E-text prepared by Robert J. Hall from the library of Joseph S. Colello
The original document contained a number of errors in spelling and punctuation, which the transcriber preserved. At the end of the book is a list of errata which have not been corrected in this transcription. The only revision has been to convert the long-s characters with an 's', where they occur.
AN ENQUIRY INTO THE TRUTH OF THE TRADITION, CONCERNING THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, BY PRINCE MADOG AB OWEN GWYNEDD, ABOUT THE YEAR, 1170.
JOHN WILLIAMS, L. L. D.
M. DCC XCI
Hic, ubi nunc Roma est orbis caput, arbor et herbae, Et paucae pecudes, et casa rara fuit.
Ov. Fast. L. 5. v. 93.
The following Observations are with Diffidence given to the Public; because the Subject is rather obscure and uncertain. However, it is presumed that there are stronger Reasons for admitting the Truth of Prince Madog's landing on the American Shores, than for the contrary. There are many Relations in History, which have obtained Credit, that appear to me, not so well supported as this Tradition.
We find allusions to it in the Writings of Ancient British Bards, who were dead before Columbus sailed on his first Western Voyage. We are told, also, by credible Authors, that some plain traces of Christianity, such as it was in the Days of Madog, were found in America, when the Spaniards landed there. No Nation, in Europe, hath ever pretended to have visited America before Behaim, Columbus, or Americus Vespucius, but the Welsh: it is therefore almost, if not quite certain, that if its religious Notions and Customs were derived from Europe, it must have been from the Ancient Britons. The Words in common use on different parts of the Continent, which are very near, or undeniably Welsh, in both sound and sense, could not happen by chance, and they could not be derived from any Europeans but from the Ancient Britons.
The inhabitants of some parts, it is said had a Book among them, upon which they set a great Value, though they could not read it. This Book seems to have been a Welsh Bible, because it was found in the Hands of a people who spoke Welsh; and because Mr. Jones could read and understand it.
This Circumstance is of great Weight in the debate. For whether this Book was a Welsh Bible or not, it actually proves that the Natives of that Country where the Book was found, had been on that Continent many Ages, and could not be the descendants of a Colony planted there after the discovery of Columbus in 1492. No written Language or Alphabetical Characters can be totally forgotten by any people, within the space of 160, or 170 Years, which was the period that intervened between the discovery of Columbus and Mr. Jones's visit.
It will be shewn in this short Treatise that there is not the least reason to think that the whole was a Story invented to be the ground of a claim to a first Discovery. For before Columbus returned from his first Western Voyage, no Nation in Europe had any idea of a Western Continent except the Ancient Britons; among whom there seems to have been some Tradition that Prince Madog, many Years before the 15th Century, had landed on some western Shores; but that these were the American Shores, was a Discovery of later Ages.
Mr. Owen Jones, and Mr. William Owen, the Editors of David ab Gwilym's Poems, lately published, to whom I am obliged for several Observations, have favored me with the following account of a very late date.
In a letter, dated Octob. 1st, 1788, a Friend of theirs, a Native of Wales, who lives on the Banks of the Ohio, informed them that he had been several times among Indians who spoke Welsh; and that there was at the time when he wrote, a person in Virginia from the back settlements who had been among a Tribe of Welsh Indians, whose situation he laid down on the River Misouris, or Misouri, about 400 Miles above its junction with the Mississipi; that is between 40 and 50 degrees North Latitude; This Tribe seems to have been that which Captain Stewart saw, and which is also mentioned in Mr. Beatty's Journal.
This Tribe seems to have little or no connection with other Indians: the latter are of a deep Copper Colour, but the former, in general have fair Complexions.
That Prince Madog's Adventures, are certainly, true, I do not positively say; but from various circumstances, hereafter considered, they appear so to me. However, should the Evidence produced be thought insufficient to prove them real Facts it will prove that some Welsh people had landed on the American Shores long before Columbus; and as we have no account of any other, it may naturally be concluded, that they are descended from Prince Madog's Colony.
The Traditions concerning this Welsh Prince have engaged my attention, more or less, above 30 Years; and these Sheets were intended for the Press, had the late misunderstanding with Spain never happened.
This Subject, as far as I can learn hath never been particularly examined, though mentioned by various Writers. I have, therefore, ventured to declare my Opinion, and the reasons by which it is supported, in hopes that some more able and judicious Antiquary will take it into Consideration.
To preserve Connection and perspicuity, the Reader will find some Facts and Remarks more than once mentioned. I hope that it will be excused, as it appeared to me unavoidable.
I beg the Gentlemen to whom I am obliged for much Information to accept my grateful Acknowledgments.
Every Author cited in this Treatise hath been consulted, excepting Francis Lopez de Gomara, Postell. Comp. Cosmo. and the 7th and 8th Decades of Peter Martyr, to which I could have no access.
Sydenham,—Feb. 1st, 1791.
AN ENQUIRY, &c.
That the original Inhabitants of America were descended from our common Parents, Adam and Eve, will admit of no doubt. In Form, Figure, and in the powers of the mind, we are the same. The only difference between the Europeans and Americans was, that the former were in a civilized state, the other uncivilized. By whom, how, and when that vast Continent was first peopled, are questions which have employed the thoughts and pens of learned Men for several Centuries. Hornius in his De Originibus Americanis, and Dr. William Robertson in his History of America, with great probability, were of opinion that they were descended from the Jews, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Scythians; and that the Chinese, Swedes, Norwegians, the Welsh and the Spaniards, sent Colonies thither in later ages.[a]
[Footnote a: De Originibus Americanis, Lib. I. Cap. 2. Dr. Robertson's History of America, Vol. II. Page 28, Edit. 1788.]
That America was originally peopled by some of the above Nations seems most probable from the resemblance between the Inhabitants and Animals of the northern Regions of America, and the Inhabitants and Animals of the northern Regions of Europe and Asia. If any are desirous of knowing the sentiments of different Writers on this Subject, let them consult the above Authors. In the discusion of this point I am not concerned; my only design being to examine which of the European nations, since the eleventh Century discovered the Western Continent.
When we reflect upon the populousness of America when discovered, as supposed, in the 12th Century, we must be convinced that it was known in very early times, many Centuries before any European landed on the Coasts.
The Spaniards claim the Honor of this Discovery.
Christopher Columbus, a native of Genoa in Italy, by the encouragement and assistance of Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Spain, discovered the West Indian Islands, and some parts of the Continent of South America, about the year 1492, or 1493 of Christ; and other parts of it were discovered by Americus Vespucci (Vespucius) about the year 1497, from whom the whole took its name; but neither of them seems to have been the first European that visited America. Dr. Gregory Sharp says that Behaim or Martin of Bohemia was there about the year 1460.[b]
[Footnote b: Translation of Baron Holbergh's Introduction to Universal History, p. 211. note. Edit. 1758. De Murr says that Behem or Behaim, was a native of Nuremberg in Germany, acquainted with Columbus, but had no right to dispute with him the discovery of America.
Analytical Review Vol. II. p. 602.]
The Spaniards pretend not to any discovery prior to those of Columbus, Americus, and Behaim.
That the Spaniards have no right to that Continent, as first Discoverers, appears to me, very evident; for when they landed there, they found among the Inhabitants some traces of European languages and manners.
From the Testimonies of Travellers and Historians, there are strong reasons to believe that the Ancient Britons landed on that Continent nearly 300 years before Behaim or Columbus, so that if a first discovery gives a right of possession, the whole Continent belongs to the Ancient Britons. But, in truth, conquest is only oppression and Inhumanity. If different nations could be brought to live together in peace, and honestly and amicably carry on Trade, it would be highly advantageous to the World; but conquest, such as that of Mexico by Cortez, and of Perun and Chili by Pizarro and Almagro, in nature and in reason, can give no just right to territory. In such cases, conquest is only another name for Injustice, Barbarity, and Murder.
We have, as far as I can now remember, but one instance, upon record, of an amicable coalition of interests between public bodies; I mean that of William Penn, the excellent and justly celebrated Quaker, with the Inhabitants of the Country, now, after his Name called Pensylvania, a little before the Revolution in 1668. The peace of that Colony has been less disturbed than that of any other. The Indians have been very quiet: He deals fairly and openly with them, and his descendants, as far as I can learn, have always done the same. The consequence is that though he died in the Fleet Prison, his posterity now enjoy a Princely Fortune.[c]
[Footnote c: European settlements in America. Vol. II. p. 195. &c. Edit. 1758. I know not how much they are affected by the late revolution in America.]
But to enter upon my Subject.
I known not how it comes to pass, but of late years most of our Historians seem to be over fastidious. They object to, and call in question many facts which have been credited for Centuries, and which upon the whole are supported by very respectable authorities. In reading History, I make in a strict rule to give every Writer a fair and candid perusal. While I reject old Women's Fables, monkish Tales, Absurdities, and pretended Miracles, I am disposed to receive as Truth, that which seems natural, reasonable, and well supported by evidence. Agreeably to this rule, I shall now consider the accounts we have of the Discovery of America by the Ancient Britons.
I cannot, in Giraldus, find any thing upon the subject. He flourished about the time when this supposed discovery was made; that is, during the reigns of Henry the IId. Richard the 1st. and John Kings of England.[d]
[Footnote d: Giraldus Cambrensis, or Silvester Giraldus, was of a Noble Flemish Family, born near Tenby in Pembrokshire, South Wales, 1145. He was Secretary to King Henry, and Tudor to King John. He was Arch Deacon of St. David's and of Brecon, which seem to have been his highest ecclesiastical preferments. He is represented to have been a busy, meddling and troublesome man, which was the reason, as it is supposed, why he never rose to higher Dignities in the Church. He was buried at St. David's about 70 years of age.
Jones's Musical Relicks of the Welsh Bards, and the Life of Giraldus drawn up by Leland and Bale from his writings, which is prefixed to his Itinerary.
Purchas's Pilgrimage p. 779. Edit. 1626.]
When Prince Madog, the supposed first European discoverer of America sailed, Giraldus was about 25 years of age, and probably abroad for education. He therefore might have no intelligence of transactions which took place in a distant, and, to him, little known part of the World; for it does not appear that he ever was in North Wales, until he accompained Arch-Bishop Baldwin thither in the year 1188, when he went to convert the Britons to the Romish Faith, and to persuade them to engage in a Crusade.—Besides, being a Fleming by descent, and so nearly connected with the English Court, he could have very little correspondence with the Britons, who were far from being easy under the Dominion of the usurping Saxons, Normans, and especially the Flemings, who had lately invaded and possessed a part of their Country.
