Part 6 out of 14
"Sir!" said the damsel staring at me.
"Any poetry," said I, "any pennillion?"
"No, sir," said the damsel; "my master is a respectable man, and
would scorn to do anything of the kind."
"Why," said I, "is not your master a bard as well as an innkeeper?"
"My master, sir, is an innkeeper," said the damsel; "but as for the
other, I don't know what you mean."
"A bard," said I, "is a prydydd, a person who makes verses -
pennillion; does not your master make them?"
"My master make them? No, sir; my master is a religious gentleman,
and would scorn to make such profane stuff."
"Well," said I, "he told me he did within the last two hours. I
met him at Dyffrin Gaint, along with another man, and he took me
into the public-house, where we had a deal of discourse."
"You met my master at Dyffryn Gaint?" said the damsel.
"Yes," said I, "and he treated me with ale, told me that he was a
poet, and that he was going to Bangor to buy a horse or a pig."
"I don't see how that could be, sir," said the damsel; "my master
is at present in the house, rather unwell, and has not been out for
the last three days - there must be some mistake."
"Mistake," said I. "Isn't this the - Arms?"
"Yes, sir, it is."
"And isn't your master's name W-?"
"No, sir, my master's name is H-, and a more respectable man - "
"Well," said I interrupting her - "all I can say is that I met a
man in Dyffryn Gaint, who treated me with ale, told me that his
name was W-, that he was a prydydd and kept the - Arms at L-."
"Well," said the damsel, "now I remember, there is a person of that
name in L-, and he also keeps a house which he calls the - Arms,
but it is only a public-house."
"But," said I, "is he not a prydydd, an illustrious poet; does he
not write pennillion which everybody admires?"
"Well," said the damsel, "I believe he does write things which he
calls pennillions, but everybody laughs at them."
"Come, come," said I, "I will not hear the productions of a man who
treated me with ale, spoken of with disrespect. I am afraid that
you are one of his envious maligners, of which he gave me to
understand that he had a great many."
"Envious, sir! not I indeed; and if I were disposed to be envious
of anybody it would not be of him; oh dear, why he is - "
"A bard of Anglesey," said I, interrupting her, "such a person as
Gronwy Owen describes in the following lines, which by-the-bye were
written upon himself:-
"'Where'er he goes he's sure to find
Respectful looks and greetings kind.'
"I tell you that it was out of respect to that man that I came to
this house. Had I not thought that he kept it, I should not have
entered it and called for a pint and chop - how distressing! how
"Well, sir," said the damsel, "if there is anything distressing you
have only to thank your acquaintance who chooses to call his mug-
house by the name of a respectable hotel, for I would have you know
that this is an hotel, and kept by a respectable and a religious
man, and not kept by - However, I scorn to say more, especially as
I might be misinterpreted. Sir, there's your pint and chop, and if
you wish for anything else you can ring. Envious, indeed, of such
- Marry come up!" and with a toss of her head, higher than any she
had hitherto given, she bounced out of the room.
Here was a pretty affair! I had entered the house and ordered the
chop and pint in the belief that by so doing I was patronising the
poet, and lo, I was not in the poet's house, and my order would
benefit a person for whom, however respectable and religious, I
cared not one rush. Moreover, the pint which I had ordered
appeared in the guise not of ale, which I am fond of, but of
sherry, for which I have always entertained a sovereign contempt,
as a silly, sickly compound, the use of which will transform a
nation, however bold and warlike by nature, into a race of
sketchers, scribblers, and punsters, in fact into what Englishmen
are at the present day. But who was to blame? Why, who but the
poet and myself? The poet ought to have told me that there were
two houses in L- bearing the sign of the - Arms, and that I must
fight shy of the hotel and steer for the pot-house, and when I gave
the order I certainly ought to have been a little more explicit;
when I said a pint I ought to have added - of ale. Sententiousness
is a fine thing sometimes, but not always. By being sententious
here, I got sherry, which I dislike, instead of ale which I like,
and should have to pay more for what was disagreeable, than I
should have had to pay for what was agreeable. Yet I had merely
echoed the poet's words in calling for a pint and chop, so after
all the poet was to blame for both mistakes. But perhaps he meant
that I should drink sherry at his house, and when he advised me to
call for a pint, he meant a pint of sherry. But the maid had said
he kept a pot-house, and no pot-houses have wine-licences; but the
maid after all might be an envious baggage, and no better than she
should be. But what was now to be done? Why, clearly make the
best of the matter, eat the chop and leave the sherry. So I
commenced eating the chop, which was by this time nearly cold.
After eating a few morsels I looked at the sherry: "I may as well
take a glass," said I. So with a wry face I poured myself out a
"What detestable stuff!" said I, after I had drunk it. "However,
as I shall have to pay for it I may as well go through with it."
So I poured myself out another glass, and by the time I had
finished the chop I had finished the sherry also.
And now what was I to do next? Why, my best advice seemed to be to
pay my bill and depart. But I had promised the poet to patronize
his house, and had by mistake ordered and despatched a pint and
chop in a house which was not the poet's. Should I now go to his
house and order a pint and chop there? Decidedly not! I had
patronised a house which I believed to be the poet's; if I
patronised the wrong one, the fault was his, not mine - he should
have been more explicit. I had performed my promise, at least in
Perfectly satisfied with the conclusion I had come to, I rang the
bell. "The bill?" said I to the handmaid.
"Here it is!" said she, placing a strip of paper in my hand.
I looked at the bill, and, whether moderate or immoderate, paid it
with a smiling countenance, commanded the entertainment highly, and
gave the damsel something handsome for her trouble in waiting on
Reader, please to bear in mind that as all bills must be paid, it
is much more comfortable to pay them with a smile than with a
frown, and that it is much better by giving sixpence, or a shilling
to a poor servant, which you will never miss at the year's end, to
be followed from the door of an inn by good wishes, than by giving
nothing to be pursued by cutting silence, or the yet more cutting
"Sir," said the good-looking, well-ribboned damsel, "I wish you a
pleasant journey, and whenever you please again to honour our
establishment with your presence, both my master and myself shall
be infinitely obliged to you."
Oats and Methodism - The Little Girl - Ty Gwyn - Bird of the Roof -
Purest English - Railroads - Inconsistency - The Boots.
IT might be about four in the afternoon when I left L- bound for
Pen Caer Gybi, or Holyhead, seventeen miles distant. I reached the
top of the hill on the west of the little town, and then walked
briskly forward. The country looked poor and mean - on my right
was a field of oats, on my left a Methodist chapel - oats and
Methodism! what better symbols of poverty and meanness?
I went onward a long way, the weather was broiling hot, and I felt
thirsty. On the top of a long ascent stood a house by the
roadside. I went to the door and knocked - no answer - "Oes neb yn
y ty?" said I.
"Oes!" said an infantine voice.
I opened the door and saw a little girl. "Have you any water?"
"No," said the child, "but I have this," and she brought me some
butter-milk in a basin. I just tasted it, gave the child a penny
and blessed her.
"Oes genoch tad?"
"No," said she; "but I have a mam." Tad in mam; blessed sounds; in
all languages expressing the same blessed things.
After walking for some hours I saw a tall blue hill in the far
distance before me. "What is the name of that hill?" said I to a
woman whom I met.
"Pen Caer Gybi," she replied.
Soon after I came to a village near to a rocky gully. On inquiring
the name of the village, I was told it was Llan yr Afon, or the
church of the river. I passed on; the country was neither grand
nor pretty - it exhibited a kind of wildness, however, which did
not fail to interest me - there were stones, rocks and furze in
abundance. Turning round the corner of a hill, I observed through
the mists of evening, which began to gather about me, what seemed
to be rather a genteel house on the roadside; on my left, and a
little way behind it a strange kind of monticle, on which I thought
I observed tall upright stones. Quickening my pace, I soon came
parallel with the house, which as I drew nigh, ceased to look like
a genteel house, and exhibited an appearance of great desolation.
It was a white, or rather grey structure of some antiquity. It was
evidently used as a farm-house, for there was a yard adjoining to
it, in which were stacks and agricultural implements. Observing
two men in the yard, I went in. They were respectable, farm-
looking men, between forty and fifty; one had on a coat and hat,
the other a cap and jacket. "Good evening," I said in Welsh.
"Good evening," they replied in the same language, looking
inquiringly at me.
"What is the name of this place?" said I.
"It is called Ty gwyn," said the man of the hat.
"On account of its colour, I suppose?" said I.
"Just so," said the man of the hat.
"It looks old," said I.
"And it is old," he replied. "In the time of the Papists it was
one of their chapels."
"Does it belong to you?" I demanded.
"Oh no, it belongs to one Mr Sparrow from Liverpool. I am his
bailiff, and this man is a carpenter who is here doing a job for
Here ensued a pause, which was broken by the man of the hat saying
in English, to the man of the cap:
"Who can this strange fellow be? he has not a word of English, and
though he speaks Welsh his Welsh sounds very different from ours.
Who can he be?"
"I am sure I don't know," said the other.
"I know who he is," said the first, "he comes from Llydaw, or
Armorica, which was peopled from Britain estalom, and where I am
told the real old Welsh language is still spoken."
"I think I heard you mention the word Llydaw?" said I, to the man
of the hat.
"Ah," said the man of the hat, speaking Welsh, "I was right after
all; oh, I could have sworn you were Llydaweg. Well, how are the
descendants of the ancient Britons getting on in Llydaw?"
"They are getting on tolerably well," said I, "when I last saw
them, though all things do not go exactly as they could wish."
