« PreviousContinue »
Sir William Betham. It contains a poem of two hundred and twentyeight verses, composed by Faelen himself.* “ It gives the names of the wives and daughters of several of the Pagan heroes and deities. This is followed (in the folio) with an account of the wives of the patriarchs, and a synchronism of the Roman emperors, with the monarchs of Ireland, to the emperor Severus, and Art the Solitary, monarch of Ireland, from A. D. 220 to 250, in which latter year
he died. After this, (in immediate succession) follows an account of the Jewish high priests and the first Christian bishops, the officers of St Patrick's household, and different members of his family."
“We cannot say,” observes our authority, “whether these latter tracts are the original productions of Faelan Mac a Gobhan or not; but by a memorandum at the bottom of the folio, it is said that they were written by Faelan Mac a Gobhan na scel (of the histories) for his lord and his friend, bishop Muircheartach O'Kelly. This prelate was bishop of Clonfert from 1378 to 1394, at which time he was translated
Boniface IX. to the see of Tuam, over which he presided as archbishop until his death, on the 29th of September, 1447.” Fealan Mac a Gobhan died in 1423.
A. D. 1468,
Donagh O’BOLGAIDH, or BOULGER, was a physician of some eminence, and a voluminous writer of medical treatises, and also a transcriber of the writings of others on the same subject. He wrote treatises on the diseases of the head, and of the other members of the human body, and makes frequent quotations from the Arabian physicians in these works. He also wrote a tract on the medicinal virtues of herbs and minerals; and there remains in his handwriting a translation of Aristotle's treatise “ On the Nature of Matter.” There is a curious addition to his writings, in the form of a law tract, in which he regulates the fees or rewards to be paid to physicians by the different classes of society.
The exact year of his death is not known.
Cathald Mac Magnus. .
DIED A. D. 1498.
CATHALD MAC MAGNUS was author of those annals of Ireland, called “ Annals of Bally Mac Magnus,” “Scuatensian Annals,” and “ Annals of Ulster.” They commence with the reign of Feredach Fionnfactnach, monarch of Ireland, A. D. 60, and are carried down to the author's own time. They were afterwards continued to the year 1504, by Roderick O'Cassidy, archdeacon of Clogher.t
† Transactions of the Iberno-Celtic Society.
The annals of the Four Masters give the character, and relate the death of Cathald, in words of which the following is a literal translation:
“ Mac Magnus of Seanaigh, i.e. Cathal Og, son of Cathal, son of Giolla Patrick, son of Matthew, &c., was master of a house of general hospitality, and a publie victualler in Seanaidh Mac Magnus; canon of the choir in Ardmach, and in the bishopric of Clogher; parson of Tuiscsoin ; Deacon of Lough Erne; and deputy of the bishop of Clogher, for fifteen years before his death. He was an encourager and protector of learning and science in his own district; a treasured branch of the canons; à fountain of love and mercy to the poor and unprotected of God's people. It was he who collected and brought together many books of annals, from which he compiled the Annals of Bally Mac Manus, for himself. He died of the small-pox, on the 10th of the calends of April, on a Friday, in particular, in the sixtieth year of his age."
DIED A. D. 1532.
MANUs, son of Rodh, of the princely house of O'Donell, was author of a life of St Patrick, often quoted by Colgan. It is uncertain whether he was also the author of some poems, written about the same period, and attributed to a writer of the same name.
A. D. 1554.
About this period, Teige Mor O'Coffey composed a poem in praise of Manus, son of Aodh Dubh O'Donell, “who gave the writer a mare of his stud for every rann contained in the poem. It consists of twenty ranns, or eighty verses.
Donald Mac Carthy.
DIED A. D. 1565.
DONALD MAC CARTHY, who was created in this year first earl of Clan Carthy, was the author of several poems, chiefly on religious subjects.
ty Transactions of the Iberno-Celtic Society.
Period.] JOHN O'MAOLCONAIRE-DUBHTHACH O'DUIGENAN. 279
A. D, 1566.
At the time that Brian na Murtha O'Rourke was chosen chief of his tribe, on the death of his brother Aodh, John O'Maolconaire wrote a poem of an hundred and thirty-six verses, in praise of Brian na Murtha, (of the bulwarks,) beginning “Breifne has obtained a prince worthy of her.” This poem is stated, by Mr O'Reilly, who had a copy of it in his own possession, to be written “in the Bearla Feine, or Phoenician dialect of the Irish,” and assigns as a reason for his selecting it, that “the dialect of the plebeians was unworthy of his hero.”
A. D. 1584.
When Feagh M'Hugh O'Byrne was elected chief of his tribe, Roderick wrote an ode on his inauguration, of one hundred and twenty verses, in Irish, beginning “ A warning to assemble the race of Brann!” The Brann here mentioned was Brann the Black, king of Leinster, who died in the year 601, from whom the O'Brainns or O'Byrnes derive their name and lineage. He also wrote a poem on the family of O'Byrne of Ranelagh, who so long contended against the English. Copies of these poems are in the possession of the family of O'Byrne, of Cabinteely. I
BORN A. D. 1553-DIED A. D. 1596.
