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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Cambrian Sketch-Book, by R. Rice Davies

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Title: The Cambrian Sketch-Book
       Tales, Scenes, and Legends of Wild Wales

Author: R. Rice Davies

Release Date: April 26, 2012  [eBook #39539]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


This ebook was transcribed by Les Bowler






Author ofThe Handy Book on Tax Laws,” “Havelock,”
Essay on Recreation Grounds for Swansea,” etc.




p. vTo the Right Honourable


Among the illustrious men and women of Cambria it would be difficult to select one to whom this book could be so appropriately inscribed as your ladyship.  You are, and ever have been, the warm and sincere friend of my country; you are profoundly versed in her historic, poetic, literary, and legendary annals; you are a liberal and munificent contributor to almost every great movement designed to promote the social and intellectual, the moral and religious, welfare of the people of our ancient Principality; and you have attained a high and imperishable fame as a graceful and eloquent writer.  In these pages your ladyship will find depicted scenes connected with the past history of the land; tales of years that are gone, which p. viroll before us with their dark or splendid deeds, and specimens of the wild but graceful legends which have shed a poetic charm upon almost every nook and corner of Wales.  I cherish the hope that their perusal will afford your ladyship delight and pleasure, while their contents, possibly, may help to increase your ladyship’s interest in and attachment to the land you so much love.

I am, Madam,
  Very respectfully,
  Your ladyship’s obedient Servant,

p. viiPREFACE.

The history of the Cambrian race is interesting not only to the antiquarian, but also to all real lovers of traditional and legendary lore.  It is a race which had its origin in the mythical age, in the far back and remote past, in that period of the world’s history when intellectual and moral darkness covered the earth, and when gross darkness, like a black pall, enveloped the minds of the people.  The country which this race originally occupied is simply a matter of conjecture—an unascertained fact; while the period when the Cambrian people first left their own native soil, the land of their love and their fondest affection, and wandered over hill and plain, over mountain and dismal swamp, through woods and primeval forests, wading through p. viiimighty fordable rivers, and crossing stormy seas, until they reached the pebbled strand of this our sea-girt isle, is still a matter of uncertainty—one of the mysteries of this mysterious world.  That they occupied this island, and were in undisturbed possession of it many hundred years before the appearance in our world of Him who is the true Light of humanity, there exists abundance of evidence; and it is not unlikely, but on the contrary highly probable, that sections of this ancient people were then engaged, as now, in developing the mineral wealth of the country.

Coming down to a later date, a less remote period, we have actual descriptive accounts of the Welsh people, of their manners and customs, their habits and mode of life, their religious rites and form of worship; and considering the then state of the world, we are astonished at the comparative high state of civilization to which this ancient race had at that time attained.  But to trace the history of their civilization down p. ixthrough the ages is foreign to my present purpose, however tempting the theme.  The object I had in view in preparing this work for the press, was not to place before the reader a consecutive narrative, but to select topics with a view to illustrate some of the traits of character of this ancient, singular, and extremely interesting people—a people who, in spite of oppression, injustice, and isolation, have nobly clung to the old faith; who have ever as citizens been loyal, patriotic, and virtuous; and who, moreover, in the face of very serious disadvantages, have obtained a position of intellectual and moral manhood, which cannot fail to inspire us with admiration and wonder.  Let me say here, that if this work deepens the Welshman’s love of country, and induces the English reader to regard us in a more favourable light than that adopted by a class of Saxon critics, I shall consider I have not laboured in vain.

As regards the tales and sketches of this volume, they are not ideal pictures of Cambrian life and character, but are for the p. xmost part founded on fact.  For example, the ascent of Snowdon was undertaken alone, some ten years ago, and by the most difficult, tedious, and hazardous route.  I often wonder at my want of prudence in ascending from Capel Curig, that glorious old Alpine height, on a cold, dank, and misty autumnal morning, without a guide or a friendly hand to point the way.  Alone I accomplished the journey, without experiencing much difficulty, or meeting a single mishap.  The story of Dunraven Castle is founded on a historical fact.  It is one of the most painful of the many painful incidents of those terrible times.  Parson Jones is not an ideal but a real character painted from life.  His fame as a charmer, a conjuror, and magician, was celebrated far and wide.  I well remember farmers’ wives and others visiting him in order to secure his assistance in driving away evil spirits from their dwellings.  A wonderful man was Parson Jones!  An able divine, a true preacher of the cross, a lovable and childlike man was he.  When p. xihis body was consigned to the tomb, the people felt that they had lost one of their best earthly friends.  As to the legends of Lake Savathan and Elidorus, they have been handed down in written history.  The tale of Cadwgan is a real picture of Cambrian life.  The story of Saint Winifred is founded on an old Welsh legend.  A marvellous work has recently been written by one of England’s greatest novelists; it is not impossible that the idea of the “Coming Race” had its origin in the tale of Elidorus.

In this work I have avoided the literary paths trodden by previous Cambrian authors: writers who, in their own sphere of literature, have left behind them imperishable names.  I believe that the mine of wealth I have endeavoured to explore is new, while virgin is the soil.  Deeply interesting are the legends which have been handed down from a people, who, alas! alas! no longer tread the sacred ground of wild Wales.  In the selection of topics, I have only discovered p. xiifor the theme of my pen a few precious gems, having culled here and there a few fair and fragrant flowers, thus leaving for future literary labours, many others of tints equally beautiful and sweets equally delicious.  Almost every dell and hamlet, every sylvan glade and mountain side of wild Wales abounds with legends and tales, stories of real life which are too interesting to be lost, and too important in the lessons they afford to remain hid in the bosom of members of our ancient race.

It is possible that exception will be taken to the ideal pictures—creations of the author’s fancy—of the fairies and fairy land, which form rather a prominent feature of this work.  For introducing to the reader the people of the fairy kingdom beneath the bay of Swansea, I have no apology to make.  In the thoughts they breathe and in the opinions they express they are very human, while the land in which they dwell bears witness to the presence of the energizing power and infinite benevolence of the Supreme.  From p. xiiiour childhood we have been accustomed to listen to the wonderful tales relating to Lilliputian races, in which the narrators described their sayings and doings, their gambols and frolics, their pranks and merry-making, their sweet music and dulcet notes; and in our wanderings, we have often gazed on the green rings wherein they danced on mead and meadow.  And are we not ready to confess that those fairy stories possessed a special charm—an interest which even reality itself hardly awakens?  I am aware that belief in the existence of those aërial forms, those ghostly, impalpable, and ambiguous beings, has been regarded as an evidence of mental blindness, and the absence of high culture and civilization.  This charge cannot be maintained.  The peoples of all European nations believe in the existence of those wonderful people, and, personally, I should regret to see their faith undermined.  Fairies are associated with the spiritual and super-human; with virtue and purity; thus they help us to look upward to the spirit-world, where flesh p. xivand blood, where materialism and its unhallowed fruits have not, and can never have, even a temporary lodgment.

Should this work meet with the approval of my fellow-countrymen, I shall in the early part of next spring issue a second volume of the Cambrian Sketch-Book.  I shall include in that volume: Sir Rice ap Thomas, a historical romance, already written; and The Lost Son Found, a tale of the Lowland Hundred.  A beautiful country was Cantref-y-Gwaelod, where now roll the waters of the Atlantic—a magnificent plain with fortified cities, and co-extensive with Cardigan Bay.  Several other legends and tales of North and South Wales will also appear in the intended volume.

It now only remains for me to express my hearty thanks to Charles Bath, Esq., of Fynone, for his kindness in placing at my service a very old view of Swansea, a faithful transcript of which has been made by the artist for the present volume.  I make this public acknowledgment to our townsman for the reason that he is p. xvalways ready to aid all efforts having in view the publication and circulation of works relating to dear old Cambria.


   Swansea, July, 1875.




Ascent of Snowdon


A Story of Dunraven Castle in the Olden Times


Parson Jones


Cadwgan Wynn


Traditions of Llyn Savathan


Treffynon; or, Legends of Saint Winifred


The Visit of Elidorus to the Fairy Kingdom beneath the Bay





“How high and swift flits the thin rack along,
Skirted with rainbow dyes; now deep below—
While the fierce sun strikes the illumined top,
Slow sails the gloomy storm, and all beneath,
By vaporous exhalation hid, is lost
In darkness: save at once where drifted mists,
Cut by strong gusts of eddying winds, expose
The transitory scene.
Now swift on either side the gathered clouds,
As by a sudden touch of magic, wide
Recede, and the fair face of heaven and earth
Appears.  Amid the vast horizon’s stretch,
In restless gaze the eye of wonder darts
O’er the expanse,—mountains on mountains piled,
And winding bays and promontories huge,
And lakes and wandering rivers from their source
Traced to the distant ocean.”

Bingley’s Tour.

It was a bright and glorious August morning, in the year 18—, when, having a few weeks’ freedom from the busy toils of official labour, I resolved to have an “out,” as they call it in the north of England, where I then resided—a brief tour of pleasure.  Never in these p. 4northern latitudes had I witnessed a more lovely morning.  The sun shone brightly, and with a dazzling splendour only surpassed by the gorgeous brilliancy of an Eastern clime.  When we looked upwards, not a cloud could be seen in the concave hemisphere above.  Far, far away, the most distant objects could be plainly and distinctly seen.  In the forest not a spray moved, nor was there a sweet kiss of the leaves on that breezeless morn.  Neither on river nor lake could there be discerned a single ripple.  Everywhere, except in the adjacent grove, did quietude and stillness reign.  There, however, the birds sent forth their merry and joyous notes, and the tone of their voices, and the songs they sung, told of joys, and proclaimed the existence of happy feelings, which but few among the sons of men are permitted to realize.  Oh, how calm and how still was the scene around!  Indeed, all nature, except the winged songsters of the grove, appeared to repose quietly and peacefully on the bosom of its God.

A grand morning this, said I, for starting on an “out;” but the pressing question was, p. 5whither should I go.  During my brief preparation, I fancied I heard the voice of the eagle, and the voice said, “Come to me.  Come and behold the high mountain whereon I dwell, and the great rocks in which I build my nest.  Come and see, from my high elevation and Alpine heights, the magnificent lochs whose waters spread far and wide in the broad and expansive valleys.  Oh, come, and behold the land of the brave and heroic Wallace.”

A moment before deciding whether or not I should accept the invitation of the king of birds, there was wafted on the gentle breeze that had just sprung up, the voice of a little bird which inhabits the far west; and the little bird said, “Come and visit the land in which I dwell.  In this land you will behold some of the greatest wonders of the world.  Were you to visit the North or the South, the East or the West, the sunny fountains of Africa, the coral strands of India, or the icy regions of the frigid zone, yet in no part of the wide world could you discover objects so grand and majestic as our Giant’s Causeway; while Killarney is unrivalled for p. 6sublime and beautiful scenery.”  Well, little bird, said I, I love your nation; your people have warm hearts and generous sympathies.  Just, however, as I was about saying “aye” to the invitation of the little bird of the Green Isle, there came from the south—o’er moorland valley, o’er mighty rivers and hills, o’er cities, towns, and villages, the charming and enchanting voice of the lark, and its tones were so winning and so sweet, that I was almost moved to shed tears of joy.  But what was the purport of her song?  The burden of her song was Cambria! the beautiful and the blest; the land of Poetry and the Ideal.  “Come,” carolled the lark, “and behold some of the beauties of Wild Wales.  In no land are glades so verdant, are rocks so rugged and bold, are cwms and dells so exquisitely beautiful and lovely as are to be seen here.  Nowhere but here can you behold hill after hill, and mountain after mountain, rise above each other, presenting a picture so awfully wild, so grand, and so majestically sublime.  Besides,” said the lark, “this is your own land.  It is the place of your birth.  It is the home p. 7of your father’s sepulchre.  Oh! come here, for here are generous hearts, ready to bid you welcome.  In the border land is many an old friend who will rejoice and kill the fatted calf when he sees you approach his dwelling.”  I could no longer resist the irresistible voice, and replied to her, Oh, sweet songster of the moorland, thither will I go, and to-morrow I will listen to your heavenly strains among your own hills.

I need not describe the journey from the North to Conway, as it is familiar to most travellers.  Nor shall I refer to the beautiful Menai, or the magnificent ruins and historic renown of the good old town of Carnarvon.  Nor shall I refer, with a view to depict the scene, to many other deeply-interesting spots, some of which I could not but gaze upon with feelings of profound reverence, the rather as they told the tales of other times, which rolled before me with their deeds.  As I looked upon and contemplated these scenes, I was deeply affected, while my vision was dimmed by the tears that welled up from my heart.  p. 8Moreover, as I still gazed upon the historic fields of blood and battle, I thought I saw the shadow of my country’s martyrs and heroes passing before my eyes—the shadows of the great and heroic men who, strong in the righteousness of their cause, fought for the liberty of our brave, courageous, and lion-hearted ancestors, and for the independence and the freedom of the land of my love and my sympathies.  Since the days of that long and sanguinary struggle, time and the disposition of men and nations have immeasurably changed for the better.  Happily for us, we have now a ruler who loves her subjects, whose sway is the very opposite of that despotic tyrant’s rule, who loved to imbrue his hands in the blood of contemporary princes.  Edward, however, has gone to his place.  Oh that his memory and his deeds of blood had perished with him!  As I looked upon the scene around Conway, and viewed it in relation to and in connection with the dark deeds of Edward, the following lines of the poet Gray came to my remembrance:—

p. 9“Hark how each giant oak and desert cave
  Sighs to the torrent’s awful voice beneath!
O’er thee, O King, their hundred arms they wave,
  Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe,
Vocal no more.”

From Conway I proceeded to Llanrwst, thence to Bettws-y-Coed, which is situated in a lovely verdant cwm, and is the most charming and the most exquisitely beautiful spot I have ever beheld.  I have seen many an enchanting scene, but Bettws-y-Coed is incomparably finer, and surpasses, both in magnificent boldness and soft and quiet grandeur, any other landscape upon which I have been permitted to gaze.  As night was rapidly approaching, and as I had arranged to ascend Snowdon the following morning, I had to tear myself away from so enchanting a scene.  From there I proceeded to the Swallow Falls, thence to Capel Curig, a village which affords some of the most picturesque landscapes which can be met with in Wales.  Of this prospect it might be truly said:—

“Here hills and vales, the woodland and the plain,
Here earth and water seem to strive again;
Not, chaos-like, together crushed and bruised,
But, as the world, harmoniously confused.”

p. 10However, I lingered not to contemplate the scene, but proceeded on my journey towards Penygwryd, which I reached just as the great king of day disappeared behind the Cambrian Alps.

The next morning, after partaking of an early breakfast of ham and eggs and coffee, I proceeded to the hotel lawn to see whether the day was favourable for an ascent of Yr Wyddfa, the “uwch y mynydd uchaf” of England and Wales.  Since the previous day I regretted to find that the weather had undergone a complete change; the summit of Eryri was now enveloped in dark clouds, the morning was cold, and the air was dank and chilly.  The moaning of the wind in the great mountain gullies and cwms rendered the scene both awful and sublime.  Meeting mine host on the lawn, I inquired if I might venture to ascend Snowdon without the service of a guide.  He strongly dissuaded me from attempting an ascent alone, as it would necessarily be attended with great risk.  However, after debating the matter some time, I resolved to carry out my original design of going p. 11unattended.  When I reached the summit I was delighted beyond measure at having accomplished the ascent, by the longest and most difficult route, without the aid of a guide.  Having wished Mr. Owen a hearty farewell, I commenced the ascent of Snowdon.  Proceeding up the road towards the Pass of Llanberis so far as Pen-y-Pass, I branched off to the left, and soon came to Llyn Teyrn, thence taking the trackless mountain above Cwm Dyli, direct towards Llyn Glaslyn; and thence by a circuitous and difficult route, which a kind mountain miner showed me, to the highest point of the Mother of Hills.

Although I found this route laborious, I was amply recompensed by beholding “scenes of extraordinary wildness and grandeur, over which solitude seemed to brood with undisturbed silence, scarcely ever broken by the wing of bird or the voice of melody.”  In every direction prospects the most magnificent opened to view, and every crag and rock which I surmounted was furnished with objects of picturesque effect or deep and absorbing p. 12interest.  From many a crag I looked down upon the cwms and deep dells beneath, and I fancied I could pick out here and there the very dingles to which our heroic ancestors were compelled to resort for protection, when pursued by numberless hosts of the enemy after they had sustained defeat.  In these cwms they were, however, safe.  Even proud and haughty Edward dared not follow the Britons to their mountain fastnesses.  To them Snowdon had ever proved a kind and guardian angel: hence the reason why they fled thither in the hour of their defeat.  No wonder, therefore, that they loved the old mountain deeply and passionately; and no wonder, too, that they composed songs to her honour and renown.

When I attained the summit of the mountain, the sight presented to my view was awfully and majestically wild and grand.  The whole circuit of the Snowdonian range was enveloped in a thick and dark mist, which was so dense that I fancied I could cut it with the finest edged tool.  The howling of the winds in the cwms and dingles which run down the p. 13mountain on every side was really appalling.  Indeed, the prospect was horrible to contemplate.  It gave an idea, says a writer on the subject, of numbers of abysses concealed by a thick smoke furiously circulating around us.  Now and then, however, a strong gust of wind created an opening in the mist, which, for a moment, gave me a magnificent prospect of sea and lake, of deep chasms, and high and lofty mountains, of almost fathomless dingles and ravines; while towns and hamlets appeared in the distance like small specks on the surface of the earth.  But the prospect was only momentary.  The clouds of mist which were rent asunder by the strong current of wind would, in the twinkling of an eye, again form and unite, and thus present a compact and complete whole, leaving me involved in a darkness that might be felt.  In a minute it would again separate into a thousand parts, and fly in wild eddies up the gullies and dingles, thus affording me another opportunity of seeing the Isle of Mona, the mountain of Plynlimmon, Hell’s Mouth, the Iraeth Bach, and that magnificent bay which p. 14once formed the rich and fertile plain of Cantref-y-Gwaelod, with its sixteen fortified cities and towns, whose inhabitants met with a watery grave through the drunkenness of Seithenyn, who is styled in the “Triads” as one of the three notorious drunkards of the isle of Britain.  Contemplating the scene so strange, yet so grand, the following lines of the poet Rogers struck me as extremely applicable to my then situation:—

                                          “The morning air
Plays on my cheek, how gently, flinging round
A silvery gleam; and now the purple mists
Rise like a curtain; now the sun looks out,
Filling, o’erflowing with his glorious light,
This noble amphitheatre of hills.”

After spending nearly two hours on the summit in gazing upon the wild, yet the grand and majestic scene presented to my view, I felt, as I had to walk to Pont Aberglaslyn, and back to Penygwryd, a distance of nearly twenty miles, that I dare not delay my departure longer; hence I made instant preparation to descend.  I, however, left this Alpine top, and bade farewell to old Snowdon, p. 15with feelings of deep sorrow and poignant grief.  On leaving this most prominent historic spot in the past history of my country, I could not but enter into the deep feeling of reverence with which my forefathers regarded this mountain and its adjacent hills, valleys, and plains.  Thought I to myself, was it a wonder that they almost worshipped Yr Wyddfa?  Indeed they had every reason for paying honour and homage to it.  To them it had ever been a never-failing friend—a sure and safe retreat when they suffered and sustained defeat in battle.  To them it afforded a rich and never-failing refuge, in which they lodged the young and the feeble and the non-combatants when they went forth to fight the common foe—the implacable enemies of their dear fatherland—foes and enemies, too, who were strangers to generosity, but who loved conquest for the sake of conquest, and who were alike indifferent to the sacrifice of human blood as they were to English treasures.  When they followed our brave and heroic countrymen into the mountain fastnesses of Snowdon, they generally suffered p. 16terrible slaughter, and repented having left those fortresses and plains where they so much loved to dwell.  Considering the many and the terrible disasters which befell their marches in its fastnesses, no wonder they preferred residing at some distance removed from so impregnable a refuge.  To the Welsh warriors it had been a natural guardian angel: hence the reason why they loved it so deeply, so ardently, and with the whole passion of the soul.

After I had descended some distance towards Beddgelert, I turned in order to take a parting farewell-look of this the mother of Cambrian mountains; and in viewing its high and lofty summit, now almost wholly enveloped in mist, I was forcibly struck with the wild, dreary, and boundless scene.  From the point on which I stood this ancient hill appeared to be untrodden by human foot, and tenanted only by wandering sheep and goats, except the hoarse-croaking ravens.  It was, indeed, sublime to stand, as I stood then, on that spot, and commune with solitude around—to gaze upon Snowdon and her manifold adjacent p. 17hills, slumbering calmly beneath me.  With me there was no form, no human being, no living thing; but I rejoiced that there, amid this stupendous scene, I could commune freely and uninterruptedly with nature and nature’s God, and with the spirits of my brave and heroic forefathers, whose bones lie buried in that wild and dreary scene; and, as I finally parted from the scene, I sang the following well-known lines, and so my voice re-echoed through the dales and caverns:—

“Rest, ye brave dead, ’midst the hills of your sires.
Oh, who would not slumber when Freedom expires?
Lonely and voiceless your halls must remain,
The children of song may not breathe in the chain.”



On the southern coast of the county of Glamorgan, and situate at the back of a high rocky promontory commanding a magnificent view of the Bristol Channel, and just opposite the little sea-bathing village of Southerndown, which appears desolate amid its desolation, stands the modern Castle of Dunraven, which was built by the late Mr. Thomas Wyndham.  This castle is erected on the site of a very ancient structure, which, in the olden times, was called Dindryfan.  The old castle is in some respects the most interesting in the Principality.  It was there one of Cambria’s greatest warriors and one of her purest patriots lived and reigned.  Dunraven was the centre of those wonderful p. 22military movements which gained for their author wide-spread fame and imperishable renown.  It was there that the great commander and war-tactician delivered those eloquent harangues, which not only inspired confidence in so great and skilful a leader, but also nerved the patriot’s arm, enabling his trusty followers to go forth to meet the foe fearlessly, courageously, and with a resolute resolve to conquer or to die for their country’s welfare and the independence of their fatherland.  Caractacus, or as he is generally called by Cambrian writers, Caraddwg, was a great man and an illustrious warrior, celebrated no less for his heroism than for his many other virtues.  Hence, when one visits Dunraven, the scenes of his childhood and riper years, one seems to imbibe his spirit, to be inspired with the highest admiration for his genius, and to feel the profoundest reverence for the man who, though vanquished in his encounter with the well-disciplined forces of Octavius yet was not ashamed—rather in it did he glory—after many years of exile from the land of his birth, of his love, and of his p. 23deepest and fondest affection, to return to the very scenes of his childhood and princely rule, in order to proclaim the good news of the gospel, the truths and glories of which he had learned and realized during his residence in the far-famed city of Rome.

Subsequent to the death of Caraddwg, Dunraven continued to be the seat of the Reguli of Glamorgan until the Norman Conquest.  When Robert Fitz-Hamon divided the country he and his armies had conquered, he assigned this castle and manor to William de Londres, who, in consequence of their worthless value, gave them to his butler, afterwards Sir Arnold Butler.  When the male issue of the Butler family became extinct, the castle and manor fell to Walter Vaughan, who was a descendant of the female branch of the Butlers.  It is to this person our story relates.  Oh that his crimes had never been recorded by the pen of the historian!  Oh that his life and its deeds of horror and loathing, which, when we contemplate, makes one’s blood run cold, had remained unwritten!  As, however, these have been p. 24handed down to this distant age, I will endeavour to depict the scene, though I can form but a very dim and hazy conception of the barbarities and cruelties practised by that evil man in those distant times.


It was a lovely autumn evening, when a young man and young woman might have been seen walking hand in hand along the carriage drive which led from the village of St. Bride’s to Dunraven Castle.  The young man was in his usual buoyant and cheerful mood, happy and joyous, but his companion was pensive and sad.  From childhood John ap William and Myfanwy Gwenllian had been companions.  In childhood they had pledged themselves to be true to each other.  In childhood they had walked together, day after day, either on the rocky headland below the village of Southerndown, or on the sands of Dunraven Bay, picking off the rocks flowers of various tints and hues, or gathering in the little haven or bay beautiful stones or pebbles, or seaweeds and shells.  Besides, during those childish excursions p. 26they were often seen gazing on the ocean surges, or on the bright blue waves, now almost quiet and still, now dashing up in awful and appalling fury against the high and stupendous rocks surrounding the bay.  Often, too, might they have been seen watching the ships as they sailed up and down the channel.  John especially, loved the sea and its pebbly shore.  He was never so happy as when, with his beloved Myfanwy, he was watching the tidal eddies, or viewing the frail barques as they rode so majestically o’er the briny waves, carrying in their laps, as it were, the merchandise and the wealth of the world—the products of the earth’s richest blessings from shore to shore and from clime to clime.  John contemplated this scene as a Christian philosopher.  He looked upon commerce between nation and nation and between peoples and peoples as one of the greatest agents in advancing the world’s civilization, as it necessarily carried to distant lands those products of industry which so much contribute towards the comfort and the material happiness and the general welfare of the race.  But while p. 27he looked upon commercial enterprise as a channel through which material blessings might be conveyed, he moreover regarded it as tending directly to unite nation with nation, to realize and cement in the bonds of a holy brotherhood different races and separate nations and kingdoms; thus rendering war almost impossible.  Happy would it be if the statesmen of the world would act up to these high principles!

Besides, though John had never been from home—Bridgend being the furthest extent within the range of his geographical knowledge—nevertheless, from his reflection on the beneficial results flowing from commercial enterprise, and his strong passion for a roving life, and being, moreover, desirous to follow his father’s profession, who was commander of a merchant vessel, he had resolved, in his early years, to go to sea when he grew old enough, if a favourable opportunity offered itself.  Myfanwy, however, used all her powers of argument and suasion with a view to prevent him from following so hazardous a calling; but without success.  Upon a seafaring life he was resolved.  To p. 28visit distant lands, and to behold strange peoples and countries, was the all-prevailing and the constant desire of his heart’s deepest emotion.  Hence on attaining his thirteenth year, he was apprenticed to his father.  When, however, the day arrived for leaving home, and for bidding adieu to his beloved mother and his darling Myfanwy, the grief he felt on parting with those he so deeply and tenderly loved, almost broke his heart.  At last he tore himself from their embraces and fond caresses, and on the following day he joined his father’s ship at Bristol, which was even then a city of considerable commercial importance.

As young ap William was a joyous and spirited boy, always full of fun and joviality, and was never so well pleased as when he collected around him a number of the sailors, and told them tales of other times, especially tales connected with the lives of the great warriors and heroes of his country he, in consequence, became a great favourite with his father’s crew, who loved him for his own and his father’s sake.  During this time he did not, however, neglect his studies; nor p. 29was he lacking in acquiring a thorough knowledge of his profession.  He studied navigation, paid great attention to charts; while in a short time he gained such an intimate acquaintance with the management of the vessel, that before two years elapsed the chief mate pronounced him to be the best and ablest sailor on board.

Before he attained his eighteenth year he could steer and manage a vessel with any captain in the mercantile marine; and as the first mate then retired from the service, John was appointed, by the owners of the ship, as his successor, with a promise that on the first vacancy he should have the command of one of their largest vessels.  During those years John had saved several hundred pounds.  This sum his father invested in the purchase of a small freehold estate in his native parish, to which John intended to retire after he had saved enough to secure a sufficient competency for himself and his beloved Myfanwy.  To that day he looked forward with feelings of longing anticipation.  On that day he had often said he would forget the past, would recall to his mind p. 30neither sorrow nor human woes; but would for once live a day wholly devoted to pleasure and to joy, looking on from then to a still more bright and happy future.  Alas! alas! how different often are results from our expectations.  Weeping cometh in the morning as well as at night.  When we are most bent on pleasure, when we fancy we are about to realize, according to our anticipations, its fullest fruition, a dark cloud, charged with mournful tidings, bursts on our head.  The day on which he led Myfanwy to the altar was the day on which he himself became an orphan.  Indeed, he had not left the churchyard before being apprised of the sad intelligence that a father whom he loved so much was now a mangled corpse.  He went home to weep and to grieve, though he did not sorrow as one who had no hope.


It was morning.  Walter Vaughan and his heir were partaking of an early meal before going to the chase.  Just previous to their departure, “faithful Evan,” as he was called by the neighbours, entered the hall, and handed his master a letter, which he received with a trembling hand.  Mr. Vaughan hastily broke the seal, and commenced perusing its contents, but before he had concluded its perusal, he became as pale as death, he shook like an aspen leaf, and his hand trembled violently.  The young lord, seeing his father’s distress and mental agony, became seriously alarmed, and, in a paroxysm of anguish and grief, exclaimed in weeping tones:—

“Oh, father, my dear and fond parent! what is the matter?  Are you ill?”

“My boy,” replied the lord, “I am a ruined man!”

p. 32“Ruined, did you say?”

“Yes, completely and, I fear, irretrievably ruined.”

“How, and by what means has so great a calamity befallen you?”

“This I will explain in a few words.  Some time ago I placed my affairs in the hands of an attorney, whom I then believed to be an honest man.  He has, however, proved himself to be a faithless friend and an arrant rogue.  This is his letter, in which he informs me that the lawsuit has been decided in favour of my opponent, who is my bitterest foe.  This vagabond lawyer further tells me, that the costs are so enormous that I shall be compelled to sell my estates in order to meet the liability.  He even doubts whether the castle and manor of Dunraven will realize sufficient, over and above the present encumbrance, to meet the debt.”

“But you need not, dear father, dispose of the estate to satisfy the claims of these lawyers.  There is the twenty thousand pounds my uncle left me in the bank.  I will send an authority p. 33to the manager to pay you that sum.  Surely, that will be sufficient to meet all claims.”

“My dear and noble-hearted boy, it almost breaks my heart to be obliged to tell you that your money, even to the last shilling, has already been spent.”

“Surely, you have not raised the whole of that sum?”

“Yes, every penny has gone; and now, dear Walter, your patrimony in a few weeks will, I fear, become the possession of others.”

“This is sad news, my father,” replied Walter junior.  “It is, indeed, a terrible disaster.  But don’t grieve.  What’s done can’t be undone.  I am resolved yet to redeem it, if time be granted me.  I am now penniless; but I will make my own fortune.  I will yet gain for myself a name and a rank which shall be equal to, if it does not surpass, that of my illustrious ancestors.  Now being bereft of all, the poorest of the poor, and dependent upon my own powers and will, I will repair the ruin.”

“By what means will you accomplish this, Walter?” inquired the father.

p. 34“Oh, father, by means which are honourable; and by pursuits which lead to fortune.  By work, by labour, by industry, by indomitable plodding, and by engaging in the calling of men who have thereby accumulated untold wealth, and are possessed of unbounded riches.”

“I do not, my son, understand you.  To what pursuit do you refer?”

“To be plain, then, this is my resolve: to engage at once in commercial undertakings, thus following in the footsteps of my late lamented uncle.”

“But, considering the position we occupy in society as the lords of Dunraven, for you to enter upon such an undertaking would be a degradation.”

“But, father, is it not a greater degradation to be poor—to see our lands in the possession of others, to be provided with bread by the toil and labour of others—in short, to see men work, while we refuse to lift up a hand to help them, when we are dependent upon their industry?”

p. 35“It is hard to do this, my noble boy; but to me it is still more painful to part with you.”

“You, dear father, have ever been kind and indulgent to me.  Believe me, for I speak from my heart of hearts, that to leave you, though it be but for a season, is to me a matter of deep sorrow.  It is, however, a stern necessity that compels my departure.  I shall, nevertheless, leave you, though with sadness, yet with a buoyant hope, destined, I doubt not to be realised, to return to the home of my fathers laden with gold.  The prospect of that day will cheer me in my labour, will nerve my arm, and help me to surmount any difficulties which may pass athwart my path.”

“God grant you success, my son, for which I will pray fervently during your forced absence.  But whither will you go?”

“I think, dear father, that I can secure immediate employment—an employment, too, which will in no way be degrading to me as your heir.  Yesterday I received a letter from my old friend and companion, Mr. Jones, of Marseilles, who is one of the greatest merchants of that famous p. 36city, in which he has asked me to look out for a gentleman to act as confidential clerk.  He further says, that if the right man secures the appointment, and proves to be one who can be trusted, with business habits, tact, and energy, he holds out the prospect of an advantageous partnership.  As he is in immediate want of a young man possessing those qualities, which I fancy I possess, I will write him offering my services, which, considering my altered circumstances, I think he will only feel too proud to accept.”

Young Walter was indeed just the kind of youth Mr. Jones wanted.  He had received the best education which the Oxford of those times afforded.  He had the bump of order largely developed.  He was persevering, painstaking, energetic, and an indomitable plodder; whatever his hand found to do, he did it with all his might.  Anything he undertook he would not give up until he had thoroughly mastered it.  Moreover, he was thoroughly conscientious.  In this virtue he followed his mother’s rather than his father’s family.  Indeed, the old lord was p. 37regarded, and was justly considered, as an unprincipled, grasping, and unscrupulous man; and it was his greedy love of gold, and his insatiable thirst for larger possessions, which he sought to secure by unjust means and foul play, that had, in consequence of non-success, brought about his ruin.  He had set up a claim to the heirship of another gentleman’s estate, though its owner’s ancestors were in its possession and enjoyment when Vaughan’s forefathers were menials.  The court, happily, decided the suit in favour of the rightful owner, and to mark their sense of the wrong the lord of Dunraven intended doing, ordered him to pay the costs of ten years’ litigation.  It was this final decision of which his lawyer had apprised him in the letter previously alluded to.  His son, on the other hand, was an upright and an honourable man, who would rather suffer wrong than do an unjust act.  Mr. Jones was well aware of these noble qualities with which young Walter was endowed; hence, on the receipt of the letter offering his services, he wrote him a note full of kindly feeling and sympathy, and further p. 38pressing his old friend and correspondent to join him in London the following week, as he should be over in England for a few days on important matters connected with his business.  On the receipt of this communication from Mr. Jones, young Walter commenced preparing for leaving home.  At last the day arrived for his departure, and bidding his father an affectionate adieu, he went forth into the broad world, either to be carried on the tide which leads to fortune, or to sink beneath its devouring crests.

