Picture of George Borrow

George Borrow

places mentioned

Departure for South Wales

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Departure for South Wales - Tregeiriog - Pleasing Scene - Trying to Read - Garmon and Lupus - The Cracked Voice - Effect of a Compliment - Llan Rhyadr.

THE morning of the 21st of October was fine and cold; there was a rime frost on the ground. At about eleven o'clock I started on my journey for South Wales, intending that my first stage should be Llan Rhyadr. My wife and daughter accompanied me as far as Plas Newydd. As we passed through the town I shook hands with honest A-, whom I saw standing at the door of a shop, with a kind of Spanish hat on his head, and also with my venerable friend old Mr Jones, whom I encountered close beside his own domicile. At the Plas Newydd I took an affectionate farewell of my two loved ones, and proceeded to ascend the Berwyn. Near the top I turned round to take a final look at the spot where I had lately passed many a happy hour. There lay Llangollen far below me, with its chimneys placidly smoking, its pretty church rising in its centre, its blue river dividing it into two nearly equal parts, and the mighty hill of Brennus overhanging it from the north.

I sighed, and repeating Einion Du's verse

"Tangnefedd i Llangollen!"

turned away.

I went over the top of the hill and then began to descend its southern side, obtaining a distant view of the plains of Shropshire on the east. I soon reached the bottom of the hill, passed through Llansanfraid, and threading the vale of the Ceiriog at length found myself at Pont y Meibion in front of the house of Huw Morris, or rather of that which is built on the site of the dwelling of the poet. I stopped and remained before the house thinking of the mighty Huw, till the door opened, and out came the dark-featured man, the poet's descendant, whom I saw when visiting the place in company with honest John Jones - he had now a spade in his hand and was doubtless going to his labour. As I knew him to be of a rather sullen unsocial disposition, I said nothing to him, but proceeded on my way. As I advanced the valley widened, the hills on the west receding to some distance from the river. Came to Tregeiriog a small village, which takes its name from the brook; Tregeiriog signifying the hamlet or village on the Ceiriog. Seeing a bridge which crossed the rivulet at a slight distance from the road, a little beyond the village, I turned aside to look at it. The proper course of the Ceiriog is from south to north; where it is crossed by the bridge, however, it runs from west to east, returning to its usual course, a little way below the bridge. The bridge was small and presented nothing remarkable in itself: I obtained, however, as I looked over its parapet towards the west a view of a scene, not of wild grandeur, but of something which I like better, which richly compensated me for the slight trouble I had taken in stepping aside to visit the little bridge. About a hundred yards distant was a small water-mill, built over the rivulet, the wheel going slowly, slowly round; large quantities of pigs, the generality of them brindled, were either browsing on the banks or lying close to the sides half immersed in the water; one immense white hog, the monarch seemingly of the herd, was standing in the middle of the current. Such was the scene which I saw from the bridge, a scene of quiet rural life well suited to the brushes of two or three of the old Dutch painters, or to those of men scarcely inferior to them in their own style, Gainsborough, Moreland, and Crome. My mind for the last half-hour had been in a highly excited state; I had been repeating verses of old Huw Morris, brought to my recollection by the sight of his dwelling- place; they were ranting roaring verses, against the Roundheads. I admired the vigour but disliked the principles which they displayed; and admiration on the one hand and disapproval on the other, bred a commotion in my mind like that raised on the sea when tide runs one way and wind blows another. The quiet scene from the bridge, however, produced a sedative effect on my mind, and when I resumed my journey I had forgotten Huw, his verses, and all about Roundheads and Cavaliers.

I reached Llanarmon, another small village, situated in a valley through which the Ceiriog or a river very similar to it flows. It is half-way between Llangollen and Llan Rhyadr, being ten miles from each. I went to a small inn or public-house, sat down and called for ale. A waggoner was seated at a large table with a newspaper before him on which he was intently staring.

"What news?" said I in English.

"I wish I could tell you," said he in very broken English, "but I cannot read."

