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where he formed the acquaintance of Aneurin, he is said to have retired to Carnarvonshire, and to have died about the
The productions of this bard are numerous, and of them about eighty poems remain. They comprise a variety of subjects, but are, for the most part, religious, historical, and elegiac. His creed appears to have been a compound of Druidism and Christianity. Even at this early period, the latter was much cultivated among the Welsh.
We now arrive at an individual as eminent in war as in poetry-Llywarch Hen, or Llywarch the Aged. He was descended from a long line of princes, or military chieftains, who had formerly exercised supreme rule over the whole island. He was early trained to arms; for which he had frequent occasion in the many wars which then occurred between the Welsh and Saxons. We find him, like Aneurin, engaged in the battle of Cattraeth, the fatal result of which drove him to flight. He is supposed to have spent much of his subsequent life at Pengwern, or Shrewsbury, the seat of Cynddylan, then Prince of Powys. He seems to have been afterwards bereft of this refuge, as we find him in his sonnets bewailing his wretched condition and hard fate. He is recorded to have died at a great age, some accounts say 150 years, at Llanvor, near Bala, in Merionethshire ; his eleven sons having been previously slain in battle.
Twelve poems, the production of this bard, are extant. Six of them are historical, the others moral and miscellaneous; but all are deeply tinged with the bitterness and melancholy which appear to have formed so large a portion of the venerable bard's own history.
For several centuries, we find no bard of note whose works are extant, until we come to Dafydd ap Gwilym, who has been styled the Petrarch of Wales. He was born at a place called Bro Gynin, in the parish of Llanbadarn-fawr, Cardiganshire, about the year 1340, and was illustriously descended on each line of parentage. After a desultory youth, we find him, at an early age, living at Maesaleg, in Monmouthshire, enjoying the hospitality and friendship of Ivor Hael, a near relative of his father. He appears so far to have won the confidence of his patron, as to have been appointed his steward, and also instructor of his only daughter. A mutual attachment was, however, the consequence of the latter position, which grew to such an extent as to necessitate the separation of teacher and pupil. The young lady was removed to a convent in the island of Anglesey. She was followed by Dafydd, who entered the service of a neighbouring monastery, in a menial capacity, and consoled himself by composing poetry in praise of his fair one. The suit was unsuccessful. He was afterwards elected chief bard of Glamorgan. His poetical reputation made him a welcome guest at the festivals which, in those days, were very common in the mansions of the Welsh gentry. His latter years were spent in his native parish of Llanbadarn-fawr, where he died about the year 1400. He was buried at Ystrad Flur, in the county of Cardigan ; and a kindred spirit has placed the following lines over his grave:
(Translation.) Gwilym, blessed by all the nine,
Sleep'st thou then beneath this tree;
Shades alike thy soul and thee.
Gwilym, Teivi's nightingale;
Tuneless ever through the vale.' The works of this poet which have reached us are numerous, exceeding 260 poems. They are, for the most part, domestic and pacific; but the whole are sprightly, figurative, and bold, and are enriched by a vein of tender pathos. There is an excellent translation of his Poems, by A. J. Johnes, published by Hooper, Pall Mall, in 1834.
We have now commemorated the chief of the ancient bards of Wales. Others were, doubtless, their peers, whose productions have not had the good fortune of being rescued from oblivion. In all sublunary affairs, a few only gain the fame and prizes, while the multitude are consigned to obscurity. In the distribution of human rewards, there is often great injustice, and the adage is constantly exemplified, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Of the modern poets of Wales, a host may be named. Among these are Gwilym Ddu, Goronwy Owain, Williams of Pantycelyn, Dewi Wyn, Daniel Ddu, Iolo Morganwg, Gutyn Peris, G. Cawrdaf, Gwallter Mechain, Bardd Nantglyn, and Gwilym Caledfryn. In their effusions may be found passages of sublimity and beauty worthy of comparison with the poetry of any age or country, but the limited prevalence of the language in which they are written, prevents them being known and appreciated as extensively as they deserve. To the Welshman, however, they are precious, and often solace his hours of pain, solitude, or fatigue. Frequently are their strains heard enlivening the cottage of the peasant, and echoing among the hills of Gwalia.
Before concluding, we must glance at the present condition and prospects of the Welsh language.
The two great characteristics of the Welsh language are power and expressiveness. In these particulars it may compete with the original languages, and is superior to any of the derivative tongues. Itself is an original language, perhaps one of the oldest of living European tongues. It may want the artificial arrangement, the finished structure and polish, of many living languages, but in force and expression it transcends most of the old and all the modern tongues.
For some two thousand years this language has been spoken by the Welsh people in this island ; yet, ever since the conquest of the Welsh by the Saxons, the language of the former has been gradually on the wane, while that of the latter has been extending its limits. The declension of the former is as rapid at the present as at any former period, and from the great strides taken by the English language in our own day, with the establishment of railway and other improved means of communication, now connecting and identifying the Principality with the sister country, we prophesy a still more rapid consumption for the Welsh tongue. At no very distant day it may live only in the prose and poetry of the country.