The first account that I can find of the discovery of America by the Britons is in an History of Wales written by Caradoc of Llancarvan, Glamorganshire, in the British Language, translated into English by Humphry Llwyd, and published by Dr. David Powel, in the year 1584. It was re-printed in 1697, under the inspection of W. Wynne, A. M. Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. There was another edition lately published.
This narrative bears the strongest Semblance of Truth, for it is plain, natural, and simple. It says, that on the death of Owen Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, about the year 1169, several of his Children contended for his Dominions; that Madog, one of his Sons, preceiving his Native Country engaged, or on the eve of being engaged, in a Civil War, thought it best to try his Fortune in some foreign Climes. Leaving North Wales in a very unsettled state, he sailed with a few Ships which he had fitted up and mann'd for that purpose to the westward, leaving Ireland to the north. He came at length to an unknown Country where most things appeared to him new and uncustomary, and the manners of the Natives far different from what he had seen in Europe. Madog having viewed the fertility and pleasantness of the Country, left the most part of those he had taken with him behind, (Sir Thomas Herbert says that the number he left behind was 120) and returned to north Wales. Upon his arrival, he described to his Friends what a fair and extensive land he had met with, void of any Inhabitants, whilst they employed themselves, and all their skill to supplant one another, for only a ragged portion of Rocks and Mountains. Acordingly, having prevailed with considerable Numbers to accompany him to that Country, he sailed back with Ten Ships and bid adieu to his Native Land.[e]
[Footnote e: When our Author says that the Country was void of Inhabitants, he can mean only that it was thinly peopled, for he had just said that Madog saw most things there, new and uncustomary, very different from what he had seen in Europe: Of consequence the Country was inhabited before he landed there. (See Hornius's Observations below). Let it be observed that the account above given of Madog's Emigration appears to have been written, by Humphry Llwyd, the Translator of Caradoc, for he is said to have continued the History to the Death of Prince Llewelyn in 1270.
See the Preface to Caradoc's History.]
It is very certain that this account of Madog's Emigration was not written by Caradoc, for his History comes no lower than the year 1157; and he seems to have died about the time when this Event took place. However, it is said by Humphry Llwyd, the Translator of Caradoc into English, that this part of the History was compiled from Collections made from time to time, and kept in the Abbies of Conway in Carnarvonshire North Wales, and Strat Flur. (Strata Florida, Cardiganshire, South Wales.) The most remarkable occurencies in the Principality, being registered in these Abbies, were generally compared together every third year, when the Beirdd or Bards, belonging to these two Houses, went their ordinary Visitations, which were called Clera. This custom prevailed till the year 1270, a little before the death of Llewelyn the last Prince of Wales, and who was killed near Built in Brecknockshire.
The best copy of these registers was taken by Guttun Owen, a Bard, in the Reign of Edward the IVth. King of England, about the year 1480; before the first Voyage of Columbus; but that the continuation, though not Caradoc's, is a true History, we have no just reason to question.
Cynfrig ab Gronow, about the same time with Guttun Owen, mentioned this Event. Those Bards lived between two and three Hundred Years after Madog's Emigration; and before them it is alluded to by Sir Meredyth ab Rhy's about the year 1477. Humphry Llwyd the Translator of Caradoc flourished in the reign of Henry the VIIIth, King of England, about 50 or 60 years after Guttun Owen,[f] and Dr. Powel published Llwyd's Translation, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, about 40 Years after the death of Humphry Llwyd, whose death prevented its earlier publication.
[Footnote f: Guttun Owen was a Person of Note in the Reign of Henry the VIIth. of England; for he was the second Person named in a Commission issued by that Prince to search the pedigree of Owen Tudor, that King's Grandfather. Caradoc's History. p. 325. and Appendix, p. 334. Edit. 1697. This Commission, probably was issued about the Year 1500, when Henry sent his Son Arthur into Wales.]
There can be little doubt, but that the writings of Guttun Owen, Cynfrig ab Gronow, and of Sir Meredyth ab Rhys, were extant in the Days of Llwyd and Powel, and known to many persons who lived in the principality, as Powel did.
The next account I have met with of this Event is in Hakluyt.
"After the death of Owen Gwynedd, his Sonnes fell at debate who should inherit after him, for the eldest Sonne born in Matrimony, Edward, or Jorwerth Drwidion (Drwyndwn) was counted unmeet to govern because of the maime upon his Face, and Howel that took upon him the Rule, was a bare Sonne, begotten upon an Irish Woman. Therefore David, another Sonne, gathered all the power he could, and came against Howel, and fighting with him, slew him, and afterwards enjoyed quietly the whole Land of North Wales until his Brother Jorwerth's Sonne came to Age.
"Madoc, another of Owen Gwyneth's Sonnes, left the land in contentions betwixt his Brethren, and prepared certain Ships with Men and munition and fought adventures by Seas, sailing West and leaving the coast of Ireland so farre North, that he came to a Land unknown, where he saw many strange things.
"This Land must needs be some parts of the Countrey of which the Spanyards affirm themselves to be the first Finders since Hauno's[g] Time: whereupon it is manifest that that Countrey was by Britons discovered long before Columbus led any Spanyards thither.
[Footnote g: The Carthaginian Admiral, supposed to have flourished about 450 years before Christ.]
"Of the Voyage and return of this Madoc, there be many fables framed, as the common people do use in distance of place and length of time, rather to augment than to diminish, but sure it is, there he was. And after he had returned home, and declared the pleasant and fruitful Countries that he had seen, without Inhabitants; and upon the contrary, for what barren and wild Ground his Brethren and Nephews did murther one another, he prepared a number of Ships, and got with him such Men and Women as were desirous to live in quietness, and taking leave of his Friends, took his Journey thitherwards again.
"Therefore it is supposed that He and his people inhabited part of those Countries; for it appeareth by Francis Lopez de Gomara that in Acuzamil, and other places, the people honoured the Cross. Whereby it may be gathered that Christians had been there before the coming of the Spanyards; but because this people were not many, they followed the manner of the Land which they came to, and the Language they found there.
"This Madoc arriving in that Western Countery, unto the which he came in the year 1170, left most of his people there, and returning back for more of his own Nation, Acquaintance and Friends to inhabit that fair and large Countery, went thither again with Ten Sailes, as I find noted by Guttun Owen.[h] I am of opinion that the Land whereunto he came was some part of the West Indies.
[Footnote h: Hakluyt, says, that he derived this Account from Guttun Owen: his writings therefore must have been extant in the Days of Hakluyt. He does not refer to Humphry Llwyd or Dr. Powel as his authorities. See Pagitt's Christianographie. p. 86. Ed. 2. What he says is taken from Hakluyt. See also Francis Lopez de Gomara. Lib. II. Chap. 16. and Postel's camp. Cosmo, p. 70. Gentleman's Magazine, December, 1789.
Madog's Voyage is mentioned in the Turkish Spy, Vol. VIII. p. 158. Edit. IIth.]
"Carmina Meredith Filii Rhesi, Mentionem facienda de Madoco, Filio Oweni Gwyneth, et de sua Navigatione in Terras incognitas. Vixit hic Meredith circiter, Annum Domini, 1477.
"Madog wyf, mwyedie Wedd Jawn Genau, Owen Gwynedd, Ni fynnwn Dir', f y awydd oedd, Nid Da mawr ond y Moroedd."
These Lines were communicated to our Author he says by the celebrated William Camden.
A Gentleman who is possessed of Sir Meredyth ab Rhys's, "Cywydd i ddiolch am Rwyd bysgota; i lfan ab Tudor;" "An Ode to thank Evan ab Tudor, for a Fishing Net;" obligingly favored me with the following copy of the above Lines.
Mewu Awr dda, Minnau ar Ddwr o fodd hael a fydd Heliwr. Madog wych, mwyedig Wedd Jawn Genau, Owen Gwynedd Ni fynnai Dir', f' enaid oedd, Na Da mawr ond y Moroedd.
Literally; "On a happy Hour, I on the water Of Mannaers mild, the Huntsman will be Madog bold of pleasing Countenance, Of the true Lineage of Owen Gwyned. He covettd not Land, his Ambition was, Not great Wealth, but the Seas,"
As the Poet seems to be returning thanks to a Friend for a Favour, I am of opinion that he only alludes to Madog's Success, and expressing his Hope that he should be as successful in his pursuits. Therefore in the third Line, I would read, not, wyf, "I am," but wych, "bold," "Courageous;" &c. and in the fifth Line, I would read not f' enaid oedd, "my Soul or Ambition was," but ei enaid oedd, "His Soul, or Ambition was."
A Gentleman, who, upon the whole, approved of these Alterations, observed that in the fifth Line, alteration was not necessary; for f'naid oedd, literally, "he was my Soul," was an apostrophe; in other Words, "I revere his Memory."
The four last of the above Lines were sent to me above 30 Years ago, by my late learned and excellent Friend, Dr. John Collet, of Newbury, Berks, which I endeavoured to translate as above.
They were thus rendered into Latin by the late Dr. Samuel Johnson.
Inclytus hic Haeres magni requiescit Oenii, Consessus tantum mente modoque patrem. Servilem talis Cultum contempsit Agelli Et petiit Terras per Freta longa novas.[i]
[Footnote i: Public Advertiser. May 25th 1787. Sir Thomas Herbert's Translation, though faithful, is not literal.
But, in my opinion, neither He nor Dr. Johnson enter into the real meaning of the Poet.]
It hath been said by some Writers that these Lines were found cut upon a stone in Mexico, but this is said without Foundation. It is much more probable that they were written, on the above occasion, by Sir Meredyth ab Rhys, who flourished about 300 Years after Madog's Voyages. However it is certain that they were written, at least, 15 Years before Columbus first sailed on his American Voyage; when no European Nation had any idea of a Western Continent. Of consequence, the Story was not invented to be the Foundation of a Dispute between the Britons and the Spaniards about the Discovery of the New World.
Another Writer who alludes to Madog's Voyage is the Author of a Book entitled "a brief Description of the whole World." Edit. 5th. London Printed, for John Marriott, 1620.
