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Catti, by T. J. Llewelyn Prichard

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Title: The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shon Catti
       descriptive of Life in Wales: Interspersed with Poems

Author: T. J. Llewelyn Prichard

Release Date: August 5, 2012  [eBook #40419]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1828 John Cox edition by David Price, email




Interspersed with Poems.




Mae llevain mawr a gwaeddi
Yn Ystrad Fîn eleni
A cherrig nadd yn toddi ’n blwm
Rhag ovn Twm Shôn Catti.

In Ystrad Fîn this year, appalling
The tumult loud, the weeping, wailing,
   That thrills with fear and pity;
The lightning scathes the mountain’s head,
The massy stones dissolve like lead,
All nature shudders at the tread
   And shout of Twm Shôn Catti.





p. 1CHAP. I.

The popularity of Twm Shôn Catti’s name in Wales.  The resemblance of his character to that of Robin Hood and others.  An exposition of the spurious account of our hero in the “Innkeeper’s Album,” and in the drama founded thereon.  The honor of his birth claimed by different towns.  A true account of his birth and parentage.

The preface to the once popular farce of “Killing no Murder” informs us, that many a fry of infant Methodists are terrified and frightened to bed by the cry of “the Bishop is coming!”—That the right reverend prelates of the realm should become bugbears and buggaboos to frighten the children of Dissenters, is curious enough, and evinces a considerable degree of ingenious malignity in bringing Episcopacy into contempt, if true.  Be that as it may in England, in Wales it is not so; for the demon of terror and monster of the nursery there, to check the shrill cry of infancy, and enforce silent obedience to the nurse or mother, is Twm Shôn Catti.  But “babes and sucklings” are not the only ones on whom that name has continued p. 2to act as a spell; nor are fear and wonder its only attributes, for the knavish exploits and comic feats of the celebrated freebooter Twm Shôn Catti, are, like those of Robin Hood in England, the themes of many a rural rhyme, and the subject of many a village tale; where, seated round the ample hearth of the farm house, or the more limited one of the lowly cottage, an attentive audience is ever found, where his mirth-exciting tricks are told and listened to with vast satisfaction, unsated by the frequency of repetition: for the “lowly train” are generally strangers to that fastidiousness which turns, disgusted, from the twice-told tale.

Although neither the legends, poetry, nor history of the principality, seems to interest, or accord with the queasy taste of our English brethren, the name of Twm Shôn Catti, curiously enough, not only made its way among them, but had the unexpected honor of being woven into a tale, and exhibited on the stage as a Welsh national dramatic spectacle, under the title, and the imposing second title, of Twm John Catti, or the Welsh Rob Roy.  The nationality of the Welsh residents in London, who always bear their country along with them wherever they go or stay, was immediately roused, notwithstanding the great offence of substituting “John” for “Shôn,” which called at once on their curiosity and love of country to peruse the “Innkeeper’s Album,” in which this tale first appeared, and to visit the Cobourg Theatre, where overflowing houses nightly attended the representation of the “Welsh Rob p. 3Roy.”  Now this second title, which confounded the poor Cambrians, was a grand expedient of the author’s, to excite the attention of the Londoners, who naturally associated it with the hero of the celebrated Scotch novel; the bait was immediately swallowed, and that tale, an awkward and most weak attempt to imitate the “Great Unknown,” and by far the worst article in the book, actually sold a volume, in other respects well deserving the attention of the public.  “It is good to have a friend at court,” is an adage no less familiar than true; and Mr. Deacon’s success in this instance clearly illustrates this new maxim—“it is good to have a friend among the critics,” by most of whom his book has been either praised, or allowed quietly to pass muster, adorned with the insignia of unquestionable merit.

Great was the surprise of the sons of the Cymry to find the robber Twm Shon Catti, who partially resembled Bamfylde Moore Carew, Robin Hood, and the humorous but vulgar footpad, Turpin, elevated to the degree of a high-hearted, injured chieftain;—the stealer of calves, old women’s flannels, and three-legged pots, a noble character, uttering heroic speeches, and ultimately dying for his Ellen [3a] a hero’s death!

“This may do for London, but in Wales, where ‘Y gwir yn erbyn y byd[3b] is our motto, we know better!” muttered many a testy Cambrian, while he felt doubly indignant at the author’s and actors’ errors in mis-writing and mis-pronouncing their popular outlaw’s “sponsorial p. 4or baptismal appellation,” [4] as Doctor Pangloss would say: and another source of umbrage to them was, that an English author’s sacrilegiously dignifying a robber with the qualities of a hero, conveyed the villainous inference that Wales was barren of real heroes—an insinuation that no Welshman could tamely endure or forgive.  In an instant recurred the honored names of Rodri Mawr, Owen Gwyneth, Caswallon ab Beli, Owen Glyndwr, Rhys ab Thomas, and a vast chain of Cambrian worthies, not forgetting the royal race of Tudor, that gave an Elizabeth to the English throne; on which the mimic scene before them, and the high vauntings of Huntley in the character of Twm Shôn Catti, sunk into the insignificance of a Punch and puppet show, in comparison with the mighty men who then passed before the mental eye.

If the misrepresentation of historical characters, re-moulded and amplified, to suit the fascinating details of romance, be a fault generally, it is particularly offensive in the present case, where the being treated of, is so well known to almost every peasant throughout the principality; so that a real account of our hero, if not exactly useful, may at least prove amusing, in this age of inquiry, to stand by the side of the fictitious tale; and if this detail is found also to partake occasionally of the embellishments p. 5of fancy, it will at least be characteristic.  Little, it is true, of his life is known, and that little collected principally from the varying and uncertain source of oral tradition.  Some anecdotes and remarks respecting him have of late years been committed to record, in the writings of Theophilus Jones, the Breconshire historian, and in the “Hynafion Cymreig,” (Cambrian Popular Antiquities,) which Dr. Meyrick has quoted in his “History of Cardiganshire;” but his rover’s exploits and vagaries I met with principally in a homely Welsh pamphlet of eight pages, printed on tea-paper, and sold at the moderate price of two-pence.

Twm Shôn Catti was the natural son of Sir John Wynne, of Gwydir, bart. author of that quaint and singular work, the “History of the Gwydir Family,” by a woman whose name was Catherine.  Of her condition little has hitherto been made known; but as surnames were not then generally adopted in Wales, her son became distinguished only by the appellation of Twm Shôn Catti; literally, Thomas John Catherine, though it implied “Thomas the son of John and Catherine.” [5]

Like the immortal Homer, different towns have put forth their claims to the enviable distinction of having given our hero birth; among which Cardigan, Llandovery, and Carmarthen, are said to have displayed considerable warmth in asserting their respective pretensions.  A native of the latter far-famed borough town, whose p. 6carbuncled face and rubicund nose—indelible stamps of bacchanalian royalty—proclaimed him the undisputed prince of topers, roundly affirmed that no town but Carmarthen—ever famed for its stout ale, large dampers, [6] and blustering heroes of the pipe and pot—could possibly have produced such a jolly dog.  It is with regret that we perceive such potent authority opposed by the united opinions of our Cambrian bards and antiquaries, who place his birth in the year 1590, at Tregaron—that primitive, yet no longer obscure, Cardiganshire town, but long celebrated throughout the principality for its pony fair; and above all, as the established birth-place of Twm Shôn Catti.  He first saw the light, it seems, at a house of his mother’s, situate on a hill south-east of Tregaron, called Llidiard-y-Fynnon, (Fountain Gate,) from its situation beside an excellent well, that previous to the discovery of other springs, nearer to their habitations, supplied the good people of Tregaron with water.  That distinguished spot is now, however, more generally known by the more elevated name of Plâs Twm Shôn Catti, (the mansion of Twm Shôn Catti,) the ruins of which are still pointed out by the neighbouring people to any curious traveller who may wish to enrich the pages of his virgin tour by their important communications.

And now, having given our hero’s birth and parentage with the fidelity of a true historian, p. 7who has a most virtuous scorn of the spurious embellishments of fiction, a more excursive pen shall flourish on our future chapters.


A glance at Twm’s grandfather.  Squire Graspacre.  Sir John Wynne.  The adventure that foreran our hero’s birth.

Catti, the mother of Twm, lived in the most unsophisticated manner at Llidiard-y-Fynnon, with an ill-favored, hump-backed sister, who was the general drudge and domestic manager, and who at other times assisted at her usual daily avocations.  Their mother had long been dead, and their father, the horned cattle, a small farm and all its appurtenances, had been lost to them about two years.  This little farm was their father’s freehold property, but provokingly situate in the middle of the vast possessions of Squire Graspacre, an English gentleman-farmer, who condescendingly fixed himself in the principality with the laudable idea of civilizing the Welsh.  The most feasible mode of accomplishing so grand an undertaking, that appeared to him, was, to dispossess them of their property, and to take as much as possible of their country into his own paternal care.  The rude Welsh, to be sure, he found so blind to their own interests, as to prefer living on their farms to either selling or giving them away, to profit by his superior management.  His master-genius now became apparent to every body; for after ruining the owners and appropriating to himself half p. 8the country, the other half also became his own with ease, as the poor little freeholders found it better to accept a small sum for their property, than to have all wasted in litigation, and perhaps ultimately to end their days in prison.  Twm’s maternal grandfather was the last of those who daringly withstood the desires of the squire, but at last, after having triumphantly gained his cause, being unable to pay the costs, he was arrested by his own attorney, and died a prisoner in Cardigan county gaol, as the neighbours said, of a broken heart.  The philanthropic improving squire, then, of course, gained his end.  The old farm-house, alienated from the land, became the residence of the old farmer’s two daughters; not exactly a gift, indeed, as they paid the annual rent of two guineas, which was generally considered about one too much.

It was soon after this admirable settlement of his affairs, that the squire had a grand visitor to entertain at Graspacre Hall, who was no less a personage than Sir John Wynne, of Gwydir, in North Wales, whose sister our deep-scheming squire had lately married, with the politic view of identifying himself with the Cambrian principality, and becoming one of the great landed proprietors in the country.  One day, after a long ride with his noble guest, over his far-spreading hills and vales, it was poor Catti’s lot to be observed by these lordly sons of affluence.  She was spinning wool at the cottage door, a work which she seldom performed without the accompaniment of a song; and at that time was giving utterance to a mournful ditty, as the p. 9recent death of her father had naturally attuned her mind to melancholy, and cast a cloud over her usual cheerfulness.

The great men stopped their horses: “a fine girl, Sir John,” cried the squire.

“Very!” observed the baronet; “I wonder if she is come-at-able?”

“How can you wonder at any such thing, my dear Sir John?” quoth the improvement-loving squire: “the girl’s as poor as a rat, and has lately lost her father.  It would really be a charity, my dear Sir John, if you were to call and comfort her.  Improvement, Sir John, is my motto, and I fancy this poor girl’s state is very capable of improvement.”

The latter part of this amiable suggestion, given with a significant leer, was perfectly well understood.  The amorous baronet amply availed himself of the honorable squire’s hint, and called several successive evenings at Llidiard-y-Fynnon; but some doubts may be entertained of the improvements he introduced there.  The sequel of the adventure soon grew notorious, and the maiden Catti became the mother of our redoubted hero, thence, with an allusion to his father, named Twm Shon Catti.

p. 10CHAP. III.

Early indications of Twm’s antiquarian propensities.  His mother becomes the very paragon of schoolmistresses.  The originality of her system.  Twm becomes her pupil.

As the period of early infancy rarely contains incidents worthy of the recording pen of history, we shall bring our hero at once to his fourth year.  The biographers of great men have generally evinced a predilection to present their readers with certain early indications of the peculiar genius that has distinguished their heroes in after life; and far from us be the presumption of deviating from such a popular and legitimate rule, by any radical attempt at innovation or improvement.  Pope’s lispings in numbers, West’s quaker daubings in childhood, with many such instances, not to mention Peter Pindar’s waggery on Sir Joseph Banks’s spreading spiders on his bread and butter, are cases in point, which are familiar to every reader; and it will not appear strange to those already acquainted with his fame, that we have to add to these eminent names that of our long-neglected hero.  It is true he became neither a poet, a painter, nor a natural historian, but, according to the unbiassed opinions of geniuses of the same caste with himself, who could not be suspected of either egotism or partiality, a superior character to either—an eminent antiquary—to which may be added, though perhaps it ought to take the lead—a no less eminent thief.  Such is the prejudice of these degenerate times that the p. 11latter designation has grown unpopular; but according to Bardolph’s hint, it might be profitably exchanged, on the score of respectability, to “conveyancer:”—

“Steal! a fico for the phrase!
The wise call it convey.”

It is to be hoped that none of our readers will be infidels enough to doubt the fact, when they are assured, on the indubitable testimony of his mother, that our hero’s earliest propensity was to grub up old trash and trumpery from the gutters of Tregaron—“filth,” as his parent wisely observed, “which had better have been left alone;” and we may safely appeal to any candid mind, and boldly ask whether this trait did not in the most decided manner bespeak the future antiquary.  Not a puddle could be found but its depth and contents were duly examined by the indefatigable Twm; and the curious urchin was always distinguishable from the rest of his playmates by certain crusts of mud that adorned his tiny woollen garb from top to bottom.  As in these little fancies he spent the greater part of his time, it became a wonder to his mother that he seldom ran home for food; but it was soon discovered that he had a mode peculiar to himself of raising contributions on the little public of which he was a member, by forcing them to part with a portion of their bread and butter—a praiseworthy act, and trebly commendable, as in the first place it shewed his filial piety, in saving his mother the expence of his victuals; in the next, it taught courtesy to the churlish, who in time anticipated his demand p. 12by voluntary offerings; and thirdly, it engendered the principle of honesty in their tender minds, by marking the propriety of paying for their curiosity in gaping over the treasures of his puddles and gutters.  This, it will also be observed, was another feature that announced his future character, which, it will be seen, “grew with his growth, and strengthened with his strength.”

Here we must return again to our hero’s mother.  On learning the event of his amour, Sir John Wynne bought of the squire, and gave to Catti as her own for ever, her paternal cottage of Llidiard-y-Fynnon.  This fortunate circumstance gave her no small importance in her neighbourhood.  As the house was large, and not overstocked with inhabitants, it occurred to the good people of Tregaron, that a day-school might be established within its walls; and having with their own consent found a school-room, by the same indisputable right they fixed on Catti for its mistress, and instituted her governess, to rule their tender progeny.  Catti, with a huge grin of approbation at her unexpected promotion, immediately ratified their election, and declared both her house and self ready for the reception of pupils at the moderate terms of a penny a week.  Her ill-favored sister clouded her brow, and elevated her hump on the occasion, and asked very indignantly, who was going to clean the house every day after such a grubby fry.  Catti made no reply, but in the pride of her heart hummed a gay song, scratched the mud off her boy’s clothes with an p. 13old birch broom, which being hardened by sweeping the house, answered the purpose better than a brush, and had some old coffers converted into benches for the service of her scholars.  She then, with singular alacrity, proceeded to cut from the hedge, with her own fair hand, one of the most engaging looking birch rods that ever was wielded by rural governess.  This premature display of the sceptre of severity was far from fortunate, and nearly ruined the undertaking at the outset.  The tender mothers of Tregaron were startled at so unexpected a proceeding, and pathetically declared they had rather that their dear babes should be brought up like the calves and pigs, in the most bestial ignorance, than have knowledge beaten into them at the nether end with a birch rod.  Catti immediately quieted their fears, by protesting that she entertained the utmost abhorrence of the flagellation system, and that the bunch of birch was cut and bound together for a very different purpose, namely, to be suspended as a sign over her door.  After a debate of some hours among the amiable matrons, however, it was decided that the birch should not be exalted even as an external symbol, over the door of the school, as the very sight of it might strike a terror into the little lubberly loves, and frighten them into fits.  As Catti was all compliance with their requisitions, every thing was set to rights; and without more ado children were sent from every house where the affluence of the inmates enabled them to give their offspring the first rudiments of education.  The mother of p. 14Twm became the very pink and paragon of schoolmistresses.  ’Tis true, the noise and uproar in her school was so great, that the curate’s wife, who rode an ill-tamed horse, was thrown headlong into the well, when passing the academy, from the animal taking fright; but that was no fault of Catti’s; people should break in their horses properly, and curates’ wives should learn to ride and keep their seats better.  Besides, the alledged uproar was the greatest evidence in her favor, as it proved the tenderness of her heart in not correcting her scholars—a quality more valued by their maternal parents than any other that could possibly be substituted; and in their appreciation of this prime desideratum, they omitted to enquire too minutely into her other qualifications for a governess.  Fastidious parents, to be sure, might have insisted that she could read, at least; while others more lenient, would have suggested the necessity of being able to spell, or at any rate, to know her letters: but poor Catti could not have passed such a rigid ordeal in either instance, had she been put to it.  Yet that very deficiency which might have troubled a weaker mind, was to her a great source of satisfaction, as she always hugged herself warmly in the gratifying recollection that no person could accuse her, in the words of Festus to Paul, “Too much learning has made thee mad:” and with unexampled liberality she determined that the rising generation entrusted to her care, should participate to the utmost in these her negative felicitous attainments.

Many of Catti’s pupils had been taken by p. 15their wise and considerate mothers out of the curate’s school, fearful that his severity would break their hearts; and having there learnt their letters and a little spelling, they kept possession at least of what they had acquired, by teaching other children, which flattered their childish vanity, while it served their mistress, who, like a sage general that stands aloof from the broil of battle, takes to himself the credit of success, while the real operators are forgotten.  Thus, in time, with the powerful support of the matrons of Tregaron, who took the lead of their spouses, and directed the taste and opinions of the clod-hopping community, Catti’s school became an alarming rival to the curate’s.

Teachers, like all other scientific persons, must have their own systems; and as our heroine’s was very original, though perhaps not entirely peculiar to herself, with a view of communicating a benefit to others less enlightened, who follow her avocations, we shall treat the reader, once for all, with a solitary specimen of her method.

“Come here, little Gwenny Cadwgan,” said Catti one day, “Come here, my little pretty buttercup, and say your lesson, if you can, but if you can’t never mind, I won’t beat or scold you.”  Gwenny came forward, bobbed a curtsey, and, while her mistress broomed the mud from little Twm’s breeches, and combed his head on the back of the bellows, began her lesson.

Gwenny.—a, b, hab.

Catti.—There’s a good maaid!

Gwenny.—e, b, heb.

p. 16Catti.—There’s a good maaid!

Gwenny.—o, b, hob.

Catti.—There’s a good maaid!

Gwenny.—i, b,—I can’t tell.

Catti.—Skipe it, child, skipe it—(meaning “skip it.”)

Gwenny.—u, b, cub.

Catti.—There’s a good maaid!  Twm, you little wicked dog, don’t kick the child.  Go on, Gwenny vach.

Twm.—(who had been struggling for some time to get from under his mother’s combs,) I want to go a fishing.

Catti.—Lord love the darling child!  You’ll fall into the river and be drowned.

Twm.—Oh! no, mother; I always fish in the gutters.

Dio Bengoch.—I want to go home for some bread and butter.

“And I! and I! and I!” squalls every other urchin in the school; and out they would run in a drove, on perceiving the independent exit of master Twm, without waiting for the permission of his parent and governess.


The bad effects of scholarship among servants.  The opinions of a fine lady on the subject.  A horse milliner.  Jack o Sîr Gâr, a very original character.  His manufacture and merchandize.  His tender interview with Catti.  A suspicion of her coquettings.

Perhaps our modern governesses who possess the vain accomplishment of reading and writing, p. 17may feel disposed to undervalue the acquirements of our rural Welsh governess.  But let them not triumph; and be it recollected that tastes differ, and that many of our living patricians, as well as wealthy plebians, who are considered the great, the mighty, and the respectable of the land, deprecate with becoming vehemence the prevailing mania for educating the poor.  We have heard ladies, and great ones too, attired in silks and velvets, pall and purple, and “that fared sumptuously every day,” declare most positively they never knew a servant good for anything, that could read and write.  No sooner were they capable of wielding a goose quill, than the impudent hussies presumed to have a will of their own, and in their opinions mounted a step nearer to the altitude of their mistresses.  And on men, they said, education had a worse effect, as thereby they became the idle readers of books, and newspapers, which made them saucy to their superiors, and sometimes the most villainous cut-throat radicals.  Now it will be readily admitted, we should think, that there was but little danger of Catti’s scholars ever becoming such pernicious characters; and therefore, let not illiberal envy withhold from her the well-merited meed of applause.  Alas for the good old days—we see no such schoolmistresses now-a-days! those days of the golden age of simplicity are gone for ever.  Days approved of by the great, and therefore good; when the humbler sons of industry looked up to them as gods, and they returned the compliment by looking down on their worshippers as good and p. 18well-taught dogs, that earned their bones and scraps.—Days when country squires handled a pitchfork better than a pen—when good boys learnt their catechism and read their bible against their will, and forgot it as soon as possible after leaving school.—Days when “simplicity and harmlessness” were the names that dignified boorish ignorance and passive stupidity—when a sycophantic subserviency paved the way to wealth and honors—when the gross vice of manly independence was unknown, and no class acknowledged among men, but the high and low, or the rich and poor.—Days that—(to finish this retrospective eulogy,) that, alas! are no more.

Although our hero’s mother could not be called a woman of letters, she certainly possessed qualities more original than generally fell to the lot of persons in her station.  At carding wool or spinning it, knitting stockings or mittins, the most envious admitted her superiority to every woman in Tregaron.  She moreover had gained no small consideration in another character, which her jealous neighbours satirically denominated a hedge milliner, whose province it was to make hedging gloves and coarse frocks for ploughmen, to darn the heels of their stout woollen stockings, and also to make and mend horses’ collars; the latter branch of her occupation, which required a delicate hand to cut the slender sewing thongs from the raw bull hides, caused her to be called a horse milliner, which after all, was not much more applicable than if she had been described as a bull tailor.  This malignant waggery, however, was unable p. 19to disturb the tranquil soul of Catti; she loved horses, and in her juvenile days had often whiled away her mornings and evenings in the rural pastimes driving of them, both in the plough and barrow, while carolling some rural ditty, till the rocks and mountains echoed with the cadence of her harmony.

It will not be a matter of much wonder that with all these accomplishments Catti should be importuned in the way of courtship, notwithstanding the injury her fame had suffered from the adventure with Sir John Wynne.  But the schoolmistress, elated with the success of her academy, turned a deaf ear to all the praises and protestations of the swains, until, as the village sages say, the right man came.  Like all her amiable sex, she professed the utmost abhorrence of mercenary motives in marriage, though many insinuated that she learnt the value of property from never having possessed any.  It was observed that she treated with indifference, if not aversion, those unprofitable lovers who had nothing but their goodly persons to recommend them.  Certain inuendoes were even thrown out respecting a suspicion of her coquettings with one of the most ugly, miserly, and repulsive of clowns;—one who was not only a clown, but a red-haired one;—not only red haired, but knock-kneed;—not only knock-kneed, but squint-eyed;—not only squint-eyed, but a woman-hater; and worse than all, a foreigner!—being a native of a distant part of the adjoining county of Carmarthen, and known only by the nick-name of Jack o Sîr Gâr, or Carmarthenshire Jack.  This p. 20amiable and interesting personage certainly possessed all those graces here enumerated, with many others, which were attached to peculiarities of character that rendered him so far like our great national hero Owen Glendower, that he “was not in the roll of common men.”  He was at this time the chief husbandman and bailiff at the squire’s, an office which, as he had others under his command, did not aid his personal recommendations to much popularity in the squire’s kitchen.  Perhaps no being that ever breathed had so fair an excuse for becoming a misanthrope.  His coarse and repulsive exterior, with his churlish manners, and one unchangeable suit of old patched ill-looking clothes, combined to make him an object of distaste to the girls, to whom, and the young men, he became a general butt of ridicule yet only among themselves, for they were fully aware, that it would be a less dangerous experiment to catch a mad bull by the horns, than to rouse the choler of Jack o Sîr Gâr.  The standing jest against him was, his qualifications as a trencherman, and his reputation as a “huge feeder” was certainly unrivalled.  As there was not a single pastime under the head of amusement, that the ingenuity of man has ever devised for the entertainment of his fellows, save eating, that possessed a charm for him, it might be expected that this solitary recreation would be indulged in the proportion that he excluded all others.  He not only performed all the functions of the gross glutton, but as the actors say, “looked the character” to perfection.

p. 21The reader, measuring him by other men, would make a very erroneous guess on the most prominent feature of his face, if he fixed on the nasal protuberance—no such thing—his nose was flat and small, but his large projecting upper teeth, like “rocks of peril jutting o’er the sea,” were ever bared for action, white as those of his only companion, the mastiff, and nobly independent of a sheathing lip.

Others more comely features might wear,
But Jack was famed for his white teeth bare.

As the squire’s lady was not the most liberal in supplying the servants’ table, those wags, male or female, who were in the habit of committing the silent satire of mimickry against Jack, were soon taught a severe lesson at the expence of their bowels.  It was discovered that, whenever enraged at their treatment, instead of spending his breath in vain reproaches, or taking to the more violent proceeding of fisty-cuffs, Jack revenged himself by eating most outrageously, so that the scoffers, deprived of their shares, often found their stomachs minus.  His power of mastication increased with his anger; and the flaming energy that was mentally inciting him to give an enemy a fierce facer, or a destructive cross-buttock, was diverted from his knuckles to his teeth; and in every mouthful which he ground in his relentless mill, he felt the glowing satisfaction of having annihilated a foe.  Woe to those who were his next neighbours at table, and sat too close to his elbows at those hours of excitement; sly punches in the ribs, as if by accident, were among the slightest p. 22consequences; and those who were thus taught manners, to keep at a respectful distance, declared that the fear they entertained was only of his knife.  That, it is true, was saying too much; Jack had no such bloody propensities, although the glare of his unequal eyes was enough, when much annoyed, to frighten them into such conclusions.  Although a most unseemly clown, his worst enemies would confess that, unprovoked, he was a very harmless man.  Squire Graspacre knew his value as a faithful and industrious servant, and therefore disregarded the constant tattle about his repulsive peculiarities.

Before methodism spread its puritanic gloom over Wales, and identified itself almost with the Welsh character, mirth and minstrelsy, dance and song, emulative games and rural pastimes, were the order of the day; and, as the country people worked hard all the week, it must be confessed that these sports often infringed upon the sanctity of the sabbath.  Sundays were often entirely spent in dancing, wrestling, and kicking the foot-ball.  The latter violent exercise, at this time prevalent in Cardiganshire, was performed in large parties of village against village, and parish against parish, when the country brought together its mass of population either to partake in the glories of the game, or to enjoy the success of their friends, as spectators.  On these occasions Carmarthen Jack loved to be present, but only as a spectator, as he was never known to take a part in any game.  While others were panting with the rough exercise, p. 23swearing at disappointments, hallooing their triumph, or wincing over a broken shin, Jack would be found seated on some rising tump that overlooked the field, busily employed with a scooping knife, hollowing out the bowls of spoons and ladles, or shaping out soles for wooden shoes, which at every moment that he could call his own, he manufactured out of the logs of birch, or more frequently alder, with which he amply provided himself during the week, and stored under his bed to dry.  At fairs also, Carmarthen Jack would be equally punctual, and after having done his master’s business of buying or selling a horse or so, would be seen with a load of the merchandize of his own manufacture, wooden spoons, ladles, and clog soles, in abundance, which drew about him all the rural housekeepers far and near.  “No milliner could suit her customers with gloves” in greater variety than Jack with spoons to please his purchasers.  He had spoons for man, woman, and child, fashioned for every sort of mouth, from the tiny infant’s to the shark-jaws of the hungry ploughman, which, like his own, presented a gap from ear to ear.  He had spoons for use, and spoons for ornament, the latter, meant to keep company with the showy polished pewter, were made of box or yew, highly polished and curiously carved with divers characters, principally suns, moons, stars, hearts transfixt with the dart of cupid, and sometimes a hen and chickens, which hieroglyphics of his own for fear of their being mistaken for a cat and mice, with other such misconstructions, Jack always explained at p. 24the time of bargaining, without any extra charge.  Nothing could more emphatically prove the excellency of Jack’s wares, than the circumstance of his being personally unpopular among the women, and yet his wares in the highest esteem.  The frowns of the fair, which threw a gloom on the sunshine of his days, may be traced to a source not at all dishonorable to him.  The girls at the squire’s had played him so many tricks, that once, in the height of aggravation, Jack declared war against the whole sex, devoting to the infernal gods every creature that wore a petticoat, and vowing, from that day forward, that not one of the proscribed race should ever enter his room, which was romantically situated over the stable, with its glassless window commanding a full view of both the pigsty and dunghill.  The consequence of this terrific vow caused him, at first, some trouble, as, to keep it he was obliged thenceforward to be his own chambermaid, lawndress, and sempstress, offices that accorded ill with his previous habits.  The laudable firmness of his nature, however, soon overcame these petty difficulties; and so far was he from backsliding from his previous determination, that he vowed to throw through the window the first woman who entered his chamber, which the satirical hussies called his den—a threat which effectually secured him from further intrusion.  Sometimes, indeed, when he would be sitting at the door of the cowhouse, or the stable, listening to the rural sounds of cackling geese and grunting pigs, while darning his hose or patching his leather breeches, or treading his shirt in the p. 25brook by way of washing it, these eternal plagues of his, the girls, would be seen and heard behind the covert of a wall or hedge, smothering their tittering, which at last would burst out, in spite of suppression, into a loud horse laugh, when one and all, they would take to their heels, while Jack amused himself by valiantly pelting their rear, in their precipitate retreat, with clods of earth, small stones, or anything that came in his way.  Jack o Sîr Gâr, however, in time gained the reputation of being rich, by the success of his wooden-ware merchandize, and consequently one of the fair ones who had once been his tormentor, became suddenly enamoured of him, and incessantly endeavoured to gain his good will; but being one day thrown headlong out of the window into the dunghill below, as a gentle hint that she was not wanted, her milk of tenderness was turned into gall, and she became revengeful as a tigress.  The first act of her resentment was to spread about the insidious report that Jack o Sîr Gâr was a woman-hater—an insinuation that at first rather preyed on his mind, as he dreaded the effect such an unmerited stigma would have upon his private trade.  But innocence is ever predestined to an ultimate triumph; and an event soon happened that proved the falsehood of those prevalent tales to his discredit, and convinced his greatest foes that he possessed a heart, if not overflowing with human charity, at least penetrable to the blandishments of beauty, and quick with sensibility to female merit.

