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people. Their lands measured the breadth of the island, from the seaboard of Yorkshire on the one side to that of Lancashire on the other. The Brigantines, in fact, were in possession of all the northern counties of modern England. The Cantii, as before stated, were in possession of Kent. The Belgæ peopled Hampshire and Wiltshire. The greater part of Middlesex, including London, was in the hands of the Trinobantes. The Damnonii are found almost everywhere south of the river Ex. Along the east coast, between the Thames on the south and the country of the Brigantines on the north, were the Iceni and the Coitanni. The spaces between these greater nations were occupied by many smaller, and the greater had become such by gradually absorbing many of less magnitude. *
The question now comes—of what race were these nations ? The answer of Cæsar is, that those of Kent and its neighbourhood were an immigrant race from Belgian Gaul. This he had learnt from the Belgians themselves; and their representations were confirmed by what he saw on his first and second landing. One of the pretences for these invasions was, the assistance which the Britons had rendered to their brethren and allies in Gaul, when the latter were in arms against the Romans. This point settled, we advance a step further. It is manifest from subsequent authorities, that the people of the whole island, as known to the Romans, must have been of the same stock with the people of Kent. In condition, in customs, in language, in religion, they were one people. Even in the case of the Picts, who became formidable in the Lowlands of Scotland at a later period, and that of the Gaels, who have been always confined to the Highlands of that country, the difference can hardly be said to have been a difference of race. Thus, to know the race of the Belgic Gauls is to know the race of the British. Now the common opinion is that the Belge were a branch of the great Celtic family. Nine-tenths of our most competent authorities are of this judgment, and nine-tenths of the evidence on the case is with them. That the Celts and Germans bordered upon each other, and were in some degree mixed on the territory now known as the Low Countries, may be admitted ; but the fact remains, that the language of all the inbabitants of Britain, as known to the Romans, was Celtic and not Teutonic. The language of Wales is not German. The clans of the Highlands do not talk Dutch. Scarcely less strong than the evidence arising
Ptolem. Geograph., viii. 2. Itinerary of Antoninus. Baxter's Gloss. Brit. Horsley's Brit. Rom., passim. Tacitus says these subdivisions of the Britons, and the consequent jealousies, prevented their acting in concert, and favoured the arms of the Romans. Vita Agric. xii.
Ethnology of Ancient Britain.
from the identity of language is that arising from the identity of religion. Druidism, the religion of Celtic Gaul, so different from Odinism, the religion of the Teutons, was dominant over Britain. This island, indeed, would seem to have been specially sacred to Druidism, inasmuch as the youths of Gaul, according to Cæsar, were wont to resort hither for the purpose of being thoroughly initiated into the mysteries of that system.
The Picts, the supposed ancestors of the Lowland Scots, do not make their appearance in history under that name before the close of the third century. The controversy in regard to the origin of this people has been great, and very bitter. They have become Germans, Scandinavians, Gauls, Britons, or nondescripts, according to the bias of antiquaries and historians. When led by Galgacus against Agricola, it was evident, from their numbers, their war-chariots, shields, and iron swords, that they were little inferior to the southern inhabitants of the island in capacity for war or in the knowledge of useful arts. From the remains of their language, as well as from other circumstances, the most reasonable, and now the most general opinion is, that they were Britons from the common Celtic stock. Ptolemy makes these Pictish or Caledonian tribes to have been seventeen in number.*
The Gaelic clans of the Highlands were also Celtic; but their language and their geographical position seem to shut us up to one of two conclusions respecting them-either that they must have come into that part of Britain from Ireland, or else that they were the remains of an aboriginal race which had been forced into those mountain fastnesses, into the Isle of Man, and into Ireland itself, by subsequent invaders. There are some difficulties in the way of the latter supposition, but evidence, upon the whole, seems to preponderate in its favour. The Gaelic tongue is not British, but it has affinities with the Irish. The word Aber in Welsh, and in old British, denotes the estuary of a river, or any outlet of waters. The word Inver in Gaelic and Irish, has the same meaning. The word Aber is so used as a prefix to the names of places along the line extending from South Wales to the north of Scotland, marking off a territory to the right as pervaded by the British tongue and race. The word Inrer is commonly used for the same purpose through the Highlands, to the left of that line, bespeaking the prevalence there of a tongue and race which, while still Celtic, are more Irish than British. Thus while the old British tongue sounds along from
Wilson's Pre-historic Annals of Scotland, 470—473. Latham's Ethnology of the British Islands, c. vi.
