what my wife never does." So the laugh was turned
Situation of the city — The cathedral — Tomb of Bishop Barrow —
Epitaph of Dean Lloyd — The Red Book of S.
Asaph — Dick of
Aberdaron — Parish church — Catherine of Berain — Meiriadog — •
The legend of Cynan, and of the Eleven Thousand Virgins —
Ffynnon Fair — Cefn caves — Plas Newydd — Cawr Rhufoniog —
Covered avenue — Rhuddlan — The air " Morfa Rhuddlan" — Welsh
airs — Need for careful examination and discrimination — Stories con-
nected with certain tunes — Welsh hymn tunes — Gruffyddab Llewelyn
— Constitution of Rhuddlan — Edward "Prince of Wales."
THE city of S. Asaph is pleasantly planted, for
the most part, on rising ground above the River
Elwy, in the vale of the Clwyd, which unites with the
Elwy below this miniature city.
The cathedral is small and not particularly in-
teresting, and the interior effect is spoiled by the
choir being moved under the central tower, and the
transepts being closed in to form vestries, chapter
house, consistory court, and library. The structural
choir is a mere chancel without aisles, and possibly
the dean, canons, and choristers may have felt
cramped in it ; but the alteration has robbed the
interior effect of its dignity. The clerestory windows
are square-headed, and the arches of the nave rise
from pillars without capitals. The chancel was re-
146 S. ASAPH
stored by Sir Gilbert Scott in the Early English style,
and contains some good modern glass, and some that
Outside the cathedral, at the west end, is the tomb
of Bishop Isaac Barrow, who died in 1680, with the
epitaph : " O vos transeuntes in Domum Domini,
domum orationis, orate pro conservo vestro ut in-
veniam misericordiam in Die Domini."
In Luo cathedral yard is a cross, with eight figures
about it, of those who assisted in the translation of
the Bible into Welsh, but it commemorates especially
the tercentenary of Bishop Morgan's first complete
translation, published in 1588.
One of the deans of S. Asaph, Dr. David Lloyd,
who died in 1663, is said to have made for himself
the following epitaph : —
"This is the epitaph
Of the Dean of S. Asaph,
Who, by keeping a table
Better than he was able,
Ran much into debt
Which is not paid yet."
He was buried at Ruthin, of .which he was once warden,
but there is no monument there to his memory.
In the episcopal library is preserved the Red Book
of S. Asaph, originally compiled in the fourteenth
century, containing a fragmentary life of the saint
who gives his name to the church and diocese, and
early charters and other documents connected with it.
The site was granted to S. Kentigern, of Glasgow,
when driven away by the king of Strathclyde,
Morcant, and he only returned after the defeat, in
sSmf^^S^^^^^if^i^^^^^^^^ 1 ^^
Catherine of bekain
573, of Morcant by Rhydderch Hael. Then he left
his favourite disciple Asaph to take charge of the
foundation he had made on the banks of the Elwy.
In the cathedral library is preserved the polyglot
dictionary of Dick of Aberdaron, a literary vaga-
bond. He is reported to have acquired thirty-four
languages. He was a dirty, unkempt creature, who
wandered about the country, his pockets stuffed with
books. His predominant passion was the acquisition
of languages. A dictionary or a grammar was to
him a more acceptable present than a meal or a suit
of clothes. He had no home, and was sometimes
obliged to sleep in outhouses.
Bishop Carey did what he was able for him, but
his personal habits made him unsuitable to have in a
decent house, and he was impatient of every restraint.
He died in 1843, and was buried at S. Asaph.
The little parish church consists of nave and aisle
of equal length — one dedicated to S. Kentigern and
the other to S. Asaph. It lies at the bottom of the
hill, and has a somewhat original Perpendicular east
Not far from S. Asaph is Berain, the residence
once of Catherine Tudor, an heiress with royal blood
in her veins, for she was descended from Henry VII.,
who, when he was in Brittany collecting auxiliaries
for his descent on England to win the crown from
Richard III., had an intrigue with a Breton lady
named Velville, and became the father of Sir Roland
Velville. Sir Roland's daughter and heiress, Jane,
married Tudor ab Robert Vychan of Berain, and
their only child was Catherine. She is commonly
148 S. ASAPH
spoken of as Mam Cymru, the Mother of Wales,
as from her so many of the Welsh families derive
She was first married to John Salusbury of Lleweni,
and by him became the mother of Sir John Salus-
bury, who was born with two thumbs on each hand,
and was noted for his prodigious strength. At the
funeral of her husband, Sir Richard Clough gave her
his arm. Outside the churchyard stood Maurice
Wynn of Gwydir, awaiting a decent opportunity for
proposing to her. As she issued from the gate he
did this. " Very sorry," replied Catherine, " but I
have just accepted Sir Richard Clough. Should
I survive him I will remember you."
