Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

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Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Scotiae  
Pagination: 12-13
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Translation of text:

and the force of British speech is shown in the very etymology of the word. For Prudania is as if Prudcania, that is, outstanding beauty, from Pryd, which is form, and Cam, which is white, with the harshness of the word softened a little. But by this reasoning, it ought to have been not Prudania but Prudamia: which the bards in their native tongue pronounce Prudam. I pass over here how slight, deceptive and generally ridiculous is this whole method of seeking the origin of words. I pass over Marcus Varro and other men of excellent learning, who are again and again mocked in this respect. I say nothing of the whole of Plato’s Cratylus. This only I assert, that I shall more easily prove to impartial ears that Cambrians are made from canines and brutes than you will persuade that Prudania grew from Prudcamia. For by this method it will be permissible to fashion anything from anything. But how little strength there is in all this is indicated by Llwyd: with little confidence in such defences, he summons to his aid the Bards, admittedly a very old race of men, but who the ancients aver wrote nothing. But on them we shall have to say more elsewhere. Let us come to Llwyd’s last refuge. Caesar, he says, who was the first to mention the name of this island in Latin literature, called it Britannia, and almost all Latin writers followed him and did not alter that name. Here Llwyd has seen fit to begin with a famous lie, viz. that Caesar was the first of the Latins to name Britannia. For before Caesar’s birth Lucretius mentions Britannia, and Aristotle long before among the Greeks, and not much later than Caesar, Propertius, when he says
I am compelled to memorise worlds painted on a map,
shows that in his time a depiction of the world was normally fixed to walls. I ask you, do you believe that Caesar, a man educated in every liberal discipline, had never seen a description of the world? or if he had seen one, had not read it? or although the rest of the world was described, that the one island of Britain, the largest in the whole world, even then so famous in Latin and Greek records, was omitted in these maps? Do you believe that he, who thought he ought to inquire so carefully into British affairs, which people lived in that region, both then and previously, what kinds of plants, what kind of animals were born in it, with what laws and customs they lived - that he, I say, when he was so concerned about these matters, was so careless in the name of the whole region? or that he, who with such fidelity and diligence recorded their names for the cities of the Gauls, would have defrauded the Britons of their ancient glory? Now why Llwyd thinks the name of Prudania old (since he boasts especially in this area), I do not see, unless perchance even the words have contracted oldness from their situation in a rotten charter. This is enough on Llwyd for the present, who thought that he should argue against the consensus of all scholars anywhere of the present and the past, with home-made witnesses and his own imaginations. With Elyot there will be less trouble. Led not only by probable conjectures but also by authors who are not obscure, he believes that at one time that region was called Prytaneia. For he thought that an island, with a full supply of everything necessary for furnishing and adorning life, could be so named without inconvenience. If one ought to weigh here the causes of names, Sicily should rather have been named Prytaneia, and some others so much more fertile than Britain as they are smaller in area. Further in the authors by whose testimony the name Prytaneia is confirmed, it readily appears that the reading is corrupt. In Stephanus indeed there is the greatest inconsistency. Under the word Albion, he says that it is a Brettanic island, following, as he himself says, Martianus. Under the words Iuvernia and Iuverna, Praetanica is written. Elsewhere he says that in the Ocean there are Brettanic islands, whose inhabitants are called Brettans. But it is said that Martianus and Ptolemy in these words make the initial letter P. If one looks up these passages, one will find that without doubt the reading is corrupt, and that Stephanus himself feels that Brettania should be written with initial B and two Ts. Elyot, not ignorant of this in my opinion, which men starved of glory scrape (2) from all sides into a display of erudition, content to have advised as much as is sufficient, leaves judgement to the reader. But Llwyd, so that you may know his ability here, from the three names of the largest island most approved of the one which has the fewest supporters, namely Prudania. Next he embraces Prytaneia. But Britannia, the name which was already famous among all nations, which (as Pliny says) was celebrated in the Greek and Latin records, he rejects as corrupt, and he says it was corrupted at a late date and that by Caius Julius Caesar, whom he falsely thinks (as has been said) first mentioned the name of Britain in Latin literature and drew the others with him into the same error. Now I could prove the antiquity of this word Britannia by many, and indeed most reliable witnesses, if the matter were controversial; and