On one auspicious market-day, Carmarthen p. 26Jack appeared in the street of Tregaron where the market is held, loaded with his usual merchandize, which he spread on the ground, and sat beside them; but not meeting with a ready sale, and disdaining even momentary idleness, began with earnestness to cut and scoop away at a piece of alder, gradually forming it into a huge ladle, to correspond with the largest size three-legged iron pot.  On this eventful morning Catti had occasion to perambulate the fair, to purchase a new ladle, her cross-grained sister having broken the old one, by thumping with it on the back of an overgrown hog, whose foraging propensities led it to investigate the recesses of the school-room.  The reputation of Jack’s ware, and the general supposition that he had saved money, soon reached the ears of our prudent schoolmistress; and the pardonable ambition of wishing to conquer the stern heart of one who despised her whole sex was supposed to be the secret object of her present walk; and evil tongues were not wanting, to insinuate that she broke the ladle herself, which was only cracked before, for an excuse to introduce herself to Jack o Sîr Gâr, by buying another.  Be that as it may, she sought and found him in the fair, and fell in love with him and his ladle at the same instant.  After an effort to conquer her native bashfulness, and to look as lovely as possible, she accosted him with such uncommon civility as utterly astounded the poor clownish misanthropic bachelor.  She examined the ladle in his hand, and though not half finished, declared it the handsomest ever her eyes beheld, and paid p. 27for it without seeking the least abatement in the price.  Jack gaped at her, with open mouth and staring eyes, and thought her a very interesting woman, though his first impression was, that she was mad, as he had asked double the real selling price, on purpose to abate one half, according to a custom immemorial in Welsh dealings.  She next purchased half a dozen common birch-wood spoons, and as many ornamental ones made of box, to adorn her shelf, and, as before, paid him his own price.  Jack thought her very lovely, and when she made another purchase of a pair of clog soles, quite irresistible!—her ready money opened his heart like the best manufactured key, and he was almost ready to offer them as a present, but for a fear of wounding her delicacy.  As she found he had no further variety, she ordered half a dozen more common spoons, and Jack, with all the amiability that he could possibly throw into his hard features, presented her with one of his most finished articles of box.  She received it with that peculiar smile with which a lady accepts a welcome love-token, and replied in the softest tone imaginable, “indeed I will keep it for your sake John bach!”—Jack had nothing to do but wonder—he never had been called John in his life before; at any other time he would have thought she mocked him—and the endearing term of “bach” too, was equally new to his ears, which seemed to grow longer as they tingled with the grateful sound.  This interesting scene was closed by Catti’s asking him to her house to partake of a dinner of flummery and milk, which he accepted with the best p. 28grace imaginable, and trudged off with his wares on his back and dangling from his arms and button holes; and thus gallanting her in the most amatory style, he walked by her side to Llidiard y Ffynnon.  Unaccustomed to kindness in either word or deed, poor Jack o Sîr Gâr met her condescensions and advances with a sheepish sort of gratitude.  A cordial invitation on the part of Catti to repeat his visit as soon, and as often, as possible, affected him almost to tears; and as a proof of his unbounded confidence, he left in her care his whole stock of ready-made spoons and ladles, and almost blubbered when he shook her hand at parting.

As a proof of the beneficial effect of kindness on a churlish nature, and the contrary, of ridicule and persecution, we need but contrast this rugged man’s previous character and conduct with what followed, after the tenderness of Catti had melted the frost of misanthropy which formed a crusty coat round his heart.  The adventure of the day produced a most extraordinary revolution in his habits.  None of the servants at the hall, male or female, could conceive what it portended, when Jack condescended to ask one of his fellow husbandmen to trim his hair; and while the fellow clipped his rough red locks with his sheep-sheers, he was surprized at his questions about the price of a new pair of leathern breeches, and a red neck-cloth.  Greater still was the astonishment of the whole house when, in a few days after, he appeared in those very buckish articles of dress, and while he thought nobody saw him, endeavouring to cut a p. 29dancing caper on the green, which they mistook for an imitation of a frisky bullock.  His walking as well as dancing steps, were now watched; and when it was found that the former led to the house of Catti, the nods, winks, horse-laughs, and innuendoes, mentioned in the commencement of this chapter, took place, and gave food for scandal to the whole gossiping circle of the town of Tregaron and its vicinity for many miles around.

Flummery and milk, named here as the food on which these lovers regaled themselves, has been considered in Wales a very popular national mess, common, but still a favorite among high and low, and might be seen on the board of the lord lieutenant of the county, as well as on that of the humblest cottager.  The lofty of the land whose pampered stomachs have turned with loathing from more dainty food in sultry seasons, have welcomed the simplicity of milk and flummery, as the advocate of native charms would greet the smilings of a rustic beauty, when the meretricious fair of fashion would be passed by, neglected.  The English reader will not be offended if I dilate a little in praise of my favorite food, while I explain to him its nature; and if he is a bloated son of affluence, overflowing with bile and spleen, he will thank us, after adopting our recommendation of feeding on it often during his rustication among our mountains.  Medical men also recommend it as very effective in promoting an increase of good clear healthy blood.  Flummery is made of the inner hulls of ground oats, when sifted from the p. 30meal, some of which still adheres to it, by soaking it in water till it acquires a slight taste of acidity, when it is strained through a hair sieve and boiled till it becomes a perfect jelly.  When poured from that picturesque prince of culinary vessels, the large three-legged iron pot, into a vast brown earthen dish, it presents a smooth smiling aspect of the most winning equanimity, till destroyed by the numerous invading spoons of the company, that plunge a portion of it, scalding hot, into their bowls of cool milk.  Thus much of its descriptive history is given, to illustrate the following ode in its immortal praise, with which we shall now close this long chapter.


Let luxury’s imbecile train,
   Of appetites fastidious,
Each sauced provocative obtain,
   The draught or viand perfidious;
But oh! give me that simple food,
   So dear to the sons of Cymru,
With health, with nourishment imbued,
   The sweet new milk and flummery.

Let pudding-headed English folks
   With boast of roast beef fag us;
Let Scottish Burns crack rural jokes,
   And vaunt kail-brose and haggis;
But Cymru’s sons! of mount and plain,
   From Brecknock to Montgomery,
Let us the honest praise maintain,
   Of sweet new milk and flummery.

On sultry days when appetites
   Wane dull, and low, and queasy,
When loathing stomachs nought delights,
   To gulp thee flumm’ry! ’s easy:
Dear oaten jelly, pride of Wales!
   Rude child of the vales of Cymru;
On thee the ruddy swain regales,
   And blesses milk and flummery.

p. 31’Tis sweet to stroll on Cambrian heights,
   O’erlooking vales and rivers,
Where bird-song sweet, with breeze unites,
   Each, sunshine rapture givers!
To crown their gust the light repast—
   So cool—can never come awry,
Oh sweet! to break the mid-day fast
   On sweet new milk and flummery.


An essay on courting in bed.  Our hero removed to the curate’s school.

The scene so lightly touched upon in the last chapter, between our schoolmistress and her beau, called forth the mischievous talents of little Twm Shôn Catti, who, while they sat side by side at the goodly oak table, fastened them together by the coat and gown with a peeled thorn spike, which, before the introduction of pins, was used by the fair sex to join together their various articles of attire.  When his mother rose suddenly to help her spoon-merchant with more spoon meat, she rather surprized him by carrying away, with his heart, the greater part of the tattered skirt of his old coat, so that Jack might have said, with Tag the author,

“The lovely maid on whom I doat,
Has made a spencer of my coat.”

The wicked urchin who caused this unsanctioned union, set up a loud laugh, and Catti’s grumpy sister Juggy, for the first time in her life, astonished them with a grin on the occasion.  Twm received a severe rebuke from his parent, and the hapless Jack, with the view of propitiating an evil spirit that might prove troublesome to him hereafter, made him a present of a new p. 32spoon, which, because it was merely a common one, he ungratefully threw into the blazing turf fire, which glowed on the hearth in a higher pile and wider dimensions than usual, and demanded one of his best box-wood ware.  Jack would have given it to him immediately, but for the intervention of his mother, who forbade the indulgence.  No sooner, however, was he gone than Twm watched his opportunity and purloined as many of the better sort as he could conveniently take away unperceived, and sold them at the cheap rate of stolen goods, to an old woman named, or rather nick-named, Rachel Ketch, from some supposed resemblance in her character to that of the finisher of the law, so surnamed, although some persons roundly asserted that she was in fact a relict one of those celebrated law officers, one John Ketch esquire, of Stretch-neck Place, Sessions Court, Carmarthen.  As no further consequence followed this act of unprovoked delinquency, it was scarcely worth mentioning, except that it stands as the first of the kind on record; and when discovered, Twm’s over affectionate mother did not punish him for it,—an omission much censured by rigid people, who construed this petty act into the slight root from which sprung the huge tree of his after enormities;

“But maudlin mothers, all, have tender hearts,
Too kind to root an early shoot of vice
By wholesome chastisement.  The little darlings!
Who could punish them, whate’er their faults?”

We come now to an era in this history when our hero entered another scene of life, in that of a new-school, which event was ushered in by unlooked for circumstances that must be first narrated.

p. 33It may not be unknown to our readers that there has existed a custom, in some parts of Wales, time out of mind, of courting in bed; this comfortable mode of forwarding a marriage connexion prevailed very generally at Tregaron, to the great scandal and virtuous indignation of the lady of Squire Graspacre.  It was amazing to witness with what energy this good gentlewoman set about reforming the people, by the forcible abolishment of what she was pleased to call, this odious, dangerous, blasphemous, and ungodly custom.  Her patronage was for ever lost to any man or woman, youth or maid, of the town or country, who was most distantly related to, or connected with any person who connived at bed courtship.  There was not a cottager who called at the great house for a pitcher of whey, skim milk, or buttermilk, as a return for labour in harvest time, but she closely examined on this head; and woe to the wretch who had the temerity to assert that there was no harm in the custom; or that that the wooers merely laid down in their clothes, and thus conversed at their ease on their future plans or prospects; or who denied that such a situation was more calculated for amorous caresses and endearments than sitting in the chimney corner.  Mrs. Graspacre was certainly, most outrageously virtuous—a very termagant of decorous propriety! if any person dared, in her presence, to advocate this proscribed and utterly condemned mode, disdaining to argue the point, she would settle the matter in a summary manner, peculiarly her own, by protesting she would have any woman burnt p. 34alive who would submit to be courted in bed.  To such a fiery argument no reply could possibly be made; and in time she found her account in this silencing sort of logic which gave her her own entire unimpeded way in every thing, which wonderfully restored her equanimity, and saved both time and temper to the parties concerned, who otherwise might have spent their precious hours, and more precious patience, in idle and irritable discussions on the subject.

In the course of two years there were no less than four young men, and twice as many damsels turned away from her service for courting in the hay-loft; and on those occasions the poor girls never escaped personal violence from the indignant and persevering Mrs. Graspacre.  In her flaming zeal for decorum, the tongs, the poker, the pitchfork, or the hay-rake, became an instrument of chastisement; a double advantage was discovered in the terror thus created, the dignity of her sex being in the first place asserted and supported, and in the next, the offenders preferred running away without payment of wages, to standing the chance of having their heads or arms broken with a poker, or their bodies pierced by the terrible prongs of a pitchfork.

All the lowly dependants of Mrs. Graspacre found it their interest to become her spies, who soon vied with each other in giving the earliest intimation of any amorous pair who committed this most diabolical offence; and those who were least forward in bringing intelligence on this score, immediately sunk in her esteem, and were mulct of their allowance of skim milk and blue p. 35whey.  But in time the old hen-wives of the neighbourhood discovered the virtue of sycophancy, and the efficacy of a little seasonable cant; and when they were not warranted by real occurrences, they contrived to conciliate their patroness by drawing upon their own fertile inventions; or at other times hinted their suspicions of certain offending parties, always taking especial care to echo her language and blazon their abhorrence of all those imps of the devil who made love beneath a rug and blanket.

Not satisfied with these auxiliaries in the cause of virtue, the zealous Mrs. Graspacre enlisted on her side a very powerful champion, in the person of the reverend Mr. Evan Evans, the curate of Tregaron.  Great was her mortification to find her attempts on the rector fail of success, as he declared it dangerous to interfere with the peculiarities and long established customs of the people; especially as he conceived it was rarely that any bad consequence ensued from the mode in question: but when the evil really occurred, if a faithless swain delayed making due reparation, a gaol, exile from his native place, or a compelled marriage, held the young men in terrorum.  “Besides,” quoth the worthy old rector, with a hearty laugh, “that was the very way in which I courted my own wife, and many persons who are no enemies of virtue, consider it the best mode in the world, and were I young again, ha, ha, ha! egad I think I should pursue the same fashion.”  “And I too!” cries Mr. Graspacre, “as I have no objection in the world to the custom.”  Had the foe of man appeared at that moment, p. 36as popularly identified,—in sooty nakedness, with bloodshot eyes, and arrayed with hoofs and horns,—the stare of horror which distinguished the amiable countenance of Mrs. Graspacre, could not be more strongly marked.  “You, Mr. Graspacre! you!  I’m astonished, but”—(with a severe glance at the rector) “when the shepherd goes astray, no wonder that the silly sheep follow his example;” with that she bounced out of the room, and slammed the door in a high fit of indignation, aggravated by the calm looks of the rector, and the provoking tittering of her own liege lord.

The rector’s honest dissent from her scheme of reformation, Mrs. Graspacre considered as a direct declaration of hostilities, and therefore, by her peculiar creed of morality, she felt herself bound to vilify his name, and most piously longed for his death, that the cause of virtue might be supported by the talents of her favorite curate, who was now, she said, on a poor stipend, which he increased by keeping a school in the church.

The reverend Evan Evans, the curate, played with his cards well; he was a harsh-featured man, lowering brows and a complete ploughman’s gait; insolent to his poor parishioners, and a very awkward cringer to the great.  But flattery, direct or covert, does much, and in time completely won him the favor of the great lady.  She encouraged his patience by assuring him that the vicar, in his declined state of health, could not possibly live long; and his death, happen when it might, must appear, to all unprejudiced p. 37christians, as a judgement, for advocating, or not prosecuting, that execrable custom, courting in bed.  As the living had long been promised to him, the hopes and expectations of Mr. Evan Evans were very sanguine; and as he was no less ambitious than sycophantic and imperious, he looked forward with confidence to the period when he should give up school-keeping, and strut forth in a fire-shovel hat, as vicar of the parish, and a magistrate in the county.  Notwithstanding that the living was promised him by the lady, he was aware that she was not always paramount, and therefore lost no opportunity of insinuating himself into the squire’s favor.  With the most ludicrous efforts to humanize those harsh features of his, and to twist them into frequent grins, he would laugh loudly to the injury of his lungs, at his most vapid jokes; praise the beauty of his snub-nosed children, and his pointers; tell him where the prettiest lasses in the parish were to be found; with many such honorable civilities, that Squire Graspacre at length discovered him to be a very useful sort of person.  When Sir John Wynne of Gwydir paid his before-mentioned visit, his sister introduced and recommended our curate, as a right worthy divine who deserved preferment; and the baronet promised to remember her recommendation, if anything turned out, within his power, to benefit him.  Much time had elapsed, and nothing followed this agreeable promise; but Mister Evans persevered in his sycophancy, and if the labour and dirty work be properly estimated, he certainly earned a good living—in his majesty’s plantations! p. 38to which he ought to have been inducted at the expence of government.

He soon saw the weak side of his lady patroness, and ever anxious to strengthen his influence by promoting her views, he gave great encouragement to those boys in his school, who brought him the most piquant tales of their grown up brothers and sisters.  Much scandal was at this time afloat respecting the loves of Carmarthen Jack and Catti of Llidiard-y-Fynnon; and right anxious was he to learn in what manner it was carried on; but as this interesting pair met only at those hours when bats and owls were on the wing, and no human witnesses abroad, his wishes were difficult of attainment.  At length his wily brain hit upon a notable expedient, that offered fairly to increase his good footing with the squire’s lady.

Little Twm Shôn Catti, being the natural child of Sir John Wynne, was of course the illegitimate nephew of the great lady; a relationship which she, however, disdained to acknowledge: but the cunning curate took the liberty of observing one day, it was a great pity that the slightest drop of the noble blood of the Wynnes, however perverted and polluted, should be suffered to run to waste and be neglected.  Proceeding in his drift, he insinuated that if the boy Twm Shôn Catti were removed to his school, he should not only be instructed and improved, but that he, the curate, might thereby learn from the youngster something of his mother’s proceedings; and especially, whether she entertained her lover in the legal, or the proscribed p. 39manner.  This was striking on the very string that made music to her busy, meddling, troublesome soul;—she of course warmly approved of his idea, and put it into immediate execution.  Thus, the very next day, in her own and her brother’s name, little Twm Shôn Catti was ordered for the future to be sent to the curate’s school, which of course, was complied with accordingly.


Twm improves in the curate’s school.  His wit saves him from a flogging.

The great success of Catti’s school excited the ill will of Parson Evans, although he had far more scholars than he could possibly attend to.  His indignation at his wife’s fall from her horse into the well, while passing his humble rival’s seminary, together with the humiliating consideration that many of the most juvenile deserted his rule, to submit to her’s, wounded this consequential personage to the quick.  With an awkward attempt at a smile, he feigned to consider the seceders as a good riddance, and that it was not worth his while to teach babies to walk as well as to instruct them in their letters; this in fact, ought to have been the case, but it was not; for Evans, “like the turk, could bear no rival near the throne.”  This new arrangement respecting Twm, they thought could not but be vexatious to Catti, and therefore Mistress Evans felt herself avenged for the tittering that she heard in her school, on her fall into the well as before mentioned.  But far different was the p. 40case, from what they anticipated, for Catti no sooner heard the order, than in the simple sincerity of her heart, she exclaimed, “Thank God! the boy will learn something from the parson, but I could teach him nothing.”

Little Twm was now in his seventh year, and as refractory a pupil as ever was spoiled by a dawdling mother.  Kept aloof from his dear duck-ponds and puddles, and compelled to explore the mysteries of the horn-book, this first change in his life was acutely felt.  Self-willed and stubborn, he conceived the utmost abhorrence of horn-books, cross curates, and birch-rods; he wept and sulked, struck the boys who mocked him, stayed away from school, and was flogged so often, that at length he found it much easier to learn his book, than endure the consequence of neglecting it.  Once arrived to this happy mood, and being one day praised by his master, a new spirit possessed the boy; emulation was kindled, and he resolved to revenge himself on those youths who formerly had made him their butt of ridicule, by getting the start of them in learning.  The horn-book was shortly thrown by; the reading-made-easy and spelling book soon shared a similar fate; and the pride of his young heart sparkled in his eyes when his great lady aunt, on hearing a good account of him from his master, presented him with a bible, on the inside of the cover of which was the following couplet,—

“Take this Holy Bible book,
God give thee grace therein to look.”

These lines were not only written by her own fair hand, but actually of her own composition; p. 41and as poor Catti shewed the book to all her friends and neighbours as a proud proof of the good footing on which her son stood at Graspacre Hall, the great lady’s lines procured her the general fame of being a great poetess.

Notwithstanding his rapid advancement in book learning, Parson Evans was far from being satisfied with his pupil, nor was his main end answered in having brought him to his school.  Twm loved his mother, and felt no great affection for his master, nor gratitude for the floggings which had enforced so much learning into his head; and never could the generous boy be brought to tell any tales to her disadvantage.  The curate’s severity increased, and no longer praised or encouraged, Twm became not only indifferent to his tasks, but wanton and unjust severity had the effect of blunting his feelings and making him stubborn and revengeful; and at length he arrived at such an extremity of youthful recklessness as to study tricks for the annoyance of his master and fellow scholars.

In the eleventh year of his age some decisive shoots of character made their appearance; a taste for sharp sayings, and skilful trickery in outwitting his opponents, appear to have been his striking peculiarities, as well as boldness and resolution on the play ground, where none could surpass him in robustuous or violent exercises.  Wat the mole-catcher, his constant instructor when out of school, among other accomplishments had taught him to play at cudgels, and not a boy in the school could stand before him at the quarter staff.  His pre-eminence in this ancient and national art was often exemplified p. 42by the loud cries and broken heads of his defeated schoolfellows.  A catastrophe of that kind one day, even in school time, brought the enraged master out, who severely asked Twm what he meant by such conduct; “Why sir,” cried the little rogue, “you always say that you never can beat anything into that boy’s head, so I tried what I could do with the cudgel, that’s all!”  A few days after, his master sent him from the school to his house, for a book which he wanted.  Twm found the mistress and maid were out, the first at the hall, and the last had made a present of her little leisure to her sweetheart, Wat the mole-catcher.  On entering the parlour he saw there a fine bunch of grapes, which his great lady aunt had sent his master; as this was a fruit hitherto unknown to him, he deliberately tasted two or three, to discover whether they were eatable.  Having diminished the bunch by a repetition of this experiment, he found a difficulty in quitting while any remained, so resolved to finish it, and lay the blame on the cat, if charged with the theft; as to dividing the spoil, and leaving a portion for the owner, the scheme was impracticable, so he decided to abide by his master’s maxim, “that it was not decent for two to eat from the same dish.”  So lifting up the remains of the luscious bunch with affected ceremony, he exclaimed in a lofty tone, mimicking his master, “I publish the banns of marriage between my mouth and this bunch of grapes; if any one knows just cause or impediment why they should not be joined together, let him now declare it, or hereafter forever hold his peace!” and as no dissentient voice intervened, he abruptly p. 43cried “silence gives consent,” and hastily consummated the delicious union.  No sooner had he gulped the grapes than his master made his appearance—suspecting the cause of his delay, he had followed after, and witnessing the imposing ritual, he stood, rod in hand, surrounded by his scholars, whom he had called; when all was in readiness he exclaimed, “I publish the banns of marriage between my rod and your breech; if any one knows just cause or impediment why they may not be lawfully joined together in hot wedlock, let him now declare it.”

“I forbid the banns!” roared Twm Shôn Catti; “For what reason?” cries the awful pedant, flourishing his rod in eager preparation; “Because,” cries the waggish urchin, “the parties are not yet agreed.”  Although Evans was generally too crabbed and selfish to enjoy and estimate a witty reply in any one except his superiors, who seldom possessed a legitimate claim to his applause, it is but justice to him to record, that this unexpected and ingenious answer procured Twm a remission of his flogging, when on the very brink of execution.


The squire favors Welsh customs and female costumes.  Offended with his lady.  Protects the system of bed courtship.  An eulogy on the ale of Newcastle Emlyn.  Toping rats.

At this time a warm altercation one day took place between the squire and his lady, that terminated in consequences little expected by p. 44either.  Notwithstanding the prejudice which Squire Graspacre’s harsh conduct had given birth to, on his first settlement in Cardiganshire, he had about him certain saving points, that not only reconciled them to his rule, but really gained their esteem.  He was a plain, bold, sensible man, and although entertaining a most exalted opinion of English superiority, generally, in particular instances he had the liberality to confess that he found many things in this nation of mountaineers, highly worthy of imitation among his more civilized countrymen.  Unlike any of the half-bred English gentlemen who literally infest Wales, and become nuisances and living grievances to the people—building their pretensions to superiority and fashion, on a sneering self-sufficiency, and scorn of customs and peculiarities merely because they are Welsh—he gave them all credit for what was really estimable.

He had formerly expressed his disapprobation of a custom prevalent among Welsh farmers of leaving their corn long on the ground after being cut, instead of housing it as soon as possible; but experience taught him that they were right and himself in error; as, among the corn was a large quantity of weeds which required to be dried before it could with safety be brought to the barn or rick, otherwise the grain was sweated and literally poisoned with the rank juice.  He found the Cardiganshire mode of chopping the young mountain furze, and giving it as food for horses and cattle, worthy his attention, and after various trials, decided on its efficacy so far as to p. 45adopt it for the future; and actually set Carmarthen Jack to gather the seed of that mountain plant, which he forwarded to England to be set on his Devonshire farms.  The planting of flowers on the graves of deceased friends, he eulogized as a beautiful and endearing custom, forming an agreeable contrast to the clumsy English tombstones with barbarous lines, often setting truth, rhyme, and reason at defiance.  The Welsh harp he declared the prince of all musical instruments, and Welsh weddings the best contrived and conducted in the world, and proved his sincerity by giving something always at the Biddings of the peasantry, and patronizing all those who entered that happy state.  Above all things he admired the female costume in Wales, and protested, with much truth, that the poor people in England were not half so well, or so neatly, clothed.  His lofty lady, although a Welshwoman bred and born, entertained a very different set of ideas on these subjects.  Whenever her husband related the anecdote of Polydore Virgil’s extacy on his first landing in Britain, when he beheld the yellow-blossomed furze, which gave a golden glow to the swelling bosom of the hills—how he knelt on the ground beside a bush of it, fervently worshipping the God of Nature, that beautified the world with the production of such a plant; she would instantly reply, “The man was a fool! for my part I see nothing in the nasty prickly things to admire, but wish the fire would take them all from one end of the mountains to the other.”  “And yet, my dear,” would he answer, “Polydore Virgil was p. 46a native of no rude soil, but came from the land of the laurel, the cypress, and the vine, the orange, the lemon, and the citron, and many other splendid plants, the very names of which you perhaps never heard of; yet he had the liberality to admire what he justly deemed beautiful, even in a northern clime, and a comparatively harsh mountainous district.”  As to the harp, whenever he praised its melody, she declared it odious and unbearable, and gave preference to the fiddle, the bagpipes, or even the hurdy-gurdy; and the Welsh female costume she protested still more loudly against, and asked him with a sneer if he did not conceive it capable of improvement.  “Oh, certainly, my dear,” would he reply, “for instance, I would have the Glamorganshire girls wear shoes, and soles to their stockings; and convert their awkward wrappers into neat gowns; the Cardiganshire fair ones should doff their clogs, and wear leathern shoes; and the Breconshire lass, with all others who followed the same abominable habit, should be hindered from wearing a handkerchief around the head; but I know of no improvement that can be suggested for the Pembrokeshire damsel, except one—which, indeed, would be equally applicable to all Welsh girls—namely, to throw off their flannel shifts, and wear linen ones.”

Now this good gentlewoman, whose leading weakness it was to suspect her husband’s fidelity when away from home, kindled with rage at this remark.  “Shifts, Mr. Graspacre,” exclaimed the angered lady, “what business have you to p. 47concern yourself about such things?  You ought, at least, to know nothing about such matters, but I dare say know too much.”  Anxious as a seaman to turn his bark from the direction of a dangerous rock, he mildly replied, “Surely, my dear, I may exercise my eyes, when the washed clothes are hanging on a line;” and then adding in the same breath, “indeed, if I were you, my dear, I would make some improvements, such as your good taste will suggest, among our own maids; taking care, however, not to destroy the stamp of nationality on their garbs at any rate.”  This was a well-judged hit on his part, and had the effect of averting the impending storm.

