B L E D D Y N.

CHAPTER I.

What’s in a name?—that which men call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
SHAKSPEARE.

Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Cæsar.

Ibid.

I HAD intended, gentle reader, to give a formal introduction to the following pages; but the ensuing dialogue, which took place between Miss Bridget Boddice, principal sempstress of the village of Kittlecourt, and myself, saved me a violent effort of the brain, and no small quantity of ink and paper.

I was one day in my neat little boarded parlour, with my arms folded across my breast, and my eyes fixed on the ceiling, busily employed in building castles in the air, to which Novelists as well as Poets are prone. I had painted in vivid colours the eagerness with which the public would peruse my lucubrations. “The critics,” thought I, “must applaud them; they will produce showers of gold. I must consider my equipage—a coach and four; no—a landaulet and six greys will be more the ton. I shall drive rattling down the clean little street of Kittlecourt; a thousand heads will be thrust out at the doors and windows, anxious to catch a glance at the ‘fine sight.’ I will erect a palace on the dear old Severn, surrounded by silver streams, myrtle bowers, and emerald lawns; nightingales shall trill their melodious lays in groves of orange trees; the gales will be impregnated with sweets, transcending the perfumes of Arabia; every morning shall be ushered in by strains of delicious music: with these and my Cecilia I shall be“—But, gentle reader, at that moment, the door opened, and in flounced Miss Bridget Boddice; my golden vision dissolved in air, and I was again metamorphosed into the humble suitor for thy approving smile.

After the usual compliments had passed pro and con; “Sir,” quoth Miss Bridget, “I have heard there is a novel wanting on Welch peculiarities.”

“Yes, ma’am; and I am actually engaged in writing one.”

“And how do you intend to handle it,” said she, twirling her black silk cloak; “not like the gentleman incog. of the North, I hope.”

“I believe, madam, if ever I imitate, it will be the natural manner of the Author in question.”

“Fie, Sir; why, after reading Guy Mannering, that old hag Meg Merrilies was staring at me in my sleep for a month after.”

“That is a proof of its excellence. His characters are drawn from nature, and consequently take strong hold on the imagination.”

“For my part,” said Miss Bridget, “I prefer the writers of the Radcliffe school to this same gentleman incog. and his vulgar stuff.”

“With respect to Mrs. Radcliffe, her vivid descriptions, and her highly poetic images, amply atoned for the wild improbabilities of her fictions; but after her came such a tribe of servile imitators, writers of such abominable trash, that not only castles, caverns, and woods, but family mansions, farm houses, and farm yards, were filled with ghosts and goblins.”

“I prefer that kind of writing for all that,” said Miss Boddice, looking resolutely, like one who is determined not to be convinced.

“Well, madam, I assure you, I shall not admit a single ghost into my work, nor the modern paraphernalia of poisons and stilettos.”

“Well, Sir, go on in your own way; but I suppose you intend to give it a grand name. Let me see; it must be ‘The Mysteries of Snowdon;’ ‘The Spectre of Llyn Tegid;’ or, ‘The Abbey of Strata Florida’.”

“Even there I am deficient;—what think you of ‘Bleddyn’.”

“Horrid! horrid!—it will not be admitted even into our circulating libraries.” So saying, she arose, and, wishing me a good morning, stalked out of the room.

Now, my gentle reader, I must make an appeal to thy candour. This is my first campaign, for I have only been out before with reconnoitering parties: then thou must expect that inexperience will occasion some blunders. I may sometimes attack in front when I should have made a detour to the flank, or retreat when I should have advanced;—but have other generals been always successful?—was not our illustrious Wellington himself (precious comparison!) forced to retreat through a whole kingdom—foiled before the petty fortress of Burgos, and yet did he not subsequently plant his victorious banners on the towers of Notre Dame?

Having thus adjusted the preliminaries, I shall hasten, my dear reader, to spread my mental treat before thee, hoping it may answer thy expectation.




CHAPTER II.

Few are their neighbours, and fewer their quarrels,
And fewest of all are good liquors and barrels;
In stockings and shoes are no mighty sums spent,
In building, or gaming, or eating, or rent.

HUTTON.

IT was on a gloomy evening that Captain Bleddyn, a young British officer, was benighted on the borders of Caernarvonshire. Not a star glittered in the heavens, and he had to struggle through roads as difficult as any in Great Britain. They were broken into steep gullies, intersected by rapid streams of water, and oft he and his jaded palfrey were thrown headlong into the mire. Not a cottage was to be seen, and a few straggling columns of mist, which occasionally flitted across his path, served to heighten the difficulties of his situation, by rendering the surrounding objects still more gloomy. He now entered what appeared to be an extensive heath; the mists began to increase, and Bleddyn began to be seriously alarmed. As the heath afforded tolerable good footing for his horse, he put him forward at a gallop. Whilst going at this pace, he was alarmed by a loud crash under his horse’s feet, and the next moment he found himself precipitated into a peasant’s hut through the roof.

Macbeth was not so much startled at Banquo’s ghost as were the amazed inhabitants of the cottage, consisting of an elderly woman, another younger, apparently her daughter, a young man, and four or five bare-legged children. At the abrupt entrance of our hero, all stood aghast with terror, and the first articulate words he heard uttered were from the children, who, ranging themselves round a broken porringer, the contents of which deluged the floor, vociferously exclaimed, “mother, mother, he has spilt all the flummery!”

“In the name of St. Winifred and St. David,” at length exclaimed the amazed mistress of the family, “what art thou, ghost, hobgoblin, or devil?” and indeed it was difficult to distinguish to which class our hero belonged; for, in consequence of his numerous falls, his whole person was covered with a mantle of mud.

“I am flesh and blood like yourself, my good dame, and I can assure you I am as unwilling to be here as you can be to see me.”

The sound of his voice convinced his hostess that he was not an aerial being, and she seemed more composed. The young man and woman, the former of whom had in the first confusion grasped a large oak cudgel, now retired into an adjoining room, and our hero was enabled to hold a rational conversation with his hostess, who after uttering several complaints on the injury her dwelling had sustained, concluded thus, “but it will only cause my David about two hours work in the morning to set it to rights again, that’s one comfort. I always told him some traveller or other would break in upon us; for your honour must know our house is builded under cover of a high bank, and a traveller in the dark, if he comes this way, plunges from it plump upon the roof. God be praised you have injured us no worse; for you might have broken the leg of the willy-goat.”

Bleddyn, smiling at the loquacity of his hostess, had by this time, with some difficulty, disengaged himself and horse from the hut, and by the light of the moon, which now glittered in the heavens, he had an opportunity of surveying it.

Four posts, about eight feet high, driven into the ground in a square, the interstices filled with osier work, cemented by red clay, formed the base. The roof which rose something in the form of a cupola, was constructed of several poles arranged without method or order, over which were thrown several bundles of heath, fastened to the poles by ropes made with rushes.

“Am I far from Llangalt, good dame,” said Bleddyn, about to remount his horse.

“Eight miles, and a dismal road for strangers.”

“Is it a safe road?”

“As safe as any in Caernarvonshire, except you topple down the Ogwen cliff, or be swallowed up in Nant Monad bog, or be washed away by the Avon Gaseg, or be——”

“Pray cut short your long roll of exceptions, and inform me if I can procure a guide to Llangalt.”

“I doubt, an please your honour, that you will not get a guide; neither my Winny nor her sweetheart Davy will go through Nant Monad after night-fall; the wicked Sir Cynan Meredydd is consigned to wander there by one above all for his sins (an involuntary shudder); my dwelling is small, but you are welcome to shelter for one night, and although you have upset all the flummery, I have still some barley bread left, to which you are welcome.”

Bleddyn again glanced at the interior of the cottage, which certainly did not present a very inviting appearance. The floor was native soil, rugged and uneven; in one corner lay a pig snoring with all his might; and a goat was looking gravely on a small fire of peat in the centre of the hut, the smoke of which eddying around, found vent through the roof. Sometimes the fire emitting a sudden blaze, gave a yellow tint to the smoky canopy, and revealed Davy and Winny, snugly ensconced in an adjoining room, on a couch of dried rushes, with a covering of coarse red blankets thrown over them*.

“I am afraid I must proceed at all hazards,” said Bleddyn (who did not much relish the interior of the hovel), “my business is rather urgent.”

“God bless your proud stomach, for all our dwelling is none of the best certainly; but poor as it is, Lady Angharad Meredydd has often sat down in it, aye and eat in it too (drawing herself up), and now I think of it, you may have shelter at the Castle.”

“What Castle?”

“That of Sir Llywelyn Meredydd. Can you see yon light that twinkles like a star? that proceeds from it.”

“Is it a direct road?”

“Yes, your honour, after passing the Llyn. Davy and Winny, get up and show the gentleman the way to the Llyn.”

Winny leapt from her couch, and reaching her little felt hat, and wrapping her linsey coat around her of divers colours, bounded from her couch to attend him, followed by Davy, grumbling at every step, and decorated in his “Sunday’s best.” His guides proceeded rapidly along, Winny starting at every bush, and sometimes humming part of a tune in a tremulous voice. After passing a long range of level ground, Bleddyn found himself on the margin of a large sheet of water, and above him frowned the antique towers of a castle.

“This is the Llyn,” said Winny, “and that road (pointing to a rough stony track) will take you to the castle.”

“Thank you, my pretty guide,” said Bleddyn, “and here is something to make you merry at your next Cymmortheu Gwace” (offering her a crown piece).

“A good deed is its own reward, Lady Meredydd told me,” said Winny, refusing the proffered bounty, and retiring a few paces along the heath.

“Here then, my good friend, (to David,) do you take it.”

“Thank your honour,” said David, as he eagerly pulled out of his breeches pocket a small pinchbeck box, and after placing the crown in it, carefully restored it to its former station, and then, with Winny, pursued his way back to the cottage, ever and anon looking in the direction of Nant Monad.

Bleddyn now began to ascend the path pointed out to him, which in some places was very steep; at others it descended into deep hollows, the banks on each side thickly covered with underwood. At length he entered a broad avenue of yew trees, which terminated in a massy archway, on emerging from which he was placed exactly in front of the building. After knocking at the gate and announcing his name, he was ceremoniously ushered into the audience chamber of Sir Llywelyn Meredydd.

[NOTE: However strange and uncivilized it may appear, courtship among the Cambrian peasants is actually carried on in bed, yet fewer instances occur of indecorum than are to be met with in higher and more polished circles.]



CHAPTER III.

“——My name is Time!
Time the destroyer! yes one frown from me
Rifted yon tower; yet, ere the ruin fell,
I paus’d! and left it hanging as thou see’st.”

I SHALL now introduce to the notice of my Reader the personages composing the family circle at Meredydd Castle.

Sir Llywelyn Meredydd, who traced his descent from Camber, third son of Brute, was a tall majestic personage, with a vast deal of dignity in his demeanour, and a countenance at once expressive of hospitality and ostentation. His vestments appeared emblematical of the inward man; being a pompous display of velvet, ruffles, and gold lace.

Though now reduced from what they had been when their ancestors led the heroes of Cambria to victory, the family still rose superior to the frowns of fortune. Sir Llywelyn loved to keep up a semblance of former times. The neighbouring peasants still looked up to him with feelings of respect and love; with his name was associated all the former glories of their country, known to them through the medium of the rude rhymes of their mountain-bards. Conscious of this attachment, Sir Llywelyn still felt himself a petty monarch in the domains of Meredydd Castle.

The mind of Hywel Meredydd was gloomy and ferocious; the finer emotions of our nature found no place in his bosom. The kindred virtue of love of country and love of song were treated by him as the chimeras of childish imaginations. All his actions were governed by self-interest; to this he sacrificed every tie that binds man to man. Nature, as if unwilling to place so uncouth a mind in a handsome form, had made his person ugly and disgusting. His figure was short and deformed, and red bushy eyebrows almost concealed eyes of a dark and sinister import; and if ever a smile passed over his pale and freckly features, it never reached to his eye, which always retained its sullen and malignant expression.

Sir Llywelyn still retained in his family a bard called Maelgwn, descended from ancestors who had been bards to the family for ages. The offices of the bards were to preserve the great achievements of their country from perishing, but more particularly to record the actions and descent of the particular families to which they belonged; they were expected to be thoroughly versed in all the legends, triads, and in fact every thing connected with the former glories of their country. In the times, however, of Sir Llywelyn, bardism was extinct, except where a few families kept up a semblance of ancient times, among whom was the Meredydd family.

Captain Bleddyn received an hospitable reception; and the following dialogue ensued, which will still farther illustrate the character of the personages introduced to the notice of the reader.

“Whatever has occasioned this visit, Captain Bleddyn,” said Sir Llywelyn, “you, or any officer wearing the uniform of his most sacred Majesty Charles, are sincerely welcome to Meredydd Castle.” Bleddyn made an obeisance to the knight, and after explaining the nature of his visit, was soon hospitably seated at the supper-table of Sir Llywelyn, where he did no small honour to the noble baron of beef, and venison pasty of his host.

“The scenery of Snowdonia is very sublime,” said Bleddyn, after a long pause.

“To me,” said the knight, “these barren hills are more dear than the most delightful regions in the world; it is the spot where the sons of liberty made their last heroic stand, and it is the spot from whence my gallant ancestors led their hardy followers to victory.”

“And it is,” said the Bard, “the Thermopylæ of our heroes; they lie forgotten; our bards are likewise lost; nought remains but our barren hills, and our venerable language, and that will remain for ever, according to the prophecy of Taliesin. It runs thus, the natives of Cymru will praise their Creator in their native language, till time shall be no more; but of all their possessions, will only retain the wild wastes of Wallia and its barren hills.”

“We retain our good viands, however,” said Hywel, with a sneer, “and to judge from appearances Taliesin has found a formidable rival in the mount of roast beef at present before you.”

“Fie, Hywel!” said the knight, “you are always taunting the Bard.”

“You must know, Captain Bleddyn, my father is enthusiastically attached to the ancient music and poetry of his country. I have seen him listen for hours to the legendary tales of Maelgwn, till he has become as weak and visionary as himself.”

“Surely,” said Bleddyn, “you must applaud, instead of censuring the enthusiasm of Sir Llywelyn for the poetry of his country; which abounds in eminent examples of simplicity, pathos, and sublimity; and twines a fadeless wreath round the brows of those heroes, by whom that country was defended.”

“Yes,” said the knight, “that heart must be dead to feeling which can listen unmoved to the recital of the deeds of Llywelyn or Caradog*.”

“I own,” said Hywel with an ironical smile, “I may be deficient in that species of feeling which sacrifices reason to imagination, which adorns the dross of human life with gold and jewels, and which burdens the mind with an exuberance of false sentiment.”

“That sentiment cannot be false that has its origin in virtue,” said Maelgwn; “and surely love of country, love of the heroes by whom that country was defended, love of those persons who transmitted the fame of those heroes to posterity, cannot he incompatible with virtue.”

“I think,” said Hywel, forcing a smile, “the bard would much better be employed in jingling the crwth, or writing verses in praise of his favourite Taliesin.”

“Either of these employments to me are pleasing, the one as being our national instrument which has often paved the way to victory, the other as showing respect to him who was the pride and glory of our ancestors in happier times.”

“Taliesin and Prince Gruffydel would applaud these sentiments,” said the knight, “one for respecting bardism, the other for admiring that instrument introduced by himself.”

“I trust,” said Bleddyn, “our national literature, which has not yet recovered the blow inflicted on it by that modern Vandal, Edward the First, will at some future time shine with its wonted lustre, and that the silent harp of Cymru will again resound to its sweet Pennillion.”

“And if that romantic idea could not be realised in any other way,” said Hywel, “I suppose you would have no objection to the Meredydds, who have been hitherto untainted, taking part with the rebel Parliament against their lawful king.”

“No,” said Bleddyn, indignantly, “nothing is farther from my thoughts. I would wish every Cambrian to gird on the sword, and combat for that monarch in whose veins flows the regal blood of Cambria, England, and Scotland. I would myself, if opportunity offered, pierce the base heart of that Meredydd who dared to be disloyal.”

A marked expression suffused the pale features of Hywel, as he arose from his seat, advanced, smiled, shook Bleddyn by the hand, and, after expressing how happy he felt in his acquaintance, strode out of the room.

The conversation continued in a desultory manner till the party separated for the night, Bleddyn making known his determination of departing on the following morning.

Accordingly, he departed at an early hour. The sun had not risen above the lofty Carnedd Llywelyn, yet the clouds on its summit were tinged with crimson. Gradually they assumed a bright purple mingled with streaks of yellow and vermilion, the mists receded from the brow of the mountain, and the craggy precipices and knolls appeared like towers and battlements floating in the air. At length the luminary of day arose in effulgent majesty, a flood of ruddy light burst on the precipitous points of the mountain, slowly rolled to the valley, and lighted the lakes that studded its base, which now appeared like sheets of living sapphires. Still a few columns of mist straggled along the higher points of the mountain, dyed with all the hues of the rainbow, sometimes a sudden gust of wind gave these columns a rapid rotary motion, and at others dispersed them along the empurpled sky in a thousand irregular masses.

Bleddyn turned from this lovely scene in order to view the castle. It was built in the fourteenth century; the grand entrance was through a circular archway, flanked by two towers enclosing a portcullis, over which was blazoned a lion rampant, grasping in his right paw a drawn sword, the family arms of Meredydd, and their motto, Do not provoke me. From this archway Bleddyn could trace the windings of the avenue up which he had ascended the preceding night, sometimes lost amid the deep ravines which intersected the lofty eminence on which stood the castle; the lake at its base was concealed by a thicket of black-thorns. Above the deep glen in which this lake was situated arose in gigantic and precipitous masses the lofty Carnedd Llywelyn and Carnedd Dafydd, from the former of which rolled in impetuous eddies the Avon Gaseg, presenting one entire sheet of white foam.

