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the perfume of roses loaded the air; round the shaded ponds, where the swans that knew her call were resting on the still waters; down through bosky dingles, and up over green slopes. Farewell, loved scenes--farewell! Nevermore can you be what you once were, in the eyes of her who breathes her adieux in the twilight hour!
But this parting is not for ever, Lizette. The dark web is progressing steadily and surely, determined to wind itself round many people. You will yet again be at Meiklam's Rest
when the old house will stand under the shadow of such a gloom as never overspread it before. Speak not of the future, wind of the summer night; breathe no whisper of coming events. Come out, pale stars, and shine softly; let peace reign while it may. Tell not of shame or woe, or wailings of agony, that might make the woods and the walls of the old house tremble. Tell not of retribution, or stricken conscience, or heavy punishment. Let the gentle mourner take her farewells quietly. Raise not the veil drawn over the future.
IRISH MAGIC IN THE DAYS OF CORMAC.
FROM descriptions entering more or less into detail, and from various allusions in the works of writers in the ages of classic and romantic literature, it is possible to acquire some notion of the processes used by impatient folk of all times for the purpose of learning their future misfortunes, of obtaining present advantages for themselves, or of inflicting ills on their enemies. We have already examined some authorities in re magica in general, and laid the results before our readers, and in a late paper, gave in little, several old Celtic tales characterized by supernatural agency. Absolute certainty as to the exact mode in which the deified influences of nature were invoked by our forefathers, cannot now be attained. No historian or divine has bequeathed any reliable information on the subject. We are obliged to depend on what the old poets and story-tellers have said, and they were as likely to invent modes and forms of action as to relate what was handed down to them. It would be a satisfactory thing if we could get at the genuine proceedings of a druid or fervent worshipper of the Celtic divinities, when calling on one or other of them for information or assistance. The satisfaction, at least, of the more credulous would be increased by knowing whether evil powers were permitted or not to respond to these calls in any way, and interfere with operations in the physical world, or events in the social order of things. It is intimated in
the history of the Jews that such was the case among them, and that it was not until the establishment of the Christian faith that the oracles, sham or diabolical, became dumb, and demoniacal possession ceased.
So the real conditions and character of sorcery in the pagan times of our own history being now unattainable, we have nothing for it but to examine what our poets and romancers have left us on the subject, and endeavour to secure the few grains discoverable in the quantity of chaff they have bequeathed us.
Some notions of the modus operandi of druids and sorcerers may probably be obtained by comparing accounts left in different legends, and making allowances for poetic colouring and invention.
Omitting from present consideration the undoubtedly ancient fictions preserved in our colleges and libraries, there are several which, after many oral deliveries were committed to parchment from the sixth to the twelfth centuries, and continued to be thumbed and abused till they were quite worn out, copies being taken in most cases before the
doom of future destruction" came on them. Nearly every transcriber adopted the orthography used in his own day, and the original poetic form often degenerated into prose, some of the best remembered metrical passages still standing in relief like deep-coloured fairy rings in low-lying meadows.
This modification of the original
work might have thus taken place. As the poetic tale was learned in succession by story-tellers of various gifts, and as every one of the profession was obliged to be qualified to recite from fifty to three hundred and fifty such, it was but natural that the exact phraseology of portions of the narrative should escape his memory. In this case he would either clothe the substance of the vanished part in verse of his own composition, or relate it in homely prose. Even after the poem had been taken from the precarious custody of the Scealacht's memory and confided to the surer keeping of ink and parchment, thorough integrity could not at all times be calcuated on. Copies would be lost, or worn out, or torn, and where new ones were undertaken, gaps would occur in the poetry, to be filled in by the inferior material. This accounts for the motley appearance of many of the remains of old-world romance. The manuscripts of popular lays and romances never printed, can seldom boast of great age. The editors of the Ossianic remains have not claimed for the manuscripts used in the publication a higher antiquity than various periods of the last century. Even printed books of folk-lore and cookery, are rarely met of the venerable age of sixscore years.
