City of London, as early as A.D. 290—there or thereabouts. It is a passage of which too little notice has, hitherto, been taken—"By so thorough a consent of the Immortal Gods, O unconquered Cæsar, has the extermination of all the enemies, whom you have attacked, and of the Franks more especially, been decreed, that even those of your soldiers, who, having missed their way on a[97] foggy sea, reached the town of London, destroyed promiscuously and throughout the city the whole remains of that mercenary multitude of barbarians, that, after escaping the battle, sacking the town, and, attempting flight, was still left—a deed, whereby your provincials were not only saved, but delighted by the sight of the slaughter."

One German tribe, then at least, has set its foot on the land of Britain as early as the reign of Diocletian; and that as enemies. How far their settlement was permanent, and how far the particular section of them, mentioned by Mamertinus, represented the whole of the invasion, is uncertain. The paramount fact is the existence of hostile Franks in Middlesex nearly 200 years before the epoch of Hengist.

Were there Saxons as well? This is a question for the sequel. At present, I remark, that Mamertinus mentions them by name but without placing them on the soil of Britain. They merely vexed the British Seas.

Were there any other Germans? Aurelius Victor suggests that there were. A.D. 306, Constantius dies at York, and Constantine, his son, "assisted by all who were about, but especially by Eroc, King of the Alemanni, assumes the empire." Now Eroc had accompanied Constantius as an ally (auxilii gratii); so that there were Alemanni[98] in Yorkshire, as well as Franks in Middlesex, with powers, more or less, approaching those of independent populations; at any rate, in a different position from the mere legionary Germans, of whom further notice will soon be taken.

In Julian's reign the Picts, Scots, and Attacotti harass the South Britons. This is on the cotemporary and unexceptionable evidence of Ammianus Marcellinus. And the same cotemporary and unexceptionable evidence adds the Saxons to his list of devastators—"Picti, Saxonesque, et Scoti, et Attacotti Britannos ærumnis vexavere continuis." Mark the word continuis.

The Alemanni of Britain are noticed by the same writer in a passage which must be taken along with the notice of the Alemanni under Eroc. "Valentinian placed Fraomarius as king over the Buccinobantes, a nation of the Alemanni, near Mentz. Soon afterwards, however, an attack upon his people devastated their country (pa- gum, gau). He was then translated to Britain, and placed over the Alemanni, at that time flourishing both in numbers and power, as tribune."

We may now ask what foreign elements were introduced into Britain by the Roman legions; since nothing is more certain than that the Roman armies consisted, but in a small degree, of[99] Romans. The Notitia[11] Utriusque Imperii helps us here; indeed it may be that it supplies us with a complete list of the imperial forces in all their ethnological heterogeneousness. Some of the titles of the regiments and companies (alæ, numeri, cohortes) are unexplained: several, however, are taken from the country of the soldiers that composed them.

The list gives us settlers in Britain of Germanic, Gallic, Iberic, Slavonic, Aramaic, and Berber extraction.

GERMANS.

Tungricani.—Either soldiers who had distinguished themselves in the parts about Tongres, or true Tungrian Germans, under a Præpositus, and stationed at Dubris (Dover).

Tungri.—True Tungrian Germans. At Borcovicum. A cohort.

Turnacenses.—Either soldiers who had distinguished themselves in the parts about Tournay, or true Tournay Germans, under a Præpositus, and stationed at Lemanus (Lymne).

Batavians.—A cohort stationed at Procolitia.

GAULS.

Nervii.—A numerous cohort under a Prefect at Dictum.[100]

Nervii.—A cohort at Aliona.

Nervii.—A cohort at Virosidum. How far these were Gauls, or, if Gauls, of unmixed blood, is uncertain. During the wars of Cæsar, the brave nation of the Nervians was said to have been exterminated. Such was not the case. Portions of it remained. At the same time, the reduction was so great, and the subsequent influx of Germans from the Lower Rhine was so considerable, that the soldiers in question were, probably, as much Roman and German as Gallic.

Morini.—Gauls from the parts about Calais. A cohort, stationed at Glannobanta.

Galli.—A cohort at Vendolana.

IBERIANS.

Hispani.—A cohort. Stationed at Axellodunum.

SLAVONIANS.

Dalmatæ.—Cavalry. Stationed at Brannodunum.

Dalmatæ.—A cohort, at Præsidum.

Dalmatæ.—A cohort, at Magna.

Daci.—A cohort, at Amboglanna.

Thraces.—A cohort, at Gabrosentum.

Thaifal(?)—Cavalry. Perhaps German, but more probably Slavonians, infamous for the turpitude of their habits.[101]

ARAMÆANS.

Syri.—Cavalry.

BERBERS.

Mauri.—Under a Prefect, at Aballaba.

If we ask what proportion these foreign and miscellaneous elements in the Roman Legions of Britain bore to the true Romans, we wait in vain for an answer. This is because the constitution of the other portions of the army is unknown. Who (for instance) composed the Fortenses, the Stablesiani, the Abulci, and numerous other companies? Perhaps, Romans; in which case the proportion of Syrian, Slavonian, and other non-Roman elements is diminished. Perhaps, Syrians, Slavonians, or Germans; in which case it is increased. That the above-named troops, however, belonged to the ethnological divisions which are denoted by the names, is in the highest degree probable. It is also probable that the list may be increased; thus the Pacenses, the Asti, the Frixagori, and the Lergi, although there are doubts, in every case, about the reading, and still greater about the signification, have reasonably been thought to have been regiments, or companies, named from the localities where they were levied; but, as already stated, these localities are doubtful.

As blood foreign to both the British and Roman was introduced into Britain, so was British[102] blood introduced elsewhere. All the foreign stations of the British troops are not known; but that there was, at least, one in each of the following countries is certain—Illyricum, Egypt, Northern Africa. The history of foreign blood in Britain, and of British blood in foreign countries are counterpart questions.

The lines of Roman road are the best data for ascertaining the parts of our island where the mixture of Roman and foreign blood was greatest: since it is a fair inference that those districts which were the least accessible were the most Keltic. These are North Wales, Cornwall and Devonshire, the Wealds of Sussex and Kent, Lincolnshire, and the district of Craven. On the other hand, the pre-eminently Roman tracts are—

1. The valleys of the Tyne and Solway, or the line of the wall and rampart which divided South Britain from North.

2. The valley of the Ouse, or the parts about York.

3, 4. The valleys of the Thames and Severn.

5. Cheshire and South Lancashire.

6. Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Roman blood, then, in Britain seems to have been inconsiderable, even when we class as Roman everything which was other than British. That the language, however, was chiefly Latin—more[103] or less modified—is what we infer from the analogies of Gaul and Spain. The history, too, of four centuries of civilization and corruption is Roman also. That there was a bodily evacuation of Britain by the Romans, a concealment of treasures, and a migration to Gaul, rests upon no authority earlier than that of the Anglo-Saxon writers, some five centuries later. The country was rather a theatre for usurpers and rebels; none of whom can be shewed to have either left the island, or to have been exterminated by the Anglo-Saxon invasion—an invasion to which, in a future chapter, an earlier date, and a more gradual operation than is usually assigned will be attributed.

FOOTNOTES:

[10] Niebuhr's Lectures, p. iii, 312.

[11] Referred to some time between the reigns of Valens and Honorius.


[104]

CHAPTER VII.

VALUE OF THE EARLY BRITISH RECORDS.—TRUE AND GENUINE TRADITIONS RARE.—GILDAS.—BEDA.—NENNIUS.—ANNALES CAMBRENSES.—DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHRONICLES AND REGISTERS.—ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE.—IRISH ANNALS.—VALUE OF THE ACCOUNTS OF THE FIFTH AND SIXTH CENTURIES.—QUESTIONS TO WHICH THEY APPLY.

Not one word has hitherto been said about the early traditions of either Briton or Gael. No word, either, about their early records. Nothing about the Triads, Aneurin, Taliessin, Llywarch Hen, and Merlin on the side of the Welsh; nothing about the Milesian and other legends of the Irish. Why this silence? Have the preceding investigations been so superabundantly clear as to lead us to dispense with all rays of light except those of the most unexceptionable kind?

It is an unusual piece of good fortune when this happens anywhere; and assuredly it has not happened on British or Irish ground as yet. Or has the evidence of such early records and traditions been incompatible with the doctrines of the previous chapters, and, on the strength of its inconvenience, been kept back? If so, there has been a foul piece of disingenuousness on the part of the writer. But he does not plead guilty to this. He[105] attaches but little weight to the evidence of the early British records; and the contents of the present chapter are intended to justify his depreciation of them.

The writer who asserts that the oldest work in any language is of such antiquity as to be separated from the next oldest by any very long interval—by an interval which leaves a wide chasm between the first and second specimens of the literature which no fragments and no traces of any lost compositions are found to fill up—makes an assertion which he is bound to support by evidence of the most cogent kind. For it is not always enough to shew that no intrinsic objections lie against the antiquity of the work in question. It may be so short, or so general in respect to its subject as to leave no room for contradictory and impossible sentences or expressions. It is not enough to shew that there were no reasons against such a literature being developed; since it is difficult to say what conditions absolutely forbid the production of a work stamped by no very definite characteristics. Nor yet will it suffice to say that the preservation of such a work is probable. All that can be got from all this is a presumption in its favour. The great fact of a work existing without giving this impulse to the production of others like it, and the fact of the same means of preservation being[106] wholly neglected in other instances, still stand over. They are not conclusive against certain positions; but they are circumstances which must be fairly met; circumstances which if one writer overlook, others will not; circumstances which the critic will insist on; and circumstances which, if the dazzle of a paradox, or the appeal to the innate and universal sympathy for antiquity keep them in the background for a while, will, sooner or later, rise against the author who overlooked them.

Neither are arguments from the antiquity of language conclusive. When two works differ from each other in respect to the signs of antiquity exhibited in their phraseology, the inference that the oldest in point of speech is proportionably old in point of time is not the only one. It is an easy thing to say that in the Latin literature the language of Ennius represents a date a hundred years earlier than that of Cicero, and that of Cicero a date 400 earlier than the time of Boethius, and that when we meet elsewhere compositions which differ from each other as the Latin of Ennius does from that of Boethius, there is 500 years difference between them. It is by no means certain that any two languages alter at the same rate.

But an average may be struck, and it may be said that greater antiquity of expression is primâ[107] facie evidence of a greater antiquity of date. It is: but is only so when we are quite sure that the dialects of the two specimens are the same. There are works printed this very year in Iceland which, if their dates were unknown, would pass for being a hundred years older than the Swedish of the eleventh century.

It is only when the supporter of the authenticity of a work of singular and unique antiquity can begin with an epoch of comparatively recent date, and argue backwards through a series of continuous works, each older than the other, to one still older than any, that he can reasonably accuse the critic who demurs to his deductions of captiousness. In this way the antiquity of the oldest Chinese annals is invalidated: in this way the date of the Indian Vedas (1400 B.C.). But the great classical literatures stand the test, and from the present time to Claudian, from Claudian to Ennius, and from Ennius to Archilochus we trace a classical literature with all its works in continuity; each pointing to some one older than itself. Even this forbids an excessive antiquity to Homer.

Again—the likelihood of forgery must be continually kept in mind; so much so, that even in the unexceptionable literature of the classics, if it could be shewn that any age between the present and the eighth century B.C., were an age in[108] which the Greek drama, the Greek epics, the Greek histories, or the Greek orations could be forged, a great deal would be subtracted from the proofs of their antiquity. I do not say that it would set them aside; because everything of this kind is a question of degree; but the argument in their favour would be less exceptionable than it is.

For it cannot be too strongly urged that the preservation of records of high antiquity, in and of itself, is naturally and essentially improbable. More than half of the antiquities of the world have been lost; and this alone gives us the odds against an instance of survivorship. This has been insisted on by more than one archæologist—more cautious and candid than the majority of his brotherhood. Whoever doubts this should look around him. How few nations have a literature! How thoroughly is the non-development of a permanent literature the exception rather than the rule! And, even when records come into existence, how numerous are the chances against their preservation. Destruction is the common law: continuance a happy rarity. For extraordinary phenomena we must have extraordinary proofs.

From the present time to the eleventh century we may trace the native Welsh literature continuously; but no farther. If any thing be older than the laws of Hoel Dhu, they must be[109] so by four centuries, with nothing in the interval. This is the measure of the value of Welsh evidence to the events of the fifth century. Writers, however, in Latin existed earlier. Still, this is unsufficient to be conclusive to the validity of a fact in the fourth. Such a statement must be tested by its own intrinsic probability. It cannot come before us invested with the dignity of a historically authenticated event. What this is will soon appear.

If this be the spirit in which we must scrutinize documentary evidence, with what eyes must we look upon traditions—traditions wherein the record, instead of being permanently registered, is transmitted from mouth to mouth, from father to son, from the old man to the young, from generation to generation? The mere etymological import of the word will mislead us. It is not enough for a thing to have been handed down from father to son. A relic may be so transmitted; indeed, written papers and printed books are traditions of this kind. Heirlooms of any sort—whether belonging to a nation or an individual—are such traditions as these.

In a true tradition we must consider the form and the origin. A narrative which has taken a definite shape, either as a formula or a poem, can scarcely be called a tradition. It is a specimen[110] of composition handed down by tradition, but not a tradition itself. It is an unwritten record—as much a record in form and nature as a written document, but differing from a written document in the manner of its transmission to posterity. Many a good judge believes that the Homeric poems are older than the art of writing, and, consequently, that they were handed down to posterity orally. Yet no one would say that the Iliad and Odyssey were Greek traditions.

The fact of a narrative having taken a permanent form, inasmuch as that permanent form both facilitates its transmission, and ensures its integrity, distinguishes an unwritten record from a tradition.

A true account of a real event transmitted from father to son in no set form of words, but told in a way that a nursery tale is told to children, or the way in which a piece of evidence is given in a court of justice, constitutes a tradition; for in this form only is it liable to those elements of uncertainty which distinguish tradition from history—elements which we must recognize, if we wish to be precise in our language.

Such is its form, or rather its want of form. But this is not enough. A tradition, to be anything at all, must have a basis in fact, and represent a real action, either accurately described or[111] but moderately misrepresented. I say moderately misrepresented, because the absolute transmission of anything beyond a mere list of names, and dates, without addition, omission, or embellishment, is a practical impossibility. Hence we must allow for some inaccuracy; just as in mechanics we must allow for friction. But, allowing for this, we must still remember that the event and the account of it, are correlative terms. An opinion—an account of an account—only takes the appearance of a tradition. It is a tradition so far as it is handed down to posterity, but it is no tradition with corresponding facts as a basis.

It is generally a theory—a theory, perhaps unconsciously formed, but still a theory. Certain phenomena, of which there is no historical explanation, excite the notice of some one less incurious than his fellows, and he attempts to account for them. On the two opposite coasts of a sea—for instance—two populations with the same manners and language, are observed to reside. A migration will account for this; and, consequently, a migration is assumed. The view, being reasonable, is generally adopted; and the fact of a migration having absolutely taken place becomes the current belief. The men who speak of this in the fourth or fifth generation, speak of it as an actual occurrence. So, perhaps, it is. But it is no tradition notwithstanding; since the record cannot[112] be traced up to the event. All that posterity has had handed-down from its ancestors, is an inference; which, even if it be as good as the historical account of an absolute event (as it sometimes is), is anything but a tradition in the strict sense of the term. Of course, the existence of the inference itself can be reduced to a fact, and, as such, produce a tradition. But this is not the tradition which is wanted—not the tradition which gives the fact in question.

These ex post facto traditions may be of any amount of value, or of any degree of worthlessness. They may be inferences of such accuracy and justice as to command the respect of the most critical; or they may involve impossibilities. The extremes are the best; the former for their intrinsic value, the latter from their unlikelihood to mislead. The most dangerous are the intermediate. Possibly, plausible, or, at any rate, without any outward and visible marks of condemnation—

"They lie like truth, and yet most truly lie."

What proportion do these ex post facto traditions bear to the true ones? This is difficult to say. A nickname, a genealogy, a tune may well be transmitted by tradition. So may charms, formulæ, proverbs, and poems; yet when we come to proverbs and poems we are on the domain[113] of unwritten literature, a domain which can scarcely be identified with that of tradition. A local legend, when it is not too suspiciously adapted to the features of the place to which it applies, may also be admitted as traditional. These and but little beyond. Men rarely think about transmitting narratives until it is too late for an authentic account.

On the other hand, the very mental activity which employs itself upon the attempt to account for an unexplained phenomenon is a sign of attention; and where there is the attention to speculate, there is likely to be the desire to transmit. If so, it is probable that the proportion of transmitted speculations to true traditions is immeasurably large. But there is an other reason for ignoring the so-called traditions. When there is a tradition, and a true historical record as well, the tradition is superfluous. When a tradition stands alone, there is nothing to confirm it. What can we do then? To assume the fact from the truth of the tradition, and the truth of the tradition from the existence of the fact, is to argue in a circle. Two independent traditions, however, may confirm each other. When this happens the case is improved; but, even then, they may be but similar inferences from the same premises.

If, then, I allow no inference which I feel myself[114] justified in drawing to be disturbed by any so-called tradition; and, if instead of seeing in the accounts of our early writers a narrative transmitted by word of mouth in lieu of a record registered in writing, I deal with such apparent narratives as if they were the inferences of some later chronicler, I must not be accused of undue presumption. The statements will still be treated with respect, the more so, perhaps, because they rest on induction rather than testimony; and, as a general rule, they will be credited with the merit of being founded on just premises, even where those premises do not appear. In other words, every writer will be thought logical until there are reasons for suspecting the contrary. For a true and genuine tradition, however, I have so long sought in vain, that I despair of ever finding one. If found, it would be duly appreciated. On the other hand, by treating their counterfeits as inferences, we improve our position as investigators. A fact we must take as it is told us, and take it without any opportunity of correction—all or none; whereas, an inference can be scrutinized and amended. In the one case we receive instructions from which we are forbidden to deviate; in the other we act as judges, with a power to pronounce decisions. Nor does it unfrequently happen that our position in this respect is better[115] than that of the original writer; since, however, many may be the facts which he may have had for his opinion beyond those which he has transmitted to posterity, there are others of which he must have been ignorant, and with which we are familiar. Changing the expression, where there is anything like an equality of data, the means of using them is in favour of the later inquirer as against the earlier; in which case he understands antiquity better than the ancients—presumptuous as the doctrine may be. With a bonâ fide piece of testimony, however traditionary, documentary, or cotemporaneous, the case is reversed, and the modern writer must listen to his senior with thankful deference. And this it is that makes the distinction between inference and evidence so important. To mistake the former for the latter is to overvalue antiquity and exclude ourselves from a legitimate and fertile field of research. To confound the latter with the former, is to raise ourselves into criticism when our business is simply to interpret.

Proceeding to details, we find that the Historia Gildæ and the Epistola Gildæ are the two earliest works upon Anglo-Saxon Britain. For reasons which will soon appear, these works are referred to A.D. 550. The class of facts for which the evidence of a writer of this date is wanted, is that which contains the particulars of the[116] history of Britain during the last days of the Roman, and the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon domination. Amongst these, the more important would be the rebellion of Maximus, the Pict and Scot inroads, the earliest Germanic invasions, and the subordination of the Romans to the Saxons. But all these are deeds of devastation, and, as such, unfavourable to even the existence of the scanty literature necessary to record them. Again, there were two other changes, equally unfavourable to the preservation of records, going on. Pagan or Classical literature was becoming Christian or Medieval, whilst the Latin or Roman style was passing into Byzantine and Greek. Ammianus Marcellinus, the last of the Latin Pagan historians, was cotemporary with the events at the beginning of the period in question. Procopius, one of the last Pagan writers of Byzantium, died about the same time as Gildas.

Hence, the 150 years—from A.D. 400 to 550—for which alone the history of Gildas is wanted, is an era of excessive obscurity. Are the merits of the author proportionate? Is the light he brings commensurate with the darkness? What could he know? What does he tell? He tells so little that the question as to the value of his authorities is reduced to nearly nothing; and, of that little which we learn from his wordy and[117] turgid pages, the smallest fraction only is of any ethnological interest. Indeed, Gildas is most worth notice for what he leaves unsaid. The rebellion of Maximus he mentions; but he is not answerable for the migration from Britain to Brittany, on which (as already stated) so much turns. The Saxons, too, he mentions, and the name of Vortigern—but he is not answerable for the derivation of the name from the word Sahs=dagger. In regard to the important question as to the date of the invasion, and the number of the invaders, he fixes 150 years before his own time, and gives three as the number of their vessels (cyulæ). Aurelius Ambrosius and the Pugna Badonica are especially alluded to, the date of the latter event being the date of his own birth. As this is an event which he might have known from his parents, and as the later Roman writers are our authorities until (there or thereabouts) the death of Honorius, it remains to inquire upon what testimonies Gildas gave the few events which he notices between the years 417[12] and 516. Is there anything which by suggesting the existence of native cotemporary documents should induce us to consider his evidence as conclusive? I think not. Such may or may not have existed,[118] the presumption being for or against them, according to the view which the inquirer takes respecting the literary and civilizational influences of the expiring Paganism of the Romans, and the incipient Christianity of the early British Church, combined with the antiquity of the earliest British and Irish records—a wide and complex subject, if treated generally, but if viewed with reference to the specific case before us (the authorities of Gildas), a narrow one.

In the case of Gildas it is perfectly unnecessary to assume anything of the kind. The only material facts which he gives us are the letter to Ætius for assistance, and a notice of the place which Vortigern finds in the downfall of the Romano-British empire. The first of these points to Rome rather than to Britain; the second is from the life of a Gallic missionary—St. Germanus of Auxerre. To this may be added the high probability of Gildas' work having been written in Gaul; a fact which, undoubtedly, subtracts from the little value it might otherwise possess.

