Part 12 out of 14
do no harm to anybody. I only wish there were as few corpse-
candles as there are Tylwith Teg, and that they did as little
"They foreshow people's deaths, don't they?" said I.
"They do, sir; but that's not all the harm they do. They are very
dangerous for anybody to meet with. If they come bump up against
you when you are walking carelessly it's generally all over with
you in this world. I'll give you an example: A man returning from
market from Llan Eglos to Llan Curig, not far from Plynlimmon, was
struck down dead as a horse not long ago by a corpse-candle. It
was a rainy, windy night, and the wind and rain were blowing in his
face, so that he could not see it, or get out of its way. And yet
the candle was not abroad on purpose to kill the man. The business
that it was about was to prognosticate the death of a woman who
lived near the spot, and whose husband dealt in wool - poor thing!
she was dead and buried in less than a fortnight. Ah, master, I
wish that corpse-candles were as few and as little dangerous as the
Tylwith Teg or fairies."
We returned to the inn, where I settled with the honest fellow,
adding a trifle to what I had agreed to give him. Then sitting
down, I called for a large measure of ale, and invited him to
partake of it. He accepted my offer with many thanks and bows, and
as we sat and drank our ale we had a great deal of discourse about
the places we had visited. The ale being finished, I got up and
"I must now be off for the Devil's Bridge!"
Whereupon he also arose, and offering me his hand, said:
"Farewell, master; I shall never forget you. Were all the
gentlefolks who come here to see the sources like you, we should
indeed feel no want in these hills of such a gentleman as is spoken
of in the pennillion."
The sun was going down as I left the inn. I recrossed the
streamlet by means of the pole and rail. The water was running
with much less violence than in the morning, and was considerably
lower. The evening was calm and beautifully cool, with a slight
tendency to frost. I walked along with a bounding and elastic
step, and never remember to have felt more happy and cheerful.
I reached the hospice at about six o'clock, a bright moon shining
upon me, and found a capital supper awaiting me, which I enjoyed
How one enjoys one's supper at one's inn after a good day's walk,
provided one has the proud and glorious consciousness of being able
to pay one's reckoning on the morrow!
A Morning View - Hafod Ychdryd - The Monument - Fairy-looking Place
- Edward Lhuyd.
THE morning of the sixth was bright and glorious. As I looked from
the window of the upper sitting-room of the hospice the scene which
presented itself was wild and beautiful to a degree. The oak-
covered tops of the volcanic crater were gilded with the brightest
sunshine, whilst the eastern sides remained in dark shade and the
gap or narrow entrance to the north in shadow yet darker, in the
midst of which shone the silver of the Rheidol cataract. Should I
live a hundred years I shall never forget the wild fantastic beauty
of that morning scene.
I left the friendly hospice at about nine o'clock to pursue my
southern journey. By this time the morning had lost much of its
beauty, and the dull grey sky characteristic of November began to
prevail. The way lay up a hill to the south-east; on my left was a
glen down which the river of the Monk rolled with noise and foam.
The country soon became naked and dreary, and continued so for some
miles. At length, coming to the top of a hill, I saw a park before
me, through which the road led after passing under a stately
gateway. I had reached the confines of the domain of Hafod.
Hafod Ychdryd, or the summer mansion of Uchtryd, has from time
immemorial been the name of a dwelling on the side of a hill above
the Ystwyth, looking to the east. At first it was a summer boothie
or hunting lodge to Welsh chieftains, but subsequently expanded to
the roomy, comfortable dwelling of Welsh squires, where hospitality
was much practised and bards and harpers liberally encouraged.
Whilst belonging to an ancient family of the name of Johnes,
several members of which made no inconsiderable figure in
literature, it was celebrated, far and wide, for its library, in
which was to be found, amongst other treasures, a large collection
of Welsh manuscripts on various subjects - history, medicine,
poetry and romance. The house, however, and the library were both
destroyed in a dreadful fire which broke out. This fire is
generally called the great fire of Hafod, and some of those who
witnessed it have been heard to say that its violence was so great
that burning rafters mixed with flaming books were hurled high
above the summits of the hills. The loss of the house was a matter
of triviality compared with that of the library. The house was
soon rebuilt, and probably, phoenix-like, looked all the better for
having been burnt, but the library could never be restored. On the
extinction of the family, the last hope of which, an angelic girl,
faded away in the year 1811, the domain became the property of the
late Duke of Newcastle, a kind and philanthrophic nobleman, and a
great friend of agriculture, who held it for many years, and
considerably improved it. After his decease it was purchased by
the head of an ancient Lancashire family, who used the modern house
as a summer residence, as the Welsh chieftains had used the wooden
boothie of old.
I went to a kind of lodge, where I had been told that I should find
somebody who would admit me to the church, which stood within the
grounds and contained a monument which I was very desirous of
seeing, partly from its being considered one of the masterpieces of
the great Chantrey, and partly because it was a memorial to the
lovely child, the last scion of the old family who had possessed
the domain. A good-looking young woman, the only person whom I
saw, on my telling my errand, forthwith took a key and conducted me
to the church. The church was a neat edifice with rather a modern
look. It exhibited nothing remarkable without, and only one thing
remarkable within, namely, the monument, which was indeed worthy of
notice, and which, had Chantrey executed nothing else, might well
have entitled him to be considered, what the world has long
pronounced him, the prince of British sculptors.
This monument, which is of the purest marble, is placed on the
eastern side of the church, below a window of stained glass, and
represents a truly affecting scene: a lady and gentleman are
standing over a dying girl of angelic beauty, who is extended on a
couch, and from whose hand a volume, the Book of Life, is falling.
The lady is weeping.
Beneath is the following inscription -
To the Memory of
The only child of THOMAS and JANE JOHNES
Who died in 1811
After a few days' sickness
This monument is dedicated
By her parents.
An inscription worthy, by its simplicity and pathos, to stand below
such a monument.
After presenting a trifle to the woman, who, to my great surprise,
could not speak a word of English, I left the church, and descended
the side of the hill, near the top of which it stands. The scenery
was exceedingly beautiful. Below me was a bright green valley, at
the bottom of which the Ystwyth ran brawling, now hid amongst
groves, now showing a long stretch of water. Beyond the river to
the east was a noble mountain, richly wooded. The Ystwyth, after a
circuitous course, joins the Rheidol near the strand of the Irish
Channel, which the united rivers enter at a place called Aber
Ystwyth, where stands a lovely town of the same name, which sprang
up under the protection of a baronial castle, still proud and
commanding even in its ruins, built by Strongbow, the conqueror of
the great western isle. Near the lower part of the valley the road
tended to the south, up and down through woods and bowers, the
scenery still ever increasing in beauty. At length, after passing
through a gate and turning round a sharp corner, I suddenly beheld
Hafod on my right hand, to the west at a little distance above me,
on a rising ground, with a noble range of mountains behind it.
A truly fairy place it looked, beautiful but fantastic, in the
building of which three styles of architecture seemed to have been
employed. At the southern end was a Gothic tower; at the northern
an Indian pagoda; the middle part had much the appearance of a
Grecian villa. The walls were of resplendent whiteness, and the
windows, which were numerous, shone with beautiful gilding. Such
was modern Hafod, a strange contrast, no doubt, to the hunting
lodge of old.
After gazing at this house of eccentric taste for about a quarter
of an hour, sometimes with admiration, sometimes with a strong
disposition to laugh, I followed the road, which led past the house
in nearly a southerly direction. Presently the valley became more
narrow, and continued narrowing till there was little more room
than was required for the road and the river, which ran deep below
it on the left-hand side. Presently I came to a gate, the boundary
in the direction in which I was going of the Hafod domain.
Here, when about to leave Hafod, I shall devote a few lines to a
remarkable man whose name should be ever associated with the place.
Edward Lhuyd was born in the vicinity of Hafod about the period of
the Restoration. His father was a clergyman, who after giving him
an excellent education at home sent him to Oxford, at which seat of
learning he obtained an honourable degree, officiated for several
years as tutor, and was eventually made custodiary of the Ashmolean
Museum. From his early youth he devoted himself with indefatigable
zeal to the acquisition of learning. He was fond of natural
history and British antiquities, but his favourite pursuit, and
that in which he principally distinguished himself, was the study
of the Celtic dialects; and it is but doing justice to his memory
to say, that he was not only the best Celtic scholar of his time,
but that no one has arisen since worthy to be considered his equal
in Celtic erudition. Partly at the expense of the university,
partly at that of various powerful individuals who patronized him,
he travelled through Ireland, the Western Highlands, Wales,
Cornwall and Armorica, for the purpose of collecting Celtic
manuscripts. He was particularly successful in Ireland and Wales.
Several of the most precious Irish manuscripts in Oxford, and also
in the Chandos Library, were of Lhuyd's collection, and to him the
old hall at Hafod was chiefly indebted for its treasures of ancient
British literature. Shortly after returning to Oxford from his
Celtic wanderings he sat down to the composition of a grand work in
three parts, under the title of Archaeologia Britannica, which he
had long projected. The first was to be devoted to the Celtic
dialects; the second to British Antiquities, and the third to the
natural history of the British Isles. He only lived to complete
the first part. It contains various Celtic grammars and
vocabularies, to each of which there is a preface written by Lhuyd
in the particular dialect to which the vocabulary or grammar is
devoted. Of all these prefaces the one to the Irish is the most
curious and remarkable. The first part of the Archaeologia was
published at Oxford in 1707, two years before the death of the
author. Of his correspondence, which was very extensive, several
letters have been published, all of them relating to philology,
antiquities, and natural history.
An Adventure - Spytty Ystwyth - Wormwood.
