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την Σφίγγα ταύτην όστις ή κατακρημνιεϊ,
ή πεινην ποιήσει. Instead of asiģy, I propose to substitute ápovn ( 'Parn.)
Notes on Part of the POEM of FESTUS AVIENUS; who
extracted the Substance of it, as he himself admits, from a Purric. Voyage to Cadiz, to the River Loire, to the Scylley, or Scilly, Islands, to Cornwall, to Ireland, and to Albion; a Voyage performed by Himilco, the celebrated Carthaginian Admiral.
IF by this very easy juxta-position of these passages, I may venture, though a young author, upon one conjecture; I would infer from them, that the Estrymnides are the Scylley islands, and the high promontory is the Land's end of Cornwall, and the Estrymuic gulph is the “ Chops of the British Channel,” yawning and “gaping upon those trembling islots.” Their distance of two days' sail from Ireland is a rational estimate for the infancy of Phoenician sailing and coasting. And this circumstance, united with the right ascension and declination of the constellation Lycaon, under whose wheel, in ver. 132, this poet places them, appears to me to decide the point. Í must own, that it is an arduous attempt, and one open to severe and to just censure from the able periodical Reviews of our age, to identify with proud confidence any modern with any ancient isle of Spain, or of Britain. But I still think that the negative of my theory cannot be proved, while I hope I shall be able to produce classical evidence from Strabo, Avienus, and Pliny, against the hypothesis that either . Gades, or any Spanish islot, that either Belle-isle, or any collection of the French islands, was the identical Estrymnis of Avienus. From Cadiz to Cornwall was experienced by Himilco to be a voyage of four months, (not of two days ;) and in Spain no island lies under the axis, or wheel of Lycaon. In France no islots were so populous, none so full of mines ; -none so very contiguous to Ireland, as that the mariners of the ancients should have been able to reach the latter in two days, in the tardy row-galley, or in the heavy-sailing merchantman, in the naves onerariæ. For the passage to Ireland from the Land's End, is rarely made in our days, in 48 hours; so strong are the currents, so changeable the winds, and so high are the waves. Cæsar, praising the. fleets of the Veneti and of their Cornish allies, attests the great impetuosity of the British Channel, and describes the bulk of the Venetian, as superior to the Roman, ships of war. Avienus incidentally confirms in these words the nautic chart of Cæsar;
Turbidum latè fretum secant [strymnides.] The Welsh and Irish antiquaries are known to claim with pride,
(as Davies in his Celtic Researches 'frankly avows) a people as their ancestors, a people who enjoyed this character; the multa vis populi, the superbus animus, the negotiandi cura, and the efficax solertia soothe the Welsh and Irish, and unite with their national prepossessious, as we will gently deem them; and I confess, I see nothing in the assertions and bold negatives of the Anti-Celtic party, of Pinkerton, of Ledwich, and of other learned men, to disprove this claim of these modern Cinabri, the Cimmerii of Herodotus, and of Homer, or, to adopt the language of Genesis, the sons of Gomer, and of Japhet.-But I wage no war with these GIANTS in erudition ; I would merely suggest to these veteran writers the above inferences with the profoundest respect for their opinion.-- Yet I own, I cannot find any other tribe of miners populous and spirited, or enterprising, (who left the original Ophiusa in Spain) than the Cassiterides of Cornwall
, the Estrymnici of the Scylley islands, or as Dionysius Periegetes denominates them, the iusular Silures, i.e. the neighbours of South Wales.