"Then why are you looking at the paper?" said I.

"Because," said he, "by looking at the letters I hope in time to make them out."

"You may look at them," said I, "for fifty years without being able to make out one. You should go to an evening school."

"I am too old," said he, "to do so now; if I did the children would laugh at me."

"Never mind their laughing at you," said I, "provided you learn to read; let them laugh who win!"

"You give good advice, mester," said he, "I think I shall follow it."

"Let me look at the paper," said I.

He handed it to me. It was a Welsh paper, and full of dismal accounts from the seat of war.

"What news, mester?" said the waggoner.

"Nothing but bad," said I; "the Russians are beating us and the French too."

"If the Rusiaid beat us," said the waggoner, "it is because the Francod are with us. We should have gone alone."

"Perhaps you are right," said I; "at any rate we could not have fared worse than we are faring now."

I presently paid for what I had had, inquired the way to Llan Rhyadr, and departed.

The village of Llanarmon takes its name from its church, which is dedicated to Garmon, an Armorican bishop, who with another called Lupus came over into Britain in order to preach against the heresy of Pelagius. He and his colleague resided for some time in Flintshire, and whilst there enabled in a remarkable manner the Britons to achieve a victory over those mysterious people the Picts, who were ravaging the country far and wide. Hearing that the enemy were advancing towards Mold, the two bishops gathered together a number of the Britons, and placed them in ambush in a dark valley through which it was necessary for the Picts to pass in order to reach Mold, strictly enjoining them to remain quiet till all their enemies should have entered the valley and then do whatever they should see them, the two bishops, do. The Picts arrived, and when they were about half-way through the valley the two bishops stepped forward from a thicket and began crying aloud, "Alleluia!" The Britons followed their example, and the wooded valley resounded with cries of "Alleluia! Alleluia!" The shouts and the unexpected appearance of thousands of men caused such terror to the Picts that they took to flight in the greatest confusion; hundreds were trampled to death by their companions, and not a few were drowned in the river Alan8 which runs through the valley.

There are several churches dedicated to Garmon in Wales, but whether there are any dedicated to Lupus I am unable to say. After leaving Llanarmon I found myself amongst lumpy hills through which the road led in the direction of the south. Arriving where several roads met I followed one and became bewildered amidst hills and ravines. At last I saw a small house close by a nant or dingle, and turned towards it for the purpose of inquiring my way. On my knocking at the door a woman made her appearance, of whom I asked in Welsh whether I was in the road to Llan Rhyadr. She said that I was out of it, but that if I went towards the south I should see a path on my left which would bring me to it. I asked her how far it was to Llan Rhyadr.

"Four long miles," she replied.

"And what is the name of the place where we are now?" said I.

"Cae Hir" (the long inclosure), said she.

"Are you alone in the house?" said I.

"Quite alone," said she; "but my husband and people will soon be home from the field, for it is getting dusk."

"Have you any Saxon?" said I.

"Not a word," said she, "have I of the iaith dieithr, nor has my husband, nor any one of my people."

I bade her farewell, and soon reached the road, which led south and north. As I was bound for the south I strode forward briskly in that direction. The road was between romantic hills; heard Welsh songs proceeding from the hill fields on my right, and the murmur of a brook rushing down a deep nant on my left. I went on till I came to a collection of houses which an old woman, with a cracked voice and a small tin milk-pail, whom I assisted in getting over a stile into the road, told me was called Pen Strit - probably the head of the street. She spoke English, and on my asking her how she had learnt the English tongue, she told me that she had learnt it of her mother who was an English woman. She said that I was two miles from Llan Rhyadr, and that I must go straight forward. I did so till I reached a place where the road branched into two, one bearing somewhat to the left, and the other to the right. After standing a minute in perplexity I took the right-hand road, but soon guessed that I had taken the wrong one, as the road dwindled into a mere footpath. Hearing some one walking on the other side of the hedge I inquired in Welsh whether I was going right for Llan Rhyadr, and was answered by a voice in English, apparently that of a woman, that I was not, and that I must go back. I did so, and presently a woman came through a gate to me.

