« PreviousContinue »
Amidst the enlargements made by the editor, he has not been inattentive to Paleftine, that country which muft always be held in particular veneration by every Christian reader. We fhall only tranfcribe the following paffage.
Under the government of Sheik Daher, the ally of the famous Ali Bey, fome part of Palestine revived. He enlarged the buildings and walls of St. John de Acre, formerly Ptole mais, and thewed great indulgence to the Chriftians. Its inhabitants were lately computed at 40,000. Caifa, which stands on the declivity of Mount Carmel, diftant about 20 miles from Acre, was alfo new built and enlarged by Daher. The ancient Joppa, now Jaffa, 50 miles weft from Jerufalem, ftands on a rocky hill, hath an harbour for fmall veffels, and its circumference is about two miles. The number of inhabitants is 7000; the western part of the town is inhabited by Chriftians. The prefent ftate of Ramah is deplorable, its walls in decay, and most of the houfes empty, though the number of inhabitants is ftill between 3 and 4000. Not a house is standing of the once magnificent city of Cefarea, but the remains of the walls teftify its former grandeur. Azotus is about two miles in circumference, the inhabitants are near 3000, and moftly Mahometans: an old ftructure is fhewn here, with fine marble pillars, which is faid to be the house that Sampfon pulled down, when infulted by the Philistines. Gaza is still refpectable, it extends from east to weft three miles, and is a mile in breadth, divided into the old and new town. The laft is inhabited by the inferior Turks and Arabs: the number of the inhabitants is reckoned to be 26,000. It is about five miles from the fea; and outside the town is a market for the country people to difpofe of their commodities to the inhabitants, for they are not permitted to enter the town. The country around is very fertile, but its chief produce is corn, oil, wine, honey, bees-wax, fax, and cotton.'
Additions are made to the account of Hindoftan, relative to its divifions under different princes and rajahs, its government, inhabitants, religion, and cuftoms. Thefe fubjects had formerly not been treated with fufficient precision, and, from our increafing connection with that country, they become daily more interesting to British readers. Additional accounts of Egypt, and its chief cities, are likewise introduced; and the late revolutions in that country are diftinctly related.
In the account of America, equal attention is obfervable. In particular, we meet with an accurate defcription of the remaining British provinces in that quarter, with thofe now denominated the United States.
With regard to the difcoveries of the late circumnavigators, many pages are added to the former defcription of the islands in the South Pacific Ocean, and the refearches which have
been made in the western parts of North America. The circumftances are felected with judgment, and afford a comprehenfive view of thofe numerous acquifitions lately made to geographical knowlege.
We obferve large additions in what relates to the history of the British empire, accompanied with a detail of the important transactions which preceded and followed the last general peace-The ftate of the East India company, now so closely connected with the most effential interefts of the nation, is a fubject which merits great attention. The editor has accordingly given a distinct account of their poffeffions and trade, and of the late act of parliament for the regulation of the company's affairs.
So numerous are the improvements which have been made in the prefent edition of this valuable work, rendered ftill more worthy of the public favour, by the maps with which it is now enriched, in a separate volume. We muft, therefore, acknowledge it to be the most comprehenfive, and moft ufeful fyftem, of the kind, that has hitherto appeared.
The Hiftory of Wales, in Nine Books: With an Appendix. By the Rev. William Warrington. 4to. 1l. 1s. in Boards. Johnfon.
AT commencing the review of this work, we are naturally led to a comparison of nations in a state of civilization and barbarifm. It is the glorious privilege of the former not only to flourish in the arts of peace, but to confer fuperior luftre on the warlike atchievements of their own people; while the latter are deftined to live in rude obfcurity, and, perhaps, to fink into oblivion. The fate of the Welsh refembles, in fome measure, that of the ancient nations, which became fucceffively a prey to the irresistible inundation of the Greek and Roman power. They fought for their liberties with a perfeverance, which affords unquestionable proof of their valour; but the history of their wars being chiefly trans mitted by the conquerors, there is reafon to think that the narrative is not only written with partiality, but must often be. deficient with refpect to true information.
Confidering the extraordinary attachment of the Welsh to the renown of their ancestors, it may justly appear furprifing, that no native of that country has ever yet attempted a regu lar history of the nation. But of a compofition of this nature their language afforded no example; and while the valiant exploits of their progenitors were celebrated in the fongs of VOL. LXI. Feb. 1786.
their bards, they were little folicitors for that fame which could but faintly ftrike the imagination through the medium. of inanimated records. They may now, however, congratulate their country, that a writer has arifen, with a genius very different from that of the monk of Llancarvan, and traced the various fortunes of the ancient Britons, not only with a dignity fuitable to hiftorical compofition, but with such a degree of liberal fympathy, as, had he not thought proper to inform us he is an Englishman, we might have entertained an opinion that he derived his defcent from ancient Cambria.
The reverend author fets out with a review of the British hiftory before the retreat of the Romans from this country; and, in the fecond book, continues the fubject from this epoch to the period when the ancient Britons were driven into Wales, Cornwall, and Armorica. He jufly obferves, that the most obvious defect in the national character of the Britons was a negligence in establishing a naval power; though experience, and the nature of their fituation, pointed out the propriety of this meafure, as the only effectual means of contending with the Saxons, and of counteracting their designs.
The third Book contains an Account of the Wars between the Saxons and Welsh, to the Death of Roderic the Great. About the commencement of this epoch, towards the end of the fixth century, Cambria took the name of Wales, and the inhabitants ceafed to be denominated Britons, by which title they had been hitherto diftinguifhed. But their former feverity of fortune, Mr. Warrington obferves, continued to purfue this brave people in their laft afylum, as the conquest of this barren domain became the object of ambition and policy to the Saxon and Norman princes. In this period of the Britifh hiftory, Cadwalader affords an example of that fuperftitious weakness, which has actuated a few other princes, even fince the decline of the dark ages.
