On one occasion he was preaching upon prayer,
and he suddenly broke forth into a graphic descrip-
tion of the animals entering the ark. After having
seen the lion, the bear, the ape, and the snail enter,
all whose progresses were graphically described, he
went on to speak of the elephant, and he drew a
lively picture of the monstrous beast ascending the
plank that led to the entrance to the house-boat.
"But how is this?" exclaimed the preacher. "The
elephant is higher than the door. By no means can
he walk in. Of no avail for Noah and his sons to
prog him with goads. He cannot enter. The door
is low, and his head is held too high. Then says
Noah, 'Go down on your knees, beast!' and the
elephant obeys. Then, Noah, Shem, Ham, and
Japheth thrusting behind, they managed to get the
elephant into the ark. And you, if you will enter
the kingdom of heaven, must go down on your
knees. Strait is the gate and narrow is the way."
The story is told differently in a little memoir of
Stephen Jenkins that has been published recently
(Tonypandy, 1902), but I give it as it reached me
some years ago ; probably the preacher used Noah's
ark more than once, and to enforce different maxims.
The following is, however, from the book : â
"When Peter went to Ccesarea to his publication [i.e.
preaching to which invited], ha took Mrs. Peter with him.
And ha was putting up at a farmhouse. And the farmer
took Peter around the farm with him, to show his stock
to 'n. On the way home the bull roared at 'n, but ha didn't
notice that. When ha cam' to the farm-yard, the ould gander
cam' hissing after 'n, but he didn't mind that either. But,
all of a sudden, the ould cock cam' up to 'n quite bould,
and sang Cock-a doodk-doo, and he turned quite pale, and
begged the farmer to let 'n go into the house. And when
ha went into the house, Mrs. Peter asked, 'What is the
matter, Peter bach ? ' ' Oh, that ould bird again ! ' he
said. . . . Ah, my dear people, ould Conscience will
remind you some way or other, of your past sins, even after
This may be absurd, but it served its purpose.
Whether a preacher is justified in drawing so freely
on his imagination is a question I do not enter upon.
The sermon recalls to me one heard in a little
Cornish chapel a few years ago. I believe that I give
the preacher's words without exaggeration. The text
was from Psalm lvii. 8 : "Awake up, my glory; awake,
psaltery and harp." And this was the opening of the
discourse : â
" My brethren ! King David awoke early in the morning,
just as the sun was rising. There had been wretched bad
WELSH PREACHERS 227
times, rain, rain, rain, all day and night, and the sheep
were cawed [diseased], and the harvest was not got in, the
shocks of corn were standing, the grain was sprouting in
the ears. You know what sort of bread comes of that !
David had been sore at heart, for he knew the farmers were
in a bad way, and the labouring people were also not well
off. So he got out of bed, and opened his window, and
looked out, and smelt the beautiful fresh morning air.
Then he saw the sun come a-peeping up over the eastern
hills, like a spark of gold. So says David, 'There he comes,
and not a cloud in the sky, and there's every promise of
a good day. Wake up, my glory ! wake up, my beautiful
shining luminary, and give us a long fine day, for we want
it sore before the corn is utterly spoiled and done for.'
And then, brethren, he made another remark, and that he
addressed to his Possle-tree [psaltery]. Now, 1 don't pre-
tend to know exactly what sort of a tree a Possle-tree is, but
travellers who have been in Palestine, and learned com-
mentators, do assert that it is a plant that turns her face
to the sun, whichever way the sun be. In short she is
a sort of convolvulus. Now David saw this here possle-tree
drooping, with her blossom heavy with rain, and says he,
with a great shout, ' Possle-tree ! ' says he, ' Possle-tree, my
hearty, wake up ! The glorious sun is up and shining,
and it becomes you also to wake up, and look the glorious
sun in the face, as is your nature and your duty too.'"
How completely Celtic both these addresses were !
To the dull Saxon mind there would be unreality
and trifling in such rich embroidery of sacred facts,
and it would repel, not edify. But the Celtic taste
is not squeamish ; it allows a broad margin for
imaginary decoration, and so long as the moral en-
forced is satisfactory, it does not regard the means
whereby it is reached.
Of course this sort of address would be impossible
now in Wales, but in Cornwall the level of culture
is a century in arrear of Wales.
