Slike strani
PDF
ePub

are reduced to reasonable dimensions. The grand parent of these absurdities, the Chronicle of Geoffrey of Monmouth, with its long line of British Trojan kings, is acknowledged to have been borrowed from Armorica. There are, it is true, a few stories current in the mouths of the peasantry, but the fact that they never have been written, is a proof that the Bards of the middle ages did not think them worthy of credit. It is, however, not an unlikely supposition that these stories were derived from such accounts as the monks would take care to publish.

In a subject so likely to be mixed up with fable as the history of Saints, it is of the greatest importance to ascertain what accounts relative to the Saints of Wales may be depended upon as true. The Welsh authorities, upon which the greatest reliance has been placed, are the catalogues or genealogies, usually called “Bonedd,” or “Achau y Saint.” The fondness of the Welsh for pedigrees has always been acknowledged, and genealogies are a species of record in which, owing to the complicated nature of the details, forgery is most easily detected. Owing to intermarriages and descents from a common ancestor, family connexions are so interwoven, that a variety of pedigrees, derived from different sources, would be contradictory unless their statements were true. To record these affinities, while they were well known, was the office of an order of Bards called “ Arwyddfeirdd” or Heralds; a great part of whose multifarious productions have survived the ravages of time, and a fair specimen of them may be seen in Jones's History of Brecknockshire. It is not likely that such persons would neglect the genealogy of the founders of churches, related as so many of them were to the chieftains of the country. Accordingly a variety of catalogues of Saints, with their more immediate ancestors, have been collected from different sources and apparently in different parts of the Principality. Two only of these catalogues have been published. The first, called “Bonedd Saint Ynys

K

Prydain,"* is inserted in the Welsh Archaiology, where it is professed to have been taken from the book of Hafod Ychdryd. Its orthography is ancient, and from the names it contains it would appear to have been formed in Cardiganshire.† The second is also published in the same Archaiology,

under the name of " Bonedd, neu Achau Saint Ynys Prydain,”# being a collection by Lewis Morris from various old MSS. in North Wales, some of which are still in existence. There is also a third catalogue which has not been printed in an entire form, but a great part of its contents have been made known to the world in detached notices. It is styled “Achau Saint Ynys Prydain,"|| and gives a more full account of such Saints as lived in Siluria, where it seems to have been collected. Each of these catalogues contains a variety of detail not to be found in the others; but they also contain a great many names in common, and, in treating of them, their statements are seldom so conflicting but that they may be reconciled. With the exception of some interesting historical notices in the Silurian record, the information they supply is but meagre; but it is so far valuable that it is capable of chronological arrangement. If the period, when any one mentioned in the list is said to have flourished, be known, the usual computation of thirty three years to a generation, or a century to three generations, will assign within reasonable limits the era of his kindred both ascending and descending * And if any one of another line be found contemporary with either of these, the same computation will avail with sufficient accuracy to determine the order of succession. The circumstances of their history may next be collected together, and embodied forth from other sources of information. The principal of these are the Triads, à species of record not to be relied upon implicitly, but deserving of consideration as they give a fair representation of such traditions, relating to the history of the Welsh nation, as existed prior to the inventions of the monks. Some collateral testimony may also be derived from the poetry of the Welsh Bards, though, as already observed, there are few allusions to Saints in poems which are of early date. The Romish legends will be used but sparingly, and only when their statements are within the verge of probability.

*“ The Gentility of the Saints of the Isle of Britain.”

+ A short list of Saints, without reference to their genealogy, has been published in the Cambrian Register, Vol. III. p. 219. It appears to have originated in Cardiganshire, but it is perfectly distinct from the above, and contains a few curious notices not to be found elsewhere.

#“ Gentility, or Pedigrees of the Saints of the Isle of Britain.”

$ The MSS. consulted by Lewis Morris, amounting to nine in nuinber, are specified in the Welsh Archaiology, Vol. II. p.