It should have been mentioned before, that the squire, soon after his marriage, had made a tour of South Wales, and, as his lady expressed it, taken a whim in his head of engaging a maid servant in every county through which he passed; so that in Graspacre Hall there were to be found maiden representatives in their native costumes, of all the different shires of South Wales, except Radnor, in which, the squire said the barbarous jargon of Herefordshire, and the paltry English cottons, had supplanted the native tongue and dress of Wales.  There might you see the neat maiden of Pembrokeshire, in her dark cloth dress of one hue, either a dark brown approximating to black, or a claret colour, made by the skill of a tailor, and very closely resembling the ladies’ modern riding habits,—a perfect picture of comfort and neatness, in alliance with good taste.  There would you see her extreme contrast, the Glamorganshire lass, p. 48in stockings cut off at the ankle, and without shoes; and, although a handsome brunette with fine black eyes, dressed in a slammakin check wrapper of cotton and wool, utterly shapeless, and tied about the middle like a wheat-sheaf, or a faggot of wood: possessing, however, the peculiar conveniences that it could be put on in an instant, without the loss of time in dressing tastefully, and that it would fit every body alike, as it is neither a gown nor a bedgown, but between both, and without a waist.—There would you see the young woman of Breconshire, with her pretty blushing face half hidden in a handkerchief which envelopes her head, that at first you would fancy the figure before you to be a grandmother at least.—Her long linsey gown is pinned up behind, each extreme corner being joined together in the centre, and confined a few inches below her waste; she has her wooden-soled shoes for every day, and leathern ones for sunday, or for a dance, which, with her stockings, she very economically takes off should a shower of rain overtake her on a journey; and when it ceases, washes her feet in the first brook she meets, and puts them on again.  This fair one takes especial care that her drapery shall be short enough to discover a pretty ankle, and her apron sufficiently scanty to disclose her gay red petticoat with black or white stripes, beneath, and at the sides.  Then comes the stout Carmarthenshire lass with her thick bedgown and petticoat of a flaring brick-dust red, knitting stockings as she walks, and singing a loud song as she cards or spins.  Lastly, though not the least in p. 49importance, behold the clogged and cloaked short-statured woman of Cardiganshire.  She scorns the sluttish garb and bare feet of the Glamorganshire maiden, and hates the abominable pride of the Pembrokeshire lass who is vain enough to wear leathern shoes instead of honest clogs; proving at the same time that her own vanity is of a more pardonable stamp, while she boasts with truth, that her own dress cost twice as much as either of the others.  The Cardiganshire women’s dresses, in fact—generally blue, with red stripes, and bound at the bottom with red or blue tape—are entirely of wool, solidly woven and heavy, consequently more expensive than those made of linsey or minco, or of the common intermixture of wool and cotton, and presenting an appearance of weighty warmth more desirable than either a comely cut or tasty neatness.

It was one of the squire’s fancies never to call these girls by their own proper names, but by that of their shires, as thus, “Come here little Pembroke, and buckle my shoe; and you Carmarthen, bring me a bason of broth: Cardigan, call Glamorgan and Brecon, and tell them they must drive a harrow apiece through the ploughed part of Rockfield.”  On his return to dinner, a few days after the suggestion about the dresses of the maids, he was astonished to find that Mrs. Graspacre had used this privilege with a vengeance; having, with decided bad taste, put them all, at their own expence, to be deducted from their wages, into glaring cotton prints.  The girls were unhappy enough at this change, p. 50as well as at the expence to which they were put, and they never could enter the town without experiencing the ridicule of their friends and neighbours; the Cardiganshire maid, who considered such a change in the light of disowning her country and like a renegade putting on the livery of the Saxon, in something of a termagant spirit, tendered her resignation to her master rather than comply with such an innovation.  This ungenerous invasion of his harmless rules, roused his indignation; and after venting a few “damns” a la John Bull, against draggle-tail cotton rags, without a word of expostulation with his rib, he desired the girls to bring all their trumpery to him, which they gladly did, and he made them instantly into a bonfire in the farm yard.  He then in a firm under tone of subdued resentment, gave strict injunctions that no further liberties should be taken with their national costume; to which his lady made the polite and submissive reply, that the girls might all walk abroad without any dress at all if he chose, and go to the devil his own way.

At this juncture little Pembroke came in with rosy smiles, and told her master that Carmarthen Jack wanted to speak to him very particularly, on which the squire laughed, and asked her on what important matter.  “Why sir,” said the rustic beauty, while arch smiles and blushes contended in her sweet oval face, “Parson Evans has found out that he has been courting in bed, with Catti the schoolmistress, and he has run here before the Parson to say it is all a falsehood.”  “There’s an impious rascal for p. 51you!” cries the lady of the house, “to charge the clergyman with falsehood; but I am sure ’tis true, for I long suspected it.”  “The less you interfere in these matters, the more it will be to your credit Mrs. Graspacre,” said the squire in a quiet tone, but accompanied with an emphatic look.  “I insist,” cried the imperious dame, “that he be put in the stocks, and she ducked in the river.”  “Neither shall be done,” said he, firmly, “and from henceforward, no person shall be annoyed and persecuted on that score, but every one shall court as he or she pleases.”  “What!” cried the indignant lady, “would you fill the country with bastards?”  “No madam,” was the reply, “but with as happy a set of people as possible.”

Encouraged by the turn which affairs had taken, the Cardiganshire maid now asked her master for her discharge; as her mistress she said, had thrown a slur on her brewing abilities, which had almost broken her heart: “for” said she, with a ludicrous whimper, “she says my brewing is unfit for the drinking of christian people, and hardly worthy of the hogs!—but”—cried the sturdy little wench, raising her voice to an accusatory pitch, and at the same time a tone of triumph, “I come from Newcastle Emlyn, the country of good beer, the very home where the Cwrw da of Hên Gymru is bred and born! and I would rather die than be told that I can’t brew.”

“Indeed Cardy,” said the squire, with a smile, “though your mistress may have been too severe in her censure, I must say your two last brewings p. 52were unequal to the first.”  “A good reason why sir; who can brew without malt and hops? though I am told some of the town brewers are mighty independent of those articles—but their brewings won’t do for us at Newcastle Emlyn! and your wheat sir, which has grown by being out in the wet harvest, so as to be unfit for bread, is but a poor make-shift for malt—it may do for the wish-wash paltry ale of Haverfordwest and Fishguard, but our plough boys would turn up their noses at such stuff at Newcastle Emlyn!”  “Damn Newcastle Emlyn!” cried the squire, provoked by her continual reference to her native place.  “Master! master!” cried the girl, as if rebuking him for the greatest impiety conceivable, “don’t damn Newcastle Emlyn, I had rather you should knock me down than damn Newcastle Emlyn! it is the country of decent people and good ale! the country where”—

“You brewed good ale from the grown wheat the first time,” said the squire, not deeming it necessary to notice her observations.

“Good! was it?” retorts the girl struggling between respect for her master and contempt for his taste, in the matter of malt drink; “good was it!  I tell you what master, you are a good master, and I have nothing to say against mistress, for it would not be decent, but you never tasted beer like ours at Newcastle Emlyn! the real hearty cwrw da! which I could make you to-morrow, if you would give me good malt and hops, and let it stand long enough untapped.”

“But let me ask you my good woman,” said the squire, “what is the reason that your two p. 53last brewings were so far inferior to the first, when you had the same materials to work on?”

“’Twas better sir! ten times better! the first would have turned the devil’s stomach, had he known what was in it.”  “Explain yourself,” said the squire, surprized.  “I will sir, if I was to be hanged for it,” cried the girl in a tone of confidence; “it seems the rats love beer as well as any christian folks, and can get drunk and die in drink, as a warning to all sober-minded rats; but that is neither here nor there, and I hate to tell a rigmarole story; the long and short of it is, that when I came to wash out the barrels after the first brewing, I found three rats in one, and two in the other.”

“You found what?” asked the squire and his lady at the same time.

“I found three rats sir, that had burst themselves with drinking beer, and afterwards fell in and were drowned—they were then putrid, and it was that, it seems, that made the ale so palatable; there were no dead animals in the last brewing, but if I knew your taste before, I would have killed a couple of cats, to please you.”

This explanation excited a titter among the girls, and a loud laugh from the squire, while the lady evinced the shock which her delicacy had sustained, by making wry faces, and snuffing violently at her smelling bottle, to avoid fainting.

The squire then good humoredly addressed the girl, “now Cardy, you are perfectly right in the praise you bestow on your own country ale, and I promise you shall have the best of malt and hops for your next attempt, when I p. 54expect it to be equal to the best cwrw da of Newcastle Emlyn—and, do you hear? we shall dispense with either rats or cats in it for the future.”

This amicable settlement of differences set every one in good humour, except the haughty mistress, who embittered with her double defeat, retired in gloom, while her husband went to give audience to Jack o Sîr Gâr.  Cardy stayed behind a full quarter of an hour longer, to edify the servants while treating, in her cackling style, of the extraordinary merits of the fat ale of Newcastle Emlyn.


A Welsh wedding, with all its preliminaries, and attendant circumstances.  The Bidding.  The Gwahoddwr.  The Ystavell.  Pwrs a Gwregys.  Pwython.  In which Twm Shôn Catti and Wat the mole-catcher play conspicuous parts.

Carmarthen Jack had not been long waiting for his master, before little Pembroke, full of glee, ran to inform him that the embargo had been taken forever off bed courtship; and that he was now free, whether guilty or not.  This happy news affected him so well that he met his master with comparative ease; and after some struggles with his native bashfulness, an important secret came out—that he was going to be married to Catti the schoolmistress; and wished to know whether he should be retained in the squire’s service after that event.  Now this was a circumstance exactly to the squire’s taste; as p. 55a Welsh wedding pourtrayed many national features in the character of the peasantry, that pleased him; and, as he was generally a donor on these occasions, his vanity was flattered by being looked up to as their patron.  He of course acquiesced in his servant’s request, and after a little jocular and rough rallying, proposed that the Bidding should be immediately commenced.

A Bidding was another of the excellent customs peculiar to the Welsh, but of late years confined exclusively to the lower classes, which the squire so much admired, and considered worthy of imitation, he said, throughout the world.  It signifies a general and particular invitation to all the friends of the bride and bridegroom elect, to meet them at the houses of their respective parents, or any other place appointed.  Any strangers who choose to attend are also made welcome.  It is an understood thing that every person who comes contributes a small sum towards making a purse for the young pair to begin the world with.  They have a claim on those persons whose weddings they had themselves attended; and at these times their parents and friends also make their claims in their favor on all whom they may have at any time befriended in a similar manner.  These donations are always registered, and considered as debts, to be repaid, on the occurrence of weddings only; but there are many contributors, especially the masters and mistresses of the parties, that of course require no repayment.  These returns, being made only by small instalments, p. 56and only at the weddings of their donors, are easily accomplished; and the benefit derived from this custom is very great, where the parties are respected. [56]  Another agreeable feature in the rural festivities on these occasions is the appointment of a Gwahoddwr, or Bidder, whose business it is to go from house to house, bearing a white wand decorated with ribbons, and his staff of office; while his hat, and sometimes the breast of his coat, is similarly adorned.  Thus attired, he enters each house with suitable “pride of place,” amidst the smiles of the old people, and the giggling of the young ones; and taking his stand in the centre of the house, and striking his wand on the floor to enforce silence, announces the wedding which is to take place, sometimes in rhyme, but more frequently in a set speech of prose.

The banns were immediately put in, and every preparation made for the wedding.  Wat the mole-catcher, as the greatest wag in the parish, was appointed by the squire to the enviable office of Gwahoddwr.  The following homely lines are a literal translation of those which p. 57were written purposely for this occasion, by the reverend John David Rhys, a young poetical clergyman, at this time on a visit with Squire Graspacre.

List to the Bidder—a health to all
Who dwell in this house, both great and small;
Prosperity’s comforts ever attend
The Bride and the Bridegroom’s generous friend!

His door, may it never need a latch;
His hearth a fire, his cottage a thatch;
His wife a card, or a spinning wheel;
His floor a table, nor on it a meal!

On Saturday next a wedding you’ll see,
In fair Tregaron, as gay as can be,
Between John Rees, called Jack o Sîr Gâr,
And Catherine Jones, his chosen fair.

Haste to the wedding, its joy to share!
Mirth and good humor shall meet ye there;
Come one, come all! there’s a welcome true
To master and mistress and servants too!

Stools shall ye find to sit upon,
And tables, and goodly food thereon,
Butter and cheese, and flesh and fish
(If we can catch them!) all to your wish.

There many a lad shall a sweetheart find,
And many a lass meet a youth to her mind,
While nut-brown ale, both cheap and strong,
Shall warm the heart for the dance and song.

Oft at a wedding are matches made,
When dress’d in their best come youth and maid,
And dance together, and whisper and kiss,—
Who knows what weddings may rise from this?

Whoever may come to the Bidding, note,—
There’s thanks to the friend who brings three groat;
And ne’er may they hobble on a crutch
Whoe’er give the lovers twice as much!

Whatever is given, as much they’ll restore—
One shilling, or two, or three, or four;
Whenever in similar case ’tis claim’d,
Else were defaulters ever shamed. [57]

p. 58So haste to the wedding, both great and small,
Master and mistress, and servants, and all!
Catti’s at home, Jack’s at sign of the Cat;
Now God save the king and the Bidder, Wat.

During these preparations for his mother’s wedding, little Twm Shôn Catti, by the squire’s orders given at the bridegroom’s request, was gratified by a whole week’s absence from school; and Wat the mole-catcher took the happy youngster along with him, during his pleasant excursion, to every house where he had to perform the functions of the Gwahoddwr.  Here the boy was in the height of his happiness, and soon bedecked himself as a mock Gwahoddwr; having cut and peeled a willow wand, and attached to the end of it a bunch of rush flags and carpenter’s shavings, p. 59in the place of ribbons, thus grotesquely accoutred, he sallied forth with his protector, and winking to his companions who were lookers on, burlesqued every action and peculiarity of the mole-snarer.  It was on this occasion that he sported the first effusions of his virgin muse, as it is said, to the following effect, although it has been suspected that the delivery only was his own.  Like a little clown mimicking the adroit performances of the harlequin, his speech each time followed the more important oration of Wat.

Who’ll come to the wedding of Catti my mother?
Come mother, come daughter, son, father, and brother,
And bring all your cousins, and uncles, and aunts,
To revel and feast at our jolly courants,
Haste, haste to the Bidding ye stingy scrubs!
And out with your purses, and down with your dubs.

Come Gwenny and Griffith, and Roger and Sal,
Morgan, Meredith, and Peggy and Pal;
Come one, come all, with your best on your back,
To see mother married to spoon-making Jack;
He’s a spoon for his pains! as ye all shall see soon.
But lucky in finding a bowl to his spoon.

Haste, haste, to the bidding! and friends, if ye please,
For lack of white money bring good yellow cheese,
And butter, but not in your pockets alack,
Bring bacon or mutton well dried on the rack;
So endeth my story; come, haste we friend Watty,
Now God save the king, and his friend Twm Shôn Catti.

Twm’s delivery of these lines excited much mirth and laughter, and, added to those of the real Gwahoddwr, drew more than ordinary attention to this Bidding.  Many of the children of the different houses had been Twm’s school-fellows, and the pupils of his mother, which had the effect of influencing them, and became a sort of tie, to claim their presence at her Bidding.  p. 60As Jack’s friends were in Carmarthenshire, another Gwahoddwr was appointed by his master to go with him to call on his friends at his own native place; and so liberal was the squire on this occasion, that he sent them both, mounted, on horses of his own.

Jack and his Bidder had no great success, as his friends reproached him for his perverse intention of marrying a strange woman in a far land; and therefore finding but little pleasure in the subject or manner of their lectures, he made a precipitate retreat.  Blushing for his countrymen, and ashamed to own his failure in his own land, he bribed Ianto Gwyn the harper, who was his Bidder, to silence; and brought with him to Tregaron, in a hired cart, the common contribution of a bridegroom—namely, a bedstead, table, stools, and a dresser.  These, he feigned to have bought with his Bidding-money, received at Carmarthen.  Friday is always allotted to bring home the Ystavell, or the woman’s furniture; consisting generally of an oaken coffer, or chest; a featherbed and blankets; all the crockery and pewter; wooden bowls, piggins, spoons, and trenchers; with the general furniture of the shelf: but as Catti was already provided with every thing of this kind, she had but little to add to her stock.

The landlord of a public house originally called “the Lion,” but with a sign resembling a more ignoble animal, causing it to be ultimately known by no other designation than that of “the Cat,” offered Jack his parlour to receive his Cardiganshire friends in.  Accordingly, on the p. 61Friday before the wedding, he was busily employed in receiving money, cheese, and butter, from them, while Catti was similarly engaged at her residence, with her partizans, which were not a few.  This custom in Welsh is called Pwrs a Gwregys, or purse and girdle; and is, doubtless, of very remote origin.

At length the long-looked for, the important Saturday arrived; a day always fixed upon for the celebration of hymeneal ordinances, in Wales, from the sage persuasion that it is a lucky day, as well as for the convenience of the Sabbath intervening between it and a working day—a glorious season of sunshine to the children of labour.

Contrary to Jack’s expectations, a considerable number of his Carmarthenshire friends, mounted on their ponies, made their appearance this morning, and honorably paid their Pwython; that is to say, returned the presents which he and his relatives or friends had made at different weddings.  Jack’s resentful and sudden disappearance, it seems had a beneficial effect on the feelings of his friends and countrymen; and a jealousy of yielding the palm for liberality to a neighbouring county stirred a spirit of emulous contention among them, which ended in a resolution that a party should attend the wedding, and bear with them the Pwython of the others, who had an aversion to travel such a very distant journey.

After depositing their offerings, and partaking of a little refreshment, twelve of the bridegroom’s friends, headed by Ianto Gwyn the harper, p. 62mounted their ponies and called at Catti’s house, to demand the bride; and Wat the mole-catcher and Gwahoddwr, who added to these functions the character of father to Catti, expecting their arrival, at length heard without appearing, the following lines, delivered by the merry harper, from the back of his poney.

Open windows, open doors,
And with flowers strew the floors.
Heap the hearth with blazing wood,
Load the spit with festal food.
The chrochon [62] on its hook be placed,
And tap a barrel of the best!
For this is Catti’s wedding day;
Now bring the fair one forth I pray.

On which Wat, with the door still closed, made this reply without appearing.

Who are ye all? ye noisy train!
Be ye thieves, or honest men?
Tell us quick what brings ye here,
Or this intrusion costs you dear.

Ianto Gwyn then rejoins,

Honest men are we, who seek
A dainty dame both fair and meek,
Very good, and very pretty,
And known to all by name of Catti;
We come to claim her for a bride;
Come father! let the fair be tied
To him who loves her ever well:—

Wat, still within, answers,

So ye say, but time will tell;
My daughter’s very well at home,
So ye may pack and backward roam.

Ianto Gwyn resolutely exclaims,

Your home no more she’s doom’d to share,
Like every marriageable fair
Her father’s roof she quits, for one
Where she is mistress: woo’d and won.

p. 63It now remains to see her wedded,
And homeward brought and safely bedded;
Unless you give her up we swear
The roof from off your house to tear,
Burst in the doors, and batter walls,
To rescue her whom wedlock calls.

Another of the bridegroom’s party then called aloud in a tone of authority,

Peace, in the king’s name here! peace!
Let vaunts and taunting language cease;
We, the bridesmen, come to sue
The favor to all bridesmen due,
The daughter from the father’s hand,
And entertainment kindly bland.

Now the important ensnarer of moles, with the air of an ancient chieftain who throws wide his castle gates for the hospitable reception of his retainers, opens the door, struts forth, and with a smiling face gives the welcome, while, with his party, he assists them to alight.  After taking a little more refreshment, consisting of newly-baked oaten cakes, with butter and cheese, washed down with copious draughts of ale, they all remounted, and were joined by the rest of the bridegroom’s party; the whole rustic cavalcade making their way towards the church.  A motley assemblage, in truth it was, but withal picturesque, and agreeable to contemplate, for every face was happy; save when now and then a cautious damsel, mounted behind her father or brother, would exhibit a touch of the dismals in the length of her features, on discovery that the cwrw had any other effect than that of rendering her protector steady in his seat on the saddle.  Almost every sort of animal, large or small, lame or blind, good or bad, seemed to have been pressed into the service, and reduced to the p. 64levelling system, and without regard to either size or quality, doomed to carry double.  And thus they went on at a walking pace, while the loud chat of many seemed drowned in the louder laughter and calling of others, till now and then rebuked by some of the elders; who, however, to little purpose, vociferated the words decency—propriety—sobriety—sober purpose—&c. &c. the tendency of which seemed but little understood.  Jack was doomed to bestride a wretched begalled Rozinante which the dogs could scarce pass without anticipating their approaching feast, and looked like an equestrian knave of clubs ill mounted; and if not very merry himself, was certainly “the cause of mirth in others.”  Elevated behind her temporary father on a fleet horse of the squire’s, poor Catti was doomed to present purgatory to contrast her enjoyment of future happiness, for, unprovided with a pillion, she sat on the crupper, holding fast by Wat’s coat.  The quiet pace which commenced this little journey was soon changed into rough horsemanship, for the mad-cap mole-catcher turning his steed into the Cardigan road, gave him the spur, and commenced an outrageous gallop; the wedding partly followed with all the might of their little beasts, and like valiant villagers in chase of a highwayman, strove their utmost to rescue the bride.  Ianto Gwyn the rural bard and harper, ever ready with an extempore, produced one on this occasion.

Lost, stray’d, or ran away
This moment from the king’s highway,
A tall and sightly strapping woman,
A circumstance not very common;
p. 65’Tis said a murderer of vermin
On her abduction did determine;
Whoe’er will bear to gaol th’ offender,
The lost one to her owner render,
Shall be as handsomely rewarded
As can be readily afforded.

Having considerably distanced his pursuers, he stopped at length, at Catti’s request, who complained sadly of being sorely bumped upon the buckle of the crupper.  Dexterously turning to a bye-road towards the church, he was soon perceived and followed by the party, and altogether they soon arrived at their journey’s end, and alighting, they entered the sacred fane with due decorum.  Evans the curate, to enhance his own services and increase his importance, took care to damp their hilarity by keeping them waiting full three quarters of an hour, before he made his appearance; and when he came, his looks and demeanor partook more of the rigid priest of Saturn, than of the heart-joining, bliss-dispensing Hymen.  Although the conduct of every individual was perfectly decent, he very sternly rebuked their smiles and happy looks, and actually threatened not to perform the marriage ceremony, until, alarmed at the menace, and indignant at his conduct, they all became perfectly joyless, and most orthodoxically gloomy.  The indissoluble knot was soon tied; and no longer dependant on the good offices of the magisterial churchman, their spirit of joyousness burst forth, while in the churchyard the mellow harp of Ianto Gwyn was playing the sprightly air of Morwynion Glân Meirionydd, or the Fair Maidens of Merionethshire; while many p. 66of the party joined in the words which belong to that beautiful and animating tune.  Suddenly changing the air, the eccentric harper struck up “Megen has lost her garter,” which was succeeded by “Mentra Gwen,” and a string of such national melodies, equally gay and appropriate.  After the marriage, they returned in much the same order, or rather disorder; with the difference that the bride sat behind her husband, instead of her father: the harper playing the whole time, and many sweet voices joining in the words of the airs.  They soon entered Catti’s house, where her sister Juggy had provided a good dinner, of which all partook, cost free, except that every one had to pay for their own ale, the females of course being treated.  In the course of the evening, jigs, reels, and country dances, were successively gone through with much spirit.  Catti danced with considerable agility; but Jack, pressed on all sides, and at length compelled to make one, in a country dance, shewed every indication of this being his virgin attempt at “the poetry of motion;” and alternately stumping and blowing, while copious streams ran down his rugged forehead, as they every instant corrected his erratic course, and literally pushed him down the dance, he vowed that this his first, should also be his last exhibition on the “fantastic toe.”  Young Twm, who had been playing at sweethearts, with little Gwenny Cadwgan on his knee, to the great mirth of his seniors, soon brought her out to try her foot in the dance with him.  The poor little wench, blushing scarlet deep, made her first p. 67essay with one equally young and inexperienced as herself; and the juvenile pair were by many good naturedly instructed in the figure of the dance, and they contributed not a little to the general harmony.  Juggy, the sister of Catti, absolutely refused to sport her figure among the dancers, and treated Wat the mole-catcher with a hard favor in the face for attempting to drag her in perforce.  At length, fatigued with dancing, and alarmed for the state of their inebriated friends and companions, many, especially the females, turned their serious thoughts towards home.  It was now drawing towards the hour of retiring for the night, when the usual trick was played of concealing the bride from the bridegroom.  Poor Jack, whom nature had not favored with a great share of facetiousness, and who never mixed with such a company before, began to be seriously alarmed.  Great was the mirth of the party, while, with a strange expression of countenance, he sought her up and down in every corner of the house.  At length he discovered a part of her red petticoat sticking out from under the bottom of the straw armchair, and soon drew her out from the place of concealment.  The parting hour was now arrived; then came the general shaking of hands, and serious expressions of good wishes among the sober; while the tipsy folks vented their wit in jocular allusions to their conjugal felicity: some offering themselves for godfathers and godmothers to their future offspring, while others far gone laid bets on the probability that the first child would be either a boy or a girl.  At this p. 68time considerable surprize was excited by the conduct of an individual who had been remarkably unsocial the whole evening, no person having heard him speak a word; and when asked a question, or in answer to a health being drank, he merely nodded in a hurried manner, and immediately drew hard at his pipe, and puffed forth volumes of smoke, as if to envelope himself in a cloud of invisibility.  Every one was too much engaged with his own pleasures to give him much attention, and thus he remained till the moment of departure, when he was observed to stagger as he rose from his seat; somebody then observed, that it must have been the smoke and not the beer that affected his brains, as he drank but little: a remark that imputed niggardly and curmudgeon propensities to him.  Determined to give him something of a roast, a young farmer asked him, with a defying air, whether he had paid his Pwython; “No!” roared the hitherto silent man, “but here it is—take it Catti my girl, and much good may it do you!” on which he put five guineas into her hand.  With emotions of wonder and gratitude, while catching an eager glance at his face, Catti involuntarily exclaimed “the squire!” when he darted out, mounted his horse, as did the rest of the party, and disappeared.

p. 69CHAP. VIII.

Twm’s great improvement under his new master.  His attachment to Welsh literature.  Wat’s freak.  Twm is taken from school, and sent as a parish apprentice to a farmer in the Cardiganshire mountains.

Determined to witness the humble festivities of the “lowly train,” thus Squire Graspacre had been among them the whole evening, disguised like a rough mountaineer husbandman, and was heartily gratified, although his apparent incivility of conduct had nearly subjected him to harsh treatment from the jovial ale-fraught rustics, who of course, but little relished his strange behaviour.  His deficiency in the Welsh language had been concealed by alternately feigning deafness and drunkenness, which, with the aid of the pipe, left him free of further suspicion.  The morning of Sunday after the wedding, which is called Neithior, being come, the happy pair stayed at home, receiving their friends who called with their good will, which was manifested by the payment of Pwython.  The day was drank out, but not as before, as in every other respect, save the diminishing of ale, each seemed to recollect it was the Sabbath, and tossed off their cups in quietness.  It was not till late on Monday evening that the drink was exhausted, when Jack and Catti cast up the sum of their wedding donations, which they found amounted to twenty seven pounds eight shillings and sixpence, besides fourteen whole, and twenty-two half cheeses, the greater part of which they soon turned into cash.  In these days, when the value p. 70of money has been so much decreased, the amount of the Pwython and presents at a Welsh wedding has been known to reach more than treble the sum here stated; especially when the friends of the parties have been numerous, and headed by the patronage of a wealthy and liberal master and mistress, who generally enlist their friends and visitors under the hymeneal banners of a faithful servant, the architects of whose humble fortunes they become, by laying, themselves, the corner stone.

As, from this part of our history, the hero will rise in importance, those who have hitherto stood forward, must proportionably draw back, to give him place; especially Jack and Catti; the grand drama of whose lives has been closed by a matrimonial union; whence, henceforth, they must sink into inconsiderable personages.

In consequence of the squire’s liberality on the celebration of Catti’s wedding, and a general report prevailing that he was well inclined towards the Welsh, a protector of their customs, and no scorner of their languages or peculiarities, a general good will towards him was manifested by the country people.  When he gave his opinion in favor of the female national costume, they considered him, for an Englishman, a very reasonable man.  When he eulogized the Welsh harp, and gave, in addition to various pieces of silver at different times, a guinea to Ianto Gwyn for his performances at Jack and Catti’s wedding, he gained a few steps more into their good opinion.  But when he declared that bed courtship should not be abolished, p. 71there was a burst of enthusiasm in his favor in every breast, especially among the females.  During this new impulse given to the reign of happiness, the great lady of the hall and her favorite curate hid their diminished heads; the former declaring that it was utterly impossible that the world could last many months, while such immorality and ungodliness was practised under the auspices of a declared patron.  Whether it was the influence of this alarm, or the bitterness of baffled malignity, that preyed on her mind, certain it is, she was soon thrown on a sick bed, and considered seriously indisposed.  The squire, to his honor be it said, although unfortunately married to a very disagreeable woman, allowed a sense of duty to supply the place of affection, when his attentions were so indispensably needed.  During her illness the worthy old rector who had been ill but a single week, died: and Squire Graspacre, against his own judgement and feelings, well knowing that such an arrangement would be agreeable to his wife, inducted the curate, Evans, into the vacant living.  In a fortnight after, however, she died herself; a circumstance perhaps, that gave no real sorrow to any creature breathing.

