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While I am upon the subject of these prophecies, may I be permitted to call the attention of antiquaries to Merdwynn Wyllt, or Merlin the Wild ? in whose name, and by no means in that of Ambrose Merlin, the friend of Arthur, the Scottish prophecies are issued. That this personage resided at Drummelzier, and roamed, like a second Nebuchadnezzar, the woods of Tweeddale, in remorse for the death of his nephew, we learn from Fordun. In the Scotichronicon, lib. iii, cap. 31, is an account of an interview betwixt St Kentigern and “erlin, 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 : s
Sade perfossus, la pide percussus ct unda,
Et fecit vatem per terns pericula verum. -.
But, in a metrical history of Merlin of Caledonia, compiled by Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the traditions of the Welch 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; to the third, that he should be drowned. The youth perished, while hunting, in the mode imputed by Fordun to Merlin
Fordun, contrary to the Welch 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 Drummelzier, in Tweeddale, beneath an aged thorntree. On the east side of the church-yard, the brook called Pausayl falls into the Tweed; and the following prophecy is said- ti) have been current concerning their
When Tweed and Pausayl join at Merlin's grave, Scotland and England shall one monarch have.
On the day of the coronation of James Vl, the Tweed accordingly overllowed, and joined the Pausayl at the prophets grave. - Pr.unYcutcx’s History of Tweeddale, p. 26. These circumstances would seem to infer a communication betwixt the south-west of Scotland and Wales, of a nature peculiarly intimate; for I presume that Merlin would retain sense enough to chuse, 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_whose name a set of
' I do not know whether the person here meant he Waldhave, an abbot of Melrose, who died in the odour of sanctity. about i :60.
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 foxes ' pursued over the mountains 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 swears by the law and land he lives upon, \( to do him no harm.» This done, he permits him to arise, and marvels at his strange appearance:
"The strange occupation, in which Waldhave beholds Merlin engaged, derives some illustration from a curious passage in Geoffrey of Monmouth‘: life of Merlin, above quoted. The poem, after narrating that the prophet had fled to the forests in a state of distraction, prooeeds 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 (cautioning her, 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 on a buck, drove the herd before him to the capital of Cumberland, where Guendolen resided. But her lover’: curiosity leading him to inspect too nearly this extraordinary cavalcade, hlerlin's rage was awakened, and he slew him, with a stroke of an antler of the stag. The original runs thus:
Dixerat: et silvas et stiltus circuit omnes,
Cervos ante fores, proclamans, ll Guendolaena,
Sic parere viro, tantum quoque posse ferarum
Sicut pastor oves, quasducere suevit ad herbas;
Quo gestabatur, vibrataquejecit in illum
Et caput illius penitus contrivit, eumque Reddidit exanimem, vitumque fugavit in auras; Ocius inde auum, talorum verbero, cervum Diffugiens egit, silvasque redire paravit.
For a perusal of this curious poem, accurately copied fronts 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.
Taoans 1-as Karina was renowned among his contemporaries, as the author of the celebrated romance of Sir Tristrem. Of this once admired poem only one copy is known to exist, which is in the Advocates‘ Library. The author, in 1804, published asmall edition of this curious work, which, if it does not revive the reputation of the hard of Ercildoun, is at least the earliest specimen of Scottish poetry hitherto published. Some account of this romance has already been given to the world in Mr Ellis's Specimen: ofAncient Poetry, vol. I, p. 165, III, p. 410; a work, to which our predecessors and our posterity are alike obliged; the former, for the preservation of the best selected examples of their poetical taste; and the latter, for a history of the English language, which will only cease to be interesting with the existence of our mother-tongue, and all that genius and learning have recorded in it. It is sufficient here to mention, that, so great was the reputation of the romance of Sir Tristrem, that few were thought capable of reciting it after the manner of the autbor;—a circumstance alluded to by Robert de Brune, the annalist: I see in long, in sedgoyng tale, Ofliroeldoan, and of Kendule. Now thame says as they theme wroght, And in thare saying it semen nocht, That than may here in Sir Tristrem, Over genes it has the stems,
Hush'd were the throng, both limb and tongue,
And armed lords lean'd on their swords,
In numbers high, the Witching tale
No after hard might e’er avail 3
, Yet fragments of the lofty strain Float down the tide of years, As, buoyant on the stormy main, A parted wreck appears.
He sung King Arthur's Table Round : The warrior of the lake;
How courteous Gawaine met the wound, And bled for ladies’ sake.
But chief, in gentle Tristrem's praise, The notes melodious swell;
Was none elcell'd, in Arthur's days, The knight of Lionelle.
* Quuigh.s—Wooden cups, troniposett of slaves hooped together. 5 See introduction to this Ballad.