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ideas then afloat of the first Napoleonic empire, as affecting the whole nation, on the then shores of Britain, the most favourable, the most trustworthy impressions. The moral or physical phase of the Celts, taken in the light either of foes, rivals, or obstructionists, to grasping interlopements of territory, would be hypothetically characterised on the coloring historic principle hitherto adopted of “ Albus est niger, et vice versâ, nec niger color est.”
I will now endeavor to unravel the mental calibre, or the moral or immoral qualities of the Cimbro-Celtic race, the Hume-an “ hordes of ignorant savages," as depicted by the conflicting testimonies of antiquity, irrespective of what has been already proved to the contrary; and when I do so, I trust you will cast a furtive glance now and then upon other nations, ancient as well as modern, imputed to have been so pre-eminently superior to them in all the amiable attributes of civilised life, and ascertain whether they be exempt from the faults and frailties of poor human nature, so unmercifully categorised and pilloried by “envy, malice, and all uncharitableness," upon the heads of the CimbroCelts.
In this pourtrayal of Cimmerian antecedents I would not altogether lose sight of external and internal facts connected with the more refined times, with the more humanising policy of a Coliseum, a Tower of London, a Bastille, or an Inquisition. Let historic Brennus and Belen, Caractacus and Cassivelaunus, and Boadicea, be compared with a Nero, a Caligula of one era ; with an Eighth Harry, or a Ninth Charles, a Mary, or a Borgia, or any other angelic, merciful, or life-unpoisoned potentate of a more enlightened period.
According to the opinion of Livy, the Celts of Gaul, as of Prydain, were a “nata in vanos tumultus gens,” “a nation born to vain tumults." Are not the masses of- (pick and choose the country yourselves) occasionally guilty of this very “tumultuous” and vainglorious attribute ?
Cicero speaks of them as “a people replete with rhetorical disquisitions and warlike virtue"—“ bellicosam virtutem.”
Diodorus designates them “the children of the nascent world; with large humid frames, fair skin, and light air, with elastic energy, but little power of endurance or length of wind. Men of rough, wild, joviality, of boundless hope, vain as not having yet encountered anything that could stand in their way.”
Elsewhere he describes them as “having an immemorial taste for foreign expeditions and adventurous wars; irritable, prompt to fight; in other respects simple and guileless ;” and “arrayed' in what? in perpetual skins, or rouged with universal paint, according to the cracked, distorted prism, the dim, one-eyed, glass of a self-dictating scribe ? Non ! mille fois non ! but clothed,' sometimes in “black or white garments wove of fur and wool,” pecu
liarly their own; sometimes " in tissues of variegated colours," as transmitted down to us in pattern plaids of European taste and skill ; at other times loaded " with chains of massive gold around their necks ” on certain festivals, on ceremonies of state, and on the battle-field.
Again, the author goes on to say that the Cimbro-Celts are “fond of associating in vast multitudes in capacious towns or villages, in vast plains wholly plain,” (do we act differently now ?) “ readily connecting themselves with strangers,” (a proof of gentlemanlike urbanity), “ not un-familiar with persons unknown to them,”(not sulky, ill-bred, boors, too often met with), “great talkers, laughers, orators ; mingling with all men upon every occasion ; dissolute from levity, blindly revelling in adultery, but evincing all the good qualities, and all the vices of quick sympathies. No self-arrogant nations of our day, abstractedly speaking, can ·lay the holy unguent to their souls,' and throw the immaculate stone of proud defiance, with all the other lights of moral right and wrong,' against their compeers of the past in this respect : “ Judicibus, Doctore Forbes Winslow, aliisque Sciptoribus Europæ vel Asiæ.” Let every country have its due.
Strabo also avers that they were a nation “susceptible of cultivation, and of literary instruction;" and, again, that “relying on their tall stature and their numbers, they readily assembled in great multitudes; that, simple and spontaneous, they willingly take in hand the cause of the oppressed.” “Such is,” adds Michelet, “ the first glance cast by philosophy upon the most sympathetic and most perceptible of human races.”
“ To all apparent beauties blind,
“ Each blemish strikes the envious mind.” Let opticians of historic lights' henceforth attempt, before they lead the blind, to purify or re-adjust their ancient lens. Let all the dust-massed cracks of misty films, that age of iron or of brass, or copying-inexperience may have wrested from the truthful angle of its light, be cleansed, exposed to view of parallel day, face to face with slanderous, old or new, malversions; or expurgation of error-coined, of error-borrowed schools.
In terminating my remarks on the Cimbro-Celtic families, methinks about a century after the defeat at Aquæ Sextiæ, I see depicted—as though confirmed by 'ancient notes and queries' of that courtly age, through posthumous vellum parchments of a Martial or a Tacitus, that were, of late,' ex-Humed by Author of the Lays,' out of a Teuton urn at Rome, and by him faithfully transcribed to a New Zealand page of legendary lore, in all the glowing colours of a British plaid—the barbarous, the undisciplined Imperator Gentium of the Hyperborean isle; his unclothed and tatooed nobles; his unlettered, painted
bards; his cannibalistic Ovatean ministers of state ; his undisciplined, besotted, skin-clad Druids; his hideous, amazonian, furrugged sisters, imputed, without a shadow of a proof, as having married, one, a Roman of the patrician order; another, a viceroy of the isle that gave them birth ; and all, as having been, when pardoned, either imperial guests of Claudius, in the palace of the Cæsars, or recipients of his bounty in Imperial Rome, according to the wrong-formed version of a Seneca.
“Long from a nation ever hardly used,
On the other hand, in all the glow of truth, I seem to view the Cimbric-Celtic peasant wives of yore as those of Sparta, or Ecbatana, personified in the present Cambrian race, so well described by Parry in his tour through Wales, as “nurturing their offspring, not in sloth and inactivity, but inuring them early to undergo hardships and fatigues. Let the fair daughters of indolence and ease contemplate the characters of these patterns of industry, who are happily unacquainted with the gay follies of life ; who enjoy health without medicine, and happiness without affluence. Equally remote from the grandeur and the miseries of life, they participate of the secret blessings of content, under the homely dwelling of a straw-thatched cottage.”
" Whose little store their well-taught mind does please ;
And now, my friends, I say :
“To all, to each, a fair good night,
THE TRIADS OF THE ISLAND OF GREAT BRITAIN.
“ 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, Phænicians, Indians, &c., refer as constituting the only records of their national 88
THE TRIADS OF THE ISLAND OF GREAT BRITAIN,
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.