Cæsars, Sallusts, and Tacituses in 24mo, and published by Louis and Daniel Elzevir, are somewhat rare. Still they are to be met with in the libraries of collectors; but if any of our savants have in his library a copy of the cookery book published by these estimable printers in 1633, he possesses a treasure which we know, on the authority of Alexander Dumas, that Charles Nodier, after unheard-of researches, was glad to obtain at an outlay of three hundred francs. There are few literary curiosities that grace the stalls or old-book shops in this our city of Dublin, unknown to us, yet we have not discovered for years a copy of Reynard the Fox," "Irish Rogues and Rapparees," "Don Belianus of Greece," "Laugh and be Fat," Lady Lucy," or the "Battle of Aughrim," printed by Jones and Wogan in the end of the past century and beginning of the present one, VOL. LXIII.-NO. CCCLXXVI.
and the delights of the play hours of rustic school-days. Whither have they vanished? No doubt, not in the current of an export trade. They have been simply worn out in the service, or perished by attrition.
So, in pronouncing on the antiquity of any poem or prose story attributed to Oisin, or Fergus, or Caoilte, we must not be influenced by the water-marks of the paper nor the hue of the ink, but by the character and local colour of the tale; and if we find united with other qualities, a spirit thoroughly destitute of Christian morality and modern colour pervading the work, it may afford good grounds for attributing a hoar age to the literary relic.
And it may be remarked that in these Celtic fictions, as well as in the people's stories, current through all Europe, the Christian element is altogether absent, or very sparingly introduced, and everything supernatural deeply tinged with magic hues. stories connected with the fortunes of the early Christian kings; no spiritstirring tales of victories by Christian knights over the fierce heathens of Lochlann, have come down to the successors of the old Irish_storytellers. No professed Bolg an T-Seanchais (budget of stories) can find after the closest search into the bottom of his satchel, a single legend embodying any episode of the early struggles with the Anglo-Normans. Where did there ever live a Blue Beard, or ogre, or truculent tyrant, that could match Murrogh the Burner in acts of savage desolation ? yet, he is scarcely remembered in the traditions of the peasants, much less in their fireside stories. So, the conclusion to which we have come, and to which we wish to lead our readers, is, that the popular relics of Celtic story extant, as well as the general collection of the folk stories of the different countries of Europe, have come to us modified and corrupted from early and pre-Christian times.
It was our intention, as in the former paper of the same character, to give in abstract a few of those old wild legends of which magical action formed a part. But we became interested, whether we would or no, in the story first taken up; and when it came to an end we found there was
no room for more. The manuscript which the writer has in some portions literally copied, and which in others is given in an abridged form, and with as close an imitation of the style as could be effected, has been obligingly lent to him by John Windele, Esq., of Cork, to whom he as well as other labourers in the fields of old Irish literature, has to record his obligation. When are we to see the Algallamh na Seanoruch (dialogues of the sages), which has been so long promised to the members of the Ossianic Society, edited and annotated by Mr. Windele?
The tale, as will be felt, is sufficiently wild and extravagant, but is, nevertheless, provided with a substratum of fact. King Cormac did invade Fiacha Muilleathan, with little or no reason or justice on his side, and suffered a severe defeat, and the good Fiacha was afterwards treacherously slain as described, and in the locality mentioned. The original inventor of the tale was evidently a Munster man. He does not, by any means, allow due honour to the King of Leath Conn, who was one of the wisest and most capable of the kings that sat at Tara. His life has only to be told with some ability, to be as interesting as a romance. Some of its episodes will probably be furnished in the UNIVERSITY at some convenient season. He composed a body of wise instructions for the use of his son Cairbre, who succeeded him, and appears to have died a believer in one God, while all about him were pagan polytheists. It is said that his chief druid brought him an idol, and requested him to adore it. On his refusal he took it away, but soon returned with it again, having first dressed it up in the most magnificent manner. On the king giving another and a more decided refusal, he finally withdrew; and blame is laid on him and his brother druids for the death of Cormac, which took place shortly afterwards. He was dining or supping on a Boyne salmon, at Sighe Cleithig, and one of its bones, either left to itself, or influenced by a druidical charm, settled across his throat, and caused his death. He
was a man of expediencies, as well as the monarch of Ithaca, and would do a little evil to produce what he looked on as a great good; but this failing is here magnified in the same ratio as the other adjuncts of the story.
We have met with no old Celtic tale that deals with druidic practices (whether truly described or not, who can say ?) so largely as this. One circumstance is pretty certain, that the bond fide addresses and spells made to their divinities by the old priests were couched in metre; and that oftentimes successful results waited on their incantations- results proceeding either from their knowledge of natural philosophy, or from permitted assistance given by the powers of evil.