"Of course not," said he of the hat. "We too have much to complain
of here; the lands are almost entirely taken possession of by
Saxons, wherever you go you will find them settled, and a Saxon
bird of the roof must build its nest in Gwyn dy."
"You call a sparrow in your Welsh a bird of the roof, do you not?"
"We do," said he of the hat. "You speak Welsh very well
considering you were not born in Wales. It is really surprising
that the men of Llydaw should speak the iaith so pure as they do."
"The Welsh when they went over there," said I, "took effectual
means that their descendants should speak good Welsh, if all tales
"What means?" said he of the hat.
"Why," said I; "after conquering the country they put all the men
to death, and married the women, but before a child was born they
cut out all the women's tongues, so that the only language the
children heard when they were born was pure Cumraeg. What do you
think of that?"
"Why, that it was a cute trick," said he of the hat.
"A more clever trick I never heard," said the man of the cap.
"Have you any memorials in the neighbourhood of the old Welsh?"
"What do you mean?" said the man of the hat.
"Any altars of the Druids?" said I; "any stone tables?"
"None," said the man of the hat.
"What may those stones be?" said I, pointing to the stones which
had struck my attention.
"Mere common rocks," said the man.
"May I go and examine them?" said I.
"Oh yes!" said he of the hat, "and we will go with you."
We went to the stones, which were indeed common rocks, and which
when I reached them presented quite a different appearance from
that which they presented to my eye when I viewed them from afar.
"Are there many altars of the Druids in Llydaw?" said the man of
"Plenty," said I, "but those altars are older than the time of the
Welsh colonists, and were erected by the old Gauls."
"Well," said the man of the cap, "I am glad I have seen the man of
"Whom do you call a man of Llydaw?" said I.
"Whom but yourself?" said he of the hat.
"I am not a man of Llydaw," said I in English, "but Norfolk, where
the people eat the best dumplings in the world, and speak the
purest English. Now a thousand thanks for your civility. I would
have some more chat with you, but night is coming on, and I am
bound to Holyhead."
Then leaving the men staring after me, I bent my steps towards
I passed by a place called Llan something, standing lonely on its
hill. The country round looked sad and desolate. It is true night
had come on when I saw it.
On I hurried. The voices of children sounded sweetly at a distance
across the wild champaign on my left.
It grew darker and darker. On I hurried along the road; at last I
came to lone, lordly groves. On my right was an open gate and a
lodge. I went up to the lodge. The door was open, and in a little
room I beheld a nice-looking old lady sitting by a table, on which
stood a lighted candle, with her eyes fixed on a large book.
"Excuse me," said I; "but who owns this property?"
The old lady looked up from her book, which appeared to be a Bible,
without the slightest surprise, though I certainly came upon her
unawares, and answered:
"Mr John Wynn."
I shortly passed through a large village, or rather town, the name
of which I did not learn. I then went on for a mile or two, and
saw a red light at some distance. The road led nearly up to it,
and then diverged towards the north. Leaving the road I made
towards the light by a lane, and soon came to a railroad station.
"You won't have long to wait, sir," said a man, "the train to
Holyhead will be here presently."
"How far is it to Holyhead?" said I.
"Two miles, sir, and the fare is only sixpence."
"I despise railroads," said I, "and those who travel by them," and
without waiting for an answer returned to the road. Presently I
heard the train - it stopped for a minute at the station, and then
continuing its course passed me on my left hand, voiding fierce
sparks, and making a terrible noise - the road was a melancholy
one; my footsteps sounded hollow upon it. I seemed to be its only
traveller - a wall extended for a long, long way on my left. At
length I came to a turnpike. I felt desolate and wished to speak
to somebody. I tapped at the window, at which there was a light; a
woman opened it. "How far to Holyhead?" said I in English.
"Dim Saesneg," said the woman.
I repeated my question in Welsh.
"Two miles," said she.
"Still two miles to Holyhead by the road," thought I. "Nos da,"
said I to the woman and sped along. At length I saw water on my
right, seemingly a kind of bay, and presently a melancholy ship. I
doubled my pace, which was before tolerably quick, and soon saw a
noble-looking edifice on my left, brilliantly lighted up. "What a
capital inn that would make," said I, looking at it wistfully, as I
passed it. Presently I found myself in the midst of a poor, dull,
"Where is the inn?" said I to a man.
"The inn, sir; you have passed it. The inn is yonder," he
continued, pointing towards the noble-looking edifice.
"What, is that the inn?" said I.
"Yes, sir, the railroad hotel - and a first-rate hotel it is."
"And are there no other inns?"
"Yes, but they are all poor places. No gent puts up at them - all
the gents by the railroad put up at the railroad hotel."
What was I to do? after turning up my nose at the railroad, was I
to put up at its hotel? Surely to do so would be hardly acting
with consistency. "Ought I not rather to go to some public-house,
frequented by captains of fishing smacks, and be put in a bed a
foot too short for me," said I, as I reflected on my last night's
couch at Mr Pritchard's. "No, that won't do - I shall go to the
hotel, I have money in my pocket, and a person with money in his
pocket has surely a right to be inconsistent if he pleases."
So I turned back and entered the railroad hotel with lofty port and
with sounding step, for I had twelve sovereigns in my pocket,
besides a half one, and some loose silver, and feared not to
encounter the gaze of any waiter or landlord in the land. "Send
boots!" I roared to the waiter, as I flung myself down in an arm-
chair in a magnificent coffee-room. "What the deuce are you
staring at? send boots can't you, and ask what I can have for
"Yes, sir," said the waiter, and with a low bow departed.
"These boots are rather dusty," said the boots, a grey-haired,
venerable-looking man, after he had taken off my thick, solid,
square-toed boots. "I suppose you came walking from the railroad?"
"Confound the railroad!" said I. "I came walking from Bangor. I
would have you know that I have money in my pocket, and can afford
to walk. I am fond of the beauties of nature; now it is impossible
to see much of the beauties of nature unless you walk. I am
likewise fond of poetry, and take especial delight in inspecting
the birth-places and haunts of poets. It is because I am fond of
poetry, poets and their haunts, that I am come to Anglesey.
Anglesey does not abound in the beauties of nature, but there never
was such a place for poets; you meet a poet, or the birth-place of
a poet, everywhere."
"Did your honour ever hear of Gronwy Owen?" said the old man.
"I have," I replied, "and yesterday I visited his birth-place; so
you have heard of Gronwy Owen?"
"Heard of him, your honour; yes, and read his works. That 'Cowydd
y Farn' of his is a wonderful poem."
"You say right," said I; "the 'Cowydd of Judgment' contains some of
the finest things ever written - that description of the toppling
down of the top crag of Snowdon, at the day of Judgment, beats
anything in Homer."
"Then there was Lewis Morris, your honour," said the old man, "who
gave Gronwy his education and wrote 'The Lasses of Meirion' - and -
"And 'The Cowydd to the Snail,'" said I, interrupting him - "a
wonderful man he was."
"I am rejoiced to see your honour in our house," said boots; "I
never saw an English gentleman before who knew so much about Welsh
poetry, nor a Welsh one either. Ah, if your honour is fond of
poets and their places you did right to come to Anglesey - and your
honour was right in saying that you can't stir a step without
meeting one; you have an example of the truth of that in me - for
to tell your honour the truth, I am a poet myself, and no bad one
Then tucking the dusty boots under his arm, the old man with a low
congee, and a "Good-night, your honour!" shuffled out of the room.
Caer Gyby - Lewis Morris - Noble Character.
I DINED or rather supped well at the Railroad Inn - I beg its
pardon, Hotel, for the word Inn at the present day is decidedly
vulgar. I likewise slept well; how could I do otherwise, passing
the night, as I did, in an excellent bed in a large, cool, quiet
room? I arose rather late, went down to the coffee-room and took
my breakfast leisurely, after which I paid my bill and strolled
forth to observe the wonders of the place.
Caer Gybi or Cybi's town is situated on the southern side of a bay
on the north-western side of Anglesey. Close to it on the south-
west is a very high headland called in Welsh Pen Caer Gybi, or the
head of Cybi's city, and in English Holy Head. On the north,
across the bay, is another mountain of equal altitude, which if I
am not mistaken bears in Welsh the name of Mynydd Llanfair, or
Saint Mary's Mount. It is called Cybi's town from one Cybi, who
about the year 500 built a college here to which youths noble and
ignoble resorted from far and near. He was a native of Dyfed or
Pembrokeshire, and was a friend and for a long time a fellow-
labourer of Saint David. Besides being learned, according to the
standard of the time, he was a great walker, and from bronzing his
countenance by frequent walking in the sun was generally called
Cybi Velin, which means tawny or yellow Cybi.