"Are you the person," said I, "who just now answered me in English after I had spoken in Welsh?"

"In truth I am," said she, with a half laugh.

"And how came you to answer me in English after I had spoken to you in Welsh?"

"Because," said she, "it was easy enough to know by your voice that you were an Englishman."

"You speak English remarkably well," said I.

"And so do you Welsh," said the woman; "I had no idea that it was possible for any Englishman to speak Welsh half so well."

"I wonder," thought I to myself, "what you would have answered if I had said that you speak English execrably." By her own account she could read both Welsh and English. She walked by my side to the turn, and then up the left-hand road, which she said was the way to Llan Rhyadr. Coming to a cottage she bade me good-night and went in. The road was horribly miry: presently, as I was staggering through a slough, just after I had passed a little cottage, I heard a cracked voice crying, "I suppose you lost your way?" I recognised it as that of the old woman whom I had helped over the stile. She was now standing behind a little gate which opened into a garden before the cottage. The figure of a man was standing near her. I told her that she was quite right in her supposition.

"Ah," said she, "you should have gone straight forward."

"If I had gone straight forward," said I, "I must have gone over a hedge, at the corner of a field which separated two roads; instead of bidding me go straight forward you should have told me to follow the left-hand road."

"Well," said she, "be sure you keep straight forward now."

I asked her who the man was standing near her.

"It is my husband," said she.

"Has he much English?" said I.

"None at all," said she, "for his mother was not English, like mine." I bade her good-night and went forward. Presently I came to a meeting of roads, and to go straight forward it was necessary to pass through a quagmire; remembering, however, the words of my friend the beldame I went straight forward, though in so doing I was sloughed up to the knees. In a little time I came to rapid descent, and at the bottom of it to a bridge. It was now very dark; only the corner of the moon was casting a faint light. After crossing the bridge I had one or two ascents and descents. At last I saw lights before me which proved to be those of Llan Rhyadr. I soon found myself in a dirty little street, and, inquiring for the inn, was kindly shown by a man to one which he said was the best, and which was called the Wynstay Arms.


Inn at Llan Rhyadr - A low Englishman - Enquiries - The Cook - A Precious Couple.

THE inn seemed very large, but did not look very cheerful. No other guest than myself seemed to be in it, except in the kitchen, where I heard a fellow talking English and occasionally yelling an English song: the master and the mistress of the house were civil, and lighted me a fire in what was called the Commercial Room, and putting plenty of coals in the grate soon made the apartment warm and comfortable. I ordered dinner or rather supper, which in about half-an-hour was brought in by the woman. The supper whether good or bad I despatched with the appetite of one who had walked twenty miles over hill and dale.

Occasionally I heard a dreadful noise in the kitchen, and the woman told me that the fellow there was making himself exceedingly disagreeable, chiefly she believed because she had refused to let him sleep in the house. She said that he was a low fellow that went about the country with fish, and that he was the more ready to insult her as the master of the house was now gone out. I asked if he was an Englishman, "Yes," said she, "a low Englishman."

"Then he must be low indeed," said I. "A low Englishman is the lowest of the low." After a little time I heard no more noise, and was told that the fellow was gone away. I had a little whisky and water, and then went to bed, sleeping in a tolerable chamber but rather cold. There was much rain during the night and also wind; windows rattled, and I occasionally heard the noise of falling tiles.

I arose about eight. Notwithstanding the night had been so tempestuous the morning was sunshiny and beautiful. Having ordered breakfast I walked out in order to look at the town. Llan Rhyadr is a small place, having nothing remarkable in it save an ancient church and a strange little antique market-house, standing on pillars. It is situated at the western end of an extensive valley and at the entrance of a glen. A brook or rivulet runs through it, which comes down the glen from the celebrated cataract, which is about four miles distant to the west. Two lofty mountains form the entrance of the glen, and tower above the town, one on the south and the other on the north. Their names, if they have any, I did not learn.