He now re-entered the archway, which placed him directly in front of the building. It was a perfect square, with a circular tower at each angle. Of these the western and southern alone remained entire; the remaining two were much dilapidated, and detached fragments had crumbled from the walls, and lay scattered among the profusion of nettles, and high and rank grass which grew in the opposite area. The northern tower impended a fearful manner over its base, and had been observed to rock to and fro when a tempest whistled round its ivied battlements. This portion of the castle was uninhabited. A deep moat, cut out of the solid rock, surrounded the eastern and northern wings. The southern was situated on a tremendous precipice, down which burst a large sheet of water, which, after leaping from rock to rock, was gradually lost in an immense cavern. At the extreme base of the acclivity, it again appeared in view, meandering through a delightful valley. The western front was that by which Bleddyn had entered; and from the above observations he concluded it to have been in former times an almost impregnable post.

Bleddyn could not help contrasting the present appearance of the castle to what it must have been in former days, when the harp of the minstrel enlivened the now desolate walls; when its former possessors, now sunk in oblivion, issued out at the head of a formidable band, in all the gorgeous trappings of feudal splendour; when the grass-grown court-yard rang with the tramp of the bounding chargers, the clang of armour, and the shouts of a youthful troop marching to combat for their native land and liberty.—“Awful lesson of mortality,” said Bleddyn, “those heroes are long since mouldered in the dust, their names are vanished, their virtues are forgotten in the successive revolutions of ages, even their descendants are dwindled to insignificance, and unnoticed tread those scenes where once their forefathers lighted the beacon of liberty.”

With such reflections our hero quitted the castle, and slowly pursued his journey. Whilst he is travelling I shall take the opportunity of making my reader better acquainted with him.

[NOTE: Caractacus.]



CHAPTER IV.

Yon bleak and weather-whiten’d rock immense,
Upshoots amid the scene, craggy and steep,
And like some high embattled citadel
That awes the low plain shadowing. Half way up
The purple heath is seen, but bare its brow,
And deep-intrench’d, and all beneath is spread
With massy fragments riven from its top.

BOWLES.

IT was on a dark winter’s evening that Colonel Williams of Llangalt was returning home from visiting a friend. His way lay along the sea-coast to the north of Caernarvon. A large quantity of snow had fallen, and almost choaked the little rivulets that fell into the Irish Channel. Here and there the stream, rendered black by contrast, appeared struggling through the surrounding impediments, and slowly pursuing its noiseless course. A few oaks, with their branches encrusted over with an icy substance, gave a cast of the picturesque to the wintry scene, and oft a gust of wind brushed away the pendent ice wreaths, which fell clattering on the frozen snow beneath.

Colonel Williams now entered upon the Lavan sands, which, according to tradition, once formed an extensive valley. They were at that period very dangerous, the poles which are now fixed as marks to avoid the quicksands being then not so numerous. The winds began to blow with great violence, and the waves burst in dark eddies on the shore. Colonel Williams, however, with that buoyancy of spirit which formed a prominent feature in his character, spurred his horse forward at a gallop, in order to keep time to the tune of Joe Pulleine’s horn, which he vehemently whistled.

The Colonel, after being more than once in danger of being swallowed up, cleared the sands, when the gigantic Penmaen Mawr arose like a dense cloud before him, and the pass by which it was ascended appeared a narrow white line, sometimes visible as it wound round some terrific precipice, at others lost amid the deep gullies torn in the mountain by the contending elements. On a nearer survey it appeared dangerous in the extreme. Immense masses of rock, which had been precipitated from the summit of the mountain, were arrested in their course, and hung suspended on projecting ledges, appearing to the terrified imagination in the act of taking another rebound.

The storm which had long been gathering now burst with great violence, and the snow, which fell apparently in one solid mass, compelled Williams to seek shelter in a crevice beneath a protruding crag, well known as the spot where the Hermit Serriol, celebrated by David Ewain, once secluded himself. Here in perfect safety, he listened to the elemental war. The dashing of the waves against the craggy rocks, the howling of the wind, as it rushed through the narrow ravines of the mountain, and the crash occasioned by the fall of disjointed pieces of rock from the sterile regions above, were awful and sublime.

After an hour of continued snow the sky grew clearer, the snow abated, but the winds still blew a perfect hurricane, driving the waves on shore in foamy masses, which, without speaking hyperbolically, might be said to be mountains high, and by the moon-beams, which faintly struggled from between two dense clouds, he perceived a ship obviously in distress drifting towards the shore, sometimes lost between the immense columns of water which appeared to burst over her.

She now fired several guns of distress, which soon drew a large concourse of spectators, who formed in detached groups along the beach.

“She’ll founder,” said a short square-built man, in a blue jacket; “the wind blows like the devil in her teeth.”

“This is some of old Mabil’s doings,” said another.

“The old witch generally sends us a good wind,” said the first. “See how she rolls!—that’s it, blow, my pretty breeze; she founders by——, and now, my boys, look sharp a head for the glorious kegs of prime old sack.”

His words were true, she struck on a sunken rock: dreadful shrieks announced the fate of the unhappy crew, who were precipitated amid the waves without the least chance of assistance from shore. Several were seen struggling at intervals above the foam, for a considerable time after she struck.

This circumstance seemed the signal for an universal movement on shore. Several plunged into the water, not to save the unhappy sufferers, but to get possession of the kegs, bales, and other parts of the unfortunate ship’s cargo that drifted near the beach. Nay, so intent were they on this disgraceful plunder, that several bodies which were cast on shore were inhumanely stripped, and again plunged in the waves. It was in vain that Colonel Williams endeavoured to stem this torrent of inhumanity; in vain he conjured them to remember the hospitable, generous, open-hearted character of their Cambrian brethren. His remonstrances were at first treated with derision, and afterwards with threats. Disgusted at this disgraceful scene, he was going to recommence his journey, when he saw something floating on the water, in a little creek, at the foot of a steep ledge of rock. He supposed, at first, it was a detached part of the wreck, but on hearing a faint cry proceeding from it, he advanced, and found an infant floating in a small coracle, common among the peasants of Wales. Rejoiced that he had been the means of rescuing the little innocent from a watery grave, he wrapt it up warmly in his coat, and mounting his horse, proceeded on his journey. The remainder of the history may be told in a few words. The Colonel took the boy home, gave him a liberal education, and at a proper age purchased for him an ensign’s commission, which he filled with honour to himself, and was soon promoted to a Captaincy. As such, we have introduced him to the reader under the name of Bleddyn. The mystery of his birth could never be unravelled. The ship belonged to Robert Llwyd, of Conwy, who solemnly declared that no child was on board at the time she left port, and the distance of the ship from land when she struck was another proof, for the child must have been precipitated among the waves long before it reached the shore.

Colonel Williams recollected, that previous to finding the child, he had observed a short figure, wrapt up in a dark cloak, gliding along the beach, and imagined at the time it was one of the wreckers; but a circumstance occurred a few days after which caused him to change his opinion. He was going through the church-yard of Llangalt, when he perceived a woman whose appearance tallied exactly with the figure he had seen on the beach. She was engaged in strewing flowers on a newly-raised mound, and from the circumstance of its being the primrose and snow-drop, he knew she commemorated the death of an infant. In this mournfully-pleasing ceremony, peculiar to Cambria, and which marks the affectionate simplicity of her peasantry, the melancholy countenance is always a type of the inward feeling; but on the visage of this singular female, there appeared no such expression; on the contrary, a strange smile passed over her countenance as she arose from the grave and glided out of the church-yard.

The Colonel suspected this woman was connected with the fate of the child, but on being interrogated, she solemnly denied all knowledge of it.

Strange notions prevailed among the peasantry respecting this woman. She was universally considered a witch, and when their crops were blighted, or any disease befel their cattle, or any sudden storm, it was immediately ascribed to the agency of Mabil Evan, the witch of Nant Monad.

From the earliest dawn of reason, something above mediocrity appeared in the disposition of Bleddyn. Those infantine sports which delight and interest the majority of children, lost their fascinations upon him. On such occasions he might be seen wandering in some delightful meadow reading with eagerness and delight the poems and legends of his native country. His mind was thus filled with noble and generous images. His breast glowed with enthusiasm as he read the heroic deeds of Llywelyn, and melted to tenderness when he learnt his melancholy fate. His earliest aspirations to heaven were, that he might, at some future period, be placed in a situation to emulate that illustrious hero.

These sentiments strengthening with his growth, might have rendered his soul inaccessible to the softer emotions of our nature, if they had not been tempered by a poetic feeling which taught him to love all creation. Poetry was, to him, a source of the highest intellectual delight; he viewed it in its true colours, as tending to ameliorate the human mind, and approximate man to the attributes of the Deity.

To minds constituted like our hero’s, the scenes of nature have charms invisible to vulgar ken. The woods, the valleys, the streams, the mountains, diffuse a balmy light over the soul—a delight which cannot be described—a delight which cannot be defined. With every external object is associated the omnipotence of the Almighty, and the admiration excited by his works is tinged with a devotional aspect.



CHAPTER V.

“To my best my friends are free,
Free to that and free to me;
Free to pass the harmless joke,
And the tube sedately smoke;
Free to drink just what they please,
As at home and at their ease;
Free to speak, as free to think,
No informers with me drink;
Free to stay a night or so,
When uneasy free to go.”

BLEDDYN soon arrived at the house of Colonel Williams, which was the termination of his journey. It was an old Gothic mansion, a little to the right of Llangalt. The door was opened by Jenkins, the grey-headed butler of the Colonel. Bleddyn rushed by him, and on ascending the small flight of steps that led to the parlour of his revered friend, heard him singing in a high key the following lines:

“Fill the horn with foaming liquor,
Fill it up, my boys, be quicker;
Hence away despair and sorrow,
Time enough to sigh to-morrow*.”

At this moment Bleddyn entered, and perceived the Colonel with a bottle of sack before him. “Ah! Bleddyn,” said he, starting up and cordially embracing him, “welcome to Llangalt. Egad, thou art grown a fine young fellow, the mountain lasses must beware the glance of that eye.”

Bleddyn did not hear the last sentence, for he had imprinted a kiss on the prettiest lips in all Caernarvonshire. “My dear Margaret is grown very beautiful, Colonel.”

“You have not forgot your old phrases, I see. Why aye, the girl, confound her, is well enough; deuce take thee, Meg, not one word of welcome?”

“You know, father, my adopted brother is always welcome.”

“Miss Margaret has not forgot me, however; but I spent yesterday evening with the Meredydd family without being recognized.”

“Why, I suppose,” said the Colonel, “the stately knight was so immersed in detailing to you the genealogy of his family, that his wits were, for the time, gone wool-gathering; and that sullen limb of the devil, Hywel, was too young at the time of your departure to recollect the little playful dog Cynan, in the tall, strapping, and soldierlike form of Captain Bleddyn.”

“And I,” said Bleddyn, “could scarcely trace the slightest resemblance in the gloomy uncouth figure of Hywel, to the little good-humoured boy of twelve years of age.”

“Enough of him, my pretty grenadier Captain; I suppose you have revisited the barren hills of Cambria to pick up a rattle-trap for life, and I suppose, in your crazy poetic way, you imagine you shall find some Cambrian princess, surrounded by the fallen glories of her ancestry, whom it would be a chivalrous trait of honour to match from our mountainous wilderness. But you will find no such a dame, I can assure ye, at Llangalt.”

“You need not be under any apprehensions on that account, I do not aspire to princesses. The being I would seek, must be affectionate, confiding, formed for love, and who would grace the cottage.”

“Enough of cottages,” said the Colonel, “let camps be now the order of the day. Arms and the horn I sing:

‘Fill the horn, ’tis my delight,
When my friends return from fight;
Champions of their country’s glory,
To record each gallant story*.’

“So here’s thy health, my boy, and hope thou wilt soon obtain a general’s commission; and now how is thy gallant commander, Prince Rupert?”

“As active and energetic as ever.”

“And as wild and headstrong. Oh, if he had but one grain of the cold-blooded prudence of that canting hypocritical scoundrel, Cromwell, he would drive him and his psalm-singers to the d—l.”

“With all his foibles I trust we shall have many such days as Round-away-down and Chalgrave-field.”

“And Marston Moor, I suppose.”

“There was the rub, my Colonel; but enough of that. Next campaign will, I think, determine the contest. The rebel army is new modelled, and Fairfax is only the nominal commander. Cromwell is the real general; and, as we all know his enterprising spirit, the contest will be bloody, though, I trust, not doubtful.”

“If I thought so, I would again expose this decayed frame to the carnal weapons of these armed seekers of the Lord.”

“At all events,” said Bleddyn, “the friends of our revered King should strain every nerve in his cause. My commission in these parts is to sound the dispositions of the people, and to endeavour, with the assistance of the well-disposed, to raise a body of recruits to reinforce the main army. How is Sir Llywelyn disposed?”

“Loyal, even to the heart’s core; but as to Hywel, it is impossible to say what he is. His ways are as dark as a fiend’s. Beware of giving him offence. His means of revenge are powerful, yet so secret that the vulgar impute it to magic. It is likewise reported he is connected with the Blue Fleecer.”

“Who is the Blue Fleecer?”

“A base partizan and plunderer in the pay of that rascal Mytton, chief of a gang of wreckers and other desperadoes who infest the neighbouring mountains and coasts.”

“If Hywel is connected with this man, his secret means of revenge are fully exposed.”

“Enough of this, Cynan; and with respect to raising recruits for the main army it is really impossible, for Mytton finds us work enough; and now let us adjourn to breakfast.”

In the evening a servant delivered the following note from Sir Llywelyn:—

“Sir Llywelyn Meredydd hopes for the company of Colonel and Miss Williams, to partake of a collation on Thursday the 29th instant, when Sir Llywelyn Meredydd will endeavour to arrange every thing as befits the descendant of Camber. Sir Llywelyn Meredydd likewise wishes to see Captain Bleddyn; the uniform of his sacred Majesty Charles cannot disgrace the walls of Meredydd Castle.

“Meredydd Castle, anno Domini 1645.”

“A precious epistle, truly,” said the Colonel, laughing, “almost as formal as the sermon of a Presbyterian roundhead. Jenkins bring pen, ink, and paper, instantly.”

Colonel Williams returned the following answer:—

“Colonel Williams and family will make an attack on the roast beef and plumb-pudding of Sir Llywelyn on the day appointed. In lieu of Metheglin he wishes his dish to be flanked with a dozen of aqua vitæ.

“Llangalt, March 25, 1645.”

“You must prepare for a pretty scene on the 29th, Cynan. You must know that the old don, on the death of his wife, which, by the way, was the day before I found you in the notable coracle, repaired to court, and imported from thence a dress truly fantastic; and, I doubt not, he will appear in it on the approaching important day.”

[NOTE1: Owen Cyfeiliog. NOTE2: Owen Cyfeiliog.]


 

CHAPTER VI.

——So high
The rock’s bleak summit frowns above our head,
Looking immediate down, we almost fear
Lest some enormous fragment should descend
With hideous sweep into the vale, and crush
The intruding visitant.

BOWLES.

ON the following day Bleddyn strolled to the village of Llangalt. It is delightfully situated on the river Braich, in a sequestered valley, and embosomed amid mountains of such stupendous height that their summits are seldom visible to the inhabitants below, being generally wrapt in a mantle of clouds. Imagination could not paint a more secluded retreat. Its only opening was at the southern extremity of the valley, if we except a most dangerous mountain path which wound amid the almost perpendicular precipices above. The village itself was mean and straggling. Unlike the neat villages of England, with their green lawns in the centre, spotted with flowering shrubs and fruit trees, this village was even beggarly in its appearance, and the houses were huddled together, without method or order, on a rough stony scite. At its northern extremity, on an abrupt acclivity, appeared the church, a barn-like structure. Our hero ascended this acclivity through a deep hollow, and entered the church-yard, in the centre of which was a groupe of peasants dancing, notwithstanding it was the sabbath. An old man seated on a tomb-stone was scraping a fiddle, which was placed knowingly under his chin; his head was thrown on his left shoulder, as though to catch every sound that flowed from his instrument. This attitude, together with his long peaked chin and hooked nose, gave him a truly ludicrous appearance. Every now and then he stamped with his foot, and the dancers, with arms a kimbo, and bodies stiff and erect, swam about, and resolutely pattered with their bare feet on the rugged ground.

At this moment a woman of singular appearance glided from the hollow way with a slow and tottering step. She appeared to be between sixty and seventy years of age, four feet high, thin, shrivelled, and palsied. Her grizzly locks, which clustered in thick bushes on each side of her sallow forehead, gave a wild expression to her wild and sunken eyes, which was farther heightened by a broad-brimmed hat, which use had rendered tattered and brown.

When this female made her appearance the dancers ceased their amusement, and surveyed her with countenances of awe and reverence, and each, as she passed, made her a low obeisance. Without deigning to notice those marks of respect, she kept on her undeviating course till she came full in front of Bleddyn, whom she thus accosted:—“Young man, who and what are you?”

“The child of fortune.”

“A fickle mother, truly,—one who will plunge thee in a quagmire, and leave thee to perish.”

“Speak her fair, speak her fair,” whispered an old man to Cynan; “otherwise she will certainly overlook* you. It is Mabil Evan the witch.”

“I wish to know who you are,” again reiterated Mabil Evan, standing erect, and staring him full in the face; “more may depend upon that question being answered truly than you, young man, are aware of.—Blood and death,” continued she, muttering to herself, “may be prevented.”

“Good woman, I scarcely know myself who I am, but the world call me Cynan Bleddyn.”