26. || The attention of the public was first directed to this catalogue by the late Mr. Edw. Williams, the distinguished antiquary of Glamorganshire, by whom it was transcribed from a MS. written, about A, D. 1670, by Thomas ab Ievan of Tre-bryn in the same county. As this appears to be one of the most interesting of the Welsh records, its publication, accom. panied with various readings and additions from other MSS. known to exist in the same part of the Principality, is a desideratum which it is hoped will not long be left unsupplied.

*ln forming an artificial chronology, computation by generations is much more satisfactory than by a succession of kings, whose reigns for various reasons are of uncertain duration. Sir Isaac Newton objects to the chronology of the kings of Rome, and other ancient nations, upon the plea that the reigns, averaging at about thirty five years each, are too long; and the following is the result of his observations after a careful examination of different authorities.

“Generations from father to son may be reckoned one with another at about thirty three or thirty four years apiece, or about three generations to a hundred years; but if the reckoning proceed by the eldest sons, they are shorter, so that three of them may be reckoned at about seventy five or eighty years; and the reigns of kings are still shorter, because kings are succeeded not only by their eldest sons, but sometimes by their brethren, and sometimes they are slain or deposed; and succeeded by others of an equal or greater age, especially in elective or turbulent kingdoms.” (Remarks prefixed to Hooke's History of Rome.)

Where the materials of history are scanty, the deficiency may, in part, be supplied by existing monuments, provided they are sufficiently numerous to allow of inferences being drawn upon fair principles of induction ; and in support of the genealogies it may be stated, that the order of succession deduced from them is, to a certain extent, observable in the arrangement of churches. As the chapels called after Welsh Saints have been dedicated to them for local reasons, so it is found that they are named after relatives, or contemporaries, possibly companions, of the founder of the mother church ; and where this is not the case, they are dedicated to persons of a later generation, who perhaps enlarged the foundation, or were distinguished ministers at the place. The occasional recurrence of the same names together is also a circumstance which could not have happened, unless some connexion, of the nature alluded to, originally subsisted between them. On the other hand, chapels are but seldom dedicated to persons of a generation earlier than the founder, for the first Saint who resided in the district was the most likely to establish its place of worship; persons, however, of the generation immediately preceding may be deemed contemporary, for a great part of their lives may have been concurrent. The few chapels, named after native Saints, which are subject to churches dedicated to the Apostles, are of a date comparatively modern; and, with others founded at a similar period, may be known by the technical appellatives of “Capel” and “Bettws,” in contradistinction to “ Llan,” which in an earlier age was applied to churches and chapels indiscriminately.

SECTION IV.

The Welsh Saints from the Introduction of Christianity to the end of the

second century.

To proceed chronologically with the notices of such Saints as are to be found in the Welsh accounts, the commencement should be made with the introduction of the Gospel into Britain.

The credit of this glorious work has been claimed for the Apostles—St. Peter, St. Paul, St. James, and Simon Zelotes, as well as for Joseph of Arimathea; but without entering further into the subject, it will be sufficient to observe that the Welsh records and traditions are silent as to their pretensions, and their claims must rest upon the support they receive from testimonies in other languages. According to the Triads, * and more especially the Silurian copies of Achau y Saint, the blessed instrument was “ Bran ab Llyr,” the father of Caradog or Caractacus. It is said that he and his son were betrayed to the Romans through the treachery of Aregwedd Foeddog, generally understood to be Cartismandua. He was detained at Rome as a hostage for his son seven years, and by this means obtained an opportunity of embracing the Christian faith. Upon his return, he brought with him three, or according to others, four teachers of the names of Ilid, Cyndaf, Arwystli Hen, and Mawan; and through their instrumentality the Gospel was first preached in this country. Such is the collective statement of the Welsh authorities, and it is so far plausible, that Stillingfleet, without being aware of this testi

* Triads 18 and 35, Third Series, Myv. Archaiol. Vol. II.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »