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CELTS AND TEUTONS
3 those Gaels who are of our nation as the Celts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands.
Then came the migrations in which, it is said, the Scythian or Gaelic Celts, pushing westward across the Don, forced the Cymry before them. The Cymry, crossing the Danube, ravaged part of Asia Minor, and spread into Europe. The Gaels who followed them spread also into Europe, and were also driven westward as more tribes came after them.
These next tribes appear to have been men of another stock, who held by the castern plains of Europe, and there established the Slavonic populations.
Then came the Teutons. First, perhaps, came those from about the upper waters of the Tigris and Euphrates and the northern part of the plateau of Iran, who went north-westward towards the shores of the North Sea and western Baltic, there to become forefathers of Low German populations. From the coasts of France and Spain they were shut out by the strong Celtic occupation ; and behind them pressed men of another branch of their own stock-men, perhaps, who had once occupied the highlands of Southern Iran. These established themselves on the higher lands of Central Europe, and were, if the theory be true, ancestors of the High Germans.
3. Gaelic Celts, migrating by sea from Spain, struck on the. western coast of Ireland and on our south-western shores. Thence they spread over these islands, of which the first thin peopling seems to have been by a Celtic population of the Gaelic branch.
Low Germans afterwards crossed the Rhine, and made their way by Belgium along North France to the Seine, expelling Cymry whom they found there in possession. These Cymry, driven across the Channel, landed on the eastern part of our south coast, and forced Gaels there in occupation westward. The Low Germans, who had formed a Belgic Gaul, crossed also, and were strong enough to form a Belgic England. Low Germans and Scandinavians from all lands opposite our eastern coast came over as colonists. The Gaels went westward before pressure of the Cymry, as the Cymry were pushed westward by incoming Teutons. At last the main body of the Gaels of Southern Britain had been forced to join their countrymen across the Irish Sea. The Cymry held the pasture land among the mountain fastnesses of Western England, and the Teuton ploughed the plains.
This process of change was continuous, and may have been so for some centuries before the hundred years between the middle of the fifth and the middle of the sixth century after Christ, during which there were six Teutonic settlements thought worthy of especial record. The six settlements were thus distinguished because they established sovereignties and began the strong uprearing of the nation which took from a great immi. grant Teutonic tribe its name of English.
4. As tribe pressed upon tribe, lands were not yielded without struggle. These changes and recombinations in the chemistry of nations were accompanied with a quick effervescence; there was war. War and the common needs of life were foremost in man's thought. We have in this country two famous traditional periods of Celtic literature. One belongs to the Gael, the other to the Cymry; and each centres in a battle.
5. About the Battle of Gabhra, said to have been fought A.D. 284, is gathered the main body of old GAELIC tradition. Fionn (which means “Fair-haired"), the son of Cumhaill, known in modern poetry as Fingal, had a son Oisin (which means “The Little Fawn"), who is known in modern poetry as Ossian. Fionn's father, Cumhaill, had been slain in battle by Goll Mac Morna, who, as Fionn's mortal enemy, and afterwards his friend, has an important place in the old traditions. Fionn led one of the four bands into which the Gaels were parted, that of Leinster, known as the Clanna Baoisgne. His clan attained to so much power that the other three combined against it, and then Fionn and his family had to fight for their lives against all the forces of Erin armed against them, except those of his friend the King of Munster. Stirred to the depths by a struggle that compelled them to put out all strength in the defence of what they held most dear, they felt keenly, reached the highest level of the life of their own time, and poured its music out in song. Fionn's cousin, Caeilte Mac Ronan, was warrior and bard. Oisin, the son of Fionn, was warrior and bard. The brother of Oisin, Fergus the Eloquent (Fergus Finnbheoil), was chief bard, and bard only.
More or less changed by time, some fragments of the singing of these men remain on the lips of country folks among the Scotch and Irish Gaels. Only eleven of them are to be found in records older than the fifteenth century; but others were collected from the lips of the people by a Dean of Lismore in Argyllshire, before the days of Queen Elizabeth.
5 or the old Gaelic poems and histories Ireland has many remains, such as the tale of The Battle of Moytura, and the Tain Bo, or Cattle Plunder of Chuailgne. In the Senchus Mor are ancient laws of Ireland, ascribed sometimes to the third century, sometimes to the fifth, and certainly known as ancient in the days of Alfred. But the chief feature in old Gaelic literature is the development of song during the struggle that ended a year after the death of Fionn in the crushing of his tribe at the battle of Gabhra, which is said to have been fought in the year 284.
Oisin is said to have had a warrior son, Oscar, killed in the battle, and to have himself survived to an extreme old age, saddened by change of times. The name of Oisin was even blended in tradition with that of St. Patrick, who came to Ireland about a century and a half after the battle of Gabhra. Patrick is made to say to Oisin, “ It is better for thee to be with me and the clergy, as thou art, than to be with Fionn and the Fenians, for they are in hell without order of release;" to which Oisin is made to answer, “ By the book and its meaning, by thy crozier and by thine image, better were it for me to share their torments than to be among the clergy continually talking. Son of Alphinen of the Wise Words, woe is me that I am near the clergy of the bells ! For a time I lived with Caeilte, and then we were not poor.”
