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the wolf their gossip. The Scythians used also tu seeth the flesh in the hide; and so do the northern Irish. The Scythians used to draw the blood of the beast living, and to make meat thereof: and so do the Irish in the north still. Many such customs I sould recount unto you, as of their old manner of marrying, of burying, of dancing, of singing, of feasting, of cursing, though christians have wiped out the inost part of them: by resemblance whereof, it might plainly appear to you, that the nations are the same, but that by the reckoning of these few, which I have told unto you, I find my speech drawn out to a greater length than I purposed. Thus much only for this time, I hope, shall suffice you, to think that the Irish are anciently deduced from the Scythians,
Eudox. But have you (I pray you) observed any such customs amongst them, brought likewise from the Spaniards or Gauls, as these from the Scythians? That may sure be very material to your
Iren. Some perhaps I have, and who that will by this occasion more diligently mark and compare their customs, shall find many more.
But there are fewer remaining of the Gauls or Spaniards, than of the Scythians, by reason that the parts which they then possessed, lying upon the coast of the western and southern sea, were sithence visited with strangers
and foreign people, repairing thither for trafic, and for fishing, which is very plentiful upon those coasts: for the trade and inter-deal of sea-coast nations one with another worketh more civility and good fashions (all seamen being naturally desirous of new fashions) than amongst the inland folk, which are seldom seen of foreigners ; yet some of such as I have noted, I will recount unto you. And first, I will for the better credit of the rest, shew you one out of their statutes, among which it is enacted, that no man shall wear his beard, only on the upper lip, shaving all his chin. And this was the ancient manner of the Spaniards, as yet it is of all the Mahometans, to cut off all their beards close, save only their muschachios which they wear long.
And the cause of this use was, for that they being bred in a hot country, found much hair on their faces and other parts io be noyous unto them; for which cause they did cut it most away: like as contrarily all other nations brought up in cold countries, do use to nourish their hair, to keep them the warmer; which was the cause that the Scythians and Scots wore glibbs, (as I shewed you) to keep their heads warm, and long beards to defend their faces from cold. From them also (I think) came saffron shirts and smocks, which were devised by them in those hot countries, where saffron is very common and rife, for avoiding that evil which cometh by much sweating, and long wearing of linen: also the women añongst the old Spaniards had the charge of all household affairs, both at home and abroad as Boemus writeth) though now the Spaniards use it quite otherwise. And so have the Irish women the trust and care of all things, both at home and in the field. Likewise round leather targets is the Spanish fashion, who used it (for the most part) painted, which in Ireland they use also in many places, coloured after their rude fashion. Moreover, the manner of their women's riding on the wrong side of the horse, I mean with their faces toward the right side, as the Irish use, is (as they say) old Spanish, and some say African: for amongst them the women (they say) use so to ride. Also the deep smock sleeve, which the Irish women use, they say, was old Spanish, and is used yet in Barbary : and yet that should seem rather to be an old English fashion: for in armoury the fashion of the manche,! which is given in arms, by many, being indeed nothing else but a sleeve, is fashioned much like to that sleeve. And that knights in ancient times used to wear their mistresses' or love's sleeve upon their arms; as appeareth by that which is written of sir Launce. lot, that he wore the sleeve of the fair maid of Asteloth in a' tourncy, whereat queen
There is amongst the Irish a certain kird of
peor, , ple called Bards, which are to them instead of poets, whose profession is to set forth the praises or dispraises of men, in their poems or rithmes; the which are had in so high regard and estimation amongst them, that none dare displease them for fear to run into reproach through their offence, and to be made infamous in the mouths of all men. For their verses are taken up with a general applause, and usually sung at all feasts and meetings by certain other persons, whose proper function that is, who also receive for the same great rewards and reputation amongst them.
Such poets as in their writings do labour to better the manners of men, and thorough the sweet bait of their numbers to steal into the young spirit's a desire of honour and virtue, are worthy to be had in great respect. But these Irish bards are for the most part of another mind, and so far from instructing young men in moral discipline, that they themselves do more deserve to be sharply disciplined: for they seldom use to choose unto themselves the doings of good men for the arguments of their poems, but whomsoever they find to be most licentious of life, most bold and lawless in his doings, most dangerous and desperate in all parts of disobedience and rebellious disposition; him they set up and glorify in
their rithmes, him they praise to the people, and to young men make an example to follow.
The song, when it was first made and sung to a person of high degree there, was bought (as their manner is) for forty crowns.
Eudox. And well worthy sure, But tell me (I pray you) have they any art in their compositions ? Or be they any thing witty or well-favoured, as poems should be?
Iren. Yes truly, I have caused divers of them to be translated unto me, that I might understand them; and surely they savoured of sweet wit, and good invention, but skilled not of the goodly orna, ments of poetry; yet were they sprinkled with some pretty flowers of their natural device, which gave good grace and comeliness unto them;. the which it is great pity to see so abused, to the gracing of wickedness and vice, which with good usage would serve to adorn and beautify virtue.
This little work contains probably the best account extant of the customs, manners, and national character of the Irish; of which species of information I have extracted ng inconsiderable portion. Compared with the