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was Cynddelw, a man of varied exceedingly obscure. In his elegy powers, whose compositions evince a upon the death of Owain Gwynedd, spirit of independence, and an origi- there is a passage upon a battle at the nality in theological speculation, far River Teivi near Cardigan, which has beyond the age in which he lived. in it something of barbaric power :For example, he exclaims-
“The green flood of Teivi was thickened, “Ni chymeraf gymmun
The river was filled with the blood of men; Gan ysgymmun fyneich,
The blood-stained waterfowl called aloud A'n twygau ar eu glin :
for a glut of gore, A’m cymmuno Duw ei hun.”
And swam with toil on waves of blood." "I will not receive the communion
We have said that the reign of Lle-
welyn the Great (1194–1240) was the I will commune with God himself."
culminating point of this literature;
it comprises part of the career of The bards and the monks were Cynddelw, whose death is placed in sworn enemies, sneering mercilessly the year 1200, and includes the names at one another, and both fiercely con- of bards who are hardly his inferiors, tending for popular favour. A satire, or who in some respects excel him. formerly ascribed to Taliesin, but now Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, King of assigned to the thirteenth century, North Wales, has been surnamed the thus describes the bards :
Great, partly from his great ability in
maintaining order throughout Wales, " Minstrels persevere in their evil practices; for even the refractory princes of Immoral ditties are their delight ;
Powys acknowledged his supremacy;
and partly from his determined resistInnocent persons do they ridicule.
ance against English aggression, which, They pass their lives away in vanity. however, was conducted by the illAt night they carouse, by day they sleep; starred King John, and the unfortuCareless
, without work, they feed them- nate Henry III. He was intimately selves."
connected by affinity with the English On the other hand, the bards speak royal family, having married John's of "false, luxurious, and gluttonous daughter, Joanna, who herself does monks, who had a false form of holy not appear free from the paternal per
; life.” Lewis Glyn Cothy says—“One versity of character ; for we read in carves a relic from a piece of alder Bruse was hanged by Llewelyn, son of friar sells little glass images ; another the Chronicle of the Princes, under
the date 1230, “that year William wood. One has a grey Curig
beneath Iorwerth, having been caught in the his cloak; and another carries Seiriol, chamber of the Prince, with the Prinwith nine cheeses under his arm.” Curig and Seiriol were British, or
cess Jannet, daughter of King John,
and wife of the Prince." old Cymric, saints, whose images
Among the bards who flourished were thus hawked about; and the tone of the satire may be compared
during this reign, one of the most rewith Chaucer's description of the markable is Davydd Benvras, twelve Pardoner, in the prologue to his of whose poems have been preserved,
most of them addressed to Llewelyn Canterbury Tales." As monks and bards increased in herent than most of his contempora
the Great. This bard is more conumber, they became more and more
ries : what he has to say he puts into exasperated against each other; they were rival mendicants, and, therefore, thoughts fall short of sublimity, they
a few nervous words; and if his in one another's way. In their mu
are less trivial than those which are tual encounters, the monks were gene- found in many of the bardic remains. rally overmatched, for the wit of the In one of his odes to Llewelyn, the bards was aided by the popular contempt into which the friars had fallen. passages in which he alludes to the
ancient bards are very spirited :Many of the poems of Cynddelw addressed to princes, as to Owain
“O may my verse like Merddin's flow, Gwynedd and Owain Cyveiliog, dis
And with poetic visions glow! play mastery over words and skill in Great Aneurin, string my lyre, versification ; but his diction is often Grant a portion of thy fire !
SONG TO THE SUMMER.
That fire which made thy verse record down to us ; perhaps, as being popuThose chiefs who fell beneath the sword, lar songs, they were hardly thought On Cattraeth's bloody field :
worth recording. There is one quoted O may the muse her vigour bring
by Mr. Stephens from the Iolo MSS., While I Llewelyn's praises sing,
which is remarkable for peculiarity of His country's strongest shield.
versification : the first word of each Could I poetic heights attain,
couplet caps the last word of the preYet still unequal were my strain ceding. The following translation of Thy wondrous deeds to grace.
two stanzas will convey, as far as the E'en Taliesin, bardic king,
differences of language will allow, Unequal were thy praise to sing, some idea of the original.