On Walter’s arrival in London, his old friend and earliest companion was waiting at his hotel ready to receive him.  His reception was most cordial on the part of Mr. Jones.  After spending a few days in town, they took ship for Marseilles.  On arriving at their destination, the heir of Dunraven was at once installed in office; and before a week had elapsed, his employer saw that he had secured a valuable acquisition to his establishment.

After Mr. Vaughan had been in the establishment about six months, Mr. Jones came to the office one morning earlier than usual.  Though p. 39none of the hands had arrived, he found to his surprise and joy his new clerk at the desk.  “I am glad,” addressing Walter, “you are here, for I want to consult you on a matter of great importance.  I have been debating with my junior partner,” continued Mr. Jones, “as to the wisdom or unwisdom of sending to the London market a new kind of silk, which a manufacturer has just introduced.  He strongly opposes its purchase, while I, on the other hand, am convinced it is just the thing that will take.  You are a good judge of quality and beauty, so give me your candid opinion as to whether it is wise or not to make a large or any purchase of this class of goods.”

“I presume you will not require an immediate answer,” replied Walter.  “If you will kindly give me an hour to think over it, I will then offer my opinion.”

During that hour the young clerk was busily engaged in carefully examining the material with the aid of a powerful magnifying glass, and was struck with both the fineness of the texture and the beauty of its design.  On the return of his p. 40principal, he said that, in his opinion, the silk was just the kind of goods which would command a ready sale in the London market, and strongly recommended that the whole stock should be bought up, and immediately shipped.  Mr. Jones acted on the opinion, which turned out to be the most fortunate speculation in which he had ever engaged.  The sum actually realized was £20,000, of this sum he presented the young clerk with £5000, and in addition offered—an offer which was gladly and gratefully accepted—a partnership in the business.  After this, the house of Jones & Company rose higher and higher in the commercial world, and the annual profits of the business were so great, that at the expiration of the seven years of partnership the young lord of Dunraven had at his command a sufficient sum to pay off the incumbrance of the estate.  To that effect he wrote his father, and on the receipt of the money, he called his creditors together and paid them their demands.  The lord of Dunraven thus became once more a free and independent man; but, alas! he did not give up his calling, but, p. 41with new life and renewed energy pursued the mission of the Evil One: being constantly at the post of mischief, and with eager eyes and a longing heart, looking out on the stormy wavy channel for treasures which, by foul play, he was resolved to bring into his meshes.  Prosper thou, lord of Dunraven, but in thy prosperity remember that the sword of justice is hovering over thy head, and in the midst of thy prosperity it will strike thee down.  The day of vengeance tarries; but it will come, and when it arrives, oh, how terrible will be thy doom!


It was about three years subsequent to the departure of the son and heir of Dunraven, that the old lord resolved to take into his service MacLean, alias Mac the Devil.  He knew that this man was a desperate character and a thorough daredevil, who neither feared God nor regarded man; in short, that for money and Scotch whisky, he would do the devil’s work according to his satanic majesty’s own special plan.  There was no crime of which Mac was not guilty, but, by reason of the stealthy way in which he carried out his doings of iniquity, he always succeeded in avoiding detection.  Though blood was on his hands, though he had robbed the fatherless, and murdered, for the sake of pelf, the innocent, yet he walked the earth with head erect as a guiltless person, little p. 43dreaming of the terrible doom awaiting him.  However, his cup of iniquity was not yet full, though daily it was nearing the brim.  He was in the act of planning some new crime when he received a message from the lord of Dunraven to attend him at the castle.  Mac, with trembling hands and a sinking heart, at once attended to the commands of Mr. Vaughan, though, on his way there, he had many misgivings as to the prudence of the step he was taking.  He, however, soon convinced himself that were he to disobey the summons he must quit for ever the neighbourhood, as he dare not confront the lord of Dunraven if guilty of disobedience to his lordship’s commands.  To the castle, therefore, he repaired, and on his arrival he was ushered by the faithful Evan into the library, where Mr. Vaughan was awaiting him.  On Mac’s entering he was requested to take a seat, when Mr. Vaughan, with a degree of sternness he seldom manifested, reproached him for leading a life so fraught with danger.

“I do not, my lord,” said Mac, touching his head, “understand your meaning.”

p. 44“Oh, you don’t, don’t you?  If then I say you are deeply steeped in crime, that you are a murderer, a thief, a rogue, and a villain, should I not speak the truth, and would you not understand my charge?”

“Saying so, and proving its truth, are, I ken, two very different things, my lord.  You can’t prove that I am otherwise than an innocent man.”

“Don’t you be too sure of that, Mac.  Indeed, I already possess evidence, which, if necessary, can at any moment be produced, completely substantiating my charge; and, Mac, I have a great mind to produce that evidence to the authorities.”

“You dare not do that, my lord,” replied Mac.

“You scoundrel! dare you threaten me in my own castle?  If you say another word, and use that language to me, I’ll send for the bum-bailiff at once, and, as a magistrate, order you into his custody.”

“I say again, my lord, that you daren’t carry out your threat.”

p. 45“Why daren’t I, I should be glad to know?”

“Because if you were to do so I’d peach.”

“You would do what, Mac?”

“I’d peach; that is, I’d tell all about your lordship’s doings.”

“Be d—d, you would?”


“But who would believe you, you scoundrel?”

“Me they may not, my lord of Dunraven; but they’d believe the evidence of others.”

“But can you or your friends, you vagabond, bear any evil testimony against me?  I live in my own castle, and never mix with the world.  It is well known to all around, that my life and my time is devoted to study, to the practice of virtue, and to acts of piety.  Me they know as a model citizen and a Christian man and a gentleman.  Therefore, my character would be proof against insinuations, or charges patched up by you or your hellish crew.  You and your criminal companions might say, and even swear—you are capable of anything bad—you saw me in the act of committing a crime, but neither your word nor your oath would have any weight p. 46with those who know you, were the life of a dog only involved.”

“Dinna you be too sure of that, my lord,” rejoined Mac; “I ken, and Squire Jones knows too, the sad fate of the ship Bristol, of the Elizabeth of Swansea, and of the City of Paris.  He and I know also by whose hands the false light was hung out on Dunraven Head, and by whose hands the captains and the crews were murdered—who afterwards seized the wrecks, who sent them to market to be sold, and who received the money.  If I may be so bold, I could tell further that, within this castle, and in a cell beneath this room, there is a poor unfortunate man, who was put into an iron cage, and locked there by you,—the lord of Dunraven castle,—and that he is daily fed by crumbs from your table.  If this man were free, he could tell a tale at which humanity would shudder.  You, my lord, think I sleep with my eyes shut, that I tremble at sight of the sea, that I’m afraid of the darkness and the tempests; and you knew not that when those vessels went down, and when all the hands on board perished, except this p. 47poor man in the cage, I was near you, my lord,—even close by your side, though unperceived.  Knowing these facts, I now dare you, my lord, to molest me or breathe a word injurious to my character.  If you do so, I’ll peach, and I’ll take care that the lord of Dunraven shall be my fellow-prisoner.  You have called me a scoundrel.  Doesn’t that foul term apply equally to you, my lord?  But your sin will yet find you out.”

For these terrible revelations Mr. Vaughan was wholly unprepared.  During their recital he shook as a man having the palsy.  He uttered, too, the most awful imprecations, and cursed and swore like a man possessed of the devil.  These, however, had no influence over the mind of the hard-headed and hard-hearted Scotchman, who continued his tale heedless of the foaming rage of Mr. Vaughan.  He never dreamt that his crimes were known to mortal, beyond the circle of his demoniac companions.  He had so cautiously arranged his plans, and had carried them out so stealthily, that he fancied the knowledge of his rascality was confined to those desperadoes whom he had specially hired to carry p. 48out his nefarious designs.  Now, however, his deeds were known not only to Mac, but to his great enemy, Squire Jones; thus the man whom he sought to rob of his rightful possessions was also cognizant of those deeds.  Mr. Vaughan’s first thought, when Mac had finished his tale, was to take away, there and then, either his life or his liberty.  But a moment’s reflection compelled him to hesitate in adopting so dangerous a course, as it was known in the village of Southerndown that Mac had been summoned to the castle.  Considering the matter more seriously, he came to the conclusion that there was only one course open to him: namely, to take Mac into his service, and make him captain of the crew.  By pursuing this course, he would completely shut the mouths of Mac’s friends, and by securing the services of so skilful and so daring a wrecker, richer and more abundant harvests might yet be reaped.  Drawing himself to his full height, he said to his defiant visitor,—

“I do not, Mac, admit your charges, and I say further that they are incapable of proof; but as I sustained so heavy a loss by law, and p. 49as drowning men will not stand on ceremony, but will accept the assistance of their bitterest foe when they feel themselves sinking beneath the devouring waves, I am therefore prepared to take you into my employ, and if you prove faithful to my interests and obedient to my orders, you may rise to wealth and to honour.”

“But in what way, my lord, do you intend me to serve you?”

“You know, Mac, your special calling, and not wholly unknown to me,—don’t be alarmed,—is the success which has followed your labours.  Being under my protection, by being in my service, you may well look forward to still greater results.  I need not say you are well aware that your present position is fraught with danger, and that one word from me would put a stop to your career.  If your words be true, our interests clash.  Besides, Mac, the stealthy and criminal vagabond, prowling about in search of prey, is in a very different position to Mac, the servant of the lord of Dunraven.  With that sentiment you agree, do you not?”

p. 50“I must admit, my lord, you have put the case very clearly, and your reasons in favour of my accepting your offer are strong.  I can’t withstand them, so I’ll say Aye to your proposal.”

“You have acted like a man of sense, Mac, as I always took you to be.  To-night, work will have to be done; so go home and tell Molly, your wife, of your engagement, and don’t fail to meet me at the Watch Tower at four o’clock.”

No sooner had Mac left the castle to pay a visit to his wife, with a view to apprise her of his engagement, than Mr. Vaughan also took his departure, and immediately afterwards joined the watcher at the Tower, which was situate on the highest point of the promontory.  On entering the observatory, he inquired for the result of the day’s observations, which, on being put into his hand, made him remark that matters did not look very bright.

“When things are at the worst,” replied the watcher, “they generally mend.  I think we shall have some work to do before to-morrow morning.”

p. 51“Your reason for that opinion, my faithful Duncan.”

“You see yonder flag hoisted on St. Donat’s Watch Tower?  That flag has never yet deceived me.  Depend upon it, it is the harbinger of good news.  The wind, too, blows hard from the south, and, if I’m not mistaken, there will be a fearful gale before midnight, and the ships coming down channel must necessarily be driven towards our coast.”

“Your information, my Duncan, is cheering: I, too, am bearer of good news to you.  I have just engaged Mac the Devil, and shall appoint him to the office of captain of the beach and boatmen.”

“I’m so glad you’ve taken my cousin into your service.  Mac is a smart man, he is well up in the trade, he is fearless, and, what is still more important, will not stick at trifles in obtaining his end.”

“You approve then, Duncan, of my arrangement?”

“Most certainly, sir.  In our line of business Mac has no equal.  He has the strength p. 52of a giant, while he is a stranger to fear, and fortunately has no conscience.  I never heard of his failure in accomplishing his object by fair means or foul.  When he fails to thrash a dozen sailors with his fists, and to pitch them into the sea, he resorts to the pistol, which, in his hand, never misses in its aim.  In our calling, my lord, I yield to none but Mac.  He is my superior in everything, except in this observatory.  Oh, were he here to-night!  We shall want a man of his metal.”

“This time your wish will be gratified.  I expect Mac here every moment.  Look, he’s coming down the road from Southerndown, in our direction.  *  *  *  Call up the men from the beach, Duncan; I wish them to be present when Mac arrives, so as to inform them of the appointment.”

The men were duly summoned by the head watcher.  On arriving at the tower, they stood in a row, in front of the entrance, to await their master’s commands.  Presently he appeared, accompanied by Duncan and Mac, and, addressing his men, spoke of their fidelity to p. 53his interest, called their attention to the many splendid victories achieved over the enemy, of the rich laurels already reaped from wrecks, and, further, that there was the strongest ground for hoping that their past gains were but as a drop of the bucket to those they might expect to realize hereafter.  “But your success,” said Mr. Vaughan, “will depend wholly upon yourselves.  You must be united, there must be harmony in your ranks, hearty co-operation; while all must cheerfully bow to the order of the commander-in-chief.  To that office I have selected a man after your own heart.  You who are in favour of having Mac for your captain, hold up your hands.”

To this request every hand was held up, whereupon Mac took his post at the head of the wreckers.  They were then regaled with a liberal supply of whisky, and when each one had taken his fill they repaired again to the beach.  No sooner, however, had they departed than there were seen coming down the channel two fine vessels.  The wind now blew a frightful gale, raising up the waters p. 54into waves like mountains, on whose crests the ships were carried at their mercy.  Everything appeared favourable to the wreckers.  In the west the sun had declined.  The shades of night were falling fast.  Every minute the darkness thickened.  The tempest increased in fury, while the roar of the ocean and the winds howling in the rocks and caverns around Dunraven Head, were most appalling.  Notwithstanding the tempest, neither Mr. Vaughan nor Duncan moved from the spot of observation.  As the vessels neared the point, the fatal light was placed in the tower.  The captains of both ships now fully realised their danger: that there was no hope of saving either their ships or their own lives.  The crews, too, were well aware of being on the enemy’s ground, and, informing their commanders of their apprehension, at once unanimously resolved, if they must perish by treachery so base and devilish, that others should also perish at their hands.  On their ships being driven into the bay they heroically prepared themselves for the combat.  Each one p. 55armed himself with a cutlass, and when the vessels were dashed against the rocks of Dunraven Head, they, as one man, leaped into the boiling surge, and swam for the shore.  But in this heroic attempt to save their lives, several received severe injuries, while others sank to rise no more.  However, the greater portion of them arrived safely on the beach, but no sooner had they landed than they saw, creeping along the shore, under the shelter of the rocks, a strong body of men well armed.  The sailors, however, were in no way alarmed at the appearance of the enemy.  Before quitting their vessels they were well aware that the lord of Dunraven was on the alert.  Of this the light on the Watch Tower was a sufficient proof.  Hence, when they saw the wreckers approaching they placed themselves on the defensive, and patiently awaited the attack.  They had not long to wait, for the Dunraven men immediately came up and called upon the sailors to surrender.  To that call, however, they paid no heed, but drawing out their daggers, fell with terrible force upon p. 56the wreckers, who, however, stood their ground manfully.  The battle was a desperate one, while the slaughter was most appalling to witness.  Many a brave man on both sides fell, mortally wounded.  For a time the sailors had the best of the fray.  Their arms were nerved, too, by the consideration that, if beaten, death would be the lot of each.  Just, however, when they thought their victory was sure, there came up to the rescue of the wreckers their captain, who, with his own hand, killed six of the sailors.  The work of butchery now commenced in earnest.  One after another of the sailors fell, never to rise again.  Indeed not one single man of their number survived to tell the tale.  When the work of slaughter was completed, the captain ordered all the bodies to be carried to the adjoining cavern, where they were buried in a large chasm in the rock.  After interring the dead, Mac and the survivors returned to the beach, and watched there for the morning dawn.  During the night both vessels were broken to atoms by the fury of the waves, and p. 57as daylight appeared, the shore, for half a mile, was literally covered with articles of great value, which on being sold, realised a large sum.

The deeds of that terrible night spread far and wide.  The owners of the vessels and merchants pressed the Government to send down a special commission of inquiry.  For several weeks these commissioners carried on their investigations; but, while collecting a large amount of evidence, yet in consequence of the absence of one witness, whose evidence was essential to bring the charge home to the lord of Dunraven, they failed in substantiating the case against Mr. Vaughan.  A week subsequent to the departure of the commissioners, that witness was found; but he could tell no tale, being a mangled corpse.  The body had been washed ashore near Porthcawl.  The remains were those of Captain ap William, the father of John.  The news of this discovery was at once carried to his widow, who was busily engaged in preparing her son’s wedding dinner when the messenger arrived.  After p. 58breaking the fatal news to Mrs. ap William, the messenger continued his journey to the little village of St. Bride’s, and, going up to the church, he met at the porch the newly-married pair.  To Captain John, as he was generally called, the messenger told his sad tale.  Both John and his wife were deeply affected on being apprised of their bereavement.  They returned to their home to weep and to mourn; so John’s bridal day, which he hoped would be a day of unclouded joy, proved to be one of sadness, of sorrow, and of death.  He thus fully realized, by personal experience, the truth of the inspired saying, that we know not what a day may bring forth.


During the progress of the inquiry into the circumstances connected with the wreck, every effort was made by the authorities to discover the whereabouts of those who were believed to be engaged in the affair; but those inquiries were, unfortunately, unattended with success.  The usual haunts of the wreckers were repeatedly searched, their dwellings were watched, and even guarded night and day.  The villages and the neighbouring hamlets were visited on several consecutive days, yet they failed to find a single individual able to afford any intelligence or information as to the hiding-place of the desperadoes.  The non-success of these inquiries was considered as most singular, no less than inexplicable.  On the morning following the sad occurrence, several of the wreckers, including Mac the p. 60Devil, had been seen on the beach below Dunraven Castle, but it appeared that no sooner had they completed the packing and loading of the treasures collected, than they all disappeared in a most sudden manner from view, and that disappearance was effected in a most unaccountable way.  Whither they went, or how they left the beach, no one could tell.  They were distinctly seen, and in a moment afterwards they were lost to view, as if the earth had opened and swallowed them up.

Owing to their non-discovery, speculation was rife as to their probable hiding-place.  Some thought it most likely that they were hidden in the cellars under Dunraven Castle; others contended that Mr. Vaughan was too shrewd a man to place them there, especially as he himself was suspected of participating in the battle, and that that suspicion might lead to an inquiry which might be followed up by a personal search.  Others concluded that they had quitted the neighbourhood, and were hiding in the woods about Margam, or up the Ogmore Valley.  There was one old gentleman p. 61who treated all these opinions with contempt.  Every village and parish has its wise man, to whom, in an emergency, an appeal is made, and the old gentleman alluded to was the then wise man of Southerndown, as Hopkin Llewelyn is in our day.  He gave it as his opinion, that the wreckers were neither in the woods of Ogmore Valley nor Margam, nor would they be found in the Dunraven cellars, but were still in the neighbourhood, and within the sound of their voices; in short, that they were hid in some subterraneous cavern in the bay, which had hitherto remained undiscovered, and hence was known only to the wreckers.  He further predicted that as soon as the storm should blow over, by the departure of the commissioners, and the usual quietude of the locality assume its general aspect, the wreckers would again return to their old haunts, having Mac at their head; and would be then found wandering from point to point, having no special occupation, nor ostensible means of livelihood.  The prediction of the village seer was verified to the p. 62letter.  No sooner had the commissioners left than the wreckers did return, and they appeared at their place of rendezvous, the Cups, as if nothing had happened.  Here they spent the morning of each day in drinking beer and whisky; and here they spent their money with as much prodigality as if they were the owners of gold mines.  The landlord of the Cups received their money without even asking whether they came to it by honest or lawless means.  When asked how he could be so lost to every sense of right as to accept money from men who certainly had earned it by being engaged in a nefarious calling, he replied that he was perfectly indifferent, and that it was no concern of his how they came by their silver and gold, so long as they paid him for what they drank.  In this reply we recognise the true philosophy of the trade.  Landlords, as a rule, care but little for the sorrows, the poverty, and the wants of their drinking clients and their families.  They want to sell drink, and hence never for a moment reflect whether or not their p. 63customers can afford to spend a shilling, or as to the manner by means of which it was earned.  He, of the Cups, was, in money matters, true to his calling; but we cannot commend the wisdom, or rather unwisdom, of the wreckers in spending their money at the old house, when the children of some of them wanted bread.

On the morning following one of these carouses, Mac paid a visit to the tower to see his cousin Duncan.  Though they had met several times since the day on which they came from their hiding-places, yet they had not been fortunate enough to secure an uninterrupted and unobserved conversation.  To this both had anxiously looked forward.  Fortunately, when Mac entered, ho found his cousin in the observatory alone.  Placing his books and instruments on the table, Duncan turned his chair to the fire, and requested his visitor to be seated on the opposite side of the fire.  As the kettle was boiling on the hob, the host prepared two pints of excellent whisky toddy, one of which p. 64he handed Mac, who, on sipping the mixture remarked that it was “capital stuff,” and moreover inquired of Duncan where he obtained it.

“It came, Mac, from the old country; imported direct from the distiller.  This is just the beverage for a stormy night, is it not, Mac?”

“On that night I’d have given a pound for a pint of toddy like this.”

“By the bye, Mac,” said Duncan, “you did the thing very neatly that night.”

“I’m obliged to you, cousin, for your good opinion.  What did Mr. Vaughan say about our doings?  He saw the whole scene.”

“My lord said to me, that unless you had been present, all would have been lost, as the sailors up to the time you came up had the best of the battle.”

“Mr. Vaughan was right there, Duncan.  Had I not come up at the moment I did, every wrecker would have been a dead man.”

“So my lord, who was on the rock above you, said.”

p. 65“Oh, Duncan, it was a sad sight!  I hope, cousin, I shall never be compelled to witness a similar scene.

“It is a sickening and a degrading calling, this of ours, in which victory has no honour, and triumph no glory.  While it is a merry life and profitable to those engaged in it, it is surrounded with scenes which are shocking to behold.”

“As our master has such a large estate, Duncan, why does he carry on so hazardous and so dangerous a calling?”

“The secret is this, he loves gold, and his heart is set on attaining riches; and to secure them he’ll take away any man’s life if it stands between him and the prize he covets.”

“I should think he shook in his shoes when those men were down here.  Was he not alarmed, Duncan?”

“Our master was, Mac, certainly alarmed; but, take my word, he’ll go on just in the same way.  He is just like the little animal which, when once it tastes the blood of its victim, never gives up pursuit until it has secured the p. 66prey.  The lord of Dunraven will, in my opinion, continue wrecking until some great calamity befalls his house or his family.”

The subsequent doings of Mr. Vaughan fully established the opinion of Duncan.  Although he had been in imminent danger of having his crime discovered, yet, when those who conducted the inquiry had left the vicinity, the lord of Dunraven, with renewed energy and more resolute determination, carried on his nefarious calling.  In each succeeding winter, vessels were wrecked in Dunraven Bay which had been decoyed thither by the false lights he had caused to be placed in the tower.  From these wrecks he realized large sums.  Had he been permitted to pursue his satanic designs for a few years longer, he would have become the richest man in the vale of Glamorgan.

In consequence of the great losses ship-owners had sustained by reason of these wrecks, and the terror which the scenes of Dunraven had inspired, both owners and masters of vessels trading up and down the p. 67Bristol Channel were alarmed, and were in constant apprehensions lest they should experience the same disaster which had unhappily befallen so many of their brethren.  Captain ap William, however, was not deterred from pursuing his seafaring calling by these disasters, though his wife, previously to his starting on every voyage, warned him of the danger of following so hazardous a pursuit.  Yet, in spite of those warnings, and the urgent solicitations of his wife to remain at home, he continued going to sea.

It was after one of these wrecks, when more than ordinary violence had been used by the men of Dunraven, that the captain and his wife were walking from St. Bride’s along the carriage way to Dunraven.  This was their favourite walk, and it was, moreover, associated with many a happy scene in days of yore.  After pursuing their walk for some time in silence, Mrs. ap William began to weep.

“Why those tears, Myfanwy?” asked her husband.

“I weep, John,” she replied, “in thought p. 68of the prospect of our separation.  Oh, you will not leave me again, will you?”

“Indeed, wife, I must.”

“But where is the necessity for you to risk your life again?  We have enough to keep us in independence and comfort.”

“I have promised my employers to go on this one voyage.”

“Can’t they get another captain to take charge of the ship?”

“Doubtless they could, but they won’t trust every man with my vessel.”

“Oh, I wish you would stay at home!  Indeed, indeed, I fear, if you leave me, I shall never see you again.  Last night I dreamt, and in my dream I fancied I saw your body being taken from the sea, your hair clotted, and your face covered with blood.  Oh, I do fear, if you again leave me, I shall never see you alive!”

“Do not be alarmed for my safety, Myfanwy.  Life is as safe on the ocean as on the land.  The same Providence watches over the seaman as the landsman.  He being at the helm, He p. 69controlling and guiding the destiny of us all, will be my friend, even should danger threaten me.  So cheer up, thou treasure of my heart, and since you are so urgent that I should give up my calling, I now promise that on my return from this one voyage I will remain at home.”

“I can urge you no further, John.  During your absence I’ll pray for your safe return.”

The following morning Captain John ap William took his departure.  He joined his ship at Bristol, and from that port he sailed for the city of Lisbon with a cargo of West of England goods.  From thence he sailed to London, thence to Hamburg, and after several voyages between the two last-mentioned cities, chartered his ship to the Mediterranean, and took a valuable cargo at Marseilles for Bristol.

During her husband’s absence, Myfanwy felt constant anxiety on his behalf, an anxiety intensified owing to the sad havoc among shipping at Dunraven Bay.  As it was now winter, her feeling of apprehension increased p. 70in intensity, as she daily expected his return.  October had come and gone, but he had not returned, nor had she received, for several weeks, a letter from him.  November had come in more than usually stormy.  All over the country trees had been uprooted, houses were blown down, and on the rocks above Dunraven Bay, and below Southerndown, the winds were so terrible that persons were in the imminent risk of being blown over if they went within even fifty yards of the precipice.  On Friday morning the hurricane increased in its fury.  As the evening approached, the storm became fearful, while the tumultuous waves increased in violence, foaming, then wildly raving, then receding in circling eddies for awhile, into their gloomy bosom; then, again, returning with renewed force and augmented fury.  Upon their tumultuous and angry surges a large vessel, heavily laden, was being driven towards the bay of Dunraven by the fierce tempest.  If that fine ship, which bore on her bosom the rich merchandise of continental skill and p. 71industry, be dashed against the desperate assemblage of rocks, crags, and shoals surrounding the bay—imagination with its utmost stretch could form but a very imperfect idea of so direful and so appalling a spectacle.  As the villagers gazed upon the tumultuous billows, they saw the ship, which had battled many a stormy breeze, uplifted on the briny surge, then plunging headlong down the repelling rock.  In that terrible collision, a hole nearly three feet square, was made in the bottom, through which the sea rushed in with terrible force, on which she began to sink.  When this was discovered, the crew, in wild despair, called to the men on the beach to come and help them.  They, however, moved not, but waited the issue with the most stolid indifference.  Amid that cry of despairing anguish the sea rolled in with increased violence and fury, the waves dashing over the fast-sinking ship, and carrying along with them the unfortunate crew.  Presently there was seen clinging to a frail board a young man, comely in form and handsomely p. 72dressed.  Having fastened himself to this, the wreckers heard him beseeching them, in most piteous cries to come and help him.  However, to that cry no attention was paid.  Seeing this, he, with a voice which moved even the hard hearts of the wreckers, called out, “Oh, my father, my father! if you love your son, who has been a dutiful and a faithful son to you—if there be in your bosom any affection for him who has only lived to promote your welfare and interest; who, in your declining years, has laboured and striven, and thereby has succeeded in redeeming the manor of Dunraven from its heavy incumbrance—send the men to save me from a watery grave!”  That cry the lord of Dunraven heard.  It pierced his very soul.  His countenance was marked with anguish, blended with despair.  All he could say was, “It is my own son Walter, and I have caused his death!”  He then fell down in a fit.  When the wreckers heard their master’s exclamation they, as one man, took to the sea.  Towards the drowning man they p. 73pressed forward with great energy, and at last succeeded in touching the frail board.  At that moment there was a terrible sea, which, in receding, carried away the young lord of Dunraven and the whole of the wreckers, except Mac the Devil, who succeeded in gaining the shore.  The Lord of Dunraven, when he recovered from the swoon, learned all that had happened, even of his son’s death.  From that night Mr. Vaughan was never seen at Dunraven Castle.  He went forth, bowed down with age and with sin, a wandering ghost, seeking rest but finding none.  No one ever heard that he was sorry on account of the crimes he had committed against heaven and earth.  In a few years afterwards news came to Wales that in an encounter with a highwayman, in the North of England, the once great lord of Dunraven was slain, and his body was thrown over the rocks into the sea.  In his pockets were found papers which led to his identification.  As his money had been taken by the robber, he was buried at the expense of the parish in which p. 74his body was found.  Such was the life and such the end of a man who sought riches by robbery, and gold by the sacrifice of human life.  Indeed, he lived a miserable life, and died a miserable death.

As regards the other persons of this history but little remains to be told.  Mac, on that night, disappeared from the scene.  But every nook and corner of the coast was watched and carefully guarded night and day.  The people of the neighbourhood expressed their confidence that Mac was still in the locality, in his old hiding-place.  After watching for a fortnight, during which there were no signs of his appearance, they were almost persuaded to give up the affair.  However, they resolved still to continue guarding the coast for another week.  The day before that week expired, one of the watchers saw in the sea, coming out from between two rocks, a man diving.  Evidently he had come from some subterranean cavern, with an outlet under the water.  This man was Mac the Devil.  He was there and then taken, and lodged p. 75in gaol.  At the following assizes he was found guilty of murder and was condemned to die.  Before his death he confessed all, and left behind him a record of his exploits, and a detailed account of his connection with the lord of Dunraven.  Before that record was read, Mr. Vaughan had breathed his last.

But what became of Captain John?  It was his vessel that went down, and it was young Vaughan’s cargo with which she was laden.  On the morning subsequent to the wreck he was found on the seashore in Dunraven Bay, with his body much bruised, and his face covered with blood.  He was, however, still alive, and thanks to the careful nursing of his wife and medical skill, he soon recovered, and gave up going to sea.  Ever afterwards he lived at home.  He became an excellent farmer, and saved money.  He lived to a good old age, and left behind a numerous family, who were as distinguished for their virtue as they were for their industry.  In this world he moreover lived as p. 76he wished to die, leaving behind him a pattern of religiousness which his children, and their children after them, followed.  Thus, while the end of the good captain was happy and peaceful, that of the lord of Dunraven was full of anguish, while he met with a doom which it is terrible to contemplate.


[The following strange stories of Cambrian life contain not an ideal but a real picture of society in days of yore.  For obvious reasons, some of the names of the dramatis personæ are not given, but the family of Jones being so large, the man will not be recognised by the retention of the name he actually bore.  Further, it is believed that the whole of his relations are dead.  He had two nieces that survived him, who on his death were by no means young ladies.  They then quitted Wales, never more to return.  One more word only need be added, namely, that Mr. Jones’s fame as a preacher was universal, and the belief that he had power p. 80over Satan was firmly entertained by all, though he himself repudiated the possession of such power.  Mr. Jones lived to nearly a hundred years of age, and died about thirty years ago.]

* * * * *

Hail! all hail! to thee, thou illustrious dead!  Though thy spirit has long since left the regions of earth, and has passed into the Gwlad well, yet thy memory is fresh and green, and thy deeds of charity, thy unassuming piety, thy faithful preaching of the Cross, thy example of saintly resignation, as well as thy holy sanctitude, still live in the hearts and memories of those who were privileged to listen, sabbath after sabbath, to the glorious truths which fell from thy lips, and who, moreover, were permitted to gaze upon and witness the holy ripening of thy nature for a bright and a glorious immortality.  Of thee might it be truly said, that thy enemies were few, and thy friends and well-wishers legion.  The reason of this was obvious.  While others laboured for p. 81earthly honour and a perishable renown, the aspiration and desire of thy soul was to do the work of Him in whose armour thou wast clothed, and to be recognised, and honoured, and acknowledged of thy Father at the Judgment of the Great Day.  Thy departure to that better land was to thee a happy departure.  On thy spirit leaving its tabernacle of clay, it took its flight, amid the songs of angelic choirs, to that world wherein the Lamb shall ever lead it to perennial springs and fountains of blessedness, and where every tear shall be wiped away by the Redeemer.  But though the change to thee was a welcome one, oh, how unwelcome was it to thy sorrowing children on earth, who were left behind in the wilderness!  Though many, many years have passed away since the day of thy departure to join the choirs above, during which I have mixed much with the busy world,—have seen the upheaving of peoples, revolution following revolution, and have witnessed parts of Europe deluged with the blood of some of its best and most p. 82patriotic sons,—yet I well remember, as if it were but as yesterday, the sorrowful tidings of thy death, when all joined in saying, “That a prince and a great man had that day fallen in Israel.”  Nevertheless, amid our pensive sorrow and grief, which almost rent many a stout heart; all were yet cheered and solaced with the thought, that though the dark cloud of the future obscured our vision, preventing our beholding the face of the dear departed, nevertheless he was reposing joyfully in the eternal sunshine, and reclining on the bosom of his Lord.

