MERLIN, merlin, a semi-legendary Brit ish prophet and magician, supposed to have flourished toward the end of the 5th century. The accounts of him are hopelessly mixed with fiction. He was said to be the son of a demon and the daughter of a British prince, and was brought up at Caer-Merlin, a city supposed to he the modern Carmarthen. He received from his father the power of working miracles and was the greatest sage of his time, the counsellor and friend of English kings. Vortigen, accord ing to the legend, on the advice of his magi cians, had resolved to build an impregnable tower for security 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 firm ness 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. Merlin disputed with the magiciair
and showed them that under the foundation or the tower was a great lake, and under the lake two great raging dragons, one red, represent ing the British, one white, representing the Saxons. The earth was dug open, and the dragons began a furious battle; whereupon Merlin wept, and uttered prophecies respect* the future state of England. Merlin is a char acter in Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King.) A collection of the prophecies attributed to lip appeared in Paris in 1498, at London in 153 and 1533, at Venice, 1554. They can be tracX back to about 1360. His prophecies were pal lished at Edinburgh in 1615 and contain also those ascribed to the Cambrian or Welsh Mer lin. Consult Child, 'Her Book of Merlin' (New York 1904) ; Tennyson, Alfred, 'Idyl of the King.'