Thy glories to retrace." Llewelyn ab Gruffydd, the last of the Welsh princes, reigned for nearly thirty years (1254-1282), sole King of “Summer I sing, and its sway o'er the poet, North Wales. During a considerable
Sing to its beauty where best we may portion of his reign he maintained a
View the sweet blossoms where love's feet gallant resistance, first against Henry
would wander, III., and then against Edward I. The
Down in the woodlands of green growth number of poets who lived during his
so tender. reign was not great, nor are their Tender 's the sight, where the grassy works particularly meritorious ; in- mead blendeth deed, in the early part of it, they In sport with the branch that over it scarcely reach mediocrity. But to
bendeth; wards the close, when the curtain fell
Bendeth for loved ones to meet in their upon the independent existence of the bowers,
And hide with wild elves from sunCymry as a nation, we meet with
gleams and showers. several very fine compositions. The best, perhaps, is the elegy upon Llewelyn, by Gruffydd ab Yr Ynad Coch,
“ Bowers that the elves the more love the who laments, in strains of deepest more laden, woe, the loss of the national chief :- And love with their gambols at moon
light to gladden; “ Frequent is heard the voice of woe,
Glad is the bard, when 'tis hardest to Frequent the tears of sorrow flow :
reckon Such sounds as erst in Camlan heard,
Beauties that aye for his frenzied glance Roused to wrath old Arthur's bard;
beckon ; Cambria's warrior we deplore,
Beckon from hillock and green mead so Our Llewelyn is no more.
All hailing the season that reigneth suThou great Creator of the world,
premely : Why are not thy red lightnings hurled?
Supremely in richness, in love, and in arWill not the sea at thy command
To every disciple of song the rewarder."
It is a singular fact that the Cymric
tales, stories, and romances, as we Where shall we flee? to whom complain, but in prose. The þards, properly so
have them, are written not in poetry Our king, beloved Llewelyn slain !"
called, were an exclusive order, and If there was a lack of poetry during had created an artificial taste, erectthe reign of the last Llewelyn, after ing a standard from which no one his death matters became still worse ; was allowed to depart. Hence, bardic for as Wales had been conquered, and poetry was principally religious or the national existence had ceased, the political-devoted to God and the fountain of poeticinspiration no longer Prince; so that many of the bards flowed.
thought it beneath their dignity to It is possible, however, that the treat of lighter subjects. Still, tales poems which we possess form but an and stories, in a prose form, were curimperfect reflex of the intellectual rent in the country, and were conactivity of this period. Everywhere temptuously termed by the bards, we find mention of songs and ballads, Mabinogion (pronounced “Mabbyno 'remnants of which have come noggion," g always hard), that is,
Tales for Children,” or “Juvenile became the wife of Sir Josiah John Tales.” Some of them have the cha- Guest, of Dowlais, in the county of racter of Chivalric Romances, while Glamorgan. She published, in 1838, others would appear to claim a higher a series of prose romances, or Mabinantiquity; and we may divide them ogion, from ancient Welsh manugenerally into two classes -(1) those scripts, and especially from the Red which celebrate Arthur and his Book of Hergest--a volume which is Knights of the Round Table, (2) those preserved in the library of Jesus which are devoted to other heroes. College, Oxford. This edition is
This fact is certain, that Arthur thoroughly well executed. First, the plays an unimportant part in the Welsh text is given, then a good Engpoems of the bards, while he is a hero lish translation, and lastly, notes and of the greatest dignity in the prose references to old French and old Engromances ; and it is curious to observe lish romances. To the first tale, how steadily fiction progressed. Ar- “The Lady of the Fountain,” is apthur, an insignificant chieftain in the pended an entire copy of the corressixth century, grew into a valorous ponding French romance, “Le CheWarrior in the eighth, and by the valier au Lion,” by Chrestien de twelfth had become emperor of the Troyes, copied from a vellum folio in whole civilized world. “ The Em- the Royal (now Imperial) Library at peror Arthur was at Caerlleon-upon- Paris. Usk,” is a phrase commonly occurring Of course, the question might be in the Mabinogion, with occasional raised, which were the origival variations of Camelot instead of sources ? whether, in fact, the Welsh Caerlleon.