After strolling about the little place for about a quarter of an hour, staring at the things and the people, and being stared at by the latter, I returned to my inn, a structure built in the modern Gothic style, and which stands nearly opposite to the churchyard. Whilst breakfasting I asked the landlady, who was bustling about the room, whether she had ever heard of Owen Glendower.

"In truth, sir, I have. He was a great gentleman who lived a long time ago, and, and - "

"Gave the English a great deal of trouble," said I.

"Just so, sir; at least I daresay it is so, as you say it."

"And do you know where he lived?"

"I do not, sir; I suppose a great way off, somewhere in the south."

"Do you mean South Wales?"

"In truth, sir, I do."

"There you are mistaken," said I; "and also in supposing he lived a great way off. He lived in North Wales, and not far from this place."

"In truth, sir, you know more about him than I."

"Did you ever hear of a place called Sycharth?

"Sycharth! Sycharth! I never did, sir."

"It is the place where Glendower lived, and it is not far off. I want to go there, but do not know the way."

"Sycharth! Sycharth!" said the landlady musingly: "I wonder if it is the place we call Sychnant."

"Is there such a place?"

"Yes, sure; about six miles from here, near Langedwin."

"What kind of place is it?"

"In truth, sir, I do not know, for I was never there. My cook, however, in the kitchen, knows all about it, for she comes from there."

"Can I see her?"

"Yes, sure; I will go at once and fetch her."

She then left the room and presently returned with the cook, a short, thick girl with blue staring eyes.

"Here she is, sir," said the landlady, "but she has no English."

"All the better," said I. "So you come from a place called Sychnant?" said I to the cook in Welsh.

"In truth, sir, I do;" said the cook.

"Did you ever hear of a gwr boneddig called Owen Glendower?"

"Often, sir, often; he lived in our place."

"He lived in a place called Sycharth?" said I.

"Well, sir; and we of the place call it Sycharth as often as Sychnant; nay, oftener."

"Is his house standing?"

"It is not; but the hill on which it stood is still standing."

"Is it a high hill?"

"It is not; it is a small, light hill."

"A light hill!" said I to myself. "Old Iolo Goch, Owen Glendower's bard, said the chieftain dwelt in a house on a light hill.

"'There dwells the chief we all extol In timber house on lightsome knoll.'

"Is there a little river near it," said I to the cook, "a ffrwd?"

"There is; it runs just under the hill."

"Is there a mill upon the ffrwd?"

"There is not; that is, now - but there was in the old time; a factory of woollen stands now where the mill once stood."

"'A mill a rushing brook upon And pigeon tower fram'd of stone.'

"So says Iolo Goch," said I to myself, "in his description of Sycharth; I am on the right road."

I asked the cook to whom the property of Sycharth belonged and was told of course to Sir Watkin, who appears to be the Marquis of Denbighshire. After a few more questions I thanked her and told her she might go. I then finished my breakfast, paid my bill, and after telling the landlady that I should return at night, started for Llangedwin and Sycharth.

A broad and excellent road led along the valley in the direction in which I was proceeding.

The valley was beautiful and dotted with various farm-houses, and the land appeared to be in as high a state of cultivation as the soil of my own Norfolk, that county so deservedly celebrated for its agriculture. The eastern side is bounded by lofty hills, and towards the north the vale is crossed by three rugged elevations, the middlemost of which, called, as an old man told me, Bryn Dinas, terminates to the west in an exceedingly high and picturesque crag.

After an hour's walking I overtook two people, a man and a woman laden with baskets which hung around them on every side. The man was a young fellow of about eight-and-twenty, with a round face, fair flaxen hair, and rings in his ears; the female was a blooming buxom lass of about eighteen. After giving them the sele of the day I asked them if they were English.

"Aye, aye, master," said the man; "we are English."