Now, though Parson Jones was a good and holy man, yet young and old, rich and poor, the youth in his teens as well as those over whose heads seventy summers had passed, not only admitted, but actually declared, that he was a strange mortal.  His life and character were to them an enigma.  While the outward—the rational man—was clear and plain, yet the inner life—the hidden and mysterious workings of the intellectual and spiritual man—was above their p. 83comprehension and beyond their ken.  Though they owned that their beloved pastor held communion with Heaven, yet many affirmed, and positively believed, that he had constant intercourse with the Evil One.  Though they devoutly entertained the opinion that he held uninterrupted converse with Him who was the desire of all nations, yet they clung to the opinion that he had fellowship with him who reigns over the abode of woe.  While they believed that their dear friend possessed that faith by which mountains are removed, and by means of which the rolling and angry billows are hushed into calm repose on the bosom of the vast and mighty deep, nevertheless, the tale went from cottage to cottage, and from hamlet to hamlet, and was told and retold, with deep seriousness, in high and in low places, that Parson Jones could raise and lay the devil.  And if legions of ministering angels hovered round his path, imparting to him comfort, solace, and joy, it was almost universally believed that he had consultations with the grim spirits of the nethermost p. 84regions.  Hence they concluded that he was not only all-powerful with Heaven, but that Satan himself, with all his servants and allies, would fly at his bidding.  In consequence of this belief, Parson Jones had, at his parsonage, a constant succession of visitors.  If the busy housewife was unsuccessful in her churning, Parson Jones must be at once consulted, as he only, in the vicinity, had power to break the spell, and drive to their place those evil spirits which interfered with the beneficial operations of mankind.  If the farmer found his cattle ailing, of course the good parson’s advice was at once sought, which in all case was readily obtained, the belief being that he only in that neighbourhood could counteract and overcome the evil influence of the witches, who, by their malevolence and wicked arts, sought to bring destruction and ruin upon him and his household.  Again, if a house in the locality were haunted, the sleepers being awakened from their slumbers of the night by unearthly cries, by groans and terrible noises, we need hardly say the p. 85good vicar was sent for; and after one of his visits, the simple-hearted people of the troubled dwelling believed, and positively affirmed, that he had put his imperial Satanic majesty in his snuff-box!  And from that night their home was never disturbed by the presence of a spiritual visitor, and they congratulated themselves on having permanently got rid of the disturber of their peace and repose, feeling certain that the possessor of the snuff-box would see to it that the lid would be kept securely fastened.  These acts of Parson Jones were not done in a corner; hence the news of his victory over the Evil One spread far and wide; but while a few gave no credence to the tales that were told, yet the people—the masses, both rich and poor, the wise and the unlearned—believed in the stories which were told of the good vicar’s doings.

As my father’s residence was adjacent to the vicarage, as he and the worthy parson were sworn friends, and as the latter had a strong personal liking to me, as also a deep p. 86interest in my future welfare and prospects, I having on several occasions acquainted him with my strong aversion to my father’s pursuits, and that I intended to seek my fortune in the wide, wide world—these and other matters brought me into frequent contact with our common friend, at whose house I was a constant and ever welcome visitor.  There was, however, another reason why I was so often found at his hospitable dwelling, which, in passing, I will just mention.  From my earliest school days I had imbibed a strong thirst for knowledge, while the sciences of astronomy, algebra, Euclid, and trigonometry, had for me peculiar, and I might add, fascinating charms.  In pursuing those studies, however, I often met with difficulties, which, unaided, and without the assistance of a teacher, I failed to overcome.  The good parson being well informed of my pursuits, and being anxious to render me all the assistance in his power, arranged that I was to spend every Monday evening at his residence, where, in his study, he would quietly explain the problems and p. 87calculations I had failed to solve.  As a teacher he was so successful that, after going quietly over my calculations, and explaining where I had gone wrong, he invariably managed to make the whole matter as clear to my perception as that two and two make four.

Mr. Jones was deeply read in the science of astronomy, and on his perceiving that I was weekly making considerable progress in a science he so deeply loved,—a science, too, which he regarded as more sublime than any other, inasmuch as it proclaimed the power, the wisdom, and the greatness of Him who binds the sweet influences of the Pleiades and loosens the bands of Orion, who can bring forth Mazzaroth in his season and guides Arcturus with his sons,—it was no wonder, considering the identity of our common feeling and inclination, that I became a nightly visitor at the parsonage.  During those visits I learned much respecting other branches of knowledge with which, previously, I was but little acquainted.  Thus, wide fields of human knowledge appeared to open before me, p. 88the possession of which was the deep aspiration of my soul.

But I must own that my visits to the parsonage afforded me an interest beyond that of scientific and literary pursuits.  Night after night there were other visitors at the good man’s house, who came there to tell tales about apparitions, ghosts, the doings of the witches, and the various forms in which his imperial majesty of Pandemonium had appeared to them.  To these marvellous stories I always listened with deep interest, as from my youngest days I had been taught by my nurse to believe in the existence of ghosts.  The people of the neighbourhood believed that the parson had power over the evil spirits when they troubled men, hence the reason of his assistance having been so frequently sought.  Many a tale I have heard in the vicar’s little study; but for the present I shall only record the following strange stories.

* * * * *

It was a stormy night in the month of January, when I was with Mr. Jones in his p. 89study.  After sitting there some time, over a problem in the Sixth Book of Euclid, the door gently opened, and in walked Mrs. Lloyd, the wife of a neighbouring farmer, who, at the request of Mr. Jones, took a seat by the fire.  When she entered the room I observed that she was deeply agitated, the cause of which we soon learnt.  As soon as she had warmed herself and dried her garments, my friend and benefactor, in the kindest possible way, asked the reason of her having come out on so stormy and so boisterous a night.

“I’m kum to see yoo, Mr. Jones,” she said, “and to tell yoo the sad calamity which has happened at our house.”

“I hope Mr. Lloyd is not ill?”

“Oh no, parson; leastwise he was well in body when I left whome, but sorely troubled in mind.”

“What is the matter, my good friend?” inquired Mr. Jones.

“Oh, sir! it’s too dreadful.  I kunna tell yoo.  I s’pose I must, for I’m kum here on purpose.”

p. 90“Unless you tell me the cause of your trouble, ma’am, I cannot give you advice.”

“You know, parson, Moll McGee, of Cwmdu, dunna yoo?”

“Yes, ma’am; I know that person very well.”

“Yoo know, dunna yoo, Mr. Jones, that she’s a witch.”

“She is so reported, Mrs. Lloyd; but you must not believe all you hear.”

“But, yoo do know very well she’s a real witch, so dunna yoo deny it.”

“I have no personal knowledge of the fact, ma’am,” replied the good parson; “I have always found her a harmless and inoffensive woman, though some persons say she has put her mark on certain families.”

“I should think she has, indeed; so dunna yoo think she ought to be hanged and quartered, and her body and bones, and her heart and liver, burned by the common hangman, for causing so much trouble and loss to poor and innocent folks?”

“Surely she has not paid you a visit, has she?”

p. 91“She ha, though; and, what is worse, she has spoiled a beautiful churning of milk, and killed our pony, which Lloyd was offered thirty pounds for at last May fair.”

“I am sorry to hear this of Mrs. McGee,” observed Mr. Jones; “but, my dear madam, when and how did this happen?”

“When my daughter Mary was churning on Wednesday morning, who should kum up to the dairy door but Moll the witch.  She sez, sez she, ‘Will you give me some buttermilk, Mrs. Lloyd?’

“‘No,’ sez I; ‘I’ve no buttermilk to spare.’

“‘But yoo must,’ sez she, ‘give me some.’

“‘I have sed the word, Mrs. McGee, that I’ve none to spare; and if I had, you shudna have any.’

“‘Why?’ sez she.

“‘Why,’ sez I; ‘because yoo are a bad woman.’

“‘You had better give me som,’ sez she agen; ‘for if you won’t it ’ul be the worse for yoo.’

“‘What will yoo do, Mary?’ sez I.

“‘I’ll mark yore cattle,’ sez she, ‘and I’ll p. 92leave the mark there too, for your hard-heartedness.’

“‘Then,’ replied I, ‘I won’t give yoo milk.  Yoo’ll witch my things, will yoo?  Do thy worst Moll,’ sez I, ‘for I dunna fear thee.’

“‘Then,’ sez she, ‘may yur milk never turn into butter, may yur cows cease to give yoo milk, and may yoo find some of yur beasts in the black quarry before another week’s gone, and may the curse of Mary of the Black Dingle ever follow yoo and yours.’

“The old hag, when she finished her curse, turned upon her heel, and in a moment afterwards my daughter and me saw her going through the gate in the form of a large black monkey.  After she left, we continued to churn away with all our might and main, but the butter wouldna come, and since that day the cows have refused to give us any milk.”

“But what about the pony, Mrs. Lloyd?”

“Oh, I had almost forgotten to tell yoo about that.  Well, last night, as Lloyd was coming whome from the fields, he saw a black monkey on the back of the pony.  The brute was urging p. 93the poor creature forward by sticking her devilish claws in the pony’s side.  And will yoo believe it—God ha’ mercy upon us! for we live in strange times,—the monkey drove the pony straight for the quarry.  Lloyd saw her fall over the rock, and running up to the edge of the quarry, saw the poor creature dashed to atoms at the bottom, and Moll standing by grinning.  But p’raps yoo wunna believe the truth of my story, but it is as true as I’m a Christian woman.”

“Indeed, Mrs. Lloyd,” replied Mr. Jones with great firmness, “I don’t believe that Mary McGee, or any mortal, possesses the power which you evidently believe she does possess.  Heaven has not delegated to sinful mortal, nor even to any of His creatures, power to inflict injury affecting life or limb upon any of the creatures He has made, and by whose power and goodness they are sustained.”

“Yoo are a learned man, and I’m no scholard, tho’ I kun read my Bible, thank God! and that book tells me that evil spirits did enter into man and beast; and parson, yoo cunna make p. 94me believe that the arch-fiend has not entered into the heart of that woman.”

“Oh! don’t, I beseech you, my friend, give too much credence to idle tales and silly talk; and pray don’t believe that she is the real cause of, and the instrument by which, this affliction has come upon you.  If you were to sift thoroughly the evidence respecting Mary’s malpractices, you would discover, in the end, that the whole is based upon hearsay, and on the inventions of persons who might have fancied it possible for such things to exist.”

“Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones,” replied Mrs. Lloyd, “these tales are not idle invention; I wish they was.  But as true as God made Llandegley Rocks, and I s’pose He made them, my cows wanna give no milk, and the cream wunna turn to butter, churn as much as we will; and it’s a fact ’bout the old hag and our pony, as Lloyd witnessed the whole matter.  I believe, and Lloyd believes, and my daughter believes it too, that our calamities are the result of the evil influences of this witch, who has been practising upon our creatures her infernal and malignant p. 95arts.  I have now told you my tale, parson, and I want your advice.”

“What do you wish me to do, Mrs. Lloyd?”

“Oh, sir! there is only one thing yoo can do.”

“What is that, my friend?”

“What is that, yoo ask?  Ye know very well.  Why, break the spell, to be sure.  Until that’s done we shall neither have butter nor milk, and then how shall we be able to pay our rent?”

“Indeed, ma’am, I don’t see how I can assist you.  Oh, I do wish you would not place any faith in this woman’s power.”

“I cunna help it, Mr. Jones.  But I do believe this, that yoo can master her, and yoo only.  I know yoo have power over these evil spirits and witches, but especially over Moll McGee.”

“Why do you think so, ma’am?”

“Oh,” replied Mrs. Lloyd, “she’s afeared of yoo.  Indeed, she said she was afeared of yoo; and no wonder, for we know very well that yoo can master her master—the great fiend himself.”

p. 96“Pray, Mrs. Lloyd,” remarked the vicar, “don’t for a moment entertain the belief that such power belongeth to man, nor that I, one of the most sinful of God’s creatures, have authority over the ruler of darkness.  However, as your cattle are afflicted, I will step up in the morning, and examine them.”

“I’m so thankful to yoo, Misther Jones, for your kindness.  I shall now go whome with a lighter heart than I came, for I know you will break the witch’s spell.”

I thought Mr. Jones would give her a lecture about her faith in his power.  However, for this she waited not; for on securing his promise she rose from her chair, and took her departure, wishing us both a hearty good-night.

In about a quarter of an hour after Mrs. Lloyd had left, who should walk into the study but Mrs. McGee, who took possession of Mrs. Lloyd’s seat without any invitation from the vicar.  When she had made herself comfortable before the blazing fire of wood on the hearth, Mr. Jones addressed her:—

“Why are you out so late to-night, Molly?”

p. 97“I’ve come to speak with you on business.”

“But it is rather late for business now.  Why did you not come earlier?”

“I couldn’t do so.”


“Because Mrs. Lloyd had not visited you till to-night.”

“But what had her visit to do with you?”

“Everything; ’cause she come to tell you a tale ’bout me.”

“I fear, Molly, she has a very just cause of complaint, against you especially, if reports be true.”

“Bad luck to her, and all she has, Mr. Jones!”

“Withdraw that word this moment, Molly; or,” his piercing eye being fixed on the woman, which appeared to enter her soul, “I must use my power—that is, I must request you to leave my house this instant.”

“But don’t you think she was a hard-hearted woman not to give a poor body a dhrop of buttermilk?”

“I can’t say that, Molly; but if she be p. 98hard-hearted, there is no reason why any one should wish her ill.  I must, therefore, insist on your withdrawing your wish.”

“If I do so, Mister Jones, it wonnot be for her, but for your sake, who has always been kind to me.”

“You have spoken like a sensible woman, Molly.  I have one more request to make, Mrs. McGee; that is, promise me you won’t go near Mrs. Lloyd again.”

“Dear-a-me, you are a strange mon, parson.  Between you an’ me and the post, I’ve no wish to go near the likes of her, as she has no pity on a poor starving woman.”

“As you have now promised me not to go near Mrs. Lloyd, just go into the kitchen and get some supper, and make haste home, for it is getting late.”

When Mrs. McGee left us, I also left to depart.  On the ensuing afternoon I was informed, that before daylight next morning, Mr. Jones, before the family were up, had paid a visit to Mrs. Lloyd’s cow-house, and had given to each beast a small ball made up of herbs.  p. 99When these were swallowed the cattle appeared scarcely able to contain themselves for delight.  Mr. Jones saw by their appearance that his medicine (?) had proved successful; so calling up the family, he informed them that the spell was broken.  The cows no longer refused to give milk, and Mrs. Lloyd even declared that it was superior in quality to what she previously had.  Subsequently, she experienced no difficulty in her churning operations.  The fame of Mr. Jones spread, in consequence, far and wide, and, unfortunately for his own peace and comfort, applications to him for assistance, when the witches had afflicted man or beast, became incessant.


It was a dreary night in the month of December when there sat in the chimney-corner of the Jolly Fiddler—which, as you know, is the chief public-house in the little village of Nantglyn—Nat the smith.  Nat, as you are aware, is a real good fellow, and a hard-working man, but, unfortunately, he is terribly fond of his beer.  I have been told that he has spent a little fortune at the Jolly Fiddler, and I can well believe it, for he pays nightly visits to the house, which he never leaves until he has had two quarts of ale; and I fear that latterly he has not confined himself to that quantity.  However, I am anticipating this part of my story, and must first narrate, as succinctly as possible, the incidents of Nat’s life during the past seven years.  Besides, I am anxious to finish telling you the story to-night, though I am not sure I can complete it, as there is a gap in the history of my friend Nat which p. 101has not yet been made up.  With the above remarks by way of introduction, we will now go back to the dreary night of December already alluded to.

After Nat had sat for some time in the chimney-corner at the Jolly Fiddler, he called out to the landlord,—

“Another quart, Bill; and mind it’s from the barrel in the corner.”

“All right, Nat,” replied the landlord; “you shall ha’ a quart of the best.”

“Here’s the sixpence, Bill,” said Nat, when the ale was placed before him on the table; “and, upon my soul, I’ve not another copper left.”

“Never mind about the money, Nat; I’ll trust you for as much as you like to drink.”

“Thee knows, Will, I never allow scoring for beer.  Ready money or no ale, is my motto.”

“And a good motto it is, Nat.  Oh, I wish all my customers was like you; for if they was, I should have no fear of being marched off to Lunnun (London) to be whitewashed.”  (A p. 102provincialism implying the passing the Bankruptcy Court.)

“There is no danger of me going up there, Will,” rejoined Nat.  “’Cause why, no one will trust me.”

“Dunna thee say that, Nat; for thee knows very well that I’ll trust thee.”

“Trust or no trust, Will, here goes,” and putting the jug of foaming ale to his mouth he drank a good draught; and then smacking his lips, said, “Upon my word, this is the real ‘cwrw da.’  A quart of this is worth a gallon of the last brewing.”

“So it ought to be, Nat; for I put four bushels of best malt to this barrel in the corner.”

“There’s no mistake, Bill, about its strength; and between us, as old friends, my only fear is that I shall not be able to get my fair allowance of it.”

“Oh! of that you need not be afraid, Nat; ’cause why, I only give this beer to my constant and my very best customers, and—”

“Of which I am one, I s’pose you was going to say.”

p. 103“And if I had said so, Nat, I should ha’ spoken the literal truth.”

During the above conversation a gentleman, unperceived by the landlord and his best customer, entered the kitchen of the Jolly Fiddler.  He was clad in a suit of black, over which he wore a long cloak of invisible green, the bottom of which trailed on the ground.  He had on his head a felt wideawake, which was so inclined in front that his eyes were not perceptible, while the rest of his face was shut from view by an immense quantity of long, smooth, glossy hair, which descended over and below his shoulders.  He had entered the kitchen of the Jolly Fiddler silently, and taking up a position between the door and chimney-corner in which the smith was sitting, and at the landlord’s back, his presence was unperceived by both.  On that spot he had stood during the conversation between Nat and Bill, to which he had listened with great attention.  When the landlord turned away from his friend Nat, to attend to the duties of his house, he was astonished to find the presence of the stranger, whose p. 104strange appearance struck him with awe, and his tongue clove to the roof of his mouth.  However he summoned up his courage, and taking a slanting direction, he escaped through a side door into the little back parlour of the inn.

Nat was not a spectator of this scene.  When Will left him, he took his quart of ale in his hand, and composing himself in the chimney corner, he sat there, intently watching the glowing wood-fire before him.  There he sat, now and then sipping his ale, as professed wine-drinkers sip their port, remarking to himself, after each succeeding draught, “This is capital stuff! it warms the cockles of one’s heart as it goes down; but, poor me! when, oh when, shall I have sixpence in my pocket to buy another quart?  Oh, it’s a sad thing to be poor in this rich land of plenty!  It’s not right for me and my class to starve for good ale, when our wealthy neighbours have their cellars full, and plenty of gold to buy more.  If I was rich, the poor man should never want for a pint or a jug of the real ‘cwrw da.’  Ah, me! I sha’ never be rich.  I’m born to be p. 105poor, and to labour as them sparks fly up the chimney.  It’s sad, very sad, and heart-breaking, to have an empty pocket when one’s soul is thirsty.”

Nat sat thus musing and talking to himself for nearly half an hour.  At last he finished his ale, and then, taking his stick in his hand, rose to go home.  There was no one in the kitchen now.  Nat thought this very strange, as Bill was generally about; but he fancied, as he rose to depart, that he saw the shadow of a human form on the wall.  Of this he took no particular notice at the time; but, on listening to Will’s story the following day, Nat felt that the supposed shadow was a terrible reality.

Nat left the inn with a heavy heart.  It is true he had had his quart of good ale, but he thought that, as work was slack, he would have considerable difficulty “in raising the wind” for several days, and this affliction had a depressing influence on his spirits.  At last he reached the little wicket gate leading from the highway to his cottage; but on his opening p. 106it, he was awe-struck on seeing coming from his house along the garden-path, a gentleman clad in deep mourning.  As there was something in the appearance of the gentleman Nat did not like, he attempted to avoid him by leaving the path free; but when Nat turned out of the path the figure turned too, and came up, meeting the smith face to face, and addressed him thus:—

“You are rather late to-night, Mr. Smith.”

“If I be late, sir,” retorted Nat, “I do not see it’s any business of yours.”

“Don’t be angry with me, friend, I meant no harm, for my object in meeting you here is to afford you help and counsel.”

“I need, sir, no man’s help,” replied Nat; “and when I require advice I’ll seek it at the house of a friend.”

“But, friend Vulcan, I can give you the help which no man can.”

“Give it then, sir, to those who seek; as for me I desire it not.”

“You are poor, friend, and penniless.”

“But is poverty, sir, a crime?”

p. 107“Oh no, friend, poverty is not a crime; but you must own, Mr. Smith, that an empty pocket is very inconvenient for a thirsty soul.”

“How do you know, sir, that my pocket’s empty?”

“My knowledge of the fact, friend, is derived from your own confession.”

“But, sir, I never confessed to you, ’cause why, I never saw you before.”

“You speak truly on that point, friend Vulcan; nevertheless, I must tell you I heard your confession to-night at the Jolly Fiddler.”

“I did not see you there, sir.”

“Perhaps not.  I was there, notwithstanding; and I heard you declaring to Will, the landlord, that you then parted with the last sixpence.”

“If I’ve spent all, sir, I can work and earn more.”

“Oh, sir, you can work: but I know you do not like work; and if you will comply with my wishes, you shall have all you require without working another hour.”

“What is your wish, sir, and the nature of your service?”

p. 108“I will tell you, Mr. Vulcan, in a few words.  But, first, let me say that I take a deep interest in you, and am supremely anxious to promote your welfare.  Now, if you will consent to become my son, at the expiration of seven years from this hour, I will grant you any three things you might desire, whatever they may be.”

“You’ll do what, sir?”

“I’ll grant you any three things—riches, wealth, possessions, or anything else.”

“And for these benefits, what do you require from me?”

“All I require, Mr. Nat, is that, at the expiration of seven years, you will acknowledge me as your master.”

“Indeed, sir,—that is, I don’t know what to say to your proposal.  Now I’m a free man, and I’d rather be my own master than be the slave of another.”

“But, friend, when you have plenty of money you will be your own master, and besides, with a full pocket you can drink as much as you like of Will’s best beer.  I shall guarantee in the bond your pockets shall be always full.”

p. 109“To-morrow night, if you will meet me, I will give you an answer.”

“To-morrow, friend, it will be too late.  Your decision must be now or never.  If you desire a merry and a jolly life, having a full pocket and plenty of good ale, sign this bond, which read for yourself.”

Nat took the document from the hand of the stranger, which he carefully read twice over.  When completing its second perusal, he remarked that it appeared all right, though not wholly satisfactory as it contained no sentence securing the blessings for which he had to wish during the seven years.

“Will it be satisfactory to you then, friend, if words to that effect are added?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Nat.

The stranger then wrote upon the bond the words Nat desired should be added, and presenting it to the smith, he at once signed the document, when, on its being done, the stranger vanished out of his sight, leaving Nat there in darkness and alone.  However, he ultimately p. 110found the door of his cottage, and, on entering, went at once to bed.

It was noon on the succeeding morning before Nat awoke.  He had, like all beer and spirit drinkers, slept himself sober.  When he was aroused from his slumbers, he began to think over the previous night’s scene, and, step by step, he was at last able to trace the whole of his doings from the time he left home until his return, and then he fully realized his present position.  The sad fact that he had sold himself body and soul to the arch-fiend was now a terrible reality.  “I have been a fool, and no mistake,” said he to himself; “but what’s done can’t be helped.  Here is the bond, the conditions of which I’m bound to carry out.”  He then got up, and dressed himself, and going downstairs, he found his dinner, which consisted of potatoes and milk, on the table.  After partaking of a portion of the dinner his too-indulgent wife had prepared for him, addressing his faithful Betsy he unconsciously exclaimed:

“I wish, old girl, we had fried bacon with the potatoes.”

p. 111No sooner had the words escaped his lips than there appeared before him on the little round table a plateful of savoury bacon, on which he was so enraged with his own want of prudence, that he wished it and its contents under the grate, when it was removed thither by some invisible hand.  Nat, on witnessing this, foamed with passion, and danced and cursed and swore like one possessed with the evil one.  He carried on his ravings for some time to the astonishment of his wife, as she could not divine the cause of his strange conduct; and amid one of his fits of rage he exclaimed, “Oh, that I had a jug of Will’s best beer, for my mouth and my tongue are on fire!”  In a moment the foaming ale was placed on the table, and Nat swallowed it at a single draught.  When he placed the empty jug on the table, he said, addressing his wife:

“O Betsy! what a fool I’ve been.  I was promised riches, possessions, and honours, if I’d do a particular thing, but my only reward is a jug of ale.”

From that day Nat was an altered man.  He ceased his visits to the Jolly Fiddler.  p. 112Occasionally he was to be found in his shop, but more frequently he might be seen walking up and down the mountain-side alone, with an air of pensive sadness on his brow.  As years rolled on he became more dejected and depressed in spirits, the cause of which was known to no mortal.  He did not even tell his wife the terrible secret of his unhappiness.  Years and years passed on with this heavy load on his heart.  At last it came to the very day but one when he had to fulfil the condition of the bond.  Why or wherefore I do not know, but the thought struck him about me, and thinking, perhaps, that I could afford him some little aid, he started off yesterday morning, and he spent several hours with me here last night.  He told me the whole of his tale, and when he had completed its recital, I said to him very kindly, but firmly,—

“You have done, my friend, a very wicked thing.”

“O sir, I know I have; but my heart is so depressed, pray do not, therefore, upbraid me now, but try and afford me some assistance.”

p. 113“I really can’t see my way to help you, especially as your enemy is so subtle.”

“But, my dear pastor, I think you can break the net in which he has caught me.”

“There is only one way of defeating him, Nat; that way is, by prayer and supplication for Divine help and guidance when the hour of your doom comes.”

“O sir, I have poured out my whole soul to my Redeemer, but I’ve received no answer to my prayer.”

“Relief, Nat, may yet come.  Oh, don’t cease in your petitions to the throne of mercy.”

“I’m terribly afraid, sir, that my sins are so black, there is no hope for me.”

“While there is life, friend, there is hope; and even yet, at the eleventh hour, a way of escape may be opened to you.”

“Heaven be praised if there be, sir; but this bond is too explicit in terms, and he who holds the counterpart is too exacting, for me to hope for an escape.”

“You have the bond, then, Nat?”

“Yes, sir! here it is.”

p. 114“Have you received the benefits of its conditions?”

“The only benefit I received was one jug of beer.  As for the bacon, that was devoured by the flames.”

“There is a line, which appears as an afterthought, added to the bond, namely, guaranteeing the security of the blessings wished for during a period of seven years.  Do you now say, Nat, that you have not participated in the benefits of the wishes during the seven years?”

“I declare, sir, in the most solemn manner, that the only benefit I had was the jug of ale already referred to.”

“Now, Nat, I think I can help you out of your difficulty, and I will pray Heaven to succour and assist you in the terrible encounter awaiting you.  But to insure success you must observe to the letter my directions.  Will you promise me?”

“Most solemnly I promise to obey you to the letter.”

“You must fulfil your engagement with the enemy, and if he insists on your carrying out p. 115the condition of the bond, then tell him to his face that you will not do so, unless he will first carry out his conditions about the seven years.  If he refuses, then demand another wish, and as you have received no benefit from the previous ones, he will, I think, concede the point.  If so, then let your wish be that something terrible might happen to him.”

Now, said the parson to me, I can proceed no further with my tale.  Every moment I am anxiously waiting news, or the return of Nat.  If he comes you shall hear the rest of the story from his own lips,—whereupon Nat entered, and throwing up his hat to the top of the room, cried out, “He is conquered! he is conquered!  Hurrah for Parson Jones!  Hurrah for the good Vicar of Llan! before whom both witches and devils flee.”  At last Nat became calm and composed, when he proceeded to complete the tale, which I tell in his own words:—

“I met the old chap at the appointed time and place, when he produced the bond, and asked me if I was ready to accompany him.

“I said, said I, ‘Not yet, my lord.’

p. 116“‘Why?’ said he.

“‘Because,’ said I, ‘you have not fulfilled the conditions of the bond.’

“‘In what have I failed?’ asked he.

“‘In this,’ said I, ‘I was, by the bond, to enjoy the blessings for seven years, and I’ve had only one jug of beer.’

“‘But that was your fault,’ said he.

“‘Whether it be my fault or not,’ said I, ‘I will not come with you unless you fulfil your conditions.’

“‘I will not wait for you another seven years,’ said he; ‘but I will permit your having one more wish.’

“‘You’ll do what?’ said I.

“‘I will grant you the privilege of one more wish.’

“‘You really will?’ said I.

“‘Yes; but, mind, my only reason for granting it,’ said he, ‘is that you appear to feel that I have taken an advantage of you.’

“‘Well, then,’ said I, ‘I wish you on the back of your fiery dragon; and, then, that the dragon carry you straight to Llynfan, and that you both p. 117be drowned in that lake, and never appear to disturb me more.’

“When I had finished my wish there was a terrible clap of thunder, which shook the earth beneath me to its very foundation, and it was followed by a vivid flash of lightning which lit up the whole mountain; and, looking across the valley, I then saw both the dragon and its rider disappear in that fathomless llyn.  When I saw this I dropped down upon the cold ground, and then poured forth my heart’s thanksgivings to Him who had wrought me, through you, my dear pastor, so great, so glorious a victory.”

Pont Aberglaslyn


Fled are the fairy views of hill and dale;
Sublimely throned on the steep mountain brow.
Stern nature frowns: her desolating rage
Driving the whirlwind, or swoln flood, or blast
Of fiery air imprisoned, from their base
Has wildly hurled the uplifted rocks around
The gloomy pass, where Aberglaslyn’s arch
Yawns o’er the torrent.  The disjointed crags
O’er the steep precipice in fragments vast
Impending, to the astonished mind recall
The fabled horrors by demoniac force
Of Lapland wizards wrought; who, borne upon
The whirlwind’s wing, what time the vexèd sea
Dashed ’gainst Norwegia’s cliffs, to solid mass
Turned the swoln billows, and the o’erhanging waves
Fixed e’er they fell.


In the enchanting vale below Pont Aberglaslyn there stood, many many years ago, a small villa, which at the time of which we p. 122write was covered over with ivy.  Surrounding this beautiful rural retreat were gardens and pleasure grounds, which were designed and laid out with great artistic taste and skill in the arrangement of walks, shrubs, rose-trees, flowers, and evergreens.

At the time our story commences, the villa was occupied by a gentleman whose family had seen better days; but, through the prodigality of ancestors and the vast sums they had squandered in horse-racing, cock-fighting, and gambling, the rent-roll of their estate which approached £12,000 a year, now scarcely reached a hundredth part of that sum after the interest had been paid.  Indeed, when the then owner came into possession of his patrimony on the death of his father, his net income barely reached £6 a week.  On discovering his pecuniary position, he felt he could no longer afford to occupy the family mansion, and like a wise man he prudently resolved to leave it, and remove to the villa we have already described.  During the residence of the family at the old Hall, Mrs. Wynn—that p. 123being the name of the family—left her household affairs to her servants, who unfortunately paid but little regard to domestic economy.  However, when she took up her residence in her new abode she wisely undertook the chief management of her household; while Mr. Wynn devoted his time to the cultivation of the garden and superintending the education of his son and daughter.  Both proved apt learners; what they learned they remembered.  Whatever book they read, they retained its contents in their singularly retentive memories.  In pursuing their studies, fortunately they had this great advantage in their favour,—namely, that their parent was a ripe scholar and an eminent man of letters, while as a teacher he possessed abilities of the highest order.  Having such an instructor, no wonder his beloved pupils made such rapid progress.  After teaching them thoroughly the rudiments, Mr. Wynn led on his children step by step to higher grounds; but in all his lessons he sought to instil into their young minds a strong and passionate desire, a p. 124longing thirst, for knowledge, the possession of which had afforded him some of the happiest and the most pleasurable hours of his life.  Thus occupied, year after year came and rolled by, and each revolving year brought increased happiness to the little family of the villa.  Truly did they live in each other’s love.

When their son Cadwgan had attained his fifteenth year, his sister Gwenfan being two years younger, their father was on one Saturday called away to the ancient town of Carnarvon, in order to transact some special business with the family solicitor.  When he left home in the morning he promised to return the same evening, but though his wife and children waited his return until midnight, he came not.  At last, sick and weary at heart, they retired to rest; but during the remainder of the night they were not roused by his well-known knock at the hall-door.  Early on the ensuing Sabbath morning, a special messenger arrived at the villa from Carnarvon, with the sorrowful intelligence that Squire p. 125Wynn had been seized with a virulent attack of small-pox, a disease which was then fearfully raging in the town and neighbourhood, and the messenger urged Mrs. Wynn to hasten to the bedside of her husband, if she desired to see him alive.  With an aching heart she kissed and bade adieu to her son and daughter, and hastened to the bedside of the almost lifeless form of him who had ever been the light of her eyes and the joy of her heart.  She saw at the first glance that the hour of his departure had come.  She threw herself on the bed by his side, when he tenderly embraced her, saying, “Heaven bless you, my angel!” and then pointing his finger upwards, “Meet me there, and bring our dear ones with you.”  He then heaved a deep sigh, and his spirit took its flight to the gwlad well (the better land).  Before that day’s sun had descended into the western sea, Mrs. Wynn was attacked with the same fatal malady; and before the dawn of the following morning, her gentle and loving spirit had fled its earthly tabernacle for the p. 126land of eternal and ethereal joy.  Thus were their children bereft of both father and mother in a single day, and before they were made acquainted with the terrible loss they had sustained, the forms they loved so well had been placed in the same tomb.

To the children the Monday and Tuesday following were days of anxious thought.  No tidings had reached them of the sad event that had happened.  It was late on Tuesday evening that a kind friend arrived from the solicitor bringing the sad intelligence of their parents’ decease.  They were overwhelmed with sorrow on account of their loss.  Days and days elapsed before they could realize their position.  At last they were painfully impressed with the fact that they were alone in the world.  No loving word now, in welcome and joyous voice, greeted them on entering their home.  The arm-chair in which their father sat evening after evening, when he was used to tell them tales of years that had gone, and the couch on which their mother reclined before retiring to her bedroom, were p. 127both unoccupied.  The sudden death of both, taken in connection with the responsibilities of the present and their anxieties pertaining to the future, nearly broke their young and tender hearts.  But they sorrowed not as those who had no hope.  From childhood they had been taught to love the dear Name which is above every name, and confident of His favour, and with full reliance on the promise that He would be a father to the fatherless, their gentle spirits became calm and peaceful.  Moreover, they looked forward to a bright immortality, when they would join those whom their souls loved.  Thus, as day after day came and departed, they became more resigned to their lot.  Their griefs were assuaged by night voices from the world above.  Often, in the evening twilight, they heard whispers from the spirits of the dear departed ones.  And the spirits said, after a few more years of toil, of labour, of sorrow, of anxiety and trouble, you will come up hither, and then you shall mingle your voices with ours, in praising Him, who has p. 128washed us from our sins in His own blood.  That day there will be a joyous reunion in this spirit world where parting is no more.