A Welshman is like an Irishman, naturally an
orator, and his highest climax is reached in the
hwyl, the Welsh howl. This consists in a rhythmic
musical intonation, rising to a high pitch. It was
at one time general in extempore preaching, but has
fallen into disuse, as it showed a tendency to become
a mechanical trick, a striving after effect, when the
orator felt that his matter ceased to interest and
An amusing story was told me of a religious revival
effected by an old woman and a mendicant.
Said Sheena to Shone, " How is it at Bethesda
now ? "
" Ah, Sheena, dead as ditchwater ! "
" That is a pity," said she. " Let us revive the
So they went together to the chapel, and during
an eminently prosy sermon began to rock on their
seats, to moan and utter exclamations. The influence
spread, and presently the whole congregation swayed
and cried out, " Glory be to God ! " at the preacher's
platitudes. Then, little by little, the agitation of
spirits affected himâ his voice rose to a cry, and sank
and thrilled ; he flamed, he flung about his arms ;
finally, he howled. Thenceforth all was animation
and unction in Bethesda.
We may doubt whether the Catholic Church ever
gained as firm a hold over the Welsh people as it did
over the English. The best benefices were generally
WELSH PREACHERS 229
given to English or to foreign ecclesiastics who did
not understand a word of the vernacular of the
people, and the poor cures were cast to hedge-priests
who were both ignorant and immoral ; such livings
as were in Welsh hands were very indifferently
served, as the churches belonged to several people,
in or out of Orders, as has been already shown.
The Reformation did not at all mend matters.
During the Tudor period, it is true, the Church did
hold the affection of the Welsh people, and was, for
upwards of a century, ruled by bishops who were
Welsh in name and tongue. But evil days followed.
Bishoprics and livings were given to Englishmen
who did not know Welsh, and who often were non-
resident. The revenues of the Church were drained
into the pockets of English pluralists and men who
ostentatiously neglected their duties.
With the Methodist Revival the Welsh found them-
selves masters of their own religion ; they could form
communities for themselves, invent their own creeds,
and accommodate the worship to their own idiosyn-
Although the Welsh are an emotional people, they
are a clear and hard-headed people as well. They
have passed through the period of hysterical religion,
and a preacher who is acceptable must be one who is
worth listening to because he has something to say.
He must be, not a man of frothy eloquence, but one
who has read and thought. One of the drawbacks
of the Church in Wales is that ministers who have
proved themselves to be more or less failures in their
sects have been too much in the habit of coming
over to the Church and seeking ordination, in the
hopes of being coddled and applauded as " Verts,"
and being put into benefices ; and the bishops have
shown too ready a disposition to receive them.
Such converts are often no gain to the Church and
no loss to Dissent. In Don Giovanni Figaro struts up
and down the stage unrolling a list of his conquests
in the field of love, and it is not edifying or pleasing
to see some of the more vigorous defenders of the
" Establishment " parade in like manner the captures
from Nonconformity. The Church in Wales, except
at Cardiff, has been hardly touched as yet by the
breath of the revival which has transformed the
Church in England. If the Church is to regain her
hold over the Welsh people, it will be by supplying
them with what they cannot have in the sects. They
can obtain Christianity attenuated into the most
vaporous condition, thrown into the most varied
nebular forms, in the several denominations. But
if the Welshman joins the Church, it will not be, like
Ixion, to embrace a cloud, but for a definite creed
and apostolic order.
Situation â The castle â Bronwen â Bronwen's tomb â Dafydd ab Ifan
â " March of the Men of Harlech" â Prehistoric remains â Llanfair
â Ellis Wynne â Visions of the Sleeping Bard â Sam Badrig â The
drowned land â Ardudwy â Fight of the men â Roman Steps â
Owen Pughe â Fires and destruction of Welsh MSS.
THE situation of Harlech is fine â a rock rising
almost vertically from the level tract of sandy
flats that fringes the sea, surmounted by a castle, and
with the little town clustering behind it and slipping
down the sides.
The castle consists of a rude quadrangle, with
round towers at each angle, and to the east a gate-
way flanked by two more. It is not a particularly
picturesque ruin, and before it fell into ruin must
have been positively ugly. It is not comparable to
Conway in size or in beauty of outline, but Henry
de Elreton, the architect, built for use, and looked to
make it an impregnable stronghold, and did not
consider the picturesque.
The castle occupies the site of Twr Bronwen.
Bran the Blessed was king of Britain, and he had a
beautiful sister called Bronwen.