"I am not ignorant that some who make too much of vain Shews, and of the British Antiquities, have given out to the World, and written some things to that purpose, that Arthur some time King of Britain had both Knowledge of those parts (the New World) and some Dominion in them; for they find (as some report) that King Arthur had under his Government many Islands and great Countries towards the North and West, which one of some special Note hath interpreted to signify America, and the Northern parts thereof, and thereupon have gone about to entitle the Queen of England (Elizabeth) to be the Soveraigne of these Provinces by right of Descent from King Arthur. But the Wisdom of our State has been such as to neglect that Opinion, imagining it to be grounded upon fabulous Foundations, as many things are, that are asserted of King Arthur. Only this doth convey some Shew with it, that, now some Hundred Years, there was a Knight of Wales who with Shipping, and some pretty Company did go to discover these parts, whereof, as there is some record of reasonable Credit amongst the Monuments of Wales, so there is nothing which giveth pregnant Shew thereunto, that in the late Navigations of some of our Menta Norumbega, and some other northern parts of America they found some tokens of Civility and Christian Religion; but especially they do meet with some Words of the Welsh Language, as that a Bird with a white Head should be called Penguinn, and other such like; yet because we have now invincible certainty thereof, and if any thing were done, it was only in the Northern and worse part, and the Intercourse between Wales and those parts in the space of 700 Years, was not continued, but quite silenced, we may go forward with that opinion that these Western Indies were no way known to former ages."
From this Extract we learn that in the Days of Queen Elizabeth a Tradition prevailed, that at some former Period, Britons went to America. But that this happened in the Days of King Arthur, and that he had knowledge of Foreign Countries, or any Dominion in them, is altogether in-incredible. The Knight of Wales, mentioned by our Author certainly was Prince Madog; but his Emigration is placed too early by about 400 years; for all Writers agree, that if he sailed at all, it was in 1169, or 1170. The above Book was written during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, who ascended the Throne in 1558; and consequently the interval between Madog's Voyages, and Elizabeth's Accession, was only about 400 Years. However, the Tradition generally prevailed, and was supported by one of Special Note, in that Reign, when Dr. Powel published the History of Caradoc, together with Humphry Llwyd's and his own Additions.
The next Account of Prince Madog's Adventures, I have met with is in Hornius De Originibus Americanis. Hagae Comitis, 1652. What he hath advanced is much the same, and contains little more, as he himself says, than Extracts from Llwyd, Hakluyt, and Powel. His Observations on the Subject are the following.
Ex his concludit omnillo Madocum cum Suis Cambris aliquam partem Americae Septentrionalis obtinuisse. Nec aliter statuet quisquis hanc Navigationem cum Situ Terrarum, vel obiter, contulerit. Nam post Hiberniam nullae navigantibus occurrunt terrae nisi Bermudae ab omni aevo incultae, et postea ingens America. Cumque Zephyrum versus Cursum direxerit Madocus, dubium non est in ipsam devenerit Virginiam vel novam Angliam, ibique suos exposuerit. Nec obstat quod tradunt incultam suisse, et Hominibus vacuam Regionem: Vastissimae illae Terrae sunt, et nostro quoque aevo post sex Secula maligne habitantur. Praeterea Tractus ille ad quem Madac appulit desertus esse potuit; cum tamen alia Loca et interiores partes barbaros Chichimecas haberent, quibus permixti Cambri et intermissa illa Navigatione, Linguam Moresque patrios exuerint. In hac vehementer me confirmant Indigenarum Traditiones. Nam Virginiani et Guahutemallae antiquis Temporibus Madocum quendam velut Heroem coluerunt. De Viginianis Martyr, Dec. VII. C. 3. De Guahutemallis, Dec. VIII C. 5. Habemus Matec Zungam et Mat Ingam, qui cur Madoc Camber esse nequeat quem in eos partes delatum domestica evincunt Monumenta, ratio nulla reddi potest. Ad antiquitatem, quinque illa Secula sussiciunt quousque altissima Americanorum Memoria, nec sere ultra, adscendit.[k]
[Footnote k: Hornius, ubi Supra. Lib. III. Chap. 2. p. 134, &c.]
"From hence He (Hakluyt) concludes that Madog with his Cambrians discovered a part of North America. A cursory attention to the Figure of the Earth must convince every one, that on this Direction, he must have landed on that Continent: for beyond Ireland, no Land can be found except Bermuda, to this Day (about 1650) uncultivated, but the extensive Continent of America. As Madog directed his course Westward, it cannot be doubted but that he fell in with Virginia or New England, and there settled. Nor is this contradicted by its being said that the Country was uninhabited and uncultivated, for that Country is very extensive, and in our Times, after Six Centuries, is but thinly Peopled. Besides, that Tract on which Madog landed might be desert, and yet other Places in the interior Parts possessed by the barbarous Chichimecas[l] might be populous, with whom the Cambrians mingled; and the communication being droped, (between them and their mother Country) they adopted the Language, and the manners of the Country. The Traditions prevailing among the Natives strongly confirm me in this Opinion; for the Virginians and Guahutemallians, from ancient Times, worshiped one Madog as an Hero. Concerning the Virginians, See Martyr Decade the VII. chap. 3. concerning the Guahutemallians, Decade VIII. chap. 5. Among them we have Matec Zungam and Mat Jngam, and why this should not be Madog the Cambrian, whom the Monuments in the Country prove to have been in those parts, no reason can be given. As to Antiquity, five Centuries are sufficient, beyond which American Traditions do not ascend."[m]
[Footnote l: A barbarous People to the North West of Mexico.]
[Footnote m: There were two or more Peter Martyrs; the Person here referred to, was Peter Martyr, the celebrated civilian of Anghiera or Angleria, in Italy. He lived in the Court of Ferdinand the fifth, King of Spain, called the Catholic. In a volume of his Works which I have consulted he calls himself, "Peter Martyr, Angi Mediolanen, Consiliarii regii, Pronotarii apost." It is dedicated to Charles the 5th of Spain, and printed at Basil, by Bebelius 1533. He was born in 1445, and died in 1525. The date of the first Chapter of the first Decade is, Ex Hispana Curia Jdus Novem. 6. 1493. and of the 2d Chapter, Ex Hispana Curia tertio Calend Maii 1494. See also the 10th Chapter of the 2d Decade. Columbus sailed on his first Voyage in the Autumn of of 1492, and returned about February or March, 1493. Hence it appears that Peter Martyr was in the Spanish Court when Columbus returned from his first Voyage; for his first Letter is dated about 6 or 7 Months afterwards. Peter Martyr, therefore, ought to be considered as a decisive Evidence that some Nations in America, honored the Memory of one Madog, when Columbus landed on that Coast.
See Nouveau Dictionaire Historique, Ou Histoire abregee, &c. par une Sociate' de gens de Letres 6mo. Edition. 1786, Paris.]
This Author in the former part of this Chapter, says, Nam ubi demonstratum suerit, Madocum cambriae principem olim cum fuae Gentis Hominibus novas in Occidente invenisse Terras et inhabitasse: ejus etiam nomen ac memoriam adhuc inter barbaros superesse, nihil fere quod amplius ambigamus, restabit. "For when it is demonstrated that Madog, a Prince of Cambria, with some of his Nation, discovered and inhabited some Lands in the West, and that his Name and Memory are still retained among them, scarcely any doubt remains."
In the above observations, we have as it appears to me, a clear proof that Madog visited America, several centuries before the Spaniards. Matec Zungam, and Mat Jngam, seem to be plain corruptions of the Name, Madog, the Hero whose Memory was retained, if not revered, by those who were descended from his Colony.
In the Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. X, for the Year 1740. p. 103, &c. the following Narrative is inserted.
"These presents may certify all persons whatever, that in the Year 1660, being an Inhabitant of Virginia, and Chaplain to Major General Bennet of Mansoman County, the said Major Bennet find Sir William Berkeley sent two Ships to Port Royal, now called South Carolina, which is sixty Leagues to the Southward of Capefair, and I was sent therewith to be their Minister. Upon the 8th of April we set out from Virginia, and arrived at the Harbour's Mouth of Port Royal the 19th of the same Month, where we waited for the rest of the Fleet that was to sail from Barbadoes and Bermuda with one Mr. West, who was to be Deputy Governor of the said Place. As soon as the Fleet came in, the smallest Vessels that were with us sailed up the River to a place called the Oyster Point. There I continued about 8 months, all which time being almost starved for want of provisions, I and 5 more travelled through the Wilderness, till we came to the Tuscorara Country. There the Tuscorara Indians took us prisioners, because we told them that we were bound to Roanock.[n] That night they carried us to their Town, and shut us up close to our no small dread. The next Day they entered into a consultation about us, which after it was over their Interpreter told us that we must prepare ourselves to die next Morning. Whereupon being very much dejected and speaking to this Effect in the British Tongue, 'Have I escaped so many Dangers, and must I now be knocked on the Head like a Dog;' then presently an Indian came to me, which afterwards appeared to be a War Captain belonging to the Sachem of the Doegs, (whose Original I find must needs be from the Old Britons) and took me up by the middle, and told me in the British Tongue, I should not die, and thereupon went to the Emperor of Tuscorara, and agreed for my Ransom, and the Men that were with me. They then wellcomed us to their Town, and entertained us very civilly and cordially four months; during which time I had the opportunity of conversing with them familiarly in the British Language, and did preach to them three times a Week in the same Language; and they would confer with me about any thing that was difficult therein;[o] and at our Departure, they abundantly supplied us with whatever was necessary to our Support and Well-doing. They are setled upon Pontigo River,[p] not far from Cape Atros. This is a brief recital of my Travels, among the Doeg Indians. Morgan Jones, the Son of John Jones of Basaleg, near Newport, in the County of Monmouth. I am ready to conduct any Welshman, or others to the Country. New York, March 10th, 1685-6."
[Footnote n: An Harbour at the Mouth of Albemarle River in North Carolina.]
[Footnote o: When it is considered that Mr. Jones's Visit to these Nations was near 500 Years after the Emigration of Prince Madog, it can be no Wonder that the Language of both Mr. Jones and the Indians was very much altered. After so long a period Mr. Jones must have been obliged to make use of Words and Phrases, in preaching Christianity, with which they must have been altogether unacquainted. Besides, all living Languages are continually changing; therefore during so many Centuries, the Original Tongue must have been very much altered, by the Introduction of New Words borrowed from the Inhabitants of the Country. Though the Language was radically the same, yet Mr. Jones, especially, when treating of abstracted subjects, was hardly intelligible to them, without some Explanations. We are told that the Religious Worship of the Mexicans, with all its Absurdities, was less superstitious than that of the ancient and learned Greeks and Romans. May we not hence conclude that the Mexicans derived some part of their Religious Knowledge from a People enlightned by a divine Revelation; which, tho' very much corrupted in the Days of Madoc, yet was superior to Heathen Darkness. Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico. Monthly Review, Vol. 65. p. 462, &c.]
