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knowing, when we get up in the morning, what lies between us and our pillow at night.
Those whispered words had never passed my lips before. Why did they pass them now? I could have no particular wish to repose such dangerous Neither had any
confidence in a man I had never seen till that moment.
thing then taken place between us, to lead to such a wish. What was the Editor of the KENTISH OBSERVER to me, or I to him, that I should make a disclosure which at once knitted us in the closest bonds of fellowship? Can the thing be rationally accounted for, on any other principle than that of pre-ordination? It was to be,-that we should thus meet-and on that particular day-and in Thanington church-yard-and that then and there, and no where else, we should hold a conversation, which ended in our walking back to Canterbury together; and that as we crossed the Dane John, we should determine to bring out the CANTERBURY MAGAZINE together.
If any body thinks he can give a better explanation of the affair, he is at liberty to try.
St. Mary-Axe, London,
June 16, 1834.
LEAVES FROM MY WELCH* NOTE BOOK.
BY TIMOTHY HUNDY, ESQ.
LEAF THE FIRST.
Have you ever been in Wales? Have you ever climbed a hill loftier than St. Martin's, or seen one more gigantic than St. Thomas'? If you are in no condition to answer both these interrogatories in the affirmative, I shall despair of making you comprehend,—to feel is out of the question-the sublime and majestic scenery of Wales. The lover of stupendous nature, of nature in her wildest and most desolate attributes, or clothed in every varied form of the picturesque and imaginative, roams foreign climes to gratify his taste. He ascends the Alps or the Apennines-he wanders among the Sabine hills, or the rugged passes of the Tyrol; he seeks the shores of the Adriatic; trembles beneath the glaciers of Swisserland, or dwells, with ecstacy, on the bold, beetling precipices that wall in the mighty Rhine.-Perhaps, he stretches across the Atlantic, and approaches, with awe, the thundering falls of Niagara, or with wonder, the less imposing ones of Potomac.
Well-he is not disappointed. But, saving the two last, I will venture to say, or rather to repeat, (for the assertion has been made before, by others,) that in the Principality of Wales, from Usk to Conway, from Cardigan Bay to the Wye, he will find every foreign beauty that ever captivated his sight. Delicious woody vales-banks of rivers savagely grand-towns, romantically rural-glens, horribly wild-deep dingles and mighty woody slopes-mountainous forests, blending gigantic size with graceful formsthe sweetest interchange of hill, valley, rivers, woods, and plains,-falls crowned with forests, rocks, dens, and caves,—in short, all that can be considered as objects of the painter's eye or poet's mind, are there concentrated.
There is the Devils's Bridge-neither poet nor painter can place its wonders before the eye. It must be seen; and once seen, it can never be forgotten. The scenery of this place burst upon me suddenly, as I gained the
*I agree with the Rev. Archdeacon Nares, (Elements of Orthoepy, p. 318) that this word should be written Welch, not Welsh, and therefore I write it so. “I observe” says that erudite linguist, “ that ch is usual in nouns whenever a consonant precedes the final letters, as Dutch, French, Scotch; sh is always preceded by an i, as English, Irish, Scottish, &c. Nor is the form of Ich repugnant to the use of our language, for we have several words so terminated, as filch, milch &c. I should therefore write Welch."
summit of a hill whose toilsome though gradual ascent was nearly three miles. Immediately below, lay a profound chasm, stretching east and west about a mile, the almost perpendicular sides of which are covered with trees of different kinds. At the bottom of this abyss runs the river Mynach, "its roaring tide hidden from the eye by the deep shade of surrounding woods but bursting upon the ear in the awful sound of many waters,' in the thunder of numerous cataracts, leaping from ledge to ledge, and lashing the hollows of excavated rocks which reverberate and multiply the roar."Above, rise the hills of Cardiganshire, bleak, barren, and dark, assuming the most fantastic shapes, and thrown about in the wildest confusion; while the horizon is bounded by the lofty tops of the more important mountains of Montgomeryshire and Merioneth, among which the huge broad head of Plynlimmon exalts itself to the skies.