Efter refiding fome time in the court of Bretaigne, fays the hiftorian, Cadwalader prepared to return into Wales; having heard that the famine and peftilence had ceafed, and that the Saxons, with increafing power, were endeavouring to extend their conquefts. With this view he collected an army, compofed of his own fubjects and his allies the Bretons, with a fuitable fleet to tranfport them across the channel. In fuch a fituation, a magnanimous prince would either have rescued his country from its danger, or would have buried himself in its ruins. But juft at the time that Cadwalader was going to embark, he was warned in a vifion, which he fancied to be a fudden impulfe from heaven, which directed him to lay afide the cares of the world, and go immediately to Rome, to receive holy orders from the hands of the pope. This illufion, the
effect of a weak or diftempered mind, he communicated to the king of Bretaigne; who, probably from interelled moives, took advantage of this incident to act on the weakness of this prince, and on the credulity of his nation; which, in common with every other people in the fame ftage of refinement, always paid a high veneration to men, who, acting under the impulfe of a warm and euthufiaftic fpirit, fancied themselves indued with the power of revealing future events.
Having confulted the prophetic books of the two Merlins, which were deemed facred as the pages of the Roman Sybils, Alan told him, they predicted the ruin of the British empire, until the time that the bones of king Cadwalader fhould be brought back from Rome. He then advised him to act up to the patriotic defign, and to follow the impufe of his vition. Thus confirmed in the delufion, Cadwalader proceeded to Rome; and, agreeably to the interefted views of the Roman pontiffs, was kindly received by pope Sergius. After he had fubmitted to have his head fhaven, and to be initiated into the order of white monks, Cadwalader lived eight years as a religious reclufe; exemplary in the piety of thofe days, but in á fituation unworthy of a prince; as it fecluded him from the practice of active virtue, and of confequence, from promoting the interefts of his people; for which great end alone princes are delegated to rule mankind.'
In this part of the work, our author defcribes the modes of life, and private manners of the Welsh, whose character/ bears a great refemblance to that of the other Celtic nations. They are reprefented to be a people light and nimble, and more fierce than strong, Their chief fuftenance was cattle and oats, befides milk, cheese, and butter; though they ufually ate more plentifully of flesh-meat than of bread. Being little engaged in the occupations of traffic, their time was chiefly employed in military affairs. They entertained an idea that it was a difgrace to die in their beds, but an honour to fall in the field. There was not a beggar to be feen in the whole country, for the tables were common to all; and hospitality was esteemed one of the chief virtues. Pride of ancestry, and nobility of family, were extremely predominant. A Welshman was confidered as honourable, if among his ancestors there had been neither flave, nor foreigner, nor infamous perfon. Yet if any foreigner had faved the life of a Welshman, or delivered him from captivity, he might be naturalized; and any foreign family, having refided in Wales for four generations, was entitled to the fame privilege.
Our author obferves, concerning Roderic, who has received from his countrymen the title of Great, that, if to produce the wealth and grandeur, the fafety and happiness of a state, be the means of attaining fuch a title, the conduct of this K 2 prince
prince gave him little claim to fo honourable a diftinction. For Roderic, without precedent to palliate, or apparent neceffity to enforce fuch a meafure, yielded up the independency of Wales; enjoining his pofterity, by a folemn refcript, to pay to the Saxon kings, as a mark of fubordination, a yearly tribute, which afterwards became the foundation of the claim of fupremacy, afferted by the English. Such a tribute had, indeed, been paid by the Cambrian to the British princes; but this, certainly, could impofe no fimilar obligation upon the defcendents of thofe Britons, who had been forced to abandon their native country to the ufurped dominion of the Saxons. The divifion which Roderic made of his territories, proved likewife the fource of civil diffenfions, and national weakness, which produced in the end a decline of patriotism.
In the fourth book, our author recites the hiftory of Wales, from the Death of Roderic to that of Bleddyn ap Cynvyn, the king of North Wales and Powis, in the latter part of the ele venth century. The bad effects of the policy of Roderic now became confpicuous: for in confequence of it, Bleddyn ap Cynvyn deigned to receive his crown from the hands of that power which was the hereditary foe of his country, and con fented to hold it as a tributary of the English princes. In the next Book, we find William Rufus entering Wales with a royal army, and afferting a fuperiority to which he had no legal pretenfions.
In the fame Book we meet with the following tranfaction, which, in its origin, bears an affinity to an incident that produced a revolution in the Roman government.
In the Christmas holidays, Cadwgan ap Bleddyn invited the chieftains in his neighbourhood to a feaft at his house in Dyvet. In the courfe of the entertainment, medh, or mead, the wine of this country, having raised their fpirits, Neft, the wife of Gerald, governor in Pembroke caftle, was fpoken of in terms of admiration; the beauty and elegance of whofe perfon, it was faid, exceeded thofe of any lady in Wales. The curiofity of Owen, the fon of Cadwgan, was ftrongly excited to fee her; and he had little doubt of obtaining admittance, as there was a degree of relationship fubfifting between them. Under colour of a friendly vifit, the young chieftain, with a few of his attendants, was introduced into the caftle. Finding that fame had been cold in her praife, he returned home deeply enamoured of her beauty, and fired with an eager defire of enjoying her. The fame night, returning with a troop of his wild companions, he fecretly entered the caftle, and, in the contufion, occasioned by letting it on fire, furrounded the cham ber in which Gerald and his wife dept. Awaked by the noife, he rushed fuddenly out of hed to inquire into the caufe of the