The general report of a liberal English squire in Cardiganshire, who patronized and upheld the customs of the Welsh, penetrated to the very extremities of the principality; and became at last so strangely exaggerated, that, he was represented as the patron of the learned: consequently many of the humbler sons of the church took long journeys to be undeceived.  Of the many p. 72who called upon him with a view of seeking his patronage of their literary undertakings, one especially took his fancy; a young clergyman named John David Rhys, before named as the author of the Bidder’s song.  But poetry was not his forte; his energy and perseverance in the favorite study of Welshmen, British antiquities, and systemizing his native language, deserved encouragement and applause.  He was then composing a Welsh grammar, and had actually commenced a dictionary.  As he spoke English very well, the squire soon understood the merit of his undertakings, and promised his patronage and good offices; in the mean time requesting him to remain on the footing of a friend beneath his roof, till something could be done for him.  This excellent person he now fixed upon to succeed Evans in the school and curacy; stipulating, that for his fulfilment of the latter, he was to have thirty pounds, and for the former ten pounds a year.  Fortunate for Rhys would it have been had the old rector outlived the squire’s lady, in which case it is more than probable he would have filled the living instead of Evans, whom the squire never liked.  This change in the mastership of the school was a fortunate event for young Twm Shôn Catti, who had caught the mania for rhyming, among the wandering harpers and bards, as they called every rhymester who could manufacture verses in either of the four-and-twenty legitimate Welsh measures.  When he found his new master a kind young man, an historian, antiquarian, and something of a poet, the “homage of the heart” p. 73was immediately paid him.  Twm thought him the wisest man in the world, when he heard him speak of the battles fought by the Britons in ancient times, against the Romans, Danes, and Saxons.  This was to him a knowledge the most estimable, and he longed to be enabled also, to talk about battles and to write patriotic songs.  Having now his information from a better source, he soon learned to despise the jargon and misstatements of Ianto Gwyn, with whom he argued strongly, and proved to him that Geoffrey of Monmouth was a fabulist, and no historian; that it was not Joseph of Arimathea who christianized Britain; and that the Britons were no descendants of Brute, nor of Trojan origin; with various other such knotty points.  The great deference which he paid his master, his attention to every word which fell from his lips, with his close and successful application to his lessons, gained him the esteem and admiration of Rhys, with whom he became a great favorite.  This amiable young clergyman found much satisfaction on discovering a youngster with taste sufficient to appreciate his favorite pursuits; and took pleasure in explaining to him every subject of his enquires.  A thirst for information possessed the boy; and he rummaged the most dry and tedious works connected with Welsh antiquities, with an avidity that was astonishing even to his master.

Well would it have been for Twm had he continued his diligence in this honorable course, but in his breast the love of learning was shared by his love of mischief, and his admiration of p. 74his master divided with his predilection for the comical vagaries of Wat the mole-catcher: and in the end, his acquaintance with that worthy proved anything to him but fortunate.  About eighteen months after Rhys’s appointment to the school, one evening in the Christmas holidays, Wat asked him if he would take a share in a freak that would keep them up the greater part of the night.  Twm immediately assented, without enquiring its nature; enough for him that it was a scheme of merry mischief, in the prospect of which his heart ever bounded.  This idle whim of Wat’s was nothing more than to pull down the signs of all the public houses and shops, which being few, was easily done, but the greater difficulty was to suspend them from, or attach them to, the tenements of others, in which they however succeeded.  This trick elicited some humour; and a satirical application was discernible in the new disposal of the boards.  When the light of day discovered their handy-work, great was the astonishment of the alehouse-keepers and others, to find their signs vanished, and gracing the fronts of their neighbours’ houses; and the anger of the reverend Evan Evans was boundless, on perceiving the “Fox and Goose” over his rectory house door, with the words proceeding from the mouth of Reynard, “I have thee now;” and under the pictorial figures “Good entertainment for man and horse.”  A crowd was in consequence collected about his door, and the provoking laughter of the people stung him to the bitterest degree of resentment.  Squire Graspacre, from p. 75indolence or dislike to all business except farming, declined being in the commission of the peace himself, and put the parson in his stead.  Having now attained the summit of his ambition, as rector and justice of the peace, his overweening presumption and conceit become daily more conspicuous; and therefore this slur upon his consequence became intolerable.  The actors in this simple freak became at length known, in consequence of the secret being intrusted, a very common case, to a confidential friend.

Although the twenty shillings reward which the parson offered could not induce the poorest to be base enough to become an informer, yet an idle spirit of tattling among the women brought it at length to the ears of Mistress Evans, and her husband soon became possessed of the whole particulars.  He instantly made his complaint to the squire against both Twm and Wat, who merely reprimanded, cautioned for the future, and dismissed them.

The circumstances under which young Twm Shôn Catti was educated, now suddenly occurred to him.  “What the devil is to become of that mischievous young rascal?” said he, one day, to Rhys the curate, whom he then informed of the particulars of his birth, and of his deceased wife’s whim of having him well educated, in consequence of his being a slip of Sir John Wynne’s.  That connexion being entirely closed by the death of his wife, he no longer felt himself bound or inclined to notice him.  When Rhys gave so good an account of his proficiency, he was surprized to hear the squire exclaim “I p. 76am sorry for it, for he has no prospect in the world but labour or beggary.  As he has already had too good an education for his circumstances, he must be instantly dismissed from school.  Since Sir John does not think proper to protect his son, I don’t see why I should.”  Twm and his master parted with mutual regret, for latterly they were more like companions than master and scholar; and the generous Rhys could not restrain a tear on beholding a youth of so much promise destined to the uncertain wilderness of a hard and cold world, especially after having evinced a superiority of taste and intellect, that under favorable auspices, would have enabled him to shine and flourish in his day.  Twm remained awhile at his mother’s, a big boy of fifteen, idling away his days without any view to the future.  Greatly concerned on his account and her own inability to support him, Catti went one day to the squire’s, and implored him to do something for her son; and he at last generously decided to send him as a parish apprentice to a farmer, whose grounds were situate in the neighbouring mountains.


Twm’s new master and mistress, with their daughters.  His pranks and buffetings at Cwm du.  This humorous-beginning chapter ends tragically.

The farmer to whom Twm had been assigned, was named Morris Grump, who possessed a considerable farm, freehold property, consisting of small fields occupying either side of a deep p. 77narrow mountain dingle, the centre of which was threaded by a large brook, that in winter aped the boisterousness of a river, and was, near the farm, crossed by a fallen tree, answering the purpose of a rustic bridge, worn flat by the feet of passengers.  This cultivated defile extended about three miles, and, with the farm, was called Cwm du, [77] signifying the Black vale, or dingle, from the deep shade which the acclivious sides of the mountains threw over it, a great part of the day.  This lonely ravine was poorly wooded, but many objects combined to array it with a hue of the romantic.  Instead of thorn, or other coppice, the hedges were of furze, always green, and in summer with a rich yellow blossom, intermixed, here and there, with the purple-flowered heath, which in Scotch literature has been immortalized as the mountain heather.  The trees were stunted, of stubby, dwarfish, yet fantastic growth, with the heads generally snapped off in the winter storms, and the branches spreading afar.  The large loose stones, that had parted from their parent rocks, and rolled to the banks, and into the bed of the brook, were covered, or rather patched, with a grey and yellow lichen, as were the bare hungry-looking ribs of the mountains, which, unfleshed with soil, shewed, repulsively gaunt; strongly contrasting with the small corn fields and green meadows below.  The brook, on a continual descent, was broken by many small, and some large, falls, down its rocky bed, chafing to a white foam against its various impediments, and roaring with the futile rage of a petty torrent.

p. 78At the upper end of Cwm du stood the farm house, so called, of Morris Grump, with its barn, ricks, and the group of outhouses usually appertaining to such a place.  At the further extremity, the dingle terminated in a vast flat patch of black mountain marsh, where all the people of the neighbouring country repaired to cut their turf for firing.  All else, on either side the valley of Cwm du, was mountain—a wild uncultured wilderness; the surface of which was diversified with pretty lakes or alpine pools, on which floated various aquatic fowl; flocks of sheep; long-maned untamed horses; furze and heath; quarries; caves; gulfs; intersecting brooks; and the horizon closed with the distant mountain peaks, one above another, strangely but most grandly clustered.

In this secluded place, with a wife, six grown-up daughters, and one man-servant, Morris Grump lived, in the most penurious manner, scarcely allowing himself or family the common necessaries of live.  This was to Twm a most grievous change, where he was continually compelled to embrace his antipathies, and disconnect himself from all the felicities most dear to him.  He loved books, rural festivities, rambling, and all those modes of passing his time which were most allied to idleness; but in this house not a book was to be seen, nor the sound of mirth, harp, or song ever heard; nothing but work, hard work, seasoned with the shrill tones of scolding women, and the deep growls of the farmer.  The state of a slave, in a more agreeable climate, was enviable compared to poor Twm’s.

p. 79It has been complained that the improvements in modern cookery have caused the human race to devour more than twice the quantity of food requisite or beneficial; Molly Grump, the mistress of this mountain mansion, had no idea of inflicting such an evil on her kind, and therefore as an antidote to gluttony and intemperance, took care that her food and drink should be neither too savory nor gustful.  Her habits were, to bake a large quantity of bread at once, so that it might soon get hard and mouldy; steep an immense portion of the matter for flummery, until as sour as verjuice; mix water with the milk, buttermilk, and whey; and make the cheeses for home consumption hard enough to answer the purpose of cannon balls, in case the felicities of Cwm du should ever tempt our foreign enemies to invade it.

Our hero, however, had a bold heart, and if a little better fed, would have endured all, and with that indifference and vein of whim which were natural to him, turned Misery herself into a scarecrow of mirth rather than terror.  His wretched scanty meals did much to tame him, and he ate his breakfast of highly-watered milk porridge, with a hungry, and at the same time loathing, stomach.  His dinner was either of very sour flummery and skim-milk watered, or for variety, broth, made of rusty bacon, or equally rusty dried beef or mutton; which being made in large quantities, was generally warmed and served up three or four succeeding days: and when Twm and his fellow servant (a half idiot lout,) vainly hoped that this species of p. 80drenching was over, they had the mortification to find a quantity of water added, to spin it out for another meal.  When spared from out-door work, Twm became a drudge for the women; after the work of the day was over, and each resting in the chimney corner, there was always a job for him, of some kind or other.  By the time he had been there six months, it was pitiable to see him, in the depth of winter, in his wooden clogs without stockings, and his happy laughing face rendered pale and sorrowful.  Yet with all these drawbacks he preserved his turn for mirth, and in the evening would recite either ghost-stories or war-tales of old times, which he had heard from Ianto Gwyn or his master Rhys, that astonished and amused his auditors, at least part of them, for Molly Grump told him ’twas more fitting he should mind his work than give his time to telling lies and idling; and her eldest daughter Shân always echoed and imitated her mother, both in scolding and uttering wise saws.

The employment which they found for him in-doors, sometimes gave him an opportunity of repairing the deficiency of his stomach and warming his icy hands.  One day, having brought in some turf and furze which he had chopped for baking plank, or bakestone, bread, while Shân had turned her back a little, he snatched up the last cake taken from the fire, and doubling it up, thrust it into his breast, and attempted to make a hasty retreat to devour it.  The great heat against his stomach, however, gave him infinite pain, which, like the Spartan boy he had determined to endure rather than be p. 81detected; but not having been favored with so stoical an education, he at length gave way to nature, and roared most loudly as he ran out and across a field, while Shân and her two younger sisters followed in full chase, to rescue the bread which the former immediately missed.  Twm soon gained the mountain, when the girls gave up the pursuit, and he sat down and ate his bread undisturbed, hiding what remained beneath some stones, for a future meal, determined to abide the consequence of his theft rather than that of starvation.  A severe thrashing from the farmer, some blows from his wife, much scolding from both as well from the echo Shân, with deprivation from dinner, were the attendants of this feat; and instead of being permitted to sit with the rest, to partake of a meal, he was ordered to give some hay to the cows: “and mind,” cried Farmer Grump, “that you give more hay to the cow that yields you most milk, than to the cow that gives but little.”  “I will, be sure of it!” said Twm, pointedly and in a sulky tone; and immediately carried his two arms full of hay and threw it under the water spout.  “There!” cried he, as the farmer came out and looked with astonishment, “that is the cow which gives me most milk, for your cursed broth and porridge is almost wholly made from this never-failing udder.”  This cost him another beating, but it was the last, for the farmer received a hint that it would not be safe to repeat the experiment, as Twm vowed to his fellow servant, that if again struck he would fell his assailant to the ground, like an ox: while his resolute and altered look p. 82convinced him that he meant to keep his word.

In the early part of the next summer, that dreadful malady, the small pox, made its awful visitation to Morris Grump’s house, and like a terrific fiend laid its talons alike on young and old, and remorselessly swept them off to the grave.  The two younger daughters were the first infected; and in a few days after, two more were taken ill, and Morris’s house presented the appearance of an hospital.  Morris’s wife, as well as himself, from the excessive anxiety natural to parents in such unhappy circumstances for the preservation of her offspring, took, like thousands of others, the wrong course, and literally killed them with kindness; while the humbler inmates of the house, who had no share in her affection or concern, were as truly saved by absolute neglect.  Thus, while without judgement or advice, except of those who were as ignorant as herself, she sought every delicacy to indulge and pamper the appetites of her own afflicted ones, giving them spiced ale sugared, and even wine, in her terror of losing them, she suffered the poor apprentice Twm, who was also deep in the small pox, to languish unattended, without enquiring after him, or sending him the common necessaries of life, utterly indifferent whether he lived or died.

On the first appearance of this disorder, the farmer’s ploughman left him and went home, so that except Grump’s own family, there were none in the house but Twm, who, if preserved from the small pox ran great danger of starvation.  His bed was an old hop-sack half filled with p. 83oat-chaff, and his covering an old tattered blanket and a musty rug, which had filled similar offices for the horses.  His bed-chamber being a portion of the hay-loft, poor Twm remained hours and days without food, groaning away his time, and until blinded by his malady, amusing himself by counting the number, and pondering on the formation, of the cobwebs that hung like sorrow’s garlands from the mouldy beams and rafters, while the squeaking of the mice in the rotten thatch, served for music.  At other times, somewhat nerved by the cravings of his stomach, his weak hands would rustle in some pease-straw that happened to be placed there, and now and then, to his infinite joy, find an unbroken pea-shell that had escaped the searching of the flail, which, in spite of the soreness of his hands and mouth, he would open, and with avidity devour its contents.

As in those days there were none who knew how to treat this disorder, in general it was looked upon as the certain harbinger of death, when the terror and confusion which took place on its appearance, was deplorable in the extreme.  Two of the farmer’s children, which had first been taken ill, now died; and a third in a day after, when Morris himself was discovered to be infected.  Loud cries and lamentations became incessant day and night; and some of the neighbouring old cottage wives who offered their services came there to assist—and this to some of them was a welcome office, as on such occasions as watching the sick, or laying out the dead; feasting is as prevalent as at weddings.

p. 84Among these old hen-wives and grannies, tales of superstition prevailed in abundance; some spoke of the corpse candles seen by them previous to the deaths of the young women of the house; others dilated on the awfulness of a spectral burial, where shadows of the living supported the bier of the departed towards the churchyard.

One night, between twelve and one, while the three coffins and their contents presented a woeful sight, lying side by side on the long oak table, Morris, afflicted as he was, assisted his wife in supporting his fourth daughter, whose death they also deeply dreaded, as an old cottage woman, while she basted a loin of mutton roasting before the fire, dwelt much on the certainty of supernatural appearances, illustrating her convictions by instances of her own experience.  All at once, the current of her discourse was arrested by a shudder that overcame and struck her dumb, on hearing a rumbling and irregular noise, as of falling furniture, which also terrified the group about the fire.  The noise increased, and at last seemed as of somebody stumbling in his way in the dark; groans, mutterings, and approaching human steps succeeded:—some shrieked, some rose and ran to remote corners, covering their heads with their aprons, while others sat breathless, as if nailed to the bench, and dissolved in streams of perspiration, their eyes starting from their sockets—when a figure with the air and rush of a maniac darted in, tore the roasting meat from the string, and disappeared with it, uttering in a dismal p. 85hollow tone “O God, I am famished by these wretches!”  The consciences of the farmer and his wife were dreadfully wrung, as they now recollected the poor apprentice boy Twm, whom they had left in the depth of the malady which had deprived them of three of their children, to live or die, as he might; nor would Morris allow anybody to rescue the meat, but snatching a loaf from the shelf, he entreated Twm to come in and eat his fill at the fire: but the youngster had entered his hay-loft, and with the ravenousness of a starved hound devoured his half raw prey in darkness.  While yet the farmer, with tears of real penitence, was calling out to him, a loud scream from his wife convinced him that his fourth child was also dead.  With wild agony that seemed to have humanized his hard heart by the bitter arrows of affliction, Morris fell on his knees, and with interrupting sobs, exclaimed “I see the hand of God in this, and a judgement, a heavy judgement has befallen us for our cruelty to the poor boy; but he will live! he! the lad whom we treated fouler than the beast! he will outlive this pest, while me and mine will perish!”

The suffering of the unhappy man was pitiable and heart-rending to witness; and on the very day of his children’s burial, with loud cries of remorse and sorrow he expired.

Twm recovered, according to the farmer’s prophecy, which was further verified, inasmuch that the remainder of his children did not live to see the end of the year; and his wife, losing her senses, was ever after a wretched moping idiot.

p. 86CHAP. X.

Twm returns to his mother’s at Tregaron.  His reception there, and amongst his old friends and cronies.  Enters the service of Squire Graspacre, and lives in clover.  Becomes a great reader, hates servitude, and grows melancholy and romantic.

After setting out early in the morning, and walking hard all day over a rugged mountain road, the heart of Twm Shôn Catti thrilled with delight, and the tears filled in his eyes when, late in the evening, his own native place, the humble town of Tregaron appeared before him; and although his feet were so blistered that he could scarcely move, he attempted to make his limbs partake of the new vigour which sprung up in his heart, and essayed to run, but failing in his aim, fell down completely mastered by exhaustion and fatigue.  Whether, like Brutus, he was re-nerved by breathing awhile on the bosom of his mother earth, or that the thoughts within, of home and its associations, gave him strength, he rose much refreshed, but with considerable pain continued the short untraced portion of his journey.

Entering the town, at length, just as the darkness began to veil every object, he came to his mother’s door, which was open, and cast an enquiring look before he entered.  Catti had long dismissed her scholars, and sat in the chimney corner with her back towards the door, while her husband occupied the other side, and sat silently busy in scooping out the bowl of a new ladle.  Twm’s merry, trick-loving soul was not p. 87to be subdued by his troubles; having drawn his flat-rimmed old hat over his eyes, he leaned over his mother’s hatch, and in a feigned voice begged for a piece of bread and cheese, saying that he was a poor boy, very hungry and tired, who was making his way home to Lampeter.  “We are poor folk ourselves, and have nothing to give,” said Carmarthen Jack, rather gruffly.  “Stop!” cried Catti, “he’s a poor child Jack, a bit of bread and cheese is not much, and somebody might take pity on my poor Twm, and give as much, if he should ever need it.”  The affectionate heart of Twm could no longer contain itself, but opening the hatch he burst forward, dashing his hat on the ground, and falling on her neck, giving ardent utterance to merely the word “mother;” and after the tender pause of nature’s own embrace, he cried, with streaming eyes, “My good kind charitable mother! you shall never want bread and cheese, while your poor Twm has health and strength to earn it.”  Warmly returning his embrace and kisses, Catti long clasped her boy, and was quite terrified to see his pale lean cheek, and altered look.  Ashamed of the exposure of his pitiless nature, Jack now came up, shook hands and condoled with him, but Twm had seen the man, and loved him not.  After being refreshed, Catti eagerly enquired of all that happened to him since he left home, and wept much as he detailed his narrow escape from starvation and the small pox.  By twelve o’clock next day, his tale was known to every body at Tregaron.

The catastrophe at Morris Grump’s, of course, p. 88was considered as a judgement from heaven for his miserly propensities; and Ianto Gwyn wrote a pathetic ballad, to the great edification of the old women and tender-hearted damsels, giving a true and particular account of the whole affair; to which was attached a moral, on the cruelty of mal-treating parish apprentices, and stuffing them with mouldy bread and sour flummery.  This interesting ballad was daily sung by Wat the mole-catcher, to the English tune of Chevy Chase, which gained him the good will of all those old crones, who had taken deep offence at his numerous tricks.

Carmarthen Jack, although so careful of his bread and cheese, was determined not to be outdone on this occasion, but brought the graphic art to perpetuate his stepson’s tale; that is to say, he carved on a wooden bowl the figures of four beings, well attended, in bed, with the scythe of Death across their throats, while in the distance a meagre boy was snatching a joint of meat from the fire; the idea, it is true, was better than the execution; but altogether it gained Jack very great applause.

Right glad were all Twm’s cronies to see him again at Tregaron; but dearer than all to him was the welcome of the curate Rhys, with whose books he was again permitted to make free, while he profited by his instructions and conversation.  He had now been at home about three months, and recovered his health, strength, and spirits to perfection, when his mother fancied he had become an eye-sore to her husband, who she thought looked at him with the scowling p. 89brow of a step-father, which Twm’s conduct, he might imagine, justified, as his behaviour towards Jack had been very unconciliating, ever since the bread and cheese adventure.  With this impression, Catti once more waited on Squire Graspacre to solicit that some place or employment should be found for her boy, as she could not afford to keep him in idleness.  The tale of his sufferings at Cwm du, interested the squire in his favor; and he felt some reluctance to send him as a parish apprentice; particularly as Catti declared he would rather die than be such again.  The worthy curate, Rhys, had also spoken a kind word in his pupil’s favor; and Carmarthen Jack, gaping hand in hand, looked as if he would say much to get rid of his stepson, could he hit on words to his purpose.  Amused by his simplicity and awkward gestures, the squire asked him, “Well Jack, what would you advise me to do with Catti’s boy?”  This plain question met as blunt an answer, “Make him your servant boy sir, if you please.”  “And so I will old hedgehog,” cried the squire, slapping him on the shoulder, “Your oratory has settled the matter.”  Accordingly, our hero next appears as the squire’s man at Graspacre Hall; this was an agreeable change in life to him, where he lived, as they say, in clover; and by his good temper and turn for mirth, he gained the good will and admiration of his fellow servants, particularly the girls, with whom he became an especial favorite.  Behold him now then, in the seventeenth year of his age, with the looks and habits of twenty, gay, happy, p. 90and as mischievous as an ape; kissing and romping with the girls, caring for none of them but shewing attentions to all, while he jeered and mocked the cross-grained and disagreeable, and whenever he could, raised a laugh at their peculiarities.  His employments at the squire’s were various, among which, waiting at table every day, neatly dressed, and carrying his master’s gun and attending him during his shooting excursions, formed the principal.  To these, Squire Graspacre, who since the death of his wife was ever wench-hunting, aimed to add the office of pimp.  Twm, however, had been swayed too long by the counsels of Rhys the curate, to lend himself to any such unworthy services; and having by his conversations with him, and by the tenor of his readings, imbibed a taste for romantic honor, he was not without a secret hope, if not presentiment, that his great father might some day own him, and destine him to a very different sphere in life.  These ideas were no sooner born than they daily expanded in his breast, and filled his imagination so far as to induce him to seize every opportunity to improve his mind, and qualify himself for the best chances of Fortune.  With the growth of these notions, rose in his mind a distaste for servitude, and an ardent longing to shine in a sphere allied to literature and respectability.

By the time he had been a twelvemonth in his situation, from a merry happy youth he became pensive, and sometimes deeply melancholy.  His bed-room was over the lawndry, a building detached from the house; in which he had p. 91shelves put up to hold his books, a small stock, but which he continually increased by laying out every farthing which he received from visitors, or saved from his wages, in the purchase of more.  On retiring at night, his habits were to cover closely his window, to conceal the light of his candle, while he generally sat up more than half the night luxuriating over his darling volumes; and as he was directed in his choice of them by Rhys, who made him presents of many, he soon acquired no inconsiderable share of information: this blessing, however, became partially a curse to him, for, as he could not be persuaded to give his attention to books of a religious tendency, the light that gleamed upon his mind had the effect of shewing him his destitution, and making him discontented with his lot in life.  Sometimes, he talked to his late school-master on the subject of travelling to England to seek his fortune, which wandering predilections that worthy man always discouraged, but events soon occurred to shew our hero in a new character, in which most men appear at some period of their lives—that of a lover.


Twm Shôn Catti falls in love, and preserves his mistress from the squire’s clutches.  The adventures of Farmer Cadwgan’s she ass.  Twm escapes from the squire’s.

The squire and his man Twm returning one evening from grousing on the hills, on their descent towards the valleys had to pass by p. 92a small farm house, inhabited by a tenant of the former, who whispered Twm, “This is the keep, the close, that contains better game, and can afford livelier sport than any I have had to day.”  Twm by his silence testified his ignorance of his drift; but he resumed “what you don’t understand me? haven’t you seen this farmer’s plump partridge of a daughter, the pretty Gwenny Cadwgan, you young dog!  I am determined to have that bird down, some way or other, and you must help me.”  Before Twm could reply, the squire alighted and entered the cottage, at the door of which the farmer and Gwenny Cadwgan, now grown a fine and blooming young woman, met and welcomed their landlord.  Some oaten bread, butter and cheese, and a cup of homely ale was put before him; and while he ate, the pretty Gwenny carried a portion to Twm, as he held the horses in the yard.  While he received the welcome food from the hand of the happy smiling girl, he perceived the blush with which she gave it, and felt in his breast certain sensations no less new than agreeable; thus, while each made brief allusions to their days of childhood, a tear started in the eyes of Twm, on seeing which the bright eyes of Gwenny were also suffused, till the pearly drops over-ran her fresh ruddy cheeks.  Her father then calling her in, she suddenly shook hands with, and left our hero, who in that hour became a captive to her charms, while the innocent girl herself then felt the first shootings of a passion that daily grew, in sympathy with his own.

The squire having finished his hasty lunch, p. 93he remarked to his tenant Cadwgan in a hurried manner, that he should have company, the next day to entertain at his house, and would thank him to let his lass come to the hall to assist in attending on them.  The farmer of course assented, in words, for what small farmer would dare to deny his landlord such a favor, though his heart might tremble with apprehension?

After the squire’s departure, Cadwgan became deeply distressed at the predicament in which he found himself; to deny his landlord, was probably to lose his farm; and to assent to his specious proposal, was to endanger, if not utterly ruin the innocence of his darling daughter; as, since the death of Mistress Graspacre, more than one of the neighbouring damsels had to rue their intimacy with the squire.  He passed a sleepless night of bitter reflection, and saw daylight with an agonized spirit; but the active mind imbued with honorable ideas, never fails in due season to work its own relief.  When Twm appeared next morning on horseback before his door, with a pillion behind, for the reception of Gwenny, Cadwgan’s terrors had vanished, his indignation at the premeditated injuries intended him, was roused, and with braced nerves, and a firm heart, he determined to deny the squire, and abide the consequences, be what they might.  But honest Nature was elsewhere at work in Cadwgan’s favor, and unknown to him, had raised a friend to save him from those impending perils, to the preservation both of his farm and his more precious daughter, in the person of young Twm Shôn Catti.

p. 94On his journey home the last evening, while listening to his master’s commands, and hearing his plans to inveigle the innocent Gwenny, Twm was silent and meditative, mentally engaged in seeking some mode to preserve her from his clutches; and at length heroically determined to save the object of his admiration, even at the risk of losing his place and being cast again on the wide world.  He fed his fancy all night in dwelling on her beauty, and the merit of preserving her, while he ardently enjoyed in anticipation, the sacrifice he was about to make for her sake; considering he should feel himself amply repaid if favored by the sweet girl with a smile of approbation.

The morning came, and the squire gave the dreaded order, “Take the horse Dragon, put a saddle and pillion on him, and bring the farmer’s lass behind you here; tell Cadwgan not to expect her back to-night, but she shall be brought home to-morrow.”  Although Twm had been preparing himself to give a doughty reply, and so commence the heroic character he had modelled, yet when the moment came, his resolution failed him, and the high-sounding words were not forthcoming; although the determination to disobey remained as strong as ever.  He rode off, through Tregaron, and up the hills, in a melancholy mood, and without any settled purpose, except that of straight-forward resistance to the orders he had received.  As he jogged on listlessly, he was suddenly roused from his reverie by the braying of Cadwgan’s ass, that was grazing in a green lane which he was about to p. 95enter.  Such an animal being a rarity in that country, Twm, with surprise, audibly muttered, “What the devil is that?”  An old woman at that moment opening the gate, which she civilly held for our hero to pass into the lane which she was leaving, hearing his words, replied “It is only Cadwgan’s ass.”  Twm, whose thoughts ran entirely on the farmer’s fair daughter, mistaking what she said, rejoined “Cadwgan’s lass, did you say?”  “You are very ready with your mocks and pranks, Master Twm,” cried the old woman, slamming the gate against the buttocks of the horse, “but you know very well that I said Cadwgan’s ass, and not his lass, for I should be sorry to compare the good and pretty Gwenny Cadwgan to such an ugly ill-voiced animal.”  Twm laughed at his mistake, made his apology, and rode on with revived spirits, having now, from this very ludicrous circumstance, hatched the trick which he intended to play off on his master.