So much for Cybi, and his town! And now something about one whose
memory haunted me much more than that of Cybi during my stay at
Lewis Morris was born at a place called Tref y Beirdd, in Anglesey,
in the year 1700. Anglesey, or Mona, has given birth to many
illustrious men, but few, upon the whole, entitled to more
honourable mention than himself. From a humble situation in life,
for he served an apprenticeship to a cooper at Holyhead, he raised
himself by his industry and talents to affluence and distinction,
became a landed proprietor in the county of Cardigan, and inspector
of the royal domains and mines in Wales. Perhaps a man more
generally accomplished never existed; he was a first-rate mechanic,
an expert navigator, a great musician, both in theory and practice,
and a poet of singular excellence. Of him it was said, and with
truth, that he could build a ship and sail it, frame a harp and
make it speak, write an ode and set it to music. Yet that saying,
eulogistic as it is, is far from expressing all the vast powers and
acquirements of Lewis Morris. Though self-taught, he was
confessedly the best Welsh scholar of his age, and was well-versed
in those cognate dialects of the Welsh - the Cornish, Armoric,
Highland Gaelic and Irish. He was likewise well acquainted with
Hebrew, Greek and Latin, had studied Anglo-Saxon with some success,
and was a writer of bold and vigorous English. He was besides a
good general antiquary, and for knowledge of ancient Welsh customs,
traditions, and superstitions, had no equal. Yet all has not been
said which can be uttered in his praise; he had qualities of mind
which entitled him to higher esteem than any accomplishment
connected with intellect or skill. Amongst these were his noble
generosity and sacrifice of self for the benefit of others. Weeks
and months he was in the habit of devoting to the superintendence
of the affairs of the widow and fatherless: one of his principal
delights was to assist merit, to bring it before the world and to
procure for it its proper estimation: it was he who first
discovered the tuneful genius of blind Parry; it was he who first
put the harp into his hand; it was he who first gave him scientific
instruction; it was he who cheered him with encouragement and
assisted him with gold. It was he who instructed the celebrated
Evan Evans in the ancient language of Wales, enabling that talented
but eccentric individual to read the pages of the Red Book of
Hergest as easily as those of the Welsh Bible; it was he who
corrected his verses with matchless skill, refining and polishing
them till they became well worthy of being read by posterity; it
was he who gave him advice, which, had it been followed, would have
made the Prydydd Hir, as he called himself, one of the most
illustrious Welshmen of the last century; and it was he who first
told his countrymen that there was a youth of Anglesey whose
genius, if properly encouraged, promised fair to rival that of
Milton: one of the most eloquent letters ever written is one by
him, in which he descants upon the beauties of certain poems of
Gronwy Owen, the latent genius of whose early boyhood he had
observed, whom he had clothed, educated and assisted up to the
period when he was ordained a minister of the Church, and whom he
finally rescued from a state bordering on starvation in London,
procuring for him an honourable appointment in the New World.
Immortality to Lewis Morris! But immortality he has won, even as
his illustrious pupil has said, who in his elegy upon his
benefactor, written in America, in the four-and-twenty measures, at
a time when Gronwy had not heard the Welsh language spoken for more
than twenty years, has words to the following effect:-
"As long as Bardic lore shall last, science and learning be
cherished, the language and blood of the Britons undefiled, song be
heard on Parnassus, heaven and earth be in existence, foam be on
the surge, and water in the river, the name of Lewis of Mon shall
be held in grateful remembrance."
The Pier - Irish Reapers - Wild Irish Face - Father Toban - The
Herd of Swine - Latin Blessing.
THE day was as hot as the preceding one. I walked slowly towards
the west, and presently found myself upon a pier, or breakwater, at
the mouth of the harbour. A large steamer lay at a little distance
within the pier. There were fishing-boats on both sides, the
greater number on the outer side, which lies towards the hill of
Holy Head. On the shady side of the breakwater under the wall were
two or three dozen of Irish reapers; some were lying asleep, others
in parties of two or three were seated with their backs against the
wall, and were talking Irish; these last all appeared to be well-
made middle-sized young fellows, with rather a ruffianly look; they
stared at me as I passed. The whole party had shillealahs either
in their hands or by their sides. I went to the extremity of the
pier, where was a little lighthouse, and then turned back. As I
again drew near the Irish, I heard a hubbub and observed a great
commotion amongst them. All, whether those whom I had seen
sitting, or those whom I had seen reclining, had got, or were
getting on their legs. As I passed them they were all standing up,
and their eyes were fixed upon me with a strange kind of
expression, partly of wonder, methought, partly of respect. "Yes,
'tis he, sure enough," I heard one whisper. On I went, and at
about thirty yards from the last I stopped, turned round and leaned
against the wall. All the Irish were looking at me - presently
they formed into knots and began to discourse very eagerly in
Irish, though in an undertone. At length I observed a fellow going
from one knot to the other, exchanging a few words with each.
After he had held communication with all he nodded his head, and
came towards me with a quick step; the rest stood silent and
motionless with their eyes turned in the direction in which I was,
and in which he was advancing. He stopped within a yard of me and
took off his hat. He was an athletic fellow of about twenty-eight,
dressed in brown frieze. His features were swarthy, and his eyes
black; in every lineament of his countenance was a jumble of
savagery and roguishness. I never saw a more genuine wild Irish
face - there he stood looking at me full in the face, his hat in
one hand and his shillealah in the other.
"Well, what do you want?" said I, after we had stared at each other
about half a minute.
"Sure, I'm just come on the part of the boys and myself to beg a
bit of a favour of your reverence."
"Reverence," said I, "what do you mean by styling me reverence?"
"Och sure, because to be styled your reverence is the right of your
"Pray what do you take me for?"
"Och sure, we knows your reverence very well."
"Well, who am I?"
"Och, why Father Toban to be sure."
"And who knows me to be Father Toban?"
"Och, a boy here knows your reverence to be Father Toban."
"Where is that boy?"
"Here he stands, your reverence."
"Are you that boy?"
"I am, your reverence."
"And you told the rest that I was Father Toban?"
"I did, your reverence."
"And you know me to be Father Toban?"
"I do, your reverence."
"How do you know me to be Father Toban?"
"Och, why because many's the good time that I have heard your
reverence, Father Toban, say mass."
"And what is it you want me to do?"
"Why, see here, your reverence, we are going to embark in the dirty
steamer yonder for ould Ireland, which starts as soon as the tide
serves, and we want your reverence to bless us before we goes."
"You want me to bless you?"
"We do, your reverence, we want you to spit out a little bit of a
blessing upon us before we goes on board."
"And what good would my blessing do you?"
"All kinds of good, your reverence; it would prevent the dirty
steamer from catching fire, your reverence, or from going down,
your reverence, or from running against the blackguard Hill of
Howth in the mist, provided there should be one."
"And suppose I were to tell you that I am not Father Toban?"
"Och, your reverence, will never think of doing that."
"Would you believe me if I did?"
"We would not, your reverence."
"If I were to swear that I am not Father Toban?"
"We would not, your reverence."
"On the evangiles?"
"We would not, your reverence."
"On the Cross?"
"We would not, your reverence."
"And suppose I were to refuse to give you a blessing?"
"Och, your reverence will never refuse to bless the poor boys."
"But suppose I were to refuse?"
"Why, in such a case, which by-the-bye is altogether impossible, we
should just make bould to give your reverence a good big bating."
"You would break my head?"
"We would, your reverence."
"We would, your reverence."
"You would really put me to death?"
"We would not, your reverence."
"And what's the difference between killing and putting to death?"
"Och, sure there's all the difference in the world. Killing manes
only a good big bating, such as every Irishman is used to, and
which your reverence would get over long before matins, whereas
putting your reverence to death would prevent your reverence from
saying mass for ever and a day."
"And you are determined on having a blessing?"
"We are, your reverence."
"By hook or by crook?"
"By crook or by hook, your reverence."
"Before I bless you, will you answer me a question or two?"
"I will, your reverence."
"Are you not a set of great big blackguards?"
"We are, your reverence."
"Without one good quality?"
"We are, your reverence."
"Would it not be quite right to saddle and bridle you all, and ride
you violently down Holyhead or the Giant's Causeway into the
waters, causing you to perish there, like the herd of swine of
"It would, your reverence."
"And knowing and confessing all this, you have the cheek to come
and ask me for a blessing?"
"We have, your reverence."
"Well, how shall I give the blessing?"
"Och, sure your reverence knows very well how to give it."
"Shall I give it in Irish?"
"Och, no, your reverence - a blessing in Irish is no blessing at
"Och, murder, no, your reverence, God preserve us all from an
"Yes, sure, your reverence; in what else should you bless us but in
"Well then prepare yourselves."
"We will, your reverence - stay one moment whilst I whisper to the
boys that your reverence is about to bestow your blessing upon us."
Then turning to the rest who all this time had kept their eyes
fixed intently upon us, he bellowed with the voice of a bull:
"Down on your marrow bones, ye sinners, for his reverence Toban is
about to bless us all in holy Latin."
He then flung himself on his knees on the pier, and all his
countrymen, baring their heads, followed his example - yes, there
knelt thirty bare-headed Eirionaich on the pier of Caer Gybi
beneath the broiling sun. I gave them the best Latin blessing I
could remember, out of two or three which I had got by memory out
of an old Popish book of devotion, which I bought in my boyhood at
a stall. Then turning to the deputy I said, "Well, now are you
"Sure, I have a right to be satisfied, your reverence; and so have
we all - sure we can now all go on board the dirty steamer, without
fear of fire or water, or the blackguard Hill of Howth either."
"Then get up, and tell the rest to get up, and please to know and
let the rest know, that I do not choose to receive farther trouble,
either by word or look, from any of ye, as long as I remain here."
"Your reverence shall be obeyed in all things," said the fellow,
getting up. Then walking away to his companions he cried, "Get up,
boys, and plase to know that his reverence Toban is not to be
farther troubled by being looked at or spoken to by any one of us
as long as he remains upon this dirty pier."
"Divil a bit farther trouble shall he have from us!" exclaimed many
a voice, as the rest of the party arose from their knees.
In half a minute they disposed themselves in much the same manner
as that in which they were when I first saw them - some flung
themselves again to sleep under the wall, some seated themselves
with their backs against it, and laughed and chatted, but without
taking any notice of me; those who sat and chatted took, or
appeared to take, as little notice as those who lay and slept of
his reverence Father Toban.
