« PreviousContinue »
“Ay, but,” you tell us, “ the Astronomer, the Zoologist, reads the laws of God written in natural phænomena.' And, we ask you, does not the Historian read the laws of God written in moral and social phænomena ? and are not these much greater than the other ? Let us cite a work of recent appearance, of which the doctrines have been questioned, but not the ability :
“The thoughts of Rights and Obligations, of Duty and Virtue, of Law and Liberty, of Country and Constitution, of the Glory of our Ancestors, the Elevation of our Fellow-Citizens, the Freedom and Happiness and Dignity of Posterity—are thoughts which belong to a world, a race, a body of beings, of which any one individual, with the capacities which such thoughts imply, is more worthy of account than millions of millions of mollusks and belemnites, lizards and fishes, sloths and pachyderms, diffused through myriads of worlds."
‘But,” you say, "you have shifted your ground. We spoke of Archæology, not of History. Of the dignity of that, no man doubts.” Distinguish between them, if you can. Probably it is easy enough for you to draw a practical distinction. You know something of the latter, and nothing of the former. You sit in your easy chair, and enjoy the subtle generalizations of M. Guizot, or the brilliant individualizations of Mr. Macaulay, and reck little of the labours upon which they are severally founded. So, if you like, you may read Siluria, in an easy slipshod manner, and wonder why Sir Roderick Murchison goes about with a hammer in his pocket. Let us tell you
Once upon a time there was a worthy Scotch minister, who preferred other men's literary compositions to his own extemporary eloquence. His flock were dissatisfied;
1 Plurality of Worlds, c. xi.
the Seceders reviled him as a dumb dog. One day, after sermon, he called upon a parishioner, and found him reading. “Well, Sawney, and quhat are ye doin'?”
Naething, Minister, aunly prophesyin’.” “Dinna fash yersell, Minister, I'm a prophesyin'. If readin' a preachin' be preachin,' readin' a prophecy maun be prophesyin'." Now for the application. To read Geology is not to be a Geologist, and to read History is not to be a Historian. Both the one and the other must work for himself. And who but the Archæologist is, in however humble a degree, the working Historian?
However, if such objectors, content to enjoy their own wisdom, and to let us enjoy our own folly, will only treat us with contemptuous silence, we can assure them that the forbearance will be mutual.
With the other class it is very painful to us to have any difference of opinion. They are not offended with our studies, but with the principles upon which they are carried on.
They are Archæologists, and Cambrian Archæologists too, and can have no quarrel with us on that score; but they accuse us of lack of patriotism, of being even anti-national. We deny the charge without hesitation. It
It may be that we have sometimes spoken sharply; but it is a sacred duty to science, to chastise sciolism, whether in a Celt or in a Saxon. It may be that expressions of impatience have escaped our Members at the (as it seems to them and to us) inadequate support which the Society has received at the hands of our countrymen. But we fail to see the reason for founding upon either of these facts the charge which, as we are told, is commonly brought against us. It is quite true
that there are wide differences of opinion between various Members of the Association on leading questions of history and archæology. It is also true that a majority of the active Members have been found of late to lean to one side of these questions. But this can hardly be a reason for taxing them, and still less the Society, with cherishing an anti-national spirit.
This is all that we claim, to sift thoroughly the whole evidence upon which the fabric of Welsh history has been raised. It is very possible, to a certain extent it is nearly certain, that the traditional account of our early condition
may after all prove to be the true one. But we want to have its truth, or so much truth as it contains, absolutely proved, so far as such a matter is capable of proof. And this can be done only by applying to it the same criteria of external evidence and intrinsic probability, to which the traditions of other nations have been subjected. We wish to see that done for Wales which Thirlwall and Grote have done for Greece, Niebuhr and Arnold for Rome, Palgrave and Lappenberg for England. Neither must we isolate our inquiries so as to take no notice of other countries. The history of Wales does not stand alone; it is involved with that of other Celtic countries, with that of England, and more remotely with that of Europe in general. The archæologist who confines his attention to the narrow limits of his national history, will gain about as enlightened an idea of it, as if a man were to derive his whole stock of political knowledge from the parish vestry or the county sessions.
We are inclined to believe that all our Members, and others who are interested in our general objects, might meet on the common ground of these principles, viz:
To seek the Truth honestly ;
To differ amicably. For, indeed, however undesirable controversy may be on many grounds, it is in some cases the only way
of arriving at the truth. Those of our Members who have adopted opinions in some respects at variance with the established belief, have, we think, in no instance maintained them without an appeal more or less successful to argument. Their arguments, however, have not generally speaking been answered by counter-arguments, and most commonly have not been answered at all. We do not know how far this may be the prudent course, but it certainly is not the philosophical one. We therefore earnestly urge those who maintain either side of the historical or archæological questions now at issue, to enter the lists fearlessly, and to contend à l' outrance. But above all, whether they see reason ultimately to agree, or to differ, we trust that the controversy will be carried on in a friendly spirit. Why personal feeling should be mixed up with a purely intellectual question, is a problem which altogether passes our comprehension. Subject to these sole limitations, we conclude with a maxim, the importance and validity of which both the contending parties are bound to acknowledge
Y GWIR YN ERBYN Y BYD.
NEW SERIES, No. XVII.—JANUARY, 1854.
CONWAY CASTLE. As soon as Edward the First had gained a sure position in Caernarvonshire, he commenced the erection of those magnificent castles at Conway, Caernarvon and Beaumaris, which have outlived the ruin of despoilers, and which still afford visible evidence of the genius of their architects.
The king himself was at Conway for the first time, as we learn from the Welsh Rolls, on the 13th of March, in the 11th year of his reign, and he continued here daily until the 9th of May; nor did he quit Wales on this his third visit until the 28th of August in the same year. It
. was during his residence at Conway that the sheriff of Rutland received orders to send masons there to commence the castle. The superior quality of the building stone of this Midland district of England had naturally given employment to a large body of stone masons, and their labours on the Welsh castles will at once account for the excellency of the workmanship.
The hall of the castle of Conway was erected by the year 1286; as the Corpus Comitatus shows that, before this time, the sheriff was allowed his expenses for carpentry work incurred in it. But after a few
the original hall, which seems to have stood at the north end of the building, was probably found too small, and the erection of another, called the Hall of Llewelyn, was ARCH. CAMB., NEW SERIES, VOL. V.