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The Crusades...Accession of Henry...Marriage
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
1. The Britons...2. the Romans... 3. the Saxons... 4. the Heptarchy...5. The Kingdom of Kent... 6. of Northumberland...7. of East Anglia...8. of Mercia...9. of Essex...10. of Sussex ... 11. of Wessex.
•THE 'HE curiosity, entertained by all civilised nations, of inquiring into the exploits and adventures of their ancestors, commonly excites a regret that the history of remote ages should always be so much involved in obscurity, uncertainty, and contradiction. Ingenious men, possessed of leisure, are apt to push their researches beyond the period in which literary monuments are framed or preserved; without reflecting, that the history of past events is immediately lost or disfigured when entrusted to memory and oral tradition, and that the adventures of barbarous nations, even if they were recorded, could afford little or no entertainment to men born in a more cultivated age. The convulsions of a civilised state usually compose the most instructive and most interesting part of its history; but the sudden, violent, and unprepared revolutions incident to Barbarians, are so much guided by caprice and terminate so often in cruelty, that they disgust us by the uniformity of their appearance; and it is rather fortunate for letters that they are buried in silence and oblivion. The only certain means by which nations can indulge VOL. I.
their curiosity in researches concerning their remote origin, is to consider the language, manners, and customs of their ancestors, and to compare them with those of the neighbouring nations. The fables which are commonly employed to supply the place of true history, ought entirely to be disregarded; or if any exception be admitted to this general rule, it can only be in favour of the ancient Grecian fictions, which are so celebrated and so agreeable, that they will ever be the objects of the attention of mankind. Neglecting, therefore, all traditions, or rather tales, concerning the more early history of Britain, we shall only consider the state of the inhabitants as it appeared to the Romans on their invasion of this country: we shall briefly run over the events which attended the conquest made by that em pire, as belonging more to Roman than British story: we shall hasten through the obscure and uninteresting period of Saxon Annals: and shall reserve a more full narration for those times when the truth is both so well ascertained and so complete as to promise entertainment and instruction to the reader.
All ancient writers agree in representing the first inhabitants of Britain as a tribe of the Gauls or Celta, who peopled that island from the neighbouring continent. Their language was the same, their manners, their government, their superstition; varied only by those small differences, which time or a communication with the bordering nations must necessarily introduce. The inhabitants of Gaul, especially in those parts which lie contiguous to Italy, had acquired, from a commerce with their southern neighbours, some refinement in the arts, which gradually diffused themselves northwards, and spread but a very faint light over this island. The Greek and Roman navigators or merchants (for there were scarcely any other travellers in those ages)