Part 3 out of 14
looked out upon the Dee a few yards below the bridge. On the left
side of the room was a large case, well stored with books. He
offered us chairs, and we all sat down. I was much struck with the
old man. He was rather tall, and somewhat inclined to corpulency.
His hair was grey; his forehead high; his nose aquiline; his eyes
full of intelligence; whilst his manners were those of a perfect
I entered into conversation by saying that I supposed his name was
Jones, as I had observed that name over the door.
"Jones is the name I bear at your service, sir," he replied.
I said that it was a very common name in Wales, as I knew several
people who bore it, and observed that most of the surnames in Wales
appeared to be modifications of Christian names; for example Jones,
Roberts, Edwards, Humphreys, and likewise Pugh, Powel, and Probert,
which were nothing more than the son of Hugh, the son of Howel, and
the son of Robert. He said I was right, that there were very few
real surnames in Wales; that the three great families, however, had
real surnames; for that Wynn, Morgan and Bulkley were all real
surnames. I asked him whether the Bulkleys of Anglesea were not
originally an English family. He said they were, and that they
settled down in Anglesea in the time of Elizabeth.
After some minutes my wife got up and left us. The old gentleman
and I had then some discourse in Welsh; we soon, however, resumed
speaking English. We got on the subject of Welsh bards, and after
a good deal of discourse the old gentleman said:
"You seem to know something about Welsh poetry; can you tell me who
wrote the following line?
"'There will be great doings in Britain, and
I shall have no concern in them.'"
"I will not be positive," said I, "but I think from its tone and
tenor that it was composed by Merddyn, whom my countrymen call
"I believe you are right," said the old gentleman, "I see you know
something of Welsh poetry. I met the line, a long time ago, in a
Welsh grammar. It then made a great impression upon me, and of
late it has always been ringing in my ears. I love Britain.
Britain has just engaged in a war with a mighty country, and I am
apprehensive of the consequences. I am old, upwards of four-score,
and shall probably not live to see the evil, if evil happens, as I
fear it will - 'There will be strange doings in Britain, but they
will not concern me.' I cannot get the line out of my head."
I told him that the line probably related to the progress of the
Saxons in Britain, but that I did not wonder that it made an
impression upon him at the present moment. I said, however, that
we ran no risk from Russia; that the only power at all dangerous to
Britain was France, which though at present leagued with her
against Russia, would eventually go to war with and strive to
subdue her, and then of course Britain could expect no help from
Russia, her old friend and ally, who, if Britain had not outraged
her, would have assisted her, in any quarrel or danger, with four
or five hundred thousand men. I said that I hoped neither he nor I
should see a French invasion, but I had no doubt one would
eventually take place, and that then Britain must fight stoutly, as
she had no one to expect help from but herself; that I wished she
might be able to hold her own, but -
"Strange things will happen in Britain, though they will concern me
nothing," said the old gentleman with a sigh.
On my expressing a desire to know something of his history, he told
me that he was the son of a small farmer, who resided at some
distance from Llangollen; that he lost his father at an early age,
and was obliged to work hard, even when a child, in order to assist
his mother who had some difficulty, after the death of his father,
in keeping things together; that though he was obliged to work hard
he had been fond of study, and used to pore over Welsh and English
books by the glimmering light of the turf fire at night, for that
his mother could not afford to allow him anything in the shape of a
candle to read by; that at his mother's death he left rural labour,
and coming to Llangollen, commenced business in the little shop in
which he was at present; that he had been married, and had
children, but that his wife and family were dead; that the young
woman whom I had seen in the shop, and who took care of his house,
was a relation of his wife; that though he had always been
attentive to business, he had never abandoned study; that he had
mastered his own language, of which he was passionately fond, and
had acquired a good knowledge of English and of some other
languages. That his fondness for literature had shortly after his
arrival at Llangollen attracted the notice of some of the people,
who encouraged him in his studies, and assisted him by giving him
books; that the two celebrated ladies of Llangollen had
particularly noticed him; that he held the situation of church
clerk for upwards of forty years, and that it was chiefly owing to
the recommendation of the "great ladies" that he had obtained it.
He then added with a sigh, that about ten years ago he was obliged
to give it up, owing to something the matter with his eyesight,
which prevented him from reading, and, that his being obliged to
give it up was a source of bitter grief to him, as he had always
considered it a high honour to be permitted to assist in the
service of the Church of England, in the principles of which he had
been bred, and in whose doctrines he firmly believed.
Here shaking him by the hand, I said that I too had been bred up in
the principles of the Church of England; that I too firmly believed
in its doctrines, and would maintain with my blood, if necessary,
that there was not such another church in the world.
"So would I," said the old gentleman; "where is there a church in
whose liturgy there is so much Scripture as in that of the Church
"Pity," said I, "that so many traitors have lately sprung up in its
"If it be so," said the old church clerk, "they have not yet shown
themselves in the pulpit at Llangollen. All the clergymen who have
held the living in my time have been excellent. The present
incumbent is a model of a Church-of-England clergyman. Oh, how I
regret that the state of my eyes prevents me from officiating as
clerk beneath him."
I told him that I should never from the appearance of his eyes have
imagined that they were not excellent ones.
"I can see to walk about with them, and to distinguish objects,"
said the old gentleman; "but see to read with them I cannot. Even
with the help of the most powerful glasses I cannot distinguish a
letter. I believe I strained my eyes at a very early age, when
striving to read at night by the glimmer of the turf fire in my
poor mother's chimney corner. Oh what an affliction is this state
of my eyes! I can't turn my books to any account, nor read the
newspapers; but I repeat that I chiefly lament it because it
prevents me from officiating as under-preacher."
He showed me his books. Seeing amongst them "The Fables of
Yriarte" in Spanish, I asked how they came into his possession.
"They were presented to me," said he, "by one of the ladies of
Llangollen, Lady Eleanor Butler."
"Have you ever read them?" said I.
"No," he replied; "I do not understand a word of Spanish; but I
suppose her ladyship, knowing I was fond of languages, thought that
I might one day set about learning Spanish, and that then they
might be useful to me."
He then asked me if I knew Spanish, and on my telling him that I
had some knowledge of that language, he asked me to translate some
of the fables. I translated two of them, which pleased him much.
I then asked if he had ever heard of a collection of Welsh fables
compiled about the year thirteen hundred. He said that he had not,
and inquired whether they had ever been printed. I told him that
some had appeared in the old Welsh magazine called "The Greal."
"I wish you would repeat one of them," said the old clerk.
"Here is one," said I, "which particularly struck me:-
"It is the custom of the eagle, when his young are sufficiently
old, to raise them up above his nest in the direction of the sun;
and the bird which has strength enough of eye to look right in the
direction of the sun, he keeps and nourishes, but the one which has
not, he casts down into the gulf to its destruction. So does the
Lord deal with His children in the Catholic Church Militant: those
whom He sees worthy to serve Him in godliness and spiritual
goodness He keeps with Him and nourishes, but those who are not
worthy from being addicted to earthly things, He casts out into
utter darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The old gentleman, after a moment's reflection, said it was a
clever fable, but an unpleasant one. It was hard for poor birds to
be flung into a gulf, for not having power of eye sufficient to
look full in the face of the sun, and likewise hard that poor human
creatures should be lost for ever, for not doing that which they
had no power to do.
"Perhaps," said I, "the eagle does not deal with his chicks, or the
Lord with His creatures as the fable represents."
"Let us hope at any rate," said the old gentleman, "that the Lord
"Have you ever seen this book?" said he, and put Smith's "Sean
Dana" into my hand.
"Oh, yes," said I, "and have gone through it. It contains poems in
the Gaelic language by Oisin and others, collected in the
Highlands. I went through it a long time ago with great attention.
Some of the poems are wonderfully beautiful."
"They are so," said the old clerk. "I too have gone through the
book; it was presented to me a great many years ago by a lady to
whom I gave some lessons in the Welsh language. I went through it
with the assistance of a Gaelic grammar and dictionary, which she
also presented to me, and I was struck with the high tone of the
"This collection is valuable indeed," said I; "it contains poems,
which not only possess the highest merit, but serve to confirm the
authenticity of the poems of Ossian, published by Macpherson, so
often called in question. All the pieces here attributed to Ossian
are written in the same metre, tone, and spirit, as those
attributed to him in the other collection, so if Macpherson's
Ossianic poems, which he said were collected by him in the
Highlands, are forgeries, Smith's Ossianic poems, which, according
to his account, were also collected in the Highlands, must be also
forged, and have been imitated from those published by the other.
Now as it is well known that Smith did not possess sufficient
poetic power to produce any imitation of Macpherson's Ossian, with
a tenth part the merit which the "Sean Dana" possess, and that even
if he had possessed it, his principles would not have allowed him
to attempt to deceive the world by imposing forgeries upon it, as
the authentic poems of another, he being a highly respectable
clergyman, the necessary conclusion is that the Ossianic poems
which both published are genuine, and collected in the manner in
which both stated they were."
After a little more discourse about Ossian, the old gentleman asked
me if there was any good modern Gaelic poetry. "None very modern,"
said I: "the last great poets of the Gael were Macintyre and
Buchanan, who flourished about the middle of the last century. The
first sang of love and of Highland scenery; the latter was a
religious poet. The best piece of Macintyre is an ode to Ben
Dourain, or the Hill of the Water-dogs - a mountain in the
Highlands. The master-piece of Buchanan is his La Breitheanas or
Day of Judgment, which is equal in merit, or nearly so, to the
Cywydd y Farn, or Judgment Day of your own immortal Gronwy Owen.
Singular that the two best pieces on the Day of Judgment should
have been written in two Celtic dialects, and much about the same
time; but such is the fact."
"Really," said the old church clerk, "you seem to know something of
"A little," said I; "I am a bit of a philologist; and when studying
languages dip a little into the literature which they contain."
