Picture of George Borrow

George Borrow

places mentioned

Llangollen Again

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A Visitor - Apprenticeship to the Law - Croch Daranau - Lope de Vega - No Life like the Traveller's.

ONE morning as I sat alone a gentleman was announced. On his entrance I recognised in him the magistrate's clerk, owing to whose good word, as it appeared to me, I had been permitted to remain during the examination into the affair of the wounded butcher. He was a stout, strong-made man, somewhat under the middle height, with a ruddy face, and very clear, grey eyes. I handed him a chair, which he took, and said that his name was R-, and that he had taken the liberty of calling, as he had a great desire to be acquainted with me. On my asking him his reason for that desire he told me that it proceeded from his having read a book of mine about Spain, which had much interested him.

"Good," said I, "you can't give an author a better reason for coming to see him than being pleased with his book. I assure you that you are most welcome."

After a little general discourse I said that I presumed he was in the law.

"Yes," said he, "I am a member of that much-abused profession."

"And unjustly abused," said I; "it is a profession which abounds with honourable men, and in which I believe there are fewer scamps than in any other. The most honourable men I have ever known have been lawyers; they were men whose word was their bond, and who would have preferred ruin to breaking it. There was my old master, in particular, who would have died sooner than broken his word. God bless him! I think I see him now with his bald, shining pate, and his finger on an open page of 'Preston's Conveyancing.'"

"Sure you are not a limb of the law?" said Mr R-.

"No," said I, "but I might be, for I served an apprenticeship to it."

"I am glad to hear it," said Mr R-, shaking me by the hand. "Take my advice, come and settle at Llangollen and be my partner."

"If I did," said I, "I am afraid that our partnership would be of short duration; you would find me too eccentric and flighty for the law. Have you a good practice?" I demanded after a pause.

"I have no reason to complain of it," said he, with a contented air.

"I suppose you are married?" said I.

"Oh yes," said he, "I have both a wife and family."

"A native of Llangollen?" said I.

"No," said he: "I was born at Llan Silin, a place some way off across the Berwyn."

"Llan Silin?" said I, "I have a great desire to visit it some day or other."

"Why so?" said he, "it offers nothing interesting."

"I beg your pardon," said I; "unless I am much mistaken, the tomb of the great poet Huw Morris is in Llan Silin churchyard."

"Is it possible that you have ever heard of Huw Morris?"

"Oh yes," said I; "and I have not only heard of him but am acquainted with his writings; I read them when a boy."

"How very extraordinary," said he; "well, you are quite right about his tomb; when a boy I have played dozens of times on the flat stone with my schoolfellows."

We talked of Welsh poetry; he said he had not dipped much into it, owing to its difficulty; that he was master of the colloquial language of Wales, but understood very little of the language of Welsh poetry, which was a widely different thing. I asked him whether he had seen Owen Pugh's translation of Paradise Lost. He said he had, but could only partially understand it, adding, however, that those parts which he could make out appeared to him to be admirably executed, that amongst these there was one which had particularly struck him namely:

"Ar eu col o rygnu croch

The rendering of Milton's

"And on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder."

which, grand as it was, was certainly equalled by the Welsh version, and perhaps surpassed, for that he was disposed to think that there was something more terrible in "croch daranau," than in "harsh thunder."

"I am disposed to think so too," said I. "Now can you tell me where Owen Pugh is buried?"

"I cannot," said he; "but I suppose you can tell me; you, who know the burying-place of Huw Morris are probably acquainted with the burying-place of Owen Pugh."

"No," said I, "I am not. Unlike Huw Morris, Owen Pugh has never had his history written, though perhaps quite as interesting a history might be made out of the life of the quiet student as out of that of the popular poet. As soon as ever I learn where his grave is I shall assuredly make a pilgrimage to it." Mr R- then asked me a good many questions about Spain, and a certain singular race of people about whom I have written a good deal. Before going away he told me that a friend of his, of the name of J-, would call upon me, provided he thought I should not consider his doing so an intrusion. "Let him come by all means," said I; "I shall never look upon a visit from a friend of yours in the light of an intrusion."

In a few days came his friend, a fine tall athletic man of about forty. "You are no Welshman," said I, as I looked at him.

"No," said he, "I am a native of Lincolnshire, but I have resided in Llangollen for thirteen years."

