Part 14 out of 14
"Well, so ye shall, honey; and I make no doubt ye will give me a
dacent alms, for I like the look of ye, and knew ye to be an
Irishman half a mile off. Only four years ago, instead of being a
bedivilled woman, tumbling about the world, I was as quiet and
respectable a widow as could be found in the county of Limerick. I
had a nice little farm at an aisy rint, horses, cows, pigs, and
servants, and, what was better than all, a couple of fine sons, who
were a help and comfort to me. But my black day was not far off.
I was a mighty charitable woman, and always willing to give to the
bacahs and other beggars that came about. Every morning, before I
opened my door, I got ready the alms which I intended to give away
in the course of the day to those that should ask for them, and I
made so good a preparation that, though plenty of cripples and
other unfortunates wandering through the world came to me every
day, part of the alms was sure to remain upon my hands every night
when I closed my door. The alms which I gave away consisted of
meal; and I had always a number of small measures of meal standing
ready on a board, one of which I used to empty into the poke of
every bacah or other unfortunate who used to place himself at the
side of my door and cry out 'Ave Maria!' or 'In the name of God!'
Well, one morning I sat within my door spinning, with a little bit
of colleen beside me who waited upon me as servant. My measures of
meal were all ready for the unfortunates who should come, filled
with all the meal in the house; for there was no meal in the house
save what was in those measures - divil a particle, the whole stock
being exhausted; though by evening I expected plenty more, my two
sons being gone to the ballybetagh, which was seven miles distant,
for a fresh supply, and for other things. Well, I sat within my
door, spinning, with my servant by my side to wait upon me, and my
measures of meal ready for the unfortunates who might come to ask
for alms. There I sat, quite proud, and more happy than I had ever
felt in my life before; and the unfortunates began to make their
appearance. First came a bacah on crutches; then came a woman with
a white swelling; then came an individual who had nothing at all
the matter with him, and was only a poor unfortunate, wandering
about the world; then came a far cake, (22) a dark man, who was led
about by a gossoon; after him a simpley, and after the simpleton
somebody else as much or more unfortunate. And as the afflicted
people arrived and placed themselves by the side of the door and
said 'Ave Mary,' or 'In the name of God,' or crossed their arms, or
looked down upon the ground, each according to his practice, I got
up and emptied my measure of meal into his poke, or whatever he
carried about with him for receiving the alms which might be given
to him; and my measures of meal began to be emptied fast, for it
seemed that upon that day, when I happened to be particularly short
of meal, all the unfortunates in the county of Limerick had
conspired together to come to ask me for alms. At last every
measure of meal was emptied, and there I sat in my house with
nothing to give away provided an unfortunate should come. Says I
to the colleen: 'What shall I do provided any more come, for all
the meal is gone, and there will be no more before the boys come
home at night from the ballybetagh.' Says the colleen: 'If any
more come, can't ye give them something else?' Says I: 'It has
always been my practice to give in meal, and loth should I be to
alter it; for if once I begin to give away other things, I may give
away all I have.' Says the colleen: 'Let's hope no one else will
come: there have been thirteen of them already.' Scarcely had she
said these words, when a monstrous woman, half-naked, and with a
long staff in her hand, on the top of which was a cross, made her
appearance; and placing herself right before the door, cried out so
that you might have heard her for a mile, 'Give me an alms for the
glory of God!' 'Good woman,' says I to her, 'you will be kind
enough to excuse me: all the preparation I had made for alms has
been given away, for I have relieved thirteen unfortunates this
blessed morning - so may the Virgin help ye, good woman!' 'Give me
an alms,' said the Beanvore, with a louder voice than before, 'or
it will be worse for you.' 'You must excuse me, good mistress,'
says I, 'but I have no more meal in the house. Those thirteen
measures which you see there empty were full this morning, for what
was in them I have given away to unfortunates. So the Virgin and
Child help you.' 'Do you choose to give me an alms?' she shrieked,
so that you might have heard her to Londonderry. 'If ye have no
meal give me something else.' 'You must excuse me, good lady,'
says I: 'it is my custom to give alms in meal, and in nothing
else. I have none in the house now; but if ye come on the morrow
ye shall have a triple measure. In the meanwhile may the Virgin,
Child, and the Holy Trinity assist ye!' Thereupon she looked at me
fixedly for a moment, and then said, not in a loud voice, but in a
low, half-whispered way, which was ten times more deadly:-
"'Biaidh an taifrionn gan sholas duit a bhean shilach!'
Then turning from the door she went away with long strides. Now,
honey, can ye tell me the meaning of those words?"
"They mean," said I, "unless I am much mistaken: 'May the Mass
never comfort ye, you dirty queen!'"
"Ochone! that's the maning of them, sure enough. They are cramped
words, but I guessed that was the meaning, or something of the
kind. Well, after hearing the evil prayer, I sat for a minute or
two quite stunned; at length recovering myself a bit I said to the
colleen: 'Get up, and run after the woman and tell her to come
back and cross the prayer.' I meant by crossing that she should
call it back or do something that would take the venom out of it.
Well, the colleen was rather loth to go, for she was a bit scared
herself, but on my beseeching her, she got up and ran after the
woman, and being rather swift of foot, at last, though with much
difficulty, overtook her, and begged her to come back and cross the
prayer, but the divil of a woman would do no such thing, and when
the colleen persisted she told her that if she didn't go back, she
would say an evil prayer over her too. So the colleen left her,
and came back, crying and frighted. All the rest of the day I
remained sitting on the stool speechless, thinking of the prayer
which the woman had said, and wishing I had given her everything I
had in the world, rather than she should have said it. At night
came home the boys, and found their mother sitting on the stool,
like one stupefied. 'What's the matter with you, mother?' they
said. 'Get up and help us to unpack. We have brought home plenty
of things on the car, and amongst others a whole boll of meal.'
'You might as well have left it behind you,' said I; 'this morning
a single measure of meal would have been to me of all the
assistance in the world, but I question now if I shall ever want
meal again.' They asked me what had happened to me, and after some
time I told them how a monstrous woman had been to me, and had said
an evil prayer over me, because having no meal in the house I had
not given her an alms. 'Come, mother,' said they, 'get up and help
us to unload! never mind the prayer of the monstrous woman - it is
all nonsense.' Well, I got up and helped them to unload, and
cooked them a bit, and sat down with them, and tried to be merry,
but felt that I was no longer the woman that I was. The next day I
didn't seem to care what became of me, or how matters went on, and
though there was now plenty of meal in the house, not a measure did
I fill with it to give away in the shape of alms; and when the
bacahs and the liprous women, and the dark men, and the other
unfortunates placed themselves at the side of the door, and gave me
to understand that they wanted alms, each in his or her particular
manner, divil an alms did I give them, but let them stand and took
no heed of them, so that at last they took themselves off,
grumbling and cursing. And little did I care for their grumblings
and cursings. Two days before I wouldn't have had an unfortunate
grumble at me, or curse me, for all the riches below the sun; but
now their grumblings and curses didn't give me the slightest
unasiness, for I had an evil prayer spoken against me in the Shanna
Gailey by the monstrous woman, and I knew that I was blighted in
this world and the next. In a little time I ceased to pay any heed
to the farming business, or to the affairs of the house, so that my
sons had no comfort in their home. And I took to drink and induced
my eldest son to take to drink too - my youngest son, however, did
not take to drink, but conducted himself well, and toiled and
laboured like a horse and often begged me and his brother to
consider what we were about, and not to go on in a way which would
bring us all to ruin, but I paid no regard to what he said, and his
brother followed my example, so that at last seeing things were
getting worse every day, and that we should soon be turned out of
house and home, for no rint was paid, every penny that could be got
being consumed in waste, he bade us farewell and went and listed
for a sodger. But if matters were bad enough before he went away,
they became much worse after; for now when the unfortunates came to
the door for alms, instead of letting them stand in pace till they
were tired, and took themselves off, I would mock them and point at
them, and twit them with their sores and other misfortunes, and not
unfrequently I would fling scalding water over them, which would
send them howling and honing away, till at last there was not an
unfortunate but feared to come within a mile of my door. Moreover
I began to misconduct myself at chapel, more especially at the
Aifrionn or Mass, for no sooner was the bell rung, and the holy
corpus raised, than I would shout and hoorah, and go tumbling and
toppling along the floor before the holy body, as I just now
tumbled along the road before you, so that the people were
scandalized, and would take me by the shoulders and turn me out of