The next is an author of a very different calibre, the venerable Beda; concerning whom we must remember that he stands in contrast to Gildas from being Anglo-Saxon rather than British. Now, his history is Ecclesiastical and not Civil; so that ethnological questions make no part of his inquiries, and, as far as they are treated[119] at all, they are treated incidentally. Whatever may have been the records of the Romano-British Church, or the compositions of Romano-British writers, they form no part of the materials of Beda. The most he says that, from writings and traditions along with the information derived from the monks of the Abbey of Lestingham, he wrote that part of his work which gives an account of the Christianity of the kingdom of Mercia. For the other parts of the kingdom he chiefly applied to the Bishop of the Diocese; to Albinus for the antiquities of Kent and Essex; and to Daniel for those of Wessex, the Isle of Wight, and Sussex. For Lincolnshire he had viva voce information from Cynebert, and the monks of the Abbey of Partney; and for Northumberland he made his inquiries himself. Now as Christianity was first introduced into Anglo-Saxon England by Augustine, A.D. 597, the era of the Germanic invasions lies beyond the evidence of either Beda or his authorities. Gildas, and the sources of Gildas he knew; but of access to native records of the fifth century—the century for which they are most wanted—or of the existence of such, no trace occurs in the Historia Ecclesiastica, except in the two doubtful cases which will appear in the sequel.[13]

In Nennius, more than in any other writer, do[120] we find it necessary to assume the existence of any previous historians, upon whose authority the facts of the times between the cessation of the Roman supremacy, and the consolidation of the Anglo-Saxon power may be received; and in Nennius we must, for many reasons, admit it. In the first place, he mentions more than one circumstance which he could not well have got from any other source; in the next, the preface says that what has been done has been done "partim majorum traditionibus; partem scriptis; partim etiam monumentis veterum Britanniæ incolarum; partim et de annalibus Romanorum. Insuper et de chronicis sanctorum Patrum, Ysidori, scilicet Hieronymi, Prosperi, Eusebii, necnon et de historiis Scotorum Saxonumque, inimicorum licet, non ut volui, sed ut potui, meorum obtemperans jussionibus seniorum, unam hanc historiunculam undecunque collectam balbutiendo coacervari." But, it should be added that the authenticity of the preface is doubtful.

Nennius, then, most introduces the question as to the value of the narratives of the events of the fifth century. I cannot but put it exceedingly low. Of any historian, properly so called, there is not a trace. Neither is there of regular annals, a point which will soon be considered more fully. Nor yet of any of even the humbler forms of narrative poetry; though this is a point upon[121] which I speak with hesitation. I base my opinion, however, upon the notices of the two chief epochs—that of Vortigern and that of King Arthur. The first is from the life of St. Germanus, the second is an unadorned enumeration of three campaigns, with as little of the appearance of being derived from a poetic source as is possible.

Several genealogies occur in Nennius; and it often happens that genealogies are useful elements of criticism. British ethnology, however, is not the department in which their value is most conspicuous.

How far were the traditions of Nennius of any worth? The following is a specimen of them. "The Britons were named after Brutus; Brutus was the son of Hisicion, Hisicion of Alanus, Alanus of Rea Silvia, Rea Silvia of Numa, Numa of Pamphilus, Pamphilus of Ascanius, Ascanius of Æneas, Æneas of Anchises, Anchises of Tros, Tros of Dardanus, the son of Flire, the son of Javan, the son of Japhet. This Japhet had seven sons; the first Gomer, from whom came the Gauls; the second Magog, from whom came the Scythians and Goths; the third Aialan, from whom came the Medes; the fourth Javan, whence the Greeks; the fifth Tubal, whence the Hebrews; the sixth Mesech, whence the Cappadocians; the seventh Troias, whence the Thracians. These are the sons of Japhet, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech.[122] I will now return to the point whence I departed.

"The first man of the race of Japhet came to Europe, Alanus by name, with his three sons. Their names were Ysicion, Armenon, and Neguo. Ysicion had four sons, their names were Frank, Roman, Alemann, and Briton, from whom Britain was first inhabited. But Armenon had five sons. These are Goth, Walagoth, Cebid, Burgundian, Longobard. Neguo had four sons, Wandal, Saxon, Bogar, Turk. From Hisicio the first-born of Alan, arose four natives, the Franks, the Latins, the Alemanns, and the Britons. From Armenon, the second son of Alan, came the Goths, the Vandals, the Cebidi, and the Longobards. From Neguo, the third, the Bogars, Vandals, Saxons, and Tarinci. But these nations were subdivided over all Europe. Alanius, however, as they say, was the son of Sethevir, the son of Ogomnum, the son of Thois, the son of Boib, the son of Simeon, the son of Mair, the son of Ethac, the son of Luothar, the son of Ecthel, the son of Oothz, the son of Aborth, the son of Ra, the son of Esra, the son of Israu, the son of Barth, the son of Jonas, the son of Jabath, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methusalem, the son of Enoch, the son of Jareth, the son of Malalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of the living God."[123]

Surely this is but a piece of book-learning spoilt in the application. Yet what says the author?

"This genealogy I found in the traditions of the ancients, who were the inhabitants of Britain in the earliest times."—Historia Britonum, cap. xiii.

The next two works are chronicles, so-called; one British and one Anglo-Saxon; the Annales Cambriæ and the Saxon Chronicle.

The notices of the Annales Cambriæ are remarkably brief and scanty. It has scarcely one for every second year, and what it has is short and unimportant.

It begins with A.D. 447, and ends with the Norman Conquest. It is closely confined to the events of Wales.

The date and authorship are uncertain. Of the three MSS. which supply the text, one is said to be as old as A.D. 954.

When the entries began to be cotemporary with the events registered is uncertain; indeed, there is no proof that they are so anywhere. On the other hand, they cannot be earlier than A.D. 521, since the event registered there is the birth of St. Columba. Now the entry of the birth of an illustrious personage is not likely to be a cotemporaneous entry; since his greatness has yet to be achieved, and it is only the spirit of prophecy and anticipation that such a record[124] would be made at the time he merely came into the world.

The year 522, then, is the earliest possible cotemporary entry, and this is, most likely, much too early.

But the work has not the appearance of being a register of cotemporaneous events at all. In such a composition the idlest chronicler would find something to say under each year, and notices of either local events, or the great events of general interest, could scarcely fail to be entered. No one, however, will say that such a series of entries as the following from A.D. 501 to A.D. 601, can ever have constituted cotemporary history.

LVII. Annus. Episcopus Ebur pausat in Christo, anno cccl. ætatis suæ.

LVIII. Annus.

LXXI. Annus.

LXXII. Annus. Bellum Badonis in quo Arthur portavit crucem Domini nostri Jesu Christi tribus diebus et tribus noctibus in humeros suos, et Brittones victores fuerunt.

LXXIII. Annus.

LXXVI. Annus.

LXXVII. Annus. Sanctus Columcille nascitur. Quies Sanctæ Brigidæ.

LXXVIII. Annus.

XCII. Annus.

XCIII. Annus. Gueith Camlann, in qua[125] Arthur et Medraut corruere; et mortalitas in Brittannia et Hibernia fuit.

XCIV. Annus.

XCIX. Annus.

C. Annus. Dormitatio Ciarani.

CI. Annus.

CII. Annus.

CIII. Annus. Mortalitas magna, in qua pausat Mailcun rex Genedotæ.

CIV. Annus.

CXIII. Annus.

CXIV. Annus. Gabran filius Dungart moritur.

CXV. Annus.

CXVII. Annus.

CXVIII. Annus. Columcille in Brittania exiit.

CXIX. Annus.

CXX. Annus.

CXXI. Annus. [Navigatio Gildæ in Hibernia.]

CXXII. Annus.

CXXIV. Annus.

CXXV. Annus. [Synodus Victoriæ apud Britones congregatur.]

CXXVI. Annus Gildas obiit.

CXXVII. Annus.

CXXVIII. Annus.

CXXIX. Bellum Armterid. [Inter filios Elifer et Guendoleu, filium Keidiau, in quo bello Guendoleu cecidet; Merlinus insanus effectus est.][126]

CXXX. Annus. Brendan Byror dormitatio.

CXXXI. Annus.

CXXXV. Annus.

CXXXVI. Annus. Guurci et Peretur [filii Elifer] moritur.

CXXXVII. Annus.

CXXXIX. Annus.

CXL. Annus. Bellum contra Euboniam, et dispositio Danielis Banchorum.

CXLI. Annus.

CXLIV. Annus.

CXLV. Annus. Conversio Constantini ad Dominum.

CXLVI. Annus.

CXLIX. Annus.

CL. Annus. [Edilbertus in Anglia rexit.]

CLI. Annus. Columcille moritur. Dunaut rex moritur. Agustinus Mellitus Anglos ad Christum convertit.

CLII. Annus.

CLVI. Annus.

CLVII. Annus. Synodus Urbis Legion. Gregorius obiit in Christo. David Episcopus Moni judeorum.

The notices between the brackets are not found in the Harleian MS.—one of three.

The years are counted from the commencement of the Annals, which, from circumstances independent of the text, is fixed A.D. 444. Hence,[127] lvii and clvii, coincide with A.D. 501, and A.D. 601, respectively. It is not until the last quarter of the tenth century that the entries notably improve in fulness and frequency; during which period the table was probably composed,—the earlier dates being put down not because they were of either local or general importance, but because they were known to the writer. Such, at least, is the inference from the style. Lives of Saints may have furnished them all. They agree more or less with the Irish Annals, and, probably, are to a great extent taken from the same sources.

The Annales Cambrenses contain few or no facts directly bearing upon the ethnology of Great Britain, except so far as the existence of a literary composition, of a given antiquity, is the measure of the civilization of the country to which it belongs.

One of its entries, however, has an indirect bearing. The value of Gildas depends upon the time at which he wrote. We have already seen that a small piece of autobiography in his history tells us that he was born in the year of the Bellum Badonicum. Now the date of this is got from the Annales Cambrenses, A.D. 516. There is no reason to believe it other than accurate.

It were well if such a composition as the Annales Cambriæ were called (what it really is)[128] a list of dates; since the word chronicle has a dangerous tendency to engender a very uncritical laxity of thought. It continually gets mistaken for a register; yet the two sorts of composition are wholly different. That the habit of making cotemporaneous entries of events as they happen, just as incumbents of parishes, each in his order of succession, enter the births, deaths, and marriages of their parishioners, should exist in such institutions as religious monasteries or civil guild-halls, is by no means unlikely. But, then, on the other hand, there is an equal likelihood of nothing of the sort being attempted. Hence, when a work reaches posterity in the shape of a chronicle or annals, its antiquity and value must be judged on its own merits, rather than according to any preconceived opinions.

In mechanics nothing is stronger than its weakest part, and it would be well if a similar apothegm could be extended to the criticism of such compositions as the Annales Cambriæ, and the Saxon Chronicle. It would be well if we could say that in chronological tables nothing was earlier than the latest entry. In common histories we do this. The common historian is always supposed to have composed his work subsequent to the date of the latest event contained in it—a few exceptions only being made for those authors whose works treat of cotemporary[129] actions. So it is with the annalist whose Annals, more ambitious in form than the bare chronicle, emulate, like those of the great Roman historian, the style of history. But it is not so when the notices pass a certain limit, and become short and scanty. They then suggest a comparison with the parish register, or the Olympic records, and change their character altogether. No longer mere chronological works, emanating from the pen of a single author, and referrible to some single generation, subsequent, in general, to a majority of the events set down in them, they are the productions of a series of writers, each of whom is a registrar of cotemporary events. By this an undue value attaches itself to works which have nothing in common with the register but the form.

Now, if genuine traditions are scarce, real registers are scarcer. In both cases, however, the false wears the garb of the true, and, in both cases, writers shew an equal repugnance to scrutiny. This is to be regretted; since with nine out of ten of the chronicles that have come down to us, it is far more certain that their latest facts are earlier in date than the author who records them, than that the earliest possible author can have been cotemporary with the first recorded events. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle may illustrate this. It ends in the reign of Stephen; yet[130] the writer of even the last page may have been anything but a cotemporary with the events it embodies. It begins with the invasion of Julius Cæsar. A cotemporary entry—the essential element of registration—is out of the question here.

The general rule with compositions of the kind in question is, that they fall into two parts, the first of which cannot be of equal antiquity with the events recorded, the second of which may be; and we are only too fortunate when satisfactory proofs of cotemporary composition enable us to convert the possible into the probable, the probable into the certain—the may into the must. Even when this is the case, the proportions of the cotemporary to the non-cotemporary statements are generally uncertain—a question of more or less, that must be settled by the examination of the particular composition under consideration.

Whatever may be the other merits of the Annales Cambriæ, it has no claim to the title of a register during the sixth century—and, a fortiori none during the fifth.

Neither has the Saxon Chronicle. We infer this from the extent to which it follows Beda. We infer it, too, still more certainly from the following passage—a passage which, if made in the year under which it is found, would be no record but a prophecy.[131]

A.D. 595.—"This year Æthelbriht succeeded to the kingdom of the Kentish men, and held it fifty-three years. In his days the Holy Pope Gregory sent us baptism. That was in the two-and-thirtieth year of his reign; and Columba, a mass-priest, came to the Picts and converted them to the faith of Christ. They are dwellers by the northern mountains. And their king gave him the island which is called Hi. Therein are fine hides of land, as men say. There Columba built a monastery, and he was abbot there thirty-two years, and there he died when he was seventy-seven years old. His successors still have the place. The Southern Picts had been baptized long before; Bishop Ninias, who had been instructed at Rome, had preached baptism to them, whose church and monastery is at Hwithern, hallowed in the name of St. Martin; there he resteth with many holy men. Now, in Hi there must ever be an abbot and not a bishop; and all the Scottish bishops ought to be subject to him, because Columba was an abbot, not a bishop."

Similar notices, impossible, without a vast amount of gratuitous assumption, to be considered cotemporaneous, are of frequent occurrence until long after the consolidation of the Anglo-Saxon power in England; but as the events of the fifth and sixth centuries are the[132] only events of ethnological importance, the notice of them is limited.

The Welsh poems attributed to the bards of the sixth and seventh centuries, contain no facts that will make part of any of our reasonings in the sequel. Their existence is, of course, a measure of the intellectual calibre of the time (whatever that may be) to which they refer. But this is not before us now.

In respect to the value of the Irish annals, the civil historian has a far longer list of problems than the ethnologist; since the latter wants their testimony upon a few points only, e.g., 1. The origin of the proper Irish themselves; 2. the affinities of the Picts; 3. the migration (real or supposed) of the Scots. These, at least, are the chief points. Others, of course, such as the details concerning the Danes, can be found; but the ones in question are the chief.

In respect to the first, whoever reads Dr. Prichard's[14] account of the contents of the earliest chronicles, consisting, amongst other matters, of an antediluvian Cæsar; a landing of Partholanus with his wife Ealga, on the coast of Connemara, twelve years after the Deluge, and on the 14th of May; the colony of the Neimhidh, descendants of Gog and Magog; the Fir-Bolg from the Thrace; the Tuatha de Danann from Athens;[133] and, above all, the famous Milesians, amongst whom was Nial, the intimate of Moses and Aaron, and the husband of Scota the daughter of Pharaoh, will soon satisfy himself that, with the exception of a little weight which may possibly be due to the prominence which the Spanish Peninsula takes in the several legends, the whole mass is so utterly barren in historical results, that criticism would be misplaced.

But the Pict and Scot questions are in a different predicament. Like the Roman and Anglo-Saxon conquests of Britain, the events connected with them may have occurred within the Historical period—provided only that that period begin early enough.

How far this may be the case with the Irish annals is a reasonable question.

That any existing series of Irish annals anterior to the time of the earliest extant annalist, Tigernach, who lived in the eleventh century, is cotemporary with the events which it records, so as to partake of the nature of a register, is what no one has asserted; and hence their credit rests upon that of such earlier records as may be supposed to have served as their basis.

These may be poems, genealogies, or chronicles; all of which may be admitted to have existed. How long? In a more or less imperfect form from the introduction of Christianity. Is this the[134] extreme limit in the way of antiquity? Probably; perhaps certainly. Out of all the numerous pieces of verse quoted by the annalists, one only carries us back to a Pagan period, and even this is referred to a year subsequent to the introduction of Christianity. An extract from the annals of the Four Masters is as follows, A.D. 458, twenty-seven years after the first arrival of St. Patrick "after Laogar, the son of Nial of the Nine Hostages, had reigned in Ireland thirty years, he was killed in the country of Caissi (?) between Eri and Albyn, i.e., the two hills in the country of the Faolain, and the Sun and Wind killed him, for he violated them; whence the poet sings—

"Laogar M'Nial died in Caissi the green land,
The elements of divine things, by the oath which he violated, inflicted the doom of death on the king."

The genealogies are generally contained in the poems.

As to annals partaking of the nature of registers the language of the extant compositions is unfavourable. They are mentioned, of course; but it is always some one's collection of something before his time—never the original cotemporary documents. Now the compiler is Cormac McArthur, now St. Patrick. The manner of their mention in the Four Masters is as follows:—

"A.D. 266 was the fortieth year of Cormac[135] McArthur McConn over the kingdom of Ireland, until he died at Clete, after a salmon-bone had stuck in his throat, from old prophecies which Malgon the Druid had made against him, after Cormac turned against the Druids on account of his manner of adoring God without them. For that reason the Devil (Diabul) tempted him (Malgenn) through the instigation, until he caused his death. It was Cormac who composed the precepts to be observed by kings, the manners, tribute, and ordinations of kings. He was a wise man in laws, and in things chronological and historical, for it was he who invented the laws of the judgments, and the right principles in all bargains, also the tributes, so that there was a law which bound all men even unto the present time. This Cormac McArthur was he who collected the Chronicle of Ireland into one place, Tara, until he formed from them the Chronicles of Ireland in one book, which was called (afterwards) the Psalter of Tara. In that book were the events and synchronisms of the kings of Ireland with the kings and emperors of the world, and of the kings of the provinces with the kings of Ireland."

A work of this kind, possible enough in Alexandria, is surely in need of very definite and unexceptionable testimony to make it credible as a piece of Irish history. The truly historical fact contained in the extract is the existence of a book,[136] at the time of the Four Masters, with a Christian title, and Pagan contents.

To assume anything beyond the existence of early biographies of the early propagators of Irish Christianity is unnecessary. These had an undoubted existence; sometimes in prose, sometimes in verse; and it is these that the annalists themselves chiefly refer to; the character of whose notices may be collected from the following extracts relating to the first arrival of St. Patrick.

"A.D. 430.—The second year of Laogar. In this year Pope Celestine first sent Palladius, the bishop, to Ireland, to preach the faith to the Irish, and there came with him twelve companions. Nathe, the son of Garchon, opposed him. Going onwards, however, he baptized many in Ireland; and three churches, built of wood, were built by him, the White Church, the House of the Romans, and Domnach Arta (Dominica Alta). In the White Church he left his books, and a desk with the relics of Paul, Peter, and many other martyrs. He left, too, in the churches after him these four, Augustinus, Benedictus, Silvester, and Solonius, whilst Palladius was returning to Rome, because he found not the honour due to him, when disease seized him in the country of the Picts (Cruithnech), and he died there."—Annals of the Four Masters.[137]

Again—

"A.D. 431. The fourth year of Laogar. Patrick came to Ireland this year, and imparted baptism and blessing to the Irish, men, women, sons, and daughters, except those who were unwilling to receive baptism or faith from him, as his life relates (ut narrat ejus vita). The church of Antrim was founded by Patrick, after its donation from Felim the son of Laogar, the son of Nial, to him, to Loman, and to Fortchern. Flann of the monastery has sung—

"Patrick, abbot of all Ireland, McCalphrain, McFotaide,
McDeisse, the withholder of testimony to falsehood, McCormac Mor, McLeibriuth,
McOta, McOrric the Good, McMaurice, McLeo of the church,
McMaximus the Mournful, McEncret, the Noble, the Illustrious,
McPhilist the Best of All, McFeren the Blameless,
McBritain the Famous by Sea, whence the Britons strong by sea,
Cochnias his mother the Noble, Nemthor his city, the Warlike;
In Momonia his portion is not denied, which he acquired at the prayers of Patrick."

In the Books of the Schools on Divine Things the rest of this poem is to be found, i.e., De Mirabilibus Familiæ Patricii Orationum.

The value due to a series of Lives of Saints may be allowed to the Irish Annals subsequent to A.D. 430; and isolated events, without much reference to their importance, is what we get from[138] them. As soon as Christianity introduces the use of letters, we see our way to the preservation of the records, and the dawning of history begins.

If the annals of the Christian period rest almost wholly on Christian records, what can be the authority of the still earlier histories? Separate substantive proof of the existence of early historians, or early poets there is none. We only assume it from the events narrated. We also assume the event from the narrative; and, so doing, argue in a circle. The fact from the statement, and the statement from the fact. Such is too often the case.

An additional century of antiquity may be gained by admitting the existence of an imperfect Christianity in Ireland anterior to the time of St. Patrick—though the evidence to it is questionable. The annals anterior to A.D. 340 will still stand over. They fall into two divisions; the impossible, or self-confuting, and the possible. The latter extend over seven centuries from about B.C. 308 to A.D. 430. The former go back to the Creation, and are given up as untrustworthy by the native annalists themselves.

The early annals of the class in question which give us possible events, if they existed at all, must have been in Irish. They must also have been more or less known to King Cormac McArthur. They imply, too, the use of an alphabet. St. Patrick,[139] too, must have known them; as is implied by the following extract:—

A.D.
438.

"The tenth year of Laogar. The history and laws of Ireland purified and written out from old collections, and from the old books of Ireland which were brought together to one place at the asking of St. Patrick. These are the nine wise authors who did this. Laogar, King of Ireland, Corcc, and Daire, three kings; Patrick, Benin, Benignus (Benin), and Carnech, three Saints; Ros, Dubthach, and Fergus, three historians, as the old distich—

"Laogar, Corccus, Daire the Hard,
Patrick, Benignus, Carnech the Mild,
Ros, Dubthach, Fergus, a thing known,
Are the nine Authors of the Great History."

The Welsh antiquarian may, perhaps, observe that this likeness to the Triads is suspicious, a view to which he may find plenty of confirmation elsewhere.

Neither is it too much to say that such old poems as are quoted in respect to the events of the second and third centuries, are apparently quoted as Virgil's description of Italy under Evander might be quoted by a writer of the Middle Ages.

The events recorded are, as a general rule, probable; but they cannot be considered real until we see our way to the evidence by which they[140] could be transmitted. The probable is as often untrue, as the true is improbable. The question in all these points is one of testimony.

The most satisfactory view of that period of Irish antiquity, which is, at one and the same time, anterior to the introduction of Christianity, and subsequent to the earliest mention of Ireland by Greek, Latin, and British writers, is that the sources of its history were compositions composed out of Ireland, but containing notices of Irish events; in which case the Britons and Romans have written more about Ireland than the Irish themselves. This is an inference partly from the presumptions of the case, and partly from internal evidence.

Prichard, after Sharon Turner, has remarked that the legend of Partholanus is found in Nennius.

The Welsh name Arthur, strange to Ireland, except during the period in question, is prominent in the third century.

The Druidical religion, which on no unequivocal evidence can be shewn to have been Irish, has the same prominence during the same time.