"In what capacity?" said I.

"In the wine-trade," said he.

"Instead of coming to Llangollen," said I, "and entering into the wine-trade, you should have gone to London, and enlisted into the Life Guards."

"Well," said he, with a smile, "I had once or twice thought of doing so. However, fate brought me to Llangollen, and I am not sorry that she did, for I have done very well here."

I soon found out that he was a well-read and indeed highly accomplished man. Like his friend R-, Mr J- asked me a great many questions about Spain. By degrees we got on the subject of Spanish literature. I said that the literature of Spain was a first-rate literature, but that it was not very extensive. He asked me whether I did not think that Lope de Vega was much overrated.

"Not a bit," said I; "Lope de Vega was one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. He was not only a great dramatist and lyric poet, but a prose writer of marvellous ability, as he proved by several admirable tales, amongst which is the best ghost story in the world."

Another remarkable person whom I got acquainted with about this time was A-, the innkeeper, who lived a little way down the road, of whom John Jones had spoken so highly, saying, amongst other things, that he was the clebberest man in Llangollen. One day as I was looking in at his gate, he came forth, took off his hat, and asked me to do him the honour to come in and look at his grounds. I complied, and as he showed me about he told me his history in nearly the following words:-

"I am a Devonian by birth. For many years I served a travelling gentleman, whom I accompanied in all his wanderings. I have been five times across the Alps, and in every capital of Europe. My master at length dying left me in his will something handsome, whereupon I determined to be a servant no longer, but married, and came to Llangollen, which I had visited long before with my master, and had been much pleased with. After a little time these premises becoming vacant, I took them, and set up in the public line, more to have something to do, than for the sake of gain, about which, indeed, I need not trouble myself much, my poor, dear master, as I said before, having done very handsomely by me at his death. Here I have lived for several years, receiving strangers, and improving my house and grounds. I am tolerably comfortable, but confess I sometimes look back to my former roving life rather wistfully, for there is no life so merry as the traveller's."

He was about the middle age and somewhat under the middle size. I had a good deal of conversation with him, and was much struck with his frank, straightforward manner. He enjoyed a high character at Llangollen for probity and likewise for cleverness, being reckoned an excellent gardener, and an almost unequalled cook. His master, the travelling gentleman, might well leave him a handsome remembrance in his will, for he had not only been an excellent and trusty servant to him, but had once saved his life at the hazard of his own, amongst the frightful precipices of the Alps. Such retired gentlemen's servants, or such publicans either, as honest A-, are not every day to be found. His grounds, principally laid out by his own hands, exhibited an infinity of taste, and his house, into which I looked, was a perfect picture of neatness. Any tourist visiting Llangollen for a short period could do no better than take up his abode at the hostelry of honest A-.


Ringing of Bells - Battle of Alma - The Brown Jug - Ale of Llangollen - Reverses.

ON the third of October - I think that was the date - as my family and myself, attended by trusty John Jones, were returning on foot from visiting a park not far from Rhiwabon we heard, when about a mile from Llangollen, a sudden ringing of the bells of the place, and a loud shouting. Presently we observed a postman hurrying in a cart from the direction of the town. "Peth yw y matter?" said John Jones. "Y matter, y matter!" said the postman in a tone of exultation, "Sebastopol wedi cymmeryd. Hurrah!"

"What does he say?" said my wife anxiously to me.

"Why, that Sebastopol is taken," said I.

"Then you have been mistaken," said my wife smiling, "for you always said that the place would either not be taken at all or would cost the allies to take it a deal of time and an immense quantity of blood and treasure, and here it is taken at once, for the allies only landed the other day. Well, thank God, you have been mistaken!"

"Thank God, indeed," said I, "always supposing that I have been mistaken - but I hardly think from what I have known of the Russians that they would let their town - however, let us hope that they have let it be taken. Hurrah!"

We reached our dwelling. My wife and daughter went in. John Jones betook himself to his cottage, and I went into the town, in which there was a great excitement; a wild running troop of boys were shouting "Sebastopol wedi cymmeryd. Hurrah! Hurrah!" Old Mr Jones was standing bare-headed at his door. "Ah," said the old gentleman, "I am glad to see you. Let us congratulate each other," he added, shaking me by the hand. "Sebastopol taken, and in so short a time. How fortunate!"

