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Title: A Tour throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire
Author: Barber, J. T.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Tour throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire" ***

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MONMOUTHSHIRE***


Transcribed from the 1803 J. Nichols and Son edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                         [Picture: Tintern Abbey]



                                    A
                                   TOUR
                                THROUGHOUT
                               SOUTH WALES
                                   AND
                              MONMOUTHSHIRE.


                              COMPREHENDING

                             A GENERAL SURVEY

                                  OF THE

          PICTURESQUE SCENERY, REMAINS OF ANTIQUITY, HISTORICAL
           EVENTS, PECULIAR MANNERS, AND COMMERCIAL SITUATIONS,
            OF THAT INTERESTING PORTION OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE.

                                * * * * *

                         BY J. T. BARBER, F.S.A.

                                * * * * *

            ILLUSTRATED WITH A MAP AND TWENTY VIEWS, ENGRAVED
                       FROM DRAWINGS BY THE AUTHOR.

                      [Picture: Decorative divider]

                                _LONDON_:

             PRINTED BY J. NICHOLS AND SON, RED LION PASSAGE,
                              FLEET STREET;

                   FOR T. CADELL AND W. DAVIES, STRAND.

                                * * * * *

                                  1803.

                                * * * * *

To RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN, ESQ. M.P.

_SIR_,

_Highly admiring that transcendent genius and ability which renders you
conspicuous among the foremost characters of the age_; _nor less
venerating that manly independence which has dignified your political
career_, _it must be my regret_, _in dedicating this Work to you_, _that
it is not more suitable to the rank of merit to which it is inscribed_.

_I am_, _SIR_,
      _With great respect_,
         _Your most obedient Servant_,

                                                           _J. T. BARBER_.

_Southampton-street_, _Strand_,
   _London_, _Feb._ 15, 1803.



ADVERTISEMENT.


The intention of this Work is, to point out and describe such objects as
command general interest throughout the country.—The usual plan of Tours
only comprising a particular route, unless that precise line be retraced,
a Tourist is obliged to encumber himself with several books, to enable
him to gain all the information that he requires.  The Author has felt
this inconvenience in several excursions through Great Britain; and has
therefore selected from the best authorities an account of those few
parts which he had not an opportunity of visiting; in order that this
Work may exhibit a general survey of Southern Cambria.



CONTENTS.

                            INTRODUCTION.
                                                                  Page
General Observations—A Sketch of Welch History—Ancient               1
Buildings
                               CHAP. I.
Voyage from Bristol to Swansea—Swansea                              14
Castle—Manufactories—Welch Bathing—Ostermouth—Penrice, and
Pennarth Castles—Seat of Mr. Talbot—Arthur’s Stone, a large
Cromlech
                              CHAP. II.
Loughor—Llanelly—Pembree-hill—Kidwelly, and its Castle              31
                              CHAP. III.
Caermarthen—Female Labourers—Llanstephan Castle—A                   36
Ford—Laugharne Castle—Fine Marine Views—New Inn—Tenby
                              CHAP. IV.
Manorbeer Castle—An Adventure—A Dilemma—Carew                       48
Castle—Lawrenny—Pembroke—Its Castle—Lamphey Court—Stackpole
Court—Bosherston Meer
                               CHAP. V.
Little England beyond Wales—Milford-haven—Welch                     68
Beauties—Haverfordwest Fair—The Town, Castle, and
Priory—Picton Castle—Hubberston—Milford
                              CHAP. VI.
Journey over the Precelly Mountain to Cardigan—Extensive            81
Prospect—Cardigan—St. Dogmael’s Priory—Another Route from
Haverfordwest to Cardigan, by St. David’s—The Cathedral of
St. David’s—Grand Ruins of its Palace—A Loggan, or Rocking
Stone—Ramsay Island—Fishguard—Newport—Kilgarran Castle—Salmon
Leap—Newcastle
                              CHAP. VII.
Llanarth—Aberaeron—Llansansfried—Llanrhystid—An Enquiry into        97
a strange asserted Custom relating to the Mode of Courtship
in Wales—Llanbadarn-vawr—Aberistwyth, and its Castle
                             CHAP. VIII.
Barrier of North and South Wales—The Devil’s Bridge—Grand          110
Cataract of the Mynach—Cwm Ystwith Hills—Hafod—Ancient
Encampments—Starflour Abbey—Tregarron—Roman Antiquities at
Llandewi Brevi—Lampeter—Llansawel—Edwin’s Ford—Llandilo
                              CHAP. IX.
Charming Vale of Towey—Dinevawr Castle—Golden Grove—Grongar        128
Hill—Middleton Hall—Caregcannon Castle—Reflections at a
Ford—Glenheir Waterfall—An Accident—Pont ar Dulas—Return to
Swansea
                               CHAP. X.
Neath Abbey, Town, and Castle—The Knoll—Briton Ferry—Funereal      145
Rites—Aberavon—Margam—Abbey Ruin—Pile
                              CHAP. XI.
Ogmore Castle—Ewenny Priory—Dunraven House—St. Donatt’s            158
Castle—Llanbithian Castle—Cowbridge—Penline Castle—Coity
Castle—Llantrissent—Benighted Ramble to
Pont-y-Pridd—Water-falls
                              CHAP. XII.
Scenery of the Taffe—Stupendous Ruins of Caerphilly                172
Castle—The Leaning Tower—Fine View from Thornhill—Cardiff
Castle—Ecclesiastical Decay of Landaff—The Cathedral
                             CHAP. XIII.
Entrance of Monmouthshire—Ancient                                  185
Encampments—Castleton—Tredegar Park—Newport—Church and
Castle—Excursion to Machen Place—Picturesque View from Christ
Church—Gold Cliff—Caerleon’s Antiquities—Encampments—Lord
Herbert of Cherbury—Lantarnam—Langibby Castle
                              CHAP. XIV.
Usk—Castle and Church—Excursion to Raglan—Elegant Ruins of         208
Raglan Castle—Views from the Devaudon—Roman Antiquities at
Caerwent—Tesselated Pavement
                              CHAP. XV.
Wentwood Forest—Excursion to the Castles of Dinham; Lanvair;       227
Striguil; Pencoed; and Penhow—comprising extensive Views from
the Pencamawr, &c.—Caldecot Castle—A Tale of other Times—New
Passage—Sudbrook Encampment—and Chapel—St. Pierre—Mathern
Palace—Moinscourt
                              CHAP. XVI.
Chepstow—Fine Scenery of its Vicinage—The Castle—Church, and       246
Bridge—Piercefield—Character of the late Mr. Morris
                             CHAP. XVII.
Tintern Abbey—Iron Works—Scenery of the Wye to Monmouth—Old        265
Tintern—Brook’s Weir—Landago—Redbrook
                             CHAP. XVIII.
Monmouth—Church, Priory, and Castle—The Kymin—Wonastow             279
House—Treowen—Troy House—Trelech—Perthir—Newcastle—Screnfrith
Castle—Grossmont Castle—John of Kent
                              CHAP. XIX.
Abbey of Grace-dieu—Sir David Gam—White Castle—Abergavenny         300
Hills—The Town, Cattle, and Church
                              CHAP. XX.
Werndee—Family Pride—Lanthony Abbey—Old Castle                     312
                              CHAP. XXI.
Re-entrance of South Wales—Crickhowell—Tretower—Brecon Castle      323
and Priory—Road to Llandovery—Trecastle—Pass of
Cwm-dur—Llandovery Castle—Road from Brecon to
Hereford—Brunlyss Castle—Female Vengeance—Hay—Clifford Castle
                             CHAP. XXII.
Bualt—Prince Llewelyn—Rhayder-gowy—Caractacus’s Camp—Offa’s        335
Dyke—Knighton—Presteign—Old and New Radnor—Llandrindod Wells
                             CHAP. XXIII.
Goodrich Castle and Priory—Wilton Castle—Scenery of the Wye        347
from Ross to Monmouth—Ross—Gloucester



ERRATA. {0}


Page 66, _for_ LAMPHEY CASTLE, _read_ LAMPHEY COURT.

         68 and 80, _for_ Habberston, _read_ Hubberston.

         98, _after_ horizon, _read_ the sea.

         131, _in the note_, _for_ Druslwyn, _read_ Gruslwyn.



DIRECTIONS FOR THE PLATES.

Tintern Abbey                     to face the Title Page.
The Map                          before the Introduction.
Kidwelly Castle                           to face page 34
Llanstephan Castle                                     41
Manorbeer Castle                                       48
Carew Castle                                           61
Pembroke Castle                                        65
St. Dogmael’s Priory                                   86
Kilgarran Castle                                       93
The Devil’s Bridge                                    111
Falls of the Mynach                                   114
Dinevawr Castle                                       128
Careg-cannon Castle                                   138
Margam Abbey                                          153
Caerphilly Castle                                     174
Raglan Castle                                         213
Chepstow Castle                                       247
View from Piercefield                                 260
View on the Wye                                       277
Lanthony Abbey                                        315
Goodrich Castle                                       348

                      [Picture: Map of South Wales]



INTRODUCTION.


GENERAL OBSERVATIONS—A SKETCH OF WELCH HISTORY—ANCIENT BUILDINGS.



SECT. I.


In making the Tour of South Wales and Monmouthshire, the _Admirer_ of
_picturesque beauty_ dwells with peculiar pleasure on a tract of country
comprising the greater part of Monmouthshire, and bordering the Severn
and Bristol channel, to the western limits of Pembrokeshire.  In this
enchanting district, a succession of bold hills, clothed with wild
forests, or ornamental plantations and delightful valleys, present
themselves in constant variety: many fine estuaries and rivers,
picturesque towns, and princely ruins, also adorn the scene, whose charms
are inconceivably heightened by the contiguity of the Bristol channel,
which washes the coast; in some places receding into capacious bays; in
others, advancing into rocky promontories of the most imposing grandeur.

_The Statistical Enquirer_ finds equal subject of gratification, in the
uncommon fertility of several valleys, and the woody treasures of
numerous hills, bearing myriads of oaks, and other first-rate
timber-trees.  The mineral wealth of the country, and its convenient
coast for traffic, are likewise subjects of high consideration; and,
while the statist applauds the late rapid strides of manufactures and
commerce in this district, he may discover sources hitherto latent for
their increase.

_The Historian_ cannot fail of being interested while treading on the
ground where Britons made their latest and most vigorous efforts for
independence, against successive invaders; nor _the Antiquary_, while
traversing a country replete with Monuments of the Druidical ages;
military works of the Romans, Britons, Saxons, and Normans; and the
venerable relics of numerous religious foundations.

Beyond this stripe of country, from ten to twenty miles in width, forming
the southern extremity of Wales, and an intermixture of rich scenery
(particularly in the neighbourhood of Brecon), with prevailing dreariness
on the eastern frontier, South-Wales exhibits a tedious extent of hills
without majesty, valleys overrun with peat bogs, and unprofitable moors.
Beside the superb ruins of St. David’s, the course of the Tivy near
Cardigan, and the scenery about the Devil’s Bridge, it has little to
entice the attention of the tourist: the towns, for the most part, are
miserably poor, and travelling accommodations very uncertain; the roads,
too, are wretched beyond any thing that a mere English traveller ever
witnessed.  It is, therefore, a subject of no small gratification, that
the chief beauties of South-Wales are found in a compact route; abounding
with good towns, respectable accommodations, and very fair roads.  This
part of the country may be explored in a close carriage, though the
better mode of travelling is, certainly, on horse-back.  The pedestrian
may claim peculiar advantages in his way of getting on; but I do not
conceive, that a man enduring the fatigue of trudging day after day
through miry roads, can maintain an exhilaration of spirits congenial
with the beauties that surround him.



SECT. II.


The geographical situation and present limits of Wales are unnecessary to
be here described.  Of its history, the first certain accounts that we
collect are on the invasion of the Romans, when Wales appears to have
been divided into three principalities: the Silures, the Ordovices, and
the Dimitæ.  The Silures possessed all that tract of country bounded by
the Severn, the Tame, and the Towey; which, comprehending the counties of
Monmouth, Glamorgan, Brecknock, Radnor, Hereford, and part of Gloucester,
Worcester, and Caermarthen shires, comprised the greater part of
South-Wales.  The Dimitæ inhabited that part of South-Wales westward of
the Towey; and the Ordovices, North-Wales, including Anglesea.

The Romans having subdued _Britannia Prima_, _i.e._ the Southern part of
England, advanced to the conquest of Wales, by them denominated
_Britannia Secunda_; in this, however, they met with an unlooked-for
opposition; the inhabitants were vigorous and brave; and the country,
wildly piled together with mountains, forests, and morasses, presented an
aggregation of difficulties, that would have discouraged a people less
ardent in their enterprizes: nor did they succeed, until after a long
warfare and a severe loss.  The Silures and Dimitæ fell under the yoke in
the reign of Vespasian, when they were vanquished by _Julius Frontinus_.
The Ordovices were not finally subdued until the time of his successor,
_Agricola_, who, according to Tacitus, exterminated the whole nation.

The Romans retained possession of this country until A.D. 408, when they
withdrew their legions, and the most warlike of the British youth, for
the defence of their central dominions.  The inroads of the Scots and
Picts, which immediately followed, do not appear to have materially
affected the Welch; nor did the Saxons, though at constant war with them
for several centuries, acquire any settled dominion in the country: yet
they more than once partially overran Wales, obliging it to pay tribute;
and in the reign of Edward the confessor, Harold, at the head of a great
army, entering Wales, defeated Prince Griffith, sovereign of North-Wales,
and, establishing himself in Gwent {6} (Monmouthshire), began a Palace at
Portswit, which was, however, destroyed by Griffith before its
completion.

From the departure of the Romans, in 408, to the inroads of the
Anglo-Norman chieftains in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Wales was
divided into numerous petty sovereignties or lordships, of varying name
and extent, but tributary to an imperial Prince; though sometimes that
dignity was split into two or three branches.  These chiefs were usually
at war with each other, or with their Princes, who seldom obtained
tribute when their means of enforcing it was questionable.

The Anglo-Norman dominion in Wales was brought about in a manner wholly
different from former conquests.  William the First and his successors,
finding sufficient employment in securing their English possessions,
invited their chiefs, holding lands in the neighbourhood of Wales, to
make incursions against the Welch lords, upon their separate interests.
The Norman leaders thereupon, by creating feuds among the native powers,
siding with one or the other party, and breaking with them on convenient
opportunities, contrived to fix themselves in various parts of Wales;
whence their conquests extending, by degrees, overspread the greater part
of the country.  The lands thus obtained became the property of the
conquerors, who, under the title of lords marchers, were allowed to
exercise an uncontrolled jurisdiction within their demesnes: but power
acquired on such principles could only be retained by force; every petty
despot secured himself in a fortress, and hence arose the extraordinary
number of castles with which Wales is crowded, amounting, according to a
native author, {7} to 143.  The Welch princes still held a considerable
tract of country, frequently overthrew the intruders, and even carried
their arms into England; but in the defeat of the brave Llewelyn, by
Edward the First, Wales lost every remnant of its independence, and
became definitively united to the crown of England.

In the reign of Henry the Eighth Wales was divided into twelve shires,
and Monmouthshire was included among the English counties; the feudal
despotism of the lords-marchers was then abolished; and Wales,
participating in the equal shelter of English jurisprudence, has proved
itself as zealous in defending the common interests of the empire, as it
was formerly conspicuous in struggling for its particular freedom.



SECT. III.


Among the numerous memorials of history and antiquity which distinguish
Wales, castles and religious buildings possess the chief claim to
attention; and, as Wales is an admirable field for the study of the civil
and military architecture that prevailed in the middle ages, I shall give
a slight sketch of the progress of those arts, so far as it seems
applicable to the present purpose.

On the overthrow of the Romans by the Goths and Vandals, the arts
vanished before the scourge of war; and the standard mode of architecture
which adorned the Greek and Roman empires could no longer be executed in
its original perfection.  The general forms, indeed, were imitated, but
without an observance of symmetry: the execution was rough and clumsy;
the pillars were excessively thick, and the arches heavy; and where
ornament was attempted the performance was very uncouth.  Such was the
state of architecture (a mere corruption of the Roman) that succeeded the
devastations of the Goths, and has been called _Saxon_ and _Norman_: the
term Gothic, however, would certainly be more appropriate.

At the beginning of the twelfth century, a new style of architecture made
its appearance, distinguished by pointed arches and clustered columns
{9}.  Though at first coldly received, and but sparingly introduced among
the rounded arches and massive columns called Saxon, it soon gained an
undisputed footing.

About the latter end of the reign of Henry the Third, we find it acquire
a more ornamental and distinct character.  The pillars, which before were
rounds and encircled with slender detached shafts, were then formed in
entire reeded columns; the arched roofs also, which only exhibited the
main springers, then became intersected with numerous ramifications and
transomes.  The decorations continued to increase until toward the close
of Henry the Eighth’s reign, when the light of science again dawned over
Europe, and the relics of Greece and Rome were rightly considered as
models of genuine taste; the classic elegance of the five Orders then
appeared, intermixed with the Gothic; it soon became universal, and is
now adopted in all superior buildings throughout Europe.  Further
characteristics of style might be pointed out, and lesser variations
defined: but I do not presume to inform the antiquary; and the
distinctions already drawn will be sufficient for the cursory tourist.

_Castles_ appear of no generally chosen figure, except such were founded
by the Romans, who preferred that of an oblong square, unless there were
special reasons to the contrary.  Small castles consisted of a single
court, or ward, whose sides were usually flanked by towers.  The great
hall, chapel, and domestic apartments, built from the outer wall into the
court, occupied one or more sides.  The citadel, called also the Keep and
Dungeon, was a tower of eminent strength, wherein the Garrison made their
last stand, and where prisoners were sometimes confined: the citadel was
often detached from the walls, and built on an artificial mound encircled
with a ditch.  The barracks for the soldiers in garrison was generally a
range of building near the gatehouse, or principal entrance.  The latter
building contained apartments for the Officers of the castle, and the
portal was furnished with one, two, or three portcullisses. {11}  A wet
or dry moat surrounded the whole; and, advanced before the drawbridge
that crossed it, there was often an outwork called a barbican.  Large
castles were only a repetition of these courts upon somewhat of a larger
scale, connected with each other (Chepstow castle consists of four).  In
fortresses of the first class, an extensive embattled wall sometimes
encircled the mass of fortification already described, at some distance,
inclosing a considerable tract of ground, as at Caerphilly in
Glamorganshire. {12}  Castle walls appear in some instances built of
solid masonry; but their general construction is of grout work.  For this
purpose, two slight walls were built parallel, from six to twelve feet
asunder; the interval was then filled up with loose stones and rubbish,
and the whole cemented together with a great quantity of fluid (according
to some authors boiling) mortar: the mass soon acquired a sufficient
firmness, and in the present day it possesses the adhesion of solid rock.
This method was used by the Romans, and adopted by succeeding ages; but
the arches were turned, and the angles coigned with hewn stones, which,
after the Conquest, were brought from Caen in Normandy.



CHAP. I.


VOYAGE FROM BRISTOL TO SWANSEA—SWANSEA CASTLE—MANUFACTORIES—WELCH
BATHING—OSTERMOUTH, PENRICE, AND PENNARTH CASTLES—SEAT OF MR.
TALBOT—ARTHUR’S STONE, A LARGE CROMLECH.

In company with a brother artist, I entered BRISTOL with an intention of
commencing my Cambrian tour in the neighbourhood of Chepstow; but an
unthought-of attraction induced us to relinquish this project.

Returning from a ramble through the town, by the quay, we were agreeably
amused with a fleet of vessels that was about to quit the river with the
ebbing tide; some of them were already in full sail floating down the
stream, and others getting under weigh.  The spirited exertions of the
seamen, and the anxious movements of numerous spectators, devoting their
attention to friends or freight, gave animation to the scene, which was
rendered particularly cheerful by the delightful state of the morning.
On a sudden we were saluted with a duet of French-horns from a small
sloop in the river; a very indifferent performance to be sure, yet it was
pleasing.  This sloop was bound to SWANSEA; and we learned that the wind
was so directly favourable, that the voyage would in all probability be
completed the same afternoon.  We were now strongly disposed for an
aquatic excursion; nor did the laughing broad faces of about a dozen
Welch girls, passengers, alarm us from our purpose: so by an exertion we
collected our portmanteaus and some refreshments in due time, and engaged
in the voyage.

Leaving Bristol, and its romantic but ruined suburb CLIFTON, we entered
upon the remarkable scenery of St. VINCENT’S Rocks.  A bolder pass than
is here formed I scarcely remember to have seen, even in the most
mountainous parts of Great Britain: on one side, a huge rock rises in
naked majesty perpendicularly from the river, to the height of some
hundred feet; the immense surface is tinted with the various hues of
grey, red, and yellow, and diversified by a few patches of shrubs, moss,
and creeping lichens.  A range of rocks equal in magnitude, but of less
precipitous ascent, clothed with dark wild forest trees and underwood,
forms the opposite boundary of the river; attempering the menacing aspect
of impendent cliffs, with the softer features of sylvan hills.

The grandeur of the river’s banks diminishes until near the Avon’s
junction with the Severn; when the commanding height of Kingsweston-hill,
adorned with the groves, lawns, and plantations of Lord Clifford’s park,
rises conspicuously eminent, and engages a parting interest.  We soon
entered the Severn, here an expansive estuary, and so far a noble object;
but deriving little importance from its shores, which, except in the
neighbourhood of Aust, are a mere undulation of corn-fields and pastures.
The display of cultivation, though gratifying, is certainly inferior in
picturesque merit to the grand features of cliffs and mountains which
distinguish the shores of PEMBROKESHIRE, and the western coast of Wales.

For some time we were well entertained with our voyage; when satisfied
with external objects, we found amusement in the cooped-up circle of our
companions, and entered upon a general meal, without the assistance of
knives or plates, with much good humour: nor was there a lack of wit, if
we might judge from the continued bursts of laughter that sallied on the
occasion.  But the scene presently changed: the wind, at first so
favourable, shifted to the opposite point, increasing from a pleasant
breeze to a fresh gale; the sun no longer played on the surface of the
water; the sky became overcast; and “the waves curled darkly against the
vessel.”  From the seamen, with looks of disappointment, we learned, that
the prospect of a short voyage was at an end; and that, if the wind
continued as it was, we might be kept at sea for several days: the
badness of the weather increased towards evening, when a deluging rain
came down, and continued the whole night.  This calamity was further
aggravated by a noisy old woman on board, who grated our ears with a
horrible scream whenever a wave broke over the vessel, or a flash of
lightning illuminated the scenery of the storm; filling up the intervals
with the cheering narrative of ships that were lost in the very track of
our voyage.  It was to no purpose that we endeavoured to joke away her
fears, or to make them less eloquent; but Time, that great resolver of
difficulties, transferring the disorder of her imagination to her
stomach, quieted her alarm.  At length the increasing rain forced every
one for shelter towards the cabin: this was a hole about two yards by one
and a half; not quite the latter dimension in height, and filthy to a
degree that I shall not attempt to describe: into this place as many were
squeezed as it could possibly contain.

Among our female companions were two genteel young Welch-women of
considerable personal attractions, whose vivacity and good-nature had
essentially contributed to the entertainment of the day: one of these was
peculiarly bewitching; her’s was

    —the faultless form
    Shap’d by the hand of harmony; the cheek
    Where the live crimson, through the native white
    Soft-shooting, o’er, the face diffuses bloom,
    And ev’ry nameless grace; the parted lip,
    Like the red rose-bud moist with morning dew,
    Breathing delight; and, under flowing jet,
    The neck slight-shaded, and the swelling breast;
    The look resistless, piercing to the soul.

These damsels preferring the certainty of a wetting upon deck to the
chance of suffocation in the cabin, we made it our business to defend
them as much as possible from “the pelting of the pitiless storm.”  Our
travelling coats were fashionably large; so that each of us was able
completely to shelter one, without exposing ourselves; a bottle of brandy
too, that we had fortunately provided, helped to counteract the
inclemency of the weather, and we were for some time thoroughly
comfortable.  The rain at length, penetrating our coverings, obliged us
to seek a fresh resource; but to discover one was no easy matter; for the
cabin had not a chink unoccupied, and there was not a dry sail on board
to make use of.  In this predicament it fortunately occurred to one of
the ladies, that before the hatchway was closed she observed sufficient
room in the hold for three or four persons who were not very bulky to lie
down: to this place we gained admittance; and, although the angles of
chests and packages formed a very inappropriate couch for the tender
limbs of our friends, yet the retreat proved highly gratifying; and,
after a short time spent in pleasing conversation, we enjoyed a
refreshing sleep.—Unhallowed thoughts, be silent! voluptuous
imaginations, conjure not up, from this pressure of circumstances,
motives or actions that are unholy!  It is true, the girls had charms
that might warm an anchorite, and were filled with the glowing sensations
of youthful passion; yet they were virtuous; nor had the tourists,
although encountering temptation, a wish to endanger the possessors of
qualities so lovely for a transitory enjoyment.

When we issued from our burrow the next morning, the rain continued; but
the wind had abated, and become more favourable.  The other passengers
remained in the cabin, and nothing can be imagined more distressing than
their situation.  No less than ten women had squeezed themselves into the
hole, where they lay all of a heap, like fish in a basket.  The heat and
confinement had rendered the sickness general: I shall forbear to
describe the evidence of its effects; but briefly remark, that, overcome
by pain and fatigue, they appeared all in a sound sleep, half released
from their clothes, and with such an intermixture of heads, bodies, and
limbs, that it required some ingenuity to trace the relation of the
several parts.  The two old French-horn players were lying at the door
soaking in the rain, but also asleep.  From such a scene we gladly
withdrew, and in a few hours found ourselves at the entrance of SWANSEA
BAY, finely encircled with high varied hills; on our left were the two
insulated rocks called the Mumbles, at a small distance from the main
land, where the whitened town of OSTERMOUTH {21} appeared issuing from
the water, beneath a lofty dark hill.  At the bottom of the bay, the
superior extent of Swansea lined the shore, backed by an atmosphere of
cloudy vapours produced from the numerous furnaces in its neighbourhood.
At length I trod on Cambrian ground, and paid my half crown, with a
willing engagement to forfeit a hundred times the sum, if ever I should
be again caught on board of a Swansea Hoy. {22}

Swansea is a tolerably neat town, although irregularly built.  It has
long been a winter residence of the neighbouring gentry, and a favourite
resort in summer for bathing; but its increasing opulence arises
principally from the prosperity of its manufactures and commerce.

In company with Major Jones, a worthy magistrate of the town, to whose
polite attention I stand indebted for much local information, I obtained
a complete survey of SWANSEA CASTLE, (situated in the middle of the
town), which, although much contracted from its former grand dimensions,
is still of considerable extent.  The principal feature of the building
is, a massive quadrangular tower, remarkable for a range of light
circular arches, encircling the top, and supporting a parapet, which
forms a connexion with turrets at each angle.  This parapet affords a
pleasing bird’s-eye view of the town and surrounding country.  The
tenantable parts of the castle comprise the town-hall; a poor-house; a
jail; a new market-house; numerous store-cellars; a blacksmith’s and
other shops and habitations; a Roman Catholic chapel; and a pigeon-house.
The Gothic structure has been so far metamorphosed in its application to
these purposes, that it is almost impossible to trace the original plan
of the building; but the large apartment used for Romish worship has been
either the baronial hall or the chapel: I think, the former.

During my stay in Swansea, an intoxicated man fell asleep on the parapet
of the castle, and, rolling off, fell to the ground at the depth of near
80 feet.  The poor fellow was a servant in the castle: and, missing his
room in winding up the turreted stair-case, unconsciously extended his
journey to the summit of the castle.  Nothing broke his fall (unless the
roof of a low shed reared against the wall, and which he went clearly
through, may be considered as a favourable impediment), and yet,
incredible as it may seem! the only effect produced on the man, was a
slight broken head, and a restoration of his faculties.  He bound up his
head himself, made the best of his way to a public-house, took a little
more ale, and then went soberly to bed.  I should scarcely have believed
this miraculous escape, had I not seen the broken tiles and rafters
through which he fell, and heard the attestations of numerous witnesses
of the accident.

Swansea Castle was built A.D. 1113, by Henry Beaumont, Earl of Warwick, a
Norman leader who conquered Gowerland, a tract of country bounded by the
Neath and Loughor rivers, from the Welch; but it was soon after besieged
by Griffith ap Rhys ap Theodore, a native chief, and a great part of the
out-buildings destroyed.  It is now the property of the Duke of Beaufort,
Lord paramount of Gower.

A large tract of country northward of Swansea is covered with coal,
copper, and iron-works, the operations of which are much facilitated by a
canal passing among them.  The dismal gloom of the manufactories, hanging
over the river Tawe, is pleasingly contrasted by the whitened walls of
their appendant villages, springing from the dark sides of the hills that
rise above the river.  Conspicuous above the other resorts of the
manufacturers is MORRISTOWN, a neat newly-created village; and on the
summit of a steep hill Morristown castle, a quadrangular building, which
is the habitation of upwards of thirty families; these buildings owe
their origin to Mr. Morris, a gentleman, who, in partnership with Mr.
Lockwood, conducts one of the leading works.  The introduction of Major
Jones obtained me a view of Messrs. Freeman’s copper manufactory: we took
care to be there at noon, when the furnaces are tapped and all the
interesting processes gone through.  The effect in passing through these
dismal buildings, contrasted by the vivid glare of the furnaces, and the
liquid fire of the pouring metal, is to a stranger very striking.  I was
much surprized at the quantity of condensed sulphureous vapour that
yellowed the roof of the building.  Sulphur often forms the greatest bulk
of the ore; yet no means are employed to collect the vapour, which might
easily be managed, and could not fail of turning to a source of profit:
at the same time, it would save the health of the workmen, and spare the
vegetation, which appears stinted for a considerable distance by the
noxious effluvia.

We left these sulphureous chambers to enjoy a purer air on the sea-shore,
where another curiosity awaited us.  As we were strolling on the sands,
about a mile above the town, we remarked a group of figures, in birth-day
attire, gamboling in the water: not suspecting that they were women, we
passed carelessly on; but how great was our surprize, on approaching
them, to find that the fact did not admit of a doubt.  We had not paused
a minute, before they all came running toward us, with a menacing tone
and countenance, that would seem to order us away.  Though we did not
understand their British sentences, we obeyed, and very hastily too, on
finding a volley of stones rattling about our ears.  This hostile
demonstration, we afterwards found, arose from a suspicion that we were
going to remove their clothes, a piece of waggery often practised by the
visitants of Swansea, to enjoy their running _nudiores ovo_.  The girls
knew that we were not their countrymen, or we should have passed
unconcerned; unless, indeed, acquaintances, who would have made their
usual salutation, and perhaps joined in the party’s amusement.  In our
subsequent rambles on the beach these liberal exhibitions of Cambrian
beauty afforded us many pleasing studies of unsophisticated nature:

    “Graceful, cleanly, smooth and round;
    All in Venus’ girdle bound.”

From Swansea we made an excursion across the sands to Ostermouth castle,
about four miles distant, situated on an eminence near the coast.  The
principal walls of this ruin are little injured by time, and most of the
apartments may be readily distinguished; the general figure is polygonal,
and the ramparts are conspicuously lofty, but unflanked by towers, except
at the entrance: a profusion of ivy overspreading the ruin rather
conceals than adorns it.  This building is supposed to have been erected
by the Norman conqueror of Gowerland, and has almost ever since remained
the property of that Lordship.

From some high hills behind Ostermouth, an extensive view is obtained
over the peninsula of Gower, and the two noble bays of Swansea and
Caermarthen, which its projection divides: the general aspect of the
peninsula is wild and dreary.  Not far distant, near the little bay of
Oxwich, are the ruins of Pennarth castle, a fortress built soon after the
Beaumonts conquered Gowerland; and on the opposite side of the bay stands
the more picturesque ruin of Penrice castle; so called after the
Penrice’s, a Norman family that settled there in the reign of Edward the
First.  This castle is comprised in an extensive domain belonging to Mr.
Talbot, which occupies a great part of the peninsula; and here Mr. Talbot
has erected an elegant villa, with all the appendant beauties of wood and
lawn, lake, and promenade.  But, unless with a view to improve the
estate, one can scarcely imagine what motive could induce this gentleman
to desert his former residence at Margam, possessing all the allurements
of favoured nature, and situated in the midst of an agreeable
neighbourhood, to force exotic elegance upon a bleak unfrequented coast,
and fix his abode far from the usual haunts of society.

About three miles northward of Penrice, upon a mountain called Cum Bryn,
near Llanridian, is a table-like monument, or cromlech, {29} called
Arthur’s stone: it consists of a huge flat stone, supposed to weigh near
twenty tons, supported upon six or seven others about five feet in
height; the smaller stones are placed in a circle.—A few miles farther,
near the mouth of the Loughor, is Webley castle, which was described to
me as a place of considerable antique strength, and as being still entire
and partially inhabited.  The difficulty of access to this castle, and
its out-of-the-way situation, prevented our visiting it; similar reasons
also prevented our seeing a curiosity at Wormshead point, a bold
promontory jutting far into the sea, and divided from the main land at
high-water by the sea’s overflowing its low isthmus.  Near the extremity
of the point is a cleft in the ground, in which if dust or sand be
thrown, it will be returned back into the air; and a person applying his
ear to the crevice will hear a deep noise, like the blowing of a large
pair of bellows: this effect is reasonably attributed to the concussions
of the waves of the sea in the cavernous hollows of the cliff.  An old
author, I think Giraldus Cambrensis, speaks of a similar phenomenon in
Barry island, near the coast between Cardiff and Cowbridge; but at
present no such effect is produced at that place.



CHAP. II.


LOUGHOR—LLANELLY—PEMBREE-HILL—KIDWELLY, AND ITS CASTLE.

Having satisfied ourselves with the peninsula of Gower, we entered upon a
zigzag excursion, round the coast of South-Wales, to its northern
boundary, purposing to return to Swansea by a midland route.  My friend
had bought an excellent travelling horse, though aged, and a little
foundered, for twelve pounds.  I was not so fortunate; the few others
that we met with for sale, were miserable poneys, and at a price double
their value in London: I was, therefore, constrained to engage a poor
little hack, at two guineas for a fortnight’s use; and thus mounted we
set forward over a high romantic district to Loughor, the Leucarium of
Antoninus, now a poor village; but still exhibiting the ruined keep of
its castle, on a raised mount surrounded by a moat.  From this place,
soiled with the filth of neighbouring collieries, we had a river to ford
to the opposite shore.  This task is by no means enviable; for, in
addition to fording a rapid current over a rough stoney bottom, large
hollows are formed by vessels at low water, which, not appearing,
sometimes entrap the unsuspecting traveller, who may think himself well
off if he escape with only a ducking: we thanked our stars when we got
across; and, wading through a miserable road, and a region of collieries,
arrived at LLANELLY (pronounced Llanithly).  About half way between the
ford and this town, we observed Capel Ddewy, a small ruin, picturesquely
accompanied by a yew-tree; and near it the remains of some deserted
furnaces.

In this ride we proceeded at an uncertainty, till we were fortunately
assisted by an agreeable matron, who was churning at the door of her
cottage.  Now, as the noise of her employment prevented our hearing each
other, she was obliged to leave off; but, that the interval of a few
moments from labour might not pass unproductively, she caught up her
knitting needles at the same instant, and advanced the fabric of a
stocking while she gave us our directions.  Such instances of persevering
industry were frequent throughout the principality; but more particularly
so from hence westward, where not a female was to be seen unemployed in
knitting, however she might be otherwise at work, in carrying loads or
driving cattle.

Llanelly is a small irregular town, and contains an old seat of Sir John
Stepney’s, which, though deserted by the family, afforded habitation to
numerous tenants, till the mischievous operation of the window-tax, in
driving them out, left it to moulder in decay.  The high square embattled
tower of its church is remarkable, in being much wider at the base than
upwards, forming a sort of cone.  This town, however, offering no objects
to detain us, we proceeded without halting, and in a few miles ride
gained the summit of Pembree hill.

Here a marine view of great extent burst upon us; the grand sweep of
Caermarthen bay appeared beneath, terminated on one side by Wormshead
point, and on the other by the insulated rock of Caldy in Pembrokeshire;
the opposite shores of Somerset and Devon formed the distance, faintly
skirting the horizon beyond a vast expanse of sea, studded with numerous
vessels.  Looking internally, the country exhibited a strong undulatory
surface, variously chequered with wild heaths and rich cultivation.
Descending the hill, we approached the neat regular-built town of new
KIDWELLY, situated in a narrow well-wooded valley.

                        [Picture: Kidwelly Castle]

The castle forms a noble object, adjoining the ruins of old Kidwelly on
the opposite bank of the river.  Leland says, “the old town is prettily
waullid, and hath hard by the waul a Castel; the old town is nearly al
desolated but the cartel is meately well kept up.”  This description
applies very well to the present appearance of the place; for, though the
castle is uninhabited, it continues tolerably entire.  This fortress was
built soon after the Conquest, by Maurice de Londres, one of the twelve
Norman knights who conquered Glamorganshire; and, after undergoing the
usual vicissitudes of sieges, partial demolition, and different masters,
fell to the crown of England.  We were disappointed of an internal
examination of this fine ruin, as the key of the entrance could not
readily be obtained, and we were pressed for time to reach Caermarthen
before dark.  The continuance of our route led us on a steep woody bank,
above the romantic course of Kidwelly river; but it soon deviated to the
superior attractions of the Towey; following whose expansive water and
verdant accompaniments, and crossing a long antique bridge, we reached
Caermarthen.



CHAP. III.


CAERMARTHEN—FEMALE LABOURERS—LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE—A FORD—LAUGHARNE
CASTLE—FINE MARINE VIEWS—NEW INN—TENBY.

The situation of Caermarthen, one of the most wealthy and polite towns in
Wales, can scarcely be enough admired; rising above a noble river, and
commanding a full view of one of the most beautiful vales in the kingdom.
Internally, there is less to commend; as most of the streets are very
steep, and irregularly built; yet there are many good private houses,
belonging to the neighbouring gentry that resort here in the winter
months; and a handsome town-hall and some other buildings do credit to
the public spirit of the town, though a solitary church may reflect but
little on its sanctity.  Very small remains of the castle, now built up
into a gaol, appear; or of the walls that formerly encompassed the town.
The trade of the place is much facilitated by its fine river, which
conveys ships of a good size up to the bridge.

Caermarthen is the Kaervyrdhin of the Britons, the Maridunum of Ptolemy,
and the Muridunum of Antoninus.  The ancient Britons reckoned it the
capital of all Wales: here they held their Parliaments, or Assemblies of
wise men, and here fixed their Chancery and Exchequer.  When the Normans
overran Wales, this town severely felt the miseries of war, being often
besieged, and twice burnt by the Welch princes; Gilbert Earl of Clare,
however, at length fixed his power at Caermarthen beyond the reach of
their attempts.  This place gave birth to the famous Merlin in the year
480: he appears to have been a man of extraordinary wisdom and learning,
which, no doubt, occasioned him to be looked upon as a magician in that
dark age, and transmitted as such to posterity by Monkish writers, who
always looked with an evil eye upon knowledge possessed out of their
craft.  Here also was born Lewis Bayly, chaplain to James the First,
afterwards Bishop of Bangor, and author of the celebrated “Practice of
Piety.”

From our comfortable quarters at the Green Dragon, we set out early in
the morning; and, on leaving the town, were more interested than pleased,
in noticing several fine young women who were acting as scavengers, while
one, whose elegance of form defied even her awkward habit to conceal it,
was bending beneath the fatigue of wheeling away the filth in a barrow.
In the same point of view, seated behind a counter, a brawny-fisted
fellow was folding up ribbons and laces.  How odious is the employ of
men-milliners!  How shameful, that men, who might gain a prosperous
livelihood in a thousand ways, should interfere with almost the only
eligible means which the limited powers and habits of women capacitate
them to adopt for a maintenance!  Driven from their natural employ, they
must either have recourse to a cruel drudgery which they were not formed,
and are generally unable, to endure; or wander after subsistence in the
paths of shame and misery, at once a disgrace, a burthen, and a terror to
society.  But does our censure more properly fall on these men, for
entering into the pretty dalliance of women’s affairs, in preference to
masculine pursuits requiring intellectual and bodily exertion? or on the
ladies, who encourage men, rather than their own sex, in the
fiddle-faddle arrangement of their caps and tuckers?

Passing this group, we soon left the high road, and struck off into a
narrow imbowered lane, up a laborious ascent, toward Llanstephan Castle.
On arriving at the top of the hill, we were amply repaid for our toil by
a most enchanting view over the Vale of the Towey: a stripe of the
richest verdure, intersected with numerous hedgerows and ornamental
plantations, arose on each side of the river; above which, a parallel
range of high-wooded and cultivated hills formed the boundary of the
valley.  The extensive town of Caermarthen; the lofty spire of its
church; the ruined castle, and the long old bridge, with several barks
lying near it; were conspicuous objects at a short distance in the
picture; which was considerably enlivened by several gentlemen’s seats,
and their appendant decorations.  The town of Abergwilly, on the banks of
the river, with the bishop of St. David’s palace, an ordinary building,
would also have appeared in the distance; but the termination of the
valley was denied us, by the morning mist not having cleared away.
Pursuing our route, we took every opportunity that intervals in the hedge
afforded, of renewing our treat, and discovered new beauties at each
succeeding station.

At length we parted with this agreeable scenery; and soon after, on a
sudden turn of the lane, came within view of the picturesque ruin of
Llanstephan castle.  A farming party also appeared at this instant,
proceeding with goods for Caermarthen market.  This group was opened by a
robust young fellow driving a couple of cows; he wore the general dress
of the country, a short blue coarse cloth coat, and breeches of the same
open at the knees; but he also possessed the luxury of shoes and
stockings.  A sledge loaded with sacks of grain followed; drawn by a
horse, on which a lusty wench sat astride, as the peasant girls generally
do in Wales; cloathed in a brown jirkin and petticoat, but with her lower
extremities uncovered.  She urged on the horse by kicking him with her
bare heels, while her hands were busied in knitting.  Two other buxom
bare-legged girls followed on foot, with their fingers similarly
employed, and with large baskets of eggs and poultry on their heads.  But
a word on the sledge, the common farming carriage in Wales.—This is a
most simple contrivance, consisting of two rude poles, between which the
horse is placed; their ends trail on the ground, toward which extremity
there are two or three cross bars; a few upright sticks from these
complete the carriage.  A comely dame, seated on horse-back, and
accommodated with a sort of side-saddle made with cross rails, was
probably the mistress; she closed the rear; and her superior condition
was evident, in her dark blue worsted stockings, ponderous shoes, and
small brass buckles.

LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE crowns the summit of a bold hill, whose precipitous
base is washed by the sea.  Its broken walls inclose a large area; and,
furnished with several encircling earthen ramparts, appear to have
possessed considerable antique strength.  From numerous stations it
offers a truly picturesque appearance; and in the approach charmingly
combines with the surrounding landscape; which, ever varying, is
sometimes confined to the woody character; at others, exhibits the wide
estuary, the rocky promontory forming its opposite shore, and the
boundless sea.

