Images de page
PDF
ePub

especially, considering the difference of time itself, which, in every age, bringeth forth divers effects, and the dispositions of men, that, for the most part, take less pleasure therein, than in the relatiou of the occurrents of their own, or later times; yet I think it fit, for order's sake, there to begin, whence we have the first certain direction to proceed: And I doubt not, but some good use also may be made, even of those ancient things, howsoever they may be accounted impertinent to us, either by imitation, or by way of comparison.

As for the story of Brute, from his first arrival here, until the coming of the Romans, divers writers hold it suspected, reputing it, for good causes, rather a poetical fiction, than a true history, as, namely, Joannes, de Whethamsted, Abbot of St. Albans, a man of great judgment, who lived about the year of Christ 1449; and Gulielmus Nubrigensis, with others, as well modern as ancient, who have, in like manner, delivered their censures thereof. Besides, Venerable Bede makes no mention of it at all, but begins his history with the Romans entrance, into the island. Howbeit, seeing it hath been for so long time generally received, I will not presume, knowing the power of prescription in matters of less continuance, absolutely to contradict it; though, for my own opinion, I suppose it to be a matter of more antiquity, than verity. I write not this to detract from those, that have heretofore written thereof, in their books of our English Chronicles, continued to these times, as, namely, Stowe, Hollinshead, Grafton, and others, that have employed themselves, and their travel, in searching out antiquities, and memorable things, touching the affairs of this realm. That which they have done already deserveth thanks and good acceptance, in that of a good meaning, they have done their endeavours. But, as in the building of an house, divers workmen are to be used for divers purposes, namely, some to provide timber and rough-hew it, others to carve and polish it; so I think it meet, that some man of knowledge and judgment, requisite for the accomplishing of such a work, should advisedly peruse our English chronicles, the substance and matter, though laid up in divers publick and private storehouses, being already provided, and thereof to frame an history, in such a manner, as the reader might reap both pleasure and profit thereby. How beit, I see small likelihood that any thing will be done herein, while such, as are best able to perform it, are content to look on, straining courtesy who should begin; some refusing the labour, in respect either of the labour itself, or of the small recompence that followeth it; considering, withal, the carelesness and thanklesness of this age, wherein the best works, contrived with many years travel, are, for the most part, either scarcely vouchsafed the reading, or else read with a full stomach and a kind of loathing.

Others there are, that prefer silence as the safest way, in that it is free from censure and danger, which a man may casily incur by writing; whereas, for doing nothing, no man is either blamed, or constrained to render an account. For there are many that think they cannot shew their wits so well in any thing, as in finding faults with other men's doings, themselves, in the mean time, doing nothing. And, though sometimes, there may be just causes of reproof, yet, many times, we see that exceptions are taken, either upon dislike of the writer, or envy of the thing itself deserving commendation; or, as it falleth out many times, upon ignorance, the professed enemy of art and industry, which causeth some to condemn what they understand not: For the learned and industirous sort of men, as they are best able to judge what is done well or ill, so they are most sparing in reproving other men's labours, or making bad constructions of good meanings. To the censure of these men, as of indifferent judges, I do frecly submit myself, not doubting, but such as have travelled heretofore in matters of this kind, being also experienced in others, will confess it a work of no les trouble, to alter and repair an old decayed house with the same timber, than to erect a new one at the builder's pleasure.

Again there are some that will not stick to call in question the truth of all histories, affirming them to be vain and fabulous; both, for that they are, for the most part, grounded upon conjectures, and other men's reports, which are more likely to be false than true, and also, for that the writers themselves, as well as the reporters, might be partially affected: whereto I answer, that many things are left to the writer's discretion, and that it is impossible for any man, though never so great a lover of truth, to relate truly all particular matters of circumstance, but that he may fail in many things, and yet carefully observe the principal points ; which we are so far forth to allow, as we find them not unlikely nor improbable : otherwise, in detracting from the credit of ancient histories, either upon uncertain surmises, or by rejecting probable conjectures, we should deprive the world of a very great portion of human learning.

For my own part, although I might be discouraged in respect both of these inconveniences, which haply wiser men foresee and avoid, and also in regard of myself (being, amongst many others, the most insufficient to perform the task, as a man wanting both judgment and health of body, to go thorough with so weighty and laborious a work) yet bave I undertaken to make a proof, as you see, in setting down the state of this isle, under the Romans government, according to the report of Cæsar, Tacitus, Dio, Cassius, and other approved writers of our own, out of whom I have collected so much, as I thought necessary to be remembered touching this subject, and digested the same into the form of an history ; and namely, out of the English translation of Tacitus, upon the life of Julius Agricola, I have taken, and appropriated to the context of this treatise, not only the substance, but the orations themselves of Galgacus and Agricola, with other things there mentioned, as a choice piece of marble already polished by an exquisite workman, and fit for a much fairer building than I was likely to rear upon this old and imperfect foundation. The phrase thereof only in some few. places I have, I hope, without offence, altered, fashioning it to our own tongue, as taking myself not necessarily tied to so precise an observation in the exposition of words, as is required in a translator. And I thought it better to set these things down in this manner, and to acknowledge whence I had them, than, by marring them, to make them seem my own: For I have ever esteemed it a sign of an illiberal nature, either to detract, in any sort, from another man's labour, or

to affect the praise of another man's merit. Touching the affairs of the empire, although I have interposed them, here and there, throughout this , book, yet bave I touched them sparingly, taking only so much, and no more, than might well serve to explain the matter in hand.

