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THE SMALLER ILANDS IN THE BRITISH OCEAN
OW will I at length way anchor and set saile out of Ireland, and, launching fourth, take survey of the Ilands scattered heere and there along the coasts of Britain. If I durst repose any trust in my selfe, or if I were of any sufficiency, I would shape my course to every one. But sith [since] it is my purpose to discover and inlighten [illuminate] Antiquity, such as are obscure and of lesse account I will lightly coast by, and those that carry any ancient name and reckoning above the rest I will enter and visit, yea and make some short stay in them, that now at last in a good and happy houre they may recover their to have beene againe.
2. And that in this voiage I may at first set out orderly and take a streight and direct course, I will, to begin, saile out of Ireland into the Severn sea, and by the Irish sea (after I have doubled the utmost point of Scotland) follow my course down into the German Ocean, and so from thence through the British sea (which extendeth as far as to Spain) hold on my race [course] as prosperously as I can. But I am afraide least this my ship of Antiquity, steared by me so unskilfull a Pilot, either run and be split upon the rockes of errours, or else be overwhelmed with the waves of ignorance, yet venture I must. Τόλμα, saith Antiphilus, νεῶν ἄρχηγος, that is, Adventure is a good Sea Captaine, and he that saileth the same voyage a second time may happly speed much better and finish his desired course.
3. First and formost, because it seemeth not impertinent to my matter, I wil set down what Plutarch out of a fabulous narration of Demetrius (who seemeth to have lived in Hadrians time) reporteth generally as touching the Ilands lying neere to Britaine. Demetrius made report that most of those Ilands which coast upon Britaine lie desert, desolate and scattering heere and there, whereof some were dedicated to the Daemones and Heroes. Also that himselfe by commission from the Emperour sailed toward one that was neerest of those desert Iles for to know and discover somewhat, the which he found to have in it few inhabitants, and those he understood were reputed by the Britans sacred and Inviolable. Within a while after he was landed there, the aire and weather (as he said) became foully troubled, many portenteous signes were given by terrible tempests, with extraordinary storms, flashing and violent lightnings and fiery impressions: which after they were appeased, the Ilanders certified [informed] him that some one of great eminency was dead. And a little after, Now he said moreover that there was a certaine Iland there wherein Saturne was by Briareus closed up and kept in prison sound asleepe (for sleepe was the meanes to hold him captive), about whose person there were many daemones at his feet, that stood attending as servitours. Thus they tooke pleasure in old time, as now also at this day, boldly to devise strange wonders and tales of places farre remote in a certaine secure veine of lying, as it were, by authority.
4. In the narrow sea of Severn, there peep up first of all two small Ilands, whereof the one, because it lieth flat and with an even ground, is by us called Flatholme, in the same sense that Planary is named <in> Italy; the other Step-holme, because it riseth steepe, in the Brittish tongue Reoric. Both of them, when the Britans bare rule, were tearmed Echni, like as in our age Holmes, for so the Anglo-Saxons called greene plaines enclosed within water. Neither were they in ancient times famous for any thing else but for that the Danes lay there at road, and for the tombe of one Gualchus, a Britan of singular devoutnesse, whose Disciple Barruch left his name to the Iland Barry in Wales (as an ancient monument of the church of Landaff witnesseth), which Iland in like maner hath given name to a noble house of the Barrayes in Ireland. This hath lying hard by to it the little Iland Silly, upon the coast of the ancient Silures, of whose name it seemeth to retaine still more than a shadow, like as a small towne over against it in Glamorgan-shire. Yet dare I not avouch it to be Silura or Insula Silurum, the Iland that Solinus mentioneth, seeing there be other Ilands bearing the same name, yet farre distant from the Silures.
5. From thence we come to Caldey, in the British Imis-Pix, lying nere unto the shore; and to Londey farther within the sea, over against Caldey, and belonging unto Devonshire. From the promontory or cape whereof, named Hert-nesse, it lieth 14 miles. Larger this is counted of the twaine, howbeit reported to be not much more than two miles long and one mile broad, so encircled with rockes and cliffes round about that there is no avenue unto it but in one or two places. A fort or Sconse it had, the ruins whereof, like as of Saint Helens Chappell, are yet to be seene. That it had beene in time past cared with the plough, the ridges and furrowes in it doe evidently shew. Not all the commodity and profit that it yeeldeth doth arise from sea foule, whereof it hath great store. Trees it hath none but stinking Elders, which the Stares haunt in such multitudes that uneth [only] for their dung is there any comming to them. But what meane I to stand heereupon? Considering that Sir Thomas De-la-Mere Knight (in reporting how that silly king Edward the Second, when his froward and unreasonable wife, together with the Unruly Barons thundred out threats and denounced terrible menaces, was minded to withdraw himself hither, as to a place of refuge) hath in old time described in this wise: Londay (saith he) is an Iland lying in the mouth of Severn two miles long over way, full of pleasant pastures. It affordeth Connies in great store. Doves and stares (which Alexander Necham termeth Ganimedes birds) it hath continually from time to time ready to lay. It serveth the inhabitants besides with fresh water, walming [welling] aboundantly out of springs, though it selfe be on all sides compassed with the sea. One way of entrance it hath into it, wherein can two men hardly goe afront together on foote. On every part besides, the dreadfull rockes, bearing out a mighty height, hinder all ingresse. But scarcely doe our Historians make any mention of it, save onely how William de Marisco, a most leaud and mischievous rover in the reigne of King Henry the Third, from hence sore infested these coasts in times past, and that in King Edward the Third his daies it was part of the Lutterells inheritance.
6. From thence in the very bent and turning of Pembrochshire we meete with Gresholme, Stockholme, and Scalmey, in which is plenty of grasse and wild thyme growing very fresh and pleasant. The day was when I thought Scalmey to have beene that Silimnus which Plinie in old time wrote of, but the truth hath now made me change my opinion. For that Silimnus of Plinie (as the affinity of the word implieth) seemes to be Ptolemee his Limni. That this heere is the Britans Lymen, the word it selfe (if I should say nothing) sheweth evidently, which the Englishmen by a new name have now a daies tearmed Ramsey. This lieth full against the Episcopall sea of Saint Davids, whereunto it belongeth, and was in the foregoing ages very famous for the death of one Justinian a most holy man; who after he had withdrawne himselfe hither out of little Bretaine in Fraunce, in that age that brought forth so many Saints, and led a long time an Eremits life, wholly devoted to the service of God, being in the end slaine by a page, was registred in the roll of Martyrs. In whose life we find it oftentimes written Lemeneia insula. Which denomination verily, together with the British name Limen, by which name it is knowen unto the Britans themselves, checketh and taxeth his drowsiness who maketh the Iland lying next above it to be Ptolemees Limon, which the Britans now name Enbly and English Berdsey, as one would say The Isle of Birds. But that this should be it that Ptolemee calleth Edri, and Plinie Andros or Adros (as it is in some place read), I durst more boldly guesse by the signification of the word. For alder in the British tongue signifieth a Byrd, and in the very same sense the Englishmen afterward called it Berdsey. As for Enbly, it is a name of a later stampe, and came by occasion of a certaine holy and devout man who heere lived as an Eremite. For this Iland, which toward the East mounteth aloft with an high promontory, but Westward lieth plaine and is of a fertile mould, harboured in old time so many holy men that, beside Dubrith and Merlin the Caledonian, ancient histories record there were twenty thousand Saints buried heere. Next unto this lieth Mona, that is, Anglesey, which the Britans also name Mon, Tir-Mon, and Ynis Dowyll, that is, A darke or shady Iland, the Saxons Monege, whereof I have already treated.
7. To Mone or Anglesey there adjoine three smaller Ilands, Moyl-Rhoniad, that is, The Ile of Seales, upon the North-west, which after it had beene withheld by certaine that unjustly seized upon it from the Bishops of Bangor, unto whom it belonged, Henrie Deney Bishop of Bangor (as we read in the historie of Canterbury), with a fleet manned with souldiers in King Henrie the Seventh his time, recovered. Eastward lieth Ynis Ligod, that is, The Isle of mice, and more beneath Prest-home, that is, The Ile of Priests, and nothing saw we in it but the towre steeple of Saint Cyriacs chappell, which sheweth it selfe to the beholders afarre off. Incredible it is what the neighbours report of the infinite multitude of sea-foule that heere do breed; as also what they tell of a Causey or banke which went from hence through the sea to the foot of that huge mountaine Pen-Maen-Maur for their use who of devotion went on pilgrimage to visit this place, held in times past so holy and religious. I passe over Lambey, a little Iland opposite unto this toward the coast of Ireland, although our Metall-men have to their great charges sought there of late for Alum.
8. More Northward lieth that Mona whereof Caesar maketh mention, in the mids of the cut, as he saith, betweene Britaine and Ireland. Ptolemee tearmeth Monoeda, as one would say Mon-eitha, that is, if I may be allowed to conjecture, the more remote Mona, to put a difference betweene it and the other Mona, that is, Anglesey, Plinie, Monabia, Orosius Menavia, and Bede Menavia Secunda, that is, The second Menavia, where he tearmeth Mona or Anglesey Menavia Prior, that is, the former Menavia, and calleth them both Ilands of the Britans: in which writers notwithstanding, it it read amisse Menavia. Ninnius, who also goeth abroad under the name of Gildas, nameth it Eubonia and Manaw. The Britans Menow, the inhabitants Maning, and we Englishmen The Yle of Man: stretched out just in the mid levell (as saith Girald Cambrensis) betweene the Northren coasts of Ireland and Britaine. About which Isle, and namely to whether of the two countries it ought of right to appertaine, there arose no small doubt among those in ancient times. At length the controversie was taken up in this maner. Forasmuch as this land fostered venemous wormes brought over hither for triall, adjudged it was by a common censure and dome [judgment] to lie unto Britain. Howbeit, the inhabitants both in language and manners come nighest to the Irish, yet so as they therwith savour somewhat of the qualities of Norvegians.
9. It lieth out in length from North to South much about thirty Italian miles, but reacheth in breadth, where it is widest, scarce above fifteene miles, and where it is narrowest eight. In Bedes daies it conteined in it three hundred families, like as Anglesey, but now it numbreth seventeene Parish Churches. Flax and hempe it beareth abundantly. It hath fresh pastures, and fields by good manuring plenteous of Barley and Wheat, but of Oates especially: whence it is that the people there eat most of all Oten bread. Store of cattell every where, and mighty flockes of sheepe, but both their sheepe and other cattell also be smaller of body there, like as in Ireland neighbouring upon it, than in England, and nothing so faire headed. And considering it hath few or no woods at all, they use for fewell a kinde of clammy turfe, which as they are digging out of the earth, they light many times upon trees buried under the ground. In the middest it riseth up with hils standing thicke, the highest whereof is Sceafull, from whence a man may see on a cleere and fine day Scotland, England, and Ireland. Their chiefe towne they count Russin, situate on the South-side, which of a Castle, wherein lieth a garizon, is commonly called Castle-Towne, where within a little Iland Pope Gregory the Fourteenth instituted an Episcopall See, the Bishop whereof, named Sodorensis (of this very Iland, as it is thought), had jurisdiction in times past over all the Ilands, West Irish Iles or Hebrides, but exerciseth it now onely upon that Iland, and is himselfe under the Archbishop of Yorke. Howbeit, he hath no place nor voice in the assembly of the States of England in Court of Parliament. Duglasse is the best peopled towne and of greatest resort, because the haven is commodious and hath a most easie entrance, unto which the Frenchmen and other forrainers use to repaire with their Bay-salt, having trafficke with the Ilanders and buying of them againe leather, course wooll, and poudred [salt] Beefe. But on the Southside of the Ile stand Bala-Curi (where the Bishop for the most part is resiant [in residence]), and the Pyle, a Block-house standing in a little Iland, where also there are souldiours in Garizon. Also before the very south point there lieth a pretty Iland called The Calfe of Man, wherein are exceeding great store of sea foule caled Puffins, and of those duckes and drakes which (breeding of rotten-wood, as they say) the Englishmen call them Bernacles, the Scots Clakes, and Soland Geese.
10. That which heere followeth I will set downe out of a letter which that learned and reverend father in God John Meryk Bishop of this Isle wrot unto me. This Iland, for cattaile, for fish, yea and for corne, rather through mens industry than by any goodnesse of the ground, hath not onely sufficient for it selfe, but also good store to send into other Countries. Yet happier it was for the government thereof, as being defended from neighbour enemies by souldiours prest [prepared]and ready, at the expense of the Earle of Darby, upon which he imploied the greatest part of his yeerely revenew in this Isle. All controversies are decided without writing or any charges by certain Judges, whom they chose from among themselves and call Deemsters. For the Magistrate taketh up a stone and when he hath given it his marke, delivereth it unto the plaintif, who by vertue of it citeth his adversary and witnesses. If there fall out any doubtfull case and of greater importance, it is referred to twelve men whom they tearme the Keyes of the Iland. it hath certain Coroners, and those they call Annos, who stand insteed of Sheriffes and execute their office. The ecclesiasticall Judge doth cite persons and determine causes: within eight daies they stand to his award, or they are clapt up in prison. They had, as I have heard say, as a peculiar language of their owne, so also their peculiar lawes, which are signes of a peculiar Seignory. There Ecclesiasticall lawes, next after this Canon Law, come neerest unto the Civil. Upon any Judge or Clerks of the Court for making of processe or drawing Instruments, the people never bestoweth so much as one pennie. As for that which English writers report of mischiefes done by witchcraft and sorcery, it is meere [completely] false. They that are of the wealthier sort and hold faire possessions, and for their good houskeeping and honest carriage are conformable to imitate the people of Lancaster. The women whithersoever they goe out of their dores, guird themselves about (as mindfull of their mortality) with the winding sheet that they purpose to be buried in. Such of them as are by law condemned to die are sowed within a sacke and flung from a rocke into the sea. They are all of them in this Isle as farre from the customary practise of theeving or begging from dore to dore as may be: wonderfull religious, and most redy everie one to entertaine the forme of the English church. The disorders as well civill as ecclesiasticall of their neighbour nations they detest, and whereas the whole Isle is divided into two parts, South and North, this in common speech resembleth the Scotish, the other the Irish.
11. Happily it were woorth my labour if I should heere insert a little History of this Iland, which Truth of due demandeth at my hands, that so I may keepe alive and in remembrance still the Acts heeretofore atchieved, which if they be not buried, yet are waxen old, and have as it were one foote in the grave of oblivion. That the Britans held this Iland, as they did all Britaine, it is confessed by all. But when the Nations from the North like violent tempests overflowed these South parts, it became subject to the Scots. For under the Emperours Honorius and Arcadius (as we read in Orosius) it was inhabited as wel as Ireland by the Scottish Nations, and Ninnius hath written that one Binle a Scot was Lord of it. But (as the same writer recordeth) the Scots were driven out of all the British Countries and Ilands by Cuneda, Grandfather of Maglocunus, whom Gildas (for the foule worke that he made in these Ilands) termed the Dragon of the Iles. After this, Edwin King of Northumberland brought this Iland, like as the foresaid Anglesey, under the subjection of the English, if we understand them both by the name of Menaviae, as writers perswade us, at which time it was reckoned an Iland of the Britans. But when the North had sent abroad his brood the second time, I mean the Normans, Danes, and Norwegians, these Norwegians, who with their manifold roberies and roveries did most hurt from the Northern sea, tooke up their haunt into this Iland and the Hebrides, and therein elected Lords and Pety-kings whose breife history I wil heere put downe word for word out of an old Manuscript, least it should be utterly lost, which is entituled The Chronicle of Man, seeming to have been written by the Monkes of the Abbay of Russin, which was the principall place of religion in this Isle:
The medieval monastic chronicle, published here by Camden, is omitted from the present edition. — D. F. S.
12. The Processe or course of the Historie following I will now continue summarily out of other writers. When Alexander Third, King of Scots, had gotten into his hands the Westerne Ilands, partly by way of conquest, and in part for ready money paid unto the King of Norway, he attempted the Ile of Man also, as one of that number, and through the valiant prowesse of Alexander Stewart brought it under his dominion; yea and placed there a pety King or Prince with this condition, that he should be ready alwaies at his commande to serve with ten ships in his warres at sea. Howbeit, Marie the daughter of Reginald King of Man (who was become the Liege man of John King of England) entred her suit for the Iland before the King of England, but answere was made unto her that she should demaund it of the King of Scots, for that he then held it in his possession. And yet her grandchild John Waldebeof (for the said Marie married into the house of Waldebeofe) sued for his ancient right in Parliament, holden in the 33 yeere of King Edward the First, before the King of England, as the superiour Lord of the kingdome of Scotland. But none other answere could he have than this (if I may speake the words out of the very authenticall Records), Sequatur coram iustitiariis de banco regis &c., that is, Let him sue before the Justices of the Kings Bench, let him be heard, and let Justice be done. But that which he could not obtaine by right, Sir William Monteacute his kinsman (for come he was of the race of the kings of Man) wonne by his sword. For with a band of English mustering up in hast, he drave all the Scots out of the Iland. But being by this warre plunged deeply in debt, and not having wherewith to make some payment thereof, he mortgaged it for seaven yeeres to Antonie Bec Bishop of Durham and Patriarch of Jerusalem, and made over the profits and revenewes thereof unto him; yea and soone after the King granted it unto the said Antonie for tearme of life. Afterwards, King Edward the Second passed a grant thereof unto his minion Piers Gaveston, what time as he created him Earle of Cornwall; and when the said Piers was rid out of the way, he gave it unto Henry Beaumont, with all the domaine and regall jurisdiction thereof belonging. But shortly after, the Scots under Robert Brus recovered it, and Robert Randulph that right warlicke Scot, like as a long time after, Alexander Duke of Albany, used to stile themselves Lords of Man, and bare the same cote of armes, as did the later Kings of Man, namely, three armed legges of a man, linked together and bending in the hammes, such for all the world as the Isle of Sicilia gave the three legges naked in like forme in her coines of money in old time, to signifie three Promontories. Notwithstanding, before time the Kings of Man used for their armes, as we have seene in their Seales, a ship with the saile hoised [hoisted] up, with this title in the circumference, Rex Manniae et Insularum, that is, King of Man and of the Ilands. Afterward about the yeere 1340 William Montacute the younger, Earle of Salisbury, wrested it by strong hand and force of armes from the Scotish: who in the yeere of our Lord 1393, as Thomas Walsingham saith, sold for a great summe of money Man with the crowne thereof unto William Scrope. Who being for high treason beheaded and his goods confiscate, it came unto the hands of Henrie the Fourth King of England, who granted this Iland unto Henry Percy Earle of Northumberland (as a conqueror triumphing over William Scrop, whom he as yet a private person had intercepted and beheaded, when he aspired to the Crowne) with this condition: that himselfe and his heires should, when the Kings of England were enstalled and crowned, carry before them that sword which the said Henrie wore by his side what time he came backe againe out of exile into England, commonly called Lancaster Sword. But I thinke it good to set this down out of the Record in the very words of the King himselfe: De nostra gratia speciali dedimus, that is, Of our speciall grace we have given and granted unto Henrie Earle of Northumberland the Isle, Castle, Pile, and seignorie of Man, and all the Ilands and Lordships to the said Ile belonging, which were Sir William le Scrops, Knight, now deceased (whom in his life time we conquered, and have decreed him so to be conquered), and which by reason of our conquest of him we tooke into our hand as conquered. Which conquest verily and Decree in our present Parliament, with the consent of the Lords Temporall in the same Parliament being, as touching the person of the foresaid William and all the lands, tenements, goods, and chattells of his, as well within our Kingdome as without, at the petition of the Communalty of our Kingdome, stand confirmed &c. to have and to hold unto the said Earle and his heires &c. by service of carrying at the daies of our Coronation, and of our heires, at the left shoulder, and the left shoulders of our heires, either by himselfe or a sufficient and honorable Deputy of his, that sword naked which we ware and were girt with when we arrived in the parts of Holdernesse, called Lancaster Sword &c. But in the fifth yeere following, the said Henrie Percie entred into open rebellion, and the King sent Sir John Stanley and William Stanley to seize the Isle and castle of Man, the inheritance whereof he granted afterward to Sir John Stanley and his heirs by Letters Patent, with the Patronage of the Bishopricke &c. And so his heires and successors, who were honored <with> the title of Earles of Derby, were commonly called Kings of Man.
13. From Man, untill we come to the Mull of Gallaway, we meet with none but very small Ilands. But after we be once past it, in the salt water of Glotta or Dunbritton Frith appeereth the Iland Glotta, whereof Antoninus maketh mention, which the Scots now call Arran, wherof the Earles of Arran in Scotland were stiled, and neighbouring unto it is that which was in times past named Rothesia, now Buthe, of a sacred Cell which Brendan erected (for so they tearme a little Cell in Scottish); thence come we to Hellan, in times past called Hellan Leneaw, that is, as John Fordan interpreteth it, The Isle of Saints, and to Hellan Tinoc, that is, The Isle of Swine, and these Ilands are seene in the same Frith or Forth. But of these I have spoken before.
14. Without this bay or Frith lie a number of Ilands very thicke together, which the Scots themselves that inhabite them call Inch-Gall, that is, happly, The Isles of the Gallicians, the English and the rest of the Scots, The Westerne Isles, the writers of the former age, Hebrides, but the ancient Ethnickes, Bettoricae, and Giraldus otherwhere Inachades and Leucades; Plinie, Solinus and Ptolemee name them Ebudas, Hebudas, and Ἔβυδας, which names have some consonant affinitie with Epidium the promontory of Britaine opposite unto them, and an Isle among these so named. The reason of the name I cannot picke out, unlesse I should think they were so called because there groweth heere no corne or graine. For Solinus writeth that the inhabitants of these Ilands are not acquainted with corne, and live onely upon fish and milke, and eb eid in British soundeth as much as without corne. The inhabitants, as saith the same Solinus, have no skill or knowledge of corne, they live of fish and milke onely. They all have but one king. For how many so ever there be, they are severed one from another by a narrow enterflow of the Sea betweene. The king hath nothing that he may say is his owne: all things are common to them all, and held hee is to equity by certaine lawes. And least hee should for covetousnesse swarve aside from the truth, by his poore estate he learneth justice, as who hath no house, furniture and provision of his owne, but all his maintenance is from the common coffer. No woman is he allowed to have in propriety [personal possession], but by turnes he taketh for to use whomseover he fancieth, whereby he neither can have his wish nor hope of children.
15. Of these ilands, the common people affirmeth, there be 44, whereas in truth there are many more. Plinie wrote that there were 30 of them. But Ptolemee reckoneth up but five. The first is Ricina, Plinie calleth it Ricnea, Antoninus Riduna, now tearmed Racline, and I thinke it should be read in Antonine Riclina, for cl easily maketh a d by joining a c at the backe unto it. A small Iland this is, butting full upon Ireland, knowne unto the ancient writers for that it lieth in the very narrow sea betweene Ireland and Scotland, famous at this day for no cause else but for the overthrow and slaughter of the Scottish Irish who otherwhiles possessed themselves of it, and were thrust out by the English ‡under the conduct of Sir William Norris in the yeere 1575.‡ The next is Epidium, which by the name I would guesse, with that excellent Geographer Gerard Mercator, lay neere unto the promontorie of the Epidii and to the shore. And seeing there standeth apparently in the same situation an Iland called Ila, of good largenesse and of a fruitfull plaine and champion [plain] soile, I dare avouch that this was Epidium, or the Isle of the Epidii, for in some places it is read Ἐπιδίων. This carrieth in length 24 miles and is 16 miles broad: so plentifull of cattaile, wheat, and heards of red deere that it was the second seat next unto Man for the King of the Ilands, as it is at this day of the Mac-Connells, who heerein have their Castle at Dunyweg.
16. Betwixt Ila and Scotland lieth Iona, which Bede tearmeth Hy and Hu, given by the Picts unto the Scottish Monkes for propagating and preaching of the Gospell among them, where stood a Monasterie, famous by reason of the Scotish Kings tombes and the frequent conversing of holy men therein. Among whom, Columba the Apostle of the Picts was the principall, of whose Cell the Iland also is called Columb-Kill, like as the man also himselfe by a compound name was tearmed Columbkill, as Bede witnesseth. And heere at length, as some will have it, a Bishops seat was ordained in Sodore, a little towne, whence all the Isles were called also Sodorensis, for that it is reckoned to be in his Diocesse. Then have you Maleos, that Ptolemee writeth of, now called Mula, whereof Plinie seemeth to make mention when he saith Mella is reported to be 25 miles larger than the rest. For so we read in the most ancient edition of Plinie printed at Venis, whereas in the Vulgar copies in sted of reliquarum Mella is read reliquarum nulla, that is, none of the rest &c. The Easterne Hebuda now called Skie from hence lieth out in a great length over the shore or coast of Scotland. The Westerne Hebuda, bending more Westward, is now called Lewis (the Lord whereof is Mac-Cloyd), and in the ancient historie of Man is named Lodhus, full of steep and craggy little hilles, stony, and very slenderly inhabited, howbeit the largest of them all, from which Eust is disjoined with a very narrow wash. All the rest save only Hyrtha are of small account, being either very stonie or else inaccessible by reason of craggy cliffes, and skarce clad with any green-sord. Yet the Scots purchased all these with their ready money of the Norwegians (as I have said before) as if they had beene the very buttresses or pillers of the Kingdome, although they reape very small commodity thereby, considering that the inhabitants, the ancient Scots or Irish, being men of stout stomackes and desperate boldnesse, will by no meanes be subject to the severity of lawes, or awed by justice. As touching their maners, apparell and language, they differ nothing at all from the wild Irishry of whom we have spoken before, so that we may easily know thereby that they be one and the selfe same nation originally. They that beare the sway and doe rule in these Ilands are the families of Mac-Conel, Mac-Alen, whom others tearme Mac-Len, Mac-Cloyd of Lewis, and Mac-Cloyd of Harich. But the mightiest house of them all is that of the Mac-Connels, who glory in their pedigree, as derived from Donald, who in the reigne of James the Third stiled himselfe King of the Ilands, and with all kind of cruelty in most savage and barbarous maner plagued Scotland: which notwithstanding, his sonne, being outlawed, paid deerely, as forced to submit his whole estate absolutely unto the Kings will and pleasure, and had of his gift some possessions assigned to him in Cantire. In the foregoing age. Of this stocke their flourished Donel Gormy, Mac-Conell, that is, the Blewe, happly so surnamed of his apparel. He had issue two sonnes, Agnus Mac-Conell and Alexander, he who, leaving this baraine and hungry Cantir, invaded the Glinnes in Ireland. Agnus Mac-Conell aforesaid was father of James Mac-Conell slaine by Shan O Neal, and of Surley Boy, upon whom Queene Elizabeth of her bounty bestowed lands in Rowt within Ireland. James Mac-Conell had issue Agnus Mac-Conell, of whom I have spoken before, betweene whom and Mac-Clen there was such a deepe and inveterate hatred that the force of consanguinity was never able to quench the fuid, but that they polluted themselves most wickedly with one anothers bloud.
17. From these Hebudes, if you hold sailes along by the shore toward the North-east, you may at length discovere the Orcades, now called Orkney, being thirty Ilands or there about, sundred by the Ocean, which hath his walke and currant betweene them. A certaine ancient fragment so calleth them, as one would say, Argat, that is, as the same interpreteth it, Above the Getes, but I would rather expound it Above Cath, for it lieth over against Cath, a country of Scotland, which of the Promontory they use to call Cathnesse: the inhabitants whereof seeme to be named amisse by Ptolemee Carini for Catini. In Solinus his time no man dwelled in them, but overgrowen they were with vinceis or iunceis herbis, that is, with binding or rushy weeds, but now inhabited indeede they are, yet destitute of woods, bearing barley good store, and altogether without wheat. Among these, Pomonia, famous for an Episcopall See, is the principall, called by Solinus Pomonia Diutina for the length of the daies there; now the inhabitants tearme it Mainland, as if it were the continent or maine. Adorned with the Bishops seat in Kirkwale, a little towne and with two castles, it yeeldeth plenty of tinne and of lead. Ocetis also is reckoned by Ptolemee in number of these, which now we guesse to be named Hethy. But whether Hey, which is counted one of these, be Plinies Dumna or no, I could never yet resolve. Surely, if it be not, I would thinke that Faire Isle, the onely towne whereof (for it hath but one) they call Dumo, is that Dumna, rather than with Becanus judge Wardhuys in Lappeland to be it. Julius Agricola, who first of all sailed round about Britaine with his fleet, discovered out of these Isles of Orkney, which till that time were unknown and subdued them, if we may beleeve Tacitus, but questionlesse they were knowen in the time of Claudius the emperor, for Pomponius Mela, who then lived, mentioneth them. Yet doubtlesse Orosius is untrue in that he writeth that Claudius conquered them, and so far is it off that Claudius should conquer them (which is avouched in S. Hieroms Chronicles) that Juvenal in Hadrians time, not long after Agricola, wrot thus of them:
Why warred we past Irish coasts, and Orkneys lately wun,
Beyond the Britans, where there is least night and longest Sun?
Afterward, when the Romans Empire in Britaine was utterly decaied, now the Saxons, as it seemeth, were seated in them. For Claudian the Poet plaied upon them in these tearmes:
With Saxons bloud that there were slaine
The Orkneys were imbrued againe.
18. Ninnius also writeth that Ochta and Ebissus, Saxons who served for pay under the Britans, sailed round about the Picts with 40 cyules, that is, Flyboats or Roaving Pinnaces, and wasted the Iles of Orkney. After this, they come into the hands of the Norwegians (whence it is that the inhabitants speake the Gothes language) by the grant of Donald Ban, who after the death of his brother Malcom Can-Mor King of Scots, by excluding his nephewes, had usurped the Kingdome, that by their helpe he might be assisted in that intended ambition, and the Norwegians held the possession of them unto the yeere of salvation 1266. For then Magnus the fourth of that name, King of Norway, being by the Scots that warred upon him brought to distresse, surrendred them up againe unto Alexander the Third King of Scots by covenant and composition, which Haquin King of the Norwegians confirmed unto King Robert Brus in the yeere 1312. And at length in the yeere 1498 Christian the First, King of Norway and of Denmarke, renounced all his right for himselfe and his successours, when he affianced his daughter unto James the Third King of Scots, and made over all his interest to his said sonne in law and his successours, and for the stronger assurance thereof, the Popes confirmation was procured to ratifie the same.
19. To say nothing of the Earles of Orkney that were of more ancient times, who also in right of inheritance obtained the Earldomes of Cathnesse and of Strathern, at the last the title of Orkney came by an heire female unto Sir William Sent-cler, and William the fourth of this line, called The Prodigall Earle for wasting his patrimony, was the last Earle of this race. Howbeit, his posterity enjoyed the honour to be Baron Sent-cler unto these daies. And the title of Cathnes remaineth still in the posterity of his brother. But within our remembrance this honourable title of the Earle of Orkney and Lord of Shetland was conferred upon Robert, a base son of King James the Fifth, and Patrick Steward his sonne enjoyeth the same at this present.
20. Beyond the Iles of Orkney and above Britaine, the author of that ancient Commentary upon Horace placeth the Fortunate Ilands, wherein, as they write, none dwel but devout and just men, and the Grecians in their verses celebrate the pleasantnesse and fertility of that place, calling them the Elysian fields. But as touching these Fortunate Isles, take with you, if you please, another relation of that od fabulous Graecian Isacius Tzetezes, out of his notes upon Lycophron: In the Ocean (saith he) is there a British Iland betweene West Britaine and Thule that looke toward the East. Thither men say the soules of the dead are transported over. For on the shore of that sea wherein the Iland of Britain lieth there dwelt fisher-men, subject unto the French but paying them no tribute, because (as they say) they ferry over the soules of folke departed. When these fishermen returne home in the evening, within a while after they heare some knocking at the dore, and heare a voice calling them unto their work. Then rise they, and to the shore they goe, not knowing what causeth them for to goe, where they see boates prepared, but none of their owne, and no men in them: which when they be entred into, they fall to their oares and feele the weight of the said boates, as if they were loden with men, but see no body. After that, with one push they come to a British Iland in a trice, whereas otherwise in shippes of their owne they could hardly get thither with a day and nights sailing. Now when they are come into the Iland, then againe they see no creature, but heare a voice of those that receive them that are a-shipboard, and count them by the kinred of father and mother, yea and call them one by one according to their dignity, art, and name. But they, after that the shippe is discharged of her load, returne home againe with one yerke [jerk] of their oares. Hence it is that many men thinke these be the Ilands of blessed ghostes. Of the same stampe also may that Poeticall Geographer seeme to be, of whom Muretus maketh mention in his Variety of Readings, who hath written that C. Julius Caesar went thither once in a great galley with an hundred men aboard, and when he was willing to have seated himselfe there (as being wonderously delighted with the incredible pleasantnesse of the place) hee was full against his will and strugling what he could to the contrary, throwen out by those invisible inhabitants.
21. Five daies and nights sailing from the Iles of Orkney, Solinus placeth Thule: an Iland, if any other, often celebrated by the Poets whensoever they would signifie any thing very remote and farre off, as it were the furthest part of the whole world. Heereupon saith Virgill, tibi serviat ultima Thule, that is, Let Thule most remote thee serve; Seneca, terrarum ultima Thule, that is, Thule the furthest land that is; Juvanall, de conducendo loquitur iam rhetore Thule, that is, Now Thule speakes how oratours to hire; Claudian, Thulen procul axe remotam, that is, Thule farre remote under the Pole, and in another place, ratibusque impervia Thule, and Thule whither ships can passe; Statius, ignotam vincere Thulem, that is To conquere Thule all unknowne; and Ammianus Marcellinus, by way of an Adage or proverbiall speech, useth it in these words, etiam si apud Thulem moraretur, that is, although he made his abode even in Thule. To passe over other testimonies, give me leave yet to note thus much moreover, that the said Statius used Thule for Britaine in these his verses:
Even so the Blew inhabitants of Thule, when they fight,
Environ battailes, marching on with sithed [scythed] chariots might.
As also in this place of his Poem intituled Silvae, as it seemeth:
Thule that doth resound amaine,
With Sea which ebbes and flowes againe.
Suidas writeth that it tooke the name of Thules a King of Aegypt; Isidore, of the Sunne; Reynerus Reneccius of the Saxon word tell, that is, a limit, as if it were the bound of the North and West. But yet for all this, Synesius doubteth whether there were any Thule or no, and our Giraldus Cambrensis writeth that it is nowhere extant to be seene, and the better sort of learned men are of sundry judgements concerning it. Most of them have affirmed Island, that is subject to extreame sharp cold and continuall winter, to have beene called in times past Thule. Saxo Grammaticus, Crantzius, MIlius, Jovius, and Peucerus are of a contrary opinion. Neither am I ignorant that the vast and huge country of Scandia is described by Procopius under the name of Thule. But if it be true which the most learned Peucer hath recorded in his booke entituled De Dimensione Terrae, that is, Of the Measuring of the Earth, that sailers call Shetland Thilensel (neither dare I impeach his credit), then surely we have found Thule, and the matter is now at an end and questionlesse. For this Shetland is an Isle under the Scotish dominion, environed with other Islets, and the same is nipped with frost and chily cold, lying open also on every side unto bitter stormes; the inhabitants whereof, like as those of Island, use in steede of bread-corne dried fish, and the same braied [dried] and beaten, which we call Stockfish. And although it have not the North-pole so elevated that there is continuall day six moneths together, as Pithaeas of Marsils hath feighned of Thule (for which he is justly taxed by Strabo), and this hapneth not to Island it selfe, where there is in manner a continuall Winter and an intolerable setled cold, yet that a man should thinke this Shetland to have been Thule, first the situation thereof in Ptolemee may induce him, being set 63 degrees from the Aequinoctial, as Thule is in Ptolemee; again for that it lieth betweene Norway and Scotland, where Saxo Grammaticus placeth Thule; then because it is two daies sailing distant from the point of Caledonia or Cathnes, according to which distance Solinus placeth Thule also, Tacitus saith that the Romans kenned Thule afar off as they sailed round about Britain by the Orcades; lastly, because it faceth the shore of Bergae in Norway, against which place Thule lieth according to Pomponius Mela, in which the Author the reading is corruptly Belgarum littori in steed of Bergarum. For Bergae a Citie in Norway lieth over against Shetland, and Pliny nameth in this tract Bergos, which I doubt not but is that little Country wherein Bergae flourisheth, like as no man will deny that Norway is Nerigon specified by Pliny. But enough of this Thule, which snow and Winter weather, as one saith, hath hidden from the ancient writers and from us to, I assure you; neither is any one of them able to say which of the Northren Ilands they meant when they spake so much of Thule. As touching the length of daies in that unknowen land, Festus Avienus, when he treated of Britaine, translated out of Dionysius these verses:
From hence if one with pinnace swift along the seas doth saile,
Thule above the Ocean vast to finde he shall not faile.
Heere, when about the Northren pole the Suns fyre doth sejourne,
The night is lightsome, and his wheeles continually do burne.
The night, I say, resembling day faire light makes soone returne.
Which Pomponius Mela likewise hath noted in these words: Opposite unto the coast of Bergae lieth Thule, and iland much renowned both in Greeke poems and in ours also. In it, for that the sun riseth and is to set far of, the nights verily are short. But in Winter time, as elswhere, darke, in Summer light, because al that time he mounteth very high, although his body be not seene, yet with his neere brightnesse he doth lighten the parts next unto him. But about the Solstice there be no nights at all, by reason that he, being then more apparent, not onely casteth bright beames from him, but sheweth also the greatest part of himselfe.
22. Above these Ilands the sea is tearmed The slow, frozen, and Icy sea, for that it is so rough by occasion of the heaps of Ice, and scarce navigable. It is also named of Ancient writers Cronium, or Cronian sea, of Saturne, because heere in a British Iland, as Plutarch recordeth, there goeth a tale how Saturne is kept sleeping in a depe cave or botome of a golden pumish stone; that he is by Jupiter cast into a most deepe and dead sleepe, which serveth insteed of bonds; that birds bring him Ambrosia, the divine meat, with the odiferous smel whereof all the place is perfumed; also that he hath many spirits or daemones attending about him as servitours, who reverence him, serve him, and attend him. by which prety fable (unlesse I be deceaved) is coverty couched by a Mythology that there lie hidden in these Ilands veines or mines of Mettals, over which Saturne is president, which notwithstanding are forlet [abandoned] and out of request for want of wood to maintaine the fornaces.
23. Now beneath Thule Southward, the German sea spreadeth it selfe wide, wherein, as Pliny affirmeth, there lie dispersed the seven Acmodae, Mela tearmeth them Haemodes. But seeing it is knowen for certaine that these be Ilands belonging to Denmarke in the Codan Gulfe, namely Zeland, Fuynen, Lagland, Muen, Falstor, Layland, and Feremem, there is no cause wherefore I should say any more; neither of the Isle Glessaria or Electrida, so called of amber cast up there out of the Sea, which Sotacus supposed to drop forth of trees in Britain. But seeing that the ancient Germans called Amber glesse, willing enough I am to thinke with that most learned man, Erasmus Michael Laetus, that the Iland Lesse, hard by Scagen, or Promontory of Denmarke, was in times past called Glessaria.
24. Now within the German sea on that side where it beateth upon Britaine appere very few Ilands, unlesse they be those that like in Edenburrowgh Frith, namely, May, Base, Keth, and Inch Colme, that is, Columbs Isle. On the coast of Northumberland, over against the river Lied, one sheweth it selfe, namely Lindis-farn: the Britans call it Inis Medicante, which, that I may use Bedes words, as the sea ebbeth and floweth at his tides, is twise a day inundated and compassed about with water in maner of an Iland, and twice likewise made continent to the land, as the shore is laid bare again, whereupon he aptly termed it a Demy Iland. The West part of it, being the narrower and left unto conies, joyneth to the East side by a very small spange of land, and this part which bendeth toward the South is much broder, having a prety towne in it with a Church and a Castle: where sometimes had beene that Episcopal See which Aidan the Scot (called thither to preach the Christian faith unto the people of Northumberland) instituted, as being much delighted with the solitary situation, as a most fit place of retire. In this small Iland there sat eleven Bishops. But afterwards, when the Danes rifled and robbed all the Sea-coasts, the Episcopall See was translated to Durham. Under the towne there is a good commodious haven, defended with a Block-house situated upon an hill toward the South East.