SHORTLY after leaving the grounds of Hafod I came to a bridge over
the Ystwyth. I crossed it, and was advancing along the road which
led apparently to the south-east, when I came to a company of
people who seemed to be loitering about. It consisted entirely of
young men and women, the former with crimson favours, the latter in
the garb of old Wales, blue tunics and sharp crowned hats. Going
up to one of the young women, I said, "Petti yw? what's the
"Priodas (a marriage)," she replied, after looking at me
attentively. I then asked her the name of the bridge, whereupon
she gave a broad grin, and after some, little time replied: "Pont
y Groes (the bridge of the cross)." I was about to ask her some
other question when she turned away with a loud chuckle, and said
something to another wench near her, who, grinning yet more
uncouthly, said something to a third, who grinned too, and lifting
up her hands and spreading her fingers wide, said: "Dyn oddi dir y
Gogledd - a man from the north country, hee, hee!" Forthwith there
was a general shout, the wenches crying: "A man from the north
country, hee, hee!" and the fellows crying: "A man from the north
country, hoo, hoo!"
"Is this the way you treat strangers in the south?" said I. But I
had scarcely uttered the words when with redoubled shouts the
company exclaimed: "There's Cumraeg! there's pretty Cumraeg. Go
back, David, to shire Fon! That Cumraeg won't pass here."
Finding they disliked my Welsh I had recourse to my own language.
"Really," said I in English, "such conduct is unaccountable. What
do you mean?" But this only made matters worse, for the shouts
grew louder still, and every one cried: "There's pretty English!
Well, if I couldn't speak better English than that I'd never speak
English at all. No, David; if you must speak at all, stick to
Cumraeg." Then forthwith, all the company set themselves in
violent motion, the women rushing up to me with their palms and
fingers spread out in my face, without touching me, however, as
they wheeled round me at about a yard's distance, crying: "A man
from the north country, hee, hee!" and the fellows acting just in
the same way, rushing up with their hands spread out, and then
wheeling round me with cries of "A man from the north country, hoo,
hoo!" I was so enraged that I made for a heap of stones by the
road-side, intending to take some up and fling them at the company.
Reflecting, however, that I had but one pair of hands and the
company at least forty, and that by such an attempt at revenge I
should only make myself ridiculous, I gave up my intention, and
continued my journey at a rapid pace, pursued for a long way by
"hee, hee," and "hoo, hoo," and: "Go back, David, to your goats in
Anglesey, you are not wanted here."
I began to descend a hill forming the eastern side of an immense
valley, at the bottom of which rolled the river. Beyond the valley
to the west was an enormous hill, on the top of which was a most
singular-looking crag, seemingly leaning in the direction of the
south. On the right-hand side of the road were immense works of
some kind in full play and activity, for engines were clanging and
puffs of smoke were ascending from tall chimneys. On inquiring of
a boy the name of the works I was told that they were called the
works of Level Vawr, or the Great Level, a mining establishment;
but when I asked him the name of the hill with the singular peak,
on the other side of the valley, he shook his head and said he did
not know. Near the top of the hill I came to a village consisting
of a few cottages and a shabby-looking church. A rivulet
descending from some crags to the east crosses the road, which
leads through the place, and tumbling down the valley, joins the
Ystwyth at the bottom. Seeing a woman standing at the door, I
inquired the name of the village.
"Spytty Ystwyth," she replied, but she, no more than the boy down
below, could tell me the name of the strange-looking hill across
the valley. This second Spytty or monastic hospital, which I had
come to, looked in every respect an inferior place to the first.
Whatever its former state might have been, nothing but dirt and
wretchedness were now visible. Having reached the top of the hill
I entered upon a wild moory region. Presently I crossed a little
bridge over a rivulet, and seeing a small house on the shutter of
which was painted "cwrw," I went in, sat down on an old chair,
which I found vacant, and said in English to an old woman who sat
knitting by the window: "Bring me a pint of ale!"
"Dim Saesneg!" said the old woman.
"I told you to bring me a pint of ale," said I to her in her own
"You shall have it immediately, sir," said she, and going to a
cask, she filled a jug with ale, and after handing it to me resumed
her seat and knitting.
"It is not very bad ale," said I, after I had tasted it.
"It ought to be very good," said the old woman, "for I brewed it
"The goodness of ale," said I, "does not so much depend on who
brews it as on what it is brewed of. Now there is something in
this ale which ought not to be. What is it made of?"
"Malt and hop."
"It tastes very bitter," said I. "Is there no chwerwlys (13) in
"I do not know what chwerwlys is," said the old woman.
"It is what the Saxons call wormwood," said I.
"Oh, wermod. No, there is no wermod in my beer, at least not
"Oh, then there is some; I thought there was. Why do you put such
stuff into your ale?"
"We are glad to put it in sometimes when hops are dear, as they are
this year. Moreover, wermod is not bad stuff, and some folks like
the taste better than that of hops."
"Well, I don't. However, the ale is drinkable. What am I to give
you for the pint?"
"You are to give me a groat."
"That is a great deal," said I, "for a groat I ought to have a pint
of ale made of the best malt and hops."
"I give you the best I can afford. One must live by what one
sells. I do not find that easy work."
"Is this house your own?"
"Oh no! I pay rent for it, and not a cheap one."
"Have you a husband?
"I had, but he is dead."
"Have you any children?"
"I had three, but they are dead too, and buried with my husband at
"Where is the monastery?"
"A good way farther on, at the strath beyond Rhyd Fendigaid."
"What is the name of the little river by the house?"
"Avon Marchnad (Market River)."
"Why is it called Avon Marchnad?"
"Truly, gentleman, I cannot tell you."
I went on sipping my ale and finding fault with its bitterness till
I had finished it, when getting up I gave the old lady her groat,
bade her farewell, and departed.
Pont y Rhyd Fendigaid - Strata Florida - The Yew-Tree - Idolatry -
The Teivi - The Llostlydan.
AND now for the resting-place of Dafydd Ab Gwilym! After wandering
for some miles towards the south over a bleak moory country I came
to a place called Fair Rhos, a miserable village, consisting of a
few half-ruined cottages, situated on the top of a hill. From the
hill I looked down on a wide valley of a russet colour, along which
a river ran towards the south. The whole scene was cheerless.
Sullen hills were all around. Descending the hill I entered a
large village divided into two by the river, which here runs from
east to west, but presently makes a turn. There was much mire in
the street; immense swine lay in the mire, who turned up their
snouts at me as I passed. Women in Welsh hats stood in the mire,
along with men without any hats at all, but with short pipes in
their mouths; they were talking together; as I passed, however,
they held their tongues, the women leering contemptuously at me,
the men glaring sullenly at me, and causing tobacco smoke curl in
my face; on my taking off my hat, however and inquiring the way to
the Monachlog, everybody was civil enough, and twenty voices told
me the way the Monastery. I asked the name of the river:
"The Teivi, sir: the Teivi."
"The name of the bridge?"
"Pony y Rhyd Fendigaid - the Bridge of the Blessed Ford, sir."
I crossed the Bridge of the Blessed Ford, and presently leaving the
main road, I turned to the east by a dung-hill, up a narrow lane
parallel with the river. After proceeding a mile up the lane,
amidst trees and copses, and crossing a little brook, which runs
into the Teivi, out of which I drank, I saw before me in the midst
of a field, in which were tombstones and broken ruins, a rustic-
looking church; a farm-house stood near it, in the garden of which
stood the framework of a large gateway. I crossed over into the
churchyard, ascended a green mound, and looked about me. I was now
in the very midst of the Monachlog Ystrad Flur, the celebrated
monastery of Strata Florida, to which in old times Popish pilgrims
from all parts of the world repaired. The scene was solemn and
impressive: on the north side of the river a large bulky hill
looked down upon the ruins and the church, and on the south side,
some way behind the farm-house, was another which did the same.
Rugged mountains formed the background of the valley to the east,
down from which came murmuring the fleet but shallow Teivi. Such
is the scenery which surrounds what remains of Strata Florida:
those scanty broken ruins compose all which remains of that
celebrated monastery, in which saints and mitred abbots were
buried, and in which, or in whose precincts, was buried Dafydd Ab
Gwilym, the greatest genius of the Cimbric race and one of the
first poets of the world.
After standing for some time on the mound I descended, and went up
to the church. I found the door fastened, but obtained through a
window a tolerable view of the interior, which presented an
appearance of the greatest simplicity. I then strolled about the
churchyard looking at the tombstones, which were humble enough and
for the most part modern. I would give something, said I, to know
whereabouts in this neighbourhood Ab Gwilym lies. That, however,
is a secret that no one can reveal to me. At length I came to a
yew-tree which stood just by the northern wall, which is at a
slight distance from the Teivi. It was one of two trees, both of
the same species, which stood in the churchyard, and appeared to be
the oldest of the two. Who knows, said I, but this is the tree
that was planted over Ab Gwilym's grave, and to which Gruffydd Gryg
wrote an ode? I looked at it attentively, and thought that there
was just a possibility of its being the identical tree. If it was,
however, the benison of Gruffydd Gryg had not had exactly the
effect which he intended, for either lightning or the force of wind
had splitten off a considerable part of the head and trunk, so that
though one part of it looked strong and blooming, the other was
white and spectral. Nevertheless, relying on the possibility of
its being the sacred tree, I behaved just as I should have done had
I been quite certain of the fact. Taking off my hat I knelt down
and kissed its root, repeating lines from Gruffydd Gryg, with which
I blended some of my own in order to accommodate what I said to
"O tree of yew, which here I spy,
By Ystrad Flur's blest monast'ry,
Beneath thee lies, by cold Death bound,
The tongue for sweetness once renown'd.
Better for thee thy boughs to wave,
Though scath'd, above Ab Gwilym's grave,
Than stand in pristine glory drest
Where some ignobler bard doth rest;
I'd rather hear a taunting rhyme
From one who'll live through endless time,
Than hear my praises chanted loud
By poets of the vulgar crowd."
