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POETRY.-Beggar of the Pont Neuf; Heart of Unbelief, 28.-To a Rivulet; The Years, 35.
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LITTELL'S LIVING AGE.-No. 295.-12 JANUARY, 1850.
From the Quarterly Review. 1. Wales. By SIR THOMAS PHILLIPS. London.
2. Drych yr Amseroedd (The Mirror of the Times.)
GOD and his works abide, but man and his customs change. It requires no ordinary degree of sagacity to foretell at any given period the changes which a new generation may be destined to witness, and scarcely less to appreciate some silent revolution of manners which may have been wrought almost in the memory of man. If we were asked to point out a part of the United Kingdom where the influence of innovation might least be expected, our first instinct would direct us to the Principality. If we imagine some real Rip Van Winkle just For some years we used to observe, on opening roused from his fairy slumber, his surprise would Our Bradshaw," the involuntary respect with not be greater than that of the traveller who, fresh which even the stern genius of railways seemed to from the metropolis, penetrated the Principality a regard the territory of the ancient Britons. His century ago. Even on the borders and in the fire-breathing, iron-footed messengers (for so steam-county towns he heard a strange language, and saw engines would probably have been described by an ancient bard) might approach the Marches where Talbot wooed the fair Guendolen ;* but the "wild Wales" of Taliessin's song seemed to be safe from intrusion. Whatever may have happened elsewhere, here at least we might imagine the mountain fastnesses would retain their primitive character, and the children of the Cymry, cradled in the home of the torrent and the storm, would bear something of the unyielding impress which Nature has stamped upon their land.
a strange people, whose habits savored strangely of a bygone age. Still more did the impression of strangeness increase at every step, as he advanced into some upland valley of the more mountainous districts. Round the humble church of some indigenous saint, such as Wales and Brittany boast in numbers, and generally on the banks of some stream just widening in a confluence of valleys, were grouped a cluster of cottages. For the fabric of the church in some cases an antiquity was claimed as early as the fifth century. To the Yet even in Wales, as elsewhere, Time, the inhabitants, consisting chiefly of shepherds and fishgreat innovator, has wrought his appointed work. ermen, with occasionally a small freehold or shopThough Snowdon stands as of old, its base is keeper, a combination of their church and the caverned by the miner, and Penmaenmawr is at village inn represented the march of intellect, and On each shoulder and length not only stricken as it were through the their valley the world. heart, and traversed by daily trains, but is in course sloping side of the hills, the blue smoke of peat of being carried away bodily to pave the streets of mingling with the mist gave token of a primitive Liverpool. All along the coast, as well as in the homestead, and, as you ascended the streamlet's quarries of Merioneth and Carnarvonshire, a hard-course, every nook, which offered shelter for sheep handed race of men has sprung up, whose largeboned frames attest (when compared to the upland shepherd) the severe labor they undergo, and the higher wages which they receive. A Welshman, who had spent many years in London, was asked on his return if he thought the Principality changed; "I find signs of improvement everywhere," was
*Such marriages, though recorded only of the Baron, must have been frequent among his followers. Hence it has been supposed-we believe the alumni of the London University are now taught that terms of sewing in English are derived from the British language:-a theory at least so ingenious, that we hope it may be true. LIVING AGE. VOL. XXIV. 4
or promise of a scanty harvest, was dotted with a pastoral farm. The houses of one story, with
*An account of them, full of interest to the ecclesiastical historian, may be found in Mr. Rees' "Welsh Saints," as well as in Mr. John Williams' Ecclesiastical An
tiquities of the Cymry," a book of research, which deserves perhaps more attention than it has met with. We have also to thank the learned Archdeacon of Cardigan for introducing us, in his "Claudia and Pudens," to a lady saint of uncommon interest. His work not only sheds an entirely new light upon the introduction of Christianity into Great Britain, but is full of ingenious historical reasoning in the steps by which he identifies his princess very probably with the Claudia of St. Paul. Many traditions, with less proof, are universally received.
