Picture of George Borrow

George Borrow

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Llan Ddewi Brefi - Pelagian Heresy - Hu Gadarn - God of Agriculture - The Silver Cup - Rude Tablet.

IT was about eleven o'clock in the morning when I started from Tregaron; the sky was still cloudy and heavy. I took the road to Lampeter, distant about eight miles, intending, however, to go much farther ere I stopped for the night. The road lay nearly south- west. I passed by Aber Coed, a homestead near the bottom of a dingle down which runs a brook into the Teivi, which flows here close by the road; then by Aber Carvan, where another brook disembogues. Aber, as perhaps the reader already knows, is a disemboguement, and wherever a place commences with Aber there to a certainty does a river flow into the sea, or a brook or rivulet into a river. I next passed through Nant Derven, and in about three-quarters of an hour after leaving Tregaron reached a place of old renown called Llan Ddewi Brefi.

Llan Ddewi Brefi is a small village situated at the entrance of a gorge leading up to some lofty hills which rise to the east and belong to the same mountain range as those near Tregaron. A brook flowing from the hills murmurs through it and at length finds its way into the Teivi. An ancient church stands on a little rising ground just below the hills; multitudes of rooks inhabit its steeple and fill throughout the day the air with their cawing. The place wears a remarkable air of solitude, but presents nothing of gloom and horror, and seems just the kind of spot in which some quiet pensive man, fatigued but not soured by the turmoil of the world, might settle down, enjoy a few innocent pleasures, make his peace with God, and then compose himself to his long sleep.

It is not without reason that Llan Ddewi Brefi has been called a place of old renown. In the fifth century, one of the most remarkable ecclesiastical convocations which the world has ever seen was held in this secluded spot. It was for the purpose of refuting certain doctrines, which had for some time past caused much agitation in the Church, and which originated with one Morgan, a native of North Wales, who left his country at an early age and repaired to Italy, where having adopted the appellation of Pelagius, which is a Latin translation of his own name Morgan, which signifies "by the seashore," he soon became noted as a theological writer. It is not necessary to enter into any detailed exposition of his opinions; it will, however, be as well to state that one of the points which he was chiefly anxious to inculcate was that it is possible for a man to lead a life entirely free from sin by obeying the dictates of his own reason without any assistance from the grace of God - a dogma certainly to the last degree delusive and dangerous. When the convocation met there were a great many sermons preached by various learned and eloquent divines, but nothing was produced which was pronounced by the general voice a satisfactory answer to the doctrines of the heresiarch. At length it was resolved to send for Dewi, a celebrated teacher of theology at Mynyw in Pembrokeshire, who from motives of humility had not appeared in the assembly. Messengers therefore were despatched to Dewi, who, after repeated entreaties, was induced to repair to the place of meeting, where after three days' labour in a cell he produced a treatise in writing in which the tenets of Morgan were so triumphantly overthrown that the convocation unanimously adopted it and sent it into the world with a testimony of approbation as an antidote to the heresy, and so great was its efficacy that from that moment the doctrines of Morgan fell gradually into disrepute.16

Dewi shortly afterwards became primate of Wales, being appointed to the see of Minevai or Mynyw, which from that time was called Ty Ddewi or David's House, a name which it still retains amongst the Cumry, though at present called by the Saxons Saint David's. About five centuries after his death the crown of canonization having been awarded to Dewi, various churches were dedicated to him, amongst which was that now called Llan Ddewi Brefi, which was built above the cell in which the good man composed his celebrated treatise.

If this secluded gorge or valley is connected with a remarkable historical event it is also associated with one of the wildest tales of mythology. Here according to old tradition died one of the humped oxen of the team of Hu Gadarn. Distracted at having lost its comrade, which perished from the dreadful efforts which it made along with the others in drawing the afanc hen or old crocodile from the lake of lakes, it fled away from its master, and wandered about, till coming to the glen now called that of Llan Ddewi Brefi, it fell down and perished after excessive bellowing, from which noise the place probably derived its name of Brefi, for Bref in Cumbric signifies a mighty bellowing or lowing. Horns of enormous size, said to have belonged to this humped ox or bison, were for many ages preserved in the church.