Gage of Suffolk - Fellow in a Turban - Town of Holyhead - Father
Boots - An Expedition - Holy Head and Finisterrae - Gryffith ab
Cynan - The Fairies' Well.
LEAVING the pier I turned up a street to the south, and was not
long before I arrived at a kind of market-place, where were carts
and stalls, and on the ground, on cloths, apples and plums, and
abundance of greengages, - the latter, when good, decidedly the
finest fruit in the world, a fruit, for the introduction of which
into England, the English have to thank one Gage of an ancient
Suffolk family, at present extinct, after whose name the fruit
derives the latter part of its appellation. Strolling about the
market-place I came in contact with a fellow dressed in a turban
and dirty blue linen robes and trowsers. He bore a bundle of
papers in his hand, one of which he offered to me. I asked him who
"Arap," he replied.
He had a dark, cunning, roguish countenance, with small eyes, and
had all the appearance of a Jew. I spoke to him in what Arabic I
could command on a sudden, and he jabbered to me in a corrupt
dialect, giving me a confused account of a captivity which he had
undergone amidst savage Mahometans. At last I asked him what
religion he was of.
"The Christian," he replied.
"Have you ever been of the Jewish?" said I.
He returned no answer save by a grin.
I took the paper, gave him a penny, and then walked away. The
paper contained an account in English of how the bearer, the son of
Christian parents, had been carried into captivity by two Mahometan
merchants, a father and son, from whom he had escaped with the
"Pretty fools," said I, "must any people have been who ever stole
you; but oh what fools if they wished to keep you after they had
The paper was stuffed with religious and anti-slavery cant, and
merely wanted a little of the teetotal nonsense to be a perfect
specimen of humbug.
I strolled forward, encountering more carts and more heaps of
greengages; presently I turned to the right by a street, which led
some way up the hill. The houses were tolerably large and all
white. The town, with its white houses placed by the seaside, on
the skirt of a mountain, beneath a blue sky and a broiling sun, put
me something in mind of a Moorish piratical town, in which I had
once been. Becoming soon tired of walking about, without any
particular aim, in so great a heat, I determined to return to the
inn, call for ale, and deliberate on what I had best next do. So I
returned and called for ale. The ale which was brought was not ale
which I am particularly fond of. The ale which I am fond of is ale
about nine or ten months old, somewhat hard, tasting well of malt
and little of the hop - ale such as farmers, and noblemen too, of
the good old time, when farmers' daughters did not play on pianos
and noblemen did not sell their game, were in the habit of offering
to both high and low, and drinking themselves. The ale which was
brought me was thin washy stuff, which though it did not taste much
of hop, tasted still less of malt, made and sold by one Allsopp,
who I am told calls himself a squire and a gentleman - as he
certainly may with quite as much right as many a lord calls himself
a nobleman and a gentleman; for surely it is not a fraction more
trumpery to make and sell ale than to fatten and sell game. The
ale of the Saxon squire, for Allsopp is decidedly an old Saxon
name, however unakin to the practice of old Saxon squires the
selling of ale may be, was drinkable for it was fresh, and the day,
as I have said before, exceedingly hot; so I took frequent draughts
out of the shining metal tankard in which it was brought,
deliberating both whilst drinking, and in the intervals of
drinking, on what I had next best do. I had some thoughts of
crossing to the northern side of the bay, then, bearing the north-
east, wend my way to Amlwch, follow the windings of the sea-shore
to Mathafarn eithaf and Pentraeth Coch, and then return to Bangor,
after which I could boast that I had walked round the whole of
Anglesey, and indeed trodden no inconsiderable part of the way
twice. Before coming, however, to any resolution, I determined to
ask the advice of my friend the boots on the subject. So I
finished my ale, and sent word by the waiter that I wished to speak
to him; he came forthwith, and after communicating my deliberations
to him in a few words I craved his counsel. The old man, after
rubbing his right forefinger behind his right ear for about a
quarter of a minute, inquired if I meant to return to Bangor, and
on my telling him that it would be necessary for me to do so, as I
intended to walk back to Llangollen by Caernarvon and Beth Gelert,
strongly advised me to return to Bangor by the railroad train,
which would start at seven in the evening, and would convey me
thither in an hour and a half. I told him that I hated railroads,
and received for answer that he had no particular liking for them
himself, but that he occasionally made use of them on a pinch, and
supposed that I likewise did the same. I then observed, that if I
followed his advice I should not see the north side of the island
nor its principal town Amlwch, and received for answer that if I
never did, the loss would not be great - that as for Amlwch it was
a poor poverty-stricken place - the inn a shabby affair - the
master a very so-so individual, and the boots a fellow without
either wit or literature. That upon the whole he thought I might
be satisfied with what I had seen for after having visited Owen
Tudor's tomb, Caer Gybi and his hotel, I had in fact seen the cream
of Mona. I then said that I had one objection to make, which was
that I really did not know how to employ the time till seven
o'clock, for that I had seen all about the town.
"But has your honour ascended the Head?" demanded Father Boots.
"No," said I; "I have not."
"Then," said he, "I will soon find your honour ways and means to
spend the time agreeably till the starting of the train. Your
honour shall ascend the Head under the guidance of my nephew, a
nice intelligent lad, your honour, and always glad to earn a
shilling or two. By the time your honour has seen all the wonders
of the Head and returned, it will be five o'clock. Your honour can
then dine, and after dinner trifle away the minutes over your wine
or brandy-and-water till seven, when your honour can step into a
first-class for Bangor."
I was struck with the happy manner in which he had removed the
difficulty in question, and informed him that I was determined to
follow his advice. He hurried away, and presently returned with
his nephew, to whom I offered half-a-crown provided he would show
me all about Pen Caer Gyby. He accepted my offer with evident
satisfaction, and we lost no time in setting out upon our
We had to pass over a great deal of broken ground, sometimes
ascending, sometimes descending, before we found ourselves upon the
side of what may actually be called the headland. Shaping our
course westward we came to the vicinity of a lighthouse standing on
the verge of a precipice, the foot of which was washed by the sea.
Leaving the lighthouse on our right we followed a steep winding
path which at last brought us to the top of the pen or summit,
rising, according to the judgment which I formed, about six hundred
feet from the surface of the sea. Here was a level spot some
twenty yards across, in the middle of which stood a heap of stones
or cairn. I asked the lad whether this cairn bore a name, and
received for answer that it was generally called Bar-cluder y Cawr
Glas, words which seem to signify the top heap of the Grey Giant.
"Some king, giant, or man of old renown lies buried beneath this
cairn," said I. "Whoever he may be, I trust he will excuse me for
mounting it, seeing that I do so with no disrespectful spirit." I
then mounted the cairn, exclaiming:-
"Who lies 'neath the cairn on the headland hoar,
His hand yet holding his broad claymore,
Is it Beli, the son of Benlli Gawr?"
There stood I on the cairn of the Grey Giant, looking around me.
The prospect, on every side, was noble: the blue interminable sea
to the west and north; the whole stretch of Mona to the east; and
far away to the south the mountainous region of Eryri, comprising
some of the most romantic hills in the world. In some respects
this Pen Santaidd, this holy headland, reminded me of Finisterrae,
the Gallegan promontory which I had ascended some seventeen years
before, whilst engaged in battling the Pope with the sword of the
gospel in his favourite territory. Both are bold, bluff headlands
looking to the west, both have huge rocks in their vicinity, rising
from the bosom of the brine. For a time, as I stood on the cairn,
I almost imagined myself on the Gallegan hill; much the same
scenery presented itself as there, and a sun equally fierce struck
upon my head as that which assailed it on the Gallegan hill. For a
time all my thoughts were of Spain. It was not long, however,
before I bethought me that my lot was now in a different region,
that I had done with Spain for ever, after doing for her all that
lay in the power of a lone man, who had never in this world
anything to depend upon, but God and his own slight strength. Yes,
I had done with Spain, and was now in Wales; and, after a slight
sigh, my thoughts became all intensely Welsh. I thought on the old
times when Mona was the grand seat of Druidical superstition, when
adoration was paid to Dwy Fawr, and Dwy Fach, the sole survivors of
the apocryphal Deluge; to Hu the Mighty and his plough; to Ceridwen
and her cauldron; to Andras the Horrible; to Wyn ab Nudd, Lord of
Unknown, and to Beli, Emperor of the Sun. I thought on the times
when the Beal fire blazed on this height, on the neighbouring
promontory, on the cope-stone of Eryri, and on every high hill
throughout Britain on the eve of the first of May. I thought on
the day when the bands of Suetonius crossed the Menai strait in
their broad-bottomed boats, fell upon the Druids and their
followers, who with wild looks and brandished torches lined the
shore, slew hundreds with merciless butchery upon the plains, and
pursued the remainder to the remotest fastnesses of the isle. I
figured to myself long-bearded men with white vestments toiling up
the rocks, followed by fierce warriors with glittering helms and
short broad two-edged swords; I thought I heard groans, cries of
rage, and the dull, awful sound of bodies precipitated down rocks.
Then as I looked towards the sea I thought I saw the fleet of
Gryffith Ab Cynan steering from Ireland to Aber Menai, Gryffith,
the son of a fugitive king, born in Ireland, in the Commot of
Columbcille, Gryffith the frequently baffled, the often victorious;
once a manacled prisoner sweating in the sun, in the market-place
of Chester, eventually king of North Wales; Gryffith, who "though
he loved well the trumpet's clang loved the sound of the harp
better"; who led on his warriors to twenty-four battles, and
presided over the composition of the twenty-four measures of
Cambrian song. Then I thought -. But I should tire the reader
were I to detail all the intensely Welsh thoughts which crowded
into my head as I stood on the Cairn of the Grey Giant.