Aberystwith to Aberdeen, the Gaelic makes itself heard from Inverary to Inverness.*
That Britain was peopled in some degree by a pre-Celtic race, is an opinion familiar to the learned. But the evidence in favour of that idea is much too fragmentary and uncertain to be available for history. There may have been, as our northern antiquaries teach, an age of stone implements, and an age of bronze implements, preceding the use of iron which had come in the time of Cæsar. But the line between those ages cannot be well defined, and the two former must be reckoned pre-historic. The race of the stone period, who had so far degenerated from the civilization of those eastern lands, whence their progenitors had long since migrated must have passed away long before the time of Cæsar, like
the vegetation of their own forests, leaving scarcely a trace behind.
Concerning the physical characteristics of the inhabitants of Britain at the commencement of the present era ancient writers have said but little. The description of the trading and peaceful Britons of Cornwall, with their long beards, long garments, and long walking-staves, is manifestly a description that must not be deemed applicable to Britons beyond that district. The Britons seen by Cæsar, though living in a less southerly home, were comparatively naked: they were clad in skins. They stained their bodies with woad, puncturing their skin, so as to cover it with purple figures-a custom all but universal among British seamen even within our own memory. They wore a moustache, but no beard. Their hair fell long upon their shoulders. They were brave and skilful in war.
Strabo speaks of some Britons seen by him at Rome as being taller than the Gauls, though the Gauls were tall compared with the Romans. But the Britons were not so strongly built; their hair also was less yellow, and there was a want of symmetry in their lower limbs. There were no men in Rome so tall by half a foot. It is possible, however, that these men were seen in a procession, and, if so, they would be picked men, and not a fair sample of their race.
Tacitus says the Britons varied in their physical qualities. The Caledonians had ruddy hair and large limbs. The Silures were of a dark complexion, and their hair mostly dark and curling. The tribes inhabiting the present Lowlands of Scotland he describes as a fierce people, the Silures as powerful and
* Kemble's Saxons in England, ii. 4, 5. In Scotland there are eleven names of places commencing with the one prefix and twelve with the other. In Wales there are seven names commencing with Aber, not one with Inver. Latham's Ethnology of the British Islands, c. v.
brave, and the Britons generally as not incapable of submission under mild treatment, but as passionate and uncontrollable under oppression. In the abridgment of the history of Dion Cassius, Boadicea is described as having yellow hair, which fell in profusion to her waist. She wore a collar of gold, a particoloured vest, drawn closè about her bosom, and dropping in folds to her feet, and over that a thick mantle, fastened with a clasp.*
The effect of the Roman ascendancy on the history of races in Britain was not great. The settlers, whether soldiers or civilians, bore the common name of Romans, but they consisted of men from all countries, and of all races. They sometimes married wives from among the natives, but not to such an extent as to obscure the great line of demarcation between the natives and the colonists. Hence, when the imperial authority was withdrawn, the great mass of the settlers would seem to have retired along with it. Among the names which come to the surface afterwards are some which remind us of their Latin origin; but in general, such authority as survived passed into native hands; and as it had been no part of the policy of the Romans to train the Britons to habits of self-defence or of self-government, they were found lamentably wanting in both. During more than three centuries the Britons had been subject to these enervating influences. Their resistance of the Picts was feeble. The country was overrun by those marauders. By degrees, however, the old courage of the race seemed to return, and the Jute, the Angle, and the Saxon, had to win their home in Britain by hard fighting, inch by inch. The mythic story of King Arthur and his knights, which must, we think, have had some foundation in history, belongs to this period.