“Cynan Bleddyn,” said she, with marks of great inward perturbation. “Why then, Cynan Bleddyn, the sooner you press the turf, and breathe the air of merry England, the better it may be for thee. I sought thee long, and could not find thee; and now I forewarn thee to fly, for danger hovers near.” So saying, she walked away.

“You had best attend to what she said, young gentleman,” said the same old man who had spoken before; “it is dangerous to provoke her; if you do, you will be a leper before sun-setting. Here,” continued he (looking over his shoulder to see if she was out of sight), “take this sprig of St. John’s wort; place it in your bosom; it will resist her spells.

“Reserve it for yourself, my good friend; as for me, I defy Mabil, and all the witches in Snowdon.”

He then walked away, and with difficulty suppressed a laugh as he perceived the marks of wonder and consternation which his (to them) presumptuous speech had impressed on their countenances.

Imputing the conduct of Mabil to insanity, our hero scarcely gave it a moment’s consideration, and he proceeded to ascend the heights above by the mountain path before mentioned.

The path at first ascended in a zig zag manner up a very steep acclivity; it then wound round a narrow shelf, overhanging a tremendous chasm, several hundred yards in depth, at the bottom of which a large stream of water, which rolled from the heights above, forced its way over a groupe of rocks, foaming and thundering, and hurled into a thousand eddies by irregular obstructions. The source of this cataract was concealed by a projecting rock. On turning this projection he was placed full in front of the torrent, which burst down a steep precipice, and in the centre was split in two by an immense crag fringed with blackthorns. The path now ascended so abruptly, that Bleddyn was obliged to clamber up on his hands and knees; sometimes it wound so near the cataract that he was completely drenched by the spray. After great difficulty he gained the summit, and found himself in a solitary glen surrounded by large masses of black rocks, torn into gullies by tempests and lightning; not a blade of grass, or the slightest mark of vegetation cheered this desolate spot: as far as eye could see was one wide theatre of rocks piled on rocks, and it seemed as though nature in one of her wayward moments had here formed a grand temple dedicated to desolation and horror.

Pursuing his way, he soon disentangled himself from the glen, and a small valley of a very pleasing appearance burst suddenly to view. A clear stream of water meandered through the centre of it, and on a sloping declivity, at its upper end, he perceived a solitary farm-house. A tall raw-boned man, with a countenance indicating mingled archness and simplicity, was foddering a small herd of black cattle in front of the dwelling. The peasant invited him to enter his cottage, and hospitably set before him his best provisions, consisting of boiled milk and bread.

The hut contained only one room, with a hole at one end to let out the smoke from the fire beneath. The furniture was of the most simple kind; stones were the substitutes for stools; and their beds, which were made of dry rushes and hay, were ranged along the sides. Six daughters, the very pictures of health and contentment, their countenances beaming with good nature and intelligence, vied with their father in their attentions to their guest.

After partaking of their humble fare with a good appetite, our hero departed, accompanied by his good-natured host, who insisted on showing him a safer route to Llangalt than that by which he had ascended.

“You seem to be very contented,” said Bleddyn.

“Why, yes, we have few quarrels, plenty of eatables and drinkables, and what can we desire more.”

“Do you reside constantly here!”

“No, and please your honour, this is only our spring and summer dwelling, where we reside in order to be near our cattle and sheep, who stray at grass-time to the mountains. Our winter dwelling in the cwm* below is warmer and better.”

“You have beautiful prospects from your hills, my good friend, which must doubtless add to the pleasures of your situation.”

“Fine prospects may be well enough, but I would rather at any time see a good field of oats or potatoes. I have a son who is always chattering about these views, and writes it down and calls it poetry. He is always bragging about primroses, snow-drops, and violets, which are good neither roasted, boiled, or fried; for my part, I think beans, bacon, potatoes, and cabbage, are much better to brag about.”

“Ah! but consider, my friend, the mind requires food as well as the body.”

“Would the food of the mind fill the barn, or till the long croft? no, it would not even put a quid of tobacco in my box; splutter a nouns, your honour, why my son’s brain is turned, ’tis poetry here, and poetry there, and poetry every where; lack a daisy, we shall see him next running about with the two old brass candlesticks, clicking them together, and fancying he is playing Hob y Deri Dando.”

Bleddyn now halted, to view a large cromlech. It consisted of a flat stone sixteen feet long, two feet thick, and from six to nine feet broad, resting on four upright stones.

“Aye, that’s another of my son’s gew gaws,” said the peasant; “he, forsooth, calls it the tomb of a great fighting man, when all the world knows it is one of King Arthur’s quoits.”

“Indeed,” said Bleddyn, smiling, “why then he must have had a strong arm.”

“Yes, your honour, he was so tall that his head reached above the clouds, the ground trembled as he walked, and the back of his chair was three miles wide. He could stride seven leagues at a stride, and could carry a hundred such quoits as you see there in his waistcoat pocket.”

“It seems he was very fond of playing at quoits.”

“So he was, and could pitch such a quoit as that from the highest peak in Snowdon to the top of Cader Idris.”

“Your part of the country seems to be full of wonders; you have a witch here I believe.”

“Aye, young gentleman; you mean, I suppose, Mabil Evan. Speak no evil of her, for the sake of St. Winifred; who knows but some of her familiars may be lurking about invisible to us; for ’tis said,” continued he with an inward shudder, “that she has hundreds of invisible teats, which nourish as many imps, who perform her secret offices.”

“Is she then a mischievous witch?”

“Deadly when offended; I myself hurted Megan, her favourite greyhound, and the following morning I found one of my goats with his neck broke, at the bottom of the Ogwen precipice.”

By this time they had arrived at the edge of a high and steep precipice, and perceived beneath the village of Llangalt, which, from this point appeared embosomed in a grove of oaks. The peasant now took his leave, and Bleddyn proceeded down the track towards the village. It wound round a ledge of rocks, and in the descent the limpid waters of the Braich, stealing along the mazes of the vale, glittered at intervals through the opening vistas of underwood, which fringed its banks. He now advanced along the natural lawn that sloped to the skirts of the village, and was soon seated at the hospitable fire-side of Colonel Williams.

“Well, Cynan,” said the Colonel, “how do you like your excursion?”

“The scenery was beautiful and romantic, but I have met with a very strange woman; Mabil Evan is her name.”

“Oh, aye! she is a true specimen of our ancient Cambrian fair, and deserves to be recorded as the eighth wonder of Wales. She was formerly one of the best rowers and fishers of the day, and was queen of the lake. She was a good fiddler and joiner, shoed her own horses, made her own shoes, built her own boats, and made her own harps*.”

“She is likewise a witch, I believe?”

“With the above qualifications, no wonder the simple mountaineers think her possessed of supernatural powers. But they are confirmed in their opinions by the strange circumstance, that when any person offends her, he is sure to meet with some untoward accident. Her means of vengeance is to me a secret, but I strongly suspect she is connected with the Blue Fleecer.”

[NOTE1: Bewitch. NOTE2: Pronounced coom, a dale. NOTE3: Founded on fact.]


 

CHAPTER VII.

This hour we dedicate to joy,
Then fill the Hirlas horn, my boy,
That shineth like the sea;
Whose azure handle tipp’d with gold,
Invites the grasps of Britons bold,
The sons of liberty.
       *       *       *       *       *       *
Badge of honour, badge of mirth,
That calls the soul of music forth,
As thou wilt thy life prolong,
Fill it with Metheglin strong.

OWEN CYFEILIOG.

ON the appointed day, Colonel Williams dressed himself in his buff surtout and brown boots, and set out for Meredydd Castle. Miss Margaret attended him in a green riding habit and a little straw hat, with a bunch of green ribbons in front, under which flowed, in graceful ringlets, her light brown hair; and I must here record that her blue eye assumed a softer expression, and her blooming cheek a deeper vermilion, when addressed by the handsome soldier-like Bleddyn.

Colonel Williams and his young friends soon arrived at Meredydd Castle, and were instantly ushered into the grand hall.

This was a large gloomy apartment, of a curved form, and, according to appearances, might be one hundred feet long and thirty broad. A huge staple was fixed in the ceiling, where, in former times, many a gallant knight had expiated offences committed against the Meredydds. The walls were decorated with a profusion of antique swords, pikes, helmets, and breast-plates, with funeral achievements and spoils of the chase. Over the dais, or elevated upper end, were blazoned the family arms. A carved oak table was loaded with a profusion of viands, among which appeared sirloins of beef, capons, and custard puddings.

At the head of the table sat Sir Llywelyn, with the air of an eastern monarch. A high steeple-crowned hat, surmounted by a red feather, a red mantle bordered with gold lace, an immense pair of red breeches, ornamented with points at the knees, purple stockings, and rich laced shoes, completed his magnificent display.

On his right hand sat the Bard, in his white vest and blue badge of bardism.

Hywel was seated on his left hand, in a lieutenant’s uniform.

The remainder of the company now arranged themselves. Rhysal Jones, major domo of the knight, appeared with the salt-cellar, which had been purposely delayed, that the ceremony of the Gostegyr Halen might be performed in the presence of the guests.

The party now commenced operations, and the clatter of knives, plates, and forks, was, for a long time, the predominating sound; at length Sir Llywelyn made an observation on Bleddyn.

“Yes, Sir,” Llywelyn said, “the Colonel is my former protegé, and willing to fight heartily for his country.”

“In that case, I hope he’ll do honour to our Trojan ancestry.”

“Do you believe that fable?” said the Colonel.

“Yes, Sir, and so does Geoffry of Monmouth.”

“That authority is very questionable.”

“Gyraldus Cambrensis.”

“Tacitus says, we are a branch of the Celtic nations.”

“Sir John Price and Humphrey Llwyd oppose it.”

“Julius Cæsar comes into my opinion.”

“And Leland into mine.”

“Well, Sir Llywelyn, on the supposition that it is so, what honour is it to be descended from a race of wandering vagabonds.”

Colonel Williams had now touched a tender string. To impeach the authenticity of the descent of the Cambrians from the heroes of Troy, or to impeach the honour of those heroes, Sir Llywelyn considered as insults to himself personally, and to his country.

Margaret, who saw the storm gathering, by the flushed brow of the knight, endeavoured to direct the conversation to another channel, by making a trifling observation.

There was, however, no occasion for her interference, for Colonel Williams, not disposed for any farther argument, had poured out a horn of aqua vitæ, and after returning thanks to Sir Llywelyn for attending to the hint conveyed in his note, drank to the top beam of the great hall.

“I should rather that pledge had been given in metheglin,” said Sir Llywelyn.

“That metheglin is the classic beverage of Wales, I deduce from the Triads,” said Maelgwn; “numberless eulogiums on it may be traced in the writings of the Bards, of both ancient and modern date; nay, Taliesin goes so far as to say, that in mead is the gift of poetic inspiration. Royalty, even in modern days, has approved it; for Queen Elizabeth, of glorious memory, had annually a large stock imported from Treyr Castle.”

“To these authorities I bow with all due reverence,” said the Colonel, “with the exception of the Triads. I do not believe in their authenticity.”

“And I believe them to be,” said Sir Llywelyn, “venerable relics of antiquity, almost coeval with our graceful, energetic, and melodious language; which is, moreover, a branch of the Jaspian, or that dialect of the Hebrew spoken by the posterity of Japhet.”

“The number three,” said Bleddyn, “was held in peculiar veneration from the era of Pythagoras to the extinction of Druidism; and I, for one, believe in their authenticity. It is well known that the Druids recorded historical events by oral tradition; and the concise form of the triad rendered it a suitable vehicle for that purpose.”

“True,” said Maelgwn, “and most of my predecessors mentioned them with respect, especially Taliesin.”

“I again bow with all due reverence to these authorities,” said the Colonel.

Sir Llywelyn now arose with great dignity from the table, and opening an ebony cabinet, drew from it an hirlas, curiously enriched with gold ornaments, and mounted on a stand elegantly designed of the same metal.

“This,” said Sir Llywelyn, in a solemn tone, “is the identical horn which Prince Owain Cyfeiliog drank out of, after his glorious victory at Wrexham, and which he celebrated by one of the finest poems in the Cambrian language. He presented it to one of my ancestors, who greatly contributed to the success of that important day.” After this prelude, he filled it with metheglin, and standing erect, gave confusion to the enemies of his most sacred majesty Charles. He then emptied the horn at one draught (though holding at least a quart), and after blowing a blast, that made the vaulted roof of the hall re-echo, handed it to Colonel Williams, and the ceremony was repeated by all the remaining company (Miss Williams having retired). Bleddyn observed that when Hywel drank he gave one of his ominous smiles.

It was the custom, at that time, for every one in company to drink the horn off at one draught, and then blow a blast to show he had not flinched. The horn now made many circumvolutions, and a marked change began to appear in the party. The Colonel and Maelgwn sang a few loyal catches. On one of those occasions, when the Colonel had fairly worn out the Bard by superior strength of lungs, Hywel, addressing himself to the Colonel, exclaimed with emphasis, “Bravo, Colonel Williams, you have won the silver harp; you sing both loudest and longest.”

“Such mockery does not become Meredydd’s heir,” said Maelgwn, surlily.

“And I will sing with any of Brute’s descendants for a dozen of port or aqua vitæ,” said the Colonel.

“I understand your raillery, Colonel Williams,” said Sir Llywelyn, “but considering you are in Meredydd Castle, I shall not resent it; and to prove I am descended from Camber, son of Brute, grandson of Æneas, celebrated by Homer and Virgil, Maelgwn shall recite our pedigree from myself, upwards.”

Colonel Williams, however, who dreaded this ceremony, begged Sir Llywelyn to reserve it for another opportunity.

But the topic was so congenial to the feelings of Maelgwn, both as affording an opportunity of gratifying his patron, and of displaying his genealogical knowledge, that he commenced in a voice broken by frequent hiccups.

“Llywelyn, the son of Conan, the son of Gruffyd, the son of David, the son of Eneon, the son of Anarawd, the son of Madog, the son of Cadwallader, the son of Grono, one of Glydwr’s chief heroes, the nephew of Llywelyn, surnamed the pacific, the son of Owain, the son of——”

“The devil,” said Williams, impatiently.

Sir Llywelyn, with his face convulsed by passion, now arose. “Colonel Williams of Llangalt,” said he, “you have forfeited the hospitality of Meredydd Castle; you have grossly insulted me in the person of my ancestor Sir Owain Meredydd, Baron of Conwy, who nobly, under the banners of Prince Llywelyn, fell a martyr for the liberty of his country.—Yes, Colonel Williams of Llangalt, you have grossly insulted me and my ancestors, who were ennobled by rank and honours when yours tended goats on Carnedd Llywelyn.”

“And mine were faithful and honest,” said Colonel Williams, in his turn enraged, “when your long musty roll was stained with blood, murder, and massacre.”

“I will not tamely listen to such language in Meredydd Castle,” said Hywel, starting up, bending a petrifying glance on the Colonel, and laying his hand on his sword.

A much less cause would have provoked the Colonel, who mortally hated Hywel. He therefore drew his sword, saying, “Young man, I am not to be frightened by looks or words; I still know how to chastise a stripling.”

“Hold,” said Bleddyn, rushing between the drawn swords of the Colonel and Hywel, “before you hurt a hair of his head, you must first hew way through my heart.”

“Avaunt, foolish boy,” said Hywel, “lest you meet with the chastisement intended for that hoary malignant.”

The latter expression seemed to have escaped him unawares in the hurry of passion, and was immediately seized upon by Bleddyn.

“That sentence reveals the infamous roundhead, and corroborates the statements I have before heard respecting your apostacy. Do you know the Blue Fleecer?”

“This to thy heart,” said Hywel, with a demoniac smile, and making a desperate lunge with his sword, which Bleddyn with difficulty parried. Several desperate passes were exchanged, and Hywel was slightly wounded in the sword arm, ere the domestics, whom Sir Llywelyn had summoned, could separate them.

“This blood shall not fall unrevenged,” said Hywel, foaming with rage, and struggling to burst from the grasp of the domestics, as they hurried him out of the hall.

“You may go hence untouched,” said Sir Llywelyn; “but remember, my ancestors would not have been so forbearing,” casting a significant look at the staple before-mentioned.

“Believe me, my dear Sir Llywelyn,” said the Colonel (from whose head the fumes of aqua vitæ were fast evaporating) “I am sorry, very sorry, this unlucky affair should have occurred, and to you I do not disdain to make a suitable apology,—but as to Hywel, I think he is justly punished.”

“Colonel Williams of Llangalt,” said the Knight, “I cannot accept your apology; you have insulted my ancestors, and your companion has shed the blood of their descendants in their hall of Meredydd. I cannot therefore, consistently with the respect I bear those ancestors, accept any apology from you.” So saying, he stalked out of the room.

“This is an unlucky affair,” said Bleddyn.

“Never mind it, my boy. If the temper of the Knight is so testy and obstinate, he may chew the cud of resentment till domesday; and as to Hywel, I am glad you marked him.”

Colonel Williams and Bleddyn now departed with Miss Margaret, who at that moment entered; and the party soon arrived at Llangalt.


 

CHAPTER VIII.

——Young Celadon
And his Amelia were a matchless pair.

       *       *       *       *       *       *
They lov’d; but such their guiltless passion was,
As in the dawn of time inform’d the heart
Of innocence and undissembling truth.

THOMSON.

EARLY on the following morning a messenger delivered a note to Captain Bleddyn, desiring his immediate return to the army.

“Thank God,” said Bleddyn, “we shall soon have an opportunity of avenging the wrongs of our dear master.”

“What! the rebels are in motion, I suppose,” said the Colonel.

“Yes, and I must depart instantly to join the army.”

“Deuce take it,” said the Colonel, “I thought I should have accompanied you, and have left my dear Meg in safety at the old Knight’s. The quarrel yesterday has prevented this. I have, however, collected about a score sturdy fellows who would face the devil; they shall march under your orders. I will arrange my private affairs as quick as possible, and set off to join you. I have likewise procured a servant for you.”

