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Manuscripts of Benedd y Saint, and Achas ' Saint, &c.
87 The three essences of vocal Song,
The seven Liberal Sciences,
The Teulawr, or Family Songster, and his profesion,
21-66 The three branches of vocal Song,
Poetry were in their zenith of perfection in Wales, 38 The three inferior Song ters, or Minstrels,
Patriarchal, or Druidical Laws, p. 6, and note 3,
Three Things proper for a man to have in his house,
74 The Sophar, or Trumpet ; God gave direction to Moses
Prognostication upon the Colour of the New Moon, &c.
77 The Bards and Druids had an extraordinary veneration
The three Gradations, in Poetical Compofitions,
117 Ulpbus's Horn,
Account of Foba Richards of Llanrwst, the famous Harp-
Waits, or Serenades; see the 8th Note in page
AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT
THE ANCIENT BRITISH BARDS, AND DRUIDS,
THEIR MUSIC, AND POETRY:
Y the Roman invasion, and the more barbarous excursions of the Saxons, the Danes, and the Normans, and the emigration of the Britons to Armorica '; by the frequent destruction of MSS ?, and the massa
cres of the Clergy 3 and the Bards“, the Poetry and Music of Wales have suffered a loss, that has thrown a dark cloud over the history of those native arrs, and for a long time threatened their total extinction. Yet from the memorials still extant, and the poetical and musical compositions which time has spared, we are enabled often to produce unquestionable evidence, and always to form a probable conjecture, concerning their rise and progress among us; since there is no living nation that can produce works of so remote antiquity, and at the same time of such unimpeached authority as the Welsh *
Blegywryd ab Seifyllt, the 56th supreme King of Britain, who reigned 28 years, and died 2069 years after the Deluge, or about 190 before Christ, of whom it is recorded, that he excelled all before him in the Science of Music; was called, for his extraordinary skill in Vocal and Instrumental Melody, The God
of Musics. Le Brut d’Angleterre, or Metrical History of Brutus, represents Gaöbet, or Blegywryd, as the most able musician of his time, and specifies fix instruments upon which that monarch could perform.
De Little Britain, now Bretagne, in France, was called in Cæsar's (Leland says, that King Belin, the fon of Dyvynwal, built the time, Ar y-môr. ucha', i.e. on the upper Sea, and afterwards Tower of London, about 430 years before Christ. Verunnius inhabited by Britons, about the year of Christ 384. A hundred also records, that when Belin died, his body was burnt and put thousand Britons, besides a numerous army of soldiers, went into a golden urn, upon the top of a tower that he had built, out of this Island under the command of Conan, Lord of Me- which was afterwards called by his name Belin's Gate ; and riadoc, now Denbighland, to the aid of Maximus the Tyrant, from which is derived Billingsgate. He also built Caerwysg, now against the Emperor Gratianus, and conquered the said country called Caer-lleon, on the river Ulk. Stow's Survey of Great Britain.) of Arymor-ugha. For this service Maximus granted to Conan and During the insurrection of Owen Glyndwr, the MSS. then his followers Ar’morucha, where the Britons drove out the extant of the ancient British learning and poetry were fo fcatformer inhabitants, seated themselves, and erected a Kingdom, tered and destroyed, “ that there escaped not one, (as William which lasted many years under several Kings, and where their Salisbury relates) that was not incurably maimed, and irrecusuccessors to this day speak the Welsh language, being the third perably torn and mangled.” See Evan's Specimens of the Welsh remnant of the Ancient Britons. This Conan of Meriadoc, Poetry, p. 160. was Nephew to Eudaf King of Britain. See Drych y Prif Gildas, the most ancient British author, who flourished about Oefoedd, by Theophilus Evans. Caradoc's Hif. of Wales, by A. D. 58c, bemoans the loss of records in these words ; Wynne, p. 8, and Lewis's Hift. of Great Britain, p. 143. fol. monuments of our country, or writers, appear not, as either
The Cymry, or Welsh, are . defcended from Gomer the eldest burnt hy the fire of enemies, or transported far off by our son of Japheth, son of Noah ; whose offspring were the origin banished countrymen.” Gildas's Epislle. of nations, and who divided on the earth after the flood. Genesis, 3 « The university of Bangor is-Coed, founded by Lucius, Chap. 10. ver. 32.