I had left the churchyard, and was standing near a kind of garden,
at some little distance from the farm-house, gazing about me and
meditating, when a man came up attended by a large dog. He had
rather a youthful look, was of the middle size, and dark
complexioned. He was respectably dressed, except that upon his
head he wore a common hairy cap.
"Good evening," said I to him in Welsh.
"Good evening, gentleman," said he in the same language.
"Have you much English?" said I.
"Very little; I can only speak a few words."
"Are you the farmer?"
"Yes! I farm the greater part of the Strath."
"I suppose the land is very good here?"
"Why do you suppose so?"
"Because the monks built their house here in the old time, and the
monks never built their houses except on good land."
"Well, I must say the land is good; indeed I do not think there is
any so good in Shire Aberteifi."
"I suppose you are surprised to see me here; I came to see the old
"Yes, gentleman; I saw you looking about it."
"Am I welcome to see it?"
"Croesaw! gwr boneddig, croesaw! many, many welcomes to you,
"Do many people come to see the monastery?"
FARMER. - Yes! many gentlefolks come to see it in the summer time.
MYSELF. - It is a poor place now.
FARMER. - Very poor, I wonder any gentlefolks come to look at it.
MYSELF. - It was a wonderful place once; you merely see the ruins
of it now. It was pulled down at the Reformation.
FARMER. - Why was it pulled down then?
MYSELF. - Because it was a house of idolatry to which people used
to resort by hundreds to worship images. Had you lived at that
time you would have seen people down on their knees before stocks
and stones, worshipping them, kissing them, and repeating
pennillion to them.
FARMER. - What fools! How thankful I am that I live in wiser days.
If such things were going on in the old Monachlog it was high time
to pull it down.
MYSELF. - What kind of a rent do you pay for your land?
FARMER. - Oh, rather a stiffish one.
MYSELF. - Two pounds an acre?
FARMER. - Two pound an acre! I wish I paid no more!
MYSELF. - Well, I think that would be quite enough. In the time of
the old monastery you might have had the land at two shillings an
FARMER. - Might I? Then those couldn't have been such bad times,
MYSELF. - I beg your pardon! They were horrible times - times in
which there were monks and friars and graven images, which people
kissed and worshipped and sang pennillion to. Better pay three
pounds an acre and live on crusts and water in the present
enlightened days than pay two shillings an acre and sit down to
beef and ale three times a day in the old superstitious times.
FARMER. - Well, I scarcely know what to say to that.
MYSELF. - What do you call that high hill on the other side of the
FARMER. - I call that hill Bunk Pen Bannedd.
MYSELF. - Is the source of the Teivi far from here?
FARMER. - The head of the Teivi is about two miles from here high
up in the hills.
MYSELF. - What kind of place is the head of the Teivi?
FARMER. - The head of the Teivi is a small lake about fifty yards
long and twenty across.
MYSELF. - Where does the Teivi run to?
FARMER. - The Teivi runs to the sea, which it enters at a place
which the Cumri call Aber Teivi and the Saxons Cardigan.
MYSELF. - Don't you call Cardiganshire Shire Aber Teivi?
FARMER. - We do.
MYSELF. - Are there many gleisiaid in the Teivi?
FARMER. - Plenty, and salmons too - that is, farther down. The
best place for salmon and gleisiaid is a place, a great way down
the stream, called Dinas Emlyn.
MYSELF. - Do you know an animal called Llostlydan?
FARMER. - No, I do not know that beast.
MYSELF. - There used to be many in the Teivi.
FARMER. - What kind of beast is the Llostlydan?
MYSELF. - A beast with a broad tail, on which account the old Cumri
did call him Llostlydan. Clever beast he was; made himself house
of wood in middle of the river, with two doors, so that when hunter
came upon him he might have good chance of escape. Hunter often
after him, because he had skin good to make hat.
FARMER. - Ha, I wish I could catch that beast now in Teivi.
MYSELF. - Why so?
Farmer. - Because I want hat. Would make myself hat of his skin.
MYSELF. - Oh, you could not make yourself a hat even if you had the
FARMER. - Why not? Shot coney in Bunk Pen Banedd; made myself cap
of his skin. So why not make hat of skin of broadtail, should I
catch him in Teivi?
MYSELF. - How far is it to Tregaron?
FARMER. -'Tis ten miles from here, and eight from the Rhyd
MYSELF. - Must I go back to Rhyd Fendigaid to get to Tregaron?
FARMER. - You must.
MYSELF. - Then I must be going, for the night is coming down.
FARMER. - Farvel, Saxon gentleman!
Nocturnal Journey - Maes y Lynn - The Figure - Earl of Leicester -
Twm Shone Catti - The Farmer and Bull - Tom and the Farmer - The
Cave - The Threat - Tom a Justice - The Big Wigs - Tregaron.
IT was dusk by the time I had regained the high-road by the village
of the Rhyd Fendigaid.
As I was yet eight miles from Tregaron, the place where I intended
to pass the night, I put on my best pace. In a little time I
reached a bridge over a stream which seemed to carry a considerable
tribute to the Teivi.
"What is the name of this bridge?" said I to a man riding in a
cart, whom I met almost immediately after I had crossed the bridge.
"Pont Vleer," methought he said, but as his voice was husky and
indistinct, very much like that of a person somewhat the worse for
liquor, I am by no means positive.
It was now very dusk, and by the time I had advanced about a mile
farther dark night settled down, which compelled me to abate my
pace a little, more especially as the road was by no means first-
rate. I had come, to the best of my computation, about four miles
from the Rhyd Fendigaid when the moon began partly to show itself,
and presently by its glimmer I saw some little way off on my right
hand what appeared to be a large sheet of water. I went on, and in
about a minute saw two or three houses on the left, which stood
nearly opposite to the object which I had deemed to be water, and
which now appeared to be about fifty yards distant in a field which
was separated from the road by a slight hedge. Going up to the
principal house I knocked, and a woman making her appearance at the
door, I said:
"I beg pardon for troubling you, but I wish to know the name of
"Maes y Lynn - The Field of the Lake," said the woman.
"And what is the name of the lake?" said I.
"I do not know," said she; "but the place where it stands is called
Maes Llyn, as I said before."
"Is the lake deep?" said I.
"Very deep," said she.
"How deep?" said I.
"Over the tops of the houses," she replied.
"Any fish in the lake?"
"Oh yes! plenty."
"Oh, there are llysowen, and the fish we call ysgetten."
"Eels and tench," said I; "anything else?"
"I do not know," said the woman; "folks say that there used to be
queer beast in the lake, water-cow used to come out at night and
eat people's clover in the fields."
"Pooh," said I, "that was merely some person's cow or horse, turned
out at night to fill its belly at other folks' expense."
"Perhaps so," said the woman; "have you any more questions to ask?"
"Only one," said I; "how far is it to Tregaron?"
"About three miles: are you going there?"
"Yes, I am going to Tregaron."
"Pity that you did not come a little time ago," said the woman;
"you might then have had pleasant company on your way; pleasant man
stopped here to light his pipe; he too going to Tregaron."
"It doesn't matter," said I; "I am never happier than when keeping
my own company." Bidding the woman good night, I went on. The
moon now shone tolerably bright, so that I could see my way, and I
sped on at a great rate. I had proceeded nearly half a mile, when
I thought I heard steps in advance, and presently saw a figure at
some little distance before me. The individual, probably hearing
the noise of my approach, soon turned round and stood still. As I
drew near I distinguished a stout burly figure of a man, seemingly
about sixty, with a short pipe in his mouth.
"Ah, is it you?" said the figure, in English, taking the pipe out
of his mouth; "good evening, I am glad to see you." Then shaking
some burning embers out of his pipe, he put it into his pocket, and
trudged on beside me.
"Why are you glad to see I me?" said I, slackening my pace; "I am a
stranger to you; at any rate, you are to me."
"Always glad to see English gentleman," said the figure; "always
glad to see him."
"How do you know that I am an English gentleman?" said I.
"Oh, I know Englishman at first sight; no one like him in the whole
"Have you seen many English gentleman?" said I.
"Oh yes, have seen plenty when I have been up in London."
"Have you been much in London?"
"Oh yes; when I was a drover was up in London every month."
"And were you much in the society of English gentlemen when you
"Oh yes; a great deal."
"Whereabouts in London did you chiefly meet them?"
"Whereabouts? Oh, in Smithfield."
"Dear me!" said I; "I thought that was rather a place for butchers
"Great place for gentlemen, I assure you," said the figure; "met
there the finest gentleman I ever saw in my life; very grand, but
kind and affable, like every true gentleman. Talked to me a great
deal about Anglesey runts, and Welsh legs of mutton, and at parting
shook me by the hand, and asked me to look in upon him, if I was
ever down in his parts, and see his sheep and taste his ale."
"Do you know who he was?" said I.
"Oh yes; know all about him; Earl of Leicester, from county of
Norfolk; fine old man indeed - you very much like him - speak just
in same way."
"Have you given up the business of drover long?" said I.
"Oh yes; given him up a long time, ever since domm'd railroad came
"And what do you do now?" said I.
"Oh, not much; live upon my means; picked up a little property, a
few sticks, just enough for old crow to build him nest with -
sometimes, however, undertake a little job for neighbouring people
and get a little money. Can do everything in small way, if
necessary; build little bridge, if asked; - Jack of all Trades -
live very comfortably."
"And where do you live?"
"Oh, not very far from Tregaron."
"And what kind of place is Tregaron?"
"Oh, very good place; not quite so big as London but very good
"What is it famed for?" said I,
"Oh, famed for very good ham; best ham at Tregaron in all Shire
"Famed for anything else?"
"Oh yes! famed for great man, clever thief, Twm Shone Catti, who
was born there."
"Dear me!" said I; "when did he live?"