[Footnote p: Pontigo, seems to have been derived from the Welsh Pont y Go. "The Smith's Bridge;" or Pant y Go, "The Smith's Valley." Perhaps a Smith dwelt by the Side of a River, or near a Bridge. Dr. Robertson says, History of America, Vol. II. p. 126, that the Indians were very ignorant of the use of Metals; Artificers in Metals were scarce, and on that account a Name might be given to a Bridge or Valley where one dwelt. Doeg Indians, may be a corruption of Madog's Indians. Cape Atros, Cape Hateras; near Cape Fair in Carolina, which last may be Cape Mair, the Cape of Mary, i. e. the Virgin Mary.—I would just observe that some parts in Europe seem to have derived their Names from the Welsh. Armorica, has been thought Latin, yet it is most likely to be Welsh. Ar-y-mor "upon the Sea," which particularly is the Situation of Bretagne, in France, twice peopled from Great Britain.]
This Letter was sent or given to Dr. Thomas Lloyd of Pensylvania, by whom it was transmitted to Charle Llwyd Esq. of Dol y fran in Montgomeryshire; and afterwards to Dr. Robert Plott by Edward Llwyd, A. M. Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Mr. Theophilus Evans, a Welch Clergyman, who communicated the above Letter to the Editor of the Gentleman's Magazine, was Vicar of St. David's in Brecon, well acquainted with the History of the Principality. He has made several judicious remarks upon it.[q]
[Footnote q: It may be supposed that the above Letter was published about the beginning of the Spanish War in 1740, with a view of justifying that War; but the Story was not then invented, for it has been above shewn that the Tradition concerning Madog, was well known long before Elizabeth's reign; nay, long before she was born.]
He observes that the truth of Madog's Voyage is confirmed by it; that several Circumstances unite to establish the Fact; and that several British Words were used by the Mexicans when their Country was discovered by the Spaniards; such as Pengwyn, "White Head," the name, not only of a Bird, but also given to high and bare Rocks.[r] Groeso "Wellcome." Gwenddwr, "white or limpid Water." Bara, "Bread." Tad, "Father." Mam "Mother." Buch or Buwch, "a Cow." Clug-Jar, "a Partridge, or Heath Cock" (Clugar is now the Armorican name of a Partridge.) Llwynog, "a Fox," Coch y dwr, "a red water Bird," Many others are mentioned by Sir Thomas Herbert, in his Travels.
[Footnote r: Several Travellers say that the Birds called Pengwyn have not a White Head: that is, in the Countries where they saw them. But is it not certain that some Birds vary in Plumage in different Climates? In this Island the Royston Crow, as it in called is different in its Plumage from other Crows.]
Mr. Jones's Narrative shews that the Descendants of Madog's Colony were, in some measure, a distinct people in the Year 1660. He not only conversed freely with them, but preached to them in his Native Tongue.
When the Spaniards conquered, or rather massacred the Inhabitants of Mexico, they found among them some traces of Christianity. The sign of the Cross was highly honoured, possibly worshiped by them. Having been so many Ages separated from other Christians, their Religion, more and more, degenerated into Superstition; as, notwithstanding superior advantages, it did in Europe and in Asia.
Besides, the Similarity of Dialects in different places, already taken notice of, inclines me to believe that Madog's Colony, in process of Time, extended itself much farther than the Country on which they first landed; for we find several British Words in other places, and in some of the West Indian Islands.[s]
[Footnote s: About 90 Leagues to the South East of Mauritius, an Island in the East Indian Ocean, possessed by the French, there is another island about 50 Miles round, former called Degarroys, at present, Deigo Rayes, which name seems derived from the British Word, Digarad, "unlovely." "utterly forsaken." "Void of all human Beings." This was the state of the Island in the last Century, but whether it be now peopled or not, I cannot say. However, it is well furnished with provisions. See Herberts Travels.]
The Island Curassoa, or Curazao, possessed by the Dutch, may have had its name from the British Word, Croesaw, or Croeso, "Wellcome;" possibly so called for Joy at the sight of Land after a long and dangerous Voyage. Cape Breton, may also have had its name from these ancient Navigators, who possibly touched at it in one of their Voyages.
To strengthen these Conjectures, it is observable that Montezuma, Emperor of Mexico, on his submission to Cortez, said that their Chiefs were of foreign Extraction; and, when the above Circumstances are attended to, we may be disposed to believe that these Foreigners were ancient Britons[t]
[Footnote t: See the Preface to Charlevoix's Travels through America, and Howel's Letters. Vol. II. Letter 56. p. 77 Edit. 2. This Writer, who died in 1666, says that the Ancient Italian Bards, much resembled the Welsh Bards, in alliteration. This seems to intimate that the British Tongue, or Manners, in some distant Period, were known and followed in some parts of Italy.]
I know not of any Objection to the Account given by Humphry Llwyd and Dr. Powel, confirmed by Mr Jones's Narrative, but what is grounded upon the very low Estimation in which the Ancient British Writers are now undeservedly held.
For Argument's sake, let us suppose that the Original Britons were, in general, a stupid, foolish race of Men, might there not have arisen, even, among them, in the space of 700, or 800 Years, one Man blessed with some sagacity and penetration? In early times the Saxons were a barbarous and savage people. I do not recollect to have heard of a single instance of Saxon Knowledge or Learning, before they came to Britain about the Year 449, of Christ. The Original Inhabitants of this Island were, in some degree, celebrated for literary Acquisitions in the Days of Julius Caesar, near 500 Years before the arrival of the Saxons.[u]
[Footnote u: Warrington's History of Wales. p. 101. Edit. 2. The Saxons were so very illiterate when they were called to Britain by Vortigern, in Welsh, Gwrtheyrn, that they could neither write nor read. And for that reason Messengers were sent to them from Britain, with a verbal Invitation. Mr. Llwyd has proved that the Welsh furnished the Anglo-Saxons with an Alphabet. See a Welsh Book entitled Drych y prif Oesoedd, "a view of the Primitive Ages," by the above named Mr. Theophilus Evans. p. 96. note. Edit. 2. and Rowlands Mona Antigua restorata.]
Though contrary to History, let us suppose that the Britons were void of all Understanding and Judgment, of all literary Merit; that doth not, in the least, affect the Truth of Prince Madog's Emigration; for by all that appears, it was not owing to Knowledge or Judgment, but was the consequence of Necessity and Prudence. This Prince, however dull and sottish, might have sense enough to see that be could no where be in a worse condition than he was in his Native Country. There he could not live in safety, being always surrounded by a lawless Banditti, who sacrificed their Friends, Relations, and even their Parents, to inherit their Dominions or Possessions, which after all, for the most part, were only a small beggarly, wild, and uncultivated District; ragged Rocks and Precipices; barren Mountains; or boggy, unfruitful, and unfriendly Soil.
If an Objection be made to the Truth of Madog's Voyages, grounded upon the silence of History for so many Years, it may with no great difficulty be answered.[v]
[Footnote v: The History of the Gwedir Family by Sir John Wynne, published by the Honorable Daines Barrington, 1773, and afterwards in his Miscellanies, in 1781, takes no notice of Madog's Voyages; but mentions him as a Son of Owen Gwynedd. This Author was born in 1553, and died in 1626. He seems, chiefly, at least, to enumerate those Branches of Owen Gwynedd's Descendants, who were his own Ancestors. The present Sir Thomas Wynne, Bart. and Lord Newborough of the Kingdom of Ireland is, I think, a Descendant of our Author.]
The only History of that Period of British affairs were the Registers kept at Conway, and Strata Florida, above mentioned; or which Guttun Owen took the most exact and perfect Copy; and the Odes of the Bards, for several Years afterwards.[w] These are the only records we have of there Times.
[Footnote w: It may naturally be supposed that many Historical Documents perished, when the Bards were destroyed by King Edward the Ist.]
Objections shall be more particularly considered when I come to consider what Lord Lyttlelton and Dr. Robertson have advanced on this Subject.
The Antients were incapable of pursuing foreign discoveries by Land or Sea. Their notion of the Figure of the Earth was not just, for most of them thought that it was a flat extensive plain. Their Knowlege of Astronomy was very much confined; and their Ignorance of the Properties of the Loadstone would prevent their undertaking any Voyage of Consequence. Supposing the Country which Madog discovered was not America, yet to say the Story is a late Invention, and forged after the discovery of that Continent by Columbus, with a View to set up a prior Claim to it, is plainly false; for, besides the testimony of Peter Martyr, respecting Names and Customs, we know that the Fact had been celebrated by Welsh Bards before Columbus first sailed to the West.[x]
[Footnote x: The Welsh Bards were also Historians. They were retained in great Families to record the actions of their Ancestors, and their own, in Odes and Songs. Their poems, therefore, may be considered, as History, sometimes, probably, in some degree, embellished. Out of Hatred to the Church of Rome, they seem, occasionly, to have written something in the name of Taliossyn, &c. But the Voyage of Prince Madog had nothing to do with Religion.]
Some Writers have said, that it was not to America our Welsh Prince sailed, and in proof say, that America was well known in the 9th and 10th Centuries. It is most certain that it was well known to its Inhabitants for thousands of Years. But that it was at all known to any European before the 12th Century, at soonest, is incredible. (See page 12th, &c) for there is not even the Shadow of Authority for it. We are also told that Greenland was the Country to which Madog sailed, which is by no means probable, nor, indeed, possible; because it contradicts every historical Evidence that we have. Had he sailed to Greenland, he must have left Ireland to the South, on his left Hand, whereas we are expressly told that he left it to the North, on his right Hand. Besides, it is said, by all Writers on the subject, that the Country which Madog discovered was fair, fruitful and pleasant, but Greenland is a miserable, poor Country; so excessively cold that all attempts to settle in it, have failed; for the persons left there have always perished. In comparison with Greenland, therefore, this Prince's Native Country, was a Paradise. Farther, I cannot learn that the Greenlanders in their Persons, Manners, and Customs bear any resemblance to the Ancient Britons; which some American Tribes plainly do. When we compare circumstances together, we shall be led, with Hakluyt, to conclude that Madog landed on some part of New England, Virginia, &c. and that in process of time the Colony extended itself Southward to Mexico, and other places; and that those Foreign Ancestors of the Mexican Chiefs, of whom the Spanish Writers often speak in their accounts of Cortez's Adventures, were Ancient Britons.
