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doubtedly are, they fall into comparative insignificance when placed beside No. 14, shown by fig. 129, on the oppositite page (drawn two-thirds its natural size), which, so far as the pulished accounts afford us information, is the most beautiful specimen of the mortuary urn, both in design and execution, that has yet been discovered in the British isles. When reversed, the bowl presents, both in shape and ornamentation, all the characteristics of the Echinus so strongly marked, that one is led to believe the artist took the shell of that animal for his model. It is composed of very fine clay, and is now of a light brown colour, except where encrusted upon the edge and one side with carbonate of lime, which dripped upon it in a fluid state (possibly for centuries), and which largely assisted to preserve the sharpness of its decoration. It possesses the rare addition of a handle, which has been tooled over like the rest of the vessel. This beautiful little urn stands but 2; inches high, and is 32 across the outer margin of the lip, which is the widest portion. Its decoration consists of nine sets of upright marks, each containing three cross-barred elevations, narrowing towards the base, which is slightly hollowed; the intervals between these are filled with more elaborately worked and minute impressions, each alternate space being further ornamented by a different pattern, as shown in the engraving. A rope-like ornament, surmounted by an accurately cut chevron, surrounds the neck. The lip, which is nearly flat, is one of the most beautifully ornamented portions of the whole ; a number of small curved spaces, such as might be made by the point of the nail of the forefinger, surround the outer edge, and also form a similar decoration on the inner margin; upon the flat space between these, somewhat more than half an inch broad, radiate a number of very delicately cut lines. It was discovered in 1847, in the cutting of a railway, in a small stone chamber at Knocknecoura, near Bagnalstown, County of Carlow; and contained portions of the burned bones of an infant, or very young child. It was embedded in a much larger and ruder urn, filled with fragments of adult human bones ; possibly they may have been the remains of mother and child.”
The difficulty of assigning an accurate epoch to those articles recalls the observations of Sir Thomas Browne, who treating, in 1658, of the sepulchral urns then recently discovered at Norfolk, wrote:
“What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture. What time the persons of these ossuaries entered the famous nations of the dead, and slept with princes and counsellors, might admit a wide solution. But wbo were the proprietors of these bones, or what bodies these ashes made up, were a question above antiquarism; not to be resolved by man, nor easily perhaps by spirits, except we consult the principal guardians, or tutelary observators. Had they made as good provision for their names as they have done for their relics, they had not so grossly, erred in the art of perpetuation. But to subsist in bones, and be but pyramidally extant, is a fallacy in duration. Vain ashes which, in the oblivion of names, persons, times, and sexes, have formed unto themselves a fruitless continuation, and only arise unto late posterity as emblems of mortal vanities, antidotes against puude, vain-glory, and madding vices.”
In the centre of the Eastern Gallery of the Museum are arranged the Academy's wooden and vegetable antiquities, which, although of modern date as compared with the articles of stone, are of much interest as illustrating the habits of the Irish from the tenth to the seventeenth century.
This portion of the Catalogue is prefaced by the following interesting observations of the author :
“ Before man had attained that amount of culture which enabled him to convert flint and stone into weapons and tools, we must suppose that he availed himself of the timber of the forest (when so located) to form a club as an im. plement of protection or offence, to make a wattle for his hut, and to construct from the slender twig a snare wherewith to entrap his prey. But although it is certain that the use of wood was thus, in the very infancy of the human race, resorted to, either alone or in connexion with the flint and stone implements described in the first section, it could not be expected, from its decaying nature, that articles formed from vegetable material could endure, in a climate such as ours, for more then a few hundred years, except when preserved in bog. With the question respecting man's early state in his original habitat, we do not deal; in these examinations we take him as he first appears to us (judged by his remains) in our western islands, uncul. tured and uncivilized, such as we find him in other portions of the world at the present day:
“Coeval with, and perhaps antecedent to the first colonisation of the island, but prior to the chief bog deposits, Ireland must have been, from the nature of its temperature, an Emerald Isle--green, fruitful, and abounding in vegetation. History and tradition, confirmed by the existing remains of trees and plants conserved beneath our peat mosses, tell us that it was well wooded. What may have been the order of succession in its forest trees botanists have not decided; but far down beneath the surface of our oldest and deepest bogs, we find traces of the hazel, and trees of the oak, the yew, and the pine, of stupendous size, and bearing evidence of being the growth, perhaps, of centuries, either broken off
" in the stem, or uprooted and pros. trated by the tempests or the floods wlich swept over these localities, before the mosses, heaths, rushes, and grasses had collected round them, and, in lapse of years, had formed, by compression, what is denominated turf. An examination of the localities in which these and other trees are found, shows us that many of the places now covered by partially decayed vegetable matter were once dry and studded with forest trees, proving incontestibly that several of our bogs are of comparatively recent formation. This assertion is further confirmed by our annals, in which we find notices of floods and storms that prostrated woods of gigantic growth. Hazel nuts, acorns, beech-mast, and crab-apples, are frequently referred to in our earliest annals, and leave no doubt as to the great abundance of the trees which produced them. But even within the period of modern history-say three hundred years we have faithful records of the existence of extensive forests. A few indigenous woods remain ; and, besides those trees which may be considered of imported origin, we find there the oak, birch, hazel, yew, ash, and holly, the thorn, apple, sloe, and mountain ash, all of native growth; the fir alone having, it is generally believed, left few representatives, and in most localities none. Whether the alder and the different varieties of willow, popularly known as sallows, so widely distributed over the face of the country, particularly around the habitations of man, and also the elder, are of the early native stock, is still questionable.