The farmer’s mind being made up, as before observed, to refuse the attendance of his daughter at his landlord’s, he was astonished to hear Twm say, “Master Cadwgan, it was squire Graspacre’s order to me, that I should saddle this horse, come to your house, and with your consent, bring your ass to him, on the pillion behind me.”  Cadwgan stared doubtfully, and Twm resumed “I hope you are too sensible to question or look into the reasonableness of his whims, and will be so good as to catch the strange animal, which I passed on the road, that we may tie him across the pillion.”  Cadwgan immediately concluded p. 96this to be a providential mistake of the young man’s, that might have the most desirable effect of relieving him from his apprehended troubles, and with a ready presence of mind said, laughing, “To be sure it is no business of mine to look into the oddness of his fancies, and he shall have my ass by all means.”  “Put an L to ass, and ’twill be lass,” said Twm seriously, and with emphasis, “and such is the squire’s demand: but,” said the youth with rising enthusiasm, “I would risk my life to save your daughter from his snares, and will feign that I thought he said ass instead of lass, to be brought on the pillion.”  Affected by this instance of generosity, the farmer, as well as his lovely daughter, burst into tears, thanking and blessing him; the former assuring him, that if in consequence of this undertaking, he should be dismissed from his place, his roof, hearth, and table should be at his service.

While Cadwgan went out to catch the long-eared victim, Twm spent a delicious half hour in the company of the fair Gwenny; and took that opportunity to protest the ardor of his affection for her, and vowed that when Fortune favored him with the means of getting a livelihood independent of servitude, it would be the glory of his life to come and ask her to be his own.  The maiden heard him with streaming eyes and passion-heaving breast, nor withdrew her cheek when her lover imprinted on it affection’s first kiss; which she considered a sacred compact, the seal of true love’s faithful covenant, never to be broken by the intrusion of another.

p. 97Cadwgan at length returned, with his charge in a halter, grumbling and abusing the beast at every step, in consequence of having been led a pretty dance in chase of her; for, as if conscious of her coming troubles, the moment he approached, she scampered off through the lane, and right through the river, nor stopped until fairly fast in a bog, from whence, with much trouble, the farmer roughly rescued her.  With the assistance of Twm and a neighbouring cottager, he now tied the animal’s legs and lifted her into the seat of the pillion, a situation that her struggling and resistance indicated to be more elevated than comfortable.  Twm, however, rode on slowly with his grotesque companion, without the occurrence of an accident till they arrived at Tregaron; when the whole town, men, women, and children, came out to enjoy the strange sight, amidst roars and shouts of laughter.  Whether the principal figure in the group felt her dignity hurt, or her modesty offended, by such an exhibition of her charms to the rude ribaldry of a mob, or whether instigated by the rational motive of seeking ease by change of position, it may not be an easy matter to determine, but certain it is, that straining every nerve to liberate her captive limbs, she at length succeeded, bursting the cord by which she was fastened to the pillion, and tumbled in a heap to the ground, where, as if inspired by the genius of perseverance she again struggled hard and soon shook off every remnant of her hempen gyves; and in all the pride of high achievement and newly acquired freedom, ran with all her might through p. 98the town, brandishing her heels to right and left, whenever any person approached to impede her career, till through a long narrow lane she reached the mountains.  Here she seemed to defy her numerous pursuers, but after a long chase which lasted till dusk, she was surrounded, secured, and placed in her former situation behind our hero on the pillion.  At length he reached Graspacre Hall, and made his approach at the back of the house.  His stepfather assisted both him and his companion to alight, leading the latter to the stable, while Twm went to inform his master of his arrival, and the cause of his long delay.  A sudden terror arrested his steps awhile, he felt himself in a peculiar dilemma, out of which he would have been right glad to be delivered; but after his fit of apprehension had lasted a few minutes, he plucked up his courage and his breeches at the same time, exclaiming, “Well! he can’t kill me for it, a beating and a dismissal will be the worst of it:” and thus self-comforted he entered the house.

The squire at this time was seated at the head of the table, pushing about the bottle among his friends, principally formed of the neighbouring gentry.  In the course of the day he had sent several times to know whether Twm had arrived.  When little Pembroke at length went in to announce his return, he desired he should be immediately sent in, and Twm approached him with a burning cheek and an agitated heart.  He questioned the youngster in an under tone, asking if he had brought her, and where he had been so long; to which Twm replied “Yes sir, p. 99I have brought her, and much trouble I had with her, for she didn’t like to come, thinking perhaps you meant her foul play; and once she escaped off the pillion into the mountain.”  “The devil she did!” cried the squire, “but you caught her again?”  “Oh yes sir, after losing much time, I have brought her here at last, and she is now much tamer than at first.”  “A good lad Twm, a good lad, remind me to give you a guinea for this day’s work; but what have you done with her? where is she?”  “Why sir,” cried Twm, “I tied her up to the manger and locked the stable door, to prevent her escape.”  “Shame Twm, shame, you ought not to have done that, for she will think it was by my orders, and hate me perhaps for cruelty,” quoth the squire, thinking all the time that Cadwgan’s lass, and not his ass, was the subject of discussion.  “No sir,” replies Twm, “but it is likely though, that she will have an ill will towards me, as long as she lives, for it.”  “Well well,” said his master hastily, “take her from the stable into the housekeeper’s room, and tell Margery to comfort her and give her a glass of wine.”  This was too much for Twm, and the smothered laugh burst out in spite of his efforts; on which, his master, with a severe brow, asked how he dared to laugh in his presence.  “Indeed I could not help it,” cried Twm, “but I don’t think she ever drank a glass of wine in her life, and perhaps might not like it.”  “Why that’s true; then tell the butler to give out a bottle of the sweet home-made wines for her—let it be a bottle of the cowslip wine, and say that I am very sorry for the trouble and vexation p. 100she has had.”  “Yes sir,” cried Twm, who made his bow, and retired to the servant’s hall, where he made them acquainted with the squire’s freak of having Farmer Cadwgan’s ass brought there on a pillion behind him; and that it was his master’s orders that she was to be brought into the housekeeper’s room, and a glass of wine given to her, and that Margery was to make her comfortable.

They were all aware of their master’s occasional eccentricities, and that he was as absolute in demanding obedience to his wildest whims as to the most important matter in the world; and therefore, one and all, they assisted in bringing the ass from the stable, and with much trouble forcing her into the housekeeper’s room, where Glamorgan Margery spread a small carpet for her to lie down on, and amidst the side-aching laughter of the servants, offering her a glass of wine, which no persuasions could induce her to accept.

The squire had given orders that no person was to answer the bell the rest of the evening but Twm, and as it was now rang, in went our hero, when he was asked “How is she now?”  “Rather fatigued sir; she doesn’t like wine, nor would she touch a drop of it.”  “Well well,” said the squire, “if she likes ale better, let her have some, with a cold fowl, and something of the nicest in the house, though perhaps she would prefer a cup of tea to anything.  After she has taken the refreshment she choses, tell Margery to put her to bed, in the green chamber, then lock the door and bring me the key.”  p. 101Here Twm’s risible faculties were again oppressed to bursting, but a look from his master checked him.

Squire Graspacre now secretly anticipated the completion of his scheme, anxiously waiting for the departure of his guests, who by their noisy hilarity had long given notice that a very little more devotion to the bottle would lay them all under the table.  The wily squire however desisted, before he had passed the boundary of what topers call half and half, considering in the mean time, that his plan would best succeed by not appearing before Gwenny Cadwgan till midnight, when all his household would be asleep, and himself supposed to have retired to his room.

After some trouble, which was heightened by forced suppression of laughter, that, however, broke out in spite of them, the servants got the donkey up stairs, having previously fed her with bread, oaten cakes, and oats, on her rejection of ale, wine, fowl, and tea, which to their own great amusement they had successively offered in vain.  Having brought the poor animal into the green room, the best chamber in the house, and kept only for particular guests, they placed her on the fine handsome bed; the legs being already tied, they fastened them also to the bed posts.  Twm heightened the drollery of the scene by cutting two holes in a night cap, drawing through them the ass’s ears, and slitting it at the edge, he drew the cap down towards the eyes.  Thus secured and accoutred, they bade her good night, locked the door, and gave the key to their master.

p. 102The guests at length dispersing, they all rode off as well as their muddled heads would let them, to their respective homes; the squire, as was his custom, locked the door himself, and saw every light in the house out before he retired himself.  At length he gained his chamber, and all was still in Graspacre Hall.  The amorous squire, chuckling at his luck as he thought of the fair lass in the green chamber, grew too impatient to wait till the proposed hour of midnight, and leaving his candle on his own table, took off his shoes, and softly approached the casket, that he deemed contained his precious jewel.  Applying the key, he opened the door very gently, and cautiously approaching the side of the bed, said in a whisper towards the pillow, “Don’t be alarmed Gwenny, my dear, ’tis I, the squire; fear nothing my girl, this will be the making of your fortune my dear; and if you are as kind and loving as I could wish you to be, you may soon become the second Mrs. Graspacre.”  Hearing no reply, he considered that according to the old adage, silence gives consent, and proceeded to bend his face down to kiss the fair one, when a severe bounce inflicted by a toss of his incognita’s snout, knocked him backwards off the bed to the floor, and set his nose a-bleeding.  After recovering himself a little, though labouring under the delusion that the blow had been struck by the hand of a fair maiden, he exclaimed in an under tone, “You little vixen, how dare you treat me in this manner?”  Proceeding more roughly again towards the bed, he was completely horror-struck at the loud bray which the terrified ass p. 103sent forth; while the poor animal, after a hard struggle, liberating her limbs, struck him a severe blow on the forehead with her hoof, and getting off the bed, made a terrible clatter with her shod feet over the boards of the room.  The unfortunate squire, although hitherto a loud decrier of superstition, now felt a thrill of the utmost horror pervade him, while he deemed himself ensnared by the enemy of man, as the punishment of his guilty intentions; and after a clamorous outcry fell senseless on the floor.

The servants, having but concealed the lights, expecting some denouement of this sort, now rushed in, and saw their fallen master ghastly pale, with streams of perspiration running over his forehead, while his wildly-staring eyes alternately looked at and turned from the monster of alarm.  When he had sufficiently recovered to learn the real stand of the affair, from little Pembroke, who had been made Twm’s confidante in this matter—how that wight had brought the farmer’s ass according to his orders behind him on the pillion, although he had been in some doubt whether he had said Cadwgan’s ass, or Cadwgan’s lass, the squire’s rage was boundless.  Exasperated at the trick put upon him by a mere youngster, and a menial, and scarcely less provoked at the exposure he had made of himself before his servants, down he rushed into the hall, and snatched a heavy horse-whip, unlocked the door, and made his way towards our hero’s chamber over the lawndry; but when he reached the bed-side, prepared to inflict the severest punishment that the thong p. 104of a whip was capable of, how great was his mortification to find the bird flown! his chagrin and resentment were anything but lessened, when he took up a sheet of paper off the bed, on which in a large hand were written these pretty lines.

If from lass you take the letter L,
Then lass is ass if I have learnt to spell;
Yet ass and lass methinks are coupled ill,
Though human asses follow lasses still;
An ass were I too—one yclept a ninny—
If now I stay’d to claim my promised guinea.


Carmarthen Jack’s churlishness to Twm.  His mishap in consequence.  Squire Graspacre reforms his conduct.  Sends for his son and daughters home.  A delicate Devonshire lady, Twm’s satire on the cook.  Gives the young squire a thrashing, and runs away.  Visits Rhys and Cadwgan.  About to be married to Gwenny.  A dreadful adventure on the hills that ruins all his prospects.

Twm reached his mother’s at Tregaron about one o’clock in the morning, and alarmed her greatly by the account he gave of his flight from the squire’s, and the cause which led to it.  Jack made the best of the affair, in his own manner, by assuring his wife that her son had been the absolute ruin of both himself and her, unless they did their utmost to conciliate the squire by turning Twm adrift, and refusing him a temporary shelter.  While Jack beneath the bedclothes was grunting these suggestions of worldly wisdom, Catti, half-drest, was making up a bed for her son, who, the while, was sitting dejectedly in the chimney corner.  Having caught the p. 105drift of his father-in-law’s mutterings, he rose abruptly, snatched up his hat, and while striding towards the door, cried, “Good night mother.”  Alarmed at his precipitate movement, and the tone with which he spoke, “Where are you going Twm?” said Catti.  Turning round, while he held the door in his left hand, he replied, “Any where mother—the world is wide—and I’ll go headlong to the devil rather than stay here, when I am not welcome.”  With that he closed the door, and was in a moment out of sight, notwithstanding the cries and entreaties of his mother, who ran after, and earnestly sought to bring him back.

Catti, with a bitter consciousness, now found that her son had a stepfather, and she a husband, who was a rude and churlish tyrant.  The severity of this reflection preyed heavily on her mind; nor could she be persuaded to go to bed again, but sitting at the fireless hearth she loudly wept and lamented her hard fate.  To give him his due, Jack was far from being regardless of her sorrow, but shewed the tenderness of a husband in comforting her, in the manner most natural to himself.  “What signifies crying for such an imp of the devil as that,” said this kind stepfather, “if he starves in the field by being out to-night, it will save him from dying at the gallows, where he would be sure to come some day or other.”  This tender-hearted speech had the unexpected effect of immediately curing Catti’s grief, which turned to a desperate fit of rage, and without a word to signify the transition wrought by his oratory, she snatched up a stout p. 106broom-stick from the floor, and be-laboured him with all her strength, as he lay beneath the bedclothes, till he roared like a baited bull: had she taken a wager for thrashing a given quantity of corn in a certain number of minutes, she could not have laid on her blows more briskly or vigorously.  When the strength of her arms failed, the energy of her tongue commenced, and after rating him soundly, she concluded her harangue with eloquent pithiness, hoping that she had left him a shirtful of broken bones; after which exertion she thought proper to disappear.

Jack although he received some hard blows, by dodging under the bedclothes, escaped better than his help-mate intended he should; he soon rose, dressed himself, and went to his master’s, sauntering sullenly about the outhouses till daylight, when a servant informed him, after narrating Twm’s trick on his master, that he was to take Cadwgan’s ass home.

Squire Graspacre, since the death of his wife, gave such free range to his licentious pleasures, as placed him, especially at his years, in a most unseemly light.  His only son had been two years at Oxford, returning only occasionally during vacations; while his two daughters, on the death of their mother, were sent to a boarding school at Exeter.  Thus in his own family he had no witnesses of his vices and follies.  He soon found, however, that in Wales, his offences against religion and morality were not to be committed with impunity.  The respect in which he was formerly held by the country people gradually declined, while those who had daughters p. 107became extremely shy, and sent their female inmates out of the way whenever he approached.  Never deficient in penetration, he was not long in discovering this change in the bearings of his tenants and neighbours, which to a mind like his, proud, fond of domineering, and being looked up to as the superior—the grand central luminary of his sphere, round which all others moved as silent and respectful satellites—was a very hell.  The minds of men, however, his knowledge of mankind told him, were not to be over-ruled, and with a wisdom rare as effective, he immediately resolved, as the only mode of re-establishing his credit and happiness, to retrace his steps—to which end he sent for his daughters home, at a time when his son was about to return from Oxford—and thus, by the presence of his children, place a restrictive guard upon his future conduct.  With this change in his ideas, it will be no wonder that Twm Shôn Catti was again taken into favor, and replaced in his former situation.

At length the merry bells of Tregaron announced the arrival of the heir, and the young ladies of Graspacre Hall, which mansion soon became a scene of festivity.  The meeting of the squire with his daughters was ardently affectionate; but his son Marmaduke had nothing of cordiality in his nature.  His figure was tall and spare, with loose joints and ill-knit bones, while his countenance indicated both phlegm and a fidgetty, nervous peevishness.  A curious eye might also discover in it decisive marks of late hours and dissipated habits.  Proud, rash, and p. 108self-sufficient, his dislike of Wales and Welshmen surpassed his father’s partiality for them.  He condescended, however, to say, that until he could get a clever English servant, in the place of the last, who ran away from him, he must put up with one of the Welsh savages.  Accordingly, our hero was appointed to be his temporary valet, and ordered to attend exclusively on the young squire.

With the ladies came their aunt, the squire’s younger sister, a very affected fantastical spinster from Exeter; who gave every fashion its full Devonshire latitude in her conformation to it, carrying the mode to an extreme that left London absurdity far in the back ground.  The Misses Graspacre were neither imitators nor very ardent admirers of their aunt, whose silly affectation of excessive delicacy became their standing point of ridicule, which they put in practice on the very evening of their arrival.  The hearty girls wanted something substantial for their supper, after travelling their long journey; but their aunt intimated her desire to have something that would be light on he stomach: but great was her dismay on finding a duck and green pease brought to the table.  She resolved however, even on this fare, to shew her superior Devonshire breeding; and while the young ladies lifted their pease from their plates to their mouths in half-dozens or more at a time, she, delicate soul, cut every pea in four, and swallowed a quarter at a time!  This display of refinement excited stares of wonder from the squire and some of his friends, whom he had invited on p. 109the occasion, but in her nieces, nothing but smothered laughter.

Another circumstance of note happened at this supper, which, as it relates to our hero, must be here told.  It seems that during Twm’s disgrace, and consequent absence from the hall, the servants there indulged themselves and one another in making remarks on his conduct, and its probable consequence.  This discussion displayed their various dispositions; some spoke of him with charity, and dwelt upon his rare qualities of good nature and cheerfulness; while others took a malignant pleasure in speaking of his satirical and mischievous propensities.  Among the latter was the cook.  Twm, on his return, heard of her kindness, and determined to take the first opportunity of shewing his sense of the obligations she had laid him under.  On the removal of the remains of the duck and its accompaniments, the company having just been helped round with tart or pie, their attention was suddenly arrested by the voice of Twm, in the passage, who loudly sung the following distich.

“Apple pie is very rich,
   And so is venison pasty,
Our cook has got the itch,
   And that is very nasty.”

Ye gods! what sounds for ears polite!  The young ladies laughed immoderately on perceiving the distress of their aunt, who shewed a wry-faced consciousness of having partaken of food prepared by unclean hands; her countenance underwent various contortions, which terminated in the grand climax of a shriek and a p. 110fit.  The squire’s anger was instantly kindled against Twm, probably from an unquenched spark of his former resentment, which he evinced by telling his son to “give that rascal a good thrashing.”  Proud of the commission, out ran Marmaduke, and finding Twm in the hall, ran up and struck him a blow in the face, but great was the amazement of the servants to see the young man turn upon him like a lion, and with the most dexterous management of his fists overpowering their young master in an instant, whom he left groaning with pain, and covered with bruises, and then made a precipitate retreat.

While walking to Tregaron, it occurred to Twm, that for that night at least, he might be favored with a lodging by his constant friend, Rhys the curate.  Thither he went, and found the worthy man by his parlour fire, with a book in his hand, and papers before him, busily employed in preparing for the press a new edition of his Welsh Grammar.  He was received by him with his usual kindness; and when Twm had told him his tale, with the important addition that he must leave his native place for ever, and immediately, he shewed the goodness of his heart by assuring him of a retreat for the present, and a little pecuniary aid on his departure.  He however gave him a friendly lecture on the impropriety of his conduct; observing, that if he must be satirical, he ought to choose the subjects for his lash from the infamous among the great and wealthy, and not the puny and defenceless, to attack whom, he said, evinced a paltry and most dastardly spirit; concluding with the pithy p. 111injunction, “while you live, whatever your state while on earth, act the generous and manly part; and never, never, either manually or with the lash of satire, war with the weak.”  These words were never forgotten by Twm, and however reprehensible his erratic courses in after life, they were much less so from his reception of this noble sentiment, which became his standing rule of conduct.  Had it been Twm’s lot to have lived in a loftier sphere and in the days of chivalry, he would doubtless have had inscribed on his shield those words so deeply written on his memory “War not with the weak.”  Our hero was heartily pleased with his preceptor, inasmuch, that amidst all its observations and lectures he imputed to him but slight blame for his retaliation on young Graspacre; but when he vowed further vengeance, should he ever meet him alone in the mountains, remonstrated with him on the risk he ran, urged the necessity of self-preservation, and advised him not to endanger himself needlessly.

The next morning Rhys assured Twm that he had reflected on the peculiarity of his case, and found it by no means so bad as he had imagined.  “As to leaving this place,” said he “I see no necessity; merely keep out of the way awhile, and in due time make your submissions to the squire, and as he is by no means a hard man, I have no doubt but all will speedily be well again.”  Twm in a manner adopted this idea, though he ill stomached the thought of submission, or asking pardon for an act of manliness which he would on a similar case of aggravation p. 112repeat.  Thus matters rested for the present; and in the dusk of evening he crossed the hills towards Cadwgan’s, and soon had the grateful satisfaction of seeing once more his beauteous mistress, sitting by her father before a cheerful fire.  Her mild kind face was unusually pale, but brightened on his approach, and when he related his new mishap, and that he thought of immediately quitting the country in consequence, her cheek assumed an ashy paleness, and she nearly fainted in her father’s arms.  Cadwgan dissuaded him from the thought of quitting his native place for such a trifle, and advised him by all means to follow up the worthy curate’s suggestion; and when the fair Gwenny repeated her father’s wishes as her own, Twm at once acquiesced, and resolved not to quit.

Cadwgan daily witnessed the affection of the young pair, and at length thus addressed the young man.  “You are a brave and generous lad; you love my daughter—”  “In my heart and soul I do,” said he, enthusiastically interrupting him; “And I am sure my Gwenny is not behind hand with you in affection: are you my girl?”  Poor Gwenny blushed deeply, then shed tears, and sobbed heavily, in the midst of which, she gave her hand to her lover, which he pressed, shed tears upon, and kissed ardently.  Cadwgan continued “And therefore my boy, as nobody deserves her so well, you shall have her before the best in the county; and you know how many sweethearts she has refused for you.”  Twm grasped his hand in silence, and before an hour had expired since the commencement of this p. 113discourse, the wedding day became the subject of discussion, but which could not be fixed until Twm had made his peace with the squire.  Thus time passed on pleasantly, for some days, when our hero, who was constitutionally formed for active life, felt the effect of being immured day and night within doors, and said he longed exceedingly for a day’s coursing on the neighbouring mountains.  Cadwgan remarked that as the squire had shown no desire to seek or pursue him, as he had heard at Tregaron, he conceived there would be no danger; and in accordance with his opinion, he lent him his dog and gun, both great favorites, and never before entrusted to any one breathing.  He advised him to confine his excursion to a certain remote hill called Twyn Du (Black hill) which being rugged of ascent and marshy, seldom invited the steps of the sons of pleasure in the character of sportsmen.

Thus with dog and gun, and accoutred with a shot-belt, our hero felt himself another and superior being to what he had ever been before, especially as Gwenny assured him that the sportsman’s paraphernalia became him exceedingly.  Flattered with the joint encomiums of the father and daughter, and with a consciousness that they were not without good foundation, in full health and high spirits, with an eye sparkling with happiness, he shook Cadwgan’s hand, kissed the lips of his fair mistress, and gallantly sallied forth; having gone a few yards, he turned his face back to assure them, as they looked anxiously after him, that he should soon return, and well loaded with game.

p. 114While the buoyancy of youth uplifted his gay heart, and dazzled his perception with bright dreams of the future, little thought he of the sorrows so soon to overtake him, or that the sombre hill of Twyn Du was to colour with its gloom the closing scene of his innocent hopes, and form the most important epoch of his life.

Twm had been on Twyn Du about an hour and a half, and in that time had killed several birds, when the report of his gun attracted others to the spot.  He could see several persons on the hill contiguous, and one well mounted, descending into the deep dingle, that, like a gulf, yawned between the two hills, and making his way up the steep side of Twyn Du.  He now felt a presentiment that this visit portended him no good, but scorning an ignominious flight, he carelessly paced the brow of the hill till the sportsman approached, when, to his great amazement, who should present himself before him but his inveterate foe, Marmaduke Graspacre.  He approached Twm with the fury of a demoniac, asking how he dared fire a gun on those grounds, and after a few harsh words of abuse, which our hero returned with interest, he took an aim at Cadwgan’s pointer, and instantly shot him on the spot.

Aware of the regard in which Cadwgan held his excellent dog, this outrage drove Twm furious, and he was further aggravated by the young squire’s demanding his gun and laughing the while at his distress and rage.  The youth was not formed of stuff so tame as to endure his insolent triumph; snatching up his loaded gun with p. 115desperate rapidity, he in a moment lodged the contents in the head of the squire’s fine hunter, on which his enemy sat taunting him.  No sooner had Marmaduke reached the ground, disengaged himself from the fallen horse, and stood up, than Twm flew at him, and disregarding his threats, with his dexterous fists inflicted the most perfect chastisement; leaving him in a far worse predicament than after their first encounter.

By this time the men who attended the young squire, hearing the report of the guns, and fearing that their young master had fallen in with poachers, made the best of their way down across the dingle, and up the sides of Twyn Du.

Roused by their shouts, he left his vanquished foe groaning on the ground by the side of the dead hunter, and darting down the opposite side he made a safe retreat.


A hue and cry after Twm.  He conceals himself in a wood.  Ventures to Cadwgan’s house and is kindly received.  Sought there by Parson Evans.  Escapes, disguised as a woman.  Affectionate parting with Cadwgan and his daughter.

No sooner was Marmaduke Graspacre taken home, and the affair made known by him to his father, with some little exaggeration against the assailant, such as the trifling mis-statement that the blows inflicted on him were by the butt end of the fowling-piece, instead of the fist, than the p. 116squire’s indignation was roused.  “As this is not his first offence, and my forbearance has encouraged his atrocious conduct, I am now determined to make an example of him,” said he, and immediately sent a servant for Parson Evans, who, in his capacity of magistrate, was ordered to take cognizance of the affair, and send constables in all directions to arrest the culprit.  This was an office that well accorded with the feelings of this malignant man, and well pleased was he to set the myrmidons of justice abroad to hunt an unfortunate young man, whom he hated for the trifling offences of youth, that at a distant period, it seems, stung his consequence.  The hue and cry instantly was raised and spread abroad, and excited as great a commotion throughout the country, as if a convicted murderer was chased through the land.  All Twm’s known haunts were searched, especially his mother’s and Farmer Cadwgan’s; in each of which places there was heaviness and wailing for his misfortunes; and Parson Evans, who went there in person, took care to assure them, that when caught, all the world could not save him from the gallows, as he had attempted to murder the young squire of Graspacre Hall.  But with all the vigilance of his enemies, Twm’s retreat remained undiscovered, and those who were friendly disposed towards him, began to wonder among themselves what could have become of him.  Some thought that in a fit of despondency he had drowned himself, and others that he had escaped into the neighbouring counties of Pembroke, Carmarthen, or Brecon, or shipped himself p. 117in some vessel at Aberaeron or Aberystwyth, and got off in safety.  The constables, however, had visited each of these places, and at length, like heavy war-ships that vainly chaced a smart privateer, returned without any further intelligence than that their journey had been in vain.

While the search had been most hot, our hero had concealed himself in a small patch of marshy underwood, a spot on which the keen eye of suspicion had never glanced, his pursuers having passed the edge of it several times, without a thought occurring of seeking him there.  In this retreat he fed himself on nuts and blackberries, and in the night roved about for recreation, but returned to his green-wood shelter before daylight.  This continued four days, when exceedingly tired of his solitude, he one midnight ventured to Cadwgan’s door, and both surprised and gratified the kind farmer and his kinder daughter, when they heard the lost one’s voice once more.  They rose and let him in immediately, made a fire, gave every necessary refreshment, and then persuaded him to go to bed.

Twm remained hidden here a week, when suspicion fixed upon Cadwgan’s house, although searched before, as the probable place of his concealment.  One day, Gwenny, in a fright ran in to tell her father to conceal Twm immediately, as the constables, headed by Parson Evans were coming.  Twm started up and said, “Bolt the door for ten minutes, and I shall be safe.”  Gwenny said they could not be there in that time, as they were then descending the opposite side of the Cwm, which was three long fields off, p. 118and they approached slowly, with fox-like cunning, so as to excite no suspicion of their purpose.  With that, at Twm’s request, they both went up stairs with him, for a purpose he was there to explain to them, as neither of them could conceive in what manner he was going to preserve himself.  They all remained above, till the loud summons of authority, in the raven voice of old Evans, brought Cadwgan down, when the cleric magistrate told him, in no gentle terms, that there was a suspicion attached to his house, as the place where the young villain, Twm Shôn Catti was concealed.  The farmer replied, “I must say this is very hard usage, as I have nobody with me but my daughter and my eldest sister, who has come on a few week’s visit.  But as you are come, you may search and welcome.”  After a brief scrutiny below, they all went up stairs, where sat, busily employed at their needles, the fair Gwenny Cadwgan and the ingenious Twm Shôn Catti, excellently disguised in the dress of Cadwgan’s late wife, which, having been the property of a tall woman, fitted him very well; his face was slightly coloured with the juice of blackberries; beneath his chin was pinned a dowdyish cap, which, in the scant light of a small window, by the aid of a pair of spectacles he appeared a complete old granny.  On the entrance of these amiable visitors, he turned his full spectacled face on Parson Evans, muttering in the tone of an old woman, which he mimicked well “lack a day! lack a day! this is sad usage,” then whispered Gwenny, who took his hint, and while they were searching, p. 119laid some hog’s-lard on different part of the stairs, so that on their descent the precious party, with their rascally leader, fell headlong down from top to bottom, to the great amusement of those above.  On being charged of this contrivance, each denied all knowledge of it, and the quick-witted Gwenny, accounted for the cause of their accident by saying they had been carrying butter and lard to the store, up stairs, the whole morning.