As I had heard him say that he had occasionally given lessons in
the Welsh language, I inquired whether any of his pupils had made
much progress in it. "The generality," said he, "soon became tired
of its difficulties, and gave it up without making any progress at
all. Two or three got on tolerably well. One, however, acquired
it in a time so short that it might be deemed marvellous. He was
an Oxonian, and came down with another in the vacation in order to
study hard against the yearly collegiate examination. He and his
friend took lodgings at Pengwern Hall, then a farm-house, and
studied and walked about for some time, as other young men from
college, who come down here, are in the habit of doing. One day he
and his friend came to me, who was then clerk, and desired to see
the interior of the church. So I took the key and went with them
into the church. When he came to the altar he took up the large
Welsh Common Prayer-Book, which was lying there, and looked into
it. 'A curious language this Welsh,' said he; 'I should like to
learn it.' 'Many have wished to learn it, without being able,'
said I; 'it is no easy language.' 'I should like to try,' he
replied; 'I wish I could find some one who would give me a few
lessons.' 'I have occasionally given instructions in Welsh,' said
I, 'and shall be happy to oblige you.' Well, it was agreed that he
should take lessons of me; and to my house he came every evening,
and I gave him what instructions I could. I was astonished at his
progress. He acquired the pronunciation in a lesson, and within a
week was able to construe and converse. By the time he left
Llangollen, and he was not here in all more than two months, he
understood the Welsh Bible as well as I did, and could speak Welsh
so well that the Welsh, who did not know him, took him to be one of
themselves, for he spoke the language with the very tone and manner
of a native. Oh, he was the cleverest man for language that I ever
knew; not a word that he heard did he ever forget."
"Just like Mezzofanti," said I, "the great cardinal philologist.
But whilst learning Welsh, did he not neglect his collegiate
"Well, I was rather apprehensive on that point," said the old
gentleman, "but mark the event. At the examination he came off
most brilliantly in Latin, Greek, mathematics, and other things
too; in fact, a double first-class man, as I think they call it."
"I have never heard of so extraordinary an individual," said I. "I
could no more have done what you say he did, than I could have
taken wings and flown. Pray, what was his name?"
"His name," said the old gentleman, "was Earl."
I was much delighted with my new acquaintance, and paid him
frequent visits; the more I saw him the more he interested me. He
was kind and benevolent, a good old Church of England Christian,
was well versed in several dialects of the Celtic, and possessed an
astonishing deal of Welsh heraldic and antiquarian lore. Often
whilst discoursing with him I almost fancied that I was with Master
Salisburie, Vaughan of Hengwrt, or some other worthy of old, deeply
skilled in everything remarkable connected with wild "Camber's
The Vicar and his Family - Evan Evans - Foaming Ale - Llam y
Lleidyr - Baptism - Joost Van Vondel - Over to Rome - The Miller's
Man - Welsh and English.
WE had received a call from the Vicar of Llangollen and his lady;
we had returned it, and they had done us the kindness to invite us
to take tea with them. On the appointed evening we went, myself,
wife, and Henrietta, and took tea with the vicar and his wife,
their sons and daughters, all delightful and amiable beings - the
eldest son a fine intelligent young man from Oxford, lately
admitted into the Church, and now assisting his father in his
sacred office. A delightful residence was the vicarage, situated
amongst trees in the neighbourhood of the Dee. A large open window
in the room, in which our party sat, afforded us a view of a green
plat on the top of a bank running down to the Dee, part of the
river, the steep farther bank covered with umbrageous trees, and a
high mountain beyond, even that of Pen y Coed clad with wood.
During tea Mr E. and I had a great deal of discourse. I found him
to be a first-rate Greek and Latin scholar, and also a proficient
in the poetical literature of his own country. In the course of
discourse he repeated some noble lines of Evan Evans, the
unfortunate and eccentric Prydydd Hir, or tall poet, the friend and
correspondent of Gray, for whom he made literal translations from
the Welsh, which the great English genius afterwards wrought into
"I have a great regard for poor Evan Evans," said Mr E., after he
had finished repeating the lines, "for two reasons: first, because
he was an illustrious genius, and second, because he was a South-
Wallian like myself."
"And I," I replied, "because he was a great poet, and like myself
fond of a glass of cwrw da."
Some time after tea the younger Mr E. and myself took a walk in an
eastern direction along a path cut in the bank, just above the
stream. After proceeding a little way amongst most romantic
scenery, I asked my companion if he had ever heard of the pool of
Catherine Lingo - the deep pool, as the reader will please to
remember, of which John Jones had spoken.
"Oh yes," said young Mr E.: "my brothers and myself are in the
habit of bathing there almost every morning. We will go to it if
We proceeded, and soon came to the pool. The pool is a beautiful
sheet of water, seemingly about one hundred and fifty yards in
length, by about seventy in width. It is bounded on the east by a
low ridge of rocks forming a weir. The banks on both sides are
high and precipitous, and covered with trees, some of which shoot
their arms for some way above the face of the pool. This is said
to be the deepest pool in the whole course of the Dee, varying in
depth from twenty to thirty feet. Enormous pike, called in Welsh
penhwiaid, or ducks-heads, from the similarity which the head of a
pike bears to that of a duck, are said to be tenants of this pool.
We returned to the vicarage, and at about ten we all sat down to
supper. On the supper-table was a mighty pitcher full of foaming
"There," said my excellent host, as he poured me out a glass,
"there is a glass of cwrw, which Evan Evans himself might have
One evening my wife, Henrietta, and myself, attended by John Jones,
went upon the Berwyn, a little to the east of the Geraint or
Barber's Hill, to botanize. Here we found a fern which John Jones
called Coed llus y Bran, or the plant of the Crow's berry. There
was a hard kind of berry upon it, of which he said the crows were
exceedingly fond. We also discovered two or three other strange
plants, the Welsh names of which our guide told us, and which were
curious and descriptive enough. He took us home by a romantic path
which we had never before seen, and on our way pointed out to us a
small house in which he said he was born.
The day after, finding myself on the banks of the Dee in the upper
part of the valley, I determined to examine the Llam Lleidyr or
Robber's Leap, which I had heard spoken of on a former occasion. A
man passing near me with a cart I asked him where the Robber's Leap
was. I spoke in English, and with a shake of his head he replied
"Dim Saesneg." On my putting the question to him in Welsh,
however, his countenance brightened up.
"Dyna Llam Lleidyr, sir!" said he, pointing to a very narrow part
of the stream a little way down.
"And did the thief take it from this side?" I demanded.
"Yes, sir, from this side," replied the man.
I thanked him, and passing over the dry part of the river's bed,
came to the Llam Lleidyr. The whole water of the Dee in the dry
season gurgles here through a passage not more than four feet
across, which, however, is evidently profoundly deep, as the water
is as dark as pitch. If the thief ever took the leap he must have
taken it in the dry season, for in the wet the Dee is a wide and
roaring torrent. Yet even in the dry season it is difficult to
conceive how anybody could take this leap, for on the other side is
a rock rising high above the dark gurgling stream. On observing
the opposite side, however, narrowly, I perceived that there was a
small hole a little way up the rock, in which it seemed possible to
rest one's foot for a moment. So I supposed that if the leap was
ever taken, the individual who took it darted the tip of his foot
into the hole, then springing up seized the top of the rock with
his hands, and scrambled up. From either side the leap must have
been a highly dangerous one - from the farther side the leaper
would incur the almost certain risk of breaking his legs on a ledge
of hard rock, from this of falling back into the deep horrible
stream, which would probably suck him down in a moment.
From the Llam y Lleidyr I went to the canal and walked along it
till I came to the house of the old man who sold coals, and who had
put me in mind of Smollett's Morgan; he was now standing in his
little coal-yard, leaning over the pales. I had spoken to him on
two or three occasions subsequent to the one on which I made his
acquaintance, and had been every time more and more struck with the
resemblance which his ways and manners bore to those of Smollett's
character, on which account I shall call him Morgan, though such
was not his name. He now told me that he expected that I should
build a villa and settle down in the neighbourhood, as I seemed so
fond of it. After a little discourse, induced either by my
questions or from a desire to talk about himself, he related to me
his history, which, though not one of the most wonderful, I shall
repeat. He was born near Aberdarron in Caernarvonshire, and in
order to make me understand the position of the place, and its
bearing with regard to some other places, he drew marks in the
coal-dust on the earth. His father was a Baptist minister, who
when Morgan was about six years of age, went to live at Canol Lyn,
a place at some little distance from Port Heli. With his father he
continued till he was old enough to gain his own maintenance, when
he went to serve a farmer in the neighbourhood. Having saved some
money young Morgan departed to the foundries at Cefn Mawr, at which
he worked thirty years with an interval of four, which he had
passed partly in working in slate quarries, and partly upon the
canal. About four years before the present time he came to where
he now lived, where he commenced selling coals, at first on his own
account and subsequently for some other person. He concluded his
narration by saying that he was now sixty-two years of age, was
afflicted with various disorders, and believed that he was breaking
Such was Morgan's history; certainly not a very remarkable one.
Yet Morgan was a most remarkable individual, as I shall presently
Rather affected at the bad account he gave me of his health I asked
him if he felt easy in his mind? He replied perfectly so, and when
I inquired how he came to feel so comfortable, he said that his
feeling so was owing to his baptism into the faith of Christ Jesus.