The Fir-Bolg and Attecheith are also prominent at this time, but not later. Now the Belgæ and Attacotti might easily be got from British or Roman writers. The soil of Ireland, as soon as its records improve, ceases to supply them.[141]

This is as far as it is necessary to proceed in the criticism of our early authorities of British, Irish, and Saxon origin, since it is not the object of the present writer to throw any unnecessary discredit over them, but only to inquire how far they are entitled to the claim of deciding certain questions finally, and of precluding criticism. It is clear that they are only to be admitted when opposed by a very slight amount of conflicting improbabilities, when speaking to points capable of being known, and when freed from several elements of error and confusion. The practical application of this inference will find place in the eleventh chapter.

FOOTNOTES:

[12] This is the year in which Orosius concludes his history. It leaves, as near as may be, a century between the last of the Roman informants and the birth of the earliest British.

[13] The origin of the Picts and Scots.

[14] Vol. iii, pp. 140-147.


[142]

CHAPTER VIII.

THE ANGLES OF GERMANY: THEIR COMPARATIVE OBSCURITY.—NOTICE OF TACITUS.—EXTRACT FROM PTOLEMY.—CONDITIONS OF THE ANGLE AREA.—THE VARINI.—THE REUDIGNI AND OTHER POPULATIONS OF TACITUS.—THE SABALINGII, ETC., OF PTOLEMY.—THE SUEVI ANGILI.—ENGLE AND ONGLE.—ORIGINAL ANGLE AREA.

There are several populations of whom, like quiet and retiring individuals, we know nothing until they move; for, in their original countries, they lead a kind of still life which escapes notice and description, and which, if it were not for a change of habits with a change of area, would place them in the position of the great men who lived before Agamemnon. They would pass from the development to the death of their separate existence unobserved, and no one know who they were, where they lived, and what were their relations. But they move to some new locality, and then, like those fruit-trees which, in order to be prolific, must be transplanted, the noiseless and unnoticed tenor of their original way is exchanged for an influential and prominent position. They take up a large place in the world's history. Sometimes this arises from an absolute change of character with the change of circumstances; but oftener it is due to a more intelligible[143] cause. They move from a country beyond the reach of historical and geographical knowledge to one within it; and having done this they find writers who observe and describe them, simply because they have come within the field of observation and description.

It is no great stretch of imagination to picture some of the stronger tribes of the now unknown parts of Central Africa finding their way as far southward as the Cape, when they would come within the sphere of European observation. On such a ground, they may play a conspicuous part in history; conspicuous enough to be noticed by historians, missionaries, and journalists. They may even form the matter of a blue book. For all this, however, they shall only be known in the latter-days of their history. What they were in their original domain may remain a mystery; and that, even when the parts wherein it lay shall have become explored. For it is just possible that between the appearance of such a population in a locality beyond the pale of their own unexplored home, and the subsequent discovery of that previously obscure area, the part which was left behind—the parent portion—may have lost its nationality, its language, its locality, its independence, its name—any one or any number of its characteristics. Perhaps, the name alone, with a vague notice of its locality, may remain;[144] a name famous from the glory of its new country, but obscure, and even equivocal in its fatherland.

How truly are the Majiars of Hungary known only from what they have been in Hungary. Yet they are no natives of that country. It was from the parts beyond the Uralian mountains that they came, and when we visit those parts and ask for their original home, we find no such name, no such language, no such nationality as that of the Majiars. We find Bashkirs, or something equally different instead. But north of the old country of the Majiars—now no longer Majiar—we find Majiar characteristics; in other words, we are amongst the first cousins of the Hungarians, the descendants not of the exact ancestors of the conquerors of Hungary, but of the populations most nearly allied to such ancestors. And it is in these that we must study the Majiar before he became European. The direct descendants of the same parents have disappeared, but collateral branches of the family survive; and these we study, assuming that there is a family likeness.

All this has been written in illustration of a case near home. The Majiar of the Uralian wilds, the Majiar of the Yaik and Oby, the Majiar, in short, of Asia, is not more obscure, unknown, and unimportant when compared with the countrymen[145] of Hunyades, Zapolya, and Kossuth, than is the Angle of Germany when contrasted with the Angle of England, the Angle of the great continent with the Angle of the small island. When we say that the former is named by Tacitus, Ptolemy, and a few other less important writers, we have said all. There is the name, and little enough besides. What does the most learned ethnologist know of a people called the Eudoses? Nothing. He speculates, perhaps, on a letter-change, and fancies that by prefixing a Ph, and inserting an n he can convert the name into Phundusii. But what does he know of the Phundusii? Nothing; except that by ejecting the ph and omitting the n he can reduce them to Eudoses. Then come the Aviones, whom, by omission and rejection, we can identify with the Obii, of whom we know little, and also convert into the Cobandi, of whom we know less. The Reudigni—what light comes from these? The Nuithones—what from these? The Suardones—what from these? Now, it is not going too far if we say that, were it not for the conquest of England, the Angles of Germany would have been known to the ethnologist just as the Aviones are, i.e., very little; that, like the Eudoses, they might have had their very name tampered with; and that, like the Suardones and Reudigni and Nuithones, they might have been anything[146] or nothing in the way of ethnological affinity, historical development, and geographical locality.

This is the true case. Nine-tenths of what is known of the Angli of Germany is known from a single passage, and every word in that single passage which applies to Angli applies to the Eudoses, Aviones, Reudigni, Suardones, and Nuithones as well.

The passage in question is the 40th section of the Germania of Tacitus, and is as follows:—

"Contra Langobardos paucitas nobilitat: plurimis ac valentissimis nationibus cincti non per obsequium sed præliis et periclitando tuti sunt. Reudigni, deinde, et Aviones, et Angli, et Varini, et Suardones, et Nuithones fluminibus aut sylvis muniuntur; neque quidquam notabile in singulis nisi quod in commune Hertham, id est, Terram Matrem colunt, eamque intervenire rebus hominum, invehi populis arbitrantur. Est in insula Oceani castum nemus, dicatum in eo vehiculum, veste contectum, attingere uni sacerdoti concessum. Is adesse penetrali deam intelligit, vectamque bobus feminis multa cum veneratione prosequitur. Læti tunc dies, festa loca, quæcunque adventu hospitioque dignatur. Non bella ineunt, non arma sumunt, clausum omne ferrum; pax et quies tunc tantum nota, tunc tantum amata, donec idem sacerdos satiatam conversatione[147] mortalium deam templo reddat: mox vehiculum et vestes, et si credere velis, numen ipsum secreto lacu abluitur. Servi ministrant, quos statim idem lacus haurit. Arcanus hinc terror, sanctaque ignorantia, quid sit id, quod perituri tantum vident."

Let us ask what we get from this passage when taken by itself, i.e., without the light thrown upon it by the present existence of the descendants of the Angli as the English of England.

We get the evidence of a good writer, that six nations considered by him as sufficiently Germanic to be included in his Germania, were far enough north of the Germans who came in immediate contact with Rome to be briefly and imperfectly described and near enough the sea to frequent an island worshipping a goddess with a German name and certain remarkable attributes. This is the most we get; and to get this we must shut our eyes to more than one complication.

a. Thus the country that can most reasonably be assigned to the Varini, is in the tenth century the country of the Varnavi, who are no Germans, but Slavonians.

b. Another reading, instead of Hertham, is Nerthum, a name less decidedly Germanic.

All we get beyond this is from their subsequent histories; and of these subsequent histories[148] there is only one—the Angle or English. Truly, then, may we say that the Angles of Germany are only known from their relations to the Angles of England.

Let us inquire into the geographical and ethnological conditions of the Angli of Tacitus; and first in respect to their geography.

1. They must be placed as far north as the Weser; because the area required for the Cherusci, Fosi, Chasuarii, Dulgubini, Chamavi, and Angrivarii must be carried to a certain extent northwards; and the populations in question lay beyond these.

2. They must not be carried very far north of the Elbe. The reasons for this are less conclusive. They lie, however, in the circumstance of Ptolemy's notices placing them in a decidedly southern direction; and, as Tacitus has left their locality an open question, the evidence of even a worse authority than Ptolemy ought to be decisive,—"of the nations of the interior the greatest is that of Suevi Angili, who are the most eastern of the Longobardi, stretching as far northwards as the middle Elbe." The same writer precludes us from placing them in Holstein and Sleswick by filling up the Peninsula by populations other than Angle, one of which is the Saxon. But these Saxons we are not at liberty to identify with the Angli of Tacitus, because, by so doing, we separate[149] them from the more evidently related Angili of Ptolemy. Ptolemy draws a distinction between the two, and writes that "after the Chauci on the neck of the Cimbric Chersonese, came the Saxons, after the Saxons, as far as the river Chalusus, the Pharodini. In the Chersonese itself there extend, beyond the Saxons, the Sigulones on the west, then the Sabalingii, then the Cobandi, above them the Chali, then above these, but more to the west, the Phundusii; more to the east the Charudes, and most of all to the north, the Cimbri."

3. They must not come quite up to the sea, since we have seen from Ptolemy that the Chauci and Saxones joined, and as the Saxons were on the neck of the Peninsula, or the south-eastern parts of Holstein, the Chauci must have lain between the Angli and the sea, probably, however, on a very narrow strip of coast.

4. They must not have reached eastwards much farther than the frontiers of Lauenburg and Luneburg, since, as soon as we get definite historical notices of these countries, they are Slavonic—and, whatever may be said to the contrary, there is no evidence of this Slavonic occupancy being recent.

These conditions give us the northern part of the kingdom of Hanover as the original Angle area.

Their ethnological affinities are simpler. They[150] spoke the language which afterwards became the Anglo-Saxon of Alfred, and the English of Milton. In this we have the first and most definite of their differential characteristics—the characteristics which distinguished them from the closely allied Cheruscans, Chamavi, Angrivarii and other less important nations.

Their religious cultus, as far at least as the worship of Mother Earth in a Holy Island, was a link which connected the Angli with the populations to the north rather than to the south of them; and—as far as we may judge from the negative fact of finding no Angles in the great confederacy that the energy of Arminius formed against the aggression of Rome—their political relations did the same. But this is uncertain.

Such was the supposed area of the ancient Angles of Germany, and it agrees so well with all the ethnological conditions of the populations around, that it should not be objected to, or refined upon, on light grounds. The two varieties of the German languages to which the Anglo-Saxon bore the closest relationship, were the Old Saxon and the Frisian, and each of these are made conterminous with it by the recognition of the area in question—the Old Saxon to the south, the Frisian to the west, and, probably, to the north as well. It is an area, too, which is neither unnecessarily large, nor preposterously[151] small; an area which gives its occupants the navigable portions of two such rivers as the Elbe and Weser; one which places them in the necessary relations to their Holy Island (an island which, for the present we assume to be Heligoland); and, lastly, one which without being exactly the nearest part of the continent, fronts Britain, and is well situated for descents upon the British coast.

During the third, fourth, and fifth centuries we hear nothing of the Angli. They re-appear in the eighth. But then they are the Angles of Beda, the Angles of Britain—not those of Germany—the Angles of a new locality, and of a conquered country—not the parent stock on its original continental home. Of these latter the history of Beda says but little. Neither does the history of any other writer; indeed it is not too much to say that they have no authentic, detailed, and consecutive history at all, either early or late, either in the time of Beda when the Angles of England are first described, or in the time of any subsequent writer. There are reasons for this; as will be seen if we look to their geographical position, and the relations between them and the neighbouring populations. The Angles of Germany were too far north to come in contact with the Romans. That we met with no Angli in the great Arminian Confederacy has already been stated. When the Romans were[152] the aggressors, the Angli lay beyond the pale of their ambition. When the Romans were on the defensive the Angli were beyond the opportunities of attack.

All attempts to illustrate the history of the Angles of Germany by means of that of the nations mentioned in conjunction with them by Tacitus, is obscurum per obscurius. It is more than this. The connexion creates difficulties. The Langobardi, who gave their name to Lombardy, were anything but Angle; inasmuch as their language was a dialect of the High German division. Hence, if we connect them with our own ancestors we must suppose that when they changed their locality they changed their speech also. But no such assumption is necessary. All that we get from the text of Tacitus is, that they were in geographical contiguity with the Reudigni, &c.

The Varini are in a different predicament. They are mentioned in the present text along with the Angli, and they are similarly mentioned in the heading of a code of laws referred to the tenth century. Every name in this latter document is attended with difficulties.

Incipit Lex Anglorum et Werinorum, hoc est Thuringorum.—To find Angli in Thuringia by themselves would be strange. So it would be to find Werini. But to find the two combined[153] is exceedingly puzzling. I suggest the likelihood of there having been military colonies, settled by some of the earlier successors of Charlemagne, if not by Charlemagne himself. There are other interpretations; but this seems the likeliest. That the Varini and Angli were contiguous populations in the time of Tacitus, joining each other on the Lower Elbe, even as they join each other in his text, is likely. It is also likely that when their respective areas were conquered, each should have supplied the elements of a colony to the conqueror.

At the same time, I do not think that their ethnological relations were equally close. The Varini I believe to have been Slavonians. There is no difficulty in doing this. The only difficulty lies in the choice between two Slavonic populations. Adam of Bremen places a tribe, which he sometimes calls Warnabi, and sometimes Warnahi (Helmoldus calling it Warnavi), between the river Havel in Brandenburg and the Obotrites of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He mentions them, too, in conjunction with the Linones of Lun-eburg. Now this evidence fixes them in the parts about the present district of Warnow, on the Elde, a locality which is further confirmed by two chartas of the latter part of the twelfth century—"silva quæ destinguit terras Havelliere scilicet et Muritz, eandem terram quoque Muritz[154] et Vepero cum terminis suis ad terram Warnowe ex utraque parte fluminis quod Eldene dicitur usque ad castrum Grabow." Also—"distinguit tandem terram Moritz et Veprouwe cum omnibus terminis suis ad terram quæ Warnowe vocatur, includens et terram Warnowe cum terminis suis ex utraque parte fluminis quod Eldena dicitur usque ad castrum quod Grabou vocatur." Such is one of the later populations of the parts on the Lower Elbe, which may claim to represent the Varini of Tacitus.

But the name re-appears. In the Life of Bishop Otto, the Isle of Rugen is called Verania,[15] and the population Verani—eminent for their paganism. To reconcile these two divisions of the Mecklenburg populations is a question for the Slavonic archæologist. Between the two we get some light for the ethnology of the Varini. Their island is Rugen rather than Heligoland. The island, however, that best suits the Angli is Heligoland rather than Rugen. Which is which? The following hypothesis has already been suggested. "What if the Varini had one holy island, and the Angli another—so that the insulæ sacræ, with their corresponding casta nemora, were two in number?" I submit that a writer with no better means of knowing the exact truth than Tacitus, might, in such a case, when he recognized[155] the insular character common to the two forms of cultus, easily and pardonably, refer them to one and the same island; in other words, he might know the general fact that the Angli and Varini worshipped in an island, without knowing the particular fact of their each having a separate one.

This is what really happened; so that the hypothesis is as follows:—

a. The truly and undoubtedly Germanic Angli worshipped in Heligoland.

b. The probably Slavonic Varini worshipped in the Isle of Rugen.

c. The holy island of Tacitus is that of the Angli—

d. With whom the Varini are inaccurately associated—

e. The source of the inaccuracy lying in the fact of that nation having a holy island, different from that of the Angles, but not known to be so.[16]

We have got now, in the text of Tacitus, the Angli as a Germanic, and the Varini as a Slavonic, population. The Langobardi may be left unnoticed for the present. But round which of the two are the remaining tribes to be grouped, the Reudigni, the Aviones, Eudoses, the Suardones, and Nuithones.

The Reudigni.—Whether we imagine the Latin[156] form before us to represent such a word as the German Reud-ing-as, or the Slavonic Reud-inie[17] (of either of which it may be the equivalent), the two last syllables are inflexional; the first only belonging to the root. Now, although unknown to any Latin writer but Tacitus, the syllable Reud as the element of a compound, occurs in the Icelandic Sagas. Whoever the Goths of Scandinavia may have been, they fell into more than one class. There were, for instance, the simple Goths of Got-land, the island Goths of Ey-gota-land, and, thirdly, the Goths of Reidh-gota-land. Where was this? Reidhgotaland was an old name of Jutland. Reidhgotaland was also the name of a country east of Poland. Zeuss[18] well suggests that these conflicting facts may be reconciled by considering the prefix Reidh, to denote the Goths of the Continent in opposition to the word Ey, denoting the Goths of the Islands; both being formidable and important nations, both being in political and military relations to the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians, and both being other than Germanic.

In the Traveller's Song a more remarkable compound is found; Hreth-king—

He with Ealhild,
Faithful peace-weaver,
[157]For the first time,
Of the Hreth-king
Sought the home,
East of Ongle,
Of Eormenric,
The fierce faith-breaker.

Now, although the usual notions respecting the locality of the great Gothic empire of Hermanric are rather invalidated than confirmed by this extract, the relation between the Hreths and Ongle is exactly that between the Reudigni and Angli. Neither are there other facts wanting which would bring the rule of Hermanric as far north as the latitude of the Angli, though not, perhaps, so far east. His death is said to have been occasioned by the revolt of two Rhoxalanian princes. Now the Rhoxalani were, at least, as far north as the Angli, however much farther they may have lain eastwards.

But in the same poem we meet with the name in the simple form Hræd; for, when we remember that one of the Icelandic notices of Reidhgotaland is that it lay to the east of Poland, we may fairly infer that Reidhgotaland was the country of the nation mentioned in the following passage:—

Eadwine I sought and Elsa,
Ægelmund and Hungar,
And the proud host
Of the With-Myrgings;
Wulfhere I sought and Wyrnhere;
[158]Full oft war ceas'd not there,
When the Hræds' army,
With hard swords,
About Vistula's wood
Had to defend
Their ancient native seat
Against the folk of Ætla.

Such faint light then as can be thrown upon the Reudigni of Tacitus disconnects them with the Angli both geographically and ethnologically, connecting them with the Prussians, and placing them on the Lower Vistula.

The Aviones.—The Aviones are either unknown to history, or known under the slightly modified form of Chaviones. Maximian conquers them about A.D. 289. His Panegyrist Mamertinus associates them with the Heruli. Perhaps, the Obii are the same people. If so, they cross the Danube in conjunction with the Langobardi, and are mentioned, as having done so, by Petrus Patricius.

The Eudoses will be noticed when Ptolemy's list comes under consideration.

So will the Suardones.

No light has ever been thrown on the Nuithones.

Over and above the Saxons, to whom a special chapter will be devoted, Ptolemy's list contains:—

1. The Sigulones.—The Saxons lay to the north of Elbe, on the neck of the Chersonese, and[159] the Sigulones occupied the Chersonese itself, westwards. Two populations thus placed between the Atlantic and the Baltic, immediately north of the Elbe, leave but little room for each other.

"Then," writes Ptolemy, "come—

"2. The Sabalingii.—then—

"3. The Kobandi.—above these—

"4. The Chali.—and above them, but more to the west—

"5. The Phundusii.—more to the east—

"6. The Charudes.—and most to the north of all—

"7. The Cimbri."

8. The Pharodini lay next to the Saxons, between the Rivers Chalusus and Suebus.

Tacitus' geography is obscure; Ptolemy's is difficult. One wants light. The other gives us conflicting facts. Neither have the attempts to reconcile them been successful. The first point that strikes us is the difference of the names in the two authors. No Sigulones and Sabalingii in Tacitus. No Nuithones and Reudigni in Ptolemy. Then there is the extremely northern position which the latter gives the Cimbri. His Charudes, too, cannot well be separated from Cæsar's Harudes. Nevertheless, their area is inconveniently distant from the seat of war in the invasion of Gaul under Ariovistus, of whose armies the Harudes form a part. The River Chalusus is reasonably[160] considered to be the Trave. But the Suebus is not the Oder; though the two are often identified: inasmuch as the geographer continues to state that after the Pharodini come "the Sidini to the river Iadua" (the Oder?), "and, after them, the Rutikleii as far as the Vistula."

Zeuss has allowed himself to simplify some of the details by identifying certain of the Ptolemæan names with those of Tacitus. Thus he thinks that, by supposing the original word to have been Σφαρόδ-ινοι, the Φαρόδιν-οι and Suardon-es may be made the same. Kobandi, too, he thinks may be reduced to Chaviones, or Aviones. Thirdly, by the prefix Φ, and the insertion of N, Eudos-es may be converted into Φουνδοῦσ-ιοι.

Those who know the degree to which the modern German philologists act upon the doctrine that Truth is stranger than Fiction, and, by unparallelled manipulations reconcile a so-called iron-bound system of scientific letter-changes with results as extraordinary as those of the Keltic and Hebraic dreamers of the last century, will see in such comparisons as these nothing extraordinary. On the contrary, they will give them credit for being moderate. And so they are: for it is extremely likely that whilst Tacitus got his names from German, Ptolemy got his from Keltic, or Slavonic, sources; and if such be the case, a very considerable latitude is allowable.[161]

Yet, even if we make the Cobandi, Aviones; the Phundusii, Eudoses; and the Pharodini, Suardones (probably, also, the Sweordwere, of the Traveller's Song), the geographical difficulties are still considerable. Saxons on the neck of the Chersonese (say in Stormar) with Sigulones (say in Holstein) to the west of them are fully sufficient to stretch from sea to sea; but beyond (and this we must suppose to be in a westerly direction) are the Sabalingii, and then the Kobandi; above (north of) these the Chali (whom we should expect to be connected with the river Chalusus), and west of these the Phundusii. Similar complications can easily be added.

The meaning of the word Sabalingii is explained, if we may assume a slight change in the reading. How far it is legitimate, emendatory critics may determine; but by transposing the B and L, the word becomes Sa-lab-ingii. The Slavonic is the tongue that explains this.

1. The Slavonic name of the Elbe is Laba; and—

2. The Slavonic for Transalbian, as a term for the population beyond the Elbe, would be Sa-lab-ingii. This compound is common. The Finns of Karelia are called Za-volok-ian, because they live beyond the volok or watershed. The Kossacks of the Dnieper are called Za-porog-ian, because they live beyond the porog or waterfall.[162] The population in question I imagine to have been called Sa-lab-ingian, because they lived beyond the Laba, or Elbe.

Now a name closely akin to Salabingian actually occurs at the beginning of the Historical period. The population of the Duchy of Lauenburg is (then) Slavonic. So is that of south-eastern Holstein; since the Saxon area begins with the district of Stormar. So is that of Luneburg. And the name of these Slavonians of the Elbe is Po-lab-ingii (on the Elbe), just as Po-mor-ania is the country on the sea. Of the Po-labingians, then, the Sa-labingii were the section belonging to that side of the Elbe to which the tribe that used the term did not belong. Such are the reasons for believing the name to be Slavonic.

