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subjects, plays were performed, having plots based on the incidents of history and social life. In this direction the genius of Shakspeare and of his contemporaries, Jonson, Massinger, Marlow, and Ford, gave an enduring interest and attraction.

Popular sports continued coarse, but invigorative. The higher ranks amused themselves with hunting, hawking, and archery; the lower, with pitching the bar, racket, quoits, and leaping. Baiting of animals and the making of deafening noises with bells, trumpets, and drums, were the delight of all classes, from the maiden queen to the meanest of her lieges. Upon the whole, it seems to have been a joyous age, but rough and reckless, indicated both by its pastimes, and the character and number of its criminal offences. The taste for good cheer was especially rife, and was no doubt stimulated by the novelty and variety of the viands with which commerce and freer intercourse among nations had familiarised the people.

CHAPTER VI.

RELIGIOUS PROGRESS TO THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION.

Aboriginal Superstitions of the Island. Antiquity and wide Diffusion

of Druidism. Introduction of Christianity; rapidly diffused on the Ruins of Paganism. Apostolic Age. Early Divisions of the Church.- Supremacy of the Roman Pontiff. Influence of Spiritual Centralisation. Corruptions of the Papacy. Kings the first Protestants ; their rising against Papal Claims. Decline of the Papacy. Sale of Indulgences under Leo X. — German Reformation. Beginning of the Reformation in England. - Severance from the Roman See. Dissolution of the Religious Houses. Coverdale's Bible. Entent of the Reforms under Henry VIII. - Benefits and Drawbacks of the Reformation.

At a

The religious changes of the island present a series of remarkable vicissitudes. Druidism is buried in the night of time and almost too obscure for retrospection, but we may catch some glimpses of this mysterious worship singularly illustratire of the history of mankind. remote period it seems to have been widely diffused in Europe, and to have been the pervading superstition of its first inhabitants. Of its derivation from the East there appears strong probability. The more searching and minute the inquiries which have been made, the closer the analogies appear between the institutions of the Druids and those of the oldest states of antiquity. Strong affinities have been traced between the Etruscan, or aboriginal dialect of Italy, and the Celtic, Persian, Sanscrit, and other ancient languages. Mankind clearly appear to have had a common origin, to have spread over the earth from one source, carrying along with them more or less of one primitive faith, arts, and civilisation. Remains of pyramidal and palatial structures, of towers and mounds, are discernible almost everywhere in the New and the Old World. The most enduring traces of every people are their tombs; and the temples and sepulchral monuments of the remotest date and in every country are found to possess, and to have been apparently formed and derived from, a common type, — to have a kindred resemblance. What are the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, or the towers of Hindostan, the barrows and tumuli of Siberia and our own island, or the gigantic ruins explored in Central America, but heaps of earth or stone intended for religious rites, or in honour or for the preservation of the dead? They differ in some respects, as, for instance, the towers of Celtic-Gaul are square ; but this divari. cation does not seriously impugn the likelihood of a common origin and uniformity of design. In general structure and probable purpose there are striking conformities, indicative of the same end and paternity of origin. The magi' of the Persians, the gymnosophists of the Hindoos, Chaldæans, and Assyrians, and the priests of Mexico, were the Druids of their respective nations. The Irish claim to rank among the oldest of the European communities; their history exhibits a cadency into barbarism from a remote and superior civilisation; their aboriginal lineage is most free from admixture with the Gothic races; and it is a fact that the term “Druid,” which is only the old name for priest or philosopher,-once united in their functions,- is still used to designate the sacerdotal order in the Celtic translation of the Bible of Ireland.

The traces of Druidism are almost everywhere visible. It was the primitive, and apparently the first catholic

ship of mankind; and vestiges of its remote but indestructible elements may still be remarked in that

ANTIQUITY AND DIFFUSION OF DRUIDISM.

97

venerable household accompaniment, the almanack. The names of the days of the week, our Sunday and Monday, are derived from the Druidical idolatry of the sun and moon. Our poetical mythology, our fairies, Pucks, satyrs, and other fanciful creations, are the personification of the ancient British adoration of woods, mountains, and rivers. Nor are our popular sports and anniversary usages without corresponding analogies. The ceremonies of AllHallowmas, the bonfires of May-day and Midsummer-eve, reverence for the mistletoe, and other customs of the rural part of the kingdom,mall testify to the days of Druidism, and are remnants of its grim ritual, surviving in the popular traditions. They also evidence its eastern origin; for it is well known that fire, the mistletoe, and the oak formed objects of great adoration in the East.

Such, in general, were the opinions of the late Reuben Burrow, a remarkable Yorkshireman of the last century, little known, but of extraordinary acquirements in almost every branch of knowledge. Long resident in India, he had opportunities for investigating the question on the spot; and the results of his inquiries may be found in the early volumes of the “ Asiatic Researches.” According to him the Druids were Indian philosophers, who had emigrated

the West. Our famous monument of Stonehenge he held to be one of the temples of Budha. Some of the Welsh antiquaries have arrived at a similar . conclusion, and trace their British ancestors to the island of Ceylon, the great seat of Buddhism. The dress of the Druid was oriental, white, open and flowing, and io which the disguise used by the Rebeccaites in the carnisado insurgency of the principality a few years since seems to have borne a resemblance.

Analogies derived from similarity of religious dogmas and ethical precepts afford the strongest proof of inter

H

mingling superstitions. Of all the elements constituting a people, these are the least extinguishable ; and, tried by this test, strong proofs are afforded of the oriental descent of the Druids. Their leading maxims embody much of the existing faith and practice of the Hindoos and Chinese, which are known to have subsisted unchanged for upwards of twenty centuries. Rapin has given several of the traditionary maxims of the Druids, but it does not appear upon what authority. From the tenor of their ethical precepts, and various correspondences in polity, popular usages, and monunients, strong evidence appears of the oriental origin of the Druids. But the question then occurs-- how did they come? How did the sages of India or Persia find their way to the British isles, and into France, Spain, and Portugal ? These are historical chasms that cannot be filled up. We might as well ask how the crocodile, hyæna, or rhinoceros came to be denizens of Europe. We cannot tell, but we know it happened, because we find their remains as well as those of the altars of the Druids.

There is a power of diffusion in nature wholly inscrutable, but not on that account non-existent. The spread of plants and seeds is wonderful, but it happens. So is that of birds and beasts, and creeping things of all kinds. People often express surprise how mice, crickets, beetles, and other vermin find their way into newly-built houses. The common house-fly, the swallow, and other winged visitors whence come they? whither depart? They are not easily traced, but their changes and migrations are facts cognisant to observation; and we can only say, with Hamlet, that Nature has mysteries unknown to our philosophy. The settlement of the Eastern magi in Europe seems not an impossible occurrence. The continents of Asia, Africa, Europe, and probably America, were once conterminous,

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