MERLIN

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MERLIN, Ambrose, a British writer, who flourished about the latter end of the fifth century. The accounts we have of him are so mixed up with fiction, that to disentangle his real life from the mass would be impossible. He was said to be the son of a demon and a daughter of a king of England who was a nun. His birthplace was Carmarthen, in Caledonia. He was instructed by his father in all branches of science, and received from him the power of working miracles. He was the greatest sage and mathematician of his time, the counsellor and friend of four English kings, Vortigern, Ambrosius, Uther Pendragon, and Arthur. Vortigern, at the advice of his magicians, had resolved to build an impregnable tower, in order to secure himself against the Saxons; but the foundation was scarcely laid, when the earth opened by night and swallowed it up. The magicians informed the king, that to give firmness to the foundation, he must wet it with the blood of a child born without a father. After much search, the young Merlin was brought to the king After Merlin had heard tlie dictum of the magicians, he disputed with them, and showed them that under the foundation of the tower was a great lake, and under the lake two great raging dragons, one red, representing the British, one white, representing the Saxons. The earth was dug open, and no sooner were the dragons found, than they commenced a furious battle; whereupon Merlin began to weep, and to utter prophecies respecting the future state of England. The mira cles ascribed to him are numerous. He is said to have escaped from the Saxons in a ship of glass. Instead of dying, it was supposed that he fell into a magic sleep, from which, after a long period, he would awake; and to this fable Spenser alludes in his Faery Queen. In the British museum is Le Compte de la Vie de Merlin et de ses Faiz et Compte de ses Prophecies (2 vols., folio, on vellum, without date or place). We have also the Life of Merlin, surnamed Ambrosius, by T. Hey wood. (See Warton's History of Poetry, and Spenser's Faery Queen, &c.)