The first mention of the Saxons in history is by Ptolemy, the geographer. Ptolemy makes them to be of Scythian descent. They were certainly a branch of the great Teutonic race, and included tribes under various names, besides those properly known as Saxons. About the middle of the second century, the Saxons were in possession of that part of the modern Duchy of Holstein which lies between the mouths of the Eyder and the Elbe. The Baltic side of the Duchy, which still bears the name of Anglen, was the country of the Angles, and the home of the Jutes-or Jutland men-stretches indefinitely northwards. Two centuries later these tribes, under the general name of Saxons, had spread their conquests so far south as to be found over the whole space between the Eyder and the Rhine. In the middle of the fifth century, the time now under review, their territory embraced the whole of the land washed by the German Ocean, including both East and West Friesland, Holland, and Zealand, besides Westphalia, Saxony, and countries further north.*
* Monumenta Historiæ Britannicæ.
+ Nennius (Hist. 50) who is a great authority touching the story of King Arthur, shows himself in every page of his history to have been a very weak and credulous personage. The two centuries which intervened between his time and the time of Arthur, left space enough in an age so little critical for a large exercise of invention. Geoffry of Monmouth, who knows so much about King Arthur, expresses his surprise that Bede, and even Gildas, should have failed to make any mention of the Celtic hero (Hist. c. 1.) The surprise is not unnatural. Nor do the facts hang very naturally together that King Arthur and his knights should have wrought such prodigies of valour, and that their cause should nevertheless have been everywhere, as is manifest enough, a losing one. Even such writers, however, as Whitaker (Hist. Manchester, xi. 43, 45) and Mr. Turner (Anglo-Saxons, i.) have been at some pains to track the course, and to determine the battle-fields of King Arthur. For the different accounts of the Saxons and Britons concerning this period, see Bede, Hist., i. 15. Chron. Sax. ad ann. 449 et seq. Gildas, $ 23—26. Nennius, 36–38, 43–45. Lappenberg, Hist. Eng., 67–71.
The part of those regions in which the Saxons are first known consists of numerous islands, and of a shore marked by intricate windings, creeks, and bays, exposed, moreover, to all the influences of northern tempest and cold. Everything there seemed to combine to ensure maritime proficiency, and a hardy spirit of adventure. The Saxons became all that a map of their home would suggest as probable in the history of rude tribes so placed. Steady industry they despised.
Their swords were their only trust. Plunder, by sea or by land, was their chief vocation. Band after band, as they subdued districts, settled in them, compelling the vanquished to do their husbandry for them, while they sallied forth themselves, from season to season, in search of new adventure and new spoil. Every man had his chief, to whom he promised fidelity, and when an enterprise embraced several chiefs, one was invested with supreme authority for the occasion. They used the bow, the sword, the spear, the battle-axe, and a club with spikes projecting from a knob at the end, sometimes called the hammer. The last three of these weapons were of a great length and weight. The men of the Saxon race were generally above the middle stature, powerfully made, and could make their implements fall with terrible effect upon an enemy. They wore helmets, the metal of which descended to the ear on either side, and sometimes sent a line of protection down the centre of the forehead. The most exposed parts of their persons were generally guarded in like -manner. Of course, these descriptions apply to the Saxons of the fifth century—the earlier adventurers of this race possessed little
* Ptol. Geog., xi. c. xi. Europæ tab. Eutrop., ix. Steph. Byzant. voc. Saxones. Ethelward, Chron. Pref. lib. i. Bede, Hist. Eccles. lib. i., c. xv. lib. v. c. xi. Orosius, lib. i., c. 1. Chron. Sax. ad ann. 449. Bremen, c. ccx. Cluver, Antiq. German. iii. 96 et seq.