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OF THE THREE MEMORIALS OF BRITAIN.
acts of the kings and nobility were collected, and all the battles recorded by them, and expressly remem. bered in the Cerdd Voliant of such noble persons as had performed services in the field, and in their Cerdd Varwnad; so that there could be no perversion of truth, in composing histories from three years, to three years. There was, besides, a severe punishment inflicted by the law, upon the Bards, of long imprisonment, loss of place, and dignity, besides great disgrace, if any of them should record, for truth, any thing but the truth, in any historical treatise whatsoever.
No man described any battle but such as had been an eye-witness thereof; for, fome of the chief Bards were marshals of all battles : they sat in council in the field, and were the king's, or general's intelligencers how the action went on; so that they could not be ignorant of any circumstance, or thing, done in the field. They did not write of battles by hearsay, nor of affairs by relation, unless it were some sudden, or unexpected fight or skirmish; for, in all battles of moment, they were present, as I shall prove at large in another place.
Our hiltories were not written by a school-master, that travelled no farther for his knowledge than a child's journey from his breakfast to his lesson; nor by any monk, that journeyed no farther than from mass to meat ; nor by any apprentice, that had no other education than from shop to market; nor by any person of low birth, condition, or calling ; but by Bards, nobly descended, barons, and fellows to lords and princes. King Arthur, and two of his knights, Sir Trystan, and Sir Llywarch, were Bards, as this verse testifies : Arthur aefdwn a Thrystan,
Arthur, with broken shield, and Trystan ? woo'd A Llywarch ben cyvarch cán. The muse; but Llywarch was the most belov'd. The Pen-bardd, or Bardd Teulu, was of so high a vocation, that he fat at meals next to the pen-teulu, (who was called princeps familia,) and had such respect and honour done unto him, that it was the office, of the pen-teulu, who was the fourth person of the land, to present the Harp to him, when he performed a song, in the presence of the king, at the principal festivals of the year, Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide.
The chief Bards were very often of the king's council ; and, the chief Bard in the land was besides allowed a chair in the royal palace on festivals, when the king and his family fat in state. As a symbol of this, at the commencement of the Bards, for their graduation, their chiefest title was Pencerdd; and the head Pencerdd had a jewel in form of a chair bestowed upon him at his creation, or graduation ; which he wore suspended from his neck by a ribband or chain. He then was called Bardd Cadeiriawg, which is a chaired Bard, and he sat in a chair in the king's hall, or any where else, by virtue of his dignity as supreme Bard; which it was not lawful for any other Bard to claim, but only the Bardd Cadeiriawg, who had won the chair upon disputation publicly before the king at commencement time, or at a royal wedding.
When the Bardd Cadeiriawg was dead, that formerly enjoyed the said jewel, it was sometimes yielded to the chief Bard of knowledge and worth by the others, without disputation, (if his sufficiency in his profeffion was known to surpass all the rest; and fo he had it pro confeffo,) that he was the chief Bard of knowledge in that dominion. But, if any Bard whatsoever challenged to dispute for it, it could not be given him (pro confello ;) but he disputed for it, and thereby accomplished the proverb, (viz. win it, and wear it;) for, he could not wear it, unless he won it by a trial of skill, or was yielded unto him by all the other Bards, upon convi&tion of his pre-eminence, and singular knowledge and worth, above all the rest ; for, the dignity of a Bard amongst the ancient Britons was very houourable. The Bards were men of high descent, often of the blood royal, and called their kings and princes by the title of cousins, and fellows, as Bléddyn Vardd called Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, (whom the English style Leolinus Magnus,) Prince of Cambria, his cousin, in these verses : Collais a gerais o gár, ac Arglwydd,
I have lost him I loved, my kindsman and lord; Erglyw ein tramgwydd, trymgwyn anwar; Pity our dire fall; fad and violent is our complaint : Collais chwe teyrn cedyrn cydvar,
I have lost fix mighty chiefs, who were one in wrath; Chwe Eryr cedwyr cadr eu darpar ;
Six warring eagles, of irresistible onset. Llewelyn a'i blant blaengarRvrodorion,
For Llewelyn, and his fons, a promising race, A’i haelion zâyrion ;-moer eu galar!
