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the time of Julius Cæsar to tribes of Gaulish origin, and comprised the best and most fertile parts of the island. The eastern and southern districts especially, having the advantage of climate and of a constant intercourse with Gaul, were among the more civilized; they were densely populated, and the people seem to have been comparatively rich and prosperous. Different it was in the northern and western parts of Britain, where the climate was rude and the people poor. When the island fell under Roman power, its whole western and northern coasts were little better than a cold and watery desert. According to all the accounts of the early travelers, the sky was stormy and obscured by continual rain, the air chilly even in summer, and the sun during the finest weather had little power to disperse the steaming mists. The trees gathered and condensed the rain; the crops grew rankly but ripened slowly, for the ground and the atmosphere were alike overloaded with moisture. The fallen timber obstructed the streams, the rivers were squandered in the reedy morasses, and only the downs and hilltops rose above the perpetual tracts of wood.
Under these circumstances, Gaels and Gauls vastlý differed in manners, costumes, and in language, according to their surroundings and their mode of existence. Rich soil and pasturage make shepherds, dairy-men, and farmers; the mountain and the forest, on the contrary, make warriors and hunters; while the sea-shore, with its fishermen and sailors, has other aims and interests, which make them unlike both, though all may have been originally of one blood and one speech. Thus the Gaelic tribes, while differing in many particulars from their Gaulish brethren, differed considerably among themselves, owing to local influences, which prevented their attaining a uniform standard of culture.
Among the most civilized of the Gaelic tribes we notice, in the first place, the Damnonians of Devon and Cornwall, and their neighbors, the Durotriges, who have left a vestige of their name in the modern Dorchester and Dorset. Both these tribes, it seems, were isolated from their eastern neighbors by a wide marsh of woods and fens,
* The tract of country over which the English, in the beginning of the seventh century, ruled south of the Humber, coincided almost exactly with the Gaulish portions of Britain.-L. Rhys, Lectures, 185.
* Hominum est infinita multitudo, creberrimaque ædificia.--Cæsar, De Bell. Gall., v, 12.
which probably helped to preserve for them that superiority of culture which distinguished them from the inland tribes. Diodorus informs us that these southern nations had been taught to live “in a very hospitable and polite manner by their intercourse with the foreign merchants.” The Greeks came for their minerals, the Gauls for furs and skins and the great wolf-dogs which they used in their domestic wars. There must have been many other sources of information from which the natives could learn what was passing abroad. There were students from Gaul constantly crossing to take lessons in the insular Druidism; the slave-merchants followed the armies in time of war, the peddlers explored the trading-roads to sell their trinkets of glass and ivory, and the traveling sword-smiths and bronze-tinkers must have helped in a great degree to spread the knowledge of the arts of civilized society. Thus the Damnonians had the advantages of trade and travel. It
It appears from a passage in Cæsar's “Commentaries " that their young men were accustomed to serve in foreign fleets and to take part in the Continental wars. The nation had entered into a close alliance with the Veneti, or people of Vannes, whose powerful navy had secured the command of the Channel. A squadron of British ships took part in the great sea-fight which was the immediate cause or pretext of Cæsar's invasion of the island; and his description of the allied fleet shows the great advance in civilization to which the Southern Britons had attained. “The enemy," he said, “ had a great
, advantage in their shipping; the keels of their vessels were flatter than ours, and were consequently more convenient for the shallows and low tides. The forecastles were very high, and the poops so contrived as to endure the roughness of those seas. The bodies of the ships were built entirely of oak stout enough to withstand any shock or violence. The banks for the oars were beams of a foot square, bolted at each end with iron pins as thick as a man's thumb. The sails were of untanned hide, either because they had no linen and were ignorant of its use, or, as is more likely, because they thought linen sails not strong enough to endure their boisterous seas and winds."1 We are told by a later writer that the ships and their sails were painted blue, for the purpose of making them less conspicuous at a distance.
Advancing northward, we find the Silurians across the Severn Sea, the Demeta, the Dobuni of the Vale of Glou. cester, and the Cornavii, who held a narrow territory between the Malvern Hills and the mouth of the Dee. None of these tribes appear to have shared in the culture which the Damnonians had gained from their intercourse with foreigners What little commerce they undertook was carried on in frail curraghs, in which they were bold enough to cross the Irish Sea. Boats of that kind are still used in Ireland, with the substitution of tarred can. vas for the original covering of bull's hide. All these tribes were probably of a mixed race, if we may judge from the persistence of the Silurian features among the modern population of the district. Their neighbors, the Ordovices, on the contrary, were a nation of Gaelic descent, and are sometimes described as holding all North Wales. Next we come to a central region, bounded on the south by the Gaulish kingdoms, and on the north by the Brigantian territories, and belonging to a mixed assemblage of tribes, who became known under one name, as the nation of the Coritavi. They consisted in part of Celtic clans, and in part of the remnants of a ruder people. Cæsar says that most of these people were mere savages, that they grew no grain at all, but lived on meat and milk, and were clad in the skins of beasts. The Celts in the midland districts may possibly have lived in permanent villages, raising crops of oats or some rougher kind of grain for food, and weaving themselves garments of hair or of coarse wool from their puny, many-horned sheep; but the ruder tribes, who subsisted entirely by their cattle, would naturally follow the herd, living through the summer in booths on the higher pasturegrounds, and only returning to the valleys to find shelter from the winter storms. They were an utterly barbarous people, too careless to trouble themselves with agriculture, as if they had no patience to wait for the turn of the seasons, and preferred to trust to the chances of war for food and plunder. They disfigured themselves with woad, and this fashion seems to have survived even in
Cæsar, De Bell. Gall., v, c. 14-
The woad-plant, called vitrum from its use in the manufacture of glass, has properties like those of indigo. “ The herb usually yields a blue tint, but when partially deoxidated it has been found to yield a fine green; the black color was a third preparation, made by the application of a greater heat."Herbert's Britannia, lvi.
