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nium to Glevum, or Gloucester, fifteen miles, which is correct. Thus we have it, and the noting this distance seems again all that is required for our purpose; for there being the lordship or principality in these parts called Erging, or otherwise Archenfield or Arconfield, it is pretty evident that it was either named after Ariconium, or Ariconium from it; and Bury Hill in Archenfield is at the distance from Glevum, or Gloucester, which Ariconium should be. We thus appear to connect sufficiently Bury Hill and Ariconium with the territories of Vortigern.
Ariconium, it perhaps should be further noted, must be the Caer Guorthigirn of Nennius, which he places among the twenty-eight principal cities of Britain; but it has not been hitherto so assigned.
With respect to placing Blestium at Castle Hên in Ewas, Vortigern's other province, no other station so well corresponds; and the name which is asserted to occur also in the form of Blescium (see Baxter's Glossary of British Antiquities, p. 37), and in that of Glescium (see Gale's Antoninus, p. 128), seems to have some reference to the river Eskel, on which the station stands, the same as the neighbouring station of Burrium was named from the Birthin, and even Isca itself from the stream of the same name, now the Usk.
THE CHRONICLE OF TYSILIO, THE PRIMARY CHRONICLE OF THE CAMBRIANS.
BY THE REV. BEALE POSTE.
THE principal Celtic languages which are known in modern times are six: the Welsh, Erse, Gaelic, Armorican, Cornish, and Manx; of these the first four possess a literature, and especially the first two; and of those two, more particularly the Welsh, which has an extensive scope
in poetry, and boasts of the names of several authors, as Taliesin, Aneurin, and Llowarch Hên, who retain and are likely to retain a high reputation.
The existence of poetical writers in a language presupposes that of prose writers. There were such in ancient Britain; and it can be clearly shown that various histories and narratives were extant down to the eighth and ninth centuries. (See the historical poem of Gaimar, the AngloNorman poet, and other authorities.) There is a supposed assertion to the contrary of the old writer Gildas, that there were no British histories in his time; but his words have been much misunderstood. He says nothing of the kind: but merely spoke of there not being in his day ecclesiastical histories of a particular class to which he had made allusion in the course of his argument. However, now for the origin of the Chronicle of Tysilio, which forms our present topic. The brevity with which I am intending to speak prevents me from filling out the full outline of my subject, and I can accordingly only give the results of numerous and lengthened inquiries, the details of which I omit.
We have this Chronicle of Tysilio in a complete form, which, by internal evidence, we know with sufficient certainty was written about the year of the Christian era 1000, as we shall see immediately, and it will be most to my purpose, and most illustrative of my subject, to speak of this Chronicle from its contents. We know the state of society in the beginning of the eleventh century in Europe, Britain, and Cambria; we know the state of religion at that day, and the state of the British and Cambrian churches; we know that this Chronicle, though not an ecclesiastical history, was written under the influence of the church; we know the fondness for romances then beginning to show itself so strongly; we know the patriotism of the Cambrians, who were then in a very depressed state. Well, then, having this chronicle in full, as I have said, the contents of which are very singular, and knowing the exact position of the times, we are enabled to ascertain much of the nature and purpose of this remarkable composition, which falling into the hands of Geoffrey of Monmouth rather more than a century after it was written, and being translated by him, embellished and republished,
acquired such a widely disseminated reputation, and had a great influence on literature, both English and continental.
The internal evidence which fixes the date of this chronicle at about the year 1000 is this, that it carries its account down to the reign of Athelstan, who died in the year 940; after which it has a species of historical retrospect of about sixty years. Assuming this date, which is done on very fair grounds, and besides is otherwise supported, it will be found to be a period when the Britons were tolerably free from foreign wars, and so far favourable to literary composition. The Pelagian heresy had been long put down, and the Latin church had gained the entire ascendency. Paganism and Druidism had become subdued, and all real connexion between the bards and Druidism had become dissevered, except that the bardic poems even of a subsequent date display allusions to Druidism. Paganism lingered the latest among the bards. They and the church had once been opponents, but now the latter had got the upper hand, and retained their superiority, and might wish to put out of the way every remains of ancient error. The taste for romance, to which I have already alluded, was progressing more and more. Such was the state of things; and by paying attention to this we may better understand the contents of the Chronicle. As a general rule, most histories that have been written will be found adapted for the times in which the writers lived. Some have been written to excite public spirit, as the historical works of Tacitus; some to disseminate philosophical principles; others to support political opinions. Each has its object; and a very little examination will make it appear that the same was the case with our Chronicle, and we can readily see the aim and intentions of the writer, bearing in mind that he was in the interest of the Latin church, and that he was desirous to write a history, or what was then called a history, suited to the times, to keep down the lurking evil of Druidism, to promote union among the Britons, by omitting all mention of their several ancient states and communities, which had been a prominent topic in Ptolemy, Ravennas, and Antoninus, and to supersede former accounts which might tend to keep alive the old associations connected with the ideas above alluded to, and by so doing to continue the errors of his countrymen.