On my telling him that I too had been baptized, he asked me if I
had been dipped; and on learning that I had not, but only been
sprinkled, according to the practice of my church, he gave me to
understand that my baptism was not worth three halfpence. Feeling
rather nettled at hearing the baptism of my church so undervalued,
I stood up for it, and we were soon in a dispute, in which I got
rather the worst, for though he spuffled and sputtered in a most
extraordinary manner, and spoke in a dialect which was neither
Welsh, English nor Cheshire, but a mixture of all three, he said
two or three things rather difficult to be got over. Finding that
he had nearly silenced me, he observed that he did not deny that I
had a good deal of book learning, but that in matters of baptism I
was as ignorant as the rest of the people of the church were, and
had always been. He then said that many church people had entered
into argument with him on the subject of baptism, but that he had
got the better of them all; that Mr P., the minister of the parish
of L., in which we then were, had frequently entered into argument
with him, but quite unsuccessfully, and had at last given up the
matter, as a bad job. He added that a little time before, as Mr P.
was walking close to the canal with his wife and daughter and a
spaniel dog, Mr P. suddenly took up the dog and flung it in, giving
it a good ducking, whereupon he, Morgan, cried out: "Dyna y gwir
vedydd! That is the right baptism, sir! I thought I should bring
you to it at last!" at which words Mr P. laughed heartily, but made
no particular reply.
After a little time he began to talk about the great men who had
risen up amongst the Baptists, and mentioned two or three
I said that he had not mentioned the greatest man who had been born
amongst the Baptists.
"What was his name?" said he.
"His name was Joost Van Vondel," I replied.
"I never heard of him before," said Morgan.
"Very probably," said I: "he was born, bred, and died in Holland."
"Has he been dead long?" said Morgan.
"About two hundred years," said I.
"That's a long time," said Morgan, "and maybe is the reason that I
never heard of him. So he was a great man?"
"He was indeed," said I. "He was not only the greatest man that
ever sprang up amongst the Baptists, but the greatest, and by far
the greatest, that Holland ever produced, though Holland has
produced a great many illustrious men."
"Oh I daresay he was a great man if he was a Baptist," said Morgan.
"Well, it's strange I never read of him. I thought I had read the
lives of all the eminent people who lived and died in our
"He did not die in the Baptist communion," said I.
"Oh, he didn't die in it," said Morgan; "What, did he go over to
the Church of England? a pretty fellow!"
"He did not go over to the Church of England," said I, "for the
Church of England does not exist in Holland; he went over to the
Church of Rome."
"Well, that's not quite so bad," said Morgan; "however, it's bad
enough. I daresay he was a pretty blackguard."
"No," said I: "he was a pure virtuous character, and perhaps the
only pure and virtuous character that ever went over to Rome. The
only wonder is that so good a man could ever have gone over to so
detestable a church; but he appears to have been deluded."
"Deluded indeed!" said Morgan. "However, I suppose he went over
for advancement's sake."
"No," said I; "he lost every prospect of advancement by going over
to Rome: nine-tenths of his countrymen were of the reformed
religion, and he endured much poverty and contempt by the step he
"How did he support himself?" said Morgan.
"He obtained a livelihood," said I, "by writing poems and plays,
some of which are wonderfully fine."
"What," said Morgan, "a writer of Interludes? One of Twm o'r
Nant's gang! I thought he would turn out a pretty fellow." I told
him that the person in question certainly did write Interludes, for
example Noah, and Joseph at Goshen, but that he was a highly
respectable, nay venerable character.
"If he was a writer of Interludes," said Morgan, "he was a
blackguard; there never yet was a writer of Interludes, or a person
who went about playing them, that was not a scamp. He might be a
clever man, I don't say he was not. Who was a cleverer man than
Twm o'r Nant with his Pleasure and Care, and Riches and Poverty,
but where was there a greater blackguard? Why, not in all Wales.
And if you knew this other fellow - what's his name - Fondle's
history, you would find that he was not a bit more respectable than
Twm o'r Nant, and not half so clever. As for his leaving the
Baptists I don't believe a word of it; he was turned out of the
connection, and then went about the country saying he left it. No
Baptist connection would ever have a writer of Interludes in it,
not Twm o'r Nant himself, unless he left his ales and Interludes
and wanton hussies, for the three things are sure to go together.
You say he went over to the Church of Rome; of course he did, if
the Church of England were not at hand to receive him, where should
he go but to Rome? No respectable church like the Methodist or the
Independent would have received him. There are only two churches
in the world that will take in anybody without asking questions,
and will never turn them out however bad they may behave; the one
is the Church of Rome, and the other the Church of Canterbury; and
if you look into the matter you will find that every rogue, rascal
and hanged person since the world began, has belonged to one or
other of those communions."
In the evening I took a walk with my wife and daughter past the
Plas Newydd. Coming to the little mill called the Melyn Bac, at
the bottom of the gorge, we went into the yard to observe the
water-wheel. We found that it was turned by a very little water,
which was conveyed to it by artificial means. Seeing the miller's
man, a short dusty figure, standing in the yard, I entered into
conversation with him, and found to my great surprise that he had a
considerable acquaintance with the ancient language. On my
repeating to him verses from Taliesin he understood them, and to
show me that he did, translated some of the lines into English.
Two or three respectable-looking lads, probably the miller's sons,
came out, and listened to us. One of them said we were both good
Welshmen. After a little time the man asked me if I had heard of
Huw Morris, I told him that I was well acquainted with his
writings, and enquired whether the place in which he had lived was
not somewhere in the neighbourhood. He said it was; and that it
was over the mountains not far from Llan Sanfraid. I asked whether
it was not called Pont y Meibion. He answered in the affirmative,
and added that he had himself been there, and had sat in Huw
Morris's stone chair which was still to be seen by the road's side.
I told him that I hoped to visit the place in a few days. He
replied that I should be quite right in doing so, and that no one
should come to these parts without visiting Pont y Meibion, for
that Huw Morris was one of the columns of the Cumry.
"What a difference," said I to my wife, after we had departed,
"between a Welshman and an Englishman of the lower class. What
would a Suffolk miller's swain have said if I had repeated to him
verses out of Beowulf or even Chaucer, and had asked him about the
residence of Skelton.
Huw Morris - Immortal Elegy - The Valley of Ceiriog - Tangled
Wilderness - Perplexity - Chair of Huw Morris - The Walking Stick -
Huw's Descendant - Pont y Meibion.
Two days after the last adventure I set off, over the Berwyn, to
visit the birth-place of Huw Morris under the guidance of John
Jones, who was well acquainted with the spot.
Huw Morus or Morris, was born in the year 1622 on the banks of the
Ceiriog. His life was a long one, for he died at the age of
eighty-four, after living in six reigns. He was the second son of
a farmer, and was apprenticed to a tanner, with whom, however, he
did not stay till the expiration of the term of his apprenticeship,
for not liking the tanning art, he speedily returned to the house
of his father, whom he assisted in husbandry till death called the
old man away. He then assisted his elder brother, and on his elder
brother's death, lived with his son. He did not distinguish
himself as a husbandman, and appears never to have been fond of
manual labour. At an early period, however, he applied himself
most assiduously to poetry, and before he had attained the age of
thirty was celebrated, throughout Wales, as the best poet of his
time. When the war broke out between Charles and his parliament,
Huw espoused the part of the king, not as soldier, for he appears
to have liked fighting little better than tanning or husbandry, but
as a poet, and probably did the king more service in that capacity
than he would if he had raised him a troop of horse, or a regiment
of foot, for he wrote songs breathing loyalty to Charles, and
fraught with pungent satire against his foes, which ran like wild-
fire through Wales, and had a great influence on the minds of the
people. Even when the royal cause was lost in the field, he still
carried on a poetical war against the successful party, but not so
openly as before, dealing chiefly in allegories, which, however,
were easy to be understood. Strange to say the Independents, when
they had the upper hand, never interfered with him though they
persecuted certain Royalist poets of far inferior note. On the
accession of Charles the Second he celebrated the event by a most
singular piece called the Lamentation of Oliver's men, in which he
assails the Roundheads with the most bitter irony. He was loyal to
James the Second, till that monarch attempted to overthrow the
Church of England, when Huw, much to his credit, turned against
him, and wrote songs in the interest of the glorious Prince of
Orange. He died in the reign of good Queen Anne. In his youth his
conduct was rather dissolute, but irreproachable and almost holy in
his latter days - a kind of halo surrounded his old brow. It was
the custom in those days in North Wales for the congregation to
leave the church in a row with the clergyman at their head, but so
great was the estimation in which old Huw was universally held, for
the purity of his life and his poetical gift, that the clergyman of
the parish abandoning his claim to precedence, always insisted on
the good and inspired old man's leading the file, himself following
immediately in his rear. Huw wrote on various subjects, mostly in
common and easily understood measures. He was great in satire,
great in humour, but when he pleased could be greater in pathos
than in either; for his best piece is an elegy on Barbara
Middleton, the sweetest song of the kind ever written. From his
being born on the banks of the brook Ceiriog, and from the flowing
melody of his awen or muse, his countrymen were in the habit of
calling him Eos Ceiriog, or the Ceiriog Nightingale.
So John Jones and myself set off across the Berwyn to visit the
birthplace of the great poet Huw Morris. We ascended the mountain
by Allt Paddy. The morning was lowering and before we had half got
to the top it began to rain. John Jones was in his usual good
spirits. Suddenly taking me by the arm he told me to look to the
right across the gorge to a white house, which he pointed out.
"What is there in that house?" said I.
"An aunt of mine lives there," said he.
Having frequently heard him call old women his aunts, I said,
"Every poor old woman in the neighbourhood seems to be your aunt."
"This is no poor old woman," said he, "she is cyfoethawg iawn, and
only last week she sent me and my family a pound of bacon, which
would have cost me sixpence-halfpenny, and about a month ago a
measure of wheat."
We passed over the top of the mountain, and descending the other
side reached Llansanfraid, and stopped at the public-house where we
had been before, and called for two glasses of ale. Whilst
drinking our ale Jones asked some questions about Huw Morris of the
woman who served us; she said that he was a famous poet, and that
people of his blood were yet living upon the lands which had
belonged to him at Pont y Meibion. Jones told her that his
companion, the gwr boneddig, meaning myself, had come in order to
see the birth-place of Huw Morris, and that I was well acquainted
with his works, having gotten them by heart in Lloegr, when a boy.
