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and Cornwall, or the Durotriges in Dorsetshire, since that part of the coast of Gaul which lies opposite to them was occupied by Celtic tribes, to whom, as we have seen, all the country westward of the Seine belonged.
Cæsar has said nothing to indicate a suspicion that the Britons of the inland country were akin to any people in Gaul. It is apparent that his information respecting them was very defective, and it seems that he did not consider himself to have entered their territory. What part of the entire island he meant to designate by the phrase "interior pars," has been a matter of dispute. Some who have a particular theory to support, carry us as far as the Highlands of Scotland, and will have it that the supposed indigenous Britons were the Gaël of those countries; but this is a very forced and improbable interpretation, for if the Western Highlands were at that time occupied by the Gaël, which we have reason to believe not to have been the fact, it is very improbable that Cæsar's information extended so far. It is likewise hard to suppose that he would have termed that part of Scotland the interior of Britain. It is much more likely that Cæsar meant to describe the country northward of the line above marked out, which cuts off to the southward all the tribes known to have been Belgic, of whom the most northerly were the Atrebatii. This line, as we have observed, passed from the Severn to the Thames. The aborigines will thus be the ancestors of the Britons, who are well known to have been driven by the Saxons into Wales, Cumberland, and the south-western parts of Scotland, termed the kingdom of Strathclyde.
Tacitus treats the origin of the Britons as a subject entirely left open to conjecture. Nothing was known historically as to the question whether they were natives of the soil or of foreign extraction. "In their persons they vary, whence different opinions are formed. The red hair of the Caledonians, and their large limbs, indicate a German origin. The swarthy sunburnt complexion of the Silures, their curly hair, and their situation opposite to Spain, furnished ground for believing that the Iberi have passed over the sea and gained possession of the country."
Tacitus was then under the mistake of supposing Spain to be opposite to South Wales. As M. Ritson has observed, he may have been led to form this notion from some erroneous map of Britain, such as might be collected from Ptolemy, and is actually in Richard of Cirencester. It is very probable that this is the principal circumstance that suggested the idea of attributing an Iberian origin to the Silures, on which so undue stress has been laid by various writers, and which even Niebuhr has adopted. It was not, however, the deliberate opinion of Tacitus that the Silures came from Spain; for, after observing that the Britons who lived nearest to Gaul resembled the people of that country, he adds, " On a general estimate of probabilities-in universum tamen æstimanti—it is to be believed that the Gauls originally took possession of the neighbouring coast." He then adds the reasons which confirmed him in this opinion: "The sacred rites and superstition of the Gauls are discoverable among the Britons, nor is there much difference in the language of these two nations." It would seem, as we shall further have occasion to remark, that this last observation is not limited to the Belgic or sea-coast Britons. The sacred rites indeed of the Britons to which he refers, are those of the Druids, of which the most conspicuous display was in Mona or Anglesea; and the mentioning of them in connection with the language of the Britons indicates sufficiently that the allusion of the writer extends to the inhabitants of South Britain on a larger scale.
This last observation of Tacitus seems to be all the historical evidence that we have for the kindred origin of the Proper Britons-meaning those not Belgic-with the Gauls. But even this is not historical, for it was an inference drawn from the fact that the Britons and Gauls resembled in language and religion. This testimony, however, will form a very important part of the evidence to be collected for ethnographical inquiry. The unity of religion is certainly a strong argument, for it is scarcely credible that two distinct races should be found subject to such a hierarchy as the Druids, and to such a system of rites and superstitions as is known to have been maintained by them. But the Druidism and
Bardism said to have belonged both to the Celta and the Britons, afford not so strong an argument of kindred origin as the possession of one common speech, if this only can satisfactorily be proved; and to the investigation of this subject we shall immediately proceed.
SECTION X.-Of the Language of the Belgic Nations, and of their relation to the Celta.
We are informed by Cæsar that the Belgæ, as well as the Aquitani, differed from the Celtic Gauls in speech, in customs, and in laws. It does not appear from this account whether the difference of idiom between the Belgæ and Celtæ amounted to an entire diversity of language, or only to some variety of dialect sufficient to serve as a distinguishing mark between the two races. The former meaning is the most consistent with the context, since we have reason to believe that the Aquitanian language was entirely different from the Celtic. But the latter sense is likewise applicable to the words, and we are at liberty to adopt it if it can be shown to be the most consistent with truth.