Many will exclaim who was Hu Gadarn? Hu Gadarn in the Gwlad yr Haf or summer country, a certain region of the East, perhaps the Crimea, which seems to be a modification of Cumria, taught the Cumry the arts of civilised life, to build comfortable houses, to sow grain and reap, to tame the buffalo and the bison, and turn their mighty strength to profitable account, to construct boats with wicker and the skins of animals, to drain pools and morasses, to cut down forests, cultivate the vine and encourage bees, make wine and mead, frame lutes and fifes and play upon them, compose rhymes and verses, fuse minerals and form them into various instruments and weapons, and to move in masses against their enemies, and finally when the summer country became over-populated led an immense multitude of his countrymen across many lands to Britain, a country of forests, in which bears, wolves, and bisons wandered, and of morasses and pools full of dreadful efync or crocodiles, a country inhabited only by a few savage Gauls, but which shortly after the arrival of Hu and his people became a smiling region, forests being thinned, bears and wolves hunted down, efync annihilated, bulls and bisons tamed, corn planted and pleasant cottages erected. After his death he was worshipped as the God of agriculture and war by the Cumry and the Gauls. The Germans paid him divine honours under the name of Heus, from which name the province of Hesse in which there was a mighty temple devoted to him, derived its appellation. The Scandinavians worshipped him under the name of Odin and Gautr, the latter word a modification of Cadarn or mighty. The wild Finns feared him as a wizard and honoured him as a musician under the name of Wainoemoinen, and it is very probable that he was the wondrous being whom the Greeks termed Odysses. Till a late period the word Hu amongst the Cumry was frequently used to express God - Gwir Hu, God knows, being a common saying. Many Welsh poets have called the Creator by the name of the creature, amongst others Iolo Goch in his ode to the ploughman:-

"The mighty Hu who lives for ever,
Of mead and wine to men the giver,
The emperor of land and sea,
And of all things that living be
Did hold a plough with his good hand,
Soon as the deluge left the land,
To show to men both strong and weak,
The haughty-hearted and the meek,
Of all the arts the heaven below
The noblest is to guide the plough."

So much for Hu Gadarn or Hu the Mighty, whose name puts one strangely in mind of the Al Kader Hu or the Almighty He of the Arabians.

I went to see the church. The inside was very rude and plain - a rough table covered with a faded cloth served for an altar - on the right-hand side was a venerable-looking chest.

"What is there in that box?" said I to the old sexton who attended me.

"The treasure of the church, sir," he replied in a feeble quaking voice.

"Dear me!" said I, "what does the treasure consist of?"

"You shall see, sir," said he, and drawing a large key out of his pocket he unlocked the chest and taking out a cup of silver he put it into my hand saying:- "This is the treasure of the church, sir!"

I looked at the cup. It was tolerably large and of very chaste workmanship. Graven upon it were the following words:-

"Poculum Eclesie De LXXN Dewy Brefy 1574."

"Do you always keep this cup in that chest?" said I.

"Yes sir! we have kept it there since the cup was given to us by de godly Queen Elizabeth."

I said nothing, but I thought to myself:- "I wonder how long a cup like this would have been safe in a crazy chest in a country church in England."

I kissed the sacred relic of old times with reverence, and returned it to the old sexton.

"What became of the horns of Hu Gadarn's bull?" said I, after he had locked the cup again in its dilapidated coffer.

"They did dwindle away, sir, till they came to nothing."

"Did you ever see any part of them?" said I.

"Oh no, sir; I did never see any part of them, but one very old man who is buried here did tell me shortly before he died that he had seen one very old man who had seen of dem one little tip."

"Who was the old man who said that to you?" said I.

"I will show you his monument, sir," then taking me into a dusky pew he pointed to a small rude tablet against the church wall and said:- "That is his monument, sir."

The tablet bore the following inscription, and below it a rude englyn on death not worth transcribing:-

Coffadwriaeth am
Diweddar o'r Draws Llwyn yn y Plwyf hwn:
Bu farw Chwefror 6 fed 1830
Yn 92 oed.

