Merlin, a European falcon, of the genus hy-potriorchis (Boie), which differs from the genus falco (Linn.) chiefly in the more lengthened and slender tarsi, and long slender toes. This bird (H. cesalon, Gmel.) is about a foot long, with an extent of wings of 29 in., the male being a little smaller; it is the smallest of the British falcons, of pleasing colors, compact and graceful in form, with large head and short strong bill, the closed wings about 1 1/2 in. shorter than the tail. In the male, the upper parts are deep grayish blue, each feather with a black central line, the tail barred with black, and the lower parts light reddish yellow with oblong blackish brown spots; in the female, the upper parts are grayish brown with darker shafts, the tail barred with pale reddish, and the lower parts yellowish white with large longitudinal markings; in both sexes the bill is pale blue at the base, and bluish black toward the end. From its courage and docility it was formerly trained to pursue larks and the smaller game birds.
Merlin (Hypotriorchis scsalon).
Merlin, the name of two legendary British seers and sorcerers, who lived in the 5th and 6th centuries A. D.
Merlia Ambrosias, a native of Wales, is represented to have beenthe son of a demon by a Cambrian princess. When a mere youth he recommended himself to the notice of King Vortigern by the display of supernatural powers; and he subsequently became the counsellor of that monarch, and of his successors Ambrosius, Uterpendragon, and Arthur. This is the Merlin to whom allusion is made by Spenser in his "Faerie Queen," and by other old poets. He is also the subject of the metrical romance entitled "Merlin," of which Mr. Ellis has given an analysis in his '•Early English Romances;'1 and he is prominent in Buhver-Lytton's "King Arthur," and in Tennyson's " Idyls of the King," especially in "Vivien." A book of prophecies attributed to him was printed in French in 1498, in English in 1529, and in Latin in 1554. The principal account of him is given by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Britonum. "The Life of Merlin Ambrosius," by T. Heywood, appeared in London in 1G41. The early English text society has reprinted the first part of the prose romance of Merlin from the unique manuscript in the Cambridge university library, edited by II. B. Wheatley (1875).
Merlin Caledonios Sylvestris, Or The Wild, a native of Strath-clyde, in S. W. Scotland, was contemporary with St. Kentigern, bishop of Glasgow, in the latter part of the 6th century. According to Fordun, having slain his nephew, he fled to the woods, and there led the life of a savage till his death. A band of peasants pursuing him, he sprang from a rock into the Tweed, in order to escape them, and was impaled on a stake that chanced to be in the bed of the river. A metrical life of him, incorrectly ascribed to Geoffrey of Monmouth, was printed for the Roxburghe club (London, 1830). The works attributed to him were published at Edinburgh in 1015; but as the rhapsodies and prophecies of the Cambrian and Caledonian Merlins are confounded, being sometimes ascribed to one and sometimes to the other, it is almost impossible to distinguish between them.