She did outlive Clough and married Wynn. She
further survived Wynn, and her fourth husband was
Edward Thelwall of Plas-y-Ward. She died August
27th, and was buried at Llannefydd, September 1st,
1 591, but without a monument of any kind.
Popular tradition .will have it that she had six
husbands in succession, and that as she tired of them
she poured molten lead into their ears when they
slept, and so killed them. Her last husband, seeing
that her affection towards him was cooling, and fear-
ing lest he should meet with the same fate as her
former husbands, shut her up in a room that is still
shown at Berain, and starved her to death. There
are several supposed portraits of Catherine to be
found in Wales, but not all are genuine. One by
Lucas de Heere, painted in 1 568, is in the possession
of Mr. R. J. LI. Price of Rhiwlas, near Bala, and shows
her to have been a very beautiful woman with hard,
THE WHITE-ROBED ARMY 149
dark eyes. Another genuine portrait is at Wygfair,
in the possession of Colonel Howard, and this was
taken when Catherine was an old woman. The re-
morseless stony eye is that of one quite capable of
the trick of the molten lead.
In a lovely situation on the Elwy is Meiriadog,
whence came Cynan, brother or cousin of the road-
buildincr Elen. When Maximus went to Gaul to assert
his claims to the purple, Cynan accompanied him and
never returned. Much fabulous matter has attached
itself to this Cynan. It was supposed that after the
death of Maximus he retired to Brittany, with all the
gallant youths who had accompanied him to the war,
and as they were forbidden to return home they
appealed for a shipload of wives to be sent out to
them. Accordingly Ursula, daughter of Dunawd, a
Welsh king, started with eleven thousand marriage-
able damsels, but they were carried by adverse winds
up the Rhine, and landing at Cologne were there
massacred by the Huns. The walls of a church there
are covered with little boxes containing their skulls.
The earliest mention of these gay young wenches
starting out husband-hunting, and meeting instead
with a gory death, is found in a sermon preached
between 752 and 839, but in it Ursula is not named.
In an addition to the chronicle of Sigebert of
Gemblours, made by a later hand, is an entry under
453 : —
" The most famous of wars was that waged by the white-
robed army of 11,000 Holy Virgins under their leader, the
holy Ursula. She was the only daughter of Nothus (Dunawd),
a most noble and rich prince of the Britons.''
i 5 o S. ASAPH
She was sought in marriage, the writer goes on to
say, by " a certain most ferocious tyrant," and her
father wished her to marry him. But Ursula had dedi-
cated herself to celibacy, and the father was thrown
into great perplexity. Then she proposed to take
with her ten virgins of piety and beauty, and that to
each, with herself, should be given an escort of a
thousand other girls, and that they might be suffered
to cruise about for three years and see the world. To
this her father consented. And the requisite number
of damsels having been raked together, Ursula sailed
away with them in eleven elegantly furnished galleys.
For three years they went merrily cruising over the
high seas, but at the end of that time, having ven-
tured up the Rhine to Cologne, they were all put to
Geoffrey of Monmouth, who died in 1154, gives
another form to the story. He relates that the
Emperor Maximian (Maximus), having depopulated
Northern Gaul, sent to Britain for colonists where-
with to repeople its waste places. Thus out of
Armorica he made a second Britain, which he put
under the rule of Conan Meriadoc, who sent to have
a consignment of British girls forwarded to him. At
this time there reigned in Cornwall a king, Dinothus
by name, and he listened to the appeal and de-
spatched his daughter Ursula with eleven thousand
young ladies, and sixty thousand others of lower
rank. Unfavourable winds drove the fleet to barbar-
ous shores, where all were butchered.
The story is, of course, devoid of a shred of historic
truth, and is a mere romance, and a silly and poor one.
A HOLY WELL 151
But there is something to be added.
Conan Meriadoc has figured largely in fabulous
Breton history. At the beginning of the eighteenth
century a priest of Lamballe, named Gallet, wrote a
history for the glorification of the dukes of Rohan,
and he spun a wonderful tale that imposed on later
serious historians. According to him, Conan or
Cynan Meiriadog, disappointed at not getting Ursula,
married Darerca, the sister of S. Patrick, and from
this union descended the kings of Brittany and the
dukes of Rohan. This he achieved by identifying
Cynan with Caw, the father of Gildas, entirely re-
gardless of chronology, for Gildas, son of Caw, king
in Strathclyde, died in 570, and Cynan was con-
temporary with Maximus, who was killed in 388, and
Patrick was born about 410.