"Oh, long time ago, more than two hundred year."
"And what became of him?" said I; "was he hung?"
"Hung, no! only stupid thief hung. Twm Shone clever thief; died
rich man, justice of the peace and mayor of Brecon."
"Very singular," said I, "that they should make a thief mayor of
"Oh Twm Shone Catti very different from other thieves; funny
fellow, and so good-natured that everybody loved him - so they made
him magistrate, not, however, before he had become very rich man by
marrying great lady who fell in love with him."
"Ah, ah," said I; "that's the way of the world. He became rich, so
they made him a magistrate; had he remained poor they would have
hung him in spite of all his fun and good-nature. Well, can't you
tell me some of the things he did?"
"Oh yes, can tell you plenty. One day in time of fair Tom Shone
Catti goes into ironmonger's shop in Llandovery. 'Master,' says
he, 'I want to buy a good large iron porridge pot; please to show
me some.' So the man brings three or four big iron porridge pots,
the very best he has. Tom takes up one and turns it round. 'This
look very good porridge pot,' said he; 'I think it will suit me.'
Then he turns it round and round again, and at last lifts it above
his head and peeks into it. 'Ha, ha,' says he; 'this won't do; I
see one hole here. What mean you by wanting to sell article like
this to stranger?' Says the man, 'There be no hole in it.' 'But
there is,' says Tom, holding it up and peeking into it again; 'I
see the hole quite plain. Take it and look into it yourself.' So
the man takes the pot, and having held it up and peeked in, 'as I
hope to be saved,' says he, 'I can see no hole.' Says Tom, 'Good
man, if you put your head in, you will find that there is a hole.'
So the man tries to put in his head, but having some difficulty,
Tom lends him a helping hand by jamming the pot quite down over the
man's face, then whisking up the other pots Tom leaves the shop,
saying as he goes, 'Friend, I suppose you now see there is a hole
in the pot, otherwise how could you have got your head inside?"'
"Very good," said I; "can you tell us something more about Twm
"Oh yes; can tell you plenty about him. The farmer at Newton, just
one mile beyond the bridge at Brecon, had one very fine bull, but
with a very short tail. Says Tom to himself: 'By God's nails and
blood, I will steal the farmer's bull, and then sell it to him for
other bull in open market place.' Then Tom makes one fine tail,
just for all the world such a tail as the bull ought to have had,
then goes by night to the farmer's stall at Newton, steals away the
bull, and then sticks to the bull's short stump the fine bull's
tail which he himself had made. The next market day he takes the
bull to the market-place at Brecon, and calls out; 'Very fine bull
this, who will buy my fine bull?' Quoth the farmer who stood nigh
at hand, 'That very much like my bull, which thief stole t'other
night; I think I can swear to him.' Says Tom, 'What do you mean?
This bull is not your bull, but mine.' Says the farmer, 'I could
swear that this is my bull but for the tail. The tail of my bull
was short, but the tail of this is long. I would fain know whether
the tail of this be real tail or not.' 'You would?' says Tom;
'well, so you shall.' Thereupon he whips out big knife and cuts
off the bull's tail, some little way above where the false tail was
joined on. 'Ha, ha,' said Tom, as the bull's stump of tail bled,
and the bit of tail bled too to which the false tail was stuck, and
the bull kicked and bellowed. 'What say you now? Is it a true
tail or no?' 'By my faith!' says the farmer, 'I see that the tail
is a true tail, and that the bull is not mine. I beg pardon for
thinking that he was.' 'Begging pardon,' says Tom, 'is all very
well; but will you buy the bull?' 'No,' said the farmer; 'I should
be loth to buy a bull with tail cut off close to the rump.' 'Ha,'
says Tom; 'who made me cut off the tail but yourself? Did you not
force me to do so in order to clear my character? Now as you made
me cut off my bull's tail, I will make you buy my bull without his
tail.' 'Yes, yes,' cried the mob; 'as he forced you to cut off the
tail, do you now force him to buy the bull without the tail.' Says
the farmer, 'What do you ask for the bull?' Says Tom: 'I ask for
him ten pound.' Says the farmer, 'I will give you eight.' 'No,'
says Tom; 'you shall give me ten, or I will have you up before the
justice.' 'That is right,' cried the mob. 'If he won't pay you
ten pound, have him up before the justice.' Thereupon the farmer,
becoming frightened, pulled out the ten pounds and gave it for his
own bull to Tom Shone Catti, who wished him joy of his bargain. As
the farmer was driving the bull away he said to Tom: 'Won't you
give me the tail?' 'No,' said Tom; 'I shall keep it against the
time I steal another bull with a short tail;' and thereupon he runs
"A clever fellow," said I; "though it was rather cruel in him to
cut off the poor bull's tail. Now, perhaps, you will tell me how
he came to marry the rich lady?
"Oh yes; I will tell you. One day as he was wandering about,
dressed quite like a gentleman, he heard a cry, and found one very
fine lady in the hands of one highwayman, who would have robbed and
murdered her. Tom kills the highwayman and conducts the lady home
to her house and her husband, for she was a married lady. Out of
gratitude to Tom for the service he has done, the gentleman and
lady invite him to stay with them. The gentleman, who is a great
gentleman, fond of his bottle and hunting, takes mightily to Tom
for his funny sayings and because Tom's a good hand at a glass when
at table, and a good hand at a leap when in field; the lady also
takes very much to Tom, because he one domm'd handsome fellow, with
plenty of wit and what they call boetry - for Tom, amongst other
things, was no bad boet, and could treat a lady to pennillion about
her face and her ancle, and the tip of her ear. At last Tom goes
away upon his wanderings, not, however, before he has got one
promise from the lady, that if ever she becomes disengaged she will
become his wife. Well, after some time, the lady's husband dies
and leaves her all his property, so that all of a sudden she finds
herself one great independent lady, mistress of the whole of Strath
Feen, one fair and pleasant valley far away there over the Eastern
hills, by the Towey, on the borders of Shire Car. Tom, as soon as
he hears the news of all this, sets off for Strath Feen and asks
the lady to perform her word; but the lady, who finds herself one
great and independent lady, and moreover does not quite like the
idea of marrying one thief, for she had learnt who Tom was, does
hum and hah, and at length begs to be excused, because she has
changed her mind. Tom begs and entreats, but quite in vain, till
at last she tells him to go away and not trouble her any more. Tom
goes away, but does not yet lose hope. He takes up his quarters in
one strange little cave, nearly at the top of one wild hill, very
much like sugar loaf, which does rise above the Towey, just within
Shire Car. I have seen the cave myself, which is still called
Ystafell Twm Shone Catty. Very queer cave it is, in strange
situation; steep rock just above it, Towey River roaring below.
There Tom takes up his quarters, and from there he often sallies
forth, in hope of having interview with fair lady and making her
alter her mind, but she will have nothing to do with him, and at
last shuts herself up in her house and will not go out. Well, Tom
nearly loses all hope; he, however, determines to make one last
effort; so one morning he goes to the house and stands before the
door, entreating with one loud and lamentable voice that the lady
will see him once more, because he is come to bid her one eternal
farewell, being about to set off for the wars in the kingdom of
France. Well, the lady who hears all he says relents one little,
and showing herself at the window, before which are very strong
iron bars, she says: 'Here I am! whatever you have to say, say it
quickly and go your way.' Says Tom: 'I am come to bid you one
eternal farewell, and have but one last slight request to make,
which is that you vouchsafe to stretch out of the window your lily-
white hand, that I may impress one last burning kiss of love on the
same.' Well, the lady hesitates one little time; at last, having
one woman's heart, she thinks she may grant him this last little
request, and stretching her hand through the bars, she says:
'Well, there's my hand, kiss it once and begone.' Forthwith Tom,
seizing her wrist with his left hand, says: 'I have got you now,
and will never let you go till you swear to become my wife.'
'Never,' said the lady, 'will I become the wife of one thief,' and
strives with all her might to pull her hand free, but cannot, for
the left hand of Tom is more strong than the right of other man.
Thereupon Tom with his right hand draws forth his sword, and with
one dreadful shout does exclaim, - 'Now will you swear to become my
wife, for if you don't, by God's blood and nails, I will this
moment smite off your hand with this sword.' Then the lady being
very much frightened, and having one sneaking kindness for Tom, who
though he looked very fierce looked also very handsome, said, -
'Well, well! a promise is a promise; I promised to become your
wife, and so I will; I swear I will; by all I hold holy I swear; so
let go my hand, which you have almost pulled off, and come in and
welcome!' So Tom lets go her hand, and the lady opens her door,
and before night they were married, and in less than one month Tom,
being now very rich and Lord of Ystrad Feen, was made justice of
the peace and chairman at quarter session."
"And what kind of justice of the peace did Tom make?"
"Ow, the very best justice of the peace that there ever was. He
made the old saying good: you must get one thief to catch one
thief. He had not been a justice three year before there was not a
thief in Shire Brecon nor in Shire Car, for they also made him
justice of Carmarthenshire, and a child might walk through the
country quite safe with a purse of gold in its hand. He said that
as he himself could not have a finger in the pie, he would take
care nobody else should. And yet he was not one bloody justice
either; never hanged thief without giving him a chance to reform;
but when he found him quite hardened he would say: 'Hang up de
rogue!' Oh, Tom was not a very hard man, and had one grateful
heart for any old kindness which had been sewn him. One day as Tom
sat on de bench with other big wigs, Tom the biggest wig of the
lot, a man was brought up charged with stealing one bullock. Tom
no sooner cast eye on the man than he remembered him quite well.
Many years before Tom had stole a pair of oxen, which he wished to
get through the town of Brecon, but did not dare to drive them
through, for at that very time there was one warrant out against
Tom at Brecon for something he had done. So Tom stands with his
oxen on the road, scratching his head and not knowing what to do.
