The Fall and Rise of the Welsh Bards, or, How the English Became British
This chapter explores the mutual influence of Evan Evans and Thomas Gray. The chapter begins with a history of Welsh letters, including its bardic and prophetic traditions as expressions of resistance against Saxon conquest and English empire. The early modern use of the pre-Saxon Church of the Britons, i.e. the Welsh, provides the comparative basis for identifying changes in eighteenth-century British thought regarding time and mediation. The chapter then turns to Evans’s Some Specimens of the Poetry of the Antient Welsh Bards and his discovery of Y Gododdin, which provided the raw material for Gray’s Welsh imitations. Gray’s “The Bard” is treated as a poem of Welsh prophecy. His Norse and Welsh imitations are read closely with regard to their relationship to his literary-historical researches.