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FOR MAY, 1812.
Art. I. An historical Account of the ancient Culdees of lona, and of their
Settlements in Scotland, England, and Ireland. By John Jamieson, D.D.
Longman and Co. 1811.
in which Britain was ever, till lately, remarkable for exertions in diffusing Christianity among the heathen.
We should have supposed it to be, by this time, a generally acknowledged fact, if Dr. Jamieson had not evidently been uninforined of it, that Christianity was, introduced into Britain by the family of the celebrated Caractaçus, on their return from Rome, where they had been detained seven years, at the cri, sis when a Christian church was first formed in the imperial city. A striking concurrence of Eastern and British traditions renders it very probable, that the apostle Simon Zelotes; and Aristobulus, a Roman evangelist, were the chief instruments of converting the original Britons. The gospel, thus planted in its purity and simplicity, appears to have spread throughout their population, and to bave taken root so early, and so firmly, as to resist the influence of superstitions which rapidly multiplied in the luxurious soil of Rome. To the northern inhabitants of our island access was more difficult. The British and the Pictish confederacies were mutually hostile before either was assailed by foreign invaders, and the submission of the Britons to the Romans, whom the Picts successfully resisted, tended only to confirm and increase their reciprocal enmity. As the Roman power in Britain became contracted, that of the Picts was proportionably enlarged. Rushing from the Grampian hills, they seized the lowlands, which, though the Britons had previously occupied them, were desolated by war; and, advancing southward of the Firths, reduced the northern British territory to the narrow limits of Strath-clyde; the communication of which with Cumberland was interpepted by an Vol. VIII.
addition of the district called Galloway to the Pictish domis nions.
The Picts, nearly from their first notice in history, were distinguished into two independent states, or nations, each of which was subdivided into various tribes. The Romans at first gave to all of them indiscriminately the appellation of Caledonians ; afterwards they restricted it to a single tribe; and, finally, again extended it to one of the two grand divisions of the Picts. The propriety of the latter application is confirmed by the most ancient British records. Tacitus distinguished them to be of German original, as indeed their name implied : for the British term Calyddon, whence the Romans called them Caledones, and Calydonii, indicates them to have been Celts, or (which, in most ancient authors, is synonymous) Germans. They appear, therefore, to have been the progenitors of the modern lowlanders in North Bri. tain, who at present moçe resemble the Germans than any other people of Europe. Those Picts, consequently, who spread over the lowlands, as the Romans contracted their line of demarcation, were the real Caledonians, and from the situation which they occupied, they became known, thenceforward, by the title of southern Picts. It does not appear that they ever called themselves' Picts, or that the denomination was used for either of the two grand divisions, or any of the tribes which composed them, but merely as a federative title, on whatever account it was imposed. The southern Picts are sometimes called Prydyn, or Phrydyn, by the Welch, and For. tren, by the Irish : names which, perhaps, imply an original relation to the Frisii of the opposite continent.