"Where do you come from?" said I.

"From Wrexham," said the man.

"I thought Wrexham was in Wales," said

"If it be," said the man, "the people are not Welsh; a man is not a horse because he happens to be born in a stable."

"Is that young woman your wife?" said I.

"Yes;" said he, "after a fashion" - and then he leered at the lass, and she leered at him.

"Do you attend any place of worship?" said I.

"A great many, master!"

"What place do you chiefly attend?" said I.

"The Chequers, master!"

"Do they preach the best sermons there?" said I.

"No, master! but they sell the best ale there."

"Do you worship ale?" said I.

"Yes, master, I worships ale."

"Anything else?" said I.

"Yes, master! I and my mort worships something besides good ale; don't we, Sue?" and then he leered at the mort, who leered at him, and both made odd motions backwards and forwards, causing the baskets which hung round them to creak and rustle, and uttering loud shouts of laughter, which roused the echoes of the neighbouring hills.

"Genuine descendants, no doubt," said I to myself as I walked briskly on, "of certain of the old heathen Saxons who followed Rag into Wales and settled down about the house which he built. Really, if these two are a fair specimen of the Wrexham population, my friend the Scotch policeman was not much out when he said that the people of Wrexham were the worst people in Wales."


Sycharth - The Kindly Welcome - Happy Couple - Sycharth - Recalling the Dead - Ode to Sycharth.

I WAS now at the northern extremity of the valley near a great house past which the road led in the direction of the north-east. Seeing a man employed in breaking stones I inquired the way to Sychnant.

"You must turn to the left," said he, "before you come to yon great house, follow the path which you will find behind it, and you will soon be in Sychnant."

"And to whom does the great house belong?"

"To whom? why, to Sir Watkin."

"Does he reside there?"

"Not often. He has plenty of other houses, but he sometimes comes there to hunt."

"What is the place's name?"

"Llan Gedwin."

I turned to the left, as the labourer had directed me. The path led upward behind the great house round a hill thickly planted with trees. Following it I at length found myself on a broad road on the top extending east and west, and having on the north and south beautiful wooded hills. I followed the road which presently began to descend. On reaching level ground I overtook a man in a waggoner's frock, of whom I inquired the way to Sycharth. He pointed westward down the vale to what appeared to be a collection of houses, near a singular-looking monticle, and said, "That is Sycharth."

We walked together till we came to a road which branched off on the right to a little bridge.

"That is your way," said he, and pointing to a large building beyond the bridge, towering up above a number of cottages, he said, "that is the factory of Sycharth;" he then left me, following the high road, whilst I proceeded towards the bridge, which I crossed, and coming to the cottages entered one on the right hand of a remarkably neat appearance.

In a comfortable kitchen by a hearth on which blazed a cheerful billet sat a man and woman. Both arose when I entered: the man was tall, about fifty years of age, and athletically built; he was dressed in a white coat, corduroy breeches, shoes, and grey worsted stockings. The woman seemed many years older than the man; she was tall also, and strongly built, and dressed in the ancient female costume, namely, a kind of round, half Spanish hat, long blue woollen kirtle or gown, a crimson petticoat, and white apron, and broad, stout shoes with buckles.

"Welcome, stranger," said the man, after looking me a moment or two full in the face.

"Croesaw, dyn dieithr - welcome, foreign man," said the woman, surveying me with a look of great curiosity.

"Won't you sit down?" said the man, handing me a chair.

I sat down, and the man and woman resumed their seats.

"I suppose you come on business connected with the factory?" said the man.

"No," said I, "my business is connected with Owen Glendower."

"With Owen Glendower?" said the man, staring.

"Yes," said I, "I came to see his place."

"You will not see much of his house now," said the man - "it is down; only a few bricks remain."

"But I shall see the place where his house stood," said I, "which is all I expected to see."

"Yes, you can see that."

"What does the dyn dieithr say?" said the woman in Welsh with an inquiring look.

"That he is come to see the place of Owen Glendower."