At length there comes a man along the road, making towards Brecon,
to whom Tom says: 'Honest man, I want these two oxen to be driven
to such and such a public-house two miles beyond Brecon; I would
drive them myself only I have business to do elsewhere of more
importance. Now if you will drive them for me there and wait till
I come, which will not be long, I will give you a groat.' Says the
man; 'I will drive them there for nothing, for as my way lies past
that same public-house I can easily afford to do so.' So Tom
leaves the oxen with the man, and by rough and roundabout road
makes for the public-house - beyond Brecon, where he finds the man
waiting with the oxen, who hands them over to him and goes on his
way. Now, in the man brought up before him and the other big wigs
on the bench for stealing the bullock, Tom does recognise the man
who had done him that same good turn. Well! the evidence was heard
against the man, and it soon appeared quite clear that the man did
really steal the bullock. Says the other big wigs to Tom: 'The
fact has been proved quite clear. What have we now to do but to
adshudge at once that the domm'd thief be hung?' But Tom, who
remembered that the man had once done him one good turn, had made
up his mind to save the man. So says he to the other big wigs:
'My very worthy esteemed friends and coadshutors, I do perfectly
agree with you that the fact has been proved clear enough, but with
respect to de man, I should be very much grieved should he be hung
for this one fact, for I did know him long time ago, and did find
him to be one domm'd honest man in one transaction which I had with
him. So my wordy and esteemed friends and coadshutors I should
esteem it one great favour if you would adshudge that the man
should be let off this one time. If, however, you deem it
inexpedient to let the man off, then of course the man must be
hung, for I shall not presume to set my opinions and judgments
against your opinions and judgments, which are far better than my
own.' Then the other big wigs did look very big and solemn, and
did shake their heads and did whisper to one another that they were
afraid the matter could not be done. At last, however, they did
come to the conclusion that as Tom had said that he had known the
fellow once to be one domm'd honest man, and as they had a great
regard for Tom, who was one domm'd good magistrate and highly
respectable gentleman with whom they were going to dine the next
day - for Tom I must tell you was in the habit of giving the very
best dinners in all Shire Brecon - it might not be incompatible
with the performance of their duty to let the man off this one
time, seeing as how the poor fellow had probably merely made one
slight little mistake. Well: to make the matter short, the man
was let off with only a slight reprimand, and left the court.
Scarcely, however, had he gone twenty yards, when Tom was after
him, and tapping him on the shoulder said: 'Honest friend, a word
with you!' Then the man turning round Tom said: 'Do you know me,
pray?' 'I think I do, your honour,' said the man. 'I think your
honour was one of the big wigs, who were just now so kind as to let
me off.' 'I was so,' said Tom; 'and it is well for you that I was
the biggest of these big wigs before whom you stood placed,
otherwise to a certainty you would have been hung up on high; but
did you ever see me before this affair?' 'No, your honour,' said
the man, 'I don't remember ever to have seen your honour before.'
Says Tom, 'Don't you remember one long time ago driving a pair of
oxen through Brecon for a man who stood scratching his head on the
road?' 'Oh yes,' says the man; 'I do remember that well enough.'
'Well,' said Tom; 'I was that man. I had stolen that pair of oxen,
and I dared not drive them through Brecon. You drove them for me;
and for doing me that good turn I have this day saved your life. I
was thief then but am now big wig. I am Twm Shone Catti. Now
lookee! I have saved your life this one time, but I can never save
it again. Should you ever be brought up before me again, though
but for stealing one kid, I will hang you as high as ever Haman was
hung. One word more; here are five pieces of gold. Take them:
employ them well, and reform as I have done, and perhaps in time
you may become one big wig, like myself.' Well: the man took the
money, and laid it out to the best advantage, and became at last so
highly respectable a character that they made him a constable. And
now, my gentleman, we are close upon Tregaron."
After descending a hill we came to what looked a small suburb, and
presently crossed a bridge over the stream, the waters of which
sparkled merrily in the beams of the moon which was now shining
bright over some lofty hills to the south-east. Beyond the bridge
was a small market-place, on the right-hand side of which stood an
ancient looking church. The place upon the whole put me very much
in mind of an Andalusian village overhung by its sierra. "Where is
the inn?" said I to my companion.
"Yonder it be;" said he pointing to a large house at the farther
end of the market-place. "Very good inn that - Talbot Arms - where
they are always glad to see English gentlemans." Then touching his
hat, and politely waving his hand, he turned on one side, and I saw
him no more.
Tregaron Church - The Minister - Good Morning - Tom Shone's
Disguises - Tom and the Lady - Klim and Catti.
I EXPERIENCED very good entertainment at the Tregaron Inn, had an
excellent supper and a very comfortable bed. I arose at about
eight in the morning. The day was dull and misty. After
breakfast, according to my usual fashion, I took a stroll to see
about. The town, which is very small, stands in a valley, near
some wild hills called the Berwyn, like the range to the south of
Llangollen. The stream, which runs through it and which falls into
the Teivi at a little distance from the town, is called the
Brennig, probably because it descends from the Berwyn hills. These
southern Berwyns form a very extensive mountain region, extending
into Brecon and Carmarthenshire, and contain within them, as I long
subsequently found, some of the wildest solitudes and most romantic
scenery in Wales. High up amidst them, at about five miles from
Tregaron, is a deep, broad lake which constitutes the source of the
Towy, a very beautiful stream, which after many turnings and
receiving the waters of numerous small streams discharges itself
into Carmarthen Bay.
I did not fail to pay a visit to Tregaron church. It is an antique
building with a stone tower. The door being open, as the door of a
church always should be, I entered, and was kindly shown by the
clerk, whom I met in the aisle, all about the sacred edifice.
There was not much to be seen. Amongst the monuments was a stone
tablet to John Herbert, who died 1690. The clerk told me that the
name of the clergyman of Tregaron was Hughes; he said that he was
an excellent, charitable man, who preached the Gospel, and gave
himself great trouble in educating the children of the poor. He
certainly seemed to have succeeded in teaching them good manners:
as I was leaving the church, I met a number of little boys
belonging to the church school: no sooner did they see me than
they drew themselves up it, a rank on one side, and as I passed
took off their caps and simultaneously shouted, "Good-morning!"
And now something with respect to the celebrated hero of Tregaron,
Tom Shone Catti, concerning whom I picked up a good deal during my
short stay there, and of whom I subsequently read something in
printed books. (14)
According to the tradition of the country, he was the illegitimate
son of Sir John Wynn of Gwedir, by one Catherine Jones of Tregaron,
and was born at a place called Fynnon Lidiart, close by Tregaron,
towards the conclusion of the sixteenth century. He was baptised
by the name of Thomas Jones, but was generally called Tom Shone
Catti, that is Tom Jones, son of Catti or Catherine. His mother,
who was a person of some little education, brought him up, and
taught him to read and write. His life, till his eighteenth year,
was much like other peasant boys; he kept crows, drove bullocks,
and learned to plough and harrow, but always showed a disposition
to roguery and mischief. Between eighteen and nineteen, in order
to free himself and his mother from poverty which they had long
endured, he adopted the profession of a thief, and soon became
celebrated through the whole of Wales for the cleverness and
adroitness which he exercised in his calling; qualities in which he
appears to have trusted much more than in strength and daring,
though well endowed with both. His disguises were innumerable, and
all impenetrable; sometimes he would appear as an ancient crone;
sometimes as a begging cripple; sometimes as a broken soldier.
Though by no means scrupulous as to what he stole, he was
particularly addicted to horse and cattle stealing, and was no less
successful in altering the appearance of animals than his own, as
he would frequently sell cattle to the very persons from whom he
had stolen them, after they had been subjected to such a
metamorphosis, by means of dyes and the scissors, that recognition
was quite impossible. Various attempts were made to apprehend him,
but all without success; he was never at home to people who
particularly wanted him, or if at home he looked anything but the
person they came in quest of. Once a strong and resolute man, a
farmer, who conceived, and very justly, that Tom had abstracted a
bullock from his stall, came to Tregaron well armed in order to
seize him. Riding up to the door of Tom's mother, he saw an aged
and miserable-looking object, with a beggar's staff and wallet,
sitting on a stone bench beside the door. Does Tom Shone Catti
live here?" said the farmer. "Oh yes, he lives here," replied the
beggar. "Is he at home?" "Oh yes, he is at home." "Will you hold
my horse whilst I go in and speak to him?" "Oh yes, I will hold
your horse." Thereupon the man dismounted, took a brace of pistols
out of his holsters, gave the cripple his horse's bridle and
likewise his whip, and entered the house boldly. No sooner was he
inside than the beggar, or rather Tom Shone Catti, for it was he,
jumped on the horse's back, and rode away to the farmer's house
which was some ten miles distant, altering his dress and appearance
as he rode along, having various articles of disguise in his
wallet. Arriving at the house he told the farmer's wife that her
husband was in the greatest trouble, and wanted fifty pounds, which
she was to send by him, and that he came mounted on her husband's
horse, and brought his whip, that she might know he was authorised
to receive the money. The wife, seeing the horse and the whip,
delivered the money to Tom without hesitation, who forthwith made
the best of his way to London, where he sold the horse, and made
himself merry with the price, and with what he got from the
farmer's wife, not returning to Wales for several months. Though
Tom was known by everybody to be a thief, he appears to have lived
on very good terms with the generality of his neighbours, both rich
and poor. The poor he conciliated by being very free of the money
which he acquired by theft and robbery, and with the rich he
ingratiated himself by humorous jesting, at which he was a
proficient, and by being able to sing a good song. At length,
being an extremely good-looking young fellow, he induced a wealthy
lady to promise to marry him. This lady is represented by some as
a widow, and by others as a virgin heiress. After some time,
however, she refused to perform her promise and barred her doors
against him. Tom retired to a cave on the side of a steep wild
hill near the lady's house, to which he frequently repaired, and at
last, having induced her to stretch her hand to him through the
window bars, under the pretence that he wished to imprint a parting
kiss upon it, he won her by seizing her hand and threatening to cut
it off unless she performed her promise. Then, as everything at
the time at which he lived could be done by means of money, he soon
obtained for himself a general pardon, and likewise a commission as
justice of the peace, which he held to the time of his death, to
the satisfaction of everybody except thieves and ill-doers, against
whom he waged incessant war, and with whom he was admirably
qualified to cope, from the knowledge he possessed of their ways
and habits, from having passed so many years of his life in the
exercise of the thieving trade. In his youth he was much addicted
to poetry, and a great many pennillion of his composition, chiefly
on his own thievish exploits, are yet recited by the inhabitants of
certain districts of the shires of Brecon, Carmarthen, and
Such is the history or rather the outline of the history of Twm
Shone Catti. Concerning the actions attributed to him, it is
necessary to say that the greater part consist of myths, which are
told of particular individuals of every country, from the Indian
Ocean to the Atlantic: for example, the story of cutting off the
bull's tail is not only told of him but of the Irish thief Delany,
and is to be found in the "Lives of Irish Rogues and Rapparees;"
certain tricks related of him in the printed tale bearing his name
are almost identical with various rogueries related in the story-
book of Klim the Russian robber, (15) and the most poetical part of
Tom Shone's history, namely, that in which he threatens to cut off
the hand of the reluctant bride unless she performs her promise,
is, in all probability, an offshoot of the grand myth of "the
severed hand," which in various ways figures in the stories of most
nations, and which is turned to considerable account in the tale of
the above-mentioned Russian worthy Klim.