Dom Morice, whose History of Brittany was pub-
lished in 1750, reproduces this absurd and impossible
pedigree, and further identifies Conan with Cataw,
son of Geraint, and uncle of S. Cybi, who died
There is a holy well, Ffynnon Fair, in the parish
of Cefn, in a beautiful situation, once very famous,
but the chapel is in ruins, though the spring flows
merrily still. It was the "Gretna Green" of the
district, for here clandestine marriages were wont to
take place, celebrated by one of the vicars choral of
the cathedral, till all such marriages were put a stop
to by the Act of Lord Hardwicke in 1753. The
chapel was of the fifteenth century, and is now over-
grown with ivy, and in a clump of trees. Mrs.
Hemans made this, " Our Lady's Well," the subject
152 S. ASAPH
of one of her poems. In the unpretending-looking
house just across the Elwy was written one of the
earliest printed Welsh grammars (1593).
The Cefn caves are in an escarpment of mountain
limestone high above the river, and have been care-
fully explored. They yielded bones of extinct animals
— the cave bear, wolf, elephas antiquus, bos longifi'ons,
reindeer, the hyaena, and the rhinoceros — but very
scanty traces of man. The bones are preserved at
Plas-yn-Cefn, the residence of Mrs. Williams-Wynn,
on whose property the caves are. The caves are
worth visiting more for the view from the rocks than
for any intrinsic interest in themselves.
A quaint Elizabethan mansion, Plas Newydd, has
in its wainscoted hall an inscription to show that it
was built by one Foulk ab Robert in 1583 when he
was aged forty-three. It is said to have been the
first house in the neighbourhood covered with slates.
A giant, Cawr Rhufoniog, used to visit there, and a
crook is shown high up near the cornice, on which he
was wont to suspend his hat. Giants, it would
appear, were in days of yore pretty plentiful in this
neighbourhood. The grave of one is pointed out
close by, and another, Edward Shon Dafydd, other-
wise called Cawr y Ddol, lived at an adjoining farm.
His walking-stick was the axle-tree of a cart, with a
huge crowbar driven into one end and bent for a
handle. He and Sir John Salusbury (of the double
thumbs) once fell to testing their strength by up-
rooting forest trees.
Between Plas Newydd and Plas-yn-Cefn, in a field,
is a " covered avenue," only it has lost all its coverers.
WELSH MELODIES 153
It was in a mound called Carnedd Tyddyn Bleiddyn,
with some trees on the top. When these were blown
down in a storm, a little over thirty years ago, the
cromlech within was exposed. It was found to
contain several skeletons, in a crouching position,
of what have been called the Platycnemic Men of
Between S. Asaph and Rhyl is Rhuddlan with its
castle in ruins. Formerly the tide washed its walls.
The marsh, Morfa Rhuddlan, was the scene of a great
battle, fought against the Saxons in 796, in which
the Welsh, under their King Caradog, were defeated
with great slaughter, and the prisoners taken were
all put to the sword. The beautiful melody " Morfa
Rhuddlan " has been supposed to pertain to a lament
composed on that occasion ; but the character of the
melody is not earlier than the seventeenth century,
and it apparently owes its name to the verses
adapted to it by lean Glan Geirionydd, who lived
a thousand years after the event of this battle.
Welsh melodies require to be taken in hand by
some musical antiquary and thoroughly investigated
and sifted. It will be found that along with many
noble airs that are genuinely Welsh, a goodly number
are importations from England. This was inevitable,
so mixed up were the Welsh with English families
in the great houses and castles. Edward Jones
published his Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh
Bards in 1784. He collected the tunes from harpers
and singers, but he knew nothing of old English
music, and was incapable of discriminating what was
of home production from what was an importation ;
154 S. ASAPH
consequently, in his collection, a goodly percentage
consist of English melodies.