king of Britain, was remarkable for its valuable library. It • The Welsh nobles, who were captives in the Tower of Lon continued 350 years, and produced many learned men. 'Condon, (formerly called the White Tower, part of which is still gelus, a holy man, who died A. D. 530, changed the univer: known by that name,) obtained permission that the contents of lity into a monastery, containing 1200 Monks. At the insti. their libraries should be sent them from Wales, to amuse them gation of Auftin the Monk, Etbelfred, king of Northumberland, in their solitude and confinement. This was a frequent practice, massacred twelve hundred of the British clergy of this monarfo that in process of time the Tower became the principal repo- tery; nine hundred, who escaped, were afterwards slain by. fitory of Welsh literature. Unfortunately for our hiltory and pirates. This happened in the year 603. See Humphrey Llwyd's poetry, all the MSS. thus collected were burnt by the villany Britannice Descriptionis Commentariolum. Lewis's Hiftory of Great of one Scolan, of whom nothing more is known. Gutto'r Glyn, Britain. Folio, p. 107. And Rowland's Mon& Antiquu, 2d edian eminent Bard, who flourished in the 14th century, has in tion, p. 138, and 151. one of his poems the following passage ;
* See Guthrie's Hilorical Grammar, and the sequelofthis bistory.
* There is a Catalogue of some of the most ancient Welili Llyfrau Cymry au llofrudd
manuscripts in Leges Wallice, fol. after the preface. And in I'r I'wr Gwyn aethant ar gudd;
Ed. Lhuyd's Archeologia Britannica, fol. p. 254, &c. and in Yfceler oedd Tscolan,
P, 225, Also in the Harleiar. Library, and in many private Fwrw'r twrr-lyfrau i'r tân.
Libraries in Wales.
S“ Ac yn ol Seihllt y daeth Blegwryd yn frenhin, ac ni bu erided The' books of Cymry and their remains
Gantor cysial ag ef o Gelfyddyd Music, na chwarydd cystal ag of o Went to the White Tower, where they were hid. budol, ac am hynny y gelwid ef Duw y Chwarau. 4 bon 4 Cursed was /golan's act,
wladychawdd ar Ynys Brydein 28 mlynedd ag yna y bú farw : les In throwing them in heaps into the fire.
oedd hynny wedi dilimo 2c69 o fynyddoedd." Tyslilio's Britith
Before I enter on the account of the Druids, it is requisite to give a derivation of the names of the different classes, by which they were formerly known. The Bardd, Derwydd, and Ofydd ; or, as the English reader will better recognize them, the Bard, Druid, and Ovade, have been treated with great levity by etymologists; for they have been changed to almost every thing, in order to prop a tottering system, or to haften the conception of a fanciful reverie. After making this remark, it will be necessary to avoid incurring censure, and falling into the like error ; which I hope to do, by giving the exact meaning of these words, strictly as they are found in British writings for twelve centuries past, and without torturing them by altering a single letter ; a plan that should always be adhered to in a language like the Welsh, that springs and expands from a regular set of primitive, roots; otherwise it ends in mere conjecture; and in that case a fruitful brain may guess a very plausible idea, and yet be far enough from the truth.
Bardd, signifies primarily what makes conspicuous, or what elucidates ; and secondarily, å person of fcience and knowledge, or a philosopher, and teacher. It is derived from Bár, a top, or fummit, which is also the root of Baron, Judgment?; Barv, a beard ; and other words.
Derwydd, implies abstractedly what is present with, or has cognizance; and in its common acceptation it denotes a priest; and is the origin of the term Druid in other languages. It is derived from Dâr, the abstract meaning of which is, what expands out; and it is the term for an Oak, in common with its inflected derivative Derw. The word Derwydd may therefore be compounded two ways, agreeing in a general acceptation ; that is to say, Der-wydd, and Derw.ydd: I rather adopt the first, because Gwyddon, or knowing.ones, is very frequently found in old writings in the same acceptation as Derwyddon, or Druids o.
It is evident, from our ancient Chronicles, that the Bards were the original, or initiated system, from which the Derwydd, and Ofydd; or priest, and artist branched out. No one could officiate as a priest, or Druid, but such as belonged to the Bardic order ; neither were any permitted to follow what the Britons called Celvyddyd Rydd, or Liberal Art, but the Ovyddion. So that the order of the Bards bore an exact analogy to the Levites under the Mosaic dispensation ; for according to the law of Moses, the functions of the priesthood belonged exclusively to the Levites, in the same manner as the Bards were the constitutional origin of the Druidical hierarchy'.
