The Library of History

Page 186

Page 186 Many of the ancient Historians have written incredible Stories of this Amber, which since have been experienc'd to be false: For many Poets and other Writers report, that Phaeton the Son of Sol, while he was but as yet a young Boy, prevail'd with his Father to give him liberty to drive his Chariot for one Day: Which Request obtain'd, the Youth not being able to manage the Reins, the Horses scorn'd the Charioteer, and forsook their ancient Course, and ran wildly and disorderly through the Heavens, and first set them on Fire, and by that means caus'd that Tract call'd the Milky Way; then burning up a great part of the Earth, many Countries were laid waste; at which Jupiter was so inrag'd, that he threw a Thunder-blot at Phaeton, and commanded Sol to guide his Steeds into their wonted Course: And that Phaeton himself fell down into the River Po, anciently call'd Eridanus; and that his Sisters greatly bewailing his Death, (through excessive grief) chang'd their Nature, and were transform'd into Poplar Trees, which Yearly to this Day distil their Tears, and by Concretion (they say) becomes this Electrum or Amber, which for Beauty and Brightness, excels all others of its Kind, and is distill'd most in that Country, when the Deaths of Young Men are solemnly bewail'd. But forasmuch as they that have invented this Story, have turn'd their Backs upon Truth, and that later Ages have disprov'd it by Experience of the Contrary, regard is rather to be had to true and Faithful Historians. For Amber is gather'd in this Island before-mention'd, and transported by the Inhabitants into the opposite Continent, from whence it's brought over to us in these Parts as is before declar'd.

After this Account given of the Western Islands, we conceive it not impertinent, if we briefly relate some things which were omitted in the former Books concerning the Neighbouring Nations in Europe.

In Celtica (they say) once rul'd a famous Man, who had a Daughter of a more Tall and Majestick Stature than ordinary, and for Beauty far beyond all others of her Sex. This Lady glorying much both in her Strength and Beauty, despis'd all that courted her, as judging none worthy of her Bed. It happened that Hercules at the time he was ingag'd in the War against Gallia, marcht into Celtica, and there built Alesia. When this young Virgin saw him, admiring both his Valour and stately Proportion, she readily admitted him to her Bed; yet not without the consent of her Parents. Of this Lady he begat Galetes, who for Virtues of Mind, and strength of Body, far excell'd the rest of his Nation. When he came to Man's Estate, and was possess'd of his Grandfather's Kingdom, he subdu'd many of the Neighbouring Countries, and perform'd many notable Atchievments by his Sword. His Valour being every where nois'd Abroad, he call'd his Subjects after his own Name, Galatians, and the Country Gallatia, Gall.

Having shewn the Original of the Name, something is to be said of the Country it self. Gall is inhabited by several Nations, but not all alike Populous: The greatest of them have in 'em Two Hundred Thousand Men, the least but Fifty Thousand. Of these there's one that has been an Ancient Ally of the Romans, and continues so to this Day.

In regard it lies for the greatest part under the Artick Pole, it's very cold, and subject to Frosts; for in Winter in Cloudy Days, instead of Rain, the Earth is cover'd with Snow; in clear Weather, every Place is so full of Ice and Frost, that the Rivers are frozen up to that degree, that they are naturally cover'd over with Bridges of Ice. For not only a small Company of Travellers, but vast Armies, with their Chariots and loaden Carriages, may pass over without any danger or hazard.

There are many great Rivers run through Gaul, which by their various Windings and turnings cut through and parcel the Champain Grounds, some of which have their Spring-heads from deep Lakes, others issue out from the Mountains, and empty themselves either into the Ocean or into our Seas.

The greatest that falls into our Sea, is the Rhosne, which rises out of the Alps, and at Five Mouths, disgorges itself into the Sea. Of those that empty themselves into the Ocean, the greatest are the Danube and the Rhine; over the last of which Caesar, call'd Divus, (in our time) to admiration, cast a Bridge, and past over his Forces, and subdu'd the Gauls on the other side.

Bibliotheca Historica

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