“While the substance of the bog mass is composed of numerous species of moss, chiefly the spaghnum, with several varieties of rushes, grasses, ferr and heaths, there have been frequently found, at from four to five feet above the gravel, a strata of broken branches of birch, beech and hazel, although no trunks of such of any great size have yet been discovered; but in rare in
stances those of elm and alder have been found. It is remarkable that, while the roots of several other kinds of bog timber are frequently found turned on the side, those of the fir are usually discovered in a standing position, with a few feet of their trunks remaining attached to them. Several of these roots are in such positions as to show that they had grown on previously-formed bog, whereas it is said the trunks of the oak and yew, which are found scattered near the verge of the bogs, rest'mostly on clay or gravel, seldom with a foot of peat between the trunk and the gravel.' These trees being almost invariably attached to their roots, form a striking contrast with the fir-trees.' Three varieties of pine, distinguished by their cones, have been discovered, Pinus sylvestris, P. pinea, and P. pinaster ; a few suceessors of the latter are said to exist in the neighbourhood of Tarbert, county of Kerry; and some fine specimens of native Pinus sylvestris, not planted by human hand, may still be seen at Coolnamuck, on a hill-side near Carrick-on-Suir, county of Waterford.”—pp.197–9.
Under the wooden and vegetable classes we find ancient boats and paddles, spades, forks, amber and jet beads and studs, horse-trappings, dishes, bowls, and four-sided drinking-vessels, commonly called methers. On the subject of the stockaded islands, called crannoges, the vestiges of which have been found in many of our lakes, we are presented with much interesting information in the Catalogue before us, which concludes with descriptive notices of the ancient harps and wooden horns in the Academy's collection.
In the present instance, Mr. Wilde's services to the Academy has been two-fold. He has already completed the arrangements and classification of the departments of the Museum we have noticed, and also produced a work so copious in its details, so adorned with admirable wood-engravings, and embodying a series of such valuable essays, introductory to each class of remains, that instead of being merely styled a “ Catalogue,” it might more justly be designated a Treatise on the Antiquities of Ireland, as illustrated by the collection of articles preserved in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. Of the vast amount of toil involved in this u ndertaking it would be difficult to give an adequate idea. Previously to Mr. Wilde's labours the Museum was in a most confused condition; it is now divided into classified departments, every article in which, so far as his work extends, is located, carefully labelled and numbered. On referring to the Catalogue before us we can at once find the peculiarities, and all the information extant in connexion with the history, use, locality, and circumstances of the discovery of each particular object. To supply the latter required a large amount of research, as the Academy did not previously possess either a catalogue or correct inventory of the contents of it's Museum; and that the value of our author's work has been duly appreciated appears from the remarks prefixed to this Catalogue by the President, who, after stating that Mr. Wilde “devoted his time and labour to the task with an energy and zeal which entitle him to the warmest thanks of the Academy,” adds
“It is only fair to him to state that the difficulty of the undertaking was greatly increased by the circumstance that, almost during the whole of his labours, the Museum was in the occupation of the workmen employed by the Board of Woks, in putting up glass-cases, &c., as well as in the painting and decoration of the room.'
Mr. Wilde, we are given to understand, is at present engaged in arranging and cataloguing the remainder of the Academy's collection, comprising the animal and metallic materials, to his publication on which we look forward with much interest ; as, if it equal in execution the volume now before us, his work, as a whole, will be one of the most important of its class extant, and we shall have to thank him not only for having rendered intelligible to us the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, but also for having produced that great desideratum -a copious, accurate, and reliable Handbook of the Antiquities of Ireland.
“TIME-on thy broad, expanded wings,
What dost thou bear ?"
I gather them everywhere.
“Fast and far down my rapid stream,
I hurry them along;
The bright-eyed Maiden's song.
“ Deem not that ye can save one flower
From Time's strong hand;
Shall sweep them from where they stand.
So humble, or so sublime,
By the conquering hand of Time !”
“Boast not, oh, scythe-armed monarch !
Though the gems of Earth be thine ;
Though contained in a mortal shrine.
“For when Heaven and Earth, like a scroll, have fled,
And measured is Time's full span;
Shall endure the soul of man!”
FROM THE GERMAN.
Towards mountains which in the far North ascend