doors, and began to talk of ducking me in the bog. The priest of
the parish, however, took my part, saying that I ought not to be
persecuted, for that I was not accountable for what I did, being a
possessed person, and under the influence of divils. 'These,
however,' said he, 'I'll soon cast out from her, and then the woman
will be a holy cratur, much better than she ever was before.' A
very learned man was Father Hogan, especially in casting out
divils, and a portly, good-looking man too, only he had a large
rubicon nose, which people said he got by making over free with the
cratur in sacret. I had often looked at the nose, when the divil
was upon me, and felt an inclination to seize hold of it, just to
see how it felt. Well, he had me to his house several times, and
there he put holy cloths upon me, and tied holy images to me, and
read to me out of holy books, and sprinkled holy water over me, and
put questions to me, and at last was so plased with the answers I
gave him, that he prached a sermon about me in the chapel, in which
he said that he had cast six of my divils out of me, and should
cast out the seventh, which was the last, by the next Sabbath, and
then should present me to the folks in the chapel as pure a vessel
as the blessed Mary herself - and that I was destined to accomplish
great things, and to be a mighty instrument in the hands of the
Holy Church, for that he intended to write a book about me,
describing the miracle he had performed in casting the seven divils
out of me, which he should get printed at the printing-press of the
blessed Columba, and should send me through all Ireland to sell the
copies, the profits of which would go towards the support of the
holy society for casting out unclane spirits, to which he himself
belonged. Well, the people showed that they were plased by a loud
shout, and went away longing for the next Sunday when I was to be
presented to them without a divil in me. Five times the next week
did I go to the priest's house, to be read to, and be sprinkled,
and have cloths put upon me, in order that the work of casting out
the last divil, which it seems was stronger than all the rest,
might be made smooth and aisy, and on the Saturday I came to have
the last divil cast out, and found his riverince in full
canonicals, seated in his aisy chair. 'Daughter,' said he when he
saw me, 'the work is nearly over. Now kneel down before me, and I
will make the sign of the cross over your forehead, and then you
will feel the last and strongest of the divils, which have so long
possessed ye, go out of ye through your eyes, as I expect you will
say to the people assembled in the chapel to-morrow.' So I put
myself on my knees before his reverence, who after muttering
something to himself, either in Latin or Shanna Gailey - I believe
it was Latin, said, 'Look me in the face, daughter!' Well, I
looked his reverence in the face, and there I saw his nose looking
so large, red, and inviting that I could not resist the temptation,
and before his reverence could make the sign of the cross, which
doubtless would have driven the divil out of me, I made a spring at
it, and seizing hold of it with forefinger and thumb, pulled hard
at it. Hot and inctious did it feel. Oh, the yell that his
reverence gave! However, I did not let go my hold, but kept
pulling at the nose, till at last to avoid the torment, his
reverence came tumbling down upon me, causing me by his weight to
fall back upon the floor. At the yell which he gave, and at the
noise of the fall, in came rushing his reverence's housekeeper and
stable-boy, who seeing us down on the floor, his reverence upon me
and my hand holding his reverence's nose, for I felt loth to let it
go, they remained in astonishment and suspense. When his
reverence, however, begged them, for the Virgin's sake, to separate
him from the divil of a woman, they ran forward, and having with
some difficulty freed his reverence's nose from my hand, they
helped him up. The first thing that his reverence did, on being
placed on his legs, was to make for a horse-whip, which stood in
one corner of the room, but I guessing how he meant to use it,
sprang up from the floor, and before he could make a cut at me, ran
out of the room, and hasted home. The next day, when all the
people for twenty miles round met in the chapel, in the expectation
of seeing me presented to them a purified and holy female, and
hearing from my mouth the account of the miracle which his
reverence had performed, his reverence made his appearance in the
pulpit with a dale of gould bater's leaf on his nose, and from the
pulpit he told the people how I had used him, showing them the
gould bater's leaf on his feature, as testimony of the truth of his
words, finishing by saying that if at first there were seven
devils, there were now seven times seven within me. Well, when the
people heard the story, and saw his nose with the bater's leaf upon
it, they at first began to laugh, but when he appealed to their
consciences, and asked them if such was fitting tratement for a
praist, they said it was not, and that if he would only but curse
me, they would soon do him justice upon me. His reverence then
cursed by book, bell, and candle, and the people, setting off from
the chapel, came in a crowd to the house where I lived, to wrake
vengeance upon me. Overtaking my son by the way, who was coming
home in a state of intoxication, they bate him within an inch of
his life, and left him senseless on the ground, and no doubt would
have served me much worse, only seeing them coming, and guessing
what they came about, though I was a bit intoxicated myself, I
escaped by the back of the house out into the bog, where I hid
myself amidst a copse of hazels. The people coming to the house,
and not finding me there, broke and destroyed every bit of
furniture, and would have pulled the house down, or set fire to it,
had not an individual among them cried out that doing so would be
of no use, for that the house did not belong to me, and that
destroying it would merely be an injury to the next tenant. So the
people, after breaking my furniture and ill-trating two or three
dumb beasts, which happened not to have been made away with, went
away, and in the dead of night I returned to the house, where I
found my son, who had just crawled home covered wit bruises. We
hadn't, however, a home long, for the agents of the landlord came
to seize for rent, took all they could find, and turned us out upon
the wide world. Myself and son wandered together for an hour or
two, then, having a quarrel with each other, we parted, he going
one way and I another. Some little time after I heard that he was
transported. As for myself, I thought I might as well take a leaf
out of the woman's book who had been the ruin of me. So I went
about bidding people give me alms for the glory of God, and
threatening those who gave me nothing that the mass should never
comfort them. It's a dreadful curse that, honey; and I would
advise people to avoid it even though they give away all they have.
If you have no comfort in the mass, you will have comfort in
nothing else. Look at me: I have no comfort in the mass, for as
soon as the priest's bell rings, I shouts and hoorahs, and performs
tumblings before the blessed corpus, getting myself kicked out of
chapel, and as little comfort as I have in the mass have I in other
things, which should be a comfort to me. I have two sons who ought
to be the greatest comfort to me, but are they so? We'll see - one
is transported, and of course is no comfort to me at all. The
other is a sodger. Is he a comfort to me? Not a bit. A month ago
when I was travelling through the black north, tumbling and
toppling about, and threatening people with my prayer, unless they
gave me alms, a woman, who knew me, told me that he was with his
regiment at Cardiff, here in Wales, whereupon I determined to go
and see him, and crossing the water got into England, from whence I
walked to Cardiff asking alms of the English in the common English
way, and of the Irish, and ye are the first Irish I have met, in
the way in which I asked them of you. But when I got to Cardiff
did I see my son? I did not, for the day before he had sailed with
his regiment to a place ten thousand miles away, so I shall never
see his face again nor derive comfort from him. Oh, if there's no
comfort from the mass there's no comfort from anything else, and he
who has the evil prayer in the Shanna Gailey breathed upon him,
will have no comfort from the mass. Now, honey, ye have heard the
story of Johanna Colgan, the bedivilled woman. Give her now a
dacent alms and let her go!"
"Would you consider sixpence a decent alms?"
"I would. If you give me sixpence, I will not say my prayer over
"Would you give me a blessing?"
"I would not. A bedivilled woman has no blessing to give."
"Surely if you are able to ask people to give you alms for the
glory of God, you are able to give a blessing."
"Bodderation! are ye going to give me sixpence?"
"No! here's a shilling for you! Take it and go in peace."
"There's no pace for me," said Johanna Colgan, taking the money.
"What did the monstrous female say to me? 'Biaidh an taifrionn gan
sholas duit a bhean shalach.' (23) This is my pace - hoorah!
hoorah!" then giving two or three grotesque topples she hurried
away in the direction of Merthyr Tydvil.
Pen y Glas - Salt of the Earth - The Quakers' Yard - The
AS I proceeded on my way the scenery to the south on the farther
side of the river became surprisingly beautiful. On that side
noble mountains met the view, green fields and majestic woods, the
latter brown it is true, for their leaves were gone, but not the
less majestic for being brown. Here and there were white farm-
houses: one of them, which I was told was called Pen y Glas, was a
truly lovely little place. It stood on the side of a green hill
with a noble forest above it, and put me wonderfully in mind of the
hunting lodge, which Ifor Hael allotted as a retreat to Ab Gwilym
and Morfydd, when they fled to him from Cardigan to avoid the rage
of the Bow Bach, and whose charming appearance made him say to his
"More bliss for us our fate propounds
On Taf's green banks than Teivy's bounds."