some districts conquered by the Gauls. The men used it as a war-paint, staining their faces and limbs blue and green, to look more ghastly and terrible, for, like savages in general, they thought that an enemy could never withstand an army of such grim aspect."
To the north of the Coritavi stretched a confederacy or collection of kingdoms, to which the Romans applied the name of Brigantia. We first hear of these confederate states about the year 50, when their combined territories extended from one coast to the other, its northern boundary closely following the line of Hadrian's Wall. The people seem to have been comparatively rich and prosperous, and so eminent were they in war that they repeatedly repulsed the advance of the Imperial legions. Seneca boasted that the Romans had bound with chains of iron the necks of the blue-shielded Brigantes; but it was long before these turbulent tribes were actually subdued, and even in the second century they seem to have preserved some remains of their ancient liberty.
The story of Queen Cartismandua is the best illustration of the character and habits of these people. The luxury of her court may have had no existence except in the fancy of Tacitus: but the barbarian queen was doubtless rich in her palace of wicker-work, in a herd of snow-white cattle covering the pastures of the royal tribe, an enameled chariot, a cap or a corselet of gold. She was the chief of one of the many tribes of which the Brigantian nation was composed. At a time when every valley had its king with an army of villagers, an ale-house council, and a precarious treasure of cattle gained and held by the law of the strongest, it was seldom possible for the nation to unite in any common design, even for the purpose of resisting the peril of a foreign invasion. The gathering of a national army was an affair of meetings, and treaties, and solemn sacrifices to the gods. When the sacred rites were fulfilled, the blood tasted, and the rival deities and chieftains united by a temporary bond, the noblest and bravest of the tribal leaders was chosen as a war-king or general in command. But as often as not the treaty failed and the clans fought or submitted as each might feel inclined. “Our greatest advantage," said Tacitus, “ in deal
* Tac. Germ., c. 43 ; Cæsar, De Bell. Gall., v. c. 14. Compare the “Virides Britannos" of Ovid, Amor., ii, 16, 39; the “Cærulum Saxona" of Sidonius, viii, 9; and the vermilion-painted Goths described by Isidore of Seville, Orig.,
ing with such powerful nations is that they can not act in concert; it is seldom that even two or three tribes will join in meeting a common danger; and so, while each fights for himself, they are all conquered together.” 1
As the Romans advanced westward in their British conquests, they observed that certain tribes were different in manners and appearance from the Gaulish and the Insular Celts; and they were led, by a mistaken estimate of the vicinity of Ireland to Spain, to account for this fact by the hypothesis of a Spanish migration. “Who were the original inhabitants of Britain," says Tacitus, “and whether they sprang from the soil or came from abroad, is unknown, as is usually the case with barbarians. Their physical characteristics are various, and from this conclusions may be drawn. The red hair and large limbs of the Caledonians point clearly to a German origin. The dark complexion of the Silures, their curly hair, and the fact that Spain is the opposite shore to them, are evidence that Iberians of a former date crossed over and occupied those parts." The Irish bards had some remembrance of this passage, and played upon the similarity of such local names as Braganza and Brigantes, Hibernus and Iberia, Gallicia and Galway; and it became an article of faith among their countrymen that the island was discovered soon after the flood by three Spanish fishermen, which tradition, even now, is not unfrequently pressed into the service of the theory that the dark population in parts of the British Islands and the Basques of the Pyrenees are descended from one common stock. No Spanish origin, however, is attributed in any of these legends to the Feru-Bolg or Fir-Bolgs, who are identified in many other traditions with the original stock, typified in the short and swarthy people of the western and southwestern parts of Ireland.
Whether or not the Fir-Bolgs of Irish tradition can be connected with the pre-Celtic tribes, it is certain that in
Olim regibus parebant, nunc per principes factionibus et studiis trahuntur. Nec aliud adversus validissimas gentes pro nobis utilius quam quod in commune non consulunt, etc.—Tacit., Agr., xii.
* Colorati vultus et torti plerumque crines.—Tacitus, Agric., c. ii. 'Sylorum colorati vultus, torto plerique crine et nigro nascuntur qui Hispanis a quibusque attenduntur similes.”—Jornandes, De Getar. Orig., c. ii.
Compare note, page 3.
* A celebrated antiquary named Duald Mac Firbis, who compiled genealogical works in 1650 and 1666, mentions the remnant of the Feru-Bolg. “There are many of their descendants till this very day in Ireland," he says, " but their pedigrees are unknown.”