And his generous grandsons, direful is our moan! That was Llewelyn himself, and David, and Gruffyth, his sons; and Owain góch, Llewelyn, and David the three sons of Gruffyth ab Llewelyn. So did Cynddelw, the great Bard, who called Madog ab Meredydd,
3 Sir Trystan was so eminent a performer on the Harp, that he charmed La Bel Ifod, daughter of the king of Ireland. See Dr. Hanmer's Chronicle, p. 52 ; and pp. 12 and 14 of this work,
the Prince of Powys his lord and fellow, or fellow-lord, in his poem made in commendation of the said Madog, viz. Cyvarchav i'm rbi rad obaith
I will greet my prince, hopeful in grace : Cyvarchav, cyvarchais 8 canwaith ;
A hundred times have I greeted him In provi prydu o v’iaith-eurgerdd,
In efsaying poetic lore, in my language of golden song: Tm arglwydd gydymaith.
Tò my lord, and companion. And, in like manner, Iolo Góch claims kindred with Ithel ab Robert, of Coed y Mynydd, Tegengl, in his poem made to the said Ithel, wherein he writes as follows: Hyd ar untro clo y clód,
Highest in the teñple of Fame Er un llwyth o Ronwy Llwyd,
Is the great grey-headed Gronwy ; Poft dievrydd, pais dryvrwyd;
A staunch pillar, clad in the close-woven coatof mail; A'n hên-veistr gwys yn hanuod :
It is known, that we are of the same stock as our aged chief : Cyd wer fog Cóv diweir-falm,
Often have he and Ilung together with the voice of gladness; Vum ac ev yn dolev dalm. .
Sweet to me is the remembrance. Thus, we find, that the ancient Bards, in the time of the kings and princes, were their kinsmen ; and in the following age, after the princes, they were a-kin to the nobility of the country; as Iolo Góch to Ithel ab Robert, of Coed y Mynydd ; and Llewelyn Goch ab Meurig Hên to the noble family of Nannau. Neither could any mean person, in the tinie of the Cambrian kings, presume to study the learning, or profeffion of a Bard; but, when the princes were extinct, this limitation ceased also, and men of inferior birth, having good qualities, were admitted to study the science of the Bards, and to proceed in their profession to their graduation ; but under the title and vocation of Prydyddion, or Poets.
After the diffolution of the ancient government of Cambria, and the reduction thereof under Edward the First, that monarch, not respecting the honour nor the dignity of the ancient British laws, antiquities, or rights, endeavoured to the utmost of his power, (as did all his successors, until Henry the Seventh's time,) to destroy and extinguish both them, their fame, and antiquities
At this time the nobility and barons of Wales received such old Bards, after the death of the princes, as were then in being, into their protection; and encouraged them to take pupils that were fit and apt for that profession, and gave them all their stipend rights, privileges and entertainments, as fully as when the law was in forces. But now, alas ! the great knowledge of the Bards, their credit and worth, are altogether decayed, and worn out; so that they are extinguished amongst us.
The Prydyddion, or Poets, at this time, likewise are of no estimation, for divers reasons : neither did the Bards continue their records, since the law was extinguished by the death of the princes, whose acts they were bound to preserve; so that there is no history written by them since the death of Llewelyn ab Gruffyth ab Llewelyn, the last Prince of Cambria ; for, they had no princes of their own to set forth their acts, and all the worthy acts of the Welsh, since the death of their princes, and their annexation to the crown of England, were all assumed by the Englise kings, under whom they served as subje&ts : thus all the aclions and deeds of the Cambrians were vailed over with the English title, and shadowed by the English banner; as Virgil faith;
“ Hos ego verficulos feci, tulit alter honores;
" Sic vos non vobis," &c. As for the acts of some of our countrymen, since the reign of our princes, I will (God willing !) another time, and in another place, set them forth. And, in respect to the language of the Britons, as that is one of the Tri Chov, and part of the antiquity of Britain, I intend to write concerning the same, so that it may be more easily read, and perfe&ly understood. I shall then proceed to the history of the kings of Britain, and Cambria, as I have found it in some of our ancient books z one whereof I have set forth, at this time, as the foundation of a greater work hereafter, which must have its chief dependance on this book; and therefore, before I enter upon that of antiquity, which createth of the acts and deeds of the Kings, and Princes of Britain, and Cambria, I will begin with the foundation of grammar, and treat of the letters and characters with their true and perfect found, tone and accent thereof, as they are used in our modern language.
* See p. 38 of this work : and Warrington's Hif.of Wales. Welb Hiftorian, who flourished A. D. 1560 ; or, by William. s Hail, Bards triumphant, born in happier days.
Salisbury, Esq. of Cae Da, Llansannan, in Denbighshire,
EPIGRAMMATIC STANZAS, and PASTORALS, of the WELSH-BARDS.
