Page images
PDF
EPUB

instruct the people in the way of righteousness; they had sacrifices, but they were not appointed of God, nor acceptable in his sight. They were under the influence of a blind and degrading superstition, devoid of all sound principle, and of all spirituality of mind. And in this state of religious destitution they continued, till the Gospel of Christ, with its illuminating and renovating power, reached this island, and a free and present salvation was offered to their attention and choice. One language prevailed among mankind, not only in the antediluvian world, but even on this side the flood, to the building of the tower of Babel, in the land of Shinar. Pride and presumption were manifested by those concerned in the erection of that tower; and so displeased was the Almighty with this conduct, that he confounded their language, and by this means disconcerted their measures. The heads of families or tribes, now speaking different languages, began to form themselves into separate companies; and of course became different people or nations. Moses says, “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands, every one after his tongue—after their families—in their nations.” It is agreed, that the earliest inhabitants of Britain were descendants of Japhet, the son of Noah. The posterity of Japhet, by his sons Gomer, Magog, Madia, Tubal, Meshech, Tiras, exceedingly increasing, under the names of Gomerians, Celts, Gauls, as well as various other names, peopled the northern half of Asia, and the whole of Europe. Thus was accomplished that primitive promise, “God shall enlarge Japhet.” There are many great authorities for believing that the Celtae were the descendants of Gomer, the eldest son of Japhet. Our attention will be directed chiefly to the ancient Britons,

ORIGIN.—The opinions entertained by different authors concerning the first colonizers of Britain are various. The generality of English writers on this subject, think, with Tacitus, the Roman historian, that they came hither from Gaul. But Tacitus was never in Britain, and what he has written relating to the antiquity of the Britons, was but contingent to his purpose, the whole scope of his design being to describe the actions of his father-in-law, Julius Agricola, during his lieutenancy in this island, and not to show the ancient state and origin of the Britons. Dr. Stukeley gives it as his opinion, that the most ancient Britons came by sea from the eastern countries, Phoenicia, Arabia, Egypt, and that before Gaul was peopled. Theophilus, who was Bishop of Antioch, in the year 160, says, that the “Asiatic emigrants arrived in Britain soon after the dispersion from Babel.” If this assertion be correct, says one, they must have come by sea: since to have migrated so far westward by land would have required a much greater length of time. Hence the population of Britain may have been effected, whilst the western parts of Europe were absolutely uninhabited. Aylett Sammes, in his Antiquities of Ancient Britain, contends for a Phoenician origin. He says, “The language itself for the most part, as well as the customs, religion, idols, offices, dignities, of the ancient Britons, are all clearly Phoenician; as likewise their instruments of war, as slings, and other weapons, their scythed chariots, and their different names, and several distinctions. Out of the same tongue,” he says, “I have illustrated several monuments of antiquity found out and still remaining in Britain, which can in no ways be interpreted than in the Phoenician tongue, where they have a plain, easy, and undeniable signification.” It is true, that the Phoenicians traded to this country for tin, at a very early period, and we have substantial proofs of their having been here; but it requires more direct evidence than we at present possess, to demonstrate that they were the first colony of ancient Britons. There is a source of information, which appears to have an equal, if not a superior claim on our attention. The doctrine of the British bards and triads, is one of great importance as to the point in hand; especially if we reflect, that the Welsh have retained their language for almost three thousand years . " The aggregate of information derived from British bards and triads, according to the statement of a modern author, is this: “That the original colony, which migrated to Britain, was conducted hither by a leader named Huysgin;"— “ that the first settlers of Britain came hither after a long and devious voyage by sea;”—“that they came from the summer country;”—“ that they anciently inhabited Dyffro-banu,” or more correctly, Dyffrynbanu, or Dyffryn-albanu, that is, the deep vales or glens of Albania, a country situated between the Euxine and Caspian seas;—“ that they were natives of a country in Asia;" and lastly, “that they came to Britain from a city called Gaf-is,” that is, the lower Cäf, the Arabic name of Caucasus, a mountain stretching between the Caspian and Euxine seas. M. Pezron states, that the Gomerians possessed themselves of the provinces east of the Caspian sea, which is a rich and fruitful country, favoured with a temperate and delightful atmosphere. In process of time, increasing to a vast multitude, they could not always live in repose and tranquillity; the seeds of jealousy springing up among them, produced factions and commotions. Some of them imbued with the fostering spirit of civilization, coalesced into societies; while others, resisting the power of restraint, were vagrant and wild. The result was, that they who were the weakest either in number or strength, were expelled, and forced to seek for a retreat elsewhere. Of course, the separatists would direct their way as inclination, convenience, or compulsion, might dictate. According to the Triads, mention is made of three colonies coming from the continent, in some remote age, to Britain. “And the first is the Cymry, or Cymbrians; these came over from the German ocean, which they call Mór Tawch, or the hazy ocean, from the land of Hāv,” or the summer country, which, no doubt, was Asia. These came under the command of Hu Gadarn, who is styled the pillar of his nation, for he conducted the Cymry to Britain. Of him, it is said, that he aimed not at obtaining territory by war and contention, but in the way of peace and equity. The second was “ The Lloegrwys, Loegrians, or Ligurois, who came from the land of Gwasgwyn, and were sprung from the primordial race of the Cymry. The third was, the Brython, or Britons, who came from the land of Llydaw, (Letavia,

* Preface, p. 4.

* “That the present Welsh language is the genuine daughter of the ancient British, spoken in the time of the Romans, cannot be disputed; because we have now extant MSS. writ in every age from the Roman times down to the present, which plainly prove the descent, and are not unintelligible to the present inhabitants of Wales.”—Mallett's Northern Antiq. vol. i. Preface, p. 3.

“The Celtic dialects are now principally six; namely, Welsh, or the insular British; Cornish, almost extinct; Armorican, or French British; Irish, the least corrupted ; Mana, or the language of the Isle of Man;

and Erse, or Highland Irish, spoken also in all the western islands of

Scotland.”—Toland's History of the Druids, p. 46.

[ocr errors]

Armorica, or Bas Bretagne,) and were also sprung from the primordial race of the Cymry. These were denominated the three peaceable tribes, inasmuch as they came by mutual consent and permission; and the three were of one language and of one speech.” “ These three, called benevolent tribes, were the first inhabitants of this country. The venerable Bede, says the Rev. P. Roberts, appears to have been ignorant of the first colony, but mentions the second and third as the original ones, and places them agreeably to the Triads. “It is said, that the Britons having sailed from Armorica, took possession of the southern part of the island, and proceeding from the south, embarked on the ocean in a few long vessels, and sailed to Ireland. Being refused a settlement there, they made for Britain, and began to settle in the northern parts, as the Britons had pre-occupied the southern.”” The Rev. P. Roberts, in his Early History of the Britons, says, “The distinction between the Loegrians and the Brython is remarkable; the latter were of a common descent with the Cymry, and evidently descendants of those who went to Armorica, when Hu and his followers came to Britain. The Loegrians were not of the same immediate descent, though originally of the same stock. The latter were Gauls of the Loire, whose territory from thence to the Pyrenees, appears to have been denominated Gwasgwyn, that is Gascony, by the Welsh writers. In what part of the island these Brython were stationed, does not exactly appear; but the Gauls, according to the Triads, were settled partly in Cornwall, and partly to the north of the Humber.” “ He also gives a character of the chieftain of the Cymry, in these words: “HU THE MIGHTY appears to have been

* Hughes's Horae Britannicae, vol. i. p. 12–14. b Hist. Eccl. p. 23. Ed. Cant. 1644. & P. 52.

« PreviousContinue »