The probability that Madog sailed to, or was driven upon some part of the American Continent seems, evident, though perhaps, we have not facts sufficiently clear to demonstrate it.
In those ages, before the Invention of the Compass, of the art of Printing, and of Gun-powder, the Welsh had very few advantages to boast of above the Native Americans: thence we may conclude that Madog and his Colony landed amicably, and that they were received by the Natives with Cordiality.
That so extraordinary an Event should not excite either the English or the Welsh to attempt a Discovery of their hardy Countrymen, and their New Settlement, can only be accounted for by the Ignorance and poverty of the times. It is most natural to suppose that the English knew nothing of this Expedition from a Province which acknowleged not their Authority, and with which they were almost continually at War, and whose Inhabitants they would have been exceedingly glad to hear were all gone away: and the poverty of the Welsh, robbed of their Inheritance by the usurping Saxons, Normans, and Flemings, would effectually prevent their making any attempts.
In short, Mr. Jones's recital of his Travels confirms the Truth of Prince Madog's Emigration and settlement in some part of America; for it expressly says, that in the Year 1660, there were some whole Tribes in North America, who spoke Welsh, and therefore most have descended from the Ancent Britons.[y]
[Footnote y: I am obliged to a learned Welsh Divine for several of the above Observations.]
A Letter written by Charles Lloyd, Esq. of Dol y fran, in Montgomeryshire, already mentioned, published in 1777, by the Revd. N. Owen, junr. A. M. in a pamphlet entitled, "British Remains," strongly confirms Mr. Jones's Narrative, and of consequence, the Truth of Madog's Voyages. Mr. Lloyd says, in a Letter, that he had been inform- by a Friend, that one Stedman of Breconshire, about 30 Years before the Date of his Letter, was on the Coast of America in a Dutch Bottom, and being about to land for refreshment, the Natives kept them off by Force, till at last this Stedman told his fellow Dutch Seamen that he understood what the Natives spoke. The Dutch bade him speak to them, and they were thereupon very courteous; they supplied them with the best things they had, and told Stedman, that they came from a Country called Gwynedd, (North Wales) in Prydam, (prydain) fawr, Great Britain.[z] It is supposed by Mr. Lloyd that this place was situated between Virginia and Florida. It is farther said by this Gentleman, that one Oliver Humphreys, a Merchant, who died, not long before the Date of this Letter, told him, that when he lived at Surinam, he spoke with an English Privateer or Pirate, who being near Florida a careening his Vessel, had learnt, as he thought the Indian Language, which his Friend said was perfect Welsh. "My Brother, Mr. Lloyd adds, having heard this, (Mr. Jones's Adventures) and meeting with this Jones at New York, desired him to write it, with his own Hand, in his House; and to please me and my Cousin Thomas Price (of Llanvyllin) he sent me the Original. This Jones lived within 12 Miles of New-York, and was Contemporary with me and my Brother at Oxford. He was of Jesus College, and called then Senior Jones, by Way of distinction."
[Footnote z: This must be a mistake, for this Island was not called Great Britain, at soonest, till the Accession of James the first; Or, these Welsh People were the Descendants of a New Colony from Britain, since James's Accession. The latter is most probable, for the Stuart Family had been on the English Throne about 40 Years, when this Oliver Humphreys died.]
The Flight of Jones this Gentlemen supposes to have taken place about the time of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia, and that he was with the Indians about the Year 1669.[aa]
[Footnote aa: Mr. Jones's Narrative says 1660: this Gentleman, says, 1669; but Mr. Jones's is the best Authority, for his Narrative is dated March 10th 1685-6, some Years before the time that Mr. Lloyd supposes that he was among the Indians. The other Date is either, 1675, or 1673-4.
See the Gentleman's Magazine. Vol. 47. p. 449.]
The Date of Mr. Lloyd's Letter is Dolobran. 8m 14 D. 3/4.
There is also in Mr. Owen's British Remains an Extract from Dr. Robert Plott's Writings, in which the Doctor declares his Belief in Prince Madog's Emigration, and Mr. Jones's Narrative.
About the same time, Sir Thomas Herbert published his Travels, in which he mentions Prince Madog's Voyages. His Narrative, in some things not material to the question before us, differs from Llwyd and Powel. He adds that David the Son of Owen Gwynedd having slain his illegimate Brother Howel in Battle, was best approved of, and chosen Prince of North Wales; because by the comeliness of his Person, and Ingenuity, he had gained the affections of the Lady Emma Plantagenet, Sister to King Henry the Second.[bb] This Writer must have seen Llwyd's and Powel's Account, and adds, that Madog after his last Voyage, returned no more.[cc.]
[Footnote bb: Warrington's History of Wales, p. 312. Edit. 1788.]
[Footnote cc: Herbert's Travels, p. 394, &c. The Differences we find between the Writers who have mentioned prince Madog's Voyages, seem to imply that they derived their Information form different Sources.]
The Language and Customs of the Indians, will be noticed hereafter.
To these Evidences must be added what the Authors of the universal History, and Dr. Campbell, in his Naval History of Great Britain, have said.
"That the Welsh contributed towards the peopleing of America is intimated by some good Authors, and ought to be considered as a Notion supported by something more than bare Conjectures. Powel, in his History of Wales informs us that a War happening in that Country for the Succession, upon the death of Owen Gwyneth. A. D. 1170, and a Bastard having carried it from his lawful Sons, one of the latter, called, Madog, put to Sea for new Discoveries, and sailing West from Spain, he discovered a New World of wonderful Beauty and Fertility. But finding this uninhabited, upon his return, he carried thither a great Number of People from Wales. To this delightful Country he made three Voyages, according to Hakluyt. The Places he discovered seem to be Virginia, New England, and the adjacent Countries. In Confirmation of this, Peter Martyr says that the Natives of Virginia and Guatimala celebrated the Memory of one Madoc as a great and ancient Hero, and hence it came to pass that Modern Travellers have found several Old British Words among the Inhabitants of North America; Matec Zunga and Mat Inga as being in use among the Guatimallians, in which there is a plain allusion to Madoc, and that with the D softened into T, according to the Welsh manner of pronunciation. Nay, Bishop Nicolson seems to believe that the Welsh Language makes a considerable part of several of the American Tongues. According to a famous British Antiquary, the Spainards borrowed their double L. (LL) from the people of Mexico, who received it from the Welsh; and the Dutch brought a Bird with a white Head from the Streights of Magellan, called by the Natives, Penguin, which word in the Old British (and in Modern British) signifies 'White Head;' and therefore seems Originally to have come from Wales. This must be allowed an additional Argument, to omit others that occur in Favour of Madoc's three American Expeditions."[dd]
[Footnote dd: Universal History. Vol. XX. Dissertion upon the peopling of America, p. 193. Edit. 1748.]
It would hence seem that these Writers were inclined to believe the Tradition concerning Madog; for they say that it is a notion supported by something more than bare Conjectures.
They say also that they have omitted other Arguments in Favour of Madog's Expeditions.
In the British Tongue, the double L (LL) hath a peculiar sound, different from any in other Tongues. It hath been said that in the Spanish it has the same sound. But a Gentleman who understands the Spanish Language informed me that it is not like the Welsh double, LL, though it hath a peculiar sound. However, if the Spanish Tongue hath such a sound, or one near to it, it might have been derived from the Inhabitants of Mexico or Guatimala; for we have very strong reasons to believe that the Descendants of Madog's Colony, spread themselves over a great part of America. But more of this hereafter.
Dr. Campbell in his Naval History agrees with the above Writers, in his general Account, and concludes with these Observations.
"It must be confessed that there is nothing which absolutely fixes this Discovery of America, though it must likewise be owned that the Course before set down might very possibly carry him thither. The great point is to know how far the fact may be depended upon, and in relation to this, I will venture to assert that there are Authentic Records, in the British Tongue, as to this Expedition of Madog's, wherever he went, prior to the Discovery of America by Columbus, and that many probable Arguments may be offered in support of this Notion. That these Britons were the Discoverers of that new World is also true, though at present we have not an Opportunity to insist upon them." And in a Note Mr. Campbell adds, "Meredith ab Reece, a Cambrian Bard, who died in 1477, composed an Ode in his Native Language on this Expedition,[ee] from which the particulars above mentioned are taken, and this was prior to Columbus's Discovery; so that Fact would never have encouraged the framing of this Fable, even supposing it to be so."[ff]
[Footnote ee: This Ode was cited above, p. 13 &c. It was not written on Madog's Expedition, but contains an Allusion to it.]
[Footnote ff: Naval History. Vol. I. P.257. Edit. 2. Mr. Buache seems to believe Madog's Emigration. History and Memoires of the Royal Academy of Paris, for 1784. Monthly Review, Vol, 78. p. 616. Had there not been a Tradition concerning this Fact before the Days of Queen Elizabeth, this Discovery would hardly have been attributed to a people so little known as the Britons were at that Period. It would have been ascribed to some more renowned and powerful Nation.]
It is evident, from this Extract, that Dr. Campbell gave credit to this Tradition, and assigns as a Reason, an Ode written by Sir Meredyth ab Rhys, (containing an allusion to it) who died about 1477, during the Reign of Richard the 3d, some Years before Columbus first sailed Westward. Hence then it clearly appears that it was not a Story invented to dispute the discovery of America with the Spaniards; for when this Ode was written, Europeans had no Notion of a Western World. The Voyages of Madog were little known, but to the Native Welsh, nor did they know whither he went. That it was to America, was a discovery of after Ages. Had the Story been first mentioned in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, when at War with Philip the 2d. King of Spain, it might have appeared suspicious; but as it had been celebrated and alluded to in an Ode written 50 Years before she was born, there can, in my Opinion, be no room for suspicion. The Bard wrote an Ode of thanks to a Friend for a Favour, in which he alludes to a Fact, honourable to his Country men, but then of no advantage to them, for all Intercourse between the Countries had ceased for Hundreds of Years.
I now proceed to modern Travellers, who prove, that at present, there are Tribes In North America descended from the Ancient Britons.
Mr. Charles Beatty, a Missionary from New York, accompanied by a Mr. Duffield, visited some Inland parts, of North America in the Year 1766. If I rightly understand his Journal, he travelled about 400, or 500 Miles, to the South West of New York. During his Tour he met with several Persons who had been among the Indians from their Youth, or who had been taken Captives by them, and lived with them several Years. Among others one Benjamin Sutton, who had visited different Nations, and had lived many Years with them. His Account, in Mr. Beatty's Words, was as follows.