Satiated with looking about and thinking, I sprang from the cairn
and rejoined my guide. We now descended the eastern side of the
hill till we came to a singular looking stone, which had much the
appearance of a Druid's stone. I inquired of my guide whether
there was any tale connected with this stone.
"None," he replied; "but I have heard people say that it was a
strange stone, and on that account I brought you to look at it."
A little farther down he showed me part of a ruined wall.
"What name does this bear?" said I.
"Clawdd yr Afalon," he replied. "The dyke of the orchard."
"A strange place for an orchard," I replied. "If there was ever an
orchard on this bleak hill, the apples must have been very sour."
Over rocks and stones we descended till we found ourselves on a
road, not very far from the shore, on the south-east side of the
"I am very thirsty," said I, as I wiped the perspiration from my
face; "how I should like now to drink my fill of cool spring
"If your honour is inclined for water," said my guide, "I can take
you to the finest spring in all Wales."
"Pray do so," said I, "for I really am dying of thirst."
"It is on our way to the town," said the lad, "and is scarcely a
hundred yards off."
He then led me to the fountain. It was a little well under a stone
wall, on the left side of the way. It might be about two feet
deep, was fenced with rude stones, and had a bottom of sand.
"There," said the lad, "is the fountain. It is called the Fairies'
Well, and contains the best water in Wales."
I lay down and drank. Oh, what water was that of the Fairies'
Well! I drank and drank, and thought I could never drink enough of
that delicious water; the lad all the time saying that I need not
be afraid to drink, as the water of the Fairies' Well had never
done harm to anybody. At length I got up, and standing by the
fountain repeated the lines of a bard on a spring, not of a Welsh
but a Gaelic bard, which are perhaps the finest lines ever composed
on the theme. Yet MacIntyre, for such was his name, was like
myself an admirer of good ale, to say nothing of whiskey, and loved
to indulge in it at a proper time and place. But there is a time
and place for everything, and sometimes the warmest admirer of ale
would prefer the lymph of the hill-side fountain to the choicest
ale that ever foamed in tankard from the cellars of Holkham. Here
are the lines most faithfully rendered:-
"The wild wine of nature,
Honey-like in its taste,
The genial, fair, thin element
Filtering through the sands,
Which is sweeter than cinnamon,
And is well known to us hunters.
O, that eternal, healing draught,
Which comes from under the earth,
Which contains abundance of good
And costs no money!"
Returning to the hotel I satisfied my guide and dined. After
dinner I trifled agreeably with my brandy-and-water till it was
near seven o'clock, when I paid my bill, thought of the waiter and
did not forget Father Boots. I then took my departure, receiving
and returning bows, and walking to the station got into a first-
class carriage and soon found myself at Bangor.
The Inn at Bangor - Port Dyn Norwig - Sea Serpent - Thoroughly
Welsh Place - Blessing of Health.
I WENT to the same inn at Bangor at which I had been before. It
was Saturday night and the house was thronged with people who had
arrived by train from Manchester and Liverpool, with the intention
of passing the Sunday in the Welsh town. I took tea in an immense
dining or ball-room, which was, however, so crowded with guests
that its walls literally sweated. Amidst the multitude I felt
quite solitary - my beloved ones had departed for Llangollen, and
there was no one with whom I could exchange a thought or a word of
kindness. I addressed several individuals, and in every instance
repented; from some I got no answers, from others what was worse
than no answers at all - in every countenance near me suspicion,
brutality, or conceit, was most legibly imprinted - I was not
amongst Welsh, but the scum of manufacturing England.
Every bed in the house was engaged - the people of the house,
however, provided me a bed at a place which they called the
cottage, on the side of a hill in the outskirts of the town. There
I passed the night comfortably enough. At about eight in the
morning I arose, returned to the inn, breakfasted, and departed for
Beth Gelert by way of Caernarvon.
It was Sunday, and I had originally intended to pass the day at
Bangor, and to attend divine service twice at the Cathedral, but I
found myself so very uncomfortable, owing to the crowd of
interlopers, that I determined to proceed on my journey without
delay; making up my mind, however, to enter the first church I
should meet in which service was being performed; for it is really
not good to travel on the Sunday without going into a place of
The day was sunny and fiercely hot, as all the days had lately
been. In about an hour I arrived at Port Dyn Norwig: it stood on
the right side of the road. The name of this place, which I had
heard from the coachman who drove my family and me to Caernarvon
and Llanberis a few days before, had excited my curiosity with
respect to it, as it signifies the Port of the Norway man, so I now
turned aside to examine it. "No doubt," said I to myself, "the
place derives its name from the piratical Danes and Norse having
resorted to it in the old time." Port Dyn Norwig seems to consist
of a creek, a staithe, and about a hundred houses: a few small
vessels were lying at the staithe. I stood about ten minutes upon
it staring about, and then feeling rather oppressed by the heat of
the sun, I bent my way to a small house which bore a sign, and from
which a loud noise of voices proceeded. "Have you good ale?" said
I in English to a good-looking buxom dame of about forty, whom I
saw in the passage.
She looked at me but returned no answer.
"Oes genoch cwrw da?" said I.
"Oes!" she replied with a smile, and opening the door of a room on
the left-hand bade me walk in.
I entered the room; six or seven men, seemingly sea-faring people,
were seated drinking and talking vociferously in Welsh. Their
conversation was about the sea-serpent: some believed in the
existence of such a thing, others did not. After a little time one
said, "Let us ask this gentleman for his opinion."
"And what would be the use of asking him?" said another, "we have
only Cumraeg, and he has only Saesneg."
"I have a little broken Cumraeg, at the service of this good
company," said I. "With respect to the snake of the sea I beg
leave to say that I believe in the existence of such a creature;
and am surprised that any people in these parts should not believe
in it: why, the sea-serpent has been seen in these parts."
"When was that, Gwr Boneddig?" said one of the company.
"About fifty years ago," said I. "Once in October, in the year
1805, as a small vessel of the Traeth was upon the Menai, sailing
very slowly, the weather being very calm, the people on board saw a
strange creature like an immense worm swimming after them. It soon
overtook them, climbed on board through the tiller-hole, and coiled
itself on the deck under the mast - the people at first were
dreadfully frightened, but taking courage they attacked it with an
oar and drove it overboard; it followed the vessel for some time,
but a breeze springing up they lost sight of it."
"And how did you learn this?" said the last who had addressed me.
"I read the story," said I, "in a pure Welsh book called the
"I now remember hearing the same thing," said an old man, "when I
was a boy; it had slipt out of my memory, but now I remember all
about it. The ship was called the ROBERT ELLIS. Are you of these
"No," said I, "I am not of these parts."
"Then you are of South Wales - indeed your Welsh is very different
"I am not of South Wales," said I, "I am the seed not of the sea-
snake but of the coiling serpent, for so one of the old Welsh poets
called the Saxons."
"But how did you learn Welsh?" said the old man.
"I learned it by the grammar," said I, "a long time ago."
"Ah, you learnt it by the grammar," said the old man; "that
accounts for your Welsh being different from ours. We did not
learn our Welsh by the grammar - your Welsh is different from ours,
and of course better, being the Welsh of the grammar. Ah, it is a
fine thing to be a grammarian."
"Yes, it is a fine thing to be a grammarian," cried the rest of the
company, and I observed that everybody now regarded me with a kind
A jug of ale which the hostess had brought me had been standing
before me some time. I now tasted it and found it very good.
Whilst despatching it, I asked various questions about the old
Danes, the reason why the place was called the port of the
Norwegian, and about its trade. The good folks knew nothing about
the old Danes, and as little as to the reason of its being called
the port of the Norwegian - but they said that besides that name it
bore that of Melin Heli, or the mill of the salt pool, and that
slates were exported from thence, which came from quarries close
Having finished my ale, I bade the company adieu and quitted Port
Dyn Norwig, one of the most thoroughly Welsh places I had seen, for
during the whole time I was in it, I heard no words of English
uttered, except the two or three spoken by myself. In about an
hour I reached Caernarvon.
The road from Bangor to Caernarvon is very good and the scenery
interesting - fine hills border it on the left, or south-east, and
on the right at some distance is the Menai with Anglesey beyond it.
Not far from Caernarvon a sandbank commences, extending for miles
up the Menai, towards Bangor, and dividing the strait into two.
I went to the Castle Inn which fronts the square or market-place,
and being shown into a room ordered some brandy-and-water, and sat
down. Two young men were seated in the room. I spoke to them and
received civil answers, at which I was rather astonished, as I
found by the tone of their voices that they were English. The air
of one was far superior to that of the other, and with him I was
soon in conversation. In the course of discourse he informed me
that being a martyr to ill-health he had come from London to Wales,
hoping that change of air, and exercise on the Welsh hills, would
afford him relief, and that his friend had been kind enough to
accompany him. That he had been about three weeks in Wales, had
taken all the exercise that he could, but that he was still very
unwell, slept little and had no appetite. I told him not to be
discouraged, but to proceed in the course which he had adopted till
the end of summer, by which time I thought it very probable that he
would be restored to his health, as he was still young. At these
words of mine a beam of hope brightened his countenance, and he
said that he had no other wish than to regain his health, and that
if he did he should be the happiest of men. The intense wish of
the poor young man for health caused me to think how insensible I
had hitherto been to the possession of the greatest of all
terrestrial blessings. I had always had the health of an elephant,
but I never remembered to have been sensible to the magnitude of
the blessing or in the slightest degree grateful to God who gave
it. I shuddered to think how I should feel if suddenly deprived of
my health. Far worse, no doubt, than that poor invalid. He was
young, and in youth there is hope - but I was no longer young. At
last, however, I thought that if God took away my health He might
so far alter my mind that I might be happy even without health, or
the prospect of it; and that reflection made me quite comfortable.
