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"Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
The triads are great eastern and great western facts. They have been afloat on the ocean of time during untold centuries. Their precise origin is inevitably lost in the unfathomable gloom of antiquity. Certain references to unknown events, and otherwise unrecorded phenomena of nature, therein contained, stamp them at once as Druidical creations of a pre-historic period. Their contents were not unknown to Pythagoras, Pomponius Mela, and Diogenes Laertius; as I may have occasion to prove in the course of my remarks. The peculiarity of their construction, says a learned Cambro-Briton, though ignorantly assumed by some as a ground of objection (the objectors, I opine, are no other than the 'painted school of skins '), is among the most satisfactory proofs of their venerable antiquity. Their very defects, too, such as want of dates and connection, bear ample testimony to the early ages which gave them birth. And, if to these be added the obscurity, or, it may be said, total inexplicability of the terms used in some of them, little doubt can remain as to the remoteness of the era to which they may generally be ascribed. Nor will it weaken the conclusion to observe that in many of them, as noticed by a learned historian of the Cymry, "are contained doctrines totally at variance with our divine religion, and which accordingly appropriate such to a period at least antecedent to the establishment of Christianity in this island."
"These remarkable ethnological traditions," says another competent and eminent scholar, the learned Archdeacon Williams, "are in full conformity with the ascertained history of the first eastern emigrants to the shores of Britain, and the adjoining coast of Central Gaul, and with still-existing facts. They are • utterly free from the myths, figments, and barefaced falsehood to which Hellenic Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Indians, &c, refer as constituting the only records of their national
origin. Nor," elsewhere, adds he, "is it to be supposed that the Druids, after their conversion to Christianity, falsified their own traditions in order to bring them into harmony with the Hebrew scriptures. So far was this from being the case, that they preserved, with respect to the deluge itself, their own peculiar form of the tradition in which, as in similar claims of most ancient nations, the world at large is symbolised by their own land and people."
"Thus, in the 13th historical triad, we read of three perilous mishaps of the Island of Prydain:—The first was the outburst of the ocean, 'Torriad lin lion.' When a deluge spread over the face of all lands, so that all mankind were drowned with the exception of Duw-van and Duw-ach, the divine man and divine woman, who escaped in a decked ship without sails; and from this pair the island Prydain was completely re-peopled."
"This tradition was common to them and all the civilised races; as was also another, that a destruction by fire was to be the fatal end of this globe. But they had, in addition, a distinct tradition that previous destructions of the earth had taken place, with the animals and vegetables then existing, of which whole races were thus irrevocably lost. This tradition, which is in complete harmony with the discoveries of modern geology, is thus embodied in the thirteenth triad :—' The second perilous mishap was the terror of the torrent-fire, when the earth was cloven down to the abyss, and the majority of the living things were destroyed. The third was the ardent summer, when the wood and herbs, from the discord (ancord) and heat of the sun, and many men with their flocks and herds perished, and whole races of birds and beasts, and of trees and herbs, were irrevocably lost.' I cannot refer to any tradition of lost races of animals and vegetables in any other system of physiology other than the Druidical."
"These ancient documents may be classed under the various heads of history, bardism, theology, ethics, and jurisprudence, exclusively of those that relate, in a more especial manner, to language and poetry."
I commence to be somewhat apprehensive, from this classification of moral and physical doctrines, lest these alleged root-eating, and hunting, Autochthons may not turn out to be, in the long run, a match in profundity of thought and learning to the majority of the ' painted school of skins' themselves; who parrotlike, glibly borrow and chatter of facts they cannot prove, or, possibly, comprehend, without external aid to help them over the difficulty.
It would be utterly impossible within the compass of space assigned to this question, to give more than a brief outline of one or two triads in each order, since each subject forms a detached book of some magnitude.
Each triad seems to consist of three heads, or divisions, each part agreeing with the remainder in some one general design or sequence of reasoning; and when the sentence is thus artistically conjoined, each aphorism, or philosophic doctrine, forms a readier natural key to a technical system of organised memory, with a view to sustain and rivet the attention of the audience to some great truths involved.
Another peculiar merit of this kind of original composition consists, like the connected formulse of Aristotelian rhetoric, in the argumentative ratiocination, or the disjointed similitudes, of Solomonian proverbs, in their brevity, force, clearness, and beauty of expression, sense, and bearings.
Their philosophic tendencies, with the exception of the incomprehensible and pre-historic allusions to certain historical reminiscences of the wide wide world, are at once discernible in a translation. I am afraid the ' printed school of skins ' will not be able to digest the food offered in the "Principia historica vel argumenta metaphysica Veterum Britannorum."
"THE TRIADS OF THE ISLAND OF BRITAIN.
"That is to say, triads of memorial and record, and the information of remarkable men or things which have been in the island of Great Britain, and of the events which befel the race of the Cymry- from the age of ages."
"1. There were three names imposed on the Isle of Britain from the beginning. Before it was inhabited its denomination was the Sea-Girt Green Space; after being inhabited it was called the Honey Island, and after it was formed into a commonwealth by Prydain, the son of Aedd Mawr, it was called the Isle of Prydain. And none have any title therein but the nation of the Cymry. For they first settled upon it; and before that time no men lived therein, but it was full of bears, wolves, beavers (or crocodiles), and bisons.