« On themes alternate now the Swains recite;
HESE have been transmitted to us by oral tradition from time immemorial, and still are the domestic
« Love, Hope, and Joy, fair Pleasure's smiling train ;
“ Hate, Fear, and Grief, the family of Pain.' Pope. The memorial verses, which in the time of Cæfar' were never committed to writing, and which the Druidical Disciples employed so many years in learning, were Pennillion, conveyed in that most ancient metre called Englyn Milwr.
When the Bards had brought to a very artificial system their numerous and favourite metres, those which they rejected were left for the dress of the Rustic Muse, the Awen of the multitude. When Wales became an Englih province, Poetry had been generally diffused among the lower classes of the people. From that period they forgot their former favourite subjects of war and terror, and were confined to love, and the pasions which are nearly allied to it, of pity, and of sorrow; so these sort of Pennillion were naturally retained, and admired, on account of the tender beauties contained in them.
At length, towards the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the constitutional system of the Bards became almost extinct in Wales '°; and the only Poetry that survived was poured forth in unpremeditated Pennillion around the hearths of husbandmen, and in the cots of shepherds. What contributed to keep alive, under every discouragement of foreign oppression, the poetical vein of the Welsh peasantry, was their primitive fpirit of hospitality" and social mirth ; which assembled them to drink mead, and fing, and dance, around the harmony of the Harp, Crwth, and Pipes; and what has preserved from very distant times
The word Pennill is derived from Pen, a Head : because year 1730, under the fanction of the late Lord Chancellor Talbot. these stanzas flowed extempore from, and were treasured in And, about 12 years ago, I revived this ancient custom of the the Head, without being committed to paper. Pennill may congress of the Bards; I gave a medal to the best Poet; a medal also signify a brief head, or little fubje&.
to the best Singer with the Harp; and another for the best col8 See Cæfar's Commentaries: De Bello Gallico, lib.VI. c. 13. lection of Pennillion ; which meeting was held at Corwen, in
" I rhai hynny sy iroddi teftun i'r Beirdd i ganu arno, naill ai Meironethfbire. Since that time it has been continued annually mewn Englynion, Unodl union, Cywydd, neu ryw un o'r pedwar at different towns in North Wales : viz. at Bala, Dolgelley, St. Mefur ar bugain, ac nid mewn Dyri, Carol
, neu ryw wael gerddi, Afaph, Llanrwf, and at Denbigh. These meetings have lince 3 rhai ni vu wiw gan y prio veirdd gynt gymmaint a'i crybwyll
, o been judiciously patronized by the Gwyneddigion Society; and herwydd nad oes Rheolau perthynafol iddynt." Statud Gruffudd by some few of the gentry of Wales. Likewise, we held a ab Cynan ynghylch cadw kifteddvod. And fee pp. 28. & 30. Gorsedd, folemn-meeting, or Supreme Congress of the Bards of
This proves that Pennillion were then frequently composed the the of Britain, according to the ancient form of a Druidical and admired.
Alsembly, for the fake of recovering fomething of the Druidi. 10 There have been meetings of the Bards held in different cal Mythology, and Bardic Learning. This meeting was parts of Wales, since the reign of Elizabeth, although perhaps, held on Primrose-hill, near London, September 22, 1792. not by royal proclamation. One Eisteddvod was held at Caer. See some account of it in the Gentleman's Magazine, marthen about the year 1460. Another Eifteddvod was held in vol. LXII. p. 956. See alfo Pp. 38. and 46. of this work. 1570, under the auspices of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. "“ Among this people there is no beggar to be found: the Auother was held at Beaupré Castle, in South Wales, in 1681, houses of all are open for the welcome reception of all corners. i under the authority of Sir Richard Baffet. Another was held Munificence they esteem beyond all virtues; and the genius of
at Machynllaith, in Montgomerysbire, about the year 1900; and hospitality is so well understood, that the ceremony of offeran account of it was written by lago ab Dewi. Another meet- ing entertainment to strangers, and of asking it, is here uning was held at Istrad Twain, in Glamorgankire, about the known." Giraldus Cambrenfis
these little fopnets, is their fingular merit, and the affection with which they are remembered. Some of theold English songs, which have been a thousand times repeated, still continue to please ; while the lullaby of the day is echoed for a time, and is then consigned to everlasting oblivion. The metre of these ftanzas are various; a stanza containing from three, to nine verses; and a verse confisting of a certain number of syllables, from two, to eight. One of these metres is the Triban, or Triplet; another the Awdl Gywydd, or Hén ganiad, The memorial Ode of the ancient strain ; another, what in English Poetry would be called the Anapæstic. There are several kinds of Pennill metres, that may be adapted and sung to most of the following tunes; and some part of a tune being occasionally converted as a symphony. One set of words is not, like an English fong, confined to one air, but commonly adapted and sung to several.
