Book 1, Chapter 2, Pre 55 BC –The Early Britons – Continued
It is not, therefore, matter for surprise, however much it is to be regretted, that early British history partakes largely of the fabulous and uncertain. Some of the old monkish chroniclers gave full scope to their fancy, and have placed upon record absurd and childish legends, in which it is said that the country was peopled two hundred years after the flood by one of the sons of Japhet, named Samothes, from whom the island was called Samothea. Its shadowy course is described, through the mists of antiquity, until the famed heroic age, when Brutus, the great grandson of Eneas, the Trojan prince, arrived, and conquered the inhabitants, giving to the country the name of Britain. To him, said, succeeded a long line of kings (including Lear, with whose story Shakespeare has made us so familiar) of whom marvellous tales of prowess and conquest are told extending even to the gates of Rome, then newly built. This traditionary narration extends over a thousand years, and is full of dreams and fancies, of which Milton remarks, ” By this time, like one who bad set out on his way by night, and travelled through a region of smooth or idle dreams, our history now arrives on the confines, where daylight and truth meet us with a clear dawn, representing to our view, though at a far distance, true colours and shapes.” On these ancient legends it may be remarked generally that most of the kings whose doings are described, were evidently petty chiefs, each ruling over a district; and that instead of being a long succession of monarchs, many of them were contemporaneous. This narrows the mythical period down to much smaller limits.
Chapter 2, The Early Britons
Early British Fables and Legends
Categories: Book 1