He gives us a Welsh air, " Difyrvvch Gwyr Dyfi,"
as a bardic melody, but it is found in Tom D'Urfey's
Pills to purge Melancholy, published in 17 19-1720,
and is the old English melody of " Greensleeves "
spoiled. The melody of " Cynwyd " is none other
than the venerable English air of " Dargason," which
may be traced back in England to the reign of
Elizabeth. A tune given by Jones as " Toriad y
Dydd " is the old English air " Windsor Terrace,"
and " Y Brython " is a country dance published in
The Dancing Master by Playford, 1696. Jones gives
the " Monks' March " as probably the tune of the
monks of Bangor when they marched to Chester,
about the year 603, and it is none other than " General
Monk's March," composed at the restoration of
Charles II., and "The King's Note" is none other
than King Henry VIII.'s " Pastyme with good
company." The "Ash Grove" is doubtful. It first
appears as a popular song in Gay's Beggar's Opera,
1727, "Cease your funning." The Beggar's Opera
became the rage in London, throughout England,
Scotland, and Ireland, and we know that it was
performed also in Wales. Edward Jones in his
Bardic Museum, in the second series published
in 1802, inserted a tune that seems to have been
formed on it, but the resemblance was confined to
the first part. John Parry touched it up and altered
all the second part of the tune to what it is
now. It is, of course, possible that Gay may have
heard a Welsh air and introduced it into his opera,
WELSH MELODIES 155
but it is far more probable that the Beggar s Opera,
which was repeatedly performed in Wales, intro-
duced the melody into the Principality. One Welsh
air Gay did insert in his play, " Of noble race was
Shenkin," and he may have picked up another.
Tunes are like birds of the air that fly from place
to place and light on every tree, and are at home
everywhere. There is a popular melody sung to
very gross words by the peasantry in England. I
picked it up in Devon, and it has also been found in
Yorkshire, and a lady sent it me as heard in Wales,
but without the words. Mr. Chappell has noted
sixteen in Jones's collection that are certainly English,
and he did not exhaust the number.
A curious instance of the manner in which melodies
drift from their original connections is that of the
popular hymn tune " Helmsley," to which is sung
" Lo ! He comes with clouds descending."
Thomas Olivers was born in the village of Tregy-
non, in Montgomeryshire, in 1725 ; his father was a
small farmer, who died when Thomas was a lad, and
he was then committed to the charge of his father's
uncle Thomas Tudor, a farmer at Forden. In his
youth he was of a merry and thoughtless disposition,
and was dearly fond of dancing and all sorts of
amusements. In his autobiography he states ''that
out of sixteen nights and days, he was fifteen of them
without ever being in bed."
Some years after, when he was in Bristol, he
was " converted " by Whitefield, and he became a
Wesleyan Methodist lay preacher, and in 1777 under-
took the printing of Wesley's Arminian Magazine.
156 S. ASAPH
But his lack of education stood in his way, and in
1789 Wesley had to take the periodical out of his
hands. In his Journal, Wesley enters his reasons:
" 1. The errata are unsufferable. I have borne them
for these 12 years, but can bear them no longer.
2. Several pieces are inserted without my knowledge,
both in prose and verse."
Olivers became noted, however, as a hymn writer,
and especially for his tune " Helmsley," which he
gave to the world, no doubt firmly convinced that it
was original. But this it was not ; it was a remin-
iscence of his old unregenerate days. In fact it is
an opera air, and belongs to The Golden Pippin, in
which occurs the song : —
" Guardian angels now protect me,
Send to me the youth I love."
The Golden Pippin appeared in 1773.
Some of the stories connected with genuine Welsh
airs are delightful. David Owen, of the Garreg Wen,
lay on his death-bed, and fell into a trance. His
mother, who was watching him at the time, supposed
that he was dead. But presently he roused, and said
to her that he had been in an ecstasy, and had seen
heaven open, and the harpers about the throne were
playing a wondrous strain. He called for his harp,
and, with a radiance as of the world he had visited
on his face, played the tune " Dafydd y Garreg Wen."
As the last note died away the flame of life passed
from him. The air became fixed in his mother's
memory, and has thus been preserved.
Another story of the same musician is that he was
returning home from a feast in the early morning,
and daybreak overtook him as he sat on a stone —
still pointed out at Portmadoc — and there, watching
the soaring skylark, he composed the air " The Rising
of the Lark." The melody " Hoffedd merch Dafydd
Manuel" (" The delight of David Manuel's daughter")
is associated with a member of a very remarkable
family. Dafydd Manuel was a poor cottager, born
in Trefeglwys, Montgomeryshire, in or about 1625.
