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A FEW WORDS 10 THE READER.
FIRST EDITION. The reader should bear in mind that the History of England and Wales from the Roman to the Norman Conquest is a mere record of the doings or sayings of a few individuals—such as Cæsar, Caradog, Boadicea, Agricola, in the time of the Roman occupation; of Augustine, Penda, Offa, before England became a kingdom; and afterwards, of Alfred, Hastings, Ethelfleda, Edmund the Ironside, Edric, Canute, Godwin, Griffith the Pendragon, William of Normandy, and Harold the King. These men and women were the human whirlwinds of their respective times, for they acted upon their contemporaries with the same concentrated force and intensity that the atmospheric whirlwinds influence the objects with which they come in contact. And yet they were but the representatives of the people: for we read that when Boadicea fought, she fought “ as one of the people ;"I “ every man” took an interest in the doings of Edmund the Ironside; and, it was the humblest as well as the highest of the people who fought with Harold at Hastings. It should also be borne in mind that, in an age of action, it was eloquence that swayed the masses; thus, before the Battle of the Grampians, the Caledonian chief and Agricola incited their forces with speeches; and so did Harold and William before the Battle of Hastings, and with such effect that the forces of the latter rushed upon the Saxons and left him speaking to himself ! It will thus be seen that a Record of the words and doings of the heads of the people is a continuative Biography of the people themselves.
i The Annals of Tacitus.
? Saxon Chronicle, 1016 3 Described as “pueros” in the Bayeux Tapestry.
Before the Conquest the chroniclers were sparing of their words: the Saxon Chronicle records the last years of the reign of Alfred the Great, thus—"899. 900.” And the Welsh chronicler described a battle that led to a change of rulers in North Wales, thus-"Gwaith Carno." Happily, the events preceding the Norman Conquest are fully described by contemporary and other writers; but here another difficulty arises, namely, to hold the balance between rival authorities, and to explain why the Saxon writer should call a man "blessed," and the Norman writer should charac terize the same mano a "dog."
I have particularised the course of the Severn, as it is the historic river of Great Britain. I have given an ethnographical description of the Danes at Buttington, because Hastings was the forerunner of Rollo and Canute, and was the guiding principle of the spirit of unrest that menaced the thrones of England and France
Henry of Huntingdon,
2 Godwin, the earl.
towards the end of the ninth century. I have given a topographical description of one of Ethelfleda's exploits, and one of King Griffith's, because of the influence they had over the affairs of England and Wales. And I have given a full account of the Battle of Hastings, in order to show that the descendants of the contending forces may feel proud of such ancestors. I have also tried to show that the ancestors of the Welsh were not “ robbers and assassins."1
I trust that the genealogical tables, which may aptly be termed the maps of history, will prove useful.
In conclusion, it gives me pleasure to acknowledge the benefits I have derived from the Lectures of Professors Barlow and Dowden, and from the kind advice of Professor Ingram, of the University of Dublin.
St. David's Day, 1882.
I have to express my thanks for the rapid sale of the first edition of this History, and for the kind and encouraging comments that have been expressed concerning it in the public Press, and in private circles.
The Second Edition differs in a few particulars from the first--as it contains an account of Agricola's Caledonian campaign, and a little additional information concerning Taliesin, Egbert, Ethelwulf, Alfred, Athelstan, Godwin, Welsh affairs, and Baldwin of Flanders. It has also the advantage of a marginal index, a list of leading events, &c.
1st August, 1882.