On I wandered. After some time the valley assumed the form of an
immense basin, enormous mountains composed its sides. In the
middle rose hills of some altitude, but completely overcrowned by
the mountains around. These hills exhibited pleasant inclosures,
and were beautifully dotted with white farm-houses. Down below
meandered the Taf, its reaches shining with a silver-like
splendour. The whole together formed an exquisite picture, in
which there was much sublimity, much still quiet life, and not a
little of fantastic fairy loveliness.
The sun was hastening towards the west as I passed a little cascade
on the left, the waters of which, after running under the road,
tumbled down a gully into the river. Shortly afterwards meeting a
man I asked him how far it was to Caerfili.
"When you come to the Quakers' Yard, which is a little way further
on, you will be seven miles from Caerfili."
"What is the Quakers' Yard?"
"A place where the people called Quakers bury their dead."
"Is there a village near it?
"There is, and the village is called by the same name."
"Are there any Quakers in it?"
"Not one, nor in the neighbourhood, but there are some, I believe,
"Why do they bury their dead there?"
"You should ask them, not me. I know nothing about them, and don't
want; they are a bad set of people."
"Did they ever do you any harm?"
"Can't say they did. Indeed I never saw one in the whole of my
"Then why do you call them bad?"
"Because everybody says they are."
"Not everybody. I don't; I have always found them the salt of the
"Then it is salt that has lost its savour. But perhaps you are one
"No, I belong to the Church of England."
"Oh, you do. Then good-night to you. I am a Methodist. I thought
at first that you were one of our ministers, and had hoped to hear
from you something profitable and conducive to salvation, but - "
"Well, so you shall. Never speak ill of people of whom you know
nothing. If that isn't a saying conducive to salvation, I know not
what is. Good evening to you."
I soon reached the village. Singular enough, the people of the
very first house, at which I inquired about the Quakers' Yard, were
entrusted with the care of it. On my expressing a wish to see it,
a young woman took down a key, and said that if I would follow her
she would show it me. The Quakers' burying-place is situated on a
little peninsula or tongue of land, having a brook on its eastern
and northern sides, and on its western the Taf. It is a little
oblong yard, with low walls, partly overhung with ivy. The
entrance is a porch to the south. The Quakers are no friends to
tombstones, and the only visible evidence that this was a place of
burial was a single flag-stone, with a half-obliterated
inscription, which with some difficulty I deciphered, and was as
To the Memory of THOMAS EDMUNDS
Who died April the ninth 1802 aged 60 years.
And of MARY EDMUNDS
Who died January the fourth 1810 aged 70.
The beams of the descending sun gilded the Quakers' burial-ground
as I trod its precincts. A lovely resting-place looked that little
oblong yard on the peninsula, by the confluence of the waters, and
quite in keeping with the character of the quiet Christian people
who sleep within it. The Quakers have for some time past been a
decaying sect, but they have done good work in their day, and when
they are extinct they are not destined to be soon forgotten. Soon
forgotten! How should a sect ever be forgotten, to which have
belonged three such men as George Fox, William Penn, and Joseph
Shortly after I left the Quakers' Yard the sun went down and
twilight settled upon the earth. Pursuing my course I reached some
woodlands, and on inquiring of a man, whom I saw standing at the
door of a cottage, the name of the district, was told that it was
called Ystrad Manach - the Monks' Strath or valley. This name it
probably acquired from having belonged in times of old to some
monkish establishment. The moon now arose and the night was
delightful. As I was wandering along I heard again the same wild
noise which I had heard the night before, on the other side of
Merthyr Tydvil. The cry of the owl afar off in the woodlands. Oh
that strange bird! Oh that strange cry! The Welsh, as I have said
on a former occasion, call the owl Dylluan. Amongst the cowydds of
Ab Gwilym there is one to the dylluan. It is full of abuse against
the bird, with whom the poet is very angry for having with its cry
frightened Morfydd back, who was coming to the wood to keep an
assignation with him, but not a little of this abuse is wonderfully
expressive and truthful. He calls the owl a grey thief - the
haunter of the ivy bush - the chick of the oak, a blinking eyed
witch, greedy of mice, with a visage like the bald forehead of a
big ram, or the dirty face of an old abbess, which bears no little
resemblance to the chine of an ape. Of its cry he says that it is
as great a torment as an agonizing recollection, a cold shrill
laugh from the midst of a kettle of ice; the rattling of sea-
pebbles in an old sheep-skin, on which account many call the owl
the hag of the Rhugylgroen. The Rhugylgroen, it will be as well to
observe, is a dry sheepskin containing a number of pebbles, and is
used as a rattle for frightening crows. The likening the visage of
the owl to the dirty face of an old abbess is capital, and the
likening the cry to the noise of the rhugylgroen is anything but
unfortunate. For, after all, what does the voice of the owl so
much resemble as a diabolical rattle. I'm sure I don't know.
Reader, do you?
I reached Caerfili at about seven o'clock, and went to the "Boar's
Head," near the ruins of a stupendous castle, on which the beams of
the moon were falling.
Caerfili Castle - Sir Charles - The Waiter - Inkerman.
I SLEPT well during the night. In the morning after breakfast I
went to see the castle, over which I was conducted by a woman who
was intrusted with its care. It stands on the eastern side of the
little town, and is a truly enormous structure, which brought to my
recollection a saying of our great Johnson, to be found in the
account of his journey to the Western Islands, namely "that for all
the castles which he had seen beyond the Tweed the ruins yet
remaining of some one of those which the English built in Wales
would find materials." The original founder was one John De Bryse,
a powerful Norman who married the daughter of Llewellyn Ap
Jorwerth, the son-in-law of King John, and the most war-like of all
the Welsh princes, whose exploits, and particularly a victory which
he obtained over his father-in-law, with whom he was always at war,
have been immortalized by the great war-bard, Dafydd Benfras. It
was one of the strongholds which belonged to the Spencers, and
served for a short time as a retreat to the unfortunate Edward the
Second. It was ruined by Cromwell, the grand foe of the baronial
castles of Britain, but not in so thorough and sweeping a manner as
to leave it a mere heap of stones. There is a noble entrance porch
fronting the west - a spacious courtyard, a grand banqueting room,
a corridor of vast length, several lofty towers, a chapel, a sally-
port, a guard-room and a strange underground vaulted place called
the mint, in which Caerfili's barons once coined money, and in
which the furnaces still exist which were used for melting metal.
The name Caerfili is said to signify the Castle of Haste, and to
have been bestowed on the pile because it was built in a hurry.
Caerfili, however, was never built in a hurry, as the remains show.
Moreover, the Welsh word for haste is not fil but ffrwst. Fil
means a scudding or darting through the air, which can have nothing
to do with the building of a castle. Caerfili signifies Philip's
City, and was called so after one Philip a saint. It no more means
the castle of haste than Tintagel in Cornwall signifies the castle
of guile, as the learned have said it does, for Tintagel simply
means the house in the gill of the hill, a term admirably
descriptive of the situation of the building.
I started from Caerfili at eleven for Newport, distant about
seventeen miles. Passing through a toll-gate I ascended an
acclivity, from the top of which I obtained a full view of the
castle, looking stern, dark and majestic. Descending the hill I
came to a bridge over a river called the Rhymni or Rumney, much
celebrated in Welsh and English song - thence to Pentref Bettws, or
the village of the bead-house, doubtless so called from its having
contained in old times a house in which pilgrims might tell their
The scenery soon became very beautiful - its beauty, however, was
to a certain extent marred by a horrid black object, a huge coal
work, the chimneys of which were belching forth smoke of the
densest description. "Whom does that work belong to?" said I to a
man nearly as black as a chimney sweep.
"Who does it belong to? Why, to Sir Charles."
"Do you mean Sir Charles Morgan?"
"I don't know. I only know that it belongs to Sir Charles, the
kindest-hearted and richest man in Wales and in England too."
Passing some cottages I heard a group of children speaking English.