“Is not this a lovely April morning?” remarked Cadwgan to his sister, as they walked hand-in-hand across the lawn.

“It is, indeed, a most lovely morning, brother.  And is not the scene around most enchanting?”

“You, Gwenfan, have always been a great admirer of the spring.”

“And you, dear Cadwgan, have been its enthusiastic admirer.”

“I have loved it, my dear sister, because it is the season of the year when nature puts on its most joyous apparel.  The trees and flowers, the hedgerows and forests, the cornfields and meads, all all are decked in their green robes.  When spring comes, after the deathlike appearance of winter with its cold and chilling air, nature springs into new life; p. 130the trees send forth their green leaves, the rose its blossom, the meadows put on their usual dress, and Nature appears to say to all, Come, come, and behold my triumphant resurrection from the death of winter.”

“And does not the animal creation, my brother, participate in the glories of spring?”

“Sister, oh, do listen to the joyous melody of the skylark, and see, see how he mounts higher and higher, and sings as he ascends!  From yon thorny bush don’t you hear the blackbird’s sweet notes? while the mellow bullfinch answers those notes from yonder sylvan grove.”

“It is love, my dearest brother, that creates this music; all this waste of melody is the heavenly voice of sweetest love.”

“Don’t say, my dear sister, that this melody is wasted.  Music is never wasted when there are people listening to its soothing and joyous strains.”

“But people, Cadwgan, do not always give ear to the charming voices of these winged songsters.  And are there not hundreds, and p. 131perhaps thousands, who fail to appreciate, who are never moved by, their enchanting notes?”

“That there are persons, my wise sister, who listen unmoved to the melody of birds, I would be the last to deny; but is there not an equally large number of persons who see no beauty in verdant glades, in the bubbling crystal fountain, in the rippling streamlet, and in the flowers as they open their petals to draw in the morning dewdrop?”

“As you have referred to flowers, come, dear Cadwgan, and look at my smiling blushing roses.  Oh, they look so lovely!  Exquisitely beautiful are they, and their perfume fills the morning air with the most delicious fragrance.”

“They are, my dear Gwenfan, most beautiful; but pray tell me the secret of your success in training them to so great a perfection.”

“That I can explain in a few words.  I have nursed them well.  I have paid them as much attention as I have paid to my birds, and I p. 132love them almost as much,—don’t I, pretty, smiling, blushing roses?”

“It will be hard for you to part with this lovely dwelling, won’t it, Gwenfan; especially as it is endeared to us by so many happy and hallowed associations?”

“But we shan’t leave here, brother; shall we?”

“I am afraid we shall be obliged to do so, sister.”

“I am so sorry to hear you say so.”

“I am sorry too, to break the news to you.  The thought of leaving our dear home almost breaks my heart.”

“I had hoped, Cadwgan, never to say adieu to the abode of our beloved parents, though the void created by our sad bereavement can never be filled up.  But, if we must leave, whither shall we go?”

“At present, my darling sister, I know not where we shall have to pitch our tent; but our heavenly Father, in His good providence, will, if we trust Him, provide for us a shelter.”

p. 133“I do love and trust Him, my dear brother; but, oh, at this moment, the future appears to me dark and beamless.  I fail to see even a fringe of the cloud with a silver lining.”

“But if we look to the light, our future may still be bright and joyous; as will be the appearance of yonder vale when the dark cloud you see up there passes away.  In a few minutes this sylvan dell will be lighted up by the golden beams of the morning sun.”

“Look, brother, look!  The cloud is rapidly moving on its journey.  The rays of the king of day will soon fall upon and penetrate both woodland and brake, warming and cheering the dwellers in mossy beds and grassy mounds, imparting hope and joy to all.”

“So may it be with us, dear Gwenfan.  When we least expect aid from on high, that aid comes, and at once the darkness and gloom are chased away.”

But here his sister called her brother’s attention to a lady driving a pony carriage.  “I declare,” she said, “the lady is coming to p. 134the villa.  See! see! her servant has opened the entrance gate at the bottom of the lawn.  Oh, who can she be?  Do you expect any one to visit us, brother?”

“I expect no one, but hope that she may be a messenger of good, not of evil; a harbinger of comfort, and not the bearer of bad tidings and thus increase our affliction and sorrow.  Our cup of grief is already full and overflowing.”

As the carriage approached nearer to the villa, the children saw that its occupant was clad in deep mourning, and that she resembled some one whom they well knew, but whom they could not at the moment recollect.  Presently, the carriage was driven up to the door, and the lady inquired of the orphans if the house was called Bryn Villa, and if they were the children of Mr. and Mrs. Wynn.

“I am, madam, their son,” replied Cadwgan, “and this is my sister Gwenfan.”

“May I presume to ask the name of the lady who takes care of you?”

p. 135“We have no one taking care of us, madam,” replied Gwenfan.  “I look after my brother, and he looks after me.”

“But have you no one with you,—no grown up person in charge of the house, and in charge of its management?”

“We have only a maid-servant in the house, ma’am,” answered the brother; “and she has been with us since we were little ones.”

“You are then, my dears, left alone in the world.  Unless I have been misinformed, you have lost both parents.”

“Both are dead, ma’am,” answered Gwenfan, weeping; “and neither my brother nor I am aware of having a single relative living.”

“Had not your papa a sister?” inquired the lady.

“We never heard dear papa speak of a sister, or any relative,” answered Cadwgan.

“Dear me, sir, that is certainly very strange; because I happen to know of his having a sister, whom he loved very dearly.”

“Of her, ma’am,” replied the youth, “papa never spoke.  I remember hearing him say, p. 136he had no one left in the world to care for, except dear mamma and us.”

“For the present we will say no more on the subject.  But having driven many a long mile, my dears, since the morning, and still having a long journey before me, I must claim your hospitality for food for my servant and pony.”

“You are heartily welcome, ma’am, to partake of the best our house can afford,” replied the children.  “Your servant will perhaps drive the pony into the yard, and he will find there our man servant who will attend to his wants.”

The lady then descended from her phaeton, and was conducted by the children into the house.  During the time refreshments were being prepared she made a minute inspection of the parlour.  When she had thoroughly surveyed it, and was about to take a rest on the sofa, she saw what appeared to be a picture, but the likeness was shut from view by a curtain of green baize which hung over and covered both the picture and frame.  The p. 137lady’s curiosity was aroused, but just then she heard the footsteps of the servant and the children in the passage; but before they entered the room, she had succeeded in drawing aside the baize, and had a glimpse of the likeness beneath.  When the children entered they perceived that the lady appeared slightly agitated, though, necessarily, they were wholly ignorant of its cause.

During the time she was engaged in partaking of the refreshments which had been provided her, she talked and chatted away on all manner of topics, but studiously avoided making any allusion to herself.  She asked the children many questions about people in the neighbourhood, particularly about Mrs. Jones, of the Glen; her sons and daughters, if they were all married, and did they reside in the locality.  She specially asked if young Squire Jones were still a bachelor.

The children gave their visitor an account of the several families she inquired for, and informed her that Mr. Jones was still single, that he resided at the Glen, and had p. 138succeeded to his uncle’s property, which brought in some £12,000 a year.

* * * * *

“And you never heard, my dears, your papa mentioning relatives either living or dead.”

“Indeed, we don’t recollect our papa making any allusion to relatives, except,” said Cadwgan, “on one occasion, when he said to mamma, ‘I am afraid she is dead; for were she alive she would certainly write to us.’”

“I know, my dears, to whom he referred, and think I can satisfy you that she is not dead, but still lives.”

“Any information, ma’am,” replied the youth, “with which you can furnish us will place us under deep obligations to you.”

“Have you, my dears, ever seen the picture under the green baize?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Then you don’t know whose likeness it is?”

“Indeed, ma’am,” replied the brother and sister, “we don’t.”

“Tell me, my dears,”—removing the p. 139covering,—“tell me if you have ever seen any one like that portrait.”

For a moment the children hesitated; and after looking first at the portrait and then at the lady, said, “The picture, ma’am, is very like you; or you resemble the portrait.”

“You are quite right, my loves.  Your dear papa was my brother, and you, my dears, are my nephew and niece.  Come to my arms, and be assured that, as far as I can, I will make up for the loss you have sustained.  I will love you deeply, fondly, ardently; and for my brother’s sake, and that of your kind, gentle, and loving mother, who was as dear to me as my dear sister Gwenfan, who was the light and joy of our homes, and for your own sakes, I will be your guide, your friend, your counsellor and stay.”

In a moment the children were locked in the tender and loving embrace of their aunt.  They all wept, though their sorrows were mixed with joy.  To some extent the discovery thus made relieved the sadness and gloom of the hour.  In the hour of gloom, when aid was p. 140least expected, a comforter had been found.  But upon this scene we must not dwell.  Their aunt was a woman of action, and rest with her was impossible until she had thoroughly mastered the children’s affairs.  Hence, as soon as she and her pony had had refreshment and an hour’s rest, she, with her niece and nephew, started off for Carnarvon to see the family solicitor, and from that gentleman learnt that the old family estate of the Wynns was mortgaged to its full value, and that the mortgagee had now given notice to foreclose unless the sum borrowed was repaid within a month.  “To do this,” said the solicitor, “is, I fear, impossible, because the amount borrowed—£80,000—is so large that in these times there are but few capitalists who have it at their command.”  He then gave it as his deliberate opinion that the best thing was for the mortgagee to sell, and if he realized a sum beyond the encumbrance, it might be invested for the joint use of the children.

This advice was acted upon by the aunt and orphans.  A few weeks after this p. 141conversation, Wynn Castle and its domain and estate were sold by auction, the fortunate purchaser being a London merchant of great wealth, who during the first three years of its possession expended on improvements £20,000.

When the affairs of Wynn Castle were all arranged, Cadwgan resolved to seek his fortune in the wide wide world.  His aunt and sister did their best to dissuade him from leaving home, but he turned a deaf ear to their arguments and entreaties.  At last they reluctantly acquiesced, and it was finally arranged that his aunt and sister were to remain at the Villa (this house and grounds forming no part of the Wynn Castle estate), the former promising to supply as far as she was able the void which death had created.


It was a beautiful summer morning when Cadwgan departed from the home of his love, the place endeared to him by so many happy associations.  The parting scene between him and his sister was most painful.  From childhood they had not been separate from each other a single day.  Gwenfan’s love for her brother was deep, ardent, and tender.  Every want of his she anticipated, while she paid the minutest attention to his feelings, even in small and trivial matters.  To part with her only brother was indeed a sore trial; but she now felt she could no longer resist his wishes, though the thought almost broke her heart.  Then Cadwgan’s grief was equally intense.  He however felt that duty called him away; and somehow there came into his soul a conviction that a day might come when fortune would smile upon him, and on that day his sister would bless him for having p. 143forsaken the joys of home with its smiles and sunshine, in obedience to what he regarded as a solemn duty.  At last he tore himself away from his sister’s and aunt’s tender and affectionate caresses, leaving the home of his childhood; and before the sun was up, grand old Snowdon, with its circumjacent hills and mountain-tops, had disappeared from his view.  However, he lingered not on his journey, but when the last old friend of his youth had disappeared he put on new speed, resolving to arrive at the metropolis of England and the world before the end of the following week.

We shall not attempt to describe the journey and the incidents which occurred by the way.  Suffice it to say, that in due course he reached the great city, and during the first few days after his arrival he wandered from street to street, traversing its parks, alleys, and great thoroughfares; and during those days’ wanderings he saw much of the busy scenes of city life, especially those places where merchant princes most do congregate.

After being in London about a week, faint, p. 144weary and worn, hungry and footsore, he sat down one evening in one of the recesses of London Bridge, and wept.  Though thousands passed by not a soul took any notice of the sorrowing and weeping boy.  As the shades of night began to fall faster and faster on the scene, the bridge became less crowded, and as the evening advanced, became almost deserted.  The poor youth now thought seriously on his lonely and forlorn condition.  To procure a bed was almost impossible, as he knew not where to go; and even if he did know, he could ill afford to spare two shillings—the sum his landlord had charged him the previous evening—because his little purse was nearly empty.  When the few shillings which remained were gone, he saw no prospect before him but hunger and starvation, which he now considered would be his inevitable fate.  He now repented of his somewhat rash act of leaving home before consulting with some one as to the best course he should pursue.  But his repentance was too late.  He placed himself in the hand of his heavenly Father, and prayed to Him for help and p. 145guidance.  That prayer brought peace to his troubled spirit.

It was a beautiful and balmy summer night, and he asked himself the question, why could he not make himself quite comfortable there for a single night?  Having resolved to sleep there for one night at least, he at once commenced to arrange his pillow, which consisted of his carpet bag.  Having placed the bag on the ledge between the parapet and the footpath, he lay down to sleep.  Just as he was about to close his eyes a gentleman came up, and stepping on the ledge close to the youth’s bag, looked over the parapet on the ebbing tide below.  Having remained in that position a few minutes, he turned round for the purpose of descending to the regular path in order to continue his journey, but in his descent he saw the youth apparently asleep.  He gazed on his countenance for a few moments, and said,—

“What are you doing there, my child, this time of night?”

“I hope, sir,” replied Cadwgan, “that my sleeping here for a night will not be wrong.  p. 146I’m not in the way of any one, sir, and I won’t do any mischief.”

“But have you no other place to go to, my child?  You can procure a bed somewhere, can’t you?”

“I might possibly do so, sir, but I can’t well spare the money to pay for a night’s lodgings.”

“But have you no friends or relations in town, my boy, to whom you could apply for assistance?”

“I’ve no friends in London, sir.”

“I presume you have relations in the country who are in a position to aid you.”

“I’ve a sister, sir, but she is nearly three hundred miles from here.”

“Where did you come from, my child?”

“From Wales, sir.”

“Is Wales your home—I mean your native country?”

“Yes, sir.”

“North or South Wales?”

“The North, sir.”

“Where in North Wales does your sister live?”

p. 147“She lives at Bryn Villa, near Pont Aberglaslyn.”

“Surely, your name, my child, is not Wynn, is it?”

“That is my name, sir.”

“Then you are the son of Squire Wynn, of Wynn Castle?”

“Mr. Wynn was my father.”

“And how is that dear good man?”

“My father and mother, sir, are both dead.  I have no one left to care for me but my sister, except my aunt.”

“I am truly sorry to hear tidings so sad.  What is your aunt’s name?”

“Her name is Gwenfan Wynn, which is the name of my sister.”

“But are you not in error in calling her Wynn?  I heard she got married some years ago.”

“My aunt was never married.”

“Are you sure of that, my child?”

“Quite sure, sir.”

“You greatly surprise me.  I was given to understand she married a Scotch gentleman, many, many years ago.”

p. 148“She did leave home with the intention of being married to a Mr. McDonel, but finding, fortunately before it was too late, that the representations he made of himself about his property, estate, and high connections, were all false, she broke off the match, and not wishing to return home then, when she would probably be subjected to perhaps unkind observations, took a situation in a nobleman’s family then about to visit Italy, with whom she has lived until within the last few weeks.  The family only recently returned to England, and on the evening after their arrival, my aunt saw in the Times the announcement of my parents’ death.  She immediately left London, and came to us in Wales.  She is now with my dear sister acting as her guardian and friend.”

“I thank you, my child, for your information.  You must now accompany me to my residence.  You shall not want for a home and a friend as long as Owen Jones lives.”

“But, sir, I do not wish, nor can I consent, to live on charity.  I’ve come up to London to work for my bread, and if Heaven smiles on my p. 149efforts I shall attain an honourable independency.”

“As to your future plans, my child, more anon.  For the present my home must and shall be yours.  When you have recovered from the fatigue of your journey, I will endeavour to obtain for you a situation in some respectable mercantile house.  You must in the meantime be my guest.  I hope happy days are in store for you.”

The youth then rose from his couch (Mr. Jones had, during the above conversation, been sitting on the ledge of the parapet by his side), but when he attempted to move he almost fell down from exhaustion.  His newly found friend, who had intended to have walked home, hailed a coach, which soon arrived at his house, which was a semi-detached villa, in Brixton.

On their arrival, Mr. Jones introduced the youth to his wife and only daughter.  The former on being informed who he was, welcomed him with affectionate cordiality.  Mrs. Jones had known his father and mother years ago, she being a native of a village but a few miles from Wynn Castle.

p. 150In his new home Cadwgan spent an exceedingly pleasant evening.  He had to answer a thousand questions about people and families who resided in the vicinity of his far distant home among the mountains.  At last he was permitted to retire to his room, and having had no sound sleep for several nights, and being weary and tired, was soon asleep.  He awoke in the morning feeling he was almost a new man.

At breakfast, Mr. Jones asked the youth what kind of employment would best meet his wishes.

“I am indifferent, sir, as to the kind of situation; my object and most anxious desire is to earn my living by hard work.”

“I am extremely sorry, my young friend, that I have no vacancy for a young gentleman of your talents and education in my establishment.  However, in the course of a few days I hope to succeed in procuring you a situation in one of the great city houses.  In the meantime you are my guest.  My wife and daughter shall take you out during the day, in order to p. 151show you the lions of this great city; but in the evenings they must not monopolize your whole attention, as I have much to say to you and many inquiries to make about dear old friends in old Cambria, which has been to us a good and kind mother.”  Then turning to his wife he said,—“Be sure to take particular care of our young visitor, and don’t fail to bring him back without injury to health or limb.”

“You need be under no apprehension on that point, Owen,” answered Mrs. Jones.  “No harm shall befall him when under my charge.  I shall guard him from harm as if he were one of my own children.”

“I have no doubt you will, wife.  I must now leave you.  I hope you will spend a very pleasant day.”

Mr. Jones then left, and proceeded to his house of business; but during his walk he thought, not of mercantile transaction or of his dear old native land, oh, no: his thoughts were wholly occupied with the adventure of the previous evening.

Soon after the departure of Mr. Jones, his wife p. 152and daughter and young Wynn started off for the purpose of seeing some of the wonders of London, but the day closed before they saw one hundredth part of its glories.  Day after day they continued to drive about from one part of the metropolis to another, and during these excursions Cadwgan had acquired a pretty accurate knowledge of the geography of London.

When at dinner on the following Sunday, Mr. Jones informed his young visitor of his having at last succeeded in procuring for him a situation as clerk in the old established house of Messrs. Davies, Roberts & Company, the celebrated tea merchants, and that he was to commence his duties on the following Monday.  This information was exceedingly cheering to the youth, as the certainty of employment was now assured.  Not wishing to be under obligation to his friends longer than he could possibly help, he expressed a wish to procure lodgings in some respectable family at once, and asked Mr. Jones if he knew of any place in the neighbourhood likely to suit him.

“We’ll talk on that matter, my boy, another p. 153time,” replied Mr. Jones.  “For the present, at least, you must remain with us.  If you do leave us in the way you propose, remember, be your stay in London long or short, you must consider our house your home.  Before you can possibly make any arrangements you must first see if the situation will suit you; whether your employers like you, and you like them.  If you give them satisfaction, and your position is likely to be permanent, why then we will, if you wish, permit you to leave us; and I’ve no doubt but that Mrs. Jones and my daughter will find you comfortable apartments.”

“Well, sir, I’m in your hands.  You have overpowered me with kindness which I shall never be able to repay.  When hungry, weary, and helpless, when friendless and without a ray of hope, you came to me as an angel of mercy, you took me into your house, and during my residence under your hospitable roof, Mrs. Jones and you have treated me as if I were your child.  To you I shall always feel grateful; and come what may, your image will ever repose in my heart of hearts.”

p. 154“Tut, tut! my boy, our kindness is nothing.  If we have succeeded in making you happy, and in giving you a start in life, is not that a sufficient reward?  But our little attention requites in a very small degree the obligations which I am under to your noble father’s family.  I am still their debtor to an amount I shall never be able to repay.”


The establishment of Messrs. Davies, Roberts & Company, was situated in one of those narrow streets, and was one of those dark and dingy-looking buildings, which were far from being uncommon in old London.  The premises, however, were large and commodious, and were specially adapted for their important trade.  When Cadwgan saw it for the first time, namely, on the morning succeeding the conversation between Mr. Jones and himself recorded in the previous chapter, he was painfully struck with the contrast it presented with his own light and airy home, surrounded as that home was by rich fields of pasture land and trees of every kind and hue.  However, he was by no means disheartened, and was far from disposed to give up the contest in life’s battle without a struggle, so he entered the building with his friend Mr. Jones cheerfully, and presently was asked into p. 156the presence of Mr. Roberts, the head of the firm.

“And this is the young gentleman you spoke to me about, friend Jones?”

“Yes.  Mr. Cadwgan Wynn.  I hope for the sake of our common country and our friendship, that you will not be unmindful of his interest.”

“His progress here, friend Jones, will depend wholly upon himself.  If he prove himself quick, painstaking, and honest, he shall not want a friend.”

“His honesty and rectitude I will guarantee; and methinks as he comes from a shrewd stock, he will, with a few years’ experience, prove a valuable hand,—one whom it will be difficult for you to do without.”

“I am aware, Jones, that I can fully rely on your recommendation.  Now, Mr. Wynn, when will you be ready to go into harness?”

“I am prepared, sir, to commence my duties at once.  If convenient for you to make arrangements, I’ll remain here to-day.”

“By all means remain.  Come, follow me, p. 157and I will introduce you to Mr. McLiver, our chief cashier, in whose department you will be engaged for the present.”

Mr. McLiver was a Scotchman, who had been in the service of the firm many years.  From almost the lowest place, he had risen step by step until he attained the most important post in the house.  In him the firm had unbounded confidence, and as he apparently managed his department with skill and economy Mr. Roberts permitted him to select nearly the whole of the clerks attached thereto.  In less than two years from the date of his appointment to his present post he had managed, by hook or by crook, to get rid of nearly the whole of the old hands, and their places he supplied with Scotchmen of his own kith and kin.  From the first day of entering the office, Mr. McLiver regarded Cadwgan as an intruder, an interloper; hence he looked upon the youth with aversion, and availed himself of every opportunity to vex and annoy him.  But this was not all.  Any little mistake Mr. Wynn might make in his books or accounts, was carried to Mr. p. 158Roberts.  But to these complaints he turned a deaf ear, while at the same time he strictly enjoined upon Mr. McLiver to take all possible care to have Cadwgan thoroughly instructed in all business matters; above all, that he should be made a good accountant.  Though the Scotchman faithfully promised to carry out to the letter his employer’s instructions, yet he intentionally refrained from doing so; while he continued to annoy the youth by making personal allusions to his country, and on more than one occasion he called him a Welsh blockhead.  Of his conduct Cadwgan never made any complaint, nor did he make the slightest allusion to it, even to Mr. Jones.  He worked on, was constantly labouring at his books and accounts, and in spite of the cashier he soon became a first-rate accountant.  Before he had been in the establishment five years, he was the best man in the house as regarded profound knowledge of intricate details.

On the afternoon of the fifth anniversary of his official life, Mr. Roberts called Cadwgan into his private office, and expressed to him the p. 159high opinion he had formed of his ability and character; and to his great surprise informed him that being about to rearrange the work of the office, he had resolved to divide the office work into sections, and that it was his (Mr. Roberts’) intention and wish that he should take the position of chief accountant in the establishment, and that there would be a number of clerks under him; that for the future Mr. McLiver would simply receive moneys due to the firm, and pay all demands against it, but all accounts must pass through the hands of the accountants, which should bear the chief’s signature as being correct.

Cadwgan’s eyes filled with tears on being apprized of his promotion to so important a post, and he thanked Mr. Roberts from his heart of hearts for his confidence and kindness.

The morning on which Mr. Wynn was to commence his new duties, Mr. McLiver repaired to Mr. Roberts’ private office, where he found that gentleman occupying his usual seat, engaged in reading the money article of that morning’s Times.  Addressing that p. 160gentleman in a somewhat peremptory manner, he said he had just stepped in to ask if it was really true that the young Welshman was to be placed in such an important and responsible position in the establishment.

“It is quite true, Mr. McLiver.  The appointment has already been made, and in the opinion of my son and myself Mr. Wynn has richly earned the post assigned him.  We are of opinion that, of all the clerks, he is by far the best qualified to discharge the duties of the office.”

“But consider, sir, my many years of faithful service in your house.  I think that service merits some consideration from you.”

“But what is your wish, Mr. McLiver?”

“My wish, sir, is, that you confer this appointment upon my cousin.  He has been longer in your employ than Wynn, and I am sure he possesses ability far superior to that of this young man.”

“That is quite impossible, Mr. McLiver.  Mr. Wynn’s appointment has already been made, and he has been duly informed of p. 161my resolve.  In fact he has accepted our offer.”

“In that case, sir, I fear I must send in my resignation.  I could not think of having my books and accounts overhauled by this intruder.”

“You may leave, sir, if you wish; and I will give you a cheque for your quarter’s salary.”

“Am I right then in concluding you have lost confidence in me?  Are you desirous that the connection between us be severed?”

“By no means, sir.  If you leave, it will be your own act and deed.”

“Then you wish me to remain in your service?”

“Of course I do, Mr. McLiver.  But you will bear in mind that all my arrangements and plans must be carried out to the letter.  There must be no divided authority here, so long as I’m master.  I desire you to confine yourself, wholly, to the duties of your department, which require your undivided attention; and I will be answerable for the p. 162proper discharge of the duties of the new accountant’s office.”

“I bow to your decision, Mr. Roberts, and hope you will not have any cause to regret the arrangements you have made.”

“Of that, sir, time will tell.  You, Mr. McLiver, will not have to make up my loss.”

McLiver, finding it was useless to press the matter further, wished his chief good morning, and returned to his own office in a very bad humour.

On entering, he uttered the most awful imprecations against Welshmen in general, and Mr. Wynn in particular.  He swore that he would be revenged.  He turned to his cousin, and thus addressed him:—

“It is owing to you, you d—d scoundrel, that I owe my present disgrace.”

“To me, sir!  What the d—l do you mean?”

“I mean, Donald, that if you had been steady and honest and plodding, this calamity would not have befallen our clan.”

p. 163“A fellow must have a spree, McLiver, now and then.  That is human nature.”

“D—n human nature!  Donald, you talk like a fool.”

“I’m sorry for you, cousin.  I’m truly sorry for you.”

“It is a d—d bad job for me, that you have indulged in dissipation to the extent you have.”

“But old Roberts has paid the piper, Mac, though he little suspects it.  He is little aware where the money comes from to keep up your grand establishment.  If he knew all wouldn’t there be a jolly blow up!”

“You son of paupers, you parish ’prentice, if you talk to me in that way I’ll knock your b—y head off your shoulders, by G—d I’ll do it, though you be my father’s brother’s son.”

“Come, come, cousin; it won’t do for thee and me to quarrel and fall out now.  We’ve sailed too long in the same boat—I mean, we’ve dipped our fingers too deeply in the same till to peach upon each other, or to p. 164quarrel.  Methinks our present duty is to guard against being found out.”

“Your advice is good, Donald; but that our delinquencies will come to the knowledge of old Roberts, d—n him, is a matter of certainty.  That young Welsh nincompoop imp has his eyes everywhere; his ears are always open.  I should not be at all surprised even if our present talk reached him.  For us it was an evil day when he came here.  If I were sure of not being found out, I’d soon put an end to his presence.”

“Bad as I am, cousin, I’d not commit murder.  That we must not do.  Our best plan is to concoct some scheme to dethrone this upstart.  Old Roberts has willed he should reign over us; be it our mission to bring him to the dust.”

“A good suggestion, Donald.  By gam! we must take care, though, to lay the snare well so as to be certain of our bird.”

* * * * *

During several months succeeding the above conversation the business of the house of Davies, p. 165Roberts & Company went on in its usual quiet way, but in those months the young Welshman and his staff had succeeded in overhauling the books of the firm for several years.  At the accounts they had worked night and day.  When the investigation had been completed his clerks knew nothing about the result, nor indeed of the object which they had in view in making so strict an investigation.  So far Mr. Wynn had discovered defalcations amounting to nearly £20,000, though the bottom of the peculation had not yet been reached.  The books showed that McLiver had carried on his swindling in a regularly systematic manner, and had escaped detection for the reason that all his subordinates, which made up nearly the whole staff, were creatures of his own—principally his own kith and kin.  When Cadwgan had completed his labours, he had ascertained, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the amount abstracted was £24,500.  During the months he had been engaged in auditing the books, Cadwgan had made certain inquiries of houses with which his employers had had business p. 166transactions, so he was in a position to prove by written evidence the particulars and the exact sum of each fraudulent transaction.  These inquiries had been carried on privately; neither to Mr. Roberts, nor to any member of his staff, had he let fall a word calculated to awaken suspicion.  It was late on a Saturday night when Cadwgan finished his labours.  When descending from his office down to the large entrance hall, with his papers in his hand, he was surprised to find Mr. McLiver and his cousin Donald there.  They did not stop to speak, but passed on into their own office.  As they heard Mr. Wynn, before he descended, shut his office door and lock it, they naturally concluded he was the last person in the buildings.  Presently, McLiver and Donald left the house together, the porter closing the door on their descending into the street.

That evening was anxiously spent by Mr. Wynn.  He retired to rest late, but slept not.  That the facts he possessed would be most damaging to his arch-enemy there could be no doubt; that he might possibly be the means of p. 167saving his employers from being ruined, was in his judgment equally certain.

On the following Sunday morning Cadwgan paid a visit to his friend Mr. Owen Jones, to whom he revealed the state of affairs of the firm.  Mr. Jones was a man of the world, and, moreover, was a wise and sagacious man of business.  After talking over the matter, it was arranged that Mr. Jones should accompany his young friend to the establishment of Messrs. Davies, Roberts & Company the next morning, when the whole facts should be placed before Mr. Roberts.

On their arrival at the establishment on Monday morning, Mr. Jones and Cadwgan at once went to Mr. Roberts’ private office, when that gentleman looked at Mr. Wynn with a hard and scowling brow.  As Mr. Jones had always experienced the greatest kindness from Mr. Roberts (they had been more like brothers than friends), he was surprised and astonished in observing his altered look, and boldly asked the cause of his seeming displeasure.

“Cause, sir!” exclaimed Mr. Roberts.  “Did p. 168you say cause!  There is methinks enough of cause!  To be robbed of £3000 by this young man, whom you introduced to me, for whom I have done so much, whose interest and welfare I have done so much to promote—’tis enough to make me curse the day on which I was weak and foolish enough to comply with your pressing request to take him into my service.  Cause, indeed!  To be robbed thus is a sufficient cause for my anger.”

“Did you say, sir,” remarked Cadwgan, “that I had robbed you of £3000?”

“Certainly, I said so.  And you don’t deny it.”

“I emphatically deny your charge, sir, and demand the name of my accuser.”

“I accuse you, sir.  Is not that enough?”

“But, Mr. Roberts, you are a just man, and I presume you will not condemn me before placing in my possession the evidence upon which your judgment rests.”

“My informant, sir, is my confidential clerk, Mr. McLiver.  He is prepared to swear to the fact of your being the robber, and his cousin Donald will corroborate his statement.”

p. 169McLiver was then summoned by Mr. Roberts; and in reply to his inquiries stated, that on the previous Saturday evening he and his cousin had secreted themselves in the house, that during the time they were in their hiding-place Mr. Wynn came down from his own room and went into the cashier’s office, and by means of false keys opened the safe and rifled the drawers of their contents, which he put into a bag, then retired.  He continued to say, that he and his cousin waited there some time, that Mr. Wynn went back to his own office, and afterwards came down stairs with the bag in his hand, which was so heavy that he was almost weighed down.  He left the office taking the bag of gold with him.  Donald corroborated his cousin’s statement.

Mr. Jones, as was natural, appeared much excited during the Scotchman’s narrative.  He almost believed in his young friend’s guilt, because the evidence was so direct and circumstantial.  Mr. Wynn stood calm and collected; he never moved during the few minutes which the delivery of the evidence against him occupied, though his dark piercing eye, intently p. 170fixed upon McLiver, made that man quail beneath its penetrating glance.  When they had finished their story, Mr. Wynn asked his employer’s permission to call evidence in his favour,—a request which was readily acceded to, because he really loved the youth.  He then called into the office, one by one, six of his confidential clerks, the gentlemen who had been specially engaged with him in investigating the old accounts, who, in reply to his question, said that Mr. Wynn never left the office until his final departure, which was very late, and that they watched him going out though unperceived.  The care-taker gave evidence that Mr. Wynn did not return after his departure.  When they had completed the evidence, Mr. McLiver asked, “And what were you doing at the office that time of night?”

“We were engaged in making copies of important documents for Mr. Wynn.”

“What became of those?” asked Mr. Roberts.

“They were all put, sir, into Mr. Wynn’s bag.”

“Who put them into the bag?”

“We did, sir,” replied Mr. Williams.

p. 171“Was the bag locked, Mr. Williams?”

“Yes, sir, it was locked; and the key has been in my possession since.”

“Before we examine the contents of the bag I wish to know if you are quite sure that Mr. Wynn did not leave the office during any portion of the evening, that is, before his final departure; and that you and your fellow-clerks saw him out.”

They replied, that they were prepared to make oath on the point.

“Why did you watch his departure?” asked Mr. Roberts.

“I had overheard a conversation,” said Mr. Williams, the clerk of Mr. Wynn’s department, “between Mr. McLiver and his cousin Donald, in which certain threatening words were used towards Mr. Wynn.  We watched his departure, thinking it quite possible that they might be lurking about the buildings in order to effect his ruin.”

