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Taren ; also the misletoe of the oak is called Uchel-far, the high or lofty shrub.

Ovydd implies the sapling or unformed plant, from óv, raw, pure, and ydd, above explained; but when applied to a person, Ovydd means a Noviciate, or a holy one set apart.

* Thence it appears evident that Derwydd, Bardd, and Ovydd were emblematical names of the three orders in the system of Druidism, very significant of the particular function of each. The Derwydd was the trunk or support of the whole, whose prerogative it was to form and preside over rights and mysteries. The Bardd was the ramification from that trunk, arrayed in foliage which made it conspicuous, whose office was to record and sing to the multitude the precepts of their religion. And the Ovydd was the young shoot growing up, ensuring a prospect of permanency to the sacred grove ; he was considered as a disciple, and consequently conducted the lightest and most trivial duties appertaining to the spreading temple of the oak.'

There is no intention on this occasion of denying that the Welsh have had bards among them. It would be difficult, indeed, to find any community existing at any time on the face of the earth as to whom it could be proved that they were destitute of that commodity. Everywhere man has been found giving utterance to his musical impulses, not only by means of his own lungs, but through a ceaseless variety of mechanical devices, including organs, harps, sackbuts, dulcimers, trumpets, drums, flageolets, bagpipes, fiddles, trombones, oboes, and hurdigurdies. Of an art so universal, and so varied in its developement, it is difficult to say how much or how little of it any one nation possessed, and we are willing to admit that the Welsh may have been, and may still be, a very musical people. That they have had good music, or even good poetry, for centuries will not, however, secure for their Bardic system the historical position claimed for it. The proposition is, that the British who sought refuge in Wales, retaining only their Christianity, abjured all the other elements of Roman civilisation, and re-adopted another and, of course, a higher civilisation possessed by the Celtic nations anterior to the Roman invasion. The religion of Druidism they could not re-adopt, consistently with their Christianity; but the secular part of the system was renewed in full glory, and was even enabled to rejoin the threads that had been broken by the intrusion of the Romans, and carry back a continuous history of heroism and civilisation through many hundreds of years before the Christian era. Let us see how such a proposition tallies with the ordinary known facts of British history.

Before looking to their political position, it should be men





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tioned as a difficulty not satisfactorily cleared up, that the Welsh afford us much less assistance towards the real history of Christianity in Britain than either the Saxons or the Irish. It is true that to those who have sufficient faith to trust to the Welsh authorities alone, their contributions to the history of religion are found to be superabundant. A list of British saints given by Mr. Rees, on the authority of Cressy's

Church History, but from which Mr. Rees carefully withholds his own authority, commences in this manner: of Arimathea, Apostle of the Britons and founder of the church at Glastonbury. 2. Mansuetus, a Caledonian Briton, disciple of St. Peter at Rome, and afterwards Bishop of · Toul in Lorraine. 3. Aristobulus, a disciple of St. Peter

or St. Paul, sent as an apostle to the Britons, and was the first bishop in Britain. 4. Claudia, supposed to have been a

daughter of Caractacus, and the wife of Pudens. And so the list can be carried on, until it expands into St. Ursula with her eleven thousand virgins, and the twenty thousand saints buried in the Isle of Bardsey. It is curious to notice a little bit of external assistance of which this rich Hagiology condescends to accept. Martial, in one of his epigrams, having mentioned a certain Pudens married to a British lady named Claudia Rufina, the passage has been seized on as an identification of the daughter of Caractacus, and of her domestic position as the wife of Pudens. A great deal of learning has been devoted to this very small item, and when compared with the large results drawn from purely Welsh authorities, one cannot help being reminded of Caleb Balderstone, who, after enlarging on the abundance and luxury of the contents of his larder at Wolfscraig, yet puts himself to earnest exertion to get possession, in a manner not strictly justifiable, of the leg of mutton which he finds roasting before the humble fire of a neighbouring skipper.

Another desperate attempt to connect the native literature and traditions of the Welsh with something accepted within the pale of general knowledge, attaches itself to the name of Gildas, known to most people as the reputed author of one of the earliest books on British ecclesiastical literature. How much hope there may be of establishing such a connexion on a sure basis, may be inferred from what is said of Gildas by Mr. Stevenson in his edition of his book printed for the English Historical Society. • We are unable to speak with certainty as 'to his parentage, his country, or even his name; the period

when he lived, or the works of which he was the author.' Yet the Welsh antiquaries have succeeded, not only in establishing him as one of their saints, but in identifying him with their favourite poet Aneurin. Had both these been substantial realities, the union would have seemed as preposterous as that Dryden should be identified with Bishop Hoadley, or Burns with Dr. Blair ; but shadows are more easily amalgamated than substances. It is when we pass on to the age of real and well authenticated saints--or rather distinguished missionaries among the Saxons and the Irish, that the essential poverty of the Welsh hagiology is felt. The names of Aidan, Cuthbert, Columba, and many others, are as securely based in ecclesiastical history as those of Alfred and Canute in our civil annals. But unless their claim to St. Kentigern were admitted, which it cannot be, none of the crowd of saints enumerated by the Welsh themselves have any authentic standing in the histories of the early Christian world.