enormous chimneys in which scythes were placed were occasionally diversified by an organized fight. to exclude intruders, were more roomy and sub- The mode of raising supplies might have been stantial than a highland bothie, yet simple enough suggested by some genius who should have been of their kind. The farmers who inhabited them, chancellor of the Exchequer. If a young farmer though not without their pride of family and their wanted to marry, or had lost a cow, or was beown code of gentility, which reäcted upon the de- hindhand with his rent, he gave notice, after church, pendents with whom they associated, shared the that a barrel of cwrw (cervisia) would be ready at oatmeal and bacon which were the fare of the la- his house on a certain afternoon. The numerous borer. Shoes and stockings, in the modern sense kin and well-wishers of the family made a point of the latter word, were only partially in fashion ; of obeying the summons. Among the amusements and the wool, which was the principal produce of expected was the singing of Penillion, a species the farm, was manufactured at home. Flannel has of song or epigram not uplike the Skolia of the from the earliest historical period been a staple of Greeks, but with an improvisatorial character, the country; and though the goods of the West of which must have tried the readiness of the rural England might penetrate to the county town, the wit. The exciseman in those days was not so incommercial bagman,or his smarter successor, found quisitive as he has since become; but if he appeared little temptation to face the driving shower which as an umbidden shadow of royalty, the jester of awaited him on a mountain road. The rural econo- the party would detain him about the door, until my was concentrated in one great maxim-to dis- some feminine Falstaff had converted the obnoxburse as little money as possible. Any stranger ious barrel into a chair, which her ample perwas welcome to his meal, but the money must be son might protect. Of course, if any guest at such reserved for the rent. If you asked the shepherd- a party came empty-handed, he would be greeted boy the meaning of a sinuous labyrinth he had with classical indignation in some such terms amused himself by cutting on the turf, he told you as “ Tene asymbolum venire'-or, in other words, it was Cacr Droiau, or Castra Troja, a term which the entertainment involved a contribution. A still seems to indicate some tradition from the Romans. more singular diversion, which yielded only after A man's name was generally inherited, not by his a struggle to the religious activity of a later date, son, but by his grandson, so that the generations consisted in a rude drama, resembling in its genius alternated, as seems to have been the case at the Mysteries of the middle ages.
On some green Athens. The wife, however, retained through- sward, which presented a natural theatre, some out life the name of her own family, a circum- biblical story was displayed in action by a bard, stance which leads to some confusion in pedigrees. who unconsciously parodied the proceedings of
Doubtless such a people might be called back- Thespis.' Nor did the sacredness of his subject ward. On the other hand, that little freehold had preclude him from licentiousness, and still less from been inherited, it was said, for six hundred years- a liberal use of satire. The innkeeper, whose certainly from a period beyond written record-in malt was stinted, or the exciseman who raised its lineal descent from father to son. The adjoining price, or any offender against received laws, esfarm had also descended by tenure under the same pecially of hospitality, was gibbeted by some stray family, of whose heiress it had been the portion allusion, or by premature consignment to eternal in the reign of King John; and the simple ten- doom. We do not know how far this unconth ant, in most benighted defiance of Maculloch and drama may have been of indigenous origin ; but Mill, would have eaten his barley-bread somewhat the term interlude, however disfigured by a Welsh blacker, and have worked daily an hour longer, pronunciation, seems to suggest the contrary.* sooner than change his landlord for a stranger.