Asked an intelligent-looking girl if she could speak Welsh.
"Yes," said she, "I can speak it, but not very well." There is not
much Welsh spoken by the children hereabout. The old folks hold
more to it.
I saw again the Rhymni river, and crossed it by a bridge; the river
here was filthy and turbid, owing of course to its having received
the foul drainings of the neighbouring coal works. Shortly
afterwards I emerged from the coom or valley of the Rhymni, and
entered upon a fertile and tolerably level district. Passed by
Llanawst and Machen. The day which had been very fine now became
dark and gloomy. Suddenly, as I was descending a slope, a
brilliant party, consisting of four young ladies in riding-habits,
a youthful cavalier and a servant in splendid livery - all on noble
horses, swept past me at full gallop down the hill. Almost
immediately afterwards, seeing a road-mender who was standing
holding his cap in his hand - which he had no doubt just
reverentially doffed - I said in Welsh: "Who are those ladies?"
"Merched Sir Charles - the daughters of Sir Charles," he replied.
"And is the gentleman their brother?"
"No! the brother is in the Crim - fighting with the Roosiaid. I
don't know who yon gentleman be."
"Where does Sir Charles live?"
"Down in the Dyfryn, not far from Basallaig."
"If I were to go and see him," I said, "do you think he would give
me a cup of ale?"
"I daresay he would; he has given me one many a time."
I soon reached Basallaig, a pleasant village standing in a valley
and nearly surrounded by the groves of Sir Charles Morgan. Seeing
a decent public-house I said to myself, "I think I shall step in
and have my ale here, and not go running after Sir Charles, whom
perhaps after all I shouldn't find at home." So I went in and
called for a pint of ale. Over my ale I trifled for about half-an-
hour, then paying my groat I got up and set off for Newport, in the
midst of a thick mist which had suddenly come on, and which
speedily wetted me nearly to the skin.
I reached Newport at about half-past four, and put up at a large
and handsome inn called the King's Head. During dinner the waiter,
unasked, related to me his history. He was a short thick fellow of
about forty, with a very disturbed and frightened expression of
countenance. He said that he was a native of Brummagen, and had
lived very happily at an inn there as waiter, but at length had
allowed himself to be spirited away to an establishment high up in
Wales amidst the scenery. That very few visitors came to the
establishment, which was in a place so awfully lonesome that he
soon became hipped, and was more than once half in a mind to fling
himself into a river which ran before the door and moaned dismally.
That at last he thought his best plan would be to decamp, and
accordingly took French leave early one morning. That after many
frights and much fatigue he had found himself at Newport, and taken
service at the King's Head, but did not feel comfortable, and was
frequently visited at night by dreadful dreams. That he should
take the first opportunity of getting to Brummagen, though he was
afraid that he should not be able to get into his former place,
owing to his ungrateful behaviour. He then uttered a rather
eloquent eulogium on the beauties of the black capital, and wound
up all by saying that he would rather be a brazier's dog at
Brummagen than head waiter at the best establishment in Wales.
After dinner I took up a newspaper and found in it an account of
the battle of Inkerman, which appeared to have been fought on the
fifth of November, the very day on which I had ascended Plynlimmon.
I was sorry to find that my countrymen had suffered dreadfully, and
would have been utterly destroyed but for the opportune arrival of
the French. "In my childhood," said I, "the Russians used to help
us against the French; now the French help us against the Russians.
Who knows but before I die I may see the Russians helping the
French against us?"
Town of Newport - The Usk - Note of Recognition - An Old
Acquaintance - Connamara Quean - The Wake - The Wild Irish - The
Tramping Life - Business and Prayer - Methodists - Good Counsel.
NEWPORT is a large town in Monmouthshire, and had once walls and a
castle. It is called in Welsh Cas Newydd ar Wysg, or the New
Castle upon the Usk. It stands some miles below Caerlleon ar Wysg,
and was probably built when that place, at one time one of the most
considerable towns in Britain, began to fall into decay. The Wysg
or Usk has its source among some wild hills in the south-west of
Breconshire, and, after absorbing several smaller streams, amongst
which is the Hondu, at the mouth of which Brecon stands, which on
that account is called in Welsh Aber Hondu, and traversing the
whole of Monmouthshire, enters the Bristol Channel near Newport, to
which place vessels of considerable burden can ascend. Wysg or Usk
is an ancient British word, signifying water, and is the same as
the Irish word uisge or whiskey, for whiskey, though generally
serving to denote a spirituous liquor, in great vogue amongst the
Irish, means simply water. The proper term for the spirit is
uisquebaugh, literally acqua vitae, but the compound being
abbreviated by the English, who have always been notorious for
their habit of clipping words, one of the strongest of spirits is
now generally denominated by a word which is properly expressive of
the simple element water.
Monmouthshire is at present considered an English county, though
certainly with little reason, for it not only stands on the western
side of the Wye, but the names of almost all its parishes are
Welsh, and many thousands of its population still speak the Welsh
language. It is called in Welsh Sir, or Shire, Fynwy, and takes
its name from the town Mynwy or Monmouth, which receives its own
appellation from the river Mynwy or Minno, on which it stands.
There is a river of much the same name, not in Macedon but in the
Peninsula, namely the Minho, which probably got its denomination
from that race cognate to the Cumry, the Gael, who were the first
colonisers of the Peninsula, and whose generic name yet stares us
in the face and salutes our ears in the words Galicia and Portugal.
I left Newport at about ten o'clock on the 16th; the roads were
very wet, there having been a deluge of rain during the night. The
morning was a regular November one, dull and gloomy. Desirous of
knowing whereabouts in these parts the Welsh language ceased, I
interrogated several people whom I met. First spoke to Esther
Williams. She told me she came from Pennow, some miles farther on,
that she could speak Welsh, and that indeed all the people could
for at least eight miles to the east of Newport. This latter
assertion of hers was, however, anything but corroborated by a
young woman, with a pitcher on her head, whom I shortly afterwards
met, for she informed me that she could speak no Welsh, and that
for one who could speak it, from where I was to the place where it
ceased altogether, there were ten who could not. I believe the
real fact is that about half the people for seven or eight miles to
the east of Newport speak Welsh, more or less, as about half those
whom I met and addressed in Welsh, answered me in that tongue.
Passed through Pennow or Penhow, a small village. The scenery in
the neighbourhood of this place is highly interesting. To the
north-west at some distance is Mynydd Turvey, a sharp pointed blue
mountain. To the south-east, on the right, much nearer, are two
beautiful green hills, the lowest prettily wooded, and having its
top a fair white mansion called Penhow Castle, which belongs to a
family of the name of Cave. Thence to Llanvaches, a pretty little
village. When I was about the middle of this place I heard an odd
sound, something like a note of recognition, which attracted my
attention to an object very near to me, from which it seemed to
proceed, and which was coming from the direction in which I was
going. It was the figure seemingly of a female, wrapped in a
coarse blue cloak, the feet bare and the legs bare also nearly up
to the knee, both terribly splashed with the slush of the road.
The head was surmounted by a kind of hood, which just permitted me
to see coarse red hair, a broad face, grey eyes, a snubbed nose,
blubber lips and great white teeth - the eyes were staring intently
at me. I stopped and stared too, and at last thought I recognised
the features of the uncouth girl I had seen on the green near
Chester with the Irish tinker Tourlough and his wife.
"Dear me!" said I, "did I not see you near Chester last summer?"
"To be sure ye did; and ye were going to pass me without a word of
notice or kindness had I not given ye a bit of a hail."
"Well," said I, "I beg your pardon. How is it all wid ye?"
"Quite well. How is it wid yere hanner?'
"Tolerably. Where do you come from?"
"From Chepstow, yere hanner."
"And where are you going to?"
"To Newport, yere hanner."
"And I come from Newport, and am going to Chepstow. Where's
Tourlough and his wife?"
"At Cardiff, yere hanner; I shall join them again to-morrow."
"Have you been long away from them?"
"About a week, yere hanner."
"And what have you been doing?"
"Selling my needles, yere hanner."
"Oh! you sell needles. Well, I am glad to have met you. Let me
see. There's a nice little inn on the right: won't you come in
and have some refreshment?"
"Thank yere hanner; I have no objection to take a glass wid an old
"Well, then, come in; you must be tired, and I shall be glad to
have some conversation with you."