The woman said that nothing would give her greater pleasure than to
hear a Sais recite poetry of Huw Morris, whereupon I recited a
number of his lines addressed to the Gof Du, or blacksmith. The
woman held up her hands, and a carter who was in the kitchen
somewhat the worse for liquor, shouted applause. After asking a
few questions as to the road we were to take, we left the house,
and in a little time entered the valley of Ceiriog. The valley is
very narrow, huge hills overhanging it on both sides, those on the
east side lumpy and bare, those on the west precipitous, and
partially clad with wood; the torrent Ceiriog runs down it,
clinging to the east side; the road is tolerably good, and is to
the west of the stream. Shortly after we had entered the gorge, we
passed by a small farm-house on our right hand, with a hawthorn
hedge before it, upon which seems to stand a peacock, curiously cut
out of thorn. Passing on we came to a place called Pandy uchaf, or
the higher Fulling mill. The place so called is a collection of
ruinous houses, which put me in mind of the Fulling mills mentioned
in "Don Quixote." It is called the Pandy because there was
formerly a fulling mill here, said to have been the first
established in Wales; which is still to be seen, but which is no
longer worked. Just above the old mill there is a meeting of
streams, the Tarw from the west rolls down a dark valley into the
At the entrance of this valley and just before you reach the Pandy,
which it nearly overhangs, is an enormous crag. After I had looked
at the place for some time with considerable interest we proceeded
towards the south, and in about twenty minutes reached a neat kind
of house, on our right hand, which John Jones told me stood on the
ground of Huw Morris. Telling me to wait, he went to the house,
and asked some questions. After a little time I followed him and
found him discoursing at the door with a stout dame about fifty-
five years of age, and a stout buxom damsel of about seventeen,
very short of stature.
"This is the gentleman" said he, "who wishes to see anything there
may be here connected with Huw Morris."
The old dame made me a curtsey, and said in very distinct Welsh,
"We have some things in the house which belonged to him, and we
will show them to the gentleman willingly."
"We first of all wish to see his chair," said John Jones.
"The chair is in a wall in what is called the hen ffordd (old
road)," said the old gentlewoman; "it is cut out of the stone wall,
you will have maybe some difficulty in getting to it, but the girl
shall show it to you." The girl now motioned to us to follow her,
and conducted us across the road to some stone steps, over a wall
to a place which looked like a plantation.
"This was the old road," said Jones; "but the place has been
enclosed. The new road is above us on our right hand beyond the
We were in a maze of tangled shrubs, the boughs of which, very wet
from the rain which was still falling, struck our faces, as we
attempted to make our way between them; the girl led the way, bare-
headed and bare-armed, and soon brought us to the wall, the
boundary of the new road. Along this she went with considerable
difficulty, owing to the tangled shrubs, and the nature of the
ground, which was very precipitous, shelving down to the other side
of the enclosure. In a little time we were wet to the skin, and
covered with the dirt of birds, which they had left while roosting
in the trees; on went the girl, sometimes creeping, and trying to
keep herself from falling by holding against the young trees; once
or twice she fell and we after her, for there was no path, and the
ground, as I have said before very shelvy; still as she went her
eyes were directed towards the wall, which was not always very easy
to be seen, for thorns, tall nettles and shrubs, were growing up
against it. Here and there she stopped, and said something, which
I could not always make out, for her Welsh was anything but clear;
at length I heard her say that she was afraid we had passed the
chair, and indeed presently we came to a place where the enclosure
terminated in a sharp corner.
"Let us go back," said I; "we must have passed it."
I now went first, breaking down with my weight the shrubs nearest
to the wall.
"Is not this the place?" said I, pointing to a kind of hollow in
the wall, which looked something like the shape of a chair.
"Hardly," said the girl, "for there should be a slab on the back,
with letters, but there's neither slab nor letters here."
The girl now again went forward, and we retraced our way, doing the
best we could to discover the chair, but all to no purpose; no
chair was to be found. We had now been, as I imagined, half-an-
hour in the enclosure, and had nearly got back to the place from
which we had set out, when we suddenly heard the voice of the old
lady exclaiming, "What are ye doing there, the chair is on the
other side of the field; wait a bit, and I will come and show it
you;" getting over the stone stile, which led into the wilderness,
she came to us, and we now went along the wall at the lower end; we
had quite as much difficulty here as on the other side, and in some
places more, for the nettles were higher, the shrubs more tangled,
and the thorns more terrible. The ground, however, was rather more
level. I pitied the poor girl who led the way, and whose fat naked
arms were both stung and torn. She at last stopped amidst a huge
grove of nettles, doing the best she could to shelter her arms from
the stinging leaves.
"I never was in such a wilderness in my life," said I to John
Jones, "is it possible that the chair of the mighty Huw is in a
place like this; which seems never to have been trodden by human
foot. Well does the Scripture say 'Dim prophwyd yw yn cael barch
yn ei dir ei hunan.'"
This last sentence tickled the fancy of my worthy friend, the
Calvinistic-Methodist, he laughed aloud and repeated it over and
over again to the females, with amplifications.
"Is the chair really here," said I, "or has it been destroyed? if
such a thing has been done it is a disgrace to Wales."
"The chair is really here," said the old lady, "and though Huw
Morus was no prophet, we love and reverence everything belonging to
him. Get on Llances, the chair can't be far off;" the girl moved
on, and presently the old lady exclaimed, "There's the chair,
Diolch i Duw!"
I was the last of the file, but I now rushed past John Jones, who
was before me, and next to the old lady, and sure enough there was
the chair, in the wall, of him who was called in his day, and still
is called by the mountaineers of Wales, though his body has been
below the earth in the quiet church-yard one hundred and forty
years, Eos Ceiriog, the Nightingale of Ceiriog, the sweet caroller
Huw Morus, the enthusiastic partizan of Charles and the Church of
England, and the never-tiring lampooner of Oliver and the
Independents. There it was, a kind of hollow in the stone wall, in
the hen ffordd, fronting to the west, just above the gorge at the
bottom of which murmurs the brook Ceiriog, there it was, something
like a half barrel chair in a garden, a mouldering stone slab
forming the seat, and a large slate stone, the back, on which were
cut these letters -
H. M. B.
signifying Huw Morus Bard.
"Sit down in the chair, Gwr Boneddig," said John Jones, "you have
taken trouble enough to get to it."
"Do, gentleman," said the old lady; "but first let me wipe it with
my apron, for it is very wet and dirty."
"Let it be," said I; then taking off my hat I stood uncovered
before the chair, and said in the best Welsh I could command,
"Shade of Huw Morus, supposing your shade haunts the place which
you loved so well when alive - a Saxon, one of the seed of the
Coiling Serpent, has come to this place to pay that respect to true
genius, the Dawn Duw, which he is ever ready to pay. He read the
songs of the Nightingale of Ceiriog in the most distant part of
Lloegr, when he was a brown-haired boy, and now that he is a grey-
haired man he is come to say in this place that they frequently
made his eyes overflow with tears of rapture."
I then sat down in the chair, and commenced repeating verses of Huw
Morris. All which I did in the presence of the stout old lady, the
short, buxom and bare-armed damsel, and of John Jones the
Calvinistic weaver of Llangollen, all of whom listened patiently
and approvingly, though the rain was pouring down upon them, and
the branches of the trees and the tops of the tall nettles,
agitated by the gusts from the mountain hollows, were beating in
their faces, for enthusiasm is never scoffed at by the noble
simple-minded, genuine Welsh, whatever treatment it may receive
from the coarse-hearted, sensual, selfish Saxon.
After some time, our party returned to the house - which put me
very much in mind of the farm-houses of the substantial yeomen of
Cornwall, particularly that of my friends at Penquite; a
comfortable fire blazed in the kitchen grate, the floor was
composed of large flags of slate. In the kitchen the old lady
pointed to me the ffon, or walking-stick, of Huw Morris; it was
supported against a beam by three hooks; I took it down and walked
about the kitchen with it; it was a thin polished black stick, with
a crome cut in the shape of an eagle's head; at the end was a brass
fence. The kind creature then produced a sword without a scabbard;
this sword was found by Huw Morris on the mountain - it belonged to
one of Oliver's officers who was killed there. I took the sword,
which was a thin two-edged one, and seemed to be made of very good
steel; it put me in mind of the blades which I had seen at Toledo -
the guard was very slight like those of all rapiers, and the hilt
the common old-fashioned English officer's hilt - there was no rust
on the blade, and it still looked a dangerous sword. A man like
Thistlewood would have whipped it through his adversary in a
twinkling. I asked the old lady if Huw Morris was born in this
house; she said no, but a little farther on at Pont y Meibion; she
said, however, that the ground had belonged to him, and that they
had some of his blood in their veins. I shook her by the hand, and
gave the chubby bare-armed damsel a shilling, pointing to the marks
of the nettle stings on her fat bacon-like arms. She laughed, made
me a curtsey, and said: "Llawer iawn o diolch."
John Jones and I then proceeded to the house at Pont y Meibion,
where we saw two men, one turning a grind-stone, and the other
holding an adze to it. We asked if we were at the house of Huw
Morris, and whether they could tell us anything about him; they
made us no answer but proceeded with their occupation; John Jones
then said that the Gwr Boneddig was very fond of the verses of Huw
Morris, and had come a great way to see the place where he was
born. The wheel now ceased turning, and the man with the adze
turned his face full upon me - he was a stern-looking, dark man,
with black hair, of about forty; after a moment or two he said that
if I chose to walk into the house I should be welcome. He then
conducted us into the house, a common-looking stone tenement, and
bade us be seated. I asked him if he was a descendant of Huw
Morus; he said he was; I asked him his name, which he said was Huw
- . "Have you any of the manuscripts of Huw Morus?" said I.
