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Origins of English History. A
especially in those points on which they both differed from the oldest Irish. The earliest Welsh manuscripts were compared with the Gaulish vocabulary, as it has been gathered from proper names and from inscriptions to the local gods; and it was found that the languages possessed a common stock of sounds and letters, as P, TH, and S between vowels, which had been dropped in Old Irish, even if they had ever belonged to its store. a closer examination of the subject it was found that the deduction was wrong, though the examples appeared to be correct. The resemblance is deceptive, because the common characteristics did not exist in both languages at the same time. The likeness arose from causes which worked independently of each other ; and the steps by which the languages arrived at the same stage of growth were separated by long intervals of time. The Gauls used the sounds in question for some centuries before the Welsh had learned them; and by the time that they were established among the Welsh, in the fifth or sixth century after Christ, the Gaulish tongue had either ceased to exist, or was so nearly lost in Latin, that it could only be distinguished as a rustic mode of speaking. But it appears that the Welsh and Irish languages, during the same centuries, resembled each other in the very points on which they afterwards differed ; and came, in fact, as near together as the Welsh came afterwards to the Gaulish.?
1 “ L'agonie du vieux Celtique se prolongea longtemps sous ces nouveaux maîtres (les barbares).”—De Belloguet, Gloss. Gaul, 49. The instances of late Gaulish, down to the seventh century, are collected in his Introduction.
2 The whole subject is explained by Professor Rhộs in his Lectures on Welsh Philology (see pp. 17, 19, 26, 194, and W. H. Stokes, Irish Glosses, No. 216).
It is true that the oldest of the manuscripts are much later than the end of this period of resemblance; and it may be objected, that no sufficient proof could be given of the theory which has found favour with the philological authorities. But the answer lies in the fact that the forms of the ancient Welsh have been recovered from sepulchral inscriptions, containing Latinized proper names and sometimes bearing epitaphs in the same “Ogam character” as is used for the oldest Irish inscriptions.
The result of these enquiries has been to establish a presumption of identity between the earliest forms of Welsh and Irish, which renders it highly probable that the nations themselves were once united. There are many indications that at one time they possessed a common stock of religious and social ideas; nor indeed is there any evidence against their original unity, except the fact that their languages became different in form. But “length of time and remoteness of place introduce wonderful changes in a language.”? In the lapse of centuries many
1 The Ogam character will be explained in a later chapter. For the authorities on the subject of Ancient Welsh see Prof. Rhøs, Lectures, 136, 138. The oldest of the Welsh MSS. is the “ Juvencus Codex,” assigned to the ninth century. There are several poems by authors who lived in the sixth century, and who described some of the incidents of the Anglo-Saxon Conquest ; but they survive in versions of which the language has been considerably modernised. Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales, Introd.; Villemarqué, Manuscrits des Anciens Bretons (Paris, 1856). 2 Arnold's Rome, i. 437.
“The bronze period was long enough to admit of quite as great a differentiation in any single language as that which exists between Gaelic and Cymric at present, or to allow of the importation of one already differentiated dialect in more than one notrecorded invasion.”—Prof. Rolleston in “ British Barrows,” 633. "All the most tangible differences between Welsh and Irish can be assigned to various periods of time posterior to the separation."-Rhøs, Lectures, 35.
differences would naturally grow up between the nations, separated by the sea, and possibly in each case by contact with the peoples whom they found already in possession. One chief difference would of course consist in a gradual divergence of idiom. Every language must continually change and shift its form, exhibiting like an organized being its phases of growth, decline, and decay; and, in the case of these divided peoples, it is hardly to be supposed that their unwritten idioms would follow precisely the same course of phonetic alteration. There is no reason to disbelieve in their original unity, merely because the Welsh insensibly approached the Gaulish form : it will be remembered that the Welsh itself broke up during the historical period into several different idioms; and this may help us to understand how the change of the older language was effected."
There are several passages from Tacituswhich support the view, that the language of the insular Britons was different from that of the Gauls. But enough reasons have been already adduced in support of the theory. Taking it therefore to be sufficiently established for our purpose, we shall now endeavour to put it to a practical
It will be found, that not only may the British history be illustrated by what is known about Ireland, but that the differences between the Welsh and the Gauls
1 William of Malmesbury noticed but a slight difference in his time between Welsh and Breton. Linguâ nonnihil a nostris Brittonibus degeneres.”—Gesta, i. 1. Giraldus calls the Breton an old-fashioned Welsh. Magis antiquo linguæ Britannicæ idiomati appropriato.” Descr. Cambr. c. 6.
2 “Gothinos gallica lingua coarguit non esse Germanos.”—Tac. Gern. C. 43. And of the Æstyi, “lingua Britannicæ proprior.”-Ibid, c. 45. And of the Gauls and Britons, “sermo haud multum diversus.”—Agric. C. II.
will help us to fix approximately the sites of the Gaulish colonies. There are proper names enough, inscribed on coins or mentioned in the narrative of the Roman wars, to furnish some slight glossary for such a purpose. Nor can one fail to gain some useful knowledge from them, by the use of the phonological tests, if it be remembered that the Gaulish immigration was a long and gradual process, and if allowance be made for the carelessness of classical writers in transcribing the barbarian names.
1 Cic. Pro Font. 14. Compare the “voces ferinæ,” Ovid, Trist. v. 12 ; Pomp. Mela, Geog. iii. c. 3; and the complaints of the Geographer of Ravenna about the names of places in Britain : "attamen nomina volueramus, Christo nobis adjuvante, designare,” Ravenn. C. 32.
Invasion by the King of Soissons.—Older settlements.—Kingdoms of Kent.--Forest of
Anderida. —The Trinobantes-Extent of their dominions. -The Iceni.—The Catuvellaunian Confederacy.-Civilization of the Gaulish settlers.—Physical appearance. -Dress.—Ornaments. — Equipments in peace and in war.-Scythed chariots. — Agricultural knowledge.—Cattle.—Domestic life.
IFTY years or more before the Roman invasions
'began the King of Soissons? had extended his rule over the southern portions of our country. The transitory conquest may have increased the intercourse between the Island and the Continent; but the origin of that intercourse must be referred to an older date.
There are signs that an immigration from Belgium had been proceeding for several generations before the age of Divitiacus. There was a striking similarity between the language and manners of the Gauls on both sides of the Straits, the men of Kent in particular being nearly as much civilized as their kinsmen across the water; and there were also such slight differences as would naturally be found in colonies long separated from their parent
At a period not very remote from the life-time of Cæsar himself several Belgian tribes had invaded the country for purposes of devastation and plunder; and, finding the place to their liking, they had remained as
1 "Apud eos (Suessiones) fuisse regem, nostrâ etiam memoriâ, Divitiacum, totius Galliæ potentissimum, qui quum magnæ partis harum regionum tum etiam Britanniæ imperium obtinuerit."-Cæsar, De Bell. Gall. ii. c. 4.