One day he was in his fortress at Harlech when,
looking west, he saw a fleet approach. It was that
of Matholwch, king of Ireland, who came to ask for
Bronwen to be his wife. He was well received, and
the wedding was appointed to be kept at Aberffraw,
in Anglesey. So Bran and all his warriors went
thither by land, and the Irish king by sea, and at
Aberffraw a great marriage feast was held.
Now Bran and Bronwen had a half-brother named
Evnyssien, who had not been consulted in the matter,
and out of spite during the night he went to the
horses brought over by the Irish king and "cut off
their lips to the teeth, and their ears close to their
heads, and their tails close to their backs, and their
eyelids to the very bone."
Matholwch was furious at the insult, and was with
difficulty appeased by Bran giving him a silver rod as
tall as himself and a plate of gold as wide as his
face, and by assuring him that the outrage had been
committed without his knowledge and against his
Then Matholwch sailed away with his bride. In
the course of a year she bore him a son, whom she
called Gwern. Now the story of the insult offered to
their king circulated in Ireland, and this produced
very bitter feeling against the queen, and Matholwch
was himself so turned against her that he degraded
her to be cook in his palace.
Bronwen reared a starling in the cover of the
kneading trough, and wrote a letter telling her woes
and tied it to a feather of the bird's wing, and let it
fly. The bird departed and reached Caer Seiont, or
Carnarvon, where King Bran then was, lighted on his
shoulder and ruffled its plumes, and, discovering the
letter, he detached and read it. Then, in great wrath,
he collected a force and manned a fleet, and sailed to
Ireland to revenge the wrongs offered to his sister.
Matholwch, unprepared to resist, invited him to a
conference and a banquet, and in compensation for
the wrongs offered to raise his own son Gwern to the
throne, and to abdicate.
Now at the banquet the boy Gwern entered the
hall, and for his beauty and courtesy was by all ad-
mired and fondled save by the malevolent Evnyssien,
who, when the lad came before him, suddenly grasped
him by head and feet and flung him into the fire
that burned before them. When Bronwen saw her
child in the flames she endeavoured to spring in
after him, but was restrained by her brother Bran
and another, between whom she was seated.
This shocking act of violence caused a general
fight between the Welsh and the Irish. Evnyssien
fell and many others on the side of Bran, who was
obliged to retreat to his ships and escape over the sea
to Britain, wounded in the foot in the fray by a
On reaching Wales Bran felt that he was death-
struck, and he commanded that his head should be
cut off and taken to London, and buried on the
White Mount, where is now the Tower, and that the
face should be set towards France. Bronwen, who
had escaped, soon after died of a broken heart.
" Woe is me ! " she said, " that ever I was born ; for
two islands have been destroyed because of me ! "
She was buried in Anglesey, in a spot since called
Ynys Bronwen. In 1813 the traditional grave was
"A farmer, living on the banks of the Alaw, having
occasion for stones to make some addition to his farm-
buildings, and having observed a stone or two peeping
through the turf of a circular elevation on a flat not far
from the river, was induced to examine it, where, after
paring off the turf, he came to a considerable heap of
stones, or c&rnedd, covered with earth, which he removed
with some degree of caution, and got to a cist formed of
coarse flags canted and covered over. On removing the
lid, he found it contained an urn placed with its mouth
downwards, full of ashes and half-calcined fragments of
In the Mabinogion the grave is thus described : â
" A square grave was made for Bonwen, the daughter of
Llyr, on the banks of the Alaw, and there she was buried."
The urn that contained the ashes and bones was
of the well-known Bronze Age type.
According to the traditional pedigrees of the
Welsh, Bronwen was the aunt of the celebrated
Caractacus who so gallantly resisted the Romans,
and who was taken prisoner and conveyed to Rome.
But these very early pedigrees are untrustworthy.
The Bronwen Tower of Harlech Castle is that on
the left of the sea-front as we enter the courtyard.
In 1404 Owen Glyndvvr got possession of the
castle and held a parliament in it.
During the Wars of the Roses, the Earl of Pem-
broke and his brother, Sir Richard Herbert, laid siege
to the fortress. It was defended by the governor,
Davydd ab I fan, who there offered an honourable
"MEN OF HARLECH
asylum to Margaret of Anjou, queen of Henry VI.,
and the Prince of Wales, after the battle of North-
ampton. When summoned to surrender, he replied
that he had held a fortress in France till all the old
women in Wales had heard of it, and he now pur-
posed holding out in Harlech till all the old women
in France heard of it.