“You oppress me with the weight of obligation.”

“Hold thy peace, man. Do’st think I bred thee up, and gave thee a good education to turn thee adrift at the mercy of every wind? The fellow I have procured is a sly, hardy dog, faithful and trusty. I suppose you recollect the young fellow who acted the part of your guide to Meredydd Castle.”

“Yes; and I likewise recollect the eager manner with which he deposited the bounty I gave him in a box, which appeared to be amply replenished.”

“I suppose you thought him an avaricious fellow; but you were never more mistaken. David, for that is his name, has long been betrothed to that pretty little wench who accompanied him from the hut; but the honest fellow is resolved not to marry till he can provide for her in a comfortable manner, and he often denies himself the necessaries of life in order to add to the contents of his pinchbeck box.”

“An honourable trait, and worthy imitation.”

“You will find many such traits among our peasantry.”

Colonel Williams then proceeded to muster his array.

I shall now take the opportunity of informing my reader of some circumstances not hitherto much touched upon.

From infancy the most marked predilection for each other had existed between Miss Williams and Captain Bleddyn; and when he returned, and found those beauties ripened which had so indelibly impressed his imagination, when he found her mild, considerate, and accomplished, his smothered passion burst out with uncontrollable violence. During his short stay at Llangalt he had renewed his accustomed walks with the lovely object of his ardent passion. To their susceptible minds those rambles were peculiarly delightful; every scene recalled some tender recollection connected with the happy days of infancy. Here Bleddyn had gathered wild flowers, and formed them into a garland to grace her glossy hair. There she had permitted the fluttering robin to escape which Cynan had taken in the neighbouring blackthorn. Beneath that old scathed ash they had often sat and listened to the legendary tales of Mabil Evan, the reputed witch of Nant Monad. Every hour their mutual attachment was cemented. The Colonel himself unwittingly contributed to this reciprocal predilection by making Margaret exert her varied talents for the entertainment of their guest.

The circumstances that occurred at this period are thus related in a letter from Miss Williams to a friend:—

 

Miss Margaret Williams to Miss Emily Musgrave.

DEAREST EMILY,

“I now write to inform you of an event that has raised a strange commotion in the breast of your friend. Joy, sorrow, hope, and despair, alternately agitate it.

“Now methinks, after this formal exordium, which may remind you of the starched manner of those stiff-necked roundheads, you will exclaim,—what, my little demure cousin! in love, I suppose. Even so, dear Emily, and the object is such as your Margaret need not be ashamed to acknowledge. Generous, brave, and romantic, yet as mild as an infant;—his mental accomplishments are only exceeded by his personal attractions.

“And who is this Adonis? you will say. Ah; the splendid train of chivalrous qualities with which your imagination may have dressed him must vanish at the horrid name of Bleddyn. Yet that is his name, and you may possibly remember that little mischievous urchin whom my father found in such a strange manner at Penmaen Mawr. That is the personage. Why my father had him christened by that harsh-sounding name I am at a loss to conjecture, except it was to perpetuate the name of a friend who died without issue some time previous to the event.

“You may possibly wish to know his profession, which accords with his chivalrous character. He is Captain in Prince Rupert’s regiment of body guards; and my father, who, like an old campaigner, is enthusiastically attached to the military profession, would, I sometimes think, have no objection to his taking me ‘for better for worse.’

“But is the heart of this Captain of dragoons yours? you will say. Yes, my dear girl. You know the little saloon where we have so often sat, and admired the glorious orb of day rising over the snow-capt Snowdon. There this self-same Captain, who had so often driven the rebels before him,—who had so often braved death in its worst shapes,—kneeled trembling at my feet, and, with a piteous look, told me, I was dearer to him than life. I could scarce help smiling at his humble posture before such a weak insignificant being as myself; but, however, I frankly owned I loved him.

“You, who are so peculiarly susceptible of the generous in human nature, must admire this idol of my heart when I inform you, that, far from pressing me to any clandestine act, he told me, that if success smiled on his military career, he should demand me of my father at the close of the campaign, and that the consideration of the glorious prize he should obtain (meaning poor me) would nerve his arm in the day of battle, and support him in all his difficulties and privations.

“Well, to this I made no objection;—but now comes the worst part of the story. He is going to join the army immediately, in consequence of a very pressing message; and my mind is tortured with apprehensions lest his impetuous spirit should urge him into unnecessary danger, and oh! agonizing idea, to death!

“Do, dearest Emily, come to Llangalt, and soothe those melancholy hours which his absence will create.

“Dear girl,

“Yours affectionately,

MARGARET WILLIAMS.”

The Colonel now appeared with his small troop on the lawn in front of the house, caparisoned and mounted at his own expence; and after having formed them in line, entered the house.

“Captain,” said he, “I collected this corps principally to act as your escort. I will not attempt to deny that your route, owing to the foraging parties of Mytton, is rather perilous.”

“I return you thanks, my dear Colonel; and now I will proceed. Farewell, my sweet Margaret; I trust we shall soon meet again under happier auspices.” Then, unable to bear with temper the tears that fringed her silken eye-lashes, Bleddyn rushed out, and mounted his charger.

“Egad,” said the Colonel, “thou art very eager to get to work. I remember I was so at thy time of life, and now (addressing himself to the serjeant of the party), Owain, you must obey the orders of this gentleman till I join you, which I intend to do with as many mountaineers as I can collect, if they are not wanting to oppose Mytton. Boys, be sober and orderly;—trot;”—and the whole party set off at a smart pace.

“Farewell, my dear Colonel,” said Bleddyn, putting himself in motion after his small party; “when you rejoin us I hope we shall be in London.”

We must now take a view of the proceedings at Meredydd Castle.

In the morning Hywel scarcely spoke a word. The affront he had received the preceding night rankled in his heart. Dark and moody; he seemed to be brooding on some desperate enterprise.

As soon as breakfast was concluded, he rose abruptly from the table, and repairing to a dark part of the ruined wing of the castle, paced impatiently backwards and forwards, ever and anon listening, as though he awaited the arrival of a messenger. At length a servant of the castle appeared. “I proceeded to Llangalt according to your directions,” said he, “and have just learned that the person who wounded you last night is going off in the course of an hour to join the army of the king, attended by about twenty recruits.”

“Our enterprise will be difficult,” said Hywel, his brow darkening; “however, prepare to attend me in the glen of the waterfalls by ten o’clock. I expect the Blue Fleecer will have arrived by the time I get there. Get as many of the wreckers together as you can;—remember ten o’clock.”

Hywel now glided from the ruins, and proceeded down a track under the southern wing of the castle. Large quantities of brushwood which protruded across it rendered it in some places almost impervious. Pressing onwards through the varied impediments that opposed his progress, he at length entered a deep and sequestered dell, where the lofty impending cliffs above almost excluded every ray of light. A cascade, resembling the celebrated cataract of Stanbach in Switzerland, tumbled down a ledge of rocks, fringed with tufts of blackthorn and alder bushes, into a large basin in the glen.

“Holla, my dear Ned, art arrived?” said Hywel.

“Aye, almost these two glasses, you fair weather jack. What cheer, brother; what cheer?” and he immediately began whistling a sea-song with great composure.

“Bad enough,” said Hywel, his eye glaring with a ferocious expression; “I have been wounded by a mere stripling—a boy;—but the rascal shall not go hence unscathed. How many troopers have you collected? I suppose you received my note this morning.”

“Aye, and have piped on deck twenty stout men of war, rigged and mounted.”

“Thanks to your diligence, my dear Ned; I shall this day drink deep of revenge.”

The Blue Fleecer now advanced, and confronted Hywel. He was a person exceeding the middle size, with features deeply seamed with the small pox; a profusion of sandy hair, and piercing grey eyes, gave rather a pleasing effect to his countenance, but yet there lurked in his eye a dark and sinister expression. His was the eye that could melt with tenderness, and flash with fury.—He was dressed in a complete suite of blue, from which circumstance, united with his predatory habit, he received the name of the “Blue Fleecer.”

“If I understood your lingo right,” said he, “you wish me to board this land-shark and his h—— spawn.”

“Yes; and we must be quick, or they will escape us. I have dispatched a servant to collect the wreckers. But observe, if the business can be done without coming to a regular fight (you understand me), it will be better, as this part of the country, which at present is in the hands of the partizans of Charles Stuart, would be instantly alarmed. There is a thicket of alders in the pass of Nant Monad within pistol-shot of the path they must pursue; a shot from that thicket will do the business, and besides, my dear Ned, you can securely retreat after the affair is done.”

“Split my timbers! I don’t like the job that way. I should rather fall foul of his quarters, and exchange broadside for broadside fairly, d’ye see.”

“What! art turned chicken-hearted, Ned?”

“Avast there, brother shipmate, fear never boarded me, fore nor aft, larboard nor starboard; but there is a day of account to come, and old Davy may receive the reckoning.”

“Oh! if that’s the case, good bye to all such lubbers; but I know that of this same land-shark, as you call him, that would alter your tone.”

“Splice my top-mast! what’s that?”

“Do you know Winifred Lewis?”

“You foul-weather bird, what d’ye ask me that for?—you know I do.”

“Why, only this. This youngster sneaks over the moor sometimes, and a poor sailor will have but a slender chance with a handsome dragoon Captain.”

“D—n him,” said the Blue Fleecer, flinging his hat on the ground, “I’ll mark him if I swing for it.”

The two associates now concerted their plan of operations; and after collecting their party, which received additional strength by the arrival of Hywel’s servant, and about a dozen wreckers, proceeded at a rapid gallop in the direction of Nant Monad.


 

CHAPTER IX.

Then spurt were dash’d in chargers’ flanks;
They rush’d among the adverse ranks;
No spears were there the shock to let,
No stakes to turn the charge were set.

SCOTT.

WE must now return to Captain Bleddyn, who proceeded at a brisk pace in order to overtake his small party, but hearing a clattering behind him, he turned his head, and perceived his servant David (whom in his hurry he had left behind) posting after him. The moment he looked at David, he was prepossessed in his favour. His person was slender, but apparently agile and buoyant. His dark eye and fresh-coloured cheek were in the true Cambrian style, and a good-humoured smile sat on his countenance.

“I think it proper to inform your honour,” said he (with a low bow), “that several ill- looking fellows have just passed among the bushes at the foot of the hill, on which stands Meredydd Castle, and gone towards Nant Monad.”

“A hunting party, I suppose, David; let us mend our pace.”

They now proceeded at a gallop, and soon perceived their companions descending the steep declivity leading into Nant Monad. A huge projecting rock gradually hid their line of march.

Bleddyn and David had just begun to descend this declivity, when on an eminence to the right (which, according to tradition, was once the spot where one of the Cambrian heroes was entombed) they were startled by the appearance of Mabil Evan the witch. A large black cloak was flung over her shoulders, and afforded a horrible contrast to the cadaverous appearance of her countenance; a broad-brimmed hat, under which escaped a few straggling locks of grizzly hair, almost concealed the wild expression of her faded grey eyes. Lifting her thin (I might say fleshless) arm in an attitude of admonition, she spoke thus, in a deep, sepulchral tone, directing her looks to Bleddyn.

“Enter not, touch not, the grey stones of Nant Monad; mayhap they may be thy carn; there is an adder in the path that will sting thee.”

“Thank you, my good dame, and now you have said my fortune, take this (offering her a crown) to buy you a new cardinal.”

“I want not your silver,” said she, with a repulsive motion. “Mark me, young man, this form and these grey hairs may soon rot within the silent tomb: this is not then a time for jests or mockery, and I again repeat that death is in thy path!”

So saying, she glided from the eminence, and was soon lost amid the stunted blackthorn bushes at its base.

“She walks nimbly for one of her age,” said Bleddyn, “turning his horse towards Nant Monad.”

“She’s leagued with the devil for certain,” said David; “she has been seen on the top of the eagle tower of Caernarvon castle, and the next moment by her own fire-side in Nant Monad; but for the sake of St. Winifred you are not going forward, please your honour.”

“Do you think I mind an old woman’s tale,” said Bleddyn, putting his horse briskly forward.

David muttered something about “fools must have their own way,” and then galloped after his master.

They soon came in sight of their companions, who had halted to refresh their horses at the river Braich, which at some distance beyond burst thundering down the rough Aren. Above them rose the terrific Clogwen, apparently in the act of falling. A little beyond, a large stream of water, obviously occasioned by the recent heavy rains, burst from the overhanging precipice, and after meandering along the valley at its base, was lost in a thicket of alders. About a pistol-shot from this thicket, the path which they were pursuing passed over a large range of level ground, and beyond this wound in a zigzag manner up a steep precipice that led out of the glen.

The advanced party of the detachment now began to move forward, and Bleddyn joined the rear just as it put itself in motion. He was passing the stream of water before described, parallel to the thicket of alders, when a pistol was fired from that direction, which slightly grazed his forehead, and lodged in the breast of the trooper beyond, who, muttering a deep groan, fell headlong into the stream.

Instantly about thirty horsemen, dressed (apparently disguised) in red woollen caps and blue jackets, defiled from the thicket, and formed along its front with great celerity.

A person muffled up in a dark military cloak now galloped along the line, and appeared in the act of ordering a charge, when David, drawing a pistol from his holster, exclaimed, “the first his arrow, the first his sickle!” took aim, and fired; the ball took effect in his sword-arm, which immediately fell useless by his side; at the same moment his horse ran ungovernable into the thicket.

This event seemed to occasion great confusion. Several men galloped after their wounded leader; the remainder appeared undecided, till a stout square-built man, drest in blue, rushed to their head. “D—— ’em,” said he, “let us give ’em a broad-side, and then grapple with ’em.” The whole line now fired a volley, and charged in a disorderly manner along the plain.

Bleddyn, in the mean time, had formed his small troop in line, with his usual promptitude. “Reserve your fire, my boys, till I give the word; steady, charge!”

The small party now rushed forward in a compact body, till within a few paces of the enemy, when, at the word fire, each took a deliberate aim, and emptied at least half a dozen saddles. The adverse fronts now closed, and a desperate conflict with the sword took place.

The confused manner in which his opponents made their charge, gave Bleddyn, at the first onset, a decided advantage, and he beat them back several paces. But their great superiority in numbers soon made the affair doubtful.

“Strike, Villain,” said the Blue Fleecer, making a determined attack on Bleddyn, who contented himself with merely parrying his deadly thrusts, till his antagonist was nearly exhausted; then with a tremendous blow he stretched him, stunned, on the ground.

Several troopers now rushed before the body of their fallen leader, whilst others lifted him in their arms, and carried him out of the field. The small party who still resisted, were now charged impetuously by the party of Bleddyn, who overthrew them, and pursuing their rapid career, followed them into the thicket. The advance here got in confusion; the ground was totally unfit for the manoeuvres of cavalry, being intersected by deep gullies, and covered with underwood. In consequence, they lay in irregular detached groups, exposed to the dropping fire of the enemy, who now took a leisurely aim from behind the trees and bushes, and did considerable execution.

The consequence was, that Bleddyn was obliged to draw off his party, and re-form them on the plain. From thence they could observe the enemy in full retreat, sometimes visible through the opening vistas of the thicket, and then again lost amid the entangled bushes.

“Serjeant!” said Bleddyn, “you are thoroughly acquainted with the ground, what say you to a pursuit?”

“Why, Sir, if I may advise, I think it best to content ourselves with the good drubbing we have given them; the Blue Fleecer has doubtless more parties concealed in the mountains, and as to the ground, it affords every advantage to a retreating and none to a pursuing enemy.”

“I agree with you, Owain, and now, my gallant fellows, I return you my hearty thanks for your bravery in the late affair. You have given these roundheads a specimen of what their comrades may expect if they dare penetrate to your native hills.”

“An army of stags led by a lion, is better than an army of lions led by a stag,” said David; “and your honour may have forgotten how you struck the Blue Fleecer off his horse; no man ever unhorsed him before.”

“True!” said several voices, “and with our gallant Captain to lead us on, we would face Hywel Meredydd, old Mabil Evan, or the devil.”—Bleddyn smiled at this strange association of names.

“You must know, an please your honour,” said David, “Hywel is leagued with the evil one, and deals in magic. I have, myself, seen him and old Mabil talking together at midnight, attended by a third person, who always vanished at my appearance.”

“Speaking of Hywel Meredydd,” said an old veteran, “I noticed that when David Price wounded their leader, the cloak in which he was muffled fell aside, and revealed the devil in Hywel’s shape, or Hywel himself.”

A sudden light now burst upon Bleddyn; he recollected the expressions used by Colonel Williams, respecting a connexion between the Blue Fleecer and Hywel, and remembered the deep threat of revenge used by the latter on the preceding night; he did not hesitate, therefore, to ascribe it to his agency.

He immediately dispatched the following note to Colonel Williams:

“DEAR COLONEL,

“I was attacked in Nant Monad by a large party, led on by the Blue Fleecer, and a person I have some reason to believe was Hywel Meredydd, who was wounded by David at the commencement of the onset. Owing to the bravery of the small party under my command, they were beaten back with the loss of half their party. I write this to put you on your guard against the secret machinations of that blood-thirsty villain Hywel. For God’s sake speedily remove, with my dear Margaret, to a place of safety.

“CYNAN BLEDDYN.

Bleddyn, after transporting his wounded companions to a place of safety, again set forward with his small party, now reduced to fifteen men.

On passing through Merionethshire, Bleddyn was struck with the romantic character of the surrounding scenery. The lofty mountain, throwing its craggy crest to the sky, the thundering cataract rolling down its side, and the sequestered valley, presented a regular gradation from the sublime to the picturesque and beautiful.