"Fortunate indeed," said I, returning his hearty shake; "I only hope it may be true."

"Oh, there can be no doubt of its being true," said the old gentleman. "The accounts are most positive. Come in, and I will tell you all the circumstances." I followed him into his little back parlour, where we both sat down.

"Now," said the old church clerk, "I will tell you all about it. The allies landed about twenty miles from Sebastopol and proceeded to march against it. When nearly half way they found the Russians posted on a hill. Their position was naturally very strong, and they had made it more so by means of redoubts and trenches. However, the allies undismayed, attacked the enemy, and after a desperate resistance, drove them over the hill, and following fast at their heels entered the town pell-mell with them, taking it and all that remained alive of the Russian army. And what do you think? The Welsh highly distinguished themselves. The Welsh fusileers were the first to mount the hill. They suffered horribly - indeed almost the whole regiment was cut to pieces; but what of that? they showed that the courage of the Ancient Britons still survives in their descendants. And now I intend to stand beverage. I assure you I do. No words! I insist upon it. I have heard you say you are fond of good ale, and I intend to fetch you a pint of such ale as I am sure you never drank in your life." Thereupon he hurried out of the room, and through the shop into the street.

"Well," said I, when I was by myself, "if this news does not regularly surprise me! I can easily conceive that the Russians would be beaten in a pitched battle by the English and French - but that they should have been so quickly followed up by the allies, as not to be able to shut their gates and man their walls, is to me inconceivable. Why, the Russians retreat like the wind, and have a thousand ruses at command, in order to retard an enemy. So at least I thought, but it is plain that I know nothing about them, nor indeed much of my own countrymen; I should never have thought that English soldiers could have marched fast enough to overtake Russians, more especially with such a being to command them, as -, whom I, and indeed almost every one else have always considered a dead weight on the English service. I suppose, however, that both they and their commander were spurred on by the active French."

Presently the old church clerk made his appearance with a glass in one hand, and a brown jug of ale in the other.

"Here," said he, filling the glass, "is some of the real Llangollen ale. I got it from the little inn, the Eagle, over the way, which was always celebrated for its ale. They stared at me when I went in and asked for a pint of ale, as they knew that for twenty years I have drunk no liquor whatever, owing to the state of my stomach, which will not allow me to drink anything stronger than water and tea. I told them, however, it was for a gentleman, a friend of mine, whom I wished to treat in honour of the fall of Sebastopol."

I would fain have excused myself, but the old gentleman insisted on my drinking.

"Well," said I, taking the glass, "thank God that our gloomy forebodings are not likely to be realised. Oes y byd i'r glod Frythoneg! May Britain's glory last as long as the world!"

Then, looking for a moment at the ale, which was of a dark-brown colour, I put the glass to my lips and drank.

"Ah!" said the old church clerk, "I see you like it, for you have emptied the glass at a draught."

"It is good ale," said I.

"Good," said the old gentleman rather hastily, "good; did you ever taste any so good in your life?"

"Why, as to that," said I, "I hardly know what to say; I have drunk some very good ale in my day. However, I'll trouble you for another glass."

"Oh ho, you will," said the old gentleman; "that's enough; if you did not think it first-rate, you would not ask for more. This," said he, as he filled the glass again, "is genuine malt and hop liquor, brewed in a way only known, they say, to some few people in this place. You must, however, take care how much you take of it. Only a few glasses will make you dispute with your friends, and a few more quarrel with them. Strange things are said of what Llangollen ale made people do of yore; and I remember that when I was young and could drink ale, two or three glasses of the Llangollen juice of the barleycorn would make me - however, those times are gone by."

"Has Llangollen ale," said I, after tasting the second glass, "ever been sung in Welsh? is there no englyn upon it?"

"No," said the old church clerk, "at any rate, that I am aware."

"Well," said I, "I can't sing its praises in a Welsh englyn, but I think I can contrive to do so in an English quatrain, with the help of what you have told me. What do you think of this? -

"Llangollen's brown ale is with malt and hop rife; 'Tis good; but don't quaff it from evening till dawn; For too much of that ale will incline you to strife; Too much of that ale has caused knives to be drawn."

"That's not so bad," said the old church clerk, "but I think some of our bards could have produced something better - that is, in Welsh; for example old - What's the name of the old bard who wrote so many englynion on ale?"