Though we have just seen on what poor encouragement they will seek confirmation from other sources of evidence, the Welsh are of course, both in their ecclesiastical and their civil history, a law unto themselves, seeking ao support from what may be said about them in external historical literature, and admitting no difficulties either from its silence, or its inconsistency with their own. When the outer world is told that no translation can convey the faintest impression of the powerful descriptions, the sublime metaphors, and the innumerable delicacies of sentiment pervading Celtic poetry; when it is also intimated that no extent of study will enable the stranger to master the intricacies of the language, and all its graces and enjoyments are limited to those who have had the fortune to acquire it as their native tongue, there is nothing for it but submission to the bard fate which throws us back


the common world of literature, ancient and modern.* But when we are told on the same exclusive authority that certain wars, treaties, codes of law, and social institutions existed in Britain hundreds of years before the Christian era ; that we are to believe it because the Welsh sages, who are the only persons


• The last and most enthusiastic of the champions of Welsh literature and Welsh Bards is Mr. George Barrow, whose strange book, entitled “Wild Wales,' is a very dreary counterpart of his Romany adventures and his · Bible in Spain.' Mr. Barrow traces the descent of the Bards down to a recent period ; and as he also ascribes to them the faculty of second sight, it is not wonderful that these allknowing men predicted in their “englyn' the construction of the Menai bridge and the North-Western Railway! (Wild Wales, i. p. 341.)



capable of judging, say it is so; that to question them in this their peculiar province, is as presumptuous as for an unlearned person to question the professional opinion of a surgeon or a lawyer, - we think fit to rebut the assumption, and maintain that Welsh history must be tested by its adaptability to that of the rest of the world, and to the ordinary rules of human belief.

Let us just see the gulph that has to be got over to bring the bardic literature clear down from a time anterior to the Roman invasion. Before the final breaking up, the Romans had been four hundred years among us, nearly as long as the Saxons had been before the Norman conquest. The vestiges of the roads and military works by which they held a hostile and turbulent people for some time in subjection may be traced as far as Inverness. In the province of Valencia, between the walls, they left many testimonies of the luxury and magnificence in which they lived. The wide territory to the south of the wall of Severus, -England, in short, with the exception of one small corner,

-was thoroughly Romanised. It had ceased to be the scene of contention, and in a great measure to be even a land where one nation ruled and another obeyed, although, doubtless, the slavemarket was chiefly supplied from among the natives. Britain was, like Spain and Gaul, a powerful department of the Empire, possessing many municipalities and an extensive commerce; and in London, York, and other considerable cities, probably exhibiting better specimens of good Roman society than the northern districts of Italy. It was a centre of intrigue and ambition in the later struggles for the purple. One emperor, Constantius Chlorus, died at York; nor was such an event spoken of, like the death of the late emperor Alexander of Russia, at Taganrog, as occurring in a distant and uncivilised province. One of the competitors for the imperial throne, Carausius, obtained his object through the political influence which he held in Britain, and was as undoubtedly Cæsar as any of the later emperors.

The Roman language, government, and manners naturally disappeared before the self-willed Saxons; yet not so utterly but that in such names as Manchester, and other places ending in chester or caster, we have a relic of the imperial times; and from the readiness with which the Saxons amalgamated the municipal system of the Romans into their own institutions, there is reason to suppose rather that they took them as they found them growing on the spot, than that they went for them to the pages of the civilians, or copied them from continental practice. In Wales, where one would naturally suppose that the civilisation of the Empire would have long lingered, it seems to have

disappeared faster than it fled before the northern conqueror. Yet down to a period later than the Norman conquest the material remains of Roman magnificence were yet visible, and Giraldus Cambrensis gives a rather gorgeous description of the palaces with gilded roofs, the temples, and the hot baths of Caerleon.*

Yet we are called on to suppose that, about the time when the Saxons began to come over, all the thorough Romanism of Britain was abolished, and the ancient constitution restored by a vote as it were of some comprehensive kind, perhaps by resolutions at a great public meeting. The supposition, considering it for a moment as if it were a rational one, is not complimentary to the spirit of the people; for instead of leaving undisturbed the natural supposition that the Britons assimilated to the civilisation of the Italians, it demands the condition that the Britons merely submitted for the time being to their superior strength, and went back to their old ways whenever external circumstances removed the pressure of the conqueror. But if we are to believe the Arthurian literature, as it is termed—if we are to admit the reign of Arthur as rendered to us by the Welsh authorities, to be a reality-we must suppose, not merely that his contemporaries entirely and at once threw off the Roman laws, institutions, language, and social usages, but that they also at once adopted, and in its fullest developement, that social code of chivalry which did not dawn upon the rest of Europe until some centuries afterwards. Without some miracle of this sort, Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table could have had no existence. If we suppose that those warriors, who fought against the hordes of Scottish invaders, and next against the Saxons, retained but a remnant of the manners in which they

a were brought up, then we know that there were among them none of the institutions of feudality and chivalry. There were no great castles like those afterwards built by the Normans, where the chief and his guests and retainers held knightly wassail in the great stone hall; no fortified towers, no dungeon, or moat, or drawbridge, where the challenger sounded his defiant bugle. Knight-errantry and demonstrative courtesy to women were alike unknown, and there could, therefore, be no legends of damsels held in durance by dragons or cruel giants, until the destined champion comes to their rescue.

There were no tournaments, or other gratuitous encounters, where men fought without the impulse of military duty, or of hatred, or of money as hired gladiators, or of coercion as slaves. There was no fairy

• Itinerary through Wales, Hoare's translation, b. I. chap. v.

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