romances are not mere translations The Mabinogion, therefore, are
from the French. We propose to Cymric prose romances-brilliant, consider this question hereafter ; but imaginative, redundant in imagery at the first glance, there is an argueven to a fault, and animated by a ment which tells in favour of the truly chivalrous spirit. We find a Welsh, namely, that they are characrestless aspiration after ideal great- terized by great simplicity, whereas ness-a desire to rise above the cold the French versions bear the mark of reality of fact, and to attain that elaborate polish and amplification. state where man, raised far above his The English are generally allowed to ordinary condition, is clothed with be translations from the French, or, every attribute of power and great- at least, imitations of French originals. ness. Here life is decked out in the Another argument in favour of the grandest colours, extraordinary acts Welsh is, that in the romances of are performed, dignified sentiments King Arthur, the leading names of are expressed, and exquisite sensibi- men and places have a Cymric origin lities are displayed. The Arthurs, -as Owen, Gawain, Caerlleon, Came
, Tristrams, and Percivals revel in most lot; while there could have been no gorgeous scenes ; they live in an at- motive for so numerous a collection of
; mosphere of their own; all are ani- Cyınric names, if the stories had not inated by a desire for happiness-a originated either in Brittany, or in yearning for ideal perfection. Quite the Island of Britain. in keeping with this tendency of the In literary studies, no inquiry is more worldly romances is the pursuit more full of suggestive thought than of sinless perfection and complete a comparison of Greek literature with sanctity exhibited in the romances of the development of European literathe St. Greal, or holy vessel which ture during the Middle Ages. One was said to have contained our Sa- coincidence deserves notice. In the viour's blood. It sometimes happens transition from poetry to prose, the that the legends of the Round Table, the earliest attempts were made by and those of the St. Greal, are com- drawing up prose versions of the old bined in one romance.
legends. Most people are acquainted We are indebted for a splendid with the Morte d'Arthur, translated edition of the Mabinogion to Lady from
the French, and published by Charlotte Guest. This very learned Sir Thomas Malory. This work was lady (femina doctissima, as Zeuss compiled at a time when the romances styles her), the only daughter of had ceased to be poetical, and had Albemarle, ninth Earl of Lindsey, assumed a prose form. Similarly, in the decline of epic poetry among the ture of the Kymry," by Thomas SteGreeks, we find Acusilaus, and other phens, and in the Literary Remains'' "logographers”--the predecessors of of the Rev. Thomas Price, both Herodotus-drawing up the ancient printed by William Rees, of Llandulegends in prose.
very. As far as this argument leads us, There are cycles in literary taste. we should not be disposed to assign a The influence of the Classical school very early date to the Cymric Ma- prevailed for three hundred years--binogion, in their present form. Mr. from the Revival of Learning till about Stephens thinks that though, as the commencement of the present they stand, they may not be older century. Then came a reaction in fathan the twelfth century, yet they vour of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon were, evidently, in circulation years, antiquity, which has produced most if not centuries, before. This much, important results during the last fifty however, is certain, that the Artu- years. Celtic studies await their rian romances form an important turn, and, in all probability, they will section of European literature, and not have waited in vain.
But our that their origin must be sought native scholars must do their duty, in the traditions of Brittany and and not allow themselves to be outWales. Those who wish to pursue stripped in the race by their brethren this interesting subject further, will on the Continent. find ample material in the “Litera
WILKS THE ACTOR: HIS LATER CAREER.
WILKS returned to London in 1698. Marriage a la Mode.” The author His success in Dublin had been rapid of the “ Laureate” says, “I remember and brilliant. He had greatly im- that I had the pleasure to see Wilks proved, and carried back with him a play Palamede on his first appearance more established reputation. The after his return from Ireland. He subsequent career of this distin- spoke a prologue written by Farquguished actor is full of interest. Galt, har, and was received with great and with his usual carelessness, asserts general applause.” The prologue had that Wilks made his first re-appear- these lines, with reference to his quitance, in London, as Roebuck in his ting Ireland, and the increased diffifriend Farquhar's comedy of “Love culties of his new position : and a Bottle.” The character was
“Void of offence, though not from censure quite in his vein-a lively, versatile
free, roué ; but “Love and a Bottle” was
I left my native isle, too kind to me; not produced until 1699, and bills Loaded with favours, I was forced away, preserved in the British Museum, Loth to accept what I could ne'er repay. show that the original Roebuck was There, I could please; but here my fame Joseph Williams, an actor of note,
must end, but, like Powell, more given to the
For hither none may come to boast, but worship of Bacchus than Thalia.
