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CH A R A C T E R S.
General Chara&ter of the Welsh, as A very honourable testimony was
it was in the time of Henry the given to their valour by King HenSecond; taken from Lord Lyttel. ry the Second, in a letter to the ton's Hiftory of that Prince, and Greek Emperor, Emanuel Com. by him principally extracted from nenus. This prince, having de. the writings of Giraldus Cam- fired that an account might be sent brenfis, a celebrated contemporary him of all that was moit remark. Hiftorian.
able in the island of Britain, Hen.
isy, in answer to that request, was E tells us, that not only the pleased to take notice, among
whole people of Wales, were uni. ordinary courage and fierceness of versally addicted to arms : that the Welsh, “ who were not afraid they gave no attention to com- to fight unarmed with enemies merce, navigation, or mechanical armed at all points, willingly shed. arts, and but little to agriculture; ding their blood in the cause of depending for sustenance chiefly their country, and purchasing glo. on their cattle; and disliking, or ry at the expence of their lives.” rather disdaining, any labour, ex. But these words must not be taken cept the toils of war and hunting, in too ftrict a sense, as if they had in which, from their infancy, they absolutely worn no armour : for trained themselves up with un. they used small and light targets, wearied alacrity; military exer- which were commonly made of cises, or the severeft fatigues in the hides, and sometimes of iron : bui, woods and mountains, being their except their breasts, which these constant diversions in time of peace. guarded, all the rest of their bodies Their bodies were naturally not was left defenceless: nor did they robuft ; but, by this manner of cover their heads with casques, or life, they became exceedingly ac- helmets ; fo that in comparison tive, hardy, `and dextrous in the of the English, or other nations use of their arms, and ever ready of Europe, they might be called to take them up when occasion “unarmed.” Their offenlive wearequired it. To fight for their pons were arrows and long pikes, country, and lose their lives in or spears, which were of great use defence of its honour and liberty, againft cavalry; and these they, was their chief pride : but to die occasionally, either puhed with, in their beds they thought dif. or darted; in which exercise the graceful.
whole nation was wonderfully exVol. X.
pert; but more especially the men awe or concern, before their fue of North Wales, who had pikes periors, or in public afsemblies. so strong and well-pointed, that But from this fire in their tempers they would pierce through an iron they were all very passionate, vincoat of mail; but those of South. dictive, and sanguinary in their Wales, and particularly the pro- resentments : nor was their revince of Guent, or Monmouth, venge only sudden and violent, which was then a part of that when they received any personal kingdom, were accounted the best injury or affront, or while the archers, not being inferior, in the fting of it was recent in their use of the long bow, to the Nor. ' minds; but it was frequently car. mans themselves.
ried back, by a false sense of ho. The, common people fought on nour, even to very remote and foot; but some of the nobility be. traditional quarrels, in which any gan now to ride upon horses bred of their family had been ever enin their own country, which were gaged. For not only the nobles high-mettled, and swift, but not and gentry, but even the loweft very strong : and even these gen- among them, had each by heart tlemen would frequently dismount, his own genealogy, together with both in combating, and when they which he retained a constant re. fied; the nature of their country, membrance of every injury, dis. as well as their discipline, being grace, or loss, his forefathers had better adapted to fooi than horse. luffered, and thought it would be Their first onset was terrible ; but, degeneracy not to resent it as per. if fioutly refifted, they foon gate fonal to himself. So that the va. ground, and could never be rallied; nity of this people, with regard to in which they resemble other bar. their families, served to perpetuate barous nations, and particularly implacable feuds, and a kind of the Britons and Celts, their fore- civil war among private men ; be. fathers. Yet, though defeated fides the dissensions it excited as and dispersed, they were not sub- mong their kings and chief lords, dued; but presenily returned to which proved the destruction of make war again upon those