In one of my early morning walks I was fortunately witness of a scene, common enough in the winter, but of unfrequent occurrence in the summer. It was in the month of June that I beheld it. There was a cold, dense, raw fog, when I sallied forth; so thick, that no object was visible at the distance of two yards. With a due regard for my neck and limbs, whatever may be thought of my disregard of a catarrh, I kept along a broad and secure footpath, where I knew there were no romantic chasms or picturesque precipices in my way.
I had walked about three miles thus, as completely shut out from the glorious scenery by which I was surrounded, as if a vast curtain hung between me and it; when at length this curtain began to be drawn up. There is nothing in art to which this performance of nature can be more aptly compared; for, literally, the misty drapery slowly rolled itself, in voluminous folds, from the depths of the vallies, in thickening and darker masses to the mountain tops, where they rested like an undulating canopy of clouds. But the magical effect of the retiring vapor,-unveiling at once the bright, joyous sun, and the landscape smiling in his beams! It was, indeed, like enchantment. One by one, each feature of the scene became visible; the cultivated slopes of the green hills, meadows, and corn fields-white cottages and farm houses-sheep walks, and cattle pasturing on the more elevated spots-dark, barren promontories-and, last not least, the Rheidol, threading its winding course, so silvery and quiet, through a beautiful glen or valley, which the eye commanded for a space of nearly two miles. A November fog, in London, fuliginous and rank, which hides nothing but dirty brick walls and dirtier streets, and the grey, poetical, Ossianic mist of the mountains, which obscures such a sight as I have attempted to describe, are two very different things.
Nor is it inanimate nature only, that is beautiful, in this region. The women are exceedingly pretty—I was going to say young women-but who ever saw a pretty old woman? And in Wales, by the way, the old women are pre-eminently ugly, with an odious propensity to beards. I do not say that every old woman in Wales would be the better for shaving; but I do say that I have seen there more old women with bristly chins than I ever saw in England. And as to their ugliness, I maintain, meo periculo, that they are the most perfect specimens of what I would call hard, coarse, menlooking old women, when they get to be about that unmentionable age at which women are old, that it is possible to conceive. There you see them, stalking about, in their black beaver hats, their long, black, hooded cloaks, their red silk handkerchiefs, tied under their hats so as to cover their ears and hang down in a comfortable peaked tail behind, their generally sallow complexions, and their short petticoats, displaying substantial legs, and shoes that I should think are like Parliament, septennial in duration.
But though I never saw one nice old woman in Wales, (I have not time to describe what I mean by that phrase,) I met with many that I would call picturesque old women, in lonely paths of the mountains, whom, were I superstitious, I could have invested with all the qualities which are supposed to belong to the wierd sisters of Shakspeare.
The young women, (as I have already said), are remarkably pretty, and what the deuce they do with their prettiness when they get old, I cannot imagine. I speak now of the peasant girls, such as you see on a market day in any Welch town, with their baskets on their arms, containing eggs, butter, or live poultry. The general style of their faces (with exceptions of course) is of the Vestris kind, without the blemish, as I consider it, of that fascinating actress's mouth. They have all dark eyes, clear, healthful complexions, teeth beautifully white, and something approaching to archness in their look and manner. It is not to be concluded, however, that every Welch girl is a beauty; though what I have described is, I think, what would be the general impression upon a stranger. What they are in mind and conversation, I really cannot tell; not that my modesty stood in the way of ascertaining the point; but they spoke Welch, and I did not; so we had no means of making ourselves mutually agreeable.
It has a curious effect, at first, finding yourself in part of the British dominions where nine out of every ten you meet, speak a foreign language; while the tenth talks English with the accent of a foreigner. Except in the towns, indeed, very few of the Welch can speak English; and their native language is alike unreadable by the eye, and unpronounceable by the tongue. What do you think, for example, of the following, which is nothing more than "Have you any thing for dinner?" in Welch, "A des gyda chwi ryw beth i giniaw?" Or this word, which simply signifies the pronoun "that"-" hwnnw." The number of consonants in the Welch language makes it look unpronounceable; and though, of necessity, these consonants acquire the force of vowels, when pronounced, they occasionally require sounds to pronounce them, which do great violence to the organs of speech.