that it was not corrupted by Caesar, but handed down from older times, and pure, except that the ancients seem to be in the habit of writing double TT. I think this happened because Lucretius made the first syllable of the word long. Now however the one T is usually omitted in Latin, though it is still retained in the word Britto. The Greeks, who write Brettania, come closest to the pronunciation of the native tongue, which both the Britons themselves and all their neighbours still retain. For the nearer French call all British women ‘Brettas’, and to speak British is ‘bretter’, and [G p.13] the promontory in Aquitaine is called in the vernacular Cap Bretton; and both kinds of Scots, that is those of Albion and those of Ireland, so pronounce it. The only difference is that those who enjoy a Germanic dialect sometimes employ a transposition of letters, and say Berton for Breton. But Dionysius Afer in that verse
The cold current of the Ocean flows where the Bretans
in rejecting the second T has used poetic licence, just as he also did in writing 'Samatae' for 'Sarmattae'. This consensus of so many nations almost from the beginning of the world onwards, both among themselves and with the oldest of the Greeks and Latins, will have more weight with me than all Llwyd's rags, collected from the mud as a joke, preserved for ignominy, and for giving false witness against antiquity, however impudent a patron they have, still not yet daring to emerge. Let him bring forward, if he can, some one who before Aristotle has written Prudania. But that he will never achieve, though he twists in all directions: since it is certain that, some centuries after Aristotle, the Bards committed nothing to writing. Let that glorious, or should I say stupid, boasting of antiquity withdraw, of which no proof, no trace, indeed no fragment of a trace, can be found. Among these disputes of varied opinions and diverse habits of speech, Llwyd thinks it best considered always to look at age and the native manner of speech as at some Cynosure, and thence to direct the whole direction of his discourse. I should not greatly disagree with that: provided that what is set as ancient custom and is therefore thought certain could always be upheld. But for many reasons I note that that is not possible. First, because in every language it is very difficult to find the oldest forms, and it is safer here to follow the custom of the more learned than always to seek backwards for origins, as for sources of the Nile, with vain and ridiculous toil: especially as the beginnings of words do not depend on the judgement of the more wise, but on the whim of the most ignorant and uncultivated public: to inquire carefully into their intentions is superfluous diligence for anyone, and when you have found them, you would not get much profit from the task. For as in the creation of all other things which are produced by the will of nature or are devised by men for the needs of life, the first fruits are in some way rather imperfect and turn out not only convenient for use but less pleasant in appearance; then they are softened by cultivation and slowly smoothed by practise. It is certainly the same matter in regard to speech, which is first emitted by dull and ignorant men and began as mostly rough and unpleasant and unpolished; soon with practice it cast off step by step the rudeness of its birth, and fell on the ears more softly and pleasantly, and flowed more easily into men's minds. And so in this area, if in any, I judge that the habit of more polished men should be somewhat indulged, and that that far from illiberal and inhumane pleasure, in so far as it is harmless in morals, should not at all be detested. But if a man is born so angry with the Muses as to love the speech of Cato and Ennius rather than that of Cicero and Terence, and to prefer, after the discovery of crops, still to live on nuts, let us bid him be miserable as he wishes, for as long as he does that. But this discussion does not concern the purity and elegance of the Latin language; for it does not affect that, with what sound the Britons once pronounced letters. For this whole dispute tends to how the Latins learn British sounds, not how the Britons learn Latin. As far as I am concerned, I should prefer not to know that ancient and old womanish stuttering of the early Britons, rather than to unlearn whatever of the Latin tongue that with great labour I learned as a boy. Nor is it otherwise, why I should bear with less pain the gradual death of the early language of the Scots, than that I should gladly perceive the slow disappearance of those barbarous sounds and their replacement with the beauty of Latin words. If in this migration to a foreign language it is necessary for one group to yield to the other, let us cross from rusticity and barbarity to culture and humanity, and voluntarily and judiciously cast off what came to us in the infelicity of birth. Whatever we can do by work and industry, let us direct it all to polishing as our strength allows the Greek (0)" title="'Ludum' misprint for Buchanan's 'Lludum'" >(3), or indeed Ludd, none of which can either be expressed in Latin letters, or uttered by a Latin mouth, or heard without disgust by Latin ears. If he retains the sound, he will make a style that is not Latin but semi-barbarous. But if he bends the foreign words to the genuine sound of Latin,

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