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5. Riddles, puzzles, and verbal tasks.
6. Formulæ used in games, with description of the games, if necessary.
In order that anything thus collected may have a scientific value, it must be authentic. The song or tale may be crude and inelegant, imperfect, or even unintelligible, yet it should be recorded with scrupulous fidelity, as it was sung or told by the peasant, from whom it has been obtained ; if it is tinkered to suit the narrator's ideas of literary excellence, or to satisfy any of his preconceived ideas, notions, or theories, it becomes worthless. We have already referred to M. Luzel's labours, and we would specify his Gwerziou Breiz-Izel as a model of what a collection of popular songs should be.
We might instance, again, a work dealing with the same subject, and containing, to a certain extent, the same matter,Villemarqué's Barzaz Breiz, as a type of what such a collection should not be. The songs in the former are often imperfect, rugged, and partially unintelligible; while those in the latter are finished and elegant, and possess much literary beauty ; yet it does not require that one should be a specialist in this department, in order to know to which of the two a Liebrecht, or a Köhler would turn for a representation of what the popular poetry of Brittany really is. In saying this, we do not in the least wish to pronounce an opinion on the matter in dispute between M. de La Villemarqué and his critics : it is enough for us that the authenticity of the Barzaz Breiz can, with some show of reason (not to put it more strongly) be denied. A collection of the kind, to have any scientific value, must be above suspicion.
Any readers who may feel anxious to become collectors, should observe the following rules :
1. Whatever is recorded, should be given with absolute fidelity, as it fell from the narrator's mouth.
2. It should be stated where, when, and from whom, each tale, song, etc., was obtained: and if the narrator is known to be a native of another district than that in which he is found, it should be mentioned.
3. The collector should generally go to the oldest and most illiterate peasants, as these naturally preserve their traditional lore with the greatest fidelity, both as to matter and form.
Such persons also speak the dialects with the greatest purity.
4. Fragments of tales, etc., should be carefully recorded ; and also different versions should be given, if the variation is at all considerable.
We shall be glad to give a place in the Cymmrodor to such gleanings as we may from time to time be favoured by our fellow-members.
Jotes and Queries. A VERY learned and active member of the Society has suggested that it might be well to devote some space in every number of Y Cymmrodor to “Notes and Queries”. This suggestion it gives us great pleasure to act upon, and we hope our readers will give their help, and send us any fact worth recording in connection with “Cymru, Cymry, a Chymraeg”, which they may at any time “make a note of”.
Queries. BLODEUWEDD AS A NAME FOR THE OWL.-In the Mabinogi of Math ab Mathonwy, an account is given of the transformation of the faithless Flower-aspect into an owl, and it is added : “Now blodeuwedd is an owl in the language of this present time...... · And even now the owl is called Blodeuwedd” (Guest's Mabinogion, iii, 214, 249). In the note on p. 258, reference is made to Davydd ab Gwilym's poeil al the subject. Silvan Evans, in his Eng.-Welsh Dicty. s.v. "Owl", gives “blodeuwedd" as a rendering. What other references (if any) are there in Welsh literature to this metamorphosis ? And is the name blodeuwedd still given to the owl in any district of Wales ?
A DESCRIPTION OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.—The Welsh article under this heading in the present number appears to be a translation, probably from the Latin. Can any of our readers direct us to the original ?
GLOUCESTER AND ITS INTOXICANTS.-Years ago I heard from a native of Carmarthenshire, resident in Breconshire, the following doggerel verse :
“ Yn nhre' Llynden mae cyfreth gywren,
A dynion meddw yn eu mysg." Why should Gloucester have been selected as the place par excellence of “wine and beer"? Was that city at any time famous or infamous in that respect ?
WELSH PHRASES.—It is much to be desired that some competent person would give us a Dictionary of Welsh Phrase and Fable : it would be an interesting and, what dictionaries generally are not, an amusing work. Pending the appearance of such a work, can any reader of Y Cymmrodor throw light on the origin of the following phrases ? 1. Brathu'r gaseg wen.
I have often heard this expression used to describe the conduct of a person who breaks in upon conversation with some stupid or irrelevant remark, or some foolish explanation or answer: e.g., Dyna fe 'n brathu'r gaseg wen (or, more fully, yn brathu'r gaseg wen yn rhywle), There he goes with his wild and thoughtless answer.
9 Bod ym Mhenboir=to be a fool. I have heard it said of a man, Oh, y mae llawer o hono fe ym Mhenboir yto: Oh, he has a good deal of the fool about him yet. Penboir is in Carmarthenshire, but why is it thus libelled ?
3. Plant Sion Cnoc=" fools, noodles”. This expression I have heard in the Western part of Breconshire. A foolish young woman is sometimes humorously designated Uno ferched Sion Cnoc; or it will be said of one, Oh, un o blant Sion Cnoc yw ynte. I never could learn who Sion was, but it seems to be generally acknowledged that his family is a
Is he known to any Cymmrodor otherwise than through his descendants ?
4. Godre'r Rhiw dywyll=at a safe distance. This, I believe, comes from Cardiganshire. It is used of a person who loudly denounces another in his absence, and implies the belief that the blusterer would be discreetly silent in that other's presence : e.g., le, ie, yng ngodre'r Rhiw dywyll y mae e'n cymhenu bob amser : He always scolds at a safe distance, when the person reproved is far enough out of hearing.
5. Gwerthu'r hwrdd=to mutter sulkily, said of a person who mumbles indistinctly some reply which he dare not, or does not care to give openly : e.g., Dyna lle'r o'dd e'n gwerthu'r hwrdd : There he stood, muttering and grumbling. Sometimes I have heard the phrase expanded into gwerthu'r hwrdd am lai nag a dalai fe (to sell the ram for less than its value). Who made the bargain that originated the saying ?
SOMETIME ago a leading London Review gave us the interesting information that Prof. Rhys was engaged upon a History of the Breton Celts. This, however, was a misconception :
the work referred to will treat not of Brittany and its people, but of Early Britain, Celtic, and Pre-Celtic. It is to form the first of a series dealing with the early history of the island, to be issued by the S.P.C.K., and will be followed by others on Roman, Saxon, and Scandinavian Britain. We understand that a part of the work has been written, and that it will be completed as soon as the Professor's labours in connection with the Education Commission permit him to resume his
pen, It has also been announced that Mr. Rhộs has undertaken to edit Pennant's Tours for Mr. Humphreys of Carnarvon.
STILL more gratifying is the hope held out that the same scholar will soon be called upon to prepare a new edition of the Mabinogion, to be issued by the Clarendon Press.
WHILE on the subject of Prof. Rhộs's literary engagements, actual and prospective, we are glad to be able to announce that our next number will contain a paper of some length from his pen.
With regard to the long-expected Welsh Dictionary of Prof. Silvan Evans, the Cymmrodor has already made announcements giving rise to hopes which have proved to be of that kind which “maketh the heart sick”. Mr. Evans has looked in vain for a publisher in the principality; the mantle of Owain Myfyr has not rested on the shoulders of any of his countrymen. However, there is good ground for hope that the same press which promises a new edition of our great romances, will lay us under further obligations by giving to the world the new Geiriadur. The author hopes “ that at no distant date he will be able to see his way clearly to the press”.