"Sion Tudor," said I; "O yes; but he was a great poet. Ah, he has written some wonderful englynion on ale; but you will please to bear in mind that all his englynion are upon bad ale, and it is easier to turn to ridicule what is bad, than to do anything like justice to what is good."

O, great was the rejoicing for a few days at Llangollen for the reported triumph; and the share of the Welsh in that triumph reconciled for a time the descendants of the Ancient Britons to the seed of the coiling serpent. "Welsh and Saxons together will conquer the world!" shouted brats, as they stood barefooted in the kennel. In a little time, however, news not quite so cheering arrived. There had been a battle fought, it is true, in which the Russians had been beaten, and the little Welsh had very much distinguished themselves, but no Sebastopol had been taken. The Russians had retreated to their town, which, till then almost defenceless on the land side, they had, following their old maxim of "never despair," rendered almost impregnable in a few days, whilst the allies, chiefly owing to the supineness of the British commander, were loitering on the field of battle. In a word, all had happened which the writer, from his knowledge of the Russians and his own countrymen, had conceived likely to happen from the beginning. Then came the news of the commencement of a seemingly interminable siege, and of disasters and disgraces on the part of the British; there was no more shouting at Llangollen in connection with the Crimean expedition. But the subject is a disagreeable one, and the writer will dismiss it after a few brief words.

It was quite right and consistent with the justice of God that the British arms should be subjected to disaster and ignominy about that period. A deed of infamous injustice and cruelty had been perpetrated, and the perpetrators, instead of being punished, had received applause and promotion; so if the British expedition to Sebastopol was a disastrous and ignominious one, who can wonder? Was it likely that the groans of poor Parry would be unheard from the corner to which he had retired to hide his head by "the Ancient of days," who sits above the cloud, and from thence sends judgments?


The Newspaper - A New Walk - Pentre y Dwr - Oatmeal and Barley-Meal - The Man on Horseback - Heavy News.

"DEAR me," said I to my wife, as I sat by the fire one Saturday morning, looking at a newspaper which had been sent to us from our own district, "what is this? Why, the death of our old friend Dr -. He died last Tuesday week after a short illness, for he preached in his church at - the previous Sunday."

"Poor man!" said my wife. "How sorry I am to hear of his death! However, he died in the fulness of years, after a long and exemplary life. He was an excellent man and good Christian shepherd. I knew him well; you I think only saw him once."

"But I shall never forget him," said I, "nor how animated his features became when I talked to him about Wales, for he, you know, was a Welshman. I forgot to ask what part of Wales he came from. I suppose I shall never know now."

Feeling indisposed either for writing or reading, I determined to take a walk to Pentre y Dwr, a village in the north-west part of the valley which I had not yet visited. I purposed going by a path under the Eglwysig crags which I had heard led thither, and to return by the monastery. I set out. The day was dull and gloomy. Crossing the canal I pursued my course by romantic lanes till I found myself under the crags. The rocky ridge here turns away to the north, having previously run from the east to the west.

After proceeding nearly a mile amidst very beautiful scenery, I came to a farm-yard where I saw several men engaged in repairing a building. This farm-yard was in a very sequestered situation; a hill overhung it on the west, half-way up whose side stood a farm- house to which it probably pertained. On the north-west was a most romantic hill covered with wood to the very top. A wild valley led, I knew not whither, to the north between crags and the wood- covered hill. Going up to a man of respectable appearance, who seemed to be superintending the others, I asked him in English the way to Pentre y Dwr. He replied that I must follow the path up the hill towards the house, behind which I should find a road which would lead me through the wood to Pentre Dwr. As he spoke very good English, I asked him where he had learnt it.

"Chiefly in South Wales," said he, "where they speak less Welsh than here."

I gathered from him that he lived in the house on the hill and was a farmer. I asked him to what place the road up the valley to the north led.

"We generally go by that road to Wrexham," he replied; "it is a short but a wild road through the hills."

After a little discourse on the times, which he told me were not quite so bad for farmers as they had been, I bade him farewell.

Mounting the hill I passed round the house, as the farmer had directed me, and turned to the west along a path on the side of the mountain. A deep valley was on my left, and on my right above me a thick wood, principally of oak. About a mile further on the path winded down a descent, at the bottom of which I saw a brook and a number of cottages beyond it.