6. The flowering of the other branch of our old Celtic litera. ture-the CYMRIC—is associated also with a struggle that brought out the noblest life of men touched to the quick and concentrating all their powers for defence of home and liberty. Here also was a struggle against overwhelming force, closed with a ruinous defeat in battle. This was the Battle of Cattraeth, said to have been fought in the year 570 by confederate Cymry to resist the advance of the Teuton inland, after the last of the six settlements upon our eastern shores. They were, indeed, men of the sixth settlement, who had landed (A.D. 547) in the north-east, under Ida, and then spread from the sea inland across a part of the land we now call Northumber: land, Durham, and Yorkshire. They took certain lands of the Gododin (Otadini of the Romans), which the Cymry made a last great effort to wrest from them. The scene of battle was probably Catterick Bridge, a few miles from Richmond, in York. shire. The Cymric tribes were gathered at the call of the Lord of Eiddin, which means, perhaps, not Edinburgh, but the region of the river Eden, flowing from a source near that of the Swale, through Westmoreland and Cumberiand, into the Solway Frith. They came from districts now known by such names as Dumbarton, Wigtown, Kirkcudbright, and Ayr, from Morecambe Bay and all surrounding regions, gathered their force on the hills about the sources of the Eden and the Swale, and thence marched (A.D. 570) down through Swaledale, some five and twenty miles, to Catterick, or Cattraeth. Aneurin, one of the chief of the bards inspired by the great life-struggle, sang the disasters of the battle in a poem called the Gododin, of which ninety-seven stanzas yet remain. Gray found in a translation of it the passage which he thus put into music of his own :
" To Cattracth's vale in glittering row
Twice two hundred warriors go;
The battle began on a Tuesday, and continued for a week The Cymry fought to the death, and of three hundred and sixtythree chiefs who had led their people to the conflict, only three, says Aneurin, besides himself, survived. “ Morien lifted up again his ancient lance, and, roaring, stretching out death towards the warriors, whilst towards the lovely, slender, blood. stained body of Gwen, sighed Gwenabwy, the only son of Gwen.
Fain would I sing, 'would that Morien had not died.' I sigh for Gwenabwy the son of Gwen.” Thus Aneurin ends his plaint over the crowning triumph of the Teuton. But hearts had beaten high among the Cymry, and from souls astir song had been poured throughout the days of long resistance that had come before. Urien was the great North of England chief who led the battle of the Cymry for their homes and liberties against invading Angles. Llywarch the Old (Llywarch Hen) Prince of Argoed, whom the remains of verse ascribed to him show to have been first in genius among the Cymric bards, was Urien's friend and fellow-combatant at Lindisfarne, between
TO A.D. 579]
7 the years 572 and 579. There, after the death of Urien, he carried :he chief's head in his mantle from the field. “The head,” he sang, “that I carry carried me ; I shall find it no more ; it will come no more to my succour. Woe to my hand, my happiness is lost !” After Urien's death Llywarch joined arms with Cyndyllan, Prince of Powys, at his capital, where Shrewsbury now stands. Cyndyllan iell in a battle at Tarn, near the Wrekin. “ The hall of Cyndyllan,” then sang his friend Llywarch,“ is gioomy this night, without fire, without songs—tears afflict the cheeks! The hall of Cyndyllan is gloomy this night, without fire, without family-my overflowing tears gush out! The hall of Cyndyllan pierces me to see it, roofless, fireless. My chief is dead, and I alive myself.” Twelfth century tradition says that this bard was for a time one of King Arthur's counsellors. Llywarch had many sons; he gave to all of them his heart to battle for their country, and lost them all upon the battle-field. “O, Gwenn," he sang of his youngest and last dead, “O, Gwenn, woe to him who is too old, since he has lost you. A man was my son, a hero, a generous warrior, and he was the nephew of Urien. Gwenn has been slain at the ford of Morlas... Sweetly sang a bird on a pear tree above the head of Gwenn before they covered him with the turf. That broke the heart of the old Llywarch.”
Taliesin (Shining Forehead) was another of those Cymric bards who sang in the hall of Urien. He was bard only, chief bard, and sang Urien's victories over Ida at Argoed, at Gwenn Estrad, and at Menao, between the years 547 and 560. After the death of Urien, he was the bard of Urien's son, Owain, by whom Ida was slain. After the death of all Urien's sons, Taliesin ended a sad life in Wales, and was buried, it is said, under a cairn near Aberystwith.
Myrddhin, or Merlin, was another of these bards, the one who became afterwards one of the chief figures in Arthurian romance. He was born between the years 470 and 480 ; served first the British chief Ambrosius Aurelianus, from whom he took the name of Ambrose before his own name of Merlin; then served as bard with Arthur, leader of the Southern Britons. That was the King Arthur who fought as Urien fought, and who, though seldom named in our oldest Cymric remains, became afterwards typical hero of the contest, Arthur, the King of that heroic myth which runs through our literature and is made part of the lise of England. Merlin, one day, between the years 560 and 574