National School - The Young Preacher - Pont Bettws - Spanish Words
- Two Tongues, Two Faces - The Elephant's Snout - Llyn Cwellyn -
The Snowdon Ranger - My House - Castell y Cidwm - Descent to Beth
IT might be about three o'clock in the afternoon when I left
Caernarvon for Beth Gelert, distant about thirteen miles. I
journeyed through a beautiful country of hill and dale, woods and
meadows, the whole gilded by abundance of sunshine. After walking
about an hour without intermission I reached a village, and asked a
man the name of it.
"Llan - something," he replied.
As he was standing before a long building, through the open door of
which a sound proceeded like that of preaching, I asked him what
place it was, and what was going on in it, and received for answer
that it was the National School, and that there was a clergyman
preaching in it. I then asked if the clergyman was of the Church,
and on learning that he was, I forthwith entered the building,
where in one end of a long room I saw a young man in a white
surplice preaching from a desk to about thirty or forty people, who
were seated on benches before him. I sat down and listened. The
young man preached with great zeal and fluency. The sermon was a
very seasonable one, being about the harvest, and in it things
temporal and spiritual were very happily blended. The part of the
sermon which I heard - I regretted that I did not hear the whole -
lasted about five-and-twenty minutes: a hymn followed, and then
the congregation broke up. I inquired the name of the young man
who preached, and was told that it was Edwards, and that he came
from Caernarvon. The name of the incumbent of the parish was
Leaving the village of the harvest sermon I proceeded on my way
which lay to the south-east. I was now drawing nigh to the
mountainous district of Eryri; a noble hill called Mount Eilio
appeared before me to the north; an immense mountain called Pen
Drws Coed lay over against it on the south, just like a couchant
elephant with its head lower than the top of its back. After a
time I entered a most beautiful sunny valley, and presently came to
a bridge over a pleasant stream running in the direction of the
south. As I stood upon that bridge I almost fancied myself in
Paradise; everything looked so beautiful or grand - green, sunny
meadows lay all around me, intersected by the brook, the waters of
which ran with tinkling laughter over a shingly bottom. Noble
Eilio to the north; enormous Pen Drws Coed to the south; a tall
mountain far beyond them to the east. "I never was in such a
lovely spot!" I cried to myself in a perfect rapture. "Oh, how
glad I should be to learn the name of this bridge, standing on
which I have had 'Heaven opened to me,' as my old friends the
Spaniards used to say." Scarcely had I said these words when I
observed a man and a woman coming towards the bridge in the
direction in which I was bound. I hastened to meet them in the
hope of obtaining information. They were both rather young, and
were probably a couple of sweethearts taking a walk or returning
from meeting. The woman was a few steps in advance of the man;
seeing that I was about to address her, she averted her head and
quickened her steps, and before I had completed the question, which
I put to her in Welsh, she had bolted past me screaming "Ah Dim
Seasneg," and was several yards distant.
I then addressed myself to the man who had stopped, asking him the
name of the bridge.
"Pont Bettws," he replied.
"And what may be the name of the river?" said I.
"Afon - something," said he.
And on my thanking him he went forward to the woman who was waiting
for him by the bridge.
"Is that man Welsh or English?" I heard her say when he had
"I don't know," said the man - "he was civil enough; why were you
such a fool?"
"Oh, I thought he would speak to me in English," said the woman,
"and the thought of that horrid English puts me into such a
flutter; you know I can't speak a word of it."
They proceeded on their way and I proceeded on mine, and presently
coming to a little inn on the left side of the way, at the entrance
of a village, I went in.
A respectable-looking man and woman were seated at tea at a table
in a nice clean kitchen. I sat down on a chair near the table, and
called for ale - the ale was brought me in a jug - I drank some,
put the jug on the table, and began to discourse with the people in
Welsh. A handsome dog was seated on the ground; suddenly it laid
one of its paws on its master's knee.
"Down, Perro," said he.
"Perro!" said I; "why do you call the dog Perro?"
"We call him Perro," said the man, "because his name is Perro."
"But how came you to give him that name?" said I.
"We did not give it to him," said the man - "he bore that name when
he came into our hands; a farmer gave him to us when he was very
young, and told us his name was Perro."
"And how came the farmer to call him Perro?" said I.
"I don't know," said the man - "why do you ask?"
"Perro," said I, "is a Spanish word, and signifies a dog in
general. I am rather surprised that a dog in the mountains of
Wales should be called by the Spanish word for dog." I fell into a
fit of musing. "How Spanish words are diffused! Wherever you go
you will find some Spanish word or other in use. I have heard
Spanish words used by Russian mujiks and Turkish fig-gatherers - I
have this day heard a Spanish word in the mountains of Wales, and I
have no doubt that were I to go to Iceland I should find Spanish
words used there. How can I doubt it; when I reflect that more
than six hundred years ago, one of the words to denote a bad woman
was Spanish. In the oldest of Icelandic domestic Sagas,
Skarphedin, the son of Nial the seer, called Hallgerdr, widow of
Gunnar, a puta - and that word so maddened Hallgerdr that she never
rested till she had brought about his destruction. Now, why this
preference everywhere for Spanish words over those of every other
language? I never heard French words or German words used by
Russian mujiks and Turkish fig-gatherers. I question whether I
should find any in Iceland forming part of the vernacular. I
certainly never found a French or even a German word in an old
Icelandic Saga. Why this partiality everywhere for Spanish words?
the question is puzzling; at any rate it puts me out - "
"Yes, it puts me out!" I exclaimed aloud, striking my fist on the
table with a vehemence which caused the good folks to start half up
from their seats. Before they could say anything, however, a
vehicle drove up to the door, and a man getting out came into the
room. He had a glazed hat on his head, and was dressed something
like the guard of a mail. He touched his hat to me, and called for
a glass of whiskey. I gave him the sele of the evening and entered
into conversation with him in English. In the course of discourse
I learned that he was the postman, and was going his rounds in his
cart - he was more than respectful to me, he was fawning and
sycophantic. The whiskey was brought, and he stood with the glass
in his hand. Suddenly he began speaking Welsh to the people;
before, however, he had uttered two sentences the woman lifted her
hand with an alarmed air, crying "Hush! he understands." The
fellow was turning me to ridicule. I flung my head back, closed my
eyes, opened my mouth and laughed aloud. The fellow stood aghast;
his hand trembled, and he spilt the greater part of the whiskey
upon the ground. At the end of about half a minute I got up, asked
what I had to pay, and on being told twopence, I put down the
money. Then going up to the man I put my right forefinger very
near to his nose, and said "Dwy o iaith dwy o wyneb, two languages,
two faces, friend!" Then after leering at him for a moment I
wished the people of the house good-evening and departed.
Walking rapidly on towards the east I soon drew near the
termination of the valley. The valley terminates in a deep gorge
or pass between Mount Eilio - which by-the-bye is part of the chine
of Snowdon - and Pen Drws Coed. The latter, that couchant elephant
with its head turned to the north-east, seems as if it wished to
bar the pass with its trunk; by its trunk I mean a kind of jaggy
ridge which descends down to the road. I entered the gorge,
passing near a little waterfall which with much noise runs down the
precipitous side of Mount Eilio; presently I came to a little mill
by the side of a brook running towards the east. I asked the
miller-woman, who was standing near the mill, with her head turned
towards the setting sun, the name of the mill and the stream. "The
mill is called 'The mill of the river of Lake Cwellyn,'" said she,
"and the river is called the river of Lake Cwellyn."
"And who owns the land?" said I.
"Sir Richard," said she. "I Sir Richard yw yn perthyn y tir. Mr
Williams, however, possesses some part of Mount Eilio."
"And who is Mr Williams?" said I.
"Who is Mr Williams?" said the miller's wife. "Ho, ho! what a
stranger you must be to ask me who is Mr Williams."
I smiled and passed on. The mill was below the level of the road,
and its wheel was turned by the water of a little conduit supplied
by the brook at some distance above the mill. I had observed
similar conduits employed for similar purposes in Cornwall. A
little below the mill was a weir, and a little below the weir the
river ran frothing past the extreme end of the elephant's snout.
Following the course of the river I at last emerged with it from
the pass into a valley surrounded by enormous mountains. Extending
along it from west to east, and occupying its entire southern part
lay an oblong piece of water, into which the streamlet of the pass
discharged itself. This was one of the many beautiful lakes, which
a few days before I had seen from the Wyddfa. As for the Wyddfa I
now beheld it high above me in the north-east looking very grand
indeed, shining like a silver helmet whilst catching the glories of
the setting sun.
I proceeded slowly along the road, the lake below me on my right
hand, whilst the shelvy side of Snowdon rose above me on the left.
The evening was calm and still, and no noise came upon my ear save
the sound of a cascade falling into the lake from a black mountain,
which frowned above it on the south, and cast a gloomy shadow far
This cataract was in the neighbourhood of a singular-looking rock,
projecting above the lake from the mountain's side. I wandered a
considerable way without meeting or seeing a single human being.
