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31, is an account of an interview betwixt St. Kentigern and Merlin, then in this distracted and miserable state. He is said to have been called Lailoken, from his mode of life. On being commanded by the saint to give an account of himself, he says, that the penance which he performs was imposed on him by a voice from heaven, during a bloody contest betwixt Lidel and Carwanolow, of which battle he had been the cause. According to his own prediction, he perished at once by wood, earth, and water; for, being pursued with stones by the rustics, he fell from a rock into the River Tweed, and was transfixed by a sharp stake, fixed there for the purpose of extending a fishing-net:—
"Sudeperfossus, lapide percussus, et unda,
But in a metrical history of Merlin of Caledonia, compiled by Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the traditions of the Welsh bards, this mode of death is attributed to a page, whom Merlin's sister, desirous to convict the prophet of falsehood, because he had betrayed her intrigues, introduced to him, under three various disguises, inquiring each time in what manner the person should die. To the first demand, Merlin answered, the party should perish by a fall from a rock; to the second, that he should die by a tree; and to the third, that he should be drowned. The youth perished while hunting, in the mode imputed by Fordun to Merlin himself.
Fordun, contrary to the French authorities, confounds this person with the Merlin of Arthur; but concludes by informing us, that many believed him to be a different person. The grave of Merlin is pointed out at Drummelziar, in Tweeddale, beneath an aged thorn-tree. On the east side of the churchyard, the brook, called Pausayl, falls into the Tweed; and the following prophecy is said to have been current concerning their union:—
"When Tweed and Pausayl join at Merlin's grave,
On the day of the coronation of James VI. the Tweed accordingly overflowed, and joined the Pausayl at the prophet's grave.—Penntcuick's History of Tweeddale, p. 26. These circumstances would seem to infer a communication betwixt the southwest of Scotland and Wales, of a nature peculiarly intimate; for I presume that Merlin would retain sense enough to choose for the scene of his wanderings, a country having a language and manners similar to his own.
Be this as it may, the memory of Merlin Sylvester, or the Wild, was fresh among the Scots during the reign of James V. Waldhave,1 under
1 I do not know whether the person here meant be Waldwhose name a set of prophecies was published, describes himself as lying upon Lomond Law; he hears a voice, which bids him stand to his defence ,he looks around, and beholds a flock of hares and foxes1 pursued over the mountain by a savage figure, to whom he can hardly give the name of man. At the sight of Waldhave, the apparition leaves the objects of his pursuit, and assaults him with a club. Waldhave defends himself with his sword, throws the savage to the earth, and refuses to let him arise till he swear, by the law and lead he lives upon, "to do him no harm." This done, he permits him to arise, and marvels at his strange appearance:—
have, an abbot of Melrose, who died in the odour of sanctity, about 1160.
1 The strange occupation, in which Waldhave beholds Merlin engaged, derives some illustration from a curious passage in Geoffrey of Monmouth's life of Merlin, above quoted. The poem, after narrating that the prophet had fled to the forest in a state of distraction, proceeds to mention, that, looking upon the stars one clear evening, he discerned from his astrological knowledge, that his wife, Guendolen, had resolved, upon the next morning, to take another husband. As he had presaged to her that this would happen, and had promised her a nuptial gift, (cautioningher, however, to keep the bridegroom out of his sight,) he now resolved to make good his word. Accordingly he collected all the stags and lesser game in his neighbourhood; and having seated himself upon a buck, drove the herd before him to the capital of Cumberland, where Guendolen resided. But her lover's curiosity leading him to inspect too nearly this extraordinary cavalcade, Merlin's rage was awakened, and he slew him with the stroke of an antler of the stag. The original runs thus:—
"Dixerat: et silvas et saltus circuit omnes,
"He was formed like a freike [man] all his four quarters; And then his chin and his face haired so thick, With haire growing so grime, fearful to see."
He answers briefly to Waldhave's inquiry concerning his name and nature, that he "drees his
Sic par ere viro, tantum quoque posse fer arum
For a perusal of this curious poem, accurately copied from a MS. in the Cotton Library, nearly coeval with the author, I was indebted to my learned friend, the late Mr. Ritson. There is an excellent paraphrase of it in the curious and entertaining Specimens of Early English Romances, published by Mr. Ellis.
weird," i. e. does penance in that wood; and, having hinted that questions as to his own state are offensive, he pours forth an obscure rhapsody concerning futurity, and concludes,
"Go musing upon Merlin if thou wilt:
This is exactly similar to the meeting betwixt Merlin and Kentigern in Fordun. These prophecies of Merlin seem to have been in request in the minority of James V.; for, among the amusements with which Sir David Lindsay diverted that prince during his infancy, are,
"The prophecies of Rymer, Bede, and Merlin."
Sir David Lindsay's Epistle to the King.
And we find, in Waldhave, at least one allusion to the very ancient prophecy, addressed to the Countess of Dunbar:—
"This is a true token that Thomas of tells,
When a ladde with a ladye shall go over the fields."
The original stands thus:
"Whenladdes weddethlove dies."
Another prophecy of Merlin seems to have been current about the time of the Regent Morton's execution. When that nobleman was committed to the charge of his accuser, Captain James Stewart, newly created Earl of Arran, to be conducted to his trial at Edinburgh, Spottiswoode