                      [Picture: Llanstephan Castle]

This castle is said to have been built by the sons of Uchtred, prince of
Merionethshire, anno Domini 1138; but soon after fell into the hands of
the Normans and Flemings; in 1145 it was taken from them by Cadelh, son
of Rhys Prince of South Wales; and so vigorously maintained, that the
utmost force which the foreigners could raise was unable to retake it.
However, by the year 1189 it must have been in the possession of the
English, as Caradoc informs us that it was then taken from them by Prince
Rhys.

The village, a neat humble place, is snugly situated beneath the
“Castle-cap’d hill” in a woody hollow; whence we traversed a lofty ridge,
commanding extensive views, to a neighbouring estuary, formed by the Tave
near its junction with the sea.  As the tide was out, we could not avail
ourselves of the ferry, but had ample directions where the water might be
crossed; yet, unfortunately, on arriving at the sands, the description of
circumstances received for our guidance proved so general, that we were
unable to select the route intended; and the broad current ran with such
threatening rapidity into the sea, only half a mile distant, that it
would have been highly dangerous to have ventured in upon hazard.
Ignorant how to proceed, and unwilling to return three or four miles for
fresh directions, we gladly observed a couple of young women trudging on
the sands in a direction toward us.  The proper place for fording was now
pointed out, where, it was said, the water would scarcely cover our
horses’ knees; we deemed it most prudent, however, to let the natives go
first, and they accordingly entered the river, using the precaution of
raising their drapery.  We followed close; but the lasses had
considerably underrated the depth of the water, for it took both them and
our horses above their middles; yet so carefully were their clothes held
up, that not a thread was wetted.  On reaching the opposite shore, their
petticoats were suffered to descend: my friend and I then looked at each
other, passed an observation, returned our thanks to the damsels, wished
them a good morrow; and under an overhanging rock of red granite, crowned
with the ivy-mantled remains of LAUGHARNE CASTLE, reached the town, an
irregularly built little place, seated on a low bank of the estuary.

Laugharne castle, though not very extensive, and not generally striking
for picturesque disposition, has a noble aspect toward the town.  The
foundation of this Castle is not transmitted to us in the Welch annals,
but is, doubtless, of high antiquity; it was occupied, and probably
built, by the Normans and Flemings on their conquest of these parts;
afterwards, in the year 1215, it was besieged and taken by Llewelyn:
Leland says, “it longid some time to the Earl of Northumberland.”  An
interesting ride, upon a high boundary of the sea, brought us into
PEMBROKESHIRE, at a place called New Inn.

In this progress, extensive views ranging over the Bristol channel were
continual; but one _coup d’œil_,

    High from the summit of a craggy cliff
    Hung o’er the deep—

was eminently striking! magnificently beautiful!  The whole sweep of
Caermarthen bay, with its several estuaries, high cliffs, and swelling
shores, appeared beneath us, extending in one direction to the extreme
point of Gower, and in the other to the isle of Caldy in Pembrokeshire;
at the latter termination, the picturesque whitened town of Tenby,
romantically built on a tongue of rock projecting into the sea, seemed
issuing from the waves.  From the grand amphitheatre of this bay, the eye
roamed, over a vast tract of sea, to the shores of Somerset and Devon,
hear fifty miles distant, faintly penciled on the horizon, and terminated
by the advancing swell of Lundy Island.  Further westward, the setting
sun appeared in conjunction with the sea, there widening into the
Atlantic Ocean; its golden effulgence glittered in reflexion from the
waves, and diffused itself over the whole scenery: numerous barks in the
bay, sailing on different tacks, caught partial gleams of illumination;
and a large fleet of ships, entering the channel at a remote distance,
seemed little more than dusky spots on the glistening expanse: the _tout
ensemble_ formed one of the most pleasing marine pictures that I ever
saw.—The sea, viewed under its ordinary circumstances, from a _low_
situation, engages little interest; the angle of vision is then
intersected by the aqueous segment at the distance of four or five miles;
and, with little more breadth of water than one meets with in a river or
lake, the prospect finishes in a mere hard line.  The case is far
otherwise when it is viewed from a high mountain, particularly if that
mountain be a bold promontory, and the view bursts upon the spectator on
a sudden: a world of waters then meets his astonished sight; the immense
object presses on his mind an inconceivable emotion; and an image is at
once stamped of the genuine sublime.  Filled with the vast idea, he
contemplates with awe and veneration the magnitude of his Creator’s
works, and sinks into a proper estimate the puny achievements of man.

From New Inn, a small collection of cottages on the beach, with a large
old mansion, lately modernized, but seemingly of the foundation of
Elizabeth’s time, and where (it is to be observed) there is no house of
public entertainment, as the name would imply, we passed, among numerous
collieries belonging to Lord Milford, towards TENBY.  This town is
curiously situated on the ridge of a narrow rock projecting into the sea:
a sandy tract connects it with the main land; which being sometimes
overflowed, the town becomes insulated.  The streets of Tenby are
inconveniently steep; yet its romantic situation, and commodious sands
for bathing, have lately rendered it a place of fashionable resort.  It
has a number of good lodging-houses, with a respectable hotel; and, when
we were there, boasted an overflow of genteel company.  The quay was well
lined with vessels, and the whole carried with it an air of opulence.
Here was formerly an important fishery, but that concern is now much
diminished; yet the exportation of coals, has greatly increased, and that
article has become the staple commodity of the place.  The remains of
Tenby castle (a Norman structure) are very inconsiderable: the broken
walls appear toward the extremity of the cliff; and below them, I
understand, there are some large natural caverns.



CHAP. IV.


MANORBEER CASTLE—AN ADVENTURE—A DILEMMA—CAREW
CASTLE—LAWRENNY—PEMBROKE—ITS CASTLE—LAMPHEY COURT—STACKPOLE
COURT—BOSHERSTON MEER.

                       [Picture: Manorbeer Castle]

On a tempestuous day, a day fraught with trouble and alarm, we left
Tenby, and took the Pembroke road traced on a ridge of hills, which
command extensive views over almost the whole of Pembrokeshire, and a
great part of the Bristol channel; but a heavy atmosphere frowned on the
scenery, and threatened a violent storm.  Leaving the high road, we
descended toward the sea coast in search of the gloomy remains of
MANORBEER CASTLE, and found the ruin wildly situated as described by
Leland, “between two little hillettes,” whose rocky bases repelled the
fury of an angry sea.  This fortress appears to have been of Norman
erection; it fell to the Crown in the reign of Henry the First; a grant
from James the First presented it to the Bowens of Trelogne; from them it
descended by marriage into the family of Picton Castle, and in the year
1740 was the property of Sir Erasmus Philips, Bart.  The ponderous towers
and massive fragments of this castle denote its original strength and
importance to have been considerable; yet now, deprived of “the pride,
pomp, and circumstance of glorious war,” it exhibits a scene so wild and
desolate, as might disclaim all intercourse with man: rank grass clothes
every projection; “the thistle shakes its lonely head” from the windows,
the sea-bird screams through the hall and adders creep where many a
warrior stalked.  From our reverie over this gloomy relic of feudal
despotism, we were alarmed by a vivid flash of lightning; a loud clap of
thunder succeeded, which, reverberating through the ruin, had a most
impressive effect: the storm became violent, and seemed to shake the
mouldering battlements of the ruin; “from their hills the groaning oaks
came down, the sea darkly tumbled beneath the blast, and the roaring
waves were climbing against our rocks.”  A deluging rain now poured down,
and drove us in search of a shelter; the fragments of a spiral staircase
offered a descent to a subterraneous part of the castle, and we entered
the dark recess of a dungeon, whose mysterious gloom and earthy
exhalations might stir up fancy to create things worse

    “Than fables yet have feign’d, or fear conceiv’d.”

I thought I heard a voice; my friend thought so too: we listened, but
soon smiled at the conjecture; it was probably the hoarse roar of the sea
or “eddying winds:” but the damp air of the dungeon threw a chill over
us, that was even worse than an exposure to the rain; and we were
returning, when a repetition of the noise that we heard before stopped
us: we listened, and distinctly heard more than one human voice; the
words were undistinguishable, but the tone severe and menacing; all was
again silent.  My friend and I looked at each other, but neither ventured
to impart his thoughts.  Conjecture, however, did not remain idle.  Was
this a horde of those barbarous men that we had heard of as inhabiting
these coasts, who, by setting up false lights, betray the unsuspecting
mariners on rocks and shoals, and then plunder the wreck, often murdering
the crew who may attempt to defend their property?  Or was it a gang of
smugglers? for such men were known to conceal their stores in
unfrequented ruins, and other wild seclusions.  We were inclined to
favour this latter opinion; but derived little satisfaction from it, on
considering that they were scarcely inferior to the former in ferocity;
and that if they discovered us, every thing was to be apprehended from a
brutal policy, to preserve the secret of their hidings place.

Our reflections were broken off by a further noise, and we plainly heard
a hoarse cautioning voice utter, “Only you mind, and we shall have ’em
both.”  We again appealed to each other’s countenances, but no confidence
appeared in either; in silence, I threw out the tuck of my stick; my
friend drew a sword from his; for we were so far armed against attack.
Again all was hushed; and we ventured to raise ourselves from the
dungeon, in order to catch a glimpse of the people with whom we had to
deal; when a strong flash of lightning illuminated the whole ruin; and
from an aperture near its base; we saw two men emerge; the one armed with
a gun, the other with a spade:—I thought I had never seen two such
murderous-hooking fellows: we shrunk to our concealment instinctively;
yet not without an apprehension that we had been seen.  But our
sensations may be easier imagined than described, when within a few yards
one of them was heard to say, “Why did you not bring your gun?  I
shou’dn’t wonder if one got away:” which was answered by, “Only you make
sure of one, and I’ll engage to knock the other’s brains out.”

Now knowing the worst, we determined on sallying out; if possible, to
reach a little village that we had observed at no great distance; or, if
discovered, to endeavour upon closing in with the gunsman before he could
take aim!  We sprang forward together, and had nearly reached the great
entrance when the gun went off; and in the same moment I saw my friend
extended among the fragments of the ruin:—without stopping, I rushed on
toward the ruffian, hoping to use my stick with good effect before the
piece could be re-loaded; when, passing under the portal, down the
crevice where formerly the portcullis was suspended, a large fox darted
and passed before me.  A loud voice now exclaimed, “Dang it you’ve missed
hur;” and with no less joy than astonishment I beheld my friend
brandishing his sword behind me; we said nothing, but pushed on together,
and, suddenly turning an angle, met the villains face to face.  Again joy
and astonishment struggled for pre-eminence;—they recoiled from us, and,
dropping their weapons, with a loud yell darted out of sight!

Such dastardly conduct may appear irreconcilable with the ferocious
design of which we suspected them; but cowardice is no stranger to
cruelty; and the direct tenor of their expressions forbade a rising
suggestion that they intended us no harm.  Gathering up the gun and spade
as trophies of our victory, and remounting our horses, which remained as
they were left, tied up in a nook, we proceeded to the neighbouring
village, or rather two or three cottages.  By the way I learned, that
upon the report of the gun, my friend fell in consequence of turning
short upon the slippery fragments of the ruin.  On our approaching the
village, a number of men, women, and children, appeared crowding together
with great eagerness; and we were no sooner perceived, than an evident
alarm pervaded the cluster, in which was included the two ruffians.
However, the peaceable demeanour of the tourists, and the superiority of
numbers on the side of the natives, united in procuring a parley; when it
evidently appeared that a double misconception had taken place: the men
in whose countenances we had read the prognostics of homicide, turned out
to be two honest young farmers, who had traced a couple of notorious
robbers that had long infested the neighbourhood (a brace of foxes) to
their retreat in the castle ruins.  This account brought with it a new
application of the sentences that we had heard, and we were ashamed of
our misconstruction; but the men were not behindhand with us; for, as
they frankly declared, from our sudden appearance, they took us either
for ghosts or devils.  The gun and spade were now returned; and, instead
of a deadly encounter, an exchange of good wishes took place, on our
leaving the villagers in the pursuit of our journey.

By the time we had reascended to the turnpike, the evening was closing
apace; and this circumstance, with the uncomfortable state of the
weather, made it a great object with us to take up our night’s quarters
as soon as possible.  Pembroke was eight miles distant, Carew (called
Carey) only two or three, as we were informed by some country-people; we
therefore struck off into a bridle-road for the latter place, under their
direction; but soon found ourselves at a loss which to choose of three
roads that presented themselves; yet, seeing no one of whom we could
enquire, we were obliged to advance at hazard; and, after a long ride
through mire and loose stones, on meeting with a cottager, were directed
to return all the way back, and take a different route.  This vexatious
task performed, we found ourselves again at a loss, and again took a
false route.  We were now completely enveloped in the darkness of night;
the weather continued stormy; and our craggy road hardly wore the
distinctness of a track.  In this forlorn condition we slowly paced on,
not exclaiming like Ossian’s chief, “Let clouds rest on the hills,
spirits fly, and travellers fear; let the winds of the woods arise, the
sounding storms descend; roar streams, and windows flap, and green-winged
meteors fly; rise the pale moon from behind her hills, or inclose her
head in clouds, night is alike to me, blue, stormy, or gloomy the sky.”
Alas! it made a sensible difference to us; but at length a distant
glimmering of light appeared between the trees, which we gladly traced to
a lonely cottage.  Here, on our calling out, a tall raw-boned man opened
the door, and discovered three others who were regaling round a blazing
hearth: these were all miners in a neighbouring coal-work.  The uniform
black appearance of this group, their long matted, hair half hiding their
faces, which caught a ferocious turn from the strong partial light of the
fire, was not calculated to inspire prepossession in their favour; but,
though in the exterior repulsive as their cheerless occupation, their
hearts were not estranged from sensations of benevolence; and yet, so
little had they of refinement, as to offer no complimentary condolence on
hearing of our difficulties; even yet more unfashionably by actual
services they relieved them.  “Masters,” said one of the men, “if you’ll
but step in a minute while I finish my mess of porridge, I’ll put you
into the right road; it can’t be darker than it is; do sit down, and let
me put your horses in the cow-house; I suppose you wou’dn’t like our fare
(it was a mess of barley and greens stewed with a bit of meat or bacon);
but mother can give you a drop of good mead, and some decentish bread and
butter.”  This invitation, with the manner in which it was conveyed,
offered a relief that neither of us was inclined to reject; for, indeed,
we had tasted nothing since breakfast, and besides found that some barley
might be had for our horses.  So seating ourselves in the chimney corner,
we partook of the refreshments brought us by an old withered matron, who
finished a scene forming a lively counterpart to that of the cavern in
Gil Blas.  Our dame soon took a leading part in conversation; she
gratefully expatiated on the bounty of Providence in sending us a
plentiful year, and lamented the misery that prevailed last winter, when,
she declared, they were all starving, and many of her neighbours died
outright of hunger.  This statement I found general throughout the
country.  We left this humble but hospitable roof with regret; nor was it
without much difficulty that we could prevail on our hostess to accept of
a trifling acknowledgement for her favours.

We again set forward through mire and darkness, conducted by one of the
men, who beguiled the time with stories of ghosts that had been seen at
Manorbeer castle.  At length it became somewhat lighter, and we parted
with our friendly guide upon his shewing us the strait road to CAREW.
“Cold and comfortless,” we knocked at the inn door (for inn is the name
of every alehouse in Wales); when, to put a finishing stroke to the
troubles of this eventful day, we learned that they had neither beds for
us nor stabling for our horses; but we had previously heard, that the
village boasted two inns, and accordingly went to the other: a similar
information, however, awaited us here; with the additional intelligence,
that there was not a stable in the village, and only one spare bed, which
was at the other alehouse; there was no alternative; we were constrained
to turn our tired and hungry horses into a field, and go back to the
first house.

Here our apartment served not only “for parlour and kitchen and hall,”
but likewise for bed-room: every thing was in unison, the discoloured
state of the walls and furniture; the care-worn looks of our host and
hostess; our scanty fare, consisting of hard barley bread and salt
butter; with nauseating ale, that even our keen appetites rejected; all
betokened poverty and wretchedness: while in the bed, which extended from
one side of the room to the other, two children were sending forth the
most discordant yells; the one suffering a violent toothache, and the
other crying because its brother cried.  After enduring this scene of
purgatory upwards of an hour, we were shewn to our bed: it was a recess
built in an adjoining room, and furnished with a bag of straw, which was
kept in its place by a couple of boards crossing the niche.  In the same
room was another bed, where two more pledges of our landlord’s tender
passion continued to torment us.  Vexed with accumulating plagues, we
threw ourselves half undressed on the bed; but our evil destiny had yet
more troubles in store;—the sheets were wringing wet; so that we had
reason to expect that on the morrow we should be laid up with colds or
fevers; but this apprehension was soon superseded; for a legion of fleas
attacked us at all points with such persevering ferocity, that we were
kept in motion the whole night; a number of rats also, by gamboling among
our straw, while others were busy in grating a sally port through the
partition, held us in the fidgets; and thus the danger of obstructed
circulation was avoided.  We had just left off cursing rustic
accommodation, and the itch for travelling which had led us to these
sufferings, when the door opened; no light appeared, but the sound of
footsteps, softly treading, passed near us.  Suspecting foul play, we
instantly sprang up, and caught hold of a poor ragged girl, who acted as
maid of the inn, and was going to sleep with the children in the other
bed.

This kind of rural accommodation may appear very diverting in a
narrative; but to those accustomed to better fare, it will be found a
very serious evil.  Indeed, from this specimen we afterwards made it a
rule to finish our day’s journey at a good town; in consequence of which
salutary resolution, except in one or two instances, we were never
without a comfortable lodging.  This caution is very practicable in South
Wales, as the most interesting part of the country is well furnished with
accommodation.

                         [Picture: Carew Castle]

On issuing from our house of mortification, we were regaled with a fine
view of CAREW CASTLE, situated on a gentle swell above an arm of
Milford-haven.  Its extensive remains shew it to have been rather a
splendid palace, than a mere fortress; and it evidently appears the work
of different ages.  The North front, a portion-looking over the river, is
scarcely castellated, but exhibits the mode of building in use about the
time of Henry the Eighth.  From the level of this front, the windows,
square and of grand dimensions, project in large bows: internally, this
part is highly ornamented; and a chimney-piece with Corinthian columns
appears among the latest decorations of the structure.  The great hall,
built in the ornamented Gothic style, though much dilapidated, is still a
noble relic of antique grandeur.  Other parts of the building are of more
remote date, and most of the walls are remarkably thick and of solid
masonry: a peculiarity to be noticed; as the Welch castles are chiefly
constructed of grout-work. {62}  The subterraneous dungeons are
remarkably extensive, and assimilate with the grandeur of the general
design.  This castle was anciently a residence of the Welch princes, and
given by one of them (Rhys ap Theodore), with extensive lands, as a
marriage portion with his daughter, to Gerald de Cario, an Anglo-Norman
chieftain, and ancestor of the last proprietor of the castle; who,
according to the tradition of the neighbourhood, died a hundred and
seventy years ago; since which time the castle has been left to decay.

Here many a lofty tower of once menacing aspect lies hid in a leafy
umbrage.  The spacious hall, that in feudal ages glittered baronial
splendor, is now engrafted with ivy, or in mouldering fragments lies an
undistinguished heap with the common earth: where once was attuned the
sweet song of minstrelsy, is now heard the hoarse note of the raven; no
more the high-wrought arras shakes mysteriously from the walls, but an
unaffected profusion of ivy mantles the forsaken apartments; beasts graze
where dark-plumed barons sat arrayed; and the hallowed chamber of “my
lady bright” is become the resort of bats and screech-owls.

Here the enthusiast, while scanning Gothic halls and “cloud-cap’d
towers,” may feel his mind transported to the ages of chivalry, and image
all the pageantry of feudal shews!  Or, in more humble mood, may look
upon their faded grandeur, and venerate a silent monitor of human
ostentation.

As we admired the picturesque beauty of this scene, or indulged in the
moral reflections to which it gave rise, we forgot our inconveniences and
fatigue, and cheerfully returned to the inn.  Our horses were in waiting:
poor animals! they had no intellectual set-off to solid ill fare that
they met with; but, unrid of the previous day’s mire, proceeded with us
on the road to Pembroke.  On leaving the village, we observed a Gothic
cross on the side of the road, about twelve or fourteen feet high, and
apparently formed of a single stone: it was carved all over with knots
and scrolls, but we did not stop to examine it minutely.  On ascending a
hill, we had a grand view of the castle: indeed, it is from the south and
south-west alone that its important dimensions fully appear: hence also
we saw the elevated mansion of LAWRENNY, seated on a lofty bank of an arm
of Milford-haven, and beautifully accompanied with wood and lawn.  This
place, particularly excelling in natural beauties, is considered as one
of the first seats in Pembrokeshire; and we understood that it had
received much improvement from the taste and liberality of Mr. Barlow,
the present proprietor.  A ride on an elevated ridge, which but for the
morning mists would have commanded extensive views, brought us to
Pembroke.

The town of PEMBROKE principally consists of one wide street built along
the ridge of a hill (washed by an arm of Milford-haven), and terminated
at one extremity by its castle.  Although of late declining in commercial
importance, the aspect of the town is neat and genteel.  Leland says of
this town in his time, “it is welle wauled and hath iii gates, est, west,
and north; of the wich the est gate is fairest and strongest, having
afore hit a compasid tour, not rofid; in the entering where of is a
Portcalys, _ex solido ferro_.”  Of these erections there are now but very
imperfect remains; we observed, however, that the north gate was still in
tolerable repair.

                        [Picture: Pembroke Castle]

PEMBROKE CASTLE is a noble ruin, seated on a cliff above the river.
Caradoc of Llancaroon says, that it was founded by Arnulph, son to the
Earl of Shrewsbury, anno 1094; but Giraldus Cambrensis fixes the time of
its erection in the reign of Henry the First, and the rounded arches that
occur in the building determine its foundation not to have been later
than that prince’s reign.  The most remarkable features of this ruin are,
the grand entrance, which is still entire; and the juliet, or high round
tower, the antient citadel, which has still the “Rofe of stone almost in
conum; the top whereof is covered with a flat mille stone;” as described
by Leland.  The walls of this tower are fourteen feet in thickness; its
diameter within is twenty-five feet, and its height to the top of the
dome seventy-five feet: from mortices in the walls, this tower appears to
have been divided into four floors.  The ruined chapel also is a
conspicuous object viewed externally;—and immediately underneath it, in
the body of the rock, is the Wogan, a grand cavern deemed natural: if it
be so, however, Nature has taken more pains in turning it correctly
circular, and raising its elevated roof, than she generally is found to
have done in works of this kind.  Its diameter is fifty-three feet; and
just within the entrance we observed a spiral staircase which led through
the rock to the chapel within the castle.  From the foundations of an
outwork, which we traced among shrubs and brambles on the margin of the
river, opposite the cavern’s mouth, it appears to have been less a place
of concealment than an avowed sally-port, or regular entrance from the
river.  The castle is remarkable in history for having been the
birth-place of Henry the Seventh; and also for the gallant defence that
it made for Charles the First.

About two miles from Pembroke, near the road to Tenby, is LAMPHEY COURT,
an episcopal palace belonging to the see of St. David’s; and, after the
alienation, a residence of Lord Essex’s, the favourite of Elizabeth.
This dilapidated structure is chiefly remarkable for a light parapet,
raised on arches encircling the building, similar to the one noticed at
Swansea.  From Pembroke, a road extends southward through an
uninteresting district to STACKPOOLE COURT, the seat of Lord Cawdor,
situated in a deep romantic valley near the sea-coast.  The mansion is
worthy of its noble owner; and the finely-wooded park and grounds exhibit
a more luxuriant verdure than might be expected so near a sea-beat
promontory.  A short distance westward, upon the coast, is St. Govin’s
chapel; and near it, a well of the same name, thought by the country
people to be miraculous in the cure of several disorders.  We have since
regretted our not visiting the sea-cliffs in this neighbourhood, which we
are told assume a very grand and romantic appearance.  In the same
neighbourhood we find described BOSHERSTON-MEER, “a pool of water so deep
that it could never be sounded; yet before a storm it is said to bubble,
foam, and make a noise so loud as to be heard at several miles distance.
The banks are of no great circumference at the top, but broader
downwards, and at a considerable depth is a great breach towards the sea,
which is about a furlong distant, and is supposed to have a subterraneous
communication with it.” {67}



CHAP. V.


LITTLE ENGLAND BEYOND WALES—MILFORD-HAVEN—WELCH BEAUTIES—HAVERFORDWEST
FAIR—THE TOWN, CASTLE, AND PRIORY—PICTON CASTLE—HUBBERSTON—MILFORD.

In the reign of Henry the First, a colony of Flemings, driven from their
country by an inundation, were permitted to settle in the western
neighbourhood of Milford-haven.  These were often attacked by the Welch,
but unsuccessfully: they soon extended their territory over a great part
of the county, and, in conjunction with the Normans, carried their arms
as far as Llanstephan.  Camden calls this district, “LITTLE ENGLAND
beyond Wales;” and the difference of appearance, customs, and language,
between the inhabitants of southern Pembrokeshire and their neighbours,
is strikingly obvious at the present day.  The tourist in
Caermarthenshire will scarcely meet a peasant who speaks a word of
English; but in an hour’s ride, towards Pembroke, he will find it
universally spoken.  I remarked this to mine host at Carew; who
exultingly assured me, that Pembrokeshire was out of Wales; that he (a
native of the place) was an Englishman; and that for his part he did not
understand any thing of the Welch gibberish.

The men, tall and well made, evidently incline more to the English
character than the Welch; yet they possess some personal traits distinct
from either: I imagined, indeed, in many of the peasantry a resemblance
to the present inhabitants of Flanders.  Although this corner of the
principality is the most remote from England, it is the most civilized.
This may be accounted for, from the commercial habits brought over by the
Flemings (which still continue) introducing the manners of other nations;
an advantage denied to the generality of the Welch, whose ancient
(perhaps wholesome) prejudices disinclined them to extensive commerce.

We took our final departure from Pembroke, on the road to Haverfordwest,
not without often looking back on the princely relics of its castle,
towering above the river: but, crossing a ridgy eminence, our attention
was diverted by the appearance of MILFORD-HAVEN.

This noble harbour, immortalized by the strains of our great dramatic
poet, is of an oblong figure; about ten miles in length, and from one to
two in width.  It is justly considered as the best and safest in Great
Britain, and inferior to none in Europe; abounding with the best
anchorage, and having five bays, ten creeks, and thirteen roads.  Two
forts that were erected in the time of Elizabeth on the opposite points
of the entrance, called Nangle and Dale blockhouses, are now neglected.

As a picturesque object, Milford-haven is chiefly interesting for its
noble sheet of water: its peaceable shores, rising in gentle hills, may
please from their flowing outline; but, uncloathed with wood, and
unbroken into crags or precipices, their sameness fails to interest an
eye habituated to bolder scenery.  The mouth of the haven, turning
suddenly southward, gives it from most points of view the appearance of a
lake.  It very strongly reminded me of several of the lakes in
Cumberland; but, although its surface is greater; the lakes far transcend
it in the accompanyments of rock and wood, and a sedgy margin that mixes
its verdure with the water: whereas the haven is surrounded by a broad
stripe of mud, except at high tide: this defect, however, is constituent
to all estuaries and tide rivers.  More richly decorative in their
scenery are the three branches of Milford-haven, which diverge at the
extremity of the great bason, and distribute fertility and beauty over
the principal part of Pembrokeshire. {71}  It was our intention to have
crossed these branches at Lawrenny and Landshipping, and to have taken
Picton castle and Slebatch in our way to Haverfordwest; but, not having a
whole day before us, considering the time due to the several objects, and
learning that the ferries were uncertain, we recollected our sufferings
at Carew, and by taking the direct road to Haverford avoided the risk of
being again benighted. {72}

We were detained at the ferry near an hour; for the embarkation and
passage of three carriages and their horses from the opposite side
occupied all the boats during that time.  But, although restless enough
ourselves, we were not the most anxious part of a company that was
waiting for a passage: several young men and near twenty young women, all
dressed in their holiday-clothes, were panting for the amusements of
Haverfordwest fair: perhaps a description of these lasses may convey some
idea of Pembrokean beauty.

Health, contentment, and cheerfulness, combined, formed their predominant
expression: yet it might be truly said, in the words of Gray,

    “O’er their warm cheeks and rising bosoms move,
    The bloom of young Desire, and purple light of Love,”

A roundish oval circumscribed their faces; their eyes, not over large, of
a dark blue, unstrained by the wakeful vigils of fashionable revelry,
displayed all the native brilliancy of those interesting organs; their
noses, though of the snub kind, were well formed; and pretty pouting lips
were ever ready to distend into a smile, on which occasion rows of ivory
appeared, such as could hardly be matched out of Pembrokeshire. {73}  The
tendency to _embonpoint_, so characteristic of the Welch woman, was by no
means displeasing in these young and elastic subjects; whatever was lost
in elegance, was compensated in another point of view; their necks, of
the most luxuriant prominence,

    “With youth wild throbbing”—

were modestly handkerchiefed to their throats; yet did the thin gauze
covering, closely embracing the proud distensions of nature, only the
more bewitchingly manifest the beauties which it was appointed to
conceal.  Their other proportions were in unison, and, as a jockey, who
was also going to the fair, coarsely, but clearly, observed, “full of
hard meat.”  In truth, among them, it were no difficult matter to find
what Homer would, call—ϑαλερῂν παρακοιτιν.  The dress of the Welch women,
however, is not calculated to set off their persons: a close mob cap has
little grace, especially when surmounted with a round felt hat; and their
very long waists, and brown or plaid cloth jackets and petticoats, but
render the rotundity of their foundations more unpicturesque.  It cannot
at present be said, that:

             —“their tender limbs
    Float in the loose simplicity of dress.”

yet, as the smart girls begin to imitate our English modes, in the course
of a few years every contour of nature may be as free public inspection
in Wales, as it is at present in the polite circles of the metropolis.

Crossing the ferry, we left this interesting group; and, in proceeding up
a high bank of the haven, enjoyed a fine view of its expansive surface,
and grand undulating shores.  About half-way to Haverfordwest a new scene
burst upon us, consisting of a wide luxuriant valley, watered by a large
arm of Milford-haven.  We were denied a distinct view of this scene by a
hazy atmosphere; but are informed that it is uncommonly rich and
extensive in clear weather.  On approaching the town of Haverfordwest up
a laborious ascent, we passed through the fair, which is held just
without the town.  Black cattle and horses were the chief objects of the
meeting, which had scarcely any diversions; no shews: nor any jugglers,
except a recruiting party, and two or three cattle jobbers, or middle
men, who agreed upon the price of the market, while the actual buyers and
sellers stood gaping at each other, in amazement how such prices could be
obtained!  Perhaps they had to learn, that for an _indispensable
commodity_, exclusively held by a set of men whose interests are common,
_any_ price may be obtained!  But we had some rural sports: a party of
rustics were dancing on the green, to the notes of a miserable scraper;
yet of him it could not be said,

    “Old Orpheus play’d so well he mov’d old Nick;
    But thou mov’st nothing but thy fiddle-stick,”

for the reeking brows of his company very plainly evinced the laborious
agitation that he had excited.  Close by, a game at see-saw seemed to
create much diversion among the bye-standers.  We joined in the throng,
and were entertained with a good-natured dispute between a comely lad and
as blythe a lass as any the fair could boast: they were in the midst of
their acquaintance; and we learned from one of them, that on the
following Sunday they were to be married: he wished her to ride with him
at see-saw, and she persisted in refusing; he hauled her to no purpose,
until a sharp-looking little girl said, that if she were in his place she
would put off the wedding for a fortnight, to be revenged; a loud laugh
succeeded this, at the expence of the bride-elect; but the allusion to
matrimony forced no downcast confusion on the lass; perhaps her rosy
dimples were painted with a deeper hue; yet the suffusion arose rather
from a glowing idea, than a sensation of unnecessary shame: wherefore
should she be ashamed of the approaching fulfilment of her long-cherished
wishes?—I do not know whether she feared that her lover might adopt the
advice of her mischievous friend, or whether it was the natural
compliance of the sex disqualifying them for stout denial, that acted
upon her; but she at length yielded.  Alas, poor damsel! she was not yet
an adept at see-saw; and a verification of Buxoma’s mischance was
witnessed by the whole Company:

    “_Cuddy_.—Across the fallen oak the plant I laid,
             And myself pois’d against the tott’ring maid.
             High leap’d the plank, adown Buxoma fell:
             I spy’d—but faithful sweethearts never tell.”

The town of HAVERFORDWEST irregularly built on the steep bank of the
river HIA, may now be considered as the capital of Pembrokeshire; as well
on account of its superior extent and opulence, as from its having lately
become the place of the grand session.  But the streets are narrow and
dirty, and so steep as to be seriously dangerous.  A few good houses,
among which is a residence of the dowager lady Kensington, start up here
and there; but in such situations, as to convey no look of importance to
the place.  However commerce may have diffused wealth through this town,
and proclaimed it the successful rival of Pembroke; yet, compared with
the clean, placid, and respectable mien of the latter, it ensures no
pre-eminence of esteem from the tourist: it may, indeed, present to him
the idea of a purse-proud shop-keeper, strutting before a decayed
gentleman.

The castle, seated on a cliff adjoining the town, is said to have been
built by Gilbert Earl of Clare, in the reign of King Stephen, and was
occupied by the Flemings.  Though still possessing considerable portions
of its former importance, yet, engrafted with modern additions to fit it
for the county jail, it has little picturesque attraction.  A wall
connected with the castle, which once surrounded the town, is still in
part standing: a good quay, a custom house, a free school, a charity
school, and an alms house, are among the public concerns of this town.
Of three churches that it boasts, that of St. Mary is a neat building;
and its spire, covered with shingles and warped from the perpendicular,
has a curious effect.  A short distance southward of the town, near the
river, are some remains of a priory of Black cantons, founded by John de
Haverford.

An excursion of three or four miles led us to PICTON CASTLE, the noble
seat of lord Milford, whose extensive domains cover a great part of the
surrounding country.  This may be considered as one of the most antique
residences in the kingdom, having been built by William de Picton, a
Norman knight, in the reign of William Rufus.  Upon his line’s becoming
extinct, it descended to the Wogans, then to the Dones, and afterwards to
the Philipses of Kylsant; and during the Civil Wars, Sir Richard Philips
made a long and vigorous defence in it for King Charles.  It is one of
the very few castles that escaped the dilapidations of Cromwell, and is
also remarkable for having been always inhabited; yet the alterations and
additions of successive occupiers have not deprived it of its embattled
figure.  The extensive and delightful plantations of this seat unite with
those of Slebatch, a handsome house built by the late Mr. Barlow, and now
in the possession of Mr. Philips.

In another excursion from Haverfordwest, passing Johnston, an old seat of
Lord Kensington’s, to the obliging communications of which nobleman I
feel myself greatly indebted, we reached HUBBERSTON HAIKIN, a fishing
town in Milford-haven, whence the Waterford packets depart from Britain.
This is a poor place, and ill-supplied with accommodation for travellers;
but at the still smaller town of MILFORD, on the opposite side of the
river, we were informed, a good inn is established.  Near Hubberston are
the small remains of a priory, consisting chiefly of the gate-house; but
of what foundation or order no legend informs us.



CHAP. VI.


JOURNEY OVER THE PRECELLY MOUNTAIN TO CARDIGAN—EXTENSIVE
PROSPECT—CARDIGAN—ST. DOGMAEL’S PRIORY—ANOTHER ROUTE FROM HAVERFORDWEST
TO CARDIGAN, BY ST.  DAVID’S—THE CATHEDRAL OF ST.  DAVID’S—GRAND RUINS OF
ITS PALACE—A LOGGAN, OR ROCKING STONE—RAMSAY
ISLAND—FISHGUARD—NEWPORT—KILGARRAN CASTLE—SALMON LEAP—NEWCASTLE.

The choice of our journey from Haverfordwest {81} to Cardigan was a
matter of some difficulty; we were desirous of traversing the Precelly
Mountain, but could not think of leaving the ruins of St. David’s
unexamined.  At last we hit upon the expedient of each taking a different
road: my companion, having the better horse, took the circuitous route by
St. David’s; and I, the direct road over the mountains.

Proceeding upon this arrangement two of three miles, I halted to take a
retrospective view of the country.  Haverfordwest new wore a singular
appearance, with its houses piled on each other; but, accompanied by a
fine river well furnished with vessels, and by its bridge and massive
castle, it presented an agreeable picture.  At some distance westward,
the lofty tower of Roche castle was conspicuous; and partly in the same
direction, the Trogan rocks, rising from the verdure in abrupt crags, so
as to be generally mistaken for stupendous ruins.  Turning to the east,
within a short distance appeared an ancient encampment called ST.
LEONARD’S RATHE, crowning a bold eminence; this work is circular, and,
from the height of its vallum and depth of its ditch, may be attributed
to the Saxons.

As I advanced from this spot I parted with the beauties of the country:
no objects of interest occurred; the unadorned views became compressed in
narrow limits, until at length they were shut up in mountainous hollows.
In this dreary track stands a poor solitary house called New inn, half
way between Haverford and Cardigan: however, I here obtained part of a
goose for my dinner, and then proceeded up the PRECELLY MOUNTAIN.

This mountain, reckoned the highest in South Wales, is part of a great
ridge crossing Pembrokeshire in a direction East and West.  On gaining
the summit, a prodigious extent of prospect burst upon me.  In front, a
wild hilly tract, yet not undiversified with patches of cultivation,
stretched nearly to the northern confines of South Wales, where the pale
summit of Plinlimmon, in Montgomeryshire, might be just distinguished
from the atmospheric blue: more westward, beyond a vast expanse of sea,
like a doubtful mist rising from it, appeared Bardsey island, and the
neighbouring shores in Caernarvonshire; and looking across the miserable
country about Fishguard and St. David’s, my guide assured me, that “on a
very clear day a very good eye might discover the mountains of Ireland;”
but, I confess, it was not my good fortune to discover any such
appearance.  On looking backward, the whole of the interesting country
that I had travelled in the neighbourhood of Milford-haven appeared in
one comprehensive though distant display.  From dwelling a considerable
time on these extensive scenes, I traversed an uninteresting country made
up of lumpy hills, and left Pembrokeshire in crossing the handsome old
bridge of Cardigan.

CARDIGAN (in Welch chronicles Abertivy {84}) is a neat respectable town,
though many of its streets are narrow and steep, seated on the north bank
of the river Tivy, near its junction with the sea: the river is navigable
for ships of small burthen up to the quay, which enables the inhabitants
to carry on a pretty brisk trade with Ireland.  This town, though small,
is governed by a mayor, thirteen aldermen, and as many common councilmen.
The ruins of its castle, appearing on a low cliff at the foot of the
bridge, are very inconsiderable, scarcely showing more than the fragments
of two circular bastions overgrown with ivy; yet it was once a large and
important fortress.  Its foundation is ascribed to Gilbert de Clare,
about the year 1160; but it was soon after taken, and in part destroyed,
by Rhys ap Gryffith. {85}

Here are also the remains of a priory of Black monks, which was dedicated
to St. Mary, and was subordinate to the abbey of Chertsey in Surrey.

Near Cardigan, in the year 1136, the English army, commanded by Ranolph
earl of Chester, was shamefully worsted, and the two barons Robert Fitz
Roger and Pain Fitz John, with 3000 others, slain on the spot, besides a
great number drowned by the fall of a bridge.  In this battle the English
soldiers appeared to be planet-struck, surrendering themselves prisoners
to mere old women; and the general with a few men made their escape not
without great difficulty.

                     [Picture: St. Dogmael’s Priory]

Early in the morning after my reaching Cardigan, I made an excursion in
search of ST. DOGMAEL’S PRIORY, about a mile and a half distant.  This
fragment of antiquity is very much dilapidated, and boasts scarcely any
picturesque appearance; the few parts standing are converted into barns,
sheds, and habitations; but enough remains to shew the original extent of
the church; which was cruciform, of no considerable dimensions, and of
the early Gothic style; in the cemetery adjoining the ruin, and the
village church,

    —“a church-yard yew,
    Decay’d and worn with age,”

has a pleasing characteristic effect: and here the scene, finely
interspersed with wood, and overlooking the Tivy, is undoubtedly
picturesque.  This priory was founded for Benedictine monks by Martin de
Turribus, a Norman chieftain, who first conquered the surrounding
territory called Kames or Kemish, and deluged it with the blood of its
natives.  This was a common trick for cheating the devil, practised by
the organized plunderers of that day.  After pillaging a country, and
enslaving or massacreing the legitimate proprietors, they hoped to
expiate their crime, and quell the rising qualms of conscience, by
appropriating a part of their booty to a monkish foundation—to a set of
idle jugglers, scarcely less inimical to the rights of society, though
less ferocious, than themselves.

Returning to the inn, I rejoined my fellow-tourist, who had just
completed his circuit of between forty and fifty miles round the coast:
of this route I learn the following particulars:

From Haverfordwest the road passes neat the elevated ruin of Roche
castle; thence extends through a wild dreary country, near St. Bride’s
dangerous bay, and crossed the romantic creek of Solva to the once
flourishing city of ST. DAVID’S, now in appearance an inconsiderable
village.  This deserted place occupies a gentle eminence on that
projecting rocky cape called St. David’s head.  In a sheltered hollow
beneath the town, are the noble ruins of the Metropolitan episcopacy of
Wales; yet the CATHEDRAL OF ST. DAVID’S, though long a mouldering pile,
having lately undergone a thorough repair, with a just attention to the
antique style of architecture, now appears in renewed magnificence.  This
venerable structure is cruciform, of large dimensions, and of the early
Gothic architecture, though not without much of the high-wrought
fret-work additions of later ages.  The nave alone wears all the
simplicity of its original construction; the tower, highly ornamented,
rises from the middle of the church to the height of 127 feet; Bishop
Vaughan’s chapel behind the choir, and the dilapidated one of St. Mary’s,
exhibit all the elegant tracery of the ornamented Gothic; as does also
the chapter-house, and St. Mary’s hall, now a ruin.  Among the numerous
ancient monuments that are to be met with in the church and its chapels,
those of Owen Tudor, and Edward Earl of Richmond, father of Henry the
VIIth, both situated near the middle of the choir, are worthy of notice.