Llan Ddewi Brefi - Pelagian Heresy - Hu Gadarn - God of Agriculture
- The Silver Cup - Rude Tablet.
IT was about eleven o'clock in the morning when I started from
Tregaron; the sky was still cloudy and heavy. I took the road to
Lampeter, distant about eight miles, intending, however, to go much
farther ere I stopped for the night. The road lay nearly south-
west. I passed by Aber Coed, a homestead near the bottom of a
dingle down which runs a brook into the Teivi, which flows here
close by the road; then by Aber Carvan, where another brook
disembogues. Aber, as perhaps the reader already knows, is a
disemboguement, and wherever a place commences with Aber there to a
certainty does a river flow into the sea, or a brook or rivulet
into a river. I next passed through Nant Derven, and in about
three-quarters of an hour after leaving Tregaron reached a place of
old renown called Llan Ddewi Brefi.
Llan Ddewi Brefi is a small village situated at the entrance of a
gorge leading up to some lofty hills which rise to the east and
belong to the same mountain range as those near Tregaron. A brook
flowing from the hills murmurs through it and at length finds its
way into the Teivi. An ancient church stands on a little rising
ground just below the hills; multitudes of rooks inhabit its
steeple and fill throughout the day the air with their cawing. The
place wears a remarkable air of solitude, but presents nothing of
gloom and horror, and seems just the kind of spot in which some
quiet pensive man, fatigued but not soured by the turmoil of the
world, might settle down, enjoy a few innocent pleasures, make his
peace with God, and then compose himself to his long sleep.
It is not without reason that Llan Ddewi Brefi has been called a
place of old renown. In the fifth century, one of the most
remarkable ecclesiastical convocations which the world has ever
seen was held in this secluded spot. It was for the purpose of
refuting certain doctrines, which had for some time past caused
much agitation in the Church, and which originated with one Morgan,
a native of North Wales, who left his country at an early age and
repaired to Italy, where having adopted the appellation of
Pelagius, which is a Latin translation of his own name Morgan,
which signifies "by the seashore," he soon became noted as a
theological writer. It is not necessary to enter into any detailed
exposition of his opinions; it will, however, be as well to state
that one of the points which he was chiefly anxious to inculcate
was that it is possible for a man to lead a life entirely free from
sin by obeying the dictates of his own reason without any
assistance from the grace of God - a dogma certainly to the last
degree delusive and dangerous. When the convocation met there were
a great many sermons preached by various learned and eloquent
divines, but nothing was produced which was pronounced by the
general voice a satisfactory answer to the doctrines of the
heresiarch. At length it was resolved to send for Dewi, a
celebrated teacher of theology at Mynyw in Pembrokeshire, who from
motives of humility had not appeared in the assembly. Messengers
therefore were despatched to Dewi, who, after repeated entreaties,
was induced to repair to the place of meeting, where after three
days' labour in a cell he produced a treatise in writing in which
the tenets of Morgan were so triumphantly overthrown that the
convocation unanimously adopted it and sent it into the world with
a testimony of approbation as an antidote to the heresy, and so
great was its efficacy that from that moment the doctrines of
Morgan fell gradually into disrepute. (16)
Dewi shortly afterwards became primate of Wales, being appointed to
the see of Minevai or Mynyw, which from that time was called Ty
Ddewi or David's House, a name which it still retains amongst the
Cumry, though at present called by the Saxons Saint David's. About
five centuries after his death the crown of canonization having
been awarded to Dewi, various churches were dedicated to him,
amongst which was that now called Llan Ddewi Brefi, which was built
above the cell in which the good man composed his celebrated
If this secluded gorge or valley is connected with a remarkable
historical event it is also associated with one of the wildest
tales of mythology. Here according to old tradition died one of
the humped oxen of the team of Hu Gadarn. Distracted at having
lost its comrade, which perished from the dreadful efforts which it
made along with the others in drawing the afanc hen or old
crocodile from the lake of lakes, it fled away from its master, and
wandered about, till coming to the glen now called that of Llan
Ddewi Brefi, it fell down and perished after excessive bellowing,
from which noise the place probably derived its name of Brefi, for
Bref in Cumbric signifies a mighty bellowing or lowing. Horns of
enormous size, said to have belonged to this humped ox or bison,
were for many ages preserved in the church.
Many will exclaim who was Hu Gadarn? Hu Gadarn in the Gwlad yr Haf
or summer country, a certain region of the East, perhaps the
Crimea, which seems to be a modification of Cumria, taught the
Cumry the arts of civilised life, to build comfortable houses, to
sow grain and reap, to tame the buffalo and the bison, and turn
their mighty strength to profitable account, to construct boats
with wicker and the skins of animals, to drain pools and morasses,
to cut down forests, cultivate the vine and encourage bees, make
wine and mead, frame lutes and fifes and play upon them, compose
rhymes and verses, fuse minerals and form them into various
instruments and weapons, and to move in masses against their
enemies, and finally when the summer country became over-populated
led an immense multitude of his countrymen across many lands to
Britain, a country of forests, in which bears, wolves, and bisons
wandered, and of morasses and pools full of dreadful efync or
crocodiles, a country inhabited only by a few savage Gauls, but
which shortly after the arrival of Hu and his people became a
smiling region, forests being thinned, bears and wolves hunted
down, efync annihilated, bulls and bisons tamed, corn planted and
pleasant cottages erected. After his death he was worshipped as
the God of agriculture and war by the Cumry and the Gauls. The
Germans paid him divine honours under the name of Heus, from which
name the province of Hesse in which there was a mighty temple
devoted to him, derived its appellation. The Scandinavians
worshipped him under the name of Odin and Gautr, the latter word a
modification of Cadarn or mighty. The wild Finns feared him as a
wizard and honoured him as a musician under the name of
Wainoemoinen, and it is very probable that he was the wondrous
being whom the Greeks termed Odysses. Till a late period the word
Hu amongst the Cumry was frequently used to express God - Gwir Hu,
God knows, being a common saying. Many Welsh poets have called the
Creator by the name of the creature, amongst others Iolo Goch in
his ode to the ploughman:-
"The mighty Hu who lives for ever,
Of mead and wine to men the giver,
The emperor of land and sea,
And of all things that living be
Did hold a plough with his good hand,
Soon as the deluge left the land,
To show to men both strong and weak,
The haughty-hearted and the meek,
Of all the arts the heaven below
The noblest is to guide the plough."
So much for Hu Gadarn or Hu the Mighty, whose name puts one
strangely in mind of the Al Kader Hu or the Almighty He of the
I went to see the church. The inside was very rude and plain - a
rough table covered with a faded cloth served for an altar - on the
right-hand side was a venerable-looking chest.
"What is there in that box?" said I to the old sexton who attended
"The treasure of the church, sir," he replied in a feeble quaking
"Dear me!" said I, "what does the treasure consist of?"
"You shall see, sir," said he, and drawing a large key out of his
pocket he unlocked the chest and taking out a cup of silver he put
it into my hand saying:- "This is the treasure of the church, sir!"
I looked at the cup. It was tolerably large and of very chaste
workmanship. Graven upon it were the following words:-
"Poculum Eclesie De LXXN Dewy Brefy 1574."
"Do you always keep this cup in that chest?" said I.
"Yes sir! we have kept it there since the cup was given to us by de
godly Queen Elizabeth."
I said nothing, but I thought to myself:- "I wonder how long a cup
like this would have been safe in a crazy chest in a country church
I kissed the sacred relic of old times with reverence, and returned
it to the old sexton.
"What became of the horns of Hu Gadarn's bull?" said I, after he
had locked the cup again in its dilapidated coffer.
"They did dwindle away, sir, till they came to nothing."
"Did you ever see any part of them?" said I.
"Oh no, sir; I did never see any part of them, but one very old man
who is buried here did tell me shortly before he died that he had
seen one very old man who had seen of dem one little tip."
"Who was the old man who said that to you?" said I.
"I will show you his monument, sir," then taking me into a dusky
pew he pointed to a small rude tablet against the church wall and
said:- "That is his monument, sir."
