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An Enquiry into the Truth of the Tradition, Concerning the Discovery of America, by Prince Madog ab Owen Gwynedd, about the Year, 1170   By: (1727-1798)

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AN ENQUIRY INTO THE TRUTH OF THE TRADITION, CONCERNING THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, BY PRINCE MADOG AB OWEN GWYNEDD, ABOUT THE YEAR, 1170.

by

JOHN WILLIAMS, L. L. D.

LONDON

M. DCC XCI

Hic, ubi nunc Roma est orbis caput, arbor et herbæ, Et paucæ pecudes, et casa rara fuit.

Ov. Fast. L. 5. v. 93.

PREFACE

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... Continue reading book >>




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