The episcopal palace is a superb ruin, surmounted with a light parapet
raised upon arches, in the style of Swansea castle and Lamphey court.
“The area of the great court is 120 feet square; on the east side of
which is the Bishop’s hall, 58 feet in length, and 23 in breadth; the
King’s hall, on the south side, is 88 feet by 80.  This grand saloon is
said to have been built expressly for the reception of King John, on his
return from Ireland in 1211.”  But we are informed by Godwin, that the
palace itself was not erected until about the year 1335: which must be an
anachronism, unless the story of King John be unfounded.  The first hall
is a grand room; but the latter has been particularly splendid.  Over the
fine arched entrance are the statues of King John and his queen; and at
the cast end is a curious circular window with bars diverging from the
centre, still in a perfect condition.  The chapel containing the remains
of a font, and kitchen amply furnished with four chimneys, are also
entire: nor are the forsaken apartments deficient in proofs of the regal
splendor assumed by the Romish pastors of Christian humility.

Many ruinous buildings, once habitations of ecclesiastical functionaries,
surround the cathedral; yet sufficient are kept in repair for the
diminished number of officers now appointed: the cathedral service is,
nevertheless, performed with an attention that would do credit to more
eminent establishments.  The whole of these buildings are inclosed by a
wall eleven hundred yards in circumference.

St. David’s is supposed to have been a Roman station, the Octapitarum of
Ptolemy; and here St. Patrick is said to have founded a monastery to the
honour of St. Andrew in the year 470: to this place St. David translated
the archbishopric of Wales, from Caerleon, about the year 577, and
founded the cathedral, which was afterwards dedicated to him; but the
primacy was withdrawn, and annexed to that of Canterbury, in the reign of
Henry the First.  Here also a college was founded for a master and seven
priests by John Duke of Lancaster, in conjunction with his wife and the
Bishop of the diocese, in the year 1369.

At the extremity of St. David’s promontory is a disjointed craig; so
large, that it is supposed a hundred oxen could not drag it away; but so
placed on smaller stones, as to have been easily rocked by the pressure
of a man’s hand. {91}

In druidical ages, this formed the grand ordeal: if a man was to appear
guilty, the priests managed that he should apply his pressure near the
axis, and the stone remained immoveable; but if his peace or priest
offerings were deemed commensurate to his sins, he was instructed to lean
near the extremity, and it easily gave way.  Near this head-land is
Ramsay island, a fruitful little spot, and once particularly so in
holiness, if we may credit ancient histories, which state that no less
than twenty thousand saints lie interred in it.  The dangerous rocks
called the Bishop and his Clerks, near this island, are covered with wild
fowl in the breeding season.

The road continues on a barren tempestuous waste to Fishguard, a
miserable fishing town, only remarkable for the late descent of 1400
French invaders, who, after a few days possession of the neighbourhood,
surrendered to the Welch peasantry, headed by Lord Cawdor.  Newport, a
few miles farther, is another poor fishing town, at the bottom of a small
bay: the ruined castle, seated on a hill above the town, was built by the
Anglo-norman settlers in 1215, but afterwards nearly destroyed by
Llewellyn.  In Nevern churchyard, near Newport, is the shaft of a stone
cross about thirteen feet high, curiously carved all over with scrolls
and knots.  At Pentere Evau, in Nevern parish, is a circle of rude
stones, 150 feet in circumference; in the midst whereof is a cromlech
{92} of great dimensions: in the same parish is another altar monument,
called Llech-y-drybedh, having a furrow in the flat stone, which might be
to carry off the blood of the victims.  In Grose’s Antiquities, five
stone altars are stated to be in this neighbourhood, and also four
barrows; one of which, on being opened, was found to contain five urns
full of burnt bones.  Nothing worthy of particular notice occurs from
this spat to Cardigan.

We projected an aquatic excursion, to explore the scenery of the Tivy;
but, the tide not answering, we were obliged to desert the river for two
or three miles, and proceed by land to Kilgarran.  The Tivy above
Cardigan becomes environed by high hills, whose approaching bases
contract the bed of the river, changing its character from a broad and
majestic, to an impetuous eddying stream: the sides of these hills rise
from the water in almost perpendicular steepness, yet clothed with trees
from the river’s brink to their ridgy summits.  In the midst of this
imbowered glen, a naked rock, crowned with the truly picturesque remains
of Kilgarran castle, proudly advances, and forms a striking contrast to
the dark rich verdure that prevails in the other accompanyments of the
river.

                       [Picture: Kilgarran Castle]

The position of Kilgarran castle is nearly on all sides self-defended;
but on the isthmus that connects the projecting rock with the main land,
two ponderous round towers seem to have formerly defied the assault of
war, as they now do that of pilfering dilapidation.  The broken walls,
watch-towers, and apartments that compose the minor parts of this
fortress, bespeak it to have been of no great original extent, or highly
ornamented; yet the scattered relics, variously interwoven with ivy,
offer an appearance from most points of view highly imposing and grand.

The foundation of the castle is uncertain, and the styles of different
ages appear throughout the building.  According to Carradoc, this
fortress was erected about the year 1222, when Marshall Earl of Striquil
(Chepstow) vanquished the Welch under their Prince Gruffydth, and gained
an undisputed footing in these parts.  The town of Kilgarran is
diminished into one street, thinly inhabited by labouring farmers and
fishermen.

In a romantic hollow, a mile or two higher up, the Tivy, throwing itself
over a ledge of rock in one bold sheet, though not more than six feet in
depth, forms a salmon leap generally esteemed the most remarkable in
Wales.  The salmon, in its course up the river, meeting with the fall,
coils itself into a circle, and by a sudden distension springs up the
precipice, and cleaves the torrent with astonishing vigour; {94} yet it
is frequently baffled, and greatly amuses the spectator with its repeated
attempts to overleap the cataract.  We were not entertained with this
display of strength and agility on our visit, but were much interested by
the curious means employed in catching the fish.  The fisherman is seated
in a sort of canoe, called a coracle, formed of open basket-work of thin
laths, covered with a horse’s hide, or a well-pitched piece of
sail-cloth: the vessel is of a figure nearly oval, about four feet and a
half long and three wide, yet so light as to be carried with ease on the
man’s shoulder from his home to the river: in this he whirls among the
eddies of the river; with a paddle in one hand, he alters or accelerates
his course with surprizing dexterity; while with the other he manages the
net, the line being held between his teeth.  In this way the fishing in
most of the rivers of Wales is pursued.  Coracles have been peculiar to
British rivers from time immemorial.  Lucan very clearly describes them;
and in latter times, Sir Walter Raleigh relates, that “the Britons had
boats made of willow twigs covered on the outside with hides.”

Near the water-fall is a manufacture of iron and tinned plates, belonging
to Sir Benjamin Hammet.  Two or three miles higher up the river is
NEWCASTLE, a small irregular town situated upon its banks, and graced
with the venerable ruins of a castle, but of no great antiquity.  Thence
a road of twenty miles extends through a dreary uninteresting country to
Caermarthen.

A more romantic and sequestered path than is traced beside “the hollow
stream that roars between the hills” from Lechryd bridge to Llangoedmor
on the north margin of the river, can scarcely be imagined; continuing
upwards of two miles, beneath the umbrage of its high and well-wooded
banks, and commanding delightful landscapes of the sombre kind at every
turn.  In the parish of Llangoedmor, we learned, there were several
monuments of the druidical ages: one is a remarkably large cromlech; the
flat stone being eight or nine yards in circumference, with one edge
resting on the ground: there is a smaller monument of the same kind near
it; also a circle of rude stones about twelve yards round; and five beds
of loose stones, each about six feet over.  Llechly gowress (the stone of
a giantess) in the parish of Neuodh, also near Cardigan, is another very
large cromlech; and near it is a parcel of large hewn stones nineteen in
number; which, it is said by the vulgar, cannot be counted.



CHAP. VII.


LLANARTH—ABERAERON—LLANSANFRIED—LLANRHYSTID—AN ENQUIRY INTO A STRANGE
ASSERTED CUSTOM RELATING TO THE MODE OF COURTSHIP IN
WALES—LLANBADARNVAWR—ABERISTWYTH, AND ITS CASTLE.

We left Cardigan on the road to Aberistwyth, and soon entered upon the
same dreary kind of country that we noticed in the north and north-west
of Pembrokeshire.  At the poor village of Blaneporth, on the left of the
road, is a large circular area encompassed by a moat, which is most
probably the remains of a British fortification.  Castel-Yn-dalig, a mile
or two further, is a similar work, but much larger and less distinct.
Thence we began to ascend a tract of lofty hills (leaving Penrhyn church
on our left near the sea-shore {98}), and, gaining a considerable
eminence, enjoyed an uninterrupted view over the whole sweep of
Cardigan’s extensive bay.  This bay, from its southern limit,
Strumblehead near Fishguard, stretching northward, extends a vast gulph
into North Wales, and is at length terminated by Bardsey island in
Caernarvonshire: it often proves a shelter to ships in the Irish trade,
and contains several good harbours.  The effect of this extensive display
from the great elevations that we traversed was extremely striking;
stretching from beneath us to a remote horizon the sea, exhibited a
silvery surface of immense magnitude; while the shores presented an
endless variety of bold advancing promontories, overhanging cliffs, and
high swelling mountains wild and desolate; yet here and there a stripe of
green meadow appeared on a favoured slope, and a few woody plantations
disclosed themselves through picturesque hollows.  In the distant
boundary of Caernarvonshire, the projecting and receding hills about
Pulhelly bay were conspicuous; opposed to these, the superior magnitude
of Cader-Idris arrested the attention, towering among the craggy summits
of the Merionethshire mountains.  From the bay our view roamed over a
dreary uninteresting tract of country, to a ridge of mountains, whose
broken outline mixing with the clouds defined the entrance of
North-Wales; where, proudly rising above competition, the confederated
mountains, forming the pile of “Mighty Plinlimmon,” appear in all their
majesty.

The consideration of these distant objects, and the attention demanded by
a stumbling horse, were my chief employments from Cardigan to
Aberistwyth: yet the general tediousness of our ride, upon a rocky track
here called a turnpike, had some relief as we passed through LLANARTH, a
_market-town_, consisting of half a dozen huts seated in a romantic
hollow; and ABERAERON, about four miles further, a neat village near the
seashore, pleasingly situated at the entrance of an abrupt well-wooded
valley.  Near its picturesque bridge there is a more comfortable inn than
might be expected in so retired a situation; and, as it afterwards
appeared, the only tolerable one between Cardigan and Aberistwyth.  From
this place the road, bordering the sea-shore, became more level; and we
soon came within view of the fragments of a castle on the beach, the
greater part of which appears to have been washed away by the action of
the sea.  This fort was probably erected by the Normans to cover their
landing or retreat, when, in the reign of William Rufus, they fitted out
a fleet, and, descending on the coast of Cardiganshire, conquered or
ravaged the maritime country to a considerable distance.  Most of the
principal towns then fell into their hands, upon which they affected the
government; but, as a measure of no less necessity than policy, assigned
their power to Kadugan ap Bledin, a British chief of high authority, who
strictly adhered to their interest.  His son Owen however, rashly
attacking the Normans and Flemings who had lately settled in the
neighbouring territory southward, was, with his father, obliged to fly
into Ireland.  Henry the First then entrusted the country to Gilbert
Clare, who raised many fortifications within the district.  Kadugan and
his son Owen were nevertheless soon after restored to their lands; but
this son, committing fresh incursions, was slain by Gerald of Pembroke,
whose wife Nestra he had carried away.  Old Kadugan became a prisoner in
England for a length of time, but was in the end restored to his estates;
when he was suddenly stabbed by his nephew Madok.  Henry the Second
afterwards gave this tract of country to Roger de Clare; whose son
Richard earl of Clare being slain in a contest with the Welch, Rhys,
prince of South-Wales, attacked and vanquished the Anglo-Normans with
great slaughter, and reduced them under his dominion.  But by degrees
Cardigan returned to the hands of the English until the final conquest of
the country by Edward the First.

We soon after passed through the dreary village of LLANSANSFRIED, where a
monastery is conjectured to have existed; and about two miles further
entered LLANRHYSTID, which place is assigned to be the site of another.

As we entered the latter village, “the dark mists of night” fell over us.
We therefore finished our day’s journey at the Red Lion inn, a tolerably
decent ale-house, where we were presently joined by a man in a labourer’s
habit, whom we had observed on the road in very gallant intercourse with
a peasant girl, and had rallied on the occasion; yet were we not a little
surprized at finding him not only a man of extensive information, but a
classical scholar and a well-bred gentleman.  On his leaving the room, we
had an opportunity of enquiring who this character was, and learned from
our landlord that he was a native ’squire, who lived about ten miles
distant, who till lately had been in orders and officiated in London; but
on the death of his father had thrown off the gown and become a man of
pleasure.  “Though he is so shabbily dressed,” said our host, “it is only
a frolic, for he is a very able man.”  Now, as the term _able_ in Wales
is synonymous with rich in other places, we enquired the amount of his
income, and found it to be _near a hundred a year_.

This gentleman proved a most agreeable and useful companion during the
evening; but we were sorry to observe in him a professed Epicurean; the
gratification of his appetites he declared to be his great object, and
defended his practice on what he termed the fundamental principles of
nature; nor was he in want of an ingenious sophism against every point of
attack.  We concluded that this gentleman’s habits would qualify him with
due knowledge on a singular custom that is said to prevail in Wales,
relating to their mode of courtship; which is declared to be carried on
in bed; and, what is more extraordinary, it is averred, that the moving
tale of love is agitated in that situation without endangering a breach
in the preliminaries.  Mr. Pratt, in his “Gleanings,” thus affirms
himself an _eye-witness_ of the process: “The servant-maid of the family
I visited in Caernarvonshire happened to be the object of a young
peasant, who walked eleven long miles every Sunday morning to favour his
suit; he usually arrived in time for morning’s service, which he
constantly attended; after which he escorted his dulcinea home to the
house of her master, by whose permission they as constantly passed the
succeeding hours in bed, according to the custom of the country.  This
tender intercourse continued without any interruption near two years,
when the treaty of alliance was solemnized.”  Our companion, like every
one else that we spoke with in Wales on the subject, at once denied the
existence of this custom: that maids in many instates admitted male
bed-fellows, he did not doubt; but that the procedure was sanctioned by
_tolerated custom_ he considered a gross misrepresentation.  Yet in
Anglesea and some parts of North Wales, where the original simplicity of
manners and high sense of chastity of the natives is retained, he
admitted _something of the kind_ might appear.  In those thinly inhabited
districts, a peasant often has several miles to walk after the hours of
labour, to visit his mistress; those who have reciprocally entertained
the _belle passion_ will easily imagine, that before the lovers grow
tired of each other’s company the night will be far enough advanced; nor
is it surprizing, that a tender-hearted damsel should be disinclined to
turn her lover out over bogs and mountains until the dawn of day.  The
fact is, that under such circumstances she admits a _consors lecti_, but
not _in nudatum corpus_.  In a lowly Welch hut, this bedding has not the
alarm of ceremony: from sitting or perhaps lying on the hearth, they have
only to shift their quarters to a heap of straw or fern covered with two
or three blankets in a neighbouring cornet.  The practice only takes
place with _this view of accommodation_.

At an early hour in the morning we left our “flinty couch” at
Llanrhystid; though rendered, by a day of healthful fatigue, “a
thrice-driven bed of down;” and, skirting the sea, the resumed the views
of the preceding day.  Advancing about two miles, we remarked, on a
gentle eminence in a field to the left of the road; several rough-hewn
stones patched over with the “moss of the centuries:” two of these,
remaining upright, are massive paralellopipeds, from eight to ten feet
high, standing within a yard or two of each other; among the other stones
lying about in different directions, I could trace no indication of a
circle; it has, however, been supposed to be a Druidical temple; although
the two upright stones might rather seem to mark the “narrow house” of
some departed warrior.  We soon after descended into the abrupt vale of
Ystwith, and crossed its river over a picturesque bridge, venerably
mantled with ivy. {106}  Our route continued over the high ridgy hills
that divide the parallel vales of Ystwith and Rhydol, the latter of which
presented an agreeable contrast to the dreary country through which we
had travelled from within a few miles of Haverfordwest.—Here, among
extensive meadows of the richest verdure, the meandering Rhydol wantons
its fantastic course.  On a gentle eminence near its banks, in the midst
of the valley, appears the embowered town of LLANBADARN-VAWR, a
picturesque though deserted spot, yet once a Roman city, and afterwards
the seat of an Episcopacy and Monastery established by St. Paternus in
the beginning of the sixth century.  The church is yet a handsome
building.  Between this town and the sea-coast is a small ancient
fortification, consisting of a square area surrounded by a wall with a
tower at one of the angles.  A range of wild hills, backed by the
stupendous Plinlimmon, forms the opposite boundary of this valley; and at
its termination in the sea-coast, the town of Aberistwyth appears in a
very picturesque light on the brink of the sea, with its ruined castle on
a gentle rise to the left.

ABERISTWYTH is a less agreeable town on entering it, than as a distant
object.  Most of the streets are narrow and ill-paved; and the stone used
being of a black colour, gives the whole rather a dirty appearance; but
this remark is not applicable to some houses that have lately sprung up
for the genteel company which resorts to it in the bathing-season.  Nor
must I mention the bathing at Aberistwyth, without observing, that it is
conducted with more propriety than at any other watering-place that I
have seen in England or Wales.  The ladies’ and gentlemen’s machines are
placed nearly a quarter of a mile asunder; and the indecency of
promiscuous dipping, so disgusting at more fashionable resorts, is in
consequence avoided: the bathing too is excellent, with a good sandy
bottom at all hours of the tide.

The castle, seated on a craggy eminence projecting into the sea, westward
of the town, is so much dilapidated, as scarcely to present a
characterizing form: but there is an agreeable public walk traced through
the ruin, which commands a view of the sea and the neighbouring coast;
with the little port (common to the Rhydol and Ystwith rivers) well
filled with fishing vessels just below the cliff.  This spot is also
enlivened by a tasteful residence of Lady Juliana Penn’s, lately erected
near the ruin, with much appropriate effect, in the form of a gatehouse.
Aberistwyth castle was founded by Gilbert de Strongbow, son of Richard de
Clare, in the reign of Henry the First; but soon after its erection it
fell into the hands of the Welch princes, and was destroyed in their
intestine quarrels.  Powell says, that the present castle was built by
Edward the First, anno 1277, a short time before the complete conquest of
Wales.  It appears to have been a strong place, as a garrison of King
Charles maintained it for some time after his death.

Among the mountains in the neighbourhood of Aberistwyth, a number of lead
and silver mines were discovered about three centuries back; and in the
reign of Elizabeth a company of Germans reaped a great fortune in the
enterprize of working them.  Sir Hugh Middleton, after them, was equally
successful, netting 2000_l._ a month out of one silver mine.  He was
succeeded by a Mr. Bushel, who also gained immense profit from the works;
insomuch that in the civil wars he made King Charles a present of a
regiment of horse, and clothed his whole army.  The company of
mine-adventurers worked these mines also with success, until they fell
out among themselves, to their own injury, and that of the mining
interest throughout the country; and I believe that these works have been
deserted ever since.



CHAP. VIII.


BARRIER OF NORTH AND SOUTH WALES—THE DEVIL’S BRIDGE—GRAND CATARACT OF THE
MYNACH—CWM YSTWITH HILLS—HAFOD—ANCIENT ENCAMPMENTS—STARFLOWER
ABBEY—TREGARRON—ROMAN ANTIQUITIES AT LLANDEWI BREVI—LAMPETER—LLANSAWEL
EDWIN’S FORD—LLANDILO.

We were detained at Aberistwyth by the continuance of a violent rain
which had deluged the neighbourhood for several days.  At length a
cessation of the storm allowed us to resume our journey, though not to
perform a projected excursion to the summit of Plinlimmon, which is only
free from clouds in very fair weather.  Returning up the hilly confines
of the valley, we again admired the meandering Rhydol, and its gentle
accompanyment; but following its course, as we advanced through a wild
romantic district, the character of the valley soon changed; dark wooded
hills, aspiring to the dignity of mountains, advanced their shagged sides
toward the stream, and, gradually closing to an impervious glen, shut up
the river in their recess.  Beyond these hills rose the broken line of
mountains forming the termination of South Wales, where mighty
Plinlimmon, lord of the boundary, raised his stupendous head in majestic
desolation, though half concealed by eddying clouds: the whole scene
exhibited unfettered nature in her wildest mood.  A pouring rain that now
fell over us circumscribed our desert prospects, while we proceeded over
uncultivated hills, with scarcely a token of society, to the DEVIL’S
BRIDGE.

                      [Picture: The Devil’s Bridge]

The cataract that is here formed by the falls of the Mynach saluted us
with its thundering roar, long ere we approached it; but, as we drew
near, the strong verberation, rebellowed by surrounding cavernous rocks,
seemed to convulse the atmosphere!  We hastily put up our horses at the
Hafod arms, a solitary inn; and in a few paces found ourselves on the
bridge, suspended over a gulph at which even recollection shudders.  This
bridge bestrides a lane of almost perpendicular rocks, patched with wood,
whose summits are here scarcely five yards asunder.  At a terrific depth
in the glen rages unseen the impetuous Mynach, engulphed beneath
protruding craigs and pendant foliage: but on looking over the parapet,
the half-recoiling sight discovers the phrenzied torrent, in one volume
of foam, bursting into light, add threatening, as it breaks against the
opposing rocks, to tear the mountains from their strong foundations;
then, instantly darting into the black abyss beneath, it leaves the
imagination free to all the terrors of concealed danger.  With emotions
of awe, nor without those of fear, we climbed down the side of the rock
assisted by steps that were cut in it, and with some peril reached the
level of the darkened torrent; where, standing on a projecting craig
against which the river bounded, immersed in its spray and deafened by
its roar, we involuntarily clung to the rock.  The impression of terror
subsiding, left us at liberty to examine the features of the scene.
Nearly over our heads appeared the bridge attributed to the handy-works
of the Devil; but a less cunning workman might have thrown an arch across
a fissure of a few feet span; and indeed the native mason who, about 50
years since, built the bridge now used, standing perpendicularly over the
old one, has constructed the best arch of the two.  The original bridge
was built by the Monks of Starflower Abbey near 700 years since.  Nor is
the singular appearance of these arches devoid of picturesque effect;
being tastefully besprinkled with verdure, and relieved by the
intervention of numerous branchy trees: while the naked black opposing
cliffs, worn out into curious hollows by the torrents, exhibit as bold a
rocky chasm as ever was traced by the pencil of Salvator.

On climbing from this hollow, we proceeded two or three hundred yards to
the left of the bridge, and again descended a fearful track, to witness
the grand FALLS OF THE MYNACH.  Under the direction of a guide, we
reached the ordinary station with little difficulty, where the view of
the cataract disclosed itself with considerable effect, in four separate
cascades; though, from the great fall’s being divided by the intervention
of a projecting rock, they appeared too much alike: the eye, accustomed
to picturesque disposition, in vain sought to fix itself on a pre-eminent
feature.  I wished to get lower, but it seemed impracticable: emboldened,
however, by the example of our guide, I clambered upon the edge of an
immense perpendicular strata of rock, to nearly the lower channel of the
torrent; when the cataract appeared in the most perfect disposition
imaginable: the great fall displayed itself in uninterrupted superiority,
and the lesser ones retired as subordinate parts.  The perpendicular
descent of this cataract is not less than two hundred and ten feet; the
first fall is not more than twenty feet; the next increases to sixty; the
third diminishes to about twenty; then, after a momentary pause, the
torrent bounds over a shelving rook in one tremendous fall of one hundred
and ten feet, and soon unites with the Rhydol, here a similar mountain
torrent.

                      [Picture: Falls of the Mynach]

This grand cataract receives no inconsiderable augmentation of terrific
appearance from the black stratified rocks forming the glen down which it
thunders; nor can the beholder, however firm his mind, divest himself of
terror, while, near the bottom of an abyss for ever denied a ray of sun,
he views the menacing torrent bursting before him; or contemplates its
foaming course tearing at his feet among craigs that its fury has
disjoined.  If he ventures to look up the acclivitous rock, more real
danger threatens his return, when a devious balance or false step would
ensure his certain destruction.  Yet from the horrors of this gloomy
chasm some favoured projections relieve the imagination, ornamented by
the light and tasteful penciling of the mountain ash, intermixed with
vigorous sapling oaks; while here and there a tree of riper years, unable
to derive support from the scanty soil, falls in premature decay a
prostrate ruin.—I have seen water-falls more picturesquely grand than the
cataract of the Mynach, but none more awfully so, not even excepting the
celebrated fells of Lowdore and Scaleforce in Cumberland.

Climbing from this scene of terrors, I rejoined my companion, and at the
Haford Arms obtained a change of clothes; a comfort which, although wet
to the skin for several hours, I should still longer have denied myself,
had not the approach of night forced me from the Mynach’s interesting
scenery.  Our active hostess quickly provided a tolerable dinner of
mutton chops; and, cheered by a good peat-fire and a bottle of wine, we
listened to the torrent’s roar without dismay.  On the following morning
we did not neglect to revisit the romantic glen.  The weather was fine;
and, the effect of the late rains having subsided, the bulk of the
torrent had much diminished; yet did the scene gain in beauty what it
lost in terrific grandeur; for the intermingling foliage, darting from
opposite sides of the glen, and reflecting various tints and degrees of
light, softened the asperitous black rocks, and spread a lively net-work
over the gloom.

Upon our preparing for the renewal of our journey, a material difficulty
occurred; my poney was so completely knocked up, that he had not, as the
jockeys phrase it, “a leg to stand on.”  The alternative in this case was
to buy another; and upon enquiry I found that my landlord had one to
dispose of, which was forthwith produced.  This was a good-sized poney,
with plenty of bone, but ill-made; he had, however, an excellent
character: his knees too were sadly broken; but a circumstantial tale
shewed that to be the effect of accident, and not habitual awkwardness:
upon the whole, he did not seem dear at the price demanded, which was
only five guineas: a bargain was therefore struck, the saddle transferred
from the invalid to the back of my new purchase; and after given
directions for the return of the former, which by the way incurred an
expence more than his value, we set forward for the celebrated grounds of
Hafod, about two miles distant.

Our road lay on the steep bank of the Mynach, commanding a full view of
the glen, and its romantic bridge.  Then ascending the Cwm Ystwith hill,
through a current of clouds, we gained from its summit an uninterrupted
view of the whole range of North Walean mountains, stretching from the
English counties to the great bay of Cardigan: the intervening hollows
were concealed by fields of mist; so that the uncultivated heights
exhibited a scene as rugged as when

    “—Nature first made man,
    Ere the base laws of servitude began,
    And wild in woods the noble savage ran.”

We now took a farewel view of the Mynach’s glen, and quitted its
interesting scenery, with such sensations as one feels in losing a friend
whose intercourse has afforded both pleasure and improvement.  We then
descended to the vale of Ystwith, but unenlivened by its scenery, for a
morning mist floated through the valley and spread a veil over its
charms.  A handsome park gate announced the entrance of HAFOD, and the
thundering of an unseen waterfall formed a grand symphony to the
spectacle that we were soon to witness.—Almost immediately the cloud of
mist disappeared, rising like a huge curtain before us, and discovered
such an assemblage of beauties, of cheerful walks and silent glens, of
woody precipices, shadowy glades, garden thickets and waterfalls, that,
considered with the barren wilds of the surrounding country, it secured a
second Paradise rising from a newly-subsided chaos.  This charming place,
occupying a deep narrow valley, watered by the Ystwith, is the creation
of Col. Johnes, whose persevering genius has forced a mantle of wood upon
rocky precipices where nature seemed to deny the access of verdure, and
who in his elegant and useful projects of farther improvement gives
employment to the country around.  Upon a spot judiciously chosen, where
the banks of the valley gently incline, and the coverture of lofty woods
afford a shelter from the north-eastern winds, stands the mansion, with a
sloping lawn in front, commanding a comprehensive view of the enchanting
valley; which if Dryden could but see, he would wish to recall the line,

    “God never made his works for man to mend.”

On putting ourselves under the direction of the gardener, we were first
led to the kitchen-garden, furnished with extensive forcing-houses, and
replete with every necessary appendage.  The flower-garden also displayed
its appropriate charms; but from these atchievements of art we turned,
without regret, to where the bold hand of nature reared the scene in
stupendous majesty;

             “There along the dale,
    With woods o’erhung, and shagg’d with mossy rocks,
    Where on each hand the gushing waters play,
    And down the rough cascade white dashing fall,”

we passed, enamoured with the incessant though congenial variety of our
subject.  After visiting the cold bath, a small sequestered building, a
mazy walk romantically traced by the side of a brawling torrent, and
amidst tangled shrubberies, led to a small cascade; and soon after a
superior waterfall engaged our attention, where the whole volume of the
Ystwith burst over a ledge of rocks in a composition truly grand and
picturesque.  But a scene of awful sublimity disclosed itself on
exploring a dark cavernous passage in a rock and reaching its extremity,
where a lofty cascade of transcendent beauty, throwing itself over a
strata of black rocks, bounded close to the opening of the cave, and
shrouded the aperture with its spray, as it became engulphed in a dark
chasm beneath.

The towering mountains clothed with myriads of oaks, which environ this
remarkable valley, afford a diversity of walks and combinations of view,
to describe which words would be inadequate, and prove at best but
tedious.  A walk of twelve miles scarcely comprises a complete survey of
the grounds, as we are told; but, being pressed for time, our
perambulation was confined to a much smaller space; yet enough was seen
to convince us that this is one of the most delightful rural retreats in
the kingdom.

The mansion is a handsome modern edifice; in the Gothic style of
architecture; which idea is perfectly consonant with the romantic cast of
the scenery; and the general outline of the building is certainly
pleasing: but we were sorry that Col. Johnes had not been better advised
in the execution of this design, which though we had read of, in one
place, as built “in the _most correct taste_,” and in another as “a
mansion in the _Italian_ style,” we found to be a heterogeneous jumble;
wherein a bastard sort of Greek and Saxon architecture was blended with
the prevailing Gothic.  The house internally we understood to be richly
fitted up, and furnished with an excellent library, but did not visit it;
for, though the _demand_ of five shillings for the gardener’s attendance
was willingly paid, yet the same sum, which we found would be required by
the housekeeper, appeared to us more than the show of any _Welch house_
was worth.

There always appears to me something very unworthy in great men allowing
their servants to exact the sums that they do from the spectators of
their grandeur; but, such emoluments are taken into the account of a
servant’s hire, and in some measure contribute to the support of the
great man’s establishment: as far as they do this, they indirectly form
part of his revenue; and in that view I consider the _Grandee_ as
somewhat of a mercenary showman, however _magnifique_.

A ride of nearly a mile extent, among delightful plantations, led us out
of Hafod; when, crossing the Ystwith over a good stone bridge, we soon
passed through a little romantic village on the road to Tregarron, from
whence the country continued wild, without grandeur or interest, a
succession of

    “Barren heaths, and rushy meers,”

until the approach to Llandilo.  In this mid-land route the hills were
much less continuous than round the coast, and the valleys frequently
extensive; but, overrun with peat-bogs, they neither displayed fertility
nor beauty.  About half way to Tregarron, a few hundred yards to the
right of the road, were two considerable hills, each crowned with a large
ancient encampment: we did not stop to examine them, but quickly turned
off the road, over moorlands on our left, in search of the remains of
STARFLOWER or STRATA FLORIDA ABBEY.  We had no track to direct us; nor
did a human creature appear for many miles: after a fruitless wandering,
therefore, we gave up the object, with this consolation, that almost the
only relic remaining is an ornamented circularly-arched gateway.  Yet was
this place, now lost in a trackless desert, once of high importance.
Strata Florida Abbey (in British, Munachlog Ystrad flur) was founded anno
1164 for Cistertian Monks {123} by Rhesus Prince of South-Wales.  In it
many of the Welch Princes were buried, and their acts kept and recorded:
it suffered considerably when Edward the First overran Wales, but was
soon after repaired.

A sloppy ride brought us to TREGARRON: a poor straggling ill-built town,
situated in an abrupt hollow watered by an arm of the Tivy; yet,
plentifully interspersed with trees, it forms a pleasing relief to the
surrounding dreariness.  Its church is a respectable old building, and it
boasts the dignity of a mayor.  Our inn here afforded us a capacious dish
of eggs and bacon for dinner; but, though it was not more than ordinarily
strong and greasy for the wilds of Wales, we grew delicate, and, leaving
our meal almost untasted, pursued our journey on the turnpike road to
Lampeter.  About three miles from Tregarron, immediately on the left of
the road, we observed a large mound encircled by a moat; but could not
determine whether it was the site of an antient citadel, or monumental of
a deceased chieftain.  In the same neighbourhood is the church of
Landewi-Brevi, where in 522, at a Holy Synod, St. David opposed the
opinions of the Pelagians.  A prodigious petrified horn which is shewn at
the church is said to have remained there from that time; and in the year
1187 Bishop Beck founded a college on the spot.  Several Roman inscribed
stones appear in and about the church; but at a place some distance
southward of it, called Kaer Kestilh (the field of the castles), a great
number have at various times been discovered, as also coins and Roman
bricks.  Dr. Gibson considers this to be the Lovantinum of Ptolemy, in
which opinion he is followed by Mr. Horsley: Yet is this spot, the site
of a Roman town, and once occupied by its legions, now with difficulty
traced among barren fields remote from habitation:

    “No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
    But all the bloomy flush of life is fled.”

From a fatiguing day’s journey we gladly reposed at a better inn than
might be expected in so poor a town as LAMPETER; and the following
morning sallied forth to visit a large old seat of Sir Robert Lloyd’s;
which, we learned, “exhibited a striking appearance with its four great
towers crowned with domes in the midst of well-planted inclosures, but
now scarcely inhabited.”  A thick mist denied us this view; so, crossing
the long old bridge of Lampeter, we entered Carmarthenshire on our way to
Llandilo.  Nothing can be imagined more dreary than the first half of
this ride; lying over an extensive range of lumpy hills, as remote from
any thing picturesque as profitable.  No tree, not a bush could be seen;
and as we mournfully looked round, where, except the miserable road on
which we travelled, no trace of society appeared, our disgusted sight
would have even rested with pleasure on a furze bush.  From such a region
of sterility we gladly caught a gleam of cultivation, in some distant
hills bordering on Brecknockshire; but more gladly still, on a sudden
turn, we looked down on the pleasing little valley LLANSAWEL, watered by
a crystaline branch of the Cothy.  The sun had now dispersed the mists
through which we set out, and shone direct on the vale: from its verdant
level high hills, enjoying different degrees of cultivation, rose on
every side; and under one of them, at the further end of the valley, the
well-whitened village sparkled through the intervening foliage.

This valley was immediately succeeded another called EDWIN’S-FORD, a
delightful spot, whose high encircling hills are clothed with extensive
plantations to their very summits.  In the bottom, is a large old manor
house belonging to Colonel Williams, beautified “above, below, around,”
with leaded mercuries, shepherdesses, and sportsmen.  Yet is this place,
remaining in the genuine style of King William’s reign, with all its
absurdities, more interesting; as shewing us a specimen of that time,
than if it were patched up with modern improvements; or a new villa, of
the packing-case mode of building that now prevails.  We rode through the
long avenues of trees that extend from the house; and, quitting the
valley, descended to another, pleasingly decorated with wood, and the
ruin of Talley church.  A cheerful road, lined with

    “Hedge-row elms and coppice green,”

now led us through a succession of swells and hollows, adorned with
numerous plantations, particularly those of Lord Robert Seymour Conway’s,
to LLANDILO, a pretty market town, seated on a descent to the justly
famed vale of Towey.



CHAP. IX.


CHARMING VALE OF TOWEY—DINEVAWR CASTLE—GOLDEN GROVE—GRONGAR
HILL—MIDDLETON HALL—CAREG-CANNON CASTLE—REFLECTIONS AT A FORD—GLENHEIR
WATERFALL—AN ACCIDENT—PONT AR DULAS—RETURN TO SWANSEA.

                        [Picture: Dinevawr Castle]

At Landilo we hastily put up our horses, anxious to feast on the beauties
that disclosed themselves as we approached the spot; and, learning that
NEWTON PARK, the delightful seat of Lord Dinevawr, afforded the most
extensive and picturesque views of the vale, we engaged the keeper’s
attendance, and proceeded among waving lawns and woody gnolls to a bold
hill, where,

    “Bosom’d high in tufted trees,”

appeared the picturesque remains of DINEVAWR CASTLE.  A winding path, cut
through the leafy honours of this hill, conveyed us beneath their dark
umbrage to the top.  We here climbed a massy fragment of the ruin, and
entered a falling apartment, which, according to our guide’s information,
was once the lady’s dressing-room; where, reaching a Gothic window
overhung with ivy, a prospect burst upon us, teeming with the most
fascinating circumstances of verdant nature; a galaxy of picturesque
beauty, at which remembrance becomes entranced, and description faulters!
Immediately beneath, the expansive vale of TOWEY appears in the fullest
display of its charms; a hue of the richest green marks the luxuriance of
the soil through the course of the valley, which, continually intersected
with dusky hedge-rows, boasts all the elegance of garden parterres.  The
translucid Towey here wantons in perpetual variety among gay meadows and
embowering plantations, where the eye with pleasure traces its fantastic
meanders until they disappear behind projecting groves.  The rich wood
that surrounds the castellated hill clothes a precipitous descent to the
water’s edge, and, with other sylvan decorations of Newton park, forms
the nearmost boundary of the vale.  On the opposite side, a huge wild
mountain rears its head in desolation to the clouds; and beneath it
Golden Grove, {130} despoiled of its leafy grandeur, now appears in
diminished beauty.  Several smaller seats and whitened hamlets start up
in the valley, and, glistening through their appendant groves, give life
to the scene.  A little westward, GRONGAR HILL, immortalized by the muse
of Dyer, and now the property of one of his descendants, advances on the
vale and partly turns its course; but at some distance further, a rugged
hill, bearing the mouldering fragments of Gruslwyn castle, proudly
bestrides the plain and terminates the picture.  Our view of this scene
was favoured by the departing sun, which, just setting behind Gruslwyn
ruin, threw a glowing tint over the landscape; its golden effulgence
shone strongly on the varied hills, and gleamed on the lofty groves that
adorned the vale; though the greater part of it was obscured in
grandly-projected shadows. {131}

After a week’s journey through an extensive tract of country, with few
exceptions as devoid of picturesque interest as of productiveness, to
come at once upon a scene so pregnant with the bounty and beauty of
nature, was a feast for the feelings of philanthropy and picturesque
enthusiasm that I shall never forget; nor do I imagine that the coldest
mortal could fail of feeling a lively interest in so delightful a
change—We

    “—cast a longing ling’ring look behind”

on leaving this scene to examine the ruined castle.  The extent of the
apparent remains would lead one to consider it as a place of small
importance; but we traced the vestiges of a wall and ditch at some
distance from the conspicuous ruin, which indicate it to have been of
considerable dimensions.  The most noticeable parts are, the apartment
already mentioned; a massive round tower, the ancient keep; and a
subterraneous passage.  Giraldus saw a castle here; but that was
destroyed in the year 1194, about six years after his Itinerary; it was,
however, soon rebuilt, and became the royal seat of the Princes of South
Wales; but frequently changed its masters, until it fell to the crown of
England.  Henry the VIIth made a grant of it to Sir Rice ap Thomas,
Knight of the Garter, a lineal descendant of the Welch Princes, and
ancestor of the present proprietor.  It was inhabited until within these
50 years, when the combustible part of it was destroyed by fire.

The mansion, built on a level about half a mile from the castle, is a
large quadrangular structure, with turrets at each corner crowned with
domes: it has lately been modernized; but appears to have been founded
about two centuries back.—An avenue of trees extended from hence to the
castle, which has lately been broken into clumps, in harmony with the
general laying-out of the park.  The hills of its strongly undulating
surface are profusely covered with wood, and the hollows enjoy a
luxuriance of pasturage that can scarcely be equalled.  On looking down
some of these knolls, there appears no poetical licence in Dyer’s
description:

    “Below me trees unnumber’d rise,
    Beautiful in various dyes:
    The gloomy pines, the poplar blue,
    The yellow beech, the sable yew,
    The slender fir that taper grows,
    The sturdy oak with broad-spread boughs;
    And beyond the purple grove,
    Haunt of Phyllis, Queen of Love!”

We often regretted that the picturesque ruin of the castle was excluded
from our view by the lofty trees that surround it: the laudable jealousy
with which Lord Dinevawr preserves the woody embellishments of his park
appeared to us as extending too far in this instance; for were a few
openings introduced, so as to exhibit from various points the grand
dimensions of some ivied towers, a fine effect might be produced, and a
picturesque contrast obtained to the numerous woody swells that abound in
this beautiful domain.

The morning that we left Llandilo brought with it a scene of affliction
to the surrounding country: one of those deluging rains which often do so
much mischief in mountainous countries fell with unparalleled violence
during the night; when the vast accession of water, unable to discharge
itself by the ordinary channels, swept away trees, fences, small
buildings, cattle, and poultry in its devious course.  Several mills were
destroyed; and many an industrious cottager, awakened by the flood
eddying round his bed, saw himself at once dispossessed of the fruits of
many years hard savings:

    “Fled to some eminence, the husbandman
    Helpless beheld the miserable wreck
    Driving along; his drowning ox at once
    Descending, with his labours scatter’d round,
    He saw; and instant o’er his shivering thought
    Came winter unprovided, and a train
    Of clamant children dear.”

On the storm’s abating, we renewed our journey, and, over a handsome
stone bridge crossing the swollen Towey, which had acquired a frightful
hue from the red marle of the neighbouring land, followed its course upon
the road to Llangadock.  At the first turnpike we deviated to the right,
up a steep track rendered almost impracticable by loose craigs, by the
side of a romantic dingle, down whose dark hollow a small cascade
trickled with very good effect.  In our ascent, delightful views were
obtained of the upper vale of Towey, stretching from Llandilo bridge to
the vicinage of Llandovery.  The distant groves of Taliaris and Abermarle
parks adorned this view, which was only inferior to that from
Dinevawr-castle.  As we advanced further, the rich prospect withdrew, and
we found ourselves entering upon the dreary wilds of the Black Mountains;
our track then became indistinct, wandering among rocks, floods, and
up-rooted trees, unenlivened by a single habitation or human face.  At
length a cottage appeared, and we enquired our way to Careg-cannon
castle; but “Dim Sarsnic” {135} was all we could gather from the
inhabitants.  Thus constrained to proceed at random, we mounted a
precipitous hill over a track that formed the bed of a torrent, and
discovered the object of our search upon a bold rock, a considerable
distance on our right: a little Welch farmer was also comprized in this
view, working hard to repair the damages of the storm.  We again enquired
the best road to pursue, and again were answered with “Dim Sarsnic;” he
however, signified to us that he would fetch some one, and accordingly
ran over two or three fields, and returned with his daughter, a fine
buxom girl who had picked up a little English at Llandilo market.
Without intreaty she offered to be our guide; and, fixing in the ground a
spade with which she had been clearing a water-course, blythely led us,
through mountainous wilds, within a short distance of the object of our
search.

