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ANCIENT AND MODERN YORK ;
ROMAN, SAXON, AND ANGLO-NORMAN ANTIQUITIES/LOT
CITY OF YORK ;
EMBRACING A HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE
CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. PETER,
With the Monastic Enstitutions, and Parish Churches;
A STATISTICAL SURVEY OF THE CITY,
AS IT NOW EXISTS.
BY ROBERT R. PEARCE.
With a Map of the City, and several Pictorial Illustrations,
PRINTED AND SOLD BY JOHN LEWIS LINNEY;
SOLD ALSO BY HARVEY AND DARTON, LONDON.
“ Thus shall mem'ry oft in dreams sublime,
Catch a glimpse of the days that are o'er;
To the long faded glories they cover." “Solitary ruins, sacred tombs, ye mouldering and silent walls, all hail ! while the vulgar shrink from your aspect with secret terror my heart finds in the contemplation a thousand delicious sentiments, a thousand admirable recollections ; pregnant, I may truly call you with useful lessons, with pathetic and irresistible advice to the man who knows how to consult you."
YORK owed its origin as a city, it may be stated pretty nearly as a certainty, to the Romans. Some have asserted that the honour of founding it, is to be ascribed to Ebraucus, the great grandson of Æneas, (who was himself the offspring of the goddess Venus !) and have ventured to fix as the date of its foundation an era, 983 years before Christ—that is, a period above a century and a half anterior to the building of Rome. The only basis for this idle story is the narrative of Geoffrey of Monmouth, bishop of St. Asaph, who wrote A.D. 1138, and whose history2000 years behind the events—has long since been exploded,* as being destitute of authority and inconsistent with known facts. Drake, it is true, cites it; but it is evident that he places no dependence upon its statements. Indeed, if we consider the degree of civilization that obtained in Britain at the Roman invasion by Cæsar, B.c. 55, it appears improbable that there was then a city upon the site of York. All the evidence of which we are
* Encyclopædia Britannica.
in possession, goes to negative the supposition that cities flourished in any part of Britain previously to the Roman invasion. Cæsar informs us, that the inhabitants were unacquainted with the arts and laws of civilized life, despised the institution of marriage,*-painted their bodies,-clothed themselves in skins,-lived upon flesh and milk of animals, and neglected tillage. He adds, that the Britons knew nothing of building with stone ; but called that a city which had a wood defended by a ditch and a bank around it. Tacitus, the most accurate and faithful of historians, whose father-in-law spent a great portion of his life in this country, and, as we have reason to believe, founded the city of York, describes the Britons as a fierce and savage people, running wild in woods ; and expressly mentions that Agricolaf instructed the natives how to build dwelling-houses, temples, and courts of justice. It will be admitted, that the ancient Germans were superior to the Gauls and the Britons. Now it would be taking a great deal for granted, if we assumed that cities were built by the Britons at this early period, if we find that the Germans built none. Tacitus says, “the Germans have no regular cities, nor do they allow a continuity of houses.” What then becomes of the romance that York flourished as a city before the time of Claudius Cæsar : Some stress is laid by Drake upon the fact, that the Britons called the place where York now stands, Kaer. But in the Gaelic, Kaer means a seat, as well as a city; and the expression might, and no doubt did, denote a fortification. It will be sufficient to show, with how much caution we should interpret such expressions, to mention, that the places taken by Cæsar are described in the Saxon Chronicle, as the chief towns of Britain ! We
* Pliny, Nat. Hist. lib. xxii. chap. 2; Martial uses the expression, Cæruleis Britannis; and Ovid, Viridesque Britannos.
+ Life of Agricola.
# Manners of the Germans.