"None," said he, "but I have one of the printed copies of his
He then went to a drawer, and taking out a book, put it into my
hand, and seated himself in a blunt, careless manner. The book was
the first volume of the common Wrexham edition of Huw's works; it
was much thumbed - I commenced reading aloud a piece which I had
much admired in my boyhood. I went on for some time, my mind quite
occupied with my reading; at last lifting my eyes I saw the man
standing bolt upright before me, like a soldier of the days of my
childhood, during the time that the adjutant read prayers; his hat
was no longer upon his head, but on the ground, and his eyes were
reverently inclined to the book. After all what a beautiful thing
it is, not to be, but to have been a genius. Closing the book, I
asked him whether Huw Morris was born in the house where we were,
and received for answer that he was born about where we stood, but
that the old house had been pulled down, and that of all the
premises only a small out-house was coeval with Huw Morris. I
asked him the name of the house, and he said Pont y Meibion.
"But where is the bridge?" said I.
"The bridge," he replied, "is close by, over the Ceiriog. If you
wish to see it, you must go down yon field, the house is called
after the bridge." Bidding him farewell, we crossed the road and
going down the field speedily arrived at Pont y Meibion. The
bridge is a small bridge of one arch which crosses the brook
Ceiriog - it is built of rough moor stone; it is mossy, broken, and
looks almost inconceivably old; there is a little parapet to it
about two feet high. On the right-hand side it is shaded by an
ash. The brook when we viewed it, though at times a roaring
torrent, was stealing along gently, on both sides it is overgrown
with alders, noble hills rise above it to the east and west, John
Jones told me that it abounded with trout. I asked him why the
bridge was called Pont y Meibion, which signifies the bridge of the
children. "It was built originally by children," said he, "for the
purpose of crossing the brook."
"That bridge," said I, "was never built by children."
"The first bridge," said he, "was of wood, and was built by the
children of the houses above."
Not quite satisfied with his explanation, I asked him to what place
the little bridge led, and was told that he believed it led to an
upland farm. After taking a long and wistful view of the bridge
and the scenery around it, I turned my head in the direction of
Llangollen. The adventures of the day were, however, not finished.
The Gloomy Valley - The Lonely Cottage - Happy Comparison - Clogs -
The Alder Swamp - The Wooden Leg - The Militiaman - Death-bed
ON reaching the ruined village where the Pandy stood I stopped, and
looked up the gloomy valley to the west, down which the brook which
joins the Ceiriog at this place, descends, whereupon John Jones
said, that if I wished to go up it a little way he should have
great pleasure in attending me, and that he should show me a
cottage built in the hen ddull, or old fashion, to which he
frequently went to ask for the rent; he being employed by various
individuals in the capacity of rent-gatherer. I said that I was
afraid that if he was a rent-collector, both he and I should have a
sorry welcome. "No fear," he replied, "the people are very good
people, and pay their rent very regularly," and without saying
another word he led the way up the valley. At the end of the
village, seeing a woman standing at the door of one of the ruinous
cottages, I asked her the name of the brook, or torrent, which came
down the valley. "The Tarw," said she, "and this village is called
"Why is the streamlet called the bull?" said I. "Is it because it
comes in winter weather roaring down the glen and butting at the
The woman laughed, and replied that perhaps it was. The valley was
wild and solitary to an extraordinary degree, the brook or torrent
running in the middle of it covered with alder trees. After we had
proceeded about a furlong we reached the house of the old fashion -
it was a rude stone cottage standing a little above the road on a
kind of platform on the right-hand side of the glen; there was a
paling before it with a gate, at which a pig was screaming, as if
anxious to get in. "It wants its dinner," said John Jones, and
opened the gate for me to pass, taking precautions that the
screamer did not enter at the same time. We entered the cottage,
very glad to get into it, a storm of wind and rain having just come
on. Nobody was in the kitchen when we entered, it looked
comfortable enough, however, there was an excellent fire of wood
and coals, and a very snug chimney corner. John Jones called
aloud, but for some time no one answered; at last a rather good-
looking woman, seemingly about thirty, made her appearance at a
door at the farther end of the kitchen. "Is the mistress at home,"
said Jones, "or the master?"
"They are neither at home," said the woman, "the master is abroad
at his work, and the mistress is at the farm-house of - three miles
off to pick feathers (trwsio plu)." She asked us to sit down.
"And who are you?" said I.
"I am only a lodger," said she, "I lodge here with my husband who
is a clog-maker."
"Can you speak English?" said I.
"Oh yes," said she, "I lived eleven years in England, at a place
called Bolton, where I married my husband, who is an Englishman."
"Can he speak Welsh?" said I.
"Not a word," said she. "We always speak English together."
John Jones sat down, and I looked about the room. It exhibited no
appearance of poverty; there was plenty of rude but good furniture
in it; several pewter plates and trenchers in a rack, two or three
prints in frames against the wall, one of which was the likeness of
no less a person than the Rev. Joseph Sanders, on the table was a
newspaper. "Is that in Welsh?" said I.
"No," replied the woman, "it is the BOLTON CHRONICLE, my husband
I sat down in the chimney-corner. The wind was now howling abroad,
and the rain was beating against the cottage panes - presently a
gust of wind came down the chimney, scattering sparks all about.
"A cataract of sparks!" said I, using the word Rhaiadr.
"What is Rhaiadr?" said the woman; "I never heard the word before."
"Rhaiadr means water tumbling over a rock," said John Jones - "did
you never see water tumble over the top of a rock?"
"Frequently," said she.
"Well," said he, "even as the water with its froth tumbles over the
rock, so did sparks and fire tumble over the front of that grate
when the wind blew down the chimney. It was a happy comparison of
the Gwr Boneddig, and with respect to Rhaiadr it is a good old
word, though not a common one; some of the Saxons who have read the
old writings, though they cannot speak the language as fast as we,
understand many words and things which we do not."
"I forgot much of my Welsh in the land of the Saxons," said the
woman, "and so have many others; there are plenty of Welsh at
Bolton, but their Welsh is sadly corrupted."
She then went out and presently returned with an infant in her arms
and sat down. "Was that child born in Wales?" I demanded.
"No," said she, "he was born at Bolton, about eighteen months ago -
we have been here only a year."
"Do many English," said I, "marry Welsh wives?"
"A great many," said she. "Plenty of Welsh girls are married to
Englishmen at Bolton."
"Do the Englishmen make good husbands?" said I.
The woman smiled and presently sighed.
"Her husband," said Jones, "is fond of a glass of ale and is often
at the public-house."
"I make no complaint," said the woman, looking somewhat angrily at
"Is your husband a tall bulky man?" said I.
"Just so," said the woman.
"The largest of the two men we saw the other night at the public-
house at Llansanfraid," said I to John Jones.
"I don't know him," said Jones, "though I have heard of him, but I
have no doubt that was he."
I asked the woman how her husband could carry on the trade of a
clog-maker in such a remote place - and also whether he hawked his
clogs about the country.
"We call him a clog-maker," said the woman, "but the truth is that
he merely cuts down the wood and fashions it into squares, these
are taken by an under-master who sends them to the manufacturer at
Bolton, who employs hands, who make them into clogs."
"Some of the English," said Jones, "are so poor that they cannot
afford to buy shoes; a pair of shoes cost ten or twelve shillings,
whereas a pair of clogs only cost two."
"I suppose," said I, "that what you call clogs are wooden shoes."
"Just so," said Jones - "they are principally used in the
neighbourhood of Manchester."
"I have seen them at Huddersfield," said I, "when I was a boy at
school there; of what wood are they made?"
"Of the gwern, or alder tree," said the woman, "of which there is
plenty on both sides of the brook."
John Jones now asked her if she could give him a tamaid of bread;
she said she could, "and some butter with it."
She then went out and presently returned with a loaf and some
"Had you not better wait," said I, "till we get to the inn at
The woman, however, begged him to eat some bread and butter where
he was, and cutting a plateful, placed it before him, having first
offered me some which I declined.
"But you have nothing to drink with it," said I to him.
"If you please," said the woman, "I will go for a pint of ale to
the public-house at the Pandy, there is better ale there than at
the inn at Llansanfraid. When my husband goes to Llansanfraid he
goes less for the ale than for the conversation, because there is
little English spoken at the Pandy however good the ale."
John Jones said he wanted no ale - and attacking the bread and
butter speedily made an end of it; by the time he had done the
storm was over, and getting up I gave the child twopence, and left
the cottage with Jones. We proceeded some way farther up the
valley, till we came to a place where the ground descended a
little. Here Jones touching me on the shoulder pointed across the
stream. Following with my eye the direction of his finger, I saw
two or three small sheds with a number of small reddish blocks in
regular piles beneath them. Several trees felled from the side of
the torrent were lying near, some of them stripped of their arms
and bark. A small tree formed a bridge across the brook to the
"It is there," said John Jones, "that the husband of the woman with
whom we have been speaking works, felling trees from the alder
swamp and cutting them up into blocks. I see there is no work
going on at present or we would go over - the woman told me that
her husband was at Llangollen."
"What a strange place to come to work at," said I, "out of crowded
England. Here is nothing to be heard but the murmuring of waters
and the rushing of wind down the gulleys. If the man's head is not
full of poetical fancies, which I suppose it is not, as in that
case he would be unfit for any useful employment, I don't wonder at
his occasionally going to the public-house."
After going a little further up the glen and observing nothing more
remarkable than we had seen already, we turned back. Being
overtaken by another violent shower just as we reached the Pandy I
thought that we could do no better than shelter ourselves within
the public-house, and taste the ale, which the wife of the clog-
maker had praised. We entered the little hostelry which was one of
two or three shabby-looking houses, standing in contact, close by
the Ceiriog. In a kind of little back room, lighted by a good fire
and a window which looked up the Ceiriog valley, we found the
landlady, a gentlewoman with a wooden leg, who on perceiving me got
up from a chair, and made me the best curtsey that I ever saw made
by a female with such a substitute for a leg of flesh and bone.