As we ascended the rock, crowned with the frowning ruin of Careg-cannon
castle, a tempestuous cloud that broke against it drenched us with a
plentiful shower: we sought the shelter of the building, but the wind
raged with such violence, that we shrunk from the mouldering battlements
lest they should overwhelm us.  On crossing the ruin through its “stormy
halls,” we again recoiled on finding ourselves upon the brink of a
tremendous precipice, which, except on the side by which we ascended,
encompasses the castle in a perpendicular rocky cliff upwards of four
hundred feet in height.  Then climbing among the mossy fragments of the
castle, we discovered an aperture in the ground connected with a long
subterraneous gallery dug through the solid rock, and lighted by windows
cut in the cliff, though not visible from any situation without.  In
exploring this strange recess, rendered more fearful by the loud shrieks
of the wind, we advanced, not without sensations of awe: it terminated in
a large gloomy cavern, fit scene for

       “Murders, rapes, and massacres,
    Acts of black night, abominable deeds,
    Complots of mischiefs, treason, villanies
    Ruthful to hear.”

In this place we waited the passing of the storm, conjecturing it to have
continued formerly to some adjacent spot, so as to form a sally-port or
secret communication from the castle.  On our return we felt more at
liberty to examine the features of the ruin, which proved of the simplest
construction, totally without ornament or a single Gothic form, and
consisting of one irregular court with towers at each angle.  If the
Britons had any castles of stone before the arrival of the Normans (a
fact doubted by some antiquaries), I should imagine this to be one;
although a late tourist, I know not on what authority, ascribes its
erection to the time of Henry the First.  The position must have been
formerly impregnable, and its rough aspect marks it to have been
constructed for the mere business of war.  By

          —a lonely tower,
       —whose mournful chambers hold,
    To night-struck Fancy dreams, the yelling Ghost,

we passed from this wild abode, and floundered among ditch-like tracks to
recover the high road from Llandilo to Swansea.  In a romantic hollow we
were stopped by a branch of the Towey; which, though in ordinary times an
inconsiderable rivulet, was now swelled to a deep and menacing torrent.
Here we found a party of men and women peasants on the opposite side, in
doubt whether it might be safely crossed; but at length one of the men
stripped and waded over, thus satisfying us that the ford was
practicable.  The rest followed; the men first getting rid of the lower
part of their dress;—a trouble avoided by the females, who, unused to the
encumbrance of shoes and stockings, had only to hold up their clothes to
the highest extent; and, thus prepared, the whole party moved toward us.
Viewing this remnant of barbarity with disgust, we at the same time felt
uneasy for the situation of the girls: but we might have spared ourselves
that pain; their countenances proved them to be unembarrassed by the
consciousness of shame; nor did their eyes wander from the precise line
in which they were going.  The transaction was to them a matter of
perfect indifference.

                      [Picture: Careg-cannon Castle]

It may reasonably be supposed, that the indecent customs of the Welch
operate against the observance of chastity: yet seeing that the Welch are
by no means deficient in that excellence, it may be supposed that were
such scenes less frequent they would be so; but, as they are continually
recurring, the imagination has no time to effervesce; it is at once
saturated with naked facts, and on that principle the ebullitions of
passion are kept under.  On the one hand, those strong bulwarks decency
and delicacy are done away; but on the other, the mind, fully informed,
is not irritated by the conjurations of fancy; which may be a pretty fair
set-off.  Yet, without doubt, their strongest safeguard exists in the
considerative defence; for the moral turpitude and political infamy of
unchastity is recognized in Wales to an extent that can hardly be
conceived in circles of modern refinement: even at this day, in districts
not yet drawn within the imposing vortex of trade, {140} a golden age of
innocence may be discovered, where bastardy is unknown, or known but in
recorded instances, in which the man is properly consigned to equal
disgrace with the female offender.

Our travelling continued in rocky tracks, at the rate of a mile an hour,
until we recovered the Llandilo road; from which we soon turned off, on
the right, to visit Glenheir waterfall, in the grounds of Mr. Dubaison,
about five miles south of Llandilo.  At this place the Loughor river
pursues its course between steep banks clothed with various trees and
shrubs.  On one of the descents a walk is traced, with some ingenuity, in
front of a small picturesque cascade formed by a tributary stream to the
Loughor.  This might be mistaken for the object sought; but, crossing a
rustic bridge, the eye on a sudden encounters the whole river rushing
beneath a portal of trees, and throwing itself over a ledge of black rock
in a single fall of eighteen feet.  The effect of the whole, seen through
the gloom of pendent trees, is undoubtedly striking; though, it must be
confessed, the sheet of water presenting the formality of an unbroken
square is somewhat unpicturesque.  The person who attended us pointed out
the effects of the torrent at fifteen feet above its surface, to which
height it was swelled in the morning by the late storm; a greater rise
than was ever known before: the cataract then exhibited a scene more
tremendously grand than imagination can picture, or words describe; yet
some idea may be formed in conceiving so vast a bulk of water, bursting
over the precipice, stunning with its roar, and filling the atmosphere
with its spray; while up-rooted trees, the shattered fragments of
buildings, and other ruins, swept headlong on by the irresistible
torrent, would illustrate its terrors, and complete a spectacle great
indeed!  Yet, alas, at how high a purchase, appeared from the
lamentations of the neighbourhood!  Nor were we without a share in the
general calamity; for, crossing the Loughor at a ford about two miles
further, my poney on a sudden slipped out of his depth, and we had
separately to swim for our lives to the opposite bank.  This disagreeable
business was much aggravated; for my books, papers, and some other
articles which I carried in a leather-case behind the saddle, were
completely soaked, and several drawings utterly spoiled.  My companion,
having a taller horse, escaped, with only his boots full of water.  Here
it may not be amiss to apprize the traveller through Wales, that these
fords (frequently occurring) are not unattended with danger after great
falls of rain: at such times, a careful enquiry should be made of the
people near them: a precaution that would have saved us our ducking; for
it afterwards appeared, that no other travellers had crossed the ford
during the day, but avoided it by taking a circuitous route.

In this plight we jogged on upwards of eight miles, with the unwelcome
gloom of the Black Mountains on our left, and a pleasant diversified
country on our right, to the village of Pont-ar-dulas, but which we did
not reach before evening.  The comfortable inn at this place afforded us
a change of apparel and good cheer, that soon dissipated the
inconveniences of our journey.  On the following morning we rose early,
and then found the place to possess many traits of picturesque
attraction, being seated near a rapid river, and agreeably interspersed
with woods.  Thence we had a pleasant ride to Swansea; where we rejoined
a party of our friends at breakfast, after a fortnight’s excursion.

During our stay in this town, protracted to several days by its agreeable
society, Mrs. Hatton, mistress of the bathing-house, and sister of the
English Melpomene, exhibited her theatric powers on the humble boards of
Swansea theatre.  But, labouring under the misfortune of lameness, and
the encumbrance of more human flesh than I ever before saw crowded in one
female figure, she was obliged to go through her task, the recitation of
Alexander’s Feast, _sitting_: notwithstanding which _weighty_ drawback,
the lady did not fail to exhibit a vivid tincture of the family genius.
Here too we were gratified with the news of an event, before whose solid
advantages the victories of a century sink, in a rational estimate, like
glittering tinsel before massive ingots.  I was awakened at an early hour
by the loud huzzas of the towns-people, and the frequent discharge of
cannon from vessels in the harbour.  The ships displayed their gayest
colours; and the people, in dancing through the streets, congratulated
each other on the long wished-for blessing of PEACE!  The chagrin of two
or three provision-monopolizers, and a few others whose interest was in
opposition to the public weal, with the old subterfuge that it was not
the proper time for peace, covering a real sentiment of endless war,
passed unnoticed, nor formed a perceptible speck on the brilliancy of the
people’s joy!



CHAP. X.


NEATH ABBEY, TOWN, AND CASTLE—THE KNOLL—BRITON FERRY—FUNEREAL
RITES—ABERAVON—MARGAM—ABBEY RUIN—PILE.

Our tour now took an eastward direction.  Crossing Swansea river by an
exceeding good ferry, and passing a region of furnaces, we traversed a
considerable hill to the neighbouring valley of NEATH; a spot that might
be deemed pleasing, were it not overhung with the smoke of numerous
manufactories, and its soil blackened with coal-works and rail-ways.
{145}  Neath abbey is a short distance west of the town, and its remains
are extensive.  Besides the abbey church, the walls of the offices and
other apartments are yet standing; but, undecorated with verdure, and
partaking of the sable hue that impinges on every object around, it fails
to create an idea of beauty or grandeur.  As we were exploring the dark
recesses of the ruin, a number of haggard forms on a sudden darted from
various apertures, and eagerly pressed toward us.  Their wan
countenances, half hidden by black matted hair, bore the strongest
expression of misery; which was further heightened by a scanty ragged
apparel, that scarcely covered their meagre limbs: upon their whole
appearance one might have asked with Banquo,—

             “What are these,
    So wither’d, and so wild in their attire,
    That look not like th’ inhabitants o’the earth,
    And yet are on’t?—You should be women;
    And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
    That you are so.”—

The poor creatures were the wives of miners, and women that worked in the
manufactories, who burrowed and brought up their families in the cells of
the ruin.  Unceasing drudgery, however, was unable to obtain them the
necessaries of life; much less a taste of those comforts, to which the
exertion of useful labour might seem to have a just claim.  An old woman,
bent nearly double with years,

    “Of ashy semblance, meagre, pale, and bloodless,”

gave us her account of the ruin.  She shewed us the nuns’ dining-room,
the roof of which is still entire, supported by Saxon, or rather early
Norman pillars and arches.  From the refectory we passed to what was once
the dormitory, and were shewn a nauseous dungeon, in which, as the legend
of the ruin relates, offending nuns were wont to be confined.  This abbey
was built by Richard de Granville and Constance his wife, in the reign of
Henry the First, for Cistertian monks, and dedicated to the Holy Trinity:
at the dissolution of monasteries its revenues were valued at 150_l._
_per annum_.  The abbey-house, about a century and a half since, formed
an admired seat of the Hobby’s family.

Neath, the Nidum of Antoninus, was formerly of greater extent and
importance than at present; for, notwithstanding its flourishing
manufactories, it now makes but a poor dirty appearance.  The Castle, now
an inconsiderable ruin, was built by Richard de Granville, one of
Fitzhammon’s knights, upon the site of a British fortress of very antient
foundation; and was taken and in part burnt by Prince Llewelyn A.D. 1231.
The Neath river limits that tract of country called Gower; it also formed
the western boundary of the Lordship of Glamorgan, which anciently
extended eastward to the river Usk.  The latter district fell under the
dominion of the Normans in the following manner.

In the year 1090, Jestyn, lord of Glamorgan, having a difference with
Rees, King of Wales, had recourse to arms, and solicited the assistance
of Fitzhammon, an Anglo-Norman chieftain, to support his cause.  The
confederates were successful; but, as it generally happens when foreign
aid is required in domestic disputes, the remedy proved worse than the
disease; for, on the plea that the conditions of their compact had not
been fulfilled, Fitzhammon collected his forces, attacked Jestyn, and
deprived him of his life and territory.  Fitzhammon shared the spoil with
twelve knights who accompanied him, rewarding each with a manor.  Now, as
a dominion thus acquired must be supported by the iron arm of coercion,
we find the first attention of the conquerors directed to rearing
fortresses on their domains; and shortly afterwards an appendant creation
of religious houses makes its appearance, as a salvo for the slaughter
and injustice that purchased their greatness.  To this foundation most of
the picturesque ruins that we are about to examine in Glamorganshire, and
part of Monmouthshire, may be traced: it will, therefore, be necessary
not to lose sight of this point of history.

We did not fail to admire the KNOLL, a castellated seat of Sir Herbert
Mackworth’s, occupying the summit of a hill at the termination of a noble
lawn.  The fine views which its elevation commands, encompassed by
hanging woods, and extensive plantations, its shady walks and picturesque
cascades, render it a place deservedly attractive.  Beneath the tufted
hills of this estate, we passed from Neath in our way to Briton ferry;
and soon remarked a single stone monument {150}, a massive
paralellopiped, on a height to our left: another immediately afterwards
appeared in a field close to the road on the right.

From these monuments of other times, however, the rich hanging woods and
open groves of BRITON FERRY attracted our interest, clothing that
charming domain of Lord Vernon’s.

The extensive plantations spread over several bold hills westward of the
Neath river, whose broad translucid stream here emerges in a fine sweep
between high woody banks, partly broken into naked cliffs, and soon
unites with the sea.  From a delightful shady walk impendent over the
stream, we branched off into an “alley green” that led us up a steep hill
covered with large trees and tangled underwood: the ascent was
judiciously traced where several bare craigs projecting from the soil
formed an apposite contrast to the luxuriant verdure that prevailed
around.  On gaining the summit the charms of Briton ferry disclosed
themselves in

    “An ample theatre of Sylvan grace”

of more than common beauty; beyond which the Bristol channel, bounded by
the aerial tint of its opposite coast, formed the distance.  But from a
roaming prospect the eye gladly returned to repose on the local beauties
of the scene; the tufted knoll, the dark glade, and the majestic river.
In returning, we passed the mansion, a very ordinary building; but paused
on the neat simplicity of the village-church adjoining, and its
well-ordered cemetery.

The custom of planting ever-greens over the graves of departed friends,
and bedecking them with flowers at certain seasons of the year, is, here
attended to with peculiar care; and to this pleasing tribute of
affection, characteristic of Wales, David ap-Gwillim, a Welch bard who
flourished about the middle of the fourteenth century, thus sweetly
alludes in one of his odes:

    “O whilst thy season of flowers, and thy tender sprays thick of
    leaves remain; I will pluck the roses from the brakes; the flowerets
    of the meads, and gems of the woods; the vivid trefoils, beauties of
    the ground, and the gaily smiling bloom of the verdant herbs, to be
    offered to the memory of a chief of fairest fame: Humbly will I lay
    them on the grave of Ivor!”

Shakspeare also, with exquisite tenderness:

    “With fairest flowers while summer lasts
    I’ll sweeten thy sad grave: thou shalt not lack
    The flower that’s like thy face, pale Primrose; nor
    The azur’d Harebell, like thy veins; no, nor
    The leaf of Eglantine, whom not to slander
    Outsweeten’d not thy breath.”

Highly pleased with Briton ferry, we proceeded along the coast, and
passed through the little town of ABERAVON.  Its copper and tin works
added no charms to the verdant fertility of this part of the country,
which appeared ornamented with several gentlemen’s seats, and well
planted hills; but, grandly rising above comparison, “the mighty hill of
MARGAM,” a steep mountain entirely shaded with oaks from the base to its
“cloud-cap’t” summit, arrested our chief attention.

                         [Picture: Margam Abbey]

Margam park, belonging to Mr. Talbot, is chiefly to be noticed for its
orangery; a magnificent pavilion of the Doric order, 327 feet in length,
wherein the orange-trees are arranged in unfavourable weather: but on our
visit, these trees, to the amount of a hundred and fifty, from six to ten
feet high, and all in full bearing, were agreeably disposed in a
sequestered part of the garden. {153}  Margam abbey was until within
these few years the mansion of the estate; but it is now pulled down:
some low ruins, however, remain, and the walls of its elegant but
neglected chapter-house.  This structure is thus described by Mr.
Wyndham, who visited the spot about thirty years since: “It is an elegant
Gothic building, of a date subsequent to that of the church.  Its vaulted
roof is perfect, and supported by a clustered column rising from the
centre of the room.  The plan of this chapter-house is an exact circle,
fifty feet in diameter.  The just proportion of the windows, and the
delicate ribs of the arches, which all rise from the centre column and
the walls, gradually diverging to their respective points above, must
please the eye of every spectator; and, what is uncommon in light Gothic
edifices, the external elevation is as simple and uniform as its
internal, there being no projecting buttresses to disturb or obstruct its
beauty.”—“The preservation of this building led me to conclude, that much
attention had been given to the lead that originally covered it; but, to
my astonishment, I heard that the lead had long since been removed, and
that the only security of the roof against the weather was a thick _oiled
paper_, which by no means prevented the rain from penetrating and
filtering through the work.”  Mr. Wyndham concludes by trusting, that, as
the present proprietor is a lover of antiquities, the deficiency would be
corrected.  But, unfortunately, the edifice was left to its fate, and the
roof soon fell in: thus one of the finest specimens of Gothic
architecture in this or any other country is lost to the eye of taste and
science.

Just perceptible from the turf we traced the foundation of the Abbey
Church, and the bases of four clustering pillars that most probably
supported the tower; the steps of the altar were also visible,
besprinkled with grass; and, turning over some fragments, we picked up
part of the chalice for containing holy water, and several of those
coloured glazed tiles which were used in the early Norman age for paving
principal buildings, but commonly called Roman tiles.  We were informed
by Mr. Snook, the intelligent gardener of the place, who was present at
the dilapidation of the abbey, that the pavement formed with these tiles
was the lowermost of three which were then removed; and that on digging
deeper they came to an immense heap of human bones.  This pavement is
still in many places remaining, though nearly concealed by a covering of
moss.  Many curious sculptured stones of high antiquity are to be met
with in the park, and in the village adjoining; the church of which
presents, in its elevation, a more pleasing symmetry and composition than
any Gorman work that I remember to have seen. {155}  A shady walk,
carried beneath the leafy mantle of Margam’s hill, passes a ruined
chapel, and a loggan or rocking-stone, in its way to the summit, where a
prospect of uncommon extent greets the beholder.  Eglis Nunne, about two
miles south of Margam, now a farmhouse, was formerly a nunnery subject to
that abbey.

Renewing our journey, we left Kenfig on our right, where some vestiges of
a castle built by one of Fitzhammon’s knights are said to appear, and
proceeded to PYLE.  The inn here, built by Mr. Talbot, and which might be
mistaken for a nobleman’s seat, affords excellent accommodation for
travellers, who are frequently induced to make it their head-quarters
while visiting the several objects in the neighbourhood.—Leaving Pyle, we
soon found ourselves on Newton Down, and from its height discovered the
range of hills forming the opposite boundary of the vale of Cowbridge, in
which a bold hill crowned with Penline Castle was eminently conspicuous.
On looking back, we were pleased with a comprehensive view of the country
that we had lately traversed: beyond the wide bay of Swansea, the
whitened habitations of Ostermouth caught our eye; the sulphureous clouds
revolving from the works of Swansea and Neath were only divided by the
projection of Kilway hill; and the picturesque knolls of Briton ferry
appeared sunk into comparative littleness beneath the towering dimensions
of Margam’s shady mountain.—Our tour now became thickly interspersed with
baronial castles and other monuments of feudal times, interesting either
by their historical events or picturesque decay.



CHAP. XI


OGMORE CASTLE—EWENNY PRIORY—DUNRAVEN-HOUSE—ST. DONATT’S
CASTLE—LLANBITHIAN CASTLE—COWBRIDGE—PENLINE CASTLE—COITY
CASTLE—LLANTRISSENT—BENIGHTED RAMBLE TO PONT-Y-PRIDD—WATERFALLS.

OGMORE CASTLE is situated on the eastern bank of the river Ogmore, near
the road to Cowbridge; its remains, however, are very inconsiderable,
consisting merely of the keep and some outer walls.  Caradoc, in his
History of Wales, says, that the manor and castle of Ogmore were bestowed
by Fitzhammon on William de Londres, one of his knights; from which its
foundation may be dated prior to the Norman conquest.  The manor courts
are still held in a thatched hovel near it, which appears like an
overgrown pig-stye.  Here, according to the custom of the times, a
religious institution followed the acquisition of power.  William de
Londres, or his descendant John, built EWENNY PRIORY, at the distance of
a mile from the castle, and also near the road to Cowbridge: but in this
the proprietor seems not to have lost sight of his worldly interest; for
the strong embattled walls and towers that appear among the ruins of this
building would lead one to consider it as intended not less for the
purposes of war than of priestcraft; and its situation on the bank of the
Wenny was admirably adapted for the defence of that part of his domain.
In the hall of the house, a gloomy building, are several racks, which
appear to have been used for the lodging of arms.  The church is a
venerable massive structure, wherein unornamented heavy arches repose on
short bulky columns of the rudest workmanship: it contains a monument of
Paganus de Turbeville, supposed to be the grandson of Fitzhammon’s knight
of that name.  The thick columns, plain capital, and circular arches of
this edifice, denote it to be of the earliest Norman architecture; and
might lead one to suppose it to be of Saxon origin, did not historical
facts invalidate the conjecture.  Leland says that it was founded for
Benedictine monks; but neither he, Dugdale, nor Tanner, gives us the date
of its foundation.  A.D. 1141 it was made a cell of St. Peter’s of
Gloucester.

Not far from Ewenny, on the sea-coast, is DUNRAVEN-HOUSE, or castle, as
it is called by Caradoc; a misshapen dismal building, only to be admired
for its situation on a lofty sea promontory, commanding extensive
prospects.  William de Londres, Lord of Ogmore (says Caradoc) won the
lordships of Kydwelhy and Carnewihion in Carmarthenshire from the
Welchmen; and gave to Sir Arnold Butler, his servant, the castle and
manor of Dunraven.  It continued a long time in the possession of his
descendants; but at length fell to the Vaughans, the last of whom, as
tradition relates, was such an unprincipled wretch, that he set up
lights, and used other devices to mislead seamen, in order that they
might be wrecked on his manor.  But his crimes did not escape punishment;
for it is said that three of his sons were drowned in one day by the
following accidents.  Within sight of the house is a large rock called
the Swancar, dry only at low water; to which two of his sons went in a
boat to divert themselves: but not taking care to fasten their vessel, on
the rising of the tide it was washed away, and they left to the horrors
of their fate; which was inevitable, as the family had no other boat, nor
was there any other in the neighbourhood.  Their distress was seen from
the house; and in the confusion their infant brother, being left alone,
fell into a vessel of whey, and was drowned almost at the same instant
with the other two.  This was universally looked upon as a judgement for
the iniquities abovementioned; and Mr. Vaughan was so struck with the
transaction, that he immediately sold the house to Mr. Wyndham, ancestor
of the present proprietor.—Two extraordinary caverns, about a mile
westward of the house, we neglected to visit: the one called the Cave is
described to be a passage worn through a projecting stack of rocks,
running parallel with the sea-shore, and forming a kind of rude piazza,
with an entrance to the south, of very grand effect.  The other, called
the Windhole, is a deep cavern, a little to the east of the Cave: its
depth from the entrance measures seventy-seven yards.  There are two or
three small fissures through the roof of the cavern to the land above, a
considerable distance from the edge of the cliff; over which if a hat be
laid, it will be blown back into the air with considerable violence; but
this only happens when the wind blows fresh from the South-east.

ST. DONATT’S CASTLE, a few miles further on the coast, and about five
south-west of Cowbridge, is an extensive structure, of much antique
beauty, and is still partially inhabited.  Its garden, descending in
terraces from the south wall, was formerly much admired, but now

    “Sunk are the bowers in shapeless rain all,
    And the long grass o’ertops the mould’ring wall.

Although loftily situated, the castle is so surrounded with high groves,
as only to be seen with advantage from some heights in the adjoining
park: on one of them is a watch-tower, which affords a prospect truly
grand and extensive.  This castle is of very remote foundation, although
the greater part of the building indicates the work of latter ages.  We
learn from Powell’s translation of Caradoc, that the castle and manor of
St. Denewit, or St. Donatt, was apportioned to Sir William le Esterlong,
alias Stradling, on the conquest of Glamorgan.  The Stradlings, outliving
the descendants of all the other twelve Knights, held it for 684 years;
but they becoming extinct, the estate fell to Busy Mansell, Esq. {163}

Between St. Donatt’s and Cowbridge is Lantwit, a poor village, but once a
large borough town.  On the north side of its church are some old British
relics, consisting of high carved stones; but whether sepulchral or
otherwise is not determined.  LLANBITHIAN, or ST. QUINTIN’S CASTLE, is
situated about half a mile south of Cowbridge.  The leading feature of
this ruin is a massive gateway, now converted into a barn; which, as well
as the other parts, denotes considerable original strength, and is said
to have been built prior to the arrival of Fitzhammon.  The castle and
manor fell to the share of Sir Robert St. Quintin on the division of
Glamorgan; but it passed from his descendants in the reign of Henry the
Third, and is now the property of Lord Windsor.  COWBRIDGE is a neat
little town seated on the banks of a small river. {164}

PENLINE CASTLE, loftily seated on a bold hill, and commanding a prospect
of uncommon diversity and extent, is about a mile distant from Cowbridge.
From the lines of Edward Williams, a native poet, it may appear that it
serves as a barometer for the neighbourhood:

    “When the hoarse waves of Severn are screaming aloud,
    And Penline’s lofty castle’s involv’d in a cloud;
    If true the old proverb, a shower of rain
    Is brooding above and will soon drench the plain.”

This structure is of very ancient date: in some parts of the building the
stones are laid in the _herring-bone_ fashion; a mode observed in the
oldest parts of Guildford, Corfe, and others of the most ancient castles.
The mansion near to the ruin was built by Mr. Sergeant Sey, and is now
possessed by Miss Gwinit, by a bequest of the late Lady Vernon’s.

A retrograde movement, hastily performed in a shower of rain, brought us
to Bridgend, a straggling little town, built on the opposing banks of the
river Ogmore.  From this place a road passes to the village of COITY and
its dismantled castle.  This ruin stands on a plain ground, and is
prettily interspersed with various trees and underwood: its foundation is
generally attributed to Paganus de Turbeville, one of Fitzhammon’s
knights.—The continuance of our ride to Llantrissent boasted little
interest; until, making a curve near the seven-mile stone, when the wide
undulating vale of Cowbridge exhibited a most extensive tract of
beautiful fertility: among the high hills circumscribing the vale, that
sustaining Penline castle rose with superior importance.  The whole laid
out in rich pastures and meadows, continually intersected with tufted
inclosures, and enlivened with embowered hamlets and detached whitened
buildings, formed a _coup d’œil_ of considerable interest.

The old town of LLANTRISSENT appeared within a small distance of us, long
before we arrived at it: for, perched upon the summit of a high hill of
remarkable steepness, it was only by a circuitous road, then of
sufficiently fatiguing ascent, that it could be approached.  This place,
comprised nearly in one narrow irregular street, and made up of poor
Gothic habitations, has so little of modern appearance engrafted on it,
that it may be interesting as a specimen of ancient times, but scarcely
in any other respect.  The castle is nearly all destroyed; the fragment
of a lofty round tower, and the vestiges of its outworks, nearly
concealed by tangled shrubs, being all the remains of it.  The church is
a large Norman edifice, and from the cemetery a wonderful prospect is
obtained of the surrounding country: although a hazy state of the
atmosphere denied us the whole of its extent, enough remained to assure
us that it must be considerable.

Pont-y-pridd, or New Bridge, was our next destination.  My companion went
forward to secure accommodation at the Bridgewater Arms, a comfortable
inn about half a mile beyond it, while I was engaged in sketching some
subjects about Llantrissent; at which task I incautiously protracted my
stay

    —“until the approach of night,
    The skies warm blushing with departing light
    When falling dews with spangles deck’d the glade,
    And the low sun had lengthen’d ev’ry shade.”

As I proceeded from Llantrissent, cultivation diminished; and from that
fertile and populous district, bordering the Severn, I found myself
entering upon the unfrequented wilds of the interior country.  It soon
became so dark, that I could but just distinguish the broken road that I
was travelling; which, although a Welch turnpike, a modern farmer in
England would be ashamed to own for his cartway.  Not a human face or
habitation presented itself, nor any relief from silence, except the
uncheering note of the screech owl.  At length, however, the distant
murmur of a waterfall saluted me; which, growing louder as I advanced,
presently accumulated to a hoarse roar; and, by the direction of the
sound, it appeared that I was travelling on a precipice above the
torrent.  A plentiful shower falling at this instant did not add to the
comforts of my situation; and I found by the motion of the horse, that I
was on a steep descent; while his frequent slides and stumbles proved
that he was on very rugged ground, and probably out of any track.  In
this dilemma imagination, ever active in magnifying concealed danger,
pictured my situation as tottering on the brink of some such chasm as
that of the Devil’s bridge.  Here I might have exclaimed with Ossian’s
Colma: “It is night; I am alone, forlorn on the hill of storms.  The wind
is heard on the Mountains; the torrent shrieks down the rock.  No hut
receives me from the rain; forlorn on the hill of winds.”  But to remain
under such apprehensions were worse than to encounter danger, and I
slowly moved on in almost total darkness; until, making a sudden turn, I
beheld the tops of the neighbouring hills illumined in a strange manner.
In a few moments a gleam of light, transmitted by reflection through an
opening in some trees, shone on my track, and discovered a dark huge
figure standing at my horse’s head.  I was scarcely collected from my
surprize when my bridle was forcibly arrested, and a loud but
unintelligible voice seemed to demand that I should stop.  Already was I
conceiving how to repel the attack, when the man, observing that I did
not understand Welch, civilly accosted me in imperfect English, and
assured me that I was on the edge of a precipice.  Nor did he leave me
with this service, but kindly led my horse to the little village of
PONT-Y-PRIDD, then within a short distance.  Here, while regaling over a
mug of ale, my conductor accounted for the light that surprized me: it
proceeded from an immense bonfire of a party of colliers in some distant
mountains, rejoicing at the blessing of peace.  At this place I
determined to fix my quarters; nor could the offer of a guide and
lanthorn, to conduct me to the superior accommodation of the Bridgewater
arms, induce me to tempt again the dangers of the night, or quit the
coarse barley bread, salt butter, and miserable beer of the village
alehouse.

Early in the morning my companion rejoined me, when we visited
Pont-y-pridd, the celebrated bridge of Glamorganshire.  This
extraordinary piece of masonry consists of a single arch, whose chord is
147 feet, thrown across the Taffe.  William Edward, an ingenious mason of
this country, who built it, failed in two preceding attempts, which would
have proved his ruin; but the gentry in the neighbourhood laudably
supported ported his ingenuity, although at first unsuccessfully exerted,
and enabled him to complete the present structure.  The great beauty of
this arch arises from the simplicity of its construction, and indeed from
its very defect as a roadway; for the passage over the bridge is not
sloped away into the adjoining roads, as it might be; but precipitately
descends on each side, following the line of the arch.  This
circumstance, and its being defended with only a very low parapet, gives
the bridge a remarkably light appearance.  Situated in a romantic hollow,
and abruptly jetting from the bold woody banks of the river, it looks a
magic bow thrown across by the hands of fairies.

Two waterfalls in this neighbourhood deserve notice.  One occurs about
half a mile above the bridge.  We proceeded to it through a delightful
sylvan path on the bank of the river, and under the beetling brow of
Craig-er-esk.  The river is seen for a considerable distance struggling
through a region of rocks, which in some places rise in large masses
above its surface, and in others appear through the transparency of the
stream shelving to a considerable depth; wearing throughout the odd
appearance of a vast assemblage of cubes, variously heaped, but with one
face constantly horizontal: at length the river breaks over a compact
strata; yet only in a fall of eight or ten feet, which is divided into
several streams.  The white foam of the river, and the light grey tint of
the rocks, afford a strong contrast to the mixed verdure and dark shadows
of its banks; but upon the whole the subject is rather to be noticed for
its singularity than for any leading points of picturesque beauty.  More
agreeably composed appeared to us the other cascade of the tributary
river Rhayder, about two miles distant from the bridge.  The dark rocks
that occasion the fall; the surrounding craigs; the light and pendant
foliage that adorns them, and the vigorous trees that emerge from the
banks, are all disposed with the utmost symmetry, and form a
highly-pleasing picture, though of inconsiderable dimensions.



CHAP. XII.


SCENERY OF THE TAFFE—STUPENDOUS RUINS OF CAERPHILLY CASTLE—THE LEANING
TOWER—FINE VIEW FROM THORNHILL—CARDIFF CASTLE—ECCLESIASTICAL DECAY OF
LANDAFF—THE CATHEDRAL.

From Pont-y-pridd we made another excursion toward Merthyr-tidvill; less
to witness the lately-acquired importance of the town in consequence of
the great iron-works established in its neighbourhood, than to trace the
beauties of the Taffe through its romantic valley.  At one time, a
towering hill completely mantled with wood lifted its shaggy summit to
the clouds; in succession, naked rocks perpendicularly descended to the
water; or, through favoured hollows, a stripe of green meadow would
gently slope and mix its verdure with the stream.  As we advanced, the
narrow valley still further contracted, and the river, confined by the
approaching bases of the mountains, assumed the character of a torrent.
Our road continued on one margin of the river, and a canal, singularly
abounding with locks, kept pace with us on the other; to the Cyclopean
region of Merthyr-tidvill. {173}  We did not enter the town, but
re-measured our steps to Pont-y-pridd; and about four miles below it bade
adieu to the romantic course of the Taffe, in deviating up a steep
confine of its valley towards the town and castle of Caerphilly.

                       [Picture: Caerphilly Castle]

The celebrated ruin of CAERPHILLY CASTLE soon appeared at some distance
beneath us, occupying the centre of a small plain, which, with its
surrounding amphitheatre of hills, presented a display of regular fences
and cultivation that strikingly contrasted with the district that we had
just left.  The idea formed on a first view of this stupendous pile is
rather that of a ruined town than a castle: it is by much the largest
ruin in Britain, although its dimensions are somewhat inferior to those
of Windsor castle.  The high outer rampart, with its massive abutments
and frequent towers, still in a great measure entire, conveys at once a
clear impression of the great extent of the fortress.  In entering upon
an examination of the ruin we passed the barbican, {174} now built up
into habitations; and, proceeding between two dilapidated towers, entered
the great area of the castle:—a range of building, beneath the rampart on
our right, once formed the barracks of the garrison.  We then advanced to
that pile of superior building, _i.e._ of citadel, hall, chapel, state
and other apartments, which is generally considered as the castle, in
distinction from the encircling area and its wall: clambering over the
fragments of another drawbridge and its defending towers, we entered the
first court, which appears to have comprised the citadel: thence we
passed through a large gateway, with several grooves for portcullises, to
the principal court of the Castle.  The area of this court is seventy
yards by forty: on the south side is that princely apartment, by some
considered the hall, and by others the chapel: but, whichever it may have
been, vestiges of much original beauty appear in the elegant outline of
its four large windows; the grand proportions of the chimney-piece, and
the light triplet pillars, with arches that go round the room.  The
appearance of mortice holes in the walls for the ends of beams, at the
height of about the middle of the windows, led Camden to suppose that the
cieling was projected from thence, and that an apartment above was
lighted by the upper portion of the windows; but surely at a time when
symmetry in building was so well cultivated, and where it appears to have
been so successfully applied, such a ridiculous contrivance could not
have taken place: more probably, as I conceive, from those mortices a
support was derived for a lofty arched roof, or a gallery. {175}
Eastward of the hall, is the curiosity of a leaning tower, a bulky
fragment of the ruin between seventy and eighty feet in height, whose
walls are of a prodigious thickness: it hangs nearly eleven feet out of
the perpendicular, and is only held together by the strength of its
cement.  How or when this phenomenon happened no legend informs us; but
it has remained in this state many centuries.  As the adjoining towers,
and all the standing parts of the ruin, remain perpendicular, the cause
must have arisen from a local failure of the foundation: hence I am of
opinion, that a solution of the phenomenon may be found in the effects of
a mine, and which probably took place during the long siege which Hugh le
Despenser sustained in this castle in the time of Edward the Second.
Near this part of the ruin a place is shewn as the mint, with two
furnaces for melting metal.  From this chamber we ascended a spiral
staircase to the corridor, still in very good preservation, which,
lighted by small windows, and passing round the principal court, formed a
communication with the different apartments.  The external view of the
western entrance of the ruin, with its ponderous circular towers
venerably shaded with ivy, is remarkably striking; and, with the remains
of its drawbridge and defending outwork, may be considered as the most
entire part of the ruin.  An artificial mound some distance off, but
within the works of the castle, was most likely used for exploratory
purposes.

From the great plan of this castle, and there being no direct evidence to
the contrary, its foundation has been attributed to the Romans; and some
ingenious arguments have been adduced to prove, that it was their Bullaum
Silurum.  But it sufficiently appears, that no considerable part of the
present fortress was built by them, as the predatory army of Rhys Tycan
took and rased Caerphilly castle in 1221.  The best supported opinion is
that of the Hon. Daines Barrington, who attributes the present erection
to Edward the First.—Caerphilly has lately increased from an obscure
village to a well-built little town; and the respectable appearance of
its two inns may be in a great measure dated from the great increase of
the visitants of the castle. {177}

We left Caerphilly, over to hilly boundary, on the road to Cardiff; where
we noticed the singular appearance of some peasants digging coals from
the surface of the ground.  At the extremity of this tract, Thornhill, a
grand elevation, afforded us a most extensive prospect, which,
illuminated by an evening sun, formed a picture of uncommon brilliancy.
The wide plain of Cardiff displayed for many miles, in every direction, a
gratifying extent of Nature’s bounty, in an endless variety of
cultivation, chequered with numberless hedgerows, and enlivened by
several villages, whose neatly whitened walls glistened through their
appendant foliage: the rich verdure was in one part varied by the russet
hue of an extensive warren.  At the extremity of this tract appeared the
expansive Severn, in which the two islands of the steep and flat Holmes
were conspicuous; and afar off the bold hills of Somersetshire closed the
prospect.  We slowly descended from the spot commanding this range of
objects, and travelled on a good road towards Cardiff, with the episcopal
ruins of Landaff at a small distance on our right.

On entering CARDIFF, the capital of Glamorganshire, between the
ivy-mantled walls of its castle, and the mouldering ruin of a house of
White Friars, we were much pleased with the aspect of the town: nor were
we less so on a closer examination of its neat well-paved streets; it
appearing to us one of the cleanest and most agreeable towns in Wales.
The high tower of its church, crowned with four transparent Gothic
pinnacles, had long engaged our interest; but on a near view we did not
find the body of the church to correspond with it; it being of an older
date, a plain Norman structure.  This, I believe, was the conventual
church of the Franciscan Friars that are described as having occupied the
eastern suburb of the town.  The other parish church, for Cardiff is
divided into two parishes, was undermined by the action of the river,
about a century and a half since, and fell down.  The house of the White
Friars has been already noticed; and without the west gate stood a
monastery of Black Friars.  This town was formerly encompassed by a wall,
and vestiges of its four gates yet remain.  Cardiff, having the benefit
of a good harbour, carries on a brisk trade with Bristol, and other
places, and has of late considerably increased its commercial importance:
but perhaps its chief interest with tourists will be derived from its
castle.

CARDIFF CASTLE, a seat of the Marquis of Bute, (Baron Cardiff and Earl of
Windsor), was until lately a Gothic structure of considerable elegance;
but having undergone a repair, without attention to the antique style of
architecture, it presents a motley combination, in which the remaining
Gothic but serves to excite our regret for the greater portion destroyed.
The misguided direction of this work is prominently conspicuous in the
enlargement of the building, wherein fashionable square windows appear
throughout the lower apartments, while the original character of the
edifice is imitated in the Gothic lines of the upper windows: a strange
violation of common propriety, to raise an antique superstructure upon a
modern foundation!  The part of the castle which is kept up is a single
range of building; and an elegant machicolated tower, overlooking the
whole, still frowns defiance on the petty innovations beneath.  The
internal has been entirely new-planned, and a number of portraits of the
present lord’s progenitors are ranged in the apartments, with the
principal events of their lives, emblazoned in letters of gold; but they
are for the most part indifferently executed.  In front of the building
is a spacious lawn, from the trim surface of which rises an artificial
mound, bearing the mouldering ruin of the ancient keep, {181} carefully
shorn of shrub and briar.  In the tower, at the entrance, a dark damp
dungeon is described to have been the prison of Robert duke of Normandy;
in which he was confined near thirty years, after being deprived of his
sight and inheritance by his younger brother Henry the First.  But it is
more probable that he had the whole range of the castle; for, independent
of the improbability that any human creature could live so long in such a
place, we have the authority of Odo Vitalis and William of Malmesbury,
that Henry made his imprisonment as easy as possible; furnishing him with
an elegant table, and buffoons to divert him.  A high rampart incloses
the whole; round the top of which a walk is carried, affording many
pleasing views of the surrounding country.

When Robert Fitzhammon conquered and divided the lordship of Glamorgan
with his twelve knights, he reserved the town of Cardiff, among other
estates, for himself, and erected this castle: here he held his courts of
Chancery and Exchequer; the former on the first Monday in every month,
when his knights or their heirs were bound to attend, and were then
entitled to apartments in the outer court of the castle; which privilege,
says Sir John Price, their heirs or assigns enjoy to this day.

This castle has frequently experienced the vicissitudes of war.  Soon
after its erection, one Ivor Black, a little resolute Welchman, marched
hither privately, with a troop of mountaineers, and surprised the castle
in the night; carrying off William Earl of Gloucester (Fitzhammon’s
grandson), together with his wife and son; whom he detained prisoners
until he obtained satisfaction for some injuries that he had suffered.
It was also taken by Maelgon and Rhys gyre anno 1282; and again by the
parliamentary forces in the civil wars, after a long siege.

A pleasant walk over the fields led us to the episcopal city of LANDAFF,
now in extent an inconsiderable village: this deserted spot occupies a
gentle eminence in the great plain of Cardiff.  The west front of the
cathedral is an admirable relic of Norman architecture, with two elegant
towers of extraordinary height, profusely enriched with the best
sculpture of that age: here all the apertures are circularly arched; but
the windows of part of the nave, yet remaining, are Gothic.  Upon the
chancel’s falling to decay some score years since, a great sum was
expended in raising the present church upon the old stock; but surely
such an absence of taste and common sense was never before instanced:
beneath the solemn towers has sprung up a fantastic summer-house
elevation, with a Venetian window, Ionic pilasters, and flower-pot jars
upon the parapet.  The same sort of window is coupled with the elegant
line of the ornamented Gothic in other parts of the structure; and
within, a huge building upon the model of a heathen temple surrounds the
altar; which, with two thrones, darken and fill up nearly half the
church.  From this mass of inconsistencies we turned to the inspection of
several ancient monuments, which were chiefly recumbent, and from several
marks of recent damage appeared to be much neglected. {184a}

The cathedral, now in ruins, was built by Bishop Urban, anno 1120, upon
the site of pile founded by St. Dubritius in the commencement of the
sixth century, and dedicated to more saints than I have room to
enumerate.  Urban also built a palace here, which was destroyed by Owen
Glendower: its high outer walls and gateway, however, remain, and form an
inclosure to a garden.  A large mansion adjoining, occupied by Mr.
Matthews, is, I understand, attached to the bishopric. {184b}



CHAP. XIII.


ENTRANCE OF MONMOUTHSHIRE—ANCIENT ENCAMPMENTS—CASTLETON—TREDEGAR
PARK—NEWPORT; CHURCH; AND CASTLE—EXCURSION TO MACHEN PLACE—PICTURESQUE
VIEW FROM CHRIST CHURCH—GOLD CLIFF—CAERLEON’S
ANTIQUITIES—ENCAMPMENTS—LORD HERBERT OF CHERBURY—LANTARNAM—LANGIBBY
CASTLE.