[" In the original the names translated beavers and bisons are efeinc and ychain banawg. The description given of the first in the Mabinogion and the poets answers to the crocodile and not to the beaver; the literal meaning of the other term is prominent oxen, but whether from their having high horns or haunches, like the buffalo, or from their great height of body, it does not appear certain; most probably the first. A better opportunity will occur for speaking of these animals in connection with an ancient and extraordinary tradition of the Cymry, as recorded in the triads."]
"The three primary divisions of the Isle of Britain: Cymry, Lloegr, and Alban, or, Wales, England, and Scotland; and to each of the three appertained the privilege of royalty. They are governed under a monarchy and voice of country, according to the regulation of Prydain, the son of Aedd Mawr; and to the nation of the Cymry belongs the establishing of the monarchy, by the voice of country and people, according to privilege and original right. And under the protection of such regulation ought royalty to be in every nation in the Isle of Britain, and every royalty under protection of the voice of country. Therefore, it is said, as a proverb, 'a country is mightier than a prince.'"
"The Three National Pillars of the Isle of Britain. First— Hu Gadarn (Hu the Mighty), who originally conducted the nation of the Cymry into the Isle of Britain. They came from the Summer-Country, which is called Deffrobani (that is, the place where Constantinople now stands), and it was over the Hazy Sea (the German Ocean) that they came to the Isle of Britain and to Llydaw (Armorica), where they continued. The second—Prydain, son of Aedd the Great, who first established government and royalty over the Isle of Britain. And before that time there was no justice but what was done through favour; nor any law save that of might. Third—Dyfnwal Moelmud, who reduced to a system the laws, customs, maxims, and privileges appertaining to a country and nation. And for these reasons were they called the three pillars of the nation of the Cymry."
"The three Social Tribes of the Isle of Britain. The first was the nation of the Cymry, that came with Hu the Mighty into the Isle of Britain, because he would not possess lands and dominions by fighting and pursuit, but through justice and in peace. The second was the tribe of the Lloegrwys (Loegrians), that came from the land of Gwasgwyn (Gascony), being descended from the primitive nation of the Cymry. The third were the Brython, who came from the land of Armorica, having their descent from the same stock with the Cymry. These were called the three tribes of peace, on account of their coming, with mutual consent, in peace and tranquility; and these three tribes were descended from the original nation of the Cymry, and were of the same language and speech."
"The three primary great achievements of the Isle of Britain: the ship of Nwydd Nav Neivion, which carried in it the male and female of all living, when the Lake of Floods was broken; the prominent oxen of Hu the Mighty drawing the crocodile of the lake to the land, and the lake broke out no more; and the stones of Gwyddon Carhebon, whereon might be read all the arts and sciences of the world."
"The three awful events of the Isle of Britain. First—the rupture of the Lake of Floods, and the going of an inundation over the face of all the lands, so that all the people were drowned, except Dwyvan and Dwyvach, who escaped in a bare ship, and from them the Isle of Britain was repeopled. The second was the trembling of the Torrent Fire, when the earth was rent unto the abyss, and the greatest part of all life was destroyed. The third was the Summer, when the trees and plants took fire with the vehemency of the heat of the sun, so that many men, and animals, and species of birds, and vermin, and plants, were irretrievably lost."
"The three combined expeditions, that went from the Isle of Britain. The first was that, which went with Ur, son of Erin, the Armipotent, of Scandinavia. He came into this island in the time of Cadial, the son of Erin, to solicit assistance, under the stipulation, that he should obtain from every principal town no more than the number he should be able to bring into it. And there came only to the first town, besides himself, Matthata Vawr, his servant. Thus he procured two from that, four from the next town, and from the third town the number became eight, and from the next sixteen, and thus in like proportion from every other town; so that from the last town the number could not be procured throughout the island. And with him departed three score and one thousand; and with more than that number of able men he could not be supplied in the whole island, as there remained behind only children and old people. Thus Ur, the the son of Erin, the Armipotent, was the most complete levier of a host that ever lived, and it was through inadvertance that the nation of the Cymry granted him his demand under an irrevocable stipulation. For in consequence thereof the Coranians found an opportunity to make an invasion of the island. Of these men there returned none, nor of their line or progeny. They went on an invading expedition as far as the sea of Green, and, there remaining, in the land of Galas and Afena (Galitia ?) to this day, they have become Greeks.
"The second combined expedition was conducted by Caswallon, son of Beli, the son of Manogan, and Gwenwynwyn and Gwanar, the son of Lliaws, son of Nwyfre, with Ariansad, the daughter of Beli, their mother. Their origin was from the border declivity of Galedin and Eroyllwg (Siluria), and of the combined tribes of the Bylwennys (Boulongese); and their number was three score and one thousand. They went with Caswallon, their uncle, after the Cajsarians (Romans), over the sea to the land of the Gcli Llydaw (Gauls of Armorica), that were descended from the original stock of the Cymri. And none of