There were three men, sitting with jugs of ale near them on a table
by the fire, two were seated on a bench by the wall, and the other
on a settle with a high back, which ran from the wall just by the
door, and shielded those by the fire from the draughts of the
doorway. He of the settle no sooner beheld me than he sprang up,
and placing a chair for me by the fire bade me in English be
seated, and then resumed his own seat. John Jones soon finding a
chair came and sat down by me, when I forthwith called for a quart
of cwrw da. The landlady bustled about on her wooden leg and
presently brought us the ale with two glasses, which I filled, and
taking one drank to the health of the company who returned us
thanks, the man of the settle in English rather broken. Presently
one of his companions getting up paid his reckoning and departed,
the other remained, a stout young fellow dressed something like a
stone-mason, which indeed I soon discovered that he was - he was
far advanced towards a state of intoxication and talked very
incoherently about the war, saying that he hoped it would soon
terminate, for that if it continued he was afraid he might stand a
chance of being shot, as he was a private in the Denbighshire
Militia. I told him that it was the duty of every gentleman in the
militia to be willing at all times to lay down his life in the
service of the Queen. The answer which he made I could not exactly
understand, his utterance being very indistinct and broken; it was,
however, made with some degree of violence, with two or three Myn
Diawls, and a blow on the table with his clenched fist. He then
asked me whether I thought the militia would be again called out.
"Nothing more probable," said I.
"And where would they be sent to?"
"Perhaps to Ireland," was my answer, whereupon he started up with
another Myn Diawl, expressing the greatest dread of being sent to
"You ought to rejoice in your chance of going there," said I,
"Iwerddon is a beautiful country, and abounds with whisky."
"And the Irish?" said he.
"Hearty, jolly fellows," said I, "if you know how to manage them,
and all gentlemen."
Here he became very violent, saying that I did not speak truth, for
that he had seen plenty of Irish camping amidst the hills, that the
men were half naked and the women were three parts so, and that
they carried their children on their backs. He then said that he
hoped somebody would speedily kill Nicholas, in order that the war
might be at an end and himself not sent to Iwerddon. He then asked
if I thought Cronstadt could be taken. I said I believed it could,
provided the hearts of those who were sent to take it were in the
"Where do you think the hearts of those are who are gone against
it?" said he - speaking with great vehemence.
I made no other answer than by taking my glass and drinking.
His companion now looking at our habiliments which were in rather a
dripping condition asked John Jones if we had come from far.
"We have been to Pont y Meibion," said Jones, "to see the chair of
Huw Morris," adding that the Gwr Boneddig was a great admirer of
the songs of the Eos Ceiriog.
He had no sooner said these words than the intoxicated militiaman
started up, and striking the table with his fist said: "I am a
poor stone-cutter - this is a rainy day and I have come here to
pass it in the best way I can. I am somewhat drunk, but though I
am a poor stone-mason, a private in the militia, and not so sober
as I should be, I can repeat more of the songs of the Eos than any
man alive, however great a gentleman, however sober - more than Sir
Watkin, more than Colonel Biddulph himself."
He then began to repeat what appeared to be poetry, for I could
distinguish the rhymes occasionally, though owing to his broken
utterance it was impossible for me to make out the sense of the
words. Feeling a great desire to know what verses of Huw Morris
the intoxicated youth would repeat, I took out my pocket-book and
requested Jones, who was much better acquainted with Welsh
pronunciation, under any circumstances, than myself, to endeavour
to write down from the mouth of the young fellow any verses
uppermost in his mind. Jones took the pocket-book and pencil and
went to the window, followed by the young man scarcely able to
support himself. Here a curious scene took place, the drinker
hiccuping up verses, and Jones dotting them down, in the best
manner he could, though he had evidently great difficulty to
distinguish what was said to him. At last, methought, the young
man said - "There they are, the verses of the Nightingale, on his
I took the book and read aloud the following lines beautifully
descriptive of the eagerness of a Christian soul to leave its
perishing tabernacle, and get to Paradise and its Creator:-
"Myn'd i'r wyl ar redeg,
I'r byd a beryi chwaneg,
I Beradwys, y ber wiw deg,
Yn Enw Duw yn union deg."
"Do you understand those verses?" said the man on the settle, a
dark swarthy fellow with an oblique kind of vision, and dressed in
a pepper-and-salt coat.
"I will translate them," said I; and forthwith put them into
English - first into prose and then into rhyme, the rhymed version
"Now to my rest I hurry away,
To the world which lasts for ever and aye,
To Paradise, the beautiful place,
Trusting alone in the Lord of Grace" -
"Well," said he of the pepper-and-salt, "if that isn't capital I
don't know what is."
A scene in a public-house, yes! but in a Welsh public-house. Only
think of a Suffolk toper repeating the death-bed verses of a poet;
surely there is a considerable difference between the Celt and the
Llangollen Fair - Buyers and Sellers - The Jockey - The Greek Cap.
ON the twenty-first was held Llangollen Fair. The day was dull
with occasional showers. I went to see the fair about noon. It
was held in and near a little square in the south-east quarter of
the town, of which square the police-station is the principal
feature on the side of the west, and an inn, bearing the sign of
the Grapes, on the east. The fair was a little bustling fair,
attended by plenty of people from the country, and from the English
border, and by some who appeared to come from a greater distance
than the border. A dense row of carts extended from the police-
station half across the space, these carts were filled with pigs,
and had stout cord-nettings drawn over them, to prevent the animals
escaping. By the sides of these carts the principal business of
the fair appeared to be going on - there stood the owners male and
female, higgling with Llangollen men and women, who came to buy.
The pigs were all small, and the price given seemed to vary from
eighteen to twenty-five shillings. Those who bought pigs generally
carried them away in their arms; and then there was no little
diversion; dire was the screaming of the porkers, yet the purchaser
invariably appeared to know how to manage his bargain, keeping the
left arm round the body of the swine and with the right hand fast
gripping the ear - some few were led away by strings. There were
some Welsh cattle, small of course, and the purchasers of these
seemed to be Englishmen, tall burly fellows in general, far
exceeding the Welsh in height and size.
Much business in the cattle-line did not seem, however, to be going
on. Now and then a big fellow made an offer, and held out his hand
for a little Pictish grazier to give it a slap - a cattle bargain
being concluded by a slap of the hand - but the Welshman generally
turned away, with a half resentful exclamation. There were a few
horses and ponies in the street leading into the fair from the
I saw none sold, however. A tall athletic figure was striding
amongst them, evidently a jockey and a stranger, looking at them
and occasionally asking a slight question of one or another of
their proprietors, but he did not buy. He might in age be about
eight-and-twenty, and about six feet and three-quarters of an inch
in height; in build he was perfection itself, a better built man I
never saw. He wore a cap and a brown jockey coat, trowsers,
leggings and high-lows, and sported a single spur. He had whiskers
- all jockeys should have whiskers - but he had what I did not
like, and what no genuine jockey should have, a moustache, which
looks coxcombical and Frenchified - but most things have terribly
changed since I was young. Three or four hardy-looking fellows,
policemen, were gliding about in their blue coats and leather hats,
holding their thin walking-sticks behind them; conspicuous amongst
whom was the leader, a tall lathy North Briton with a keen eye and
hard features. Now if I add there was much gabbling of Welsh round
about, and here and there some slight sawing of English - that in
the street leading from the north there were some stalls of
gingerbread and a table at which a queer-looking being with a red
Greek-looking cap on his head, sold rhubarb, herbs, and phials
containing the Lord knows what, and who spoke a low vulgar English
dialect - I repeat, if I add this, I think I have said all that is
necessary about Llangollen Fair.
An Expedition - Pont y Pandy - The Sabbath - Glendower's Mount -
Burial Place of Old - Corwen - The Deep Glen - The Grandmother -
The Roadside Chapel.
I WAS now about to leave Llangollen, for a short time, and to set
out on an expedition to Bangor, Snowdon, and one or two places in
Anglesea. I had determined to make the journey on foot, in order
that I might have perfect liberty of action, and enjoy the best
opportunities of seeing the country. My wife and daughter were to
meet me at Bangor, to which place they would repair by the
railroad, and from which, after seeing some of the mountain
districts, they would return to Llangollen by the way they came,
where I proposed to join them, returning, however, by a different
way from the one I went, that I might traverse new districts.
About eleven o'clock of a brilliant Sunday morning I left
Llangollen, after reading the morning-service of the Church to my
family. I set out on a Sunday because I was anxious to observe the
general demeanour of the people, in the interior of the country, on
I directed my course towards the west, to the head of the valley.
My wife and daughter after walking with me about a mile bade me
farewell, and returned. Quickening my pace I soon left Llangollen
valley behind me and entered another vale, along which the road
which I was following, and which led to Corwen and other places,
might be seen extending for miles. Lumpy hills were close upon my
left, the Dee running noisily between steep banks, fringed with
trees, was on my right; beyond it rose hills which form part of the
wall of the Vale of Clwyd; their tops bare, but their sides
pleasantly coloured with yellow corn-fields and woods of dark
verdure. About an hour's walking, from the time when I entered the
valley, brought me to a bridge over a gorge, down which water ran
to the Dee. I stopped and looked over the side of the bridge
nearest to the hill. A huge rock about forty feet long by twenty
broad, occupied the entire bed of the gorge, just above the bridge,
with the exception of a little gullet to the right, down which
between the rock and a high bank, on which stood a cottage, a run
of water purled and brawled. The rock looked exactly like a huge
whale lying on its side, with its back turned towards the runnel.