The traveller Pennant must be considered a The existence of such a state of things involved highly favorable specimen of the Welsh gentry at no contemptible amount of homely virtue and thrift ; a date somewhat later than the one of which we and whoever observes how often rapid progress is are speaking. The same remark would hold good followed by rapid downfall, may trace a law of of Sir John Philipps. Those of that rank seem compensation, as he compares the circumstances in general only to have differed from the correwhich political economists admire or condemn. sponding class in England in being somewhat more
Perhaps a tendency to drink, though on com- homely, and perhaps more profuse in their hospiparatively rare occasions, was the principal vice of tality. We must give, however, one example, the people. The village wakes were full of revel- without coming down as low as Mrs. Thrale, of ry, which was not yet considered heathenish ; nor the fairer sex. A fellow of a college at Camhad the vain tinkling of the larp given way to the bridge, (Moderator in 1750,) who held decidedly deeper excitement of the preacher. Sunday often, Protestant ideas as to the celibacy of the clergy, and the greater festivals always, brought their trials persuaded the heiress of a tolerable property in of speed or strength. Parish rivalries found vent Flintshire to put on man's attire, and to accomin matches at football; and the saturnalia of fairs pany him, after a private marriage, on a visit to
* In some cases, but more rarely, the name was renewed * On the Welsh Anterluut the reader will find someonly in the third generation ; and thus the posterity of thing in Mr. Stephens' Literature of the Kymry (pp. Evan Robert Edward (for in the absence of sirnames 90–91.) To this work the prize given by H. R. Å. The three names were convenient for distinction) became Prince of Wales was assigned at the late Abergavenny known as Edward Evan Robert, Robert Edward Evan, Eistedvodd. We hope to direct attention specially to it and so in succession.
in a future article.
his friends, as a young acquaintance from col- spirit was believed not only to be helped on its lege. Unfortunately their wedding tour took way by angels, but watched and liable to be interthem within reach of that terrible 'scourge, the cepted by the hounds of darkness, (cwn Annwn,) small-pox, and before the honey-moon was over the to whom the space between earth and heaven was husband died. The lady survived to marry a second allotted as a hunting-ground. Happy were the husband, and, having already tried a fellow, she parents whose children had died in infancy, for the selected on the second occasion an under-graduate. angelic spirits of their lost innocents might be ex
It is seldom found that the inhabitants of a pected to light them with torches on their way, mountainous country are indifferent to religion. beset by perils, to the kingdom of Heaven.* On Nature herself imprints in them a certain sense of the first Sunday after a funeral we find it stated
At the period of which we are speaking, that the whole family of the deceased used to kneel though such laxity prevailed in the observance of down on the grave to say the Lord's prayer. | Sunday, that all sorts of amusement, even occa- We scarcely venture to affirm whether so late as sionally cockfighting, were allowed in the after the period of which we are speaking the instituie noon, yet in the morning no mountain family ever tion or caste of “sin-eaters' remained. failed to send its male representative to church. readers do not happen to be acquainted with Any absence of a householder was a signal for Brande's Popular Antiquities, they will probably inquiry, and for preparation to condole on some ask the meaning of the term. It may surprise anticipated disaster. All adult members of the them to learn that in the west of England in the congregation were also generally partakers of the sixteenth century, and in Wales probably at a Eucharist. The habitual tone of reverence, which later date, a class of persons existed, who, in consuch a custom may seem to imply, was not un- sideration of a certain dole of food or money, mingled with fragments of an older superstition, made themselves responsible for the sins of the deepened by legend or poetical influences. Many dead, and undertook to console the survivors, by were the forewarnings of death ; and in the dio- guaranteeing them at least security against being cese of St. David in particular, a power of “ second haunted by the spirits of the departed. We cansight” was claimed down to a very recent period. not assent to those who find the original of so As St. Keynan, in Cornwall, gave matrimonial strange a custom in the Mosaic law, but should supremacy to wife or husband, as either drank first rather look for a parallel amid the wilder superat his spring, so in Wales you might procure stitions of India ; nor, with deference to Aubrey, health for yourself from the healing wave of St. who affirms the fact, do we believe the system at any Winifred, and pining sickness for your enemy time since the Reformation to have prevailed generfrom the ill-omened fount of St. Elian. Nor was ally in Wales. The theory, which lay at the bottom the Virgin Mary without her consecrated wells of the practice, had doubtless vanished from men's and other honors, which were only a century too minds long before the customary dole (Diodlas) soon to find favor with the professors of orthodoxy. ceased to be given at funerals. But it is not easy Mr. Allies might have collected a fresh volume of to ascribe a precise date to those changes of sencures wrought at St. Mary's many founts, and timent, which are not only gradual but uneven in would have been delighted to find that the efficacy their operation. If this is anywhere true, it emof baptism was enhanced by carefully carrying phatically holds good of a country where mountain water from such sources to the font of the parish and river tend to isolate particular districts. Our church. Not that we would ourselves sneer at account of Wales a century ago would not bear to the feeling which speaks in the following version be uniformly applied in any single year. Yet (borrowed from Mr. Goronva Camlan) of what is each portion of the country in its turn had probatermed an old Welsh prayer :
bly a period at which the impression we wish to "Mother, oh mother! tell me, art thou weeping ?”