We went into the inn - a little tidy place. On my calling, a
respectable-looking old man made his appearance behind a bar.
After serving my companion with a glass of peppermint, which she
said she preferred to anything else, and me with a glass of ale,
both of which I paid for, he retired, and we sat down on two old
chairs beneath a window in front of the bar.
"Well," said I, "I suppose you have Irish: here's slainte - "
"Slainte yuit a shaoi," said the girl, tasting her peppermint.
"Well: how do you like it?'
"It's very nice indeed."
"That's more than I can say of the ale, which, like all the ale in
these parts, is bitter. Well, what part of Ireland do you come
"From no part at all. I never was in Ireland in my life. I am
from Scotland Road, Manchester."
"Why, I thought you were Irish?"
"And so I am; and all the more from being born where I was.
There's not such a place for Irish in all the world as Scotland
"Were your father and mother from Ireland?"
"My mother was from Ireland: my father was Irish of Scotland Road,
where they met and married."
"And what did they do after they married?"
"Why, they worked hard, and did their best to get a livelihood for
themselves and children, of which they had several besides myself,
who was the eldest. My father was a bricklayer, and my mother sold
apples and oranges and other fruits, according to the season, and
also whiskey, which she made herself, as she well knew how; for my
mother was not only a Connacht woman, but an out-and-out Connamara
quean, and when only thirteen had wrought with the lads who used to
make the raal cratur on the islands between Ochterard and Bally na
hinch. As soon as I was able, I helped my mother in making and
disposing of the whiskey and in selling the fruit. As for the
other children, they all died when young, of favers, of which there
is always plenty in Scotland Road. About four years ago - that is,
when I was just fifteen - there was a great quarrel among the
workmen about wages. Some wanted more than their masters were
willing to give; others were willing to take what was offered them.
Those who were dissatisfied were called bricks; those who were not
were called dungs. My father was a brick; and, being a good man
with his fists, was looked upon as a very proper person to fight a
principal man amongst the dungs. They fought in the fields near
Salford for a pound a side. My father had it all his own way for
the first three rounds, but in the fourth, receiving a blow under
the ear from the dung, he dropped, and never got up again, dying
suddenly. A grand wake my father had, for which my mother
furnished usquebaugh galore; and comfortably and dacently it passed
over till about three o'clock in the morning, when, a dispute
happening to arise - not on the matter of wages, for there was not
a dung amongst the Irish of Scotland Road - but as to whether the
O'Keefs or O'Kellys were kings of Ireland a thousand years ago, a
general fight took place, which brought in the police, who, being
soon dreadfully baten, as we all turned upon them, went and fetched
the military, with whose help they took and locked up several of
the party, amongst whom were my mother and myself, till the next
morning, when we were taken before the magistrates, who, after a
slight scolding, set us at liberty, one of them saying that such
disturbances formed part of the Irish funeral service; whereupon we
returned to the house, and the rest of the party joining us, we
carried my father's body to the churchyard, where we buried it very
dacently, with many tears and groanings."
"And how did your mother and you get on after your father was
"As well as we could, yere hanner; we sold fruit, and now and then
a drop of whiskey, which we made; but this state of things did not
last long, for one day my mother seeing the dung who had killed my
father, she flung a large flint stone and knocked out his right
eye, for doing which she was taken up and tried, and sentenced to a
year's imprisonment, chiefly it was thought because she had been
heard to say that she would do the dung a mischief the first time
she met him. She, however, did not suffer all her sentence, for
before she had been in prison three months she caught a disorder
which carried her off. I went on selling fruit by myself whilst
she was in trouble, and for some time after her death, but very
lonely and melancholy. At last my uncle Tourlough, or, as the
English would call him, Charles, chancing to come to Scotland Road
along with his family, I was glad to accept an invitation to join
them which he gave me, and with them I have been ever since,
travelling about England and Wales and Scotland, helping my aunt
with the children, and driving much the same trade which she has
driven for twenty years past, which is not an unprofitable one."
"Would you have any objection to tell me all you do?"
"Why I sells needles, as I said before, and sometimes I buys things
of servants, and sometimes I tells fortunes."
"Do you ever do anything in the way of striopachas?"
"Oh no! I never do anything in that line; I would be burnt first.
I wonder you should dream of such a thing."
"Why surely it is not worse than buying things of servants, who no
doubt steal them from their employers, or telling fortunes, which
is dealing with the devil."
"Not worse? Yes, a thousand times worse; there is nothing so very
particular in doing them things, but striopachas - Oh dear!"
"It's a dreadful thing I admit, but the other things are quite as
bad; you should do none of them."
"I'll take good care that I never do one, and that is striopachas;
them other things I know are not quite right, and I hope soon to
have done wid them; any day I can shake them off and look people in
the face, but were I once to do striopachas I could never hold up
"How comes it that you have such a horror of striopachas?"
"I got it from my mother, and she got it from hers. All Irish
women have a dread of striopachas. It's the only thing that
frights them; I manes the wild Irish, for as for the quality women
I have heard they are no bit better than the English. Come, yere
hanner, let's talk of something else."
"You were saying now that you were thinking of leaving off fortune-
telling and buying things of servants. Do you mean to depend upon
your needles alone?"
"No; I am thinking of leaving off tramping altogether and going to
the Tir na Siar."
"Isn't that America?"
"It is, yere hanner; the land of the west is America."
"A long way for a lone girl."
"I should not be alone, yere hanner; I should be wid my uncle
Tourlough and his wife."
"Are they going to America?"
"They are, yere hanner; they intends leaving off business and going
to America next spring."
"It will cost money."
"It will, yere hanner; but they have got money, and so have I."
"Is it because business is slack that you are thinking of going to
"Oh no, yere hanner; we wish to go there in order to get rid of old
ways and habits, amongst which are fortune-telling and buying
things of sarvants, which yere hanner was jist now checking me
"And can't you get rid of them here?"
"We cannot, yere hanner. If we stay here we must go on tramping,
and it is well known that doing them things is part of tramping."
"And what would you do in America?"
"Oh, we could do plenty of things in America - most likely we
should buy a piece of land and settle down."
"How came you to see the wickedness of the tramping life?"
"By hearing a great many sarmons and preachings and having often
had the Bible read to us by holy women who came to our tent."
"Of what religion do you call yourselves now?"
"I don't know, yere hanner; we are clane unsettled about religion.
We were once Catholics and carried Saint Colman of Cloyne about wid
us in a box; but after hearing a sermon at a church about images,
we went home, took the saint out of his box and cast him into a
"Oh it will never do to belong to the Popish religion, a religion
which upholds idol-worship and persecutes the Bible - you should
belong to the Church of England."
"Well, perhaps we should, yere hanner, if its ministers were not
such proud violent men. Oh, you little know how they look down
upon all poor people, especially on us tramps. Once my poor aunt,
Tourlough's wife, who has always had stronger conviction than any
of us, followed one of them home after he had been preaching, and
begged him to give her God, and was told by him that she was a
thief, and if she didn't take herself out of the house he would
kick her out."
"Perhaps, after all," said I; "you had better join the Methodists -
I should say that their ways would suit you better than those of
any other denomination of Christians."
Yere hanner knows nothing about them, otherwise ye wouldn't talk in
that manner. Their ways would never do for people who want to have
done with lying and staring, and have always kept themselves clane
from striopachas. Their word is not worth a rotten straw, yere
hanner, and in every transaction which they have with people they
try to cheat and overreach - ask my uncle Tourlough, who has had
many dealings with them. But what is far worse, they do that which
the wildest calleen t'other side of Ougteraarde would be burnt
rather than do. Who can tell ye more on that point than I, yere
hanner? I have been at their chapels at nights, and have listened
to their screaming prayers, and have seen what's been going on
outside the chapels after their services, as they call them, were
over - I never saw the like going on outside Father Toban's chapel,
yere hanner! Yere hanner's hanner asked me if I ever did anything
in the way of striopachas - now I tell ye that I was never asked to
do anything in that line but by one of them folks - a great man
amongst them he was, both in the way of business and prayer, for he
was a commercial traveller during six days of the week and a
preacher on the seventh - and such a preacher. Well, one Sunday
night after he had preached a sermon an hour-and-a-half long, which
had put half a dozen women into what they call static fits, he
overtook me in a dark street and wanted me to do striopachas with
him - he didn't say striopachas, yer hanner, for he had no Irish -
but he said something in English which was the same thing."
