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The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg, Vol. I., ed. by J. Williams Ab Ithel, [1862], at


In the early times of the nation of the Cymry letters were called cuttings; and it was after the time of Beli, son of Manogan, that they were called letters. Previously, there were no letters but the primary cuttings, which had been a secret from the age of ages among the Bards of the Isle of Britain, for the preservation of the memorials of country and nation. Beli the Great made them into sixteen, and divulged that arrangement, and appointed that there should never after be a concealment of the sciences of letters, in respect of the arrangement which he made; but he left the ten cuttings a secret.

After the coming of the faith in Christ, they were made eighteen; and after that twenty, 2 and such they were kept until the time of Geraint the Blue Bard, who made them twenty-four.

They continued such for long ages, even until the time of king Henry the Fifth, 3 who forbade schools, books, and the materials of books for the Cymry. On that account the Cymry were obliged to betake themselves in a body to the Coelbren of the Bards, and to cut and blacken letters on wood

p. 60 p. 61

and rods; and every owner of a house and family, that wished to know the sciences of letters and reading, took Bards into his house. And from this was appointed the endowment of land, and tilth, and fold for the Bards. And the Bards became numerous in Cymru, and the knowledge of letters was greater than before the prohibition; where-fore Llawdden the Bard 1 sang:--

Beware of being wrong; see and observe--the throw
And course of every privation;
And the adage of this world,
"That is not evil which produces good."

That is to say, where there was no school to be had, but an English one, and no teacher but a Saxon, the Cymry would study their own language and sciences more than ever, and they improved and augmented the number of letters and cuttings, until they completed the number, of which they now consist.


59:2 p. 58 It may be remarked here that according to one version of the Poem by Taliesin, in which the expression "Saith ugain Ogrfen y sydd yn Awen," occurs, (See Antea p. 48) the word "iaith" is used instead of "Saith," which makes the meaning to be--"the language of twenty letters is in Awen,"--a statement that in some measure bears out that of the text.

59:3 p. 59 A.D. 1412-1122.

61:1 p. 60 Llawdden flourished from about 1440 to 1480.

Next: Recovery of the Old Cymraeg