I passed over the brook by means of a long slab laid across, and reached the cottages. I was now as I supposed in Pentre y Dwr, and a pentre y dwr most truly it looked, for those Welsh words signify in English the village of the water, and the brook here ran through the village, in every room of which its pretty murmuring sound must have been audible. I looked about me in the hope of seeing somebody of whom I could ask a question or two, but seeing no one, I turned to the south intending to regain Llangollen by the way of the monastery. Coming to a cottage I saw a woman, to all appearance very old, standing by the door, and asked her in Welsh where I was.

"In Pentre Dwr," said she. "This house, and those yonder," pointing to the cottages past which I had come, "are Pentre y Dwr. There is, however, another Pentre Dwr up the glen yonder," said she, pointing towards the north - "which is called Pentre Dwr uchaf (the upper) -this is Pentre Dwr isaf (the lower)."

"Is it called Pentre Dwr," said I, "because of the water of the brook?"

"Likely enough," said she, "but I never thought of the matter before."

She was blear-eyed, and her skin, which seemed drawn tight over her forehead and cheek-bones, was of the colour of parchment. I asked her how old she was.

"Fifteen after three twenties," she replied; meaning that she was seventy-five.

From her appearance I should almost have guessed that she had been fifteen after four twenties. I, however, did not tell her so, for I am always cautious not to hurt the feelings of anybody, especially of the aged.

Continuing my way I soon overtook a man driving five or six very large hogs. One of these which was muzzled was of a truly immense size, and walked with considerable difficulty on account of its fatness. I walked for some time by the side of the noble porker, admiring it. At length a man rode up on horseback from the way we had come; he said something to the driver of the hogs, who instantly unmuzzled the immense creature, who gave a loud grunt on finding his snout and mouth free. From the conversation which ensued between the two men I found that the driver was the servant and the other the master.

"Those hogs are too fat to drive along the road," said I at last to the latter.

"We brought them in a cart as far as the Pentre Dwr," said the man on horseback, "but as they did not like the jolting we took them out."

"And where are you taking them to?" said. I.

"To Llangollen," said the man, "for the fair on Monday."

"What does that big fellow weigh?" said I, pointing to the largest hog.

"He'll weigh about eighteen score," said the man.

"What do you mean by eighteen score?" said I.

"Eighteen score of pounds," said the man.

"And how much do you expect to get for him?"

"Eight pounds; I shan't take less."

"And who will buy him?" said I.

"Some gent from Wolverhampton or about there," said the man; "there will be plenty of gents from Wolverhampton at the fair."

"And what do you fatten your hogs upon?" said I.

"Oatmeal," said the man.

"And why not on barley-meal?"

"Oatmeal is the best," said the man; "the gents from Wolverhampton prefer them fattened on oatmeal."

"Do the gents of Wolverhampton," said I, "eat the hogs?"

"They do not," said the man; "they buy them to sell again; and they like hogs fed on oatmeal best, because they are the fattest."

"But the pork is not the best," said I; "all hog-flesh raised on oatmeal is bitter and wiry; because do you see - "

"I see you are in the trade," said the man, "and understand a thing or two."

"I understand a thing or two," said I, "but I am not in the trade. Do you come from far?"

"From Llandeglo," said the man.

"Are you a hog-merchant?" said I.

"Yes," said he, "and a horse-dealer, and a farmer, though rather a small one."

"I suppose as you are a horse-dealer," said I, "you travel much about?"

"Yes," said the man; "I have travelled a good deal about Wales and England."

"Have you been in Ynys Fon?" said I.

"I see you are a Welshman," said the man.

"No," said I, "but I know a little Welsh."

"Ynys Fon!" said the man. "Yes, I have been in Anglesey more times than I can tell."

"Do you know Hugh Pritchard," said I, "who lives at Pentraeth Coch?"

"I know him well," said the man, "and an honest fellow he is."

"And Mr Bos?" said I.

"What Bos?" said he. "Do you mean a lusty, red-faced man in top- boots and grey coat?"

"That's he," said I.

"He's a clever one," said the man. "I suppose by your knowing these people you are a drover or a horse-dealer. Yes," said he, turning half-round in his saddle and looking at me, "you are a horse-dealer. I remember you well now, and once sold a horse to you at Chelmsford."