"He, (Benjamin Sutton) informed us, when he was with the Chactaw Nation, or Tribes of Indians at the Mississipi, he went to an Indian Town a very considerable Distance from New Orleans, whose Inhabitants were of different Complexions; not so tawny as those of the other Indians, and who spoke Welsh. He said he saw a Book among them, which he supposed was a Welsh Bible, which they carefully kept wrapped up in a Skin, but they could not read it; and that he heard some of these Indians afterwards in the lower Shawanaugh Town speak Welsh with one Lewis a Welsh-man, Captive there. This Welsh Tribe now live on the West-side of the Mississipi River, a great way above New Orleans.
"Levi Hicks—as being among the Indians from his Youth, told us he had been, when attending an Embassy in a Town of Indians, on the West-side of the Mississipi River, who talked Welsh, (as he was told, for he did not understand them) and our Interpreter Joseph saw some Indians whom he supposed to be of the same Tribe, who talked Welsh, for he told us some of the Words they said, which he knew to be Welsh, as he had been acquainted with some Welsh People.
"Correspondent hereto, I have been informed that many Years ago, a Clergyman went from Britain to Virginia, and having lived some time there, went from thence to South Carolina; but either because the Climate did not agree with him, or for some other reason, resolved to return to Virginia, and accordingly set out by Land, accompanied by some other persons; but travelling thro' the back parts of the Country which was very thinly inhabited, supposing, very probably, this was the nearest Way, he fell in with a party of Indian Warriors going to attack the Inhabitants of Virginia, against whom they had declared War.
"The Indians upon examining the Clergyman, and finding that he was going to Virginia, looked upon him, and his Companions as belonging to Virginia, and therefore took them all Prisoners, and let them know they must die. The Clergyman in preparation for another World went to prayer, and being a Welsh-man, prayed in the Welsh Language, possibly because this Language was most familiar to him, or to prevent the Indians understanding him. One or more of the party of the Indians, was much surprised to hear him pray in their Language. Upon this they spoke to him, and finding that he could understand their speech, they got the Sentance of Death reversed; and this happy Circumstance was the means of saving his Life.
"They took him back with them into their Country where he found a Tribe, whore Native Language was Welsh, though the Dialect was a little different from his own, which he soon came to understand. They shewed him a Book, which he found to be the Bible, but which they could not read; and if I mistake not, his ability to read it tended to raise their regard for him.[gg]
[Footnote gg: Mr. Jones in his Narrative does not mention a Book, but that he conversed familiarly with, and preached to these Indians in Welsh. It appears from hence that Mr. Beatty had not seen Mr. Jones's Narrative. It were to be wished that this Book, or a Copy of it, could be procured.]
"He stayed among them some time and endeavoured to instruct them in the Christian Religion. He at length proposed to go back to his own Country, and return to them with some other Teachers, who would be able to instruct them in their own Language; to which proposal they consenting, he accordingly set out from thence, and arrived in Britain, with full intention to return to them with some of his Country-men in order to teach these Indians Christianity. But I was acquainted that not long after his arrival he was taken sick, and died, which put an end to his schemes.[hh]
[Footnote hh: Mr. Jones says that he was taken Prisoner by the Indians in 1660, and continued with them 4 months. His Narrative is dated 1685-6, and he then lived at New York, or within 12 Miles of it. It is not at an likely therefore that he returned to Britain, and died here. See pages, 16, 17, and 26.]
"Sutton farther told us that among the Delaware Tribe of Indians, he observed their Women to follow exactly the Custom of the Jewish Women, in keeping separate from the rest Seven Days at certain Times as prescribed in the Mosaic Law; that from some Old Men among them he had heard the following Traditions: That of old Time their people were divided by a River, and one part tarrying behind;[ii] that they knew not for certainty, how they came first to this Continent, but account thus for their coming into there parts, near where they are now settled: That a King of their Nation, when they formerly lived far to the West, left his Kingdom to his two Sons; that the one Son making War upon the other, the latter thereupon determined to depart and seek some New Habitation; that accordingly he set out accompanied by a number of his people, and that after wandering too and fro for the space of 40 Years,[kk] they at length came to Delaware River, where they settled 370 Years ago. The Way, he says, they keep an account of this, is by putting on a Black Bead of Wampum every Year since, on a Belt they have for that purpose.
[Footnote ii: Does not this Tradition refer to the passages of the Israelites over Jordan into the Land of Canaan under the Conduct of Joshua?]
[Footnote kk: The unsettled State of North Wales, the Departure of Madog, and his Travels before he finally Settled, seem implied in the above Account, or it may be a confused Tradition of the Travels of the Israelites in the Wilderness.]
"He farther added that the King of that Country from whence they came, some Years ago, when the French were in possession of Fort Duquesne, sent out some of his People, in order if possible, to find out that part of their Nation that departed to seek a new Country, and that these Men after seeking six Years, came at length to the Pickt Town on the Oubache River, and there happened to meet with a Delaware Indian, named Jack, after the English, whose Language they could understand; and that by him they were conducted to the Delaware Towns where they tarried one year, and returned; that the French sent a White Man with them properly furnished to bring back an Account of their Conntry who, the Indians said, could not return in less than 14 Years, for they lived a great Way towards the Sun setting. It is now, Sutton says, about 10 or 12 Years since they went away. He added that the Delawares observe the Feast of first Fruits, or the green Corn Feast. So far Sutton."[ll]
[Footnote ll: Journal of a Two Month's Tour, &c. by Charles Beatty. A. M. dedicated to the Earl of Dartmouth. London. 1768. p. 24, &c. Note.]
Before I make any Remarks on the above long Extract I will produce another Evidence of late Date, to confirm the Truth of Mr. Jones's Narrative. It is an Accouut given by Captain Isaac Stewart, taken from his own Mouth, in March 1782, and inserted in the Public Advertizer, 0ct. 8th, 1785.
"I was taken Prisoner about 50 Miles to the West-ward of Fort Pitt, about 18 Years ago by the Indians, and was carried by them to the Wabash with many more White Men who were executed with Circumstances of horrid Barbarity. It was my good Fortune to call forth the Sympathy of what is called the good Woman of the Town, who was permitted to redeem me from the Flames, by giving, as my Ransom, a Horse.
"After remaining two Years in Bondage among the Indians, a Spaniard came to the Nation, having been sent from Mexico on Discoveries. He made Application to the Chiefs for redeeming me and another White Men, who was in a like Situation, named John Davey (David) which they complied with. And we took our Departure in Company with the Spaniard to the Westward, crossing the Mississipi near Rouge or Red River, up which we travelled 700 Miles, when we came to a Nation of Indians remarkably White, and whose Hair was of a reddish Colour, at least, mostly so. They lived on the Banks of a Small River which is called the River Post. In the Morning of the Day after our Arrival, the Welsh Man informed me that he was determined remain with them, giving us a Reason, that he understood their Language, it being very little different from the Welsh. My Curiosity was excited very much by this Information, and I went with my Companion to the Chief Men of the Town, who informed him in a Language that I had no knowledge of, and which had no affinity to that of other Indian Tongues that I ever heard, that their Fore Fathers of this Nation came from a Foreign Country, and landed on the East Side of the Mississipi, describing particularly the Country now called Florida, and that on the Spaniards taking possession of Mexico, they fled to their then Abode. And as a proof of the Truth of what he advanced, he brought forth Rolls of Parchment, which were carefully tied up in Otter's Skins, on which were large Characters written with blue Ink. The Characters I did not understand, and the Welsh Man being unacquainted with Letters, even, of his own Language, I was not able to know the meaning of the writing. They are a bold, hardy, and intrepid people, very Warlike, and the Women beautiful when compared with other Indians."
Captain Stewart and Mr. Beatty's account are nearly of the same Date, though related by the Captain in March 1782.
The Riches of the Country I take no Notice of, as they do not concern my Subject, which is only the Manners, Customs, Traditions, and Language of the Inhabitants.
The Information given us by the Captain and Mr. Beatty, seems to confirm, I may almost say, establish, the Truth of Llwyd's and Powel's History, and of Mr. Jones's Narrative. The latter says that in the Year 1660, some Indian Tribes spoke Welsh; and his Testimony appears to me unquestionable because he understood it. Messrs. Stewart and Beatty say that it was the Language of some Indian Tribes about the Years 1766 and 1768.
This is said by Mr. Beatty on the Testimony of Four different Persons, Benjamin Sutton, Levi Hicks, Jack (who was himself a Delaware Indian) and Joseph the Interpreter, who each of them had lived a long time in the Country, and were acquainted with the Traditions that prevailed among the Inhabitants. These Persons declared that they know Tribes of Indians who used the ancient British Tongue.
There is not the least reason to call their Veracity in question, or even to charge Them with Credulity, for they could have no Interest in propagating such a report among Persons who were not Welsh, if it were not true. Captain Stewart seems to have visited parts of the Country to the West, and South West, far beyond the Extent of Mt. Beatty's Tour.
From these accounts, accurately compared together, it would seem that the Welsh Tribes are now divided into three Tribes, separate from one another. The Tuscoraras, on the South side of Lake Erie, between the Ohio and Mississipi Rivers, behind Pensylvania. The Delawares, whom I take to be the same with the Doegs, lower down on the Ohio, and Delaware Rivers; and the other Tribe to the West of the Mississipi, from whose Country, we are told the Rivers flow to the South Sea or Pacific Ocean. The Account which the above named Persons gave to Mr. Beatty is the more credible, as it is not at all probable, I may say, possible, that either of these had ever heard of Llwyd and Powel's History; and very little if any thing of Mr. Jones's Narrative. Of Mr. Jones, however, there seems to have been some Tradition in the Country, perhaps, among the Indians; for he must have been the Clergyman alluded to by Mr. Beatty.
A Tradition supported by such corroborating Circumstances must have had some foundation of Truth, and as the Language was evidently Welsh, it appears to me, beyond all reasonable Doubt, that these Tribes are descended from Prince Madog's Colony. That the Language was Welsh cannot be denied; for one Lewis a Welsh-man conversed with Indians in their own Language. It is observable also that they had a Book among them upon which they set a great Value, though they could not read it. This Book, I conclude was a Welsh Bible, which Mr. Jones could read and understand. The Book which Captain Stewart saw seems also to have been a Welsh Bible, for it was found in the Hands of a people who spoke Welsh; and we are told by Mr. Beatty that Mr. Jones's being able to read this Book, much recommended him to the Indians. The Captain says that the "Welsh-man was not acquainted with Letters, even, those of his own Language." This seems rather surprizing to me; for whatever may have been the original alphabetical Characters of the Ancient Britons, they used the Greek Characters in the Days of Julius Caesar.[mm] which I presume, the Captain could read; and it is almost certain, that the Britons used the Roman Characters in the twelfth Century when Madog emigrated.