Here I may be allowed to express my regret that they who had the care of my education never thought of having me taught Welch. The neglect proved a source of many serious inconveniences to me before I got out of the principality. When I first entered it, I very innocently inquired the name of every place I came to, and of every unknown object I met with; but the answers I received were just as intelligible as if I had been travelling among the Maygars, whose Hogy-Wogy-Pogy poetry, Dr. Bowring has so beautifully translated. The alphabet was no assistance The first effort I made was at a turnpike gate, between Pennybont and Rhayadar, in Radnorshire. The name of the gate was painted on the toll-board, and consisted of about eleven consonants and one vowel, as thus-Cwmbdfgorbdt. I asked the oldwoman in a man's hat, who kept it, "what was the name of the gate?"-" Cumbodfigorbith, Sir Cumbodfigorbith" I repeated as I walked on. "Cumbodfigorbith-Cumbodfi-" but I immediately stopped to write it down in my note book, quite satisfied "Cumbodfigorbith" was not a word to be carried safely in any other way, for another yard.
While in Wales I ascertained two curious facts connected with Welch zoology: that Welch rabbits and Welch goats, contrary to the generally received notion, are both remarkably scarce. I did not see either, during the whole time I was in the country. The latter, I understood, are now to be met with only in North Wales, and that but rarely; while the former, by all I could learn, were to be found in perfection only at the Mitre in Fleetstreet. However, upon this point I may have been misinformed; so I would not have the reader too rashly conclude that there is no such thing as a Welch rabbit on the other side of the Severn. With regard to Welch goats I am more positive. I certainly did not see one; though in my eagerness to do so, I believe I mistook an old ram upon a high mountain for that odoriferous quadruped, till, by the aid of my glass, (a pocket telescope), I discovered my mistake. My ram, however, was quite as good, in one respect, as Gray's goat, "who danced and scratched an ear with its hind foot in a place where he (the poet) would not have stood stock still, for all beneath the moon.'"-(Letter to Dr. Warton) He did not dance; but he scratched both ears quite at his ease.
[Mr. OLDCASTLE always reads at breakfast, at tea, and while smoking his meerschaum, which he prefers to a cigar, because he finds it cheaper, and better for the eyes. Two hours, out of every four-and-twenty, upon a moderate calculation, are thus devoted to what Milton calls "the precious life blood of a master spirit," i. e. "good books"-and as, in the course of this reading he sometimes meets with curious, fanciful, instructive, and out-of-the-way things, he does not think his readers will be displeased if he introduce a few of them, each month, to their notice. Nothing shall be selected at second hand; but all fresh gathered from his own garden, which contains about five hundred rare plants, both natives and exotics.]
Lord Chesterfield giving his poetical opinion on the tragedy of Cato, remarked, on the passage with which that tragedy commences
The dawn is overcast, the morning lours,
That it merely related what a watchman told every body when he cried out "Past four o'clock and a cloudy morning.”
"I must now tell you a story. Superstition and ignorance go together, and cruelty generally follows them. Poland is still as dark as England was four hundred years ago. The people there have a notion that a Jew's child will never see, unless his eyes are rubbed with Christian blood. I inquired upon what foundation such a belief had been introduced, and was told by a bishop that about two hundred years ago, a ship that belonged to some Jews, freighted with wine, was stranded upon the coast of Crim Tartary, and the Tartars plundered it. In one of the hogsheads was found a small runlet filled with blood, which these Jews confessed to be Christians' blood for their children's eyes. Upon this improbable foundation, the Poles have established their faith; which, however, I believe they would not have done unless they had found their account in it; for, at present, whenever a Jew in Poland is suspected of the unpardonable crime of being rich, some villainous Pole kills a Christian child, and, in the night time, lays it before the Jew's door, and the corpse being found there in the morning, is looked upon to be a sufficient proof of the murder; and the Jew, unless he can buy himself off, is burnt. I am almost ashamed to tell you that nine poor wretches were burnt upon this sort of proof when I was last in Poland."(Letter of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams to the Rev. Mr. Birt, dated Dresden, April 20, 1755.-See Works, vol. III. p. 93.)