convey would be true. We necessarily strike a The infant Saviour asked, on Mary's breast;
rough average. " Child of th’ Eternal, nay; I am but sleeping,
It may be said generally that among the stories Though vexed by many a thought of dark unrest.”— "Say, at what vision is thy courage failing ?"
of the fireside were unfailin egends, not turning “ I see a crown of thorns, and bitter pain ;
so much as might be expected upon Arthur or And thee, dread Child upon the Cross of wailing, All heaven aghast, and rude mankind's disdain.”
Glendower, but oftener upon the agencies of the
invisible world, and most of all, upon some inThe original is, we are assured, a genuine tradi- stance of Divine retribution. Vengeance, such as tion, and formed with the Creed and Ten Com- overtook Ahab for diverting the inheritance of mandments part of the peasant's daily devotion. Naboth, was not only devoutly believed by the One of our authors, who mentions the fact, seems mountain farmer, but illustrated by modern into consider all the three formularies equally mis- stances, of which his hearers never doubted the applied. *
truth. Here hereditary insanity, and here a prop
. The “passing-bell” was then no unmeaning erty swept away, attested the immediate waiting sound. No person of ordinary piety neglected, as of judgment upon wrong. The curious book, called he heard it, to offer a brief petition for the soul Drych y Prif Oesoedd, or “ Mirror of Old Ages," of his neighbor passing to its account. Good which mixes true histories with prodigies from need there seemed for such assistance ; when the Geoffrey and Giraldus, was published in 1740, * Drych yr Amseroedd, p. 48–9.
* Ibid., p. 56. + Ibid., p. 50.
and seems to have become rapidly popular.* Here, little ; the record of meek piety is written not as elsewhere, the march of intellect seems first to on earth ; yet many families have traditions of have meddled with fairies. The "fair family,"clerical ancestors, which do not accord with insinfor so the Welsh styled them, are said occasionally uations sometimes thrown out of general irreligto have revealed themselves to the solitary shep-ion. Probably sermons were too much in the herd or the drunken minstrel ; and a highly in- cold style of the British essayists ; but one sin telligent peasant once assured us that his father imputed to the clergy would appear from the folhad undoubtedly seen them. We suspect, how-lowing attack upon their memory to have been ever, that for some centuries they have by no their general adherence to the doctrines of the means kept the same hold upon the popular imag- Prayer Book. ination as ghosts or other spiritual beings, who, if
Dark and unfruitful were their doctrines, and not actually countenanced by Scripture, might at there was not a sign that the breath of power and least be imagined to exercise a certain moral agency. the holy flame wrought through them. The sum In all things of this latter kind the Cambrian and substance of their teaching was this :--that peasant believed firmly and universally ; and to a
man received his new birth at baptism ; that every certain extent, though faintly, he may be said 10 one must repent and amend his life, and come frebelieve in them still. Supposing, however, ghosts quently to Church and Sacrament; that every one
must do his best, and that Christ's merits would or fairies to stalk in twilight, avenging crime or make up that in which he was defective: and that tempting innocence, it would naturally be the it was in man's own power to choose (qu. accept?) business of the clergyman to grapple with such or reject grace and glory. Bodily chastening was foes. Accordingly, any clerical student who pre- accounted a sufficient mean, if not worthiness, to ferred black letter in his parsonage to good com- fit men for the kingdom of heaven. * Now, pany at the inn, rarely escaped the imputation of this is darkness which may be felt, like that forconjuring—an art which was supposed to consti- merly, in Egypt. It is as perilous to lay weight on tute one of the principal studies of the University A., pp. 54, 55.