When McLiver and Donald heard the above evidence they became agitated, and their faces became as white as snow.  Mr. Roberts scarcely knew what to do.  After considering a few p. 172minutes, he turned to McLiver, saying, “I fear your tale is untrue; for these six gentlemen, whom I have always found truthful and honourable, have in the most direct manner flatly contradicted you in every particular.  I hope you and your cousin have not conspired to injure this young man.”

“You have hit the right nail on the head this time,” said Mr. Jones, “and no mistake.  But is this £3000 the whole of your loss, friend Roberts?”

“The whole as far as I know.”

“Happy man! what a blessed thing it is to be rich, and unable to reckon up the whole of one’s profits.”

“I suppose, Jones,” remarked Mr. Roberts pettishly, “you wouldn’t like to lose £3000.”

“I am afraid, my friend, you will find your loss not £3000, but nine times three, if the £3000 has really disappeared.”

“What do you really mean, Jones?  You appear to know more of my affairs than I know myself.”

“In a few words, I mean to say, Roberts, that p. 173that immaculate gentleman, the accuser of my young friend here, who is also the best friend you ever had, has robbed you to the tune of some £25,000, in addition to this £3000; for I presume he has taken that sum too; and Mr. Wynn has evidence in his bag,—it is still locked,—which will completely substantiate the fact.  When you know the whole, you’ll bless the day, friend Roberts, on which my child was introduced into your establishment.”

“For the present we will suspend our judgment.  Jones, Mr. Wynn, all of you, go to Mr. Wynn’s office.  We will compare Mr. Wynn’s papers with our ledgers and day books.”  The bag was unlocked, and paper after paper was produced, and document after document submitted for inspection and comparison.  Cadwgan detailed step by step his proceedings in order to ascertain the exact sum total of the money abstracted by Mr. McLiver and Donald.  After he had gone through these, he produced the documents and vouchers he had collected from firms with which Messrs. Davies, Roberts & Company had had transactions, and on being compared p. 174with the ledger, it was found that in many cases the actual sum paid to merchants for goods did not amount to a moiety of the sum inserted in the ledger.  The evidence of McLiver’s guilt was overwhelming.  When Mr. Roberts saw this, he took Mr. Wynn into his arms, embraced him as if he was his own child, and with tears in his eyes besought his pardon for having for a moment entertained suspicions of his honesty and rectitude.

“The matter to me is now made plain.  The real culprit is the man whom I regarded as upright, pure, and honest.  He has shamefully abused my confidence.  To him I entrusted my money; and what, sir,” turning to McLiver, “have you to say in your defence?”

“I will neither acknowledge nor deny my guilt, sir, in the presence of that Welsh puppy, who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a caitiff cut-throat miscreant, a cunning, intriguing, and deceitful urchin from the Welsh mountains.  When he meets me and Donald in the street, I promise him he shall be well paid for his treachery and circumvention.”

p. 175“That is,” said Mr. Roberts, “on condition you leave me a free man.  For the present, sir, you must consider yourself and your cousin—I believe him to be equally guilty with yourself—in the hands of the authorities.  The officers of justice are now in an adjoining room.  They are there awaiting my orders.  There is no occasion to detain them, as your guilt is but too clearly made out.”

The door was then opened, and McLiver and Donald were placed in their charge, and were marched off to prison.

On the room being cleared of the presence of all excepting Mr. Jones and Cadwgan, Mr. Roberts asked the latter how he had succeeded in making such important discoveries, and the reason which had moved him in entering upon an investigation which had cost him and his staff so much time and labour.

“For a long time, sir, I have firmly believed in his dishonesty.  In the first place, and this fact first awakened my suspicion, I, by means which it is unnecessary for me to detail, ascertained that he was keeping a grand house, and p. 176had livery servants and carriages, and gave grand parties, which I knew he could not do with £400 a year.  His cousin, Donald, is a fast young man who spent his earnings in dissipation, and for years has been the constant companion of young men who are believed to live by swindling their respective employers.  On making these discoveries, Mr. Sykes, who is an honest Yorkshireman, and my friend Mr. Williams, resolved to take special notice of their movements, and wisely kept records of what they saw and heard, which could at any time be produced in the event of anything turning up.  We discovered first, that tea had been bought by your house of a very inferior quality, which was paid for at double the actual invoice price, and in some cases the charge was sixty per cent above the actual cost.”

“But, Mr. Wynn, how did he manage this?”

“Oh, easily enough, sir.”

“But how?”

“We found by inquiry, that McLiver had two relatives as cashiers in the houses with which you did business; and as all moneys p. 177passed through their hands, they could commit frauds to almost any extent without fear of being detected.  They had confederates, so by acting together had but little difficulty in carrying out their system of plunder, especially as the books and accounts were under their control.  When you made your new arrangements, they, that is, Mr. McLiver and Donald, were apprehensive that disclosures would be made, and you will remember, sir, that McLiver almost protested against your scheme.”

“I well remember, Mr. Wynn, that he was terribly angry, but little did I then think that its cause originated in fear.”

“After the appointment had been made, and we had entered upon our duties, Mr. Sykes ascertained—in short he overheard a conversation between the two in which certain threats were made towards me, and in that conversation McLiver and Donald upbraided each other about their peculation.  We had thus sufficient evidence to warrant us in concluding that they had robbed you.  Having p. 178discovered this, we then planned the investigation, which has occupied our evenings ever since.  It was late on Saturday night when we arrived at the final result.  The rest you know.”

“Yes, yes, Cadwgan, I know the rest.  In the presence of my dear and valued friend Jones, I offer you my humblest apology for having suspected you of dishonesty; I shall never be able to repay you for the services you have rendered me.”

“I’m repaid already by your confidence and esteem.”

“And hereafter, Mr. Wynn, I will seek to do so in a more substantial way.  But tell me, what can you possibly know about the quality of tea?  You remarked just now it was inferior; how did you ascertain this?”

“I know the quality of teas by the smell.” [178]

“By the smell!”

p. 179“Yes, sir; by the smell.”

“Is that really so?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Here are two samples: please give me your judgment upon them.”

Mr. Wynn took the samples, and having smelt them, returned them to his employer, saying, this is worth so much, the other sample is not worth buying.

“Well, Mr. Wynn, I am satisfied, and more than satisfied, with your conduct during the years you have been in our house.  For your goodness, and the deep interest you have taken in all matters connected with my affairs, from the bottom of my heart I thank you.  You are necessarily agitated by reason of the scene through which you have just passed.  You must be fatigued too by reason of the extra work you have, for my sake, imposed upon yourself.  I cannot now say in what way I shall reward you, but if you and friend Jones will come and dine at my house (bring Mrs. Jones and your daughter with you), I will then tell you the course I shall p. 180adopt, and the arrangements I propose to make with reference to your position and prospects.  Your disinterested service calls for an ample reward.”

“I require no reward, Mr. Roberts,” said Cadwgan.  “I have simply done my duty.”

“Well, well, Mr. Wynn, you may think so.  You must not, however, condemn me for holding the contrary opinion.”

“I should esteem it a favour, sir, if you would give Mr. Sykes and Mr. Williams a holiday.  They are not well, and I fear the pressure upon them during the past few weeks has overtaxed their strength.”

“By all means let them go.  Please give them this, and tell them it is a small token of my high appreciation of their conduct.”

Mr. Wynn was delighted at being made the channel of Mr. Roberts’s communication.  When the papers were opened, it was found that they were two £10 Bank of England notes.  On receiving the gift, the Yorkshireman held it up, and said,—“I little expected this.”  Mr. Williams, too, was equally surprised.  They p. 181then wished each other good morning, and it need hardly be said that Mr. Wynn’s assistants thoroughly enjoyed their day’s trip to Windsor.

p. 182CHAPTER V.

“Is it not strange, dear aunt,” said Gwenfan, “that Cadwgan has been so long silent?  We have not heard from him for more than a month.  He might just have sent a line to say he was well, and when we may expect him?”

“Cadwgan, my dear child, has now a great deal to do.  Since his promotion, doubtless his time is fully occupied.”

“I should like to see a likeness of the young lady to whom he refers in his letters.  If the description he gives be anything approaching the truth, she must be queen both in personal appearance and purity of mind.”

“Do you refer to Miss Jones, my child?”

“Yes, aunt bach; I refer certainly to her.  I think my naughty brother is in love with her.”

“It will be an excellent match, Gwenfan, p. 183for Miss Jones is an only child of very rich parents.”

“I was not aware, aunt, that Mr. Jones was a person of great wealth, though I thought he was well to do.”

“It is said, that her papa will give her £50,000 on the morning of her marriage, with the certainty of farther expectations.”

“Well, I should like to see Cadwgan settled, if he had a kind, good, and loving wife.  For myself, aunty, I intend to remain single, and be like you, an old maid.”

“Oh, you do, do you?  You will alter your opinion, I’ll be bound when the right man comes.”

“But will the right man come, aunty?  Never, never, say I.”

“Oh, the right man will certainly come, Gwenfan.  I declare there he is.  Look! look! be quick!  Why, he is coming here.  If you wish to escape his net, fly, my niece, at once to your room.”

“Fly?  I will not do that, aunty,” said Gwenfan, laughing.  “Though perhaps we had better retire and prepare ourselves to receive him.”

p. 184“Well thought of, my child; and tell the servant, if he seeks us, to show him into the drawing-room, where we will presently join him.”

When the servant opened the door, the young gentleman inquired if Miss Wynn were within, as he wished to see her on a matter of some importance.  Receiving a reply in the affirmative, the servant conducted the stranger to the drawing-room, on entering which he took a seat in the great bay-window, from which he gazed on the glorious prospect around.  So enchanted was he with the sight, the exquisite beauty of the scene, that he did not notice the entrance of the ladies, who had been a few minutes in the room before he became aware of their presence.  At last Miss Aunt Wynn approached the chair on which he was seated, when the ruffle of her dress awoke him from his reverie.  He then rose, apologised for his abrupt visit, but excused himself by saying that circumstances had occurred which had compelled him to alter his original arrangement, hence he found himself there two days earlier than he had expected.

p. 185“But ladies, in my having to apologise, I forget to introduce myself.  My name is Rhys Roberts, and I presume,” pointing to the young lady standing by her aunt’s chair, “that she is your niece, Miss Gwenfan Wynn.”

“Yes, sir; this young lady is my niece.”

“I thought so.  She is the very image of her brother.”

“And do you know my brother?” asked Gwenfan.

“Know him!  He is my father’s chief hand, and my most intimate friend.”

“When did you see or hear from my brother, sir?”

“When I left London, we arranged to meet here.  I have been expecting a letter from him daily, but no letter has reached me.  I cannot think what has become of him.  It is quite possible he may be detained on important business.  He had a very important matter in hand when I left.”

“We have not heard from him,” said the aunt, “for a month, and his sister and I are getting very anxious about him.”

p. 186“You need not, ladies, be in any alarm.  During the last month, he has been working night and day, and has had scarcely a moment to spare.  He has now completed his labours, so on Monday, or on Tuesday next at the farthest, you may expect him.”

“In that case, we shall have the pleasure of your company until his arrival,” remarked the aunt.  “My nephew’s friend will ever receive here a hearty welcome.”

“I’m extremely obliged to you, madam, for your kind offer of hospitality, and as I wish, and am most anxious, to pay a visit to the most remarkable places in your neighbourhood, I embrace your kind offer, if you and Miss Gwenfan will promise to act as my cicerones, as doubtless you are thoroughly acquainted with every nook and corner of the country where the beauteous spots are to be found.”

“We shall, sir,” said the ladies, “be delighted to show you the most romantic spots to be found in wild Wales.  For grandeur and bold scenery our neighbourhood has no equal.  But, Mr. Roberts, you must judge for yourself.  When you p. 187have traversed our mountains and valleys, our high hills and sylvan glades, you will say that the beauties of the surrounding scene are beyond the descriptive powers of the most eloquent pen of this age.”

During the few days of their tour, they visited Bettws-y-Coed, Capel Curig, the Swallow Falls, Pont Aberglaslyn, Llyngwynant, Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog, Ffestiniog, Rhayadr Ddû, Tremadoc, Harlech, and Aberdovy, returning late on Saturday night from the latter town.  Both the ladies and Mr. Roberts had thoroughly enjoyed their outing; the latter especially, having now for the first time beheld the scenes, was charmed with the grand sights which he had beheld.

During this excursion there had sprung up, unconsciously to himself, a feeling of more than respect for Miss Gwenfan, whilst she and her aunt concluded that Mr. Roberts was one of the most kind-hearted, generous, and amiable young gentlemen with whom they had ever come in contact.  It must, too, be owned that Mr. Roberts had awakened in her young heart emotions of a kind, and in a degree, to p. 188which that heart had been previously a stranger.

When Mr. Roberts retired to his dressing-room he wrote in his diary the following sentence: “Happy, thrice happy, will be the man who secures such a prize as Miss Gwenfan!  In her heart is lodged the deepest reverence for truth, for virtue, and religion.  She is, too, as beautiful as she is good.  Her attachment to and admiration of her native country and its people is as deep and as enthusiastic as was that of the glorious old patriots of olden times.  Then the days I have passed in her society have been the happiest I ever spent.  I can hardly realize the happiness I have enjoyed.  They are like a dream, though in the foreground of the vision there stands the good and beautiful maiden, with her curly locks, her auburn hair, her dark eye, and a countenance as clear as the crystal streamlet.  In spite of myself I love her.  I now retire to rest.  May her dreams be as pleasant as I hope mine will be!”

At breakfast, on the following Sabbath p. 189morning, Mr. Roberts asked the ladies if they would accompany him to the Methodist Church, at Tan y Bwlch, as he was particularly desirous of hearing the Rev. Thomas Charles, of Bala, who at that time was considered one of the most eminent clergymen in Wales.

“It is fortunate, Mr. Roberts, you put the question to us,” replied the ladies.

“And why?”

“Oh, you have simply anticipated us in your request.”

“Then you had arranged to go?”

“Yes, conditionally on your accompanying us to hear that great and good man.”

“I am delighted, madam, in the prospect of seeing and hearing one so distinguished for learning and piety, one who has made so many sacrifices for the spiritual welfare of his countrymen.”

On their arrival at the church they found it crammed to suffocation, scarcely a single inch remained unoccupied.  However, as the Misses Wynn and Mr. Roberts came in a carriage, and Bryn Villa being always open to receive p. 190clergymen of this and all other denominations, the deacons managed to find them seats.  Mr. Charles’ discourse was above the average; some of the passages were most eloquent, and many members of the congregation were bathed in tears.

On their way home Mr. Roberts referred to a passage in Mr. Charles’ sermon, which he considered most beautiful.  “You remember he said, ‘implicitly to follow the counsel of the best and wisest of men, is to depend on an arm of flesh.  They only are right and safe who make God’s glory their end, God’s word their rule, God’s spirit the guide of their actions, and God’s providence the guide of their affairs.  They may not be led by the nearest, but they will be by the best road; as it will certainly appear when they come to their journey’s end.’  If the Christian Church, and if all religious people were to act according to Mr. Charles’ sublime idea, the race would be happier than it is.  The standard he set before us is a high one.  I’ve found it difficult to live up to it.”

p. 191“I have no doubt you have, Mr. Roberts,” remarked the aunt.  “We must, however, do our best, then Heaven will surely smile upon us, though we but imperfectly perform our religious duty.”

“It is that thought, madam, which cheers me in my hour of gloom and sadness.  I often think that I should have given up striving to live to God were it not for the glorious promises He has given His Church and people.  In my endeavour to attain to the highest form of spiritual life, your nephew, Miss Wynn, your dear brother, Miss Gwenfan, has helped me by his wise counsel, while his deep religiousness and high Christian character have been incentives to me to aspire to reach the highest good.”

The reference to her brother brought tears to Gwenfan’s eyes.  Ever since he had left home, she had prayed every night and morning that he might be kept from evil, kept unspotted from the world, kept safely in the pavilion of the unseen and eternal.

Mr. Roberts, seeing the young lady in tears, p. 192asked if he could in any way alleviate her sorrow; but she at once replied,—

“I weep not, sir, because my heart is sad.  I am almost overcome with joy by reason of your reference to dear Cadwgan.  Oh, I do rejoice with unspeakable satisfaction, that he has not forgotten the holy lessons our dear parents taught us.  Though they are gone, I feel their spirits often visit us, and I think they watch over us with the same care and solicitude as when they were present in the flesh.”

“Happy, my dear Miss Wynn, must be the brother whose beloved sister, living here amongst the Welsh mountains, prays daily for his welfare.  I can bear testimony to his practical piety, his eminent godliness, his deep devotional spirit.  He has taught me to love and adore the Name which is above every name.  There is, too, a fragrance about Cadwgan’s acts and life.  Truly has he been the guide of my inexperience, my counsellor, my friend.  During the past three years, scarcely a day has passed without our having p. 193conversation on the highest things.  Since we parted the other day, I have missed him much.  Oh, I wish he had come!  But there is your brother.  Look!  He is waiting our return.”

In a moment afterward Cadwgan and his sister were locked in each other’s arms.

During the following week Miss Gwenfan Wynn and Mr. Roberts were almost constantly together; and it must be owned that there grew up between those two young and innocent hearts a feeling more warm, more ardent, and more fervent than usually exists between friends and acquaintances; a feeling which if permitted to ripen and develop, would result in the union of heart with heart, soul with soul,—a feeling the intensity of which would survive even the tomb.

After the happy days thus spent together, Miss Wynn one evening remarked to her niece, “Has not the right man come, my child?  I suppose I shall hear no more of your living the life of an old maid?”

“Oh, aunt, you are too cruel.  I like Mr. Roberts much, but only as Cadwgan’s friend.”

p. 194“Well, well; we shall see what we shall see.  You will be Mrs. Roberts one of these days.  There, don’t blush my child.  There is no harm in your loving so noble a youth.”


On leaving the warehouse one evening, soon after his return from Wales, Mr. Roberts remarked, “You must dine with us to-morrow, Mr. Wynn, and my old friend Jones will accompany you.  He has already arranged to form one of our party, and I am glad for my own sake and yours that we shall have the pleasure of his society.  He is one of the best men I know in this huge city.”

As soon as the ladies had retired, Mr. Roberts pushed the bottle to Mr. Jones, with the observation, “This is your favourite wine, and please to make yourself as free with it as you’re welcome.  I think Mr. Wynn and you, my son, prefer sherry.  I’ll try port, which is my favourite drink.”

After a general conversation on the general topics of the day, Mr. Roberts turned to Mr. p. 196Jones, and said that he thanked him most gratefully for having pleaded so eloquently the claims of his young friend, Wynn.  “You will doubtless remember, Jones, that I was most unwilling to receive him into the establishment, in the first place on his own account; secondly, I did not consider mine a proper place for a young gentleman of his social position.  You, however, urged his claims, and considering our personal friendship, and my previous connection with the Wynn family, I at last reluctantly yielded to your wishes, though in doing so I was perfectly aware that I should create in the mind of McLiver hostile feelings to myself and Cadwgan there.  I little expected that my cashier’s objection would spring from conviction of wrongdoing.  I believed in his integrity, and had confidence in his honesty; and as he apparently served me faithfully I was prepared to yield to some extent to his wishes, though he was well aware of my unbending disposition when once I had resolved to carry a particular point.  McLiver having discovered my resolve to be Mr. Wynn’s friend, I must p. 197own that he did not oppose my wishes to the extent I at first anticipated.

“Now from the first day on which Mr. Wynn entered upon his duties, I am bound to say that I found him plodding, persevering, and honest; his first and chief concern being to promote my interest.  In this, he set us all an example we should do well to copy.

“To the proceedings of the other day—a day which to me will be ever memorable, I will not allude further than to express a hope that I have Cadwgan’s complete pardon for having for once suspected his dishonesty.  And this is a fitting occasion for me to thank you, Jones, for the deep interest you have shown in my affairs in connection with our young friend.  Had Cadwgan not done what he did, the scoundrel’s rascality would in all probability have effected my ruin.  But how came you, Mr. Wynn, to suspect his dishonesty?”

“My tale, sir, is soon told,” remarked Cadwgan.  “From time to time little things cropped up in connection with business transactions and in the accounts, the appearance of p. 198which I did not at all like.  To my mind there was satisfactory and conclusive evidence that the man was not dealing honourably by you, and that you were a victim of his dishonesty.  You must bear in mind this, I had but a suspicion.  I could not prove that what I suspected was actual and real.

“Being in a state of doubt, I really did not know what to do.  I could not suggest my suspicion to you because the person was in your confidence.  After thinking over the matter some days and nights I resolved to sound my fellow-clerks, Messrs. Sykes and Williams, for I knew I could depend on them.  Strange to say they had long suspected his guilt, but were afraid to give expression to their opinion, because Mr. McLiver appeared all-powerful.

“After a conference we agreed to get up evidence.  We ascertained he was living at the rate of £2000 or £3000 a year, though he had no income but his salary.  We found, too, that he paid for all goods when ordered.  On making further inquiry we discovered that his cousin Donald, though he had a smaller p. 199salary than I had, spent several pounds weekly in dissipation.

“Then the constant visits of relatives who are employed in similar establishments in the city, and the worthless stuff sent from the houses where they were engaged, these things awakened in my mind the strongest suspicion that the parties were conspiring together to rob you and their employers.

“As the books were all in McLiver’s hands and under his control, we could do nothing; but when you appointed me to the post of accountant, Mr. Sykes, Mr. Williams, and myself resolved to ascertain if our suspicion was well founded.  During the past three months we have given the whole of our spare time during the day to the past five years’ accounts, while we seldom left the office until late at night.  The result of our labours you know.  I fancy one of the clerks in my department must have told McLiver what we were doing, and doubtless his guilt awoke in his mind a sense of the dangerous position in which he had placed himself.  Then in order if possible p. 200to crush me before the work was done, he and his cousin Donald concocted the charge against me—themselves being the robbers.  I do not for a moment think they wished my punishment.  What they did desire was to secure my expulsion from your establishment, that thus their malpractices might possibly remain undetected.”

“But where are his relations employed, Mr. Wynn?” asked Mr. Roberts.

“Mr. McNab, his uncle, is cashier to the Chinese Tea Company, and his brother is with Morant & Hogsflesh.”

“Do you really believe these parties were confederates?”

“No doubt of it, sir.”

“In that case what would you advise?”

“In justice to yourself and the high reputation of your house, it is your duty to furnish them with the whole of our discovered facts.  It is important they should be informed of their servants’ dishonesty.”

“By gad, Mr. Wynn, I’ll advise their punishment; and if their employers won’t do it, I will.”

p. 201“I am afraid that your advice will be too late.”

“How so, Cadwgan?”

“Both have already fled to the Continent.  It appears that they, like McLiver, helped themselves to their employers’ money before they went.”

“But how did they find out McLiver was in prison, Mr. Wynn?”

“Some one of your servants or clerks must have carried the news to them.”

“We’ll get the scoundrels back, cost what it will.  To-morrow the officers of justice shall fly in pursuit.  We’ll find them somewhere.”

“No doubt, sir, they deserve severe punishment, though I am sorry for McNab, because he has a large family, and in punishing him you will punish his innocent wife and children.”

“They, Mr. Wynn, shall not come to want.  While resolving to punish the guilty, I’ll see to the interests of the guiltless.”

“Give me your hand, friend Roberts,” said Mr. Jones.  “You are a noble fellow; your p. 202heart is in the right place; and I’ll join you in so holy a work.”

“I must now turn,” said Mr. Roberts, “to a more pleasant theme.  It has been by you, Mr. Wynn, I have been saved from ruin.  You have business talents of a high order.  I would trust you with untold gold.  You have proved your fidelity and tact under circumstances the most trying.  In our relationship I plainly see the finger of Heaven.  I now plainly see that it is my interest no less than your own that our relationship should be closer than it has hitherto been.  The business, as you are aware, is wholly my own.  Thank Heaven, I possess all the wealth I desire.  However, I love work, and at present I’m not quite prepared to throw off the harness.  I shall do so, however, in a few years.  In view of that day I think it well to prepare for it.  I have therefore resolved to take into partnership my son Rhys and you, and we’ll take equal profits.  The money in the business I shall regard as a set-off against your ability and talent, and when I go out I will leave in your p. 203joint hands the capital necessary for successfully carrying on the concern.  Are you prepared, Mr. Wynn, to accept my offer?”

“With deep gratitude and thanks I do indeed accept your offer, Mr. Roberts.  I shall never be able to repay you for your goodness and kindness.  To me you have been always kind, always generous, ever noble and disinterested.  To Mr. Jones and you I owe my present position and the prospects before me.  My gratitude, sir, I shall carry with me to the grave.”

“I rejoice,” remarked Mr. Jones, who had hitherto been an almost silent listener, “to see this day, and I shall pray Heaven that the sun of prosperity may ever continue to shine on your concern, and that never an incident may occur calculated to disturb the kindly feeling and mutual confidence between you, friend Roberts, and your new partners.”

“To that, Jones, I say amen.  Still I think there is not much danger on that score.  We all know each other; that’s an important point.  Unless my suspicions are wrong, which p. 204I think is not likely, that roving son of mine has managed to fall in love; and I warn you, Mr. Wynn, especially if you desire your sister to become your little housekeeper, to take care of her.  If you don’t do so, his siege on her heart’s citadel will prove, I fear, successful.  Well, I forgive him for making love without his father’s permission; and you, Mr. Wynn, must pardon him too.”

* * * * *

“Now, Mr. Wynn, in view of our new arrangements, what alterations would you propose in the conduct of the business, bearing this in mind, that you will have to undertake the purchase of all goods?”

“In that case, Mr. Roberts, I recommend your appointing Mr. Williams to the office I now fill.  He is a relative of yours, and is a thoroughly competent man.  Then Mr. Sykes would succeed McLiver.  His honesty and integrity are beyond question.  Had it not been for their able assistance, I should never have succeeded in unravelling the mysteries of your affairs.”

p. 205“Your proposal, Mr. Wynn, does infinite credit to your sagacity.  Let the arrangements be carried out at once.  The deed of partnership has already been prepared, and now awaits your signature.  My son signed it before he left on his recent tour.”

Under the new management, the company of Roberts, Wynn & Roberts, grew mightily.  From one end of the kingdom to the other their teas were in great repute.  They had for their patrons royal princes and the nobles of the land.  The demand grew year after year, and the increased sale brought large additional profits.  During the fifth year of the partnership, these profits amounted to £45,000, though Mr. Wynn did not take above £750, one half of which he sent his aunt and sister for their use.  Cadwgan had during those five years put by £55,000.


The day previous to the return of Mr. Wynn and young Roberts to town, they went out alone for a stroll.  They took the road leading to Pont Aberglaslyn, and as both gentlemen were excellent pedestrians, they soon arrived at that exquisitely beautiful glen.  When on the bridge, they gazed in silence for some minutes on the dark mad water beneath.  After some minutes’ silence, Mr. Wynn asked his friend if he had previously visited the glen.

“Yes; I have been here once, Cadwgan.”

“Don’t you think it’s a charming spot?”

“In my judgment, Cadwgan, this is the grandest scene in all Wales.”

“Then you prefer it to Bettws-y-Coed?”

“I do.  This place has a charm for me which that sylvan vale has not.”

“So it has for me, my friend.  p. 207The meandering river flowing down this valley, the high hills on either side of the glen, the stupendous and overhanging rocks, with a thousand different colours, foliage, trees, shrubs, and mosses, with grand old Snowdon in the distance: these, and early recollections and associations, have rendered this place dearer to me than all other scenes in my dear native land.  I am glad that our views of this delectable valley are identical, though I cannot convey to you the depth of my emotion in contemplating the scene.”

“Cadwgan,” replied Mr. Roberts, “the spot on which I now stand is as dear to me as my life.  You have been my adviser, my counsellor, my friend—ay, more than a brother to me.  Oh, advise me how to act!  I confessed here to your sister my love, and offered her my hand and heart.  I asked her to become mine; but oh, Cadwgan, she rejected my offer!”

“Did she, that is, my sister, give any reason for declining your offer?”

“Indeed she did not.”

“Did she tell you she was engaged already?”

“Nay; she told me she was free.”

p. 208“Did you ask her for an immediate answer?”


“What was her reply?”

“That she could not be mine.”

“Then she gave you no other reason?”

“No, no, Cadwgan; but was not that enough?  Since then I’ve been the most miserable of men.  Oh, you must dissuade her from acting towards me so cruelly.”

“I am glad, Roberts, my sister acted as she did, though I deeply regret the pain her refusal has occasioned you.  I blame you for confessing your love, though I do not blame you for feeling admiration for my dear sister.”

“I take it, Cadwgan, you are not favourable to my suit.”

“So far from being unfavourable, my dear Roberts, I will confess to you that I know of no one whom I should so like to have for a brother as yourself.”

“Then you are willing for me to renew my suit hereafter?”

“Most willing.”

p. 209“But you have expressed your approval of your sister’s rejection of my suit?”


“You are incomprehensible to me.  Pray explain yourself, my dear Cadwgan.”

“I’ll do so in a few words.  Before I can permit my dear sister to entertain your proposal, your father must be fully informed of your intention.  His views of such an alliance might be very different from yours.  He might wish you to marry the daughter of a wealthy city merchant, therefore he would regard your proposal as foolish and imprudent.”

“Cadwgan, you do my dear father great injustice.  He has an abundance of wealth.  He would be the last man to make my marriage a matter of money speculation.  I know better than you can his feelings, and am sure that, in a matter so momentous, his first consideration would be my happiness.”

“I have no doubt but such are your father’s feelings; still, as I am but a clerk in his establishment, I can’t permit you to address my sister until his consent is given fully and freely.”

p. 210“Well, knowing your high character and scruples, I must tell you that I have taken steps in order to anticipate your objection.”

“I hope you have not written Mr. Roberts?”

“Indeed I have, Cadwgan.”

“I’m very sorry; you really should have waited.”

“Nay, nay, I couldn’t wait.”

“Has your father replied?”

“Yes; his answer came this morning.”

“I suppose he has ordered your immediate return home?”

“Oh no.  I’m to stay another week if I like.”

“Well, has he given you his consent for you to propose to my dear sister?”

“Yes; I have his hearty approval.”

“Then my sister was not aware of this when you offered her your hand?”

“Certainly not.  My father’s letter came this morning.”

“Have you informed her of your father’s feeling in the matter?”

“No. I delayed doing so until I spoke to you.”

p. 211“I’m glad you have kept the information from Gwenfan.  But she must not be kept in ignorance longer than can be helped; and since you have opened your mind freely to me, I may as well tell you that at the proper time and after I have consulted your father, she is prepared to accept your hand.  As her brother and guardian, I will then, my dear Roberts, give her to you.  I know you will watch over her with the deepest affection and solicitude.  In this matter I have only one request to make, which I am sure will be readily granted.  Will you promise?”

“To me, dear friend, you will is law.”

“My request is a simple one, namely, that your marriage be deferred for a time?”

“You are too cruel to defer the day of my being made perfectly happy.”

“But for your and her sake I think there should be reasonable delay.  It is true your father is a rich man, but for the present you are simply a son of a city prince.  Possibly he might give you £1000 a year, but I should like to see you in business yourself before you settle p. 212down.  Then my dear sister is young: only little over eighteen years.  Three or four years is not long to wait.”

“For the present I will not argue the point with you, you will learn that I am not in the position you fancy I am.  I cannot explain myself further now, but when we return to town, you, dear Cadwgan, will know all.  Others will reveal facts to you which I am bound to keep secret.”

“Well, well, we’ll talk on this matter again.  We must now return to the Villa, and make our arrangements for our immediate return to London.  Early to-morrow morning we must leave, otherwise we shall arrive at the warehouse on the day our leave expires.”

During the evening, Mr. Roberts and Gwenfan had a long conversation.  When he returned to the library to join Cadwgan, he whispered, “It is all settled; I’m now happy.”

In the following August, Miss Wynn and her aunt paid a long visit to London.  During their stay, they were frequent visitors at Mr. Roberts’ urban mansion.  The more he saw of p. 213the gentle, quiet, and lovely Gwenfan, the more he liked her; and when the time came when those loving hearts were to be made one, he took his son’s and future daughter’s hands in his, saying, “Be true to each other; and you, my son, guard this beautiful Cambrian plant, for I am persuaded she is worth her weight in gold.  You, Rhys, have made a wise choice, I would rather have Gwenfan for my daughter than a princess of the royal blood.  May Heaven bless your union!”

We now pass over a brief period of history.  Mr. Roberts had now ceased to be a partner in the firm.  From the date of Mr. Wynn joining the firm until Mr. Roberts’ retirement, the house had prospered year after year.  The partners became wealthy men, were of high repute in the city, and Mr. Wynn, who was considered the soul of the business, was looked up to as a man almost unequalled for business talents, while his word was regarded as law by all with whom he had any mercantile transactions.

Of Mr. Roberts’ intended retirement, Mr. p. 214Wynn knew nothing until the very morning it was carried out.  When they met in the former’s private office, he asked,—

“How many years, Mr. Wynn, has our partnership lasted?”

“Five years, sir.”

“How long have you been with me?”

“Ten years to-day, sir, I entered your service.”

“Oh, how rapidly the time passes!  Well I have to thank my heavenly Father for having directed your footsteps here.  You have proved yourself a faithful friend, since the date of our partnership.  By your tact, judgment, business habits, industry, and integrity, you have raised our house to the highest commercial position.  You are almost as dear to me, Cadwgan, as if you were my own child.”

“From you,” replied Mr. Wynn, “I have received the greatest kindness and consideration.  To me you have been a second father.  No parent could have shown a deeper interest in a son than you have shown in me.”

p. 215“As you are now a rich man, Cadwgan, why don’t you seek a wife.  I’m sure you would be a better and happier man?”

“I have, Mr. Roberts, anticipated your wish.”