"And what did you do?"
"Why, I asked him what he meant by making fun of a poor ugly girl -
for no one knows better than myself, yere hanner, that I am very
ugly - whereupon he told me that he was not making fun of me, for
it had long been the chief wish of his heart to commit striopachas
with a wild Irish Papist, and that he believed if he searched the
world he should find none wilder than myself."
"And what did you reply?"
"Why, I said to him, yere hanner, that I would tell the
congregation, at which he laughed and said that he wished I would,
for that the congregation would say they didn't believe me, though
at heart they would, and would like him all the better for it."
"Well, and what did you say then?"
"Nothing, at all, yere hanner; but I spat in his face and went home
and told my uncle Tourlough, who forthwith took out a knife and
began to sharp it on a whetstone, and I make no doubt would have
gone and stuck the fellow like a pig, had not my poor aunt begged
him not on her knees. After that we had nothing more to do with
the Methodists as far as religion went."
"Did this affair occur in England or Wales?"
"In the heart of England, yere hanner; we have never been to the
Welsh chapels, for we know little of the language."
"Well, I am glad it didn't happen in Wales: I have rather a high
opinion of the Welsh Methodist. The worthiest creature I ever knew
was a Welsh Methodist. And now I must leave you and make the best
of my way to Chepstow."
"Can't yere hanner give me God before ye go?"
"I can give you half-a-crown to help you on your way to America."
"I want no half-crowns, yere hanner; but if ye would give me God
I'd bless ye."
"What do you mean by giving you God?"
"Putting Him in my heart by some good counsel which will guide me
"The only good counsel I can give you is to keep the commandments;
one of them it seems you have always kept. Follow the rest and you
can't go very wrong."
"I wish I knew them better than I do, yere hanner."
"Can't you read?"
"Oh no, yere hanner, I can't read, neither can Tourlough nor his
"Well, learn to read as soon as possible. When you have got to
America and settled down you will have time enough to learn to
"Shall we be better, yere hanner, after we have learnt to read?"
"Let's hope you will."
"One of the things, yere hanner, that have made us stumble is that
some of the holy women, who have come to our tent and read the
Bible to us, have afterwards asked my aunt and me to tell them
"If they have, the more shame for them, for they can have no
excuse. Well, whether you learn to read or not, still eschew
striopachas, don't steal, don't deceive, and worship God in spirit,
not in image. That's the best counsel I can give you."
"And very good counsel it is, yere hanner, and I will try to follow
it, and now, yere hanner, let us go our two ways."
We placed our glasses upon the bar and went out. In the middle of
the road we shook hands and parted, she going towards Newport and I
towards Chepstow. After walking a few yards I turned round and
looked after her. There she was in the damp lowering afternoon
wending her way slowly through mud and puddle, her upper form
huddled in the rough frieze mantle, and her coarse legs bare to the
top of the calves. "Surely," said I to myself, "there never was an
object less promising in appearance. Who would think that there
could be all the good sense and proper feeling in that uncouth girl
which there really is?"
Arrival at Chepstow - Stirring Lyric - Conclusion.
I PASSED through Caer Went, once an important Roman station, and
for a long time after the departure of the Romans a celebrated
British city, now a poor desolate place consisting of a few old-
fashioned houses and a strange-looking dilapidated church. No
Welsh is spoken at Caer Went, nor to the east of it, nor indeed for
two or three miles before you reach it from the west.
The country between it and Chepstow, from which it is distant about
four miles, is delightfully green, but somewhat tame.
Chepstow stands on the lower part of a hill, near to where the
beautiful Wye joins the noble Severn. The British name of the
place is Aber Wye or the disemboguement of the Wye. The Saxons
gave it the name of Chepstow, which in their language signifies a
place where a market is held, because even in the time of the
Britons it was the site of a great cheap or market. After the
Norman Conquest it became the property of De Clare, one of
William's followers, who built near it an enormous castle, which
enjoyed considerable celebrity during several centuries from having
been the birthplace of Strongbow, the conqueror of Ireland, but
which is at present chiefly illustrious from the mention which is
made of it in one of the most stirring lyrics of modern times, a
piece by Walter Scott, called the "Norman Horseshoe," commemorative
of an expedition made by a De Clare, of Chepstow, with the view of
insulting with the print of his courser's shoe the green meads of
Glamorgan, and which commences thus:-
"Red glows the forge" -
I went to the principal inn, where I engaged a private room and
ordered the best dinner which the people could provide. Then
leaving my satchel behind me I went to the castle, amongst the
ruins of which I groped and wandered for nearly an hour,
occasionally repeating verses of the Norman Horseshoe. I then went
to the Wye and drank of the waters at its mouth, even as some time
before I had drunk of the waters at its source. Then returning to
my inn I got my dinner, after which I called for a bottle of port,
and placing my feet against the sides of the grate I passed my time
drinking wine and singing Welsh songs till ten o'clock at night,
when I paid my reckoning, amounting to something considerable.
Then shouldering my satchel I proceeded to the railroad station,
where I purchased a first-class ticket, and ensconcing myself in a
comfortable carriage, was soon on the way to London, where I
arrived at about four o'clock in the morning, having had during the
whole of my journey a most uproarious set of neighbours a few
carriages behind me, namely, some hundred and fifty of Napier's
tars returning from their expedition to the Baltic.
CUMRO AND CUMRAEG.
THE original home of the Cumro was Southern Hindustan, the extreme
point of which, Cape Comorin, derived from him its name. It may be
here asked what is the exact meaning of the word Cumro? The true
meaning of the word is a youth. It is connected with a Sanscrit
word, signifying a youth, and likewise a prince. It is surprising
how similar in meaning the names of several nations are: Cumro, a
youth; Gael, a hero; (24) Roman, one who is comely, a husband; (25)
Frank or Frenchman, a free, brave fellow; Dane, an honest man;
Turk, a handsome lad; Arab, a sprightly fellow. Lastly, Romany
Chal, the name by which the Gypsy styles himself, signifying not an
Egyptian, but a lad of Rome. (26)
The language of the Cumro is called after him Cumraeg. Of Cumric
there are three dialects, the speech of Cumru or Wales; that of
Armorica or, as the Welsh call it, Llydaw, and the Cornish, which
is no longer spoken, and only exists in books and in the names of
places. The Cumric bears considerable affinity to the Gaelic, or
the language of the Gael, of which there are also three dialects,
the Irish, the speech of the Scottish Highlanders, and the Manx,
which last is rapidly becoming extinct. The Cumric and Gaelic have
not only a great many thousand words in common, but also a
remarkable grammatical feature, the mutation and dropping of
certain initial consonants under certain circumstances, which
feature is peculiar to the Celtic languages. The number of
Sanscritic words which the Cumric and Gaelic possess is
considerable. Of the two the Gaelic possesses the most, and those
have generally more of the Sanscritic character, than the words of
the same class which are to be found in the Welsh. The Welsh,
however, frequently possesses the primary word when the Irish does
not. Of this the following is an instance. One of the numerous
Irish words for a mountain is codadh. This word is almost
identical with the Sanscrit kuta, which also signifies a mountain;
but kuta and codadh are only secondary words. The Sanscrit
possesses the radical of kuta, and that is kuda, to heap up, but
the Irish does not possess the radical of codadh. The Welsh,
without possessing any word for a hill at all like codadh, has the
primary or radical word; that word is codi, to rise or raise,
almost identical in sound and sense with the Sanscrit kuda. Till a
house is raised there is no house, and there is no hill till the
Nara or Omnipotent says ARISE.
The Welsh is one of the most copious languages of the world, as it
contains at least eighty thousand words. It has seven vowels; w in
Welsh being pronounced like oo, and y like u and i. Its most
remarkable feature is the mutation of initial consonants, to
explain which properly would require more space than I can afford.
(27) The nouns are of two numbers, the singular and plural, and a
few have a dual number. The genders are three, the Masculine, the
Feminine and the Neuter. There are twelve plural terminations of
nouns, of which the most common is au. Some substantives are what
the grammarians call aggregate plurals, (28) "which are not used
in the plural without the addition of diminutive terminations, for
example adar, birds, aderyn, a bird; gwenyn, bees, gwenynen, a
single bee." There are different kinds of adjectives; some have a
plural, some have none; some have a feminine form, others have not;
the most common plural termination is ion. It is said by some that
the verb has properly no present tense, the future being used
instead. The verbs present many difficulties, and there are many
defective and irregular ones. In the irregularities of its verbs
the Welsh language very much resembles the Irish.