such things as to build upon the sand.—Drych yr of Oxford. What less accomplishment could have tempted the future pastor to undertake a journey of
The same author accuses the congregations of so many miles, which he performed osten on foot? valuing religious carols as highly as sermons, and Might not he have read his Bible at home? Only of readiness to believe in visions or portents : both then he would not have been able to send the moun- charges which sound curiously from the quarter tain Ariel upon errands, or to bind the evil spirit in which they are alleged. He also thinks the with the name of the Trinity, as if with a triple custom of offerings instead of fees at funerals had ringit
a clear reference to purgatory. Perhaps it might The smile, with which our enlightenment lis- only confirm him in this opinion to observe that tens to such fancies, should not be one of contempt. the same custom held (and holds) good at wedAs Poetry teaches wider truth than IIistory, so de- dings. Without, however, subscribing such a bill vout error may approach the meaning of the true of indictment, it may be admitted that Wales did doctrine. When we consider the moral signifi- not escape that Laodicean tone which pervaded the cance of many of the older legends, and are told rest of the kingdom in the last century. It seems of the eager thirst for knowledge which took the to have been as usual for the clergy to appear as students to read in the village church at five in the regulators of amusements, as for them to be guides morning, we cannot help imagining that any good in religion. One crying evil of the times was the might have been effected with such a people. not upfrequent appointment to purely Welsh parThe feelings of reverence and docility presented ishes of persons ill acquainted with the language. something capable of being moulded. But all In the case of Dr. Bowles, which was not legally history is full of the melancholy list of opportu- argued until 1770, and, we happen to know, is nities thrown away: it is but too clear the vigi- only an instance out of many, the advocate for the lance was wanting which might have cherished incumbent used the following plea :this hereditary reverence into an intelligent relig- Though the doctor does not understand the lanion.
Not that we place implicit confidence in alle guage, he is in possession, and cannot be turned gations respecting “scandalous ministers" by men Wales is a conquered country; it is proper inheriting the spirit of Hugh Peters and his fel- to introduce the English language, and it is ihe lows, whom Sergeant Maynard well called
duty of bishops to endeavor to promote Englishdalous judges ;” undoubtedly many accounts of men, in order to introduce the language. The ser
vice was in Latin before the Reformation. How the older Welsh clergy come filtered through did they fare in Wales from the time of Henry hostile channels. Of the best we probably hear VIII. to the time of Queen Elizabeth, when the act * This book, and the Bard's Dream, an imitation of language? It has always been the policy of the
passed for translating the Scriptures into the Welsh Quevedo's Visions, and the Pilgrim's Progress, seam to have been the three greatest favorites after the Bible. A legislature to introduce the English language into History of Christianity, by Charles Edwards, which was Wales. We never heard of an Act of Parliament first published in 1671, also went early through several in Welsh. The English language is to be used in editions, and is still a Welsh classic, though its legendary all the courts of judicature in Wales, and an Engportions have been expurgated; for which we ought to be lish Bible is to be kept in all the churches, that by more thankful than we are.
+ We find a legend of this kind versified in the late comparison of that with the Welsh they may sooner "Lays from the Cimbric Lyre."
come to the knowledge of the English. Dr. Bowles