On quitting Cardiff, we soon entered MONMOUTHSHIRE {185} in crossing
Rumney bridge.  The church of Rumney is a large Gothic edifice, with an
embattled tower.  Nearly opposite to it, on the left of the road,
crowning a steep bank of the river, is an old encampment of an irregular
figure, with a triangular outwork; and a short distance further, at
Pen-y-pile, another occurs of a polyhedrous form.  As we proceeded, the
elevated mansion and extensive woods of RUPERAH, an elegant seat
belonging to a branch of the Morgan family, appeared finely situated
beneath the brow of some hills bordering the vale of Caerphilly; and on a
gentle hill below it, KEVEN-MABLE, an ancient seat of the Kemy’s family.
At the rural little village of St. Mellons, the old and new roads to
Newport unite: we took the latter, which is the lowermost and nearest,
traced on a range of gentle eminences skirting Wentloog level, an
extensive fertile plain won from the sea.  This wide flat, extending from
the Rumney to the Usk rivers, is relieved by the intersections of hedges
and drains, and has a sprinkling of white cottages; among which the
towers of St. Bride’s, Marshfield, and Peterson churches rise
conspicuously.  Our route passed through Castleton, where there was
formerly a castle; of which, however, only a small artificial mount, the
site of its citadel, now inclosed in the garden of Mr. Phillips, and a
chapel converted into a barn, remain.  Gwern-y-cleppa park, the next
object of our attention on the road, contains a ruin nearly hidden in an
interwoven thicket, once the mansion of Ivor-hael (the generous), the
pride of bardish song, who flourished in the commencement of the
fourteenth century.

We entered TREDEGAR PARK in succession, a very ancient seat of the Morgan
family.  This park is laid out in the obsolete style of groves and
avenues; but possesses great room for modern taste, in the variety of
swell and hollow composing its surface, the remarkable size and beauty of
the oaks and Spanish chesnuts with which it is decorated, and the
picturesque course of the rapid Ebwy, whose red rocky banks form a
striking contrast to the surrounding verdure.  The turnpike road passes
through the park, and within a few hundred yards of the mansion, a huge
quadrangular brick building, of the date of Charles the Second’s reign,
with a high shelving roof, in which are two or three tiers of windows,
similar to the weighing-house at Amsterdam.  Internally, the house is
convenient and well arranged, with state and domestic apartments, several
of which are preserved in their original character.  The most remarkable
is the oak room; the flooring of which, forty-two feet by twenty-seven,
was furnished by a single oak; and the wainscoting, formed of the same
material, is much admired for its antique carving.  A large collection of
pictures, chiefly family portraits, is distributed through the house; but
few of them are valuable as specimens of art.  Among the extensive
offices are several remains of the ancient castellated mansion, described
by Leland as “a very fair place of stone.”

The Morgan family being one of the most ancient and considerable in
Wales, the ingenuity of the bards has been excited to trace its origin:
some have venally derived it from Cam the second son of Noah; but others
refute this position, and modestly carry it no further than his third
son.  Without noticing several intervening personages contended to be the
founders of this family, Cadivor the great, lord of Dyfed, who died anno
1084, appears to be the only one well supported in the appointment of its
great ancestor.

From Tredegar Park we immediately crossed the Ebwy by a long narrow
bridge, and presently entered NEWPORT, a dirty ill-built town nearly
comprized in one long street winding down a bank of the river Usk.  The
eminence on which its church is situated, at the upper part of the town,
affords a very fine prospect of the surrounding country; at the extremity
of the town appears its ruined castle, watered by the silvery Usk: an
intermixture of wood and pasture clothes the surrounding hills and
valleys: the wild mountains about Pont-y-pool are strongly contrasted by
the fertile tract of Wentloog and Caldecot levels, and the noble expanse
of the Bristol channel backed by the cultivated hills of Somersetshire.
The church exhibits the architecture of several ages: its nave
comprehends the original church, which is of the oldest mode of building,
and may be considered as of a date prior to the settlement of the
Normans: the chancel and ailes are of later architecture.  The western
doorway, connected with the ancient chapel of St. Mary, now converted
into a burying-place, and which was formerly the grand entrance, exhibits
a curious specimen of Saxon carving, in a circular archway, with hatched
and indented mouldings resting on low columns with capitals of rude
foliage.  The church contains three ancient monuments; but its chief
ornament is the high square embattled towers built by Henry the Third, in
gratitude for the attachment of the townsmen to his cause during his
contest with the barons.  St. Wooloo, the patron of this spot, is held in
high veneration by the natives.  He retired from the pride and pageantry
of kinghood, to lead a life of prayer and mortification: a lowly cottage
was his dwelling; sackcloth his apparel; he lived by the labour of his
hands; the crystal rill afforded his only beverage, and barley bread,
rendered more disrelishing by a sprinkling of ashes, his constant food.
He left this world for better fare in the next about the end of the fifth
century.

NEWPORT CASTLE is a ruin of very inconsiderable dimensions: its
quadrangular area was only defended by a simple wall, except on the side
next the river, where three towers still remain in a nearly intire state.
There is an octagon tower at each extremity of this side; a large square
one between them, with turrets at each angle, appears to have been the
citadel, and contains a vaulted apartment called the state-room; at the
bottom of this tower a handsome Gothic arch forms a water-gate, which has
within it the groove of a portcullis: between this and the further tower
was the baronial hall, the ruins of which yet remain.  The pointed arches
throughout this building testify it to have been a work posterior to the
Norman era; though it is certain, that there was a castle at Newport in
1173, when Owen ap Caradoc, going to treat with king Henry without arms
or attendants, was basely murdered by the soldiers of Newport castle.
Jowerth ap Owen, his father, in revenge for this treachery, carried fire
and sword to the gates of Hereford and Gloucester.  Newport was formerly
encompassed with a wall; but of this there are no remains; nor of the
three gates mentioned by Leland, except some small vestiges of the one
next the bridge.  A large Gothic building near the castle, with a stone
coat of arms over the door, now occupied as a warehouse, was formerly the
murringer’s {192} house.  In place of an inconvenient wooden bridge, a
handsome stone one of five arches has been lately executed by Mr. David
Edward, son of the mason of Pont-y-pridd: a canal was also just finished
at the time of our visit, reaching from Pont-y-pool, by means of which
its brisk and improving trade in coals and iron is much facilitated.

On the banks of the river, a short distance below the bridge, are the
remains of a house of preaching friars; consisting of the spacious
refectory, part of the church, and other buildings, now converted to
private uses.—About a mile further southward, near the conflux of the Usk
and Ebwy, are the small vestiges of Green castle, once a considerable
fortress belonging to the duke of Lancaster, and described by Churchyard,
who flourished in the reign of Elizabeth, as

    “A goodly seate, a tower, a princely pyle.”

We made an excursion on the road to Caerphilly, which embraces several
objects not unworthy of notice.  About a mile and half from Newport is
the Gaer, a large encampment supposed to be Roman, occupying the brow of
an eminence near the Ebwy in Tredegar park.  A short distance further is
the little village of BASSALEG, the approach to which is very
picturesque; where the Ebwy appears struggling in its bed of red rocks,
and throwing its clear stream over a weir just beneath the bridge: above
it rises the church, with its embattled tower finely relieved by
intervening foliage.  Here, according to Tanner, was a Benedictine
priory, a cell to the abbey of Glastonbury; but of this no traces are
evident; unless a ruin in the deep recesses of a forest about a mile
westward, called Coed-y-Monachty, or the wood of the monastery, are its
remains.  On the summit of a hill overgrown with coppice, about a mile
from Bassaleg, near the road to Llanvihangel, is a circular encampment
called Craeg-y-saesson.

From Bassaleg the country continues undulating and fertile, to the vale
of Machen, where the Rumney emerges from among wild hills and overhanging
forests, and sweeps through the plain: a sprinkling of white cottages
enliven the scene, which receives an additional effect from its
picturesque church, and the steep acclivity of Machen hill, studded all
over with lime-kilns.  At the opening of the vale is MACHEN-PLACE, once a
respectable seat of the Morgans, but now tottering in decay, and occupied
as a farm-house: some memorials of faded grandeur may here be traced in a
circular apartment, with a rich stuccoed cieling, called the
hunting-room.  A pair of andirons weighing two hundred weight, formerly
employed in roasting an entire ox, and an immense oak table, may also
convey an idea of the solid fare and plenty of days of yore.  We pursued
the road no further; but, returning through Newport {195}, and crossing
its bridge, took the road to Caerleon.

Our route soon became uninteresting, and continued a confined and miry
avenue: until, arriving at CHURCH-CHURCH, and looking over a hedge
opposite to it, when a prospect burst upon us with an electric
suddenness, grandly extensive and delightful.  From the foreground
descended a succession of bold knolls or gentle swells, clothed with
ornamental plantations, in a wide display of sylvan beauty, to Caldecot
level, whose uniform though fruitful plain was in a great measure
concealed by the intervention of contrasting heights.  Beyond this, the
majestic Severn’s

    “—fresh current flow’d
    Against the eastern ray translucent, pure,
    With touch æthereal of Heaven’s fiery rod.”

Numerous barks diversified its surface; and a large fleet of ships,
anchored at King’s-road, became a striking object.  The high opposite
shores of Somersetshire either descended in fertile slopes, laid out in
pastures and cornfields; or, abruptly disjoined, opposed their cliffs, a
naked surface of rock, to the waves.  Eastward, over Gloucestershire and
the neighbouring counties, such a variety of hills and valleys, verdant
lawns and waving woods, embowered hamlets and handsome villas appeared,
that the eye was at a loss where to rest for pre-eminent beauty.  Light
clouds floated in the atmosphere; and the sun, “sparing of light,”
distributed its rays in partial streaks; but the varied illumination
rather heightened than diminished the charms of the picture.  We turned
from this assemblage of nature’s wealth, this delightful landscape, with
regret, and descended among the adjoining plantations of Sir Robert
Salusbury, Messrs. Sykes, Kemeys, and Philips, towards Caldecot level; a
large tract of land, similar to that of Wentloog, rescued from the
inroads of the sea by human industry.  Near the western extremity of this
plain rises the peninsulated promontory of GOLD CLIFF, so called from a
glittering yellow mica incorporated with the rock, and which is even now
considered by the peasants as indicating a gold mine.  The brow of the
cliff was formerly dignified with an opulent priory, founded by Robert de
Chandos anno 1113: its small remains are incorporated into a barn, and
other buildings of a farm-house.

Returning, we took a hasty view of Christchurch, an ordinary building
chiefly Gothic; but a Saxon arch reposing on low columns, which forms the
entrance, indicates that the greater part of the present structure is
engrafted upon an older foundation.  Within, a Gothic screen of exquisite
workmanship, separating the chancel from the nave, was formerly much
admired; but it is now shamefully injured.  A curious sepulchral monument
here is deemed miraculous, on the eve of the circumcision, in curing sick
children.  Formerly the tomb was crowded with the little subjects of
credulity, who were bound to remain in contact with the stone during the
night; but, the natural agency of a warm bed being found more favourable
to convalescence than the miraculous interposition, the fees of the
sexton have of late considerably diminished.  The public house near the
church was the ancient manse.

A descent of alarming steepness led us toward the ancient town of
CAERLEON, through its suburb, a long narrow village, still bearing the
classical appellation of Ultra Pontem.  We crossed the Usk by a narrow
wooden bridge with a flooring of loose planks, and immediately entered
the town, the Isca Silurum of Antoninus, the station of the second
legion, and the principal Roman own in the country of the Silures, now so
far diminished as scarcely to occupy one sixth of the area within are
Roman walls.  It was, however, in a declining state so far back as the
fourteenth century, as appears from the following account given by
Giraldus: “Many remains of its former magnificence are still visible.
Splendid palaces, which once emulated with their gilded roofs the
grandeur of Rome; for it was originally built by the Roman graces, and
adorned with stately edifices.  A gigantic tower; numerous baths; ruins
of a temple and a theatre, the walls of which are partly standing.  Here
we still see, both within and without the walls, subterraneous buildings,
aqueducts, and vaulted caverns, and stoves so excellently contrived as to
convey their heat through secret and imperceptible pores.”  This
description has been followed in a compiled Tour published not long
since, and, by an unfortunate mistake, given as its present appearance.
Alas! it exhibits a melancholy reverse:

    The cloud-capt towers,
    The gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples,

are dissolved: the town is a poor straggling place; and vestiges of its
former magnificence must be curiously sought after to be seen at all.
Statues, altars, columns, elegant freizes, sarcophagi, coins and
intaglios, have been making their appearance during several ages; but
they are immediately carried away by curious persons, or more frequently
applied to domestic uses.  An altar with a Roman inscription had been dug
up just before our arrival, and we were conducted by an obliging
gentleman of the town to the garden in which it was found: where we saw
the venerable monument of antiquity just finished slicing into half a
dozen slabs for paving.

The Roman fortification forms an oblong square, with the corners a little
rounded, {200a} and unfurnished with towers.  Many fragments of the walls
accompanied by the fosse are evident; deprived of the facing-stones, they
appear in great masses of grout-work; _i.e._ of stones, broken tiles, and
bricks promiscuously bedded in cement.  The remains are no where more
than fourteen feet high, which is much less than their original
elevation, and ten or twelve in thickness.  Their circumference does not
exceed 1800 yards; but the adjacent fields are continually yielding up
foundations, &c. which denote the suburbs to have been very extensive;
tradition, indeed, reports them to have been nine miles round.  The
castle stood between the walls and the river, of which some small
vestiges appear at the Hanbury Arms. {200b}  At a little distance from
this place, on the opposite side of the road, we noticed a high
artificial mound about 300 yards in circumference, which is the site of
the citadel described by Giraldus as gigantic.  The small remains of its
walls appear to consist of solid masonry; but this part of the
fortification is, no doubt, posterior to the rest, and was most likely
erected by the Normans.

The house of Miss Morgan, formerly a Cistercian abbey, has been entirely
new-faced with squared stones collected from the ruins of Caerleon, as
have also many others in the town.  This lady has collected several Roman
coins, and has other curiosities in her possession that we would gladly
have examined, and were offered an introduction for that purpose; but our
way-worn apparel (a false shame, if the reader insist upon it) was an
obstacle in our way of accepting it.  Other Roman vestiges appear in the
market-house of Caerleon, which is supported by four massive Tuscan
pillars.  Immediately without the town, and adjoining Miss Morgan’s
premises, is the Roman amphitheatre, commonly called Arthur’s round
table.  It is an oval concavity, seventy-four yards by sixty-four, and
six deep; in which are ranges of stone seats, though now covered with
earth and verdure.  The foundation of its encircling walls was met with
on digging in the year 1706, when a statue of Diana and two ornamental
pedestals were also discovered.

In the neighbourhood of Caerleon are several encampments that were
probably used for airing the troops in summer.  The most remarkable are,
that of the Lodge, occupying a hill in the park of Lantarnam, about a
mile north-west of Caerleon; the one of Penros, a short distance to the
left of the road to Usk; that at Mayndee, near Christ-church; and a
fourth in the wood of St. Julian’s, towards Newport.  Near the latter
spot a chapel of high antiquity, dedicated to St. Julius; is now used as
a barn.  But St. Julian’s is more remarkable for a Gothic mansion, once
the residence of the ingenious, valiant, and vain lord Herbert of
Cherbury.

Edward, first lord Herbert of Cherbury, was born anno 1581: his infancy
was remarkable for mental and bodily weakness; but he soon became
distinguished as a scholar and a valiant knight.  Most of the living
languages and every elegant accomplishment engaged his study.  We learn
from the history of his life; written by himself (in which he is
considered to be the most chivalrous, learned, handsome, discerning, and
wonderful gentleman that ever figured in story); at fifteen he took to
himself a wife; and being a few years afterwards presented at court; his
love-inspiring attractions excited the rusty passions of Elizabeth, then
seventy years of age.—“The queen,” says the noble biographer, “looked
attentively upon me, and _swearing her ordinary oath_, said, “It is pity
he was married so young,” and thereupon have me her hand to kiss twice;
both times gently clapping me on the cheek.”  The consorts of Lewis the
Thirteenth and James the First were still more fascinated by this mighty
conqueror of hearts, who excited jealousy even in the breast of royalty!
Many enamoured dames of the court wearing his picture in their bosoms
brought him in hourly danger of assassination from their enraged
husbands: yet his miraculous courage and address ensured victory in every
encounter.  Among numerous excellencies that distinguished his clay from
the common material of mortality, the noble lord declares, “it is well
known to them that wait in my chamber, that the shirts, waistcoats, and
other garments I wear next my body, are sweet beyond what either can be
believed or hath been observed in any body else; which sweetness was also
found to be in my breath before I used to take tobacco.”  With all this
extravagance, which may be set to the account of old age, often vain and
garrulous, Lord Herbert may be justly considered one of the first
characters of the age and country in which he lived.

LANTARNAM house and park, situated about a mile and a half from Caerleon,
near the road from Newport to Pont-y-pool, occupy the site of a rich
Cistercian abbey.  The mansion is a neglected gloomy structure, which
appears to have been erected about the reign of Elizabeth, and chiefly
out of the materials of the abbey.  A large Gothic gateway and the monks
cells, now converted into stabling, are vestiges of the parent building.

The accounts that we had collected of Pont-y-pool did not incline us to
abandon the line of our tour to visit it.  The town, sufficiently large
and populous, yet blackened by neighbouring coal and iron works, and
situated in a dreary region only rich in mineral treasure, would hardly
prove interesting but to those concerned in its traffic.  Its first
consequence arose from a manufacture of japanned ware invented in the
time of Charles the Second, which remained a long time peculiar to the
town, but is now generally understood.  In its immediate vicinity
Pont-y-pool Park, the seat of Hanbury Leigh, Esq. forms a conspicuous
ornament, and is described by Mr. Coxe as possessing a good collection of
pictures.

Our road from Caerleon to Usk, leaving the house and encampment of Penros
on the left, led up an ascent from which we had an interesting view of
the surrounding district: A narrow valley winds round the base of the
eminence watered by the Usk.  The opposite boundary of the valley
sustained the woods of Kemey’s and Bertholly; and in the contrary
direction the eye ranges over the venerable groves of Lantarnam, and a
wavy intervening country to the distant mountains near Abergavenny.
Within two miles of Usk we entered LANGIBBY, a small village, only to be
noticed for an ancient mansion of the Williams’s family near it.  This
structure, attributed to the erection of Inigo Jones, contains no
distinguishing points of architecture; but the house and grounds command
delightful views, which receive no inconsiderable interest from the local
possession of a majestic ruin.  LANGIBBY CASTLE rears its mouldering
battlements on the brow of a bold hill, completely overspread with wood.
We have no certain accounts when this castle was built; but the pointed
arches that occur throughout the ruin denote its erection to have been
posterior to the first settlement of the Normans in these parts.  It
formerly belonged to the Clares Earls of Gloucester; but has been upwards
of two centuries in the family of the present possessor.  Of this line
was Sir Trevor Williams, a zealous supporter of the parliamentary cause
in the civil wars, when Langibby castle was spoken of by Cromwell as a
fortress of strength and importance.

Our approach to Usk was traced through its vale on a bank of the river,
and beneath a high hill entirely shaded with wood: close to our left
appeared the whitened Gothic church of Lanbadock: but the handsome bridge
of Usk, the antique town and ivy-mantled castle, formed more interesting
objects in successive distances; while, afar off, the varied line of the
mountains near Abergavenny, the craggy summit of the Skyridd, and the
abrupt cone of the Sugar-loaf, contrasting the lofty even swell of the
Blorenge, presented a terminating line of the most picturesque
description.  This distance alone was illumined by the sun; for the
evening drew to a close, and all our home view was wrapt in one grand
shadow.



CHAP. XIV.


USK CASTLE AND CHURCH—EXCURSION TO RAGLAN—ELEGANT RUINS OF RAGLAN
CASTLE—VIEWS FROM THE DEVAUDON—ROMAN ANTIQUITIES AT CAERWENT—TESSELATED
PAVEMENT.

Usk, supposed to be the Burrium of the Romans, occupies a flat situation
on the banks of its river.  Though now a small place, in great part
untenanted and falling to ruin, {208} it was formerly of very
considerable extent.  The form and dimensions of its ancient boundary may
be traced in an imperfect rampart among the adjoining fields and
orchards.  The figure is not oblong, as most Roman works of the kind
were, but irregularly rectilinear.  On a gentle eminence in the northern
precinct of the town is the castle, famous in history for withstanding
many a fierce assault; but the ruin has little picturesque attraction:
such parts as are not converted to the domestic purposes of a farm-yard
are so enveloped in ivy, as scarcely to afford a characterizing form
externally.  We entered the castle through a Gothic gateway: vestiges of
the baronial hall appear on the east side; and some of the towers, with
round arched apertures, seem of the earliest construction: but we have no
certain accounts when the castle was founded.

Not far from the castle is the church, still a large structure, though
much contracted from its original extent.  The tower, in which circular
arches are introduced, is the oldest part of the edifice; the body of the
church is Gothic.  This church belonged to a Benedictine priory of five
nuns; and part of the priory-house is now standing, a little southward of
the Church, in the occupation of a farmer.  The common prison, a Gothic
building near the bridge, was formerly a Roman Catholic chapel. {209}

There are several ancient encampments in the neighbourhood of Usk.  That
of Craeg-y-garcyd, crowning a woody precipice on the west side of the
river, about a mile above the town, is supposed by Harris to be Roman.
Its figure is very irregular, and remarkable for seven very large tumuli
within the rampart.  About two miles from Usk, in our way to Raglan, we
passed Campwood on our left, another encampment, of art oval figure,
entirely covered with wood, but not remarkable either in its situation or
construction.

Our ride to Raglan traversed a bold undulating country of uncommon
richness, where the luxuriance of the soil was alike conspicuous in
impervious woods or teeming orchards sweeping over the hills, and verdant
meadows sweetly carpeting the vallies.

    “When morn, her rosy steps in th’ eastern clime
    Advancing, sow’d the earth with orient pearl,”

we began our journey; and this range of fertility but disclosed itself in
partial gleams through the exhaling dew, as we ascended a hill from Usk.
Advancing, the mists disappeared, and we quickly found ourselves in a
sequestered valley, whose high encircling hills were variously decorated
with a profusion of wood: the morning sun brilliantly shone on the dewy
verdure; and we were admiring the charming scenery, while our spirits
partook of its cheerfulness, when a huntsman’s horn resounded from a
neighbouring thicket, and echoed through the hills: a deep-mouthed pack,
joining in full chorus, announced a _throwing-off_.  The concert
continued, though the performers remained unseen as we anxiously skirted
the dale; but our road soon took an ascent, in the precise direction of
the hunt; and, gaining an eminence, a new vale and its accompanyments
opened to us, yet without the hunting party.  However, we had not long
gazed in disappointment when, from the dark umbrage of a thick wood, the
hounds rushed forward like a wave over the meadows; the men and horses
were not far behind; but, scouring a descent that would have scared a
lowland sportsman, pursued the game, which continued out of sight.  But
at length we saw Reynard skulk from a ditchy fence in a field before us,
and dash across the meadows: the hounds and hunters were close at his
heels.  A loud shout from the party, a superior yell in the dogs, and the
strained exertions of the animal, proclaimed a general view: we heartily
joined in the halloo; and even our sorry jades displayed unusual spirit;
for they pricked up their ears, and absolutely began a gallop to join in
the chase; but a gate near a yard high opposed an insurmountable obstacle
to that intention, and obliged us to remain inactive spectators while the
party veered up a woody hill and finally disappeared from us.

Reluctantly parting from this animating scene, we entered the little
village of RAGLAN; where an old woman, knitting at the door of her
cottage, proffered her service to take care of our horses while we walked
over a fallow field to the superb ruins of RAGLAN CASTLE.

                         [Picture: Raglan Castle]

The approach led up a gentle eminence; but a screen of high elms and
thick underwood, issuing from the moat, intervened between us and the
castle, which remained concealed, until, penetrating the thicket, a
display of the ruin burst upon us, elegantly beautiful!  Sweetly
picturesque!  No theatrical scene was ever designed in a happier taste,
or unfolded itself to admiring beholders with a more sudden and
impressive effect.  In this _coup d’œil_, the Gothic portal and two
elegant embattled towers immediately arrested the eye.  Of the polygonal
towers that formerly defended the entrance, one is completely hidden in a
majestic mantle of ivy, which descends in a profuse festoon over the
gateway.  The other, admirably contrasting, and in a most perfect state
of preservation, rears its beautiful machicolated summit with scarcely
any leafy incumbrance: yet a few tasteful tufts of ivy sparingly issue
from the windows and oillets of the tower, and wave their elegant
tendrils over the glistening polish of the walls. {214}  Another tower of
similar beauty, but superior dimensions, appears a little further, at the
eastern angle of the structure.  On the other side of the porch, the
ruins are concealed by a profuse pile of ivy; but some lofty portions of
the ruin start from the verdure with considerable elegance; and two
windows, standing one over the other, exhibit an effect of ornamental
relief in their freizes and mouldings that would not discredit any age.

From this assemblage of beautiful objects we fixed our attention on the
massive citadel, placed rather obliquely in front of the ornamented
ruins.  One half of this structure was blown up by order of Cromwell,
upon the taking of the castle by Fairfax: from the remaining section it
appears to have been a hexagonal building of five stories, whose sides
were flanked by semicircular bastions covering each angle.  The citadel
is surrounded by a moat and terrace, with a wall, in which appear niches,
once adorned with statues of the Roman emperors.  The rough and
threatening aspect of these broken walls, and the ponderous bulk of
disjointed fragments, falling in the same point of view with the gentle
and decorative parts just described, strongly contrast each other, and
heighten the varied character of the picture.

This charming _morçeau_ was illumined by a morning sun, which shone
direct on the marble-like surface of the towers, bringing forward all
their elegance of form and enrichment with decisive superiority.  The
secondary objects of the ruin, overhung with ivy, and denied the direct
light of the sun, retired in a low tint; but at the left extremity of the
picture, the craggy and advancing citadel caught some of the strongest
lights and shades, forming an admirable bit of foreground to the piece.
Although I am of opinion, that by a morning light this subject is seen by
far to the greatest advantage, yet treated with an afternoon effect, by
the judicious pencil of Sir Richard Hoare, it has formed a charming
picture.  This View the engraver has ably transmitted to the publick in
Mr. Coxe’s Survey of Monmouthshire.

Delighted with this first view, we traversed the porch defended by two
portcullisses, and entered the principal court of the castle.  The
interior wore the same style of magnificence that we so much admired
without.  In superior grandeur projected the great window of the hall,
majestically canopied with ivy; a variegated verdure covered the
once-paved area, and climbed the lofty sides of the ruin.  In some places
the fondling ivy ran through the forsaken chambers, and embowered the
apertures of the windows; while in many shadowy recesses, where the early
sun had not penetrated, the dewy spangles of morning still decorated the
dwarfy ash, or tremulously bedecked the waving thistle.  So admirably
were the different parts disposed, so picturesquely relieved, that the
whole seemed rather a fairy creation, than the fortuitous combination of
undirected nature.

After enjoying these general effects, we proceeded to examine the
apartments of the castle.  These do not in any part seem of very remote
erection, but appear to have been constructed at different periods
between the ages of Henry the Fifth and Elizabeth; yet, though a disunion
of style be visible to the Antiquary, no discordance of effect arises in
any instance.  Of the first court, the principal entrance, and a range of
once elegant rooms, occupy the south side; the baronial hall, and some
other noble apartments, fill up the western part of the court; the
culinary and other domestic offices, with the servants habitations,
appear to have occupied the north and east sides: at the angle of their
junction, a pentagonal tower contained the kitchen, and a small
projection on the past side was the oven.  A broken flight of steps
afforded us the means of ascent to the superior apartments, where we
admired the works of our fore-fathers in some lightly-ornamented
chimney-pieces and Gothic mouldings.  The baronial hall has suffered less
from time than from the pilfering attempts of the neighbourhood: some
traces of its former grandeur may be seen in its stately dimensions; a
prodigious fire-place; and a few remnants of ornament, including the
stone-sculptured arms of the Marquis of Worcester, at one end of the
hall: this place, once the scene of banqueting and splendour, is now used
as a fives-court.  Here a fresh instance might be collected of the
fleeting state of sublunary greatness; but so many have been brought
forward by the great geniusses of all ages, while every little one feels
the truth without benefiting by the knowledge, that we will not stop to
enlarge on so hopeless a subject; but proceed, where barons bold have
often trod, through the western portal of the hall to the chapel.  Few
vestiges remain of this structure; but some of its springing arches,
rising from grotesque heads, are imperfectly visible; and two
whole-length figures, coarsely executed, appear through the thick-woven
ivy.  From this place we entered the area of the second court, once
adorned with a marble fountain and an equestrian statue; but now planted
with fruit-trees: this court is surrounded by a range of secondary yet
capital apartments.

The subterraneous appendages of the castle are uncommonly extensive,
according with the great plan of the building; eastward of which is the
grange and out-houses, now converted into a farming habitation.—Raglan
Castle was one of the latest that held out for the royal cause against
Cromwell; and the intrenchments raised for its defence, and against it,
may be readily traced in the adjoining fields. {219}

Returning from this interesting ruin, we passed Raglan church, a small
Gothic building, containing a few mutilated monuments of the Beaufort and
Worcester families; and proceeded on the turnpike-road to Chepstow.

Our route soon took a long and laborious ascent, from the summit of which
we obtained an extensive view over the middle parts of Monmouthshire, an
undulating tract of uncommon fertility and high cultivation.  The line of
distant mountains that we admired in the approach to Usk, here appeared
strongly diversified and singularly picturesque, with the continuous
ridge of the Black mountains to the west.  Another considerable height
about three miles further commanded a similar view; from which a short
ride led us to the summit of the DEVAUDON; a remarkable elevation, whence
a prodigious view is ordinarily obtained, not only over the country
northward, but in the opposite direction, over the Bristol channel and
its opposing shores.  A severe shower, however, obliged us to relinquish
this view, and seek shelter beneath the boughs of Chepstow park, as we
branched off on the turnpike towards Caerwent.

Upon the storm abating, we wound down the Devaudon, and descended into an
agreeable valley, whose opposite hills were clothed with wild
forest-trees: the decayed town of Share Newton occupied the summit of a
high hill bordering the vale in the direction of our route.  We passed
through this town (a mere collection of cottages), and about half way
towards the village of Crick turned off the road to visit Wrunston, an
ecclesiastical ruin concealed in a sequestered thicket.  The picturesque
remnant of a small chapel is the only part standing; but extensive
foundations and broad causeways declare the place to have been once
considerable.—From Crick, a genteel village, we proceeded over an old
Roman causeway {222} to Caerwent, the Venta Silurum of the Romans.

CAERWENT occupies a gently-inclining plane in a low situation.  A few
small dwellings mark the site of the ancient town; the fortifications of
which form an oblong paralellogram, whose width is equal to two-ninths of
its length, with the corners a little rounded; a frequent figure in Roman
military works, called _Terriata castra_.  The corners of the walls
nearly correspond with the four cardinal points.  On the south-west side
are three pentagonal bastions; from which circumstance some authors have
conjectured the erection of the town to have taken place under the lower
empire, as flanking projections were not in use before that period; but
it is justly supposed to be equally probable, that they were added after
the general embattlement.  The circuit of the rampart, near a mile in
extent, may still be traced, in most places surrounded by a deep moat;
the wall is constructed of grout-work faced with squared lime-stone; but
the facings have been for the most part removed for private uses.  From
the present ruinous state of the walls, we cannot speak with certainty of
their former height; but it appears to have varied considerably; perhaps
eighteen feet may be a good medium: they are about twelve feet in
thickness at their base, and nine at top.  A fragment of the wall, nearly
twenty feet in length and twelve high, has fallen near the southern
angle; and, although the ponderous ruin revolved in its fall, the mass
remains unshattered and impenetrable.  Such is the boundary of a spot
once crowded with palaces and temples: at present, the church and
parsonage, a farm-house, a public-house, and a few scattered cottages,
chiefly built with squared stones of the Roman town, are the only
buildings on the area, which is generally laid out in fields and
orchards.  But ancient foundations, projecting above the level, and
concealed under green hillocks, rise in many places; and elegant columns,
tesselated pavements, and coins, are continually met with in ploughing
and digging.

We saw a tesselated or mosaic pavement, that was formerly much admired,
in an orchard behind the farm-house; which is thus described by Mr.
Wyndham in his tour, performed between thirty and forty years since: “The
pavement is in length twenty-one feet six inches, and in breadth eighteen
feet.  A border, edged with the Greek scroll and fret, surrounds the
whole; but on the north side, the border, being upwards of three feet, is
much broader than the other side.  This was designed in order to reduce
the circles within a square.  These circles are about three feet in
diameter, and are encircled with a variety of elegant ornaments, and
separated from each other by regular and equal distances.  I think there
are thirteen of these circles.  The pieces of which the pavement is
composed are nearly square, the breadth of them being about the size of a
common die.  These are of various colours, blue, white, yellow, and red;
the first and second are of stone, and the yellow and red are of terra
cotta.  By a judicious mixture of these colours, the whole pattern is as
strongly described as it would have been in oil colours.  The original
level is perfectly preserved; and the whole composition is so elegant and
well executed, that I think it has not been surpassed by any mosaic
pavement that has been discovered on this, or even on the other side of
the Alps.  In my opinion, it is equal to those beautiful pavements which
are preserved in the palace of the king of Naples at Portice.  I am
strongly inclined to think that it is of the same age of Agricola.”  On
this pavement being discovered, a building was erected to shelter it from
the weather, by order of the proprietor, Mr. Lewis, of St. Pierre; but
the brewhouse wanted a roof, and this, being found of similar dimensions,
was transferred to the brewhouse; the farmer holding his ale in much
greater veneration than relics of antiquity.  In consequence of neglect,
this curiosity is no longer an object of beauty; exposed to the weather,
the surface became broken up; every one being allowed to take away as
many of the _tesseræ_ as he pleased; but a small portion remains; and
that is so overgrown with grass as to be with difficulty distinguished.
In this orchard, and near the southern extremity of the wall, is a mound,
which is most probably the site of the exploratory, or watch-tower.



CHAP. XV.


WENTWOOD FOREST—EXCURSION TO THE CASTLES OF DINHAM; LANVAIR; STRIGUIL;
PENCOED; AND PENHOW—COMPRISING EXTENSIVE VIEWS FROM THE PENCAMAWR,
&C.—CALDECOT CASTLE—A TALE OF OTHER TIMES—NEW PASSAGE—SUDBROOK
ENCAMPMENT—AND CHAPEL—ST. PIERRE—MATHERN PALACE—MOINSCOURT.

Having satisfied ourselves with the antiquities of Caerwent, we planned
an excursion, to comprise the six castles mentioned by the author of
“Secret Memoirs of Monmouthshire” as surrounding the forest of WENTWOOD.
These were erected soon after the Normans established themselves in
Monmouthshire, in order to keep the natives in check, who were wont to
sally from their impenetrable fastnesses in the woods, and take a severe
revenge on their conquerors and oppressors.  Great part of this forest
still exists in its original wildness, although it has been considerably
curtailed by late enclosures.  The castles enumerated are, Dinham,
Penhow, Pencoed, Lanvasches, Lanvair, and Castrogy or Striguil.  On a
bridle-road, extending to Share Newton, we proceeded to the village of
DINHAM, a poor place consisting of a few farm-houses and cottages: we had
some difficulty in discovering the ruins of its castle, which consist of
some low walls obscured by trees; merely pointing out its site on a
gentle eminence near the borders of the forest.  The ruin is called in
the neighbourhood the old chapel.  There being nothing here to fix our
attention, we made the best of our way to LANVAIR CASTLE, situated on a
small rise about two miles from Caerwent, near the road to Usk.  In our
approach to the ruin, an effect caught through intervening trees was
pleasing and picturesque; but the ruin aspires not to grandeur, and is in
a great degree concealed by embowering verdure: a nearer inspection of
the castle increased our opinion of its former extent and prowess; large
foundations are evident; and the walls are nowhere less than seven feet
in thickness: a square and two round towers are the most conspicuous
features of the ruin, which is in part moulded into a farm-house: the
area of the principal court is employed as a kitchen-garden.  Beneath the
castellated eminence is the village-church, a simple rustic building;
passing which, and proceeding on the road to Usk, we quickly entered the
forest of Wentwood.  In this tract a dreary ride among dark woods, and
russet heaths, laboriously ascending, brought us to the PENCAMAWR summit;
a remarkable eminence in the long ridge of hills crossing the midland
parts of Monmouthshire, from the vicinity of Caerleon to the banks of the
Wye near Landago.

Here a prospect greatly extensive opened to us.  Beyond the wild region
prevailing about our eminence, broken into a rapid succession of high
hills and deep valleys, the winding Usk, with its emeraldic valley,
accompanied with numerous villas and rich hanging woods, appeared in all
its beauty.  The bold character of the foreground, soon melting into a
gentle undulation, displayed a scene of cultivation and productiveness of
great extent; while, afar off, the line of distant mountains about
Abergavenny, which we had before admired, again presented itself;
somewhat varied, but not diminished in excellence.  Nor was the view
southward less extensive, comprehending a great part of the Bristol
channel, with its receding coast.

Slowly proceeding down a steep declivity, and admiring the prospect
before us, we soon reached STRIGUIL, or TROGGY CASTLE, as it is generally
called, standing in a marshy field at the bottom of the hill.  The small
remains of this fortress are so profusely overspread with ivy, and the
pendent foliage of wide-branching trees, that an accurate judgement can
scarcely be formed of its architecture: but where the structure can be
seen, pointed arches with neat facings appear throughout; from which
circumstance the accuracy of Iceland and Camden may be questioned, who
date the erection of this castle prior to the Conquest: certainly the
parts now standing were not constructed within a century subsequent to
that event.  An octagon tower and some broken walls are the only standing
parts of the ruin; but the form of its area may be traced, which is
oblong, with towers defending each angle, and a broad moat surrounding
the whole.

Reascending the Pencamawr, a ride of four or five miles, upon the site of
a British way that led from Cardiff to Monmouth, brought us into the
turnpike-road between Newport and Caerwent.  In this interesting
progress, on the ridgy summit of the high hills bordering the Usk, our
prospects were delightful.  Occasionally excluded by the close thickets
of the forest, and re-appearing under different circumstances, new scenes
were continually creating; and that satiety in consequence avoided which
would possibly have resulted from the long possession of one species of
scene, however excellent.  Not far distant from the Pencamawr, appear the
antiquated mansion, the hanging groves, and dark mantling woods of
Bertholly, impendent near the limpid Usk, which here makes one of its
boldest curves, forming nearly a complete circle in its romantic meander.
About two miles further, in a field on the right of the road, is a
building called Kemys Folly; from the summit of which, a range of
prospect is obtained, scarcely to be equalled for extent and diversity.
The views described from the Pencamawr here appear, with all the added
charms of the scenery of the Usk, in this part eminently beautiful: from
this spot also the Bristol channel displays its silvery surface with
uncommon effect; while the distant shores of Somerset and Devon follow
its course in bay and promontory, until the receding confine, too remote
for the distinction of sight, appears dissolved in the blue ethereal.

From these charming scenes we descended, and in a short time left the
British way, in joining the Newport turnpike near a public-house called
Cat’s Ash.  This road is for the most part constructed on the Julia
strata of the Romans.  Where it leaves the absolute site of the ancient
road it closely follows its course, and the foundation of the causeway
may be traced in the adjoining fields; particularly in a meadow near the
spot, where a lane from Lanvair to Caldecot level crosses the turnpike.
Proceeding on this road somewhat more than a mile, we turned off into a
bridle-road on our right, to inspect the remains of PENCOED CASTLE and
manor-house.  These ruins are situated on the extreme boundary of that
hilly tract bordering Caldecot level, over which and the Bristol channel
it commands a comprehensive view.  Of the castle very inconsiderable
vestiges appear, in a gateway with a circular arch and two small
pentagonal turrets, a round embattled tower, and some dilapidated walls;
yet, decorated with a profusion of verdure, the ruin, though small, is
picturesque and pleasing.  The architecture of these fragments is of a
more distant date than most of the small castles in Monmouthshire, and
may be considered coëval with the first establishment of the Normans in
Gwent, _i.e._ Monmouthshire.  The mansion, occupying the site of the
baronial fortress, built with its materials and engrafted on its
foundation, is of an architectural date between Henry the Eighth’s reign
and that of Elizabeth.  This neglected edifice is now partly occupied as
a farm-house; but indications of its former importance appear in the
grand dimensions of the apartments, and the great general extent of the
building.

Upon regaining the high road, we soon approached PENHOW CASTLE, seated on
an eminence, and commanding the pass of a wild hollow beneath: a square
embattled tower is the leading feature of this ruin, which is very
inconsiderable, and chiefly converted into a small farming habitation:

    “There in the ruin, heedless of the dead,
    The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed;
    And, wond’ring man could want the larger pile,
    Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile.”

Thus having surveyed five out of the six castles that formerly surrounded
the forest of Wentwood, and learning that no traces remained of the
fortress at Lanvasches, we returned to Caerwent from a circuit of about
twenty miles.

At an early hour in the morning we set out from our lowly quarters at
Caerwent, and traversed a fruitful country, pleasingly varied with wood
and pastures, in our way to CALDECOT CASTLE.  The situation of this ruin
in an undiversified swampy plain, is not calculated to set off its
importance: viewed from a superior elevation in the approach, the towers
and citadel, in themselves sufficiently high, appear sunk, and
undistinguished from the curtain wall of the fortification; but on a
nearer inspection the ruin rises in consequence; and the aspect of its
chief entrance, a large Gothic gateway guarded by two massive projecting
towers, is truly noble.  The light grey masonry of this entrance is
agreeably relieved by a profusion of ivy, overspreading nearly the whole
of one tower, and throwing the broad shadow of its pendent foliage upon
part of the other.  Within the portal the grooves of two portcullisses
are apparent; and a further means of defence is visible in holes through
the arch, down which boiling lead might be poured on the heads of the
besiegers.  On entering the court some remains of the baronial hall, and
the foundations of other buildings, appear within the area of the walls.
A small artificial mount at the north-east angle of the ruin sustains the
citadel, a lofty round tower; to which _dernier resort_ of the garrison a
ready communication seems to have been conducted on the walls, from the
different towers and other parts of the fortress; the whole of which is
surrounded by a broad and deep moat.

The early history of this castle is uncertain: some have conjectured that
part of it was built by Harold; and indeed a round tower on the
south-west side of the castle, with a circularly arched entrance, has a
Saxon character; but the general architecture of the building is Gothic.
Caldecot castle, in the different accounts of Monmouthshire, has been
attached to the lord high constableship of England, upon the authority of
Camden; {236} but it appears very satisfactorily, from Mr. Coxe’s
illustration, that it was the _private_ property of the great Bohun
family possessing the earldom of Hereford, who were hereditary constables
of England.  Caldecot church is an extensive and highly-ornamented Gothic
structure, which may appear somewhat disproportioned to the scanty flock
that it has to fold.