The tablet bore the following inscription, and below it a rude
englyn on death not worth transcribing:-
Diweddar o'r Draws Llwyn yn y Plwyf hwn:
Bu farw Chwefror 6 fed 1830
Yn 92 oed.
To the memory of
Of Traws Llwyn (across the Grove) in this
parish who died February the sixth, 1830.
After copying the inscription I presented the old man with a trifle
and went my way.
Lampeter - The Monk Austin - The Three Publicans - The Tombstone -
Sudden Change - Trampers - A Catholic - The Bridge of Twrch.
THE country between Llan Ddewi and Lampeter presented nothing
remarkable, and I met on the road nothing worthy of being recorded.
On arriving at Lampeter I took a slight refreshment at the inn, and
then went to see the college which stands a little way to the north
of the town. It was founded by Bishop Burgess in the year 1820,
for the education of youths intended for the ministry of the Church
of England. It is a neat quadrate edifice with a courtyard in
which stands a large stone basin. From the courtyard you enter a
spacious dining-hall, over the door of which hangs a well-executed
portrait of the good bishop. From the hall you ascend by a
handsome staircase to the library, a large and lightsome room, well
stored with books in various languages. The grand curiosity is a
manuscript Codex containing a Latin synopsis of Scripture which
once belonged to the monks of Bangor Is Coed. It bears marks of
blood with which it was sprinkled when the monks were massacred by
the heathen Saxons, at the instigation of Austin the Pope's
missionary in Britain. The number of students seldom exceeds
It might be about half-past two in the afternoon when I left
Lampeter. I passed over a bridge, taking the road to Llandovery
which, however, I had no intention of attempting to reach that
night, as it was considerably upwards of twenty miles distant. The
road lay, seemingly, due east. After walking very briskly for
about an hour I came to a very small hamlet consisting of not more
than six or seven houses; of these three seemed to be public-
houses, as they bore large flaming signs. Seeing three rather
shabby-looking fellows standing chatting with their hands in their
pockets, I stopped and inquired in English the name of the place.
"Pen- something," said one of them, who had a red face and a large
carbuncle on his nose, which served to distinguish him from his
companions, who though they had both very rubicund faces had no
"It seems rather a small place to maintain three public-houses,"
said I; "how do the publicans manage to live?"
"Oh, tolerably well, sir; we get bread and cheese and have a groat
in our pockets. No great reason to complain; have we, neighbours?"
"No! no great reason to complain," said the other two.
"Dear me!" said I; "are you the publicans?"
"We are, sir," said the man with the carbuncle on his nose, "and
shall be each of us glad to treat you to a pint in his own house in
order to welcome you to Shire Car - shan't we, neighbours?"
"Yes, in truth we shall," said the other two.
"By Shire Car," said I, "I suppose you mean Shire Cardigan?"
"Shire Cardigan!" said the man; "no indeed; by Shire Car is meant
Carmarthenshire. Your honour has left beggarly Cardigan some way
behind you. Come, your honour, come and have a pint; this is my
house," said he, pointing to one of the buildings.
"But," said I, "I suppose if I drink at your expense you expect to
drink at mine?"
"Why, we can't say that we shall have any objection, your honour; I
think we will arrange the matter in this way; we will go into my
house, where we will each of us treat your honour with a pint, and
for each pint we treat your honour with your honour shall treat us
"Do you mean each?" said I.
"Why, yes! your honour, for a pint amongst three would be rather a
"Then it would come to this," said I, "I should receive three pints
from you three, and you three would receive nine from me."
"Just so, your honour, I see your honour is a ready reckoner."
"I know how much three times three make," said I. "Well, thank
you, kindly, but I must decline your offer; I am bound on a
"Where are you bound to, master?"
"To Llandovery, but if I can find an inn a few miles farther on I
shall stop there for the night."
"Then you will put up at the 'Pump Saint,' master; well, you can
have your three pints here and your three pipes too, and yet get
easily there by seven. Come in, master, come in! If you take my
advice you will think of your pint and your pipe and let all the
rest go to the devil."
"Thank you," said I, "but I can't accept your invitation, I must be
off;" and in spite of yet more pressing solicitations I went on.
I had not gone far when I came to a point where the road parted
into two; just at the point were a house and premises belonging
apparently to a stonemason, as a great many pieces of half-cut
granite were standing about, and not a few tombstones. I stopped
and looked at one of the latter. It was to the memory of somebody
who died at the age of sixty-six, and at the bottom bore the
following bit of poetry:-
"Ti ddaear o ddaear ystyria mewn braw,
Mai daear i ddaear yn fuan a ddaw;
A ddaear mewn ddaear raid aros bob darn
Nes daear o ddaear gyfrodir i farn."
"Thou earth from earth reflect with anxious mind
That earth to earth must quickly be consigned,
And earth in earth must lie entranced enthralled
Till earth from earth to judgment shall be called."
"What conflicting opinions there are in this world," said I, after
I had copied the quatrain and translated it. "The publican yonder
tells me to think of my pint and pipe and let everything else go to
the devil, and the tombstone here tells me to reflect with dread -
a much finer expression by-the-bye than reflect with anxious mind,
as I have got it - that in a very little time I must die, and lie
in the ground till I am called to judgment. Now, which is most
right, the tombstone or the publican? Why, I should say the
tombstone decidedly. The publican is too sweeping when he tells
you to think of your pint and pipe and nothing else. A pint and
pipe are good things. I don't smoke myself, but I daresay a pipe
is a good thing for them who like it, but there are certainly
things worth being thought of in this world besides a pint and pipe
- hills and dales, woods and rivers, for example - death and
judgment too are worthy now and then of very serious thought. So
it won't do to go with the publican the whole hog. But with
respect to the tombstone, it is quite safe and right to go with it
its whole length. It tells you to think of death and judgment -
and assuredly we ought to of them. It does not, however, tell you
to think of nothing but death and judgment and to eschew every
innocent pleasure within your reach. If it did it would be a
tombstone quite as sweeping in what it says as the publican, who
tells you to think of your pint and pipe and let everything else go
to the devil. The wisest course evidently is to blend the whole of
the philosophy of the tombstone with a portion of the philosophy of
the publican and something more, to enjoy one's pint and pipe and
other innocent pleasures, and to think every now and then of death
and judgment - that is what I intend to do, and indeed is what I
have done for the last thirty years."
I went on - desolate hills rose in the east, the way I was going,
but on the south were beautiful hillocks adorned with trees and
hedge-rows. I was soon amongst the desolate hills, which then
looked more desolate than they did at a distance. They were of a
wretched russet colour, and exhibited no other signs of life and
cultivation than here and there a miserable field and vile-looking
hovel; and if there was here nothing to cheer the eye there was
also nothing to cheer the ear. There were no songs of birds, no
voices of rills; the only sound I heard was the lowing of a
wretched bullock from a far-off slope.
I went on slowly and heavily; at length I got to the top of this
wretched range - then what a sudden change! Beautiful hills in the
far east, a fair valley below me, and groves and woods on each side
of the road which led down to it. The sight filled my veins with
fresh life, and I descended this side of the hill as merrily as I
had come up the other side despondingly. About half-way down the
hill I came to a small village. Seeing a public-house I went up to
it, and inquired in English of some people within the name of the
"Dolwen," said a dark-faced young fellow of about four-and-twenty.
"And what is the name of the valley?" said I.
"Dolwen," was the answer, "the valley is named after the village."
"You mean that the village is named after the valley," said I, "for
Dolwen means fair valley."
"It may be so," said the young fellow, "we don't know much here."
Then after a moment's pause he said:
"Are you going much farther?"
"Only as far as the 'Pump Saint.'"
"Have you any business there?" said he.
"No," I replied, "I am travelling the country, and shall only put
up there for the night"
"You had better stay here," said the young fellow. "You will be
better accommodated here than at the 'Pump Saint.'"
"Very likely," said I; "but I have resolved to go there, and when I
once make a resolution I never alter it."
Then bidding him good evening I departed. Had I formed no
resolution at all about stopping at the 'Pump Saint,' I certainly
should not have stayed in this house, which had all the appearance
of a trampers' hostelry, and though I am very fond of the
conversation of trampers, who are the only people from whom you can
learn anything, I would much rather have the benefit of it abroad
than in their own lairs. A little farther down I met a woman
coming up the ascent. She was tolerably respectably dressed,
seemed about five-and-thirty, and was rather good-looking. She
walked somewhat slowly, which was probably more owing to a large
bundle which she bore in her hand than to her path being up-hill.
"Good evening," said I, stopping.
"Good evening, your honour," said she, stopping and brightly
"Do you come from far?" said I.
"Not very far, your honour, but quite far enough for a poor feeble
"Are you Welsh?" said I.
"Och no! your honour; I am Mary Bane from Dunmanway in the kingdom
"And what are you doing here?" said I.
"Och sure! I am travelling the country with soft goods."
"Are you going far?" said I.
"Merely to the village a little farther up, your honour."
"I am going farther," said I, "I am thinking of passing the night
at the 'Pump Saint.'"
"Well, then, I would just advise your honour to do no such thing,
but to turn back with me to the village above, where there is an
illigant inn where your honour will be well accommodated."
"Oh, I saw that as I came past," said I; "I don't think there is
much accommodation there."
"Oh, your honour is clane mistaken; there is always an illigant
fire and an illigant bed too."
"Is there only one bed?" said I.
"Oh, yes, there are two beds, one for the accommodation of the
people of the house and the other for that of the visitors."
"And do the visitors sleep together then?" said I.
"Oh yes! unless they wish to be unsociable. Those who are not
disposed to be sociable sleeps in the chimney-corners."
"Ah," said I, "I see it is a very agreeable inn; however, I shall
go on to the 'Pump Saint.'"
"I am sorry for it, your honour, for your honour's sake; your
honour won't be half so illigantly served at the 'Pump Saint' as
"Of what religion are you?" said I.
