Early Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 210 pages of information about Early Britain.
is ninety-seven; in Derby, one hundred and sixty-two; in Warwick, one hundred and seventy-nine; and in Lancashire, three hundred and two.  These facts imply that the English population clustered thickest in the old settled east, but grew thinner and thinner towards the Welsh and Cumbrian border.  Altogether, the historical evidence regarding the western slopes of England bears out Professor Huxley’s dictum as to the thoroughly Celtic character of their population.

On the other hand, it is impossible to deny that Mr. Freeman and Canon Stubbs have proved their point as to the thorough Teutonisation of Southern Britain by the English invaders.  Though it may be true that much Welsh blood survived in England, especially amongst the servile class, yet it is none the less true that the nation which rose upon the ruins of Roman Britain was, in form and organisation, almost purely English.  The language spoken by the whole country was the same which had been spoken in Sleswick.  Only a few words of Welsh origin relating to agriculture, household service, and smithcraft, were introduced by the serfs into the tongue of their masters.  The dialects of the Yorkshire moors, of the Lake District, and of Dorset or Devon, spoken only by wild herdsmen in the least cultivated tracts, retained a few more evident traces of the Welsh vocabulary:  but in York, in London, in Winchester, and in all the large towns, the pure Anglo-Saxon of the old England by the shores of the Baltic was alone spoken.  The Celtic serfs and their descendants quickly assumed English names, talked English to one another, and soon forgot, in a few generations, that they had not always been Englishmen in blood and tongue.  The whole organisation of the state, the whole social life of the people, was entirely Teutonic.  “The historical civilisation,” as Canon Stubbs admirably puts it, “is English and not Celtic.”  Though there may have been much Welsh blood left, it ran in the veins of serfs and rent-paying churls, who were of no political or social importance.  These two aspects of the case should be kept carefully distinct.  Had they always been separated, much of the discussion which has arisen on the subject would doubtless have been avoided; for the strongest advocates of the Teutonic theory are generally ready to allow that Celtic women, children, and slaves may have been largely spared:  while the Celtic enthusiasts have thought incumbent upon them to derive English words from Welsh roots, and to trace the origin of English social institutions to Celtic models.  The facts seem to indicate that while the modern English nation is largely Welsh in blood, it is wholly Teutonic in form and language.  Each of us probably traces back his descent to mixed Celtic and Germanic ancestry:  but while the Celts have contributed the material alone, the Teutons have contributed both the material and the form.



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Early Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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