mend. Wilks had no part in the play, al
Improvement must be great, for here I
find though his interest recommended it
Precepts, examples, and new masters for acceptance. Galt, in all proba
kind.” bility, was ignorant of the existence of these bills, nor would he have Cibber says that, in the part of taken the trouble to consult them had Palamede, Wilks fell far short of he been told where they were. Curll Powell, and missed a large share of says (“ History of the Stage, 1741”), the loose humour of the character that the King, in the “ Island Prin- which the other more happily hit. cess, was the first part played by “But,” adds the old cynic," he was Wilks when he went back to Drury- young, erect, of a pleasing aspect, and lane. He might have seen in Cibber's on the whole, gave the town and the “Apology, published the year before, stage sufficient hopes.” He soon esthat the character was Palamede, in tablished himself in public favour,
superseding Powell in many parts, and gave herself out as an heiress, and aggravating that rival's pretended but as it proved, she had no more contempt into frantic jealousy, work- estate than his own, which he jocosely ing up to a challenge. Wilks accepted said fell within the circumference of the cartel of defiance with alacrity, his hat. But he used her well, and greatly to the disappointment of the never reproached her with the deceit. pugnacious Powell, who, finding he There is nothing recorded of Wilks had mistaken his man, instantly more honourable to his memory than backed out with an apology, and his conduct towards this illistarred vented his spleen by deserting to the son of genius. In very early youth, rival house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Farquhar tried the stage, in Dublin, With superior natural advantages to without success, and left it in disgust, Wilks, he suffered himself to be dis- because, through the unlucky mistake tanced in the race by reckless habits of using a real sword instead of a foil, and devotion to the bottle. He drank he dangerously wounded a brother himself to death in 1717, and for se- actor, and was so affected by the acveral years before had sunk into an cident, that he resolved never again inferior grade. Wilks never threw a to expose himself to a similar chànce: chance away. He loved his art with Wilks, seeing that his talents pointed enthusiasm. From the hour when he in another direction, advised him to first trod the boards to the day of his write plays instead of acting them, death, it was his ruling passion. He and to try his fortune in London, prebestowed equal pains on every scene senting him at the same time with of every part he undertook, reinforc- ten guineas to defray the expenses of ing his powers by unremitting study the journey. This appears to have and sobriety. He also possessed à occurred in 1697. But it was not unmost tenacious memory.
He could til Wilks had established himself in learn a part by heart in little more the English metropolis, in 1699, that time than it took many to read it, and his influence_obtained the reprewhat he had mastered he never for- sentation of Farquhar's first play, got. Once, in a new comedy, he Love and a Bottle.” The success of complained to the author that he this secured the acceptance of “ The found a crabbed soliloquy so trouble- Constant Couple, or a Trip to the some that he wished it either softened Jubilee,” which came out near the or abbreviated. The author, to make close of the same year. Farquhar the matter easy, struck the speech out wrote Sir Harry Wildair for Wilks, altogether. Wilks, when he went home who so admirably embodied the from the rehearsal, felt so piqued at author's conception, that he dedicated such an implied indignity to his me- the play to him, and said in the premory, that he made himself perfect in face,“ When you die, Sir Harry may that identical speech, though he knew go to the Jubilee." This, however, it was a work of voluntary and pain- proved a false prophecy, for Garrick ful supererogation. “I have been l'esuscitated Sir Harry with great atastonished,” says Cibber, “ to see him traction, was thougħit by many to swallow glibly a volume of froth and equal the original representative, and inspidity in a new piece, which we Mrs. Woffington was generally prowere all sure could not live above nounced superior to both. The * Conthree days.” On another occasion he stant Couple” had a run of fifty-three laid a wager, and won it, that he nights on its first production. The could repeat the part of Truewit in irregularities of the play were severely Ben Jonson's "Silent Woman," which criticised, but the brilliant acting of consists of thirty theatrical lengths, or Wilks bore down all objections, and 1,260 lines, without omitting or mis- even the scurrilous Gildon admitted placing a single.word.
that no dramatic production ever did During his residence in Ireland, such wonders. Farquhar had three Wilks formed a close friendship with benefits on account of the unprecethe unfortunate George Farquhar, dented success. In 1701 he produced which lasted until the death of thé a sequel to the “Constant Couple,” latter, and was continued to his orphan called “ Sir Harry Wildair.” This daughters. Farquhar had been en- was the weakest of all his plays, yet trapped into a marriage with a lady, it met with more encouragement than who fell desperately in love with him, the “ Inconstant" (1702), which far