At last when I had nearly gained the eastern end of the valley I
saw two men seated on the side of the hill, on the verge of the
road, in the vicinity of a house which stood a little way up the
hill. The lake here was much wider than I had hitherto seen it,
for the huge mountain on the south had terminated and the lake
expanded considerably in that quarter, having instead of the black
mountain a beautiful hill beyond it.
I quickened my steps and soon came up to the two individuals. One
was an elderly man, dressed in a smock frock and with a hairy cap
on his head. The other was much younger, wore a hat, and was
dressed in a coarse suit of blue nearly new, and doubtless his
Sunday's best. He was smoking a pipe. I greeted them in English
and sat down near them. They responded in the same language, the
younger man with considerable civility and briskness, the other in
a tone of voice denoting some reserve.
"May I ask the name of this lake?" said I, addressing myself to the
young man who sat between me and the elderly one.
"Its name is Llyn Cwellyn, sir," said he, taking the pipe out of
his mouth. "And a fine lake it is."
"Plenty of fish in it?" I demanded.
"Plenty, sir; plenty of trout and pike and char."
"Is it deep?" said I.
"Near the shore it is shallow, sir, but in the middle and near the
other side it is deep, so deep that no one knows how deep it is."
"What is the name," said I, "of the great black mountain there on
the other side?"
"It is called Mynydd Mawr or the Great Mountain. Yonder rock,
which bulks out from it, down the lake yonder, and which you passed
as you came along, is called Castell Cidwm, which means Wolf's rock
"Did a wolf ever live there?" I demanded.
"Perhaps so," said the man, "for I have heard say that there were
wolves of old in Wales."
"And what is the name of the beautiful hill yonder, before us
across the water?"
"That, sir, is called Cairn Drws y Coed," said the man.
"The stone heap of the gate of the wood," said I.
"Are you Welsh, sir?" said the man.
"No," said I, "but I know something of the language of Wales. I
suppose you live in that house?"
"Not exactly, sir, my father-in-law here lives in that house, and
my wife with him. I am a miner, and spend six days in the week at
my mine, but every Sunday I come here and pass the day with my wife
"And what profession does he follow?" said I; "is he a fisherman?"
"Fisherman!" said the elderly man contemptuously, "not I. I am the
"And what is that?" said I.
The elderly man tossed his head proudly, and made no reply.
"A ranger means a guide, sir," said the younger man; "my father-in-
law is generally termed the Snowdon Ranger because he is a tip-top
guide, and he has named the house after him the Snowdon Ranger. He
entertains gentlemen in it who put themselves under his guidance in
order to ascend Snowdon and to see the country."
"There is some difference in your professions," said "he deals in
heights, you in depths, both, however, are break-necky trades."
"I run more risk from gunpowder than anything else," said the
younger man. "I am a slate-miner, and am continually blasting. I
have, however, had my falls. Are you going far to-night, sir?"
"I am going to Beth Gelert," said I.
"A good six miles, sir, from here. Do you come from Caernarvon?"
"Farther than that," said I. "I come from Bangor."
"To-day, sir, and walking?"
"To-day, and walking."
"You must be rather tired, sir, you came along the valley very
"I am not in the slightest degree tired," said I; "when I start
from here, I shall put on my best pace, and soon get to Beth
"Anybody can get along over level ground," said the old man,
"Not with equal swiftness," said I. "I do assure you, friend, to
be able to move at a good swinging pace over level ground is
something not to be sneezed at. Not," said I, lifting up my voice,
"that I would for a moment compare walking on the level ground to
mountain ranging, pacing along the road to springing up crags like
a mountain goat, or assert that even Powell himself, the first of
all road walkers, was entitled to so bright a wreath of fame as the
"Won't you walk in, sir?" said the elderly man.
"No, I thank you," said I, "I prefer sitting out here gazing on the
lake and the noble mountains."
"I wish you would, sir," said the elderly man, "and take a glass of
something; I will charge you nothing."
"Thank you," said I, "I am in want of nothing, and shall presently
start. Do many people ascend Snowdon from your house?"
"Not so many as I could wish," said the ranger; "people in general
prefer ascending Snowdon from that trumpery place Beth Gelert; but
those who do are fools - begging your honour's pardon. The place
to ascend Snowdon from is my house. The way from my house up
Snowdon is wonderful for the romantic scenery which it affords;
that from Beth Gelert can't be named in the same day with it for
scenery; moreover, from my house you may have the best guide in
Wales; whereas the guides of Beth Gelert - but I say nothing. If
your honour is bound for the Wyddfa, as I suppose you are, you had
better start from my house to-morrow under my guidance."
"I have already been up the Wyddfa from Llanberis," said I, "and am
now going through Beth Gelert to Llangollen, where my family are;
were I going up Snowdon again I should most certainly start from
your house under your guidance, and were I not in a hurry at
present, I would certainly take up my quarters here for a week, and
every day snake excursions with you into the recesses of Eryri. I
suppose you are acquainted with all the secrets of the hills?"
"Trust the old ranger for that, your honour. I would show your
honour the black lake in the frightful hollow in which the fishes
have monstrous heads and little bodies, the lake on which neither
swan, duck nor any kind of wildfowl was ever seen to light. Then I
would show your honour the fountain of the hopping creatures,
where, where - "
"Were you ever at that Wolf's crag, that Castell y Cidwm?" said I.
"Can't say I ever was, your honour. You see it lies so close by,
just across the lake, that - "
"You thought you could see it any day, and so never went," said I.
"Can you tell me whether there are any ruins upon it?"
"I can't, your honour."
"I shouldn't wonder," said I, "if in old times it was the
stronghold of some robber-chieftain; cidwm in the old Welsh is
frequently applied to a ferocious man. Castell Cidwm, I should
think, rather ought to be translated the robber's castle than the
wolf's rock. If I ever come into these parts again you and I will
visit it together, and see what kind of place it is. Now farewell!
It is getting late." I then departed.
"What a nice gentleman!" said the younger man, when I was a few
"I never saw a nicer gentleman," said the old ranger.
I sped along, Snowdon on my left, the lake on my right, and the tip
of a mountain peak right before me in the east. After a little
time I looked back; what a scene! The silver lake and the shadowy
mountain over its southern side looking now, methought, very much
like Gibraltar. I lingered and lingered, gazing and gazing, and at
last only by an effort tore myself away. The evening had now
become delightfully cool in this land of wonders. On I sped,
passing by two noisy brooks coming from Snowdon to pay tribute to
the lake. And now I had left the lake and the valley behind, and
was ascending a hill. As I gained its summit, up rose the moon to
cheer my way. In a little time, a wild stony gorge confronted me,
a stream ran down the gorge with hollow roar, a bridge lay across
it. I asked a figure whom I saw standing by the bridge the place's
name. "Rhyd du" - the black ford - I crossed the bridge. The
voice of the Methodist was yelling from a little chapel on my left.
I went to the door and listened: "When the sinner takes hold of
God, God takes hold of the sinner." The voice was frightfully
hoarse. I passed on: night fell fast around me, and the mountain
to the south-east, towards which I was tending, looked blackly
grand. And now I came to a milestone on which I read with
difficulty: "Three miles to Beth Gelert." The way for some time
had been upward, but now it was downward. I reached a torrent,
which coming from the north-west rushed under a bridge, over which
I passed. The torrent attended me on my right hand the whole way
to Beth Gelert. The descent now became very rapid. I passed a
pine wood on my left, and proceeded for more than two miles at a
tremendous rate. I then came to a wood - this wood was just above
Beth Gelert - proceeding in the direction of a black mountain, I
found myself amongst houses, at the bottom of a valley. I passed
over a bridge, and inquiring of some people whom I met the way to
the inn, was shown an edifice brilliantly lighted up, which I
Inn at Beth Gelert - Delectable Company - Lieutenant P-.
THE inn or hotel at Beth Gelert was a large and commodious
building, and was anything but thronged with company; what company,
however, there was, was disagreeable enough, perhaps more so than
that in which I had been the preceding evening, which was composed
of the scum of Manchester and Liverpool; the company amongst which
I now was, consisted of seven or eight individuals, two of them
were military puppies, one a tallish fellow, who though evidently
upwards of thirty, affected the airs of a languishing girl, and
would fain have made people believe that he was dying of ENNUI and
lassitude. The other was a short spuddy fellow, with a broad ugly
face and with spectacles on his nose, who talked very
consequentially about "the service" and all that, but whose tone of
voice was coarse and his manner that of an under-bred person; then
there was an old fellow about sixty-five, a civilian, with a red
carbuncled face; he was father of the spuddy military puppy, on
whom he occasionally cast eyes of pride and almost adoration, and
whose sayings he much applauded, especially certain DOUBLES
ENTENDRES, to call them by no harsher term, directed to a fat girl,
weighing some fifteen stone, who officiated in the coffee-room as
waiter. Then there was a creature to do justice to whose
appearance would require the pencil of a Hogarth. He was about
five feet three inches and a quarter high, and might have weighed,
always provided a stone weight had been attached to him, about half
as much as the fat girl. His countenance was cadaverous and was
eternally agitated by something between a grin and a simper. He
was dressed in a style of superfine gentility, and his skeleton
fingers were bedizened with tawdry rings. His conversation was
chiefly about his bile and his secretions, the efficacy of licorice
in producing a certain effect, and the expediency of changing one's
linen at least three times a day; though had he changed his six, I
should have said that the purification of the last shirt would have
been no sinecure to the laundress. His accent was decidedly
Scotch: he spoke familiarly of Scott and one or two other Scotch
worthies, and more than once insinuated that he was a member of
Parliament. With respect to the rest of the company I say nothing,
and for the very sufficient reason that, unlike the above described
batch, they did not seem disposed to be impertinent towards me.