Leaving the little village of Caldecot, we passed the Nevern brook, and
soon after the small hamlet of Portswit, formerly washed by the sea,
though it has since receded upwards of a mile.  This place brought to our
recollection a tale of outrage and cruelty that strongly characterizes
the state of society at the time, and may serve as a buoy to mark the
lawless violence of military dominion.  It is related in Powell’s
translation of Caradoc’s history, that Harold, after wresting part of
Prince Gryffith’s possessions from him, built a magnificent palace at
Portascyth (Portswit) in Monmouthshire; “and, stowing it with a great
quantity of provision, splendidly entertained the king, who honoured him
with a visit.  This was by no means pleasing to Tosty, to see his younger
brother in greater esteem and favour with the king than himself; and,
having concealed his displeasure for a time, he could not forbear at
length but discover his grievance; for one day at Windsor, while Harold
reached the cup to King Edward, Tosty, ready to burst with envy that his
brother was so much respected beyond himself, could not refrain to run
furiously upon him, and, pulling him by the hair, dragged him to the
ground; for which unmannerly action the king forbade him the court.  But
he, with continued rancour and malice, rides to Hereford, where Harold
had many servants preparing an entertainment for the king; and, setting
upon them with his followers, lopped off the hands and legs of some, the
arms and heads of others, and then threw them into the butts of wine and
other liquors which were put in for the king’s drinking; and at his
departure charged the servants to acquaint him, ‘that of other fresh meat
he might carry with him what he pleased; but for sauce he should find
plenty provided for him.’  For which barbarous offence the king
pronounced perpetual banishment upon him.  But Caradoc ap Gryffydth gave
a finishing stroke to Harold’s house, and the king’s entertainment at
Portascyth; for, coming thither shortly after Tosty’s departure, to be
revenged upon Harold, he killed all the workmen and labourers, with all
the servants he could find; and, utterly defacing the building, carried
away all the costly materials, which, with great charges and expence, had
been brought thither to beautify and adorn the structure.”

Proceeding through an agreeable undulating tract towards the sea-shore,
we soon arrived at the NEW PASSAGE, the principal entrance into
Monmouthshire from the south-western counties. {238}  The breadth of
water from this place to the Bristol coast is three miles and a half,
while the ferry of Aust, or the Old passage, four or five miles higher up
the Severn, is only two miles across; but this advantage is considered to
be overbalanced by the more commodious landing at the former.  Both these
concerns, being monopolies, are, like all other monopolies, hostile to
the interest of the publick; for there being no competition for
preference between the boatmen, they are extremely rude in their manners,
indifferent to the accommodation of the publick, and by no means
unpractised in various arts of extortion.  But these exclusive privileges
have existed from time immemorial.  The title of the New Passage arose
from its renewal in the year 1718, after an abolition in consequence of
the following remarkable incident.

Charles the First, being pursued by a strong party of his enemies through
Share Newton, got into a boat at the Black rock (the New passage), and
was ferried to the opposite shore.  His pursuers, to the number of sixty,
with drawn swards compelled other boatmen belonging to the passage to
ferry them after him; but these, being in the king’s interest, landed
them on a reef of rocks in the Severn called the English stones, near the
Gloucestershire coast, to which they were instructed to ford: indeed, the
strait was fordable at low water; but, the tide flowing in very rapidly,
they were all drowned in the attempt, and the king for that time escaped.
Cromwell, informed of the transaction, abolished the ferry; nor was it
renewed, until after a long chancery-suit between an ancestor of the
present proprietor, Mr. Lewis, of St. Pierre, and the guardians of his
Grace the Duke of Beaufort, proprietor of Aust ferry.

A walk of a mile, on the shore westward of New Passage inn, led us to
SUDBROOK ENCAMPMENT, crowning the brow of an eminence which rises in an
abrupt cliff from Caldecot level.  This work, consisting of three
ramparts and two ditches, forms a semicircle, whose chord is the sea
cliff; but it is evident, that part of the eminence has mouldered away;
and most probable, that the figure of the fortification was once
circular.  Harris conjectures it to be of Roman origin, and intended for
the defence of the port of Venta Silurum (Caerwent).  Eastward of the
encampment is SUDBROOK CHAPEL, a small Gothic ruin, which was formerly
attached to a mansion of Norman foundation.  No traces appear even of the
site of this structure, which has in all likelihood been swept away by
the encroachment of the sea: but several piles of hewn stones near the
ramparts are probably its relics.

We had another pleasant walk of about a mile from the New passage across
the fields to ST. PIERRE, an ancient residence of the Lewis family,
descended from Cadivor the great.  This mansion exhibits rather an
incongruous mixture, in which the modern refinements of sash-windows, &c.
are forced upon a Gothic structure upwards of four hundred years old: an
embattled gateway, flanked with pentagonal towers, is still more ancient,
and is recorded as having belonged to the feudal castle that occupied the
site of the present building.

Nearly opposite this spot, the great estuary of the Bristol channel,
contracting in width, takes the name of the Severn.  The appellation of
this river arises from the story of a British princess.  Geoffry of
Monmouth relates, that she was the daughter of Locrine king of Britain,
by Elstridis, one of the three virgins of matchless charms whom he took
after he had defeated Humber king of the Huns, to whom they belonged.
Locrine had divorced his former queen Guendolin in her favour.  On his
death, Guendolin assumed the government, pursued Elstridis and her
daughter Sabra with unrelenting cruelty, and caused them to be drowned in
the river, which with some alteration took the name of this innocent
victim.  Our poets have made a beautiful use of this story: Milton, in
his description of rivers, speaks of

    “The Severn swift, guilty of maiden blood;”

but in the Mask of Comus he enters fully into her sad story:

    “There is a gentle nymph not far from hence,
    That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream:
    Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure;
    Whilome she was the daughter of Locrine,
    That had the scepter from his father Brute.
    She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
    Of her enraged stepdame Guendolin,
    Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
    That stay’d her flight with his cross-flowing course.
    The water-nymphs that in the bottom play’d
    Held up their pearled wrists and took her in,
    Bearing her strait to aged Nereus’ hall;
    Who, piteous of his woes, rear’d her lank head,
    And gave her to his daughters to imbathe
    In nectar’d lavers strow’d with asphodil,
    And through the porch and inlet of each sense
    Dropt in ambrosial oils till she reviv’d,
    And underwent a quick immortal change,
    Made Goddess of the river.”

Crossing the grounds of St. Pierre, and passing Pool Meyrick, a brook
falling into the Severn, we turned to the right in search of MATHERN
PALACE, formerly a seat of the bishops of Landaff.  This building,
situated in a gentle hilly country pleasingly diversified with wood and
pasturage, in its present appearance conveys but a very faint idea of the
splendour and good cheer that no doubt reigned there when it was the seat
of the episcopacy.  The structure surrounds a quadrangular court, and was
raised by different bishops; the north and north-east parts, comprising
the tower, porch, &c. are supposed to have been erected by John de la
Zouch, who was consecrated anno 1408.  Miles Salley, who came to the see
in 1504, built the chapel, hall, and other apartments.  Some specimens of
dilapidated grandeur appear in the east window; and until lately the
entrance was through a lofty ornamented porch; but this is now destroyed,
and the building only occupied as a farm-house.  In the north side of the
chancel of Mathern church, a Gothic structure, but of British origin, is
the following epitaph written by bishop Godwin; the substance of which
accounts for the manor of Mathern’s becoming ecclesiastical:

                       Here lyeth entombed the body of
                      Theodorick, king of Morganuck, or
                          Glamorgan, commonly called
                    St. Thewdrick, and accounted a martyr
                   because he was slain in a battle against
                    the Saxons, being then Pagans, and in
                   defence of the Christian religion.  The
                    battle was fought at Tintern, where he
                   obtained a great victory.  He died here,
                       being in his way homeward, three
                     days after the battle, having taken
                  order with Maurice his son, who succeeded
                       him in the Kingdom, that in the
                   same place he should happen to decease a
                 church should be built, and his body buried
                 in the same; which was accordingly performed
                            in the year 600. {244}

Within a short distance of Mathern is MOINSCOURT, another deserted
ecclesiastical mansion, attributed to the erection of Bishop Godwin, and
also occupied as a farm-house.  This exhibits a handsome Gothic porch
defended by two lofty turrets: within the court-yard are the two Roman
inscribed stones mentioned by Gibson in the supplement to Camden, and
said to have been brought from Caerleon: one of these appears to have
been a votive altar; the other records the repairing or rebuilding of the
temple of Diana by T. H. Posthumius Varus.



CHAP. XVI.


CHEPSTOW—FINE SCENERY OF ITS VICINAGE—THE CASTLE—CHURCH, AND
BRIDGE—PIERCEFIELD—CHARACTER OF THE LATE MR. MORRIS.

Upon meeting our horses at the village of St. Pierre, we proceeded
towards Chepstow, and in a few minutes were surprized with a range of
naked cliffs, rising in appearance from the tract of verdure before us; a
venerable wood shadowed the brow of the rocks, in front of which rose a
forest of masts with waving pennants.  This singular combination resulted
from the position of CHEPSTOW and its port, in an abrupt hollow, inclosed
by considerable heights in every direction.  The whole unfolded itself
like a map beneath us, as we descended to the town; an irregular-built
trading place, but where the well-furnished houses and opulent
establishments of many of the inhabitants engaged in business prove the
success of their commercial enterprize: yet the town, having no
manufactories, depends altogether on the carrying trade.

                        [Picture: Chepstow Castle]

We hastened from an excellent repast at the Beaufort Arms, to enjoy the
scenery in the vicinity of Chepstow-bridge; where an assemblage of
objects was disclosed, highly interesting, imposing, and beautiful.
Below the bridge, and on the opposite side of the deep and rapid Wye,
enlivened by numerous shipping, a series of cliffs appeared issuing from
the water, whose rocky surface, warmly tinted with various hues of red
and yellow, was pleasingly diversified with the vivid green of aspiring
ivy, while the lofty summits were fringed with impendent oaks.  This
trait was highly agreeable; but directing our attention up the river, the
princely ruin of Chepstow Castle, stretching along a grand perpendicular
cliff, which proudly emerges from the stream; and the steep hills of
Piercefield rearing their varied plantations, in leafy majesty, from the
river to the clouds; were features too nobly impressive not to stamp an
interest in the coldest observer.  A transient gaze did not satisfy us:
we paused a long time over the rails of the bridge; advanced to the
opposite shores; compared the varying effect at different distances and
elevations; and, as we changed our points of view, discovered fresh
gleams of picturesque beauty at every movement.  Nor were the leading
objects of this scene less gratifying when examined in detail, than the
striking _coup-d’œil_ of their general composition.

As we advanced toward the massive battlements and lofty turrets of
Chepstow’s ancient castle, the grand entrance, a Norman arch flanked by
circular towers, figured all the repulsive gloom of feudal reserve and
violence; even the very knocker was emblematical of hostility; for we
thundered at the portal for admission with a cannon-ball suspended by a
chain.  The warder of the castle did not wind his horn in reply, nor,
raising himself on the ramparts, did he demand our quality and business;
but a pretty smiling damsel, conjuring up all her rosy dimples, bade the
gate, or rather made it, revolve on its creaking hinges, and welcomed us
into the castle.

Upon entering the court, our attention was somewhat divided, between the
remains of the baronial hall, numerous apartments, and the kitchen, which
surrounded the area; and the well-turned arm that pointed to the several
objects.  A number of rooms in this court are kept in repair, and form a
commodious residence, which is tenanted by Mr. Williams under a lease
from the Duke of Beaufort.  From this we passed to the second court, now
laid out as a kitchen-garden.  The third court contained the chapel, a
fine remnant of antiquity, possessing a greater degree of decoration than
any other part of the castle; a range of niches appear within the walk of
this structure, at some distance from the floor, which is said to have
been filled with statues; and the mortices of beams seem to indicate,
that a gallery was conducted round the room.  The style of the windows
and enrichments is Gothic; but the original part of the building is
Norman.  Indeed, a unity of design and architecture appears throughout
the fundamental parts of the castle; although, as may be expected, the
continual alterations and additions of successive proprietors have left
us several specimens of the intermediate modes of building between the
Norman foundation and the present age.  Among the undecorative additions
of the latter period, are the deserted works of a glass-house, and a
dog-kennel.  Beyond the chapel we ascended a flight of steps to the
battlements, shadowed by wide branching trees of various descriptions,
issuing from the moat beneath.  Opposite to us, beyond the moat, appeared
the low embowered ruins of the fourth and last court, separated from the
principal mass of building by a drawbridge.

Returning, our fair guide conducted us to a subterraneous chamber with an
engroined roof, excavated in the rock, beneath the ruin, and opening to
the overhanging brow of the cliff.  Here several old ivys darted from
stony fissures that seemed to forbid vegetation, binding the mouldering
summit of the cliff in their sinewy embrace; and, shedding their light
tendrils round the cavern, embowered its aperture as they aspired in
frequent volutions to the loftiest turrets of the pile.  Here, and from
several points in our perambulation of the ruin, we timidly looked down
on the rapid Wye, rolling its swelling tide at an immense depth
perpendicularly beneath us; and at other times the green waving hills of
Piercefield rose in all their peculiar grandeur to our view, darkening
the river with their widely projected shadows.

Before we left this baronial fortress, we did not fail to explore a large
round tower in the first court, that was the ancient citadel; but is more
noticed for having been the prison of Harry Martin the regicide.  We
entered a Gothic doorway, and, following the taper heels of our gentle
conductress up a spiral staircase, visited each apartment in the tower;
all of which proved spacious and commodious. {251a}  Here the
parliamentary colonel was confined near thirty years; but not in the
“durance vile” which his sympathizing biographer represents: {251b} his
family lived with him, and he had offices for his servants; he had the
free range of the castle in the day-time; and, with a guard, was allowed
to visit the neighbouring gentry.  Even in the tottering state of
royalty, on Charles the Second’s restoration, this sort of confinement
was found sufficient to answer the ends of justice, and security to the
ruling powers; although the republican leader, the turbulent and
enterprising Harry Martin, was the prisoner; ever glorying in his
principles, and declaring, that were the treason of which he had been
legally convicted to be repeated, he should enter on his part without
reluctance.

The building of Chepstow (or Estrighoel) Castle, although carried by some
antiquaries to the æra of Julius Cæsar, {252} appears to have taken place
in the eleventh century, when William Fitzosborn, Earl of Hereford, built
the castle to defend the ample possessions granted him in this quarter by
William the Conqueror, his relation.  His son and successor, Roger de
Britolio, taking up arms against his sovereign, was deprived of his vast
inheritance; and Chepstow castle became soon after transferred to the
noble family of Clare.  This fortress is remarkable in history for the
gallant defence that it made, with a slender garrison, against a
considerable force headed by Oliver Cromwell; but after a long siege it
was taken by an assault, in which nearly all its defenders were
sacrificed.

The church of Chepstow, situated at the extremity of the town, below the
bridge, exhibits a curious specimen of Norman architecture, in the
massive arches resting on piers within, and the richly ornamented
mouldings of the western entrance.  The tower was erected during the last
century.  This church formed the nave of a much larger structure which
belonged to a priory of Benedictine monks, founded by the builder of the
castle.  Some remains of the priory walls may be traced near the church,
and of several other religious buildings in different parts of the town.

Chepstow Bridge is a singular structure: it was formerly entirely built
with timber; but the piers of the Monmouthshire half are now constructed
of stone.  The flooring of this bridge, like that of many others in the
county, is formed of thick planks, which are kept firm in their places by
tenons, or rather wedges of wood.  It is usually said, that this flooring
is loose, and calculated to rise with the torrents, which sometimes
swelling above the bridge would otherwise carry it away; but the fact is,
that the planks are not loose: as I was informed by a workman repairing
the floor, they are fastened in the manner related, in preference to
nailing, that they may be more easily replaced when worn out.  The tide
here is reckoned to rise higher than in any other part of the world;
accumulating to the height of seventy feet at particular periods; but a
late examination has proved fifty-six feet to be the highest point that
it has risen to during the present generation; which, though a very great
rise, is not superior to what happens in some other places.  The cause of
this extraordinary swell proceeds from the rocks of Beachly and Aust;
which, protruding far into the Severn near the mouth of the Wye, obstruct
the flow of the tide, and oblige it to turn with increased rapidity into
the latter river.  I am informed, that the ruined chapel on a rock, near
the mouth of the Wye, in the Severn, is an excellent subject for the
pencil, in composition with the cliffs of Beachly and the adjacent
scenery. {255}

On quitting Chepstow, and proceeding about a mile and half on the road to
Monmouth, a capital lodge with iron gates and palisadoes announced the
entrance of PIERCEFIELD.  Eager to view this enchanting domain, the
favourite resort and theme of tourists, nor less the pride of
Monmouthshire, we applied at the gate for admission; when a well-grown
lad made his appearance, who stared at us through the rails, with more
than the usual stupidity of boys brought up at a distance from towns.
Again and again, with entreaties and threats, we stated our business; but
nothing could excite the gaping vacuity of his countenance, or induce him
to open the gate.  Rightly concluding that he was an idiot, we were
returning towards the town for instructions how to act, when a venerable
pate with “silver crowned” appeared at the window of the lodge, and by
dint of hallooing and patience, in waiting upwards of a quarter of an
hour, we had the old man at the gate.  He was the boy’s grand-father;
and, if intellect were hereditary, the boy might presume on his lineage
with more chance of correctness than many of higher birth.  The old man,
after obliging us to hear a tedious incomprehensible narrative to account
for his babbling attendance, at length concluded by telling us, that we
could not upon any account see the grounds, as they were only shewn on
Tuesdays and Fridays.  This was on a Saturday; but to wait until the
following Tuesday would be a tax indeed; and to proceed without seeing
Piercefield a sad flaw in our tour; so we essayed with success a means
which, it may be remarked, when applied in a due proportion to its
object, is scarcely ever known to fail.

We rode up an embowered lane to the village of ST. ARVANS, and, leaving
our horses at the blacksmith’s, entered PIERCEFIELD GROUNDS at a back
gate.  Here commencing a walk of three miles in length, we passed through
agreeable plantations of oak, ash, and elm, to the edge of a
perpendicular cliff, called the Lover’s Leap, overlooking an abyss-like
hollow, whose fearful depth is softened by a tract of forest extending
over the surrounding rocks.  High above competition at the northern
extremity of the scene rises Wynd cliff: a dark wood fringes its lofty
summit, and shelves down its sides to the river Wye, which urges its
sinuous course at the bottom of the glen.  In one place, the river,
gently curving, appears in all the breadth of its channel; in another,
projecting rocks and intervening foliage conceal its course, or sparingly
exhibit its darkened surface.  Following the bend of the river on its
marginal height, a range of naked perpendicular cliffs (the Banagor
rocks) appear above the wooded hills that prevail through the scenery; of
so regular a figure, that one can scarcely help imagining it the
fortification of a town, with curtains, bastions, and demi-bastions.  But
a very leading feature is, the peninsula of Llanicut: the hills of
Piercefield, here receding into a semicircular bend, watered by the river
immediately beneath, are opposed by a similar concavity in the Banagor
rocks: the whole forming a grand amphitheatre of lofty woods and
precipices.  From the opposite side descends a fertile expanse, or tongue
of land, filling up the area of the circle.  This singular valley is laid
out in a compact ornamented farm; the richly verdant meadows are
intersected by flourishing hedge-rows; while numerous trees diversify the
tract, and imbower the farm-house: a row of elms shadows the margin of
the river, which, skirting the base of the hills, nearly surrounds the
valley.

These subjects disclose themselves in different combinations through
intervals in the shrubbery which encloses the walk; and which, although
selected from the nicest observations, are managed with so just an
attention to the simplicity of nature, as to appear the work of her
plastic hand.

The Giant’s Cave, a little further, is a passage cut through a rock.
Over one of the entrances is a mutilated colossal figure, which once
sustained the fragment of a rock in his uplifted arms, threatening to
overwhelm whoever dared enter his retreat; but some time since the stone
fell, carrying the Giant’s arms along with it; yet he continues to grin
horribly, although deprived of his terrors.  From this place a path,
traced under the woods, descends to the bath, a commodious building
concealed from outward view by impendent foliage.

Deserting for a while the course of the river, we ascend a superior
eminence called the Double View, whence the different scenes that have
presented themselves in detail appear in one comprehensive range.  Here
too a new field of prospect discloses itself, much more extensive than
the former, and beautifully picturesque.  The mazy Wye, with all its
interesting accompaniments, passes from beneath us, through a richly
variegated country, to its junction with the Severn, beyond whose silvery
expanse the grand swelling shores of Somersetshire form the distance.  A
curious _deceptio visus_ occurring here must not be passed over: it
arises from a coincidence in the angle of vision between the embattled
rocks already mentioned, and a part of the Severn; which appears to wash
their summit, although in reality it is many miles distant.  But the
subject of the prospect from this spot is seen much more picturesquely
combined as we continue our walk on a gentle descent, and catch the
varying scene through apertures in the foliage; yet there is something
that one would wish to add or remove, until we reach the grotto, when a
picture is exhibited in the happiest taste of composition.

In this charming view from the grotto, a diversified plantation occupies
the fore-ground, and descends through a grand hollow to the river, which
passes in a long reach under the elevated ruin of Chepstow Castle, the
town and bridge, towards the Severn.  Rocks and precipices, dark shelving
forests, groves, and lawns, hang on its course; and, with a variety of
sailing-vessels, are reflected from the liquid mirror, with an effect
that I cannot attempt to describe, and at which the magic pencil of a
Claude would falter.  The distant Severn and its remote shores form an
excellent termination, and complete the picture.

                     [Picture: View from Piercefield]

On our visit, the rich extent of variegated woods that mantles this
charming domain received an additional diversity in the endless
gradations of autumnal tints that chequered their surface; while in a few
places the still uniform _sombre_ hue of the pine and larch was admirably
relieved by the silvered verdure of the lightly-branching ground-ash and
witch-hazel.

Highly gratified with this delightful scenery, we returned by another
track through tangled shrubberies, open groves, and waving lawns, to the
mansion.  This edifice is constructed of free-stone, and has had two
handsome wings lately added to it by Colonel Wood, the present proprietor
of the estate.  Although not very extensive, it has nevertheless an
elegant external appearance; and, as we were informed, is fitted up
internally with a taste and splendour little inferior to any of our
first-rate houses in England. {261}

Remounting our horses at the village of St. Arvans, a steep ascent led
over some outgrounds of Piercefield to the summit of Wyndcliff, where a
prodigious extent of prospect burst upon us; comprehending at one view,
not only the different scenes in the neighbourhood of Chepstow, which
appeared sunk into the lines of a map, but a wonderful range over nine
counties.

The charms of Piercefield were created by Valentine Morris, Esq. about
fifty years since; to say unfolded, may be more correct; for the masterly
hand of nature modelled every feature; the taste of Mr. Morris discovered
them in an unnoticed forest, and disclosed them to the world: he
engrafted the blandishments of art upon the majestic wildness of the
scene without distorting its original character.

Philanthropic, hospitable, and magnificent, his house was promiscuously
open to the numerous visitors whom curiosity led to his improvements; but
alas! by his splendid liberality, his unbounded benevolence, and
unforeseen contingencies, his fortune became involved; he was obliged to
part with his estate, and take refuge in the West Indies.  Before he left
his country, he took a farewel view of Piercefield, and with manly
resignation parted with that idol of his fancy.  The industrious poor
around, whose happiness he had promoted by his exertions and bounty,
crowded towards him, and on their knees implored the interposition of
Providence for the preservation of their benefactor: tears and prayers
were all they had to offer; nor could they be suspected of insincerity;
for in lamenting their protector’s misfortunes they but mourned their
own.  In this trial he saw unmoved (at least in appearance) the widows’
and orphans’ anguish, though he was wont to melt at the bare mention of
their sorrows.  His firmness did not forsake him in quitting this
affecting group, as his chaise drove off towards London; but having
crossed Chepstow-bridge, the bells, muffled, as is usual on occasions of
great public calamity, rang a mournful peal.  Unprepared for this mark of
affection and respect, he could no longer control his feelings, and burst
into tears.

In leaving England he did not shake off his evil destiny.  Being
appointed governor of St. Vincent’s, he expended the residue of his
fortune in advancing the cultivation of the colony, and raising works for
its defence, when the island fell into the hands of the French.
Government failing to reimburse his expences during his life, upon his
return to England he was thrown into the King’s-bench prison by his
creditors.  Here he experienced all the rigour of penury and imprisonment
for seven years.  Of the numerous sharers of his prosperity, only his
amiable wife {264} and a single friend devoted themselves to participate
his misery and alleviate his distress.  Even the clothes and trinkets of
his lady were sold to purchase bread; and, that nothing might be wanting
to fill up his cup of bitterness, the faithful partner of his cares,
unable to bear up against continued and accumulating misery, became
insane.

At length he recovered his liberty; and fortune, tired of this long
persecution, seemed to abate somewhat of her rigour; when death put an
end to his chequered career at the house of his brother-in-law, Mr.
Wilmot, in Bloomsbury-square, in 1789.—The neighbourhood still sounds the
praises of this worthy gentleman.  Old men, in recounting his good
actions and unmerited misfortunes, seem warmed with the enthusiasm of
youth; and little children sigh while they lisp the sufferings of Good
Mr. Morris.



CHAP. XVII.


TINTERN ABBEY—IRON-WORKS—SCENERY OF THE WYE TO MONMOUTH—OLD
TINTERN—BROOK’S WEIR—LANDAGO—REDBROOK.

How teaming with objects of curiosity and beauty is Monmouthshire!
Within two or three miles of Piercefield we reached the justly-famed ruin
of TINTERN ABBEY: its dark mouldering walls, solemnly rising above
surrounding trees, appeared to us, in turning from a deep-wooded hollow,
with a most impressive effect. {265}  At the village adjoining we put up
at the Beaufort Arms, the landlord of which, Mr. Gething, holds the key
of the ruin, and who, extraordinary as it may seem, unites unaffected
civility and kindness with upwards of forty years initiation into the
business of an inn-keeper, and, as the neighbours say, a well-lined
purse.  Passing the works of an iron-foundry, and a train of miserable
cottages engrafted on the offices of the abbey, we found ourselves under
the west front of the ruin.  This confined approach, incumbered by mean
buildings, is not calculated to inspire one with a very high estimation
of its consequence: but, on the door’s being thrown open, an effect
bursts on the spectator, of so majestic and singular a description, that
words can neither do justice to its merit, nor convey an adequate idea of
the scene.  It is neither a mere creation of art nor an exhibition of
nature’s charms; but a grand spectacle, in which both seem to have
blended their powers in producing something beautiful and sublime!

Through long ranges of Gothic pillars and arches, some displaying all the
exquisite workmanship of their clustered shafts, while others are hung
with shadowy festoons of ivy, or lightly decorated with its waving
tendrils, the eye passes; and, for a moment arrested by the lofty arches
rising in the middle of the structure that formerly supported the tower,
it glides to the grand window at the termination of the ruin.  Beyond
this aperture, distinguished by a shaft of uncommon lightness springing
up the middle, some wild wooded hills on the opposite side of the Wye
rear their dusky summits, and close the scene with much congenial
grandeur.  The ruin is generally in a high state of preservation; the
outer walls are perfect; and the elegant tracery of the west window above
the entrance has not suffered in one of its members.  A singular
circumstance of this ruin, and to which may be ascribed its superior
effect, is, that the fallen roof and all the other rubbish have been
removed to the original level of the pavement by order of the Duke of
Beaufort, and a greensward smooth as a bowling-green extended throughout.
Hence all the parts rise in their original and due proportion, and with
an undisturbed effect.  At the same time, the uniformity of a lawn-like
surface is diversified with several clunks; consisting of broken columns,
cornices, and the mutilated effigies of monks and heroes, {268} whose
ashes repose within the walls: Light branching trees start from their
interstices, and throw a doubtful shadow over the sculptured fragments.

Tintern Abbey is cruciform; The length of the nave and choir is two
hundred and thirty feet; their width, thirty-three; and it is a hundred
and sixty feet to the extremes of the transept.  It was founded for
Cistercian monks by Walter de Clare, anno 1131; and in 1238, according to
William of Worcester, the abbot and monks entered the choir, and
celebrated the first mass at the high altar.  It is probable, that only
that part of the building was then competed, as the other parts the
church are of a later style of architecture; and it was no uncommon thing
for the choir to be built and consecrated before the rest of the
structure was finished.

On entering the abbey, it was determined that we should proceed no
further that day: getting rid, therefore, of my companion and landlord,
who retired in a consultation about dinner, I locked myself in, and
employed several hours without interruption in sketching the interesting
features of the ruin.  At an early hour the following morning we sallied
from our inn, and, crossing the Wye, were greeted with a new effect of
the abbey.  Majestically towering above encircling trees, the external
elevation arose in nearly its original grandeur.  The walk, though clad
with moss and tender lichens, appeared nowhere dismantled; yet might an
eye, anxious after picturesque forms, be offended with the uniform angles
and strait lines of the gable ends and parapets.  We walked along the
banks of the sinuous river about half a mile from the ferry, when the
ruin presented itself in a very agreeable point of view.  Looking full
through the grand aperture of the eastern window, the rows of columns and
arches, overhung with clustering ivy, wore the appearance of a delightful
grove; and at the end of the perspective, the elegant tracery of the
opposite window, besprinkled with verdure, was well defined; and in its
distant tint had an admirable effect.  These views of the mouldering
abbey, combined with the wild scenery of the Wye, and the kindred gloom
of a lowering atmosphere, were truly impressive and grand; yet they
scarcely excited such sensations of awful sublimity as we felt on our
first visit to the interior of the ruin.

In our different walks between the inn and the abbey, we were regularly
beset with importunities for alms: the labouring man abandoned his
employment and the house-wife her family at the sight of a stranger, to
obtain a few pence by debasing clamour.  This system of begging we found
to arise from the late distresses, particularly that of the preceding
year, which, bearing on the great class of the people with an almost
annihilating pressure, entitled them to the sympathy and assistance of
those whom fortune had blessed with prosperity: they had strained their
aching sinews to meet the exigence, yet their utmost exertions proved
inadequate to the means of support.  Thus situated, alms or outrage
formed their alternate resources; but, happily, in the benevolence of the
affluent they found an asylum.  This pressure was fast withdrawing, but
its effects remained; they had tasted the sweets of indolence, of support
without exertion; they no longer felt the dignity of independance (for
the odium of begging was withdrawn by invincible necessity); and they
continued the unworthy trade without remorse.  Excepting a few
significant curtsies in the manufactories of Neath, this was the first
instance of the sort that we met with during our tour.  In other places,
industry was urged to its highest exertion; here, by an increased weight
of necessity, it sunk beneath the pressure.

The iron-works of Tintern I believe to be almost the only concern in the
neighbourhood of Wales where the old method of fusing the ore by charcoal
furnaces continues to be practised.  The manufacture is pursued to the
forming of fine wire and plates.

The mineral wealth of this district was not unknown to the ancients; for
large quantities of scoria imperfectly separated from the metal, which
are evidently the refuse of Roman bloomeries, and many furnaces whose
origin no tradition reaches, appear in several parts of the country.
These Roman cinders have been in many places reworked, according to
modern improvements in metallurgy, and made to yield a considerable
portion of metal.  The decline of the ancient works is justly attributed
to their exhausting the forests which formerly overspread Wales, for
charcoal, until they were at length entirely stopped for want of fuel.
But within this half century, coke made from pit-coal, which possesses
the essential principles of charcoal, has been applied with success to
the fusing of ore: in consequence, very numerous iron-mines have been
opened; and, aided by an inexhaustible supply of coals, their produce has
exceeded even the sanguine hopes of the projectors.  It must, however, be
remarked, that iron made with pit-coal is of inferior tenacity and
ductility to that manufactured by means of charcoal.  Whether this arises
from a radical defect in the material used, from a too prodigal use of
calcareous earth to facilitate the flux of the metal, or any other cause,
remains yet to be determined.

I cannot take leave of Tintern without mentioning a circumstance for the
benefit of those tourists who may have an obstinate beard, or a too
pliant skin.  Having dispatched an attendant for a barber on my arriving
at the inn, a blacksmith was forthwith introduced, who proved to be the
only shaver in the village.  The appearance of this man, exhibiting, with
all the sootiness of his employment, his brawny black arms bare to the
shoulders, did not flatter me with hopes of a very mild operation; nor
were they increased upon his producing a razor that for massiveness might
have served a Polypheme.  I sat down, however, and was plentifully
besmeared with suds; after which he endeavoured to supply the deficiency
of an edge, by exerting his ponderous strength in three or four such
scrapes as, without exciting my finer feelings, drew more tears into my
eyes, than might have sufficed for a modern comedy.  I waited for no
more; but, releasing myself from his gripe, determined to pass for a Jew
Rabbi, rather than undergo the penance of any more shaving at Tintern.

We crossed the Wye from Tintern, that we might follow the beauties of the
river in our way to Monmouth; then ascending a precipitous wild-wooded
hill, we took a farewel view of our much-loved abbey, and soon looked
down on the old village of TINTERN, delightfully placed on the opposite
bank of the Wye, and dignified with the ruin of the Abbot’s mansion.
{274}  Upon completing our descent in traversing the hill, we entered the
irregular village of BROOK’S WEIR, off which a number of sloops of from
80 to 100 tons were at anchor: these vessels were waiting for their
cargoes from Hereford and Monmouth, which are brought hither in
flat-bottomed barges, as the tide flows no higher than this place.  We
had now a delightful ride for several miles over meadows and pastures
that skirted the Wye; whose majestic stream, almost filling the narrow
valley, reflected the inclosing hills from its surface in a style of
inimitable beauty; while the rich ascending woods on either side threw a
softened light on the translucent river and its verdant margin; so
sweetly in harmony with the pleasing solitude of the scene, as might
dispose even revelry itself to fall in love with retirement:

    “O blest retirement, friend to life’s decline,
    Retreat from care, that never must be mine:
    How blest is he, who crowns, in shades like these,
    A youth of labour with an age of ease!”

About four miles above Tintern the rural little village of LANDAGO
saluted us with its white church and cottages, glistening through
encircling trees, as it skirted the river and climbed the side of a lofty
hill.  We then followed a gentle curvature of the Wye to Bigg’s Weir, a
ridge of rocks which cross the river, leaving only a small interval for
the current.  A string of barges was unravelling its course in this
strait as we were passing; which task seemed to engage all the vigilance
and activity of the watermen.  Near this spot the house (an ordinary
mansion) and grounds of General Rooke, member for the county of Monmouth,
occupying part of the river’s bank, obliged us to make a short deviation;
but, soon returning to our limpid stream, we caught a glimpse of the
church and castle of St. Briavel, crowning an eminence in the forest of
Dean just behind us; and in front, a short distance beyond the opposite
bank, appeared the decaying importance of Pilson-house.

The narrow stripe of meadow-land that accompanies the Wye from Brook’s
Weir to Monmouth, and in which our road lay, now became frequently shut
up from public convenience by fences crossing the tract, and styles, in
the place of open gates, which the farmers had lately erected.  We were
therefore obliged to climb up the forest-clothed hills, of almost
inaccessible steepness, driving our horses before us, and scrambling
through bush and briar; and only regained the meadows to encounter a
succeeding difficulty of the same kind.  But our last was the greatest;
for, pursuing a track broken through a closely-woven thicket that led
over the hills, we neglected a doubtful opening in the brambles that
indicated our road, and only guessed that we were wrong from the tedious
height we were climbing.  We had, however, gone too far to retreat; and
therefore hoped, in the true spirit of error, as we had certainly missed
the right path, that by proceeding boldly on we might extricate ourselves
by another.  At length we reached the top of the hill, and with no small
disappointment beheld our track terminate at a lonely farm-house; where
no one appeared to give us information; nor was any road whatever viable
for the pursuit of our journey.  Yet the view that this eminence
commanded over the sinuous Wye, sweeping among sloping meadows, woods,
and precipices, in some sort repaid our fatigue.  Obliged to return, we
forced a passage through tangled underwood to the margin of the river,
which here forming an extensive reach between deep shelving banks, was
thrown into one grand shadow.  The evening was drawing to a close; and
the retiring sun, no longer wantoning on the wavy current, sparingly
glittered on the woody treasures of its marginal heights, but glared in
full splendour on the distant hills; nor was a brilliant sky wanting to
contrast the _sombre_ solemnity of our vale:

             “The evening clouds,
    Lucid or dusk with flamy purple edg’d,
    Float in gay pomp the blue horizon round;
    Amusive, changeful, shifting into shapes
    Of visionary beauty; antique towers
    With shadowy domes and pinnacles adorn’d;
    Or hills of white extent, that rise and sink
    As sportive fancy lists.”

                        [Picture: View on the Wye]

In this shady silent retreat we passed about a mile, and emerged on the
village of REDBROOK, where several groupes employed in some iron and tin
works, and in plying a ferry, gave animation to the scene.  From this
place, following a bold curve of the river, and skirting the base of the
lofty Kymin, we soon came within view of Monmouth; the remarkably high
spire of its church; and the large old Mansion of Troy, in a low
situation, a small distance to the left, near the junction of the Trothy
with the Wye.



CHAP. XVIII.


MONMOUTH—CHURCH, PRIORY, AND CASTLE—THE
KYMIN—WONASTOW-HOUSE—TREOWEN—TROY-HOUSE—TRELECH—PERTHIR—NEWCASTLE—
SCRENFRITH CASTLE—GROSSMONT CASTLE—JOHN OF KENT.

Monmouth is delightfully situated in a gently undulating valley; chiefly
in a high state of cultivation, surrounded by high hills: it occupies a
sort of peninsula formed by the conflux of the Wye and the Monnow; so
that it is nearly incircled by the two rivers.  The town is extensive,
and contains many good houses; particularly in a principal broad street,
which extends from the market-place to an old British or Saxon bridge and
gateway over the Monnow.  The market-place, with the town-hall over it,
is a handsome building; but sadly disfigured by an awkward statue of
Henry the Fifth, which, no doubt, was intended to ornament it.  From this
part a narrow street leads to St. Mary’s church, which is also a handsome
modern edifice, chiefly remarkable for its grand lofty spire rising 200
feet from the foundation; the tower of which affords an interesting view
of the surrounding districts.  This structure is engrafted upon a Gothic
church that belonged to an Alien Benedictine priory of Black Monks, which
was founded in the reign of Henry the First, and dedicated to the Holy
Virgin.  The priory-house forms a large family residence belonging to
Adam Williams, Esq.; and contains an apartment which the legend of the
place declares to have been the library of the celebrated Geoffery of
Monmouth; but the style of the building is by no means so ancient as the
time of Geoffery, who, we find, was consecrated bishop of St. Asaph in
1152.

    “The chronicle of Briton’s kings
    From Brute to Arthur’s rayne,”

written by Geoffery, has long excited the attention and controversy of
the leaned: by some it is implicitly believed; and rejected, as
altogether fabulous, by others.  The moderate opinion here, as in most
other cases, is the best: this views it as founded on authentic
documents, although distorted by monkish superstition and tricks, and a
taste for the marvellous.

MONMOUTH CASTLE, situated on the banks of the Monnow in the northern part
of the town, exhibits few memorials of its former extent and magnificence
in its present very dilapidated state; and the remaining fragments lose
much of their characteristic dignity from the bricky appearance given by
the red grit stone of which they are constructed.  Among these broken
walls are shewn, with no small degree of exultation, traces of the
chamber in which Henry the Fifth, the glory of Monmouth, was born.
Adjoining to this is the ruin of a large apartment, sixty-three feet long
by forty-six wide, which was probably the baronial hall, and in latter
times formed the court of the Assizes.  Other vestiges of the castle are
evident among stables and out-houses: some vaults under the house of Mr.
Cecil of the Dyffrin, are of the oldest character, and may be attributed
to Saxon if not to Roman workmanship.

The general building of this castle (though of very remote foundation)
may be considered as posterior to the Civil wars in the third Henry’s
reign; when, we learn, the castle of Monmouth was taken and rased to the
ground by Simon Montford, Earl of Leicester.  A large mansion on the site
of the castle, built with its materials, and engrafted on its ruins, is
now occupied as a ladies’ boarding-school.  Soon after the erection of
this house, a Marchioness of Worcester went thither to lie-in of her
first child, at the instance of her grandfather, Henry, first Duke of
Beaufort, who was anxious that his descendant should draw his first
breath “near the same spot of ground and space of air, where our great
hero Henry the Fifth was born.”

Near the extremity of the town, by the side of the Monnow, is the county
goal, a new massive stone building, which in its plan, regulations, and
superintendance, does high credit to the pubic spirit of the county.
Without the town, at the foot of the Monnow-bridge, is St. Thomas’s
church, a curious old structure which is supposed to have been built by
the Saxons.

Monmouth is supposed by Mr. Horsley to have been a Roman station, the
Blestium of Antoninus.  It is a borough and corporate town, governed by a
mayor, and contains about six hundred houses, and two thousand six
hundred inhabitants.  Woollen caps were the staple manufacture of
Monmouth when that article was in general use; and Shakspeare’s Fluellen
alludes to this fashion: “If your Majesty is remembered of it, the
Welchmen did goot service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks
in their Monmouth caps.”  But the town has now no manufacture, although
there are some iron and tin works in the neighbourhood: its commerce
depends on the navigation of the Wye, in the distribution of goods
between Bristol, Hereford, and adjoining districts.  Yet no small part of
its thriving appearance may be attributed to the numerous gentry that are
induced to fix their residence here from the pleasantness of the
situation.

Chippenham meadow, an agreeable plain, inclosed by the town, the Wye, and
the Monnow, is the general rendezvous of Gwentonian beauty on summer (and
particularly on Sunday) evenings.  We had the good fortune to be in
Monmouth on a Sunday, and of course did not neglect to join the
promenade; where many a squire of little manors eyed us with much more
inquiry than cordiality.  Their dulcineas,

    “Healthful and strong, full as the summer rose
    Blown by prevailing suns,”

displayed the vigour of youth and Wales, and possessed decided points of
feminine attraction.  But who would leave London to describe female
beauty?

In the vicinity of Monmouth is a remarkably high hill, called the KYMIN,
which rises from the banks of the Wye, on the Gloucestershire side of the
river.  A pleasant walk is traced to its summit, from which a wonderful
range of prospect extends to a circumference of near three hundred miles.
It would be tedious to enumerate the multifarious objects that present
themselves in this great prospect: if any one be eminently beautiful, it
is the diversified undulating vale of Monmouth, enlivened by its
picturesque town and spire, and watered by the Wye, the Monnow, and the
Trothy, limpidly meandering through fertile hollows, and at length
uniting, in the course of the former river, at the foot of the hill.  At
the top of the Kymin, a handsome pavilion has been lately erected for the
accommodation of parties; its summit is also adorned with a rich wood
called Beaulieu grove, which, descending over part of its precipitous
sides, forms its proudest ornament.  Several walks cut through the wood
terminate at the brow of steep declivities, commanding great and
enchanting views; and which in the spring, as I am told, from the
universality of apple orchards in this district, are as singular as they
are beautiful.