"I am no horse-dealer," said I, "nor did I ever buy a horse at Chelmsford. I see you have been about England. Have you ever been in Norfolk or Suffolk?"

"No," said the man, "but I know something of Suffolk. I have an uncle there."

"Whereabouts in Suffolk?" said I.

"At a place called -," said the man.

"In what line of business?" said I.

"In none at all; he is a clergyman."

"Shall I tell you his name?" said I.

"It is not likely you should know his name," said the man.

"Nevertheless," said I, "I will tell it you - his name was - "

"Well," said the man, "sure enough that is his name."

"It was his name," said I, "but I am sorry to tell you he is no more. To-day is Saturday. He died last Tuesday week and was probably buried last Monday. An excellent man was Dr. H. O. A credit to his country and to his order."

The man was silent for some time and then said with a softer voice and a very different manner from that he had used before, "I never saw him but once, and that was more than twenty years ago - but I have heard say that he was an excellent man - I see, sir, that you are a clergyman."

"I am no clergyman," said I, "but I knew your uncle and prized him. What was his native place?"

"Corwen," said the man, then taking out his handkerchief he wiped his eyes, and said with a faltering voice: "This will be heavy news there."

We were now past the monastery, and bidding him farewell I descended to the canal, and returned home by its bank, whilst the Welsh drover, the nephew of the learned, eloquent and exemplary Welsh doctor, pursued with his servant and animals his way by the high road to Llangollen.

Many sons of Welsh yeomen brought up to the Church have become ornaments of it in distant Saxon land, but few, very few, have by learning, eloquence and Christian virtues reflected so much lustre upon it as Hugh O- of Corwen.


Sunday Night - Sleep, Sin, and Old Age - The Dream - Lanikin Figure - A Literary Purchase.

THE Sunday morning was a gloomy one. I attended service at church with my family. The service was in English, and the younger Mr E- preached. The text I have forgotten, but I remember perfectly well that the sermon was scriptural and elegant. When we came out the rain was falling in torrents. Neither I nor my family went to church in the afternoon. I however attended the evening service which is always in Welsh. The elder Mr E- preached. Text, 2 Cor. x. 5. The sermon was an admirable one, admonitory, pathetic and highly eloquent; I went home very much edified, and edified my wife and Henrietta, by repeating to them in English the greater part of the discourse which I had been listening to in Welsh. After supper, in which I did not join, for I never take supper, provided I have taken dinner, they went to bed whilst I remained seated before the fire, with my back near the table and my eyes fixed upon the embers which were rapidly expiring, and in this posture sleep surprised me. Amongst the proverbial sayings of the Welsh, which are chiefly preserved in the shape of triads, is the following one: "Three things come unawares upon a man, sleep, sin, and old age." This saying holds sometimes good with respect to sleep and old age, but never with respect to sin. Sin does not come unawares upon a man: God is just, and would never punish a man, as He always does, for being overcome by sin if sin were able to take him unawares; and neither sleep nor old age always come unawares upon a man. People frequently feel themselves going to sleep and feel old age stealing upon them; though there can be no doubt that sleep and old age sometimes come unawares - old age came unawares upon me; it was only the other day that I was aware that I was old, though I had long been old, and sleep came unawares upon me in that chair in which I had sat down without the slightest thought of sleeping. And there as I sat I had a dream - what did I dream about? the sermon, musing upon which I had been overcome by sleep? not a bit! I dreamt about a widely-different matter. Methought I was in Llangollen fair in the place where the pigs were sold, in the midst of Welsh drovers, immense hogs and immense men whom I took to be the gents of Wolverhampton. What huge fellows they were! almost as huge as the hogs for which they higgled; the generality of them dressed in brown sporting coats, drab breeches, yellow-topped boots, splashed all over with mud, and with low-crowned broad- brimmed hats. One enormous fellow particularly caught my notice. I guessed he must have weighed eleven score, he had a half-ruddy, half-tallowy face, brown hair, and rather thin whiskers. He was higgling with the proprietor of an immense hog, and as he higgled he wheezed as if he had a difficulty of respiration, and frequently wiped off, with a dirty-white pocket-handkerchief, drops of perspiration which stood upon his face. At last methought he bought the hog for nine pounds, and had no sooner concluded his bargain than turning round to me, who was standing close by staring at him, he slapped me on the shoulder with a hand of immense weight, crying with a half-piping, half-wheezing voice, "Coom, neighbour, coom, I and thou have often dealt; gi' me noo a poond for my bargain, and it shall be all thy own." I felt in a great rage at his unceremonious behaviour, and, owing to the flutter of my spirits, whilst I was thinking whether or not I should try and knock him down, I awoke and found the fire nearly out and the ecclesiastical cat seated on my shoulders. The creature had not been turned out, as it ought to have been, before my wife and daughter retired, and feeling cold had got upon the table and thence had sprung upon my back for the sake of the warmth which it knew was to be found there; and no doubt the springing on my shoulders by the ecclesiastical cat was what I took in my dream to be the slap on my shoulders by the Wolverhampton gent.