Tacitus expresses himself as if the idiom of all the Gaulish nations were one and the same. In estimating the probable evidence that the Britons were a colony from the people of Gaul, he says that there is not much difference between the languages of these nations-" nec sermo multum diversus." If this resemblance had been confined to the maritime people on the opposite coasts of the two countries-that is, if the Belgæ of Britain, or the maritime tribes only, had resembled in idiom the Belgic people of Gaul, Tacitus, the relative of Agricola who had subdued nearly the whole island, could not fail to be aware of the fact, and he was bound to mention it, since it materially impaired the force of his argument. But he takes no notice of any such thing, and we may infer that, according to the opinion of Tacitus, the Gaulish nations, at least the great mass of them, had one language, and that their language was very similar to that of the Britons. The Iberian Aquitani beyond the Garonne were so small a body that he
might well omit to take them into his account, especially as the greater part of the population of Aquitania, as that province had been extended before the age of Tacitus, were in reality Celtic tribes. I allude to the states between the Garonne and the Loire.
Strabo delivered his opinion more clearly on the subject of the languages of Gaul. He says that some writers separate into three departments the inhabitants of that country, terming them Aquitani, Belgæ, and Celtæ. "The Aquitani," he adds, "differ wholly from the others, not only in language but likewise in person, resembling the Iberians more than the Gauls.* The others, namely, the Celta and the Belgæ, have personal characters which belong to the Gauls in general; yet they are not all of the same speech, but differ a little in this respect, and there is also some variety in their political institutions and manners of life."
From this statement we may conclude, if the authority of Strabo is to be trusted, that any differences of speech which may have existed between the various tribes of people in Gaul, the Aquitani being excluded, and particularly that which we learn from Cæsar to have distinguished the Belgæ from the Celts, were but slight variations of dialect, and at least not such as to prevent one people from being intelligible to another. Had it been otherwise, had the Belgæ spoken a language which the Celts could not understand, the affinity of the two idioms would never have been discovered by people so incurious of such matters as were the Romans and Greeks. Languages, for example, differing from each other as do the Welsh and Irish, would never have been known to be kindred dialects. These races do not at all comprehend each other in conversation. It is only by an examination of grammatical analogies and of particular relations in the vocabulary of the Welsh and Irish languages, which in many instances require, in order that they may be detected, a previous acquaintance with certain rules of variation, that the affinity which exists between these idioms could ever be discovered, and the fact would have remained unknown to the ancients, who never made use of such methods of investigation.
Strabo, lib. iv. p. 176.
By other and later writers the language of the Gauls has been mentioned as if it were, in all parts of their country, one and the same. The "lingua Gallica or Gallicana” is alluded to as distinguished from the Latin of that province, under the Roman government, but we nowhere find any hint that there were two vernacular or native languages in Gaul. The question at which period and in what degree Latin superseded the ancient language in popular use, has been much controverted among French writers. The Benedictines of St. Maur, the authors of the learned work entitled "Histoire littéraire de la France," maintained that Latin had become the vulgar idiom of the Gallic provinces under the Roman empire; and Ducange went so far as to suppose that the native speech was entirely forgotten. In opposition to this opinion several passages from authors of a later period during the Roman domination, have been cited, in which the Gallic idiom is described as still extant, but it is always mentioned as one particular language. One of these passages is from a law in the Digest, taken from Ulpian, and it is found also in the fragments of that celebrated lawyer, who flourished in the reign of the Emperor Alexander Severus. In this it is said that the acts termed "fidei commissa" may be made in any language; and the language of Gaul is mentioned in the singular, and as one idiom, known by the term of "lingua Gallicana,"* distinguished from Latin, but without allusion to any other dialect extant, in the same province. Had a totally different speech prevailed in so great a portion of Gaul as the Belgic countries formed, when taken collectively, we should either find the Gallic languages mentioned in the plural or the Belgic distinguished from the Gallic.
There is one passage which may be referred to, as affording a positive proof that the languages of Gaul differed very little from each other, and it is difficult to evade the inference
"Fidei-commissa quocunque sermone relinqui possunt, non solum Latinâ vel Græca, sed etiam Punicâ, vel Gallicanâ, vel alterius cujusque gentis linguâ." (Digest, lib. 32.) I cite from M. Raoux's Mémoire en réponse à la question proposée par l'Académie Royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Bruxelles, Quelle est l'origine de la différence qui existe, &c. entre les provinces dites Flamandes et celles dites Wallonnes ? &c. Brux. 1825.