There are several antique mansions in the neighbourhood of Monmouth that
deserve notice.  About a mile from the town, on the left of the road to
Raglan, is WONASTOW-HOUSE, formerly a residence of a branch of the
Herbert family, {285} which is conjectured to have been built about the
reign of Henry the Sixth.  Its situation, on a gentle eminence commanding
many extensive views, is extremely pleasant; and the surrounding
farm-lands still bear traces of its park in several groves of ancient
oaks and elms.  The edifice, though much diminished in extent and divided
into two distinct habitations, is still a venerable relic of the times,
and contains several original family portraits.  The old chapel belonging
to the mansion is now applied to domestic use.

TREOWEN, situated about a mile further westward, to the north of the road
to Raglan, was once a splendid mansion, built by Inigo Jones, and which
belonged to another scion from the Herbert stock.  The position of the
house and grounds, now laid out in a farm, is very delightful, watered by
the meandering Trothy, and still exhibiting a profusion of rich woods.
Though occupied as a farmhouse, and much reduced in dimensions, the
mansion continues to shew many marks of its ancient grandeur, in the
spacious and decorative style of the apartments, a noble staircase of
oak, and its ornamented porch.

TROY-HOUSE, standing within a mile south-east of Monmouth, near the road
to Chepstow, was a residence of a further ramification of the prolific
Herbert race. {287}  Part of the ancient residence is visible in a Gothic
gateway; but the house is of a later date, its erection being, as well as
the preceding, attributed to Inigo Jones.  Neither the house, though
extensive, nor its situation, in a hollow near the river Trothy, possess
any claim to admiration.  Throughout the apartments a large collection of
family pictures is arranged, which contains the portraits of many
distinguished characters, but very few specimens of fine painting.  In
the housekeeper’s room is a curious oak chimney-piece, brought from
Raglan Castle, carved with scriptural subjects; and in a room on the
third floor is another ancient chimney-piece inlaid with mother-of-pearl,
and curiously ornamented with devices of Love and Plenty.

About three miles further on the road to Chepstow is the village of
TRELECH, which is supposed to have derived its name from three druidical
stones standing in a field adjoining the road, near the church.  They are
placed upright, or rather inclining; of different heights, varying
between ten and fifteen feet; and the exterior stones are the one
fourteen, and the other twenty feet distant from the middle pillar: their
substance is a concretion of silicious pebbles in a calcareous bed,
commonly called pudding-stone, and of which some neighbouring rocks
consist.  This monument of antiquity is considered to have been the
supporting part of a cromlech; but the stones being so far asunder
invalidates the conjecture.  Various large masses of the same sort of
stone in the vicinity of Trelech seem to indicate the remains of other
works of the same kind.

In the village, inclosed by a garden, is an earthen mound four hundred
and fifty feet in diameter, encircled by a moat, and connected with
extensive entrenchments; which is imagined to have been a Roman work, and
afterwards to have been the site of a castle belonging to the Earls of
Clare.  The village is also remarkable for a chalybeate well that was
formerly much attended.  Near the church, which deserves to be noticed
for the agreeable proportions of its Gothic members and its handsome
spire, is a pedestal with a sun-dial, supposed to be of high antiquity:
it bears a Latin inscription, commemorating Harold’s victory over the
Britons.  Large quantities of iron scoria, scattered over the fields near
the village, are generally allowed to indicate that a Roman bloomery was
established near the spot.

From this place the road soon ascends the Devaudon height, traverses a
tract of forest called Chepstow Park, and in the course of its progress
embraces several superb and extensive views; in which the varieties of
the Wye, of hanging woods, wild heathy mountains, and rich inclosures,
rise in succession.

We made an excursion from Monmouth, on the road to Hereford, as far as
Grosmont.  Proceeding through a charming country about three miles, we
struck off on the right to visit PERTHIR, a very ancient seat of the
Herbert family.  Of the castellated mansion, surrounded by a moat and two
drawbridges, few vestiges appear in the present diminished and patched-up
building; yet some marks of former magnificence meet the observer, in a
long vaulted hall, with a music gallery at the end, a large Gothic window
with stone compartments, and the massive oak beams of a long passage.
The extensive manors that were attached to Perthir, and which, as
tradition relates, extended from thence to Ross, now exhibit but a sorry
remnant of past opulence.

Mr. Lorimer, the present possessor of the estate, and a descendant of the
Herberts by the female line, merrily relates an anecdote rising out of a
contest for precedence between the houses of Perthir and Werndee; and
which, it has been remarked, was carried on with as much inveteracy as
that between the houses of York and Lancaster, and was only perhaps less
bloody, as they had not the power of sacrificing the lives of thousands
in their foolish quarrel.  Mr. Proger, of Werndee, in company with a
friend, returning from Monmouth to his home, was suddenly overtaken by a
violent storm; and, unable to proceed, groped his way for refuge to his
cousin Powell’s, at Perthir.  The family was retired to rest; but the
loud calls of the tempest-beaten travellers soon brought Mr. Powell to a
window; and a few words informed him of his relation’s predicament;
requesting a night’s lodging: “What! is it you, cousin Proger? you and
your friend shall be instantly admitted;—but upon one condition, that you
will never dispute with me hereafter upon my being the head of the
family.”—“No, sir,” returned Mr. Proger, “were it to rain swords and
daggers, I would drive this night to Werndee; rather than lower the
consequence of my family.”  Here a string of arguments was brought
forward on each side; which however interesting to the parties, would
prove very trifling in relation; and which, like all other contests
grounded in prejudice and proceeded in with petulance; but served to fix
both parties more firmly in their errors.  They parted in the bitterest
enmity; and the stranger, who had silently waited the issue of the
contest, in vain solicited a shelter from the storm; for he was a friend
of cousin Proger’s!

Leaving Perthir, we soon passed through the little village of Newcastle,
which derives its name from a castle that may still be traced in an
earthen mound 300 feet in circumference, and some intrenchments, but
whose history no tradition reaches.  This barrow, and an ancient oak of
extraordinary size, are considered by the superstitious neighbourhood to
be under the immediate protection of spirits and fairies, and to form the
scene of their nocturnal revels.  A spring near the village is deemed
miraculous in the cure of rheumatic and other disorders.

Within a mile from this place we struck off the turnpike towards
SCRENFRITH CASTLE, situated on the banks of the Monnow, in a sequestered
spot environed by high hills.  This fortress is of the simplest
construction; its area, of a trapezium form, is merely surrounded by a
curtain wall with circular towers covering each angle, and a demi-turret
projecting from the middle of one side.  Near the centre of the area is a
juliet, or high round tower, upon a mound, which formed the keep, the
door and window apertures of which are circularly arched; but the
exterior walls of the castle appear to have been originally only
furnished with oilets or chinks for shooting arrows through.  Encumbered
by the lowly habitations of a poor village, it has little claim to
picturesque merit from most points of view; but on the opposite side of
the Monnow, combined with a Gothic bridge of two arches crossing the
stream, it forms a pleasing picture.  Screnfrith Castle is allowed to be
the oldest in Monmouthshire; it is certainly of British erection, and is
probably of as remote antiquity as any in Wales.

Screnfrith, Grosmont, and White Castles, formerly defended the lordship
of Overwent; which, extending from the Wye to the Usk, nearly comprised
the whole northern portion of Monmouthshire.  This tract of country, with
its castles, fell into the hands of Brian Fitz Count, Earl of Hereford,
who came over with the Conqueror; but soon deviated from his family, and
was afterwards seized by Henry the Third, and conferred on his favourite
Hubert de Burgh.  Upon the disgrace of that virtuous and able minister,
the capricious monarch granted the three castles to his son the Earl of
Lancaster; and, with Caldecot castle, they still remain annexed to the
dutchy.

The continuance of our journey to Grossmont, wandering in an irriguous
valley among bye-lanes that were scarcely passable, although it proved
very tedious in travelling, afforded us a succession of the most pleasing
retired scenes imaginable.  On our right a diversity of swells and
hollows, variously clad in wild woods or cultivation, extended throughout
our ride, where the lively and transparent Monnow, illumined by

             “The noon-tide beams
    Which sparkling dances on the trembling stream,”

serpentized its current in endless variety.  Immediately on our left, the
Graig, a huge solitary mountain, reared its towering sides from the low
lands in uncontended majesty, and accompanied our road to the pleasing
little village of GROSMONT.

This place stands at the north-eastern limit of Monmouthshire, in an
agreeable undulating valley, diversified with wood and pasture, and
beautifully accompanied by the meandering Monnow, here wantoning its most
fantastic course.  On an eminence near the village, and swelling above
the river, is the picturesque ruin of its castle; a pile of no great
extent, but well disposed, and profusely decorated with shrubs and ivy.
The form of the structure is irregular: large circular towers cover the
angles of the ramparts; within which are traces of the baronial hall, and
other apartments, and beyond the mount are some remains of the barbican,
or redoubt, and several entrenchments.  All the door and window arches
are pointed Gothic, and of the proportion in use about the thirteenth
century; but the foundation of the castle is supposed to be coeval with
that of Screnfrith’s.—Grosmont church is a large Gothic structure, built
in the form of a Roman cross; and, with its octagon tower, and high
tapering spire, is a conspicuous ornament to the village.

Though now an insignificant cluster of habitations, Grosmont was formerly
a town of some note.  Many exterior traces of buildings, and raised
causeways, constructed like Roman roads with large blocks of stone,
diverging from it, prove its antique extent and importance to have been
considerable: nor is the legend of the place deficient in asserting its
quondam consequence.

But with still higher interest, with more voluble earnestness, the
natives recount the exploits of their reputed necromancer, JOHN OF KENT.
Among a thousand other instances of his magical skill, they confidently
assure you, that when he was a boy, being ordered to protect some corn
from the birds, he conjured all the crows in the neighbourhood into a
barn without a roof, and by force of his incantations obliged them to
remain there while he visited Grosmont fair.  A greater service that he
performed for the country was, his building the bridge over the Monnow in
one night by the agency of one of his familiars.  Long did his strange
actions frighten men out of their wits; and at length, dying, he
outwitted the devil; for, in consideration of services while living, he
agreed to surrender himself to his satanic majesty after his death,
whether he was buried in or out of church; but, by ordering his body to
be interred under the church wall, he contrived to slip out of the
contract.  A stone in the church-yard, near the chancel, is said to mark
the spot of this interment.

Higher tradition relates, that this extraordinary-personage was a monk,
who, possessing a greater knowledge in natural philosophy than could at
that time be generally comprehended, was reputed a sorcerer.  The family
of the Scudamores, at Kentchurch-house, about a mile from Grosmont, where
he became domesticated, had a Latin translation of the Bible written by
him on vellum, but which is now lost.  An ancient painting of him upon
wood is, however, preserved in the mansion; and a cellar in the house is
described to have been the stable of his horses; steeds of no vulgar
pedigree, which carried him through the air with more than the speed of
witches.

From a collation of different legends and circumstances, several
respectable enquirers are inclined to believe, that this necromancer was
no other than the famous Owen Glendower; who, after his defeat, and the
dispersion of his army, concealed himself in the disguise of a bard, or
wizard.  A strong circumstance which favours this conjecture is, that the
daughter of Glendower married a Scudamore, who at the time occupied
Kentchurch-house.  It may also be remarked, that neither the time of the
chief’s death, nor the place of his sepulture, were ever positively
ascertained.

Upon our return to Monmouth from this excursion, we had the good fortune
to fall into the company of Mr. Wathen of Hereford, the benefit of whose
local information and obliging assiduities has been felt by numerous
tourists, as well as ourselves.  This gentleman pointed out the most
striking beauties of the Wye toward Ross; and of his directions we gladly
availed ourselves the following morning, when we bade adieu to Wales and
Monmouthshire.  But, as it is my object to effect a general delineation
of that tract of country, I shall not hesitate to break the thread of my
tour, and suspend a description of the Wye’s scenery and some further
continuance of our route, while I traverse the north-western part of
Monmouthshire, and the eastern frontier of South-Wales, which yet remains
unexplored.  In this part of my work, I must describe things as they
appeared to me six years since, when I visited this portion of country in
my return from a tour through the North of England and Wales, assisted by
the best documents and observations that I have since been able to
procure.



CHAP. XIX.


ABBEY OF GRACE-DIEU—SIR DAVID GAM—WHITE CASTLE—ABERGAVENNY HILLS—THE
TOWN, CASTLE, AND CHURCH.

Within a short distance southward of the road from Monmouth to
Abergavenny, and about three miles from the first-mentioned town, are the
small remains of the abbey of GRACE-DIEU, chiefly formed into a barn,
situated on a sequestered bank of the Trothy.  A farm on the opposite
side of the river was the park belonging to the abbey; and hence it is
called Parc-gras-dieu farm; the house of which is built on the ruins of
the ancient lodge.

LLANDILO CRESSENEY, the seat of Richard Lewis, Esq.; pleasingly situated
in a rich undulating country to the south of the road, about half way to
Abergavenny, is a modern house built on the site of an ancient mansion of
the Powells.  The position commands an interesting prospect of the
neighbouring country; and in the home view the church of Llandilo, with
its high spire, forms a picturesque and leading object.  In an adjoining
field, belonging to a farm that was formerly the red-deer park of Raglan
castle, is the site of Old Court, once the residence of the celebrated
Sir David Gam, not less known for his courageous report upon having
reconnoitred the enemy before the battle of Agincourt (“An’t please you,
my liege, there are enough to be kilted, enough to run away, and enough
to be taken prisoners”) than for his valorous achievements and
preservation of the king’s life in the encounter, though at the expence
of his own.  The dukes of Beaufort and the earls of Pembroke are
descended from Gladys, one of his numerous progeny, which tradition has
by no means curtailed; for it is asserted, that his children formed a
line reaching from his house to the church.

The ruins of WHITE CASTLE are very considerable, crowning the summit of a
ridgy eminence a mile and a half to the north of Llandilo.  Their figure
is irregular; flanked by six circular towers, which, with the ramparts,
are pierced with oilets.  Two advancing massive towers guard the
entrance, which was provided with a portcullis and drawbridge, and
rendered still more formidable by an uncommonly large outwork beyond the
moat, which is remarkably deep.  This ruin is from every point of view
imposing and grand; but its ponderous unornamented towers, and its lofty
battlements, whose dark colour is rendered still more dismal by the broad
shadows of impendent foliage, rather conspire to raise an image of
baronical haughtiness and oppression, than of its show and hospitality;
yet, in the time of Elizabeth, Churchyard describes it to be

    “A statelie seate, a loftie princelie place,
    Whose beautie gives the simple soyle some grace.”

From the architecture of this castle I should suppose its antiquity to be
at least coeval with the first settlement of the Normans in Gwent, if not
even more remote.  Its history is common with that of Screnfrith and
Grosmont; but over both these it holds a decided superiority in extent,
and massiveness of construction.

On approaching ABERGAVENNY, the tourist’s attention is involuntarily
arrested by the singular beauty and variety of interest which the spot
embraces, particularly in its encircling hills.  The road skirting the
Little Skyridd, a well-formed hill richly laid out in wood and pasture,
opens to a fine display of the vale of Usk beneath; on the opposite side
of which the continuous ridge of the wild Pontypool hills, which form the
western boundary of the county, terminate in the heathy high-swelling
Blorenge: a tract of wood sweeps along its base, and mixes with the
sylvan knoll of Lanfoist, decorating its northern extremity.  Further to
the right, the elegant smooth cone of the Sugar-loaf, the highest of the
Monmouthshire mountains, presents itself, issuing from among the four
tributary eminences of the Pen-y-vale hills.  Eastward of this mountain
is the Great Skyridd, an object of considerable interest; its bipartite
and truly Alpine summit, without being a forced opposition, strikingly
contrasts the general undulating line of the neighbouring hills, and
rears a distinct and noble character on the scene.  The views from this
mountain are scarcely inferior to those from the Sugar-loaf; while its
craggy form, its asperitous summit, jagged into an immense fissure, and
shelving to a ridge apex of fearful narrowness, impress a mixed emotion
of awe and admiration on the adventurous climber of the height, that more
than compensates for a small inferiority of altitude.  There was
formerly, at the top of this mountain, a Roman Catholic chapel dedicated
to St. Michael, of which no vestiges remain; but a remembrance of the
site is preserved in a hollow place formed by the superstitious, who,
resorting here on Michaelmas eve, carry away the earth to strew over the
sepulchres of their friends.  According to the barometrical measurement
of General Roy, the height of the Sugar-loaf mountain is 1852 feet
perpendicular above the Gavenny rivulet, near its junction with the Usk.
The Blorenge is 1720, and the Great Skyridd 1498 feet from the same
level.

The expansive bases of these mountains, nearly approximating, descend to
a finely-wooded fertile valley; through which the river Usk, rushing from
a majestic portal of wood, winds in a bright translucid stream, with all
the impetuosity of its mountain character.  At the foot of one of the
confederated hills sustaining the towering cone of the Sugar-loaf, which
gently inclines to the river, ABERGAVENNY is situated; a straggling
irregular town, pleasingly interspersed with trees, but deriving its
highest attraction from the charms of its position.

Upon an eminence above the river, near the southern extremity of the
town, is the ruined castle, which in its present state exhibits very few
memorials of former magnificence.  The gate-house, or principal entrance,
is tolerably entire, and vestiges of two courts may be traced among the
broken walls; but of the citadel no traces remain, although an intrenched
mound close to the ruins evidently marks its site.  The town was also
fortified, and many portions of the work remain, particularly Tudor’s
gate, the western entrance, furnished with two portcullisses, and
remarkable for the beautifully composed landscape seen through it.  This
castle is said to have been built by a giant named Agros: without
contending for the accuracy of this tradition, however, it is certain,
that the principal part was erected by the Normans upon the site of a
British fortress.

In the twelfth century some native forces, headed by Sitfylt ap Dyfnwald,
a Welch prince, assailed this castle, and took prisoners the Anglo-Norman
garrison, with their chief, William-de-Braose, lord of Brecon.  William
being, upon an adjustment of differences, reinstated in his possessions,
invited Sitfylt, his son Geoffery, and other chieftains of Gwent, to a
great feast at Abergavenny Castle, where they were all treacherously
murdered: he then surprised Sitfylt’s house, and slew his other son,
Cadwallader, in the presence of his mother.  This barbarity did not
escape punishment.  William, flying his country, died a wretched wanderer
at Paris; and his wife and son were famished in Windsor Castle.  The fate
of his grandson, Reginald, may also be considered in the light of a
retribution: Llewelyn prince of Wales, suspecting him, as Dugdale
relates, “of over much familiarity with his wife,” subtilly invited him
to an eastern feast; and towards the close of the banquet, charging him
with the act, threw him into prison, where he suffered a violent death,
together with the adultress.  In 1273, we find the country of Overwent,
including the castle of Abergavenny, in the possession of John de
Hastings, a very pink of chivalry.  A succession of valorous knights
inherited this domain; but Richard Earl of Warwick, who became lord of
Abergavenny in the commencement of the fifteenth century, surpassed them
all, and even John himself, in military fame, and manners debonnair: he
signalized himself in tournaments at most of the courts in Europe, and
obtained the honourable appellation of “the father of courtesy.”

The church is a large Gothic structure, and appears to have been built in
the form of a Roman cross, but is now curtailed of its transepts; at the
juncture of one of them, a circular arch, now filled up, wears a Norman
character, and seems to have been part of the original building.  Three
arches, curiously dissimilar, separate the north aile from the nave.  The
choir remains in its antique state, with stalls for a prior and his
monks, formed of oak, and rudely carved; and the ailes on either side are
furnished with the monuments of several illustrious personages.

On the north of the choir is the figure of a man in a coat of mail, with
a bull at his feet; supposed to be the monument of Sir Edward Nevill,
which is thus explained by Churchyard:

    “His force was much; for he by strength
       With bull did struggle so,
    He broke clean off his horns at length,
       And therewith let him go.”

On the opposite side is the recumbent effigy of an armed knight, his legs
across, {308} and his feet resting on a greyhound.  Of this the sexton’s
legend relates, that the knight, returning home, saw his infant son lying
on the floor covered with blood, with his cradle overturned at his side,
and the hound standing by, with his mouth besmeared with gore.
Conceiving that the dog had attacked the child, he instantly killed it;
but soon discovered, that the blood issued from a large serpent that had
writhed about the child, and which this faithful animal had destroyed.

In the middle of the south aile of the choir, generally called the
Herberts’ chapel, is the effigy of Sir William ap Thomas, and his wife
Gladys, daughter of the celebrated Sir David Gam.  Beneath a handsome
alabaster monument, at the further end of the chapel, repose the ashes of
Sir Richard Herbert, of Coldbrook, and his wife.  This Sir Richard, a
younger son of the just mentioned Sir William ap Thomas, was a man of
gigantic stature and uncommon strength.  In the contest between the
houses of York and Lancaster, he with his brother the Earl of Pembroke
supported the White rose at the battle of Banbury, where he was at length
taken prisoner, and finally executed by the successful faction; but not
until he had passed and repassed twice through the adverse army, killing
with a pole-ax no less than 140 men; which, his illustrious descendant
and biographer, lord Herbert of Cherbury, remarks, is more than is famed
of Amadis de Gaul, or the Knight of the Sun.  The richest monument in the
church is that of Sir Richard Herbert of Ewias, his nephew, which
occupies a recess in the south wall of the chapel.

Before the dissolution of religious houses, this church belonged to a
priory of Benedictine monks, which was founded by Hamelin Baladun, {310}
who is also said to have built the castle.  The priory house, adjoining
the nave of the church, is converted into a commodious dwelling, which
was lately tenanted by the Gunter and Milborne family.  The free-school
in the town was founded by Henry the Eighth, and amply endowed with the
revenues of forfeited monasteries, &c.

Abergavenny was a Roman town, the Gobannium of Antoninus.  Leland
describes it to be “a faire waulled town, meately well inhabited;” and an
account of Monmouthshire written in 1602 represents it as “a fine town,
wealthy and thriving, and the very best in the shire.”  But during the
last century it was in a very declining state until the establishment of
some great iron-works, which have lately sprung up in the adjacent
mountains.  When full-bottomed flaxen wigs were the rage, the town
enjoyed a temporary prosperity from a method peculiar to its inhabitants
of bleaching hair; but, perriwigs being no longer the rage, the place was
hastening to decay: just at this juncture the faculty proclaimed that
goats-whey was a specific in consumptive cases; and crowds of invalids,
under the fiat of death, immediately enlivened the town.  But the
fashions of doctors are no more stationary than those of beaux; the _ton_
for goats-whey soon diminished; and, deprived of patients as well as
perriwigs, the place was relapsing into poverty and desertion, when the
fortunate discovery of the Blaenavon iron mines, (a grand concern in the
recesses of the Blorenge mountain well worth the tourist’s attention)
gave a new face to the town, and still daily encreases its population.



CHAP. XX.


WERNDEE—FAMILY PRIDE—LANTHONY ABBEY—OLD CASTLE.

About two miles from Abergavenny is WERNDEE, a poor patched-up house:
though once a mansion of no less magnificence than antiquity, it is now
only interesting as being considered to have been the spot where the
prolific Herbert race was first implanted in Britain.  Henry de Herbert,
chamberlain to king Henry the First, is supposed to have been their great
ancestor.  Of the vast possessions that formerly supported the grandeur
of the Herberts, the inheritance of Mr. Proger, the last lineal
descendant from the elder branch of this family, who died about twenty
years since, had dwindled to less than two hundred a year.  Mr. Coxe
relates an anecdote of this gentleman’s pride of ancestry, which may be
compared with the remarks on Perthir; {313} at the same time, it conveys
a brief outline of the family’s genealogy.

Mr. Proger accidentally met a stranger near his house, who made various
enquiries respecting the prospects and local objects of the situation;
and at length demanded, “Pray, whose is this antique mansion before
us?”—“That, Sir, is Werndee: a very ancient house; for _out_ of it _came_
the earls of Pembroke of the first line, and the earls of Pembroke the
second line; the lords Herbert of Cherbury, the Herberts of Coldbrook,
Rumney, Cardiff, and York; the Morgans of Acton; the earl of Hunsdon; the
Jones’s of Treowen and Lanarth, and all the Powells.  _Out_ of this house
also, by the female line, _came_ the dukes of Beaufort.”—“And pray, Sir,
who lives there now?”—“I do, Sir.”—“Then pardon me, Sir—do not lose sight
of all these prudent examples; but _come out_ of it yourself; or ’twill
tumble and crush you.”

A principal excursion from Abergavenny is that which leads northward to
Lanthony abbey, a majestic ruin seated in a deep recess of the Black
mountains, at the very extremity of the county.  The first part of the
route lies through a romantic pass between the Skyridd and Sugar-loaf
mountains, upon the Hereford turnpike.  Proceeding about two miles, the
church of Landeilo Bertholly appears on the right; and not far from it an
antique mansion called the White-house, a residence of the Floyers.
Another ancient house occurs at the village of Llanvihangel Crickhornell,
seen through groves of firs, lately a seat of the Arnolds, but now
occupied as a farm-house.  From this spot a ditch-like road, almost
impracticable for carriages, strikes off among the mountains,

    “Through tangled forests, and through dang’rous ways,”

carried upon precipices impendent over the brawling torrent of the Hondy.
Sometimes the road opens to scenes of the most romantic description,
where, at an immense depth beneath, the torrent is seen raging in a bed
of rocks, and mountains of the most imposing aspect rise from the
valley,—

    “The nodding horrors of whose shady brows
    Threat the forlorn and wand’ring traveller.”

Immediately to the left of the road rises the Gaer, a huge rocky hill
crowned with an ancient encampment.  On the opposite side of the river,
fearfully hanging on a steep cliff, and beneath a menacing hill bristled
with innumerable craigs, is the romantic village of CWMJOY.  Landscapes
of the boldest composition would be continual, but that the road, formed
into a deep hollow, and overtopped by hedge-row elms, excludes the
traveller from almost every view but that of his embowered track.  The
pedestrian, however, is at liberty, while ranging among heaths and fields
above the road, to enjoy the wild grandeur of the country, which will
hardly fail to repay him for his additional toil.

In the deep gloomy vale of Ewias, encircled by the barren summits of the
Black mountains, but enjoying some degree of local cultivation, and
enlivened by the crystalline Hondy, is situated the ruin of LANTHONY
ABBEY.

                        [Picture: Lanthony Abbey]

Venerable and grand, but wholly devoid of ornament, it partakes of the
character of the surrounding scenery.  Not a single tendril of ivy
decorates the massive walls of the structure, and but a sprinkling of
shrubs and light branchy trees fringe the high parapets, or shade the
broken fragments beneath.

    “Where rev’rend shrines in Gothic grandeur stood,
       The nettle or the noxious night-shade spreads;
    And ashlings, wafted from the neighbouring wood,
       Through the worn turrets wave their trembling heads.”

The area of the church is not very extensive; the length is 212 feet; the
breadth 50; and it measures 100 across the transepts.  The roof has long
since fallen in, and a great part of the south wall is now a prostrate
ruin; but the view afforded of the interior, in consequence, is extremely
grand and picturesque.  A double row of pointed arches, reposing on
massive piers, separate the side ailes from the nave; above which,
divided from the Gothic form by a strait band of fascia, is a series of
small circular arches: an intermixture and arrangement of the two forms
that characterize the earliest use of Gothic architecture.  Two lofty
arches, rising from the middle of the church, still sustain a massive
portion of the tower, whose doubtfully poised and ponderous bulk
seriously menaces the adventurous explorer of the ruin.  The grandeur of
the western front cannot be passed unnoticed; nor, looking over the
fragments of the choir, the fine view of the inside ruin, seen through
the great eastern arch of the tower; neither is a small chapel adjoining
the south transept, with a well-formed engrained roof, to be neglected:
the transept is remarkable for a large Norman archway that led into the
south aile of the choir.

Many portions of building appear in detached heaps near the abbey church,
particularly a bold arch in a neighbouring barn, which seems to have
formed the principal entrance to the abbey.  Among these the natives
point out a low subterraneous passage, faced with hewn stone, which they
suppose to have had a connexion with Old Castle, about three miles
distant.

St. David, the uncle of king Arthur (say ancient legends), was so struck
with this sequestered recess, then almost unconscious of a human
footstep, that he built a chapel on the spot, and passed many years in it
as a hermit.  William, a retainer of the earl of Hereford’s in the reign
of William Rufus, being led into the valley in pursuit of a deer, espied
the hermitage.  The deep solitude of the place, and the mysterious
appearance of the building, conspired to fill him with
religious-enthusiasm; and he instantly disclaimed all worldly enjoyments
for a life of prayer and mortification.

In a curious account of the abbey, written by one of its monks, which is
preserved in Dugdale’s Monasticon, and translated into English by Atkyns,
in his History of Gloucestershire, it is recorded, that “He laid aside
his belt and girded himself with a rope; instead of fine linen, he
covered himself with hair-cloth; and instead of his soldier’s robe, he
loaded himself with weighty irons.  The suit of armour, which before
defended him from the darts of his enemies, he still wore as a garment to
harden him against the soft temptations of his old enemy Satan; that, as
the outward man was afflicted by austerity, the inner-man might be
secured for the service of God.  That his zeal might not cool, he thus
crucified himself, and continued this hard armour on his body until it
was worn out with rust and age.”

His austerity of life, and sanctity, not only drew to him a colleague
(Ernesi, chaplain to Maud wife of Henry the First), but excited the
reverence of many high characters, and induced Hugh de Laci, earl of
Hereford, to found a priory of regular canons of the order of St. Austin
on the site of the Hermitage.  The institution adopted William’s
mortifying system, and its reputation occasioned numerous donations to be
offered; but they were constantly refused, and the acquisition of wealth
deprecated as a dreadful misfortune.  William was determined “to dwell
poor in the house of God.”  The monk of Lanthony comically relates, that
“Queen Maud, not sufficiently acquainted with the sanctity and
disinterestedness of William, once desired permission to put her hand
into his bosom; and when he with great modesty submitted to her
importunity, she conveyed a large purse of gold between his coarse shirt
and iron boddice; and thus by a pleasant and innocent subtlety
administered some comfortable relief to him.  But oh the wonderful
contempt of the world!  He displayed a rare example, that the truest
happiness consists in possessing little or nothing!  He complied, indeed,
but unwillingly, and only with a view that the queen might employ her
devout liberality in adorning the church.”  His scruples thus overcome, a
new church on a more magnificent plan was erected (that which now
appears); it soon displayed the usual pomp of the craft, and in less than
thirty years the monks came to one opinion, that “the outward man”
deserved consideration; that the “place was unfit for a reasonable
creature, much less for religious persons:” nay some said, that “they
wished every stone of the foundation, “a stout hare;” others, still more
wicked, “that every stone was at the bottom of the sea.”  Hence, in the
year 1136, we find a new Lanthony abbey built and consecrated near
Gloucester, which, although at first only a cell to our abbey, soon
assumed a priority over the parent foundation.  The treasures, library,
rich vestments, and even bells, were removed to the new house: the old
Lanthony then came to be considered as a prison by the fat monks of the
Severn, who sent thither only “their old and useless members.”

In doleful mood the monk complains, “We are made the scum and outcast of
the brethren.”—“They permitted the monastery to be reduced to such
poverty, that the friars were without surplices, and compelled to perform
the duties of the church against the customs and rules of the order.
Sometimes they had no breeches, and could not attend divine service.”
Thus it appears, that eventually the condition of the monks, though sore
against their wills, reverted to the intention of their founder.  The
monastery continued in this unthriving state till the dissolution of
those concerns; when, according to Dugdale, the abbey near Gloucester was
valued at 648_l._ 19_s._ 11_d._ and this in Monmouthshire at 71_l._ 3_s._
2_d._

OLDCASTLE, a little village on the eastern slope of the Black mountains
which skirt the vale of Ewias on the right, is supposed by Gale and
Stukeley to have been the ancient Blestium, but upon grounds that are
very inconclusive: true it is, however, that several encampments near the
spot wear a Roman character, and they were in the habit of raising such
camps near their station.  But the place is more noticed as having been
the residence of Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, the companion of Henry
the Fifth, and afterwards chief of the Lollards, and martyr to their
religious views.  His ancient mansion, called the court-house, was taken
down about thirty years ago; so that nothing now remains to satisfy the
antiquary.

But the picturesque traveller will hardly fail of a lively interest,
while, traversing the superior heights of the neighbouring mountains, he
views the grand extent of the Monmouthshire wilds, and traces the
different combinations of its majestic hills, which in some parts range
into the most sinuous forms, in others extend for many miles into direct
longitudinal ridges; or, when, withdrawing from the sterile dignity of
the high lands, his eye gratefully reposes on the gentle vallies that
sweep beneath their brows, enlivened by glistening streams, and rich in
all the luxuriance of high cultivation.



CHAP. XXI.


RE-ENTRANCE OF SOUTH WALES—CRICKHOWELL—TRETOWER—BRECON CASTLE AND
PRIORY—ROAD TO LLANDOVERY—TRECASTLE—PASS OF CWM-DUR—LLANDOVERY
CASTLE—ROAD FROM BRECON TO HEREFORD—BRUNLYSS CASTLE—FEMALE
VENGEANCE—HAY—CLIFFORD CASTLE.

The road from Abergavenny to Brecon, bordering the clear and lively Usk
in a romantic valley, soon leaves the charming county of Monmouth; but is
attended with such a continuance of agreeable scenery as may diminish in
a considerable degree the regret of the tourist.  Among the verdant
accompaniments of the serpentizing river, the rich groves and smiling
lawns of Dany Park are conspicuous, swelling above a fertile vale, and
backed by a range of wild mountains.  Nearly opposite this, in a field to
the right of the road and the fifteen mile-stone from Brecon, is a single
upright stone, about fourteen feet high, conjectured to be a monument of
the druidical ages.

CRICKHOWELL, about two miles farther, is an old mean-built town; but,
hanging on the steep declivities of a fine hill, and dignified with the
picturesque ruin of a castle, it is an interesting object in the
approach.  The extent of this fragment of antiquity (of obscure origin),
sometimes called Alashby Castle, is by no means considerable; the
foundation of the keep, seated on a high artificial mound, denotes much
original strength, and all the standing walls shew a very remote
erection; although a few enrichments of later times may be perceived
beneath the thickly-woven ivy.  A narrow Gothic bridge crosses the Usk
here to the pleasing village of Langottoc, the neighbourhood of which is
enlivened with several handsome seats; but no one is more remarkable for
the excellence of its position and the singularity of its design than a
lately-erected residence of Admiral Gell’s.

The road continues scenic and entertaining to the small village of
TRETOWER, only to be noticed for a few picturesque fragments of its
castle, once the residence of Mynarch lord of Brecon.  Then winding round
a conical eminence, the road ascends a mighty hill called the Bwlch,
which term signifies a rent in a mountain: during which ascent, a farewel
view of the vale of the Usk, with a small tributary valley, and its
appendant stream descending from some gloomy mountains to the north, and
joining it near the castle of Tretower, is truly interesting and grand.
But from these wide-ranging views, and all external scenery, the tourist
becomes shut up on entering the pass of the mountains, a sterile hollow,
from which he emerges on a subject of an entirely opposite and very
singular description.  Surrounded by dark mountains, melancholy and
waste, appears an extensive lake called LANGOR’S POOL, upwards of six
miles in circumference; which, as the natives assure you, is the site of
a large city swallowed up by an earthquake, and is so well furnished with
perch, tench, and eels, as to be one-third fish to two-thirds water.

In the neighbourhood of the lake north-eastward, and near the head of the
Lleveny brook, which empties itself into the pool, I find described the
ruins of BLAEN-LLEVENY CASTLE.  It was fortified by Peter FitzHerbert,
descended of Bernard de Newmarch, lord of Brecon, according to the
opinion of some antiquaries, upon the site of the Roman Loventium.

The road soon descends to the fine vale of Brecon, grandly accompanied by
a semicircular range of mountains; where, proudly rising in superior
majesty, the Van rears its furrowed and bipartite summit high above the
clouds.  Advancing, cultivation takes a more extensive sweep, and
picturesque disposition becomes frequent.  The Usk flowing round the foot
of the Bwlch, cloathed with the extensive plantations of Buckland-house,
salutes the beholder with renewed attractions; and farther up the vale
laves the charming woody eminence of Peterstone in its sinuous career.

On the left of the road, about five miles from Brecon, is a stone pillar,
six feet in height, and nearly cylindrical; on which is an inscription
that Camden read, N--- FILIUS VICTORINI, but which is now almost
obliterated.  He supposes it a monument of later ages than the Romans,
although inscribed with their characters, and wearing the general
appearance of a Roman _cippus_.  In the parish of Llahn Hamwalch,
standing on the summit of a hill near the church, (which is to the left
of the road a little beyond the former monument) I find described St.
Iltut’s hermitage, composed of four large flat stones; three of which,
standing upright, are surmounted by the fourth, so as to form a sort of
hut, eight feet long, four wide, and nearly the same in height.  This
kind of monument is called a Kist-vaen, a variety of the Cromlech order,
and supposed to have been applied to the same purposes.

BRECON is delightfully situated upon a gentle swell above the Usk,
overlooking a fertile highly-cultivated valley enlivened with numerous
seats, and enriched with several sylvan knolls.  On one side of the town,
beneath the majestic hanging groves of the priory, the impetuous Hondy
loudly murmurs, and unites with the Usk a small distance beyond its
handsome bridge.  Though the town boasts many capital residences, yet,
encumbered by a number of mean hovels even in its principal situations,
and deficient in regulations of cleanliness, it fails to create any idea
of importance.  Its once magnificent castle is now curtailed to a very
insignificant ruin; and that little is so choaked up with miserable
habitations, as to exhibit no token of antique grandeur: some broken
walls and a solitary tower compose its remains.

BRECON CASTLE was founded by Bernard de Newmarch in the reign of William
Rufus.  Llewelyn prince of Wales besieged it when asserting the rights of
his ancestry and friends, but without success.  Passing through the hands
of the Braoses and Bohuns, it fell to the king-making Buckingham, when it
became the seat of chivalric splendour.  To his care Dr. Morton, bishop
of Ely, was committed by Richard the Third; and the remaining turret is
still called Ely tower by the natives, and described to have been his
prison.  Buckingham, fired with resentment by the ingratitude of Richard,
whom he had raised to power, contrived, with his prisoner, in this place,
the means of his overthrow.  The plot succeeded, but the duke was
betrayed and taken before its completion, and lost his head: the more
wary priest retired in secresy during its operation, and preserved his to
wear the metropolitan mitre in the ensuing reign.  Bernard also founded a
Benedictine priory for six monks westward of the town; it was dedicated
to St. John, subordinate to Battle abbey in Sussex, and became collegiate
under Henry the Eighth.  The church is a grand cruciform building, 200
feet in length by 60 in width, and has an embattled tower 90 feet high
rising from the centre of the building.  A cloister extends from the
church to the priory-house; where the tourist, as he paces the refectory,
or great dining-room, may speculate on monkish carousals, where blue-eyed
nuns, were jovially toasted, and secret confessions anticipated.

But the most fascinating attraction of the town is its two delightful
walks: the one traced on the margin of the noble Usk; the other, called
the priory walk, a luxuriant grove impendent over the brawling Hondy,
once assigned to the meditations of monkish fraud, but now more happily
applied to the use of the townspeople, and enlivened on fine evenings by
a brilliant promenade of Cambrian beauties.

This town, built on the site of a Roman station, {330} was originally
called Aber-Hondy.  After the departure of the Romans, the lordship of
Brecon remained in the hands of the Britons till the reign of William
Rufus; when Bernard de Newmarch, a Norman baron of great skill and
prowess, having assembled a large body of troops, made a successful
inroad into the country, killed the British chief Bledhyn ap Maenyrch,
and retailed his son prisoner in Brecon castle during his life; though
he, at the same time, allowed him a nominal share of his father’s
territories.  He then fortified the town with a castle, and an encircling
wall, having three gates; and further strengthened his cause by taking to
wife Nesta, grand-daughter of Gruffyth prince of Wales.

A road passing from Brecon through Llandovery to Llandilo, in
Caermarthenshire, we did not travel; but find it described as highly
picturesque, and otherwise interesting.  For several miles it traverses
an undulating district enlivened by the Usk; which now, approaching its
source in the Trecastle hills, assumes all the impetuosity of a mountain
torrent.  The spacious lawns, long avenues of trees, and extensive
plantations of Penbont, grace the bonders of the stream about three miles
from Brecon; and on the left of the road, a small distance further,
appear the trifling remains of Davenock castle.  TRECASTLE, ten miles
from Brecon, a small village but possessing a good inn, is deprived of
every vestige of its ancient fortification.  From this place the road
winds for nine miles to Llandovery, in a deep valley, between the
mountains, called CWM-DWR, a romantic pass watered by a lively stream,
and dotted with numerous cottages, whose fertile hollow is beautifully
contrasted by the wild aspect of the impendent heights.  LLANDOVERY is a
small irregular town, nearly encompassed by rivulets, and only to be
noticed by the picturesque traveller for the small ruins of its
ivy-mantled castle.  The road then continues to Llandilo on a high
terrace, ornamented on the right by the groves of Taliaris and Abermarle
parks, and overlooking the upper vale of Towey, rich in cultivation and
the beauty of its stream.

On the road to Hereford from Brecon, about seven miles, is BRUNLYSS
CASTLE; the principal and almost only feature of which is a high round
tower on an artificial mount.  Its foundation is uncertain, but cannot be
later than the first settlement of the Normans in the county.  There is a
curious circumstance connected with an incident in the history of this
castle, which I think very probably suggested the character of
Faulconbridge in Shakespeare’s play of King John.  The acknowledged son
and heir of Bernard de Newmarch and his wife Nesta was Mahel, a
dauntless, youth, who, after the death of Bernard, having affronted a
paramour of his mother’s, and upbraided the matron herself, became in a
most extraordinary manner deprived of his inheritance.  Nesta, enraged at
the interference of her son in her tender arrangements, presented herself
before Henry the Second, and solemnly made oath that he was not the son
of Bernard lord of Breton; but was begotten by a Cambrian warrior,
thereby proclaiming her son a bastard, and satisfying her revenge, though
at the expence of every maternal tie and of the strongest sentiments of
female worth.  Bernard’s estates, in consequence, fell to his daughter
Sibyl wife of Milo earl of Hereford; and Mahel, ejected from his
patrimony, became a lawless desperado.  Once, as he was on a predatory
excursion over the domains of David Fitzgerald, bishop of St. David’s, he
was entertained by Walter de Clifford in Brunlyss Castle for one night;
when the building took fire, and he, in endeavouring to escape, was
crushed to death by the falling of a stone.