The day of the fair was dull and gloomy, an exact counterpart of the previous Saturday. Owing to some cause I did not go into the fair till past one o'clock, and then seeing neither immense hogs nor immense men I concluded that the gents of Wolverhampton had been there, and after purchasing the larger porkers had departed with their bargains to their native district. After sauntering about a little time I returned home. After dinner I went again into the fair along with my wife; the stock business had long been over, but I observed more stalls than in the morning, and a far greater throng, for the country people for miles round had poured into the little town. By a stall on which were some poor legs and shoulders of mutton I perceived the English butcher, whom the Welsh one had attempted to slaughter. I recognised him by a patch which he wore on his cheek. My wife and I went up and inquired how he was. He said that he still felt poorly, but that he hoped he should get round. I asked him if he remembered me; and received for answer that he remembered having seen me when the examination took place into "his matter." I then inquired what had become of his antagonist and was told that he was in prison awaiting his trial. I gathered from him that he was a native of the Southdown country and a shepherd by profession; that he had been engaged by the squire of Porkington in Shropshire to look after his sheep, and that he had lived there a year or two, but becoming tired of his situation he had come to Llangollen, where he had married a Welshwoman and set up as a butcher. We told him that as he was our countryman we should be happy to deal with him sometimes; he, however, received the information with perfect apathy, never so much as saying "thank you." He was a tall lanikin figure with a pair of large, lack-lustre staring eyes, and upon the whole appeared to be good for very little. Leaving him we went some way up the principal street; presently my wife turned into a shop, and I observing a little bookstall went up to it and began to inspect the books. They were chiefly in Welsh. Seeing a kind of chap book, which bore on its title-page the name of Twm O'r Nant, I took it up. It was called Y Llwyn Celyn or the Holy Grove, and contained the life and one of the interludes of Tom O' the Dingle or Thomas Edwards. It purported to be the first of four numbers, each of which amongst other things was to contain one of his interludes. The price, of the number was one shilling. I questioned the man of the stall about the other numbers, but found that this was the only one which he possessed. Eager, however, to read an interlude of the celebrated Tom, I purchased it and turned away from the stall. Scarcely had I done so when I saw a wild- looking woman with two wild children looking at me. The woman curtseyed to me, and I thought I recognised the elder of the two Irish females whom I had seen in the tent on the green meadow near Chester. I was going to address her, but just then my wife called to me from the shop and I went to her, and when I returned to look for the woman she and her children had disappeared, and though I searched about for her I could not see her, for which I was sorry, as I wished very much to have some conversation with her about the ways of the Irish wanderers. I was thinking of going to look for her up "Paddy's dingle," but my wife meeting me, begged me to go home with her, as it was getting late. So I went home with my better half, bearing my late literary acquisition in my hand.

That night I sat up very late reading the life of Twm O'r Nant, written by himself in choice Welsh, and his interlude which was styled "Cyfoeth a Thylody; or, Riches and Poverty." The life I had read in my boyhood in an old Welsh magazine, and I now read it again with great zest, and no wonder, as it is probably the most remarkable autobiography ever penned. The interlude I had never seen before, nor indeed any of the dramatic pieces of Twm O'r Nant, though I had frequently wished to procure some of them - so I read the present one with great eagerness. Of the life I shall give some account and also some extracts from it, which will enable the reader to judge of Tom's personal character, and also an extract of the interlude, from which the reader may form a tolerably correct idea of the poetical powers of him whom his countrymen delight to call "the Welsh Shakespear."

George Borrow, Wild Wales: Its People, Language and Scenery (Oxford, Mississippi, 1996)

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