Bleddyn joined the army on the day preceding the important and decisive battle of Naseby.


 

CHAPTER X.

Whate’er men spake by this New Light,
Still they are sure to be i’ th’ right;
’Tis a dark lanthorn of the Spirit,
Which none see by but those that bear it,—
A light that falls down from on high
For spiritual traders to cozen by.

BUTLER.

UNDER the Tudors a spirit of liberty gradually gained ground in England. Man, freed from the shackles of monkish ignorance and superstition, began to speculate upon and define his inherent rights. The prerogative of royalty, considered for ages as sacred and divine, now began to be freely canvassed; they were found in several instances to militate against the safety and liberty of the subject. It required all the policy of even an Elizabeth to confine this spirit within the bounds allotted it for ages, though never was a monarch more loved and venerated by her subjects than the Virgin Queen. With her name were associated glories which had seldom encircled the royal diadem. She was the arbitress of Europe, and the proud conqueror of the Invincible Armada; she was placed on a level with the heroes of Agincourt and Cressy; and was she not likewise the goddess of her emerald isle—the idol before which the generous, brave, and wise, paid their devoirs? Was there not something romantic and peculiarly suited to that chivalrous age in a young vestal queen, in the midst of a gallant and noble-minded people, thrown unprotected on their generosity?

If Elizabeth, with all those advantages, could not prevent the murmurs of the people from reaching her throne, could it be expected that the pedantic James, or his unfortunate successor, were to repose in security?—could it be expected that what the people had reluctantly conceded to one they loved, would be continued to those they did not even esteem? James was unfortunately impressed with the highest notions of his prerogative; he considered himself the Goliah, and his subjects the diminutive Israelites, whom he was destined to drag shackled to his footstool, or trample on at his pleasure. His venal courtiers re-echoed his arrogance. He was styled God’s vicegerent, the property of his subjects was declared his by divine right, and his person was pronounced sacred and inviolate. This was undoubtedly the creed of his predecessors; but James should have perceived that a revolution had taken place in men’s minds, and that they were little disposed to respect those notions promulgated in popish or feudal times.

The principles he had advocated with the pen he taught his unfortunate successor to defend with the sword. Charles, though an eminent example of every private virtue, and one who would in happier times have been considered the father of his people, was in this instance as infatuated as his predecessor, with this difference in the motive:—James considered he was defending his own hereditary right,—Charles conceived he was protecting a vital part of the constitution. The latter therefore proceeded on a generous principle; and the acts from which originated the loss of his crown and his life had been committed by Elizabeth with impunity.

The contest between the unhappy Charles and his Parliament during the first part of his reign, and the success of the Parliament, are too well known to need repetition here. The retreat of the King to York, and the raising of his standard at Nottingham, and the subsequent bloody and disastrous civil war are incidents of equal notoriety.

If the Parliament had only curbed the prerogative where it militated against the liberty of the subject, they would have merited and received the thanks of posterity; but, impelled by an ambitious thirst of power, they continued their sanguinary career, and overthrew that constitution which they sought at first to purify.

To oppose their unprincipled encroachments a large portion of the wise and good flew to arms. I say wise and good; for even the patriot Hampden ceased to be a patriot when he lifted his sword against his hereditary sovereign, after that sovereign had granted all the reasonable demands of his subjects.

Never was there a more singular army than that by which at this period the Parliament was supported. The majority was of the sect denominated Independent. More fanatic than their Presbyterian brethren, they aimed at the abolition of all order and subordination. Every individual was valued in proportion to his progress in the Work of Grace, and the person who could point out the exact time of his New Birth, was entitled to saintship. He then imagined he possessed something within his breast superior to any honour, dignity, or emolument, which human institutions could confer. The officers exercised the office of chaplains during the intervals of action, and the soldiers employed themselves in ghostly conferences. Sermons and exhortations resounded from every tent, and the dictates of their distempered imaginations were ascribed to the descent of the Spirit from Heaven. These exhortations were a canting jargon, founded on perverted scriptural texts. Whilst preaching peace and goodwill they committed deeds at which humanity shudders, and then sacrilegiously proclaimed that those deeds were dictated by the Almighty. They tore down the bulwarks of society, and in the place of generous sentiment, universal philanthropy, and rational piety, endeavoured to establish spiritual pride, bigotry, and a religion totally incompatible with reason or philosophy.

Their leader Cromwell was a personage who knew how to direct their enthusiasm to its proper channel. Artful and designing, yet to appearance more deeply religious than any of his contemporaries, it has often been disputed whether he was a hypocrite or an enthusiast. The former appellation is undoubtedly the most proper. He affected religion because it was absolutely necessary, in order to secure his influence over the minds of his fanatical soldiery. He was artful and designing by nature. He was a brave soldier, but not a good general. He owed his elevation to his consummate art in penetrating into the characters of men, and his victories were more owing to the energy of his troops than his own tactical skill. The Royalists were as opposite in principle to their opponents as light is to darkness;—they treated with every epithet of derision and contempt their inward lights, their wrestlings, and their regenerations. They were actuated by the most exalted motives in their noble struggle. Defence of their King, rendered dear to every generous mind, in his misfortunes,—defence of their estimable constitution,—defence of their undefiled religion, attacked by the most horrid doctrine ever promulgated. These were excitements sufficient to kindle in every breast that enthusiastic energy which bears down all opposition; but their generals, burning with revenge and hatred, unfortunately undervalued the military prowess of their opponents. With them to attack “the roundheads, the psalm-singers,” was to rush to certain victory; they therefore precipitately engaged in the battle of Naseby, which was decisive of their fate.


 

CHAPTER XI.

Rather than fail they will defy
That which they love most tenderly;
Quarrel with minc’d pies, and disparage
Their best and dearest friend—plum-porridge.

BUTLER.

THE evening before the battle of Naseby our hero strolled from his tent. The sun had sunk below the horizon, and the shades of night had buried in gloom the smiling creation. The evening star faintly glittered in the heavens; but the moon had not yet risen above the distant dark hills. It was an hour suited to solitary—to melancholy musing. “How many of my gallant countrymen,” said Bleddyn (mentally), “will this time to-morrow be breathless on the dark damp ground?—how many will hail the rising sun, lighting the beauties of their native land, who will never see it rise again. Yes; that orb which was wont to rouse them to the occupations of peace and love will tomorrow awaken them to blood and death, and oh! bitter reflection! to mutual slaughter!—Briton against Briton!—brother against brother!—and all to satiate the blood-thirsty ambition of one of the worst of fanatics.”

Such were some of the thoughts that passed rapidly through his mind as he traversed the camp of the King. There all was riot and noisy mirth; obscene songs resounded from tent to tent, filled with the bitterest execrasions against their opponents, and mingled with shouts of revenge and defiance. “The roundheads!” “the fanatics!” “the psalm-singers!” “the rebellious rascals!” were the epithets lavished on them by every tongue, and each seemed to be impressed with a conviction of certain victory in the approaching struggle.

Bleddyn had now attained an eminence from whence he could perceive both armies. They were drawn up opposite to each other, with only a narrow range of ground between them. At intervals, when the night guards were relieved, the flourish of the trumpet, and the deep boom of the drum, swept wildly up the valley, and their arms glittering in the moon-beams reflected the light in reiterated flashes. Again all was still, save the distant murmur of human voices, sounding like the hollow noise heard before an impending tempest.

Bleddyn, concealed by a small thicket, now crept near the advanced party of the Republican army. How different the scene to that he had left. The hymn and the pious ejaculation supplied the places of the obscene jest and song; prayers and exhortations, those of riotous intemperance and indelicate oaths; and if fanaticism had been foreign to the question, he would almost have respected them.

The commander of the party was addressing them in the following exhortation:—

“Brethren in the work of grace, we must still put on the arm of the flesh;—the sons of Zeruiah are still too strong for us; the temple is still defiled; and woe to him that draws back from the good fight, like the backsliding generation of Belial. Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord; curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. I likewise say unto ye, have no communings with the wicked Israelites. Can you touch pitch, and not be defiled? Have they not forsaken the Lord, and served Baal amid Ashtaroth? Have they not bowed before the Golden Calf at Bethel? Yea, I say unto ye, their sins are an abomination in the land; every step in their dancings is a step to hell; their play-houses are devils’ chapels; their play-haunters imps of Satan; their church-music bleatings of brute-beasts. Choristers bellow the tenor as it were oxen; bark a counterpart as it were a kennel of dogs; roar out a treble as it were a sort of bull’s; and grunt out a bass as it were a number of hogs*.—Oh! God of Sion, when wilt thou root out the blasphemers from the land, and redeem the blood of thy Saints. Verily, I say unto ye, fellow saints, that prelacy is a whoremaster, having pollution with the strumpet of Babylon. Wrestle, therefore, with the man of sin; yea, let us attack the wicked Jeroboam, the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. Let the high praises of God be in your mouth, and a two-edged sword in your hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written:—this honour have all his saints. Praise the Lord!

 “Oh! ye saints, fall not away from the work of grace, from the Light of your Father, the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, and the corner-stone of your salvation; let not the rose die, nor the lily fade, nor the corner-stone be removed in your breasts. Lo! the Holy Spirit descends refreshing as the dew of Heaven. I see it there; it is the glass that reveals the wicked deeds of the children of Israel, a hammer to pound and destroy the sinful. I see a light brighter than the tables on the mount. I hear a voice louder than the roaring lion. It says, ‘arise, root out, and utterly destroy the children of Israel, and leave not a remnant in the land’.”

He ceased, and the whole party, in an ecstacy of devotion, knelt down, and uttered a fervent prayer. Bleddyn turned away, more than ever convinced of the difficult task of opposing men actuated by such enthusiastic impulses.

It was midnight when be retraced his steps to his tent. The council had just broke up which had determined on giving battle to the enemy on the following morning. Silent and thoughtful, each individual glided to his tent; nothing broke the solemn, the solitary hour, save the sighings of the wind, and the distant chaunts of the Republican army, bursting at intervals on the “ebon ear of night.”

[NOTE: Prynne.]


 

CHAPTER XII.

——Havock rears her hideous form,
And prostrate rank expiring lies:
Conflict upon conflict growing,
Gore on gore in torrents flowing,
Shrieks answering shrieks——

GWALCHMAI.

THE morning sun arose in sublime majesty, and ushered in the fatal day on which rivulets of British blood stained their devoted country. Both armies still faced each other, and only awaited the signal of their leaders to begin the work of death and desolation. Captain Bleddyn, as aide-de-camp to Prince Rupert, attended him to a little eminence, where a large group of officers was assembled. He was particularly struck with a personage in the centre of this group. He was of the middle stature, and elegantly formed; his countenance was pale and sorrowful, yet sweetly interesting; the fire of his full dark eye was almost extinguished by a melancholy expression; his hair was black and glossy, except where a few grey tresses appeared, and his demeanour was affable and dignified.

“I have completed my arrangements,” said Prince Rupert, “and am ready to advance the enemy.”

“You are always forward,” said the King, “sometimes too forward (a mournful smile), but I have to request you all, if providence should bless us with victory, to use it with temper and moderation, and spare the blood of my poor misguided subjects.”

At this moment a group of officers passed slowly along the front of the Republican army, apparently in the act of reconnoitring the position of the Royalists.

“There go the principal saints of the godly tribe of Judah,” said the Prince: “there’s Stand-fast-on-high Skippon, Fly-debate Fairfax, Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith Ireton, Faint-not Fleetwood; and that grim looking fellow in the centre, with the terrible nose, is old Kill-Sin Noll himself; what a bloody beak!”

“It rather resembles a meteor,” said Sir Marmaduke Langdale, “and is doubtless ominous of their approaching fate.”

“Would I was within sword length of him,” said Prince Rupert, “I would make his iron skull-cap rattle about his ears.”

“What a godly pace! what saintly visages!” rejoined Sir Marmaduke; “the ground is too carnal for their eyes to look upon. One would imagine they were invoking the ‘stars in their courses to fight against Sisera’.”

At this moment the Republican officers entered the line.

“Now prepare,” said Prince Rupert, “for a sermon, psalm, or perhaps the song of Deborah and Barak.”

His words were confirmed; for some of the officers immediately began addressing their comrades with vehement gesticulations; some regiments sang the 149th psalm, and others shouted “the sword of the Lord and of Gideon!”

“These men,” said the King solemnly “are not to be easily beaten. Every one of you must, this day, do his uttermost in the good cause. As to myself, I would willingly fall a martyr to the constitution and the good of my people, if such a sacrifice would promote their welfare and happiness. I feel my heart die within me, when I reflect on the rivulets of English blood which must this day be shed, but it cannot be averted, and the moment is fast approaching. Repair, therefore, to your respective stations, and await the signal for battle. Do not be precipitate (looking significantly at Prince Rupert), or we shall be undone. Farewell, then, my dear fellows, and may we meet again in victory*.” The whole group now dispersed, and galloped to their allotted posts.

 The arrangements were as follows: the main body of the Royal army was commanded by Lord Astley. Prince Rupert led the right wing, Sir Marmaduke Langdale the left, and the King himself headed the body of reserve. On the opposite side Fairfax and Skippon commanded the main body, Cromwell led on the right wing, and Ireton the left.

When Prince Rupert rejoined his part of the line, that portion of the enemy opposed to him were singing the first verse of the 68th psalm:

Let God arise, and then his foes
Will turn themselves to fight,
His enemies for fear shall run,
And scatter out of sight.


The fiery eye of the Prince flashed with hatred, as he said to Bleddyn, “I will stop the bawling of these fellows at all hazards. I shall, doubtless, disobey orders, but victory will seal my pardon.” With these words he galloped to the bead of his troops. “Come, my boys, my brave boys,” said he, “let us fight and fight heartily;—on! charge! for St. George and old England.” With a tremendous shout of “St. George and old England,” the whole body rushed along the plain. Vain was the desperate resistance of the enemy; they were overthrown and completely broken.

Such was the impetuosity of this charge, that the foremost troops, in confused masses, got within range of the enemy’s artillery. “Forward, forward, my gallant fellows!” said the Prince, “let us silence these guns, and the day is our own.” With loud shouts the troops again rushed forward. The carnage was here dreadful; the first discharge of the artillery swept off whole columns, and the second literally made lanes through the thick masses which rushed tumultuously to the very muzzle of the guns. Vain were the reiterated attempts of the Prince, and he was obliged to draw off his squadrons broken and dispirited.

In the mean time, the main bodies of each army, chiefly composed of infantry, had engaged. The conflict was here desperate and sanguinary. Man opposed to man, owed the victory to his physical powers alone. Bitter taunts and execrations were uttered every individual, and each fought as though he contended for an empire. The places of the fallen were immediately filled by those pressing on behind. The heavens were one wide canopy of smoke, and the sun was totally obscured. Shrieks and groans, mingled with shouts, and the incessant roar of musquetry, rent the air.

In spite, however, of the utmost efforts of the Republican leaders, their troops were beginning to give way, when a noise, resembling the roar of a furious torrent, was heard on the left flank of the Royalists. Down with the Israelites, down with the wicked Jeroboam, was shouted by a thousand voices, and in the next moment Cromwell, who had defeated the division of Sir Marmaduke Langdale, charged the Royalists in flank. The charge was so impetuous, that the first line of infantry was cut down, and the second, after firing a volley, experienced the same fate. The confusion now became general; whole columns threw down their arms, and fled, and the remainder, after a desperate conflict, were totally routed.

By this time Prince Rupert had rejoined the King, but his troops were so dispirited, that they could not again be brought to charge. The King, casting a significant glance at Rupert, threw himself at the head of his reserve, and was about to charge, when the Earl of Carnwarth perceiving his intention, seized the bridle of his horse, and turning him round exclaimed, “will your Majesty rush to certain death?” The troops seeing this motion, wheeled to the right and dispersed.

All was now lost. The King and his principal officers sought safety in flight, and the diadem of the Edwards and Henries was won by a base fanatic.

[NOTE: If any of my readers should doubt the propriety of putting these sentiments into the mouth of the King, let him read the “Icon Basilike.”]


 

CHAPTER XIII.

By mine honesty,
If she be mad (as I believe no other),
Her madness bath the oddest frame of sense,
Such a dependancy of thing on thing,
As e’er I heard in madness.
By mine honesty,
If she be mad (as I believe no other),
Her madness bath the oddest frame of sense,
Such a dependancy of thing on thing,
As e’er I heard in madness
.

Measure for Measure.

ON the intelligence arriving at Llangalt, of the defeat of the King at Naseby, Colonel Williams immediately saw the necessity of effecting a reconciliation with Sir Llywelyn, in order to direct the whole energy of the Royalists, in that part of the country, in defence of the common cause. This, after sundry formal messages on the part of Sir Llywelyn, he accomplished, and they immediately determined to repair the dilapidated fortifications of Meredydd Castle, and to provision and garrison it. Soon the old walls resounded with the clang of arms and the rattling of the cannon over the broken pavement of the court-yard.

Colonel Williams was now in his proper element; he disciplined the garrison, directed the workmen who were employed in constructing the fortifications, and, in fact, superintended every thing. As to Sir Llywelyn, he was as delighted as a child with its first penny rattle. “It reminds me of the days of Prince Ivor,” said he; and when the tattered lion was hoisted over the donjon, he clapped his hands in a kind of extacy, and broke out into an histerical laugh.

“That flag makes my heart sing for joy,” said Sir Llywelyn, when his emotion was subsided; “it is the very flag carried by my ancestor Sitsylht, at the battle of Carmarthen. How nobly it graces my castle of Meredydd.”

“Suppose,” said Colonel Williams, “these all-conquering round-heads should tear that flag from its station?”