The skill of the Pennill-fingers in this is admirable. According to the metres of their penillion, they strike into the tune in the proper place, and conduct it with wonderful exactness to thesymphony, or the close. While the Harp to which they sing is perhaps wandering in little variations and embellishments, their finging is not embarrassed, but true to the fundamental tune. This account explains the state of our Music, and Poetry, described by Giraldus, as they existed in his time; when the Wellh were a nation of Musicians and Poets ; when Cór's, or Musical Bards, were frequent among them; and when their children learnt from their infancy to sing in concert"
In his time it was usual for companies of young men, who knew no profession hut that of arms, to enter without distinction
every house they came to. There they enjoyed the free conversation of the young women, joined their voices to the harmony of the Harp, and consumed the day in the most animated festivity”. “ Even at this day, some vein of the ancient minstrelly survives amongst our mountains. Numbers of persons of both sexes assemble and fit around the Harp, singing alternately Pennillion, or stanzas, of ancient or modern compositions."
“ With charming symphony they introduce
" Melodious part.” “ The young people usually begin the night with dancing ; and, when they are tired, assume this species of relaxation. They alternately fing, dance, and drink, not by hours, but by days and weeks; and measure time only by the continuance of their mirth and pleasure. Often, like the modern Improvisatori of Italy, they fing extempore verses ; and a person, conversant in this art, readily produces a Pennill opposite to the last that was sung.” Many have their memories stored with several hundreds, perhaps thousands of Pennillion ?, some of which they have always ready for answers to every subject that can be proposed; or, if their recollection should ever fail them, they have invention to compose something pertinent and proper for the occasion. The subjects afford a great deal of mirth : some of these are jocular, others satirical, but most of them amorous, which, from the nature of the subject, are best preserved. They continue singing with out intermission, never repeating the same stanza, (for, that would forseit the honour of being held first of the song,) and, like nightingales, support the contest through the night. The audience usually call for the tune: sometimes a few only fing to it, and fometimes the whole company. But, when a party of capital fingers assemble, they rarely call for the tune; for, it is indifferent to them what tune the Harper plays. Parishes are often opposed to parishes ; even counties contend with counties; and every hill is vocal with the chorus+.
In these rural usages, which are best preserved in the mountainous counties of Merionydh, and Caernarvon ; we have a distant pleasing glimpse of ancient innocence, and the manners of a golden age, enjoying themselves with Metre, Music, and Mead. Mannau mwyn am win a médd,
Places of joy, for Mead, and Wine,
Soft maple-found, of strings Divine *. Whoever considers the unaffected sense, and unadulterated passions conveyed in these fine little pieces of antiquity—sentiments which all would hope, but few are able, to imitate-together with the sweet and soothing air of our musical compositions, which are mostly in the Lydian measure, will not wonder that
i Cambria Descriptio, cap. 12, and 13: See also pp. 29. and/ wisdom of the East, &c. he spoke 3000 proverbs ; and his 35. of this work.
Songs were a 1005” Firsl Book of Kings, chap. 4, • See Lord Lyttelton's History of Henry II. vol. II. p. 69. * See Pennant's Journey to Snowdon.
3 This custom appears to have been very early; for Sacred * The Harps and Crwth are usually made of the Sycamore History informs us, that " Solomon's wisdom excelled all the tree.
POETICAL BLOSSOMS, or PASTORALS, and EPIGRAMMATIC STANZAS.
like our national proverbs, they have been so long preserved by tradition, that the same stanzas are remem-
“ From words so sweet new grace the notes receive;
* Every language has peculiar beauties. The thoughts and words of these Pennillion are so uncommonly fimple and exprellive, that I do not presume to offer the annexed English stanzas as an adequate translation, but merely (for the fake of the English reader) as an imperfect sketeh, and idea of them. At the fame time, I must
not omit my grateful acknowledgments to the Rev. James Lambert, and the Rev. R. Williams, of Vron, for their puetical assistance in several of the following English verses. Few have been so happy in the concife style of writing
as my countryman Mr. John Owen, of Plas Dů, Llanarmon, near Pwllheli, Caernarvonshire, the noted Epigrammatist, and Poet Laureat to Queen Elizabeth; who died A. D. 1622, and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, London : he wrote several books of Latin Epigrams, which are much admired for their brevity, and sterling wit.
• How does the little Epigram delight,