[Footnote mm: Graecis Literis utuntur. Com. Lib. VI. As the Gauls and the Britons at this period, were Friends and Allies, and of the same Origin, without doubt, they made use of the same alphabetical Characters.
Drych y prif Oesoedd. p. 25 and 35.]
I have no authority positively to assert it, but it is possible that the Scriptures, translated into Welsh, might be written in Creek Characters, for the Welsh-man could not read them. Those Characters might be thought Sacred, because in these Characters, the Gospel was first written. Had they been Roman, as they had been long in use, the Welsh-man, if he knew any Letters at all, could not be ignorant of them. Some parts of North Wales, till of late Years, were far behind other parts, in every kind of Knowledge; but as Charity-Schools were opened in South Wales, above fifty Years ago, and in North Wales, above thirty, the Country is very much improved in this respect.[nn] Or, perhaps, the Book was written in the Ancient Greek Characters, of the same Form with those of the Alexandrian Manuscript in the British Museum. In that Case it is not at all surprizing that neither the Captain, nor the Welsh-man could read them.
[Footnote nn: A Welsh Gentleman observed to me that there may be found whole Parishes, in the principality, where there are more Persons who cannot read, than those who can; and as he very justly added, there is hardly any one in the whole Number, who can read a Manuscript of the twelfth Century.]
Though the Art of Printing was not discovered in the Days of Madog, yet there can be no doubt, but that the Britons had Copies of the Scriptures in their own Language many Centuries before that period; for it is almost certain that they were converted to Christianity about the Year 177. Madog was of a Princely Family: it may therefore be reasonably thought that he and his Companions had one or more Copies among them.
The Jewish Customs mentioned by Mr. Beatty seem to establish the opinion, that some of the Original Inhabitants of the New Continent, were Jews, Carthaginians, or Phoenicians, among who those Customs prevailed.
By the Way, we are told by Travellers, that some of these Customs now prevail among the Tartars. As we have no Satisfactory, or even a plausible, Account of the Ten Tribes carried Captives to the East by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, we may be disposed to think that the Tartars are descended from them. All the Discoveries of our late Navigators shew that the North Continent of America is at no great distance from the Northern, North Eastern, and North Western parts of Asia and Europe. It is therefore possible that the Tartars, at different Periods, might have been driven on that Coast, and people the Country. Some Tartars hunting upon the Ice, on a sudden Thaw, might be carried on the Ice to America, from whence they could not return.[oo]
[Footnote oo: See Hornius, ubi supra, pages, 183, 186, 205, 215. Forster's History of the Voyages and Discoveries made in the North. Clavigero's History of Mexico and Brerewood on the Languages and the Religion of the World.
In the Hebrew we have exploravit, "he search'd," and a Substantive, exploratores, "Searchers." Hence some would derive the word Tartar, "Tartar," after the Hebrew manner. They also think that the British word "Tor or Torriad," "a breaking or cutting off," has the same Origin. Those who travel, may be said to "search." When they travel in foreign, unknown Countries, they may be said to be "cut off" from their Friends, as the Ten Tribes were from their native Land by Nebuchadnezzar.
But it is not at all probable that the Tartars derived their Name from this Hebrew word; for, omitting other reasons, the original Name of that People is Tatar.]
As the Captivity happened near 600 Years before Christ, we may reasonably believe that in the Course of about 2000 Years, the Americans descended from Tartars might become as numerous as they are said to have been, when the Europeans landed on their Coast. This will fully Account for Jewish Customs and Manners in some parts of America.
I now proceed to consider the Objections raised by two very respectable Authors to Prince Madog's Voyages to America; Lord Lyttelton, and Dr. William Robertson.
I have already observed, that the Account we have of this Event in Caradoc's History, was not written by him, but by Humphry Llwyd and Dr. Powel; but I conceive that Lord Lyttelton was not right in calling there additions to Caradoc's work "Interpolations."
Besides the Unpoliteness, indeed, the Impropriety of the Word, this is to charge the above Writers with wilful and direct Forgeries. Llwyd and Powel were Gentlemen of fair and unblemished Characters, and good Scholars. Mr. Llwyd's Writings shew him to have been a Man of Learning and Judgment; and Dr. Powel was the same; and was well acquainted with all the Transactions in his Native Principality, and published several things on that Subject, besides this Work; such as Ponticus Virunnius, and Giraldus's History.
Dr. Powel says that he had compared Llwyd's Translation with the British Book, of which he had at first two Copies, (meaning, as I understand him, of Guttun Owen's Book) and that he had received a third and a larger Copy of it from Robert Glover, Somerset Herald. This Circumstance shews that he was a diligent and careful Enquirer; and that Llwyd's Translations and Additions were just, true, and correct. A Gentleman in the Herald's Office must have known what degree of Credit was to be given to a Writing on a Subject with which a Person in his Office must have been conversant; otherwise, it is not probable that he would have been at the trouble of correcting it, nor would he have sent it to a Friend as a Voucher of a Fact. Where he found his Copy to differ from others of Authority and Consistency, he corrected his Copy by them; for a Person in his Situation must have had free access to all the Repositories of Antiquity in his own Office, and to others.[pp] Dr. Powel also corrected his Copy; whence it appears evident that Guttun Owen's Compilations were extant in Dr. Powel's Days.
[Footnote pp: Were the Herald's Office carefully searched, there possibly might be found some papers on this Subject.]
His Lordship supposes that the Doctor dressed up some Tradition concerning Madog which he found in Guttun Owen and others, in order to convey an Idea that his Country-man had the Honour of first discovering America.—It hath already been observed (page 8th) that this part of History from 1157, to 1270, was not written by Dr. Powel, but by Humphry Llwyd. Had these additions been Inventions, Humphry Llwyd and Dr. Powel must have been very bad and weak Men; for as Guttun Owen's Works were extant in their Time, the Forgeries must have been immediately detected. I really believe that his Lordship is the first Writer that has charged Dr. Powel with wilful and designed misrepresentations.
Those writings of Guttun Owen's, which his Lordship allows were extant in the Days of Dr. Powel, were certainly known before Columbus's first Voyage; for the Doctor expressly says that he found the particulars concerning Madog's emigration noted by Guttun Owen, who wrote, in 1480: consequently this Bard's Writings were known to Dr. Powel.
Lord Lyttelton grants that Prince Madog was a bolder Navigator than any of his Countrymen, in the age he lived, and that he was "famous for some Voyage; but as the Course was not mark'd, it is of no Importance to the matter in question."
With Submission to his Lordship, I think that the Course is clearly marked, and so thought Hornius, as appears from what he says in the Extract above cited: for it is said that Madog sailed west-ward, and left the Coast of Ireland to the North, and that he fell in with Land in that Direction. And it is certain that no Land is found in that Direction, but America.
His Lordship also says "that if Madog did really discover any part of America, or any Islands lying to the South-west of Ireland, in the Atlantic Ocean, without the help of the Compass, at a time when Navigation was ill understood, and with Mariners less expert than any other in Europe, he performed an atchievement incomparably more extraordinary than that of Columbus."
I agree with his Lordship, that is was an extraordinary atchievement, superior to that of Columbus, who had many advantages which the other had not: but as I have already observed, it does not appear that Prince Madog's first Voyage was the result of Sagacity and Judgment, but of meer Necessity and Prudence. Most probably, chance threw him on the American Coast.[qq]
[Footnote qq: In the Space of about 300 Years, a report of Prince Madog's successful Western Navigations might obtain through Europe; and the penetrating and enterprizing Genius of Columbus might excite him to pursue the same Course, in Hopes of finding a nearer Way to China and other Countries.]
In this paragraph his Lordship, happens, unfortunately, to be mistaken. The Naval force of the Britons seems to have been very considerable in the Days of Julius Caesar.
The Reason for which he invaded this Island was, as he says, because the Britons assisted the Gauls by Land and Sea. Their Naval Power must have been very considerable, when Vincula dare Oceano, and Britannos subjugare, were convertible Terms.[rr] Had not the British Naval Power been then formidable, this would not have been said.
[Footnote rr: Caesar says that the Britons assisted the Gauls with Ships. Hence we may infer that their Ships were of the same Construction with those of the Gauls, which Caesar says were built of Oak so strong that they were impenetrable to the Beaks of the Roman Ships, and so high that they could not be annoyed by the Darts of the Roman Soldiers. To the 9th Century, Alfred the great had a very formidable fleet.]
Their Maritme Force, it is true, was much weakened by Caesar; yet in no long Time it seems to have been considerably restored, as appears from the Conduct of later Emperors. Had their Navy, as hath been asserted by some Writers, consisted only of small Fishing Boats, now, in the Principality called, Coracles, they could not have afforded such assistance to the Gauls, as to bring upon them the Roman power. As to unskilfulness, it doth not appear from History, that this, with truth, could be said of them.
I know not upon what Authority, it is said by his Lordship that the Britons were less expert Mariners than any other in Europe; for they seem to have had Connections in the way of Commerce, with very distant Nations, before Julius Caesar; indeed, a very considerable and extensive Trade with the Phoenicians, and others.
For these Reasons, I am inclined to believe that the Naval power of the Britons was considerable before the coming of the Romans. As to succeeding Times, when the Britons were driven into Wales, a Country with an extensive Sea Coast, they had little to subsist upon, but a scanty Agriculture, and rich Fisheries; so that very great Numbers of them were compelled by necessity to pursue a Seafaring Life.
The strongest objection to the Truth of this Event, which is urged by his Lordship and by others, is the great Improbability that such a Voyage could be performed without the assistance of the Mariner's Compass, not then discovered. This Discovery was made about the Year, 1300; others say, by Behain above mentioned, above 100 Years later. In answer to this Objection, it may be observed that previously to Madog's Voyage we read of several others, which appear to me full as improbable. It is generally understood that the Phoenicians, Grecians, &c. were acquainted with, and sailed to Britain, and other Countries, for Tin and Lead, and unto the Baltic Sea for Amber; Voyages which seen as difficult as that of Madog's, and a longer Navigation. It was hardly possible for the Britons, not to learn how to navigate Ships, when they saw how it was done by others.
The return of our Prince to North Wales, and back again to his Colony, is the most difficult to be accounted for, in the whole Story: However, I apprehend, that this is not altogether impossible.