The numerals require some particular notice: forty, sixty and
eighty are expressed by deugain, trigain, and pedwarugain,
literally, two twenties, three twenties, and four twenties; whilst
fifty, seventy, and ninety are expressed by words corresponding
with ten after two twenties, ten after three twenties, and ten
after four twenties. Whether the Welsh had ever a less clumsy way
of expressing the above numbers is unknown - something similar is
observable in French, and the same practice prevails in the modern
Gaelic; in the ancient Gaelic, however, there are such numerals as
ceathrachad, seasgad, and naochad, which correspond with
quadraginta, sexaginta, and nonaginta. The numerals dau, tri, and
pedwar, or two, three, and four, have feminine forms, becoming when
preceding feminine nouns, dwy, tair, and pedair. In Gaelic no
numeral has a feminine form; certain numerals, however, have an
influence over nouns which others have not, and before cead, a
hundred, and mile, a thousand, do, two, is changed into da, for it
is not customary to say do chead, two hundred, and do mhile, two
thousand, but da chead and da mhile. (29) With respect to pedwar,
the Welsh for four, I have to observe that it bears no similitude
to the word for the same number in Gaelic; the word for four in
Gaelic is ceathair, and the difference between ceathair and pedwar
is great indeed. Ceathair is what may be called a Sanscritic
numeral; and it is pleasant to trace it in various shapes, through
various languages, up to the grand speech of India: Irish,
ceathair; Latin, quatuor; Greek, tessares; Russian, cheturi;
Persian, chahar; Sanscrit, chatur. As to pedwar, it bears some
resemblance to the English four, the German vier, is almost
identical with the Wallachian patrou, and is very much like the
Homeric word [Greek text which cannot be reproduced], but beyond
Wallachia and Greece we find nothing like it, bearing the same
meaning, though it is right to mention that the Sanscrit word pada
signifies a QUARTER, as well as a foot. It is curious that the
Irish word for five, cuig, is in like manner quite as perplexing as
the Welsh word for four. The Irish word for five is not a
Sanscritic word, pump, the Welsh word for five, is. Pantschan is
the Sanscrit word for five, and pump is linked to pantschan by the
AEolick pempe, the Greek pente and pemptos, the Russian piat and
the Persian Pantsch; but what is cuig connected with? Why it is
connected with the Latin quinque, and perhaps with the Arabic
khamsa; but higher up than Arabia we find nothing like it; or if
one thinks one recognises it, it is under such a disguise that one
is rather timorous about swearing to it - and now nothing more on
the subject of numerals.
I have said that the Welsh is exceedingly copious. Its
copiousness, however, does not proceed, like that of the English,
from borrowing from other languages. It has certainly words in
common with other tongues, but no tongue, at any rate in Europe,
can prove that it has a better claim than the Welsh to any word
which it has in common with that language. No language has a
better supply of simple words for the narration of events than the
Welsh, and simple words are the proper garb of narration; and no
language abounds more with terms calculated to express the
abstrusest ideas of the meta-physician. Whoever doubts its
capability for the purpose of narration, let him peruse the Welsh
Historical Triads, in which are told the most remarkable events
which befell the early Cumry; and whosoever doubts its power for
the purpose of abstruse reasoning, let him study a work called
Rhetorick, by Master William Salisbury, written about the year
1570, and I think he will admit that there is no hyperbole, or, as
a Welshman would call it, GORWIREB, in what I have said with
respect to the capabilities of the Welsh language.
As to its sounds - I have to observe that at the will of a master
it can be sublimely sonorous, terribly sharp, diabolically guttural
and sibilant, and sweet and harmonious to a remarkable degree.
What more sublimely sonorous than certain hymns of Taliesin; more
sharp and clashing than certain lines of Gwalchmai and Dafydd
Benfras, describing battles; more diabolically grating than the
Drunkard's Choke-pear by Rhys Goch, and more sweet than the lines
of poor Gronwy Owen to the Muse? Ah, those lines of his to the
Muse are sweeter even than the verses of Horace, of which they
profess to be an imitation. What lines in Horace's ode can vie in
"Tydi roit a diwair wen
Lais eos i lysowen!"
"Thou couldst endow, with thy dear smile,
With voice of lark the lizard vile!"
Eos signifies a nightingale, and Lysowen an eel. Perhaps in no
language but the Welsh, could an eel be mentioned in lofty poetry:
Lysowen is perfect music.
Having stated that there are Welsh and Sanscrit words which
correspond, more or less, in sound and meaning, I here place side
by side a small number of such words, in order that the reader may
Aber, a meeting of waters, an Ap, apah, water; apaga,
outflowing; Avon, a river; a river; Persian, ab,
Aw, a flowing water; Wallachian, apa
Anal, breath Anila, air
Arian, silver Ara, brass; Gypsy, harko,
Aur, gold copper (30)
Athu, to go At'ha; Russian, iti
Bod, being, existence Bhavat, bhuta
Brenin, a king Bharanda, a lord; Russian
Caer, a wall, a city Griha, geha, a house; Hindu-
stani, ghar; Gypsy, kair,
Cain, fine, bright Kanta, pleasing, beautiful;
Kana, to shine
Canu, to sing Gana, singing
Cathyl, a hymn Kheli a song; Gypsy, gillie
Coed, a wood, trees Kut'ha, kuti, a tree
Cumro, a Welshman Kumara, a youth, a prince
Daear, daeren, the earth Dhara, fem. dharani
Dant, a tooth Danta
Dawn, a gift Dana
Derw, an oak Daru, timber
Dewr, bold, brave Dhira
Drwg, bad Durgati, hell; Durga,
the goddess of destruction
Duw, God Deva, a god
Dwfr, dwfyr, water Tivara, the ocean
Dwr, water Uda; Greek, [Text which
cannot be reproduced]
Sanscrit, dhlira, the
ocean; Persian, deria,
dooria, the sea; Gypsy,
En, a being, a soul, that An, to breathe, to live;
which lives ana, breath; Irish, an,
a man, fire
Gair, a word Gir, gira, speech
Gwr, a man Vira, a hero, strong, fire;
Gwres, heat Lat. vir, a man; Dutch, vuur,
fire; Turkish, er, a man;
Heb., ur, fire
Geneth, girl Kani
Geni, to be born Jana
Gwybod, to know Vid
Hocedu, to cheat Kuhaka, deceit
Huan, the sun Ina
Ir, fresh, juicy Ira, water
Llances, a girl Lagnika
Lleidyr, a thief Lata
Maen, a stone Mani, a gem
Mam, mother Ma
Marw, to die Mara, death
Mawr, great Maha
Medd, mead Mad'hu, honey
Meddwi, to intoxicate Mad, to intoxicate; Mada,
intoxication; Mada, pleasure;
Madya, wine; Matta,
intoxicated; Gypsy, matto,
drunk; Gr. [Text which cannot
be reproduced], wine, [Text
which cannot be reproduced],
to be drunk
Medr, a measure Matra
Nad, a cry Nad, to speak; Nada, sound
Nant, ravine, rivulet Nadi, a river
Neath, Nedd, name of a river; Nicha, low, deep; nichaga,
nedd, a dingle, what is low, a river, that which descends;
deep (Nith, Nithsdale) nitha, water
Nef, heaven Nabhas; Russian, nabeca, the
heavens; Lat., nubes, a cloud
Neidiaw, to leap; Nata, to dance; Nata, dancing
Ner, the Almighty, the Lord, Nara, that which animates
the Creator every thing, the spirit of
Nerth, strength, power Nara, man, the spirit of God;
Gr. [text which cannot be
reproduced], a man, [text
which cannot be reproduced]
strength; Persian, nar, a
male; Arabic, nar, fire
Noddwr, a protector Natha
Nos, night Nisa
Pair, a cauldron Pit'hara
Ped, a foot; pedair, four Pad, a foot; pada, a quarter
Pridd, earth Prithivi, the earth
Prif, principal, prime Prabhu, a lord, a ruler
Rhen, the Lord Rajan, a king
Rhian, a lady Hindustani, rani
Rhod, a wheel Ratha, a car
Swm, being together Sam
Swynwr, a wizard, sorcerer Sanvanana, a witch;
Tad, father Tata
Tan, fire Dahana
Tant, a string Tantu
Tanu, to expand Tana
Toriad, a breaking, cutting Dari, cutting
Uchafedd, height Uchch'ya
Ych, ox Ukshan
The Nara is called by the Tartars soukdoun, and by the Chinese ki:
"Principe qui est dans le ciel, sur la terre, dans l'homme, et dans
toutes les choses materielles et immaterielles." - DICTIOINNAIRE
TARTARE MANTCHOU, par Amyot. Tome second, p, 124.