Above it was a glen of trees. After I had been gazing a little
time a man making his appearance at the door of the cottage just
beyond the bridge I passed on, and drawing nigh to him, after a
slight salutation, asked him in English the name of the bridge.
"The name of the bridge, sir," said the man, in very good English,
"is Pont y Pandy."
"Does not that mean the bridge of the fulling mill?"
"I believe it does, sir," said the man.
"Is there a fulling mill near?"
"No, sir, there was one some time ago, but it is now a sawing
Here a woman, coming out, looked at me steadfastly.
"Is that gentlewoman your wife?"
"She is no gentlewoman, sir, but she is my wife."
"Of what religion are you?"
"We are Calvinistic-Methodists, sir."
"Have you been to chapel?"
"We are just returned, sir."
Here the woman said something to her husband, which I did not hear,
but the purport of which I guessed from the following question
which he immediately put.
"Have you been to chapel, sir?"
"I do not go to chapel; I belong to the Church."
"Have you been to church, sir?"
"I have not - I said my prayers at home, and then walked out."
"It is not right to walk out on the Sabbath-day, except to go to
church or chapel."
"Who told you so?"
"The law of God, which says you shall keep holy the Sabbath-day."
"I am not keeping it unholy."
"You are walking about, and in Wales when we see a person walking
idly about, on the Sabbath-day, we are in the habit of saying,
Sabbath-breaker, where are you going?"
"The Son of Man walked through the fields on the Sabbath-day, why
should I not walk along the roads?"
"He who called Himself the Son of Man was God and could do what He
pleased, but you are not God."
"But He came in the shape of a man to set an example. Had there
been anything wrong in walking about on the Sabbath-day, He would
not have done it."
Here the wife exclaimed, "How worldly-wise these English are!"
"You do not like the English," said I.
"We do not dislike them," said the woman; "at present they do us no
harm, whatever they did of old."
"But you still consider them," said I, "the seed of Y Sarfes
cadwynog, the coiling serpent."
"I should be loth to call any people the seed of the serpent," said
"But one of your great bards did," said I.
"He must have belonged to the Church, and not to the chapel then,"
said the woman. "No person who went to chapel would have used such
"He lived," said I, "before people were separated into those of the
Church and the chapel; did you ever hear of Taliesin Ben Beirdd?"
"I never did," said the woman.
"But I have," said the man; "and of Owain Glendower too."
"Do people talk much of Owen Glendower in these parts?" said I.
"Plenty," said the man, "and no wonder, for when he was alive he
was much about here - some way farther on there is a mount, on the
bank of the Dee, called the mount of Owen Glendower, where it is
said he used to stand and look out after his enemies."
"Is it easy to find?" said I.
"Very easy," said the man, "it stands right upon the Dee and is
covered with trees; there is no mistaking it."
I bade the man and his wife farewell, and proceeded on my way.
After walking about a mile, I perceived a kind of elevation which
answered to the description of Glendower's mount, which the man by
the bridge had given me. It stood on the right hand, at some
distance from the road, across a field. As I was standing looking
at it a man came up from the direction in which I myself had come.
He was a middle-aged man, plainly but decently dressed, and had
something of the appearance of a farmer.
"What hill may that be?" said I in English, pointing to the
"Dim Saesneg, sir," said the man, looking rather sheepish, "Dim
gair o Saesneg."
Rather surprised that a person of his appearance should not have a
word of English, I repeated my question in Welsh.
"Ah, you speak Cumraeg, sir;" said the man evidently surprised that
a person of my English appearance should speak Welsh. "I am glad
of it! What hill is that, you ask - Dyna Mont Owain Glyndwr, sir."
"Is it easy to get to?" said I.
"Quite easy, sir," said the man. "If you please I will go with
I thanked him, and opening a gate he conducted me across the field
to the mount of the Welsh hero.
The mount of Owen Glendower stands close upon the southern bank of
the Dee, and is nearly covered with trees of various kinds. It is
about thirty feet high from the plain, and about the same diameter
at the top. A deep black pool of the river which here runs far
beneath the surface of the field, purls and twists under the
northern side, which is very steep, though several large oaks
spring out of it. The hill is evidently the work of art, and
appeared to me to be some burying-place of old.
"And this is the hill of Owain Glyndwr?" said I.
"Dyma Mont Owain Glyndwr, sir, lle yr oedd yn sefyll i edrych am ei
elvnion yn dyfod o Gaer Lleon. This is the hill of Owain
Glendower, sir, where he was in the habit of standing to look out
for his enemies coming from Chester."
"I suppose it was not covered with trees then?" said I.
"No, sir; it has not been long planted with trees. They say,
however, that the oaks which hang over the river are very old."
"Do they say who raised this hill?"
"Some say that God raised it, sir; others that Owain Glendower
raised it. Who do you think raised it?"
"I believe that it was raised by man, but not by Owen Glendower.
He may have stood upon it, to watch for the coming of his enemies,
but I believe it was here long before his time, and that it was
raised over some old dead king by the people whom he had governed."
"Do they bury kings by the side of rivers, sir?"
"In the old time they did, and on the tops of mountains; they burnt
their bodies to ashes, placed them in pots and raised heaps of
earth or stones over them. Heaps like this have frequently been
opened, and found to contain pots with ashes and bones."
"I wish all English could speak Welsh, sir."
"Because then we poor Welsh who can speak no English could learn
much which we do not know."
Descending the monticle we walked along the road together. After a
little time I asked my companion of what occupation he was and
where he lived.
"I am a small farmer, sir," said he, "and live at Llansanfraid Glyn
Dyfrdwy across the river."
"How comes it," said I, "that you do not know English?"
"When I was young," said he, "and could have easily learnt it, I
cared nothing about it, and now that I am old and see its use, it
is too late to acquire it."
"Of what religion are you?" said I.
"I am of the Church," he replied.
I was about to ask him if there were many people of his persuasion
in these parts; before, however, I could do so he turned down a
road to the right which led towards a small bridge, and saying that
was his way home, bade me farewell and departed.
I arrived at Corwen which is just ten miles from Llangollen and
which stands beneath a vast range of rocks at the head of the
valley up which I had been coming, and which is called Glyndyfrdwy,
or the valley of the Dee water. It was now about two o'clock, and
feeling rather thirsty I went to an inn very appropriately called
the Owen Glendower, being the principal inn in the principal town
of what was once the domain of the great Owen. Here I stopped for
about an hour refreshing myself and occasionally looking into a
newspaper in which was an excellent article on the case of poor
Lieutenant P. I then started for Cerrig-y-Drudion, distant about
ten miles, where I proposed to pass the night. Directing my course
to the north-west, I crossed a bridge over the Dee water and then
proceeded rapidly along the road, which for some way lay between
corn-fields, in many of which sheaves were piled up, showing that
the Welsh harvest was begun. I soon passed over a little stream,
the name of which I was told was Alowan. "Oh, what a blessing it
is to be able to speak Welsh!" said I, finding that not a person to
whom I addressed myself had a word of English to bestow upon me.
After walking for about five miles I came to a beautiful but wild
country of mountain and wood with here and there a few cottages.
The road at length making an abrupt turn to the north, I found
myself with a low stone wall on my left, on the verge of a profound
ravine, and a high bank covered with trees on my right. Projecting
out over the ravine was a kind of looking place, protected by a
wall, forming a half-circle, doubtless made by the proprietor of
the domain for the use of the admirers of scenery. There I
stationed myself, and for some time enjoyed one of the wildest and
most beautiful scenes imaginable. Below me was the deep narrow
glen or ravine, down which a mountain torrent roared and foamed.
Beyond it was a mountain rising steeply, its nearer side, which was
in deep shade, the sun having long sunk below its top, hirsute with
all kinds of trees, from the highest pinnacle down to the torrent's
brink. Cut on the top surface of the wall, which was of slate, and
therefore easily impressible by the knife, were several names,
doubtless those of tourists, who had gazed from the look-out on the
prospect, amongst which I observed in remarkably bold letters that
of T . . . .
"Eager for immortality, Mr T.," said I; "but you are no H. M., no
Leaving the looking place I proceeded, and, after one or two
turnings, came to another, which afforded a view if possible yet
more grand, beautiful and wild, the most prominent objects of which
were a kind of devil's bridge flung over the deep glen and its
foaming water, and a strange-looking hill beyond it, below which,
with a wood on either side, stood a white farm-house - sending from
a tall chimney a thin misty reek up to the sky. I crossed the
bridge, which, however diabolically fantastical it looked at a
distance, seemed when one was upon it, capable of bearing any
weight, and soon found myself by the farm-house past which the way
led. An aged woman sat on a stool by the door.
"A fine evening," said I in English.
"Dim Saesneg;" said the aged woman.
"Oh, the blessing of being able to speak Welsh," said I; and then
repeated in that language what I had said to her in the other
"I daresay," said the aged woman, "to those who can see."
"Can you not see?"
"Very little. I am almost blind."
"Can you not see me?"
"I can see something tall and dark before me; that is all."
"Can you tell me the name of the bridge?"
"Pont y Glyn bin - the bridge of the glen of trouble."
"And what is the name of this place?"
"Pen y bont - the head of the bridge."
"What is your own name?"
"How old are you?"
"Fifteen after three twenties."
"I have a mother three after four twenties; that is eight years
older than yourself."
"Can she see?"
"Better than I - she can read the smallest letters."
"May she long be a comfort to you!"
"Thank you - are you the mistress of the house?"
"I am the grandmother."
"Are the people in the house?"
"They are not - they are at the chapel."
"And they left you alone?"
"They left me with my God."
"Is the chapel far from here?"
"About a mile."
"On the road to Cerrig y Drudion?"
"On the road to Cerrig y Drudion."
