« VorigeDoorgaan »
dying, this compact was made with his for Cathluan, and from whom the Picts were also called Caledones; the pofterity of Cathluan; for Don in Irish fignifies a family. Such was the rife of these people, whofe pofterity made fo brilliant a figure in British history!'
We shall not controvert any of thefe points with our Author. That he esteems thefe and other accounts of his. ancestors remarkable and ftriking is evident from the frequency of his notes of admiration, as well as from the reflections he often makes.
The death of Heremon is followed by a long lift of Irish kings of the Milefian race, and chiefly the Heberean and Heremonean line. Of feveral of thefe kings we find little befides their names, of others larger accounts are given. From fome of them we shall infert a few particulars, firft obferving that the narration is interrupted by a chapter concerning their deitice and doctrine, from whence we shall only take one fhort paffage relating to their worship of the fun and moon. Some remains of this worship may be traced, even at this day; as particularly borrowing, if they fhould not have it about them, a piece of filver on the first fight of a new moon, as an omen of plenty during the month; and at the fame time faying in Irish, you have found us in peace and profperity, fo leave us in grace and mercy." Some notion of this kind, we think, is not wholly uncommon in England.
In the reign of Tighernmas (2815) we are told of what is called a wholsome though fimple fumptuary law: By this law, it is faid, which his fucceffors were fworn to maintain, and which was called Ilbreachta, the peafantry, foldiers, and lower order of people, were to have their garments but of one colour; military officers and private gentlemen, two; commanders of battalions, three; Beatachs, Brughnibhs, or keepers of houfes of hospitality, four; the prime nobility or military knights, five; and the Ollamhs, or doctors learned in different fciences, fix, being one less than the chief rulers!'
Cochaidh II. who reigned in 2009 was, we are informed, ⚫ furnamed Faobharglas, or of the green edge, becaufe in his days the art of giving different colours to fwords and arms was found out, and we are told that the points of his javelins and blades of his fwords were coloured green.' During the reigns from 2993 to 3075, we read of fhields of pure filver, helmets ornamented with gold, particularly with crefcents in the front of that metal, corflets cafed with pure ductile gold, golden chains and collars; concerning all which, this Writer remarks, the very great plenty of gold in Ireland in thefe early days, and in times much nearer our own, will not be difputed but by fuch as shut their ears to the voice of truth. They acquired it from native mines, and they extracted both it and filver from their mines of
copper and lead. They accumulated quantities of gold by their traffic with Spain, and with Africa, hence their fhields of pure filver, hence their helmets and corflets cafed with gold; hence the number of fwords of mixt metal, with gold handles, to this day found bogs and morafies; hence the hoftages detained at the courts. of our monarchs, having their fhackles of pure gold; hence the very harneffes for horfes were ornamented with gold!
We. remember that in our account of Wynne's Hiftory of Ireland we have taken notice of the inftitution of the royal affembly of Teamor or Tara, in the reign of Oilam-Fodhla, or the Tearned doctor: this Writer naturally enlarges on the memorable appointment; but we obferve that he and Mr. Wynne Jiffer much in point of chronology; while the latter fixes it about A. M. 3266, and our Author about the year 3082, In this Auguft convention, fays Mr. O'Halloran, all the different records of the kingdom were examined, and this was the first rife of the famous Pfalter of Tara, being an epitome of unerring facts, drawn from the other records of the kingdom, and which it was looked on as criminal to form the leaft doubt of! Here it was that this great prince delivered in the origin, the exploits, and migrations of the Milefian race, till their landing in Ireland, all wrote with his own hand, and entered into the Senachas More, the great antiquity or Pfalter of Tara, fo called from this place of their meeting.'
