Bard (Cymric, bardh; Gaelic, oard), a professional poet, who made his livelihood by singing the amours and battles of gods, the deeds of heroes, the glory and genealogy of chiefs, and the victories of tribes over their enemies. Bards were called or rhapsodists by the Greeks, rates by the Latins, scalds by the Scandinavians, scopes by the Anglo-Saxons, ollamhs by the Irish, and baydars and spiewaks by the Slavs. In ancient Gaul they were a subdivision of the druids, or the priestly and learned order. Caesar says that they spent 20 years in their education, acquiring the knowledge by rote of an immense number of verses, which they did not record in writing, but handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. After the subjugation of Gaul this profession was put under restrictions, and eventually annihilated by the Roman civil power both in Gaul and in that part of Britain which fell within the pale of Roman civilization. Wales, Cornwall, Cumberland, and Strathclyd, only remotely affected by the Roman conquest, kept alive the flame of minstrelsy. In the parish of Llanidan, in the isle of Anglesey, are the remains of an arch-druid's palace, surrounded by the several colleges into which druidism was divided. One of these colleges, or independent buildings, is called by the peasantry at this day trer beira, or hamlet of the bards. Each chief of a clan in Britain had a bard, whose office was hereditary in the family.
At the feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide the bardd teulu, or court bard, sat next to the master of the ceremonies, and received the steward's robe as his fee. The bard who had won in the musical contest of the day was to sing, first to the glory of God, secondly to the glory of the prince; and then the teuluier, or regular court bard, was to sing on the topics of the day. On investment, the court singer received a harp from the prince and a ring of gold from the queen. The pagan tendencies of these singers finally led to their discouragement, and in 1078 Gryffyth Conan, prince of Wales, issued edicts placing them under rigid restrictions. Many of the Welsh bards abandoned their profession at this change, and their places were supplied by ollamhs from Erin, who introduced into Wales all the instrumental music for many centuries in use there. In the edicts of Conan the bards were classified in several ways: 1, the bards of the princes and nobles, or pruddud; 2, bards of the middle ranks, or selmar; 3, bards for the lower classes, or clewr. There were three special sub-classes, viz., composers, instructors of the rising generation, and heralds. Some professed the faculty of second sight, as diviners, sorcerers, interpreters of dreams, etc.
For mutual encouragement and instruction, public sessions of the Welsh bards (eisteddfods) were held for many centuries at the town of Caerwys, the residence of the prince of Wales; at Aberfraw, in Anglesey, for the bards of that island and the adjoining county; and at Mathraval, for those of the land of Powis. Only minstrels of skill performed, and degrees were conferred according to the branch in which the victors had perfected themselves. After the conquest of Wales by Edward I. of England (1282), royal commissioners were appointed who presided over the eisteddfods, and acted the part of censors and inquisitors. No bardic poem was allowed to be circulated which appealed to the patriotic sentiments of the conquered race. The story of the massacre of the Welsh bards and the destruction of their records is a fiction, originating in Edward's stringent measures against the right of free song. The last eisteddfod held under royal commission was in the reign of Elizabeth, at Caerwys, in 1569. On this occasion, the victor of the silver harp was Simon ap Williams ap Sion. Various persons received degrees, some as chief bards of vocal song, others as primary, secondary, or probationary students; and many more as bards, students, and teachers of instrumental song upon the harp.
The degrees were four in the poetical and five in the musical faculty. Toward the end of the last century some patriotic Welsh gentlemen determined to revive the eisteddfod. In 1770 the Gwyneddigion society was formed, in 1818 the Cambrian society, and some years later the Cymmoridian, or metropolitan Cambrian institution, of which George IV. of England declared himself the patron. Annual meetings have since been held for the recitation and reward of prize poems, and performances upon the harp. The above-named societies have been instrumental in preserving relics of the poems of Myrddyn ap Morfryn, Myrddyn Emrys, Talliesin, and other less celebrated composers of triads. The bards of Ireland formed a hereditary guild, and were divided into three classes, the filedha, who sang in the service of religion and in war, and were counsellors and heralds to the princes; the breitheamhaim, who chanted the laws; and the seanachaidlie, who were chroniclers for princes and nobles. They were anciently held in high esteem, but their tendency to foster a rebellious spirit led to their suppression. Turlogh O'Carolan, who died in 1737, is generally regarded as the last Irish bard.
The bards of Scotland are believed to have been on a similar footing with those of Ireland, but nothing is known of their actual history, and no remains of their songs have been preserved.
Bard. I. John, an American physician, born near Philadelphia, Feb. 1, 1716, died March 30, 1799. He removed to New York in 1746, where he rose to the first rank among physicians. In 1759, on the arrival of a ship on board of which a malignant fever was raging, Dr. Bard was appointed to take measures to prevent the disease from spreading. He succeeded in keeping the pestilence within the limits of a temporary hospital, but to guard against similar dangers in future, at his suggestion Bedloe's island was purchased, and hospital buildings were erected thereon, which were placed under his charge. Upon the establishment of the New York medical society in 1788, he was elected its first president. He left an essay on malignant pleurisy, and several papers on the yellow fever. II. Samuel, an American physician, son of the preceding, born in Philadelphia, April 1, 1742, died May 24,1821. He studied at King's (now Columbia) college, New York, and at the medical school of Edinburgh. On his way to Edinburgh he was captured by a French vessel, and was released by the influence of Dr. Franklin, who was then residing in London. After taking his degree he travelled through Scotland and parts of England, studying minerals, plants, animals, arts, and manufactures.
Returning to America in 1767, he entered at once upon the practice of his profession in New York, in partnership with his father. He effected the organization of a medical school, which was united to King's college, and in which he was appointed professor of the practice of physic, and subsequently became dean of the faculty. After the revolutionary war he was for a time Washington's family physician, the general government being then in New York. Through his influence a public hospital was opened in New York in 1791, and he was appointed its visiting physician. He retired in 1798 to his country seat in New Jersey, and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits. In 1813 he was appointed president of the college of physicians and surgeons in New York. He left several tracts on medical subjects.