There are specific grounds, of more or less value, then, for separating the Angli from, at least, the following populations—the Varini, the Reudigni, the Eudoses, the Phundusii, the Suardones, the Pharodini, and the Sabalingii (Salabingii?); indeed, the Sigulones and Harudes seem to be the only Germans of two lists. The former, I think, was Frisian rather than Angle, the latter Old Saxon rather than Anglo-Saxon; for, notwithstanding some difficulties of detail which will be noticed in another chapter, the Charudes must be considered the Germans of the Hartz. The Sigulones, being placed so definitely to the west[163] of the Saxons, were probably the Nordalbingians of Holsatia.[19]

The last complication which will be noticed is in the following extract from Ptolemy.—"But of the inland nations far in the interior the greatest are that of the Suevi Angeili, who are east of the Longobardi, stretching to the north, as far as the middle parts of the river Elbe, that of the Suevi Semnones, who, when we leave the Elbe, reach from the aforesaid (middle) parts, eastwards, as far as the River Suêbus, and that of the Buguntæ next in succession, extending as far as the Vistula."—Lib. ii. c. xi.

This connexion of the Angles with the Suevi requires notice; though it should not cause any serious difficulty. The term Suevi, or Suevia, is used in a very extensive signification, denoting the vast tracts east of the better known districts of Germany; and in a similar sense it is used by both Tacitus and Cæsar. The notion of any specific connection with the Suevi of Suabia is unnecessary.

It has already been stated that in the Traveller's Song the Kingdom of Hermanric is placed east of Ongle. Either this means that the one country was east of the other, in the way that Hungary is east of the Rhine, or else an unrecognized[164] extension must be given to one of the two areas.

In one part of the poem in question the form is not Ongle but Engle

"Mid Englum ic wæs, and mid Swæfum—
With Engles I was, and with Sueves."—Line 121.

The result of the previous criticism is—

1. That the Angli of Germany distinguished, by the use of that form of speech which afterwards became Anglo-Saxon, from the Slavonians of south-eastern Holstein, Lauenburg, Luneburg, and Altmark, from the Old Saxons of Westphalia, and from the Frisians of the sea-coast between the Ems and Elbe, occupied, with the exceptions just suggested, the northern two-thirds of the present Kingdom of Hanover.

2. That they were the only members of the particular section of the German population to which they belonged, i.e., the section using the Anglo-Saxon rather than the Old Saxon speech.

Their relations to the population of the Cimbric Chersonese will form the subject of the next chapter.

FOOTNOTES:

[15] Zeuss ad vv. Rugiani, Warnabi.

[16] From the "Germania of Tacitus with Ethnological Notes."

[17] As a general rule, I believe that the combination -ing, represents a German, the combination -ign a Slavonic, word.

[18] In v. Jutæ.

[19] See Chapter ix.


[165]

CHAPTER IX.

THE SAXONS—OF UPPER SAXONY—OF LOWER OR OLD SAXONY.—NORDALBINGIANS.—SAXONS OF PTOLEMY.—PRESENT AND ANCIENT POPULATIONS OF SLESWICK-HOLSTEIN.—NORTH-FRISIANS.—PROBABLE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SAXON.—THE LITTUS SAXONICUM.—SAXONES BAJOCASSINI.

The ethnologist of England has to deal with a specific section of those numerous Germans, who, in different degrees of relationship to each other, have been known, at different times, under the name of Saxon; a name which has by no means a uniform signification, a name which has been borne by every single division and subdivision of the Teutonic family, the Proper Goths alone excepted. At present, however, he only knows that the counties of Es-sex, Sus-sex, and Middle-sex are the localities of the East-Saxons, the South-Saxons, and the Middle-Saxons, respectively; that in the sixth and seventh centuries there was a Kingdom of Wes-sex, or the West-Saxons; that Angle and Saxon were nearly convertible terms; and that Anglo-Saxon is the name of the English Language in its oldest known stage. How these names came to be so nearly synonymous, or how certain south-eastern counties of England and a German[166] Kingdom on the frontier of Bohemia, bear names so much alike as Sus-sex and Sax-ony, are questions which he has yet to solve.

The German Kingdom of Saxony may be disposed of first. It is chiefly in name that it has any relation to the Saxon parts of England. In language and blood there are numerous points of difference. The original population was Slavonic, which began to be displaced by Germans from the left bank of the Saale as early as the seventh century; possibly earlier. The language of these Slavonians was spoken in the neighbourhood of Leipsic as late as the fourteenth century, and at the present time two populations in Silesia and Lusatia still retain it—the Srbie, and Srskie. Sorabi, Milcieni, Siusli, and Lusicii, are the designations of these populations in the time of Charlemagne; and, earlier still, they were included in the great name of Semnones. It is only because they were conquered from that part of Germany which was called Saxonia or Saxenland, or else because numerous colonies of the previously reduced Saxons of the Lower Weser were planted on their territory, that their present name became attached to them. Slavonic in blood, and High German in language, the Saxons of the Upper Elbe, or the Saxons of Upper Saxony, are but remotely connected with the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons of Britain.[167]

In Upper Saxony, at least, the name is not native.

Lower Saxony was the country on the Lower Elbe, and also of the Lower Weser, and until the extension of the name to the parts about Leipsic and Dresden, was simply known as Saxonia, or the Land of the Saxones; at least, the qualifying adjective Lower made no part of the designation. Saxony was what it was called by the Merovingian Franks, as well as the Carlovingians who succeeded them. Whether, however, any portion of the indigenæ so called itself is uncertain. In the latter half of the eighth century it falls into three divisions, two of which are denoted by geographical or political designations, and one by the name of a native population.

The present district of West-phalia was one of them; its occupants being called West-falahi, West-falai, West-fali. These were the Saxons of the Rhine. Contrasted with these, the East-phalians (Ost-falai, Ost-falahi, Ost-fali, Oster-leudi, Austre-leudi, Aust-rasii), stretched towards the Elbe.

Between the two, descendants of the Angri-varii of Tacitus, and ancestors of the present Germans of the parts about Engern, lay the Angr-arii, or Ang-arii.

An unknown poet of the eighth century, but[168] one whose sentiments indicate a Saxon origin, thus laments the degenerate state of his country:

"Generalis habet populos divisio ternos,
Insignita quibus Saxonia floruit olim;
Nomina nunc remanent virtus antiqua recessit.
Denique Westfalos vocitant in parte manentes
Occidua; quorum non longe terminus amne
A Rheno distat? regionem solis ad ortum
Inhabitant Osterleudi, quos nomine quidam
Ostvalos alii vocitant, confinia quorum
Infestant conjuncta suis gens perfida Sclavi.
Inter predictos media regione morantur
Angarii, populus Saxonum tertius; horum
Patria Francorum terris sociatur ab Austro,
Oceanoque eadem conjungitur ex Aquilone."

The conquest of Charlemagne is the reason for the language being thus querulous; for, unlike Upper Saxony, the Saxony of the Lower Weser, the Saxony of the Angrivarii, Westfalii, and Ostfalii, was truly the native land of an old and heroic German population, of a population which under Arminius had resisted Rome, of a population descended from the Chamavi, the Dulgubini, the Fosi, and the Cherusci of Tacitus, and, finally, the land of a population whose immediate and closest affinities were with the Angles of Hanover, and the Frisians of Friesland, rather than with the Chatti of Hesse, or the Franks of the Carlovingian dynasty.

How far are these the Saxons of Sus-sex, Es-sex,[169] and Middle-sex? Only so far as they were Angles; and, except in the parts near the Elbe, they were other than Angle. This we know from their language, in which a Gospel Harmony, in alliterative metre, a fragmentary translation of the Psalms, and a heroic rhapsody called Hildubrant and Hathubrant have come down to us.

The parts where the dialects of these particular specimens were spoken are generally considered to have been the country about Essen, Cleves, and Munster; and, although closely allied to the Anglo-Saxon of England, the Westphalian Saxon is still a notably different form of speech. It was the Angle language in its southern variety, or (changing the expression) the Angle was the most northern form of it.

We have seen that Saxony and Saxon were no native terms on the Upper Elbe. Were they so in the present area—in Westphalia, Eastphalia, and the land of the Angrivarii? Tacitus knows no such name at all; and Ptolemy, the first writer in whom we find it, attaches it to a population of the Cimbric Peninsula. Afterwards, in the third and fourth centuries it is applied by the Roman and Byzantine writers in a general sense, to those maritime Germans whose piracies were the boldest, and whose descents upon the Provinces of Gaul and Britain were most dreaded. Yet nowhere can we find a definite tract of country[170] upon which we can lay our finger and say this is the land of Saxons, saving only the insignificant district to the north of the Elbe, mentioned by Ptolemy. From the time of Honorius to that of Charlemagne, Saxo is, like Franc, a general term applied, indeed, to the maritime Germans rather than those of the interior, and to those of the north rather than the south, yet nowhere specifically attached to any definite population with a local habitation and a name to match. Whenever we come to detail, the Saxons of the Roman writers become Chamavi, Bructeri, Cherusci, Chauci, or Frisii; while the Frank details are those of the Ostphali, Westphali, and Angrivarii.

But the Frank writers under the Merovingian and Carlovingian dynasties are neither the only nor the earliest authors who speak of the Hanoverians and Westphalians under the general name of Saxon. The Christianized Angles of England used the same denomination; and, as early as the middle of the eighth century, Beda mentions the Fresones, Rugini, Dani, Huni, Antiqui Saxones, Boructuarii.—Hist. Eccles. 5, 10. Again—the Boructuarii, descendants of the nearly exterminated Bructeri of Tacitus, and occupants of the country on the Lower Lippe, are said to have been reduced by the nation of the Old Saxons (a gente Antiquorum Saxonum). In other records we find the epithet Antiqui translated by the native[171] word eald (=old) and the formation of the compound Altsaxones—Gregorius Papa universo populo provinciæ Altsaxonum (vita St. Boniface). Lastly, the Anglo-Saxon writers of England use the term Eald-Seaxan (=Old-Saxon). And this form is current amongst the scholars of the present time; who call the language of the Heliand, of the so-called Carolinian Psalms and of Hildebrant and Hathubrant, the Old-Saxon, in contradistinction to the Anglo-Saxon of Alfred, Cædmon, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The authority of the Anglo-Saxons themselves justifies this compound; yet it is by no means unexceptionable. Many a writer has acquiesced in the notion that the Old-Saxon was neither more nor less than the Anglo-Saxon in a continental locality, and the Anglo-Saxon but the Old-Saxon transplanted into England. Again—the Old-Saxons have been considered as men who struck, as with a two-edged sword, at Britain on the one side, and at Upper Saxony on the other, so that the Saxons of Leipsic and the Saxons of London are common daughters of one parent—the Saxons of Westphalia.

The exact relations, however, to the Old-Saxons and the Anglo-Saxons seem to have been as follows:—

The so-called Old-Saxon is the old Westphalian[172]

The so-called Anglo-Saxon the old Hanoverian population.

Their languages were sufficient alike to be mutually intelligible, and after the conversion of the Angles of England, who became Christianized about A.D. 600, the extension of their own creed to the still Pagan Saxons of the Continent became one of the great duties to the bishops and missionaries of Britain; who, although themselves of Hanoverian rather than Westphalian extraction, looked upon the whole stock at large as their parentage, and called their cousins (so to say) in Westphalia, and their brothers in Hanover, by the collective term Old-Saxon.

All the Angles, then, of the Saxonia of the Frank and British writers of the eighth century were Saxon, though all the Saxons were not Angle.

Eastphalia, the division which must have been the most Angle, reached as far as the Elbe.

But there was, also, a Saxony beyond Eastphalia, a Saxony beyond the Elbe; the country of the Saxones Transalbiani; other names for its occupants being Nord-albingi (=men to the north of the Elbe), and Nord-leudi (=North people). The poet already quoted, writes—

Saxonum populus quidam, quos claudit ab Austro
Albis sejunctim positos Aquilonis ad axem.
Hos Nordalbingos patrio sermone vocamus.

[173]In this case as before, Saxon is a generic rather than a particular name. The facts that prove this give us also the geographical position of the Nordalbingians. They fell into three divisions:

1. The Thiedmarsi, Thiatmarsgi, or Ditmarshers, whose capital was Meldorp—primi ad Oceanum Thiatmarsgi, et eorum ecclesia Mildindorp

2. The Holsati, Holtzati, or Holtsætan, from whom the present Duchy of Holstein takes its name—dicti a sylvis, quas incolunt.[20] The river Sturia separated the Holsatians from—

3. The Stormarii, or people of Stormar; of whom Hamburg was the capital—Adam Bremens: Hist. Eccles. c. 61.

These are the Nordalbingians of the eighth century. Before we consider their relations to the Westphalian and Hanoverian Saxons the details of the present ethnology of the Cimbric Peninsula are necessary. At the present moment Holstein, Stormar, and Ditmarsh are Low German, or Platt-Deutsch, districts; the High German being taught in the schools much as English is taught in the Scotch Highlands. Eydersted also is Low German, and so are the southern and eastern parts of Sleswick. Not so, however, the western. Facing the Atlantic, we find an[174] interesting population, isolated in locality, and definitely stamped with old and original characteristics. They are as different from the Low Germans on the one side as the Dutch are from the English; and they are as little like the Danes on the other. They are somewhat bigger and stronger than either; at least both Danes and Germans may be found who own to their being bigger if not better. They shew, too, a greater proportion of blue eyes and flaxen locks; though these are common enough on all sides. That breadth of frame out of which has arisen the epithet Dutch-built, is here seen in its full development; with a sevenfold shield of thick woollen petticoats to set it of. So that there are characteristics, both of dress and figure, which sufficiently distinguish the North-Frisian of Sleswick from the Dane on one side and the German on the other.

It is only, however, in the more inaccessible parts of their country that the differentiæ of dress rise to the dignity of a separate and independent costume. They do so, however, in some of those small islands which lie off the coast of Sleswick; three of which are supposed to have been the three islands of the Saxons, in the second and third centuries. A party, which the writer fell in with, from Föhr, were all dressed alike, all in black, all in woollen, with capes over[175] the heads instead of bonnets. "Those," says the driver, who was himself half Dane and half German, "are from Föhr. They have been to Flensburg to see one of their relations. He is a sailor. They are all sailors in Föhr. Some of them, perhaps, smugglers—they all dress so—I can't speak to them—my brother can—he has been in England, and an Englishman can talk to them—they talk half Danish and half Platt-Deutsch, and half English—more than half. They were Englishmen once—a good sort of people—took no part in the war—did not much care for the Danes, though the Danes took pains to persuade them—so did the Germans, but they did not much care for the Germans either—strong men—good soldiers—good sailors—Englishmen, but not like the Englishmen I've seen myself. My brother's been in London and America, and can talk with them."

What is thus said about their English-hood is commonly believed by the Danes and Germans of the Frisian localities. They are English in some way or other, though how no one knows exactly. And many learned men hold the same view. It is a half-truth. They are more English, and, at the same time, more Dutch, than any of their neighbours; more so than either Dane or German, but for all that they are something that is neither English nor Dutch. They are Frisians[176] of the same stock as the Frisians of Friesland, whom they resemble in form, and dress, and manners, and speech, and temper, and history. But from the Frisians of the south they have been cut off for many centuries, partly by the hand of man, partly by the powers of Nature, partly by invasions from Germans, and partly by overwhelming inbreaks of the Ocean. There is a Frisian country in the south (the present Province of Friesland), and there is a Frisian country in the north (the tract which we are speaking of); and these are parts of the terra firma. But the Friesland that lay between the two is lost—lost, though we know where it is. It is at the bottom of the sea: forfeited, like the lava-stricken plains of Sicily, of Campania, and of Iceland, in the great game of Man against Nature—for it is not everywhere that Man has been the winner. The war of the Frisians against the sea has been the war not of the Titans against Jove, but of the Amphibii against Neptune.

Every Frisian—Friese as he calls himself—is an agriculturist, and it is only in the villages that the Frisian tongue is spoken. In the towns of Ripe, Bredsted, and Husum, small as they are, there is nothing but Danish and German. But in all the little hamlets between, the well-built old-fashioned farm-houses, with gable-ends of vast breadth, and massive thatched roofs that make[177] two-thirds of the height of the house, and a stork's nest on the chimney, and a cow-house at the end, are Frisian; and, if you can overhear what they say amongst themselves, you find that, without being English it is somewhat like it. Woman is the word which sounds strangest to both the German and the Dane, and, it is generally the first instance given of the peculiarity of the Frisian language. "Why can't they speak properly, and say Kone?" says the Dane. "Weib is the right word," says the German. "Who ever says woman?" cry both. The language has not been reduced to writing; indeed, the little that has been done with it is highly discreditable to the Sleswick-Holstein Church Establishment. It is spoken by upwards of thirty thousand individuals; and when we remember that the whole population of Denmark is less than that of London and the suburbs, we see at once that a large proportion of it has been less heeded in respect to its spiritualities than the Gaels and Welsh of Great Britain.

You may distinguish a Frisian parish as the Eton grammar distinguishes nouns of the neuter gender. It is omne quod exit in -um; for so end nine out of ten of the Frisian villages. Now, throughout the whole length and breadth of the Brekkelums, and Stadums, &c., that lie along the coast, from Ripe north to Husum[178] south, there is not one church service that is performed in Frisian, or half-a-dozen priests who could perform it. No fraction of the Liturgy is native; nor has it ever been so. Danish there is, and German there is; German, too, of two kinds—High and Low. The High German is taught in the schools, and that well; so well, that nowhere are the answers of the little children more easily understood by such travellers as are not over strong in their language than in the Friese country. Nevertheless, it is but a well-taught lesson; and by no means excuses the neglect of the native idiom.

As things are at present, this is, perhaps, all for the best. The complaint lies against the original neglect of the Frisian; and its gravamen is the sad tale it so silently tells of previous centralization—by which is meant arbitrary and unjustifiable oppression; for at no distant time back, the Frisians must have formed a very considerable proportion of the Sleswickers, and, at the beginning of the Historical period, the majority. And yet it was not thought of Christianizing them through their own tongue; a tongue which, because it has never been systematically reduced to writing, conscientious clergymen say is incapable of being written. As if the Frisian of Friesland, the Frisian of the south, had not been the language of law and poetry for more than eight[179] hundred years, and, as if it were a bit harder to write, or print, the northern dialect of the same, than it was for Scotland to have a literature. For the tongue is no growth of yesterday. It may, possibly, be as much older as any other tongue of the Peninsula as the Welsh is older than the English. That it is older than some of them is certain. Amateur investigators of it there are, of course. Outzen, the pastor of Brekkelum, was the father of them; and honourable mention is due to the present clergyman in Hacksted. As a general rule, however, the religion of Sleswick has been centralized.

The literature, as far as it has been collected, consists of a wedding-song of the fifteenth century, to be found in Camerarius, with addition of, perhaps, a dozen such morceaux as the following approaches to song, epigram, and ballad, respectively.

1

Læt foammen kom ins jordt to meh,
Ik hêv en blanken daaler to deh,
Di væl ik deh vel zjönke,
Dæ sjællt du beh meh tjönke,
Læt foammen, &c.

2

Ik[21] væl for tusend daaler ej
Dat ik het haad of vaas,
Den lüp ik med den rump ombej
En vöst ekj vær ik var.

[180]

3
DER FREYER VOM HOLSTEIN.

Diar kam en skep bi Sudher Siöe
Me tri jung Fruers ön di Floot.
Hokken wiar di fördeorst?
Dit wiar Peter Rothgrun.
Hud säät hi sin spooren?
Fuar Hennerk Jerkens düür.
Hokken kam tö Düür?
Marrike sallef,
Me Krük en Bekker ön di jen hundh,
En gulde Ring aur di udher hundh.
Jü nöödhight höm en sin Hinghst in,
Död di Hingst Haaver und Peter wün.
Toonkh Gott fuar des gud dei.
Al di Brid end bridmaaner of wei,
Butolter Marri en Peter allüning!
Jü look höm ün to Kest
En wildh höm nimmer muar mest.

Translated.
1.

Little woman come in the yard to me,
I have a white dollar for thee;
I will give it you
So that you think of me.

2.

I would not for a thousand dollars,
That my head were off,
Then should I run with my trunk,
And know (wiss) not where I was.

3.

There came a ship by the South Sea,
With three young wooers on the flood;
Who was the first?
[181]That was Peter Rothgrun.
Where set he his tracts?
For Hennerk Jerken's door.
Who came to door?
Mary-kin herself,
With a pitcher (crock) and beaker in the one hand,
A gold ring on the other hand.
She pressed him and his horse (to come) in,
Gave the horse oats and Peter wine.
Thank God for this good day!
All the brides and bridesmen out of the way!
Except Mary and Peter alone.
She locked him up in her box,
And never would miss him more.

This was what became of Peter; who is, perhaps, the most legendary and heroic of the North-Frisians—so that the development in this line lies within a small compass.

The Isle of Nordstand is Low German (Platt-Deutsch) in language, but in blood and pedigree is Frisian; as, indeed, it was in speech up to A.D. 1610. Then came a great inundation, which destroyed half the cattle of the island, and beggared its inhabitants; who were removed by their hard-hearted lord the Count of Gottorp to the continent, and replaced by Low Germans.

The island of Pelvorm is in the same category with Nordstand, the population being essentially Frisian though the Platt-Deutsch form of speech has replaced the native dialect; which was spoken in both islands A.D. 1639.[182]

Amrom partially preserves it; though the Frisian character is less marked than in—

Föhr.—Here all the names which in English would end in -ham, in High German in -heim, in Low German in -hem, and in Danish in -by (as Threking-ham, Mann-heim, Arn-hem, Wis-by) take the form in -um, the vowel being changed into u-, and the h- being omitted, as Duns-um, Utters-um, Midl-um, &c.—and this is a sure sign of Frisian occupancy. In Föhr, too, the language is still current.

Of Sylt, the southern part has its names in the Frisian form; as Horn-um, Mors-um, &c. The northern half, however, is Danish, and the villages end in -by.

Such is the present area of North-Frisians; which we shall see lies north of that of the Nordalbingians.

Nevertheless, the present writer believes that, either there was no difference whatever between the Angles and the Saxons, or that the Saxons were North-Frisians.

Let us, for a while, allow the name Saxon to be so little conclusive as to the ethnological position of these same Nordalbingians as to leave the question open.

The first fact that meets us is the existence of the Frisians of Holland not only south of the Elbe but south of Weser.[183]

East Friesland, as its name shews, is Frisian also; although, with a few exceptional localities in the very fenny districts, the language has been replaced by the German.