"Ah!" said the woman with a smile.

"Is that good lady your wife?" said I.

"She is."

"She looks much older than yourself."

"And no wonder. She is twenty-one years older."

"How old are you?"


"Dear me," said I, "what a difference in your ages. How came you to marry?"

"She was a widow and I had lost my wife. We were lone in the world, so we thought we would marry."

"Do you live happily together?"


"Then you did quite right to marry. What is your name?"

"David Robert."

"And that of your wife?"

"Gwen Robert."

"Does she speak English?"

"She speaks some, but not much."

"Is the place where Owen lived far from here?"

"It is not. It is the round hill a little way above the factory."

"Is the path to it easy to find?"

"I will go with you," said the man. "I work at the factory, but I need not go there for an hour at least."

He put on his hat and bidding me follow him went out. He led me over a gush of water which passing under the factory turns the wheel; thence over a field or two towards a house at the foot of the mountain where he said the steward of Sir Watkin lived, of whom it would be as well to apply for permission to ascend the hill, as it was Sir Watkin's ground. The steward was not at home; his wife was, however, and she, when we told her we wished to go to the top of Owain Glendower's Hill, gave us permission with a smile. We thanked her and proceeded to mount the hill or monticle once the residence of the great Welsh chieftain, whom his own deeds and the pen of Shakespear have rendered immortal.

Owen Glendower's hill or mount at Sycharth, unlike the one bearing his name on the banks of the Dee, is not an artificial hill, but the work of nature, save and except that to a certain extent it has been modified by the hand of man. It is somewhat conical and consists of two steps or gradations, where two fosses scooped out of the hill go round it, one above the other, the lower one embracing considerably the most space. Both these fosses are about six feet deep, and at one time doubtless were bricked, as stout large, red bricks are yet to be seen, here and there, in their sides. The top of the mount is just twenty-five feet across. When I visited it it was covered with grass, but had once been subjected to the plough as various furrows indicated. The monticle stands not far from the western extremity of the valley, nearly midway between two hills which confront each other north and south, the one to the south being the hill which I had descended, and the other a beautiful wooded height which is called in the parlance of the country Llwyn Sycharth or the grove of Sycharth, from which comes the little gush of water which I had crossed, and which now turns the wheel of the factory and once turned that of Owen Glendower's mill, and filled his two moats, part of the water by some mechanical means having been forced up the eminence. On the top of this hill or monticle in a timber house dwelt the great Welshman Owen Glendower, with his wife, a comely, kindly woman, and his progeny, consisting of stout boys and blooming girls, and there, though wonderfully cramped for want of room, he feasted bards who requited his hospitality with alliterative odes very difficult to compose, and which at the present day only a few book- worms understand. There he dwelt for many years, the virtual if not the nominal king of North Wales, occasionally no doubt looking down with self-complaisance from the top of his fastness on the parks and fish-ponds of which he had several; his mill, his pigeon tower, his ploughed lands, and the cottages of a thousand retainers, huddled round the lower part of the hill, or strewn about the valley; and there he might have lived and died had not events caused him to draw the sword and engage in a war, at the termination of which Sycharth was a fire-scathed ruin, and himself a broken-hearted old man in anchorite's weeds, living in a cave on the estate of Sir John Scudamore, the great Herefordshire proprietor, who married his daughter Elen, his only surviving child.

After I had been a considerable time on the hill looking about me and asking questions of my guide, I took out a piece of silver and offered it to him, thanking him at the same time for the trouble he had taken in showing me the place. He refused it, saying that I was quite welcome.

I tried to force it upon him.

"I will not take it," said he; "but if you come to my house and have a cup of coffee, you may give sixpence to my old woman."

"I will come," said I, "in a short time. In the meanwhile do you go; I wish to be alone."

"What do you want to do?"

"To sit down and endeavour to recall Glendower, and the times that are past."

The fine fellow looked puzzled; at last he said, "Very well," shrugged his shoulders, and descended the hill.

