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brazen swords and spears are of the same form and substance, being a composition of brass and tin. It may likewise be observed, that to this day, the Irish peasants are in the annual habit of lighting upon certain hills, on the eve of midsummer, what they still call Ball's fire, though quite ignorant, that Bell was the god of their Phoenician ancestors.
The grand epoch of political eminence in the early history of Ireland, was the reign of the great and favorite monarch Ollam-Fodlah, according to Keating, about 950 years before the Christain aera. Under him was instituted the great Fes at Teanior or Tara. This was a triennial convention of the states, the members of which consisted of the Druids,* and other
learned learned men, who represented the people. The royal assent, on these occasions, was given to a great many good laws. As early as the time we are speaking of, it was ordained, that every nobleman and great officer, should, by the herald's appointment, have a particular coat of arms assigned him, according to his merit and his quality, to distinguish him from others of the same rank; and be known wherever he appeared, either at sea or land; in the prince's court, or his own place of residence, or in the field of battle.* To preserve order and regularity on public occasions, all the attendants delivered in their shields or targets. These the grand marshall and principal herald hung up against the walls, and, on entering, each individual took his place under his respective shield or target, without the slightest disturbance.
* The Phoenicians are said to have brought Druidism into Britain; from whence, according to Caesar's account, it passed into Caul. Laing, following the opinion of Pinkerton, doubts of its having ever existed in Ireland or Scotland. The notion, however, contradicts the authority of history, and as Phoenecian colonies had settled in those parts, there is every reason to believe they carried that system with them.
Nothing can give stronger ideas of early civilization than this, and other regulations
that that might be mentioned; but the limits of this discourse will not admit of entering into a longer detail of these people. Nothing but our ignorance of their history can occasion any doubt. To those who will examine, there is a mass of evidence, which, when impartially weighed, boldly bids defiance to the fastidious and hardened sceptic.* Without calling for acquiescence upon any particular fact, when we combine the early intercourse of the Phoenicians with the natives; their languages being the same; the similarity of the old Irish and Carthagenian military weapons. The coincidence of their records, as to the number of their kings. The reference of their earliest bards to long existing usages, confirmed by names and terms which have survived those usages, proving their former existence. Nay, the very fabulous allusions of their poems to the names of monarchs, who find their regular places in the lists of the
* See K eating's History.
most accurate annalists. The exact computation and number that fill up the space of time attributed to the continuance of the royal lineage. The very great probability of all the leading coincidences of the facts related, and the very traditions of a people, who have preserved their language for three thousand years; all tend to raise a monument of historical veracity, that ignorance, envy, prejudice, or malevolence will never be able to overturn.
The language spoken in the Hebrides and Highlands, being the same as the Irish, some have supposed that the inhabitants were originally from that country. Others maintain, on the contrary, that the north-eastern parts of Ireland had been peopled from the western coast of Scotland. There are great authorities on each side, which will make it difficult for me fully to explain. By the similarity of their speech, they seem evidently to derive their origin from the Phoenician colonies, that, as already observed, settled at an early period in both countries. There
is no historic proof that Ireland was invaded by any strangers, except some Danish and Norwegian rovers, but, never in such numbers as wholly to subdue the island.
This is the reason why the language has continued for so many ages the same. But Britain, lying nearer the continent, and more exposed to nations that made it a practice to harrass their neighbours, became sooner a prey to their incursions. At the time the Phoenicians first landed there, the inhabitants must have been few. The establishments they made contributed greatly to increase their numbers: but when Alexander destroyed Tyre, and the Romans afterwards demolished Carthage, the intercourse with these states was put an end to. Left, therefore, to themselves, the maritime natives of the opposite shores passing over, and gaining footing by degrees, obliged the ancient settlers to move farther north. So that on the invasion of Caesar, he found all the sea coasts possessed by Belgians, who retained the names of the several states from which they were descended.