Obrázky na stránke

his sword, two hundred rubies, many hụndred imperial coins, three hundred golden bees, the bones and horse-shoe of his horse interred with him, according to the barbarous magnificence of those days in their sepulchral obsequies. Although, if we steer by the conjecture of many a Septuagint expression, some trace thereof may be found even with the ancient Hebrews, not only from the sepulchral treasure of David, but the circumcisionknives which Joshua also buried.

Some men, considering the contents of these urns, lasting pieces and toys included in them, and the custom of burning with many other nations, might somewhat doubt whether all urns found among us were properly Roman relics, or some not belonging unto our British, Saxon, or Danish forefathers.

In the form of burial among the ancient Britons, the large discourses of Cæsar, Tacitus, and Strabo are silent: for the discovery whereof, with other particulars, we much deplore the loss of that letter which Cicero expected or received from his brother Quintus, as a resolution of British customs; or the account which might have been made by Scribonius Largus, the physician accompanying the emperor Claudius, who might have also discovered that frugal bit of the old Britons,(55) which in the bigness of a bean could satisfy their thirst and hunger.

But, that the Druids and ruling priests used to

(55) Dionis. excerpta per Xiphilin. in Severo.

burn and bury is expressed by Pomponius; (6) that Bellinus, the brother of Brennus, and king of Britain, was burnt is acknowledged by Polydorus, as also by Amandus Zierexensis in Historia, and Pineda in his Universa Historia, Spanish. That they held that practice in Gallia, Cæsar expressly delivereth. Whether the Britons (probably descended from them, of like religion, language, and manners) did not sometimes make use of burning; or whether, at least, such as were after civilized unto the Roman life and manners conformed not unto this practice, we have no historical assertion or denial.(57) But since, from the account of Tacitus, the Romans early wrought so much civility upon the British stock, that they brought them to build temples, to wear the gown, and study the Roman laws and language, that they conformed also unto their religious rites and customs in burial seems no improbable conjecture.

That burning the dead was used in Sarmatia is affirmed by Gaguinus; that the Sueons and Goth

(56) The passage of Pomponius Mela, to which Browne here refers, is highly curious. He remarks that one of the doctrines of the Druids, which they inculcated in order that their disciples might conduct themselves more gallantly in war, was, that human souls are eternal, and enjoy life in a future state. On this account they burned and interred with the bodies of the dead such things as they had stood in need of while living. De Situ Orbis. III. 2. 21. ff. p. 312. Voss.-ED.

(57) Sir Thomas immediately forgets, therefore, the passage of Pomponius Mela, the sense of which I have given above, in which he distinctly states that they burned the dead. “ Itaque cum mortuis cremant ac defodiunt, apta viventibus olim.”ED.

landers used to burn their princes and great persons is delivered by Saxo and Olaus; that this was the old German practice is also asserted by Tacitus. (58)

And, though we are bare in historical particulars of such obsequies in this island, or that the Saxons, Jutes, and Angles burnt their dead, yet came they from parts where it was of ancient practice; the Germans using it, from whom they were descended. And even in Jutland and Sleswick, in Anglia Cymbrica, urns with bones were found not many years before us.(59)

But the Danish and northern nations have raised an era, or point of compute, from their custom of burning their dead: some deriving it from Unguinus, some from Frotho the Great, who ordained by law that princes and chief commanders should be committed unto the fire, though the common sort had the common grave interment. (6) So Starkatterus, that old hero, was burnt, and Ringo royally burnt the body of Harold the king, slain by him.

What time this custom generally expired in that nation we discern no assured period; whether it

(58) Germaniâ, c. 27 ; Cæsar, De Bello Gallico, 1. vi. c. 19. Kirchmann, De Fun. Roman. p. 11.- ED.

(59) Roisold, Brendetiide. Ild tyde.

(60) A probable distinction among some nations. But as we find in history so great a dissimilarity of custom in the burials of the ancients, it is absurd in an antiquary to attempt to fix on any decisive criterion for determining on the outward appearance of tumuli; and, indeed, sometimes, from the internal contents, when coins and other relics do not produce data for him to judge from.-DOUGLAS.

ceased before Christianity, or upon their conversion by Ausgurius the Gaul, in the time of Ludovicus Pius, the son of Charles the Great, according to good computes; or whether it might not be used by some persons, while for a hundred and eighty years Paganism and Christianity were promiscuously embraced among them, there is no assured conclusion; about which time the Danes were busy in England, and particularly infested this country, where many castles and strong-holds were built by them, or against them, and great number of names and families still derived from them. But since this custom was probably disused before their invasion or conquest, and the Romans confessedly practised the same, since their possession of this island, the most assured account will fall


the Romans, or Britons Romanized. However, certain it is, that urns, conceived of no Roman original, are often digged up both in Norway and Denmark, handsomely described, and graphically represented by the learned physician Wormius ;(") and in some parts of Denmark in no ordinary number, as stands delivered by authors exactly describing those countries.(62) And they contained not only bones, but many other substances in them, as knives, pieces of iron, brass, and wood, and one of Norway a brass, gilded Jew's-harp.

Nor were they confused or careless in disposing

(61) Olai Wormii Monumenta et Antiquitat. Dan.

(69) Adolphus Cyprius in Annal. Sleswic. Urnis adeo abundabat collis, &c.

the noblest sort, while they placed large stones in circle about the urns or bodies which they interred; somewhat answerable unto the monument of Rollrich stones in England,(63) or sepulchral monument probably erected by Rollo, who after conquered Normandy, where, it is not improbable, somewhat might be discovered. Meanwhile, to what nation or person belonged that large urn found at Ashburie, (+) containing mighty bones, and a buckler; what those large urns found at Little Massingham,(65) or why the Anglesey urns are placed with their mouths downward, remains yet undiscovered.


PLASTERED and whited sepulchres (66) were anciently affected in cadaverous and corruptive burials; and the rigid Jews were wont to garnish the sepulchres

(63) In Oxfordshire. Camden.
(64) In Cheshire. Twinus de Rebus Albionicis.
(65) In Norfolk. Hollinshed.

(66) Such a sepulchre I opened on Chatham Lines, and presented the Society an account of it. Douglas. No doubt attempts have been made in all countries to soften the terrors of the grave by sumptuous and magnificent tombs. But among the Jews, to whom reference is made in the text, very particular attention was paid to the tombs of prophets and saints. Matt. xxiii. 29. Compare the note of Mr. Trollope on the passage,

« PredošláPokračovať »