Bunting - A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 11

Bunting - A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 11


periodical Publisher
Clementi & Co., London, 1809
periodical Editor
Edward Bunting
periodical Title
Bunting - A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland
volume Number
issue Content
the time of Augustus. It is certain, that their order wasmore numerous and of higher importance among theCeltic tribes of Ireland, Scotland, Mann, Wales, Cornwall,and Amorica, than among any of the Gothic nations.Though it is unnecessary to refer to Druidism toprove the establishment of bards and minstrels amongstthe Celtic nations, it is proper to notice, that by theAnnals of Tacitus it appears that in Britain, SoetoniusPaulinus, governor of the country under Nero, theRoman emperor, having taken the island of Anglesea,A. D. 61, not oniy cut dawn the sacred groves of theDruids, in whose order the bards were comprehended,and overturned their altars, but also consumed many ofthem in their own fires j . If, as has been asserted, allwho escaped fled to Ireland , the isles of Mann, andBardsey, it may be supposed that their music movedwith thens . Till the sixth century we hear little ofthem in Wales, when the Britains again resumed the Harp,and animated their country to resist the Saxon yokeWe find the bards in Ireland under the names Fileaand Fear-Dana, from the earliest periods of its history,down to the year 1q38, when C arolun died, who seemsto have been born to render the termination of his orderbrilliant .To that event the following original lines from thepen of a friend are apposite:The Harp, our glory once, but now our shame,Followed my countrys fate, and slept without a name;Angelic Erin brushd it with her wings.Surprisd by sudden life, the trembling stringsFaintly set forth one recollective strain,Then sought the quiet of the tomb again!Tatu HISTORy OF THE Iais AaDs, as Dr. Brownin his Dissertation on Poetry and Music notices, is perhapsof all others the most extraordinary.Invested with honours, wealth, and power, they pos-sesseti an art which gave them a commanding influence.Every chief bard, called Allah Radaw, or Doctor inPoetry, retained thirty of inferior note; and one of thesecond order fifteen. It was one of their privileges to bebilleted on the country from All-hallowtide to May, andto be exempted from taxes and piniider ! and to wear arobe of the same colour of that used by the kings.We finch that about the beginning of tile sixth century -,thte class called PoJ Ts f were charged in Ireland withThe remarks of Cresar on Druidism are highly satisfactory. The art and learning of the Druids were first found out in BRCTACN, and from thence, it is thought to have been brought into Gani and at tins time, such as will attain to the perfect knowledge of that discipline do, for the most part, travel thither to learn it. The Druids never go to war, they are exempted from taxes and military service, and enjoy all manner of immunities. These mighty encouragements induce multitudes, of their Own accord, to follow that profession; and many are sent bytheir parents and relations. They are taught to repeat a great number of verses by heart, and often spend twenty years therein, for it is deemed unlawful to commit their statutes to writing; though in other matters, whether puhslic or private, they make use of Greek characters. They seemto nse to follow this method for two reasons, to hide their mysteries from the knowledge of the vulgar, and to exercise tise memory of theirscholars. [ Catsar, B. vi. 8. ]-f Taeitus, Ann. xiv. c. 30.Dr. Parsons and Mr. Tolland (two modern antiquarians) agree that the Druids of the continent never committed their mysteries to writing,but that those of Ireland did ; also, that St. Patrick committed hundreds of their books to the flames.[ (auiphels Strictures on Eec. and Lit. I.listory of Ireland.]It is remarkable that l3romnpton, in the reign of henry II. says, that the Irish harpers taught in secret, and committed their lessons to memory.The Rev. Mr. Evans, the Welsh autiquarian, seems surprised that the compositions of Taliesin, and other Canibriasi poets of the sixth ceritory, arealmost unintelligible at present to the best critics and grammarians in Wales; while the EaSE (alluding to Ossians Poetlis) of the fourth centuryare easily understood; the reason is, that the ancient Welsh orthography was lost, but the Irish adhered tenaciously to one uniform grammar,prosody, and mode of spelling had the power and application of tlseir letters changed with es err dialect, it would have been impossible to havetraced tile words to their proper roots, of consequence they would become obscure, and afterwards unintelligible. It has been asserted that Druidism terminated in Britain, A. I). 179; Bardisam, lsowever, sors ived.Bingleys H. Wales. Powels uoteo on Caradoc, also his History of Wales. Clarks preface to the Welsh Laws, and Rydderchs WelshGrammar. So late as 1581, Derricke, in his Iina , e of Ireland, says that the Irish bartle, by bi runes, bath as great force amongst woodkarne to persuade, as the elloquent oration of a learned Ora l -ussr amflon s the civile people. Barnaby Rich, who visited Ireland u i the reign of James 1.says, the Irish have Harpers, antI those are so reverenced among them, that in the time of rIme rebellion they will forbear to hurt either theirpersons or their goods.Keating..f . 1st 1699, Mr. Llnid the antiqnarian, on a visit to Ireland, informs his friend that near Lame he met with one Eoin Agnew (a), whoseancestors had been hereditary poets for many year, to the family of ONEAI.s ; that the lands they held thereby being taken away from hi father,he had forsaken the Muses and betaken himself to the ploogis. So, adds he, we made an easy purcha e of about a dozen MSS, on parchsniemst.[ Letter in the Philos. Transact. vol. xxvii. p. so, dated Dcc. 1 , lUpq.]In the county of Cork, the 0 Dalys han the territory of a small rugged tract called Miuterbairr, as successive bards or poe to the OM Aim xanti the CARESS.. [ Srnith s H. of Cork. sol. i. p. 31.]The great men of the Irish Septs, among the officers of their family, avhicls continued always in the ,sme race, had not only a plwsieian, a ituntsman, a smith, and the like, but a POET and a TALE-TELI.ER the first recorded antI sasie the actions of their ancetors, and entertained the company at feasts ; the litter amused theisi with tale, when they were melancholy and could not sleep ; a nsI a very gahlamit gcnllemciu of thenorth of Ireland, has told me of his own experience, that in his woLsnuleTmNe;s there, whims lie used to be ,sbroad hi the sssmntaius three or four days together, and lay very ill at ni2hts, so as he could not well sleep, they would bmimic bins nor of their tale/them, that when be lay downwould begin a story of a king, or a Oiant, a dwarf, and a damsel, and such rambltite sluti; and ec,ntinoe it ,ill night long in such an even tone,that you heard it going on whenever you awaked; anti he believed, nothing physicians gis e could list e so sad and so innocent an effect to makemen sleep in any pains or distemper of body or mind, [ Sir William Temples Misceilania, Part II. of Poetry.](a) rhe 1 ,resc t respectable family of the same name, ssbssr seat is at R:hwau hit r near Lame, is dhtimiet from that mentioned above, the former helm-of Scotch extraction, the latter of Irish blood.
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periodical Author
Edward Bunting
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