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retreat from the just vengeance of his injured subjects; and that being a skilful architect and mechanic, he superintended the building of a fortress in this place.
BEDDGELERT, OH Is a village completely embosomed in mountains, whose rude sides form a fine contrast with the meadows of the vale below. Moel Hebog, the Hill of Flight, rises to a point just in front of the village. In a deep hollow high up the side of this mountain there is a cave in which Owen Glyndwr, on one of his expeditions, sought for some time a shelter from his enemies. The houses of the village are few and irregular; the church is small, but the interior, which has been recently redecorated, extremely neat.
At Beddgelert there is a most excellent inn called the Goat.
Llewelyn the Great, Prince of Wales, is said to have had a hunting seat at this place. Among many others, he possessed one greyhound, a present from his father-in-law, King John, so noted for excellence in hunting, that his fame was transmitted to posterity in four Welsh lines, which have been thus translated
The remains of famed Gêlert, so faithful and good
The bounds of the cantred conceal,
His master was sure of a meal.
During the absence of the family, tradition says, a wolf entered the house; and Llewelyn, who first returned, was met at the door by his favourite dog, which came out, covered with blood, to salute his master on his arrival. The prince, alarmed, ran into the nursery, and found his child's cradle overturned, and the ground flowing with blood. In this moment of his terror, imagining that his dog had slain his child, he plunged his sword into the animal's body, and laid him dead upon
* There was another Merlin, (frequently confounded with the above,) a native of Caledonia, called Myrddin ap Morvryn and Myrddin Wyllt, who in the year 542, when fighting under the banner of King Arthur, accidently slew his own nephew. In consequence of this he was seized with a madness which affected him every alternate hour during the rest of his life. He retired into Scotland, and in his lucid intervals composed some of the most beautiful pieces of poetry extant. This Merlin afterwards resided in North Wales, where he died; he was buried in the island of Bardsey.
+ Pronounced Bethgelert.
the spot. But on turning up the cradle he found his darling boy alive, and beside him a dead wolf. This circumstance had such an effect on the mind of the prince, that on the spot where the dog was slain he caused a church to be erected, and a tombstone to be raised over the remains of the faithful animal, which were deposited in the valley, called from this incident Bedd Gêlert, or the Grave of Gêlert. A neatly kept footpath leads to the grave from the little shrubbery opposite to the Goat Inn. From this story was derived a very common Welsh proverb, “ I repent as much as the man who slew his greyhound.”
The following beautiful stanzas, the composition of the Hon. W. R. Spencer, are founded on the above tradition. They were written at Dolmelynllyn, the seat of W. A. Madocks, Esq., after a perusal of the story in the first edition of this book.
The spearmen heard the bugle sound,
And cheerly smild the morn,
Obey'd Llewelyn's horn.
And still he blew a louder blast,
And gave a lustier cheer,
“Llewelyn's horn to hear.
Oh! where does faithful Gêlert roam,
“ The flower of all his race,
“ A lion in the chace ?"
He call’d his child, no voice replied,
He search'd with terror wild, Blood, blood he found on every side,
But nowhere found his child.
Hell-hound ! my child by thee's devour’d,”
The frantic father cried,
He plunged in Gêlert's side.
His suppliant looks, as prone he fell,
No pity could impart,
Pass'd heavy o'er his heart.
Arous'd by Gêlert's dying yell,
Some slumb'rer waken'd nigh; What words the parent's joy could tell,
To hear his infant's cry!
Conceal'd beneath a mangled heap
His hurried search had miss'd, All glowing from his rosy sleep,
The cherub boy he kiss'd.
Nor scath had he, nor harm, nor dread,
But the same couch beneath
Tremendous still in death.
Ah! what was then Llewelyn's pain!
For now the truth was clear,
To save Llewelyn's heir.
Vain, vain was all Llewelyn's woe,
“ Best of the kind, adieu ! “ The frantic blow which laid thee low,
- This heart shall ever rue.”
And now a gallant tomb they raise,
With costly sculpture deck’d, And marbles storied with his praise
Poor Gelert's bones protect.
There never could the spearman pass,
Or forester, unmov'd;
Llewelyn's sorrow prov'd.
And there he hung his horn and spear,
And there, as evening fell,
Poor Gelert's dying yell.
And cease the storm to brave,
The name of “Gelert's Grave.”
On this spot there was formerly a priory of Augustine monks, of a foundation so ancient, that Anian, Bishop of Bangor, who lived in the thirteenth century, asserts it to have been the oldest religious house in Wales except one. Part of the south walls of the present church were evidently formed from the old building. In the year 1283, this priory was so much injured by fire, that, in order to encourage benefactors to contribute towards the rebuilding of it, the bishop gave notice that he would remit to all such persons (who sincerely repented of their sins,) forty days of any penance inflicted on them.*
EXCURSION FROM BEDDGELERT TO THE SUMMIT OF
The distance from Beddgelert to the summit of Snowdon is about six miles ; this ascent is generally reckoned more difficult than that from Dolbadarn; but even from Beddgelert the summit is accessible to a Welsh pony; although, in
* The name of this priory was “ Abbey de Valle, S. Mariæ Snodonia.” Its revenues, at the dissolution, amounted to about 701. per annum.