Let it be observed that the space of Time in which there Voyages of Madag's were performed is no where mentioned. They might have taken up twenty Years or more. Madog, on his return to Wales, might have sailed Northward by the American Coast, till he came to a situation where the light of the Sun at Noon was the same, at that Season, as it was in his Native Country, and then sailing Eastward (the Polar Star, long before observed would prevent his sailing on a wrong point) he might safely return to Britain. The experience he derived from his first Voyage would enable him to join his Companions whom he had left behind.
That there are strong Currents in the Atlantic Ocean, is well known. On his return to North Wales, Madog might fall into that Current, which it is said, runs from the West Indian Islands Northward to Cape Sable in Nova Scotia, where interrupted by the Land, it runs Eastward towards Britain.
There is a Tradition that a Captain of a Ship dined at Boston, in New England, on a Sunday, and on the following Sunday, dined at his own House, in Penzance, Cornwall. This is by no means impossible; for with favourable Winds and strong Currents, a Ship may run above 14 miles in an Hour.
The late celebrated Dr. Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia, in a letter to a Friend well known in the literary World, which I heard read, said that he was fully convinced that there was such a Current from West to East, and that he did not think that the Captain's remarkable Expedition impossible, nor even, altogether, improbable.
It seems to me not a little strange that Lord Lyttelton should say, "that no certain Monument, Vestige or Memorial of Madog's Voyage was ever found." It is hardly possible that his Lordship would say it, if he saw Hornius, and some other authorities, above produced, especially Peter Martyr for we have above seen that many such Memorials were, and are now to be found in America.
His Lordship, indeed, seems to have entertained a most contemptible opinion of the Ancient and the Modern Britons, as appears in his Letter from Snowdon.
These Remarks, I presume, if they do not remove, yet very considerably weaken, Lord Lyttelton's Objections.[ss]
[Footnote ss: Lord Lyttelton's, History of Henry the 2d. Book V. Note 339. 8th Edit. 1773.]
I shall now confider Dr. Robertson's Observations on this Subject.[tt]
[Footnote tt: History of America. Vol. I. p. 373. Edit. 1788.]
What he hath, in general, advanced, is much the same with what had been said by Lord Lyttelton and others; and therefore, what I have already said, will serve as a general Answer: but I must examine some particulars.
He first says, "that the Pretensions of the Welsh to the Discovery of America, seem not to rest on a foundation much more solid, (than the Discovery of it by Behaim) because that Powel, on whose Testimony the authenticity of the Story rests, published his History above four Centuries from the Date of the Event which he relates." It is granted that Humphry Llwyd, and Dr. Powel, lived some Centuries after Madog's Emigration; but Dr. Robertson must also grant that there are several Events, mentioned in History, now commonly believed, even by the learned, which have no memorials for as long a Period. Where shall we find any Evidence for the Originality of Ossian and Fingal, from the Time in which they are said to have been written, till their publication, a few Years ago by Mr. Macpherson? Whether these Poems are of Scots or Irish Origin I know not; but they were not known to the World till very lately. If Dr. Robertson says that they always were, and now are known in the Highlands of Scotland; I say in Answer, so was the Expedition of Madog in the High Lands of Wales, as appears from the Poems of Sir Meredyth ab Rhy's, and of other Bards. This, by the Way, is an Evidence in which the Poems of Ossian and Fingal are deficient. The silence of History for about 1400 Years is much more unfriendly to the Authenticity of these Poems, than that of about 400 to the Truth of Madog's Voyages. Ossian and Fingal are supposed to have flourished about the End of the 3d Century. The Bards drew their Information, chiefly, from the Collections preserved in the Abbies of Conway and Strata Florida, and from the current Traditions of the Country. We have no regular History of the period in which this Prince emigrated, but this History of Caradoc, and of Llwyd's, and Dr. Powel's additions. I think that Dr. Robertson cannot produce better Authority for any Facts, equal in Antiquity; I am sure none, for Ossian and Fingal.
The Manner in which Dr. Robertson mentions the Verses published, by Hakluyt and others, is rather observable. "Later Antiquarians, indeed, appealed to the Testimony of Meredith ab Rhees, a Welsh Bard, who died in 1477; but he cannot be considered of much more credit than Powel." This passage implies a severe Reflection on Dr. Powel. His Evidence is of no weight; it is not worthy of belief; and, indeed, Sir Meredith ab Rhys, is no better. However I must beg leave to differ very much, indeed, from the Doctor on this Head, though I much admire him as a Writer and Historian; because I think their Evidence is not only equal, but much superior to his, concerning an Event which took place between two and three hundred Years nearer to their Times than to his.
I should be very sorry to suspect that Dr. Robertson took notice of Sir Meredyth ab Rhys, only because he could not well avoid it. However, as if he wanted to destroy his Authority, he speaks of him with great Indifference, with a formal, indeed.
He adds, "But if we admit Powel's Story; (Humphry Llwyd's) it does not follow that the unknown Country which Madog discovered was any part of America: it is much more probable that it was Madeira, or some of the Western Isles." With submission, this is altogether improbable. It is very little farther from North Wales to some parts of America, than to the Madeiras; and, upon the whole, it is more secure to sail in an open Sea, than among Shelves and Shoals on an unknown Coast.
But not to insist upon this Circumstance; if the Country Madog discovered was Madeira, or any of the Western Islands, he must have found them uninhabited, and entirely uncultivated, covered with Wood, and without any Traces of Human Beings; for as the Doctor himself says, this was the state of the Madeiras when discovered by the Portuguese in 1519. The other Western Isles were not, even, settled, for some Centuries after Madog's Voyages.[uu]
[Footnote uu: Dr. Robertson. ubi supra. Vol. I. p. 64. If the Country on which Madog landed was uninhabited, how could he have found the Customs and Manners of the People different from those of Europe? Where there were no Inhabitants, there could be no Customs.]
What the Doctor hath said, after Lord Lyttelton, concerning the Literature and Naval skill of the ancient Britons, hath been already animadverted upon. To add more on those particulars, is unnecessary.
If we could find no Word, among the Americans, similar to the ancient British, in sound and sense, but Pengwyn, I should no more depend upon that circumstance than Mr. Pennant doth; but that is not the case: for many such words were found among the Natives of the New World, and in the West Indian Islands, which are neither obscure nor fanciful; for they had not only a strong resemblance in found, but convey the same Idea precisely, in both Languages.
As to traces of Christianity, Hornius hath enumerated many that were found there by the Spaniards; such as the Cross, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, 35 days Fast, and the Trinity.v
[Footnote vv: Hornius. ubi supra. p. 128, 178, Peter Martyr. Decade 3d. ch. 5. p. 58. C. and de Insulis nuper inventis. p. 71. C.]
It is true, that these Customs may have been introduced by other Nations; by the Chinese, Japanese, &c. as Hornius hath observed: but this does not concern my subject, which is only to examine which of the European Nations first visited America. As no Nation in Europe, but the ancient Britons, hath ever pretended, or does pretend to have discovered America before, the Spaniards in 1492, I am inclined to believe that some of these Christian ordinances and superstitions were introduced by the Britons.
The space of time between the landing of Prince Madog, and Columbus, above 300 Years, was sufficiently long to disseminate such Notions and practices through a very great part of America.
In short, the account given by Llwyd and Powel hath all the marks of strict Truth. If it be an Invention without any Foundation, it is a very singular one, the like to which is hardly to be met with. All imaginary Heroes and Conquerors, are adorned with every Virtue; whereas Madog is represented as possessed of no Virtue, but prudence and Courage.
Having thus made some Animadversions on Lord Lyttelton's, and Dr. Robertson's Objections to Prince Madog's Adventures, and endeavoured to shew, that they do not absolutely overthrow the Truth of the Fact, I only observe farther here, that these eminent Writers have entirely omitted to take Notice of Mr. Jones's Narrative, and Mr. Lloyd's Letter, which they had, or ought to have seen, before they wrote upon the Subject.
That the Welsh Tribes above mentioned are not better known to the Europeans at this Time, is owing to what I have already observed. They dwell far to the West of the English provinces. They may have been driven thither by more powerful Tribes of Indians, or by Europeans, and may now be reduced to an inconsiderable number, comparatively, by intestine quarrels or foreign Enemies. However, they seem to have been numerous when Mr. Jones was among them, and about 20 or 25 Years ago, when Messrs. Beatty and Stewart were among them.
If Missionaries from different Nations, with cultivated understandings, and enlarged Minds, acquainted in some measure, at least, with the Languages of Europe, Asia, and Africa, were sent to the Western Inland parts of North America, they might be able, to a very considerable degree of probability, if not of certainty, from their Language, Customs, and Manners, to trace the Origin of many Tribes on that vast Continent.[ww]
[Footnote ww: A Society of public spirited Gentlemen have lately employed persons to explore the interior parts of Africa. It were to be wished, that they, or others would extend their plan, and carry on the like design, in the interior parts of America.]
No Credit can be given to those who are called Traders in the Country; for as their chief pursuits are profit, they can make but few discoveries. The Origin and Manners of Nations are not the objects which they have in View. Instead of conciliating the friendship and affections of these unhappy, uncivilized and savage people, they very often shamefully over-reach them, and impose upon them in Business; and when they are detected and chastised for their fraudulent Practices, they bitterly complain of ill treatment, though it often is much better than they deserve.
My design, in the above Extracts and Observations, I presume, hath been answered, which was to shew that the Spaniards have not an unquestionable right to the Continent of America, as the first Discoverers among the Europeans; for it appears from well attested and numerous Relations, Facts and Circumstances, that the Ancient Britons landed on the American Shores about 300 Years before either, Behaim, Columbus or Americus Vespucius.
But after all, what is it that gives a people right to a Country?
This question is very easily answered. If Voyagers, by chance, fall in with a Continent, or Island, uninhabited and uncultivated, they have a right of possession by the Law of Nature, and or reason; because no human Being is injured or deprived of his right. But if they find any Inhabitants there, they can have no right. The Man who robs us on the High Way, or who breaks open, and plunders our Houses, hath as good a right to what he takes from us, as Conquerors to a Country, which they may be able to subdue by Force of Arms. The right obtained by Conquest if admitted, will justify every Kind and every degree of oppression, even the slavery of our poor African Brethren. This principle will justify a Nation in wresting whole Countries out of the Hands of a cultivated, well ordered and peaceable people. In short, this Principle will justify the greatest Inhumanity, Cruelty, and Barbarity.