“I’m glad to hear it, Cadwgan, though you surprise me.  I was not aware of your having fixed your heart on any young lady.  I hope she is worthy of you.”

“From you, sir, I keep nothing.  The lady is Miss Jones; she has accepted my offer, and her parents have given their consent to our union.”

“I’m glad to hear this, for your sake and hers.  Jones is a capital fellow, and his daughter is a noble girl.  She has in her own right a splendid fortune, and her father must be a rich man.  She will make you an excellent wife.  Her fortune is in the funds, and if necessary you could turn it to immediate account.  I hope you will get back the old place.

“Now, Mr. Wynn, as you have told me your secret, I see no reason why I should withhold from you mine.  I, too, am about p. 216to contract a marriage; I do not find it good to be alone; I am going to be wedded to my first love.  Strange to say, her name is Wynn.  Do you know any lady in your parts of North Wales of that name?”

“Indeed, sir, I don’t at present recollect any lady of the name of Wynn.”

“Try, Cadwgan, and remember.  My impression is you must remember; she is acquainted with you.”

“Surely, Mr. Roberts, you don’t refer to my aunt?”

“I do though.  Are you willing to give her to me?”

“Most willing, sir, as far as I am concerned.”

“Then you are pleased at the prospect of a closer connection between us?  You have placed me in possession of your feeling.  Now please give me the reason of its existence?”

“That I will do, sir, in a few words.  Though she is my aunt, and the only relative I have in the world, except my dear sister, I must say that she is one of the kindest and best p. 217of women.  I am sure she will make you happy.  But, sir, I did not know you had ever seen my aunt until she came to visit me in London?”

“Miss Wynn was my earliest love.  I proposed to her, but her brother, your dear father, objected to our union.  I left for London immediately afterwards, got married, settled down in business, but from the day of my departure until her visit to you we never met.  Mr. Jones was fully aware of the circumstance of my being rejected.  It was, indeed, the fact of my proposal of which Jones took advantage to plead so persistently for you when he wished you to come here.  Little did I know then what a noble boy you were, what a treasure I was to have in you.  But let that pass: I have one favour to ask you.  Will you grant it?”

“Yes, sir, to the extent of every penny I possess.”

“Will you consent to be married on the same day as myself?  And we will arrange that Rhys and your sister shall also be p. 218united on the occasion.  Next, will you sign that parchment, without asking any question, or examining its contents? you can make yourself acquainted with the particulars hereafter.”

“Heartily I say yes, to your questions.”

“My dear boy, I thank you from my heart of hearts for your goodness and confidence.  The document contains a dissolution of partnership so far as I am concerned.  You, and your future brother are now the owners of everything here.”

“Mr. Roberts,” replied Cadwgan, with tears in his eyes, “how can I ever repay you for so noble and so generous an act?”

“My dear boy, you have already repaid me with your grateful tear, by your ten years of faithful services, and by the splendid gift of your aunt.  There is the ledger, which you can scan at leisure.  You will find the facts fully set forth.  Here is a mortgage deed for £50,000,—a sum which simply represents your share of the profits of the business during the period of our partnership.  The other mortgagee is your intended father-in-law, who has invested p. 219his daughter’s fortune in the same property as her trustee and guardian.  The two sums amount to £115,000, which are secured on your paternal estate, Wynn Castle.  On the day of your marriage, the estate, which has been greatly improved since your poor father’s death, will be conveyed to you as sole owner, by cancelling those deeds.  How this matter has been arranged it is not necessary for you to know.  I rejoice beyond measure in your being about to take possession of your lost inheritance, and to regain it by means so honourable to yourself.  My prayer shall be that Heaven will bless you with health and prosperity, and that you may long live to enjoy it.  I have now done my day’s work, so for the present must wish you good morning.  We shall soon meet again.”

But few additional words are necessary to complete this history.  In a few months after the above interview, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Roberts junior, and Cadwgan were married to the ladies of their choice.

During a portion of each summer, Mr. and p. 220Mrs. Cadwgan Wynn, and Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, senior and junior spent several weeks at Wynn Castle, where Mr. and Mrs. Owen Jones had taken up their permanent abode.  The various tenants on the estate rejoiced in possessing such an excellent landlord, but their joy was unbounded on the morning the news reached them of the birth of a son and heir.  On the return to the castle after this event, his tenantry presented him with an address, to which he replied as follows:—

“Friends and neighbours,—After many years of exile from the land of my birth and the home of my father’s sepulchre, I feel it my first duty to return my gratitude to Him who guides and directs the destiny of us all, for having in His good and merciful providence again directed my footsteps to the land of my love and my warmest affection.  Twelve years to day I went out in the wide world, poor and almost penniless.  I resolved, with Heaven’s help, to succeed, that is if success could be achieved by honesty, integrity, and plodding.  After wandering about London for p. 221several days, I found myself one summer evening on London Bridge, faint, anxious, and sick, with but a few shillings in my pocket.  Just as I was about to settle down to sleep on the cold stone, a good Welsh Samaritan who was passing by had compassion on the forlorn one, and took me to his home.  Strange to say, his noble daughter fell in love with me, poor and friendless though I was.  That lady is my wife and the mother of my son.  I might tell you that her love for dear old Cambria is as deep and as intense as is her love for her offspring.  Moreover, her heart is full of sympathy for the sons and daughters of human suffering wherever found, and she will consider it not only a pleasure but a duty to visit and administer consolation and solace to the distressed in this beautiful valley.  But, says my friend on my right, you must not remain idle; you have work to do.  My dear friend, the Rev. Thomas Charles, who is an honour to our country, is doing much for the intellectual, moral, and religious welfare of the people.  You ought to support p. 222his efforts by every means in your power.  Him I will aid with my purse and influence.  I hope in this effort we shall be united, conformists and nonconformists, joining hand in hand and heart with heart, so that our people may become an intelligent and religious people.  To bring about such a glorious consummation is the chief desire of my soul.  I have only one more word to add, that is to thank you for your beautiful address.  Be assured that I and my wife will endeavour to earn your good opinion.  We will try to promote your commercial welfare, and with it your highest interest.”

* * * * *

McLiver in due time was brought before the bar of justice, and his guilt having been clearly established, was banished the kingdom.  After undergoing ten years of punishment in Van Diemen’s Land, he obtained his release, and settled down in one of the Australian colonies as a small farmer.  His uncle and cousin were finally apprehended, and being found guilty were transported.  p. 223Donald was allowed to go free, as his guilt could not be legally established.  Some years afterwards Mr. Wynn learned that he was engaged in the fish trade in one of the Orkney Islands.



            “Not a tree,
A llyn, a leaf, a blossom, but contains
A folio volume.  We may read, and read,
And read again, and still find something new.”

Respecting Llyn Savathan, which also bears the several names of Lake Brecheinoc, Brecinaumere, Llangorse, and Talyllyn Pool, Giraldus relates that in the reign of Henry I., Gruffydd, son of Rhys ap Theodor, held under the king one comot, namely, the fourth part of the cantref of Caoc, in the cantref Mawr.  When Gruffydd, on his return from the king’s court, passed near this lake, which at this cold season of the year was covered with wild fowl of p. 228various sorts, being accompanied by Milo, Earl of Hereford and Lord of Brecon, and Payn FitzJohn, Lord of Ewyas, who at that time were secretaries and privy counsellors to the King, Earl Milo, wishing to draw from Gruffydd some discourse concerning his innate nobility, rather jocularly than seriously thus addressed him: “It is an ancient saying in Wales, that if the natural prince of the country, coming to this lake, shall order the birds to sing, they will immediately obey him.”  To which Gruffydd replied, “Do you, therefore, who now hold the dominion of this land, first give the command.”  But he and Payn, having in vain commanded, and Gruffydd perceiving that it was necessary for him to do so in his turn, dismounted from his horse, and falling on his knees towards the east, as if he had been about to engage in battle, prostrate on the ground, with his eyes and hands uplifted to heaven, poured forth devout prayers to the Lord; and at length rising up, and signing his face and forehead with the figure of the cross, thus openly spake, “Almighty God, and Lord Jesus Christ, who p. 229knowest all things, declare here, this day, Thy power.  If Thou hast caused me to descend lineally from the natural princes of Cambria, I command these birds, in Thy name, to declare it.”  And immediately, beating the waters with their wings, the birds began to cry aloud and proclaim him.  The spectators were astonished and confounded; and Earl Milo, with FitzJohn, hastily returned to court, and related this singular occurrence to Henry, who is said to have replied, “By the death of Christ, it is not a matter of so much wonder; for although by our great authority we commit acts of violence and wrong against these people, yet they are known to be the rightful inheritors of this land.”


Long previous to the time to which the tradition of Giraldus relates, the place occupied by Llyn Savathan formed a beautiful and picturesque valley, through which the waters of the Llewenny meandered and flowed gently along in their progress towards the Wye.  On the left bank of the Llynfi, and within half a mile of its channel, there stood the church of Llangasty, which was dedicated to Saint Gasty, an eminent British saint who flourished in the fifth century, and was murdered on the Van Mountain, in the parish of Merthyr Cynog.  On the other side of the Llynfi, and nearly opposite the church, there stood a magnificent palace, belonging to and occupied by a tyrannical prince, who neither feared God nor regarded man, who scorned religion, and loathed everything which was pure and good and beautiful; a prince who, by the magnitude of his extortions and the p. 231relentlessness with which he pursued his unfortunate vassals, became the object of hate and intense aversion to all who had dealings or came in contact with him.  Moreover, as he grew older, his extortions became more burdensome, while his tyranny increased in its fury, notwithstanding the warnings he received from those who desired the perpetuation of his reign.  To all those warnings he turned a deaf ear, while he punished with the utmost rigour those who sought to thwart him in his infamous practices.

It was a cold December morning, when Father Olyver, of Llangasty, repaired to the palace in order to condole with the prince on the death of a son.  On entering the reception-room, and finding the prince alone, he thus addressed him—

“My heart grieves and is sad, my prince, at the loss you have sustained.  Another prop of your house has been taken away, and oh, reflect, I pray, on your present mode of life; consider your ways and be wise.”

“Cease thy babbling, Father Olyver,” replied p. 232the prince.  “ D— it, man, all must die.  The death of another son, thou senseless priest, only diminishes my responsibility as a father, and now I shall have more to leave to the survivors.”

“Pray, don’t speak thus, my lord, of your child.  The fruit of your loins should ever be regarded with affection.”

“I loved the boy when living, Father Olyver.  But now, man, he has ceased to live; the spirit, the soul, has gone; a clod of earth only remains.”

“Be it so, my lord.  Yet I must own that I look on his untimely end as a terrible warning to you.  The event tells you to set your house in order, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

“All right, Father Olyver.  I suppose, when He comes, I must go like the rest, in spite of the saints and mother Church.”

“But are you prepared, my prince, when the voice calls?”

“Of course I am, father.  Let his majesty come whenever he pleases, I’ll accompany him.”

p. 233“Are you ready, my dear prince, to appear, without fear, before your God when He calls you hence?”

“There are beautiful maidens, too, father, before whom I must and delight to appear, after my evening’s carousals!  Ah! ah! ah!  I’ll be bound that even you, Father Olyver, with your sanctimonious jib, are not indifferent to the smiles of a pretty wench, and you won’t turn away when you happen to have a glimpse of a fine ankle.  Human nature is human nature all the world over.  I warrant priests of mother Church don’t always keep it in subjection.  Oh!  Oh!”

“This is not the time, nor is it a fitting occasion, my lord, to indulge in such language,” replied the priest.  “For one day, at least, especially in the presence of the dead, I beseech you to cease speaking thus.”

“Why should I, man, refrain from telling the truth even now?  Bedad, I’ve hit the right nail on the head this time at any rate.”

“For the present, however, I shall regard your charge of me and my orders in silence.  I have come here to perform the last rites of p. 234the Church over the dead.  The day to me is one of unusual solemnity.  I loved your son as if he had been my own child.  He was a good and pious youth, notwithstanding the evil influences by which he was surrounded.  But he is gone, and the place that knew him shall know him no more.  And now, my lord, what hour have you fixed for carrying his remains to that silent bourne from whence no traveller ever comes back?”

“We propose to bury at five; and after the funeral I have, Father Olyver, a grand banquet in my palace, and we anticipate a merry meeting.”

“And cannot you, my lord, give up folly and pleasure for a single day?  Can’t you devote one evening to pursuits which harmonize with the solemnity of the day?  You have received from time to time, and year after year, the most terrible warnings, yet you heed them not.  You hear the sound of the trumpet, to which you have paid no attention.  If you continue to live as you have lived, my dear prince—if you resolve, come what will, p. 235to steel your heart, and defy the Almighty,—the day is not far distant when the wrath of an angry God will descend upon you and yours, and on that day—rather on that dark and dismal night—the sword of His justice will descend, and the innocent and the guilty shall perish together.  I now leave you, my prince, but in a few hours we shall meet again at the grave of departed virtue, and something tells me that when we then part it will be a parting for ever.”

At the time appointed the funeral cortège arrived at Llangasty.  The young prince was buried with extraordinary pomp.  When the service was concluded, Father Olyver went up and pressed the hand of the prince, and bidding him good-bye, whispered in his ear, “Remember, my lord, the warning voice: it has spoken once, twice, ay, thrice; the next time it will speak in thunder and lightning, when the earth shall move and reel like a drunken man.  So now, farewell.  I fear we shall never meet again.”

The good priest then turned away from p. 236prince and people.  He re-entered the church for evening song, while the prince and the mourners returned to the palace to make merry and be glad.  Before they arrived home, the day had disappeared, and the night had come.  Darkness had settled down upon the earth.  When they entered the palace, they little dreamt of being on the very brink of a precipice over which they would be hurled by the fiat of the Eternal.


The palace of the Prince of Llynfi was characterized by drunkenness and vice, dissipation and sensuality, intemperance and debauchery.  Virtue had no lodgment there.  Righteousness had no habitation there.  Justice, religion, and truth were wholly absent from the palace of the prince.  He and his family gave themselves up to pleasure, to riotous living, and to revellings; and from day to day, week to week, and month to month, they lived as if there was no God—no hereafter—no judgment to come!  Moreover, they had so sunk in sin and iniquity, that they were quite insensible to those feelings which are common and general, and indeed universal, in the lowest state of humanity.  Flower after flower of the family circle had withered and died, or had been plucked from the tree of life by the will of the Almighty, yet from the heart of the p. 238survivors there never escaped a sigh; never a tear was shed; their hearts had become a flinty rock, and were as insensible of impression as the Parian marble.  Thus they lived: thus, too, they died; for at last they were cut down as cumberers of the ground.

Before the untimely death of the son, the prince had arranged for a grand banquet to take place on the very day his mortal remains were consigned to the tomb.  During the progress of preparation for the funeral, preparations were also being made for the expected banquet.  On their return from the church, many of the guests had already arrived and many more soon followed.  By nine o’clock the palace was filled with a splendid array of the licentious male and female inhabitants of the villages in the surrounding country.  According to old traditions, two renowned minstrels from a distance had been summoned to cheer them in their revels; and riot and disorder, such as had never before been witnessed even in that palace, resounded among the hills.  The party had been many hours assembled: it p. 239was midnight.  In the midst of their revellings there was suddenly heard a crash of thunder, which shook the palace to its foundation; and this was immediately followed by louder and louder peals, which boomed through the valley as the noise of a thousand pieces of artillery.  The prince and his riotous companions were awe-struck, and presently they heard a voice saying in deep, solemn tones, “Vengeance is at hand!”  In a moment the two minstrels arose, and beholding in the air a mysterious hand beckoning to them, they fled after it as it retreated.  The hand moved faster and faster, and as it moved they increased their speed.  After they had gone a considerable distance the earth heaved violently, and appeared to totter on its foundations.  For a moment they turned round to see the distance they had come.  They saw the ground divide in twain, and up through this large chasm they beheld the waters rushing forth like the ocean when convulsed, and mingling with the roaring sound of the waters were the dying shrieks of the revellers.  Pausing for another moment in their p. 240flight, the minstrels observed, with great terror, a wide expanse of boiling and agitated waters where the palace and village had stood, engulfing the palace and its wicked and impious inmates far below its bosom.  Since then, Llyn Savathan has ever been regarded as an unhallowed spot; the great wickedness of the prince and his followers having drawn upon them the just judgment of the Eternal.


“The lifeless tears she shed into a fountain turn,
And, that for her alone the water should not mourn,
The pure vermilion blood that issued from her veins
Unto this very day the pearly gravel stains,
As erst the white and red were mixèd in her cheek.
And that one part of her might be the other like,
Her hair was turned to moss, whose sweetness doth declare,
In liveliness of youth the natural sweets she bare.”

Michael Drayton.

When but a mere youth, I had a strong and extreme longing to visit Holywell, or Treffynnon, which according to my youthful fancy was the most wonderful place under the sun.  This desire had its origin in the following circumstances.

About three miles from my paternal abode there was situate a small village, which had risen into fame and notoriety by reason of its annual May fair.  At this fair an immense number of people congregated.  Young men and maidens p. 244were there.  Farmers’ sons and daughters flocked in great numbers; and this being the annual hiring fair, hundreds of men and women servants went to find either new masters or fresh mistresses.  Then from the neighbouring towns and villages, people came for the purpose of providing fun, amusement, and entertainment for the holiday seekers.  Shows innumerable were there; Mr. Cheap Jack vending his wares, with which he combined interesting stories and flashes of wit, had thousands of willing and enchanted listeners, and a goodly number of ready purchasers.  On the roadside from one end of the village to the other was a continuous row of stalls, laden with every conceivable variety of articles.  All these marvellous things filled my boyish fancy with amazement and wonder.

But what struck me most, was a person who had a stall situate near the bridge, on which were placed in rows several thousands of small wooden boxes, which in circumference were about the size of a crown piece, and three quarters of an inch deep.  These boxes he p. 245arranged with great deliberation and care, and when he completed his work, not a single box could be seen out of its proper place.

This person was fantastically dressed.  He wore a three-cornered hat, the brim of which was tipped with gold.  He had pink velvet breeches, with a waistcoat of similar material; red stockings, and shoes with silver buckles.  His frock coat, made of good West of England broadcloth, had, in consequence of many years’ wear, become a dark blood colour.  In his hat were placed two rows of feathers, arranged in the form of the Prince of Wales’ plume.  He was certainly a most singular looking figure, and from the hour when he commenced to expatiate on the virtues of his wares until the dusk of the evening, attracted an immense audience.

When his preparations were finished, he took in his left hand one of the little boxes, from which he removed the lid, or cover, and commenced to address the crowd in the following fashion.  “This box, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “contains wonderful ointment.  It will p. 246cure the itch, the stitch, and nettle-rash.  It is a sure remedy for all diseases of the skin.  It will, when applied, remove warts from the fingers, corns from the toes, and bunions from the feet.  It is an effectual cure for cuts, bruises, and for every kind of wounds.  Time, ladies and gentlemen, would fail me to speak of its wonderful properties, and the history of cases it has cured would fill a dozen large volumes.  Every man should therefore possess half a dozen boxes of this valuable salve.  They should be placed in the nobleman’s palace, in every farm house, in every poor man’s cottage.  The use of this wonderful ointment will save you many a long doctor’s bill, and, between you and me, doctors are doing their best to stop its sale, because one box of this salve is worth a hundred visits of the physician.  People have paid lots of money to doctors without getting any benefit; they then came to me, and by using one box only, were made perfectly whole.  This ointment is the grandest discovery of the age.  It was found out, not by man’s skill, oh, no; but an angel p. 247came from distant worlds and directed my sainted mother how to make it.  The secret is with me, and it must remain with me; for were it known, its efficacy would disappear.

“You, ladies and gentlemen, would doubtless like to know the several constituent parts of this justly renowned ointment, but as I have already said, I dare not reveal the secret.  The spirit of one who when on this earth was as pure as she was comely and beautiful, told the secret to my sainted mother.  I refer to Saint Winifred, who was murdered twelve hundred years ago.  From the spot on which she was beheaded, her head rolled down the declivity, and did not stop until it reached the altar of the church, and immediately there sprang up a spring of water, which in volume is unequalled in the world.  The wonderful salve is not called after the saint, this her spirit forbade, but Eli Treffynnon, or Holywell salve.  As I make it myself, I can offer to sell it at twopence per box, though doctors charge sixpence for a far inferior article.  Twopence per box being the price, for which I charge no more nor will I p. 248take less.  Who will buy? who will buy?  Now is your time, for I shall not visit these parts for twelve months.”

The people then rushed to the vendor of Eli Treffynnon, and in less than an hour he had disposed of more than a thousand boxes of the ointment.

“A wonderful man that, is he not?” said I to my companion.

“Yes, truly.”

Myself.  Can you tell me where Treffynnon is?

“Not exactly,” replied my companion; “but it is in the north.”

Myself.  In the north of England or Scotland, which?

“Oh, no, in neither; but in North Wales.”

Myself.  Is it a town or a village?

“A town, I believe; but it is not a large place.”

Myself.  Have you ever heard of the remarkable well before?

“Oh, yes.  I’ve seen an account of it in an old book.”

p. 249Myself.  If I knew the way, I would go and see this wonderful fountain.

“Don’t talk nonsense.  Go two hundred miles to see a spring!”

Myself.  Why not?

“Why?  Because you can see plenty of fountains nearer home.”

Myself.  But this is a well.

“Yes; a well to be sure.  But don’t the waters of all rivers come from wells?”

Myself.  Of course they do.  But it requires a hundred wells to make up the Severn, the Wye, and the Ithon, but here is a large river from one well, one spring.  I’ll certainly go one of these days and see it.

Many, many years, however, came, and passed away, before the design I then formed was carried out.

* * * * *

My first visit to Holywell, or Treffynnon, took place just about the close of the Crimean War.  I arrived in the town late one evening in mid winter, but as the night was extremely dark, while the rain descended in torrents, I refrained p. 250from leaving my hotel, the name of which I do not at present remember.  It was then the principal inn of the town, with a first rate bill of fare.

Being a private gentleman, and therefore debarred from joining the commercials, breakfast was prepared for me in a snug little parlour which was generally used by the landlady as her private sitting-room.  Before I had taken my seat at the breakfast, the waitress came into the room, all smiles, and asked me if I had any objection to a gentleman joining me at the morning meal.

“Who is the gentleman?” I asked the waitress.

“Oh, Squire Eli, of Ffynnon Hall.”

Myself.  What kind of a person is he?  Is he old or young, has he a hump on his back, and does he wear spectacles? is he a nice, good-tempered fellow, or sour as crab beer?  Tell me, gentle maid, the kind of companion I am to be honoured with.

“Oh, sir, how you do talk.  Squire is a nice, well-spoken gentleman; and I am sure you’ll like him.”

p. 251Myself.  Show the gentleman up; but tell your mistress that she will be a loser by his introduction, because I generally eat twice as much in company as when alone.

Presently Mr. Eli made his appearance, and I expressed to him how greatly pleased I was at his honouring me with his presence.

He replied to my remarks in a very neat speech, and said he was delighted in the opportunity of making my acquaintance, having heard of me from a common friend.

Before rising from the table I said, “What a beautiful name you have selected for your seat!”

“Then do you know Welsh?”

Myself.  I know a little; I wish I knew more.  It is the grandest language under the sun.

“For expressiveness and eloquence and poetry, you are right.”

Myself.  I presume you selected the name because you have a crystal fountain by the Hall?

“Oh, dear, no.  There is a fountain it is true, but its existence in no way determined me to select the name; and, between us, I don’t think p. 252there is a similar designation for a house in North or South Wales.”

Myself.  Have you visited the south, Mr. Eli?

“Visited the South!  Why, there is not a town or village in the six counties I’ve not been in.  I know the country well.”

“Have you ever been at Bridgend, in the county of R.?”

“At Bridgend!  Of course I have; many and many a time.”

Myself.  If I’m not mistaken, I have seen you there.

“Probably you have; that is, if you ever attended its annual May fair.”

Myself.  Then you are the man, the veritable vendor of Eli Treffynnon?

“Of course I am.  I thought the waitress had duly informed you of that.”

Myself.  No, no; but never mind.  I’m delighted to see you.  Your speech on your ointment awoke in my bosom an intense longing to see this place; and I’ve come almost specially to see for myself its wonders.  I hope, therefore, p. 253Mr. Eli, you have no special engagement this morning.

“And suppose I have not?”

Myself.  In that case I trust you will be my cicerone.  I am extremely anxious to know the history and traditions of the wonderful well.

“I’ll accompany you with pleasure, and tell its wondrous history.  When shall we start?”

Myself.  Now, if you please.

Just as we reached the lower part of the principal street, we saw a man with measured steps approaching us.  The man had a leathern strap fastened round his neck, at the other end of which was suspended a large bell, a cushion being buckled to the right knee.  Every time the cushioned knee came forward the bell jingled, and it being of considerable size its tones could be heard a long distance from the scene of the man’s perambulations.  When he came up to the place where we were standing, I asked Mr. Eli the question,—

“Is that man mad?”

“By no means: he is in his right mind.”

p. 254Myself.  No sane man, I should think, would be guilty of such folly.

“The man,” replied Mr. Eli, “is doing a Christian duty.”

Myself.  I fail to see any act of devotion in carrying a bell about the town.  Please, Mr. Eli, explain yourself.

“You, a stranger, very naturally conclude the man is demented.  When you know the object of his mission you will come to a different opinion.”

Myself.  Pray, Mr. Eli, enlighten me.

“We have a church here, my dear sir.”

Myself.  Yes.

“That church is situate in a hole at the head of a deep dell.”

Myself.  But what has that to do with this man?

“This,” replied Mr. Eli; “we cannot, up the town, hear the church chimes, though we are not two hundred yards from them.”

Myself.  But the man does not carry your church bells on his knee.

“Oh, dear me, no; but this man walks round p. 255the town just before divine service, and the ringing of his bell warns the people that it is time for them to go to church.”

Myself.  A singular invention, certainly.  Pity they built the church in such an outlandish place.

Mr. Eli.  Oh, don’t say so.  The church was built there by direction.  It is close to the well of St. Winifred, the healing waters of which, as you are aware, are celebrated far and near.

Myself.  Then the tales you and others tell about the efficacy of the waters of the fountain are really true?

“Yes, of course, they are perfectly true.  When all is said and written about the waters, we can truly say that the half is not told.”

Myself.  I should like to possess a true and authentic history of the place.

“Doubtless,” replied Mr. Eli, “you would.  Its history has yet to be written.”

Myself.  There is, then, evidence, Mr. Eli, that people who have bathed in its waters have been made whole?

p. 256“Yes; plenty of evidence,” replied Mr. Eli; “and if you will now accompany me to the well, I’ll show you some of the many witnesses.”

When we entered the building, my friend conducted me to a spot where we had a good view of the interior.  He pointed with his finger to the roof, at the same time remarking, “Up there, look up there, for there is the evidence, the witnesses, to which I referred.”

Myself.  Do you mean those barrows, hand carts, crutches, and staves, and other things too numerous to mention, fastened to the ceiling?

“Of course I do.  Are they not irresistible witnesses to the healing power of these waters?”

Myself.  I really fail to see your point, Mr. Eli.  Pray explain yourself more fully.

“People come here,” said my friend, “from all parts of the world.  Some come on wheel-barrows, some on crutches, some by the aid of walking-sticks; they bathe in these healing waters, like they did when our Lord was upon earth, and are cleansed.  They leave here new men and women, and having no further need of either crutch or barrow, leave them behind p. 257as witnesses to the power of this wonderful fountain.”

Myself.  You have greatly excited my curiosity, Mr. Eli.  Pray furnish me with some information respecting the history of this place.

“You are heartily welcome to the facts and traditions I have been fortunate enough to succeed in collecting, which can be briefly told.  They are as follows:—

“Once upon a time, that is, about twelve hundred and twenty-five years ago, this Treffynnon was a royal city, and then the king’s palace was within its precincts.  The then reigning sovereign was Allen the First, and his dominion extended over the whole of the hundred of Coleshill, from the royal mines of which he derived a princely income.  The king had a son of the name of Cradocus, a name which has led old writers to conclude that his mother was a daughter of some Roman, who, preferring this country to his own, and having espoused a British lady, settled down here.

“At the time of which I speak, there resided in Holywell a potent lord of the Trewith, who p. 258married Lady Wento, an only sister of Saint Beuno, descendants of an ancient and illustrious Montgomeryshire family.  The only issue of this marriage was a daughter, a beautiful and lovely maiden, who was as pure as she was beautiful, whose name was Winifred.

“When she had grown up to be a young lady, her uncle, Saint Beuno, who resided at Clynnog, in Carnarvonshire, came on one occasion to this royal town to pay a friendly visit to his family.  During his stay he obtained a grant of land from Lord Trewith, his brother-in-law, upon which he erected a church.  Now the altar of that church was close by yon bubbling fountain.”

Myself.  Have you historical proofs of this, Mr. Eli? I asked.

“You will see by-and-by the evidence upon which I rely.”

Myself.  Pray proceed; your narrative is deeply interesting.

“After the erection of the church,” Mr. Eli continued, “Saint Beuno took under his charge his niece Winifred, who vowed to remain a p. 259virgin, and to devote her life to works of charity, mercy, and religion.

“On a lovely Sunday evening, on the 22nd of June, the Lady Winifred left her parents’ castle for the purpose of taking a walk in the cool of the day.  When she attained the summit of the hill her progress was stayed by Prince Cradocus, who, being struck with her extreme beauty, at once made a proposal of marriage.

“‘Prince,’ replied Lady Winifred, ‘I can form no earthly ties.  I have already vowed my life and wealth to the work of my Saviour.’

“‘But, noble and beautiful lady, I have sworn you shall be mine, and nothing shall prevent the fulfilment of my oath.’

“‘Your offer, illustrious prince, comes too late; my vow is irrevocable.’

“‘Pray, Lady Winifred, don’t say that.  Your hand I am resolved to possess, and you shall share with me the throne of my ancestors.’

“‘For earthly thrones, prince, I care not; my treasures are not here but above.’

“‘If you persist, noble lady, in your refusal, I am resolved to effect my object by force.’

p. 260“‘You dare not do that, prince.  You must not further molest me.  Stand by, for I would proceed on my way.’

“Cradocus was vexed at being thus robbed of his prey, and getting into a fearful passion, took his sword from its sheath, and there and then,—oh, horror of horrors! cut off the head of the virgin.  For his guilty act, vengeance from on high soon overtook him.  On the spot where he committed the crime, he fell down a dead man, and the earth opening, swallowed his impious corpse. [260]  There is, however, a tradition, that Cradocus’s master, the devil, carried off his body to the dismal regions of despair.

“Now about the well.  I’ve told you, that it was on the hillside above here where Cradocus committed the foul deed.  It appears that when the head was severed from the body it commenced to roll down the steep hill by which we descended, and stopped when it reached the altar, before which a number of devout people were kneeling.  The very moment the head stopped there came up this fountain, the waters p. 261of which possess the same miraculous power as did those waters of the pool of Bethesda referred to in the Gospel of St. John.

“It appears Saint Beuno was the officiating priest at the altar when this sad event took place.  Recognising the head as that of his beloved niece, he took it up, and ran with it to where the mangled body lay, to which he rejoined it.  To the astonishment of all present, the head at once united itself to the body, the place of separation being only marked by a white ring or line, which extended round the neck.  From that hour she was called Saint Winifred, and was always after regarded as a holy person, a special vessel chosen by Christ to do His work.  After this event she lived fifteen years, and gained universal fame by her deeds of love and charity.  Well, though more than twelve hundred years have come and gone since then, this fountain is as powerful to-day as it was then in healing and in curing diseases.  Hundreds, aye, thousands, have blessed the day on which they bathed in this Iachâd Ffynnon—healing fountain.  Now, my story is done.”

p. 262Myself.  And a most interesting tale it is, Mr. Eli, for which I thank you very much.  There is one more circumstance I wish to be informed of in order to have a complete history of the sainted lady.

“To what do you refer?” asked Mr. Eli.

Myself.  I presume the lady died here.

“Oh yes; she died in her father’s mansion.”

Myself.  In that case, I presume, her sepulchre is in your churchyard?

“Not so, my friend,” replied Mr. Eli.

Myself.  Then she was not buried here?

“No, she was not interred here, and for this reason.  Her uncle, Saint Beuno, died on the 21st of April, 660, and his remains were interred in the Abbey Church of Bardsey Island.  On his death, Saint Winifred retired to Gwytheriu, and placed herself under the protection of St. Elerius, who at that time was living in devotional seclusion in that sequestered mountain village.  At that time there was there a convent of nuns under the superintendence of Theonia.  Saint Winifred assumed the veil, and on the death of Theonia became the abbess.  On her death, p. 263the remains were removed from Treffynnon to Gwytheriu, and interred near the graves of St. Cybi and St. Sannan.  After a lapse of five hundred years from the date of her death, the bones of St. Winifred were removed with great pomp to the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Shrewsbury.  The wooden chest in which the remains were preserved is still kept.  The translation of the saint’s remains took place in the reign of King Stephen.”

Myself.  It’s a pity that no monument to her memory has been erected here.  Don’t you think so, Mr. Eli?

“I cannot share your opinion, my friend.  This well and its wonderful cures are monuments which will live when Parian marble shall crumble into dust.  But there is another monument.  Observe,” said Mr. Eli, “the sweet scented moss which grows there by the well-side, the Jungermannia esplenoides of Linnæus.  On each anniversary of the decollation of Saint Winifred, this moss, and the stones of the fountain, assume the colour of blood.  This annual change in the tint of the moss is an p. 264immortal monument of the dear departed saint, as if it said:—

“For thee, blest maid, my tears, my endless pain,
Shall in immortal monuments remain.
The image of thy death each year renew,
And prove my grief, to distant ages, true.”

After making a general inspection of the well, and examining the grotesque figures of animals and other works of sculpture, my friend and I paid a brief visit to the chapel over the well.  During our stay there, he placed in my hand a copy of the following letter, addressed by the queen of James II., to Sir Roger Mostyn.