BRONWEN S URN
According to a contemporary bard, there was
great slaughter ; he says that six thousand men fell,
but this shows him to have been able to draw the
long-bow as well as to finger the lyre. Eventually,
after a blockade, Harlech was forced to capitulate,
and the whole district was then subjected to
Edward IV. The famous air, "The March of the
Men of Harlech," is said to have been composed
during this siege, more probably long after, in com-
memoration of it.
Harlech is not a good watering-place, as the sea
is at some distance from the town, separated from it
by tedious sand-fiats. But it commands a magnificent
view of the promontory of Lleyn, with Yr Eifl â in
English the Rivals â rising from it, then Moel Siabod,
Snowdon, and the Glyders ; and many pleasant
excursions may be made from it. The view is
blocked before the principal hotel by the huge bulk
of the castle.
The railroad to Barmouth runs under what were
sea-cliffs, but the sea has retreated, and at the mouth
of the Nant Col and Artro, and between that of the
mouth of the brook Afon Ysgethin, is an exclusive
stretch of Morfa, or sand-dune. So also between
Harlech and the estuary of the Afon Glaslyn.
Near Harlech are several of the Cytiau'r Gwyddelod,
circular stone habitations dating back from the Irish
occupation of the country, if not more ancient still.
But a more interesting monument of prehistoric anti-
quity is the Caer on Moel Goedog, standing 1,210 feet
above the sea, where is a stone fort, and there also
are stone circles. Other relics of a remote antiquity
lie to the south, about Llyn Irddyn, to be reached
by ascending the valley of the Ysgethin. Here are
camps, remains of a prehistoric village, and cairns.
At Llanfair, in the church, is a stained-glass window
to the memory of Ellis Wynne, and his birthplace,
Glasynys, is about a mile and a half from Harlech.
Ellis Wynne was born there in 1671 Some twenty-
five years before he saw the light Harlech Castle had
been the scene of many a fray between Roundheads
and Cavaliers, and of the last stand made by the
ELLIS WYNNE 237
Welsh for King Charles. The remembrance of these
events must have been fresh as he grew up.
In 1703 he published The Visions of the Sleeping
Bard, which has ever since been regarded as a classic
work in Welsh prose. It was not original in its
inception. In 1668 Sir Robert l'Estrange had pub-
lished his translations of Gomez de Quevedo's
Dreams, and this must have fallen into the hands
of Ellis Wynne. Quevedo had his visions of the
World, of Death, and Hell, and Wynne followed in
having the same.
The same characters are represented in both, the
same classes are satirised, and the same punishments
are meted out.
Wynne had also composed a Vision of Heaven, but
when it was detected that he was a plagiarist, he was
so annoyed that he threw his manuscript into the fire.
Nevertheless, T/ie Visions of the Sleeping Bard
remains, and ever will remain, a Welsh classic.
" No better model exists of the pure idiomatic Welsh of
the last century, before writers became influenced by Eng-
lish style and method. Vigorous, fluent, crisp, and clear,
it shows how well our language is adapted to description
and narration. It is written for the people, and in the
picturesque and poetic strain which is always certain to
fascinate the Celtic mind." *
On a summer day the bard ascends one of the
Welsh mountains " spy-glass in hand. Through the
clear, tenuous air and the calm, shimmering heat, I
beheld far, far away over the Irish Sea many a fair
' R. G. Davies, The Visions of (he Sleeping Bard, translated.
scene." So he falls asleep, dreams, and finds himself
among the fairies, whom he approaches, and of whom
he requests permission to join their society. They
snatch him up forthwith and fly away with him over
lands and seas, till they reach the Castle Delusive,
where an Angel of light appears, and delivers him
from their hands.
With the angel as his guide he visits the City of
Destruction, and its streets, Pride, Lucre, Pleasure.
Then he soars to the City of Emmanuel.
The whole is allegorical and far-fetched, and abso-
lutely intolerable to modern taste ; but there was a
time, and that not far distant, when allegory was
much appreciated in Wales. In England also, Bishop
Wilberforce, with his Agathos, and Munro, with his
Dark River and other tales of like character, were
the last of a school that has, happily, passed away
Ellis Wynne and his guide traverse the Well of
Repentance and come to the Catholic Church, on
the roof of which sit various princes brandishing
their swords as her protectors.
Over the transept of the Church of England sits
Queen Anne, holding the Sword of Justice in the
left hand, and the Sword of the Spirit in the right.