They were no sooner gone than Twm assured Cadwgan, that he saw there was no safety for him, except in flight, which must take place that very night.  His plan, he said, was matured, that he had no fear but he should do well, and that his only regret was in parting with them.  He purposed, he said, to make his way towards Carmarthenshire, or perhaps further, and seek employment among the farmers; or what was more agreeable to him, he might, perhaps, get to some village, where he might set up a school: so that after saving a sum of money, to begin life with, he might return, and make Gwenny his wife.  With tearful eyes Cadwgan expressed his admiration of this plan, while poor Gwenny wept herself almost into fits, at the thought of his perils, and sudden departure.  “At any rate, my boy, thou shalt not go pennyless to wander the wide world,” said Cadwgan, and put an old pocket book containing three guineas and near twenty shillings in silver, which Twm reluctantly took, promising its return doubly, when fortune favored him.  “I have two favors more to ask,” said he, “the first is, that you will make the best of my affair when you tell my poor mother and p. 120the worthy Mr. Rhys of my flight, and my future plans in life; and my next request is, that you will give me this old woman’s dress, with the red cloak belonging to it, as it will answer for a disguise, should I be troubled before I get far enough off.”  Cadwgan kindly acquiesced, though he smiled at the latter whimsical fancy.  At length, thus attired, to avoid observation, with his own clothes in a bundle, he took an affectionate and affecting leave of them, and made a hasty departure from their friendly door.


Twm ventures to Tregaron in the night.  Frightens Wat the mole-catcher.  In danger of being betrayed by him.  Outwits Wat, Parson Evans, and his wife.  Escapes, with the Parson’s horse, great coat, and money.

It was a dull heavy night, in which fog and darkness contended for precedence, and the moon gleamed dimly as if about to retire altogether, when Twm Shôn Catti shaped his course over the mountain, in the direction which led to Lampeter: he looked instinctively towards his dear native town, which a fashionable tourist would perhaps have called the most wretched village in the universe; but to him it was full of sweet associations, and recollections the most agreeable, the scene of his childhood, the home of his mother;

Dear to all their natal spot,
Although twere Nature’s foulest blot.

He stopped, and looked wistfully towards Tregaron; the lights were glistening in their various p. 121humble casements, and he fancied that among them all, he could distinguish his mother’s—his kind fond mother, whom perhaps he was never to see again—and now he recollected many instances of her tenderness, which had long slumbered in his recollection.  His eyes filled with tears, and the softness of his heart was put at once into mournful harmony, from thus accidentally touching its first string, thrilled by reminiscences of maternal tenderness.  He sat on a stone and gave his excited feelings full vent, till at length his heart-pangs subsided to a calm and sensitive melancholy.  A sudden thought, no less eccentric than daring, now took him, that thus disguised, he might safely pass through Tregaron, and perhaps see his mother before his departure.  This idea was no sooner started than acted upon; and before an hour had expired, he found himself once more in the long, and almost only street in Tregaron.  His mother’s door was closed for the night, and he durst not call to her, as Jack was not to be trusted.  He moved on, looking earnestly to every door, but saw no signs of people being up, any where; the whole street seemed still as death, except that various snores here and there, reminded Twm of the sweet sleep enjoyed by others, though denied to him.  He sauntered slowly along, meditating on the circumstances that made him alone a watcher, till opposite to the cottage of his old companion and elder brother in mischief, Wat the mole-catcher.  Wat had long lived with a widowed mother, who had recently died, and now sojourned alone in her p. 122solitary hut; it was even reported that he had forsaken all his wicked merry ways, grown serious, and was consequently likely to do well.  It occurred to Twm that he had often heard Wat deny the existence of ghosts and hob-goblings, to the great horror of the elect, who considered such a declaration scarcely less impious than the denial of his creed; and vaunt that nothing of that description could in the least frighten him: and now, thought he, I’ll put his courage to the trial.  Peeping through the casement, he saw Wat in bed, at the further end of the cottage, and the fire burning through the peat heaped up to preserve it for the night, so that the white walls within were brightened by the gleams cast on them from the hearth.  Such a wonder as a lock, or even a bolt, Twm knew was rarely to be found in Tregaron, and therefore softly lifting the latch, he opened the door, entered, and walking quietly towards the hearth, sat on a three-legged stool, took up the old snoutless bellows, and blew the fire with all his might.  Wat awoke in extreme terror, and seeing the figure of a tall woman in the chimney corner, deeming it no other than his mother’s spirit, his fright increased, trembling and almost dissolved in perspiration, he at last burst out into a roar of “Lord have mercy on me! oh mother’s dear spirit pity me!”  Twm laughed out and ran to his bed-side to stop his roaring cries, exclaiming, “Silence man, ’tis I, Twm, your old friend Twm Shôn Catti.”

Convinced, at length, of his identity, and having heard of our hero’s story, he said, “Twere better you were at the bottom of a river p. 123Twm, than here, for I have been compelled by Parson Evans to make oath that if you came here I would immediately either send or run myself to inform him of your arrival, and I can’t break an oath, Twm, for any body.”  “I did not think,” said our hero, coolly, “that you, who have broken so many laws, would scruple much, about breaking a forced oath; but old companionship pleads weakly opposed to the reward that will be given for my apprehension; and I thought, though the whole town might turn against me, that you Wat, would have been my friend, for you have led me into many troubles, and I never laid a jot of blame to your charge, but took all to myself, and have often suffered on your account.”

Wat, who by this time, had nearly dressed himself, was affected by this appeal, and said, “No Twm, I will never betray you, but if I was known in the least to favor you, it would ruin all my hopes of success in life.  I am next week to be married to Bessy Gwevel-hîr, Parson Evans’s maid, that I have courted these ten years; and the Parson has promised to do great things at the bidding: and more than that, I am to be parish clerk and grave-digger, when old Morgan Meredith dies, and he can’t live long, as I have made him a present of a good churchyard cough by breaking a hole in the thatch right over his bed, by which he has gained a great hoarseness, and nearly lost his voice; so that I expect to be called in to officiate for him next Sunday.”  “I see you are still my friend,” said Twm, who had been lost in a reverie during part of Wat’s p. 124remarks, “and I give you joy of your fair prospects, which I would not destroy on any account; you shall serve me, and at the same time keep your oath.  You know my talent at mimickry, and see how well this dress becomes me; aye, I become the dress equally as you shall see.  Had I not already disclosed myself, I could have discoursed to you a whole hour at mid-day, fearless of a discovery, but let us see how this cloak becomes you Wat.”  With that he took off the cloak, and put it on Wat, and after a little jesting on the subject, Twm suddenly exclaimed, “Only sit down here with the cloak on your shoulders for ten minutes, while I step out, and with the assistance of my bundle I will astonish you with my transformation.”

All this was uttered with the gay rapidity of an anticipated freak, and Wat being taken by surprise, immediately acquiesced, without knowing what he was about.  Twm ran immediately to the Rectory House, and making a great clatter, roused Parson Evans, who opened the window and asked what was the matter; when, assuming Wat’s voice, he said hastily “Mister Evans!  Mister Evans! make haste, Twm Shôn Catti is now in my cottage, dressed in a cloak, and sitting at the fire.”

Delighted with this intelligence, Evans wakened the whole house, especially two strapping fellows whom he called his bull-dogs, sometimes employing them as husbandry servants, and at others, on account of their large size and muscular power, as constables.  Both these fellows were first sent to saddle his horse, in case he p. 125should have to take Twm to Cardigan gaol, and then to attend him to Wat’s cottage, where the trio soon went.  Peeping through the casement, Evans discerned a tall figure wrapped in a cloak, as described.  “There he is sure enough,” quoth he, in a whisper, “now get your cords ready for binding his hands, and stay here till I call you in; be sure that you watch the door well.”  With that he lifted the latch and went in.  Wat, who in the interim of our hero’s absence, had made up a good fire now stood up, and as he saw the clerical magistrate before him exclaimed, with a hearty laugh, “Well done Twm, my boy!  I now give you credit; well, well, well, this is indeed strange, a wonderful disguise? you look the old rascal to the life: if you had not told me before-hand of your intended transformation, I could have sworn you were old Evans himself; you look now just as he did when he promised to make me parish clerk.”  Evans remained dumb with astonishment till the last words, when he replied, “Parish devil! you infernal scoundrel, have you roused me out of my bed at midnight to hoax and insult me? but you shall dearly repent your insolence.”  Wat stared with wonder, and replied, “Well, well well!  I did never hear such a thing in my life, you have just the old villain’s voice and swaggering way, I wish I may die, if you don’t frighten me, and I could almost swear the spiteful old Evans stood himself before me; hang him, I hate his very looks, and I am only holding the candle to the devil, in hopes of the parish clerkship, by seeming so civil to him.”  Evans thought him p. 126certainly either mad or drunk; and without any further explanation he called the two men in, and ordered them to secure him.  The light at length broke on Wat’s mind; Twm’s trick on him, and the real state of the case appeared: and he struggled hard before the fellows could secure him.  At length he cleared up his confused and chagrined countenance, and said in an undaunted tone, “Well, well, well, I see the worst, farewell to mole-catching, farewell to parish-clerkship, and Bessy Gwevel-hîr; and you, you evil-minded old scourge, may bid farewell to all hopes of having me to father your brat, of which your maid Bessy is big, I’ll make the country ring with the stories of your rascalities, if you dare to send me to the round-house; but if you liberate me at once, I shall leave Tregaron forever in the course of a few days, and go abroad to see the world and seek my fortune.”

To the great surprise of the men, and perhaps of Wat himself, Evans seemed awed by his threats, and after a little shew of parleying, gave him that freedom of which he had no legal right to deprive him.  Leaving him alone in his cottage, he shuffled home, accompanied by his worthy followers.

While Wat’s cottage became the theatre of the above-described scene, Twm Shôn Catti had a performance of his own elsewhere—a dance if you will—to which the same reverend gentleman was doomed to pay the piper.  Having watched the party to Wat’s door, Twm hastened to the parson’s, calling loudly, in the assumed p. 127voice of one of the fellows who accompanied him, “Mistress Evans!  Mistress Evans! make haste, make haste, and send master his pocket-book with his money, immediately; Twm Shôn Catti is taken, and we are going off with him to Cardigan gaol.”  Mrs. Evans sleeping in a front room, heard him instantly, and with unusual alacrity jumping out of bed, she soon threw down the pocket-book, which was caught by Twm, and asked him, “Doesn’t he want his weather-proof great coat also?”  Our hero replied “Yes, but dear me I did forget that,” and immediately received the great coat also, Mrs. Evans wishing them safe home from Cardigan, shut the window.  The saddled horse was already at the gate, and Twm, well coated and cashed, instantly mounted and rode off, glorying in his triumph over his old rancorous enemy.


Twm’s remorse and terror on the perpetration of his first crime.  Determined to make restitution of the stolen property.  Stopped by a highwayman and robbed.  His reflections.  Robbed again by a gypsy and ballad-singer, at Aberayron.  Determined to sing ballads at Cardigan fair.

Twm took a circuitous route over the mountains towards Lampeter, and when he felt himself secure from pursuit, his first thought was to change his feminine attire for his own, as more convenient for riding, which was soon accomplished, and the suits changed places in the bundle.  In his ignorance of the world, he scarce knew where to direct his course after reaching p. 128Lampeter, where he arrived between one and two o’clock in the morning.  He recollected that this was a central place, from which different roads led to Aberystwyth, Llandovery, Carmarthen, Aberayron, and Cardigan; but found a difficulty in deciding which way to take.  It suddenly occurred to him that there was to be a fair at Cardigan the next day, and he determined to go there to sell the parson’s horse.  The whole town being wrapped in slumbers, he was now at a stand, not knowing the road which led through Aberayron to Cardigan, but rousing a cottager, he soon gained the necessary information and proceeded on.

The distant roaring of the sea gave him notice of his approach to Aberayron, and the awful sound struck an indescribable dread into his mind, that seemed unaccountable.  Severe self-accusing reflections on the atrocity of his last act, succeeded the triumphs of enmity that had at first given a gust to its perpetration: consciousness of gilt and terror of punishment at once assailed him, for he was yet young in crime.  To give immediate ease to the agony of his mind, he determined on dismounting and leaving the parson’s horse behind, and to return him, by the first opportunity, his coat and money.

While these first, and consequently bitter, agitations of remorse and terror were racking his breast, the clatter of a distant galloping horse increased his terrors; and the day beginning to break he discerned both horse and rider, and making briskly towards him.  Strange as it may appear, notwithstanding the opposite quarter p. 129from whence the danger proceeded, in the wildness of his apprehensions he conceived it could be no other than Squire Graspacre, Parson Evans, and their party.  He was actually glad when made to understand that the horseman was a highwayman.  When the desperado approached within a few yards, he stopped his horse, levelled a pistol, and commanded him, with a tremendous oath, to surrender his money to “Dio the devil!” [129] or take his death at once.

The name of this terrific freebooter, who had among many other descriptions of persons, robbed half the farmers in the country, and was supposed to have committed more than one murder, had its full effect on Twm.  He instantly resigned the Parson’s purse, assuring him it was all he possessed, and begged that he would allow him to retain one guinea; these terms the robber in a manner, acceded to, giving him two guineas, but in return, insisting on having his horse and great coat, which Twm gave up.  Dio the devil, then insolently bade him good morning, rode off towards Lampeter, holding the parson’s horse by the bridle.

No sooner had the highwayman disappeared, than Twm was struck with a full conviction of the folly of the fears he had entertained, which, by depressing his mind, he thought, led to confusedly yielding his property too easily: vowing to himself, after some reflection, that if possessed of a pair of pistols, no highwayman in the world should make him stand.  His thoughts taking their course through this channel, wandered p. 130and diverged, till his mind rested on new, but perilous prospects.  “What a life,” thought he, “this Dio the devil leads—a gentleman of the road—the terror of wealthy scoundrels, who are themselves the terror of the hapless poor that are starved into crime—famed, feared, and maintained at the general cost, while many an honest fool toils like the galled drudge-horse, crawls through the world half starved, and is despised for his meanness.”  Thus he pondered and soliloquised, and after being silent for a while, he continued “Let others do as they please, but for me, I have no taste for buffetings or drudgery, and had I but a good horse and pistols—”  At this moment a countryman was about to pass him on the road, in whose hand he recognized his bundle, containing his feminine attire, which in his terror he had dropped, and it rolled from the side of the road, it seems, into the ditch, previous to the halt of the highwayman.  Twm immediately claimed his property, but the fellow seemed but little disposed to attend to him, until vehemently insisting on his right, he evinced an inclination to battle with him; when satisfied with this very convincing sort of logic, the clown made restitution.

With his mind full of pistols and highwaymen, he trudged on at a slow ruminating pace, till he reached a humble public house at Aberayron.  This lowly tavern he found so full that he could scarcely get a seat.  With the exception of two or three fishermen and other sea-farers, these were people who made a temporary halt on their way to Cardigan fair, low booth-keepers, p. 131fruit and gingerbread sellers, and such like.  Twm called for beer and refreshment, and while eating, observed the habits of these strange people with much curiosity.  He had contrived to squeeze himself into a window seat between two females who sat apart and civilly made room for him, and pressed his acceptance of the place.  This act of good-breeding won upon him amazingly, and he could not help contrasting their politeness with the rude indifference of the rest of the party; nor was his opinion of them changed when one turned out to be a fortune-telling gypsy, and the other a ballad singer.  He could not do less he thought than ask them both to partake of his cup, and they felt themselves bound in honor, in their great devotion to his health, to return it empty each time he handed it to them full.  Such gallantry on one hand, and confidence and affability on the other, begot a sudden friendship between them; the gypsy insisting upon telling his fortune gratis, and the ballad singer on his acceptance of two or three favorite songs, while our hero, not to be behind-hand in disinterested kindness, insisted that they would continue to partake of his cup.

While Twm was busily employed in looking over the bundle of ballads, among which he met many old friends, which he had frequently sung, one of the friendly nymphs was beckoned to, by a man at the opposite end of the kitchen, with whom she went out, and the gypsy soon followed them.

Our hero having selected the songs that pleased him, waited impatiently for the return of the damsels.  p. 132Having waited about an hour and a half, by which time all the fair people had dropped off, he discovered some symptoms of surprise, and asked the landlord if he knew what had become of the young women.  He said he did not know, but that the whole party had paid him and gone off, and that he had no further business with them.  Twm thought the ballad singer a singular good natured young woman, as she had left her bundle of melody with him, doubtless as a present, and merely taken herself away thus modestly, instead of ostentatiously proclaiming her gift, and receiving his thanks.  Putting his hand into his pocket to settle his account, he was confounded on finding his two guineas gone; his terror, agony, and confusion was manifested to the landlord, by his sudden change of manner and appearance, who declared that his face was turned as white as the wall.  Having searched every pocket over and over, at length the doleful tale came out that he had lost his money, and could not tell how.  “Why as to that,” said the landlord with cool bitterness, “if it is any satisfaction to know how you lost your money, I can tell you; it was by sitting between two thieves—a gypsy and a ballad singer, and what could you expect else from mixing with such cattle?”  Poor Twm remained silent in a miserable mood, with his elbows resting on the table, and his temples in the palms of his hands for a full half hour, when the landlord disturbed his meditations by asking payment for his fare; good-naturedly adding, “If you have no money, I don’t wish to be hard with you, you can merely p. 133leave your jacket with me instead.”  “My jacket!” quoth he indignantly, “why, that is ten times the value of what I owe you.”  “May be so, but if you can’t pay you must leave it, and be thankful that I condescend to take it instead of cash;” replied the old gruffy.  The fishermen in the mean time passed on him their rough jokes, one observing “You can sing ballads without a jacket, so I advise you to go on to the fair at Cardigan, where you may perhaps meet your old friends.”  This advice, given in ridicule, Twm at once determined to take in earnest, and literally sing the ballads so as to turn them into money.  So without more ado he took off his jacket and gave it to his host, muttering a curse on his cruelty, and commenced his journey to Cardigan.  The dress of Cadwgan’s wife was again put on, not only as a fit disguise for his minstrel vocation, but as a more perfect guard against the weather than his own, since deprived of his upper garment; and in this garb, very low in spirits, and with no cheering prospects before him, he trod the miry road towards the county town.


Twm, disguised as a woman, sings ballads at Cardigan fair.  Is alarmed on seeing an unexpected person.  Takes a sudden departure from thence.

Twm at length reached the end of his dreary journey, the latter part of which was rendered more cheerful from having fallen into company with a party of drovers, who gallantly treated p. 134the apparent fair one with bread and cheese and ale.  Thus he entered Cardigan in comparative good spirits, and prepared to commence his whimsical new vocation.  Although naturally bold, and more full of confidence than beseemed the modesty of youth, it was not without considerable efforts in struggling with some remains of diffidence that he at length ventured to sing in the public street; but the beer which he had drank was strong, and his voice he knew was almost unequalled in the county of Cardigan; and with this persuasion he thought it foolish to hesitate.  He fixed himself in rather an obscure part of the fair, but his musical voice and humorous execution of a comic song soon drew a crowd about him, and put his ballads in speedy request.

According to the general custom with street melodists, he introduced each song with a whimsical argument of its matter, in a strain of drollery that set the grinning rustics in high glee: “Here my merry men and maidens,” quoth he, “is a pretty song about a young damsel, who was taken in by a false lover, that courted her only for what he could get, and having wheedled her out of her heart and money, then ran away and left her to wear the willow.”



In comfort and in credit
   By the side of Pen-y-vole
I liv’d;—all knew and said it,
   None could my will controul;
p. 135Until a worthless lover
   Did try my heart to move,
Ah soon my joys were over,
   I listened to his love.


From far he travell’d to me,
   Full many and many a night,
I thought he came to woo me,
   My heart was all delight:
My cash he thought of gaining,
   It was not me he sought,
E’er moaning and complaining
   For clothes—and clothes I bought.


A pair of shoes I placed him
   Between his soles and ground,
With stockings then I graced him,
   With hat his head I crown’d;
Red garters then I bought him,
   At fair the best I saw,
To bind his hose, od rot him!
   Instead of bands of straw.


I bought him leather breeches
   Strong as a barley sack,
And laid out half my riches
   To clothe the beggar’s back:
I gave him money willing,
   (Vexation now ubraids!)
With which the thankless villain
   Soon treated other maids.


When thus he had bereft me
   Of cash, and ah! my heart,
The cruel rover left me
   It grieved me then to part:
Those clothes will rend in tatters,
   They cannot last him long,
A curse attend such matters,
   False lover’s curse is strong!


His coat will rend in creases,
   His stockings break in holes,
His breeches go to pieces,
   His shoes part from their soles:
His hair, like garden carrot,
   Full soon will want a hat,
How soon, indeed I care not,
   The devil care for that.

p. 136This pleased his auditors so well that he was soon left without a copy of it, on which, he began another, preluding it with the observation “Now this my friends is about a Welsh boy, who was so foolish as to leave old Cymru and go to London, from which, I warrant you, he would have been glad enough to return, as they have neither leeks, flummery, nor anything else there fit for a christian people.”

When a wild rural Welsh boy I ran o’er the hills,
And sprang o’er the hedges, the gates, brooks, and rills.
The high oak I climb’d for the nest of the kite,
And plung’d in the river with lively delight!
Ah who then so cheerful, so happy as me,
At I skipp’d through the woodlands and meads of Brindee.

How oft have I wander’d through swamp, hedge, or brake,
Fearful of nought but the never-seen snake,
And gather’d brown nuts from the copses around,
While ev’ry bush echoed with harmony’s sound;
Oh gladness then thrill’d me! I bounded as free
As a hart o’er the lawn through the meads of Brindee.

Whenever I wander’d to some neighb’ring farm,
How kindly was tender’d the new milk so warm,
O’er her best loaf as butter or honey she’d spread,
The farm wife so friendly would stroke my white head,
And sue that she shortly again should see me
Whenever my rambles led forth from Brindee.

How of I have I run with my Strawberry wreath [136a]
To rosy young Gwenny of fair Llwyn-y-neath,
And help’d her to drive the white sheep to the pen, [136b]
Oh! I still think how joyously sung little Gwen
The old folks oft chuckling, vow’d sweet-hearts were we,
The Llwyn-y-neath maiden and boy of Brindee.

At the fair of Dyvonnock, o’ertaken by night,
Returning, I’ve dreaded the corpse-candle light,
The wandering spirit, the hobgobling fell,
Of which cottage hen-wives so fearfully tell:
I’ve ran, with my eyes shut, ghosts dreading to see
Prayed, whistled, or sang as I flew to Brindee.

p. 137Pleasure and innocence hand in hand went,
My deeds ever blameless, my heart e’er content,
Unknown to ambition, and free from all care,
A stranger to sorrow, remorse, or despair;
Oh bless’d were those days! long departed from me,
Far far’s my loved Cambria! far far is Brindee.

This was not so successful as the former, but Twm, nothing daunted, sung the following which he called a sequel to the last.


Rosy Gwen, rosy Gwen,
Beloved of maids, beloved of men!
Aye, dearly loved of grave and gay,
Of sire, sage, and matron grey!
In youth’s early day—ah what cheer’d me then!
      ’Twas her voice so sweet,
      Her person neat,
      Her form so sleek,
      Her spirit meek,
And the cherry-merry cheek of Rosy Gwen.

Gentle girl, gentle girl,
Coral lipp’d, with teeth of pearl,
On either cheek a vivid rose.
And raven tresses graced thy brows!
Ah thou wert my love and my playmate then:
      Happy lass of smiles,
      Unversed in wiles
      Of guileless breast—
      Of minds the best,
Oh my cherry-merry cheek’d young Rosy Gwen!

Years have flown, years have flown,
And Gwenny thou’rt a woman grown.
While Time, that bears for most a sting,
Has fann’d thy beauties with his wing;
Yet brighter, thou canst not be, than when
      O’er the mountain steep
      Thou drov’st thy sheep
      And sang in glee
      A child with me.
Oh my cherry-merry cheek’d young Rosy Gwen.

He gave them next a love canzonet, of two verses; the first slow and mournful, and the last with contrasting animation and cheerfulness.

p. 138Her cheek was a rose lowly crush’d by the dew,
Now bleach’d by despair to the lily’s pale hue
      For the death of young Morgan the brave;
Fame widely reported sea-mews scream’d his knell.
As in a dread sea-fight with glory he fell,
   And was buried beneath thy salt wave.

But false was the tale, for a victor was he,
Triumphant return’d from the wild roaring sea,
   Now to seek with his dear maid repose;
He flew to his Sina with extacy’s zest,
Enraptured he press’d the lorn maid to his breast.
   And then kiss’d off the dew from the rose.

The two last were but tolerated, and the singer soon found that a merry strain was most congenial to their fancies.  He therefore gave them the old and popular duet of “Hob y deri dando,” rendered more comical by his singing alternately shrill and gruff, for male and female’s parts.


Ivor.  The summer storm is on the mountain,
            Hob y deri dando, my sweet maid!

Gweno.  And foul the stream, though bright the fountain,
            Hob y deri dando, for the shade.

Ivor.  Let my mantle love protect thee,
            Gentle Gweno dear;

Gweno.  Ivor kind will ne’er neglect me,
            Faithful far and near:

Both.  Through life the hue of first love true,
            Will never never fade.


Ivor.  The rain is past, the clouds are gone too,
            Hob o’r deri dando, far they spread;

Gweno.  The lark is up, and bright the sun too,
            Hob o’r deri dando, on the mead;

Ivor.  Thus may the frowns of life pass over,
            Happy then our lot,

Gweno.  And the smile of peace be bright as ever
            In our humble cot.

Both.  Through life the hue of first love true
            Will never never fade.

p. 139Having sung the last thrice over, he sold about a dozen ballads; and was about to treat his auditors with the old and national song of Nôs Galan, or New Year’s Eve, when, to his great surprise, the malignant visage of Parson Evans presented itself before him.

Judging of our hero’s sex by his assumed attire, several young men in the course of the day, offered their treats of cake and ale, some of which was accepted; and presuming on that circumstance, they amusingly put in their claims to further notice, and seemed inclined to quarrel, as for a sweetheart.

Thus possessed of beaux and champions, Twm resolved to employ them in a new scheme of vengeance on the unpopular parson.  “You see that old fellow in black,” said he, directing their attention to him as he passed, “he is a bum-bailiff, and the greatest villain in all the country I come from; and at this very moment I’ll be bound for it, he is hunting out some poor fellow to put him in prison.  He wanted to be a lover of mine, but only intended to ruinate me; but if he loved me ever so much I would not have had him if his skin was stuffed with diamonds.  The villainous old catchpole! it is to him that I owe all my misfortunes; refusing him for a sweetheart, he grew as spiteful as a snake, and by telling a parcel of falsehoods he got me turned out of my place without a character, so that I am now brought to this—to sing ballads in the p. 140street.”  Here, assuming a whimpering tone, Twm was compelled to smother a powerful fit of laughter, which emotion was taken for sobbing, and consequently drew much on the sympathy of those now addressed; but suddenly withdrawing the apron that veiled his features, he exclaimed, with the vehemence of a young termagant, “I’d give the world to see that old fellow tossed in a blanket!”  Mark Antony’s effort of eloquence to rouse the Roman citizens to avenge the death of Cæsar, was not more effective than our hero’s appeal.

With a natural hatred to a bailiff, and as natural a predilection for the smiles of a handsome young woman, being “full of distempering draughts” and ripe for a freak, their zeal became inflamed to a ferment, each felt himself the leading hero to avenge the wrongs of the fair ballad singer, in the manner suggested by herself.  One of the young men, a native of the town and son to the innkeeper, immediately procured a blanket, when, watching their opportunity as the supposed bailiff passed along, one tripped up his heels, while the rest received him in the extended blanket, and tossed him most vigorously in the air for about ten minutes.  Exhausted at length with their labours, and allured by the fair handful of silver displayed by their victim, they accepted his bribe and desisted, each venting his jest on the crest-fallen Evans, “hoping it would be a warning not to persecute a poor friendless girl again.”

The knot of swains now separated, and ran in different directions to avoid being recognized as p. 141the perpetrators of the “freak,” but soon met again at an appointed place at the back of the town, where they had left our hero, between the empty carts of the ware venders.

Great was their dismay on discovering, after a long search in various parts of the fair, that the fair ballad-singer was no where to be found.  Here was a general smelling of a trick put upon them, and consequent “curses on all jilting ballad-singers” uttered by the unlucky clods.