from their national union, and conwhom they had fed, by ambuf- fequently broke their national cades and night marches, or by ftrength. fudden assaulis, when they were They were in their nature very least expected; in which their agi- light and inconstant, easily im. lity, spirit, and impetuofity made pelled to any undertaking, even up what they wanted in weight and the moft wicked and dangerous, firmness; so that, although they and as eafily induced to quit ic were easily overcome in a battle again ; defirous of change, and by regular troops, they were with not to be held by any bonds of great difficulty vanquished in a faith or oaths, which they violated war. The same vivacity which without scruple or sense of shame, animated their hearts infpired their both in public and private transtongues. They were of quick and actions." To plunder and rob was sharp wit; naturally cloquent, and scarce accounted dishonourable aready in speaking, without any mong them, even when committed
against against their own countrymen, ings, which they commonly inuch less against foreigners. changed every year, and removed They hardly ever married without to other places (as che Britons and a prior cohabitation; it being cuf: Celts, their ancestors, had been actomary for parents to let out their customed to do) for the sake of daughters to young men upon fresh pafture and a new supply of trial, for a sum of money paid game. down, and under a penalty agreed Their furniture was as fimple upon between them, if the girls and mean as their houses, such as were returned. The people in ge might answer the merè neceslities neral, and more especially their of gross and uncivilized nature. princes and nobles, gave them. The only elegance among them selves up to excessive lewdness ; was music, which they were fo but were remarkably temperate in fond of, that in every family there eating and drinking, constantly generally were fume who played fafting till evening, and then mak. on the harp; and fill in that in. ing ă fober meals unless when strument was valued by them more they were entertained at the tables than all other knowledge. This of foreigners, where they indulg- greatly contributed to keep up ed themselves immoderately both that cheerfulness, which was more in liquor and food, paffing at once universal and conftant in the Welsh from their habit of abstinence to the than in the Saxons or Normans. most riotous and brutal excess: but, Notwithstanding their poverty, nevertheless,whenthey came home, they were so hospitable that every they returned with great ease to man's house was open to all; and their former course of life ; and thus no wants were felt by the none of their nobles were led by most indigent, nor was there a the example of the English to run beggar in the nation. When any out their fortunes by a profuseness stranger, or traveller, came to a in keeping a table. No kind of house, he used no other ceremony luxury was yet introduced in:o than, at his first entrance, to delitheir manner of living: not even ver his arms into the hands of the a decent convenience, or neatness. master, who thereupon offered to , They seemed to be proud of not wash his feet; which if he acceptwanting those delicacies which ed, it was understood to signify other nations are proud of enjoy. his intention of staying there all ing. Their kings, indeed, and a night ; and none who did so was few of their principal nobles, had refused. Whatever the number built fome cattles in imitation or quality of their guests might of the English ; but most of their happen to he, the maiter and milgeniry ftill continued to dwell in tress of the house waited on them, huts made of watiles, and situated and would not sit down at table in folitudes, by the fides of the with them, or taste any food, till woods, as most convenient for they had fupped. The fire was hunting and pasture, or for a re- placed in the middle of the room, treat in time of war.
on each side of which was spread no gardens, nor orchards, nor any a coarse bed of hemp orer a thin improvements about their dwell. mat of rushes, where the whole
family and ther guests flept to. ftian religion, but debased with gether, without even a curtain be- gross superstitions: Giraldus Camtwixt them. Their feet lay always brenfis informs us, that they paid, next to the fire, which, being kept in his days, a more devout reverburning all night, supplied the ence to churches and churchmen, want of bed-cloaths; for they had to the relics of faints, to croffes, no covering but the cloaths they and to bells, than any other nation. wore in the day.