" Beneath the left sword lay the Statute Book of
England, and beneath the other a big Bible. At
her right hand I observed throngs clad in black â
archbishops, bishops, and learned men upholding
with her the Sword of the Spirit, whilst soldiers and
officials, with a few lawyers, supported the other
He does not paint the Welsh Church as in a satis-
factory condition in his day. The angel seats him
in the rood-loft of one of them, " and we saw some
persons whispering, some laughing, some staring at
pretty women, others prying at their neighbours' dress
from top to toe, others showing their teeth at one
another, others dozing, others assiduous at their de-
votion, but many of these latter dissimulating"; and
he points out the irreverence and sacrilege caused by
the law that required a man to be a communicant
before he could receive office.
Ellis Wynne died in 1734, and is buried under the
altar at Llanfair.
Mochras Spit, a grand field for finding shells, is
the starting-point of the Sarn Badrig, a reef that
runs for something like twenty miles into the
Cardigan Bay, and is about four yards wide. At
ebb tide about nine miles are exposed, but the foam
about the rest can be traced far out to sea. Tradi-
tionally it was one of the embankments that enclosed
the Cantref y Gwaelod, the low-lying hundred, well
peopled, that contained twelve fortified towns, but
which was submerged in the fifth century through the
folly of the drunken Seithenin, who neglected to keep
up the sea-wall. The story has been told already.
A short poem attributed to Gwyddno, whose terri-
tory was overwhelmed, has been preserved, in which
he laments : â
" Stand forth, Seithenyn, and behold the dwelling of heroes,
the plain of Gwyddno is whelmed in the sea,
Accursed be the sea-warden, who, after his carousal, let loose
the destroying fountain of the raging deep.
2 4 o HARLECH
Accursed be the watcher, who, after drunken revelry, let loose
the fountain of the desolating sea.
A cry from the sea rises above the ramparts ; to heaven does
it mount, â after fierce excess comes a long lull.
A cry from the sea arouses me in the night season.
A cry from the sea 1 ses above the winds.
A cry from the sea drives me from my bed at night."
Llanaber Church, which has been restored, deserves
a visit from either Hailech or Barmouth. It was
built in the thirteenth century, and is in the pure
Early English style. In the east end is a single
lancet. The nave has a clerestory. The exterior is
plain, and all the enrichment is within. An inscribed
stone is inside that was rescued from serving as a
footbridge over the Ceil wart. It bears on it, " Caelexti
All the district from Barmouth to the Aber Glas-
lyn comprises Ardudwy, and the mountains are of
Cambrian grit, "an immense block of mountains run-
ning from Maentwrog to Barmouth, and separating
the Harlech country from all the eastern portion
of Merionethshire. Although they all constitute the
same group without a single break, they are called
by different names according to the most prominent
points " (Murray). They are strewn with small tarns
that are interesting, though not enclosed by craggy
walls, and abound in fish.
The story goes that the men of Ardudwy, like the
early Romans, finding themselves short of women,
made an incursion into the Vale of Clwyd and
brought away a number of the fairest damsels, whom
they conveyed into their own country. They were
pursued and overtaken at a place called Beddau
WILLIAM OWEN PUGHE 241
Gvvyr Ardudwy, where a fight ensued. Instead of
the women acting as did the Sabine damsels, rushing
between the combatants and separating them, the
maidens, seeing their ravishers get the worst of it,
precipitated themselves into the lake that now bears
the name of Llyn-y-Morwynion, where they were
drowned, rather than return to their homes.
The mountains are traversed by an ancient paved
road, called the Roman Steps, that comes from the
valley of the Afon Erbu at Font Grible, and strikes
past the Llyn-y-Morwynion to Llyn Cwm Bychan,
and thence to Talsarnau (the Head of the Roads),
whence passage was made across the Traeth Bach to
Mynffordd. It would seem to have been a branch
from the Sarn Helen, which followed very nearly the
course of the modern road, as straight as an arrow,
from Dolgelley to Maentwrog.
At Egryn, between Llanaber and Llanddwywe,
was formerly an abbey, but of that nothing now
remains, and its site is occupied by a farmhouse.
Here lived in his early days William Owen Fughe,
an enthusiastic antiquary and lover of all things
Celtic. In 1785 he laid the foundation of his great
work, a Welsh-English Dictionary, which was printed
and published in London in 1803. Some idea of the