“It cannot be—it shall not be,” said Sir Llywelyn. “No, whilst one stone remains on another—whilst I have one man left who will defend it, that flag shall hurl defiance on the apostate wretches who have dared to lift their swords against their lawful Prince.”

“Spoken like a true Cambrian,” said Colonel Williams, giving him a hearty slap on the back.

The Knight now slowly turned round, and was doubtless going to give the Colonel an angry lecture on his want of respect when the latter was called away, and Sir Llywelyn, with solemn steps, entered the castle.

The castle stood on a steep conical hill. Its southern wing was rendered invulnerable by the steep precipice mentioned in the beginning of this history. The eastern and northern wings, besides being secured by the moat, which was both wide and deep, were rendered almost inaccessible by the abrupt declivity at its base. A few old-fashioned culverins were therefore deemed sufficient for its perfect security. Its most assailable point was the western face; the two towers flanking the archway, and the ponderous portcullis, however formidable in days of yore, were but a weak defence against artillery. Colonel Williams, therefore, determined to construct a redoubt at the mouth of a defile or deep hollow, about the distance of a musquet-shot from the archway. This redoubt completely commanded the only point by which the enemy could approach, and was secured from being turned by the cannon from the northern ramparts on one side, and by a steep eminence, which was bristled with cannon, on the other. So well was the Colonel satisfied with the appearance of the castle, that he exclaimed with a loud oath, “that with 300 good fellows, and plenty of eatables and drinkables, he would undertake to hold it out till domesday, though the round-heads were led on by their chief patron, the devil himself.”

With respect to provisions, they were pretty well stocked from the numerous mountain-herds in the vicinity; but, notwithstanding every exertion of the Colonel, aided by Sir Llywelyn, they could only collect about one hundred and fifty men.

Of a letter which Colonel Williams received at this period from Captain Bleddyn, it will be only necessary to give the following extracts:—

“The unfortunate battle of Naseby, from which I escaped unhurt, is the ruin of our cause. All our artillery and baggage are taken; and the King, with a very slender remnant of his once fine army, is fled in the direction of Oxford.

“This terrible disaster was owing to the rash conduct of Prince Rupert; for if he had, after breaking the troops opposed to him, charged the main body of the enemy, instead of making the fruitless attempt on their artillery, we should have had a glorious victory.

“I shall shortly rejoin you at Llangalt, being directed, in conjunction with the well-affected in North Wales, to make the best resistance we can.—Remember me to my dear Margaret.”



A few days after Colonel Williams received this letter, Captain Bleddyn arrived at the castle with his servant David, and about thirty men, principally stragglers from the army.

I shall not now, my gentle reader, although I have abundant precedents, give thee an account of all the tender words that passed between Captain Bleddyn and Miss Margaret, or of the kind words that passed between him and Colonel Williams, Sir Llywelyn, and his other friends at Meredydd Castle, but shall merely present thee with some extracts from a letter written by Captain Bleddyn to a friend a few days after his arrival:—

“Ever since the dawn of reason I have felt the greatest uneasiness respecting the mystery of my birth, and I have used every means in my power to unfold it, but all my efforts have been unavailing. I, however, strongly suspect Mabil Evan is somehow or other connected with it. Her mysterious appearance on the beach, the incident in the church-yard, her affection for me in my infancy, and the strange warning she gave me at Nant Monad, corroborate this opinion. She likewise met me on the day I entered the Castle, and in emphatic language desired me not to enter it. ‘There is a tiger there,’ said she, ‘that will rend thee;—do not trust to his meek looks, for then he is preparing to spring on thee.’ I advanced to question her farther, but she walked off in her usual mysterious manner.

“It is strange, but there is something very connected in this woman’s insanity, for insane I am persuaded she must be. Her prediction at Nant Monad was very near being realized; and Hywel Meredydd is a tiger by nature. I have every evil to apprehend from him, though, when I entered the castle, he cordially shook me by the hand, welcomed me to Meredydd Castle, and hoped our past enmity would now be converted into the purest friendship. I found it necessary to act warily; so I readily entered into a reconciliation, resolving at the same time to keep a watchful eye on his actions. I observe that he is absent every day for a considerable time, and as the Blue Fleecer is known to be lurking in the neighbourhood, I think I am pretty certain to whom those visits are made.”



“You cannot conceive what a great favourite I have become with Sir Llywelyn. He has taken it into his head that I resemble his ancestor Sitsylht, who fell at the battle of Carmarthen, and whose portrait is in the Castle. Nay, all here are infected with the same mania. I think myself there is some similitude, and if, as a certain physician said, ‘an idea has the power of moulding a foetus in utero,’ my mother must frequently have had this picture in her ‘mind’s eye.’

“As to Sir Llywelyn I very much respect him; his greatest foible is too much veneration for the glories of his ancestry. This is, however, an amiable foible; for what can be more soul-ennobling than a long line of noble forefathers?

“I am just now informed that Mytton has detached a large force to lay siege to the Castle.”


 

CHAPTER XIV.

He was a manly youth,
Daring in the tumult;
A swift thick-man’d steed
Carried the handsome youth
.

GODODIN.


I MUST not omit to mention that Captain Bleddyn was particularly active and successful in augmenting the garrison of the castle. During the time he had been at Llangalt, he had mingled in the diversions of the neighbouring peasantry, and listened with complacency to their favourite legends. This, with the impression he had made on their minds in conquering the red Hywel and the Blue Fleecer, made them listen to his advice with respect and deference.

At a little distance from the castle was a small level glen, celebrated as the spot where the game of knappan had been played from time immemorial. It was in a sequestered situation, and the only way in which it could be approached without the most imminent danger was by a small and narrow horse-track winding between two smooth and perpendicular rocks.

Knappan is a diversion (if it may be so called) peculiar to Cambria. The players frequently amount to several hundreds, parish against parish, and hundred against hundred. The signal for commencing the contest was a loud shout, and a hard slippery ball of wood, after being hurled upright in the air, was caught by one of the opposing parties, who threw it towards the spot he played for. To such a height was the spirit of opposition carried, that the game generally ended in a desperate affray.

On one of these occasions the peasants of the parishes of Llangalt and Caernarvon, to the amount of several hundreds, were contending at the above-mentioned game. The contest was severe, and party animosity ran so high that a quarrel ensued. The parties, as usual, separated; and, repairing to the hedges, immediately tore up stakes, oak saplings, and whatever weapons they could procure. They were meeting in a menacing attitude, when Bleddyn appeared in sight, mounted on a spirited palfrey. On seeing the posture of affairs, he put his horse forward at a gallop, dashed in between the adverse fronts, and spoke in an authoritative tone. “Put up your weapons; for shame, men of Cambria; is this a time for private quarrels,—when the enemy is at our gates,—when the sword is uplifted against your lawful sovereign,—when your wives and children are in danger of being murdered, and your cottages burnt to the ground.”

The combatants fell back (though not before the leaders had given and received several heavy blows), dropped the ends of their weapons on the ground, and surveyed him with mingled looks of reverence and affection. “We were only going to exchange a few blows for the honour of our parishes,” said one of the leaders, with the blood streaming down his cheeks; “we have no ill-will against one another.”

“Mark me, my friends,” said Bleddyn; “what honour is there in being the most expert in tossing an insignificant ball? Is it a game worthy the attention of men? No; it is a mere boyish amusement. Do not your souls point out a nobler game? Will you tamely engage in such ridiculous amusements when the enemies of your king and country remain to be beaten?”

“No, no,” shouted several voices.

“Why then, follow me. I will be your general, and the rewarder of merit. Let us rush together to combat those wretches who have dared to plunge their native country in a bloody and exterminating civil war.”

“Lead on, lead on,” said a hundred voices; “we will follow you whithersoever you go.”

They immediately closed round him, and attended him in triumph to the Castle.

A few days after this, when Captain Bleddyn had in some measure disciplined his new recruits, he formed them in a circle in the court-yard of Meredydd Castle, and after presenting them with a pair of colours, on which was depicted cavalier grasping a drawn sword, and the motto “Death or Liberty,” thus addressed them:—

“Fellow countrymen, in presenting these colours to you, I know I present them to men who will not disgrace them. Your general conduct justifies that opinion. Now I wish to draw your attention to motives of action high and honourable. All of you have wives, daughters, sisters, or mothers,—and will you permit those dear pledges of love and affection to be torn from you, or, perhaps, murdered before your eyes? Will you suffer your fields and cottages (endeared to you by a thousand tender recollections) to be plundered and desolated by a band of lawless fanatics? I see, by the kindling of your eyes, and the spontaneous motions of your hands to your swords, you will not; and, fellow countrymen, I can paint to you still higher motives of action. You love, you reverence the name of Llywelyn; you love and reverence his descendants. Such a descendant is Charles, our present gracious and virtuous monarch,—yet has this band of base wretches risen in rebellion against him, and driven him from the capital of his ancestors. Yes, my countrymen, those blood-stained rebels have driven that monarch from his capital, in whose veins flows the blood of Cambria’s patriot-hero the illustrious Llywelyn.—Resist, even unto death, their unprincipled encroachments, and let the motto on the colours I now present to you in the hour of danger be engraven on your hearts. Devote your whole souls to ameliorate the wrongs of your weeping country.—But she may not weep for ever;—the star of glory which glittered on the bright crests of Caradog and Llywelyn may yet shed her beams on the standard of our virtuous monarch, and light the way to victory.”

He ceased; and the soldiers, kneeling on the ground, swore, in the face of Heaven, to conquer or die.


 

CHAPTER XV.

Hang out our banners. On the outward walls
The cry is still—they come; our castle’s strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn.

SHAKSPEARE.


ONE morning, as Colonel Williams and Captain Bleddyn were walking on the ramparts of the castle, a small body of troops was observed to enter the mouth of the glen which skirted the south-western extremity of the bill on which the castle stood. After a momentary halt, during which a group of officers advanced from the line, apparently to reconnoitre, they again moved forward, and defiled round the base of the hill. Successive heavy columns of troops pressed after their comrades, covering gradually the whole glen. The scene was singularly picturesque; a thicket of blackthorns, opposite the west front of the castle, hid their line of march. After emerging from behind it, they halted and formed in one solid column in front of the accessible part of the castle.

By this time the garrison was called to arms; the ramparts were manned, and a large body pressed forward, and occupied the redoubt and battery.

“Get your guns ready, my boys,” said Colonel Williams; “if they stop there three minutes longer, we’ll pepper their jackets. But hold a minute, my lads, for here comes a flag of truce.”

Two persons detached themselves from the main body of the enemy, one of them bearing a white flag. With slow and measured pace they moved along with heads erect, and bodies thin, stiff, and perpendicular. Not a single part of the outward man moved except the legs. Their faces were so thin, so pale, and so puckered, that, as Lord Clarendon said of the citizens of Gloucester, “they were enough to move the most severe countenance to mirth, and the most cheerful heart to sadness.”

Colonel Williams and Bleddyn hastened to confront them; they met in front of the redoubt, when the foremost of the messengers, in a sharp shrill tone, lifted up his voice, and sang,—

“Oh sing ye now unto the Lord
A new and pleasant song;
For he hath wrought throughout the world
His wonders great and strong.
With his right hand full worthily
He doth his foes devour;
And gets himself the victory
With his own arm and power.”


“I assure you,” said Colonel Williams, “we want no choristers, so I desire you to cease your screeching, and inform me what is your business here.”

“Why, verily I say unto ye, I summon ye to give up to the Lord your strong hold of Michmash.”

“And verily I say unto thee,” said the Colonel, “come and take it.”

“Then thus saith the Lord, go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both men women, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” When he had finished this denunciation, he folded his arms on his breast, turned up the whites of his eyes, made hideous contortions with his mouth, turned round like a pivot, and stalked slowly away. About the middle of the defile, on the right hand, was a steep declivity, terminating in a stagnant pool. Here the speaker accidentally lost his balance, and rolled in. “Ichobad, Ichobad,” said he, floundering about in the mud, “my glory is departed. I wallow like a sow in the mire.”

“Lo, I am cast into the clay-ground between Succoth and Zarthan,” said the other, who in endeavouring to extricate his companion, fell in headlong, and stuck fast in that position, with his heels exalted in the air.

This ludicrous scene occasioned loud bursts of laughter in the redoubt, and when the objects of this mirth extricated themselves from their dangerous situation, they resembled two pillars of mud. Their eyes faintly glimmered through the thick coats of mire which bespattered their cheeks, and as they again slowly moved down the hill, they sung, in a broken treble,

“Thus are we made a laughing-stock
Almost the world throughout;
The enemies at us do mock
Who dwell our coasts about.”


A short time after they rejoined their party, a flag, on which was depicted two hands, one holding a bible, the other a sword, with the motto “Pray and Fight,” was hoisted in front of their line; and Colonel Williams ordered a general discharge from the artillery, which seemed to make some impression on them. Several fell, the whole body faced about and retired behind the thicket, though not before a second discharge had done great execution.

“The roar of the Meredydd lion has already put them to flight,” said a voice behind Colonel Williams.

The Colonel turned round, and beheld Sir Llywelyn. He was equipped in a complete suit of armour, bloody, rusty, and battered. A huge helmet was placed on his head, but so large and unwieldy, that when his visor was up, his face appeared like a mouse crept into an enormous periwig. At every step his armour loudly rattled; a ponderous sword was girded to his side, and in one hand he held a large horse pistol.

“I say once again,” said he, in a loud voice, “the Meredydd lion has already put them to flight, let us rush in pursuit.”

“The rascals have only fallen back behind the thicket to get out of the reach of our guns,” said the Colonel, scarcely able to restrain his risible faculties.

“I say nay, Colonel Williams of Llangalt, I say nay; let us rush forward; cased in the armour of my ancestor, Sir Owain Meredydd, Baron of Conwy, I am invincible.”

At that moment a large column of the enemy emerged from behind the thicket, and advanced towards the foot of the hill. “Here they come,” said the Colonel, springing into the redoubt, “stand firm, my brave boys, we shall tan those fellows’ hides soundly.”

The enemy now began to ascend the hill a determined and resolute pace. The artillery, from the ramparts, did but little execution, in consequence of the broken nature of the ground, which rose in abrupt and craggy banks on each side of the track by which they ascended. The conduct of their leader was cautious in the extreme: when the ground over which they marched was particularly exposed to the range of the artillery, they fell flat on their faces till the discharge was made, and then leaping on their feet, glided rapidly under cover of the nearest bank. By these means they reached the mouth of the defile without sustaining any material loss. Without halting a moment, they plunged into the defile, and pressed on towards the redoubt. Now it was that the artillery began to play with effect, whole masses were swept off, yet they advanced with the most obstinate pertinacity. “Let not your hearts faint within ye,” said their leader, “I have wrestled with the Lord, and revelations have been made me that the Philistines, and Agag their general, will be delivered this day into your hands.”

They now sprang forward, and attempted to escalade the redoubt. Several of the party gained the walls, but were immediately cut down. Fresh columns, however, supplied the place of those who had fallen, and in consequence of the retreat of Hywel Meredydd and a large party under his command, they effected a lodgment in the body of the redoubt. It was now that Sir Llywelyn displayed unexpected mettle. “The Meredydd lion shall not be bearded in his den,” said he, first discharging his pistol, and then his enormous, rusty, and blood-stained sword, stalked into the ranks of the enemy, and Colonel Williams afterwards declared that their musquet-shots rang on his armour like a sledge on a blacksmith’s anvil. He confronted the leader of the enemy, but ere his sword could descend, he unfortunately stumbled over a stone, and fell with a loud crash on the ground.

“The lion of Meredydd is down,” said the Colonel, “we must not permit his royal haunches to be gored by those yelping mongrels.” So saying, he charged the small body who had entered the redoubt, broke them, and a dreadful carnage ensued in the confusion that followed. Those who were within, in endeavouring to effect their escape, were obstructed by those from without endeavouring to get in. They remained in this confused state for a considerable time, exposed to a dreadful fire from the artillery and musquetry in front and flank. At length, their leader ordered a retreat, and throwing himself in the rear, endeavoured to preserve order. His efforts were vain, the rear rank appeared anxious to get in front, and their rapid retreat was soon changed to a disorderly flight.


 

CHAPTER XVI.

Gentle, gentle, gentle woman!
Where she loveth gentle ever!
Where her heart first turneth to man,
There her fondness cooleth never.

PENNILLION.

ON the following morning the enemy were perceived in several columns, stationed round the base of the hill, apparently determined to convert the siege into a blockade.

The following extracts from a letter written by Miss Margaret Williams to a friend, will illustrate some topics connected with this history:

“I write to you with a bursting heart. The enemy have laid siege to the castle, and all is confusion and horror.

“Little did I think, when wandering with you amid the delicious vales at the foot of our Cambrian Alps, I should see those fair scenes of nature blood-stained and desolate. Little did I think to see the peasant throw away his pibgorn, and grasp the sword. Little did I think to hear the songs of the village changed to the shriek of death.

“I still remember how, in my infancy, I dressed every scene of life in glittering sunshine; how I fancied the world was one wide theatre of happiness. And then it was so. To possess the earliest primrose, the sweetest violet, or the fairest hawthorn—to sit beside some babbling stream, and form nosegays with the yellow daffodil or crimson cowslip, or skim over the grassy meadows in pursuit of the painted butterfly, were then objects of pleasure and ambition. All was peace and rapture, and every hour brought some novel joy on its wings. Now ’tis gone like the sweet melody of a fairy harp, which vibrates for a moment, and then passes away. Like a traveller, who, after passing through a delightful valley, enters upon a dreary waste, trackless and blasted by the forked lightning, I contemplate the future. To me it is a dismal chaos of storms and tempests.”