Whenever any of them happened to It was customary among them meet a monk, or other ecclefiaftic, to receive in a morning large com- they instantly threw down their panies of young men, who, follow. arms, and, bowing their heads, im. ing no occupation but arms, when- plored his blefling. When they unever they were not in action, strolled dertook a journey into any foreign over the country, and entered into country, or when they married, or any house that they found in their were enjoined by their confeffors way ; where they were entertained, any public penance, they paid a till the evening, with the music full tenth of all their goods, which of the harp, and free conversation they called “the great tythe,” in with the young women of the fa. the proportion of iwo parts to the mily. Upon which Giraldus Cam- church wherein they had been bapbrenlis makes this remark, that of tized, and one to their bishop. all the nations in the univerfe none How far they carried their respect were more jealous of their women to afylums and sanctuaries has al. than the Irish, or less than the ready been mentioned. The exWelsh. In other respects their cess of their superftition with relamanners so nearly agreed, when tion to this point is censured by that author wrote, as to discover Giraldus Cambrenfis himself, as the marks of a Celtic origin com- great a bigot as he was ; and is mon to both.
certainly must have been one prinOne is surprised in observing cipal cause, why so many murders how absolutely the Britons, after and other crimes were committed their retreat into Wales, lost all among them. Their hermits were the culture they had received from celebrated for severer aufterities the Romans, and, instead of re- than any others in Europe, the ve. fining the ancient inhabitants of hemence of their temper carrying that part of the island, relapsed their virtues, as well as vices, into themselves into their rude and extremes. Pilgrimages to Rome barbarous manners. This is the were their favourite mode of devo. more wonderful, because the Latin tion, though they had many saints tongue and no contemptible share of their own nation, whose shrines of its learning were long preserved they adored with the blindeft fuperin their public schools, and con- ftition. In short, their religion, tinued, though indeed in a declin. for the most part, was so different ing state, even down to the times from genuine christianity, that ei. of which I write. They had also ther it was prejudicial to civil soretained the profession of the chri- ciety, or did it no good.
but heavy bracelets of gold on Charailer of the English and Nor. their arms, and painted figures, From the same.
that were burnt into the skin, on
some parts of their bodies. The "HERE is a remarkable paf. Normans, on the contrary (as the
fage in . William of Malmf. fame author informs us) affected bury up in the different characters great finery and pomp in their of ihe English and Normans. He cloaths; and were delicate in their says, that, before the latter had food, but without any excess. obtained poffeffion of England, They spent little in house-keeping, learning and religion were brought but were very expensive and magto so low a state in that kingdom, nificient in their buildings, making that most of the clergy could hard- that their chief pride, and introly read divine service; and if, ducing a new and better mode of happily, any one of them under- architecture into this illand. Nor ftood grammar, he was admired and did they only display this 'magwondered at bythe rest as a prodigy. nificience in their own private The English nobility were very houses; but embellished all the deficient in the external duties of kingdom with churches and conpiety; it being customary among vents more splendid and elegant them, even for those who were than those of the English. They married, to hear matins and mass are also commended, by the abovefaid to them in their bed-chambers, mentioned historian, for establishbefore they were up, and as fast as ing here a more decent and more the priest could posibly hurry them regular form of religion; but yet over; instead of attending divine it is certain, chat, by admitting service, with proper solemnity, in new doctrines of popery, to which churches or chapels. · Many of the Anglo-Saxon church had never them were guilty of the unnatural assented, they further corrupted inhumanity of selling their female' the purity of the Christian faith in Naves, whom they kept as their this inand. He adds, that they concubines, when they were big were faithful to their liege lords, with child by them, either to public if they were not ill used; but that, proftitution, or to perpetual llave. on occasion of the lightest offence ry in foreign lands. They were given to them, they broke their also universally addicted to drunk. allegiance, that being accustomed enness, and continued over their to a military life, and hardly knowcups whole days and nights, keep- ing how to live without war, they ing open house and spending all made it with ardour; but, if they the income of their estates in riot. could not facceed by open force, ous feasts, where they eat and they understood equally well how drank to excess, without any ele- ' to employ both fraud and bribery : gant or magnificient luxury. Their whereas the Englih had only a houses were generally small and rash and impetuous valour. He mean, their garments plain, and likewise tells us, that the Normans fuccinct: they cut their hair short, were apt to sell justice ; that they and shaved their faces, except the were full of emulation, ambition, upper lip; wearing no ornament, and envy; that they frequently