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more or less positively ascribed to him are the productions of a much later period. They are, however, printed as his in the Myvyrian Archaiology, and their titles are : 1. A Dialogue between Merddin and Yscolan; 2. Predictions delivered when in his grave; 3. A Dialogue between Merddin and Gwenddyd, his sister ; 4. The Apple-tree ; 5. The Songs of the Pigs; 6. The Burrowings. The first of these contains all that has been preserved respecting Merddin, though the details are much less full than they subsequently became. Mr. Stephens considers this poem to have been composed in 1077, to further the interests of Cadwalader, who at that period returned from his long exile to reclaim the throne of his ancestors, the successful result of which reclamation is predicted in the poem. Merddin is here termed Supreme Judge of the North Swy, Diviner of every Region, Bardic President about the waters of the Clyde, and Interpreter of the Army of the God of Victory. Jocelyn of Furness Abbey, who, about 1180, wrote a life of St. Kentigern, seems, on the other hand, to speak of our bard and diviner as being a sort of harmless maniac at the court of Rhydderch-Hoel.
(Circa 542-615.) Columbanus, born in the province of Leinster in Ireland, about the year 542, became, while yet a child, an inmate of the newlyfounded monastery of Bangor, on the coast of Ulster, where he spent many years in diligent study and the close observance of pious exercises. About 572, he, with twelve of his brethren, quitted Bangor monastery, and proceeded through Britain to Gaul, where, after being honourably received by Gontram Duke of Burgundy, he founded, first, a monastery among the ruins of Anagrates (Anegray) in the Vosges; and next, when that was found too small for the concourse of brethren whom his high reputation for learning and sanctity collected around him, a larger monastery among the ruins of Luxovium (Luxeuil), with, somewhat later, a dependent establishment at the adjacent locality of Fontanæ (Fontaines). Columbanus himself, though he retained the superintending authority over both these monasteries, appears to have spent a large portion of his time in a hermitage he had constructed in a cave among the rocks, seven miles from Anegray, where he would abide for days together, in solitary musing, agreeable enough with the contemplative and anchoretic character of the Irish and British churches, but little calcu
LIVES OF THE BRITISH POETS.
(Circa 1070 B.C.) The earliest Irish bard, within the range of any thing like au1 thentic history, is Amergin, the ard-filea, or chief bard, to his brothers, the princes Heremar and Heber, the Milesians who wrested Ireland from the Danonians in or about the year 1070 B.C. We have also recorded the name Cir Mac Cis, a poet who accompanied these conquerors in their successful invasion. The next mention of Irish bards in historical tradition, or traditionary history (whichever it may be), is under Tighermnas (circa 993 B.c.), by whom the Ollamhs, or dignified bards, were permitted to wear six colours in their garments, only one colour less than were worn by the royal family. The education, office, and privileges of these early poets are described with elaborate minuteness by Mr. Walker, in his Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards.
(Circa 329 B.C.) It does not appear that the Irish had female bards, or bardesses, properly so called ; though a class of women, whose voices recommended them for the avocation, were instructed in music and the cursios (elegiac measure), that they might assist in the chorus of the funereal song ; a custom not improbably derived from the Hebrews, and, with modifications, still continued in Ireland and in the Highlands of Scotland. But though women, during the heroic ages, held no rank in the order of bards, they cultivated music and poetry,
whose divine powers they often employed in softening the manners of a people rendered ferocious by domestic hostilities. While embattled ranks, writes Mr. Walker, awaited the arrival of expected assailants, women arrayed in black would walk along the lines, animating the soldiery with suitable war-songs, accompanying their voices with cruits, or portable harps, such as the Hebrews bore when they danced before the Ark. So, when armies returned in triumph from foreign wars or domestic contentions, troops of virgins, clad in white, and each bearing a harp, would advance with tripping step, and with the voice of songs and the harp, to hail their heroes.
Moriat, the subject of the present sketch, employed her metrical powers in the cause at once of love and of justice. In or about the year 339 B.C., Cobthaigh, a king of Ireland, having waded to the throne through the blood of his brother Leoghaire and his nephew Oilliol-Arné, only spared the life of his grand-nephew Maon because the natural weakness of his frame seemed to indicate a speedy dissolution ; but Maon was destined by the Deity to be the instrument of His vengeance on the barbarous usurper. Being privately conveyed to the court of the king of South Munster, he continued there, and gradually recovered his health indeed, but lost his heart to the fair Moriat, the king's daughter. Nor was the princess insensible to his merit and personal attractions ; but she carefully concealed her passion. Maon, for greater security, went to the court of the French king, in whose service he greatly distinguished himself as a warrior. The fame of his valour reached Moriat; and love, vindicating its ascendency, made her a poetess. She composed an ode, in which she extolled the exploits of Maon, and urged him to revenge the death of his father and grandfather, and to recover their throne. This ode she transmitted to Maon by the hands of Craftine, her father's chief harper. Seizing a favourable opportunity, the minstrel began to sing the poem in the presence of the prince, whose attention was soon caught by the sweetness of the numbers and the melodious accompaniment of the musician; but when he heard the subject mentioned, he eagerly inquired the name of the author; and then, in his turn obeying the power of love, he obtained the aid of the French king, and, setting sail for Ireland, wrested the sceptre from the hands of the usurper. As soon as he was seated on the throne, he adorned it with the lovely poetess.
(Circa 290.) Oisin, the son of Fin (Fingal), the heroic favourite of Cormac O'Conn, king of Ireland, is better known to the world as the Ossian of Macpherson than in his own proper person or works, of which latter but a few mutilated and ill-authenticated fragments have come down to us. We know not in what part of Ireland Oisin was born; but in the county of Donegal there is “a cloud-capt” mountain called Alt Ossoin, around which is the whole scenery so finely described by Macpherson, while to the northward of Lough-Derg are the mountains, caverns, and lakes of Fin. Oisin, who was one of the bards as well as one of the captains of his king, lived to lament the death of his son Oscar (the child of his beloved wife Evarallin), who was killed in the battle of Guara, A.D. 296. The period of his own decease is not known; but it would seem that, for some years previous to that event, he had become blind. The beautiful apostrophe to the sun, in which, in the poem of Carthn, Macpherson represents him lamenting the “mist of years which had closed upon his sight,” will probably recur to the reader.
FERGUS FIBH EOIL.
(Circa 290.) Fergus Fibheoil was the chief bard or ollamh-re-dais of the great chieftain Fin, mentioned in the preceding notice. The surname Fibheoil (sweet-lips) was given to Fergus in allusion to his eloquence as a bard. Succeeding poets have bestowed almost as many