“Never can I forget my agonizing sensations, when the enemy made their attack yesterday. My father and Bleddyn were there. Almost distracted, I wished to rush to the window, but was withheld by the horrid expectation of seeing them stretched bleeding on the ground. At length the noise of battle redoubled; I sprang forward; I beheld Sir Llywelyn extended on the ground, and the objects of my solicitude among an host of enemies. My senses sickened; I thought I saw a thousand swords pointed at their breasts; a mist came over my eyes, and I fainted.

“When I recovered, the tumult had ceased, and I soon after beheld my father and Bleddyn walking, in perfect safety, on the ramparts.”



“How dreadful is the prospect now before us. The Castle must be eventually given up, and almost every being whom my soul holds dear will be torn from me, and perhaps led to death. I am agonized at the thought, and my heart dies within me.”



The following are extracts of a letter from Captain Bleddyn to a friend:

“You have, doubtless, heard of the repulse we gave the enemy yesterday; but, alas! it is of no avail. The flag of the Republicans waves triumphant in every corner of the kingdom; and, with the exception of a few detached fortresses, the King has lost every thing. Our utmost efforts will only enable us to hold out the Castle for a few days.”



“How frail are the expectations of man! I anticipated a glorious victory at Naseby. I had painted years of happiness with my beloved Margaret. Images of joy danced before my soul, sweet as the southern breeze, murmuring amid a bed of roses. The ideal dream is vanished, and I need not tell you all the visions that are blasted by its flight.”


 

CHAPTER XVII.

I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven, or to hell.

SHAKSPEARE.


DARK and malignant, the heart of Hywel Meredydd still rankled with hatred against Bleddyn and Colonel Williams, and he determined to gratify that hatred, even though he should hurl his father into the same vortex. For several years he had been an accomplice with the Blue Fleecer in all his depredations, and had latterly secretly joined with him against the Royalists. He had a small party in the castle entirely at his devotion, and these were the troops who, under his directions, retired from the redoubt during the assault; a circumstance which bad nearly been attended with fatal consequences.

On the morning after the assault, he secretly repaired to the dell mentioned before in this history, and arranged with his accomplices a plan to surprise the castle after night-fall.

A party, led on by the Blue Fleecer, was to march up the hill apparently to attack the redoubt, in order to draw the attention of the garrison to that point; whilst the remainder, led on by their commander, was to penetrate from the glen through the underwood that covered the hill beneath the southern ramparts. Hywel was to contrive that his immediate associates should be posted in that part of the castle, and was to admit the assailants by a secret postern.

“My dear Ned,” said Hywel to the Blue Fleecer, “now our companions are gone, we may throw off our sanctity. This youngster cannot escape us now; he must die.”

“——Many a slip
Between the cup and the lip,”

said the Blue Fleecer. “Recollect the Nant Monad job.”

“Recollect,—a fig!—I say we have him secure; and by Heaven he shall die, die, die.”

“Be it so then. I’ll steer to the windward of him,—not but what I’d grapple the d——’s own galley, though he himself threw boiling brimstone from the top-gallant mast; but this younker is a brave ship, a gallant ship, i’faith. I don’t know how it is, but I shouldn’t like to drive him on the shallows.”

“That’s my affair now,” said Hywel.

“Well, well, if he is a breaker a-head, kill him, and be ——, for aught I care, so I’ll drink success to our cruise in a bottle of good old sack,

‘For merry boys be we;
And merry let us be,
And dance like the leaves on the aspen tree.’”


“You are very poetic this morning, Ned.”

“Avast heaving; I know nothing about that child’s rattle; but I can bouse on deck a jolly song or two.

‘At Plymouth speedily
Took they ships, gallantly;
Braver ships never were seen under sail,
With their fair colours spread,
And streamers o’er their head;
Now, bragging Spaniards, take cars of your tail.
Dub a dub dub,
Thus strikes the drums;
Tan ta ra ta ra ra,
Englishmen comes.’”

“Well sung, Ned; but it is now time to cease this foolery, and be up and doing. When the clock of the castle strikes ten you must lead on your party up the hill.”

“The ten o’clock bell
Will sound thy knell,”


said Mabil Evan, entering the mouth of the dell, with her usual hesitating pace.

“How now, Mabil,” said Hywel; “are you all poetry-mad to-day?”

“Mad! Hywel. I am almost mad. Would thou wert mad; would thou hadst died in the womb, that the world might not have been pestered with such a villain.”

“Marry and amen; but if a man had used such language, I would have made his body a lump of carrion for crows to peck at.”

“Mayhap thine own body may be so extended before sun-rising.”

“Away, beldame.”

“This to her who bred thee, and fed thee! thou art a serpent who would sting the breast of her who nourished thee.”

“Be gone, thou raving idiot, lest I crush thy old brittle bones to atoms.”

“A raving idiot!—and what art thou?—Art thou not on the eve of committing a murder,—a parricide; and shall I (for thou knowest who I am) withhold my warning voice? I say unto thee, desist,

‘Lest the ten o’clock bell
Should sound thy knell.’”


With these words she tottered away.

“Old Mabil is become a driveller,” said Hywel, “an old crazing simpleton. Recollect her warning, indeed!—remember ten o’clock, Ned. Good bye; we shall meet on the ramparts of yon castle.”—So saying, he walked off abruptly.

Nothing important occurred during the reminder of the day; the garrison continued at their posts, and the enemy remained stationary.

It was nearly ten o’clock as Colonel Williams and Bleddyn walked out on the ramparts. They had noticed the absence of Hywel in the morning, and suspected to whom his visit was made; but they had hitherto made no discovery that could directly implicate him in holding a secret correspondence with the enemy.

“I think the actions of Hywel should be narrowly watched,” said Colonel Williams. “I know he is capable of any villany.”

“I have directed David,” said Bleddyn,” and a small party of trusty fellows to observe what is passing on the point where Hywel is stationed; but surely he cannot be villain enough to betray his own father.”

“Believe me, my dear fellow, the ties that bind man to man are to Hywel as bubbles in the sun. His breast is a focus where all the evil passions of our nature are concentrated, and the master passions are malice and revenge.”

At that moment the clock struck ten.

“We will now hasten from the ramparts, Bleddyn.”

“Stay a moment, my dear Colonel;—what is that moving from behind the thicket?”

The Colonel looked in the direction pointed out, and could plainly perceive, by the flashing of their arms in the moon-beams, a large body of troops gliding round the foot of the hill.

“The enemy are again moving on the redoubt, and I must hasten to give them a proper reception, Cynan.—You had better hasten to the southern ramparts, and counteract Hywel if he has really any plot in hand.”—So saying, he hastened away.

Scarcely had the Colonel disappeared when distant clash of swords struck the ear of Bleddyn, apparently proceeding from the quarter to which be was hastening. The tumult increased, and several volleys of musquetry reverberated through the castle. As he glided rapidly along his course he was arrested by some one grasping his arm. “Stay, stay,” said the voice of Mabil Evan, “you rush on certain death!”

“Unhand me, woman.”

“Stay, but for a moment;—if you fall, the only prop of a noble house will fall;—you are not the lonely branch you seem to be;—you—— ”

“I cannot stop now,” said Bleddyn, bursting from her grasp, and springing forward.

He soon perceived that the enemy had obtained a footing in the castle; a large body had posted themselves on the ramparts, whilst another column was advancing along the court-yard in the direction of the grand entrance. This corps was considerably retarded in its march by the small party of David, who disputed every inch of ground with determined courage.

The blood of Bleddyn boiled in his veins as he saw Hywel Meredydd at the head of the assailants. “Follow me, my gallant fellows,” said he, as he threw himself at the head of the small party of David, who immediately formed in a close phalanx, and charged the enemy. This movement was so sudden, that their first line gave way, and Bleddyn, rushing forward, attacked Hywel sword in hand. “Fiend! parricidal villain!” said he, “defend thyself, one of us must fall.” The defence of Hywel was desperate; but he could not withstand the impetuous attack of Bleddyn; he reeled under his blows, and in the act of falling was pierced through the heart. “Wretch, thou hast conquered me,” said Hywel, gasping for breath, and casting a dark and malignant look at Bleddyn;—“would I could hew from thy heart as many pieces as there are stars in yonder sky, and that every incision would give thee greater pangs than those I now endure. But I shall be avenged,” said he, casting a bewildered glance on his companions, who now crowded to the scene of action. “I may yet share in it,” continued he, endeavouring to arise; his efforts were vain, a stream of blood gushed from his wound, his face grew deadly pale, and, turning his faded eye on Bleddyn, uttered with difficulty, “d—d, d—d villain,” instinctively grasped his sword, and fell back lifeless.

By this time the enemy had enclosed Bleddyn and his small corps on every side. Vain was every effort to break through their line, and, overpowered by numbers, they were, after a desperate resistance, compelled to surrender.

A small party, after disarming Bleddyn, hurried him out of the surrounding press, and delivered him into the hands of the troops stationed on the ramparts. From thence he could perceive that all was lost. The garrison, taken by surprise, were fighting in insulated groups without any determinate plan. Some kept up a dropping fire from the windows of the western wing; another party was fighting valiantly before the grand entrance, a third had thrown itself into the towers flanking the archway, and from its loopholes kept up an incessant fire on the enemy, and a desperate contest appeared to be going forward at the redoubt. The castle resembled an immense volcano, throwing out volumes of smoke and flames in every direction.

Bleddyn gazed on this scene with agonized feelings, till he was desired by the soldiers to proceed. A small party forced, nay, almost dragged him off the ramparts, and proceeded down the hill. When at the foot he cast a transient glance at the castle. The flag of Meredydd still floated above the eddying columns of smoke which rose above the battlements, but whilst he still gazed, the flag was lowered; the tremendous roar of musquetry and artillery was changed to a deep and awful silence, and Meredydd Castle was no more!


 

CHAPTER XVIII.

——Farewell for evermore,
Sweet England, Unto thee;
And farewell all my friends which I
Again shall never see.
And England, here I kiss thy ground
Upon my bended knee,
Whereby to shew to all the world
How dearly I love thee.

OLD POEM.


THE unfortunate Bleddyn, unacquainted with the fate of his friends, and with feelings approaching to madness, was hurried to London, thrown into a noisome dungeon, debarred the necessaries of life, and, after a tedious imprisonment, was banished from his native land.

During his imprisonment no person had been permitted to see him, and it was with the greatest difficulty that he could obtain permission to write a letter to a friend the evening before his exile, of which the following are extracts.

“To-morrow I leave my native country, ignorant of the fate of all those I love and esteem. My dear and first friend, Colonel Williams, may by this time be no more, and the beauteous Margaret thrown on the world friendless and unprotected. Protect her innocence for my sake; for, alas! I have beheld her sylphid form, and her love-lighted eyes for the last time; and that melodious voice, sweeter than the evening song of the nightingale, I shall never hear again. Sometimes, indeed, she will appear to my imagination, the rose faded from her cheek, and the lustre gone from her soft blue eye. I fancy I hear her soul-thrilling accents, and see her form before me shrunk and wasted. I extend my arms to clasp her to my heart, and then the illusion will vanish.”



“Now I am on the point of eternally separating from my native country, it is inconceivable how dear every thing connected with it is become. The mountains are more sublime, the vallies more delightful, and the streams more pellucid, and bitter is the reflection, that I shall never enjoy those scenes again.”



“The sun at this moment shines beautifully in the heavens. ’Tis the last time I shall ever see her gilding my native land. But yet she will shine as bright as ever when I am far away, and the flowers will blossom, and the birds will hail the laughing spring, but it will not be for me. Adieu, adieu, my friend, adieu for ever!”



On the following morning a strong party entered his dungeon, and proceeded with him towards the Thames, where a boat was got ready for his departure.

As he passed down the street before Whitehall, he was struck with the appearance of a large concourse of people opposite that building; and, on enquiring the cause, was informed that they were preparing for the execution of the King.

Bleddyn’s blood curdled in his veins, as he beheld his unfortunate monarch passing through the crowd (escorted by a regiment of soldiers) to the scaffold. The people, in spite of the threats of the soldiers, followed him with tears and prayers. He passed along with a dignified step and serene countenance; not the least complaint escaped him; he arose superior to the scoffings and gibes of the brutal soldiery, and if ever his expressive eye was moistened with a tear, it was when he beheld his now repentant subjects kneeling, and invoking the blessing of Heaven on his “grey and dis-crowned head.”

The tears coursed each other down the cheeks of Bleddyn, as he gazed on the affecting spectacle. His conductors, however, swiftly hurried him through the press. He once turned his head to take a last glance of his dear and venerated monarch. He saw the uplifted axe, his brain grew dizzy, and, stupefied with horror, he was dragged almost lifeless to the boat. As he was rowed from his native shore, the winds blew hollow, the rain fell in dark and roaring torrents, and all creation seemed as desolate as the heart of the wretched exile.


 

CHAPTER XIX.

I have known many of these bold Champions for Liberty in my time; yet I do not remember one who was not in his heart, and in his family, a tyrant.

Vicar of Wakefield.


IT is now almost universally acknowledged that a democratic form of government cannot be permanent. The leaders generally quarrel among themselves respecting the greater degree of authority, their measures are weak and perplexed, and it always happens that those removed from the helm of state are dissatisfied. They see persons not superior to themselves in birth, riches, or abilities, lifted by some adventitious event above them, and they immediately form cabals in the state, and aspire to participate in its emoluments. Anarchy and confusion are the consequence; every province forms in itself a petty independent state, each party consult their own interests rather than the good of the community, and eventually all ends in one wide chaos of blood, murder, and massacre. In this state of things, some needy adventurer, more fortunate than his associates, rises by superior cunning and address above his contemporaries, and acts the tyrant with impunity.

Such was the posture of affairs after the atrocious murder of the unfortunate, though virtuous, Charles. The Republicans saw, instead of their visionary commonwealth, a form of government established which might be styled, without exaggeration, one of the completest despotisms that ever existed. The civil rights of the people entirely abolished, and all honours, emoluments, and preferments, flowed from Oliver Cromwell alone. The lives and properties of the people were entirely at his disposal, and with a nod he could destroy the one, or confiscate the other. A band of sanguinary ruffians, the sole prop of his usurped authority, was always at his elbow, to execute his will, however diabolical. The spirit of the people was broken and paralyzed, and they permitted that man, whose hands still reeked with the blood of his sovereign, to stalk over the ashes of their smoking altars, and tear in pieces their glorious charters of freedom with impunity. But what could an unarmed and undisciplined people effect against a numerous and veteran army, inured to dangers and flushed with victory.

Thus the people, instead of the golden harvest which they had been promised, found themselves completely duped, and the slaves of an unprincipled hypocrite. May they, in future, beware how they place confidence in the Utopian schemes preached to them by designing demagogues! They promise their deluded followers an El Dorado, and they find a desert torn by the whirlwind. Each styles himself a patriot, but he might as easily call himself Jupiter Ammon. They preach reform, but reform has been often used as the watch-word of anarchy and rebellion. The dregs of society, who wish for a change, that they may have an opportunity of plundering their superiors, use it. The factious man, who wishes to plunge his country into civil commotion, to suit his own atrocious views, uses it. The vain man, who wishes for a transient popularity, uses it. The modern patriot uses it; but a certain celebrated author has said, that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Yet these men would sooner be those scoundrel patriots than forego a transient name; which, like the noise of the rattlesnake, only excites horror and detestation. They resemble Erostratus, who rather than not have his name descend to posterity, fired the beautiful temple of Diana at Ephesus.

Under the circumstances above mentioned, the people hailed the death of Cromwell and the glorious Restoration with enthusiastic plaudits of joy.


 

CHAPTER XX.

The winter’s angry blast is o’er,
The roaring winds contend no more;
The spring is come with moistening dews,
And clothes the mead with verdant hues.

PENNILLION.


IT was on the 29th of May 1660, about ten years after the death of the ill-fated Charles, that his more fortunate son was restored to the throne of his ancestors. Nothing could exceed the unbounded joy of all ranks of people. The road from Dover, where he landed, to London, was crowded by millions of people, anxious to testify their loyalty and attachment to their young monarch. The towns through which he passed were literally strewed with evergreens, and the windows thronged with beautiful females, who showered down garlands of flowers on his head. The young monarch, bare-headed, and mounted on a spirited charger, bowed to all with the most condescending affability.

Among the followers of the King was a tall young officer, who, after attending his master to London, departed in the direction of Wales. On the third day of his journey he was observed to cross the river Conwy in Caernarvonshire, and proceed in the direction of Llangalt. It was a lovely evening, and the streams which burst from the neighbouring Carnedd Llywelyn, instead of the rough bursting torrents of winter, appeared like small strings of living sapphires glittering in the sun-beams, and tinkling from rock to rock, “making sweet music.” The little cwms were crowned with vegetation, and adorned with bunches of primroses, snow-drops, and violets. Even the heath upon which the traveller now entered was thickly overspread with the Myrica gale, and the groups of blackthorns, which were scattered in a disorderly manner over it, were loaded with a profusion of snowy blossoms. Large flocks of sheep were quietly grazing or gamboling in playful circles, and here and there a shepherd was seated on a grassy knoll playing his pibgorn.

A little to the left of the track which the traveller pursued was a small ruin, which appeared to have once been a peasant’s hut. The roof had fallen in, but some of the poles that had supported it remained, though black and decayed, and others were broken off in the middle. The wicker-door was gone, but the walls still remained, though in a ruinous state, and covered over with nettles and docks; a few straggling alder-bushes grew around it. The traveller gazed intently on the ruin, sighed heavily, and pursued his journey.

As the stranger proceeded slowly along, he perceived before him a countryman driving a herd of small black cattle, and, turning out of the direct road, he asked if that was the right road to Meredydd Castle.

“Yes, your honour, you may see the old towers from yonder knoll.”

“Is Sir Llywelyn at home?”

“Yes, your honour, and quite well.”

“Is one Colonel Williams living?”