HAY, a small populous town on this road, at the extremity of the
principality, occupies an eminence near the banks of the Wye, and was
formerly graced with a fine castle, which is now reduced to a few broken
walls; but CLIFFORD, a mile or two further, on the upper road to
Hereford, still exhibits the majestic remains of its castle, crowning a
bold hill which towers above the river, and has been long renowned as
having been the birth-place of the lovely, but frail fair Rosamond.



CHAP. XXII.


BUALT—PRINCE LLEWELYN—RHAYDERGOWY—CARACTACUS’S CAMP—OFFA’S
DYKE—KNIGHTON—PRESTEIGN—OLD AND NEW RADNOR—LLANDRINDOD WELLS.

Proceeding northward from Brecon, the road passes over an abrupt
succession of hills and hollows near the impatient Hondy, which is seen
to extend for several miles through a wild romantic valley.  On leaving
the lively rivulet’s devious course, the road traverses an extensive
hilly tract, from whose summits a grand expansive valley, dignified with
the sinuous Wye, bursts upon the view in a long continuance of varied
scenery.  The town of Bualt occupies a spot on the nearmost side of the
vale, overhanging the pride of Welch rivers; and beyond its opposite
hilly boundary, a majestic outline of distant mountains defines the
horizon.  A picturesque cascade, rushing through a portal of rocks and
woods to the left of the road, must not be passed unnoticed; it occurs
within a mile of Bualt; and after crossing the road beneath its bridge,
the stream unites with the Wye.

BUALT is a small market-town comprised in two streets rising one over the
other, upon the high shelving bank of the river.  Although anciently and
irregularly built, it is much resorted to by the neighbouring gentry, not
less for the beauty of its position, than for the famed salubrity of its
air.  Camden supposes it to be the Bullacum Silurum of Ptolemy, and the
Burrium of Antoninus.  Horseley, on the other hand, fixes upon Usk in
Monmouthshire as the site of that Roman station; while other antiquaries
contend in favour of Caerphilly.  However this may have been, the only
vestige of high antiquity that now marks the place is a mound, the site
of the keep of its castle, which was burnt down in 1690.

It was in the neighbourhood of Bualt, between the Wye and its tributary
stream the Irvon, that the Cambrian warriors made their last stand for
independence.  The brave Llewelyn,

    “Great patriot hero, ill-requited chief,”

after a transient victory at the foot of Snowdon, led his troops to this
position, where they were unexpectedly attacked and defeated by the
English forces, while Llewelyn, unarmed, was employed in a conference
with some chieftains in a valley not far distant.  The prince was
informed of the event by the cries of his flying army; and all that
prompt intrepidity could effect he exerted to rejoin his men; but in
vain; the spear of his enemy pierced his side, and happily spared him the
anguish of witnessing the irretrievable ruin of his country’s liberties.

Edward’s conduct to the body of this prince, royal like himself, of a
lineage still more ancient and noble, and who boldly fell asserting the
rights of his country and inheritance, has affixed a blot on his memory,
which not all his well-regulated ambition, not all the splendour of his
victories, can gloss over, or efface from the page of history.  The
prince’s head was received in London with such demonstrations of joy by
the citizens, as might have suited a conquest over a predatory invader;
it was carried on the point of a lance through Cheapside; and, after
having been fixed in the pillory, was placed on the highest part of the
tower of London, to glut the eyes of the multitude.  So easy is it to
impose on the natural feelings of a people once cajoled into an approval
of military despotism and cruelty.

On leaving Bualt, and crossing its bridge, the tourist enters
RADNORSHIRE, where the road, traced upon heights impendent over the Wye,
commands one of the most beautifully romantic vallies in the
principality.  The river, which we have before seen majestically flowing,
rapid but unopposed, among flowery lawns, here, approaching its native
source in the bosom of Plinlimmon, appears eddying, foaming, and roaring
in a narrow channel, amid shelving rocks and disjointed craigs, a mere
mountain torrent.  With the accompaniments of towering precipices, naked
rocks, and impendent cliffs, finely softened by overhanging branchy
trees, or partially concealed by deep shadowy woods, and frequently
enlivened by a stripe of verdant meadow, the river presents a succession
of picturesque _morçeaus_, the most striking imaginable; and fully
compensates the bad state of the road in this part.  A considerable range
of prospect also presents itself on the right, from some favoured
eminences, where a long series of moorish lumpy hills extend over the
greater part of Radnorshire, which shews but an indifferent mixture of
cultivation with numerous heaths and forests.

An extensive mountainous dreary region,

    “Where woods, and wilds, and thorny ways appear,”

occupies part of the counties of Brecon, Cardigan, and Radnor, westward
of the Wye.  Among these deep solitudes, Camden informs us, king
Vortigern sought a refuge from the persecutions that his crimes and
follies raised against him.  His ultimate fate is wrapped in uncertainty;
but his vileness needed not a more agonizing torture than his wounded
conscience, whether recurring to his incestuous intercourse with his own
offspring, or to his miserable policy in resting the defence of Britain
upon the assistance of foreign troops.

RHAYDER-GOWY, wildly situated at the foot of the mountainous barrier
between South and North Wales, consists of two streets of neatly whitened
houses, and is graced with the vicinity of two churches.  A castle also
added to the consequence of the town in the time of the Welch princes;
but none of its remains now appear, except a deep trench cut in the rock
of the town, and three or four barrows, which are, no doubt, connected
with its history.  The market-house is a neat little building, though of
rough stones; and the Red Lion inn is no less remarkable for its neatness
and accommodation, useful though unimposing, than for the obliging
assiduities of its landlord.

The scenery of the Wye, close to this town, acquires an uncommon degree
of grandeur.  Raging in its rocky bed, the river is seen through the
light foliage of impendent trees, and almost beneath a bold arch which
bestrides the river, bounding over a ledge of rock in a fall of some
depth; whence it tears its way among protruding craigs in a sheet of
glistening foam, but is almost immediately concealed by the embowering
ornaments of its banks.

Above the town of Rhayder, a bold hilly region, overspread with
treacherous bogs, or broken into precipices of fearful depth, mixes with
the magnificent forms of the North Wales mountains.  Here nature wears
her wildest garb; no stripe of cultivation controls the dreary majesty of
the scene; the mountain sheep browse on the dizzy heights unmindful of
danger; the hardy ponies here sport away their early years, unconscious
of restraint; and, no less free, the bold mountaineer looks round his
stormy world, nor hapless mourns the gayer spheres below:

    “But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil,
    Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil.
    Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose,
    Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes;
    At night returning, every labour sped,
    He sits him down the monarch of a shed;
    Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys
    His children’s looks, that brighten at the blaze;
    While his lov’d partner, boastful of her hoard,
    Displays her cleanly platter on the board:”

                                  * * * * *

    “Such are the charms to barren states assign’d,
    Their wants but few, their wishes all confin’d.”

This district is, however, rich in mineral treasure; and several
lead-mines, and one or two copper-mines, are worked with considerable
spirit.

Here my observations upon South-Wales draw to a close: they have been
very brief upon Radnorshire; and yet the excursion on the banks of the
Wye describes almost its only attraction.  Indeed, this county is
remarkably barren in subjects of picturesque beauty, memorials of antique
grandeur, and remarkable towns and villas.  I find but one religious
house in this shire described in Dugdale’s Monasticon, or Tanner’s
Notitia Monastica, which is Abbey Cwm Hir, situated about six miles east
of Rhayder; but I understand that no part of the building remains.  It
was founded for Cistercian monks by Cadwathelan ap Madoc in the year
1143, and must have been a very inconsiderable foundation, as its
revenues at the suppression of monasteries were only valued at 28_l._
14_s._ 4_d._

The castles that occur in this county are neither remarkable in their
history nor venerable in decay.  Yet frequent and memorable are the
earthen works that characterize almost every hill in the county, which
either wear the marks of cairns {343} or ancient encampments.

    “’Twas on those downs, by Roman hosts annoy’d,
       Fought our bold fathers, rustic, unrefin’d!
    Freedom’s fair sons, in martial cares employ’d,
       They ting’d their bodies but unmask’d their mind.”

On a hill near Knighton, at the eastern limit of the county, is still
shewn the CAMP OF CARACTACUS; and an encampment on another hill separated
from the first by a deep valley, is said to be that of the Roman general
Ostorius.  The Britons waited the attack of the enemy’s legions in their
advantageous position, and fought like men who valued life no longer than
as it was connected with freedom; but their courage availed nothing
before the skill and discipline of the Roman army; after an immense
slaughter they gave way, and Caractacus’s wife, daughter, and brothers,
were taken prisoners.  The king escaped, but was soon after betrayed into
the hands of his enemies.  His noble speech and deportment when brought
before the Roman emperor, as transmitted to us by the pen of Tacitus,
must ever excite admiration, and evince the immutable dignity of manly
virtue, however bereft of the factitious splendour of power.

OFFA’S DYKE also passes near Knighton; the boundary established by Offa
king of the Mercians between his dominions and Wales, after a decisive
victory over the Britons.  It formerly extended from the Dee to the mouth
of the Wye; and it was enacted, that any Welchman found in arms on the
English side of the boundary should have his right hand cut off.
KNIGHTON itself I find described to be an ordinary town, built on a steep
bank of the Teme.  Seven miles southward of it is PRESTEIGN, a better
built and paved town than the former, and graced with a beautiful little
eminence (the site of its castle), laid out in public walks.  This town
is considered as the modern capital of the county: in it are held the
assizes; and, having the jail, it is farther distinguished with all the
apprehended rogues in Radnorshire.  OLD RADNOR, three or four miles
farther southward, Camden supposes to have been the Magoth of Antoninus,
garrisoned by the Paciensian regiment in the reign of Theodosius the
younger; but, whatever it may have been formerly, it now appears an
insignificant village.  NEW RADNOR, though nominally the capital of the
shire, is little better; yet a few vestiges of an encompassing wall and a
castle give it more unequivocal marks of former importance than the
parent town.  Its decline is dated from the rebellion of Owen Glendower,
who destroyed the castle and ravaged all the surrounding district.  In a
rocky glen, in the vicinity of this town, is a fine cascade, though of
inconsiderable volume, called WATER BREAKS ITS NECK.

Crossing Radnor forest, an extensive tract of sheep down and coppice,
about twelve miles from New Radnor, and seven from Bualt, is LLANDRINDOD
WELLS.  This place, consisting only of one house of public entertainment
and a few cottages, appears to be justly distinguished for the efficacy
of its springs, which are chalybeate, sulphureous, and cathartic.  But
though the medicinal virtues of these waters be undoubted, and considered
even more potent than those of Harrowgate; yet the place, being dreary,
remote, and void of elegant accommodation, is only visited by a very few
real invalids: none of that gay tribe is here to be met with which forms
the principal company at watering-places in general.

                                * * * * *

Having thus executed my design of a general description of South-Wales
and Monmouthshire, I shall return to the narrative of my tour.



CHAP. XXIII.


GOODRICH CASTLE AND PRIORY—WILTON CASTLE—SCENERY OF THE WYE FROM ROSS TO
MONMOUTH—ROSS—GLOUCESTER.

We took our farewel leave of Monmouth on a hazy morning, that concealed
the surrounding scenery in the earliest part of our ride to Gloucester.
But the mist gradually withdrawing allowed us a gleam of the majestic
Wye, about two miles from Monmouth; which, soon deserting the course of
the road, winds beneath the bare rocky cliffs of the little Doward, and
becomes lost among high wooded hills.  Near the seven-miles stone from
Monmouth we struck off the turnpike into an embowered lane in search of
GOODRICH CASTLE, a very picturesque ruin, which rises among tufted trees
on a bold eminence above the Wye.  The view of the castellated hill,
combined with a grand fertile valley, which extends for many miles in a
richly-variegated undulation, enlivened with the elegant though simple
spire of Ross church, and with peculiar graces, watered by the copious
river, was uncommonly striking: while to the right we caught a glimpse of
the grand features about Symonds-gate and the Caldwell rocks, backed by a
range of heathy hills that forms the boundary of the forest of Dean.

                        [Picture: Goodrich Castle]

The remains of this castle shew it to have been of considerable strength,
though not very extensive.  Its figure is nearly square, measuring
fifty-two yards by forty-eight, with a large round tower at each angle.
A deep trench, twenty yards wide, is cut in the rock round the walls,
leaving a narrow ridge which crosses the moat to the grand entrance.  On
entering the gateway, a small apartment to the left, with an ornamented
Gothic window, and a stone chalice for holding holy-water, appears to
have been the chapel; or, considering its small size, rather an oratory.
A curious octagon column rising from a mass of ruins opposite has
belonged to a principal apartment, and most probably the baronial hall.
A large square tower was the keep, which is said to have been built by an
Irish chieftain named Mackbeth, as a ransom for himself and his son, who
were held prisoners in the castle; and until lately two ponderous helmets
were shewn as belonging to them, one of which held half a bushel.

There is no doubt but that this was a frontier post held by the Saxons;
and many parts of the ruin still bear a Saxon or early Norman character.
{349}  During the reign of king John, and in several succeeding ages, it
was in the hands of the earls of Pembroke, but afterwards deviated from
that line.  In Jacob’s Peerage, under the article of the earls of
Shrewsbury, it is related, that the Hugh le Despencers forcibly seized
Elizabeth Comyns at Kennington in Surry, and detained her in confinement
above a year; concealing her in their different castles, until she was,
by menaces of death, constrained to pass “her manor of Painswick in the
county of Gloucester to the said earl, the elder Despencer, and the
castle of Goodrich to Hugh the younger; to them and their heirs.”—Thus it
was in feudal ages, when every potent baron dared violate the strongest
bands of society; when the property and freedom of humble individuals,
and the honour of females, were subjected to the will of contiguous
power; and suffering innocence could only plead the wrongs that she
suffered at the tribunal of the oppressor.  But, alas! it is a principle
of our being, it is a fact which ought to be treasured in the minds of
Britons, that where power is without controul it seldom fails to act
unjustly.

In the civil wars of Charles the First this castle was in the hands of
both parties successively; and upon the parliamentary cause proving
triumphant, it was ordered to be dismantled: but a sufficient
compensation was allowed to the countess of Kent, to whom it belonged.
The farm-house appertaining to the meadows and corn-fields about the
castle is situated a few hundred yards from the castle, to the right, and
occupies the site of GOODRICH PRIORY: the chapel, converted into a barn,
and some other Gothic remains, are still visible.

In our way from Goodrich to Ross, for the first two miles traced in a
bridle road that might with equal propriety be called a ditch, we had
frequent views of the proud ruin towering above its incircling groves;
which, variously combining with the surrounding landscape at each
succeeding station, proved a new and delightful object.  We crossed the
Wye at Wilton bridge; a short distance above which, on the low western
bank of the river, appear the mouldering towers of WILTON CASTLE, a
Norman structure, once the baronial residence of the Greys.  Several
pleasure-boats with awnings, handsomely fitted up for the reception of
company that would navigate the Wye, are moored by the bridge. {351}

I earnestly advise every traveller of taste and leisure, proceeding by
the way of Ross to Monmouth, not to neglect the beautiful scenery of this
river: he may take one of the boats; or, if he prefer riding or walking,
he may enjoy its principal charms by reversing my journey from Goodrich;
whence crossing Hensham ferry, he will proceed among pleasant meadows on
the margin of the stream in front of the sublime grandeur of the Caldwell
rocks; then ascending the isthmus of an immense peninsulated rock called
Symond’s gate, at the height of 2000 feet above the surface of the river,
he will enjoy a superlative prospect of its mazy extent and the grand
scenery around.  From the vicinity of Goodrich the Wye urges its course
through a narrow valley inclosed by towering woody mountains, or
struggles in more limited confines, where protruding rocks plunge their
naked perpendicular sides into the body of the stream.  Descending from
the lofty neck of the peninsula, which is but six hundred yards across in
a direct line, although the circuit of the river round the rock is
upwards of four miles, he will find himself in a deep valley of
astonishing grandeur, formed on one side by the romantic precipices of
the peninsula, and on the other by the great Doward, a huge stratified
limestone mountain, studded with lime-kilns and cottages.  At the
New-wier he will re-cross the river, and soon join the turnpike to
Monmouth.

The old town of ROSS, situated on the gently-inclining bank of the Wye
near Wilton bridge, afforded us no subject of admiration or interest,
except in the recollection which it excited of Mr. John Kyrle, whose
public spirit and philanthropy inspired the verses of Pope.  We baited
our horses at an inn which was formerly his house, and now bears the sign
of “The Man of Ross.”  The views from the cemetery of Ross church are
among the most beautiful that imagination can picture, looking over a
lovely value, adorned with the majestic meanders of the Wye, enriched
with numerous groves and woods, and finished by a distance of Welch
mountains: to detail its several charming features would be as tedious,
as it would prove a vain attempt to realize a just idea of the landscape.

We now traversed a well-cultivated district, whose numerous though gentle
hills were frequently clothed with apple-orchards, and in about six miles
ride, upon a wretched road, gained a heathy eminence, when the great
plain of Gloucester appeared before us, stretching to an immense distance
in every direction.  At the extremity of the plain, at least in
appearance, rose the towers and spires of Gloucester, faintly relieving
from the Cotteswold hills, whose high continuous summits were strongly
contrasted by the broken form of the Malvern hills afar off on the left.

The Severn, near GLOUCESTER, separates into two channels; which, soon
re-uniting, inclose a tract of land called the Isle of Alney; so that we
approached the city over two bridges connected together by a high
causeway near a mile in length, which traverses the islet.  An assemblage
of ships, houses, and numerous spires, greeted us with a look of more
public importance than we had been used to for several weeks, as we drew
near the city.  It would require a volume to give an adequate description
of this place: all that my limits will allow me to say is, that it is one
of the fairest cities in England, regularly composed of four principal
wide well-built streets, meeting at right angles in the middle of the
town; abounding with Gothic churches and other public structures, and a
new-built gaol, which is one of the best in the kingdom.  But its chief
ornament is its truly grand cathedral, remarkable for its elegant tower,
surmounted with four transparent pinnacles of the most exquisite
workmanship, and for having the largest Gothic window in Britain: nor is
it less to be noticed for the curious ramifications and transomes of its
fretted roof, and the high state of enrichment throughout the structure.
{355}  We ascended to the summit of the tower, where

    “The bursting prospect spreads immense around:
    And, snatch’d o’er hill and dale, and wood and lawn,
    And verdant fields, and dark’ning heath between,
    And villages embosom’d soft in trees,
    And spiry towns by surging columns mark’d
    Of household make, your eye excursive roams
    To where the broken landscape, by degrees
    Ascending, roughens into rigid hills;
    O’er which the Cambrian mountains, like far clouds
    That skirt the blue horizon, dusky rise.”

A tributary sigh escaped as we caught the last gleam of our much-loved
principality; nor can I conclude my subject without transmitting that
view of the Welch individual character and state of society (particularly
alluding to the southern district), which impressed me during my tour,
and which I have since believed to be just.

Wales may be considered as exhibiting almost the sole remnant of “the
good old times” existing in Britain.  Separated from those causes of
extrinsic splendour which domineer over other parts of our island, the
opulent landholders freely dispense the wealth of their inheritance with
unostentatious liberality.  Indifferent to outward shew, their first
cares evince a parental regard to the poor on their domains, and the
maintenance of their forefathers’ good cheer.  An interchange of good
offices is alike conspicuous between them and the commonalty; and it is
no less pleasing to see the friendly solicitude of the one, than the
unaffected respect and attachment of the other.

The Welch are justly described to be the most robust and hardy
inhabitants of this kingdom; for, unenervated by those sedentary
employments foisted on less happy regions by luxury and avaricious
policy, they boast the vigorous frames of aboriginal Britons.  Although
not generally tall, they possess a more unequivocal criterion of
strength, in a fine breath of chest; and hence it has been remarked, that
a Cambrian regiment drawn up in line covers more ground than any other.
By healthful toil and simplicity of diet invigorated, they are at once
potent, courageous, animated, and generous.

It has been asserted, that the Welch are averse from strangers;—but by
whom?  By those who have provoked that aversion; who, carrying with them
a vulgar estimation of superior show at the tables of England, have not
known how to approve a regular board of hospitality, when contrasted by
the splendid profusion of fashionable entertainments; who, representing
the more gay appointments of other resorts, have pitied the Welchman’s
old-fashioned furniture, and wondered how any gentlemanly being could
exist in his gloomy Gothic habitation.  Such as can conceive no other
travelling enjoyments than superior inns, sumptuous dinners, and
bowling-green roads, may quarrel with our principality.  But it is for
those who travel with more enlarged views, and proper introductions, to
declare the ingenuous welcome that they have experienced: the eager
solicitude that was every where manifested to afford them information;
and the liberal fare set before them, which not even the
greatly-increased expence of family establishments could effectually
suppress.

As every virtue has its concomitant shade, we have to lament that the
Welchman’s ardent spirit sometimes inclines him to be quarrelsome; yet,
as there is generosity at the bottom, his passion seldom becomes
vindictive.  A disposition for social enjoyment has led him from
conviviality to habits of intemperance; and an improvident hospitality,
to the ruin of his family’s fortune.  An error more harmless in its
operation arises from his admiration of illustrious ancestry; which often
resolves itself into an association of personal importance, that
unbiassed individuals are not inclined to allow.  These asperities are
wearing away, under the attrition of a more extended and enlightened
intercourse.  But it is the heartfelt wish of an earnest admirer of their
present state of society, equal to every essential duty of a manly
people, that the chilling apathy of morbid refinement may never paralize
their spirit of independence, that spring of energetic action which forms
the noblest attribute of Man.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.

                                * * * * *

NICHOLS _and_ SON, _Printers_,
_Red-Lion-Passage_, _Fleet-Street_.



Footnotes.


{0}  The errata has been applied in this eText.—DP.

{6}  The Saxons at this period are supposed to have occupied Monmouth,
Chepstow, Caerwent, and Caerleon.

{7}  Mr. Pennant.

{9}  The common appellation of this mode, _Gothic_, is equally improper
with the preceding, as the reign of the Goths was at an end long before
its introduction: indeed its origin is wrapped in obscurity.  Sir
Christopher Wren, and after him many architects and antiquaries, have
attributed it to the Saracens, and hence called it Saracenic; but their
grounds are very questionable.  Perhaps the homely conjecture, that it
arose from the pointed form in the intersecting Saxon arches, may be as
near the truth as one derived from more laborious researches; indeed,
from the specimens of early Gothic which I have seen, I am of opinion,
that cogent reasons may be adduced, to prove it rather to be of natural
growth from the Saxon modes, and formed in its characteristics by gradual
alteration, than a new system of remote and detached origins.

{11}  An iron grate, with spikes at the bottom, which was let down after
the gate was forced.

{12}  Several years ago, when I first set about castle-hunting, I
endeavoured in vain to discover a relation between what I saw, and the
description with a figure of an ancient castle, laid down in Grose’s
Antiquities, and copied by others.  I have since seen the greater part of
the principal ruins in South-Britain; and the only castles that occur to
me as approaching to that gentleman’s plan, are those of Dover and
London.  I mention this, because persons building a theory on the
authorities above-mentioned, might, among ruins, be puzzled, to no
purpose, for a practical illustration.

{21}  The practice of whitening their dwellings, in Wales, is very
general, and of long standing.  David ap Gwillim, a bard of the 14th
century, thus notices it in his invocation to Summer: “With sun-shine
morn gladden thou the place, and greet the whitened houses.”

{22}  Of the numerous vessels that sail from Bristol to Swansea, not one
is fitted for passengers, and it was our misfortune to enter the worst in
the service: we afterwards learned, that two superior vessels, Dimond and
Hawkins masters, afford very tolerable accommodation.  The sailing of
these might be learned from a correspondence at Bristol, and a pleasant
conveyance obtained,—at least for men.

{29}  The cromlech is certainly a relic of the Druidical age.  It is
variously contended to have been a place of worship, a sepulchral
monument, and an altar for sacrifice.  The latter opinion appears to me
best supported; nor can I look on a cromlech without adverting to those
horrid rites wherein human victims were immolated by Druid-craft to
excite the terrors of superstition.

{62}  See the Introduction, Section 3.

{67}  A Description of England and Wales, Vol. VII.

{71}   The shores of Milford-haven abound with lime-stone; which,
affording a rich manure (with coals and culm), is conveyed by water over
a great portion of the country.  In the shores of the haven also, near
its junction with the open sea, are many veins of copper ore, some of
which are conjectured to be very rich; but none have been explored with
perseverance.

{72}  Lord Kensington described to me a very picturesque ruin called
Benton cattle, situated upon the borders of Milford-haven near the arm of
Lawrenny.  This ruin I had not an opportunity of seeing, nor do I
remember having read of it in any of the descriptions of Wales.

{73}  I asked one of these young women, with the utmost seriousness and
civility, at least with all that I was master of, what they made use of
to render their teeth so uncommonly white; when the arch hussy waggishly
replied, “Only a little nice white sand, and a scrubbing-brush, Sir.”

{81}  From Haverfordwest, a turnpike road extends to Caermarthen, 33
miles distant.  About nine miles from Haverford, and one to the left of
the road, is Lawhaden castle, picturesquely seated on a bold eminence,
overlooking an extensive country.  This castle was the principal seat of
the Bishops of St. David’s; but in the year 1616 Bishop Milborne obtained
leave to dismantle it, the lead and other expensive materials having been
purloined by his holy predecessors.  Narbeth, a small irregular town
built on a hill about 11 miles on the road, has some inconsiderable ruins
of a castle erected by Sir Andrew Perrot, whose ancestor came over at the
Conquest.  The road, pawing through St. Clare, a pleasing village,
continues onward without any particular attraction.

{84}  Aber, in Welch, signifies the mouth of a river: hence Abertivy,
Aberystwith, &c.

{85}  Powell, in his History of Wales, says, that it was rebuilt before
the year 1176; when Rhys, Prince of South Wales, made therein a great
entertainment at Christmas, at which were present many hundreds of the
English, Norman, and Irish nobility.  Among other things for their
entertainment, he caused all the bards throughout Wales to come thither;
and seating them round the hall, they had to contend with each other in
rhyme: such as excelled, were promised great rewards and rich presents.
The North Wales bards were acknowledged victors in poetry, and Prince
Rhys’s own servants the ablest musicians.

{91}  The equilibrium is now destroyed.

{92}  See p. 29.

{94}  Camden says, it often holds its tail between its teeth, to render
its springs more immediate.

{98}  Near Penrhyn a British gold coin was found, of about equal weight
with a guinea, a little hollowed on one side, and different from any of
the coinage of the Romans, or their successors: whence, and from other
instances, it is inferred, that the Britons had gold and silver coin
before the arrival of the Romans.  In the church-yard is a large
rough-hewn stone, bearing an inscription that has not yet been
interpreted.

{106}  At Lhanar, a small village two or three miles distant, on the
right bank of the river, there was a Cistercian nunnery, a cell to
Starflower Abbey, of which I understand some imperfect vestiges remain.

{123}  According to Tanner, Leland, and Dugdale.  Camden says it was for
Cluniacs.

{130}  The mansion of Mr. Vaughan, the greatest landholder in
Caermarthenshire.  We did not visit this seat, or Middleton hall, also
southward of the valley a few miles nearer Caermarthen, but without
commanding any of its beauties.  The latter place, built a few years
since by Mr. Paxton, formerly a banker at Bengal, I understand to be the
most splendid specimen of modern architecture in Wales; but, unfortunate
in its situation, it is already neglected.

{131}  The ruins of Gruslwyn castle occupy a bold conical hill about
half-way between Llandilo and Caermarthen, in the Vale of Towey.  Nearer
Caermarthen, until lately, stood the venerable remains of Green castle,
built by Uchtred, prince of Merionethshire, in 1138; but the ruin is now
reduced to a few unimportant walls: both these fragments of antiquity are
within view of the road.

{135}  “Dim Sarsnic” (no Saxon) is a common expression, grounded on their
anciently confounding all foreigners with their mortal enemies the
Saxons; as the lower class in England consider every foreigner a
Frenchman.  This is said to be connected with a marked dislike and
incivility to strangers; yet, so far as my observations extend, a greater
disposition to acts of kindness is not to be met with in any part of the
kingdom than in South Wales.

{140}  Along with the degeneracy of social affections, manly prowess, and
other noble affections, that hang on nations and places absorbed in the
pursuit of trade, the dereliction of chastity is greatly conspicuous.  In
Manchester, for example, an almost promiscuous intercourse prevails in
the great class of the people: insomuch that the Magistrates attempt to
check the increase of bastard children by inflicting stripes and
imprisonment on the women who bear above a certain number!  But why
enumerate particular instances of the debasing tendency of too much
trade, when the history of the world furnishes abundant proofs to
establish the fact as an axiom.

{145}  Rail-ways are so called, from being constructed of iron (in some
places wooden) rails, placed in such a manner as to receive the wheels of
a sort of low cart, used in the conveyance of metal and coals.  These
cars, as they are called, are of very ponderous structure; their wheels,
grooved round, with a shoulder dipping on the inside, pass with great
facility over the rails; which latter, projecting an inch or two above
the ground, are kept in their places by a sunken frame of wood.  The
advantages of these roads are very considerable for the purposes to which
they are applied; insomuch that many persons have suggested their
usefulness for public ways; but perhaps without considering the numerous
practical objection that would encounter the project.

{150}  _Single stones_ may be considered among the remotest monuments of
antiquity: we read of such in the Old Testament, raised in commemoration
of signal victories, and as noted sepulchres.  Jacob erected one at Lug;
and placed another over the grave of Rachael.

{153}  They were wrecked on the Margam estate upwards of a century since.

{155}  This is called part of the Abbey church in Grose’s Antiquities;
but, as the foundation of that edifice is demonstrable near the
chapter-house, it appears to be an error.

{163}  In this neighbourhood several Roman coins have been dug up, among
which were some very scarce ones of Æmilianus and Marius.

{164}  Llancarvan, about three miles from Cowbridge, is said to be the
site of a Monastery built by St. Cadocus in the year 500.—Boverton, a
village a short distance from Cowbridge in the road to Cardiff, is
thought to be the Bovium of the Romans.

{173}  From this place a turnpike-road extends through the mountains to
Brecon, a district so wild as not to present a village, and scarcely a
habitation in an extent of eighteen miles.—In the neighbourhood of
Merthyr-tydvill I find described Morlashe castle, a ruin.

{174}  An outwork that defended the drawbridge.

{175}  The external staircase entrance to the hall spoken of by Camden,
“the roof whereof is vaulted and supported by twenty arches,” is now
rendered nearly impassable by rubbish.

{177}  On a mountain near Caerphilly is a monument known by the name of
_Y Maen hir_.  It is a quadrangular stone pillar, rather inclining, and
about eight feet high: close to the base is a mound, inclosing the space
of six yards; and in the midst, a square area.  On the pillar is an
inscription in Welch, which signifies, “May’st thou awake;” from which it
is inferred to be a funereal monument.—Grose’s Antiquities.

{181}  This is called the magazine, from its having been applied to that
purpose in the civil wars of Charles the First.

{184a}  There is no cross aile to this cathedral, as there is to all the
others in England and Wales: nor any middle steeple, as there is to all
the others except Bangor and Exeter.

{184b}  Castle coch, or the Red castle, situated upon a high bank of the
river Taffe, about four miles above Landaff, is a small ruin which we
neglected to visit.

{185}  Monmouthshire has been separated from Wales by the judicial
arrangement of later times; yet the character of the county throughout is
so entirely Cambrian, that I cannot consider myself out of Wales until
after having passed the Wye.  Indeed, this highly-varied and interesting
district may be considered as an epitome of the whole principality.  The
mountains stretching over the north-west of Monmouthshire shire may vie
with any in South-Wales, and even aspire to the majestic wildness of some
in North-Wales; the rich fertility, or broken precipices accompanying the
course of the Severn, Wye, and Usk, with much contrastive grandeur,
possess the highest pretensions to picturesque fame; and its numerous
ruins and other monuments of antiquity are among the most celebrated in
the kingdom.—An elegant and able work, in two volumes, quarto, has been
lately published, descriptive of Monmouthshire, and illustrated by no
less than 90 excellent plates.  The researches of its author (Mr. Coxe)
have been so accurate and complete, as to leave little more for a
succeeding tourist to do than to select and transcribe.  The descriptions
I always found highly satisfactory and just; I have therefore, in the
generality of instances, thought it unnecessary to follow any other
authority for documents in history and antiquities.

{192}  An officer who had the superintendance of the walls, and collected
a toll for keeping them in repair.

{195}  We did not visit Rogeston castle, about two miles north-west of
Newport, a fortress of the Stradlings who came over with Fitzhammon.
Part of its remains appear in the foundation of the mansion built on its
site, belonging to the Morgans, but tenanted by Mr. Butler of Caerleon,
and employed as a manufactory of iron bolts and tin plates.

{200a}  In ancient military architecture “_circinatio angulorum_;” a plan
condemned by Vitruvius, because it rather sheltered the besiegers than
the besieged, “_quia hostem magis tuentur quam civem_.”

{200b}  A decent little inn, and the only one in the town.

{208}  These ruins are attributed to the ravages of Owen Glendower, who
sacked and burnt the town.

{209}  From Usk to Abergavenny, the road passes several objects worthy of
a tourist’s notice.  I must here borrow from Mr. Coxe’s survey, not
having travelled on the road.  The church of Kemys Commander, between
three and four miles from Usk, to the left of the road, is a small Gothic
structure; its cemetery is remarkable for a hollow yew-tree, fifteen feet
in girth, within which is inclosed an oak not less than seven feet in
circumference; its branches shadow the parent trunk, forming a singular
combination of foliage.  The church of Bettus Newydd, on the right of the
road in the same neighbourhood, is noticeable for the entire state of its
ancient rood-loft.  A mile and a half further the road is graced with an
elegant Gothic gateway, of modern execution, appertaining to Clytha
house, the seat of William Jones, Esq.; and near it is Clytha castle, a
structure erected by Mr. Jones to the memory of a beloved wife.  At seven
miles from Usk, to the right of the road, is the old mansion of
Lansanfread, a residence of James Green, Esq. M.P., for Arundel.
Colebrook, about two miles further, and nearly the same distance from
Abergavenny, is a seat of Sir John Hanbury Williams.  The house was an
irregular old pile, with square towers at each angle, until about fifty
years since, when the present front and Doric portico were erected, from
a design of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, of diplomatic and facetious
memory.

{214}  The walls here and in many other parts of the ruin are not
deprived of their facing stones, as is generally the case with these
remaining monuments of baronial splendour; but, constructed of a superior
sort of light grey stone, they still exhibit a specimen of exquisite
masonry; and where they have not been wilfully dilapidated appear as
perfect as if just finished.

{219}  List of the household, and method of living, at Raglan Castle, by
the Earl of Worcester, in the reign of Charles the First, 1641.

At eleven o’clock in the forenoon the castle gates were shut, and the
tables laid; two in the dining-room; three in the hall; one in Mrs.
Watson’s apartment, where the chaplains eat (Sir Toby Matthews being the
first); and two in the housekeeper’s room, for the ladies’ women.

The Earl entered the dining-room, attended by his gentlemen.  As soon as
he was seated, Sir Ralph Blackstone, steward of the house, retired.  The
comptroller, Mr. Holland, attended with his staff, as did the sewer Mr.
Blackburne; the daily waiters, Mr. Clough, Mr. Selby, Mr. Scudamore; and
many gentlemen’s sons, with estates from two to seven hundred pounds a
year, who were bred up in the castle; my lady’s gentlemen of the chamber,
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fox.  At the first table sat the noble family, and
such of the nobility as came there.

At the second table, in the dining-room, sat knights and honourable
gentlemen attended by footmen.

In the hall, at the first table, sat Sir Ralph Blackstone, steward; the
comptroller, Mr. Holland; the secretary; the master of the Horse, Mr.
Dolowar; the master of the Fish-ponds, Mr. Andrews; my Lord Herbert’s
preceptor, Mr. Adams; with such gentlemen as came there under the degree
of a knight, attended by footmen, and plentifully served with wine.

At the second table in the hall (served from my Lord’s table, and with
other hot meats) sat the sewer, with the gentlemen waiters and pages, to
the number of twenty-four.

At the third table, in the hall, sat the clerk of the kitchen, with the
yeomen officers of the house, two grooms of the chamber, &c.

Other officers of the household were, chief auditor, Mr. Smith; clerk of
the accounts, George Whithorn; purveyor of the castle Mr. Salisbury;
ushers of the hall, Mr. Moyle and Mr. Cooke; closet-keeper; gentleman of
the chapel, Mr. Davies; keeper of the records; master of the wardrobe;
master of the armoury; master grooms of the stable for the war-horses,
twelve; master of the hounds; master falconer; porter and his man.  Two
butchers; two keepers of the home-park; two keepers of the red-deer park.
Footmen, grooms, and other menial servants, to the number of 150.  Some
of the footmen were brewers and bakers.

Out Officers: Steward of Raglan, William Jones, Esq.; the governor of
Chepstow Castle, Sir Nicholas Kemys, Bart.; housekeeper of
Worcester-house in London, James Redman, Esq.; thirteen Bailiffs; two
counsel for the bailiffs to have recourse to; solicitor, Mr. John Smith.

{222}  The Romans constructed their roads with large masses of stone
closely layed together: each piece was often six or seven feet long and
carefully squared.  The road to Caerwent, formed on such a foundation,
though passing through a low swampy country, is observed to be uncommonly
compact and dry.  Thus the utility of that once great people’s work is
transmitted through the constant wear of fifteen centuries; and excites
the admiration of even our own enlightened age.

{236}  Camden’s Britannia, p. 714, ed. 1722.

{238}  About half a mile from the shore is a rocky islet called Charston
rock, much esteemed for the durability of its stone: it has lately been
employed in the lower part of the piers of Newport-bridge.

{244}  The stone coffin, containing the remains of St. Theodoric, was
discovered some time since: upon removing the lid, the skeleton appeared
perfectly entire, except a large fracture on the skull, which probably
occasioned the death of the hero.

{251a}  Owing to a neglect of the roof, the upper stories of the building
were swimming with water, and perishing very fast.  It is to be hoped,
that before this the Duke of Beaufort’s agents have looked to their
charge, and adopted proper means to prevent the entire loss of a useful
habitation, and an interesting remnant of antiquity.

{251b}  Southey’s Poems, p. 378.

{252}  Several of the glazed figured tiles used by the Normans, commonly
called Roman tiles, patched up in different parts of the ruin, and a few
Roman bricks built in the heterogeneous mass that composes the grout-work
of the walls, have occasioned many persons to consider the castle as of
Roman foundation.  But these circumstances, standing alone, afford very
inconclusive grounds.  On the Normans building the castle, the Roman
fragments were most probably brought from the then decaying town of
Caerwent, and with other rubbish applied to the work.

{255}  In the garden of a house in Bridge-street is the phenomenon of a
well of soft water that ebbs and flows regularly is an exact opposition
to the tide.

{261}  Col. Wood is about to dispose of this estate.

{264}  She was a niece of lord Peterborough.

{265}  This part of our journey, in wading through a right Welch road,
brought to my mind an anecdote of Mr. Morris.  When a bill was before the
House of Commons for the improvement of the roads in Monmouthshire, many
gentlemen of the county, willing to plod through the same mire that had
bedaubed their ancestors, gave it a strong opposition.  Mr. Morris, who
had a mind above vulgar prejudices, and who was a warm promoter of every
useful improvement, being examined at the bar of the House and
questioned, “What roads have you in Monmouthshire?” replied, “None.”—“How
do you travel then?”—“In ditches,” was his reply.

{268}  A rough carved figure of a man in a coat of mail is shewn as the
effigy of Richard Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, the founder of the abbey.
This account, however, is altogether erroneous: Richard was only great
nephew of the founder, and he was buried in the chapter-house of
Gloucester.

{274}  The neighbourhood that has risen round the abbey is called Abbey
Tintern, to distinguish it from this village, which is about a mile
distant.

{285}  The Herberts came over soon after the Conquest, and settled at
Worndee, near Abergavenny.

{287}  The manor of Troy deviated from the Herbert line to that of the
earls of Worcester about the beginning of the seventeenth century.  In
the Apophthegms of the Marquis of Worcester is related a punning _jeu
d’esprit_ upon the word Troy, between the old Marquis and his royal guest
Charles the First.  Sir Thomas Somerset, the Marquis’s brother, residing
at Troy-house, possessed a greater art in forcing plants than was at that
time generally understood in England; which enabled him to send a present
of fruit to the Marquis that was entirely out of the natural season.  The
old Peer, highly pleased, carried them to the King, and said, “Here I
present you, Sire, with that which came not from Lincoln that was, nor
London that is, nor York that is to be, but from Troy.”  Whereupon the
King smiled, and answered the Marquis, “Truly, my Lord, I have heard that
corn grows where Troy town stood; but I never thought that there had
grown any apricots before.”

{308}  This cross-legged position of sepulchral effigies does not denote
that the person represented was a Knight Templar, as is generally
supposed; but that he had visited the Holy Land: indeed, his having
entered into vows that he would perform the journey, entitled him to this
distinction.

{310}  One of his posterity, William de Braose, in the reign of King
John, says Dugdale, “gave the tithes of his castle, _viz._ of bread,
wine, beer, cyder, all manner of fresh, fish, salt, honey, wax, tallow,
and in general whatsoever should be brought thither and spent there, upon
condition that the Abbot and Convent of St. Vincent’s in Mans, to which
the priory was a cell, should daily pray for the soul of King Henry the
First; as also for the soul of him the said William and the soul of Maud
his wife.”

{313}  See Page 290.

{330}  There is an oblong camp in the neighbourhood of the town called _Y
Gaer_; where Roman bricks, bearing the inscription LEG. II. AUG. are
frequently ploughed up.  Near this camp is a rude pillar, about six feet
high, called the _maiden stone_; on one side of which are the figures of
a man and woman coarsely carved in relief.

{343}  Cairns, or barrows, in the druidical ages, were large heaps of
stones raised over the bodies of deceased heroes.  After the introduction
of Christianity, similar piles were placed on malefactors, to give a sort
of counteraction to the old custom; and it soon became the bitterest wish
a man could give his enemy, “that a cairn might be his monument.”

{349}  In _Dugdale’s Monasticon_, the signature _Godricus Duxi_ occurs
twice among the witnesses to two charters granted by king Canute.

{351}  The distance from Ross to Chepstow, in a straight line, is not
more than sixteen miles and a half; but owing to the sinuosity of the
river the voyage by water is near thirty-eight miles.  The boats descend
with the current, and are towed all the way back by men: this laborious
task may account for the expensive hire of a boat, which I understand to
be three guineas.

{355}  We did not neglect to visit the remains of Lanthony Abbey near
Gloucester, the successful rival of the foundation in Monmouthshire.  The
ruins are situated about a mile southward of the town: they are by no
means picturesque, consisting of a series of buildings which surround a
large square area; the dilapidated walls of the chapel are standing
without encumbrance; but the other parts are made up into farming
habitations, with numerous out-houses and sheds.





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