Sir Roger Mostyn,—

“It having pleased the king, by his royal grant, to bestow upon me the ancient chapel adjoining St. Winifred’s Well, these are to desire you to give present possession, in my name, of the said chapel, to Mr. Thomas Roberts, who will deliver this letter into your hands.  It being also my intention to have the place decently repaired, and put to a good use, I further desire that you will afford him your favour and protection, that he may not be p. 265disturbed in the performance thereof.  You may rest assured that what you do herein, according to my desire, shall be very kindly remembered by

“Your good friend,
Mary Regina.

      May 8th, 1687.”

On leaving the chapel, I cordially thanked my friend for the information he had imparted respecting the Winifred legend; and told him, that some day I would try to make his name and his Eli Treffynnon as immortal as the saint whose history he had so eloquently told.  But before my tale sees the light, my entertainer has gone to that bourne from whence no traveller returns; yet it may be,—who knows?—that his spirit still visits our world, and communes with dear ones and friends left behind.

View of Swansea in September, 1748


A short time before our visit to Swansea, wrote Giraldus Cambrensis, a circumstance worthy of note occurred in these parts, which Elidorus, a priest, most strenuously affirmed had befallen him.  When a youth of twelve years, and learning his letters, since, as Solomon says, “The root of learning is bitter, although the fruit is sweet,” in order to avoid the discipline and frequent stripes inflicted on him by his preceptor, he ran away, and concealed himself under the hollow bank of a river.  After fasting in that situation for two days, two little men of pigmy stature appeared to him, saying, “If you will come with us, we will lead you into a country full of delights and sports.”  Assenting and rising up, he followed his guides through a path, at first subterraneous and dark, into a most beautiful p. 270country, adorned with rivers and meadows, woods and plains, but obscure, and not illuminated with the full light of the sun.  All the days were cloudy, and the nights extremely dark, on account of the absence of the moon and stars.  The boy was brought before the king, and introduced to him in the presence of the court; who, having examined him for a long time, delivered him to his son, who was then a boy.  The men were of the smallest stature, but very well proportioned in their make; they were all of a fair complexion, with luxuriant hair falling over their shoulders like that of women.  They had horses and greyhounds adapted to their size.  They neither ate flesh nor fish, but lived on milk diet, made up into messes with saffron.  They never took an oath, for they detested nothing so much as lies.  As often as they returned from our upper hemisphere, they reprobated our ambition, infidelities, and inconstancies.  They had no form of public worship, being strict lovers and reverers, as it seemed, of truth.

The boy frequently returned to our p. 271hemisphere, sometimes by the way he had first gone, sometimes by another; at first in company with other persons, and afterwards alone; and made himself known only to his mother, declaring to her the manners, nature, and state of that people.  Being desired by her to bring a present of gold, with which that region abounded, he stole, when at play with the king’s son, the golden ball with which he used to divert himself, and brought it to his mother in great haste; and when he reached the door of his father’s house, but not unpursued, and was entering it in a great hurry, his foot stumbled on the threshold, and falling down into the room where his mother was sitting, the two pigmies seized the ball, which had dropped from his hand, and departed, showing the boy every mark of contempt and derision.  On recovering from the fall, confounded with shame, and execrating the evil counsel of his mother, he returned by the usual track to the subterraneous road, but found no appearance of any passage, though he searched for it on the banks of the p. 272river (Tawe) for nearly the space of a year.  But since those calamities which reason cannot mitigate are often alleviated by time, and length of time alone blunts the edge of our afflictions, and puts an end to many evils, the youth having been brought back by his friends and mother, and restored to his right way of thinking, and to his learning, in process of time attained the rank of priesthood.  Whenever David II., Bishop of St. David’s, talked to him in his advanced state of life concerning this event, he could never relate the particulars without shedding tears.  He had made himself acquainted with the language of that nation, the words of which, in his younger days, he used to recite, which, as the bishop had often informed me, were very conformable to the Greek idiom.  When they asked for water, they said, “Ydor ydorum,” which meant, bring water; for “ydor,” in their language, signifies water, and dwr also, in the British language, signifies water.  When they wanted salt they said, “Halgein ydorum,” bring salt.  Salt is called halen in British.

p. 273[So far the narrative of Giraldus Cambrensis.  We are happy to be able to lay before our readers some further details, hitherto unpublished, of the early life of Elidorus, and of his visits to the fairy kingdom beneath the bay.]

On the brow of Town Hill, and commanding a magnificent view of Swansea Bay, the channel, and their circumjacent coast, with the Devonian range of mountains in the distance; there stood, at the time of which we write, a small thatched cottage, with mud or clay walls, which was then occupied by Shôn Gwyllt, his wife Mary, and their son John, an only child.

Shôn, as had been his father and his grandfather before him, was a fisherman, which, in those times, was a highly remunerative business.  Fish of all kinds were then abundant, and they commanded a ready market.  In the bay were shoals of conger, cod, mullet, sole, whiting, and flat-fish; while, in the season, the fishermen were often fortunate enough to secure in their nets sea trout and salmon, which, for delicacy of flavour, were unequalled in the British seas and rivers, the Tawe p. 274excepted.  In the Tawe salmon were as plentiful as the daisy on the verdant mead in early summer.  The waters of that river then, and for several hundred years after, were as clear as the crystal dewdrops.  Now it was on that delightful, that glossy and pellucid river that Shôn Gwyllt plied his trade, and the sylvan groves on its banks resounded with the sound of his rich tenor voice.  Shôn loved a good song, and the echo of his voice in the near and distant groves had for him a peculiar charm.

We have already observed that Shôn plied his calling on the Tawe.  He had a horror of the sea.  Upon its waters he never ventured.  Nothing could induce him to join his brother fishermen in the bay.  Though they often tempted him by predicting that they would certainly have a splendid haul of fish, yet the prospect of a rich reward for his labour had no influence on his mind.  To their solicitation he used to reply, “The Tawe has been a good and generous parent to me, so I shall not forsake the kind and rich old p. 275mother.”  And Shôn did not forsake her.  Day after day, during the season, he might be seen with his coracle on his back, wending his way down Mount Pleasant and across the fields to the Tawe (there were no houses there then), and thence he fished up the river as far as Morriston, which at that time consisted of a few clod-built huts.  It was but seldom that he ventured above that village, though occasionally, and once in a way, he fished up to Ynistawe, but never went so high up the stream as Penllwch.  His aversion to Penllwch appears to have arisen from the circumstance that his cousin met with an untimely end there, and Shôn dreaded to fish the deep pools under Glais, where the young man, whom he loved as a brother, was drowned.

Although Shôn was passionately fond of his trade, yet, strange to say, he was strongly opposed to his son following in his footsteps.  He reasoned thus: It is an occupation in which there is a great risk of life.  The fisherman has to contend with bad seasons, and occasionally fish is a drug in the market.  The business is p. 276not respectable; those engaged in it are men of the lowest class, ignorant, drunken, and improvident, living from hand to mouth, never saving a penny against a rainy day.  Instead of allowing young John to accompany him, he resolved to send him to school; and to school accordingly his son was duly sent.  John, however, hated school, and intensely disliked his preceptor, a dislike he gloried in exhibiting whenever an opportunity offered itself.  The teacher resented the boy’s conduct by the free use of the cane.  In the severity of punishment he had no mercy, and to escape chastisement young Gwyllt often absented himself from school.  The hours thus spent were among the happiest of his boyhood.  After his father had gone, John would walk down to the Tawe, and leaping into a stranded coracle, he, with his paddle, would spend hour after hour in skimming over the waters.  When he got tired, he would row to the bank, and fastening his little boat to the stake, lie down to rest.  The remainder of the youth’s story we shall tell in his own words, which are as follows:—

p. 277I lay me down on the banks of Tawe’s crystal waters, and slept.  In my sleep, behold I had a dream.  In my dream or vision I saw a man approaching who was exceeding small in stature.  He was clad in rich apparel, and the fastenings of his garments—which were as white as the winter’s snow—were of pure gold, rubies, and other precious gems.  When he came up to the place where I lay, he addressed me in the softest and sweetest voice I had ever heard, and the voice said, “Oh, youth with ruddy cheeks and curly locks, why sleepest thou, seeing it is only the third hour after the sun of thy world has passed his meridian?”

“I sleep,” I replied, “to forget the past, to drown the very thought of existence.”

“With youth,” said the voice, “there is nothing to regret.  The days of youth are days of innocence and pleasure.  Every breeze fans the flame of delight.”

“But my sorrow, sweet voice, does not spring from the heart’s passion or paternal unkindness, but from stripes inflicted upon my p. 278body by a tyrannical and cruel teacher, a man who has no mercy nor kindness of heart.”

“Methinks you neglect your lesson,” said the voice, “and your preceptor uses the rod in order to teach you to be wise and learned.”

“If that be so, I’d rather be ignorant with whole bones, than learned with the lash so frequently used on my back.”

“There is a saying in your country, is there not?” said the voice, “‘spare the rod; spoil the child.’”

“Yes, yes; there is such a proverb, though I believe in it not.”

“What do you then believe in, my child?” asked the voice.

“I believe in gentleness and kindness.  The victory that overcometh the world is love.  Love will soften the hardest heart, subdue the most stubborn will, and melt the hardest natures like wax is melted in the fire.”

“If you worked hard at your books, and were attentive to your lessons, your master would probably be kind to you.  You should remember that youth is the time to acquire p. 279knowledge, and that its possession is one of the most pleasurable things on earth.”

“Knowledge might be all you say in its favour, sweet voice, but I care not for it.  One day spent on the banks of this beautiful river, or skimming on the bosom of its limpid and crystal waters in some friend’s coracle, from which I often watch the finny tribe below in their plays and gambols—is better to me than a thousand anywhere else.  The waters of the Tawe are to me a source of exquisite delight, an unspeakable charm.  I could gaze upon them for ever.”

“Ah, comely youth,” said the voice, “you speak what you know, and I must own to being charmed with your enthusiasm.  You are young, and your vision is contracted.  You are inexperienced; your world is bounded by the surrounding horizon.  If you will come with me, I will show you fairer climes than these, more beautiful landscapes, grander hills and mountains; vales infinitely more lovely, and streamlets, brooks and rivers, which surpass in splendour and sublimity all other p. 280running waters of the world.  Besides, in my country, everything is beautiful.  The gold is as abundant there as are the stones on this lowland strand or on ocean’s tidal shore.”

“You have drawn, sweet voice, a charming picture of your country, but where is it?  Is it an ideal or a real kingdom?  If it be real, I would visit if I knew the way.  Pray tell me the road which leads to a world so resplendently beautiful.”

“Fair youth,” said the voice, “the road is nigh thee; it is close to where thou sleepest.  I will conduct thee there.”

“On one condition only will I be thy companion.”

“Name your condition, and if it be in my power, it shall be granted.”

“That you solemnly promise to guide me back again to my own native sphere, in the event of my failing to find the way.”

“Yes; I promise.  Further, you shall have perfect liberty to stay, or to return to this upper world, at any time you desire.  I will, too, be your companion.”

p. 281“But who art thou?  What, too, is thy name?”

“I am a prince of my kingdom; and my name is Tippin.”

“What is your highness’ position at the royal court?”

“I am chancellor of my royal master, King Penaf, the wisest and best of monarchs.”

“Pray prince, is your king a giant like you?”

“In wisdom, yes.  But fair youth, you should judge all men, not by their stature, but by their wise words, weighty sayings, and just decrees.  The mind is the standard of man, for mind is the man.  But don’t let us tarry longer.  Awake! awake! oh sleeper; arise from your couch of sand; let us away, for my hour of departure has come.”

When I awoke, I found myself being carried through a dimly-lighted tunnel on the wings of the wind; I say on the wings of the wind for I was not conscious that any palpable substance touched my body.  The further we receded from the earth, the wider and loftier became the p. 282subterranean passage; and by means of the dim light, I discerned rocks of gold and precious stones.  When we arrived at the end of the passage, there appeared in the distance a scene which filled my bosom with wonder and admiration; never had I previously beheld such a combination of beauty.  How shall I describe it!  This I cannot do, for it passes description; far grander, infinitely grander, was the scene than anything I had ever witnessed.

In the distance were high hills and Alpine heights, plains and meads, and dells, which were covered with grass of emerald green.  I could see neither sun, nor moon, nor stars; but the country was illumined by a beautiful blue soft light which was delightful, and most agreeable to the eye.  Between day and night, there appeared no perceptible difference; while in those regions, summer and winter, spring and autumn, were unknown.  Their year was distinguished by no seasons; they enjoyed a perpetual spring.  Beautiful was their clime, exquisitely lovely was their country, singular and mysterious were the people.

p. 283As regards the climate, it had no variation.  There was always there a soft, gentle, and warm breeze; which produced the most delectable sensation.  This breeze appeared to possess life-giving and life-sustaining properties.  When it came, as it sometimes did, in stronger currents than was generally the case, the old would repair to the mountain tops or bwllchs, and after two or three hours’ stay would return to the plain strong, blooming, and hale.  But more of this anon.

Immediately after our arrival in the open country, the prince conducted me in silence to a building, the walls of which were formed of the finest marble.  Its entrance was guarded by two little men, even less in stature than my conductor, who made obeisance as we passed.  The prince conducted me up a flight of stairs, and then through several rooms, containing rich and costly furniture; at last we came to a door on which was printed in letters of gold “The King’s Chamber.”  This chamber we entered.  Having placed a chair beside me for my use, he then walked to the other side of the chamber, where there was p. 284a curious instrument fastened to a silver slab, and touched a small spring.  There was attached to the instrument a thread or wire of the most delicate workmanship, which quivered at the touch; presently I heard the sound of a bell, which was followed by several ticks, and when the ticks ceased, the prince remarked that the royal carriage from Dinas Aur would arrive there in half an hour, in order to take us to the golden city.

“And how far is it to your city?” I asked.

“The actual distance is one hundred and twenty miles.”

“But your carriage travels more swiftly than the flight of the bird?”


“Well, is it safe to go so fast?”

“Yes, perfectly safe.”

“Your assurance contents me.  Will you, please, answer me one question, namely: as you appear to travel about 250 miles in an hour, I want to know in what consists your motive power?  Surely your horses can’t travel so rapidly as that?”

p. 285“Oh no; we don’t use horses.  In these regions we make nature administer to our every want.  We shall travel through the air, which we use to propel us along; more I cannot say, as this singular phenomenon is beyond my comprehension.  The thing was discovered by our wise men, who keep the secret in their own breasts.  Look, my young friend,” said the prince, addressing me; “the carriage is coming, do you observe its approach?”

When I looked, I saw something like a black spot in the air; it appeared like a small bird.  Presently it became more distinct, and before I was really aware, the royal carriage had arrived, having come nearly five minutes earlier than we expected.  At once we stepped into the royal saloon.  Presently I discovered the carriage moving.  When we ascended some twenty yards above the earth, we were carried at a fearful pace through the air; I perceived it was kept up by means of wings, which were made of material which in appearance was silk.  These wings were of great dimensions, but were extended or contracted in size according to the power and force p. 286of the current.  The propelling agency was compressed air, but how this worked, and whether it was combined with other gases or not, I could not learn.  I found the travelling exceedingly pleasant; when I closed my eyes I could not detect the least motion.  Objects came and went, we appeared to pass them as rapidly as the moving clouds in a terrible storm, or falling stars on a bright November night.  We arrived at our destination a few minutes earlier than we anticipated.  The prince conducted me to the royal palace, and placing me in charge of some important state functionary, repaired to the council of his royal master; when he left, he said he would not be long, and on returning he would join me for the evening.  I must own, that I felt extremely sorry to have to part, even for a short time, from one who was so kind and so agreeable; and I felt this the more in consequence of the peculiar position in which I was placed.  I was now the denizen of a strange world, and surrounded by a strange race.

During the absence of Prince Tippin I began to realize my position.  I thought what p. 287a fool I was in leaving my home and country, the anxiety my absence would cause my parents, and the uncertainty of my ever seeing them again.  This thought deeply moved me.  I was exceedingly uneasy in both mind and conscience; I could neither sit nor lie still for three consecutive minutes.  At last, after examining every article in the room, I asked the attendant if he could give me any kind of book or writing material, by the aid of which I hoped to forget myself.  The attendant informed me that they did not use books, that their knowledge was orally handed down from father to son, from the priests to the people, and thus all the inhabitants became wise.

When the prince returned dinner was served up in the ante-room,—a fine hall, radiantly lighted up.  Our first course was soup made of choice herbs, which was not only extremely satisfying but exceedingly palatable.  Of this I partook heartily.  When the dishes were removed our attendant brought in milk thickened with meal, coloured with saffron; this was served up in basins of gold.  p. 288Afterwards we had tarts, pies, and fruit of the most delicious flavour; the fruit resembled the pear, but was sweeter and more juicy.

After the meal was over, I asked the prince if he would give me a glass of wine.

“My young friend,” replied the prince, “I regret to be unable to comply with your wish.  Wines, and all kinds of alcoholic drinks, are prohibited from being used by the law of the State; I dare not, therefore, supply you with this beverage, even if I had it in my possession.”

“But why, excellency, have you such a singular law?”

“For various reasons.  Would you wish to be furnished with the cause of the existence of such an enactment?”

“You will confer upon me a personal favour by stating the reasons for the existence of such a regulation.”

“These are the reasons.  We want the minds of our people to be clear and bright, and their intellectual vision unclouded.  Is not that important?”

p. 289“Yes, certainly.”

“Again; in these dominions, crime, destitution, poverty, pauperism, and wrong-doing are unknown; but if our people, like yours, imbibed spirituous liquors, crimes would be as frequent and poverty as widely spread as are those terrible evils in your kingdom!”

“I readily admit the force of your reasoning; I am bound to own that the drinking customs of my country are the real causes of our more serious national evils.”

“Then, sir, your government ought to enact stringent laws in order to diminish the cause of those evils.”

“We are a race of free men, living in a free country, and I am afraid that no government will for some years be strong enough to battle successfully with this custom.”

“You pass laws to suppress vice; and drunkenness being one of the greatest vices of your people, and the parent of all others, I can see no reason why you should not put down this traffic by legislation.”

p. 290“Your excellency may be right in your conclusion.  The evil is a terrible blot on our civilization; were we a strictly sober race, we should be by far the grandest people on earth.”

“My own observations lead me to the same conclusion; but for the present we must put an end to the argument.  It is time for you to retire.  Your attendant awaits you.  To-morrow we shall meet again, though I am afraid only for a few minutes, as I have to pay a visit to a distant part of the empire.”

The next morning I breakfasted alone.  Though I saw during the morning several of the little people passing along the lawn in front of my window, I did not venture to speak to them, nor did any member of the race pay me a visit.

About midday the door of my room was opened, and a little gentleman walked into the hall, and, without saying a word, sat down in a vacant chair opposite the one on which I was seated.  After examining my p. 291appearance, he observed, “I presume you are the stranger who accompanied Prince Tippin to the palace last evening?”

“I am the stranger, sir.”

“I hope the attendant has shown you every courtesy, and has not been wanting in hospitality.”

“From the prince and attendant I have received every consideration; and as for the fare, sir, I might have gone further and fared worse.  I like your food much.”

“This is a very different country from yours, is it not?”

Myself.  Yes; widely different.

“I presume you find it strange to have light without a sun or moon or stars?”

Myself.  I miss the genial light of the sun; but there is a softness, a reflected beauty, in the light here which we do not possess in our diurnal luminary.

“Our light is uniform, as is our climate.  In the northern regions of your country the sun constantly shines during several months of your year, which is followed by continuous p. 292darkness or night, when the inhabitants have to reside in snow or ice-built houses.  Dreary must be the life of a people so circumstanced.  You have in your climate genial and joyous spring, when nature revives from the dead and puts on her youthful and gay apparel, when the thorn, the citron, and the apple-tree bud and blossom;—beautiful is your spring, the loveliest and most charming season of your year.  Then comes your summer, with its green meads, and fields of waving corn, and rich fruit.  No artist can paint, no language can set forth, the grandeur of your clime during autumn.  What have you afterwards?  Cold, icy, and chilling winter, with its dank and cold atmosphere; with your hills, mountains, and even your dales, covered with snow.  In winter your country seems dead, clay-like, and lifeless; sad and dreary to me is your winter scene.  In this land we have perpetual spring.  In all the months of the year the orange, the citron, and the apple-tree send forth their buds and blossoms and their ripe and rich fruit; our valleys and p. 293mountains are always green, a circumstance which to you, doubtless, appears very strange.”

Myself.  Is that really so?  Do your fields and trees and hillsides present at all times the same hue?

“Yes; the colour never alters, and nature in this region is never weary in its development, and never halts in the manifestation of her power; she goes from strength to strength, and with increased vigour as the years roll on.”

Myself.  A strange phenomenon this!  Can you account for the existence of such perennial inherent power?

“Oh yes.  Upon our mountains, valleys, and plains there perpetually descend from above constant showers of ethereal riches.  Our earth thus daily receives from heaven even more riches than she gives in flower and fruit, and grass, and vegetable matter.  Thus she daily and hourly becomes richer and more bountiful.”

Myself.  But suppose the spring, the perennial fountain, of this life-giving bounty and luxuriance, were to fail or to dry up, what p. 294would be your position then?  From whence could you then obtain your supply?

“Of such a calamity we entertain no dread.  For thousands of years this process has been going on, and through years unnumbered it will be continued.  In your world there is a gradual decay; nature there is exhausting herself.  For the present you have enough and to spare; but how will it be, what will your people do, when the virgin soil of the world on the other side of the Atlantic becomes exhausted?  That time must come; what will your people do then?”

Myself.  Before that day arrives humanity will become etherealized, spirit-like, and super-mundane.  As a race, sir, we are not destined to continue the sordid, cloddy, and vulgar eating people we now are.  Oh, no; the earthly tabernacle is to be put off, and we shall live on angels’ food.

“Your race then, sir, has the hope and prospect of dwelling in a sphere beyond your present world?”

Myself.  Most assuredly.

p. 295“Who is to be the king of that world?  Who the ruler?”

Myself.  The king will be the great Unseen and Eternal, the self-existent and self-created Being who rules heaven’s armies and earth’s inhabitants.

“This is the Being, is it not, whom your nation worship and adore?”

Myself.  Yes; and we are to live with Him for ever, and enjoy His fellowship.  And don’t you believe in Him too?

“Alas! no; I wish we did.  When I consider how beautiful our clime and country are,—our friendship, associations, consciousness, friends, relations,—I often shudder at the thought of annihilation.  Sometimes I am terribly oppressed with the thought of ceasing to be, and the more thoughtful of my race hold similar opinions and feelings.”

Myself.  What do you and your people worship?  Who is the object of your adoration?

“We worship truth; a thing not a person; an idea, not a reality; a form, beautiful though p. 296it be, and not a substance.  It is awful to think that the grave is to be the end of our joys, pleasures, and delights.  In the matter of worship, you are right and we are wrong; you are the wise ones, we the fools.  But you have, methinks, too much of form in your manner of worshipping your Supreme.”

Myself.  I agree with your last remark; but pray tell me how you have acquired such an intimate knowledge of our affairs.

“By frequent visits to your land, and by mixing with your people.”

Myself.  I never saw a member of your race until I was fortunate enough to meet Prince Tippin.

“Perhaps not; but I have traversed the whole of your country, as well as other countries beyond the sea.”

Myself.  Is that really so?  You certainly astonish me.

“Twice every year, in your spring time and autumn, I visit your world on affairs of state.”

Myself.  Then there dwell in other climes a kindred people, a race like your own?

p. 297“Certainly; and I have often paid them a friendly visit.”

Myself.  In what parts of the country do they live?

“In several parts.  In fair Mona’s Isle there dwell the Pobli Bach.  In East Anglia is the race of the Plantos.  In Germany, living on the banks of the Rhine, are the Pobli Wyn.  In France, Spain, Italy, and the East there are different tribes inhabiting a precisely similar country to this.  And their habits, customs, mode of life and government, are all identical with ours.”

Myself.  And do you live in peace with each other?  Do you never quarrel, and go to war, and kill each other in battle?

“Oh dear no!  We live at peace.  According to our code of morals, it is very wicked to take away or destroy life.  Of all things in our world life is the beautifullest.  We are shocked, and pained, and grieved in witnessing the contentions between the peoples of your world.  In our view it is awful to use your arts, skill, and wealth, in p. 298making instruments, and in training and paying men, to kill and destroy.  Yet you call yourselves Christians!”

Myself.  In my conscience I believe we are wrong.

“You do; do you?”

Myself.  Assuredly I do.  I believe war is wrong; is hateful to high heaven; is contrary to the principles of the gospel, which command us to love one another.  From God comes life.  He sustains it.  He only has a right to take it away.  In man we see His image.  Of one blood He has made us all.  Although we are brothers, yet we act towards each other as if we were the children of the evil one.  But a time will come when strife and contention shall cease, when there shall exist universal harmony, a harmony founded on the law of Christ, which is the law of love.

“I am surprised at your confession.  The opinion you hold on this question is directly contrary to that held by your teachers.  Why, your ministers preach the doctrine that war is in harmony with your faith.  Is not that so?”

p. 299Myself.  I must own that that is so.  Still I believe them to be in error, and hope they will discover their error before it is too late.  I am afraid that a great deal of the scepticism of the times is principally owing to the want of harmony between the truth and the profession of it.  As a race we don’t practically live out the precepts of our faith.  Hence the reason why men of the world scorn religious men, and you know contempt usually ends in disbelief.

“If we have not the light you have, still we are a purer and a more virtuous people than yours.  We are sober and temperate, but your race is not.  We live in peace, never engage in war, but you kill each other with the sword and the bow.  Then as our climate is so superior to yours, why not stay with us for ever?”

Myself.  I could not live without seeing my father and mother; without visiting the upper world in order to bask occasionally on the sylvan banks of Tawe’s crystal waters; to gaze on the blue heavens, with their twinkling p. 300stars; to wander about the green meads, and listen to the rich melody of the winged songsters of the grove and primeval forest; but I should like to visit you now and then.  Before I return I am anxious to see and have converse with your king, the rather that, as the prince informed me, he is a wise and virtuous ruler.

“I rejoice that the prince has spoken so well of his master.  I am the king, and I thank you for speaking so freely of your country and its people.  Whenever you choose to pay us a visit, be assured you shall be heartily welcome.”

Myself.  May it please your majesty, your majesty has treated me as if I were a prince instead of a poor fisherman’s son.  Your majesty’s kindness and hospitality I shall ever remember with gratitude.  I accept your invitation, and I will certainly pay another visit to your beautiful country.

The King.  At all times you shall be heartily received.

Myself.  Thanks; a thousand thanks.  Were p. 301I not a Welshman, I would dwell in your beautiful land.

The King.  You have spoken handsomely of my dominions.  But here comes the prince; he shall conduct you to the sylvan banks of your beautiful river, a river you so much love.

Before setting out on my homeward journey, I briefly inspected the royal carriage.  I now discovered, what had previously escaped my notice, that underneath, and attached to the side of the carriage, were inflated skins filled with natural gas.  These gave a buoyancy to the machine.  Indeed, it was only by the use of strong ropes made of grass that it was kept on the earth.  On stepping into the carriage, these ropes were unhooked; it then began to ascend, and on reaching an altitude of forty yards we got into what the prince called node currents, which carried us along at the rate of 300 miles an hour.  We soon reached the public buildings referred to in a previous part of my story, and from thence he conducted me through the p. 302subterranean passage until we reached fair Tawe’s shore.

I urged the prince to accompany me to my parents’ cottage, which he declined.  He said that he had a special engagement with the fairies of East Anglia—having arranged to spend the night with them at their annual dance on the verdant fields below Derwent Fawr.  I subsequently learnt, that Prince Tippin was engaged to a princess of the above tribe, of the name of Titania; and that they frequently met on Derwent’s green fields “to dance the nights to the whistling wind.”

On entering my home I found my parents mourning for me as one who was dead.  At first they would not believe me to be their son, but thought it was their son’s spirit which had come to visit them.  I soon convinced them of being still in the flesh,—that I was no ghost, no spirit.  I had then to give them a history of my travels, to tell them of the strange sights I had seen, the singular people I had met, the character of the kingdom I had visited; but on my telling them of the p. 303gold and precious stones with which the land abounded, my mother upbraided me for coming away without a large lump of gold.  I told her that I did not covet other people’s property, and that I should have acted extremely wrong had I taken away the gold of a people from whom I had received so much kindness.

I remained at home for several weeks, and occasionally went to school.  I found my old enemy as cruel as ever, and I came to the conclusion that on the very first opportunity I would return to the fairy kingdom beneath the bay.

On wandering along the strand one fine morning, I was hailed by a voice I could never forget.  The prince informed me that having just returned from visiting his fair Titania, he was about to return to Dinas Aur, and urged me to return with him.  I readily yielded to his wishes, and sending a message to my parents where I had gone, we started off, and returned by means of the aërial carriage.

As I anticipated, my return to Dinas Aur, was hailed with extreme delight by the few p. 304persons I had come in contact with on my previous visit.  His majesty the king gave me a hearty welcome, and expressed a hope that I would continue to sojourn in his dominions at least for a season.  I expressed my gratitude to his majesty for his extreme kindness, and informed him that as my parents were acquainted with the place of my abode, I was the less anxious to return home than if that knowledge was not in their possession.

The king replied, that I had shown, by sending the message I had, that I was a dutiful son, fond of my mother and father, that I had shown I did not want to give them a moment’s uneasiness and pain.  His majesty then dismissed me, and placed me under the special protection of his chancellor, Prince Tippin.  This arrangement afforded me inexpressible satisfaction and delight, as on all occasions I had received from him every consideration and courtesy.

In my subsequent intercourse with the prince, I found him to be a man without prejudice, wholly free from bigotry, and in p. 305all circumstances never showing the least indication of passion.  He loved purity and goodness wherever he found those virtues.  He abominated cant, and loathed low tricks which no one who wished to be regarded as honourable would resort to in order to gain a special end.  In his own beautiful language, which I soon learned, he would use a string of adjectives to characterize that class of men, who are mean, selfish, unprincipled; men who have no claim to be admitted into the society of pure and noble and unselfish individuals.  “Look,” he said one day to me, “at your public men, from the highest to the lowest; they are influenced by the love of power and fame, and you find that when a particular end is to be secured they are indifferent as to the means to be employed.  In appointing persons to fill important posts, the claims of your best men are wholly ignored.  You sadly want men at the head of your affairs who are just, magnanimous, and patriotic, men who are simply ambitious to secure the welfare and weal of the people.”

Myself.  I must own, your excellency, that p. 306there is too much truth in your strictures and censures.  But we are improving, and shall ultimately become a pure and perfect race.  Are there no persons of the class you have described in your country?  Is your race perfectly free from selfishness and faction?

“Certainly; we are all equal.  As citizens and subjects we occupy the same position.  Our best men occupy all posts in the civil government of the country.  Here again, all people readily obey the law: delinquents are banished the kingdom.”

Myself.  Have you not frequent occasion to put the law in force?

“By no means.  There is only one case on record for one hundred years in which the law has been rigorously carried out.”

Myself.  You must be a law-observing people.  I wish from my heart that our race were as pure as yours.

“They would be were your rulers as wise as ours.”

Myself.  Then you think that our leading men are inferior to yours?

p. 307“Think!  I know they are.  The history of your country proves this.  But we must drop the subject now.  I have an engagement with my royal master at this hour, and I must hasten to the council chamber, for I fear his majesty has already gone there.”

After supper, and just as I was about to retire to my chamber, I received a visit from the Princess Mervyna and her two little sisters.  They were attended by their maid, who, though she was smaller in stature than her mistress, was evidently many years her senior.  The Princess Mervyna introduced herself, and said that she had come to command me to join them at their sports the next day.  I expressed regret to the princess at being unable to comply with her wish, having previously arranged to accompany the chancellor to a distant part of the kingdom.  I told her that I should regard it as a high honour to join them at their games the day after.  She acquiesced in this, though she was evidently a little vexed as well as disappointed with the arrangement.  However, she gave me a p. 308gracious bow, and on retiring, said, “Don’t forget your promise.”  I again assured her I would not.

It was nearly noon before Prince Tippin and I started off from the city on the following day.  We had the same carriage as the one we had used on previous occasions, and we proceeded at an equally rapid pace.

After a flight of 140 miles, we descended to the earth on the top of a high mountain, which in their language was called Wyddfa, or Conspicuous, from which position we had a magnificent prospect of the country.  In the distance we beheld seas like glass, on which apparently were myriads of little people, some of whom were engaged in skating, others in bowling balls along the ice, others were playing cricket, while not a few were dancing to the music of the wind.  We observed a great number of the little folks playing with golden balls, which they propelled along the ice by means of a crook.

Though the players went along the ice at a fearful pace, yet I did not observe a single person fall.

p. 309Between us and the players there was a beautiful undulating country, which abounded with streamlets and sylvan dells, and the peculiar soft light of the region brought out the deep green of the foliage to a degree I had not previously beheld.  The scene was exquisitely lovely, so rich in tint and colour as to leave an indelible impression upon the mind.  Indeed and in truth this was a fairyland, an enchanted ground, though to my vision it was real, palpable, and actual.  I became rooted to the spot, for never had I beheld a scene so full of beauty.  I was awakened from my reverie by the familiar voice of the prince, who called out, “Elidorus!  Elidorus! our time is up; we must haste over other mountains and valleys, over streamlets and rivers, for we have a long distance yet to go, and but a short time to travel it in.”

On taking our seat in the aërial carriage, the prince informed me that we should not stop again until arriving at our journey’s end, and that on passing a rocky headland we could p. 310see in the distance, we should have a capital view of the city of the plain.  When we passed the place alluded to, the city appeared in sight, but the houses and palaces were buried in the rich green foliage of trees, which grew in every street.  As we were proceeding at a fearful pace, we had only a glance at the city as we passed over it.