25. Seven miles from hence South-Eastward, Farn Isle sheweth it selfe distant almost two miles from Banborrow Castle, enclosed within the most deepe Ocean and encircled about with craggy clifts, and this hath also in the middle well nere a Fort belonging to it. Even in that place, as the report goeth, where Cuthbert Bishop of Lindisfarn, that Tutelar Saint and Patron of the Northren Englishmen, to the end he might wholy give himselfe to the service of God, built, as Bede saith in his LIfe, a City fitting his government, and erected houses in this City sorting wel thereto. For the whole building stood almost round in compasse, reaching from wall to wall the space of foure or five perches. The wal it selfe on the Coast side was more than a mans height; for on the inside with hewing downe into a mighty rock, he had made it far higher, sufficient to withhold and keep in the wanton lasciviousness either of eies or thoughts, and to elevate the whole intention of the minde up to heavenly desires, in such sort as that the devout inhabitants thereof could out of his mansion place behold nothing but the heaven. Which wall verily he made not of cut squared stone or of bricke, nor laid the same with strong morter, but raised altogether of coble and unpolished rough stones, and turffe betweene, which with digging he had taken out of the middest of the place. Of which stons, veriy, some were of that huge bignesse as foure men were uneth able [unable] to lift one of them. Within this Mansion he had two houses, a Chappell, and a dwelling roume for common uses. The wals whereof he brought up of very natural earth, by digging much of it within and without round about, or else by paring it up. And roufes over them of timber without all forme and straw thereupon. Moreover, at the Haven of this Iland there stood a greater house, wherein the brethren that came to visit him might be entertained and lodged, and not farre from it a fountaine meet for their uses. Upon this, there adjoyne other smaller Ilands toward the North, as Widopens, Staple Iland, which lieth two miles off, Bronsman, and two lesser than these, which they call The Wambes.
After these, the Iland commonly called Coquet lieth right before the mouth of the river Coquet, wherein is a plentifull veine of Sea-cole. Neither are there any more Ilands to be seen in this Coast, but over against it be the Saxonum Insulae, that is, The Saxons Ilands, now named Helichlant, that is, The Holy-Ilands, and they lie, as it were, in a continued range along East and West Frislands. Among which that was best knowen unto the Roman Captains which Strabo called Birchanis, Pliny Birchana, and the Romans Fabaria, of the resemblance of a certaine Graine or Pulse comming up there of the owne accord, which, that I may restore it againe to the due place (although it be nothing pertinent to my purpose), the very name it selfe witnesseth to be that Borun which lieth over against the mouth of Ems.
26. Somewhat lower upon the shore of Holland, where in ancient time was the mouth of Rhene, the foundations of a most ancient Store-house, Magazin or Armory are covered over with the waves, which being very seldome discovered and laied bare at a low eb of the Ocean, sheweth both an admirable spectacle of reverend antiquity, and also a most noble modell and forme of building, which Abraham Ortelius, the repairer of ancient Geography and my entire and inward friend, hath preserved out of the maine Ocean by his exact description thereof. I have mentioned this the more wilingly because the Hollanders call it in their language Huis te Britten, that is, The British House, so that it belongeth at leastwise in name to Britain, and therefore not impertinent to my purpose. For as it is evident and confessed of all that the Emperour Caius Caligula, when he intended the conquest of Britaine in that ridiculous voiage of his, built it for a watch-towre, so an ancient Inscription there digged up doth testifie that the Emperour Septimius Severus, after it was fallen to decay, rebuilt it. But whence it was named Britten let him tell that best can guesse. Probable it is that it tooke this name from the Britans, for that Bretta, the natall place of Philip Melanchthon, tooke name of the Britans he himselfe was fully perswaded, and that Mounts in Heinault were of the Britains tearmed Breten we have read elsewhere. But yet (that I may speake as Plinie doth), seeing he mervaileth why the Herbe that is peculier unto Holland, as growing nowhere else, is called Britannica, unlesse perhaps those that bordered upon the Ocean dedicated it unto Britaine, so neere unto it, so for my part I wonder as much why this towre should be tearmed Britannica or Bretten, unlesse the Holanders consecrated it to our Britain, lying opposite unto it. Pliny calleth a place in Picardy Portum Morinorum Britannicum, that is, The British haven or Port of the Morines, either for that they tooke ship there to passe over into Britain, or because it kenned Britain over against it on the other side of the sea. Why then should not this towre by the same reason be called Britannica or Breten? For that the Britans often arrived heere, and that from hence out of Germany there was a common passage into Britain, it is most certaine, considering that Zosimus hath given the just measure of the sea betwixt Britan and this mouth of the Rheine to be 900 stadia over, as though it had beene an usuall passage, and written beside that corne was wont to be brought by ships out of Britaine to this place, and from thence with barges and boates haled up the Rhene against the streame to serve the Roman garisons, seeing that Julian the Emperour built Garisons, as Marcellinus saith, wherein might be inned and kept the corne that the Britans usually transported thither. At which time, this said Armory may seeme to have beene converted into a Garner [barn] or Store-house for Corne, and of the said British Corne tearmed Britannicum, and so much the rather because in the old Records of Holland we finde it written Britanburgh, for that age tearmed Castles standing commodiously, and such as were stored with plenty of corne, burghs, as we read in the history of the Burgundians. Moreover, what if the Britans (that in this doubtfull matter I may run out of one conjecture to another) sometimes held it in their owne hands, and so adopted it into their owne name, considering they invested Magnus Maximus, whom some name Clemens Maximus, in the purple Robe and proclaimed him Emperour against Gratian? For he arrived at this mouth of Rhene. If, againe, it had not as yet taken this name Britannicum, what if the Saxons tearmed it Huis te Britten for that they tooke ship from hence into Britaine when they annoied our shores with their cyules? For so they tearmed their Pinnaces or Brigantines. Verily Zosimus sheweth that the Saxons, after they had driven out the Frankers called Salii, planted themselves in Batavia, that is, Holland, and that from thence they put over by multitudes into Britaine, it is most cleere and evident. Which also, as I said before, Janus Douza, a noble Gentleman indeed and passing well learned, in his Ode of Leyden seemeth to imply. Yet heare againe, lest I might seeme to forward and lavish in setting fourth the glory of Britaine, considering that the right learned Hadrian Junius, borne and bred in Holland, hath fetched the originall of the Herbe Britannica from britten, a word of his owne country, because it groweth plentifully upon those turffes which they call britten, and whereof they raise great bankes and dikes against the violence of the encroching Ocean, it will be no absurdity if one should reduce this Huis te Britten unto the same originall, and suppose it to have beene so called because it was fensed with bankes of turffe, or of britten, set opposite the forcible surges of the waves, which, when the surges of the sea had once pierced nd overthrowen, it may seeme to have borne downe this house also. But let them see to these matters who have a deeper insight into the nature of the word and the situation of the place, and pardon me withall, if heere I have thrust my sicle into anothers harvest.
27. In that Coast there be also Isles of Zeland compassed about with the rivers Scaldt, Maese, and the Ocean, touching which I will only add thus much, that the name of Valachria (for of these this is the chiefe), as Lemnius Levinus conjectureth, came from our Welshman. Over against Zeland, Tamis, the goodliest and noblest river of Britain, dischargeth himselfe into the sea, in which place Ptolomee setteth Toliapis and Cuana, or Convennon. Of Tolpiapis, which I suppose to be Shepey, see in Kent.
More Eastward without Tamis mouth there lieth along before the Iland Tenete, a place full of shelves and sands, and very dangerous for saylers, which they call Godwins sands, where our Annales doe record that in the yeere 1097 an Iland, which was the patrimony of Goodwin Earle of Kent, was quite swallowed up and sunke in the sea. Concerning which, John Twin writeth thus: This land was very fruitfull and full of plenteous pastures, lying somewhat lower and more flat than Tenet, out of which there was a passage by boat or barge three or foure miles long. This Iland in an unusuall tempest of winds, and boisterous fury of stormy raines, and uncouth rage of the sea, was drowned, and lieth overwhelmed with sand cast up after an incredible manner, and without all recovery is turned into a middle or doubtfull nature of land and sea. For I wot well what I say because one while it wholy floteth, and another while at a low water after an eb it beareth walkers upon it. Happily this is Toliapis, unlesse you had rather read Thanatos for Toliapis, and in some Copies, of which we have treated in Kent.
28. In this very place, the huge vastnesse of the sea gathereth into such a streight that the gullet of the Ocean betweene the firme land of France and Britain is not above thirty miles over, which Streights some call the Narrow sea of Britain, others of France (and the bound it is of the British sea), which by little and little removeth the shores further asunder that were in maner meeting together, and, by the driving backe of the lands on both sides equally, floweth betweene Britaine and France from East to West. At this beginneth the British Sea, wherein first you meete with the Iland, or byland rather, Selsy, in the English Saxon tongue Seols-ea, that is, according to Bede, The Iland of Sea-calves, which in our tongue we call otherwise Seales. Whereof also I have written before.
Of Port-land likewise, which now is no Iland, but annexed to the continent, I have treated heeretofore in Dorsetshire.
29. Hence will I cut over to the shore of France just against it, where from Beer-fleet in Normandie unto the mids of the Chanell the sea, by the Mariners saying, is paved, as it were, and overspred with rockes and cragges: among which, William sonne to King Henrie the First and heire both of England and of Normandie, whiles he crossed the seas out of Normandie into England in the yeere of salvation 1120, was by wofull shipwracke, together with his sister, his base brother and others of the floure of Nobility, drowned. Whereupon a Poet of that age thus versified:
Him from the land, his mother kind, the Sea, a stepdame, caught.
Now Englands Sunne, alasse, is set: weepe, England, weepe for thought.
And thou that didst enjoy the beames of twofold light before,
Since Sonne is gone, content thy self with father and no more.
O dolefull day: one rocke in Ocean maine,
One barke, of Prince bereaveth kingdomes twaine.
And another Poet at the same time hammered out these verses touching that shipwracke:
Whiles Normans, after victories of Noble Frenchmen wonne,
Make saile for England, God himselfe withstood them all anon.
For as the rough and surging waves they cut with brittle barke,
He brought upon the troubled sea thicke fogges and weather darke.
Whiles sailers then in coasts unknowen were driven and hal’d astray
Upon blind rockes, their ships were split and quickly cast away.
Thus when saltwater entred in and upmost hatches caught,
Drown’d was that Roiall progenie, worlds honor came to naught.
30. More Westward, certaine Ilands affront France, yet under the Crowne of England, and first of all, upon the coast of Normandie or the Lexobii (whom our Britans or Welshmen tearme Leettaw, as one would say littorales, that is, Coast-men), lieth Alderney, which in the Records is named Aurney, Aureney, and Aurigney, so that it may seeme to be that Arica which in Antonine, according to the King of Spaines copie, is reckoned among the Isles of the British sea. Others hold it to be that Ebodia or Euodia whereof Paulus Diaconus onely hath made mention, who had small skill of this coast; which he placeth thirty miles from the shore of Seine, and telleth of a rumbling and roaring noise of waters falling into a gulfe or Charibidis that is heard afar off. This Alderney lieth in the chiefe trade of all shipping passing from the Easterne parts to the West, three leagues distant from the coast of Normandie, thirty from the nearest part of England, extended from South East to the North West, and containeth about eight miles in circuit, the South shore consisting of high cliffes. ‡The aire is healthfull, the soile sufficiently rich, full of fresh pastures and cornfields, yet the inhabitants poore through a custome of parting their lands into small parcels by Gavelkind [equal inheritance by sons]. The towne is situate well neere in the midst of the Isle, having a Parish Church and about 80 families, with an harbour called Crabbic some mile off. On the East side there is an ancient fort, and a dwelling house built at the charge of the Chamberlans. For the fee farme of the Isle was granted by Queene Elizabeth to George Chamberlane son to Sir Leonard Chamberlane of Shirburne in Oxfordshire when he recovered it from the French. And under this fort the sand with violent drifts from the Northwest overlaied the land, so that now it serveth thereabout most for conies.‡ I know not whether I were best to relate of a Giants tooth, one of the grinders, which was found in this Iland, of that bigge size that it equalled a mans fist, seeing Saint Augustine writeth of one that he himselfe saw so bigge that if it were cut in small peeces to the proportion of our teeth, it seemed it might have made an hundred of them. Hence Westward there runneth out a craggy ridge of rockes, which have their severall eddies, and therefore feared of the Mariners, who tearme them Casquettes. ‡Out of one of the which, properly named Casquet, there gusheth a most sweet spring of freshwater, to the great comfort of the Iland-fishermen beating up and downe heereabout. At these, to remember incidentally (that the memorie of a well deserving patriot may not perish), the fleet which John Philipot Citizen of London set forth and manned at his owne private charges had a glorious victorie over a rable of pirates who impeached all traffique, taking their capitaine and fifteene Spanish ships that consorted with them. Which worthy man also maintained 1000 souldiours at his owne pay for defense of the realme against the French, who soare infested the Southern coast in the beginning of the reigne of King Richard the Second, to omit his great loanes to the King and other good and laudable offices to his country.
31. Under these lieth Southward Caesarea, whereof Antonine hath written, scarce twelve miles distant from Alderney, which name the Frenchmen now have clipped so short as the Spaniards have Caesaraugusta in Spaine: for they call it Gearzey, like as Cherburgh for Caesarisburgus and Saragose for Caesaraugusta. Gregorius Turonensis calleth it the Iland of the sea that lieth to the Citie Constantia where he reporteth how Pretextatus Bishop of Roan was confined hither, like as Papirius Massonius termeth it the Isle of the coat of Constantia, because it butteth just upon the ancient City Constantia, which may seeme in Ammianus to be named Castra Constantia, and in the foregoing ages Moritonium. For Robert Montensis writeth thus: comes Moritonii, id et Constantiarum, if that be not a glosse of the transcriber. For Moritonium, which now is Mortaigne is farther distant from the sea.
32. This Isle is thirty miles or thereabout in compasse, fenced with rockes and shelves, which are shallow places, dangerous for such as saile that way. The ground is fertile enough, bearing plenty of sundry sorts of corne, and breeding cattaile of divers kinds, but sheepe especially, and most of them with faire heads carrying foure hornes apeece. The aire is very wholsome and healthy, not subject to any other diseases but agues in September, which thereupon they tearme Settembers, so that there is no being for Phisicians here. And for that it is scarce of fuell, in steed of firewood they use a kind of Sea weed which they call Vraic, deemed to be that fucus marinus which Plinie mentioneth, and groweth everywhere about in craggy Ilands, and on rockes most plenteously. This, being dried at the fire, serveth for to burne, with the ashes whereof (as it were with Marle and the fat of the Earth) they dung commonly their fields and fallows, and therby make them very battle [fertile] and fruitfull. Neither are they permitted to gather it but in the Spring and summer season, and then upon certaine daies appointed by the Magistrate. At which time, with a certaine festivall mirth they repaire in numbers from all parts to the shore with their carres, as also to the rockes neere unto them they speed themselves a-vie with their fisherbotes. But whatsoever of this kind the sea casteth up, the poore may gather for their owne use. The inward parts of the Isle gently rise and swell up with prety hilles, under which lie pleasant vallies watered with riverets and planted with fruitfull trees, but aple trees especially, of which they make a kind of drinke. Well stored it is with farme places and villages, having within it twelve Parishes, and furnished on every side with creekes and commodious rodes: among which, the safest is that in the South part of the Isle betweene the two little townes Saint Hilaries and Saint Albans Which harbour hath also a little Iland belonging to it, fortified with a garison, having no way of accesse unto it, wherein, by report, Saint Hilarie Bishop of Poictiers, after he had beene banished hither, was enterred. For the towne dedicated to his name just over against this Iland is accounted the principall town, both in regard of the mercate and trafficke, there, as also of the Court of Justice which is there established. On the East-side, where it faceth the Citie Constantia, there is seated upon a steep rocke a most strong castle, with an haughty name called Mont Orgueil, which is much beholden unto King Henrie the Fifth who repaired it. The Governour of the Isle is Captaine thereof, who in times past was called the custos of the Isle, and in Henry the Third his reigne had a yeerely pension of 200 pound. On the South side, but with longer distance betweene, Saint Malo is to be seene, having taken that new name of Maclou a very devout man, where before time it was called the Citie Diablintum, and in the ancient Notice Aletum. As for the inhabitants, they freshly practise the feat of fishing, but give their minds especially to husbandry, and the women make a very gainfull trade by knitting of hose, which we call Jarsey Stocks or Stockings.
As touching the politicke state thereof, a Governour sent from the King of England is the chiefe Magistrate: hee appointeth a Bailiffe, who together with twelve Jurates or sworne Assistants, and those chosen out of the twelve severall Parishes by the voices of the Parishioners, sitteth to minister justice in Civill causes. In criminall matters he sitteth with but seven of the said sworne assistants, and in causes of Conscience to be decided by equity and reason, with three.
33. Twenty miles hence North-west lieth another Iland, which Antonine the Emperour in ancient time named Sarnia, we at this day Garnsey, lying out East and West in fashion of an harpe, neither in greatnes nor in fruitfulnesse comparable to Jersey, for it hath in it only ten Parishes. Yet is <in> this to be preferred before it, because it fostereth no venemous thing therein, like as the other doth. It is also better fortified by naturall fenses, as being enclosed round with a set of steepe rockes, among which is found that most hard and sharpe stone smiris (which we tearme Emerill), wherewith Goldsmiths and Lapidaries, clense, burnish and cut their precious stones, and glazers also divide and cleave their glasse. Likewise it is of greater name for the comodiousnesse of the haven and the concurse of merchants resorting thither. For in the farthest part well nere Eastward, but on the South-side, it admitteth an haven within an hollow Bay bending inward like an halfe moone, able to receive tall ships, upon which standeth Saint Peters, a little towne built with a long and narrow street, well stored with warlike munition, and ever as any war is toward [in progress] mightily replenished with Merchants. For by an ancient priviledge of the Kings of England, heere is alwaies a continuall truce, as it were, and lawfull it is for Frenchmen and others, how hote soever the war is, to have repaire hither to and from without danger, and to maintaine entercourse of trafficke in security. The entry of the haven, which is rockie, is fortified on both sides with castles. On the left hand there is an ancient bulwarke or blockhouse, and on the right hand over against it standeth another (called Coronet) upon an high rocke, and the same at every high water compassed about with the sea. Which in Queene Maries daies Sir Leonard Chamberlan, governour of the Iland, as also under Queene Elizabeth Sir Thomas Leighton his successour, caused to be fortified with new workes. For heere lieth for the most part the governour of the Iland and the garison souldiers, who will in no hand suffer Frenchmen and women to enter in. On the Northside there is La-vall, a biland adjoining unto it, which had belonging thereto a covent of religious persons, or a Priory. On the West part neere unto the sea there is a lake that taketh up a mile and halfe in compasse, replenished with fish, but carpes especially, which for bignesse and pleasant tast are right commendable. The inhabitants are nothing so industrious in tilling of the ground as those of Jarsey, but in navigation and trafficke of merchandise, for a more uncertaine gaine they be very painfull. Every man by himselfe loveth to husband his owne land, so that the whole Iland lieth in severall, and is divided in enclosures into sundry parcels, which they find not onely profitable to themselves, but also a matter of strength against the enimie.
34. Both Ilands smile right pleasantly upon you, with much variety of greene Gardens and orchards. By meanes whereof, they use for the most part a kind of wine made of aples, which some call Sisera, and we Sydre. The inhabitants in both places are by their first originall either Normans or Britans and speake French, yet disdaine they to be either reputed or named French, and can very well be content to be called English. In both Ilands likewise they burne Vraic for their fuell, or else sea coles brought out of England, and in both places they have wonderfull store of fish, and the same maner of civill government.
These Ilands with others lying about them belonged in old time to the Dukedome of Normandie, but whenas Henrie the First King of England had vanquished his brother Robert in the yeere of our Lord 1108, he annexed that Dukedome and these Ilands unto the kingdome of England. Since which time they have continued firme in loyalty unto England, even when John King of England, being endited for murdering Arthur his nephew, was by a definitive sentence or arrest of confiscation deprived of his right in Normandie, which he held in chiefe of the French King, yea moreover when the French had seized upon these Isles thee, through the faithfull affection of the people, twice recovered them. Neither revolted they when Henrie the Third King of England had for a summe of money surrendred his whole interest and right in Normandie. And ever since they have with great commendation of their constancy persisted faithfull unto the Crowne of England, and are the onely remaines that the Kings of England have of the ancient inheritance of William the Conquerour and of the Duchie of Normandie, although the French otherwhiles have set upon them, who from the neighbour coast of France have hardly this long time endured to see them appertaine not to France but to England. ‡And verily Fuan, a Welsh gentleman descended from the Prince of Wales and serving the French King, surprised Garnsey in the time of Edward the Third, but soone lost it.‡ And also in the reigne of King Edward the Fourth, as appeereth by the records of the Realme, they seized upon the same, but through the valour of Richard Harleston, valect of the Crowne (for so they tearmed him in those daies), they were shortly disseized, and the King in recompense of his valorous service gave unto him the Captainship both of the Iland and of the Castle. And in the yeere 1549 when England under King Edward the Sixth, a childe, was distressed with domesticall troubles, Leo Strozzi, Captaine of the French Gallies, gave the attempt to invade it, but with the losse of many of his men had the foile and desisted from his enterprise.
35. As touching the Ecclesiasticall jurisdiction, they were under the Bishop of Constance in Normandy, until that he in our remembrance refused to abjure the Popes authority in England (as our Bishops doe). Since which time they were by Queene Elizabeth severed from the Dioecesse of Constance and united for ever to the Dioecesse of Winchester, so as the Bishop of Winchester and his successours execute everything appertaining to the Episcopall jurisdiction, yet their Ecclesiasticall discipline is conformable to the Church of Geneva, which the French Ministers have brought in.
As for the civill customes of these Ilands, I could now note some of them out of the Kings Records, namely how King John instituted twelve Coroners sworne to keepe the pleas and rights belonging to the Crowne, and granted for the security of the Ilanders that the Bailiffe henceforth by advise of the Coroners might plead without writ of a new desseisin made within the yeere, of the death of any ancestours and predecessours within a yeere, of dowry likewise within a yeere &c. Moreover, that the said Juries may not delay their judgements beyond the tearme of one yeere, likewise that in Customes and other things they should be dealt withall as naturall inborne inhabitants and not as strangers or forrainers. But these points I think good to leave unto others, who may search more curiously into particulars. Generally, the customes of Normandy take place heere in most cases.
36. Touching Serke, a little Iland that lieth betweene these above named, walled about, as it were, with mighty steepe rockes, which John de S. Owen of Jarsey, whose antiquity of descent some avouch (I know not upon what credit and authority) from before Saint Owens time, by commission from Queene Elizabeth and for his owne commodity, as the report goeth, made a plantation, whereas before time it lay desolate. As touching Jethow, which for the use of the Governour of Garnsey serveth in steed of a parke to feed cattaile, to keepe Deere, conies, and phesants, as also touching Arme, which being larger than the other, was first a solitary place for Regular Chanons, and after for the Franciscan Friers, seeing they are not mentioned by the old writers, I have no reason to speake much of them.
37. After these, upon the same coast, Liga, whereof Antonine maketh mention, shooteth up his head, which retaineth the name still and is now called Ligon. Then lie there spred and scattered seven Ilands, tearmed by Antonine Siadae, of the number: for saith in the British tongue betokeneth seven, which the Frenchmen at this day tearme le Set Isles, and I suppose these Siades to be corruptly called Hiades by Strabo. For from these, as hee saith, it is not a daies sailing into the Iland of Britaine. From these Daidae to Barsa, whereof Antonine also hath made mention, there is the distance of seven furlongs. The Frenchmen call it the Isle de Bas,and English Baspole. for the Britans tearme that bas which is shallow, and the Mariners by sounding find the sea in this place to be more ebbe and shallow. as which lieth not above seven or eight fathoms deepe, whereas along all the shore beside the sea carrieth 12, 18, and twenty fathoms of water, as we may see in their Hydrographicall cards. Howbeit, betweene these Ilands and Foy in Cornwall this our British sea, as mariners have observed, is of a mighty depth which they measure to be in the chanell fifty eight fathoms deepe or there about. From hence I will now cut over to the coasts of our owne Britaine, and, keeping along the shore as I passe by Ideston, Moushole, and Longships (which be rather infamous and dangerous rockes than Ilands), at the very utmost point of Cornwall lieth Antonines Lisia, now called of them that dwell thereby Lethowsow, but of others The Gulfe, seene onely at a low water when the tide is returned. I take this to be that Lisia which ancient writers doe mention, because Lis (as I have heard among our Britans in Wales) signifieth the same. For liso soundeth as much as to make a noise with a great rumbling or roaring, such as commonly we heere in Whirlepits, and in that place the currant or tide of the Ocean striveth amaine with a mighty noise both Northward and Eastward to get out, as being restreined and pent in betweene Cornwall and the Ilands which Antonine calleth Signdelles, Sulpitius Severus Sillinae, Solinus Silures, Englishmen Silly, the Low Country Sea-men Sorlings, and the ancient Greeke writers tearme Hesperides and Cassiterides. For Dionysius Alexandrinus named them Hesperides of their Western situation in these verses:
Now jut beneath that isle which Sacred hight,
And head of Europe men are wont to call,
The Ilands nam’d Hesperides doe lie.
And those well stor’d with Tin, a rich metall.
But would yee know the people? Then note well
The glorious wealthy Spaniards therein dwell.
38. These also Festus Avienus in his poem entituled Orae Maritimae, that is, The Sea Coasts, called Ostrymnides; touching which, he inserted these verses, as they are found in the Parise edition, and the notes upon the same:
Wherein the Iles of Oestymnides doe spread,
And shew themselves broad lying all about,
In mettals rich as well of tin as lead,
The people strong, their stomackes high and stout,
Active and quicke, fresh merchants all throughout.
No troublous waves in Frith or Ocean maine,
Of monster ful, with ships cut they in twaine.
For why? No skill at all have they to frame
Of Pine tree keels for barke or galion,
Nor know they how to make ores to the same
Of fyrre or maple wood, where sailes are none,
As others use. But, which is wonder one,
Of stitched hides they all their vesels make,
And oft through sea in lether voiage take.
Like vessels unto which were used in this our sea in the yeere of salvation 914. For we read of certaine devout men that in a Carab (or carogh) made of two tanned hides onely and an halfe, sailed out of Ireland into Cornwall. Afterwards also, of the same Ilands the same Avienus wrote thus:
Those of Tartessus eke, as well
As they in Carthage towne that dwell,
Were wont to trade for merchandise
To skirts of Isles Oestrymnides.
39. Other Greeke writers termed these Cassiterides of Tinn, like as Strabo nameth a certaine place among the Drangi in Asia Cassiteron of Tinn, and Stephanus in his booke of Cities reporteth out of Dionysius that a certaine Iland in the Indian sea was called Cassitera, of Tinn. As for that Mictis which Plinie citeth out of Timaeus to be sixe daies sailing inward from Britain, and to yeeld mines of white lead, that it should be one of these I dare scarcely affirme. Yet am I not ignorant that the most learned Hermolaus Barbarus read it in manuscript bookes Mitteris for Mictis, and doth read for Mitteris, Cartiteris. But that I should avouch these to be those Cassiterides so often sought for, the authority of the ancient writers, their site, and the mines of Tinn are motives to perswade me. Full opposite unto the Artabri, saith Strabo, (over against which the West parts of Britaine doe lie) appere those Ilands Northward which they call Cassiterides, placed after a sort in the same clime with Britaine. And in another place, The sea betweene Spaine and the Cassiterides is broader than that which lieth betweene the Cassiterides and Britaine. The Cassiterides looke toward the coast of Celtiberia, saith Solinus. And Diodorus Siculus, In the Ilands next unto the Spanish sea, which of Tinn are called Cassiterides. Also Eustathius, There be ten Ilands called Cassiterides lying close together Northward. Now seeing these Iles of Silly are opposite unto the Artabri, that is, Gallitia in Spaine, seeing they bend directly North from them, seeing they are placed in the same clime with Britaine, seeing they looke toward the coast of Celtiberia, seeing they are disjoyned by a farre broader sea from Spaine than from Britaine, seeing they are next unto the Spanish sea, seeing they lie hard by another toward the North, and ten onely of them to be of any good account, namely Saint Maries, Anneth, Agnes, Samson, Silly, Brefer, Rusco or Trescaw, Saint Helens, Saint Martins, and Arthur, and that which is most materiall, seeing they have veines of Tinn as no other Iland have beside them in this tract, and considering that two of the lesse sort, to wit, Minan Witham and Minuisisand, may seeme to have taken their name of Mines, I would rather thinke these to bee Cassiterides than either the Asores, which beare too far West, or Casarga with Olivarius, that lieth in maner close unto Spaine, or even Britaine it self with Ortelius, considering here were many Cassiterides, and Dionysius Alexandrinus, after hee had treated of the Cassiterides, writeth of Britaine apart by it selfe.
40. If any man by reason of the number deny to be Cassiterides for that they be more than ten, let him also number the Haebudes and the Orcades, and if after the account taken he finde neither more nor fewer with Ptolomee than five Haebudes and thirty Orcades, let him search in any other place but where they are now extant, and with all his searching by reckoning of the numbers, I know for certaine hee shall not easily finde them. But the ancient writers had no certaine knowledge of these most remote parts and Ilands of the earth in that age, no more than wee in these daies of the Iles in the Streights of Magellane and the whole tract of New Guiny.
41. And that Herodotus had no knowledge of these, it is no mervaile: for himselfe confesseth that he knew nothing for certaine, to make report of the farthest parts of Europe. But lead was brought first from hence into Greece. Lead, saith Plinie in his eight Booke, and in the chapter of the first inventours of things, Midacritus first brought out of the Iland Cassiteris. But as touching these Islands, listen what Strabo saith in this third Booke of Geography toward the end: The Ilands Cassiterides bee in number ten, neere one unto another, situate in the deepe sea Northward from the haven of the Artabri. One of them is desert, the rest are inhabited by men wearing blacke garments, clad in side coates reaching down to the ankles, guirt about the brest, and going with staves like unto the Furies in Tragedies. They live of their cattaile, stragling and wandering after a sort, as having no certaine abiding place. Metall mines they have of tinne and lead, in lieu whereof and of skinnes and furs they receive by exchange from the Merchants earthen vessels, salt, and brasen workes. At the beginning, the Phaenicians onely traded thither from Gades, and concealed from others this their navigation. But when the Romans followed, as certaine Maister of a shippe (that they themselves might learn this traffique of Merchandise), hee upon a spitefull envy ranne his ship for the nonce upon the sands, and after hee had brought them that followed after into the same daunger of destruction, himselfe escaped the shipwracke, and out of the common Treasury received the worth of the commodities and wares that hee lost. Howbeit, the Romans, after they had tried many times, learned at length the voiage hither. Afterwards, Publius Crassus, when hee had sailed thither and seene how they digged not verie deepe in these mines, and that the people were lovers of peace and lived quietly, desirous also to saile upon the sea, hee shewed the feat thereof to as many as were willing to learne, although they were to saile a greater sea than that which reacheth from thence to Britaine. But to discourse no farther whether these were the ancient Cassiterides or no, and to returne to Silly, there bee about a hundred forty and five Ilands carrying this name, all clad with grasse or covered with a greenish mosse, besides many hideous rockes and great craggy stones raising head above water, situate as it were in a circle round, eight leagues from the Lands End or utmost point of Cornewall West South-west. Some of them yeeld sufficient store of corne, but all of them have abundance of conies, cranes, swannes, herons and other sea foule. The greatest of them all is that which tooke the name of Saint Marie, having a towne so named, ‡and is about eight miles in compasse, offereth a good harbour to sailers in a sandie bay wherein they may ancker at sixe, seven, and eight fatham, but in the entrie lie some rockes on either side. It hath had anciently a castle which hath yeelded to the force of Time. But for the same Queene Elizabeth in the yeere 1593, when the Spaniards called in by the leaguers of France began to nestle in Little Britaine, built a new castle with faire and strong ravelines, and named the same Stella Mariae, in respect both of the ravelines, which resemble the raies of a starre, and the name of the Isle; for defense whereof shee there placed a garrison under the command of Sir Francis Godolphin.‡ Doubtlesse these are the Ilands which (as Solinus writeth) a troublous and rough narrow sea separateth by the space of two or three houres sayling from the coast of the Danmony, and the inhabitants whereof observe the custome of ancient times. They have no faires nor mercats, and refuse mony. They give and take one thing for another, they provide themselves of necessaries by waie of exchange rather than by prising and giving of money. They serve the Gods devoutly, both men and women will be counted wizards and skilfull in foretelling things to come. Eustathius out of Strabo termeth the inhabitants Melanchlanos because they were clad in blacke garments reaching downe to the ankles, and, as Sardus was perswaded, they depart out of this world for the most part so long livers that they desire to live no longer. For from the top of a rocke (as hee saith) they throw themselves into the sea in hope of a more happie life: which, doubtlesse, was the perwasion of the Britaine Druides. Hither also the Roman Emperors were wont to send persons condemned to work in the mines. For Maximus the Emperour, when hee had condemned Priscillanus to death for heresie, commanded his sectaries and disciples, Justantius a Bishop of Spaine and Tiberianus, after their goods were confiscate, to bee carried away into the Ilands of Sylly, and Marcus the Emperor banished him that in the Commotion of Cassius had prophesied and uttered many things, as it were, by a divine instinct of the Gods, into this Iland, as some are verily perswaded, who willingly for Syria insula read Sylia insula, that is, The Isle of Silly, considering the Geographers as yet know no such Iland as Syria. This confining or packing away of offendors into Ilands was in those daies a kinde of exile, and the Governors of Provinces might in that manner banish, if they had any Ilands under them; if not, they wrote unto the Emperor that himselfe would assigne some Iland for the party contemnd, neither was it lawfull without the privity of the Prince to translate elsewhither, or to bury the bodie of him that was thus banished into an Iland.
42. In the writers of the middle time, wee finde not so much as the name of these Ilands of Sylly, but onely that King Athelstane subdued them, and after his returne built a church in honour of Saint Beriana or Buriena in the utmost promontory Westward of Britan, where he landed.
Full against these on the French cost lieth Plinies Axantos, an Ile right before the Osissimi or Britaine Armorin, which, keeping still the name whole, is called Ushant. Antonine termeth it Uxantissena, in which one word two Ilands grew togither, to wit, Uxantis and Sena. For this Iland lieth somewhat lower, now called Sayn, which, butting full upon Brest, is named in some copies Siambis, and of Plinie, corruptly, Sounos, about which from East to West for seven miles togither or there about there shoot forth a number of rocks rather than Ilands, standing very thick together. Touching this Sain, take with you that which Pomponius Mela reporteth. Sena (saith hee), lying in the British sea opposite unto the shores of the Osissimi, is famous by reason of the Oracle of a French God, whose shee-priestes, vowing perpetuall virginity, are said to be nine in number. The French men call them Zenas or Leans (for so read I with Turnebus, rather than Gallitenas), and men are of opinion that they, being endued with especiall endowments of nature, are able by enchantments to trouble the sea and raise up winds, to turne themselves into what living creatures they list, to heale al those maladies which with others are incurable, for to know also and to foretell things to come &c. Beneath these, there lie other Ilands in length, namely, Isles aux Mottons, nere unto Pen-Mac, that is, The Horse-Head; Gleran over against old Blavic (which at this day is Blavet), Grois and Bellisle, all which Plinie calleth Veneticae. For they lie opposite unto the Veneti in little Britaine, who I wote not whether they were so named, as one would say, Fishermen, for venna in the ancient language of the Galls seemeth to signifie so much. These Strabo supposeth to have beene the founders and stockfathers of the Venetians in Italy: who writeth also that they intended to have given Caesar battaile at sea when he minded the conquest of Britaine. These Ilands Veneticae, some out of Dionysius Afer terme Nesides whereas in the Greeke booke we read Νησσιάδων πόρος, that is, the Tract of the Ilands. Of which Priscian out of him writeth thus:
Nor distand farre from hence the shores doe lie
Of Ilands, which Nessides many call,
Where in the wives of Amnites solemnly
Concelebrate their high feasts Bacchanall
With Ivy leaves and beries cover’d al.
The Thracian dames make not so loud a cry
At Bacchus feast, the river Absynts by.
Which Festus Avienus also hath expressed in these verses:
From hence likewise the foming sea displa’s his swelling tide,
And from the depe short whirle-puffs rise. Here by the water side
A mighty sort of women meet, the feast of Bacchus fire
To celebrate: their sacred sports last all night long. The Aire
Rings over head with voices shrill, and under foot the ground
With many a friske and stamp of theirs in dancing doth resound.
Like noises make not Thracian Dames, the Biston wives, I say
Along Absynthus river, which they use to sport and play,
Nor Indians nere swift Ganges streame farre in such frantick wise
What time to God Liaeus they their set feasts solemnize.
43. Now, that Bellisle is one of these foresaid Nessidae, the authority of Strabo from the faithfull report of other doth prove sufficiently. For it lieth before the mouth of the river Loire, and Ptolomee places the Samnitae in a coast of France opposite unto it. For thus writeth Strabo: Moreover (they say), there is a little Island in the Ocean being not farre in the deepe sea, full against the mouth of Ligeris; that in it inhabite the wives of the Samnitae, which are inspired with the instinct or divine powre of Bacchus, and by ceremonies and sacrifices procure the favour of Bacchus; that no man cometh thither, but themselves, taking their barkes, saile awaie and company with their owne husbands, and so returne againe into the Island. Also that a custome it is among them to take away the roufe of their temple yeerely, and to cover it againe the very same daie before the Sunne setteth, ever one of the women bringing their burden; and looke which of them letteth her burden fall, shee is by the others torne in peeces; and that they, gathering together the peeces as they goe unto the temple, make not an end before they bee out of this furious fit; and that it alwaies usually hapneth that one of them by falling downe of her burthen is thus torne peece meale. Thus old Authors, writing of the utmost parts of the world, tooke pleasure to insert prety lies and frivolous fables. But what things are reported of Ceres and Proserpine they carry with them, saith hee, more probability. For the report goeth of an Island neere unto Britaine, wherein they sacrifice to these Goddesses after the same manner that they doe in Samothrace.
44. ‡Then follow the Isles aux Mottouns, Gleran, Grois, Belle-isle, upon the coast of Little Britaine, Neirmoustier, and L’isle de Dieu upon the coast of Poictou, and Lisle de Re, Islands full well knowne and much frequented for the plenty that they yeeld of bay salt, but forasmuch as they are not once mentioned by the ancient Geographers, it may be sufficient for me that I have named them. Onely the next Island at this day, knowne by the name of Oleron, was knowne to Pliny by the name of Uliarus, which lieth, as he saith, in the bay of Aquitaine at the mouth of the river Charonton, now Charent, and had many immunities granted from the Kings of England, then Dukes of Aquitaine. At which time it so flourished for marine discipline and glory that these seas were governed by the lawes enacted in this Iland in the yeere 1266 no lesse then in old time the Mediterranean sea by the lawes of Rodes.
Hitherto have I extended the British sea both upon the credite of Pomponius Mela, who streatcheth it to the coast of Spaine, and upon the authority of the Lord Great Admiral of England, which extendeth so far. For the Kings of England were and are rightful lords of al the North and West sea-coasts of France (to say nothing of the whole kingdome and crowne of France), as who, to follow the tract of the sea-coast, wan the county of Guines, Merke and Oye by the sword, were true heires to the county of Ponthieu and Menstreuil by Eleanor the wife of King Edward the First the onely heire thereof. In like maner most certaine heires to the Duchie of Normandy, by King William the Conquerour, and thereby superior lords of Little Britaine dependant thereof; undoubted heires of the counties of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine from King Henry the Second, whose patrimony they were; likewise of the county of Poictou and Dutchy of Aquitane or Guyenne by Eleanor the true heire of them, wife to the said Henry the Second; to omit the counties of Tholouse, March, the homage of Avergue &c. Of all which the French by their arrestes of pretended forfeitures and confiscations have disseized the crowne of England and adnexed them to the crowne of France, taking advantage of our most unhappie civill dissentions, whereas in former ages the French Kings were so fore-closed by these territories as they had no accesse at all to the Ocean.‡
45. Nothing remaineth now, seeing my penne hath with much labour strugled and sailed at length out of so many blind shelves and shallowes of the Ocean and craggy rocks of antiquity, save onely this, that as seamen were wont in old time to present Neptune with their torne sailes or some saved planks according to their vow, so I also should consecrate some monuments unto the Almighty and Most Gracious God and to Venerable Antiquity: which now right willingly and of duty I vow, and God willing in convenient time I will performe and make good my vow. Meanwhile, I would have the Reader to remember that I have in this worke wrastled with that envious and ravenous enemy, Time, of which the Greeke Poet sung very aptly in this note:
Hore-headed Time full slowly creeps, but as he slie doth walke,
The voices he as sliely steales of people as they talke.
Unseene himselfe, those that be seene he hides farre out of sight,
And such againe as are not seene he bringeth forth to light.
But I for my part am wont ever and anon to comfort my selfe with this Distichon of Mimnermus, which I know to be most true:
Heart take thine ease,
Men are hard to please.
Thou haply maist offend.
Though one speake ill
Of thee, some will
Say better. There an end.
SOLI DEO GLORIA