The advances of the southern Picts, though unlikely to conciliaté the 'amity of the Britons, rendered them more easily accessible; and at the commencement of the fifth century, when the attention both of Romans and Britons was engrossed by continental wars, there seems to have occurred a temporary suspension of their hostilities with the Picts. Ninian, a British bishop, 'resident on their boundaries, benevolently availed himself of this opportunity" (about A. D. 412) to instruct the southern Picts; and they appear readily to have adopted the profession of Christianity. Ninian might reasonably hope to render his own countrymen, as well as their formidable neighbours,'essential services by his well-timed exertions'; but that hope was frustrated by the restless ferocity of the northern Picts, who were no sooner liberated from apprehensions of the Roman and British forces, than they assailed and subdued their former allies. The ancient-Pictish confederacy-thus became subject to the kings of the northern Picts. It does not appear that the heathen cvtiquerors persecuted their Christian subjecu: On the contrary, it is said that one of their kings, though he did not embrace Christianity, erected, A. D..458,, a place of worship at Abernethy, which had become the royal residence. Those of the southern Picts, also, who had taken possession of Galloway, seemed to have maintained their politịcal independence, as well as their religious profession; but the Pictish monarch was very unlikely not to employ his accession of force in renewed hostilities against the southern Britons, who at that time had not only been deserted, but drained of their hative warriors by the vacillating government of Rome
.. The nation to which the northern Picts belonged has been tenaciously disputed by Scotch and Irish antiquaries. Dr. Ja, mieson appears to acquiesce in Mr. Pinkerton's persuasion, that they, as well as the southern Picts, were. Gothic: a denomination which neither writer supposed to be (what it certainly is) synonymous with Celtic. The latter appellation they apply to the. Highland Scots, and their correlatives, the native Irish, who, as well as the Welch, are of a nation radically different from the Celts. * We have assigned, on several occa sions, our reasons for believing that the northern Picts were chiefly progenitors of the modern Highlanders of Scotland, and migrated from Ireland to the Western Islands, and adjacent coasts of Britain, before the Christian era. The Irish writers, from whom chiefly our information of them is derived, cali them Crutbeni; and represent them as maintaining a connection with others of that denomination in Ireland. It was, most probably, by accessions from that country that they were enabled to gain, the ascendancy over the southern Picts. The Crutheni who remained in Ireland were usually in hostility with another powerful division of the inhabitants, to whom the appellation of Scots originally belonged. These having, in the third century, compelled the Crutheni to take refuge among their friends in North Britain, pursued them thither, and estab, Jished themselves in Argyleshire ; but about the middle of the fifth century they were expelled by the Picts, and retreated again to Ireland.
The natives of that country being constantly at war with the original. Britons, though of the same radical descent, do not appear to have received from them, the knowledge of Christianity, otherwise, than by: interchanges of captives, till nearly half a century after the conversion of the southern
* For a clear and familiari demonstration of these factsowe refer to the last publication of the Society of Antiquaries (Vol. XVI. pp. 94--122 of the Archæologia, 1809). It is the more necessary for us to notice this misnomer, as, through inadvertence, it has crept into one of our recent articles.
Picts. Palladius, a British priest, is said to have been, about this time, commissioned by the Roman patriarch to preach both in Ireland and Scotland; but in the former country he appears to have had little success; and in the latter he died soon after his return to Britain. Another Briton, named Patric, having endured several years captivity in Ireland, returned thither as 'a minister of the gospel ; and succeeded so happily as to persuade the inhabitants in general to embrace Christianity. From the state of barbarism, indeed, in which they ap pear to have always remained, there is room to apprehend that žhe populace were but inadequately instructed: yet it is certain, that many of the noble families entered on a zealous profession of the gospel, and that very numerous places of Christian worship were erected throughout the country.
Colm, or, as he is generally called, Columba, born A.D. 521, of royal descent, was committed, in early youth, to the care of several among the most eminent of Patric's disci. ples; and he manifested talents and dispositions of the highest promise. When twenty-eight years of age, he founded a seminary, 'in a central part of Ireland, for religious instruction ; and, renouncing temporal honours and possessions, travelled through the Christian nations of Europe to acquire more ex. tensive knowledge. On his return he established, by his in Huence among his countrymen, several institutions for the preparation of missionaries;
the members of which, without restricting themselves to celibacy, or becoming bound by monastic vows, submitted to rules for their constant employment; in study, devotion, offices of humanity, and useful arts and labours. Having thús provided instruments for his future opeo rations, he engaged, when forty-two years of age, in a mission to the northern Picts, the only division of the ancient 'inhabitants of Britain who still adhered to Paganism. He selected twelve of his followers to accompany him, in entering on this work; and chose for their missionary station a small island adjacent to that of Mull; which thence derived the name of 1. colm-kill, or the Island of Columba, (the founder) of cells. His followers were terined Culdees, or recluse persons.
Previous to Columba's enterprise, his countrymen, the Scots, had recovered possession of their former territory in Argyle; and as they had, during their retreat in Ireland, adopted the profession of Christianity, his choice of a spot in their vicinity might be determined, with a view to their friendly offices, in case of need.' It was also convenient for intercourse with Ireland, where he retained the superintendance of the seminaries, or cells, which he had founded. Its insulated situation was also best adapted to security from sudden outrage; and to the retirement requisite to an unremitted course of preparat