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IWELSH TRIBAL SYSTEM.

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I WELSH TRIBAL SYSTEM. The Tribal System in Wales. By Frederic Seebohm. (Longmans). Aberffraw, in its) lonely outpost on the shores of Anglesey, with ies sand-dunes, primitive streets, and almost pre-historic air, has long inspired a I feeling for its part in the romantic past of Wales, as the decayed seat of Llewelyn the Last and the Welsh princes before him. To find it converted into a modern instance in economic history by so remarkable an historian as Mr Seebohm is what one had little expected. And yet it is enough to read the first few pages of the present volume to see how admirably it fits his purpose. In his now twelve-year-old book on "The English;Village Community," Mr Seebohm used much corroborative evidence from Celtic sources, and devoted one chapter in particular to the Welsh tribal system; in which tVe germs of his later work may be found. But there is no hint there of the rich field in Anglesey and in Denbigh that he now exploits to such effect. Possibly his services upon the Welsh Land Commission led him to the dis- I covery of these remote Welsh manors, and the wealth of subject-matter which Aborffraw, Ros, and Rowaynok held ready to be unlocked; and if so, it is one good result at least to' be credited to that much-travelled and much-abused Board. Writing in the midst of Aberffraw itself, the present reviewer is tempted to linger over the j local evidence, which serves Mr Seebohm with his j basis and to add various irrevelant details from local tradition. Llewelyn is said to have bad a castle, or considerable tower, as well as his palace, II the two being connected by the subterranean passage commonly supplied by popular credit in I such cases. But the only positive signs, beside the j church, the ancient allotment gardens, and the village itself, are the Gardd Llys, the palace gar- dens, and a depression in the tield hard by, where it is said the palace stood, As to the startlingly complete obliteration of the rest, one can only point to the surrounding farm-buildings, and to I the fragments of finer masonry in old walls and the primitive cottages of the place, which seem to have absorbed all that was once the pride of I medieval Wales and so considering, still feel sur- | prised. The day will soon come, I hope, when | some other historian will treat of Aberffraw on the side which does not come within Mr Seebohrn's scope. I Mr Seebohm is indeed very careful to confine himself strictly to the scientific limits of his sub- ject: even mere so, I think, than in his volume on the English village community. He does not allow himself, as he did there, the slight luxury of the comparative method; and sticks to his text with a logical severity which may sometimes try the patience of the unilluminated, but which adds considerably to the unity and the exact value of his present contribution to economic history. In the face of a hundred difficulties, some of which, it is obvious, were increased for him by his being debarred from purely Welsh sonrces (for Mr Seebohm tells us he has no Welsh)—difficulties of which those wlio have not wrestled with the dark angels of theRecoid Office can have small con- ception—he has amassed an amount of material I; from the cryptic Latin-Welsh of the old Norman scribes, and their Extents of Anglesey and Denbigh, and thrown it into such a form that his volume sets the inquiry into the origins of Welsh tribal society on a completely new basis, and a I very convincing and stable one. He takes first, iu his account of Aberffraw, the economic conditioning of the manor, with its five carucates of land, three mills, two meadows, and sea-fishery, its lord of the manor's demesne, and its free weles and unfree outlying hamlets; and gathers up with striking particularity the evidence of the customary tribal liabilities of the tenants under such a prince as Llewelyn the Last, and at later periods. Beginning thus simply, he builds up for us the whole comparatively complex structure of the early land system in Anglesey, He shows how lasting were its effects: as in the distinction betwixt the free and the villein hamlets, which lingers on in the annual returns to the Woods and Forests up to the present time. This may serve to suggest the extraordinary tenacity of the Welsh tribal system, whose in- tegral structure continued to hold good from the first coming of Cunedda to the conquest of Edward I., and then again, in spite of plague, pestilence, and famine, and the slow assay of time until the final institution of the English law under Henry VIII. A facile allusion to Howell the Good has too often, it may be admitted, been the explanation given by the historians, and by our native writers particularly, of the idiosyncrasy of Welsh law. But the tribal system, as Mr Seebohm points out in his conclusion, was not a mere mono- graphic creation by a supreme master and maker of laws: it grew up with the gradual growth of the Cymric tribe itself, whose first beginnings carry one into Strathclyde as well as into Powvl or the lands still further south. J The contradictions of Celtic temperament are still a puzzle to the Saxon critic, who finds it difficult to credit bow much of adhesiveness and conservatism may exist in an apparently volatil« and plastic racial character. The feeline- fr,r +1 tribe, wd the tribal bead; the 8uspW0V°0 £ stranger m the land; the complex interaction of sentiment and law; the semi-superstitious regard for the hereditary ties, and the liabilihW kindred even to the seventh and ninth de^reM n these things are worked by Mr Seebohm into h\l argument; and in proving his case for th« II tial and native stability of the tribe tW ?" prove much more. And this is why his hLv ° endlessly suggestive for those who have h S? the future as well as the past of th« n u- allied peoples in these islands. As h« .QV eluding his striking chapter on ChiefS !U-°0n" the Tribe": wuettamship m The almost unique advantarra Cymric tribal system in its sur^vaHnto^ 7 of codes and extents, makes if a r^- ? re Peno<i for futher search both backwards InVf vantage Any understanding of the modern f?rwards- tion of society in Wales must startevolu- it may be a stepping-stone ako L°m > the earlier past, not onlv ail knowledge of system in Wales, but also »« eSftrds the tribal systems, of which so littl« other tribal have, nevertheless, made lan»n 8 .but which economic structure of modiL C«ntn°ut'ons to the In keeping severely to th« lr> ..roP,ean society." an argument, Mr Seebohm v!^ scheme of such possibly be complained 8,°.metimes, it may close for comfort in tho hls ^dence too care more for the humaaf? +ug~for tho8e who pure and simple. Not that v v ?cr e°onomics share of warmer colouring ok is without its can be even poetical on ^.er>' for Mr Seebohm courses on the Hearth >, as'^n' a» when he dis- ownership and inheritance wl?6 8ymbol of family niirably put than his accol T COul<* be™ore ad- the covering and uncovo«- ? significance of and at morSng; or M.Tf « th6 be"th at niKht by which an eiected s^ereDCe Dadenhitdd, in returning and uncoverin^61'^ Ms Patrimony possibly, tfie fire knot n<" fi^er many years hearth? nre ba-ck-stone of the parental The chapter on tlin i J • Princes and the Chu rf on between the Welsh establishments under ^ou ^e ecclesiastical valuable contribution + JL order, is a very history of the ChurchVn W^°triCate and diffitJult bearing on somp es and has again its' Until we have th*» 6171 'Rateable questions, methods of tribal comPjeting volume on the raises, it iSi perL e which Mr Seebohm pro- criticism on the<?ft « J reserve a*y definite issue with certain HT ° er points where he is at Meanwhile, enough v. £ contemporary writers, tremely valuable hJfl w en 8aid to sW how es> how much Celtic a 1S> 80 *ar as it goes and get from its concentrated aS Eagli8h' readers may ERNEST RIYS. --= cii th y%

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