To the memory of
Of Traws Llwyn (across the Grove) in this
parish who died February the sixth, 1830.
Aged 92.

After copying the inscription I presented the old man with a trifle and went my way.


Lampeter - The Monk Austin - The Three Publicans - The Tombstone - Sudden Change - Trampers - A Catholic - The Bridge of Twrch.

THE country between Llan Ddewi and Lampeter presented nothing remarkable, and I met on the road nothing worthy of being recorded. On arriving at Lampeter I took a slight refreshment at the inn, and then went to see the college which stands a little way to the north of the town. It was founded by Bishop Burgess in the year 1820, for the education of youths intended for the ministry of the Church of England. It is a neat quadrate edifice with a courtyard in which stands a large stone basin. From the courtyard you enter a spacious dining-hall, over the door of which hangs a well-executed portrait of the good bishop. From the hall you ascend by a handsome staircase to the library, a large and lightsome room, well stored with books in various languages. The grand curiosity is a manuscript Codex containing a Latin synopsis of Scripture which once belonged to the monks of Bangor Is Coed. It bears marks of blood with which it was sprinkled when the monks were massacred by the heathen Saxons, at the instigation of Austin the Pope's missionary in Britain. The number of students seldom exceeds forty.

It might be about half-past two in the afternoon when I left Lampeter. I passed over a bridge, taking the road to Llandovery which, however, I had no intention of attempting to reach that night, as it was considerably upwards of twenty miles distant. The road lay, seemingly, due east. After walking very briskly for about an hour I came to a very small hamlet consisting of not more than six or seven houses; of these three seemed to be public- houses, as they bore large flaming signs. Seeing three rather shabby-looking fellows standing chatting with their hands in their pockets, I stopped and inquired in English the name of the place.

"Pen- something," said one of them, who had a red face and a large carbuncle on his nose, which served to distinguish him from his companions, who though they had both very rubicund faces had no carbuncles.

"It seems rather a small place to maintain three public-houses," said I; "how do the publicans manage to live?"

"Oh, tolerably well, sir; we get bread and cheese and have a groat in our pockets. No great reason to complain; have we, neighbours?"

"No! no great reason to complain," said the other two.

"Dear me!" said I; "are you the publicans?"

"We are, sir," said the man with the carbuncle on his nose, "and shall be each of us glad to treat you to a pint in his own house in order to welcome you to Shire Car - shan't we, neighbours?"

"Yes, in truth we shall," said the other two.

"By Shire Car," said I, "I suppose you mean Shire Cardigan?"

"Shire Cardigan!" said the man; "no indeed; by Shire Car is meant Carmarthenshire. Your honour has left beggarly Cardigan some way behind you. Come, your honour, come and have a pint; this is my house," said he, pointing to one of the buildings.

"But," said I, "I suppose if I drink at your expense you expect to drink at mine?"

"Why, we can't say that we shall have any objection, your honour; I think we will arrange the matter in this way; we will go into my house, where we will each of us treat your honour with a pint, and for each pint we treat your honour with your honour shall treat us with one."

"Do you mean each?" said I.

"Why, yes! your honour, for a pint amongst three would be rather a short allowance."

"Then it would come to this," said I, "I should receive three pints from you three, and you three would receive nine from me."

"Just so, your honour, I see your honour is a ready reckoner."

"I know how much three times three make," said I. "Well, thank you, kindly, but I must decline your offer; I am bound on a journey."

"Where are you bound to, master?"

"To Llandovery, but if I can find an inn a few miles farther on I shall stop there for the night."

"Then you will put up at the 'Pump Saint,' master; well, you can have your three pints here and your three pipes too, and yet get easily there by seven. Come in, master, come in! If you take my advice you will think of your pint and your pipe and let all the rest go to the devil."

"Thank you," said I, "but I can't accept your invitation, I must be off;" and in spite of yet more pressing solicitations I went on.

I had not gone far when I came to a point where the road parted into two; just at the point were a house and premises belonging apparently to a stonemason, as a great many pieces of half-cut granite were standing about, and not a few tombstones. I stopped and looked at one of the latter. It was to the memory of somebody who died at the age of sixty-six, and at the bottom bore the following bit of poetry:-

"Ti ddaear o ddaear ystyria mewn braw,
Mai daear i ddaear yn fuan a ddaw;
A ddaear mewn ddaear raid aros bob darn
Nes daear o ddaear gyfrodir i farn."

"Thou earth from earth reflect with anxious mind
That earth to earth must quickly be consigned,
And earth in earth must lie entranced enthralled
Till earth from earth to judgment shall be called."

"What conflicting opinions there are in this world," said I, after I had copied the quatrain and translated it. "The publican yonder tells me to think of my pint and pipe and let everything else go to the devil, and the tombstone here tells me to reflect with dread - a much finer expression by-the-bye than reflect with anxious mind, as I have got it - that in a very little time I must die, and lie in the ground till I am called to judgment. Now, which is most right, the tombstone or the publican? Why, I should say the tombstone decidedly. The publican is too sweeping when he tells you to think of your pint and pipe and nothing else. A pint and pipe are good things. I don't smoke myself, but I daresay a pipe is a good thing for them who like it, but there are certainly things worth being thought of in this world besides a pint and pipe - hills and dales, woods and rivers, for example - death and judgment too are worthy now and then of very serious thought. So it won't do to go with the publican the whole hog. But with respect to the tombstone, it is quite safe and right to go with it its whole length. It tells you to think of death and judgment - and assuredly we ought to of them. It does not, however, tell you to think of nothing but death and judgment and to eschew every innocent pleasure within your reach. If it did it would be a tombstone quite as sweeping in what it says as the publican, who tells you to think of your pint and pipe and let everything else go to the devil. The wisest course evidently is to blend the whole of the philosophy of the tombstone with a portion of the philosophy of the publican and something more, to enjoy one's pint and pipe and other innocent pleasures, and to think every now and then of death and judgment - that is what I intend to do, and indeed is what I have done for the last thirty years."

I went on - desolate hills rose in the east, the way I was going, but on the south were beautiful hillocks adorned with trees and hedge-rows. I was soon amongst the desolate hills, which then looked more desolate than they did at a distance. They were of a wretched russet colour, and exhibited no other signs of life and cultivation than here and there a miserable field and vile-looking hovel; and if there was here nothing to cheer the eye there was also nothing to cheer the ear. There were no songs of birds, no voices of rills; the only sound I heard was the lowing of a wretched bullock from a far-off slope.

I went on slowly and heavily; at length I got to the top of this wretched range - then what a sudden change! Beautiful hills in the far east, a fair valley below me, and groves and woods on each side of the road which led down to it. The sight filled my veins with fresh life, and I descended this side of the hill as merrily as I had come up the other side despondingly. About half-way down the hill I came to a small village. Seeing a public-house I went up to it, and inquired in English of some people within the name of the village.

"Dolwen," said a dark-faced young fellow of about four-and-twenty.

"And what is the name of the valley?" said I.

"Dolwen," was the answer, "the valley is named after the village."

"You mean that the village is named after the valley," said I, "for Dolwen means fair valley."

"It may be so," said the young fellow, "we don't know much here."

Then after a moment's pause he said:

"Are you going much farther?"

"Only as far as the 'Pump Saint.'"

"Have you any business there?" said he.

"No," I replied, "I am travelling the country, and shall only put up there for the night"

"You had better stay here," said the young fellow. "You will be better accommodated here than at the 'Pump Saint.'"

"Very likely," said I; "but I have resolved to go there, and when I once make a resolution I never alter it."

Then bidding him good evening I departed. Had I formed no resolution at all about stopping at the 'Pump Saint,' I certainly should not have stayed in this house, which had all the appearance of a trampers' hostelry, and though I am very fond of the conversation of trampers, who are the only people from whom you can learn anything, I would much rather have the benefit of it abroad than in their own lairs. A little farther down I met a woman coming up the ascent. She was tolerably respectably dressed, seemed about five-and-thirty, and was rather good-looking. She walked somewhat slowly, which was probably more owing to a large bundle which she bore in her hand than to her path being up-hill.

"Good evening," said I, stopping.

"Good evening, your honour," said she, stopping and brightly panting.

"Do you come from far?" said I.

"Not very far, your honour, but quite far enough for a poor feeble woman."

"Are you Welsh?" said I.

"Och no! your honour; I am Mary Bane from Dunmanway in the kingdom of Ireland."

"And what are you doing here?" said I.

"Och sure! I am travelling the country with soft goods."

"Are you going far?" said I.

"Merely to the village a little farther up, your honour."

"I am going farther," said I, "I am thinking of passing the night at the 'Pump Saint.'"

"Well, then, I would just advise your honour to do no such thing, but to turn back with me to the village above, where there is an illigant inn where your honour will be well accommodated."

"Oh, I saw that as I came past," said I; "I don't think there is much accommodation there."

"Oh, your honour is clane mistaken; there is always an illigant fire and an illigant bed too."

"Is there only one bed?" said I.

"Oh, yes, there are two beds, one for the accommodation of the people of the house and the other for that of the visitors."

"And do the visitors sleep together then?" said I.

"Oh yes! unless they wish to be unsociable. Those who are not disposed to be sociable sleeps in the chimney-corners."

"Ah," said I, "I see it is a very agreeable inn; however, I shall go on to the 'Pump Saint.'"

"I am sorry for it, your honour, for your honour's sake; your honour won't be half so illigantly served at the 'Pump Saint' as there above."

"Of what religion are you?" said I.

"Oh, I'm a Catholic, just like your honour, for if I am not clane mistaken your honour is an Irishman."

"Who is your spiritual director?" said I.

"Why, then, it is just Father Toban, your honour, whom of course your honour knows."

"Oh yes!" said I; "when you next see him present my respects to him."

"What name shall I mention, your honour?"

"Shorsha Borroo," said I.

"Oh, then I was right in taking your honour for an Irishman. None but a raal Paddy bears that name. A credit to your honour is your name, for it is a famous name,17 and a credit to your name is your honour, for it is a neat man without a bend you are. God bless your honour and good night! and may you find dacent quarters in the 'Pump Saint.'"

Leaving Mary Bane I proceeded on my way. The evening was rather fine but twilight was coming rapidly on. I reached the bottom of the valley and soon overtook a young man dressed something like a groom. We entered into conversation. He spoke Welsh and a little English. His Welsh I had great difficulty in understanding, as it was widely different from that which I had been accustomed to. He asked me where I was going to; I replied to the "Pump Saint," and then enquired if he was in service.

"I am," said he.

"With whom do you live?" said I.

"With Mr Johnes of Dol Cothi," he answered.

Struck by the word Cothi, I asked if Dol Cothi was ever called Glyn Cothi.

"Oh yes," said he, "frequently."

"How odd," thought I to myself, "that I should have stumbled all of a sudden upon the country of my old friend Lewis Glyn Cothi, the greatest poet after Ab Gwilym of all Wales!"

"Is Cothi a river?" said I to my companion.

"It is," said he.

Presently we came to a bridge over a small river.

"Is this river the Cothi?" said I.

"No," said he, "this is the Twrch; the bridge is called Pont y Twrch."

"The bridge of Twrch or the hog," said I to myself; "there is a bridge of the same name in the Scottish Highlands, not far from the pass of the Trossachs. I wonder whether it has its name from the same cause as this, namely, from passing over a river called the Twrch or Torck, which word in Gaelic signifies boar or hog even as it does in Welsh." It had now become nearly dark. After proceeding some way farther I asked the groom if we were far from the inn of the "Pump Saint."

"Close by," said he, and presently pointing to a large building on the right-hand side he said: "This is the inn of the 'Pump Saint,' sir. Nos Da'chi!"


"Pump Saint" - Pleasant Residence - The Watery Coom - Philological Fact - Evening Service - Meditation.