Eager to get out of such society I retired early to bed. As I left
the room the diminutive Scotch individual was describing to the old
simpleton, who on the ground of the other's being a "member," was
listening to him with extreme attention, how he was labouring under
an access of bile owing to his having left his licorice somewhere
or other. I passed a quiet night, and in the morning breakfasted,
paid my bill, and departed. As I went out of the coffee-room the
spuddy, broad-faced military puppy with spectacles was vociferating
to the languishing military puppy, and to his old simpleton of a
father, who was listening to him with his usual look of undisguised
admiration, about the absolute necessity of kicking Lieutenant P-
out of the army for having disgraced "the service." Poor P-, whose
only crime was trying to defend himself with fist and candlestick
from the manual attacks of his brutal messmates.
The Valley of Gelert - Legend of the Dog - Magnificent Scenery -
The Knicht - Goats in Wales - The Frightful Crag - Temperance House
- Smile and Curtsey.
BETH GELERT is situated in a valley surrounded by huge hills, the
most remarkable of which are Moel Hebog and Cerrig Llan; the former
fences it on the south, and the latter, which is quite black and
nearly perpendicular, on the east. A small stream rushes through
the valley, and sallies forth by a pass at its south-eastern end.
The valley is said by some to derive its name of Beddgelert, which
signifies the grave of Celert, from being the burial-place of
Celert, a British saint of the sixth century, to whom Llangeler in
Carmarthenshire is believed to have been consecrated, but the
popular and most universally received tradition is that it has its
name from being the resting-place of a faithful dog called Celert
or Gelert, killed by his master, the warlike and celebrated
Llywelyn ab Jorwerth, from an unlucky misapprehension. Though the
legend is known to most people, I shall take the liberty of
Llywelyn during his contests with the English had encamped with a
few followers in the valley, and one day departed with his men on
an expedition, leaving his infant son in a cradle in his tent,
under the care of his hound Gelert, after giving the child its fill
of goat's milk. Whilst he was absent a wolf from the neighbouring
mountains, in quest of prey, found its way into the tent, and was
about to devour the child, when the watchful dog interfered, and
after a desperate conflict, in which the tent was torn down,
succeeded in destroying the monster. Llywelyn returning at evening
found the tent on the ground, and the dog, covered with blood,
sitting beside it. Imagining that the blood with which Gelert was
besmeared was that of his own son devoured by the animal to whose
care he had confided him, Llywelyn in a paroxysm of natural
indignation forthwith transfixed the faithful creature with his
spear. Scarcely, however, had he done so when his ears were
startled by the cry of a child from beneath the fallen tent, and
hastily removing the canvas he found the child in its cradle, quite
uninjured, and the body of an enormous wolf, frightfully torn and
mangled, lying near. His breast was now filled with conflicting
emotions, joy for the preservation of his son, and grief for the
fate of his dog, to whom he forthwith hastened. The poor animal
was not quite dead, but presently expired, in the act of licking
his master's hand. Llywelyn mourned over him as over a brother,
buried him with funeral honours in the valley, and erected a tomb
over him as over a hero. From that time the valley was called Beth
Such is the legend, which, whether true or fictitious, is
singularly beautiful and affecting.
The tomb, or what is said to be the tomb, of Gelert, stands in a
beautiful meadow just below the precipitous side of Cerrig Llan:
it consists of a large slab lying on its side, and two upright
stones. It is shaded by a weeping willow, and is surrounded by a
hexagonal paling. Who is there acquainted with the legend, whether
he believes that the dog lies beneath those stones or not, can
visit them without exclaiming with a sigh, "Poor Gelert!"
After wandering about the valley for some time, and seeing a few of
its wonders, I inquired my way for Festiniog, and set off for that
place. The way to it is through the pass at the south-east end of
the valley. Arrived at the entrance of the pass I turned round to
look at the scenery I was leaving behind me; the view which
presented itself to my eyes was very grand and beautiful. Before
me lay the meadow of Gelert with the river flowing through it
towards the pass. Beyond the meadow the Snowdon range; on the
right the mighty Cerrig Llan; on the left the equally mighty, but
not quite so precipitous, Hebog. Truly, the valley of Gelert is a
wondrous valley - rivalling for grandeur and beauty any vale either
in the Alps or Pyrenees. After a long and earnest view I turned
round again and proceeded on my way.
Presently I came to a bridge bestriding the stream, which a man
told me was called Pont Aber Glas Lyn, or the bridge of the
debouchement of the grey lake. I soon emerged from the pass, and
after proceeding some way stopped again to admire the scenery. To
the west was the Wyddfa; full north was a stupendous range of
rocks; behind them a conical peak seemingly rivalling the Wyddfa
itself in altitude; between the rocks and the road, where I stood,
was beautiful forest scenery. I again went on, going round the
side of a hill by a gentle ascent. After a little time I again
stopped to look about me. There was the rich forest scenery to the
north, behind it were the rocks and behind the rocks rose the
wonderful conical hill impaling heaven; confronting it to the
south-east, was a huge lumpish hill. As I stood looking about me I
saw a man coming across a field which sloped down to the road from
a small house. He presently reached me, stopped and smiled. A
more open countenance than his I never saw in all the days of my
"Dydd dachwi, sir," said the man of the open countenance, "the
weather is very showy."
"Very showy, indeed," said I; "I was just now wishing for somebody,
of whom I might ask a question or two."
"Perhaps I can answer those questions, sir?"
"Perhaps you can. What is the name of that wonderful peak sticking
up behind the rocks to the north?"
"Many people have asked that question, sir, and I have given them
the answer which I now give you. It is called the 'Knicht,' sir;
and a wondrous hill it is."
"And what is the name of yonder hill opposite to it, to the south,
rising like one big lump."
"I do not know the name of that hill, sir, farther than that I have
heard it called the Great Hill."
"And a very good name for it," said I; "do you live in that house?"
"I do, sir, when I am at home."
"And what occupation do you follow?"
"I am a farmer, though a small one."
"Is your farm your own?"
"It is not, sir: I am not so far rich."
"Who is your landlord?"
"Mr Blicklin, sir. He is my landlord."
"Is he a good landlord?"
"Very good, sir, no one can wish for a better landlord."
"Has he a wife?"
"In truth, sir, he has; and a very good wife she is."
"Has he children?"
"Plenty, sir; and very fine children they are."
"Is he Welsh?"
"He is, sir! Cumro pur iawn."
"Farewell," said I; "I shall never forget you; you are the first
tenant I ever heard speak well of his landlord, or any one
connected with him."
"Then you have not spoken to the other tenants of Mr Blicklin, sir.
Every tenant of Mr Blicklin would say the same of him as I have
said, and of his wife and his children too. Good-day, sir!"
I wended on my way; the sun was very powerful; saw cattle in a pool
on my right, maddened with heat and flies, splashing and fighting.
Presently I found myself with extensive meadows on my right, and a
wall of rocks on my left, on a lofty bank below which I saw goats
feeding; beautiful creatures they were, white and black, with long
silky hair, and long upright horns. They were of large size, and
very different in appearance from the common race. These were the
first goats which I had seen in Wales; for Wales is not at present
the land of goats, whatever it may have been.
I passed under a crag exceedingly lofty, and of very frightful
appearance. It hung menacingly over the road. With this crag the
wall of rocks terminated; beyond it lay an extensive strath,
meadow, or marsh bounded on the cast by a lofty hill. The road lay
across the marsh. I went forward, crossed a bridge over a
beautiful streamlet, and soon arrived at the foot of the hill. The
road now took a turn to the right, that is to the south, and seemed
to lead round the hill. Just at the turn of the road stood a small
neat cottage. There was a board over the door with an inscription.
I drew nigh and looked at it, expecting that it would tell me that
good ale was sold within, and read: "Tea made here, the draught
which cheers but not inebriates." I was before what is generally
termed a temperance house.
"The bill of fare does not tempt you, sir," said a woman who made
her appearance at the door, just as I was about to turn away with
an exceedingly wry face.
"It does not," said I, "and you ought to be ashamed of yourself to
have nothing better to offer to a traveller than a cup of tea. I
am faint; and I want good ale to give me heart, not wishy-washy tea
to take away the little strength I have."
"What would you have me do, sir? Glad should I be to have a cup of
ale to offer you, but the magistrates, when I applied to them for a
licence, refused me one; so I am compelled to make a cup of tea, in
order to get a crust of bread. And if you choose to step in, I
will make you a cup of tea, not wishy-washy, I assure you, but as
good as ever was brewed."
"I had tea for my breakfast at Beth Gelert," said I, "and want no
more till to-morrow morning. What's the name of that strange-
looking crag across the valley?"
"We call it Craig yr hyll ddrem, sir; which means - I don't know
what it means in English."
"Does it mean the crag of the frightful look?"
"It does, sir," said the woman; "ah, I see you understand Welsh.
Sometimes it's called Allt Traeth."
"The high place of the sandy channel," said I; "did the sea ever
come up here?"
"I can't say, sir; perhaps it did; who knows?"
"I shouldn't wonder," said I, "if there was once an arm of the sea
between that crag and this hill. Thank you! Farewell."
"Then you won't walk in, sir?
"Not to drink tea," said I, "tea is a good thing at a proper time,
but were I to drink it now, it would make me ill."