"Oh, I'm a Catholic, just like your honour, for if I am not clane
mistaken your honour is an Irishman."
"Who is your spiritual director?" said I.
"Why, then, it is just Father Toban, your honour, whom of course
your honour knows."
"Oh yes!" said I; "when you next see him present my respects to
"What name shall I mention, your honour?"
"Shorsha Borroo," said I.
"Oh, then I was right in taking your honour for an Irishman. None
but a raal Paddy bears that name. A credit to your honour is your
name, for it is a famous name, (17) and a credit to your name is
your honour, for it is a neat man without a bend you are. God
bless your honour and good night! and may you find dacent quarters
in the 'Pump Saint.'"
Leaving Mary Bane I proceeded on my way. The evening was rather
fine but twilight was coming rapidly on. I reached the bottom of
the valley and soon overtook a young man dressed something like a
groom. We entered into conversation. He spoke Welsh and a little
English. His Welsh I had great difficulty in understanding, as it
was widely different from that which I had been accustomed to. He
asked me where I was going to; I replied to the "Pump Saint," and
then enquired if he was in service.
"I am," said he.
"With whom do you live?" said I.
"With Mr Johnes of Dol Cothi," he answered.
Struck by the word Cothi, I asked if Dol Cothi was ever called Glyn
"Oh yes," said he, "frequently."
"How odd," thought I to myself, "that I should have stumbled all of
a sudden upon the country of my old friend Lewis Glyn Cothi, the
greatest poet after Ab Gwilym of all Wales!"
"Is Cothi a river?" said I to my companion.
"It is," said he.
Presently we came to a bridge over a small river.
"Is this river the Cothi?" said I.
"No," said he, "this is the Twrch; the bridge is called Pont y
"The bridge of Twrch or the hog," said I to myself; "there is a
bridge of the same name in the Scottish Highlands, not far from the
pass of the Trossachs. I wonder whether it has its name from the
same cause as this, namely, from passing over a river called the
Twrch or Torck, which word in Gaelic signifies boar or hog even as
it does in Welsh." It had now become nearly dark. After
proceeding some way farther I asked the groom if we were far from
the inn of the "Pump Saint."
"Close by," said he, and presently pointing to a large building on
the right-hand side he said: "This is the inn of the 'Pump Saint,'
sir. Nos Da'chi!"
"Pump Saint" - Pleasant Residence - The Watery Coom - Philological
Fact - Evening Service - Meditation.
I ENTERED the inn of the "Pump Saint." It was a comfortable old-
fashioned place, with a very large kitchen and a rather small
parlour. The people were kind and attentive, and soon set before
me in the parlour a homely but savoury supper, and a foaming
tankard of ale. After supper I went into the kitchen, and sitting
down with the good folks in an immense chimney-corner, listened to
them talking in their Carmarthenshire dialect till it was time to
go to rest, when I was conducted to a large chamber where I found
an excellent and clean bed awaiting me, in which I enjoyed a
refreshing sleep, occasionally visited by dreams in which some of
the scenes of the preceding day again appeared before me, but in an
indistinct and misty manner.
Awaking in the very depth of the night I thought I heard the
murmuring of a river; I listened and soon found that I had not been
deceived. "I wonder whether that river is the Cothi," said I, "the
stream of the immortal Lewis. I will suppose that it is" - and
rendered quite happy by the idea, I soon fell asleep again.
I arose about eight and went out to look about me. The village
consists of little more than half-a-dozen houses. The name "Pump
Saint" signifies "Five Saints." Why the place is called so I know
not. Perhaps the name originally belonged to some chapel which
stood either where the village now stands or in the neighbourhood.
The inn is a good specimen of an ancient Welsh hostelry. Its gable
is to the road and its front to a little space on one side of the
way. At a little distance up the road is a blacksmith's shop. The
country around is interesting: on the north-west is a fine wooded
hill - to the south a valley through which flows the Cothi, a fair
river, the one whose murmur had come so pleasingly upon my ear in
the depth of night.
After breakfast I departed for Llandovery. Presently I came to a
lodge on the left-hand beside an ornamental gate at the bottom of
an avenue leading seemingly to a gentleman's seat. On inquiring of
a woman, who sat at the door of the lodge, to whom the grounds
belonged, she said to Mr Johnes, and that if I pleased I was
welcome to see them. I went in and advanced along the avenue,
which consisted of very noble oaks; on the right was a vale in
which a beautiful brook was running north and south. Beyond the
vale to the east were fine wooded hills. I thought I had never
seen a more pleasing locality, though I saw it to great
disadvantage, the day being dull, and the season the latter fall.
Presently, on the avenue making a slight turn, I saw the house, a
plain but comfortable gentleman's seat with wings. It looked to
the south down the dale. "With what satisfaction I could live in
that house," said I to myself, "if backed by a couple of thousands
a-year. With what gravity could I sign a warrant in its library,
and with what dreamy comfort translate an ode of Lewis Glyn Cothi,
my tankard of rich ale beside me. I wonder whether the proprietor
is fond of the old bard and keeps good ale. Were I an Irishman
instead of a Norfolk man I would go in and ask him."
Returning to the road I proceeded on my journey. I passed over
Pont y Rhanedd or the bridge of the Rhanedd, a small river flowing
through a dale, then by Clas Hywel, a lofty mountain which appeared
to have three heads. After walking for some miles I came to where
the road divided into two. By a sign-post I saw that both led to
Llandovery, one by Porth y Rhyd and the other by Llanwrda. The
distance by the first was six miles and a half, by the latter eight
and a half. Feeling quite the reverse of tired I chose the longest
road, namely the one by Llanwrda, along which I sped at a great
In a little time I found myself in the heart of a romantic winding
dell, overhung with trees of various kinds, which a tall man whom I
met told me was called Cwm Dwr Llanwrda, or the Watery Coom of
Llanwrda; and well might it be called the Watery Coom, for there
were several bridges in it, two within a few hundred yards of each
other. The same man told me that the war was going on very badly,
that our soldiers were suffering much, and that the snow was two
feet deep at Sebastopol.
Passing through Llanwrda, a pretty village with a singular-looking
church, close to which stood an enormous yew, I entered a valley
which I learned was the valley of the Towey. I directed my course
to the north, having the river on my right, which runs towards the
south in a spacious bed, which, however, except in times of flood,
it scarcely half fills. Beautiful hills were on other side, partly
cultivated, partly covered with wood, and here and there dotted
with farm-houses and gentlemen's seats; green pastures which
descended nearly to the river occupying in general the lower parts.
After journeying about four miles amid this kind of scenery I came
to a noble suspension bridge, and crossing it found myself in about
a quarter of an hour at Llandovery.
It was about half-past two when I arrived. I put up at the Castle
Inn and forthwith ordered dinner, which was served up between four
and five. During dinner I was waited upon by a strange old fellow
who spoke Welsh and English with equal fluency.
"What countryman are you?" said I.
"An Englishman," he replied.
"From what part of England?"
"Have you been long here?"
"Oh yes! upwards of twenty years."
"How came you to learn Welsh?"
"Oh, I took to it and soon picked it up."
"Can you read it?" said I.
"No, I can't."
"Can you read English?"
"Yes, I can; that is, a little."
"Why didn't you try to learn to read Welsh?"
"Well, I did; but I could make no hand of it. It's one thing to
speak Welsh and another to read it."
"I can read Welsh much better than I can speak it," said I.
"Ah, you are a gentleman - gentlefolks always find it easier to
learn to read a foreign lingo than to speak it, but it's quite the
contrary with we poor folks."
"One of the most profound truths ever uttered connected with
language," said I to myself. I asked him if there were many Church
of England people in Llandovery.
"A good many," he replied.
"Do you belong to the Church?" said I.
"Yes, I do."
"If this were Sunday I would go to church," said I.
"Oh, if you wish to go to church you can go to-night. This is
Wednesday, and there will be service at half-past six. If you like
I will come for you."
"Pray do," said I; "I should like above all things to go."
Dinner over I sat before the fire occasionally dozing, occasionally
sipping a glass of whiskey-and-water. A little after six the old
fellow made his appearance with a kind of Spanish hat on his head.
We set out; the night was very dark; we went down a long street
seemingly in the direction of the west. "How many churches are
there in Llandovery?" said I to my companion.
"Only one, but you are not going to Llandovery Church, but to that
of Llanfair, in which our clergyman does duty once or twice a
"Is it far?" said I.
"Oh no; just out of the town, only a few steps farther."
We seemed to pass over a bridge and began to ascend a rising
ground. Several people were going in the same direction.
"There," said the old man, "follow with these, and a little farther
up you will come to the church, which stands on the right hand."
He then left me. I went with the rest and soon came to the church.
I went in and was at once conducted by an old man, who I believe
was the sexton, to a large pew close against the southern wall.
The inside of the church was dimly lighted; it was long and narrow,
and the walls were painted with a yellow colour. The pulpit stood
against the northern wall near the altar, and almost opposite to
the pew in which I sat. After a little time the service commenced;
it was in Welsh. When the litanies were concluded the clergyman,
who appeared to be a middle-aged man, and who had rather a fine
voice, began to preach. His sermon was from the 119th Psalm: "Am
hynny hoffais dy gorchymynion yn mwy nag aur:" "Therefore have I
loved thy commandments more than gold." The sermon, which was
extempore, was delivered with great earnestness, and I make no
doubt was a very excellent one, but owing to its being in South
Welsh I did not derive much benefit from it as I otherwise might
have done. When it was over a great many got up and went away.
Observing, however, that not a few remained, I determined upon
remaining too. When everything was quiet the clergyman, descending
from the pulpit, repaired to the vestry, and having taken off his
gown went into a pew, and standing up began a discourse, from which
I learned that there was to be a sacrament on the ensuing Sabbath.