On arriving at our destination, we were conducted by a little gentleman clad in rich apparel to the Hall of Brotherhood, which we found was crowded with the principal inhabitants of the city.  The prince was conducted to the chair of honour—a kind of throne, and he motioned me to occupy the vacant seat on his right hand.  Presently the prince asked the governor of the city if peace, good-will, and concord reigned there?

“Tranquillity and brotherly love still continue,” replied the governor.

“Ever so live,” said the prince, “for peace is one of the cardinal virtues of all good citizens.  I wish to know, sir governor, p. 311if your city is free from sickness, disease, and fevers; and if not, why not?”

“The bloom of health, your excellency,” replied the governor, “is on the cheeks of all.  And why?  Our people drink only the pure waters of the crystal fountain.  They inhale the constant current of vital air, which flows here like a tidal wave, and it imparts life, energy, power, and joy to all.”

The governor then retired and left the hall.  When the door was closed, the prince asked the citizens if they had any charge to make or any complaint to bring against the governor.  They all rejoined that they had not any complaint, but that, on the contrary, his conduct met with the hearty approval of all.  Presently the council came to an end, and soon afterwards we returned home.

On the following morning I was awakened by a gentle knock at my chamber door.  Presently the door was opened, whereupon my waiting attendant walked in.  He informed me that the Princess Mervyna had p. 312already called, and that she and the royal party were ready to proceed to their place of rendezvous, having arranged to have a grand day in honour of my visit.  I felt very much annoyed at having overslept myself, and still more vexed at keeping the little lady and her friends waiting me.  I only took a few minutes to dress, and having taken a basin of warm milk, proceeded in search of the royal party, who had already taken their seats in the king’s carriage.  The princess and her little brother and sisters gave me a cordial greeting.  I soon found that we had left the earth and were travelling due south of my previous day’s voyage, and before I fully realized my position we had descended on the identical sea of ice where I had seen the games being carried on on the preceding morning.

On leaving the carriage the party broke up into sections, some joining parties who had already arrived from other cities of the kingdom; others joining other parties who appeared of a p. 313different race from the natives.  The princess acted as my cicerone during the day, and she laughed heartily on seeing me now and then unable to retain my balance on the slippery ice.  Had it not been for her presence of mind, I certainly should have fallen on several occasions.  Towards the evening I joined in the games, though I found myself but an indifferent player.  We wound up the day’s fête by a dance on the ice to the music of the harp.  Never shall I forget the scenes of that day.  The hopping and skipping, the dancing and romping of the little people, who tried to excel each other in mirth and fun: the scene produced an impression on my mind which the iron hand of time will never deface or remove.  On our return to the palace, we were all ushered into the banqueting hall, where a grand feast awaited us.  After dinner, Mervyna related to the king, her father, the principal incidents of the day; and the good monarch was highly amused at her stories of my difficulties and mishaps.  When the banquet was over I retired to my apartment, where I was soon joined by Prince Tippin.

* * * * *

p. 314[Here there is a break in the narrative owing to the loss of several folios of the original manuscript.  From the contents of the remaining portion, we infer that the missing pages contained an account of several other visits paid to the people of the fairy kingdom, and the incidents of the respective journeys.  We learn, too, that the Princess Mervyna became greatly attached to our hero, but that an estrangement subsequently took place between them.  But the remaining narrative contains no record of the cause which led to the estrangement.  The following is the concluding portion of the history.]

* * * * *

Ah, me! ah, me! what a strange race and people is that who inhabit the fairy kingdom.  They live in a beautiful country, speak a language which is full of poetry, they are a virtuous and truth-loving race.  Moreover, their land abounds with treasures; gems, gold, and precious stones are there.  Oh, what a noble and loving spirit is that of the dear princess, loving and lovable is she.  To be with her, was like a p. 315heaven upon earth.  I loved her as I never loved human being.  To me she was more precious than all the world.  In my various visits the tie between us became dearer and dearer.  Had it not been for — I’ll not mention his name, I should be longingly looking forward to another tender embrace.  But the tie is now broken—I did not mean to take the gold.  Justly have I been punished.  Had I not done this, had I refused to listen to the suggestive temptations of my mother,—the door would not have been closed.  It was I who did the deed, and I repent in dust and ashes.  What I have suffered on account of this, no tongue can tell, nor can language set forth.  But my deepest grief arises from the thought that I shall never again embrace the dear M—, the object of my heart’s fondest affection.

p. 319CEFN-Y-BEDD;

Frequent is heard the voice of woe,
Frequent the tears of sorrow flow;
Such sounds as erst, in Camlan heard,
Roused to wrath old Arthur’s bard;
Cambria’s warrior we deplore;
Our Llewelyn is no more.
Who like Llewelyn now remains,
To shield from wrong his native plains?
My soul with piercing grief is filled;
My vital blood with horror chilled:
Nature herself is changed, and lo!
Now all things sympathize below.
Hark! how the howling wind and rain,
In loud symphony complain!
Hark! how the consecrated oaks,
Unconscious of the woodman’s strokes,
With thundering crash proclaim he’s gone;
Fall in each others’ arms and groan!
Hark! how the sullen tempests roar!
See! how the white waves lash the shore!
See! how eclipsed the sun appears!
See! how the stars fall from their spheres!
Each awful Heaven-sent prodigy
Ye sons of infidelity,
Believe and tremble! Guilty land,
Lo, thy destruction is at hand!
p. 320Thou great Creator of the world,
Why are not thy red lightnings hurled?
Will not the sea, at Thy command,
Swallow up this guilty land?
Why are we left to mourn in vain
The guardian of our country slain?
No place, no refuge for us left,
Of homes, of liberty bereft;
Where shall we flee, to whom complain,
Since our dear Llewelyn’s slain?

Translated from a Welsh poem.

It was a calm and balmy evening in the month of July, 18—, when all nature appeared hushed in still quietude and death-like repose, when not a zephyr breeze, causing the leaves of the trees to murmur or wave, was felt: such was the character of the lovely and sunny evening on which I left the beautiful valley in which the little village of Llanwrtyd nestles among the hills, for the purpose of paying a special visit to Cefn-y-Bedd, the spot to which the finger of tradition points as the resting-place, the sacred ground, the hallowed earth in which were deposited—amid the universal wail and lamentation of the Cambrian people, when widows, fathers, brothers and sisters, heroes not a few, men who never dreaded danger, and who p. 321were always foremost in battle—strong, fearless, and valiant warriors, wept and sorrowed, and refused to be comforted because their Prince, their champion, and their idol was not.  It was at Cefn-y-Bedd, which is now a respectable farm homestead, where no monument of any kind marks the spot, that the mortal remains of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the last reigning sovereign of Wales, were interred.  If no Parian marble marks the ground beneath whose sacred sod lies the dust of the dear departed, his name still survives, his virtues still live, his memory is still fondly cherished by hundreds and thousands of his descendants; and though nearly six centuries have come and gone since the fall of our great captain, prince, and patriot, he still speaks to the people and the nation.  Yes; his name is still dear to Cambria’s sons and daughters.  His memory is even now, after the lapse of so many years, fresh and green.  If the poor flesh, which contained one of the purest and manliest souls that ever dwelt in a tabernacle of clay, has long, long ago crumbled into dust, the man, the hero, and the patriot survive, and will live p. 322in the annals of his country, and be an idol in the heart of his descending race until time shall be no more.

I have remarked that the above visit was a “special visit.”  A few days previous I had passed Cefn-y-Bedd, on my way to the little border town of Builth, but in passing by the sacred shrine of our illustrious ancestor, I knew not that I was on hallowed ground.  A lady companion called my attention to an admirable husbandry arrangement of the homestead, the like of which I had not previously seen in Breconshire.  The observation of my companion and the scene around led me into a train of thought relating to bygone years, to the deeds of old, the revolution of kingdoms, the decline and fall of empires, and the changes which are daily taking place in families, in governments, and in the homes of both rich and poor.  I said to myself, every house, every cottage, every mountain and valley has a history peculiar to itself—a history full of interest, replete with romantic doings and sayings far more wonderful,—embodying events and circumstances of p. 323more profound interest and of deeper and far more pathetic story—than is often found in the works of fiction.  Who can tell, for I am sure I cannot, but that, perhaps, that house, with its farm-yard and out-buildings, its garden and flowers, possesses a history peculiar to itself? and it may be that long, long ago heroes and mighty men of valour took shelter here from the fury of the tempest or from the burning sun of mid-day July heat, in their march from one battle-field to another.  But why travel to the land of shadows?  Why draw ideal pictures of events that are past, of heroes, warriors, and statesmen, of battles, conquests, and defeats?  The dead cannot be called to life.  The past cannot be revived.  The work done cannot be undone.  The past can never be recalled.  Well, if these things are among the impossibilities of life, there is one thing at any rate which I can do.  I can drop a tear on the grave which contains the hallowed dust.  I can recall the memories of the dear departed; I can paint and set forth their virtues, can photograph their manliness and bravery, can sketch and limn p. 324their life and deeds; so that this and succeeding generations may learn to live more wisely, be more true, more faithful to the dearest interests of their country, especially with reference to those measures which lie at the basis of national progress and the comfort and weal of the people.

The situation of Cefn-y-Bedd is exquisitely beautiful, and the scenery is richly diversified.  From it one beholds a wide expanse of country, with varied and magnificent views, which are finely alternated with luxuriant fertile meadows, groves of thriving timber, and flourishing plantations.  In the distance we have views of the rocky hills of Llanelwedd, at whose base flows the poetic and majestic Wye, the beautifullest of rivers.  To the south-east is the far-famed Eppynt Forest, and down through a luxuriant sylvan dell runs the meandering Irvon.  From this sacred spot one beholds at a glance scenery in which are combined the bold and soft, the sterile and woody, bare and rocky hills and verdant glades.  It is a scene on which the eye delights to dwell.  In the far distance the bald p. 325rocks of Aberedw appear in view.  It was among those rocks that Llewelyn encamped before his departure for Builth.  Little did he fancy when he left that stronghold on the cold winter’s morning that his life was so near its close.  That he was surrounded by enemies, he was well aware.  That the armies of King Edward were in the immediate vicinity of his camp he was fully cognizant of.  His spies had brought him information of the several posts occupied by the English, and of his being in imminent danger of an attack from various quarters of the combined hosts.  Aberedw, though admirably formed by nature for resisting an attack, when directed from the Wye banks, was yet wholly untenable in the face of the terrible odds with which he had now to cope—a combined army moving from various military posts.  Seeing his danger, the Cambrian prince resolved to break up his camp, and march along the sylvan Wye to Builth.  Crossing the bridge, he moved on in a southwesterly direction to Pont Orewyn, where the Prince, unarmed, received the deadly spear.  p. 326He was killed on the 10th of December, 1282.

Having introduced to the notice of my readers the hero of my story—the man whom Heaven, in its wisdom, specially raised up to meet the demands of the most trying emergency which had befallen a great and an heroic people—the man who, when placed at the head of affairs, found his country prostrate, the national treasury empty, and the people dispirited by reason of sad reverses—I shall proceed now to sketch the career of the man; to set forth his virtues; to paint, but with no exaggerated colouring, his character as a prince, as a ruler, as a military commander, and as a friend; and shall show, what history clearly proves, that he inspired his countrymen with an amount of confidence and trust which no previous sovereign had been able to infuse into them; that the veneration with which his name was so universally held was traceable to virtues in his public acts and private life; further, that had it not been for the treason of the faithless few, Llewelyn would have transmitted the sovereignty of Wales to his posterity.  p. 327He died, not on the field of battle, but alone and unarmed was he when the fatal blow was struck.  By-and-by I shall show that he had done his work, and for him to die was gain.

On the right bank of the sylvan Wheeler,—a small crystal stream which flows through the luxuriant and richly wooded vale of Caerwys,—there stands the modern mansion of Maesmynen.  In a meadow near the present hall there was, in the thirteenth century, an ancient palace, which from time immemorial had been one of the royal residences of the Cambrian Princes.  Beautiful was the situation of this ancient mansion.  All that the eye loves to rest on could be seen from the elevated spot on which it stood.  This palace was the favourite residence of the unfortunate Prince Llewelyn.  Here he spent his boyhood.  Here he principally lived until his country called him to occupy a more conspicuous and more prominent position.  In the neighbouring woods of Yseiefiog, Caerwys, Trev-Edwyn, and Bodfari, he and his trusty friends were accustomed to follow the chase.  Indeed, he lived here among p. 328friends and dependents, for the circumjacent cantrevs of Rhos, Dyffryn Clwyd, Rhyfoniog, and Englefield—which cantrevs included the country between Conway and Chester—were his own property and possessions.  About midway between the two extreme points was the royal palace of Maesmynen.  Here he breathed the pure air of heaven.  Here he was free from the turmoil of life’s cares and life’s battles.  Here he felt but little anxiety in connection with the terrible war then being carried on between his countrymen, headed by Llewelyn the Great, and, subsequent to the death, in 1240, of that illustrious monarch, by his son and successor, Prince Davydd; because the Prince of Maesmynen felt that the right men were at the head of affairs, and that Heaven would defend the cause of the just.  Though Llewelyn, the last prince, was not anxious as to the result of the struggle, yet that he was not an indifferent spectator of the scene, and its consequences to the nation, is evident from the annals of those momentous times.  Why then did he keep p. 329aloof from the struggle?  Why did he remain inactive?  Why did he continue to live a life of ease and pleasure, when duty called him to the front?  The reason is apparent when we consider the then existing relation between members of the royal house.  His father had been cruelly treated, and had been made a prisoner by his own brother Davydd; and when liberated, through the intervention of mutual friends, he simply exchanged the castle of Criccaeth for the Tower of London.  In that stronghold he was securely guarded by King Henry’s soldiers.  Some of his noble compatriots, illustrious Cambrian chieftains, successfully effected his release from the Tower, but Prince Gruffydd, the father of our hero, in an endeavour to accomplish his own liberation, fell from a great height and was killed on the spot.  It appears that that prince had made a cord with the linen of his bed and table, and when he had descended about midway between the window and the ground, the cord broke, and the unhappy prince was precipitated into the Tower ditch, and was killed.  p. 330This sad event took place in the year 1244.  During the two following years, King Davydd, being wholly free from anxiety on account of his brother’s superior claim to the throne, which his death had annulled, pursued a vigorous policy, displaying traits of character and versatility of genius of the highest order.  He was brave as a lion, and was ever foremost in the struggle; thus he secured the confidence of his friends, the admiration of his followers, the love of his soldiers, and the dread of his enemies.  His reign, however, was but of brief duration.  In 1216 he died at Aber Palace.  Though this prince was hated by many during his reign, his death was generally lamented.

When the solemn obsequies connected with the funeral of the deceased prince were over, the Cambrian barons and chieftains met in a national congress, and unanimously elected Prince Llewelyn-ap-Gruffydd and his brother Owen as joint sovereigns of Wales.  The decision of the barons was hailed with the liveliest satisfaction by the Cambrian people.  The reason of the existence of this feeling in p. 331favour of the two princes is obvious.  Their father had been the idol of the Welsh.  The people in both North and South Wales had felt that he had been cruelly treated by his brother, that he had been unjustly deprived of his inheritance, that his birthright had been taken from him by unfair means (for he was the lawful successor to Llewelyn the Great, the heir-apparent to the throne on his decease), and hence that the crown belonged to him by seniority.  The people now rejoiced that the sons of the boy hero who in his youth had made King Henry’s army feel his power, were about to be placed in possession of their lawful inheritance as rulers and sovereigns of the Cambrian nation.  In the following pages I shall place before the reader facts which show the wisdom of the choice which the national congress made.

But I have no intention, indeed it is wholly foreign to my present purpose, to write a life of Llewelyn, that is, a consecutive narrative of his deeds and acts, and his grand military achievements.  In 1856 I compiled a biography p. 332of my hero, but it still remains in manuscript.  Briefly stated, my present purpose is to paint a likeness of the last prince of the Cymru in three different aspects, that is, as a military commander and tactician, as a Cambrian patriot, and as a citizen and friend.  Regarded in these several aspects, I shall, from reliable data, make it perfectly clear that the prince was as just as he was generous; that he commanded the respect, the love, the affection and the admiration of all who came in contact with him; that moreover, by his deeds of prowess, by the manifestation of great skill and eminent military tactics, by the rapidity with which he moved his army from one part of the battle-field to another, from one point of attack to another place which he regarded as vulnerable, he gained a title to be regarded as one of the greatest generals of those eventful times.  He successfully resisted, and more than once conquered, the bravest army then existing in Europe.

Immediately after the Welsh princes ascended the throne of their ancestors, King Henry of p. 333England, at the head of a powerful army, invaded North Wales.  For this attack the Welsh princes were wholly unprepared; and rather than risk an engagement with such terrible odds against them, they prudently retreated before the enemy, retiring to the mountain districts, from which the English king failed to dislodge them.  Subsequently, but before Henry returned to England, a treaty of amity and peace was concluded between the Cambrian and Saxon monarchs.  The conditions of this treaty were, first, that Llewelyn was to give up possession for ever of his patrimony, the four cantrevs; secondly, that he was to serve in Wales, or in the Marches, with one thousand foot and twenty-four horse,—this at his own expense; thirdly, that all the Welsh barons were to do homage to the English monarch.  That the conditions of this treaty were most humiliating, we must at once admit; but under the circumstances there can be no doubt that Llewelyn acted wisely in acceding to them, for had he defied the enemy then, the struggle would have proved a hopeless one.  The peace p. 334which he by the treaty secured, lasted for a period of nine years, when Llewelyn became (1254) the sole sovereign of Wales.  From that time until his untimely end, he reigned alone: nobly and magnanimously did he wear the crown.  His was a life without a stain of dishonour, as pure and bright as the crystal fountain; and he has left a name which will never die.  Magnanimous was he, generous and noble was he, chivalrous and princely in mien and heart was he: hence the reason why he was almost worshipped by all who came within the sacred circle of his influence; and had he had a moiety of the power possessed by the English monarchs, the issue of the struggle would have been widely different.  However, an all-wise Providence willed it otherwise, and it is our duty to bow our heads without a murmur, for He does all things in infinite love and wisdom.

After securing such important concessions from Llewelyn, the English king, if be had been wise, would have pursued a mild and conciliatory policy towards the nobles and barons p. 335of the Welsh nation: unfortunately for his reputation and statesmanship, good-will towards the conquered formed no part of the imperial virtues.  He ruled with a rod of iron, the olive-branch forming no part of the device upon the king’s banner.  Thus the fruit of his policy soon became apparent.  It would be expecting more than human nature to suppose that the Cambrian chieftains and barons would remain peaceful and quiet on seeing their estates seized by lords Marchers.  Moreover, the greatest oppression was practised by minions of King Henry, and for the most trivial offences the proud barons of Wales were subjected to cruel and extreme punishment.  As was natural, his cruelties and his policy of confiscation produced everywhere disaffection, and ultimately a spirit of implacable hate was engendered.  The people, to a man, were in the end ready to rise in order to throw off the bitter yoke.  They had their leader, the brave prince Llewelyn; but the fruit was not yet ripe.  But while he urged delay, he did not neglect preparation for the conflict, for he knew that the day of conflict p. 336must come.  When the hour arrived, Llewelyn took the field, and his achievements far surpassed the most sanguine expectations of both himself and his brave followers.  In the space of a single week he recovered from the enemy the possessions they had acquired by war in North Wales and Cardiganshire.  Wherever he and his little army went, the enemy was compelled to yield, and to retire from the battlefield as defeated hosts.

Soon after these successes, Llewelyn led a large army into South Wales.  Before Dynevor Castle, near Llandilo, he encountered the English forces, which were commanded by Rhys Vychan.  The battle was conducted with great skill and bravery on both sides; but at last the king’s army was thoroughly beaten and retired from the field.  Immediately after this splendid victory, the Cambrian prince returned in triumph to the North, where his subjects received him with universal acclamation and heart-felt gratitude.  But his work now had only just commenced.  On his arrival at Aber, he found awaiting him a deputation from the p. 337four cantrevs,—tenants and chiefs residing on lands within his patrimony,—who had come to lay before their prince and friend the terrible wrongs they had to endure from the exactions of Geoffrey de Langley, who farmed the crown lands under Prince Edward of England.  “Llewelyn, to avenge their injuries, crossed the frontier, carrying fire and sword to the very gates of Chester, from the walls of which, Edward himself is said to have been a galled witness of the havoc.”  On this defeat Edward sought his father’s aid, but he sought it in vain: he then applied to his uncle, the king of the Romans, for assistance; but the forces he was thereby able to bring to the field were found either too cowardly or too weak to attack the Welsh.  “The Cambrian prince with his army then took a détour, they entered the territory of Gruffydd ab Madog, lord of Dinas Brân, a chief who had formed a hostile league against Llewelyn and his native land,” upon whom he took ample revenge.  On returning, he suddenly met the English army, which was commanded by Prince Edward in person.  A terrible battle p. 338was fought between the Welsh and English armies; but at every point of the line Llewelyn’s troops were victorious.  In this conflict, Edward’s forces were badly beaten, a small remnant only escaping with their life.  After a brief repose, Llewelyn renewed his operations against the domains of Edward, and these he carried on without meeting with any serious opposition; but Llewelyn did not love war: in the hour of his most splendid triumphs he was anxious for peace.  Immediately after his recent grand achievements, he wrote to King Henry offering, “if a peace were concluded, and the Welsh restored to their ancient laws, to give a sum of money to Henry, and to acknowledge his sovereignty.”  Considering his late successes, we are surprised at his thus humbling himself to his foe.  Doubtless he made this offer because of the deep solicitude he felt for the lives and property of his people.  This generous offer was rejected with scorn by Henry, whereupon hostilities were recommenced with great and increased vigour by both of the contending parties.

p. 339In reviewing thus far the life and character of the Cambrian prince, we have seen that his decision was always followed by prompt and energetic action.  Whenever he resolved to do a special thing or to gain a certain point, he at once set about its accomplishment.  To this characteristic of the man is traceable the secret of some of his mightiest achievements.  In the present case Llewelyn gained important victories before the English monarch could collect his forces and approach his—Llewelyn’s—dominions.  During the lull the prince moved his army against the Lord of Powys, whom he easily defeated.  The tidings of this victory having been carried to Gruffydd ab Madog, that chief felt that it would be madness on his part to resist the Cambrian prince, and he therefore sought and obtained a treaty of peace.  Llewelyn then marched against the Earl of Gloucester, whom he defeated in a general battle.  These successes and achievements roused the Welsh to the highest pitch of enthusiasm.  Accordingly we find that the Cambrian barons and chiefs p. 340entered into a solemn league to defend till death the independence and freedom of their country.  This confederacy was formed in the year 1258.  On its being ratified the Cambrian prince commenced to march southward, and gained easy victories over the forces that were thrown forward to impede his progress.  In a subsequent campaign in South Wales he took the castle of Maelienydd, in Radnorshire.  Afterwards he invaded the English borders on the west side of Shropshire and Cheshire, where he gained important advantages over the lords Marchers.  From thence he proceeded to the castles of Diserdd and Diganwy, which he besieged and destroyed.  On being apprised of these fresh disasters, Prince Edward marched against Llewelyn, who retired to, and took refuge among, the “mountain bulwarks” of Carnarvonshire.  As Edward dared not follow the Welsh prince there, he returned to England, “if not disgraced, at least without any particular honour.”

I pass over, as forming no part of my design, the insurrection of De Montford, that p. 341nobleman’s success against Sir Roger Mortimer, and his triumph over Prince Edward, whom he kept a prisoner in Hereford Castle.  Further, I shall content myself with a passing reference to the invasion of Glamorganshire by Llewelyn, the important treaty of Montgomery in 1267 between Henry and Llewelyn, and the death of the former five years afterwards.

When Edward ascended the throne, be called upon Llewelyn to do homage at his coronation.  The Welsh prince replied that he was prepared to comply with the mandate, provided some English noblemen of distinction were sent to the Principality as hostages for his security.  The negotiations respecting the question of homage, and the correspondence relating to the imprisonment of Eleanor de Montford, Llewelyn’s betrothed, were carried on until the summer of 1277, when Edward, at the head of a numerous body of vassals, invaded North Wales.  Llewelyn’s army being small, he dared not risk a general battle, so he retired and took refuge among the inaccessible defences of Snowdon—a safe asylum, p. 342a secure retreat on all occasions when the commissariat department of the army was attended to.  Anglesey being now in the hands of the English, and there existing disaffection among some of the South Wales chieftains, the prince found himself so hemmed in that supplies could not be obtained.  “Urged by the sufferings of his famishing soldiers, and without any chance of relief,” and his betrothed still being a prisoner, Llewelyn was compelled to sue for peace; but King Edward refused to entertain any proposal short of an unconditional surrender.  Under the treaty which was then agreed to, it was stipulated that Llewelyn was to do homage in London annually, to deliver up all prisoners, to restore all forfeited lands, to resign the feudal supremacy over his barons; and all the Welsh chieftains, excepting the five barons of Snowdon, were to hold their lands direct from Edward.  The conditions of this treaty were strictly observed by the Welsh prince for a period of about four years.  To his subjects those were years of suffering.  p. 343The administration was corrupt; gross frauds were practised on the Welsh; while oppression, tyranny, and cruelties characterized the proceedings of the representatives of the Government.  The people complained of the wrongs which they sustained, and mildly but firmly asked for a redress of their grievances; but a deaf ear was turned to all the representations which were made.  At last the yoke became intolerable; they appealed to Prince David for assistance, and that prince renounced his “unnatural allegiance to Edward,” and became reconciled to his brother Llewelyn; and the two princes and a number of powerful and influential chieftains organized a concerted movement with a view to drive the English from their land and to re-establish the freedom and independence of their country.  Their cause was good, and their object just and noble; but, ah me! they lacked the power and resources necessary to accomplish their grand and holy purpose.

Llewelyn and his brother, having matured their plan of action, at once commenced the p. 344campaign.  They jointly invested the castle of Flint, on the estuary of the Dee; and from thence they marched to and successfully attacked the castle of Rhuddlan.  The Cambrian army then moved along the coast, and were hotly pursued by Edward, who overtook the retreating forces near Conway.  Here a general battle was fought between the contending forces, in which the Welsh were victorious.  On his defeat the English king retired to Hope Dale, from which he soon recommenced operations, and re-occupied Rhuddlan without experiencing any opposition.  From Rhuddlan he “despatched a part of his army by sea to take possession of the Isle of Anglesey,” and from thence, by means of a bridge of boats, this section of the army crossed over the Menai and landed at Moel-y-Don, near Bangor.  When the reflux of the tide had broken the communication between the artificial bridge and the mainland, the Welsh army rushed from their hiding-place, and nearly the whole number of the enemy were either killed by the sword or perished in the waves.  To p. 345Edward this was an unexpected disaster.  For a moment it paralysed his operations.  He felt that he had underrated the strength and undervalued the generalship of Llewelyn, and to make up for the losses he had sustained he raised fresh levies throughout his dominions.

During the preparations which were being made by Edward for another campaign the Cambrian princes were not idle.  They arranged that the younger brother, Prince David, should be entrusted with the defence of North Wales, while Llewelyn would march against the English forces in South Wales.  In the county of Cardigan Llewelyn gained important victories against the enemy; with a small body of troops he proceeded to the vicinity of Builth, with a view to consult some chieftains of that locality; and here, unattended and alone, this great, brave, manly, heroic, and magnanimous prince fell by the hand of an assassin.  Thus perished, in the year 1282, after a reign of twenty-eight years, Llewelyn, the last native prince of the Cymry!

p. 346Having reviewed the military career of Llewelyn, I shall proceed to make two or three observations respecting his character as a ruler and citizen.  We have abundant evidence to prove that he was a profound lover of his country.  He loved her hills and dales, her mountains and valleys, her alpine heights and cwms, or dells, with all the strong passion of a warm and generous heart.  Deeper than the love of home, of wife, of kindred, of lands and possessions, was his affection for wild Wales and its people.  Of all countries in the wide world, Wales was to him the brightest and fairest, and its people the bravest and best.  For her welfare, he sacrificed all he had, all he possessed; and at last his life was immolated on his dear country’s shrine.  As a citizen, he was generous and kind.  His heart was full of human sympathy, while his spirit was one of the gentlest that ever dwelt in a tabernacle of clay.  Although he raised his country to a position of military fame which she had not occupied in previous history, yet war, in his view, had no glory.  He loved p. 347peace.  He desired to live on terms of amity and friendship with the English people and their rulers.  But alas! alas! those rulers were bent on the destruction of the independence and freedom of his country.  To prevent this, he led his army against the foe, and for a time war smiled upon him; but at last he fell, not in battle, but unarmed and alone, stricken to the earth by an assassin.

Brief, comparatively brief, was the public life of Prince Llewelyn; but grand, noble, and heroic were his deeds.  He lived for others, not for himself.  For the welfare of his country he laboured, not for personal aggrandizement.  The mainspring of his actions was the deep and intense love of Fatherland.  The great object for which he worked and fought and suffered, for which he became a public man, the leader and chief and ruler of a brave, a virtuous, an heroic people, was, to secure the independence of his country, the freedom and liberty of its people, and the blessing of permanent peace.  To the interests of the land of his birth, the home of his p. 348father’s sepulchre, he was ever true, ever faithful, ever unswerving in fidelity and loyalty.  If others proved faithless, not so this patriotic prince.  If others of his countrymen forsook the true standard of national independence, if they joined the ranks of the enemy with a view to aid in crushing the liberties of an ancient people—a race who could trace their history, without a single break in the narrative, hundreds of years before the appearance of the Divine Teacher on earth—Llewelyn felt it all the more necessary for him to be more fearless in the fray, to put on a bolder and a manlier front, to toil and to work more incessantly in the cause which he felt was founded upon justice, upon right, and equity.  For a period of thirty-six years he carried on a successful though an unequal struggle with the English monarchs Henry and Edward.  But few, very few, was the number of his soldiers compared with the hosts who made up the armies that fought under the banner of his country’s foes.  His were brave men, and they were engaged in a struggle which p. 349was dearer and more sacred to them than life itself.  They were true soldiers.  To fear they were strangers.  Deeper than the love of life, than the love of kindred, than the love of estates and possessions, was their love and affection for Fatherland.  We hardly know which to admire the more, the people or their leaders, the soldiers or their brave chiefs, the Cambrian army or their lawful prince.  They were exposed to temptation, but they yielded not to its alluring charms.  Bribes were freely offered to many a Cambrian chieftain, but these offers were made in vain.  When at last treason achieved the work which a far more powerful nation than the Welsh failed to accomplish on the battle-field, let it be proclaimed to the world, and let the fact be known to all ages to come, that the traitor was a border man, and not a man in whose veins flowed Cambrian blood.  But he accomplished his work, and Llewelyn was no more.  His death was the direst calamity that had ever befallen the Cambrian people.  Strange as it might appear, nevertheless it is an historical p. 350fact, that when Llewelyn’s compatriots found that their brave prince had fallen by the hands of an assassin, the spirit of heroism and bravery appears to have forsaken them.  Hence to the best, and to the bravest of the brave, the struggle now appeared hopeless, notwithstanding that Prince David still lived and was free.  Though that prince was as brave as his deceased brother he did not command the same amount of confidence which was reposed in the slain Llewelyn.  Thus we find, that though the struggle was continued, it lacked the boldness, energy, and high military tactics which had characterized the generalship of the martyred chief.  Hence it soon became evident to the enemy that the death-knell of Cambrian freedom and independence had sounded, and that in a few days, or at any rate in a few months at most, this ancient Principality would cease to occupy a separate and distinct place in the annals of the world.  That the people in those times should have regarded the downfall of their country, the loss of their freedom and independence, as a terrible calamity, was but p. 351natural.  In King Edward’s promises and generosity the Welsh people had no confidence.  To him and to his immediate predecessor they traced, and correctly traced, most of their troubles with the English nation.  They had desired to live in peace; war they did not invite.  They took up arms, not for conquest, not to extend their dominion, not to annex new counties to the Principality, but simply in defence of the rights and liberties of their country, which they desired to transmit and hand down to their children and their children’s children.  But Providence had, for some grand purpose and design, willed that the weaker nation should be united to the stronger and more powerful people.  In this age we behold and recognise the wisdom of His purpose.  Though a distinct race, in language, feeling, and mental and physical idiosyncrasy, yet we unitedly admit that the benefits which come to us by reason of our union with the Saxon, are neither few nor unimportant.  Happily, too, the ancient feuds between the two races are forgotten.  We now live as p. 352brethren.  The rivalry between us is no longer on the battle-field; we contend not with sword and bayonet.  No! the contest is shifted to a more noble, a more beautiful, and a grander scene, with a sublimer aim and object than ever has characterized broad fields of battle; namely, the advancement of material civilization; the triumphs of art and the conquests of science; and the social, intellectual, moral, and religious welfare of the people.  May the standard of our contention ever be towards this high ideal! then a glorious future awaits the union of the Cambrian and Saxon peoples.

If now and then we of the former race drop a tear when the shadows of our country’s martyred princes pass by, it is with no feeling of bitterness towards those into whose hands the sceptre of our land has passed.  On the contrary, while we remember with pride and gratitude the heroic struggle of the “last of our native princes,” we admit that it is infinitely better for Wales that she should be united to England under p. 353the beneficent sway of Victoria, and we have still a Prince of Wales to whom the Cambrian people are as loyal as their fathers were to Prince Llewelyn.

Note.—The historic facts embodied in the preceding sketch are taken from “Carnhuanawc’s Hanes Cymru,” “Warrington’s History of Wales,” the “Cambrian Plutarch,” and “Welsh Sketches.”



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[178]  This is a literal fact.

[260]  Mr. Eli, I fancy, obtained some of his facts from Pennant.


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