In the above list of Cumric and Sanscrit words there are certainly
some remarkable instances of correspondence in sound and sense, the
most interesting of which is that afforded by Ner, the Cumric word
for the Lord, and Nara, the Sanscrit word for the Spirit of God.
From comparing the words in that list one might feel disposed to
rush to the conclusion that the Cumric sprang from the Sanscrit,
the sacred language of sunny Hindustan. But to do so would be
unwise, for deeper study would show that if the Welsh has some
hundreds of words in common with the Sanscrit, it has thousands
upon thousands which are not to be found in that tongue, after
making all possible allowance for change and modification. No
subject connected with what is called philosophy is more mortifying
to proud human reason than the investigation of languages, for in
what do the researches of the most unwearied philologist terminate
but a chaos of doubt and perplexity, else why such exclamations as
these? Why is the Wallachian word for water Sanscrit? for what is
the difference between apa and ap? Wallachian is formed from Latin
and Sclavonian; why then is not the word for water either woda or
aqua, or a modification of either? Why is the Arabic word for the
sea Irish, for what is the difference between bahar, the Arabic
word for sea, and beathra, an old Irish word for water, pronounced
barra, whence the river Barrow? How is it that one of the names of
the Ganges is Welsh; for what is the difference between Dhur, a
name of that river, and dwr, the common Welsh word for water? How
is it that aequor, a Latin word for the sea, so much resembles
AEgir, the name of the Norse God of the sea? and how is it that
Asaer, the appellative of the Northern Gods, is so like Asura, the
family name of certain Hindu demons? Why does the scanty Gailk,
the language of the Isle of Man, possess more Sanscrit words than
the mighty Arabic, the richest of all tongues; and why has the
Welsh only four words for a hill, and its sister language the Irish
fifty-five? How is it that the names of so many streams in various
countries, for example Donau, Dwina, Don, and Tyne, so much
resemble Dhuni, a Sanscrit word for a river? How is it that the
Sanscrit devila stands for what is wise and virtuous, and the
English devil for all that is desperate and wicked? How is it that
Alp and Apennine, Celtic words for a hill, so much resemble ap and
apah, Sanscrit words for water? Why does the Sanscrit kalya mean
to-morrow as well as yesterday, and the Gypsy merripen life as well
as death? How is it that ur, a Gaelic word for fire, is so like
ura the Basque word for water, and Ure the name of an English
stream? Why does neron, the Modern Greek word for water, so little
resemble the ancient Greek [text which cannot be reproduced] and so
much resemble the Sanscrit nira? and how is it that nara, which
like nira signifies water, so much resembles nara, the word for man
and the Divinity? How is it that Nereus, the name of an ancient
Greek water god, and Nar, the Arabic word for fire, are so very
like Ner, the Welsh word for the Creator? How is it that a certain
Scottish river bears the name of the wife of Oceanus, for what is
Teith but Teithys? How indeed! and why indeed! to these and a
thousand similar questions. Ah man, man! human reason will never
answer them, and you may run wild about them, unless, dropping your
pride, you are content to turn for a solution of your doubts to a
certain old volume, once considered a book of divine revelation,
but now a collection of old wives' tales, the Bible.
(1) That vira at one time meant man in general, as well as fire,
there can be no doubt. It is singular how this word or something
strikingly like it, occurs in various European languages, sometimes
as man, sometimes as fire. Vir in Latin signifies man, but vuur in
Dutch signifies fire. In like manner fear in Irish signifies a
man, but fire in English signifies the consuming, or, as the Hindus
would call it, the producing element.
(2) "Pawb a'i cenfydd, o bydd bai,
A Bawddyn, er na byddai." - GRONWY OWEN.
(3) One or two of the characters and incidents in this Saga are
mentioned in the Romany Rye. London, 1857, vol. i. p. 240; vol.
ii. p. 150.
A partial translation of the Saga, made by myself, has been many
years in existence. It forms part of a mountain of unpublished
translations from the Northern languages. In my younger days no
London publisher, or indeed magazine editor, would look at anything
from the Norse, Danish, etc.
(4) All these three names are very common in Norfolk, the
population of which is of Norse origin. Skarphethin is at present
pronounced Sharpin. Helgi Heely. Skarphethin, interpreted, is a
(5) Eryri likewise signifies an excrescence or scrofulous eruption.
It is possible that many will be disposed to maintain that in the
case of Snowdon the word is intended to express a rugged
excrescence or eruption on the surface of the earth.
(6) It will not be amiss to observe that the original term is
gwyddfa but gwyddfa; being a feminine noun or compound commencing
with g, which is a mutable consonant, loses the initial letter
before y the definite article - you say Gwyddfa a tumulus, but not
y gwyddfa THE tumulus.
(7) Essay on the Origin of the English Stage by Bishop Percy.
(8) The above account is chiefly taken from the curious Welsh book
called "Dych y prif Oesoedd."
(11) For an account of this worm, which has various denominations,
see article "Fasciola Hepatica" in any Encyclopaedia.
(12) As the umbrella is rather a hackneyed subject two or three
things will of course be found in the above eulogium on an umbrella
which have been said by other folks on that subject; the writer,
however, flatters himself that in his eulogium on an umbrella two
or three things will also be found which have never been said by
any one else about an umbrella.
(13) Bitter root.
(14) Amongst others a kind of novel called "The Adventures of Twm
Shon Catty, a Wild Wag of Wales." It possesses considerable
literary merit, the language being pure, and many of the
descriptions graphic. By far the greater part of it, however,
would serve for the life of any young Welsh peasant, quite as well
as for that of Twm Shon Catti. Its grand fault is endeavouring to
invest Twm Shon with a character of honesty, and to make his
exploits appear rather those of a wild young waggish fellow than of
a robber. This was committing a great mistake. When people take
up the lives of bad characters the more rogueries and villainies
they find, the better they are pleased, and they are very much
disappointed and consider themselves defrauded by any attempt to
apologise for the actions of the heroes. If the thieves should
chance to have reformed, the respectable readers wish to hear
nothing of their reformation till just at the close of the book,
when they are very happy to have done with them for ever.
(15) Skazka O Klimkie. Moscow, 1829.
(16) Hanes Crefydd Yn Nghymru.
(17) The good gentlewoman was probably thinking of the celebrated
king Brian Boromhe slain at the battle of Clontarf.
(18) Fox's Court - perhaps London.
(19) Drych y Prif Oesoedd, p. 100.
(20) Y Greal, p. 279.
(21) Hanes Crefydd Yn NGhymru.
(22) Fear caoch: vir caecus.
(23) Curses of this description, or evil prayers as they are
called, are very common in the Irish language, and are frequently
turned to terrible account by that most singular class or sect, the
Irish mendicants. Several cases have occurred connected with these
prayers, corresponding in many respects with the case detailed
(24) Sanscrit, Kali, a hero.
(25) Sanscrit, Rama, Ramana, a husband.
(26) Romany chal, son of Rome, lad of Rome. Romany chi, daughter
of Rome, girl of Rome. Chal, chiel, child, the Russian cheloviek,
a man, and the Sanscrit Jana, to be born, are all kindred words.
(27) For a clear and satisfactory account of this system see Owen's
Welsh Grammar, p. 13.
(28) Owen's Grammar, p. 40.
(29) Pronounced vile or wile - here the principle of literal
mutation is at work.
(30) Lat. aurum, gold; AERis, of brass. Perhaps the true meaning
of ara, aurum, &c., is unrefined metal; if so, we have the root of
them all in our own word ore.
(31) "The Eternal, the divine imperishable spirit pervading the
universe." - WILSON'S SANSCRIT DICTIONARY, p. 453.