History, Ms. Fabian also, speaking of Blegwryd, names him, teronomy, chap. 17. v. 8, and 9.-- See more in the Introduction
8 At Llanidan, in Anglesey, formerly inhabited by the Druid. Archmael. Blegwryd's daughter Agafia, married Durstus, King of ical conventual societies, we at this day find vestiges of Tre'-rScotland, about the year of the world 864 ; and from her the Dryw, the Arch Druid's manlion; Bod drudaủ, the abode of succeeding race of Scottish Kings are descended. George Owen the inferior ones ; and near them Bod-owyr, the abode of the Harry's Book of Genealogy. Quarto.
Ovates; and Tre-r-Beirdd, the Hamlet of the Bards. Mona• Dr. Burney's Hilt. of Music, Vol. II. p. 353.
Antiqua, page 65, 236, and 239. Allo, near Fishguard, in ?“ The most Ancient order of people of Britain are jully Pembrokeshire, there is a place called Fynnon Ofydd, or the esteemed the Bardi, and these were before the Druids, although Well of Ofydd. in time the latter got the start of the other in great esteem.” , I am indebted to my ingenious friend Mr. William Owen Sammes Britannia, p. 99. The Bards, and Druids were also the Pughe, (the Johnsonian of the Welsh language,) for the above judges of the country, similar to the Levites, and Priests, Deu- etymology of the Bard, and Druid.
Mr. Mason, in his Cáractacus, has adopted the ancient distinction of three orders of Druids, in so elegant and descriptive a manner, that I am induced here to quote the passage:
On the left
Gives place to holy rites: then in the grove
Each hath his rank and functions.-Yonder grots
Are tenanted by Bards, who nightly thence,
Rob'd in their flowing vests of celestial blue,
Descend, with harps that glitter to the moon,
Hymning immortal strains. Of the Bards, however, and of their poetry and music, at those remote periods, little more than a faint tradition is preserved, and that little we either derive from the poetical remains of the British annals, or glean where-ever it is scattered over the wider field of Roman history. There is no account indeed of Britain in any writer preceding Cæsar. But as it is incredible that its ancient arts sprung up under the oppression of the Roman yoke, and as it has never been pretended that any part of them was borrowed from the conquerors, whatever mention of them is found in the Greek and Roman authors, who succeeded the first invasion, may fairly be produced as in some measure descriptive of their state before it.
Those nations could not surely be rude in the construction of their poetry and music, among whom, as Cæsar declares ""; the supremacy, and omnipotence of the gods was acknowledged, the immortality and transmigration of the soul was believed ", opinions were formed concerning the motion of the planets and the dimensions of the world, and whose youth was instructed in the nature and philosophy of things.
In all the Celtic nations we discover a remarkable uniformity of manners and institutes. It was the custom of the ancient Germans, when they marched to battle, to animate themselves with singing verses, prophetic of their success, which they called Barditus "?. It was the honourable office of the Bards of Britain to sing to the harp, at the nuptials and funeral obsequies, their games and other solemnities, and, at the head of their armies, the praises of those who had signalized themselves by virtuous and heroic actions". This entertainment made a deep impression on the young warriors, elevated some to heroism, and prompted virtue in every breast. Among the Celts, says Diodorus Siculus ", are composers of melodies, called Bards, who sing to instruments, like lyres, panegyrical, or invective strains : and in such reverence are they held, that when two armies, prepared for battle, have cast their darts, and drawn their swords, on the appearance and interposition of the Bards, they immediately desist. Thus, even among the rude barbarians, wrath gives place to wisdom, and Mars to the Muses 'S,
Posidonius of Apamea, who flourished about 30 years before Christ, an author cited by Athenaus in his fixth hook, has the following passage ; “ The Celts always carry to battle with them people whom they maintain as Parasites. These companions of the table celebrate their praises, either before the crowd which is assembled together, or before any individual who may be interested in these Eulogies. Their Singers they call Bards, that is to say, Poets, who publish the praises of Eminent Men with Songs 16.”
