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Geoffrey of Monmouth History of the Kings of Britain

 
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Geoffrey of Monmouth
History of the Kings of Britain
page 81



his sickness would prove mortal if his longing were not satisfied. He, therefore, fell upon a new device, and cut a piece of flesh out of his own thigh, which he roasted upon a spit, and carried to the king for venison. The king, thinking it to be real venison, began to eat of it to his great refreshment, admiring the sweetness of it, which he fancied exceeded any flesh he ever had tasted before. At last, when he had fully satisfied his appetite, he became more cheerful, and in three days was perfectly well again. Then the wind standing fair, he got ready his ship, and hoisting sails they pursued their voyage, and arrived at the city Kidaleta. From thence they went to king Salomon, by whom they were received kindly and with all suitable respect, and as soon as he had learned the occasion of their coming, he made them a promise of assistance, and spoke to them as follows.

Chapter 5. The speech of Salomon, king of Armorica, to Cadwalla.

“It is a grief to us, noble youths, that the country of your ancestors is oppressed by a barbarous nation, and that you are ignominiously driven out of it. But since other men are able to defend their kingdoms, it is a wonder your people should lose so fruitful an island, and not be able to withstand the nation of the Angles, whom our countrymen hold in contempt. While the people of this country lived together with yours in Britain, they bore sway over all the provincial kingdoms, and never could be subdued by any nation but the Romans. Neither did the Romans do this by their own power, as I have been lately informed, but by a dissension among the nobility of the island. And even the Romans, though they held it under their subjection for a time, yet upon the loss and slaughter of their rulers, were driven out with disgrace. But after the Britons came into this province under the conduct of Maximian and Conan, those that remained never had the happiness afterwards of holding an uninterrupted possession of the crown. For though many of their princes maintained the ancient dignity of their ancestors, yet their weak heirs that succeeded, though more in number, entirely lost it, upon the invasion of their enemies. Therefore I am grieved for the weakness of your people, since we are of the same race with you, and the name of Britons is common to you, and to the nation that bravely defends their country, which you see at war with all its neighbours.” When he had concluded his speech, Cadwalla, who was a little put to the blush, answered him after this manner: “Royal sir, whose descent is from a race of kings, I give you many thanks for your promise of assisting me to recover my kingdom. But what you say is a wonder, that my people have not maintained the dignity of their ancestors, since the time that the Britons came to these provinces, I am far from thinking to be such. For the noblest men of the whole kingdom followed those leaders, and there remained only the baser sort to enjoy their honours; who being raised to a high quality, on a sudden were puffed up above their station; and growing wanton with riches gave themselves up to commit such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles; and (as Gildas the historian testifies) were not only guilty of this vice, but of all the enormities that are incident to human nature. And what chiefly prevailed, to the entire overthrow of all goodness, was the hatred of truth with its assertors, the love of a lie with the inventors of it, the embracing of evil for good, the veneration of wickedness for grace, the receiving of Satan for an angel of light. Kings were anointed, not for the sake of God, but such as were more cruel than the rest; and were soon after murdered by their anointers, without examination, having chosen others yet more cruel in their room. But if any-of them showed any mildness, or seemed a favourer of truth, against him, as the subverter of Britain, were all their malice and their weapons bent. In short, things pleasing to God or displeasing, with them had the same weight, even if the worse were not the weightier. Therefore were all affairs managed contrary to public safety, as if the true physician of all had left them destitute of cure. And thus was every thing done without discretion, and that not only by secular men, but by the Lord’s flock and its pastors. Therefore it is not to be wondered, that such a degenerate race, so odious to God for their vices, lost a country which they had so heinously corrupted. For God was willing to execute his vengeance upon them, by suffering a foreign people to come upon them, and drive them out of their possessions. Notwithstanding it would be a worthy act, if God would permit it, to restore our subjects to their ancient dignity, to prevent the reproach that may be thrown upon our race, that we were weak rulers, who did not exert ourselves in our own defence. And I do the more freely ask your assistance, as you are of the same blood with us. For the great Malgo, who was the fourth king of Britain after Arthur, had two sons, named Ennianus and Runo. Ennianus begot Belin; Belin, Jago; Jago, Cadwan, who was my father. Runo, who, after his brother’s death, was driven out by the Saxons, came to this province and bestowed his daughter on duke Hoel, the son of that great


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