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The talk I set myself was certainly a very hard one; yet I could not give it up, however unequal to such an undertaking; as I thought the labours of ingenious men, who had already made some advances in these studies, and several hints from the ancients, properly connected, with an attentive perseverance on my part, might enable me to proceed upon a plan, in this enquiry, not laid down before.
In this, my Lord, I think I have succeeded; yet I do not make it public without great diffidence: nor should I have been well able to differ from the methods of former authors, in this research, if I had not acquired fome knowledge of the languages, which, in the course of the work, I have endeavoured to prove, were the very first in Europe, after the general deluge.
IN thus amusing myself, it appeared to me that much improvement might be made, and many mistakes corrected, in the works of lexicographers, by a competent acquaintance with these languages, and the other European tongues; and it is with great reluctance, that I am prevented
from producing a specimen of such an undertaking, by the necessary business of my profession, and indeed by being incumbered with more years than would be suitable to a scheme of so much trouble; more able pens may perhaps, one day, oblige the world in that particular.
What is contained in the following sheets is chiefly historical, in which several matters of very high antiquity will, it is hoped, receive some additional light: Permit me, therefore, my Lord, however imperfect the attempt, to request Your Patronage for it. Your Lordship has, indeed, in a great measure, encouraged me to take this liberty, by Your obliging deportment towards me, on several occasions; and those sentiments of gratitude, which will ever reign in my breast, have proved no small incitement for making You this offering
But there are yet other more weighty reafons, which strongly urge me to hope for Your Lordship’s favourable acceptance of this dedication; as I would endeavour to devote it with propriety: one is, however unfashionable it may
be, to offer a work to a Patron who is well acquainted with the subject; that You, my Lord, have long delighted in the study of Antiquities, as well as in that for improving Natural Knowledge: who, therefore, can be so justly desirable for this purpose, as he who, thus qualified, now fills the chair of the Society of Antiquaries of London, with fo much honour to himself, and service to its worthy members ?
But, when I assure Your Lordship that, in the course of this work, many of the wife difpenfations of Providence are duly regarded and reverenced, to the promotion of the glory of God, I can scarce doubt of Your condescension (whose continual progress through life is employed for that noble end), to fulfil the wishes of him, who is, with the most respectful gratitude, Your Lordship’s most obedient and
most obliged humble servant,
P R E F A CE.
DESIRE for knowledge naturally prompting des curious men to make enquiries and researches,
they are sometimes insensibly led on to lengths
they never at first intended. This was my case; for when I first applied myself to the study of languages, it was only for my own improvement, little thinking I should be stimulated to become an historianz. and well knowing how unequal I was to such a work, And, indeed, I should have been thoroughly satisfied with a competent knowledge of the languages of Europe, after the classical education, to which we are commonly, at first, introduced, if I had not happened to have spent several years of my life in Ireland, and there attained to a tolerable knowledge in the very ancient tongue of that . country, which enabled me to consult some of their manuscripts, and become instructed in their grammatical institutes.
AFTERWARDS, I became acquainted with several gentlemen from Wales, well versed in their own history and language ; men of sense and liberal learning; who, in
many conversations upon such subjects, gave me so much satisfaction and light, in matters of high antiquity, as to occasion my application to the study of the Welsh tongue also: in which I had equal pleasure and surprize, when, the more I enquired, the more nearly related the Irish and Wels languages appeared.
When I was sent abroad to study the medicinal art, I frequently conversed with young gentlemen from most parts of Europe, who came to Paris, and followed the same masters, in every branch of the profession, with me; and my surprize was agreeably increased in finding that, in every one of their native tongues, I could discover the roots of most of their expressions in the Irish or Welsh.
Thus far engaged, it was impossible to stop: books in history and philology were now to be examined; and, by connecting the materials they produced, an appearance of the highest antiquity was very striking in these two languages; and this opinion grew into a conclusion, of their being the originals of Europe.
In this pursuit, I consulted many authors who treated of Ireland and Wales, as well as most other countries of Europe; and could not but think these original nations deferved more liberal treatment, than some few partial writers were pleased to afford them. Bollandus denied the Irish the use of letters, till their conversion by Patrick. G. Cambrensis counted them as a barbarous rude people, and Mr. Cox, treading in his steps, thought he gratified those whom he flattered in his day, in representing them as fo