SPENSER, though he, along with many of our noblest names of this period and the following, can be claimed by Ireland only by a partial interest, has yet an unquestionable claim to be commemorated by the historian of her literary worthies. If England was the ccuntry of his birth, we deny her not the claim that ranks him among the highest names of her most glorious age; but we claim a eompatriot interesi in the poet of Kilcolman: Ireland was the birthplace of his muse.
Like many illustrious persons, who have in those unrecording ages sprung from an humble state by the ascendant qualities of genius, the early part of Spenser's career is little known. It seems to be ascer. tained that he was born in London, in or about 1553; and it appears, from several passages among his dedications, that he claimed kindred with the noble house of Spenser. The claim is also said to have been recognised; but the recognition is not affirmed by any record of kind offices done, in the course of the poet's long struggles with fortune. The noble by birth will always feel some natural reluctance in admitting such claims, although native nobility of spirit, like conscious innocence, will neither fear nor find reproach where there can be no dishonour. But we apprehend that the noblest house in England would now point back to this coldly received affinity with a far different feeling, and would rejoice if it were to be found among the honourable records of its history, that the noblest of its lineage, in the estimation of time, had some nearer proof of kindred than a doubtful implication of assent. We do not indulge this reflection in the ridiculous spirit of condemnation—the claim may have been uncertain and remote, and circumstances are wholly wanting to warrant any judgment in the
We merely express the strong suggestion arising from a circumstance, which forces a common and affecting condition of social life upon the heart:---the fact, if such, is but one among
those incidents, thick strewn in the course of every generation. The healthy and elastic sense of tender youth is not more quick to shrink from the revolting aspect of the dead, than the full-blown pride of the world to avoid the humiliating contact of a fallen or struggling relationship: bright and honourable exceptions there are, but such is the spirit of human life: corruptus'vanis rerum. And we must in justice add, that it is not altogether from the want of beneficence, but from that species of pride which finds it essential to be separated from the humiliations of circumstance. It is still felt by the crowd which is inflated with adventitious dignity, as intensely as it was by the patrician usurers of old Rome, that there is something in the power of fortune which lowers and degrades: quod ridiculos homines facit. But we are led from our purpose. Spenser does not seem, at any period of his life, to have been in any way advantaged by family assistance; and the only record we can find, on any certain authority, of his youth, is his entrance as a sizar on the books of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Here he graduated in 1576. He is said to have sat for a fellowship
in competition with Andrew, afterwards bishop of Winchester. That he was not successful is scarcely matter of regret: his subsequent career might have been more usefully and calmly secure, but we cannot doubt that after-ages are indebted ather to the vicissitude and striving with the adverse waves and winds of stern reality, which has imparted so much truth and substance to his chief writings. Instead of being permitted to indulge his dreamy spirit in the lettered trifling of the bookish cloister, he was thrown soon upon the exercise of all his senses, and compelled to infuse a large portion of corrective observation and experience with the Gothic phantasmagoria of his lofty and sequestered spirit. Spenser, however, in the instance here mentioned, was practical enough to look rather to the present good; and dreaming little of being starved or buffetted into the admiration of posterity, was as discontented as beaten candidates are very prone to be; and was encouraged, by the countenance of some of his university friends, in the complaint of having met with injustice.
Among his warmest friends was the then celebrated Gabriel Harvey, who is mentioned by Warton as being the inventor of the hexameter imitation of the Latin, and who is the “ Hobbinal” of Spenser. By Harvey's advice, Spenser resolved to try his fortune in London. It was an age of literary adventure-the public favour towards poetry stood at a point to which it never again rose until the nineteenth century: but the circumstances of these two periods were wholly different. There was in the Elizabethan age, commonly called the age of poetry, no vast commercial republic of letters, of which the comprehensive and steady organization worked with the uniformity and precision of a factory; manufacturing books to the public demand, as nearly as possible, by the laws of every other produce of human labour, and with the very lowest application of mental power. Sonnet and lampoon, epigram and eulogy, it is true, like the periodical effusions of the annuals and periodicals of our time, were the universal accomplishment and affectation of the day. But few books were printed—there was no “reading public"--and no book-mill as regular as the market, and almost as needful, to pour out its vast exuberance of publications, planned, bespoken, and conducted by the trade, and wrought by operatives of every grade, from the genius and learning of Scott, Southey, and Moore, to the journeyman tinker of Brummagem books, who does his task to order, in a workmanlike way. At that interesting period, it required no small enthusiasm, and the excitement of no little genius, to brave the perils and mortifications of the tuneful avocation. Like the way. faring harper, he had to seek fit audience. He had to meet the indifference of the vast crowd of the uneducated, the unsettled taste, or fastidious insolence of the smattering underbred, the insolence of fashion, and the want of the adventurous trade, then but in its infancy. His one resource was a patron, and it expresses the whole:-
envy, want, the patron and the gaol."
Much of this Spenser was destined to experience; but it appears that his first introduction was smoothed by the friendship of the noble and gallant Sidney, to whom he received an introduction from the kindness