An examination of our Chronicle will show us that the whole tenor of it is conformable to this. All mention of paganism, the sacrifices of the heathen, and the rites and ceremonies of the Druids, is carefully avoided; in the like way the existence of various states and communities in ancient Britain is studiously passed over. Their international wars, and the immigration of foreign tribes are entirely overlooked. There never were such people in this island according to the Chronicle as the Brigantes, Iceni, Silures, Demetæ, or Belgæ, and why? The author was no ethnologist it is evident, and thought it best, as before remarked, to keep this point out of sight, and rather to exhibit the Britons as one people and race like any other nation in Europe. Similarly the former subjection to the Romans in the times of the ancient empire is misrepresented and disguised; and there is a strong effort to exhibit it merely as a species of political influence, in the same kind of way that the domination of the Romish church was a species of spiritual influence in later times. There is besides an endeavour to make the history of Britain, or Cambria, as it was then in fact (for the author did not trouble himself about Anglo-Saxon affairs, except where they clashed with those of the Britons), as like the history of other European nations as possible. Add to this, as much romance as could be connected with the various subjects was introduced to meet the peculiar taste of the times. The predilection was strong for this species of spicery, and the dish was seasoned accordingly.
The above few observations will truly set forth the tenor, nature, and purpose of this primary Chronicle of the Cambrians. Something, however, is required to be said as to whence the materials from which the Chronicle was composed were derived. On this topic the answer must be unsatisfactory, as we can trace next to nothing. The early line of kings in it was taken, as there is but little doubt, from metrical genealogies, which are believed to have been common enough in the earlier parts of the middle ages among the Celts, but whence the remaining parts of the Chronicle were taken is now unknown. Various passages assimilating to other passages in the old historians Gildas and Nennius on examination will be found to have no other affinity than being derived from some common source, and
these passages are very few, the sources from which by far the major part of the work is derived being latent. It is in Welsh and considered to be elegantly written; and besides what has been before observed it is notable for another special point, that setting aside the portions which are obviously fable or romance, and referring to those which profess to be history, it cannot be ascertained for the most part whether the narratives it gives be true or false.
Thus much of this Chronicle, which, as a species of pivoting point of our literature, is well deserving notice; a few more words may, however, be still required.
In regard to its author; it is attributed to a person named Tysilio and passes under his name, solely however, because it is prefixed to the copy now in Jesus College, Oxford, and formerly belonging to Margam Abbey, in Wales. This Tysilio of course could not have been the person of that name, the son of Brochvael, who lived at a much earlier period, but must have been some one else. The fortunes of the work after being first published were somewhat singular. It lay in a manner dormant and but little known, as it should seem, for more than a century, when a copy of it came to notice accidentally in Britany, and being placed in the hands of Geoffrey of Monmouth he translated it, and embellished it very considerably after his manner; and I may here note a little what he did. For instance, he introduced many romancing narratives, and added a whole book of prophecies, which are called the prophecies of Merlin, and have but little connexion with the subject. At other times he merely dilates the narrative with various additional circumstances and details. Besides this he altered the form of the whole of the proper names, frequently varied the sense of his author, and introduced numerous conjectural emendations, not as notes, but inserted them into the text. In short, he supplies a specimen of a twelfth century editor; and the work thus altered and concocted is called the British History of Geoffrey of Monmouth. As such, it made the greatest sensation in those times; its effect on literature is acknowledged to have been great, and almost innumerable chronicles were formed from it, the names of which, even of those that are known, compose much too long a series to attempt to give them here.