Imagens das páginas

the subject, is ever contributing its testimony, more or less, in favour of the general honesty and consistency of that great literary system which was reared by our bardo-druidic ancestors.

Let us not be misunderstood. We do not blindly attach ourselves to native authorities, without a critical examination of their weight and value. The prejudice is on the other side. We proceed in our historical investigations on the assumption that our forefathers were ordinarily upright men; and whenever we find that their statements are not contradicted by reason, and the stronger testimony of extrinsic facts, we unhesitatingly accept their conclusions. On the other hand, the anti-national theorists act independently of home records, and not unfrequently, indeed, as if truth invariably dwelt, and was to be sought for, in their very opposites.

It was not proper that the bardic school should be without its organ, in which papers illustrative of the usages of the Cymry, and explanatory of their traditions, might be inserted, and in which such persons as took an interest in the national lore might meet to interchange their sentiments thereon. Such an organ is the CAMBRIAN JOURNAL, of which we now commence a “ New Series, ” established on a firmer basis than before, and thoroughly removed from the reach of adverse influence.

One great characteristic of this Series will be the publication of manuscript memorials that will be of rare and valuable service to the future historian of Wales. It is our intention also to enrich our pages with an array of some hundreds of Cymric words, that have never appeared in any printed dictionary. This, it is presumed,

will prove an interesting boon to the philologist, and greatly facilitate the studies of those scholars who attempt to explore the treasures of our ancient literature.

Wales has long been under an eclipse; but we trust that by the aid of the Welsh MSS. Society, the Cambrian Institute, and the Eisteddvod, as well as by the literary efforts of private individuals, the darkness is dispersing, and that a brighter day is dawning upon it. We trust that Europe will soon be able to judge for itself—that it will be convinced from the store of our ancient learning, and from the philosophical structure of our language, that Cymru was at one time the centre of civilizationthat it was a bright spot when the surrounding nations groped in intellectual and moral darkness. In itself it is still bright and happy-land of the awen and the harp; but our wish is that the film should fall off the eyes of our neighbours, to enable them to see all this. No pains on our part shall be spared to bring about so desirable a consummation.



By the Late Iolo MORGANWG, B.B.D. The language of these triads, as we have them, is of that period between the time wherein the Romans quitted Britain till about the close of the thirteenth century. It differs no more from that of Howel's Laws than what might have been expected from the difference of object in a new and old code; a new order of things had taken place in the age of Howel widely different from the

age of Moelmutius—in these things alterations had been growing greater and greater for ages. In the language we perceive but little difference between that of 500 and 1130; from this last period to the present day, English words and English idioms have mottled the language a little, especially the vulgar dialect; but no good writer ever uses either one or the other of them; the legitimate words and idioms are still perfectly retained, and the difference between the literary language of the present day, and that of 2300 years ago, consists entirely in the new compounds that have been formed to designate new ideas that have been excited or suggested by our succession of knowledge, by modern discoveries and improvements in philosophy, and the arts and sciences in general, with those figurative, metaphorical, and sometimes catachrestical senses that are the unavoidable, and indeed natural, effects of such accessions of new ideas. The Charter of Llandaff is the oldest specimen of prose that we have of ascertained date; we are sure that this never became liable to insensible alterations of time by frequent transcript. It was not a thing of common use, or common amusement, so as to be continually copied through every age, and by such means be insensibly altering as it was carried along through many ages; and yet the language of it, divested of nothing but its antique orthography, is so similar to that of Howel's age as not to be greatly distinguished. Divest the Welsh of the present day of its new ideas, and adhere to etymological

and grammatical purity, and we shall not be able to point any great difference between it and that of Howel, that of the Moelmutian Triads, or that of the Charter of Llandaff; so that those who might attempt to fix the period wherein these triads were written, from anything merely in the language, will find themselves on a wrong pursuit; the language will correspond sufficiently with that of any period subsequent to the Roman empire, down to at least the commencement, and even an advanced period, of the fourteenth century.

We may fairly form other conjectures with respect to them than the preceding, without in the least impeaching their authenticity, and amongst others the following: The Laws of Dyfnwal are expressly said in Howel's Laws to have existed till that very time, and to have been in a considerable degree the basis of his code. It is not at all probable that, after he had made such use of them in his new laws as might have appeared proper, he should cause all to be destroyed and annihilated; even should he have entertained such an unreasonable and silly wish to no useful or even gratifying purpose, it is not probable that he could have accomplished it in a country and amongst a people of some literature, who cultivated and wrote in their own language, as was then the fact in Wales. Of course MS. copies of the reputed Laws of Dyfnwal would be found in several hands and places. Many passages in Howel's Laws are, from their remarkable brevity, very obscure; for instance, the laws respecting aliens, the mention of the teisbantyle, of the gwrthrifiad, of Cymry benbaladr, &c., whence it would soon become necessary to search for everything that could in any degree elucidate such passages; and to what could they recur with so much propriety as to the ancient Laws of Þyfnwal, which, in the greatest probability, were extant in MS. for a considerable time after Howel. Thus would they be necessarily re-copied, MS. copies multiplied, and from the necessity, at least utility, that occasioned this, they would have been with the Laws of Howel as indispensable concomitants, brought down to a late period, to

the time of Henry VIII., in whose time Wales became incorporated with England, and Howel's Laws, till then in use and force, were abolished. Hence we find nothing but what is very agreeable to, and indeed little if any. thing less than the necessary effects of things that as necessarily occur in the ordinary course of nature, in the circumstance of the Laws of Dyfnwal Moelmud reaching the present day, from the very remote period of 2600 years ago, nearly the same in substance as when the code was first formed; and though in language and expression altered by the insensible gradations of a very long period -of half the age of the world -- yet I believe not so much even in that as some who are not acquainted with the Welsh language--its roots and structure-- may suppose. Should an experiment be tried to separate the original text from the interwoven commentary, I will not venture to say that it would be successful; but, possessed of time and leisure, I should myself feel but very little despair in entering upon such an attempt.

This kind of commentary could not have been necessary in the time of Dyfnwal, nor indeed for ages afterwards. The simple original text of each Triad was for a long period sufficiently understood without an explanation; it could not have been necessary till the original triads had, by passing through a long succession of ages, especially those of the Roman period, become obsolete and obscure. Whether this commentary was attached to and blended with the original text immediately on the Britons being left to govern themselves by the Romans, and the Laws of Dyfnwal were restored -- whether it was soon or not till long after- whether before Howel, by him, or in his time, or subsequently to his time, and how much, cannot be ever ascertained. Nor is it, I believe, known whether, during the Roman period, the Britons were allowed their own ancient laws, or whether there exist any documents by Roman writers that would clear up this point. By the oldest Welsh writings one would be disposed to believe they had been, at least in some degree, indulged in this, especially with respect to their

« AnteriorContinuar »