It may be, some fault will be found, that, in the stile, I have not kept one and the same course from the beginning to the end, but that I have staid too long on some points, and passed over others too briefly; that many things are handled confusedly and abruptly, without due observation of circumstances required in a well composed history. Indeed, I must confess, that, herein, the success hath not answered my expectation in the beginning. Howbeit, if I may be my own judge, I ought to be excused by such as shall consider, first, the subject itself, which is, for the most part, more proper for annals, than for a continued history: Next, the variety of authors, like so many divers soils, out of which these fruits are collected; then, the imperfect relations of former times, wherein the affairs of this isle, for many years together, were either passed over in silence by writers, or else but darkly and imperfectly reported; and, lastly, the often change of emperors and governors here, during the space of above four-hun.

dred years. By reason of which inconveniences, I was forced, in ..divers places of this book, especially towards the latter end, to set

down a bare collection of the actions themselves, without circumstances; wherein, if the method seem differing from the former, let the cause thereof be imputed, partly to my love of truth, in delivering things, as I received them from others, and partly to my desire to contain the work within some reasonable proportion; which, otherwise, in ditating the acts of every particular governor, would have grown to a far greater volume, and myself, thereby, should have run into that error, which I dislike, and wish to be reformed.

Others, perhaps, will alledge, that I have done some wrong to antiquity in disguising it with modern terms and phrases, affirming those of ancient time to be more proper for our story, as being more free from the inixture of other languages, than the dialect now current among us. But herein, as I dislike affection of foreign and new coined words, when we have good and sufficient store of. our own, so, considering that our language, of itself, is none of the fruitfullest, i see no reason, that it should be debarred from communicating with the Latin and French words, which are now in a manner becoine denizens among us, to the inriching and polishing of our English tongue: And, ‘altho l esteem antiquity (as the preserver of things worthy to be remembered, for the benefit of posterity) yet I must confess, that I am not so stiffly best to maintain it, as some kind of men, that had rather dwell in old smoky houses, for that their ancestors built them, than to alter the fashion of them, for conveniency and decency. Touching the ancient names of the inhabitants of this isle, I have set them down, as congruent to those times, whereof I write, according to the ancient Roman historiographers. In other matters of antiquity, I have, for the most part, followed Master Camden, ' whose learning and judgment therein I do especially reverence. What pains he hath already taken, and with what good success, in the chorographical part, the present time (to his deserved praise, both at home and abroad) can openly testify, and succeeding ages, to the honour of our nation, shall for ever hereafter remember: For, by his means, this flourishing island, which heretofore was scarce known to her own inhabitants, is now both known and had in estimation among strangers, who take pleasure to read and understand what he hath written thereof. 'And, were the historical part as exactly set forth in English, as his description in Latin, I suppose, that few nations might then match us for an history; whereas now, in that one point, we come short of all others, that are not merely barbarous: For, like unnatural children, altogether careless of those duties we owe to that place where we first received our being, we spend our time either in catching flies with Domitian, or else in decking foreign stories with our best English furniture; suffering our own, in the mean time, to sit in rags, to the blemish of our country, which (having been heretofore famous for arms, and honoured with the presence and residence of many worthy emperors, kings, and captains; and at this day renowned for arms and arts, under the happy government of a virgio queen admired in all parts of the world) can yet hardly find any man, in so long a time of civility and peace, to take pity on her, and to attire her like herself.

İf. this my attempt may give occasion to the gentleman before named, or some others, that are best able to effect it, either to reform that which I have already written as an introduction to our English History, or else to begin a-new, and proceed with the continuation of it to these times, I shall then have my desire, and think my pains taken in this work, howsoever it may be censured, not bestowed in vain.

The Lieutenants and Deputies in Britain, under the Roman Emperors.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

From the time of Caracalla, to

Constantine the Great, viz. for the Space of one hundred years, or thereabouts, the names of Lieutenants are not extant; neither is there any mention at all made, in histories, of the affairs in Britain, until the time of Gallienus, who held the Empire about fifty years after Caracalla.

Ant. Bassianus Caracalla. Popilius Macrinus. Varus Heliogabalus. Alexander Severus. Maximinus. Gordianus I, II, III. Philippus Arabs. Decius. Valerianus. Gallienus. Flavius Claudius. Valerius Aurelianus. Tacitus. Valerius Probus. Carus Narbonensis. Dioclesianus. Maximianus Herculius Cæsar. Galerius Maximianus Cæsar. Fl. Constantinus Chlorus Cæs. Constantius Magnus. Constantinus. Constans. Constantius. Julianus Apostata..... Jovinianus. Valentinianus Primus. Gratianus. Valentinianus Secundus. Honorius.... Theodosius Junior.

VOL. II.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »