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Hardwicke, Philip Yorke, 3d earl of

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CS 454 H27




Their most eminent

NATIONS when first possessed of the art of writing, had their events entered on the plain page of domestic history, independent of foreign wars, and distant occurrences. citizens were recorded as founders of their families, and their descendants respected as links of the same chain, however unworthy they may have been of their progenitors. The Patrician families of ancient Rome, had their origin from men famous in their generations, The twelve Tribes of Israel are arranged with great accuracy, and the Phænicians, their neighbours, were probably not more remiss in this branch of history. They traded to the mines of the Cassiterides, and planted colonies in this

island. They might have brought the tracing of pedigrees into Britain; and the Welsh are acknowledged to have assiduously continued the practice, thus supposed to have been primarily introduced. It may be asked what certainty we have of the authenticity of our early genealogies? The same as of every other species of history in other nations; the credit of ancient writers, professed genealogists; men appointed and patronized by the princes of the country, who were prohibited from following any other profession; whose records are still extant, and bear no stamp of fiction, which our poets even would not allow. What credit is to be given to the line of kings, said to have reigned in this island prior to Cæsar's invasion, or from what source Tysilio drew his brut, is not within the limits of this paper. Our most ancient existing manuscripts are the Triades, and the works of the bards of the sixth century, who celebrate in epic strains the deeds of our heroes, who fought and fell in the cause of their country. The Gododin of Aneuryn at that period, is a noble poem, and a curious piece of British antiquity: its plaintive numbers in sad sounds, echo the sense of the sorrowful retreat of the vanquished few, from the field of blood, of whom the bard himself was one. During the earlier centuries, the registering of genealogies was


the province of the Arwydd-feirdd, and the Ofyddion, during their three years of probation, which preceded their initiation into the higher orders of bardism. It was then optional whether they continued to register the descents of their chiefs, but in general they did; and a bard, and a genealogist became synonymous terms. From the ninth to the twelfth century, the genealogist, sanctioned, by royal authority, classed the first families into twenty tribes; five termed royal, and fifteen called common. founders of families are recorded, but not included in the tribes, although of greater merit than some who were honoured with that distinction. Why Festyn ab Gwrgant, a petty Lord of Glamorgan, and a character in everlasting disgrace, should be thus dignified, while he was the founder only of ignominy and loss of dominion to himself, of slaughter and slavery to his country, is difficult to adjust; and that Brochwel Ysgithrog, a prince of Powys in its highest splendor, having Shrewsbury for his capital, and a chief of great power and martial character, should have his name omitted even in the fifteen tribes, is alike inscrutable. Our bards continued their genealogical pursuits, to the reign of Elizabeth; from which time bardism, in all its branches, for want of the customary encouragement, suffered an


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