When he was gone I sat down on the brow of the hill, and with my face turned to the east began slowly to chant a translation made by myself in the days of my boyhood of an ode to Sycharth composed by Iolo Goch when upwards of a hundred years old, shortly after his arrival at that place, to which he had been invited by Owen Glendower:-

Twice have I pledg'd my word to thee
To come thy noble face to see;
His promises let every man
Perform as far as e'er he can!
Full easy is the thing that's sweet,
And sweet this journey is and meet;
I've vowed to Owain's court to go,
And I'm resolved to keep my vow;
So thither straight I'll take my way
With blithesome heart, and there I'll stay,
Respect and honour, whilst I breathe,
To find his honour'd roof beneath.
My chief of long lin'd ancestry
Can harbour sons of poesy;
I've heard, for so the muse has told,
He's kind and gentle to the old;
Yes, to his castle I will hie;
There's none to match it 'neath the sky:
It is a baron's stately court,
Where bards for sumptuous fare resort;
There dwells the lord of Powis land,
Who granteth every just demand.
Its likeness now I'll limn you out:
'Tis water girdled wide about;
It shows a wide and stately door
Reached by a bridge the water o'er;
'Tis formed of buildings coupled fair,
Coupled is every couple there;
Within a quadrate structure tall
Muster the merry pleasures all.
Conjointly are the angles bound -
No flaw in all the place is found.
Structures in contact meet the eye
Upon the hillock's top on high;
Into each other fastened they
The form of a hard knot display.
There dwells the chief we all extol
In timber house on lightsome knoll;
Upon four wooden columns proud
Mounteth his mansion to the cloud;
Each column's thick and firmly bas'd,
And upon each a loft is plac'd;
In these four lofts, which coupled stand,
Repose at night the minstrel band;
Four lofts they were in pristine state,
But now partitioned form they eight.
Tiled is the roof, on each house-top
Rise smoke-ejecting chimneys up.
All of one form there are nine halls
Each with nine wardrobes in its walls
With linen white as well supplied
As fairest shops of fam'd Cheapside.
Behold that church with cross uprais'd
And with its windows neatly glaz'd;
All houses are in this comprest -
An orchard's near it of the best,
Also a park where void of fear
Feed antler'd herds of fallow deer.
A warren wide my chief can boast,
Of goodly steeds a countless host.
Meads where for hay the clover grows,
Corn-fields which hedges trim inclose,
A mill a rushing brook upon,
And pigeon tower fram'd of stone;
A fish-pond deep and dark to see,
To cast nets in when need there be,
Which never yet was known to lack
A plenteous store of perch and jack.
Of various plumage birds abound;
Herons and peacocks haunt around,
What luxury doth his hall adorn,
Showing of cost a sovereign scorn;
His ale from Shrewsbury town he brings;
His usquebaugh is drink for kings;
Bragget he keeps, bread white of look,
And, bless the mark! a bustling cook.
His mansion is the minstrels' home,
You'll find them there whene'er you come
Of all her sex his wife's the best;
The household through her care is blest
She's scion of a knightly tree,
She's dignified, she's kind and free.
His bairns approach me, pair by pair,
O what a nest of chieftains fair!
Here difficult it is to catch
A sight of either bolt or latch;
The porter's place here none will fill;
Her largess shall be lavish'd still,
And ne'er shall thirst or hunger rude
In Sycharth venture to intrude.
A noble leader, Cambria's knight,
The lake possesses, his by right,
And midst that azure water plac'd,
The castle, by each pleasure grac'd.

And when I had finished repeating these lines I said, "How much more happy, innocent, and holy, I was in the days of my boyhood when I translate Iolo's ode than I am at the present time!" Then covering my face with my hands I wept like a child.

8 The above account is chiefly taken from the curious Welsh book called "Dych y prif Oesoedd."

George Borrow, Wild Wales: Its People, Language and Scenery (Oxford, Mississippi, 1996)

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