“Yes, and likewise his daughter, Miss Margaret, one of the choicest young women in all the country, but she is not so blooming as formerly, she having lost her true love Captain Bleddyn.”

“What became of Captain Bleddyn?”

“Some think he was killed in the civil wars; others think he was banished; and Tom Jenkins, the clerk of the parish, says he was carried off by witches, and dragged through bushes and briars till all the flesh was torn from his bones, and they then conveyed him to fairy-land.—I was formerly wallet and shamble to him.”

“Are you married, my good friend?”

“Yes, an please your honour, to one Winifred Lewis.”

“Well, David, you have told me a pretty story about Captain Bleddyn, and witches; now look at me; am I not the man?”

A deep emotion agitated the features of David as he rushed forward, grasped the extended hand of Captain Bleddyn, and exclaimed, the tears standing in his eye, “Oh, my dear master, I thought I should never see you again; Where have you been? and whither are you going? and how do you do?”

“My good friend,” said Captain Bleddyn, “I am very well; I have been I scarcely know where; and I am going to see my friends at Llangalt.”

“Then I would advise you to go first to Meredydd Castle to see your father, an’t please your honour.”

“You speak in enigmas, David.”

“Nigmos or not nigmos, old Mabil has proved you are the true heir of Meredydd Castle, and the only son of Sir Llywelyn. Hywel was the son of Mabil herself.”

“This is a very strange tale, David.”

“And very true, your honour. Only go by the castle, and see; and beside, I think Miss Margaret is there on a visit.”

“I think I shall take your advice,” said Captain Bleddyn; “and so farewell for the present.”—So saying, he proceeded at a brisk pace towards the Castle.

The steep track that led to it presented a more lively appearance than formerly. Large clusters of hawthorns in full blossom grew on the high banks on either side, and several tufts of blue and white violets peeped through the ground-ivy which crept in tangled tresses along its base. The defile whence the Republicans made their desperate attack during the siege of the castle was now still and peaceful, and the thickets and bushes, from behind which the marksmen hurled the bolt of death, now resounded with the notes of the thrush or the linnet. The oak and elm trees which towered above, decked in delicious green, almost prevented the sun-beams from penetrating to the bottom of the defile, although a few beams sparkled occasionally through the vistas formed by the opening of the trees. The scene grew lonely and desolate as he approached the redoubt. It lay completely in ruins; and several noxious plants (from beneath which issued several snakes and adders of an uncommonly large size) grew over the undistinguished heap of rubbish which now formed the scite. Here and there the broken carriages of cannon peeped above the rank grass which thickly overspread the ground.

Bleddyn now passed on to the archway. The towers flanking it were still entire, but the archway was greatly dilapidated; part of the exterior wall appeared to have been beaten down, and literally blocked up the whole of the passage, except a narrow track which had been cut through the ruins. A considerable space round the loopholes was blackened by gunpowder. The portcullis was broken in two, one part being almost buried in the rubbish, and the other impended in a threatening posture over the narrow passage mentioned above, and was completely studded with musquet balls which had lodged there from the fire of the enemy during the siege.

Our hero now passed through the archway. The castle appeared more lonely than ever. The northern tower had fallen, and almost filled up the wide area beneath extending to the ramparts. Large wreaths of ivy crept around the broken columns;—all was dreary; and the lovely season which had crowned the surrounding country with beauty had only increased its desolate appearance, as it had caused the nettles, docks, and other noxious plants to assume a more wild and rank appearance; and even on the ramparts, which remained still entire, the grass crept in matted tresses through the crevices, and straggled over the pavement.

Whilst Bleddyn momentarily paused, occupied in gloomy reflections on the scene of fallen grandeur before him, he observed an unusual bustle on the ramparts. Several persons passed rapidly to and fro, and two or three culverins were brought and planted in a position commanding the archway. At length a discharge took place from the culverins, the flag of Meredydd was hoisted over the donjon, and Colonel Williams, seated on a spirited charger, entered the court-yard, followed by a long train of armed men.

Bleddyn concealed himself behind a broken column of the ramparts, and determined to await in silence the issue of this extraordinary scene. The hoisting of the flag and the discharge of the culverins now appeared to have been used as a signal for the neighbouring peasantry to assemble; as several groups came running hastily up the hill, and entered the court-yard, and one of them bore the identical colours presented to the peasants by Bleddyn during the siege.

As these parties successively arrived, they formed in a compact body round Colonel Williams, who thus addressed them:—

“Brave boys and fellow-countrymen, I have just received intelligence that the friends of virtue and loyalty are going to make a grand push in favour of our gallant young Prince, the son and successor to our late murdered king. Nay, it is even reported he is landed, and that thousands have rushed to his standard. Be that as it may, it behoves all who have any bottom in them, to rise and fight heartily in his cause, and to drive those yelping curs who have so long snarled over our chartered liberties to their wonted sinks and kennels. Let us therefore arm, and proclaim King Charles the Second.”

“We have already proclaimed him,” said Sir Llywelyn, who advanced along the ramparts with his usual dignified step; “the lion again floats over my castle of Meredydd.”

“Game to the heels, game to the heels,” exclaimed Colonel Williams (who now advanced with his usual smile) grasping the hand of Sir Llywelyn, “we shall have another match with these psalm-singers, and I hope a luckier one than the last.”

“Colonel Williams of Llangalt,” said Sir Llywelyn, “I am vastly surprised, nay, greatly astonished, that you should compare me to a game cock, and our noble cause to a cock match. Colonel Williams of Llangalt, I insist, it is vastly indecorous.”

“I beg your pardon, my good friend, I meant no offence; and first, we have to consider how we are to render the castle tenable. How’s old Bess here,” continued the Colonel, examining a culverin, “down in the mouth. Egad, Sir Llywelyn, we must get a fresh assortment of these brazen-throated ladies.”

At this moment, Bleddyn, unable to controul his emotions, sprang on the ramparts. All stood for a moment gazing in confusion on him, as though he had been apparition. He hastily advanced, and pressed Colonel Williams in an ardent embrace, who could only exclaim, with the tears streaming down his cheeks, “Cynan, my dear, dear Cynan.”

After his emotions were subsided, he thus addressed Cynan, with a countenance irradiated with joy and exultation, “Cynan, my boy, thou art extremely welcome to the castle.—Fellow-countrymen (turning to the assembled throng) this is Sir Cynan Meredydd, a young man who is capable of leading you to battle and victory.”

They now set up a tremendous shout of “Long live Sir Cynan Meredydd, the conqueror of the red Hywel.”

“My old heart sings for joy,” said Sir Llywelyn, “and my grey hairs will descend to the grave in peace. Oh Cynan, thou art the sole prop of me and my ancestors, the only male representative of Prince Ivor. In thy veins flows the blood of Camber. Hywel was only a weed of the dunghill. Bless thee, my son, my dear, dear son; may’st thou emulate their deeds and virtues, and may’st thou lead the powers of Meredydd to victory.”

“The victory is already won,” said Cynan, “our young monarch has entered the capital in triumph and is proclaimed King by the unanimous voice of his people.”

“Thank God!” said Colonel Williams, kneeling on the ramparts, “the first wish of my heart is accomplished; our country is freed from her fanatical demagogues; and the shade of our beloved, our mangled monarch is avenged.”

“And the blood of the Trojans again fills the throne,” said Sir Llywelyn.

“And no doubt, he will, in imitation of Queen Elizabeth of glorious memory, lay in a large stock of metheglin, in order to treat the bards at the annual Eisteddfods, which he will establish as heretofore,” said Maelgwn, who now advanced. On seeing Sir Cynan, he burst into a shout of joy, and exclaimed, “Long live the prop of Meredydd.”

“Enough of congratulations,” said Colonel Williams. “Let us adjourn to the castle, for I am exhausted with excess of joy—

‘Come, give me champaign, for my soul doth faint.’


King Charles the Second for ever. Come along, my boy,” continued he, passing his arm through Cynan’s, and forcing him along the ramparts; “let us go and crack a bottle, and let Maelgwn and his metheglin go to the devil.”

“An insult, Colonel Williams,” said Sir Llywelyn, who pressed after him, “a palpable and egregious insult;“ but the Colonel passed on with such rapidity that he did not hear this denunciation. The angry Sir Llywelyn followed, but the good-humoured Colonel soon appeased him.

All, now gave themselves up to joy and exultation. Messengers were dispatched to communicate the joyful intelligence over the country, and the peasants assembled in the court-yard were plenteously regaled with the best viands the castle afforded.

Sir Llywelyn now communicated to his so the mysterious circumstances relative to his early years, which were in substance as follows:—

“It appeared that Lady Meredydd and Mabil Evans were delivered nearly at the same hour of boys, and in consequence of the death of the former, the young heir of the castle was entrusted to the care of Mabil, who being a retainer on the estate, and well known as an honest character, notwithstanding the ridiculous rumours circulated respecting her among the neighbouring peasantry, was judged worthy of fostering the infant. She immediately conceived the design of substituting her own child in the place of the young Meredydd, which she accomplished without any suspicion, in consequence of the confusion at the castle caused by the death of its Lady; and, in order to conceal the circumstances from the possibility of discovery, she determined to remove the young heir, but her heart revolted against the crime of murder, and she resolved, by some dextrous management, to place it under the protection of some person capable of supporting it in a proper manner. This intention she accomplished at Penmaen Mawr, in the manner related in the fourth chapter. She then fabricated a story of the death of her own child, had a mock funeral, and was surprised by Colonel Williams in the act of strewing flowers on a newly-raised grave in the manner mentioned before in this history. The advantages she proposed to reap from this deception must be obvious to the meanest capacity, as must likewise the source from whence she drew her mysterious warnings.”

When Sir Llywelyn had finished his detail, a messenger who had been dispatched for Miss Margaret arrived, and that charming woman, her countenance dimpled with smiles, and her usual look of dove-like innocence, entered the room. The meeting between the lovers was tender in the extreme. The joys of all were complete; and the old castle rang with the shouts of festivity to a late hour.



“Oh! that’s your plan, is it?” said Colonel Williams to Sir Cynan Meredydd, when they were assembled in the breakfast parlour on the following morning, “after traversing the world east, west, north, and south, and escaping from ‘moving accidents by flood and field,’ to come here to steal my dear little Meg.”

“I shall not run away with her far. I shall, with the permission of my father, repair the castle of my forefathers; and now our young monarch is restored to the throne of his ancestors, he will doubtless give us all the estates which belonged originally to the family, as the whole of them are in the hands of rebels and regicides. We shall then all reside together in love and harmony.”

“You have built a pleasant aërial castle truly,” said the Colonel, “and dressed it with golden turrets and sapphire cupolas. Suppose it should dissolve away, and leave in its place a dusky cloud.”

“Nonsense, Colonel Williams of Llangalt,” said Sir Llywelyn. “The northern tower shall rise in its dignity, as it did in the days of Prince Ivor. The towers of the archway shall be repaired, and adorned with emblematical devices celebrating the exploits of the Meredydds, and their flag shall again float over their donjon in its pristine magnificence. The great hall shall be thrown open to the bards, and hogsheads of metheglin shall kindle in their bosom enthusiasm of song; the proud days of Cambria will be revived (continued he, his whole frame agitated with the intensity of his feelings), her nobles will, as heretofore, be brave and hospitable, her peasants generous kind confiding, and nought will be heard but songs of peace and liberty. My ancestors, Prince Ivor and Sir Owain Meredydd, Baron of Conwy, will look on the festivities of Meredydd Castle with delight, and even Camber himself may flit through the hall, and listen to the melody of the crwth of his daughter Lady Margaret.”

At this moment Miss Margaret Williams, breathing sweets transcending “Araby the blest,” entered the room. “You are come very à-propos, my love,” said the Colonel; “I have a pretty batch of news for thee. Here’s the old castle going to be metamorphosed into a Chinese temple, and adorned with sundry hieroglyphics, or rather a fairy palace, as the shades of a hundred Meredydds are coming to dance to thy crwth; forsooth, the Nereids, Tritons, and Mermaids, must be invited to join the jovial crew; and thou, Megan, art to be the queen of all this masquerade. But before this takes place I must ask thee a question:—art willing to take thy old swain here ‘for better for worse?’”

“You know I never dispute your commands, my dear father,” said Margaret, deeply blushing.

“Not when it suits thy inclination, I warrant thee; but come, I know you love Sir Cynan here; will you have him or not? Don’t stand there, blushing and simpering. We are all agreeable to the match.”

“I have been so long ago,” said Miss Williams, with great naiveté.


 

CONCLUSION.


COURTEOUS READER,

We having now arrived at the end of our journey, which I hope has been pleasant to thee, I think it proper to give thee a short account of several incidents which happened, and which I have passed unnoticed in our perambulations. First, I found, after a diligent search, that the Blue Fleecer was killed in the civil commotions. Secondly, that Colonel Williams, during the banishment of Bleddyn, owed his life to a very remarkable incident. He was imprisoned with the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Holland, who were both executed for adhering to the King. Colonel Williams, nearly at the same time, was condemned to be shot. With a determined countenance he bowed to his judges, and thanked them. One of them, astonished, enquired his meaning. “I think it an honour,” replied he, “to die in the cause of my King, and in the same way in which so many gallant noblemen have done; for, by G—d, I thought you would have hanged me.” This heroic reply saved his life, for one of his judges interceded in his behalf, and obtained his liberation. Thirdly, the King did not, according to expectation, restore to the Meredydds, the estates of their ancestors; for when he was seated on the throne, he forgot his enemies; and oh! disgrace to his name, forgot his friends. He permitted his faithful followers to pine in indigence, and lavished millions on parasites and courtezans. Fourthly, Miss Margaret and Sir Cynan were married, and sooth it was a grand wedding, and the table groaned with barons of beef, legs of mutton, mallards, pancakes, and apple-pies. Fifthly, old Mabil Evan lived to a good old age, and followed the sundry occupations mentioned in the sixth chapter. And, lastly, dear and gentle reader, I take my leave, and remain,

Thy very good friend,

THE AUTHOR.”


THE END.


 

By the same Author,

COUNT GLARUS OF SWITZERLAND;

INTERSPERSED WITH SOME PIECES OF POETRY.

In one volume 8vo.


 

“We prefer making our selections from the grand melodrama (for such it is), and we do not doubt but that our readers will admit the descriptive powers of Mr. Wickenden.”

GENTLEMEN’S MAGAZINE.


“We beg leave to introduce to the favour of our readers a novel entitled ‘Count Glarus of Switzerland, interspersed with some Pieces of Poetry, by W. S. Wickenden.’ The Author of this Work is in humble life, devoted to husbandry, and little blessed by education as fortune. He is a young man, resident in the Forest of Dean; and, however new his name may sound in this busy Metropolis, is a person of no ordinary note among his native woods, where his poetical powers have acquired for him the appellation of ‘the Bard of the Forest.’ His poetry is of that order which alone can make a lasting impression on the mind and fancy of the reader;—it shews the Author’s intimate acquaintance with the objects it describes. Perhaps what may be termed rural poetry (we prefer the term to pastoral) is, after all, the most delightful;—it wants the intense interest of History and the Drama;—it wants the fervour and energy of the Lyric Muse; but it sinks tranquilly, yet deeply, into the heart, and makes an impression not less permanent because it is more quiet.”—MONTHLY MAGAZINE.


The Author has nearly ready for the press,

A VOLUME OF POETRY.


Printed by J. Nichols and Son,
25, Parliament Street, Westminster.


 

ABOUT THE TEXT
Two editions of Bleddyn were published in 1821 and it is unclear from existing sources which of these was the ‘first’ edition. The present text is based on the edition ‘Published for the Author, by C. Chapple’, which was published in one volume. The other edition was ‘Printed for Baldwin, Cradock and Joy’ and published in two volumes. The two editions display identical colophons (‘Printed by J. Nichols and Son, 25, Parliament Street, Westminster’), and appear to have been made up from the same sheets, although pagination in the two-volume version begins afresh with the second volume.

The one-volume edition used as the copy-text ran to 235 pages, in duodecimo.

Typographical anomalies, particularly in the punctuation and errant quotation marks in passages of dialogue and songs, have been normalised. Egregious errors in accidentals and slipped type have been silently corrected. The explanatory notes included in the in the copy-text have been retained, and are found at the foot of each relevant page.

EMENDATION LIST
The following proper names have been standardized in keeping with the preponderant tendencies of the text. The variants found within the copy-text are given in square brackets. Caernarvonshire [Carnarvonshire]; Hywel [Hywell]; Llywelyn [Llewelyn, Llewellyn, Llywellyn]; Meredydd [Mereddyd]; Republican [republican]; Conwy [Conway].

Significant editorial interventions are noted below. Each entry begins with chapter and paragraph numbers (with only lines of text counted, and not blank lines separating paragraphs), followed by the relevant text from this edition; a double-slash separates this from the comparable text belonging to source matter of the copy-text. Explanatory comments, where required, follow in parentheses.

C3.P23 … the rebel Parliament … // … the rebel parliament …

C7.P42 … in his [turn] enraged … (word obscured in the copy-text, but this seems the most likely reading)

C7.P42 … was [stained] … (word obscured in the copy-text, but this seems the most likely reading)

C8.P16 … at this period are thus … // … at this period is thus …

C8.P56 … a handsome dragoon Captain … // … a handsome dragoon captain …

C10.P10 … The Royalists were … // … The royalists were …

C11.P7 … the [sons] of Zeruiah … (word obscured in the copy-text, but this seems the most likely reading)

C15.P18 … Baron of Conwy … // … baron of Conwy …

C16.P5 … throw away his pibgorn, … // … throw away his pigborn, …

C20.P3 … playing his pibgorn … // … playing his pigborn …

C20.P30 … our gallant young Prince, … // … our gallant young prince, …