Nor do we think that the extinction of their language would be any very great loss to the inhabitants of Wales. The existence of two languages among the subjects of the same crown, and tributary to the same laws, is an unmixed evil. The division in language effects a division in more important relations. It preserves and fosters the animosity and rancour of different races, perpetuates feud and national strife, and in effect ploughs up the good feeling and friendly intercourse of the inhabitants of the same kingdom. It restricts the social and commercial relations of the people, besides being highly detrimental to the Welsh in depriving them of the advantages exclusively derivable from the possession of an adequate knowledge of the English tongue. The latter is the emporium of the best works and latest discoveries in science and art, besides being the language of the laws and literature of the country, as well as the avenue to distinction, preferment, and power. The Welshman who is conversant only with his vernacular tongue, is, therefore, under great and weighty disadvantages in the prosecution of any of the objects of life. The abolition of that language, therefore, how repugnant soever to the feelings and long-cherished associations of the Welshman, would be to him the greatest boon. It also follows, that its retention obstructs the progress of the inhabitants of the Principality in all the higher developments of civilization. In the spirit of brotherhood and friendship, but with an earnest wish for their advancement, do we record these, it may be, unpleasant convictions.
The work at the head of this article won a prize at a late Eisteddvod; the adjudicator being the Ven. Archdeacon Williams, and the donor of the prize, the Prince of Wales, to whom the essay is, by permission of the Queen, dedicated. It appears to be a careful compilation, and clearly written, although wanting in philosophical analysis and poetical sympathies.
ART. VI.-The Martyrs of Carthage. ‘A Tale of the Times of Old.'
By Mrs. J. B. Webb, Author of Naomi Julamerk.' Two Vols.
London: Bentley. It would be faint and superfluous praise to say of one of Mrs. Webb's stories, that its general tendency is salutary and elevating. In religious fiction she seems to have found the sphere for which she was expressly designed. She does that with felicity and success in which many have so failed as might well lead judicious thinkers to regard fictitious narrative as a wholly unsuitable vehicle for religious truth, had not the Great Teacher stamped legitimacy upon it by his own example. But our author is not more happy, and does not better consult the peculiar tendencies of her mind, in the selection of this particular walk of literature, than in the choice of the historical epochs which her fictions are designed to illustrate. She has an almost classic sympathy with the men and manners of that pregnant era in which Christianity rose upon the nations; and it is no small praise to say that some of her delineations of the Roman mind, as modified by the reception of the gospel, remind us of the tenderness and taste which adorn the pages of Mr. Lockhart's Valerius.'
The epoch of the events described in the 'Martyrs of Carthage, is the reign of Severus, embracing the close of the second and the commencement of the third century. Its scenes are laid amidst the ruins of Carthage, the solitudes of African exile, and the splendours of imperial Rome. The spread of the contagious heresy, confined to no age, sex, or rank, affords a fertile field for the writer's powers of invention and description. The persecuted and exiled Roman matron—the undetected saint, at the head of the Prætorian guards, on the magisterial bench, in charge of the prison, or in the humble condition of a domestic slave—the subterranean church, and the midnight sacraments—combine to give a pensive interest to the tale, and to soften the heart for the reception of its moral.
The following is a general outline of the narrative.
In the Roman colony which had been planted amidst the ruins of ancient Carthage, there was, as in most of the cities of Northern Africa, a considerable number of Christian believers ; this number was much increased during the first years of the reign of the Roman Emperor Severus, by the cessation of that persecution which had heretofore restricted the publicity of Christian teaching. On the return of the emperor from the Parthian war, he spent a short time at Alexandria, and finding that here and elsewhere the Christian religion was rapidly spreading, he sanctioned the magistrates in a vigorous effort for its suppression, and left a corps of his soldiers to strengthen the hands of the civil power. The commander of this body was the son of the chief magistrate of Carthage, and was the more impatient of the delay thus occasioned to his return, from having left his newly married wife in that city four years before, who had given birth to a daughter a few months after his departure. During this interval, Marcella, a young Christian lady, was her frequent companion, and from her she first became acquainted with those doctrines and documents which she had been accustomed to regard with a vague and uninformed disgust. A series of conversations, which, of themselves, stamp a high value on the book, enlightened her ignorance, met her difficulties, and instrumentally subdued her heart. Meanwhile, the letters of her husband from Alexandria distressed her as much by the details of his effective persecution of the Church in that city, as they delighted her by the intelligence of his speedy return. At length he arrived on the very evening on which she had assumed the
profession of Christianity by baptism.
It was impossible that the mighty change which had passed upon her could long be concealed, consistently with fidelity on her part; and a grand entertainment in celebration of the return of the young hero, Marcus, led to a sudden denouement. One of the ceremonies connected with this festive occasion was, a solemn sacrifice to Minerva ; and in this it devolved on Vivia, the Christian convert, to take a leading part. At this crisis of her Christian profession she was found faithful, and to the consternation of husband, relatives, and guests, she openly denounced idolatry, and professed her faith in the Saviour. The result was, the passionate repudiation of her by her husband, and the immediate apprehension of herself and her little daughter, who had thus early embraced the faith. Both were arraigned before