« PreviousContinue »
and they not from Samothea, as Villichus would have us believe.
Neither soundeth the music of Albion's legion tunable to our ears, whom Berosus with full note, and Annius alloweth to be the fourth son of Neptune, and him the same that Moses calleth Napthtahim, the fourth son of Mizraim, the second son of Cham, the third son of Noah, (because his fictions should be countenanced with the first) who being put into this island by Neptune his father (accounted forsooth the god of the seas) about lhe year after the flood, three hundred thirty and five, overcame the Samotheans, as easily he might, being a man of so great strength in body, and largeness of limbs, that he is accounted among the giants of the earth. Hiin Hercules, surnamed Lybicus, in battle assailed for the death of Osiris his father, and after forty-four years tyranny (saith Bale) slew him with his brother Bergeon in the continent of Gallia, near to the mouth of the river Rhodanus; whence Hercules travelled into this island as Giraldys (from Gildas the ancient Briton poet) conjectureth, whose fifth dialogue of poetry he had seen; and the rather believed because Ptolemy calleth that head of land in Cornwall, Promontorium Herculis, and left the possession of the island unto them of Cham, contrary to the meaning of the Scriptures, that made him a captive, but never
a conqueror over his brethren, whilst their first policies were standing,
The last, but much applauded opinion, for the possessing and peopling of this island, is that of Brute, generally held for the space of these last four hundred years, (some few men's exceptions reserved) who with his dispersed Trojans came into, and made conquest of this island, the year of the world's crealion two thousand eight hundred eighty seven, and after the universal flood one thousand two hundred thirty one, in the eighteenth year of Heli, his priesthood in the land of Israel, and before the incarnation of Christ our Saviour one thousand fifty nine. This Brute is brought from the ancient Trojans by descent; yea, and from the persons of the heathen deified gods: as that he was the son of Sylvius, who was the son of Ascanius, the son of Æneas, the son of Anchises by Venus the goddess, and daughter to Jupiter, their greatest in account. And if Pliny and Varro hold it praiseworthy to challenge descents (though falsely) from famous personages, whereby, as they say, appeareth an inclination to virtue, and a valorous conceit to persuade unto honour as sprung from a race divine and powerful: then by all means let us listen to him of Monmouth, who hath brought his nation to rank in degree with the rest of the Gentiles, which claim themselves to be the generation of the gods,
But why do I attribute the work to him, as the author, since he professeth himself to be but the
translator of that history, out of the British tongue, which Walter, the archdeacon of Oxford, brought out of Normandy, and delivered unto him? For the further confirmation thereof, and more credit to his story, Ilenry of Huntingdon, who lived in the time of king Stephen, and wrote likewise the history of this land, bringeth the line of Brute from Æneas the 'Trojan and his arrivage and conquest, to happen in the time of Heli his priesthood in the land of Israel, as Geffery ap Arthur hath also done: not taking (as some think) any thing thereof from him, but rather out of an ancient book, intitled, De Origine Regum Britannorum, found by himself in the library of the abbey of Bec, as he travelled towards Rome: which history began at the arrival of Brute, and ended with the acts of Cadwalader, as by a treatise of his own inditing, bearing the same title, hath been compared, and found in all things agreeing with our vulgar history, as industrious Lamberd affirmeth himself to have seen. And Nenius is said by the writer of the reformed history, to bring these Britons from the race of the Trojans, four hundred years before that Geffery wrote: yea, and long before Nenius also, Taliessin, a Briton poet, in an ode called Hanes, of Taiess his course of life, in these words: Mia dey thym yma at Wedillion Troia, that is, I came hither to the remnants of Troy.
That William of Malmsbury (who wrote in the days of king Henry I.) was before him of Monmouth, is most certain; yet doth he make mention of Arthur, a prince (saith he) deserving rather to be advanced by the truth of records, then abused by false imputation of fables; being the only prop and upholder of his country. And Beda, his ancient also, nameth Ambrosius Aurelianus to be king of the Britons, long before that Geffery was born: so was Brennus, mentioned by Livy; Bellinus (if he be Belgius) by Justin; Cassibelan by Cæsar; Cunobilin by Suetonius; Arviragus by Martial; Lucius by Eusebius; Coel, Constantius, Carausius, and others, by Eutropius, and Paulus Diaconus; and Helena by Nicephorus, Ambrose, and Socrates. These are the affirmatives that give countenance to the archdeacon of Monmouth's translation, and credit to Brute's conquests and successors; yea, and John Harding his herald, in his home-spun poetry, can easily enablaze his arms to be gules charged with two lions rampant endorsed or ; and the same to be borne by the kings of Troy. And his banner displayed at his entrance is said to be vert, a Diana of gold fitchel, crowned and inthronized, the same that Æneas bare when he entered the land of the Latins, But the censures of these relations I leave to the best liking of judicious readers, only wishing them to be unlike the inhabitants under the rocks of the cataracts of Nilus, whereof Cicero and Ammianus
make mention, who were made deaf by the continual noise of the fall of Nilus : lest by the sound and loud voices of these writers, the exceptions of others cannot be heard, which from the fullness of their pens, I will likewise declare, without offence, I hope, unto any.
At the end of his work he gives a “Summary Conclusion of the Whole,” in which we have a further confirmation of his having applied to authentic documents.
By the assistance of the All-sufficient, (the only defence and preserver of man) my insufficient abilities have attained the end of this work, and my weak unable person brought to a period this large edifice of “Great Britain's Theatre.” How acceptable to others, I know not; but with what pains and travail to myself, my decayed strength too manifestly have felt, and with what care of truth, the authorities alledged through the whole process are my witnesses; whose lines have been the measures, and antiquities the matter, that hath raised the fabric unto this height. The attempt was great, and far unfit (I must confess) for ine to undergo; which, even at the first entrance, was so censured by the judicious, and in the continuance hath $0 proved, that now