Notwithstanding, too, its sanctity in the eyes of the Angle worshipper of the Goddess Hertha, Heligoland at the beginning of the Historical period was not exactly Angle. It was what the opposite coast was—Frisian. And Oldenburg was Frisian as well; indeed the whole area occupied by the two great nations of antiquity—the Frisii and Chauci—was neither Old-Saxon nor Angle-Saxon. It differed from each rather more than they differed from each other, and, accordingly, constituted a separate variety of the German tongue.

So that there were, and are, two Frisian areas, one extending no farther north than the Elbe, and the other extending no farther south than the Eyder.

And between these two lies that of the Nordalbingians. This alone is primâ facie evidence of their being Frisian; for we should certainly argue that if Norfolk and Essex were English, Suffolk was English also. Of course, it might not be so: as intrusion and displacement might have taken place; but intrusion and displacement are not to be too lightly and gratuitously assumed. The Frisian of Oldenburg can be traced[184] up to the Elbe, and the Frisian of Sleswick can be followed down to the Eyder.

Eydersted, however, and Holstein are Low German. Were they always so? Of Eydersted, Jacob Sax, himself a Low German of the district, writes, A.D. 1610, that "the inhabitants besides the Saxon, use their own extraordinary natural speech, which is the same as the East and West Frisian."

For Ditmarsh the evidence is inconclusive. But one or two names end in -um.

As early as A.D. 1452 the following inscription which was found on a font in Pelvorm was un-intelligible to the natives of Ditmarsh, who carried it off—"disse hirren Döpe de have wi thön ewigen Ohnthonken mage lete, da schollen össe Berrne in kressent warde"="this here dip (font) we have let be made as an everlasting remembrance: there shall our bairns be christened in it." Clemens translates this into the present Frisian of Amrom, which runs thus—"thas hirr döp di ha wi tun iwagen Unthonken mage leat, thiar skell üs Biarner un krassent wurd." Still, Clemens thinks that the dress and domestic utensils of the present Ditmarshers are more Frisian than Platt-Deutsch. Now whatever the ancient tongue of Ditmarsh may have been, it was not the present Platt-Deutsch; yet, if it were Frisian, it had become obsolete before A.D. 1452.[185]

That we are justified in assuming an original continuity between the North and South Frisian areas may readily be admitted. There are, of course, reasonable objections against it—the want of proof of Frisian character of the language of Ditmarsh being the chief. Still, the principle which would lead us to predicate of Suffolk what we had previously predicated of Norfolk and Essex, induces us to do the same with the district in question, and to argue that if Eydersted, to the North, and the parts between Bremen and Cuxhaven, to the South, were Frisian, Ditmarsh, which lay between them, was Frisian also.

But this may have been the case without the Nordalbingians being Frisian; since an Angle movement, northward and westward, may easily have taken place in the sixth, seventh, or eighth centuries; in which case the Stormarii, Holtsati, and Ditmarsi were Angle; intrusive, non-indigenous, and, perhaps, of mixed blood—but still Angle.

I am not prepared, however, to go further at present upon this point than to a repetition of a previous statement, viz.: that if the Saxons of Anglo-Saxon England were other than Angles under a different name, they were North-Frisians.

Saxony and Saxon we have seen to be, for the most part, general names for certain populations[186] of considerable magnitude, populations which when investigated in detail have been Ostphali, Angrarii, Stormarii, &c., &c. Ptolemy alone assigns to the word a specific power, and in Ptolemy alone is the country of the Saxons the definite circumscribed area of a special population. Ptolemy, as has been already shewn, places the Saxons on the neck of the Chersonese to the north of the Chauci of the Elbe, and to the East of the Sigulones—there or thereabouts in Stormar. He also gives them three of the islands off the coasts of Holstein and Sleswick; though it is uncertain and unimportant which three he means. Hence, the Saxons of Ptolemy, truly Nord-albingian, coincide in locality with the subsequent Stormarii, the Sigulones being similarly related to the Holsatians. Yet neither the Saxones nor the Sigulones may have been the ancestors to their respective successors, any more than the Durotriges, or Iceni of England were the ancestors to the Anglo-Saxons of Dorsetshire and Norfolk.

Before this point comes under consideration we must ask a question already suggested as to the Saxons of the ninth century. Were they Frisians or Angles?

Strongly impressed with the belief that no third division of the Saxon section of the Germans beyond that represented by the Angles of Hanover and the Old Saxons of Westphalia can[187] be shewn to have existed or need be assumed, I have thus limited the problem, although the third question as to the probability of their having been something different from either may be raised. I also believe that the Frisians reached Sleswick by an extension of their frontier, this being the reason why the original continuity of their area is assumed,—at the same time admitting the possibility of their having come by sea, in which case no such continuity is necessary. What we find on the Eyder, and also on the Elbe may fairly be supposed to have once been discoverable in the intermediate country.

Assuming, then, an original continuity of the Frisian area from Sleswick to the Elbe anterior to the conquest of Ditmarsh and Holsatia by the present Low German occupants to be a fair inference from the present distribution of the North Frisians, and the history of their known and recorded displacements, we may ask how far it follows that this displacement was effected by the ancestors of the present Holsteiners; in other words, how far it is certain that the present Holsteiners succeeded immediately to the Frisians. There is a question here; since the continuity may have been broken by a population which was itself broken-up in its turn. It may have been broken by Angle inroads even as early as the time of Tacitus. If so, the order of succession[188] would not be 1. Frisian, 2. Low German, but 1. Frisian, 2. Angle or Anglo-Saxon, 3. Low German.

The Holsati, Stormarii, and Ditmarsi were, most probably, Angle. That they were not the ancestors of the present Low-Dutch is nearly certain. The date is too early for this. It was not till some time after the death of Charlemagne that the spread of that section of the German family reached Holstein. That they were not Frisian is less certain, but it is inferred from the manner in which they are mentioned by the native poet already quoted; who, if he had considered the Frisians to have been sufficiently Saxon to pass under that denomination, would have carried his Nordalbingian Saxony as far as the most northern boundary of the North-Frisians.

The evidence, then, is in favour of the Nordalbingians having been Anglo-Saxon in the ninth century, and that under the name Stormarii, Holsati, and Ditmarsi. Were they equally so in the third, i.e., when Ptolemy wrote, and when the names under which he noticed them were Saxones and Sigulones? I should not like to say this. The encroachment upon the Frisian area—the continuity being assumed—may not have begun thus early. Nay, even the northward extension of the Frisian area may not have begun. I should not even like to say positively that the Saxons of Ptolemy were German at all.[189] They may have been Slavonians—a continuation of the Wagrian and Polabic populations of Eastern Holstein and Lauenburg.

To say, too, that Ptolemy's term Saxon was a native name would be hazardous. We can only say that when we get definite information respecting the districts to which it applied it was not so. It was no Nordalbingian name to the Stormarians, no Nordalbingian name to the Holsatians, no Nordalbingian name to the men of Ditmarsh, no Nordalbingian name to any of the islanders. It was no native name with any specific import at all. It was a general name applied to the countries in question, as it was to many others besides; and it was the Franks who applied it. It had been specific once; but, when it was so, no one knew who bore it, or who gave it. It may have been Slavonic applied to Slavonians, or German applied to Germans, or German applied to Slavonians, or Slavonic applied to Germans. Which was it?

Who bore it? In the first instance the occupants of the northern bank of the Elbe, and some of the islands of the coast of Holstein and Sleswick; men of the wooded districts of Holt-satia, whose timber gave them the means of building ships, and whose situation on the coast developed the habit of using them to the annoyance of their neighbours. This is all that can be said.[190]

Who spread it abroad? The Romans first, the Franks afterwards. They it was who called by the name of Saxon men who never so called themselves, e.g., the Angrivarians, the Westphalians, the Saxons of Upper Saxony.

How did the Romans get it? From the Kelts of Gaul and Britain.

How came the Kelts by it? The usual answer to this: that they got it from the Saxons themselves, the Saxons being, of course, Germans. But the main object of the present chapter has been to shew the extremely unsatisfactory nature of the evidence of any Germans having so called themselves. Assuredly, if they stopped at the present point, the reasons for believing the name to have been native would be eminently unsatisfactory. The best fact would be in the language of Beda, who, as we have seen, called the Westphalians Old-Saxons. But Beda often allowed himself to use the language of his authorities, most of whom wrote in Latin, and some of whom were Gauls or Britons.

But four fresh ones can be added—

1. There is the element -sex in the names Es-sex, Wes-sex, Sus-sex, and Middle-sex.

2. The name Sax-neot was that of a deity, whom the Old Saxons, on their conversion to Christianity, were compelled to foreswear. This gives us the likelihood of its being the name of an eponymus.[191]

3. The story about nimeþ eowre Seaxas=take your daggers, and the deduction from it, that Saxons meant dagger-men, is of no great weight; with the present writer, at least. Still, as far as it goes, it is something.

4. The Finlanders call the Germans Saxon.

The necessity of getting as far as we can into the obscure problems connected with this word is urgent. One part of England is more evidently Saxon than another; at least, it bears certain outward and visible signs of Saxonism which are wanting elsewhere. What are we to say to this? That Es-sex is Saxon, and, as Saxon, something notably different from Suffolk which is Angle? It may have been so; yet the minutest ethnology ever applied has failed in detecting the differentiæ. They have, indeed, been assumed, and an unduly broad distinction between the dialect of Angle and the dialects of Saxon origin has been drawn; but the distinction is unreal. Angle Northumberland and Saxon Sussex differ from each other, not because they are Angle and Saxon, but because they are northern and southern counties. And so on throughout. The difference between Angle and Saxon Britain has ever been assumed to be real, whereas it may be but nominal.

Let us suppose it to be the latter, and Saxon to have been the British name of the Angle—nothing[192] more. What do names like Sus-sex, &c., indicate? Not that the population was less Angle than elsewhere, but that it was more Roman or British—an important distinction.

Again—certain Frisians are stated by Procopius to have dwelt in Britain; though Beda makes no mention of them. Assume, however, that the Saxons of the latter writer were the Frisians of the former, and all is plain and clear. But, then, they should be more unlike the Angles than they can be shewn to have been.

But why refine upon these points at all? Why, when we admit the Nordalbingians to have been Angle, demur to their having called themselves Saxons? I do this because I cannot get over the fact of the king who first decreed that his kingdom should be called Angle-land having been no Angle but a West-Saxon. That he should give the native German name precedence over the Roman and Keltic is likely; but that, by calling himself and his immediate subjects Saxon, he should change the name to Angle, is as unlikely as that a King of Prussia should propose that all Germany should be known as Austria. Of course, if the evidence in favour of the word Saxon being native was of a certain degree of cogency, we must take the preceding improbability as we find it; but no such cogent evidence can be found. Saxon is always a name that some[193] one may give to some one else, never one that he necessarily bears himself.

Were the conquerors, then, of Sus-sex, &c., other than Nordalbingian? I do not say this. I only say that the evidence of their coming from the special district of Holstein does not lie in their name. Germans from the south of the Elbe would—according to the preceding hypothesis—have been equally Saxon in the eyes of the degenerate Romans and the corrupted Britons whom they conquered.

We are still dealing with the origin of the name. The Franks and Romans diffused and generalized, the Kelts suggested, it. That the name was Keltic is undenied and undeniable. The Welsh and Gaels know us to the present moment as Saxons, and not as Englishmen. The only doubt has been as to how far it was exclusively Keltic—i.e., non-Germanic.

Will the supposition of its being Keltic account for all the facts connected with it? No. It will not account for the Finlanders using it. They, like the Kelts, call the Germans Saxon. This, then, is a fresh condition to be satisfied. The hypothesis which does this is, that the name Saxo was applied by the Slavonians of the Baltic as well as by Kelts of the coasts of Gaul and Britain to the pirates of the neck of the Chersonese,—the Slavonic designation being[194] adopted by the Finlanders just as the Keltic was by the Romans.

And this supplies an argument in favour of the name having been native, since a little consideration will shew that, when two different nations speak of a third by the same name, the primâ facie evidence is in favour of the population to whom it is applied by their neighbours applying it to themselves also.

Yet this is no proof of its being German: nor yet of the men of Wes-sex, &c., being Nordalbingian. All that we get from the British counties ending in -sex is, that in certain parts of the island, the British name for certain German pirates prevailed over the native, whereas, in others, the native prevailed over the British.

If this be but a trifling conclusion in respect to its positive results, it is one of some negative value; inasmuch, as when we have shewn that Angle and Saxon are, to a great extent, the same names in different languages, we have rid ourselves of the imaginary necessity of investigating such imaginary differences as the difference of name, at the first view, suggests. We have also ascertained the historical import of the spread of the names Saxon and Saxony. They spread, not because certain Saxons originating in a district no bigger than the county of Rutland, bodily took possession of vast tracts of country in Germany,[195] Britain, and Gaul, but because a great number of Germans were called by the name of a small tribe, just as the Hellenes of Thessaly, Attica, and Peloponnesus were called by the Romans, Greeks. The true Græci were a tribe of dimensions nearly as small in respect to the Hellenes at large as the Saxons of Ptolemy were to the Germans in general (perhaps, indeed, they were not Hellenic at all); yet it was the Græci whom the Romans identified with the Hellenes. No one, however, believes that the Græci extended themselves to the extent of the term Græcia. On the contrary, every one admits that it was only the import of the name which became enlarged. And this I believe to have been the case with the word Saxon.

Saxon, then, like Greek, was a general name. Nevertheless, they were specific Saxons just as they were specific Græci. These were the Saxons of Ptolemy. When that author wrote, I believe them to have been either Frisian or Slavonians, without saying which—Frisians, if we look for their affinities to the south of the Elbe; Slavonians, if we seek them to the east of the Bille.

Between the time of Ptolemy and the end of the fourth century, the name grew into importance, and became a name of terror to the Romans, Gauls, and Britons, who applied it to the northern Germans of the sea-board in general.[196]

The spread of the name along the sea-coast began in the fourth century. Claudian alludes to a naval victory over them

——"maduerunt Saxone fuso
Orcades."

This gives them a robbing-ground as far north as the Orkneys.

Ammianus notices their descent upon Gaul; and writes that in the reign of Valentinian "Gallicanos vero tractus Franci et Saxones iisdem confines, quo quisque erumpere potuit, terra vel mari, praedis acerbis incendiisque et captivorum funeribus hominum violabant."

Again—"Valentinianus Saxones, gentem in Oceani litoribus et paludibus inviis sitam, virtute et agilitate terribilem, periculosam Romanis finibus, eruptionem magna mole meditantes, in ipsis Francorum finibus oppressit." Oros. 7, 32.

A victory over the Saxones at Deuso (Deutz, opposite Cologne) is referred by more than one of the later writers to the same reign.

The banks of the Loire are their next quarters, Anjou being their chief locality, and their great captain bearing a name of which the Latin form was Adovacrius—"igitur Childericus Aurelianis pugnas egit: Adovacrius vero cum Saxonibus Andegavos venit ... (Aegidio) defuncto Adovacrius de Andegavo et aliis locis obsides accepit ... Veniente vero Adovacrio Andegavis, Childericus rex[197] sequenti die advenit; interemtoque Paulo Comite, civitatem obtinuit." Greg. Tur. 2, 18; "his itaque gestis, inter Saxones atque Romanos bellum gestum est, sed Saxones terga vertentes multos de suis, Romanis insequentibus, gladio reliquerunt: insulae eorum cum multo populo interemto a Francis captae atque subversae sunt ... Adovacrius cum Childerico foedus iniit, Alamannosque subjugarunt." id. 2, 19.

Of Saxons who joined the Lombards in the invasion of Italy we also hear from the same author—"Post hæc Saxones qui cum Langobardis in Italiam venerant, iterum prorumpunt in Gallias, ... scilicet ut a Sigiberto rege collecti in loco, unde egressi fuerant, stabilirentur ... Hi vero ad Sigibertum regem transeuntes, in locum, unde prius egressi fuerant, stabiliti sunt." 4, 43.

The best measure, however, of the Saxon piracies is to be found in two terms, each of which has always commanded the attention of investigators—the names Saxones Bajocassini and Littus Saxonicum.

1. Saxones Bajocassini or the Saxons of Bayeux are mentioned under that name by Gregory of Tours (§. 27. 10. 9); and in a charter of Charles the Bald there is the notice of a pagus in the same district called Ot linguæ. Zeuss reasonably suggests, as an emended reading, Otlinga; in which case we have one of the numerous equivalents[198] of those local names which, in the modern English, end in -ing, and in the Anglo-Saxon, in -ingas—Palling, Notting, Horbling, Billing—Æsclingas, Gillingas, &c., &c. Who were these? When we hear of Bayeux again, i.e., in the tenth century, it is alluded to as the most Scandinavian or Norse town of Normandy, the only one indeed where the Norse language and customs were decidedly retained. These Saxons, then, may have been Norsemen. But they may equally easily have been Angles, or Frisians; since a Norse conquest in the tenth is perfectly compatible with a German in the fifth century; and, in Britain, such was actually the case.

2. The Littus Saxonicum is a term in the Notitia Dignitatum, which appears in three places. In chapter xxxvi, where we have the details of the sea-coast of Gaul, under the denomination of the Tractus Armoricanus, the first officer—

[§. 1.] Sub dispositione viri spectabilis Ducis Tractus Armoricani et Nervicani—

Is—

[A] [1.] Tribunus Cohortis Primæ Novæ Armoricæ Grannona in Littore Saxonico.

b. Cap. xxxvii. [§. 1.] Sub Dispositione viri spectabilis Ducis Belgicæ Secundæ—

[1.] Equites Dalmatæ Marcis in Littore Saxonico.

c. These but give us a Littus Saxonicum in[199] Gaul. The 25th chapter supplies one for Britain, and that with considerable detail—

[§. 1.] Sub dispositione viri spectabilis comitis Littoris Saxonici per Britanniam:

[1.] Præpositus Numeri Fortensium Othonæ.

[2.] Præpositus Militum Tungricanorum Dubris, &c.

It is not necessary to go through the detail. It is sufficient to say that we find stations at the following undoubted localities—Brancaster, Yarmouth, Reculvers, Richborough, Dover, Lymne, and the mouth of the Adur. Putting this together it is safe to say that the whole line of coast from the Wash to the Southampton water was, in the reign of Honorius, if not earlier, a Littus Saxonicum—whatever may have been the import of that term.

Looking over the preceding details we find how hazardous it would be to predicate concerning the several populations designated as Saxons any single statement beyond that of their having been pirates from the north-German sea-board. Some may have been Angle, some Frisian, some Platt-Deutsch, some Scandinavian. Nay, the name Adovacrius=Odoacer=Ottocar, may have belonged to a Slavonian captain, whatever may have been the country of the crew.

FOOTNOTES:

[20] The compound is of the same kind with the English words Dor-set, and Somer-set, i.e., from the Anglo-Saxon sætan=settlers.

[21] This is so mixed up with Danish as scarcely to be Frisian.


[200]

CHAPTER X.

THE ANGLES OF GERMANY—IMPERFECT RECONSTRUCTION OF THEIR HISTORY—THEIR HEROIC AGE.—BEOWULF.—CONQUEST OF ANGLEN.—ANECDOTE FROM PROCOPIUS.—THEIR REDUCTION UNDER THE CARLOVINGIAN DYNASTY.—THE ANGLES OF THURINGIA.

As the previous chapter has shewn that a Saxon population, considered simply as such, and without reference to the particular fact of its date, locality, and similar important circumstances, may be in any or no ethnological relation to the Angle (i.e., absolutely Angle under a Keltic name, or, on the other hand, as little Angle as the Slavonians), the attempt at the reconstruction of the history of all the Germanic conquerors of Britain during the period of their occupation of Germany, although, perhaps, not impracticable as the subject of a special investigation, and as the matter of an elaborate monograph, must, in a sketch like the present, be limited to that of the unequivocal and undoubted Angles—this meaning those who are not only Angle in reality, but whose actions are described under the name of Angle. It is only when this is the case that we can be sure of our men. A Saxon, as aforesaid, may be anything, provided he be but a pirate. The greater part, too, of the actions of the Saxons[201] can be shewn to have been effected by the Old-Saxons rather than the Anglo-Saxons, and even by Franks and Frisians. Indeed, it is not too much to assert that, with the exception of the invasion of Britain and Sleswick, there is no recorded act of any Saxon population which cannot be more fairly attributed to some of the other allied sections of the Germanic stock than to the Angle. That this was the case with the Saxons of the Gallic frontier—the Saxons that, in the earlier periods of their history, came into collision with Julian, and, in the later ones, with Charlemagne, is undoubted; and, that it was also the case with the earlier Saxon pirates of the coasts of Gaul and Britain is likely—though I do not press this point. What I am considering now is the unequivocal history of the Angles of Germany under their own proper name. I have said that it is fragmentary. It is more than this. The fragments themselves are heterogeneous.

An Englishman, representing as he does the insular Angles, and looking to the part that they have played in the world, may, with either pride or regret, as the case may be, say that on their native soil of Germany, the Angle history is next to a non-entity. It is like that of the Majiars of Asia. What our ancestors did at home before they became the Englishmen of Great Britain may have been of any amount of importance, or,[202] of any amount of insignificance. They were deeds without a record. As to our own collateral relations, they suffered rather than acted. They have, indeed, a history, but it is a history neither full nor glorious.

The poem of Beowulf, an extract from Beda, and a similar extract from Procopius constitute the notices that continue the history—if so it can be called—of the Angles from the time of Ptolemy to the beginning of the seventh century, and even these are doubtful in their interpretation.

Beowulf is a poem in the Anglo-Saxon language, and, in the alliterative metre of the Anglo-Saxon compositions in general, of unknown date and authorship, of upwards of six thousand lines; a poem which, although preserved in England, and in a form adapted to English hearers subsequent to the conversion of our island to Christianity, is essentially pagan and German—pagan in respect to its superstitions and machinery, and German in respect to the scene of action; for in Germany, and not in England, are all its actions achieved. This being the case, it cannot but tell us something of the ancient Germans; and, as the hero is an Angle, the ancient Germans of whom this something is told, are, more or less, the Angle ancestors of the English in their original continental home.[203]

Much more than this it is unsafe to say. The composition itself is a poem—a romance—an epic. This is against the historical value of its subject-matter. Then, it has taken its present form under the hands of a Christian. This is against its value as cotemporaneous evidence. Thirdly, it has the character, to no small extent, not only of a rhapsody, but of a rhapsody of which the elements are heterogeneous. This is against its value as a piece of Anglicism.

Nick and Grendel—the old Nick of the present English, and Grendel—probably, the Geruthus of Saxo Grammaticus—are the chief supernaturals, demons of the swamp and fen. These best localize the legends in which they appear; for which most parts of Hanover and the Cimbric Chersonesus suit indifferently, the Frisian portions pre-eminently, well. The more exalted mythology of Woden, Thor, and Balder, so generally considered to have been all-pervading in Germany and Scandinavia, finds no place in Beowulf. Our Devil and the Devil's Dam are rough analogues of Nick and Grendel.

Heort is the great palatial hall of Hroðgar, the kingly personage of the poem, Beowulf being the hero. It stands in some part of the Cimbric Chersonese. Seeing in this, as a word, only another form of the name Hartz, I also see in it a proof of the rhapsodical character of the poem,[204] and the heterogeneous character of its elements.

An episode, of which Sigmund is the hero, gives us a narrative in which we have, in an altered form, and an obscure outline, a portion of the Nibelungenlied cycle—an element from the Rhine.

Another gives us an adventure apparently without a hero, or rather an adventure whose hero has no proper name, but only a designating adjective. Considering the indistinct shape which all legends take in Beowulf, I cannot but think that the individual whose name stands in the text as Stearc heart, and in the translation as Strong-heart, is neither more nor less than the great Danish hero Starcather, of a not unlike legend in Saxo.

Danes, Geats, Frisians, and Sweas (Swedes), are the populations with whom the Angles are most brought in contact; and the following extract shews the manner of their mention. The parties, here, are Jutish Danes and Frisians.

1. "Hroðgar's poet after the mead-bench must excite joy in the hall, concerning Finn's descendants, when the expedition came upon them; Healfdene's hero, Hnæf the Scylding, was doomed to fall in Friesland. Hildeburh had at least no cause to praise the fidelity of the Jutes; guiltlessly was she deprived at the war-game of her beloved sons and brothers; one after another they fell wounded with javelins; that was a mournful lady. Not in vain did Hoce's daughter mourn their death, after morning[205] came, when she under the heaven might behold the slaughterer of her son, where he before possessed the most of earthly joys: war took away all Finn's thanes, except only a few, so that he might not on the place of meeting gain any thing by fighting against Hengest, nor defend in war his wretched remnant against the king's thane; but they offered him conditions, that they would give up to him entirely a second palace, a hall, and throne, so that they should halve the power with the sons of the Jutes, and at the gifts of treasure every day Folcwalda's son should honour the Danes, the troops of Hengest should serve them with rings, with hoarded treasures of solid gold, even as much as he would furnish the race of Frisians in the beer-hall. There they confirmed on both sides a fast treaty of peace. Finn strongly, undisputingly, engaged by oath to Hengest, that he would graciously maintain the poor survivors according to the judgment of his Witan, that there no man, either by word or work, should break the peace, nor through hostile machinations ever recall the quarrel, although they, deprived of their prince, must follow the slaughterer of him that gave them rings, since they were so compelled: if, then, any one of the Frisians with insolent speech should make allusion to the deadly feud, that then the edge of the sword should avenge it. The oath was completed, and heaped up gold was borne from the hoard of the warlike Scyldings: the best of warriors was ready upon the pile; at the pile was easy to be seen the mail-shirt coloured with gore, the hog of gold, the boar hard as iron, many a noble crippled with wounds: some fell upon the dead. Then at Hnæf's pile Hildeburh commanded her own son to be involved in flames, to burn his body, and to place him on the pile, wretchedly upon his shoulder the lady mourned; she lamented with songs; the warrior mounted the pile; the greatest of death-fires whirled; the welkin sounded before the mound; the mail-hoods melted; the gates of the wounds burst open; the loathly bite of the body, when the blood sprang forth; the flame, greediest of spirits, devoured all those whom there death took away: of both the people was the glory departed.

"Thence the warriors set out to visit their dwellings, deprived[206] of friends, to see Friesland, their homes and lofty city; Hengest yet, during the deadly-coloured winter, dwelt with Finn, boldly, without casting of lots he cultivated the land, although he might drive upon the sea the ship with the ringed prow; the deep boiled with storms, wan against the wind, winter locked the wave with a chain of ice, until the second year came to the dwellings; so doth yet, that which eternally, happily provideth weather gloriously bright. When the winter was departed, and the bosom of the earth was fair, the wanderer set out to explore, the stranger from his dwellings. He thought the more of vengeance than of his departing over the sea, if he might bring to pass a hostile meeting, since he inwardly remembered the sons of the Jutes. Thus he avoided not death when Hunláf's descendant plunged into his bosom the flame of war, the best of swords; therefore were among the Jutes, known by the edge of the sword, what warriors bold of spirit Finn afterwards fell in with, savage sword-slaughter at his own dwelling; since Guðláf and Osláf after the sea-journey mourned the sorrow, the grim onset: they avenged a part of their loss; nor might the cunning of mood refrain in his bosom, when his hall was surrounded with the men of his foes. Finn also was slain. The king amidst his band, and the queen was taken; the warriors of the Scyldings bore to their ships all the household wealth of the mighty king which they could find in Finn's dwelling, the jewels and carved gems; they over the sea carried the lordly lady to the Danes—led her to their people. The lay was sung, the song of the glee-man, the joke rose again, the noise from the benches grew loud, cupbearers gave the wine from wondrous vessels."

Hengist appears here as a Jute. Another English name, that of Offa, occurs in the following:

2. "Hæredh's daughter; she was nevertheless not condescending, nor too liberal of gifts, of hoarded treasures, to the people of the Geáts; the violent queen of the people exercised violence of mood, a terrible crime; no one of the dear comrades dared to venture upon that beast, save her wedded lord, who daily looked[207] upon her with his eyes, but she allotted to him appointed bonds of slaughter,—twisted with hands: soon after, after the clutch of hands, was the matter settled with the knife, so that the excellent sword must apportion the affair, must make known the fatal evil: such is no womanly custom for a lady to accomplish, comely though she be, that the weaver of peace should pursue for his life, should follow with anger a dear man: that indeed disgusted Hemming's kinsman. Others said, while drinking the ale, that she had committed less mighty mischief, less crafty malice, since she was first given, surrounded with gold, to the young warrior, the noble beast: since by her father's counsel she sought, in a journey over the fallow flood, the palace of Offa, where she afterwards well on her throne in good repute living, enjoyed the living creations, and held high love with the prince of men, the best between two seas of all mankind, of the whole race of men, so far as I have heard: for Offa the spear-bold warrior was far renowned both for his liberalities and his wars, in wisdom he held his native inheritance, when he the sad warrior sprang for the assistance of men, he the kinsman of Hemming, the nephew of Garmund, mighty in warfare."

Beowulf approaches his end; the ceremonies of his funeral are described in detail, the political complications created by his death are alluded to:—

3. "Now is the joy-giver of the people of the Westerns, the Lord of the Geáts, fast on the death-bed, he dwelleth in fatal rest: by him lieth his deadly foe, sick with seax-wounds; with his sword he could not by any means work a wound upon the wretch. Wigláf, Wihstán's son, sitteth over Beówulf, one warrior over the other deprived of life holdeth sorrowfully ward of good and evil: now may the people expect a time of war, as soon as the fall of the king becomes published among the Franks and Frisians: the feud was established, fierce against the Hugas, after Hygelác came sailing with a fleet to Friesland, where his foes humbled him from his war, boldly they went with a superior[208] force, so that the warrior must bow, he fell in battle, nor did the chieftain give treasure to his valiant comrades: ever since peace with the sea-wicings denied us: nor do I expect peace or fidelity from Sweeden, but it was widely known that Ongentheów deprived of life Hætheyn the Hrethling, beside Hrefna-wood when for their pride the war-Scylfings first sought the people of the Geáts. Soon did the prudent father of Ohthere, old and terrible, give him a blow with the hand; he deprived the sea-king of the troop of maidens, the old man took the old virgin, hung round with gold, the mother of Onela and Ohthere, and then pursued the homicides until they escaped with difficulty into Hrefnes-holt, deprived of their Lord: then with a mighty force did he beset those that the sword had left, weary with their wounds: shame did he often threaten to the wretched race, the whole night long: he said that he in the morning would take them with the edges of the sword, some he would hang on the gallowses, for his sport: comfort came again to the sad of mood, with early day, since they perceived the horn and trumpets of Hygelác, when the good prince came upon their track with the power of his people.

"For him then did the people of the Geáts prepare upon the earth a funeral pile, strong, hung round with helmets, with war-boards and bright Byrnies, as he had requested: weeping the heroes then laid down, in the midst their dear lord; then began the warriors to awake upon the hill the mightiest of bale fires; the wood-smoke rose aloft, dark from the foe of wood; noisily it went, mingled with weeping: the mixture of the wind lay on till it had broken the bonehouse, hot in his breast: sad in mind, sorry of mood they moaned the death of their lord:—The people of the Westerns wrought then a mound over the sea, it was high and broad, easy to behold by the sailors over the waves, and during ten days they built up the beacon of the war-renowned, the mightiest of fires; they surrounded it with a wall, in the most honourable manner that wise men could devise it: they put into the mound rings and bright gems,—all such ornaments as the fierce-minded men had before taken from the hoard; they suffered the earth to hold the treasure of warriors, gold on the[209] the sand, there it yet remaineth as useless to men as it was of old. Then round the mound rode a troop of beasts of war, of nobles, twelve in all: they would speak about the king, they would call him to mind, they would relate the song of words, they would themselves speak: they praised his valour, and his deeds of bravery they judged with praise, even as it is fitting that a man should extol his friendly Lord, should love him in his soul, when he must depart from the body to become valueless. Thus the people of the Geáts, his domestic comrades, mourned their dear Lord; they said that he was of the kings of the world, the mildest and gentlest of men, the most gracious to his people, and the most jealous of glory."

That Norse, Frisian, Angle, and other Germanic elements are combined in this poem is certain; and, looking to the extent to which Beowulf, the hero, besides other points of indistinctness in respect to his personality, is Geat as well as Angle, I cannot but suspect an incorporation of some Slavonic and Lithuanic ones as well. Finn, too, as a hero, not of the Laps and Finlanders (to whom he would be the proper eponymus), but of the Frisians, creates a further complication.

Hroðgar, too, the Dane or Jute, has a name inconveniently unlike that of the more historical Radiger who will soon come under notice.

The chief fact we get from Beowulf is, as is generally the case with early poems, one in the history of Fiction; and, to guard against disparaging such facts as these, let us remember that the history of Fiction is the history of the Commerce of Ideas.[210]

Now Beowulf tells us that, at the time of its composition, at latest, and, probably, much earlier, there was a certain interchange of legend or history between the Danes, Swedes, Lombards, Franks, Angles, Frisians, and Geats. We may say, then, that the Angli had an Heroic Age.

In respect to their historic epoch, a well-known notice in Beda, freely adopted by most of his after-comers, deduces the Angles from that part of Germany which he calls Angulus, between the provinces of the Jutes and Saxons, and which up to his own time remained a waste—"patria quæ Angulus dicitur, et ab eo tempore usque hodie desertus inter provincias Jutarum et Saxonum perhibetur."

The Saxon Chronicle simply translates this. Alfred strengthens it, writing that there "the English dwelt before they came hither."—i.e., to England.

Ethelweard speaks of "Anglia vetus, sita inter Saxones et Giotos, habens oppidum capitale, quod sermone Saxonico Sleswic nuncupatur, secundum vero Danos, Hathaby."

A well-known locality in the Duchy of Sleswick supplies the commentary on these texts. A triangular block of land, about the size of the county of Middlesex, is bounded on two of its sides by the Slie and the Firth of Flensburg, and[211] on the third by the road from that town to Sleswick.

Many writers think that the Angles should be placed here; and, thinking this, maintain that no population except that of the Angles or some closely allied tribe has a claim to be considered as the early occupants of Holstein and Sleswick. They overlook, however, the important fact that Ptolemy, who places the Angili in a locality far south of the parts in question, places, in those parts, populations which he separates from his Angili. They also overlook the still more important fact that the only populations earlier than the present of which definite traces can be discovered in either Holstein or Sleswick, are the Frisians and the Slavonians—the Frisians on the west, and the Slavonians on the east.

In another point of view this district is important, although the line of criticism upon which it has its bearing is gradually becoming obsolete. When the direct influence of the Danes and Norwegians upon the language of Britain was less recognized than it is now, it was by no means uncommon to explain such Scandinavian words as occurred by the assumption that they were Angle as opposed to Saxon, the Angle being the most Danish of all the proper German dialects—transitional, perhaps, to the Teutonic and Scandinavian divisions of the so-called Gothic stock.[212] This was a line of criticism difficult to refute; since the advocate of the Angle origin of Danish words might fairly argue that it was not enough to shew that a word was Scandinavian. It must also be shewn to have been non-existent in the North-German dialects. This brought in the proverbial difficulty of proving a negative assertion. Hence, the district of Anglen and Beda's statement concerning it are important.

Now, at the present moment, this district of Anglen is just as Angle or English as the rest of Germany—that is, next to not at all. It is Low German, tinctured with Danish; having once been more Danish still, as is shewn by the geographical names ending in -by, -skov, and -gaard.

The only piece of truly cotemporary evidence in Beda is the statement of its being a waste when he wrote, and this is better explained by supposing it to have been a March, or Debateable Land, between the Germanic and Danish occupants of Sleswick, than by the notion that it was left empty by the exodus of its occupants to Great Britain. The deduction of the Angli from an improbably small area, on the wrong side of the Peninsula, must be looked upon as an inference under the garb of a tradition. Such I believe it to have been; freely, however, admitted that if Anglen poured forth upon England even half the Angles[213] that England contained, it was likely enough to have been most effectually emptied.

At one time I went further than the mere denial of Anglen being the original home of the Angles in the exclusive manner that Beda so evidently considers it, and looked upon the word as a mere translation of the word Angulus—since the area in question is certainly one of the nooks and corners of the Peninsula. But the fact of there being one or two small outlying districts, retaining (I believe) certain privileges, beyond the area bounded by the Slie, the Firth of Flensburg and the road to Sleswick, in the parts about Leck and Bredsted, and on the North-Frisian frontier, has modified this view, and inclined me to the notion that the Anglen districts of Sleswick were really Angle—though Angle only in the way that Britain was Angle, i.e., from the effect of an invasion from Hanover. If so, although we fail in finding in Sleswick the mother-country of the English, we get a detail in the history of the Angles of Germany instead—this being that certain Angles, probably at the time they were reducing Britain, may have turned their faces northwards, and effected settlements in certain parts of Sleswick, having, previously, reached the Trave. Hence they achieved a small maritime conquest on the coast of the Baltic, just as they effected certain large ones on the shores of[214] Britain. Why do I suppose this to have been by sea? Because, when true history begins, whatever the men of Anglen in Sleswick may have been, the intermediate parts of Holstein are Wagrian. The settlement, then, in Anglen, is just a detail in the naval history of the Angles, during the period of their rise and progress—that is, if it be anything Angle at all.

A notice of Procopius now finds place. An Angle princess betrothed to Radiger, prince of the Varni, is deserted by her promised husband for Theodechild, his father's widow, and avenges herself by sailing for the mouth of the Rhine with a large fleet, conquering her undervaluer, forgiving him as women are likely, and dismissing her rival, as they are sure to do in such cases. To deny "all historical foundation to this tale," writes Mr. Kemble,[22] "would perhaps be carrying scepticism to an unreasonable extent. Yet the most superficial examination proves that in all its details, at least, it is devoid of accuracy. The period during which the events described must be placed, is between the years 534 and 547; and it is very certain that the Varni were not settled at that time where Procopius has placed them; on that locality we can only look for Saxons. It is hardly necessary to say that a fleet of four hundred ships and an army of one hundred thousand Angles,[215] led by a woman, are not data upon which we could implicitly rely in calculating either the political or military power of any English principality at the commencement of the sixth century, or that ships capable of carrying two hundred-and-fifty men each, had hardly been launched at that time from any port in England. Still I am not altogether disposed to deny the possibility of predatory expeditions from the settled parts of the island adjoining the eastern coasts."

From this criticism I only differ in thinking that, instead of Procopius having mistaken Saxons for Varni, he has mistaken the Elbe for the Rhine.

It is a point of some uncertainty, but of no great importance to ascertain whether the Angle subjects of the insulted but forgiveful princess were from Britain or from Hanover—islanders already in a state of reaction against their continental fatherland, or simply Angles of the Elbe. The accounts of Procopius respecting both countries are eminently obscure and contradictory. It is only certain that as early as the ninth century there were continental writers who attributed to the Germans of Britain movements from the Island to the Continent as far back from their own time as the fifth century. Nay, later still, there were some historians who wholly reversed the order of Anglo-Saxon migration,[216] and deduced the true Fatherland Germans from England.

And now the history of the rise and progress of the Angles on the soil of Germany ends. Even if it can be increased there is but modicum of information. Yet we could scarcely expect more. On the contrary, why should not the Angles have shared the total obscurity of the Nuithones, Sigulones, and others? What population amongst those with which they came in contact could have recorded their alliances, their victories, or their defeats? Not the Frisians, who were unlettered as long as they were Pagan, and Pagan until the tenth century. Not the Slavonians, whose spiritual and intellectual darkness was equal. Not the Romans, for reasons already given. There only remained the Gauls and Britons. But, unfortunately, in the eyes of the Gauls and Britons, although all Angles were Saxons, all Saxons were not Angles—so that the proportion of proper Angle history which we have in the Gallic and British accounts of the Saxons cannot be determined.

The history of the Saxons of the continent has been stated to have been the history of the Old-Saxons. And up to the time of Beda, and about half a century later, such was the case. Hence, the rule is as follows—where we hear of Saxon actions by sea, the actors may be Old-Saxons,[217] Angles, Frisians, Scandinavians, or Slavonians, and where we hear of actions on the Terra Firma of Germany, and also in the times anterior to B.C. 800, the actors are Old-Saxons rather than Anglo-Saxons. In this case, except in Britain, we have little or no Angle history under the name of Saxon; and, as there is equally little under the name of Angle, we have, as has been already seen, next to no Angle history at all—i.e., in Germany.

But with the reign of Charlemagne the criticism changes. The Saxon history, even in Germany, becomes Anglo-Saxon, as well as Old-Saxon, and it may be that the events are pretty equally distributed between the two divisions. The reason is clear. The arms of Southern and Middle Europe have penetrated to the parts beyond the Weser, and it only requires the Angles to be described under their own proper name (instead of that of Saxon) for us to have the materials of an average history. It is a sickening and revolting history, and a history that few nations but the English can afford. Throughout the whole length and breadth of Germany there is not one village, hamlet, or family which can shew definite signs of descent from the continental ancestors of the Angles of England. There is not a man, woman, or child who can say, I have pure Angle blood in my veins. In no nook or corner can dialect or sub-dialect of the most provincial[218] form of the German speech be found which shall have a similar pedigree with the English. The Angles of the Continent are either exterminated or undistinguishably mixed up with the other Germans in proportions more or less large, and in combinations more or less heterogeneous. And the history of the Conquest and Conversion of the Saxons by Charlemagne is the history of this extinction. It is this that makes it so impossible to argue backwards from the present state of the Angles of Germany to an earlier one, and so to reconstruct their history. They have no present state. Neither have the Old-Saxons—their next of kin. Of the Frisians only, the next nearest, there are still fragments; for, although the enemy of the Old-Saxons and the Anglo-Saxons was the enemy of the Frisians also, he was not equally their exterminator. They may or may not have been braver than the Angles and Old-Saxons. They certainly occupied a more impracticable country. To this period—the period of their reduction—the Angli and Werini of Thuringia are attributed. They may, indeed, have got there as they did to Sleswick, by conquest, and at an earlier period. If so, there was an alliance. They were, however, more probably transplanted.

FOOTNOTES:

[22] Saxons in England, i. 24.


[219]

CHAPTER XI.

RECAPITULATIONS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.—PROPOSITIONS RESPECTING THE KELTIC CHARACTER OF THE ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS OF BRITAIN, ETC.—THE RELATIONS BETWEEN THE ANCIENT BRITONS AND THE ANCIENT GAULS, ETC.—THE SCOTCH GAELS.—THE PICTS.—THE DATE OF THE GERMANIC INVASIONS.—THE NAMES ANGLE AND SAXON.

Of the British Isles at the time of the Angle invasion we have effected a sketch, rather than a picture; a sketch indistinct in outline, and with several of its details almost invisible. Nevertheless, it is a sketch in which some of the points are pretty clear. Germans of one or more varieties, Kelts either Gaelic or British, Picts who may be anything, Romans and Roman Legionaries are the chief elements. These we have had to distribute in Time and Space as we best could. We have also had, as we best could, to investigate their relations to each other.

Let us look back upon what has been attempted in this respect.

And first in respect to our data. The statements of the early authors, and the value which is due to them, have formed the subject of a separate chapter;[23] and it is hoped, that, without any undue disparagement, they have been shewn[220] to be valid only when they are opposed to a very small amount of either conflicting facts or a priori improbabilities. I also lay but little stress upon them when they assert a negative, and equally little when their apparent testimony may be reduced to an inference. Their absolute testimony, however, must be taken as we find it.

Partly for the sake of recapitulation, and partly with the view to give a further investigation to certain questions which could not well be considered until certain preliminary facts had been laid before the reader, the more important inferences are put in form of the following propositions, to some of which a commentary is attached.

I.

The British Isles were peopled from the Keltic portion of the continent originally and exclusively.

This implies an objection to the doctrine of any pre-Keltic population, and to the inferences deduced from certain real or supposed peculiarities in the shape of the skulls from the tumuli of the Stone period. (See pp. 26-27.)

II.

The Gaels cannot be derived from the Britons,[221] nor the Britons from the Gaels; on the contrary, each branch must have been developed from some common stock.

This rests upon the differences between the British and Gaelic languages. (See Chapter V.)

III.

Of this common stock the British branch, at least, must have been developed on the continent. (See Chapter VI.)

This, of course, assumes that the Galli of Gaul were not derived from Britain; a view which has never been adopted, and which probably has so little to recommend it as to make its investigation superfluous.

The British language of Britain and the Gaelic of Gaul would not have been so much alike as they were had they developed themselves separately, each after their own fashion.

This last proposition depends, however, to a great extent, upon the following, viz., that—

IV.

The similarity between the ancient language of Gaul and the ancient language of Britain is measured by that between the present Welsh and the Armorican of Brittany.

The arguments of pp. 86-87, resting as they do upon the close relationship between the ancient[222] language of Gaul[24] and the British—would be materially impaired by any thing which subtracted from the evidence in favour of that relationship.

Now the present Welsh and the present Armorican of Brittany are languages that are very nearly mutually intelligible.