He became a poet, and lived to a very advanced age,
dying in 1726 at the age of a hundred and one. He
left three children, two daughters — also excellent
poets — and a son David. The elder daughter, Mary,
noted for her wit and as a great harpist and singer, is
she whose tune is called " The delight of David
Manuel's daughter." Another member of the family,
John, who fought in Egypt under Sir Ralph Aber-
cromby, was thoroughly conversant in English,
French, and Welsh. His daughter Sarah was quite
illiterate till her thirtieth year, when she learned to
read fluently and became well acquainted with the
current literature of the day. Thomas Manuel, a
sawyer, was illiterate till he grew to manhood, but
accidentally becoming possessed of a French Testa-
ment, he resolved on mastering that language, which
he did very quickly. His son William was a very
remarkable boy, who at an early age — it is said at
four, but this is hardly credible — could read English,
Welsh, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. At the age of
eight he was placed in Christ's Hospital, where he
died of consumption on attaining his twelfth year.
This extraordinary child had two brothers also pos-
sessed of great natural gifts. Thomas, the eldest,
158 S. ASAPH
was an excellent Welsh, Latin, Greek, and English
scholar. He also died of decline. Edward, the
youngest, gave promise of even more extraordinary
abilities than William. It is asserted that he could
read English, Welsh, German, Latin, Greek, and
Hebrew when only four years old, and he died of
consumption at the age of five. Precocious geniuses
are like candles that blaze away and gutter and are
out quickly. The mother of these remarkable chil-
dren, perceiving the thirst for learning evinced by
them, taught herself to read and translate Latin and
Greek, for the sake of helping them in their studies.
Some of the Welsh hymn tunes are magnificent,
and one cannot but desire that some had been taken
into such popular collections as Hymns Ancient and
Modern, in place of the utterly insipid trash which
has found its place there. But some are quite im-
possible of transference, as " Crug-y-bar," one of the
very best. The Welsh accent so differs from that of
English, that to render the words into English, or
write others to suit the melody that are not nonsense,
is almost impossible.
The Welsh melodies have a charm of their own,
and they are harp tunes ; whereas a great many of
the most popular of our English folk airs are
hornpipes. But, as already said, the thing needed
is a critical investigation and a sifting of Welsh
Gruffydd ab Llewelyn, king of Gwynedd (1039-
1069) and prince of Wales, had a fortress at Rhuddlan.
He was a notable man, and he played a conspicuous
part in Welsh history before the Norman Conquest.
Under him the Cymry developed an amount of
military capacity that was unusual. At the com-
mencement of his reign he raided Mercia and de-
feated the English forces under Edwin, the brother
of Earl Leofric, and slew him in battle. Then
Gruffydd turned his attention to South Wales, and
defeated its prince, Howel, and forced him to take
refuge in Ireland. Two years after Howel returned
at the head of Irish kerns, and was defeated again.
On this occasion Gruffydd captured Howel's wife
and made her his mistress. But in the ensuing year
Gruffydd was himself defeated and made prisoner.
He, however, escaped, and returned to Gwynedd.
Howel, with a fleet from Ireland, entered the Towy,
but was beaten and killed in battle by Gruffydd.
Under Harold an English army assembled at Glou-
cester and marched against the Welsh. Gruffydd
made peace, but next year broke his engagements
and invaded Mercia, which was defended by the
sheriff and the Bishop of Hereford. They were, how-
ever, defeated, and both fell on the field of battle.
In 1063 Harold determined to crush his dangerous
neighbour, and he marched to Rhuddlan and sur-
prised Gruffydd, who, however, escaped in a boat.
Unable to follow, and not strong enough to maintain
his hold on the land, Harold contented himself with
destroying Rhuddlan, and then retired to Gloucester,
but only to concert a plan for a systematic invasion
and subjugation of Wales. He collected a fleet at
Bristol, and sailed along the coast ravaging it, whilst
his brother Tostig, at the head of an army, wasted
160 S. ASAPH
Hitherto the English had been accustomed to fight
in close array, heavily weighted with their armour.
They now abandoned their old methods, and adopted
those of their foes, with the result that the power
of Gruffydd was broken, and some of his Welsh
followers turned against him and murdered him.
"The shield and deliverer of the Britons," says the
Brut, " the man who had hitherto been invincible,
was now left in the glens of desolation, after he had
taken vast plunder, and gained innumerable riches,
and gathered treasures of gold and silver, jewels, and
The castle of Rhuddlan was rebuilt under the
Earl of Chester at the same time as that of Mont-
gomery, and these formed redoubtable outposts
whence the Welsh could be watched and worried.
After the conquest of Wales by Edward I. a Con-
stitution was drawn up at Rhuddlan in 1284, which
was included among the statutes of the realm.
English law was introduced. In the matter of sue-
cession to land, Welsh custom was to be followed.