I ENTERED the inn of the "Pump Saint." It was a comfortable old- fashioned place, with a very large kitchen and a rather small parlour. The people were kind and attentive, and soon set before me in the parlour a homely but savoury supper, and a foaming tankard of ale. After supper I went into the kitchen, and sitting down with the good folks in an immense chimney-corner, listened to them talking in their Carmarthenshire dialect till it was time to go to rest, when I was conducted to a large chamber where I found an excellent and clean bed awaiting me, in which I enjoyed a refreshing sleep, occasionally visited by dreams in which some of the scenes of the preceding day again appeared before me, but in an indistinct and misty manner.

Awaking in the very depth of the night I thought I heard the murmuring of a river; I listened and soon found that I had not been deceived. "I wonder whether that river is the Cothi," said I, "the stream of the immortal Lewis. I will suppose that it is" - and rendered quite happy by the idea, I soon fell asleep again.

I arose about eight and went out to look about me. The village consists of little more than half-a-dozen houses. The name "Pump Saint" signifies "Five Saints." Why the place is called so I know not. Perhaps the name originally belonged to some chapel which stood either where the village now stands or in the neighbourhood. The inn is a good specimen of an ancient Welsh hostelry. Its gable is to the road and its front to a little space on one side of the way. At a little distance up the road is a blacksmith's shop. The country around is interesting: on the north-west is a fine wooded hill - to the south a valley through which flows the Cothi, a fair river, the one whose murmur had come so pleasingly upon my ear in the depth of night.

After breakfast I departed for Llandovery. Presently I came to a lodge on the left-hand beside an ornamental gate at the bottom of an avenue leading seemingly to a gentleman's seat. On inquiring of a woman, who sat at the door of the lodge, to whom the grounds belonged, she said to Mr Johnes, and that if I pleased I was welcome to see them. I went in and advanced along the avenue, which consisted of very noble oaks; on the right was a vale in which a beautiful brook was running north and south. Beyond the vale to the east were fine wooded hills. I thought I had never seen a more pleasing locality, though I saw it to great disadvantage, the day being dull, and the season the latter fall. Presently, on the avenue making a slight turn, I saw the house, a plain but comfortable gentleman's seat with wings. It looked to the south down the dale. "With what satisfaction I could live in that house," said I to myself, "if backed by a couple of thousands a-year. With what gravity could I sign a warrant in its library, and with what dreamy comfort translate an ode of Lewis Glyn Cothi, my tankard of rich ale beside me. I wonder whether the proprietor is fond of the old bard and keeps good ale. Were I an Irishman instead of a Norfolk man I would go in and ask him."

Returning to the road I proceeded on my journey. I passed over Pont y Rhanedd or the bridge of the Rhanedd, a small river flowing through a dale, then by Clas Hywel, a lofty mountain which appeared to have three heads. After walking for some miles I came to where the road divided into two. By a sign-post I saw that both led to Llandovery, one by Porth y Rhyd and the other by Llanwrda. The distance by the first was six miles and a half, by the latter eight and a half. Feeling quite the reverse of tired I chose the longest road, namely the one by Llanwrda, along which I sped at a great rate.

In a little time I found myself in the heart of a romantic winding dell, overhung with trees of various kinds, which a tall man whom I met told me was called Cwm Dwr Llanwrda, or the Watery Coom of Llanwrda; and well might it be called the Watery Coom, for there were several bridges in it, two within a few hundred yards of each other. The same man told me that the war was going on very badly, that our soldiers were suffering much, and that the snow was two feet deep at Sebastopol.

Passing through Llanwrda, a pretty village with a singular-looking church, close to which stood an enormous yew, I entered a valley which I learned was the valley of the Towey. I directed my course to the north, having the river on my right, which runs towards the south in a spacious bed, which, however, except in times of flood, it scarcely half fills. Beautiful hills were on other side, partly cultivated, partly covered with wood, and here and there dotted with farm-houses and gentlemen's seats; green pastures which descended nearly to the river occupying in general the lower parts. After journeying about four miles amid this kind of scenery I came to a noble suspension bridge, and crossing it found myself in about a quarter of an hour at Llandovery.

It was about half-past two when I arrived. I put up at the Castle Inn and forthwith ordered dinner, which was served up between four and five. During dinner I was waited upon by a strange old fellow who spoke Welsh and English with equal fluency.