It occurred to one bright youth named Johnny Wapstraw, that he had entrusted his best holiday coat to the custody of the injured damsel, that he might toss the “catchpole” with the greater vigour; but on ascertaining the precise spot where he had left her, he found her complete feminine attire made into a bundle and fastened to a cart with a band of straw, left as a love-gift for him, while she kept his coat as a similar token of affection; having inscribed with chalk on the side of the cart “An exchange is no robbery.”


Twm escapes from Cardigan.  Meets Parson Rhys at Lampeter.  The tragical tale of the heiress of Maes-y-velin and the flower of Llandovery.

Having thus possessed himself of a coat without the tediousness and expence of giving measure to a tailor, and no more fastidious about a dressing room, retired to a stable, and soon came out fully dressed in his male attire; of which, a coat only was before wanting.  Bent on a precipitate p. 142retreat, as the urgency of his case demanded, he bolted down St. Mary’s Street, and soon found himself on the turnpike road, with the good town of Cardigan some miles behind him.  In little more than two hours he reached the small town of Dinas Emlyn, now called Newcastle-in-Emlyn, on a romantic part of the Teivy dividing the counties of Cardigan and Carmarthen, and occupying its banks on either side.  Entering a small public house, he regaled himself on the fine potent ale for which that place has been so famous.  Being refreshed with a little rest and food, he now, for the first time, began to enquire of himself whither he was going, and what his aims were to be; questions which he found very difficult to be resolved.  Although the most serious cogitations on the subject might have availed little or nothing, chance very unexpectedly decided him, and relieved his apprehensious for the present.

Perceiving a very loquacious beer-inspired pig-drover, who vaunted his successful sale at Cardigan fair, preparing to depart, he suddenly determined to take the same route wherever it might lead, and on inquiry, found he was going to Llandovery.

Glad of company, the pig-drover received Twm’s information that he was also going to the same town with a hearty shake of the hand and a welcome to become his fellow traveller.  About ten o’clock that night they arrived together at Lampeter, which Twm now visited for the second time.  The geography of the country being but little known to him, he felt some alarm p. 143on finding himself so contiguous to his own native place.

While drinking a quiet pint with his companion at a tavern, and thoughts of danger occupying his mind, a friendly face appeared in smiles before him, and dissipated every feeling of unhappiness; it was the worthy Rhys the curate, who had spied him from the little parlour where he had been sitting before his arrival, and now cordially welcomed him to partake of his supper which was then preparing.

Our hero bade a merry farewell to his friend the drover, who had endeavoured to initiate him into the mysteries of pig-dealing, the latter declaring his resolution to travel all night until he reached Llandovery.  Supper ended, and having heard as many of Twm’s adventures as he chose to relate, newly modelled, to suit his peculiar ear, Mr. Rhys informed him that he had also left Tregaron forever, disgusted with the treatment he had met with from old Evans, and was on his way to Llandovery to take possession of the curacy of Llandingad, to which he had been just appointed by the vicar, the reverend Rhys Prichard.  The good-natured Rhys could scarce forbear smiling, when Twm informed him of the circumstance that had first led his thoughts to visit Llandovery also, and that he was determined to go there to seek his fortune, and felt a sort of presentiment that he should be successful: “Well,” said he, “your fortunes are altogether romantic, and fortitude such as yours is a virtue that becomes us all.  Whatever I can do to get you into employment, when you are there, rest p. 144assured shall not be wanting.”  With this understanding Twm’s hopes were buoyed up to the highest pitch, and, to his sanguine mind, became already certainties, which presented themselves in dreams of various felicitous shapes.

Rhys rose with daylight, and rousing Twm, they both sallied forth, the former leading his horse by the bridle, to be more on a par with his more humble companion.  They had nearly reached the top of Pen-y-garreg hill, over which the road leads from Lampeter to Llandovery, while a bright prospect of the newly-risen sun attracted their mutual attention, when the clergyman thus addressed his companion.  “We are now on a spot to be yet immortalized, perhaps, by the legendary muse, for a deed of blood perpetrated here in our own times; when the banks of the impetuous Teivy, now before us, became the scene of a lamentable tragedy.  Yonder stands what remains of the once goodly mansion of Maes-y-velin, the fair seat of the ancient family of the Vaughans, once of considerable note in this part of the principality.  Ten years ago, a young lady and her three brothers, the last of that race, were its possessors.  The lady, named Ellen, was exceedingly beautiful, and beloved by the son of the venerable Rhys Prichard, the present Vicar of Llandovery, whose curate I am now become.

“It was customary with the young man whenever he reached this spot, to tie his hankerchief to the end of a rod, that he held as a flag-staff, which was immediately seen by the heiress of Maes-y-velin; and when she could succeed in p. 145getting her brothers out of the way, the signal of love was answered by hoisting her own kerchief to the branch of a tree above the house, on which, both ran down from their respective hills, till they stood face to face on either side of the Teivy, when the fond lover soon dashed into the river, crossed over and caught the fair one in his arms.  But as these things sound better perhaps in verse, I shall submit to you a specimen of my skill at Ballad writing, in one that I have written on this occasion.”  With that they took their seat on a huge stone on the side of the hill, when Rhys drew a manuscript from his pocket and read to his attentive auditor.

The flower of Llandovery.

What is amiss with the maiden fair,
   What is the sweet one ailing?—
Why pale her cheek, and her spirits low,
And why up the hill doth she daily go,
   The heiress of Maes-y-velin?—

Why are the brows of her brothers dark?
   Nor mother nor sire hath Ellen;—
Her brothers whisper—her steps they watch—
The heart of her mystery eager to catch,
   The maiden of Maes-y-velin.

The parents of Ellen her merits knew,
   And frown’d on her brothers’ vices;
Her brothers are disinherited,
And Ellen is heiress in either’s stead;
   Thereat all the land rejoices.

Her brothers one day went out to hunt,
   And alone at home left Ellen;
She watched them away, then flew to her bower,
And cried “oh now for Llandovery’s Flower!
   Right welcome to Maes-y-velin.”

She hoisted her silken kerchief red
   To the highest branch of her bower,
p. 146To Pen-garreg hill then strain’d her eyes,
And the flag of her hope was seen to rise,
   ’Twas thine, oh Llandovery’s Flower!

Long had he watch’d—the faithful youth!
   His wish each day unavailing,
At length, he sees with a wild delight,
His true love’s signal, the lady bright,
   The heiress of Maes-y-velin.

That signal was chosen between the twain,
   When absent her stern proud kindred;
And then would they rush from either hill,
The lover’s true with a right good will,
   Till the waters of Teivy sunder’d.

Now as erst they rush’d, and as erst they paused,
   When arrived on the banks of Teivy,
They gazed on each other across the stream,
And gestured affection’s high glow supreme,
   And gayer their hearts, long heavy.

In plung’d the youth with most anxious speed,
   The Flower of fair Llandovery,
The maiden is trembling with wild alarms—
She brightens—she sinks in her true-love’s arms,
   Deem’d lost to her past recovery.

Oh Nature hath many warm generous glows—
   But they say love’s joys are fleeting;
Most dear to the mother her new-born son,
And sweet is the fame that’s fairly won,
To the blind restor’d oh the summer’s sun’s
   Less sweet than the lover’s meeting.

Sweet to the donor the generous deed,
   That serves merit’s child, unweeting;
Healing is sweet to the gash’d by the sword;
To the wounded heart, the benevolent word;
Oh sweet is the breeze to the sick restored!
   But sweeter true lovers’ greeting.

Each flower that flaunts in vanity’s cap,
   And sets youthful hearts a gadding,
Has its charms, its zest,—but the whole above,
Is the magical thrill of sweet woman’s love,
   That drives heart and brain a madding.

And fondly they loved, this youthful pair,
   The heiress of Maes-y-velin,
And he whom they called Llandovery’s Flower;
Oh frequent their meeting and parting hour,
   Their moments of joy and wailing.

Once when they met on the Teivy’s banks,
   Canopied o’er by the wild wood,
p. 147Mid fragrance of flowers that graced the shade,
The youth sung this song, of true lovers betrayed,
An ominous song—that drew tears from the maid,
   For her heart was as simple as childhood.

“‘Oh come to the banks of the Teivy with me,
To the deep woodland glade, ’neath the shady green tree,
Fearless of foemen, of guile, or of might,
In the face of the day and the bright eye of light,
That God and his angels may witness our troth,
That God and his angels may favor us both.’

“‘I’ll go to the green-wood,’ the lady replied,
‘Fore God and his angels be fairly affied,
Fearless of foemen, of guile, or of might,
In the face of the day and the bright eye of light;
That God and his angels may witness our troth,
That God and his angels may favor us both.’

“So sung a young chief to his dear lady love,
At the base of her tower—she answered above—
Vile vassals espied them, and flew to their lord,
The lady’s true lover soon fell ’neath his sword:
She threw herself headlong, fulfilling her troth,
And Death was the priest that united them both.”


Over the hill of Pen-garreg, the road
   Is seen that leads from Llandovery,
Maes-y-velin’s green hill is opposite,
The mansion below—oft on either height
   The lovers are making discovery.—

But envious eyes were on the watch,
   And the genius of evil hover’d;
The brothers, who wish’d their sister unmatch’d,
For any approach of a lover watch’d,
   At length their two flags discover’d.

They have hatch’d a scheme to enmesh the youth,
   And see him at length on the mountain;
His flag they answer—he runs down the hill—
Now forth rush the wretches resolved to kill,
   And waste his young heart’s warm fountain.

Like prey-beasts they hide on the Teivy’s banks
   In the covert of thick-leaved bushes;
The youth, he dashes across the river,
And ardent to meet his fond receiver
   He seeks her fair form in the rushes.—

He deems she plays him at hide and seek,
   Her heart he knew was gayful—
“Oh come from thy covert my Ellen dear!
p. 148Oh come forth and meet thy lover here!”
   He cries in soft accents playful.

No Ellen appears—rustling steps he hears—
   Perhaps some perfidious stranger;—
He stops in the rushes, and steals to a copse,
But there not an instant for breathing stops
Peril’s presentiment suddenly drops,
   And he flies for his life from danger.

He knew not his foes, up the hill he goes,
   With the speed of a hart that’s hunted;
The brothers pursue, till fatigued they grew,
To Maes-y-velin his course they knew,
   And eager revenge is blunted.—

They saw him enter—“the foe is snared!”
   Exclaim’d then the elder brother;
“To kill him surely be firmly prepared
Accurst be the arm by which he is spared!
   Let’s stab him, or drown, or smother.”

“Let’s do him dead and no matter how,
   And our sister’s fortune is ours;
No brats of her’s shall supplant our hope:
Prepare we a dagger, a sack, and rope,
   For brief are the stripling’s hours.”

Now rush’d the youth through the mansion door.
   And fell at the feet of Ellen;
Ere he could speak the brothers appear,
The maiden shrieks with terrific fear,
   The heiress of Maes-y-velin.—

She fell in a swoon, the brothers soon
   Gag his mouth and proceed to bind him,
His hands they fasten’d behind his back,
And over his head they drew a sack,
They jump on his body—his rib bones crack,
   Till a corse on the ground they find him.

Oh God! ’twas a barbarous bloody deed;
   ’Twas piteous to hear his groaning:
A demon’s heart might relent to hear
The sobs of death and convulsions drear—
Oh Christ! is no merciful angel near,
   Call’d down by this woeful moaning?—

Oh murderous fiends! the eye of God
   Hath flamed on this heartless murther!
They grasp at his throat to check his breath—
With knees on his breast—oh merciful death!
   Thou sav’st him from anguish further.

And dead in the sack his body they bore,
   And sunk in a pool of Teivy;
p. 149After many days when the body was found,
No tongue could tell was he smother’d or drown’d,
   Or crush’d by men’s buffets heavy.

Thus fell in his bloom the blameless youth;—
   Insanity seized on poor Ellen,
The lovely maniac! with bosom bare,
And eyes of wildness, and streaming hair,
   Roved frantic o’er Maes-y-velin.

She said he was thrown in the Teivy’s stream,
   The Flower of fair Llandovery;
She cross’d o’er the hills to his father’s town,
And he bless’d the maid like a child of his own;
   But Ellen was past recovery.

Rhys Prichard wept long o’er his murder’d son,
   And buried the hapless Ellen;
He cursed her brothers—the land of their birth
He cursed their mansion, its hall and hearth,
   And the curse is on Maes-y-velin.

Strong was the curse on the savage race,
   The murderers and their kindred;
Their bosoms possess’d by the furies of hell,
Oft vented the scream, the curse, and the yell:—
   All men stood aloof and wonder’d.

They quarrell’d and stood forth in mortal strife,
   Each one opposed to the other;
They never, oh never! are doom’d to agree,
While dividing poor Ellen’s property—
   Two murder their elder brother.

And yet the murderers still are foes,
   Furious and unrelenting;
Each coveting all his sister’s share:
At length one falls in the other’s snare,
   Ere yet of his crimes repenting.

Now lived the survivor, a man forbid,
   For murder his brow had branded—
Shunn’d by all men, none bade him God speed,
But solitude work’d wild remorse for his deed,
In madness he seized on a poisonous weed,
   And a suicide’s grave was commanded.

Maes-y-velin became a deserted spot,
   The roof of the mansion tumbled;
The lawns and the gardens o’er-ran with weeds,
And reptiles, vile emblems of hellish deeds,
   Bred there—and the strong walls crumbled.—

They crumbled to dust, and fell to the earth,
   And strangers bought Maes-y-velin;
Vain, it is said, their attempts to rebuild,
p. 150Vain was their labour in garden or field,
Snakes, toads, baneful weeds alone they yield,
   Not a stone to another adhering.

The possessors fled, and oft others came,
   But all their aims unavailing;
The peasants protest that at midnight hour
The spirit of Ellen is seen in her bower,
While on Pen-garreg hill stands Llandovery’s Flower,
   And shrieks burst from Maes-y-velin.

When Rhys had finished reading his ballad, Twm riveted his eyes on the ruins of Maes-y-velin, the two hills, the banks of the Teivy, and scenes now subordinate to the modern grandeur of the new college at Lampeter: and still remaining silent, seemed, by the force of his imagination, to bring before his eyes the whole action of this domestic tragedy.  Rhys assured him that all the particulars of the murder, as narrated in the ballad, were well authenticated, both by the evidence of the unhappy young lady herself, and that of a countryman who beheld the murderers bearing the body by night, and who distinctly saw, as the moon shone upon them while in the act of casting their burthen into the river, the shining spurs of the murdered youth, projecting from the end of the sack which contained his body.  But in so disordered a state was the country at the time, from the civil wars between the king and the parliament, that no cognizance was taken of the atrocious circumstance.  The cursing of Maes-y-velin, and the perpetrators of the bloody deed, by the youth’s father, he said was no fiction; it was set forth in a pathetic and nervous poem, in his volume of Divine Carols, entitled “Canwyll y Cymry, or the Welshman’s Candle,” one of the most popular books ever p. 151published in the Welsh language.  With this explanation they both rose from their stony seats, and pursued their way to Llandovery.


A discourse on mountains.  Turf-cutters, and Moor haymakers.  Twm rescues the lady of Ystrad Ffîn, and captures a highwayman, whom he brings in triumph to Llandovery.

Having travelled together a few miles further into the mountain, Twm expressed his wonder at seeing the turf-cutters and haymakers following their avocations almost side by side in this wild district.  “Well,” cried he, “I know that much has been said, sung, and written, in praise of mountain scenery; and where ’tis truly romantic as well as wild, I am a great lover of it myself; but this before us is my aversion.  Here no sound salutes the ear but the lonely cry of a few melancholy kites, hungry enough to prey upon one another; and no objects strike the eye but the flat tame desert, and a few wretched cottages thinly scattered over this desolate region, whose inhabitants are miserably employed in scooping peat from the marsh for their fires, or cutting their bald thin crop of hay from the uninclosed mountain—the gwair rhos cwtta, or moor hay, which, dispensing with the incumbrance of a cart or sledge, the women carry home in their aprons, as the winter maintenance of a half-starved cow.  Even the shepherds and their flocks are wise enough to keep from this gloomy seat of starvation; but the dull plodding p. 152turf-cutters are numerous enough.  To me there is nothing that associates more with squalid poverty than turf fires: the crackling faggot and the Christmas log, have their rustic characteristics; coal has its proud and solid warmth; the clay-and-culm fires of Cardigan and Pembrokeshire, formed of balls, and fantastically arranged by the industrious hands of fair maidens, are bright and durable, revealing the gay faces of the cheerful semicircular group—and above all, the smokeless cleanly stone coal: but turf, smoky, ill-savored, ash creating, dusty turf—recals the marsh and moor, rain-loaded skies, and fern-thatched cottages, whose battered roofs swept by the blast, discover the rotten rafters grinning like the bare ribs of poverty; and worse than all, the joyless faces of the toil-bowed children of the desert.  I heartily agree with the sentiment of the old Pennill [152a]

“How gay seems the valley with rich waving wheat,
Fair lands and fair houses, with shelters so neat;
While the whole feather’d choir to delight us conspires,
There’s nought on the mountain but turf and turf fires.”

“And let me add,” cried Twm, with vivacity, “as indicative of my own taste on the subject, a Triban [152b] of my own composition.—

Three things—to my mind each with loveliness teems:
A vale between mountains that’s threaded by streams;
p. 153A neat white-wall’d cottage mid gardens and trees;
And a young married pair that appreciate these.”

“The mountains, like the plains and vallies,” replied Rhys, “have of course their rough and unsightly portions; but so very dear to me are the sensations connected with our Mountain Land, that I could kiss the sod of its dullest region, when I remember how it came the refuge of our war-worsted forefathers in the days of old, as the waned star of liberty seemed to have vanished forever from our sphere.”  Rhys’s patriotic enthusiasm rose as he proceeded.  “I could as soon twit my beloved mother with the furrows which time has ploughed on her brows, as censure the homeliest part of our dear mountains, hallowed of old by the tread of freemen, when the despot foreigner usurped the vallies.

      “Freedom, amid a cloudy clime,
      Erects her mountain throne sublime,
      While natives of the vales and plains
      Are gall’d with yokes and slavish chains;—
      Then shrink we ne’er, unnerved as bann’d,
In the cloudy clime of the Mountain Land.

      Turban’d in her folds of mist
      Our Mountain Land the sky hath kiss’d
      While on her brow the native wreath
      Of yellow furze and purple heath;
      The rural reign her vales command,
And the freemen’s swords of the Mountain Land.”

Twm felt the observations of the curate as a rebuke for his flippancies, and was about to clear himself from all suspicion of lack of nationality; but the latter at that moment looking up at the sun, declared the day so far advanced that he must of necessity instantly mount his horse and ride with speed, so as to meet the vicar of Llandovery at the place appointed; on which, directing p. 154Twm in the route he was to take, he rode off and left him to pursue his way at leisure.

After thus parting with Mr. Rhys, Twm made his way alone, wrapped in thought, and looking neither to the right or left, for several miles, but was at length brought to a stand by the discovery that the way he trod had ceased to be either a road or beaten path; and that he was actually pacing the trackless mountain, with the disagreeable conviction that he had gone wrong, without a clue to recover the right way.

Observing a bwlch, or gap, parting the mountains in the distance, where they rose to a considerable elevation, he naturally concluded that the road ran through it.  Acting on this opinion, he hurried on, and was much gratified to find his conjecture realized, as a good beaten road presented itself to him.  He entered it, and hastened on with the utmost alacrity, till he came to a cottage on the road side, opposite to which was an immense rick of turf, that at a distance looked like a long black barn.  He called at the cottage, and asked if he was right in his route to Llandovery, “Right!” squeaked a thin old man who met him at the door, “God bless you young man, you could not be more wrong, as your back is to Llandovery, and you are making straight for Trecastle.”

This was mortifying intelligence; and the old man seeing Twm’s chagrin, asked him to walk in and rest himself, an invitation that he gladly accepted.  “What, I suppose you thought to be at Llandovery to hear the great preaching there to day?” said the man’s wife, a little fat woman p. 155who was carding wool by the fire.  “No,” replied Twm, “I never heard of any preaching that was to be there.”  “That’s very odd,” rejoined the old man, “as the whole country has been crowding there, to hear the good Rhys Prichard, the great vicar of Llandovery.”  “I have heard he is very popular,” said Twm.  “Popular!” screamed the weazon-faced old man, as if indignant of the coldness of our hero’s eulogy, “he is the shining light of our times, and hardly less than a prophet; wisely has he called his divine book the Welshman’s Candle, for it blazes with exceeding brightness, and men find their way by it from the darkness of perdition.  When it is known that his health permits him to preach, the country hereabouts is up in swarms, to the distance of two score miles and more.  Then, the farmer forsakes his corn-field, the chapman his shop, and every tradesman and artizan quits his calling, to listen to the music of his discourse.  Infirmity alone has kept me from going to hear him to-day; but my wife is no better than an infidel, and would rather listen to a profane fidler, or a vagrant harper, than to the finest preacher that ever breathed out a pious discourse.”

Here the little round woman retorted on her spouse, assuring Twm that he was a miserable dreamer, whose brains had been turned by the ravings of fanatical preachers; that some months ago he ran three miles, howling, thinking he was pursued by the foul fiend, when it turned out to be only his own shadow: and that when a patch of the mountain furze was set on a blaze to fertilize p. 156the land, nothing could convince him that the world was not on fire, and the day of judgement come, till he caught an ague by hiding himself up to the chin in the river for twelve hours.

All this the old man very indignantly repelled, and vowed that his courage was equal to that of any man breathing.

At this moment the violent galloping of a horse attracted their attention, and in an instant a horse and rider passed the door, but suddenly checking his speed he returned, and calling at the cottage door, asking in a tone of authority if a lady had passed that way towards Llandovery within the last half hour.  The old man, trembling as he spoke, protested that no lady had passed for many hours; on which the bluff horseman told him as he valued his life, neither he or his wife should appear on the outside of the cottage door, till he gave them leave.  The old man assured him of his entire obedience, when the fellow quietly crossed the road, and effectually concealed himself and horse behind the opposite turf-rick.

Twm, unseen himself, caught a full view of this burley horseman, and instantly knew him.  He felt a conviction that in a few minutes a scene was to be acted, in which he was determined to perform himself a conspicuous, if not a principal, part.  He asked the timorous old cottager if he possessed such a thing as a long-handled hedge bill-hook, to which the poor dotard, his teeth chattering the while, replied in the negative.  On searching the cottage, with the assistance of his mistress, to its great vexation p. 157he could find no weapon, but a blunt old hatchet, and a rusty reaping-hook.

The canter of a light horse now struck his ear; his heart caught fire at the sound, and with almost fierce vehemence he called to the people of the cottage, “Give me some weapon in the name of God: to defend you and myself from having our throats cut;” but it only increased their terror and confusion.

In an instant, a lady on a slight white horse was opposite to the cottage, when the horseman, darting forward from behind the turf-rick, and producing pistols, demanded her money.  The lady protested, in the most piteous and earnest tone, that she had accidentally left her purse behind, and must be indebted to a friend at Llandovery, should she fail to meet her husband there, for some small change.  “I’ll not be disappointed for nothing,” cried the ruffian, “Dio the devil is not to be fooled, and my pretty lady of Ystrad Fîn, I have depended on a good booty from you to-day, so that unless in two minutes you strip, and give me every article in which you are clothed, a pistol bullet shall pass through your delicate body.”

The lady, with tears entreated him to be merciful, promising a future recompence; but the scoundrel laughed scornfully in her face, and cocked his pistol, on which she uttered a loud scream and fainted, when he immediately approached to strip and rifle her.

Our hero, whose blood was boiling with honest indignation, now started up from behind the lady’s horse, and stood on a small bank raised p. 158to separate the cottage yard from the road, struck the highwayman an astounding blow on the temples, with a stout hedge-stake grasped with both hands, and repeated the violent action till it brought the desperado senseless, and covered with blood, to the ground.  After the first terrible blow, confounded as he was, he instinctively presented his pistol at random, but Twm struck him heavily on the extended arm, which caused it to fall, and swing dead by his side, like a withered oak branch smote by the thunderbolt.

The good woman of the cottage bathed the lady’s temples and soon brought about her recovery; and great was her surprize and satisfaction to witness the result of our hero’s courage and dexterity.  While tears of gratitude suffused her beautiful eyes, and ran down her bright ruddy face, Twm in the gentlest manner assured her of her entire safety, and that he would have the happiness of conducting and protecting her to Llandovery, where he intended to bring the highwayman dead or alive, and deliver him, with an account of the whole affair, to the magistrates.

The lady of Ystrad Fîn, smiling as she spoke, uttered many expressions of her gratitude, and admiration of his courage, assuring him that her husband, Sir George Devereux, would not allow him to go unrewarded for such a signal piece of service: “but for my own part,” continued she, “as I truly assured the merciless highwayman, I am at present without my purse, having left it accidentally at the house of a poor sick person, whom I visited, relieved, and stayed with, many hours this morning, by which I have missed p. 159hearing the sermon preached to-day by the rev. Rhys Prichard.”  Twm declared he did not in the least feel himself entitled to any reward, sufficient for him was the approval of so beautiful and amiable a lady; but that he had another gratification in the action he had performed, as it was his fortune to have punished the very man who had once stopped him on the highway and robbed him of his little all.

It was in vain that Twm summoned the old man of the cottage to assist in placing the robber on horseback, as he had hid himself beneath the bed, roaring all the while “Oh lord! oh dear!  I shall surely have my throat cut.”  The lady of Ystrad Fîn, however, alighted and lent an active hand in binding the thief, still insensible, with old halters contributed by the fat woman of the cottage, who also gave all possible assistance; so that with their united aid Twm soon got him across his own horse, like a sack of barley, and secured him by tying him neck and heels under the horse’s belly.  Our elated hero leaped into the saddle, and rode side by side with the lady of Ystrad Fîn, and conversing freely with her, unincumbered with his former bashfulness, till they reached Llandovery.

They entered the town just as the sermon was over, and the dense swarm, as they issued from Llandingad church, stopped and gazed with astonishment at the sight presented to them.  At the same instant that Sir George Devereux came up and assisted his lady to alight, Mr. Rhys the curate approached Twm, and each in a few minutes was in possession of the whole story.  The p. 160baronet eagerly grasped our hero by the hand, and assured him of his protection and favor to the utmost of his power; declaring at the same time that no possible reward could equal his deserts or repay his services.

As soon as it was known among the farmers that the terrible Dio the devil, who had robbed many of them at different times, was captured, a subscription was immediately raised, to reward the captor; so that our hero was soon in possession of a sum little less than ten pounds, in addition to five more that the county awarded for the taking of a highwayman.

Sir George and his lady invited our hero and Mr. Rhys to dine with them the next day at Ystrad Fîn, where the baronet said they would discuss in what manner he could repay the services of the brave deliverer of his lady.

The constables were now called to bring their hand-cuffs, and take possession of the robber, but in vain;—for when he was uncorded and taken from the horse, it was discovered he was dead.


Twm visits the vicar of Llandovery.  Visits also at Ystrad Fîn.  Fortune smiles on him.  Undertakes to bear a sum of money to London for Sir George Devereux.

Twm retired that evening to a tavern which he had been directed to by Mr. Rhys; and many of the good people of Llandovery eagerly sought the company of the wonderful young man who p. 161had had the courage to attack and conquer a highwayman; evincing their kindness by insisting on their right to treat him with whatever liquor he might be inclined to drink, on account of the benefit conferred by him on their community.  Cautioned by the worthy curate, however, his potations were very limited; and urging his fatigue as an excuse for retiring, he soon left his admirers, and slept that night on a bed of roses.

Rather early in the morning he was awoke by his friend Rhys, who said that, by appointment, they were both to breakfast with the rev. Rhys Prichard, who had expressed a desire to see the brave young man that had captured the highway robber.  This invitation was the most acceptable to Twm, as he was exceedingly anxious to see so celebrated a character as the vicar of Llandovery; though less for his pious than poetical celebrity, and more especially the association of his name with his own family calamity, in the death of his son Samuel, poetically called the “Flower of Llandovery,” at the murderous hands of the young men of Maes-y-velin, as before related.

Ashamed of the rustic cut of his coat, Twm proposed to purchase a clerical one from his friend Rhys, who willingly made him a present of his second best; observing that this was the day of his entrance into the world, and as the mass of mankind were apt to judge of all by the external appearance, an appropriate garb would aid even a man of merit in making a favorable impression.

The house of the vicar of Llandovery was p. 162among the best in the town; a well-built strong mansion, distinguished from all others by a neat small cupola on the top, within which was a bell, formerly used to call the boys to school, but now useless, since the reverend gentleman had long discontinued teaching.  Twm and Rhys waited in the breakfast parlour about half an hour, filling up the time by noticing and remarking on the well-waxed oaken floor and furniture, that, with the prints of some of the English martyrs, with which the room was hung, gave it something of a gloomy appearance; and skimming over some dusty old volumes of divinity, till the clock struck six.

Punctual to the moment, in came the worthy vicar, who received the pair courteously, but with very few words.  Breakfast was preceded by prayers; after which came in bowls of milk and hot cakes, with cold meat, butter, cheese, and ale; of which, after grace, each was desired to take his choice.  Twm looked at his venerable host with awed reverence.  This eminent character was of a tall, stately figure; his hair white as wool, his face pale, and rather long, with a countenance beaming with sedate benignity.  He regarded Twm for some time with silent attention, and afterwards made a few enquiries respecting his recent feat, which, when answered, he indulged in some pious ejaculations on the fortunate event.