And as the Armorican represents the ancient Gallic, and the Welsh the ancient British, the affinity between the two old tongues must have been, at least, equal to that between the two new ones.

But what if the Armorican do not represent the ancient Gallic, but be merely so much Welsh or Cornish transferred to Brittany in the fifth century? In such a case the argument is materially weakened.

Now there is a certain amount of statements to this very effect, viz., to the Welsh origin of the Armorican. Let them be examined.

Gildas, who mentions the rebellion of Maximus, says nothing of any British migration to Brittany.

Nennius gives us an account beset with inaccuracies, being to the effect that Maximus the[223] seventh imperator in Britain, left the island with all the British soldiers it contained, killed Gratian King of Rome, and held rule over all Europe; that he would not dismiss the soldiers who went with him, but gave them lands in Armorica or the country over-sea (Ar-mor-); that, then and there, these soldiers of Maximus slaughtered all the males, married the females, and cut out their tongues lest the children should learn the language of their parents instead of that of their conquerors. For this reason we call them Letewicion, or, half-silent (semi-tacentes). Thus was Brittany peopled, and Britain emptied; so that strangers took possession of it.

Beda's account is equally unsatisfactory. The Britons were the first who came into the island, and they came from Armorica. It was from Armorica that they came, it was in the south of England that they landed, and it was they who gave the name to the island.

Now there is an error somewhere—if not in Beda, in Nennius; if not in Nennius, in Beda.

Traditions are uniform, inferences vary; and when Nennius brings his Armoricans from Cornwall, and Beda his Cornishmen from Armorica, we have a presumption against a tradition being the basis of their statements. The real basis was the existence of the British language on both sides of the Channel, a fact which being differently[224] interpreted by the different writers gave us two separate and contradictory inferences—each legitimate, and each (for want of further data) wrong.

The present similarity, then, between the Welsh and Armorican remains unaffected by the statements of Beda and Nennius; and the commonsense inference as to the latter language representing the ancient Gallic takes its course.

V.

The Belgæ were Kelts of the British branch.

This implies an objection to all the arguments in favour of a Germanic population occupant of Britain anterior to the Christian era, which are based on the name Belgæ. (See pp. 61-75.)

VI.

The Gaelic branch of the Keltic stock may have been developed in either the British Isles or on the continent.—(Chapter V.)

The following list of words in Professor Newman's Regal Rome, shewing that a remarkable class of words in Latin were Keltic rather than native and Gaelic rather than Welsh, and which was unpublished when the fifth chapter was written, favours the doctrine of the Gaels having been continental as well as insular to an extent for which I was previously unprepared:—

[225]

ENGLISH.LATIN.GAELIC.
Armsarmaarm.
Weapontelumtailm.
Helmetgaleagalia.
Shieldscutumsgiath.
Arrowsagittasaighead.
Coat of Mailloricaliureach.
Spoilsspoliaspuill.
Necklacemonilefail-muineil.
Pointcuspiscusp.
Spearquiris[25]coir.

It also favours Lhuyd's hypothesis rather than the Hibernian. (See pp. 88-89.)

VII.

The earliest ethnology of Scotland was that the earliest Britons, i.e., either British as opposed to Gaelic, or Gaelic which, subsequently, became as British as South Britain itself.

This means that the present Gaels were not aboriginal to the Scotch Highlands, except in the sense that they were aboriginal to Kent or Wales. (See pp. 88-89.)

VIII.

The present Scotch Gaels are of Irish origin.

These two propositions go together; involving an objection to the so-called "Caledonian hypothesis" (p. 89), with which they are incompatible. Nevertheless, anything confirmatory of[226] that hypothesis would, pro tanto, invalidate the present.

The chief facts upon which this doctrine rest are—

1st. The absence of the term sliabh, the current Gaelic form for mountain, throughout Scotland—even in the Gaelic parts of it.

2nd. The great extent to which the forms in aber are found northwards (see p. 81). These occur so far beyond the Pict area, that, although so good a writer as Mr. Kemble has allowed himself to make it commensurate with the British, and although his list of compounds of aber has been placed in the present writer's chapter on the Picts, as an illustration of a certain line of criticism, the inference that they were Britons in North-Briton other than Pict is highly probable. Hence in the northern parts, at least, the word aber was used not because the country was Pict, but because it was British.

It is well known that the doctrine is, in respect to its results, the current one; from which it differs in resting on ethnological inference, rather than on a piece of history.

The historical account is to the effect, that the Scots of Scotland were originally Irish, so that Ireland was the true and proper Scotland. It was Ireland where the Scots dwelt when the Picts came from Scythia, Ireland whence the[227] Picts took their Scottish wives; and, finally, Ireland that gave its present Gaelic population to North Britain. Under a leader named Reuda the Scots of Ireland sailed across the Irish Sea, penetrated far into the Firth of Clyde, settled themselves to the north of the Picts, drove that nation southwards, multiplied their kind in the Highlands, and called themselves Dalriads (Dalreudini), since Reuda was the name of their chief, and daal meant part. The point where the Scots landed was just where the British and Pict areas joined, the parts about Alcluith or Dumbarton—"procedente autem tempore, Britannia post Brittones et Pictos, tertiam Scottorum nationem in Pictorum parte recepit, qui duce Reuda de Hibernia progressi vel amicitia vel ferro sibimet inter eos sedes quas hactenus habent, vindicarunt; a quo videlicet duce usque hodie dalreudini vocantur, nam eorum lingua 'daal' partem significat."—Hist. Eccl. i. 1.

To agree with Beda in making the Gaels of Scotland intrusive, but to demur to his evidence, is, apparently, to substitute a bad reason for a good one without affecting the conclusion, i.e., gratuitously. We shall soon see how far this is the case.

At present, I remark that all Scotland may have been British without having been wholly Pict; and that[228]

The parts of Scotland which were not Gaelic at the beginning of the Historical period and have not been so since, never were.[26]

IX.

The Picts may or may not have been the British Kelts of Scotland: this depending upon the extent to which the gloss penn fahel is a word belonging to the Pict tongue, or only a word belonging to a language spoken within the Pict territory.

Why should it not be Pict? Why disturb the inference by suggesting that they may be Pict only as man or woman are Welsh, i.e., words other than Pict, but words used in a Pict area just as English is spoken in the Welsh town of Swansea? I admit that, if we look only to the plain and straight-forward meaning of Beda, this refinement is unnecessary. There are, however, certain complications.[229]

Daal=part, is suspiciously like the German theil, the English deal, the Anglo-Saxon dæl, the Norse del, dal; indeed, it is a wonder that Beda took it for a foreign word. Hence, gloss for gloss, it is nearly as good evidence for the Picts being German or Norse as penn fahel is for their being Briton. I say nearly, because it is expressly stated to have been Scotch. But this it is not. What, then, is our next best explanation? To suppose it to have been a word used by a population other than Scotch, but on the Scotch frontier. Now this population was Pict.

X.

The Dalriad Conquest may or may not have been real. Being real, it may or may not have given origin to the Gaelic population of Scotland.

This means that Beda's evidence, being exceptionable, may be wholly false—except so far as it is an inference from the existence of Gaels in both Ireland and the Western Highlands.

Even if true as to the fact, its ethnological importance may be over-valued, since the investigation of the origin of the Scotch Gaels inquires, not whether any Irish Scots ever appropriated any part of Scotland, but whether such an appropriation were the one which accounts for the Gaelic population of North Britain. This is the[230] difference between a conquest and the conquest—a difference too often overlooked.

I should not like to say that the Picts were not Scandinavians, a point which will be treated more fully in the thirteenth chapter. Hence—

XI.

Scandinavian settlements may have taken place as early as the earliest notices of the Picts.

In this case the lines would be—Norway, North Scotland, the Hebrides, Ireland and Galloway.

XII.

Germanic elements existed in Britain in the reign of Diocletian.

The notices of the Franks in Kent and Middlesex suggest this. (See p. 96.)

XIII.

The Littus Saxonicum must have been ravaged by Germans as early as the reign of Honorius.

This must be admitted even if we construe Saxonicum as ravaged by Saxons, rather than occupied by Saxons—a construction which is so little natural, that I doubt whether it would ever have been resorted to if the language of Gildas had not been supposed to preclude the notion of any Saxon invasion anterior to A.D. 449. We have seen, however, how little that writer was in[231] the position to make a negative statement, i.e., to state, not only that Hengist and Horsa came over in a given year, but that none of their countrymen ever did so in a previous one.

XIV.

No distinction need be drawn between the Angles and the Saxons of Great Britain on the strength of the difference of name.

This, however, by no means implies that they are to be identified. It merely means that the name goes for but little; and that the difference of origin between the different portions of the Germanic population of Britain is to be determined by the facts of each particular case.

FOOTNOTES:

[23] Chapter vii.

[24] Here is one out of the thousand-and-one inconveniences arising from our present philological nomenclature. I am contrasting two languages with each other: yet their names are as like as Gallic and Gaelic.

[25] Sabine—Sive quod hasta quiris priscis est dicta Sabinis.—Ovid.

[26] This contravenes an opinion to which I have elsewhere committed myself (Man and his Migrations, pp. 161-162). Acting upon the doctrine that Ireland must be considered to have been peopled from the nearest part of the nearest land of a more continental character than itself, unless reason could be shewn to the contrary, I ignored the statement of Beda altogether, and peopled Ireland from the parts about the Mull of Cantyre. The present change of opinion has arisen out of no change in the valuation of Beda's statement. The extent to which the forms in aber are found in Scotland, and the extent to which the name sliabh (with a few others) is wanting, are the real reasons.


[232]

CHAPTER XII.

ANALYSIS OF THE GERMANIC POPULATIONS OF ENGLAND.—THE JUTE ELEMENT QUESTIONABLE.—FRISIAN ELEMENTS PROBABLE.—OTHER GERMAN ELEMENTS, HOW FAR PROBABLE.—FORMS IN -ING.

The present chapter will examine the extent to which certain Germanic populations mentioned by Beda and other writers as having taken part in the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Great Britain actually did so; it will also inquire whether certain other populations not so mentioned may not, nevertheless, have joined in those invasions, although their share in them has been unrecorded.

The Jutes.—Did Jutes, rather than Angles or any other allied population, effect the conquest and occupancy of parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight as they are said to have done?

Let us suppose the case of an American archæologist, in the absence of any authentic history, reasoning about the origin of the three populations of Plymouth, New Jersey, and Portsmouth, three populations lying within no great distance of each other. He knows that, as a general rule, they are to be deduced from England; and he studies the map of England accordingly. On[233] the south-coast he finds a Jersey, which he reasonably infers is the Old Jersey, the mother-country of the Americans of the New. He also finds a Plymouth, from which he draws the same equally reasonable inference. Lastly, he sees a town named Portsmouth—and here he repeats his reasoning—reasoning which is eminently logical, cogent, and apparently conclusive. It passes without challenge or objection, and the origin of the three populations gradually loses its inferential character, and assumes that of a fact founded upon evidence. A writer who adopts his views, perhaps the very writer himself, more or less unconsciously, next believes that his doctrine has an historical rather than a logical basis, and it passes for a fact founded upon records, or at least on tradition. In such a case a sentence like the following might easily be written—"they" (viz., the populations of New Jersey, Plymouth, and Portsmouth) "came from three of the more powerful populations of England, i.e., those of Jersey, Plymouth, and Portsmouth. From those of Jersey came the men of New Jersey, from those of Plymouth the men of Plymouth, and from those of Portsmouth the men of the parts so-called." I say that such a sentence might be written, might pass as a fact, and whether fact or not, would contain an argument so legitimate as to stand against nine hundred[234] and ninety-nine objections out of a thousand. Yet the thousandth might set it aside, since certain facts might have been overlooked.

What if the name of an original Indian tribe had been Jersey (or some name like it), or Portsmouth, or Plymouth? The chances, I admit, are against such an occurrence. But what if it really happened? It cannot be denied that it would materially shake the inference. Nay more, however much that inference took the guise of a tradition or record, it would shake the statement of the author who made it, however unexceptionable.

Still the doctrine might be correct, and not only correct, but capable of having its correctness demonstrated. Let the name in question be the one last mentioned—New Jersey. Let the Old Jersey people of England be like those of Plymouth, but different from them in some definite characteristics. Let those characteristics re-appear in the New Jersey men of America. In such a case, the exceptions taken to the statement from the present existence of an aboriginal Indian population called Nujersi (for such we will suppose the name to be) would fall to the ground.

But what if no ethnological acuteness, no etymological sagacity, no minute analysis of names, traditions, or dialect had ever succeeded in detecting[235] such differentiæ, so that, despite of the endeavours of learned antiquarians, the men of New Jersey could not be shewn to differ from those of Plymouth and Portsmouth, whilst all the while the Old Jersey men did so differ. In such a case the objection that was originally taken from the previous name of the Indian tribe would stand valid.

Mutatis mutandis, this applies to Beda's statement concerning the Jutes—the statement being as follows:—"Advenerant autem de tribus Germaniæ populis fortioribus, id est Saxonibus, Anglis, Jutis. De Jutarum origine sunt Cantuarii et Vectuarii, hoc est ea gens, quæ Vectam tenet insulam, et ea, quæ usque hodie in provincia Occidentalium Saxonum Jutarum natio nominatur, posita contra ipsam insulam Vectam. De Saxonibus, id est ea regione, quæ nunc antiquorum Saxonum cognominatur, venere Orientales Saxones, Meridiani Saxones, Occidui Saxones. Porro de Anglis, hoc est de illa patria, quæ Angulus dicitur et ab eo tempore usque hodie manere desertus inter provincias Jutarum et Saxonum perhibetur, Orientales Angli, Mediterranei Angli, Mercii, tota Nordhumbrorum progenies, id est illarum gentium, quæ ad boream Humbri fluminis inhabitant, ceterique Anglorum populi sunt orti."—Beda 1, 15.

Angles, Saxons, and Jutes occurred within[236] comparatively narrow limits in Great Britain, and, within equally narrow limits, Angles, Saxons, and Jutes occurred in Northern Germany and Denmark.

The Angles of England undoubtedly came from Germany; so did the Saxons.

But did the Jutes? Let us look to the different forms their name took; and also to those of that of the Jutes of Jutland; and, when we have seen that occasionally they both took the same, let us ask whether the objection which has just been suggested against the supposed American speculations do not apply to the real English one.

The Jutes of England were called Jutna-cyn, or the Jute-kin; their locality was the Isle of Wight, and from that island they were called Wiht-ware, Vect-ienses or Vecti-colæ. Beda himself identifies these two populations, saying that the Vect-uarii (Wiht-ware), "who held the Isle of Wight, were of Jute origin." And, lest this be insufficient, both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Alfred repeat (or rather translate) the assertion:—

1

Of Jotum comon Cantware and Wihtware, þæt is seo mæiað, þe nú eardeþ on Wiht, and that cynn on West-Sexum ðe man gyt hæt Jútnacynn. Of Jutes came the Kent-people, and the Wiht-people, that is the race which now dwells in Wiht, and that tribe amongst the West-Saxons which is yet called the Jute tribe.

[237]

2

Comon di of þrym folcum þa strangestan Germaniæ; þæt of Seaxum, and of Angle, and of Geatum; of Geatum fruman sindon Cant-wære and Wiht-sætan, þæt is seo þeód se Wiht þat ealond on eardað. Came they of three folk the strongest of Germany; that of the Saxons, and of Angle, and of the Geats. Of the Geats originally are the Kent-people and the Wiht-settlers, that is the people which Wiht the Island live on.

Now this name Wiht never came from the Jutes at all; since it existed three hundred years before their supposed advent, as the word Vectis=the Isle of Wight; and was a British, rather than a German, term.

And the Wiht-ware were, partially at least, no Germans but Britons, and as Britons, rather than as Jutlanders, did they stand in contrast with the Saxons of the neighbourhood. The proof of this is in Asser, who says that Alfred's mother "Osburg nominabatur, religiosa nimium fæmina, Nobilis ingenio, nobilis et genere; quæ erat filia Oslac—qui Oslac Gothus erat natione, ortus enim erat de Gothis et Jutis; de semine scilicit Stuf et Wihtgar—qui acceptâ potestate Vectis Insulæ—paucos Britannos, ejusdem insulæ accolas, quos in eâ invenire potuerant, in loco qui dicitur Gwitigaraburgh occiderunt, cæteri enim accolæ ejusdem insulæ ante sunt occisi aut exules aufugerant."—Asserius, De Gestis Alfredi Regis.

So that Gwit-garaburg is now Caris-brook, and[238] Caris-brook in the time of Stuf and Wihtgar, was the last stronghold of the Gwitæ, Vitæ, Vecticolæ or Vectienses, who were simply Britons confounded with Jut-æ.

Who then were the Jutnacyn, who lived in Hampshire, as opposed to those of Carisbrook in the Isle of Wight? I imagine, without pressing the point, or supposing that anything important depends on it, that they were the Exules of Asser, the remnants who escaped from the exterminating swords of Stuf and Wihtgar, in their conquest of the island. That they existed in the time of Beda is true; not however as Danes from Jutland, but as Britons from the land of the Wiht-ware.

I do not profess to say why there was the double form Vit, and Jut—nor should I have identified them myself. It is not I who have done this, but Beda and Alfred; as must be admitted by any one who cannot shew a difference between the Wiht-ware and the Jutna-cyn—both authors deriving each from the Jutes.

Neither can I say how Jutland came to be called Vit-land; I can only say that the change is no assumption. In a document of A.D. 952 we find it so called—Dania Cismarina quam Vitland appellant.—See Zeuss in v.

As stated above, all this falls to the ground if any separate substantive reasons for considering[239] the Wiht-ware to be Jutlanders can be shewn. But such are wanting. If either they or the Jutnacyn of the opposite coast of Hants were Danes in the time of Alfred and Beda, where were the signs of their origin? Not in their language; since no mention is made of the Danish in Beda's list of British tongues. Not in the names of geographical localities. Neither -ware, nor -burgh, (in Gwith -wara -burg) are Danish terms. Where are such signs now? The Danish termination for towns and villages is -by. There is no such ending in either Hampshire or the Isle of Wight.

Did Jutes rather than Angles or any other allied population effect the conquest and occupancy of Kent, as they are said to have done?

It is only the Jute origin of the Jutnacyn or Wihtware of Hants that the preceding reasoning impugns. The Jute origin of the Cantware, or people of Kent, is a separate question.

I only suspect error here: the reasons for doing so being partly of a positive, partly of a negative nature:—

1. As far as traditions are worth anything, they make Hengist a Frisian hero.

2. No name of any Kentish King is Danish.

3. No Danish forms for geographical localities occur in the county.

That the Kentish population has certain peculiarities is highly probable; and it is also probable[240] that similar peculiarities on the part of the population of Hants brought the two within the same category. And hence came the extension of the Jute hypothesis to the Cantware.

Were there Frisians in England?—The presumption is in favour of the affirmative; since the Frisians were eminently the occupiers of the German sea-coast.

Again—

1. A native tradition makes Hengist a Frisian.

2. Procopius writes that "three numerous nations occupy Brittia—the Angili, the Phrissones, and the Britons."—B. G., iv. 20.

3. In one of Alfred's engagements against the Danes the vessels are said to have been "shapen neither like the Frisian nor the Danish," and that there were killed in the engagement "Wulfheard the Frisian, and Æbbe the Frisian, and Æthelhere the Frisian—and of all the men, Frisians and English, seventy-two."—Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 897.

In Mr. Kemble's "Saxons in England," a fresh instrument of criticism is exhibited. A local name like that of the present town of Kettering is in Anglo-Saxon Cytringas. Here the -as is the sign of the plural number, and the -ing- a sort of Anglo-Saxon patronymic, or, (if this expression be exceptional) a Gentile form. Hence, Cytr-ing-as means the Cytrings, and is the name[241] of a communityi.e., it is a political or social rather than a geographical term.

Now nearly two hundred such terms occur in the Anglo-Saxon Chartas as names of places.

But besides the simple form in -ing (Anglo-Saxon -ing-as) there is a series of compounds in -wíc, -ham, -weorð, -tun, -hurst, &c., as Bill-ing, Billing-ham, Billing-hay, Billing-borough, Billing-ford, Billing-ton, Billing-ley, Billings-gate, Billing-hurst, &c., most of which it is safe to say mean the -hurst, the -town, &c., of the Billings. Now—

1. The distribution of these forms, either simple or compound, over the counties of England is as follows. There are in—

York, 127; Norfolk, 97; Lincolnshire, 76; Sussex, 68; Kent, 60; Suffolk, 56; Essex, 48; Northumberland, 48; Gloucester, 46; Somerset, 45; Northampton, 35; Shropshire, 34; Hants, 33; Oxford, 31; Warwick, 31; Lancashire, 26; Cheshire, 25; Wilts, 25; Devon, 24; Bedford, 22; Berks, 22; Nottingham, 22; Cambridge, 21; Leicester, 19; Durham, 19; Stafford, 19; Surrey, 18; Bucks, 17; Huntingdon, 16; Hereford, 15; Derby, 14; Worcester, 13; Middlesex, 12; Hertford, 10; Cumberland, 6; Rutland, 4; Westmoreland, 2; Cornwall, 2; Monmouth, 0.

In valuing this list the size of the county must be borne in mind. Subject to this qualification, the proportion of the forms in -ing, is a[242] measure of the Germanism of the population. It is at the maximum in Kent and Norfolk, and at the minimum in Cornwall and Monmouth.

2. The simple forms (e.g., Billings) as opposed to the compounds (Billing-hay) bear the following proportions:—

InEssex as21to48InNorthumberl. as4to35
"Kent2560"Nottinghamsh.322
"Middlesex412"Northamptonsh.348
"Hertford310"Derbyshire214
"Sussex2468"Dorsetshire221
"Surrey518"Cambridgeshire221
"Berks522"Oxfordshire231
"Norfolk2496"Gloucestersh.246
"Suffolk1556"Bucks117
"Hants316"Leicestershire119
"Hunts633"Devonshire124
"Lincolnshire776"Wilts125
"Yorkshire13127"Warwickshire131
"Bedfordshire422"Shropshire134
"Lancashire426"Somersetshire134

Now the simple forms Mr. Kemble considers to have been the names of the older and more original settlements with the "further possibility of the settlements distinguished by the addition of -hám, -wic, and so forth, to the original names, having being filial settlements, or, as it were, colonies, from them."—Saxons in England, i. 479.

3. The same names appear in different localities, e.g.:

ÆscingsinEssex, Somerset, Sussex.
Alings"Kent, Dorset, Devon, Lincoln.
[243]Ardings"Sussex, Berks, Norths.
Arlings"Devon, Gloucester, Sussex.
Banings"Herts, Kent, Lincoln, Salop.
Beádings"Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Isle of Wight, &c.