"What countryman are you?" said I.

"An Englishman," he replied.

"From what part of England?"

"From Herefordshire."

"Have you been long here?"

"Oh yes! upwards of twenty years."

"How came you to learn Welsh?"

"Oh, I took to it and soon picked it up."

"Can you read it?" said I.

"No, I can't."

"Can you read English?"

"Yes, I can; that is, a little."

"Why didn't you try to learn to read Welsh?"

"Well, I did; but I could make no hand of it. It's one thing to speak Welsh and another to read it."

"I can read Welsh much better than I can speak it," said I.

"Ah, you are a gentleman - gentlefolks always find it easier to learn to read a foreign lingo than to speak it, but it's quite the contrary with we poor folks."

"One of the most profound truths ever uttered connected with language," said I to myself. I asked him if there were many Church of England people in Llandovery.

"A good many," he replied.

"Do you belong to the Church?" said I.

"Yes, I do."

"If this were Sunday I would go to church," said I.

"Oh, if you wish to go to church you can go to-night. This is Wednesday, and there will be service at half-past six. If you like I will come for you."

"Pray do," said I; "I should like above all things to go."

Dinner over I sat before the fire occasionally dozing, occasionally sipping a glass of whiskey-and-water. A little after six the old fellow made his appearance with a kind of Spanish hat on his head. We set out; the night was very dark; we went down a long street seemingly in the direction of the west. "How many churches are there in Llandovery?" said I to my companion.

"Only one, but you are not going to Llandovery Church, but to that of Llanfair, in which our clergyman does duty once or twice a week."

"Is it far?" said I.

"Oh no; just out of the town, only a few steps farther."

We seemed to pass over a bridge and began to ascend a rising ground. Several people were going in the same direction.

"There," said the old man, "follow with these, and a little farther up you will come to the church, which stands on the right hand."

He then left me. I went with the rest and soon came to the church. I went in and was at once conducted by an old man, who I believe was the sexton, to a large pew close against the southern wall. The inside of the church was dimly lighted; it was long and narrow, and the walls were painted with a yellow colour. The pulpit stood against the northern wall near the altar, and almost opposite to the pew in which I sat. After a little time the service commenced; it was in Welsh. When the litanies were concluded the clergyman, who appeared to be a middle-aged man, and who had rather a fine voice, began to preach. His sermon was from the 119th Psalm: "Am hynny hoffais dy gorchymynion yn mwy nag aur:" "Therefore have I loved thy commandments more than gold." The sermon, which was extempore, was delivered with great earnestness, and I make no doubt was a very excellent one, but owing to its being in South Welsh I did not derive much benefit from it as I otherwise might have done. When it was over a great many got up and went away. Observing, however, that not a few remained, I determined upon remaining too. When everything was quiet the clergyman, descending from the pulpit, repaired to the vestry, and having taken off his gown went into a pew, and standing up began a discourse, from which I learned that there was to be a sacrament on the ensuing Sabbath. He spoke with much fervency, enlarging upon the high importance of the holy communion, and exhorting people to come to it in a fit state of mind. When he had finished a man in a neighbouring pew got up and spoke about his own unworthiness, saying this and that about himself, his sins of commission and omission, and dwelling particularly on his uncharitableness and the malicious pleasure which he took in the misfortunes of his neighbours. The clergyman listened attentively, sometimes saying "Ah!" and the congregation also listened attentively, a voice here and there frequently saying "Ah." When the man had concluded the clergyman again spoke, making observations on what he had heard, and hoping that the rest would be visited with the same contrite spirit as their friend. Then there was a hymn and we went away.

The moon was shining on high and cast its silvery light on the tower, the church, some fine trees which surrounded it, and the congregation going home; a few of the better dressed were talking to each other in English, but with an accent and pronunciation which rendered the discourse almost unintelligible to my ears.

I found my way back to my inn and went to bed, after musing awhile on the concluding scene of which I had been witness in the church.

16 Hanes Crefydd Yn Nghymru.

17 The good gentlewoman was probably thinking of the celebrated king Brian Boromhe slain at the battle of Clontarf.

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

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