I bade her farewell, and pushed on - the road was good, with high
rocky banks on each side. After walking about the distance
indicated by the old lady, I reached a building, which stood on the
right-hand side of the road, and which I had no doubt was the
chapel, from a half-groaning, half-singing noise which proceeded
from it. The door being open, I entered, and stood just within it,
bare-headed. A rather singular scene presented itself. Within a
large dimly-lighted room, a number of people were assembled, partly
seated in rude pews, and partly on benches. Beneath a kind of
altar, a few yards from the door, stood three men - the middlemost
was praying in Welsh in a singular kind of chant, with his arms
stretched out. I could distinguish the words, "Jesus descend among
us! sweet Jesus descend among us - quickly." He spoke very slowly,
and towards the end of every sentence dropped his voice, so that
what he said was anything but distinct. As I stood within the
door, a man dressed in coarse garments came up to me from the
interior of the building, and courteously, and in excellent Welsh,
asked me to come with him and take a seat. With equal courtesy,
but far inferior Welsh, I assured him that I meant no harm, but
wished to be permitted to remain near the door, whereupon with a
low bow he left me. When the man had concluded his prayer, the
whole of the congregation began singing a hymn, many of the voices
were gruff and discordant, two or three, however, were of great
power, and some of the female ones of surprising sweetness. At the
conclusion of the hymn, another of the three men by the altar began
to pray, just in the same manner as his comrade had done, and
seemingly using much the same words. When he had done, there was
another hymn, after which, seeing that the congregation was about
to break up, I bowed my head towards the interior of the building,
Emerging from the hollow way, I found myself on a moor, over which
the road lay in the direction of the north. Towards the west, at
an immense distance, rose a range of stupendous hills, which I
subsequently learned were those of Snowdon - about ten minutes'
walking brought me to Cerrig y Drudion, a small village near a
rocky elevation, from which, no doubt, the place takes its name,
which interpreted, is the Rock of Heroes.
Cerrig y Drudion - The Landlady - Doctor Jones - Coll Gwynfa - The
Italian - Men of Como - Disappointment - Weather - Glasses -
THE inn at Cerrig y Drudion was called the Lion - whether the
white, black, red or green Lion, I do not know, though I am certain
that it was a lion of some colour or other. It seemed as decent
and respectable a hostelry as any traveller could wish, to refresh
and repose himself in, after a walk of twenty miles. I entered a
well-lighted passage, and from thence a well-lighted bar room, on
the right hand, in which sat a stout, comely, elderly lady, dressed
in silks and satins, with a cambric coif on her head, in company
with a thin, elderly man with a hat on his head, dressed in a
rather prim and precise manner. "Madam!" said I, bowing to the
lady, "as I suppose you are the mistress of this establishment, I
beg leave to inform you that I am an Englishman, walking through
these regions, in order fully to enjoy their beauties and wonders.
I have this day come from Llangollen, and being somewhat hungry and
fatigued, hope I can be accommodated here with a dinner and a bed."
"Sir!" said the lady, getting up and making me a profound curtsey,
"I am, as you suppose, the mistress of this establishment, and am
happy to say that I shall be able to accommodate you - pray sit
down, sir;" she continued, handing me a chair, "you must indeed be
tired, for Llangollen is a great way from here."
I took the seat with thanks, and she resumed her own.
"Rather hot weather for walking, sir!" said the precise-looking
"It is," said I; "but as I can't observe the country well without
walking through it, I put up with the heat."
"You exhibit a philosophic mind, sir," said the precise-looking
gentleman - "and a philosophic mind I hold in reverence."
"Pray, sir," said I, "have I the honour of addressing a member of
the medical profession?"
"Sir," said the precise-looking gentleman, getting up and making me
a bow, "your question does honour to your powers of discrimination
- a member of the medical profession I am, though an unworthy one."
"Nay, nay, doctor," said the landlady briskly; "say not so - every
one knows that you are a credit to your profession - well would it
be if there were many in it like you - unworthy? marry come up! I
won't hear such an expression."
"I see," said I, "that I have not only the honour of addressing a
medical gentleman, but a doctor of medicine - however, I might have
known as much by your language and deportment."
With a yet lower bow than before he replied with something of a
sigh, "No, sir, no, our kind landlady and the neighbourhood are in
the habit of placing doctor before my name, but I have no title to
it - I am not Doctor Jones, sir, but plain Geffery Jones at your
service," and thereupon with another bow he sat down.
"Do you reside here?" said I.
"Yes, sir, I reside here in the place of my birth - I have not
always resided here - and I did not always expect to spend my
latter days in a place of such obscurity, but, sir, misfortunes -
misfortunes . . ."
"Ah," said I, "misfortunes! they pursue every one, more especially
those whose virtues should exempt them from them. Well, sir, the
consciousness of not having deserved them should be your
"Sir," said the doctor, taking off his hat, "you are infinitely
"You call this an obscure place," said I - "can that be an obscure
place which has produced a poet? I have long had a respect for
Cerrig y Drudion because it gave birth to, and was the residence of
a poet of considerable merit."
"I was not aware of that fact," said the doctor, "pray what was his
"Peter Lewis," said I; "he was a clergyman of Cerrig y Drudion
about the middle of the last century, and amongst other things
wrote a beautiful song called Cathl y Gair Mwys, or the melody of
the ambiguous word."
"Surely you do not understand Welsh?" said the doctor.
"I understand a little of it," I replied.
"Will you allow me to speak to you in Welsh?" said the doctor.
"Certainly," said I.
He spoke to me in Welsh, and I replied.
"Ha, ha," said the landlady in English; "only think, doctor, of the
gentleman understanding Welsh - we must mind what we say before
"And are you an Englishman?" said the doctor.
"I am," I replied.
"And how came you to learn it?"
"I am fond of languages," said I, "and studied Welsh at an early
"And you read Welsh poetry?"
"How were you enabled to master its difficulties?"
"Chiefly by going through Owen Pugh's version of 'Paradise Lost'
twice, with the original by my side. He has introduced into that
translation so many of the poetic terms of the old bards, that
after twice going through it, there was little in Welsh poetry that
I could not make out with a little pondering."
"You pursued a very excellent plan, sir," said the doctor, "a very
excellent plan indeed. Owen Pugh!"
"Owen Pugh! The last of your very great men," said I.
"You say right, sir," said the doctor. "He was indeed our last
great man - Ultimus Romanorum. I have myself read his work, which
he called Coll Gwynfa, the Loss of the place of Bliss - an
admirable translation, sir; highly poetical, and at the same time
"Did you know him?" said I.
"I had not the honour of his acquaintance," said the doctor - "but,
sir, I am happy to say that I have made yours."
The landlady now began to talk to me about dinner, and presently
went out to make preparations for that very important meal. I had
a great deal of conversation with the doctor, whom I found a person
of great and varied information, and one who had seen a vast deal
of the world. He was giving me an account of an island in the West
Indies, which he had visited, when a boy coming in, whispered into
his ear; whereupon, getting up he said: "Sir, I am called away. I
am a country surgeon, and of course an accoucheur. There is a lady
who lives at some distance requiring my assistance. It is with
grief I leave you so abruptly, but I hope that some time or other
we shall meet again." Then making me an exceedingly profound bow,
he left the room, followed by the boy.
I dined upstairs in a very handsome drawing-room, communicating
with a sleeping apartment. During dinner I was waited upon by the
daughter of the landlady, a good-looking merry girl of twenty.
After dinner I sat for some time thinking over the adventures of
the day, then feeling rather lonely and not inclined to retire to
rest, I went down to the bar, where I found the landlady seated
with her daughter. I sat down with them and we were soon in
conversation. We spoke of Doctor Jones - the landlady said that he
had his little eccentricities, but was an excellent and learned
man. Speaking of herself she said that she had three daughters,
that the youngest was with her and that the two eldest kept the
principal inn at Ruthyn. We occasionally spoke a little Welsh. At
length the landlady said, "There is an Italian in the kitchen who
can speak Welsh too. It's odd the only two people not Welshmen I
have ever known who could speak Welsh, for such you and he are,
should be in my house at the same time."
"Dear me," said I; "I should like to see him."
"That you can easily do," said the girl; "I daresay he will be glad
enough to come in if you invite him."
"Pray take my compliments to him," said I, "and tell him that I
shall be glad of his company."
The girl went out and presently returned with the Italian. He was
a short, thick, strongly-built fellow of about thirty-seven, with a
swarthy face, raven-black hair, high forehead, and dark deep eyes,
full of intelligence and great determination. He was dressed in a
velveteen coat, with broad lappets, red waistcoat, velveteen
breeches, buttoning a little way below the knee; white stockings
apparently of lamb's-wool and high-lows.
"Buona sera?" said I.
"Buona sera, signore!" said the Italian.
"Will you have a glass of brandy and water?" said I in English.
"I never refuse a good offer," said the Italian.
He sat down, and I ordered a glass of brandy and water for him and
another for myself.
"Pray speak a little Italian to him," said the good landlady to me.
"I have heard a great deal about the beauty of that language, and
should like to hear it spoken."
"From the Lago di Como?" said I, trying to speak Italian.
"Si, signore! but how came you to think that I was from the Lake of
"Because," said I, "when I was a ragazzo I knew many from the Lake
of Como, who dressed much like yourself. They wandered about the
country with boxes on their backs and weather-glasses in their
hands, but had their head-quarters at N. where I lived."
"Do you remember any of their names?" said the Italian.
"Giovanni Gestra and Luigi Pozzi," I replied.
"I have seen Giovanni Gestra myself," said the Italian, "and I have
heard of Luigi Pozzi. Giovanni Gestra returned to the Lago - but
no one knows what is become of Luigi Pozzi."
"The last time I saw him," said I, "was about eighteen years ago at
Coruna in Spain; he was then in a sad drooping condition, and said
he bitterly repented ever quitting N."
"E con ragione," said the Italian, "for there is no place like N.
for doing business in the whole world. I myself have sold seventy
pounds' worth of weather-glasses at N. in one day. One of our