But it is time to enter upon the story; the title of which, translated, is the "Victory of the Hill of Bellowing Oxen," the locality being in the neighbourhood of Limerick.
Popbuir Opoma Damgoire.
IN the reign of Cormac, one of the wisest of ancient Irish kings (wise after the fashion of Ulysses, be it understood), and in the third century of our era, a cause of quarrel arose between him and the king of the Southern part of the island (.e., all to the south of the Eiscir Riadha* connecting Dublin and Galway).
This King of the South, Fiacha by name, was born on the same day with Cormac. Their fathers, .e., Eeogan of Munster, and Art the Melancholy, were slain on the same day, in the bloody battle of Macroom, fighting side by side against Mac Con the ally of the foreigners. The two princes, of whom our tale will treat, were relations; and both were born after the death of their fathers. Yet these circumstances did not prevent one from making war on the other. The causes and the circumstances of this war being differently related by the dry annalists and by the poets, we, for obvious reasons, take the latter pleasant authorities for our guides.
Not having seen in any of our museums coins stamped with the effigies of Cormac the Wise, we do
Eiscir, a low ridge, remains of which may be traced from the Green Hills near Dublin to the shores of Galway.
not suppose that he had his hand often in his pouch for the purpose of flinging money to bard or soldier. However, he was no gainer by the absence of a circulating medium. Cloaks, drinking-cups, shields, swords, serving-women, and cows, were known to be in his possession; and at a time when he was almost as poor, by reason of the liberality imperatively exacted from every king and chief, as one of his poorest bodachs, there came into his presence Mainne, the keeper of the royal herds; and, at the instigation of Crom or Moloch, he asked the distressed sovereign for a present of cows, more in number than I care to mention.*"Where am I to get them, you son of a short-horned bull," said the perplexed king; "and why did you not apply before my yearly tributes were dispersed ?" Saying this, he retired into his inner room, and remained there studying wisdom for three days and three nights, without anyone to interrupt him.
At the end of that uncomfortable period, Mainne,† the keeper of cows, disturbed his solitude. Cormac, said he, "is it what I have asked that grieves you?" "It is, indeed,' was the answer. "Then, by your hand, my king, I will soon relieve you. Have you made the circuit of Erinn ?" "I have not." "Well, I have; and out of the five provinces, the two that belong to Fiacha Muilleathan give you but the tributes of
one; and Fiacha, that rules them, is the successor of Mac Con, son of Mac Nia, son of Luacha, who slew your father in the field of Macroom; and my advice is, that you demand of the King of Leith Mocha‡ that unpaid tribute.” Blessings on you, Mainne; that is a just demand. You are no longer son of the bull, but son of good counsel."
So eager was the embarrassed king to discharge his debt to Mainne that he would, without further ceremony, have incontinently invaded
Munster for his cattle-spoil, but Irish and Gaulish monarchs enjoyed but very limited authority over their farmers or fighting men. So he was obliged to convene his Faiths (chiefs) and Urmaidhes (tributaries), and propose the subject. By their counsel, he despatched Tairreach the Traveller and Bearraidhe the Rover to Cnoc Raffan, near Cashel, then called Tulach na Righ (hillock of the kings), the regal abode of Fiacha. These worthies demanded, with all suitable ceremony, that fifty cows with silver horns, as well as the tribute of a province, should be forthwith forwarded to King Cormac at Tara. Fiacha called his chief people to him, and stated Cormac's demand. He then betook himself to his grianan (sunny chamber), or his garden, leaving refusal or acceptance to the decision of his "best men." At the proper time, he re-entered the hall of wise counsel, and asked the result of their consultation. "To the king at Tara," said they, 66 we will (seeing that he is in a strait) make a gift of a cow from every lis in Munster; but the value of a goat's ear we will not pay as tribute." "Had you come to another resolution," said the king, "I would never again lead you to battle, but go and dwell amongst a strange people. But, lest these should prove unauthorized messengers, we will send our decision to Cormac, son of Art, by Cuillean the Swift and Leithrinde the Robust."
The swift and robust messengers having reached Tara, stood in the king's presence, and said, "Cormac, sovereign of Leith Conn, Fiacha, king of Leith Mocha, desires to know if Tairreach the Traveller and his companion have been authorized by you to demand," &c., &c. The result of the debate which ensued was a declaration of war.