In feveral fucceeding reigns our Hiftorian introduces the great connections between the Irifh and the Carthaginians, and informs us of the fhare which the former had in the wars between the latter and the Romans. It would have an odd found to most of our Readers to say that ancient Rome had been taken by the Irish but hear what this gentleman, enamoured with the antiquity and glory of his country, declares. Plutarch in his life of Camillus, fays he, tells us, as foon as the account of Rome's being taken by the Gauls reached Greece, that Heraclides of Pontus, who lived at the very time (though this Author; i. e. Plutarch, fays foon after) in his book De Anima, relates
that a certain report came from the Weft, that an army of Hyperboreans had taken a Creek city called Rome, seated fome where on the Great Sea." But I do not wonder, fays Plutarch,
that fo fabulous a writer fhould embellifh his account of the taking of Rome with fuch turgid words as Hyperborean and Great Sea." And yet, adds Mr. O'Halloran, for these remarks Plutarch is himself cenfured by Dacier, Dryden, and other tranflators. For nothing is more certain, than that the ancients called the Mediterranean fea Mare Magnum, as conveying
Vid. Review, vol. xlviii. p. 470.
paffengers to all parts of the world, in oppofition to the Euxine, and other adjoining feas. Nor is Plutarch's remark on the Hyperboreans better founded; fince they were at that time, and long before and after it, a great and powerful people. Nor are these commentators on our Author to be at all juftified, when they affirm that the Greeks called all northern nations indifcriminately Hyperboreans. It is evident, that by Hyperboreans, the early Greeks understood the inhabitants of a fingle island only; and which island I have fhewn in the prefent, as well as in a former work, to be Ireland. As then Rome was feated on the Great Sea, and the Hyperboreans at this time a powerful maritime ftate, we may conclude, that Heraclides was better informed in thefe matters (efpecially being a contemporary) than our Author supposes; and that the Irish made a diftinguished figure in this war.'
It must be acknowledged fair and candid in this Writer when he lays before us the above quotation, to give at the fame time. the reflection which Plutarch himself makes on it, which appears fufficient to prevent, at this diftance of time, our laying any great stress on it, or at least our applying it in the manner Mr. O'Halloran wishes to do. But whether or not the Milefian Irish might have any share in the taking of Rome by the Gauls, it is not at all improbable that they should maintain some connection with the Carthaginians, and perhaps were parties in fome of their wars,
In his zeal for the honour and glory of Ireland, our Author, in his account of the reign of Aongus III. (about A. M. 2780) acquaints us, that from Fiacha, a fon of the above prince, the royal line of Scotland are defcended, and from him by the fcmale line his prefent Majefty is defcended.' However honourable he may esteem this to his Irish lift, it does not appear very greatly fo to the royal families he mentions; for this Fiacha proves to have been the fon of Aongus III. by his own daughter. In another place he farther obferves, I have taken great pains to clear up this part of the hiftory, fo honourable to his prefent Majefty, and to the North Scots. We fhall not dispute with him about his authorities, or the exactnefs of his derivation, but we are rather diverted by his ardour for the honour of King George III.
In a chapter on chivalry and the early orders of knights in Ireland, we find the following relations, In the bloody battle of Maigh-Lena, in the King's county, fought in the fecond century, it was proposed by some officers in the imperial army, to attack the troops of Munfter, or indeed rather of LeathMogha, at night, by a kind of coup de main; but Gaull, the fon of Morni, and chief of the knights of Connaught, nade this heroic answer: "On the day that I received the honour of knight
knighthood, I vowed never to attack an enemy at night, by furprize, or under any kind of difadvantage."-In the third century, Mac Con, an exile, invades Ireland; but instead of immediately attacking his enemy, as yet unprepared, he fends his embaffadors to Art, the then monarch, notifying his arrival and his intentions. Their demands and his answer are worth reciting. "We come, faid they, from Mac Con, to you Art Mac Cuin, requiring you in his name, to divide Ireland with him, or to meet him on the plains of Moicruimhe, where he will wait for you, with thirty battalions." "I will never confent to divide the kingdom, replies Art, nor will. I decline the battle. He is unworthy of a crown who declines the fight. My father waded to the monarchy through torrents of blood, and the fword only fhall deprive me of it!" The next question was, as to the time of fighting. Art demanded twelve months, to "enable his allies to join him. But the numbers of foreigners in the army of Mac Con made it impoffible to grant this request. By mutual agreement it was fought in a fortnight, and a moft bloody and decifive battle it proved! For in it fell Art, by the fword of Mac Con; the king of Connaught, by that of Beine Briot, prince of Wales; feven fons of the king of Munfter, and many heroes of prime note fell that day, as is particularly related in the hiftory of this war.' These and fuch like inftances are adduced to prove the honour and faith of his anceftors; these are followed by fome account of their learning, mufic, poetry, &c.