From the verses of Avienus, we may, I think, conclude, that one portion of the Cimbri, of the Welsh, and Irish emigrated from the islands of Spain; and that Vallancey, O'Halloran, and a thousand Irish authors of the dark ages defend, upon historical grounds, the Spanish, or Milesian origin of the primeval Celts. Tacitus, in the Life of Agricola, assigns the Silures, or the Welsh, to the same parental country. * Their swarthy complexion, their curled hair, and their position opposite to Spain, render it credible that the ancient Iberians had crossed the ocean and had occupied these seats.'-Davies in his Celtic Researches, boldly translates the word Estrymnides the land of the bards, as bearing this meaning in the Welsh. He also ascribes the circumstance of naming the island Ophiusa from ophis a serpent, to such a patriarchal adoration of some sacred serpent, as is still continued in India. And indeed all these descriptions, both in Avienus, and in passages, which I shall soon quote from Pliny and Strabo, seem easily to apply to Cornwall, to its Druids and its islands. Herodotus indeed confesses, in the second book, “that the place whence tin was imported into Greece, was unknown to him;" but the wise and enlightened Pliny (l. 4. C. 36.) informs us with truth, "that many islands lie opposite to Celtiberia, named in the Greek language Cassiterides, from their abundant nines of lead," And Strabo, in the third book, 145th and 175th pages, gives so full a description of them, and of the Phoenician trade thither, that to me it is surprising, that any modern scholar should dispute the credibility of these Tyrian voyages : “ Posidonius asserts, that tin is not found, in the manner described by historians, on the surface of the earth, but that it is dug out of a mine; that it is obtained in the country of the Barbarians, who live beyond the Lusitani (or the Portuguese), and in the Cassiterides, or islands of tin; and that it is conveyed from Britain to Massilia (or Marseilles]: these islands are ten in number; they lie contiguous to each other ; they are situated in the wide ocean, and in a direction north from the harbour of Artabri (or Corunna]: of these, one is a desert, but the rest are inhabited by men clothed in black dresses, and in tunics reaching to the ankles : a girdle crosses the breast ; they grasp a staff in their hand, and they have beards long
and shaggy as the goats: they live on the produce of their flocks, and lead a pastoral and wandering life : they possess tin, lead, and peltry, which they exchange with the merchants for pottery, salt, and brazen goods. In the early ages, the Phænicians of Gades monopolised this commerce, concealing from other nations the course thither; but the Romans, that they might obtain a knowledge of these harbours, following a Phænician master of a ship, the latter ran bis ship upon a shallow shore, and although he suffered shipwreck equally with his pursuers, he escaped with life, and received from the public a remuneration for the cargo, which he had lost. The Romans, however, by repeated attempts, learned the navigation to these islands. When P. Crassus sailed thither afterwards, and remarked that the meals were not dug to a considerable depth in the earth, and that the peaceable inhabitants from the abundance of the precious oré were inclined to navigation, he taught the art to these eager disciples ; although a sea wider than the ocean which embraces Britain was to be necessarily crossed." V, 101.
Novisque cymbis turbidum Curvant fascello; sed rei ad miracu. latè fretum,
lum, Et belluosi gurgitem oceani secant : Navigia junctis semper aptant pelliNon hi carinas quippe piou texere
bus Acereve norunt, non abiete, ut usus Corioque vastum sæpe percurrunt est,
salum. The monstrous fishes of Avienus are undesignedly described by Chandler, in his Travels in Asia Minor, 4to p. 31. when he was in the same vicinity to Andalusia.
“ On our entry into the Mediterranean, the vast assemblage of bulky monsters was beyond measure amazing; some leaping up, as if aiming to amuse us ; some approaching the ship, as it were to be seen by us, floating together, abreast, and half out of the water. We counted in one company fourteen, of the species called by the sailors The Botile-Nose, each, as we guessed, about twelve feet long. These are almost shapeless, looking black and oily, with a large thick fin on the back, no eyes or mouth discernible, the head rounded at the extremity, and so joined with the body, as to render it difficult to distinguish where the one ends, or the other begins; but
the upper part is a hole about an inch and an half in diameter, from which, at regular intervals, the log-like being blows out water accompanied with a puff, audible at some distance."
As it may be objected to me, that Himilco is describing the whale, not of the Spanish, but of the Polar sea, I will add a delineation of the latter, extracted from the journals of ships, which sail in that trade.
The Greenland whale, that enormous inhabitant of the deep, who requires an ocean to swim in, is equally wonderful in every point of, view; in the rapidity of his motion, as in the dimensions of his body, in the quantity, as in the usefulness of his fat.
His motion is so incredibly swift, that he shoots by a ship under a press of sail, like an arrow passing a stationary tree, at the rate of 15 or 20 miles in the hour. His side-fins playing in any voluntary direction either depress, or raise his vast body perpendicularly or obliquely: and in either mạnner, in an instant. Tranquil and undis
turbed, he floats at his ease, one tenth of his corpulent body above the surface of the green waves; his tail-fin like an oar actually sculling along with immense sweeps his buoyant form.- A whale, struck with an harpoon, spouts a stream of blood, six or eight feet high, against the mast, exhibiting a curious rain-bow. In the agonies of death, he dashes a mass of water around, and causes a temporary and local tempest; crushing any boat with a stroke of his tailfin, or carrying away any opposing rudder : curling around his wide body, many fathom of cord, and heaving up in his fury several massive sheets of neighbouring ice. Wilt thou play with him as with a tame bird? or wilt thou bind him for the maidens? Will not any one be cast down at the very sight of him ? Upon earth there is not his like. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him, one would think the deep to be hoary.” On the earth there is not his like. The elephant rarely reaches eighteen feet in height or twenty in length. The most formidable serpents of Africa or India seldom measure thirty feet, and are equally slender in proportion of the length to their thickness, as the common worm or the dung-hill snake. But the whale stretches out its huge forın to seventy or eighty feet : which is two thirds of the length of any vessel employed in the trade to Green-, land, and triple the size of a moderate room.
His height or perpendicular thickness is eleven feet; nearly the stature of two tall men. His circumference, though his form is not accurately circular but oblate, may be estimated to be two thirds larger than his diameter depth, or in plainer language, thirty feet; the size of an ox! Let the reader multiply such a girth by such a length of body, and he will obtain a mathematical account of its solid contents :--the largest pak is scarcely equal to it in mass: the tallest and widest mast sinks in the comparison to a wand, to a walking-staff! A large ox weighs only 100 stone: a whale has been computed at 70 tons: or the draught of fifty horses. The bulk or girth of it is as large as the bulk of a sloop; the blubber taken off weighs thirty tons, or a third of its bulk. When he is killed, tow him on the next shore : support his jaws by two long poles, (those jaws which erected, and meeting in a point, form the two sides of a barn !) a boat may sail as into a creek, into his expanded mouth: a man may sit in it, as in the cave of a rock: or fasten the same dead animal to a ship by long cables; and its body, before it be stripped or uncased of the blubber, is so swolu by the air generated in its bowels from its putrefying state, that it heaves itself four feet above the height of the salt wave, rising a mountain of flesh. ... Though of its valuable blubber (sweet, savoury sound to many a commercial man !) only fifteen or eighteen inches in depth be taken, yet the body is so vast, that one whale in a late year yielded twenty-one tons of oil; that is, a quantity of melted fat, sufficient for the draught of ten horses, (the strongest of animals in Europe) formed merely the exterior covering and coat of this prince of fishes ! what then was the weight of his whole body when alive, and full of air, full of water ?.... One fish has
frequently afforded a sufficiency of blubber to fill every cask in a small ship, and to compose a singular cargo. Its crank or remaining carcase, loosened from the cables, and dropped with a loud shout of the crew into the ocean, drives to a distance, and is soon surrounded by ravenous bears, by carrion birds, and a variety of fishes, and the ravenous tribe of Esquimaux Indians, eaters of raw flesh: thus affording to the rational and irrational part of the creation a treasure during life, and a banquet by its death.
Cæsar in the 1st Book of his Civil War describes these boats : “ Carinæ et statumina ex levi materiâ fiebant; reliquum corpus ex viminibus contextum coriis integebatur.” A modern tourist explains this vessel to be the Coracle: - tlie fishermen in Caermarthenshire,”
“continue to use them : they are ribbed with light laths or with split twigs in the manner of basket-work, and are covered with a raw bide to prevent the leakage: their shape is oval, or oblong, and their bottom flat or rounded : when inverted, they resemble the shells of enormous turtles.” Pliny adds; " that in the isle Mictis [or properly Victis,] the isle of Wight, the Britons used in a voyage of six days (navigüis vitilibus) vessels bound with osièr.”. Strabo in the third book on Spain, and at the 155th page observes ; " that the natives use a boat formed from skins as far as to Brutus, on account of the inundations and the marshes.” In a monkish annalist of the dark ages it is recorded that “ an Irish saint and preacher passed from thence into Wales in a coracle."
Mr. Tennant, in his Indian Recreations, Vol. 2. p. 286,7. says: * Pliøy speaking of this tree [the Bamboo] has been guilty of an exaggeration, or perhaps a mistake, in asserting that a single one is sufficient to make a boat: · Navigiorum etiam vicem præstant (si credimus) singula internodia :' the truth is that, when made into a frame, and covered with a hide, it served this purpose in the same manner, as the Corucles of the ancient Britons ; and in this
it was frequently used by the troops of Hyder-Ally in crossing rivers : the bamboo in its natural state being no thicker than a man's thigh, cannot singly supply the place of a canoe.”
V. 103. Ast hinc duobus in Sacram V. 154. [Ophiusa]-hæc dicta primo (sic insulam Estrymnica,
V. 109. dixêre prisci) solibus cursus V. 155. Locos et arva æstrymnicis rati est. habitantibus,
V. 110. Hæc inter undas multum V. 156. Post multa serpens effugavit cespitis jacet,
incolas, Vacuamque glebam nomi- | V. 111. Eamque latè geus Hiberno, nis fecit sui.
rum colit. Sacra, or in the Greek
iefd, is the same as ’liçon. Orosius observes; “ that the island Hibernia, situated between Spain and Britain, is narrow in point of space, but is valuable from the qualities of its soil and its sky. It is tenanted by the tribes of the Scotch.” ' P. Mela in the third book remarks, that “ the inhabitants [of Ireland) are rude and less acquainted with any of the virtues, than other nations ; in some degree skilful, but void of filial piety,"