This leads to the doctrine that either one community was deduced from another, or that both were deduced from a third; this being more especially the case when—

4. The name is found in Germany as well as in Britain. This happens with—

TheWalsingasinferred fromWalsing-ham,
"Harlingas"Harling,
"Brentingas"Brenting-by,
"Scyldingas"Skelding,
"Scylfingas"Shilving-ton
"Ardingas"Arding-worth
"Heardingas"Harding-ham
"Baningas"Banning-ham
"Thyringas"Thoring-ton, &c.

If all these names are to be found not only in Germany but in the Angle part of it, the current opinion as to the homogeneous character of the Anglo-Saxon population stands undisturbed. Each, however, is found beyond the Angle area, and so far as this is the case, we have an argument in favour of our early population having been slightly heterogeneous.


[244]

CHAPTER XIII.

THE SCANDINAVIANS.—FORMS IN -BY: THEIR IMPORT AND DISTRIBUTION.—DANES OF LINCOLNSHIRE, ETC.; OF EAST ANGLIA; OF SCOTLAND; OF THE ISLE OF MAN; OF LANCASHIRE AND CHESHIRE; OF PEMBROKESHIRE.—NORWEGIANS OF NORTHUMBERLAND, SCOTLAND, AND IRELAND, AND ISLE OF MAN.—FRISIAN FORMS IN YORKSHIRE.—BOGY.—OLD SCRATCH.—THE PICTS POSSIBLY SCANDINAVIAN.—THE NORMANS.

A.D.
787.

In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle we find the following notices:—"This year King Beorhtric took to wife Eadburg, King Offa's daughter; and in his days first came three ships of Northmen, out of Hæretha-land. And then the reeve rode to the place, and would have driven them to the king's town, because he knew not who they were; and they there slew him. These were the first ships of Danish-men which sought the land of the English race." Again:—

A.D.
793.

"This year dire forewarnings came over the land of the North-humbrians, and miserably terrified the people; these were excessive whirlwinds, and lightnings; and fiery dragons were seen flying in the air. A great famine soon followed these tokens: and a little after that, in the same year, on the 6th of the Ides of January, the ravaging of heathen men lamentably destroyed God's church at Lindisfarn, through[245] rapine and slaughter. And Siega died on the 8th of the Kalends of March."

After this the notices of the formidable Danes become numerous and important. But it is not in the pages of history that the influence of their invasions is to be found. The provincial dialects of the British Isles, the local names in the map of Europe, the traditions and (in some cases) the pedigrees of the older families are the best sources.

If we study the local names of Germany and Scandinavia, we shall find that when we get North of the Eyder a change takes place. In Sleswick the compound names of places begin to end in -gaard, -skov, and -by; in -by most especially, as Oster-by, Wis-by, Gammel-by, Nor-by, &c. In Jutland the forms in -by attain their maximum. They prevail in the islands. They prevail in Sweden. They are rare (a fact of great importance) in Norway. In Germany they are either non-existent or accidental. In respect to its meaning, by=town, village, settlement; and By-en=the town, is a term by which Christiania or Copenhagen—the metropoles of Norway and Denmark—are designated. Such forms as Kir-ton, Nor-ton, and New-ton in German would, in Danish, be Kir-by, Nor-by, New-by.

Now the distribution of the forms in -by over the British Isles has the same import as its distribution[246] in Germany and Scandinavia. It indicates a Danish as opposed to a German occupancy. Again—the Anglo-Saxon forms are Church and Ship, as in Dun-church and Ship-ton; whereas the Danish are Kirk and Skip, as in Orms-kirk and Skip-ton. The distribution of these forms over the British Isles closely coincides with that of the compounds in -by.

With these preliminaries we will follow the lines which are marked out by the occurrence of the places in -by; beginning at a point on the coast of Lincolnshire, about half-way between the entrance to the Wash and the mouth of the Humber; the direction being south and south-west. Ander-by Creek, Willough-by Hills, Mum-by, Or-by, Ir-by, Firs-by, Reves-by, Conings-by, Ewer-by, Asgar-by,[27] Span-by, Dows-by, Duns-by, Hacon-by,[27] Thurl-by, Carl-by[27] take us into Rutlandshire, where we find only Grun-by and Hoo-by. Neither are they numerous in Northamptonshire; Canons' Ash-by, Cates-by, and Bad-by giving us the outline of the South-eastern parts of their area. For Huntingdon, Cambridge, and Beds, nothing ends in -by, whilst the other forms are in sh, and ch—as Charlton, Shelton, Chesterton rather than Carlton, Skelton, Casterton. Leicestershire is[247] full of the form, as may be seen by looking at the parts about Melton, along the valleys of the Wreak and Soar; but as we approach Warwickshire they decrease, and there is none south of Rug-by. More than this, the form changes suddenly, and three miles below the last named town we have Dun-church and Coach-batch. Tradition, too, indicates the existence of an old March or Debateable Land; for south of Rug-by begins the scene of the deeds of Guy Earl of Warwick, the slayer of the Dun Cow. Probably, too, the Bevis of Hampton was a similar[28] North-amp-ton-shire hero, notwithstanding the claim of the town of Southampton.

The line now takes a direction northwards and passes through Bretby (on the Trent) to Derby, Leicestershire being wholly included. And here the frontier of the forest which originally covered the coal-district seems to have been the western limit to the Danish encroachments, Rotherham, Sheffield, and Leeds lying beyond, but with the greater part of Nottinghamshire and a large part of Derby within, it. In Yorkshire the East Riding is Danish, and the North to a great extent; indeed the western feeders of the Ouse seem to have been followed up to their head-waters, and the watershed of England to have been crossed. This gives the numerous -bys[248] in Cumberland and Westmoreland[29]—Kirk-by, Apple-by, &c.

So much for the very irregular and remarkable outline of the area of the forms in -by on its southern and western sides. In the north-east it nearly coincides with the valley of the Tees—nearly but not quite; since, in Durham, we have Ra-by, Sela-by, and Rum-by. The derivatives of castra, on the other hand, are in -ch-; e.g., Ebchester, Chester-le-street, Lanchester (Lan-caster). In Northumberland there are none.

I look upon this as the one large main Danish area of Great Britain, its occupants having been deduced from a series of primary settlements on the Humber. It coincides chiefly with the water-system of the Trent, makes Lincolnshire, and the East Riding of Yorkshire the mother-countries, and suggests the notions that, as compared with the Humber, the rivers of the Wash, and the river Tees were unimportant. The oldest and most thoroughly Danish town was Grimsby. The settlements were generally small. I infer this from the extent to which the names are compounded of -by and a noun in the genitive case singular (Candel-s-by, Grim-s-by, &c.). Danish names such as Thorold, Thurkill, Orme, &c., are eminently common in Lincolnshire; and, at Grimsby,[249] a vestige of the famous Danish hero Havelok is still preserved in Havelok-street. On the other hand, the number of Danish idioms in the provincial dialects is by no means proportionate to the preponderance of the forms in -by. In Lincolnshire it is but small, though larger in Yorkshire and Cumberland.

The extent to which the rivers which fall in the Wash are not characterized by the presence of forms in -by is remarkable. The Witham and Welland alone (and they but partially) have -bys on their banks. Again—

Just above Yarmouth, between the Yare, the North River and the sea, is a remarkable congregation of forms in -by. These are more numerous in this little tract than the rest of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex together—Mault-by, Orms-by[30] (doubly Danish), Hemes-by, &c. This may indicate either a settlement direct from Scandinavia, or a secondary settlement from Lincolnshire.

However doubtful this may be, it is safe to attribute the -bys on the West of England, to the Danes of Cumberland and Westmoreland, the Danes of the Valley of the Eden. These spread—

A. Northwards, following either the coast of Galloway or the water-system of the Annan, Locker-bie, &c.[250]

B. Westwards into the Isle of Man—

C. Southwards into—

a. Cheshire, Lancashire, and Carnarvonshire (Orms-head), always, however, within a moderate distance of the sea—Horn-by, Orms-kirk,[31] Whit-by, Ire-by, Hels-by, &c.—

b. Pembrokeshire; where in Haver-ford and Mil-ford the element ford is equivalent to the Danish Fiord, and the Scotch Firth, and translates the Latin word sinus—not vadum. Guard- in Fish-guard is Danish also; as are Ten-by and Harold-stone.

Such is the distribution of one branch of the Scandinavians, viz.: those from Jutland, the Danish Isles, and (perhaps) the South of Sweden. That of the Norwegians of Norway is different. Shetland, the Orkneys, Caithness, and Sutherland, the Hebrides, and Ireland, form the line of invasion here. In Man the two branches met—the Danish from the east, and the Norwegian from the north and east.

The numerous details respecting the Scandinavians in Britain are to be found in Mr. Worsaae's "Danes and Northmen;" and, besides this, the proof of the distinction just drawn between the[251] Danes of South Britain and the Norwegians of Scotland, the Hebrides and Ireland. It lies in the phenomena connected with the form -by.

a. Common as they are in Denmark and Sweden, they are almost wholly wanting in Norway.

b. Common as are other Scandinavian elements, the forms in -by are almost wholly wanting in Scotland and Ireland.

Hence—Northman or Scandinavian means a Dane in South Britain, a Norwegian in Scotland and Ireland, and a Dane or Norwegian, as the particular case may be, in the Isle of Man, Northumberland, and Durham. This is well shewn, and that for the first time, in the valuable work referred to.

Can this analysis be carried further? Probably it can. Over and above the consideration of the Frisians of Friesland,[32] there is that of the North-Frisians.[33] Some of these may easily have formed part of the Scandinavian invasion. The nearest approach to absolute evidence on this point is to be found in the East Riding of Yorkshire; where in Holdernesse we have the Frisian forms News-om, Holl-ym, Arr-am, and the compound Fris-marsh. The Leicestershire Fris-by is more evidently North-Frisian.

Again, a writer who, like the present, believes that, until a comparatively recent period, South[252] Jutland, the Danish Isles, and the South of Sweden, at least, were Sarmatian, is justified in asking whether members of this stock also may not have helped to swell the Scandinavian host. The presumption is in favour of their having done so; the a posteriori evidence scanty. Two personages of our popular mythology, however, seem Slavonic—Old Bogy and Old Scratch. Bog in Slavonic is God, or Dæmon; so that Czerne-bog=Black God, and Biele-bog=White God; whereas no Gothic interpretation is equally probable.

Old Scratch is the Hairy one, or Pilosus, as his name is rendered in the glosses. In Bohemian we have the forms scret, screti, scretti, skr'et, s'kr'jtek=demon, household god; in Polish, skrzot and skrzitek; in Slovenian, shkrátie, shkrátely. On the other hand, in the Old High German, the Icelandic, and some of the Low German dialects, the word occurs as it does in English. Still the combination of sounds is so Slavonic, and the name is spread over so great a portion of the Slavonic area, that I look upon it as essentially and originally belonging to that family.

The ethnological analysis of the Scandinavians is one question; the date of their first invasion, another. The statements of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle opened the present chapter. Is there[253] reason to criticize them? For the fact of Danes having wintered in England A.D. 787 they are unexceptionable. For the fact of their having never done so before, they only supply the unsatisfactory assertion of a negative.

For my own part I should not like to deny the presence of Scandinavians in certain parts of Great Britain, even at the very beginning of the Historical period. That this was the case with Orkney and Shetland few, perhaps, are inclined to deny. But the gloss dal[34], combined the exception which can be taken to the words penn fahel,[35] gives a probability to the Scandinavian origin of the Picts which has not hitherto been generally admitted—the present writer, amongst others, having denied it.

When the Britons had occupied the greater part of the Island they were met by the Picts from Scythia. It was not, however, on any part of Great Britain that the Picts first landed.

It was on the north coast of Ireland, then held by Scots. But the Scots had no room for them, so they told them of the opposite island of Britain, and recommended them to take possession of it; which was done accordingly. "And as the Picts had no wives, and had to seek them from the Scots, they were granted on the sole condition, that whenever the succession became[254] doubtful, the female line should be preferred over the male; which is kept up even now amongst the Picts." This peculiarity in the Pict law of succession is interesting; and as Beda speaks to it as a cotemporary witness, it must pass as one of the few definite facts in the Pict history. Another statement of true importance is, that the Scriptures were read in all the languages of Great Britain; there being five in number: the Latin, the Angle, the British, the Scottish, and the Pict.

Could this Pictish have been Scandinavian, a language closely allied to the Anglo-Saxon, without Beda knowing it? I once answered hastily in the negative, but the fact that he actually overlooks the Gothic character of the word dal (=part), has modified my view.

On the other hand, their deduction from Scythia goes for nothing. The text which supplied Beda with his statement has come down to us, though, unfortunately, with three different readings. It is from Gildas, and seems to be one of that author's least happy attempts at fine writing.

He calls the German Ocean the Tithic Valley, or the Valley of Tithys (Thetis?). In one out of the two MSS. which deviate from the form Tithecam Vallem, the reading is Aticam, and in the other Styticam. I give the texts of Gildas in full. They may serve to shew his style:—"Itaque illis[255] ad sua remeantibus, emergunt certatim de curucis, quibus sunt trans Tithecam vallem vecti, quasi in alto Titane incalescente caumate de aridissimis foraminum cavernulis fusci vermiculorum cenei, tetri Scotorum Pictorumque greges, moribus ex parte dissidentes, et una eademque sanguinis fundendi aviditate concordes, furciferosque magis vultus pilis, quam corporum pudenda pudendisque proxima vestibus tegentes, cognitaque condebitorum reversione, et reditus denegatione, solito confidentius, omnem Aquilonalem extremamque terræ partem, pro indigenis muro tenus capessunt."—Historia, §. 15.

But, perhaps, Gildas readily wrote Scythica; for there was a reason, as reasons went in the sixth century, for his doing so. It was, probably, the following lines in Virgil:—

"Aspice et extremis domitum cultoribus orbem,
Eoasque domos Arabum, pictosque Gelonos."—G. xi. 115.

That either Gildas or Beda knew of the line or translated it as if the Picts were Geloni cannot be shewn; but that an author not very much later than Beda did so is shewn by the following extract from a Life of St. Vodoal, written about the beginning of the tenth century—"The Blessed Vodoal was (as they say) sprung from the arrow-bearing nation of the Geloni, who are believed to have drawn their origin from Scythia. Concerning[256] whom, the poet writes Pictosque Gelonos; and from that time till now they are called Picts."[36] Sagittiferi is as Virgilian as the word Picti

"Hic Nomadum genus et discinctos Mulciber Afros,
Hic Lelegas, Carasque sagittiferosque Gelonos
Finxerat."—Aen. viii. 725.

Another element in the reasoning upon the date of the earliest Scandinavians is the fact that more than one enquirer has noticed in the nomenclature of a writer so early as Ptolemy, words with an aspect more or less Scandinavian—e.g., Ar-beia, Leucopi-bi-um, Vand-uarii (Aqui-colæ), Lox-ius fluvius (=Salmon River), and, perhaps, some others.

To argue that there were Scandinavians amongst us in the second century, because certain words were Norse, and then to infer the Norse character of the words in question from the presence of Scandinavians is a vicious circle from which we must keep apart. At the same time, the insufficiency of the early historians to give a negative, the oversight of Beda in respect to the word dal, and the exceptions which can be taken to the gloss penn fahel, are all elements of importance. The present writer believes that there were Norsemen in Britain anterior to A.D. 787, and also that those Norsemen may have been the Picts.[257]

The Danish and Norwegian subjects of Canute give us a direct, the Normans of William the Conqueror an indirect, Scandinavian element.

"The latest conquerors of this island were also the bravest and the best. I do not except even the Romans. And, in spite of our sympathies with Harold and Hereward, and our abhorrence of the founder of the New Forest and the desolator of Yorkshire, we must confess the superiority of the Normans to the Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Danes, whom they met here in 1066, as well as to the degenerate Frank noblesse, and the crushed and servile Romanesque provincials, from whom, in 912, they had wrested the district in the north of Gaul, which still bears the name of Normandy."[37]

This leads us to the analysis of the blood of the Norman, or North-man. Occupant as he is of a country so far south as Normandy, this is his designation; since the Scandinavians who in the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries ravaged Great Britain, extended themselves along the coasts of the Continent as well. And here they are subject to the same questions as the Scandinavians of Lincolnshire, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. They are liable to being claimed as Norwegians, and liable to be claimed as Danes; they may or[258] they may not have had forerunners; their blood, if Danish rather than Norwegian, may have been Jute or it may have been Frisian; they may have been distinct from certain allied conquerors known under the name of Saxon, or they may be the Saxons of a previous period.

They seem, however, in reality, to have been Norwegians from Norway rather than Danes from Jutland and the Danish Isles; Norwegians, unaccompanied by females, and Norwegians who preserve their separate nationality to a very inconsiderable extent. They formed French alliances, and they adopted the habits and manners of the natives. These were, from first to last, Keltic on the mother's side; but on that of the father, Keltic, Roman, and German. That this latter element was important, is inferred from the names of the Ducal and Royal family: William, Richard, Henry, &c., names as little Scandinavian as they are Roman or Gallic.

Hence, the blood of even the true Norman was heterogeneous; whilst (more than this) the army itself was only partially levied on the soil of Normandy—Bretons, who were nearly pure Kelts, Flemings who were Kelto-Germans, and Walloons who were Kelto-German and Roman, all helped to swell the host of the Conqueror. What these effected at Hastings, and how they appropriated the country, is a matter for the civil[259] rather than the physical historian; the distribution of their blood amongst the present Englishmen being a problem for the herald and genealogist. The elements they brought over were only what we had before—Keltic, Roman, German, and Norse. The manner, however, of their combination differed. There was also a slight variation in the German blood. It was Frank rather than Angle.


Kelts, Romans, Germans, and Scandinavians, then, supply us with the chief elements of our population, elements which are mixed up with each other in numerous degrees of combination; in so many, indeed, that in the case of the last three there is no approach to purity.

However easy it may be, either amongst the Gaels of Connaught, or the Cambro-Britons of North-Wales, to find a typical and genuine Kelt, the German, equally genuine and typical, whom writers love to place in contrast with him, is not to be found within the four seas, the nearest approach being the Frisian of Friesland.

It is important, too, to remember that the mixture that has already taken place still goes on; and as three pure sources of Keltic, without a corresponding spring of Gothic, blood are in full flow, the result is a slow but sure addition of Keltic elements to the so-called Anglo-Saxon stock,[260] elements which are perceptible in Britain, and which are very considerable in America. The Gael or Briton who marries an English wife, transmits, on his own part, a pure Keltic strain, whereas no Englishman can effect a similar infusion of Germanism—his own breed being more or less hybrid.

The previous pages have dealt with the retrospect of English ethnology. The chief questions in the prospect are the one just indicated and the effects of change of area in the case of the Americans.

FOOTNOTES:

[27] These are Danish forms throughout—Asgar-, Hacon-, and Carl- being as little Anglo-Saxon as -by. Carl-by in Anglo-Saxon would be Charl-ton.

[28] North-avon-ton-shire.

[29] Also Caster-ton=Chester-ton. The numerous forms in thwaithe are shewn by Mr. Worsaae to be Norse.

[30] Doubly Danish: the Anglo-Saxon form of Orm being Worm.

[31] Doubly Scandinavian: the Anglo-Saxon form would be Worm-church. Generally in compounds of this kind the Danish form Kirk is a prefix, the Anglo-Saxon church an affix; e.g., Kirk-by, Off-church.

[32] See p. 240.

[33] See p. 177, &c.

[34] See p. 226.

[35] See p. 229.

[36] From Mabillon.—Zeuss, p. 198.

[37] The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World.—By Prof. Creasy,—Hastings.

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Transcriber's Amendments:

p. 9, 'Feroe' amended to Faroe: 'Faroe Isles'.

p. 17, 'milleniums' amended to millenniums.

p. 28, 'milleniums' amended to millenniums.

p. 47, 'Periegeta' amended to Periegetes: 'Dionysius Periegetes'.

p. 48, 'Prosepine' amended to Proserpine: 'Ceres and Proserpine'.

p. 52, 'boats' amended to books: 'different part of Csar's books'.

p. 61, 'Luxumbourg' amended to Luxembourg.

p. 64, 'potenate' amended to potentate.

p. 67. 'Diviaticus' amended to Divitiacus.

p. 76, 'PEANN FAHEL' amended to PENN FAHEL (in heading).

p. 79, fn. 7, 'Philogical' amended to Philological.

p. 89, 'Oose' amended to Ouse: 'such rivers as ... Ouse'.

p. 92, 'phisopher' amended to philosopher: 'philosopher Seneca';
'Servius' amended to Severus: 'Emperor Severus'.

p. 95, '-uis' amended to -ius: 'the forms in -ius and -inus'.

p. 98, 'Britains' amended to Britons: 'harass the South Britons'.

p. 107, 'there' amended to their: 'if their dates were'.

p. 124, second entry for 'LXXVII' amended to LXXVIII.

p. 125, 'XCLIV' amended to XCIV.

p. 126, 'CXLIX' amended to CLVI.

p. 149, 'Lunenburg' amended to Luneburg.

p. 153, 'Hevel' amended to Havel: 'river Havel'.

p. 154, 'Verini' amended to Varini: 'Varini of Tacitus'.

p. 167, 'Francs' amended to Franks: 'Merovingian Franks'.

p. 171, '(vita St. Bonifac:)' amended to (vita St. Boniface);
'Ceadmon' amended to Cædmon.

p. 173, 'Dutchy of Holstein' amended to Duchy of Holstein.

p. 184, 'cristened' amended to christened.

p. 193, 'Briton' amended to Britain: 'coasts of Gaul and Britain'.

p. 195, 'Peloponessus' amended to Peloponnesus.

p. 202, additional 'and' removed: 'and and in a form adapted'.

p. 204, 'Nibelungen-Lied' amended to Nibelungenlied.

p. 222, 'Britain' amended to Brittany;
'Britanny' amended to Brittany.

p. 227, added 'a': 'a bad reason for a good one'.

p. 228, duplicate text removed: 'disturb the inference'.

p. 231, 'Hengest' amended to Hengist.

p. 238, 'Britains' amended to Britons: 'as Britons from'.

p. 242, 'Glostershire' amended to Gloucestersh. (in table).

p. 243, 'Gloster' amended to Gloucester.

p. 245, 'Scandanavia' amended to Scandinavia.

p. 246, 'Willoug-by' amended to Willough-by.

p. 254, 'pars' amended to part.

Further Notes:

p. 169, 'Hildubrant' and p. 171, 'Hildebrant': With no clear preference shown by the author, both variant forms remain as printed.






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