Concerning the Druids and Bards he remarks in another place, In all the wars antecedent to chriftianity, we see the incantations, fpells, and magic of the Druids introduced, and fcarce a battle gained without their affiftance. From this recital, what shall we think, it is added, of Macpherson, who boldly affirms, that in all the relations of the early bards, not the least mention of religious ceremony is to be found! Shall we affirm that these are his own fuggeftions, not the dictates of truth; and fhall we apply to him what the great Ufher fays of his countryman and fellow-labourer Dempfter? Tam fufpectæ fidei hominem illum fuiffe comperimus, & toties tefferam fregiffe, ut oculatos nos effe oporteat, & nifi quod videmus, nihil ab eo acceptum credere." Other opportunities are embraced of attacking Macpherfon, O'Connor, and others.
Connaire the Great is fuppofed to have reigned about the time of the Chriftian æra: The first act of his reign, it is faid, was an unexampled punifament on the people of Leinster, for the murder of his father. He ordered that every first of November three hundred fwords mounted with gold, three hundred
Primord, Ecclef. Brit. p. 379.
cows, three hundred purple cloaks, and three hundred fteeds fhould be delivered in at his palace, as an eric from that province. From this it becomes evident, that his father was murdered by a party, not killed in battle, fince there was no law or precedent to juftify this impost otherwife. In revenge for this, we read foon after, of his own palace in Meath's being burnt to the ground, and he himself with difficulty efcaping. Barring this, our annals loudly proclaim the uncommon bleffings of this reign.'
A. D. 46 Fearaidhach reigned in Ireland. His immediate predeceffor was not of the Milesian line, and had been placed on the throne amidst oppofition and anarchy; when he died the crown was offered to his fon Moran, who with unexampled heroism and conftancy, fays this Writer, refufed it. But he proves à fteady friend to Fearaidhach, who was called the moft juft, and to the interefts of his countrymen. Under fuch governors, as our Author quotes from Dr. Warner, to confirm his own account, Ireland could not be otherwise than happy. • So great, it is added, was the reputation of Moran for wisdom and juftice, that the gold collar he wore round his neck was used by all his fucceffors; and fo wonderful were the effects attributed to it, that the people were taught to believe, that whoever gave a wrong decree with this round his neck, was fure to be com preffed by it, in proportion to his diverging from the line of the truth, but in every other inftance it would hang loose and eafy.
The fuppofed virtue of this collar was a wonderful prefervative from perjury and prevarication; for no witness would venture into a court to fupport a bad caufe, as he apprehended the effects of it, if placed round his neck. This cannot be better illuftrated than by obferving, that, even at this day, to fwear-" Dar an Ioadh Mhoran; i. e. by the collar of Moran," is deemed a moft folemn appeal.'--Moran's collar is to be wifhed for in every fenate and court of juftice.
It is fingular enough, fays Mr. O'Halloran, that Cormoc, who reigned A. D. 259, and appears to have been a great prince, notwithstanding the many improvements he made in the police of Ireland; notwithstanding his reducing Connaught into an Irish province, and transferring in a manner the crown of it from the Damnonii to his own family, &c. yet ftill by the lofs of an eye, though in the cause of his country, he was judged unworthy of fovereign authority, and obliged to make a fur render of the crown,'
From the time of the establishment of chriftianity in Ireland under the direction of St. Patrick, the hiftory of this country is better known, and has been particularly treated by dif ferent writers. Here, therefore, we fhall take leave of this