10 De Bello Gallico, lib. vi.
worthy men, composed in heroic verse. But the Ovades, search. " Thrice happy they beneath their northern skies,
ing into the highest altitudes of Nature's work, endeavoured to Who that worst fear, the fear of death, despise ;
lay open and declare the same. Among these, the Druids of an Hence they no cares from this frail being feel,
higher wit and conceit, according as the authority of Pythagoras But rush undaunted on the pointed steel,
decreed, being tied into societies and fellowships, were addicted Provoke approaching fate, and bravely fcorn,
wholly into questions of deep and hidden points, and they,
despising all human things, pronounced that men's souls were To spare that life which must so soon return.
Lowe's Lucan, b. i.
Ammianus Marcellinus's Hif. by Holland, 15th
immortal.” 12 Tacitus de moribus Germanorum.“
Book, and Chap. gth.
14 'Ες και τσαρ' αυτούς και ποιήθαι μελών, ες ΒΑΡΔΟΥΣ όνομάξεσι, 13 Retreated in silent valley, sing, With notes angelical to many a harp,
ετοι δε με οργανων ταϊς λύραις ομοίων 'άδούλες, ες μέν ύμνάσι, ες δε βλασ
Onušot. H. Steph. edit. 1559. p. 213. Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall
Diodorus Siculus, Book 5. and Chap. the 2d. By doom of battle.
is Didorus Siculus de Gest. Fabulos. Antiq. I. vi. See also " Aš the men of this place were grown by little and little to the notes on the sixth song of Drayton's Polyolbion. civilities, the studies of laudable sciences, begun by the Bards, 16 Τα δε ακέσματα αυτών εισίν οι καλέμενοι ΒΑΡΔΟΙ. σοιήθαι δε έτος Ovades, and Druids, mightily flourished here. And the Bards muy závads mila 'dñs étaires réyoles. Posidonius apud Atheneum, fung unto the sweet music of the Harp, the valorous deeds of I lib. 6.
A fragment of Posidonius, preserved in Athendus ", enables us to exhibit the only specimen of the genius of the Bards, that can be ascribed with certainty to that early period. Describing the wealth and magnificence of Luernius, Posidonius relates, that ambitious of popular favour, he frequently was borne over the plains in a chariot, scattering gold and silver among myriads of the Celts who followed him. On a day of banqueting and festivity, when he entertained with abundance of choice provisions and a profusion of costly liquors, his innumerable attendants, a poet of the Barbarians, arriving long after the rest, greeted him with singing the praise of his unrivalled bounty and exalted virtues, but lamented his own bad fortune in so late an arrival. Luernius, charmed with his song, called for a purse of gold, and threw it to the Bard; who, animated with gratitude, renewed the encomium, and proclaimed, that the track of his chariot wheels upon the earth was productive of wealth and blessings to mankind.
ΔΙΟΤΙ ΤΑ ΙΧΝΗ ΤΗΣ ΓΗΣ (Εφ ΗΣ ΑΡΜΑΤΗΛΑΤΕΙ) ΧΡΥΣΟΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΥΕΡΓΕΣΙΑΣ
ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΙΣ ΦΕΡΕΙ. .
The disciples of the Druidical Bards, during a noviciate of twenty years, learnt an immense number of verses "s, in which they preserved the principles of their religious and civil polity by uninterrupted tradition for
many centuries. Though the use of letters was familiar to them, they did not deem it lawful to commit their verses to writing, for the sake of strengthening their intellectual faculties, and of keeping their mysterious knowledge from the contemplation of the vulgar.
The metre in which these oracular instructions were communicated to the people, was called Englyn
DRUIDICAL VERSES 20.
Beneathe the Birch-tree's holy tear,
The Celtic race have nought to fear - 21
Breathe not thy Secret on a miscreant's ear!
" See the Rev. Mr. Evans's Specimens of Welsh Poetry, in precious a boon. Of the Missleto, thus gathered, they made a Dissert. de Bardis, p. 65, and 66,
potion, which they administered as an antidote to all poisons; *8 Cæsar de Bello Gallico, l. vi.
and used it as a remedy to prevent barrenness, (probably the
under the Missletoe bush at Christmas, originated.
Selago, or Firr Club-moss; and the Samolus, or Round-leaved
Water Pimpernal ; both which they applied to medicinal pur-
poses. Pliny's Nat. Hif, XVI. C. 44.-And Evelyn's Sylvan
Maffon's Caradacus. Sir John Colbatch, a Physician, has published a curious Disser
tation on the Efficacy of the Mifleto; in the year 1725, O&avo,