"there was a
Aubrey, in his " Miscellanies," speaking of Charles I. says, seam in the middle of his forehead downwards; which is a very ill sign in metoposcopy," (physiognomy). This was a received notion of the times. In Ber. Johnson's "Alchemist" the following passage occurs:
Face. Doctor, how cam'st thou to know this so soon?
I am amaz'd at that!
By a rule Captain
In metoposcopy which I do work by;
A certain star i' the forehead which you see not.
Does the English language, does any language, contain a nobler or more touching sentiment than the following, by Hooker?-the "judicious Hooker," as his royal mistress, Elizabeth, first called him, and as he has ever
since been called with the same inseparable adjunct as we speak of the "venerable Bede."*"There will come a time, when three words uttered with charity and meekness, shall receive a far more blessed reward, than three thousand volumes written with disdainful sharpness of wit." (Pref. to Ecclesiastical Polity, p. 8. Edit. 1662.)
KENTISH LONG-TAILS.-Fuller, in his "Worthies," says mistaken who found this proverb on a miracle of Austin the Monk, who, preaching in an English village and being himself and his associates beat and abused by the Pagans there, who opprobriously tied fish tails to their —; (old Fuller is too plain-spoken for these days-but I dare say the reader can guess where a monkey's tail may be found) in revenge thereof such appendants grew to the kind parts of all that generation. For the scene of this lying wonder was not laid in any part of Kent, but pretended many miles off, nigh Cerne in Dorsetshire; I conceive it first of outlandish extraction, and cast by foreigners as a note of disgrace on all Englishmen, though it chanceth to stick only on the Kentish at this day."-A different, and I hope the reader will think a much more probable, account of this deserved punishment of our irreverent progenitors, is given by Polydore Virgil, according to the following passage, in Lord Herbert of Cherbury's Life of Henry VIII. (p.500.) "I will report" says he, "some part of his (Becket's) life; not out of his legend or indeed Polydore Virgil, who most fabulously affirms that certain men in Kent, for cutting off Becket's horse-tail, their progeny ever after, as long as any of them remained, had tails like beasts." [I wish some of my correspondents would let me know whether the race is extinct.]
The mention of Lord Herbert's name, is a strong inducement to say something of that extraordinary man, who, as Granger observes, "stands in the first rank of the public ministers, historians, and philosophers of his age.” His "Life and Reign of Henry VIII." has ever been esteemed one of the best histories in the English language. His books, " de Veritate," and "De Religione Gentilium," are well known: but his "Life," written by himself and printed at Strawberry Hill, 1764, a small quarto of one hundred and seventy pages, is perhaps not so well known. I shall, therefore, borrow from it a singular instance of superstitious enthusiasm.
Being in "great debate with himself," whether he should publish his book "De Veritate," he addressed the following prayer to God, to know his will upon the subject. His words are these:
Being thus doubtful in my chamber, one fair day in the summer, my casement being opened towards the South, the sun shining clear, and no wind stirring, I took my book De Veritate in my hand; and kneeling on my knees devoutly said these words:
"O thou eternal God, author of the light which now shines upon me, and giver of all inward illuminations, I do beseech thee of thy infinite goodness to pardon a greater request than a sinner ought to make: I am not satisfied enough whether I shall publish this book De Veritate: if it be for thy glory, I beseech thee give me some sign from Heaven; if not, I shall suppress it :
"I had no sooner spoken these words but a loud though yet gentle noise came from heaven, (for it was like nothing on earth) which did so comfort and cheer me, that I took my petition as granted, and that I had the sign I demanded; whereupon, also, I resolved to print my book; this, how strange soever it may seem, I protest before the eternal God is true; neither am any way superstitiously deceived herein, since I did not only clearly hear the noise, but in the serenest sky that ever I saw, being without all cloud, did to my thinking see the
* "I wot well" says old Lambard, after quoting a miraculous story out of Bede (see his "Perambulation of Kent," p. 295. Ed. 1596) this writer is called" Venerabilis": but when I read this, and a number of such, which make the one half of his worke, say with myself, as sometime did the poet,
Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi.