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History Of The Britons

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History Of The Britons
page 9

what is in it;" but they were ashamed, and made no reply. "I," said the boy, "can discover it to you: there are two vases in the pool;" they examined and found it so: continuing his questions, "What is in the vases?" they were silent: "there is a tent in them," said the boy; "separate them, and you shall find it so;" this being done by the king's command, there was found in them a folded tent. The boy, going on with his questions, asked the wise men what was in it? But they not knowing what to reply, "There are," said he, "two serpents, one white and the other red; unfold the tent;" they obeyed, and two sleeping serpents were discovered; "consider attentively," said the boy, "what they are doing." The serpents began to struggle with each other; and the white one, raising himself up, threw down the other into the middle of the tent, and sometimes drove him to the edge of it; and this was repeated thrice. At length the red one, apparently the weaker of the two, recovering his strength, expelled the white one from the tent; and the latter being pursued through the pool by the red one, disappeared. Then the boy, asking the wise men what was signified by this wonderful omen, and they expressing their ignorance, he said to the king, "I will now unfold to you the meaning of this mystery. The pool is the emblem of this world, and the tent that of your kingdom: the two serpents are two dragons; the red serpent is your dragon, but the white serpent is the dragon of the people who occupy several provinces and districts of Britain, even almost from sea to sea: at length, however, our people shall rise and drive away the Saxon race from beyond the sea, whence they originally came; but do you depart from this place, where you are not permitted to erect a citadel; I, to whom fate has allotted this mansion, shall remain here; whilst to you it is incumbent to seek other provinces, where you may build a fortress." "What is your name?" asked the king; "I am called Ambrose (in British Embresguletic)," returned the boy; and in answer to the king's question, "What is your origin?" he replied, "A Roman consul was my father." Then the king assigned him that city, with all the western Provinces of Britain; and departing with his wise men to the sinistral district, he arrived in the region named Gueneri, where he built a city which, according to his name, was called Cair Guorthegirn.(49)

(49) An ancient scholiast adds, "He then built Guasmoric, near Lugubalia [Carlisle], a city which in English is called Palmecaster." Some difference of opinion exists among antiquaries respecting the site of vortigern's castle or city. Usher places it at Gwent, Monmouthshire, which name, he ways, was taken from Caer-Went, near Chepstow. This appears to agree with Geoffrey's account, {illegible} See Usher's Britan. Eccles. cap. v. p.23. According to others, supposed to be the city from the ruins of which arose the castle of Gurthrenion, in Radnorshire, Camden's Britannia, p.479. Whitaker, however, says that Cair Guorthegirn was the Maridunum of the Romans, and the present Caermarthen. (Hist. Of Manchester, book ii. c. 1.) See also Nennius, sec.47.

43. At length Vortimer, the son of Vortigern, valiantly fought against Hengist, Horsa, and his people; drove them to the isle of Thanet, and thrice enclosed them within it, and beset them on the Western side. The Saxons now despatched deputies to Germany to solicit large reinforcements, and an additional number of ships: having obtained these, they fought against the kings and princes of Britain, and sometimes extended their boundaries by victory, and sometimes were conquered and driven back. 44. Four times did Vortimer valorously encounter the enemy; (50) the first has been mentioned, the second was upon the river Darent, the third at the Ford, in their language called Epsford, though in ours Set thirgabail, (51) there Horsa fell, and Catigern, the son of Vortigern; the fourth battle he fought was near the stone(52) on the shore of the Gallic sea, where the Saxons being defeated, fled to their ships.

(50) Some MSS. here add, "This Vortimer, the son of Vortigern, in a synod held at Guartherniaun, after the wicked king, on account of the incest committed with his daughter, fled from the face of Germanus and the British clergy, would not consent to his father's wickedness; but returning to St. Germanus, and falling down at his feet, he sued for pardon; and in atonement for the calumny brought upon Germanus by his father and sister, gave him the land, in which the forementioned bishop had endured such abuse, to be his for ever. Whence, in memory of St. Germanus, it received the name Guarenniaun (Guartherniaun, Gurthrenion, Gwarth Ennian) which signifies, a calumny justly retorted, since, when he thought to reproach the bishop, he covered himself with reproach."
(51) According to Langhorne, Epsford was afterwards called, in the British tongue, Saessenaeg habail, or 'the slaughter of the Saxons.'
(52) V.R. "The stone of Titulus, thought to be Stone in Kent, or Larger-stone in Suffolk.

After a short interval Vortimer died; before his decease, anxious for the future prosperity of his country, he charged his friends to inter his body at the entrance of the Saxon port, viz. upon the rock where the Saxons first landed; "for though," said he, "they may inhabit other parts of Britain, yet if you follow my commands, they will never remain in this island." They imprudently disobeyed this last injunction, and neglected to bury him where he had ap- pointed.(53)

(53) Rapin says he was buried at Lincoln; Geoffrey, at London.

45. After this the barbarians became firmly incorporated, and were assisted by foreign pagans; for Vortigern was their friend, on account of the daughter(54) of Hengist, whom he so much loved, that no one durst fight against him-in the meantime they soothed the imprudent king, and whilst practising every appearance of fondness, were plotting

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