So Cormac summoned the five chief druids that had spoken true prophecies through the reigns of Conn, Art,
*It may seem rather strange, that a cowherd should ask a present of cattle, but it is probable that some great claim was made on Cormac's hospitality at the time, and Mainne merely appealed to his master to find ways and means to get out of the difficulty.
† In Irish words c and g have uniformly the hard sound, and final vowels are always pronounced.
Con of the Hundred Fights came off worse in a few. Some years before this incident in the life of his grandson, Cormac, the eiscir before mentioned extending east and west across the centre of the isle, was set to divide his northern domain, Leath Conn, from that of Eogan the Heberian, King of the South, whose portion was called Leath Mocha.
and Cormac-namely, Cithach, Cithmor, Cecht, Croda, and Cithrua, and he bade them prophesy in truth what should be the result of the expedition. They asked for time; and they went into the depths of their knowledge and learning, and revelations were made to them, and they were brought one by one before Cormacviz., Cithach, Cithmor, Cecht, Croda, and Cithrua, and all their prophecies pointed to the one result. These are some of the verses they recited before the king's seat:
"Cormac, son of Art, unjust is the claim. Make not your bravery known for the
sake of a herdsman.
It is not just to press on freemen
But Cormac would not be turned from his purpose. And as he was hunting near the sighe (fairy hill) of Cleithig, his dogs swept after a hare which just rose before him, and a fog, dark as night, surrounded him, and deep sleep fell on him, and through his slumber he was enchanted with the sweet music of the cuishliona (bag-pipes). It was the two beautiful hands of the daughter of the king of the Sighe of Bairce that he first saw when he awoke from his drowsiness. Her gown was of gold thread, and over it hung a beautiful mantle; and the first words that came from her red lips were a reproach to Cormac for hunting a hare, instead of the wolf, or stag, or wild boar. "But," said the maiden, " I know what is nearest your heart, and I will supply you with three female druidic champions, Eirgi, Eang, and Eangan, daughters of Maol Miscadach. Each has the fight of a hundred, and they are in the forms of three gray sheep, with bony heads and jaws of iron. None can escape from them, for they are as swift as the swallow, and all the swords and axes in the world
could not hurt them.
66 And moreover, for the love I bear thee, I will give thee the two renowned druids, Colpa and Lurga, sons of Cicul. They are gifted with all knowledge; they are invulnerable,
and the whole people of a province shall fall before them." So Cormac went with the lady into the sighe, and staid there three days, and was bound in favour to her druids, men and women, and no more regarded the true revealers of secrets, Cithach, Cithmor, Cecht, Croda, and Cithrua.
So Corinac, taking with him the three druidesses-Eirgi, Eang, and Eangan, and the two druids, Colpa and Lurga, proceeded southwards. The first evening, they set up their tents in Cluain, and the next at Ath na Nirlann; and at the dark shades of evening on the third day, they reached Formaoil na Fian.* The fourth resting-place was Ath Cro, and the fifth Imluich Iban.
On the first evening, Cithrua went forth from the camp, and an aged druid, the chief one of Leinster, stood on the far bank of the stream, and questioned him about the host and its chief; and he answered him in a poem, bewailing the loss that was awaiting the king and the men of Leith Conn from the terrible druid, Mocha Rua, of the western island,Mocha Rua, most sage and powerful enchanter within the four seas.
But the hewers of wood, the messengers, and the charioteers, heard the druids conversing, and foretelling evil, and they told the king. “Go, said he, "kill the strange druid, and beat the other till there is but a little of the life in him." So they advanced to where the sages had been talking; but Cithrua passed through them, armed and equipped as a fighting man, and the stranger, Fis, son of Aithfis, turned his face thrice on the host, and he breathed on them a powerful spell, and every man's appearance became even as his own at the moment-that is to say, aged and gray-haired. Then each began to strike with his fists the man before him, imagining him to be Fis, son of Aithfis, till there was not a man of the great force that was not bruised
Now Cormac, beholding the confusion and hearing the cries, reproached Colpa and Lurga for their negligence; and they blew the breath of druids on the host, and they played
*Formaoils are supposed to have been hospitals for the ancient militia of the Fianna Eirionn.