In the comparison suggested by the slight figure of Twm opposed to the bluff rotundity of the robber, whose corpse he had seen the night before, he referred to the scriptural records of p. 163the combat between David and Goliah; strictly charging the fortunate youth to take no credit to himself for the achievement, as he was but an humble instrument in a mighty hand, and for a special purpose, unknown to the actors of the scenes themselves.

After a long grace, and a profusion of good counsel to our hero, the visitors rose to depart; but ere they left, the worthy churchman placed twenty shillings and a copy of his “Welshman’s Candle” in the hand of Twm, and after shaking him warmly by the hand, he saw the pair to the door and bade them farewell.

About nine o’clock Rhys mounted his nag, and Twm, the noble hunter, which had become his property by the right of conquest, and rode towards the fair mansion of Ystrad Fîn.  The road was entirely over the mountains, through diversified scenery of much interest.  At times the road ran above the edge of a deep ravine of perilous declivity; at others, hills overtopped them, in peaks of various fantastic forms; till at length succeeded the tame flat moorland, abounding with wild ducks and various aquatic and mountain fowl.  These scenes were soon left behind, and others of a different character, succeeded, tamed to softer beauty by the indefatigable hand of industrious man.

On reaching the cultivated lands, they passed through a wood at the base of a hill, on leaving which, the rural chapel of Boiley, the ornamented estate of Ystrad Fîn, the hill of Dinas, and a glimpse of the river Towey, were the clustered objects before them.  The ancient mansion of p. 164Ystrad Fîn, they found most romantically situate, terminating a sloping descent from the mountain, with a roaring alpine brook falling headlong through its rocky bed, at the back; while the high conical hill of Dinas stood, an object of singular beauty, in front.

They entered the extensive farm-yard, which occupied one side of the house, in which stood several large elms and oaks, with, here and there, a huge hollow yew, that associated well with the antique appearance of the house.

The baronet and his lady, who had been waiting their arrival, gave each a friendly welcome.  It wanted about a couple of hours to dinner time, which interim Sir George determined to employ on their immediate business; to that end, accompanied by his lady, he introduced them into the lawn and garden, where they conversed awhile on different subjects.  At length he began by declaring he had not yet learned the name of his lady’s preserver; on which, Mr. Rhys told the whole story of his parentage, dwelling with much emphasis on the unprincipled and cruel neglect of his father, Sir John Wynne of Gwydir; and in conclusion, he said his friend and late pupil’s name, derived from his mother, was Thomas Jones: but that from his childhood he was familiarly called Twm Shôn Catti.

On the baronet’s inquiry respecting his views and prospects in life, Twm, with becoming frankness said, that prospects he had none, but he would be happy to undertake any employment which was not of a menial description; adding, that as he had some little scholarship, he p. 165thought himself qualified to become a tutor of children in a genteel family, or to take a preparatory school in some town.  The baronet smiled, and replied, that he had no children, or he would be most happy to engage him in the former capacity.  “But,” cried he, with a sudden turn of jocularity, “allow me to remark, young man, you surprize me much by your choice of an occupation; I should have thought that a spirited young fellow like you, would be more in your element with a commission in the army.”  Twm glowed at the mention of a soldier’s life, and replied with ardour, “You have named, sir, the dearest sphere on earth in which I would desire to move; but, friendless and unknown as I am, the very thought of such a thing would be worse than vain.”  “I make no specific promise now on that head,” returned Sir George, “but I shall not forget your predilection for a career of arms, nor when communicating with those in power, shall I ever fail to promote your interests, to the utmost of my power: but I have now a proposal to make to you, which you can either accept or reject as you may feel disposed.  Were it not for my consciousness that I speak to a youth of tried courage, animated by a brave enterprising spirit, I should never think of naming it, but as it is, thus the affair stands.  The roads between Bristol and London are sadly infested by highway-robbers; I want to send a considerable sum of money to the metropolis; and I conceive that a lad of mettle and address like you might bear it in safety, while absolute veterans in the ways of the world would fail.  I would give you a sufficient p. 166sum to bear your expenses; and on your return here, after accomplishing your undertaking, reward you handsomely, and do my utmost to place you in a situation agreeable to your wishes, where you may gain an honorable livelihood.”

Twm, in a moment, agreeably to the decision of his character, acceded to the proposal, and declared he was ready to commence his journey to London next morning.  While the baronet was about to reply, a servant came to the garden gate, and announced dinner; to which the party paid immediate attention, and entered the hospitable dinner parlour of Ystrad Fîn.


Twm made a shew lion among the great.  Benefits flow to him.  Commences his journey.  The adventure of the pack-saddle.  Outwits a highwayman and rides off with his horse.

Rhys slept the first night after his arrival, at Ystrad Fîn; but his avocations calling him to Llandovery, he took his leave next morning, after an affectionate parting with his former pupil, wishing him all possible success in his journey to London.  Twm, at the particular and pressing invitation of his host and fair hostess, continued there, enjoying their hospitalities, many days.  Indeed he became a kind of shew lion, and was daily exhibited by Lady Devereux to her friends, male and female, whom she invited by scores to see her hero, as she called him.  The importance thus attributed to him by p. 167others, our hero soon took to himself; and as many of the simpering lady visitors declared him to be no less handsome than brave, he felt no difficulty in persuading himself that there was more truth than flattery in the eulogies.

Previous to the day of his departure, the baronet evinced his liberality by presenting him with the sum of forty pounds; and gave him as much more in payment for the hunter taken from the freebooter; while his lady took from her neck a golden chain, and placed it on his, as a token, she said, of her gratitude for the preservation of her life, and of her sense of her preserver’s merit.  Twm accepted these favors with a grace little to have been expected from his previous habits of life; but he possessed an innate pride and self consideration that soon burst through his native bashfulness, and his mind ever rose with his good fortunes, nay, sometimes even took the lead, so that he would boldly look Success in the face, and wonder that the sum of his congratulations was not greater.

The day of his departure at length arrived; and it was concerted that his best mode of travelling would be, on a mean horse, with a pack-saddle, and disguised as a labouring country lad.  Thus mounted and accoutred, behold him at length disappear through the yard gate of Ystrad Fîn; having concealed in various parts of his dress the sum of money entrusted to his care, and made Lady Devereaux his banker till his return, leaving with her the whole of his lately gained property.  Although ill contented with the slow pace of the worn-out beast beneath him, p. 168he rode on with a heart full of glee, proud of the honors which he had gained, and glowing with bright anticipations of the future.

We shall pass over the uninteresting portion of his journey; nor need we dwell on the sensations natural to a young high-spirited mountaineer on his continual change of scene, and view of novel objects, till he had left behind him all the towns and villages of his native principality, and at length the ancient city of Bristol itself.  He had even passed through Bath and Chippenham before a single adventure occurred worthy of record.  Riding late one evening, between the last named town and Malborough, he found it necessary to put up at a small public house on the road side, distinguished by the sign of “the Hop-pole,” the obscurity of which he considered favorable to his safety.  Having fed his beast and eaten his supper, he went immediately to bed; and with a view of preserving his treasure in the best manner, slept without divesting himself of his clothes.

Just as day was about to break, he was roused from his slumbers by the trampling of a horse, and the gruff voice of a traveller whom he heard alight and enter the house.  A strong impulse of curiosity determined him to rise from his bed, and, as the large treble-bedded room which he occupied was over the parlour to which the guest was introduced, to listen, and learn whether anything portended danger to himself.  On the first application of his ear to the aperture between the boards, he found, to his surprise and dismay, that he was the subject of conversation p. 169between the landlady and her guest, whom he also discovered to be no other than the very character of which he stood most particularly in peril—a highwayman.  He heard himself described to him by the landlady, as an “uncouth looby of a countryman from the Welsh mountains, miserably mounted on a piece of animated carrion, for which the crows cawed as it limped along; and that no booty was to be expected from such a beggar.”  “You are wrong, mistress, you are quite wrong,” cried the stranger, “from your account I expect much from him.  I have no doubt but that he is a Welsh squire in disguise, as I have robbed more than one such, dressed like a scarecrow, while making for London, and bearing with him the twelvemonth’s rent of half a dozen of his neighbours, to pay to the landlord in town.  I shall be at this fellow as soon he quits your roof; I have no doubt but he’s a prize, and if he is you of course come in for shares.”  Having learnt thus much, Twm in some trepidation retired to his bed, and began to consider how he should contrive, in order to preserve the properly in his possession.  He rose again, thinking to escape through the window, but found it too small to admit his egress, and therefore gave up the idea.  As he looked out through the miserable casement, busily plotting to hatch a scheme of deliverance, he could perceive no favorable object to aid his purpose, except a large pool on the road side, in which he thought of dropping his cash, if he could reach it and do the act unobserved, so that he might recover it at his leisure.  As nothing p. 170better offered, he determined to adopt this plan immediately; and therefore, after making a studied clattering in putting on his shoes, he went down stairs, and called for a jug of beer and toast for his breakfast.  The freebooter did not shew himself, but the landlady and her daughter, who seemed to be in the habit of sitting up all night to receive and entertain such guests, scrutinized our hero very closely.  The worthy hostess asked him some apparently careless questions respecting his business in travelling the country, to which he replied he was trying to overtake a brother pigman, who was driving their joint charge towards London.

A new idea of arrangement struck him while at breakfast, which quite altered his fore-constructed plan, and he began to act upon it as soon as conceived.  To give a more clownish character to his manners, the night before, he carried the old pack-saddle up stairs, brought it down in the morning, and while at breakfast sat on it before the fire, instead of a stool.

Reflecting on the whimsicality of the circumstance, and the probable construction that would be put on the care thus evinced of so homely an article, he deemed they would guess that his money was concealed in it, a fancy that it now suited him to humour.  Accordingly, bursting a hole in the fore end of it, he called the landlady to receive her reckoning, and in her presence, pushing his fist into the straw cushion of the pack-saddle, he drew out several pieces of gold, and asked her if she could give him change: but she answered in the negative, on which, he p. 171again thrust his hand into the pack-saddle, and brought out more gold with silver intermixed; and with the latter settled his bill, and went to the stable for his horse.  Securing all his money about his person, he mounted his rozinante; having cut away the girths from the pack-saddle, he bade the landlady farewell, and rode with all his might towards the pool, which was about a quarter of a mile forward on the road.  He soon heard the highwayman brushing forward in his rear, and heard him with many oaths call loudly to stop, a summons that increased our hero’s speed, till, being opposite to the pond, his pursuer overtook him.  Twm rode to the edge of the water, and threw the pack-saddle with all his strength towards the centre of the pool; but in bustling to regain a steady seat as he made towards the road, he fell headlong from his horse.  The freebooter cursed him for a Welsh fool, and with a thundering voice ordering him to hold his horse, or he would blow his brains out, (brandishing his pistol the while) that he might go into the water and recover the booty.  Twm feigned great terror, and with ludicrous whimpering took the bridle in his hand; but the moment the highwayman reached the water, he with one spring mounted his fine tall horse, and rode away with all his might.

Our hero soon found that he had reckoned without his host, in fancying his achievement now complete; for the knight of the road finding himself thus tricked, placed his fingers in his mouth and gave a loud whistle, on which, his horse in the full career of speed, immediately p. 172stopped quite still.  Twm, in real terror, as he was within pistol shot, roared “murder!” with all his might; when the horse, to his great amazement, took his exclamation of terror for a counter order, and again started into a gallop.  The freebooter repeated his whistle, and again his horse stood still as a milestone: Twm reiterated “murder!” with all the power of his lungs; and the well-taught horse was instantly again on his greatest effort of speed.  Thus the highwayman’s whistle and Twm’s roaring of “murder” had their respective efforts on the noble animal, till at length our hero got completely out of hearing of the baffled robber.  As he rode on triumphantly, he sang the old Welsh Triban [172].—

“No cheat it is to cheat the cheater;
No treason to betray the traitor;
Nor is it theft, but just deceiving,
To thieve from him who lives by thieving.”

With the good prize of a valuable horse, he entered the town of Marlborough; the merry peals of its bells were quite in unison with his feelings, and as the tune changed to “See the conquering hero comes,” it almost seemed to him a personal greeting, which, with his natural good animal spirits, elated him to the highest pitch.

Telling his tale at the inn where he put up, it was soon known throughout the town; many of the inhabitants of which, were loud in their congratulations p. 173and applause to the young Welshman, who so cleverly outwitted the English highwayman.


Twm overtakes an old acquaintance.  Sad news from Tregaron.  Outwits another highwayman, and rides off with his horse.

Twm, though naturally elated with his good fortune, did not suffer it to overcome his caution for the rest of the journey; and as he found himself no less than seventy-four miles from London, he calculated on many more attacks before he should reach it.  He was sent for next morning by the mayor of Marlborough, who had heard of his adventure, and required to bring the horse with him, which he had so adroitly won.  Many gentlemen having assembled at the entrance of the town-hall, our hero appeared in all the pride of a conqueror, mounted on his goodly steed; their hats were doffed, and loud shouts of applause immediately given.  It was soon ascertained by the mayor and the gentlemen present, that the horse was regularly bred to the road, and instructed by a highwayman, therefore, not as first conjectured, the property of any person deprived of it by one of these free-faring gentry: consequently, the mayor, with many compliments on his cleverness, told our hero that the horse was his own by right of conquest; but that if he was inclined to part with it, he would give fifty pounds for it.  Twm directly assented, and the money was paid to him the same morning.

p. 174Learning there was to be a fair next day at Hungerford, a town ten miles further on, he resolved to walk there with a view of purchasing a substitute for his lost pony, as he judged his original mode of travelling, although the least comfortable, the most secure that he could adopt.  About three miles out of Hungerford, he saw before him a pig-drover with a large herd of porkers, that he alternately cursed in the ancient British tongue, and cut up with a whip, while at intervals between these amusing recreations he loudly sang or roared certain scraps of Welsh songs.  Twm’s ear was quick in recognizing the well-known voice, and he soon stood side by side with his old friend Wat the mole-catcher.  After mutual expressions of wonder and congratulation, Twm eagerly asked him how his mother was, as well as Farmer Cadwgan and his daughter Gwenny.  Wat replied that his mother and her husband were well; but instead of answering the latter part of his question, enquired his adventures since he left Tregaron.  Twm, with animated vanity, ran over that brief portion of his history, occasionally heightening the colour of events, according to the general practice of story-tellers from time immemorial; dwelling particularly on his fortunate preservation of the lady of Ystrad Fîn, and the benefits which accrued to him in consequence, from the liberality of Sir George Devereux, whose confidential agent he then was, on business of the utmost importance, to London.

After practising to his utmost to astonish Wat with the riches and vast consideration of his “friend” Sir George, Twm very conceitedly observed, p. 175“Well Wat, were he ten times as rich and powerful, I should never envy him anything he possessed, but one lovely piece of property.”  “And what might that be?” asked Wat.  “Why,” replied the other, “could I once forget poor Gwenny Cadwgan, which I never can, I should envy him the possession of his charming young wife, the beautiful lady of Ystrad Fîn—the finest, the handsomest, and cleverest woman I ever saw! and although now married to a second husband, she is little more than three-and-twenty years of age.  But I was asking of my old sweetheart Gwenny, poor Gwenny Cadwgan.”—“Poor Gwenny Cadwgan indeed!” sighed Wat, interrupting him.  The pathetic and mysterious manner in which the mole-catcher spoke this, alarmed our hero and produced an instant change in his manner; “What of her Wat,” cried he eagerly, “is any thing the matter? tell me quickly, for heaven’s sake!”  Wat answered in a tone of greater feeling than any one would have believed him to possess, “She is dead, Twm—dead, and in her cold grave, these four months past.  God forgive you, if you have sent her to it, but you alone have the blame of it at Tregaron.”  This intelligence was a thunderbolt to our hero; his agony appeared insupportable, as he sat on the road side to indulge it, till tears came to his relief, which at length flowed abundantly.  It was not till after they were lodged for the night at Hungerford that Twm found himself capable of questioning his friend further on this unhappy subject, when he was informed that the fair Gwenny Cadwgan had declined in p. 176health from day to day, pining, it was said, with secret grief, the cause of which she refused to discover, even to her father; but it soon came out, for Death hastened to her relief, and she died a mother: a premature mother, it is true, and her infant was buried in the same grave with its ill-used broken-hearted, youthful parent.

Hitherto, mental suffering had never been a long guest with our hero; but now, in proportion to his affection for the departed fair one, was his remorse, his self-accusing reflections for his neglect of the fond heart he had won, and the ruin he had brought on one whom he had found so happy.  He became ill, and incapable of pursuing his journey the next day, when Wat left him, expressing a hope that he would soon be able to overtake him, that they might enter London together.

He remained three days at Hungerford before he was sufficiently recovered to pursue his journey; at the end of which time, being still at a loss for a horse, on enquiring for an animal of a humble description, he was directed to an old pedlar, who had failed to dispose of a wretched thing of his at the fair.  On going with him down a green lane where he had left it grazing, he was not a little surprized to find the creature offered to him for sale to be no other than his own mountain pony, left in exchange with the highwayman, having on its back the identical pack-saddle, in which he had formerly concealed his money.  Too depressed in spirits to enter into any detail on the subject, having merely learnt that the pedlar had taken it in exchange p. 177for goods from a traveller, Twm purchased both pony and pack-saddle for the small sum of twelve shillings, and immediately set off on his journey.

Alive to the importance of the trust reposed in him, and the danger he ran of being robbed, these considerations had the effect of dissipating his melancholy, and setting him somewhat on his mettle.  Well for him it was, that he could so rouse his dormant energies, for by the time that he was within ten miles of Reading, in Berkshire, anxiously hoping to reach it without disaster, the sudden discharge of a pistol, close to his ear, convinced him he was in the centre of danger.  Instantly a horseman well mounted rode fiercely down a lane that entered the road, and ordered him to stop and deliver in one minute, or have his brains scattered on the hedge beside him.

Our hero’s presence of mind never forsook him, and now stood his friend in an especial manner.  Assuming an air of clownish simplicity, he replied, “Laud bless ye master, I ha gotten nothing to deliver, but an old testament, a crooked sixpence, and a broken fish-hook, and—and—”  “And what, you prevaricating young scoundrel!” roared the highwayman, “why this purse,” continued Twm, “which uncle Timothy gave I to market for him and pay his bills at Reading to-morrow;” producing at the same time, an old stocking, which he had stuffed with old nails and cockle-shells, in order to make a jingle.  The robber made a grasp at the supposed well-stocked purse, which Twm dexterously p. 178evaded, and flung the purse over the hedge into the adjoining field, and riding on, while the former instantly alighted, blustering out a fund of oaths and bullying threats, as he made his way to the field to search for the coveted treasure.

Aware that on his poor pony he could not but be soon overtaken, and perhaps shot, by the disappointed freebooter, Twm felt that a daring act requiring the firmest resolution was to be instantly performed to ensure his safety, and proceeded immediately to its achievement.  The knight of the road, when he alighted, threw his bridle over a hedgestake; Twm abandoning his pony for the second time, watched the robber into the field, crawled along the ditch till he reached his horse, which he instantly seized by the bridle, mounted and rode off in a hot gallop, till he got safe into the ancient town of Reading, as the clear-toned bells of St. Lawrence were chiming their last evening peal.


Twm becomes a pedestrian.  Adventures of Wat the mole-catcher.  The Cardiganshire lasses.  Tragic relation.  Stalking Simon murdered.  Twm is stopped by a footpad, whom he out-generals and shoots.  Arrives in London.

Twm was not so fortunate with this steed as the former, which, being white, and otherwise very remarkable, he had the precaution to have cried next morning, when a wealthy attorney of Reading came forward and claimed it.  On hearing p. 179Twm’s story, he very handsomely made him a present of ten pounds, partly in consideration of the loss of his own beast, which he had sustained by the adventure.

Being now within eight-and-thirty miles of London, he resolved to throw off his rustic disguise, and walk the rest of his journey.  Accordingly, he bought a neat suit of clothes at Reading, in which he concealed his money and a pair of small pocket pistols; and thus provided, he resumed his journey to the metropolis.  Having gone twelve miles further, which brought him to Maidenhead, the first person that he met in the street was Wat the mole-catcher, who had sold his pigs to great advantage to a London dealer; and was now sauntering about from tavern to tavern, spending money that was not his own.  Twm at first thought of commissioning him to be the bearer of some cash to his mother, but soon found sufficient reason for banishing such an idea.  On asking him when he intended to return to Tregaron, the mole-catcher with strong emphasis exclaimed “never!” adding that he had made the place too hot ever to hold him again.  On being pressed to relate his adventures since our hero left him at Tregaron, he ran them over in the following off hand strain.  “When you were a child, Twm, I was a merry happy lad; and you know, had the reputation as the funny fellow of Tregaron, a distinction that it was my highest ambition to attain.  The comical tricks and humorous sayings of Wat the mole-catcher, made mirth at every farmer’s hearth, and their tables were spread with food p. 180for me whenever I called.  As I grew older, my pleasures and antipathies acquired a stronger cast; and there were but few in our adjoining parishes who were subject either to execration or ridicule, but dreaded my satire and exposure.  I formed attachments more than once among the daughters of the farmers whom I had frequently entertained at the social evening hearth; but although my jests were relished, my overtures were rejected.  In short, I found that while mirth, innocence, and harmless wit were my companions, parents generally disposed of their daughters to young men of characters directly opposed to mine—the stupidly grave, and knavish.  My eyes were at length opened; and I found that the funny man however amusing as an acquaintance, was by none as coveted as a relative, but considered as a merry unthrift, a mere diverting vagabond at best.  Well, thought I, as I saw the world in the nakedness of its opinion, this will never do, but since gravity is the order of the day, I will be grave and roguish as the most successful of my fellow men.  Having once come to this conclusion, I studied knavery, that is to say, thrifty rascality, like a science.  You had a specimen of my skill when you played me that pretty trick that lost me the parish clerkship, and the fair hand of Bessy Gwevel-hîr.  As a first step I went immediately to my grandmother, who had often exhorted me to quit my sinful mirth and become serious, when I assured her of my conversion, in token of which, I threw myself on my knees, and entreated her blessing.  She afterwards took me to p. 181a puritanic chapel, and in that assembly, where I had often pinned the skirts and gown-tails of the elect together, the poor old doting soul in the pride of her heart exhibited her young convert to the gaze of the saints; but neglected to inform them that I had robbed her that same evening, of half the contents of her pocket, as she lay asleep.  I was not long in discovering that a sedate aspect was a goodly mask for the most profitable villainy, and therefore determined to wear it for life.  Laughter, jest, and mirthful humour, and all those thriftless indications of the light and harmless heart, I abjured forever.  I now gave a respite to the rats and moles, and set up as a butcher at Tregaron; and for one sheep that I bought of the farmers, I stole three, and slaughtered them either by moonlight on the hills, or by candle in my own cottage.  Although I daily bettered my condition, I considered this but a slow and creeping course to thrift; and therefore, as conscience no longer stood in my way, I meditated some bolder way of leaping into property at once.  You know that wrinkled old she-usurer of Tregaron, Rachel Ketch; in the bitterness of my heart, after losing all hope of a fair girl, whom I had long doated on, I went to the old Jezebel and sought her hand in marriage; aye, and would have taken her were she ten times as loathsome, in the anxious hope of her speedy death and of succeeding to her golden hoards.  I strove to recommend myself by assuring her I was the most finished scoundrel in existence; and that when gain was my object, theft, perjury, and even murder, however p. 182hideous to silly innocents, had no power to scare me from my pursuit.  This avowal of my noble qualifications I thought would have won her heart forever, but I was mistaken.  The keen-eyed hag, who never was seen to smile before, laughed outright at my proposal.  ‘What, you want the old woman’s gold, master cut-throat of the muttons, do you? to cut her throat also, and make away with her in a month after marriage, like a troublesome old ewe!’ screamed she, as her spiteful broken snags grinned defiance, and her shrill tones broke out in laughs of mockery.  I never saw mirth so damnable before!  I felt myself the butt of her ridicule, humbled and degraded; and as my anger rose against the beldame, I resolved that since I could not wed her, to rob her would answer my purpose full as well.  An opportunity was not long wanting; the little boys who had formerly been my favorites, and who in their innocence failed to recognize my altered character, I found it difficult to drive from me.  A neighbour’s child one day asked me to lift him up to Rachel Ketch’s thatch, to take from it a wren’s nest which he had long watched, and said he was sure that the young ones were on the eve of flying.  It was a winning little urchin that made the request, and I could not refuse him.  The moment that I had raised him to a standing posture on my shoulders, he eagerly thrust his little hand into the thatch, and cried, ‘Dear dear, how cold!’ when a snake which he had felt, that had destroyed the young birds, and coiled itself round in the nest, darted out in his face, and the youngster shrieked and fainted p. 183in my arms.  I carried him home, where he soon died of the fright, for it appeared he was not stung.  I suspected there was a nest of those detestable reptiles in the old rotten straw thatch, and therefore poked it in all directions with a long hooked stick, and at last felt something attached to it; as I drew it forward and examined it, to my great astonishment I found it to be an old woollen stocking, closely stuffed with various golden coins.  Here was a discovery!  I felt myself a made man forever!  The old woman was at this time in Carmarthenshire, where she had gone to enforce her claims to certain debts among her former neighbours; and therefore having no fear of detection, I pushed back the golden prize and went away, intending to return for it at night.  As I anxiously watched the hours and minutes pass away, reflecting the while on my newly-acquired wealth, a raging savage spirit of avarice so possessed me, that I determined to plunder old Rachel’s cottage of all the money I could find.  Night came, and with breathless haste I made an entrance through the thatch on the side furthest from the street, and at midnight went away with a heavy booty, the greater part of which, I buried beneath the floor of my own cottage, determined to seek the first opportunity of quitting Tregaron forever.  Fortune seemed to favor me beyond my hopes; Squire Graspacre having a numerous herd of unusually fine hogs, engaged me to drive them to England and sell them at a good price; I have done so, and pocketted the cash, not one farthing of which will the squire ever handle.  p. 184To relate all my rogueries since I became a grave man would take too much of your time, so here ends my story.”

Twm’s observations on this remarkable narrative were very brief.  “I know my own numerous faults too well to blame you highly for anything you have done, except robbing the poor helpless old woman: that was a villainous affair Wat, and will not stand the test of my friend Rhys’s noble precept—War not with the weak.  I have a mother, Wat, who is also an old woman, and who but a dastardly villain could ever think of robbing her.”  “Very true,” replied Wat, “but she whom I plundered was a rich old woman; and to steal from her who had robbed hundreds by her over-reaching usury will never lie much on my conscience.  Perhaps in time I may form a plan to recover the cash buried under my cottage floor; if not, I can make myself very happy with what I already have, in addition to the squire’s pig-money; so that I shall be quite safe and unmolested in England, and while I have money, nobody will dare to question my respectability.”

At this moment, a party of Cardiganshire lasses, who were making their annual journey to weed the gardens in the neighbourhood of London, passed opposite the tavern door, where our worthies were sitting; Twm recognized two Tregaron girls, and called to them by name, when they all went up together.  The two rural damsels were right glad to see their long lost countryman; Twm Shôn Catti, but their reception of Wat was very different, as it amounted to terror p. 185and abhorrence.  They said he was charged not only with the robbery of Rachel Ketch’s cottage, but with murder; that the constables were out to search for him in all quarters, and that Squire Graspacre had sent out a man to supersede Wat in the care of his pigs.

Here Wat’s spirit of bravado entirely deserted him, and evident terror was depicted in his countenance, while his emotion was too great to make any remark on the information given by the girls.

After Twm had treated all the maidens with bread and cheese and ale, and dismissed them on their journey, Wat, in great agony of mind, exclaimed, “Oh God, where shall I fly! all my supposed security I find but a dream, and misery alone awaits me.  When I told you the tale of my enormities, I kept back the relation of one crime, a dreadful one! which, lost as I am, I felt averse to acknowledge, and too heart-smote with the consciousness of its atrocity, to turn to it my most secret thought—’twas a deed of blood, the crime of murder.  You remember a tall, thin, skeleton-like man, generally dressed in an entire suit of grey, who lived in a cottage on the mountain, in the neighbourhood of Tregaron, known by the nick-name of Stalking Simon the Moon-calf.  This man was known to be a spy employed and paid by all the neighbouring farmers.  His habits were, to sleep all day, and to spend the night on the hills, watching to identify the hedge-pluckers and sheep-stealers.  Many poor persons who depended on their nightly excursions, for fuel, while they p. 186deemed themselves unobserved of any human being, cutting down a tree, or drawing dry wood from an old hedge, would suddenly find themselves in the presence of Stalking Simon.  So instantaneous was his appearance, as to startle his victims with the idea of an apparition suddenly sprung up through the ground, as his approach was never seen till close upon them.  ‘’Tis only me, neighbour,’ would be the hypocrite’s reply, ‘searching for my stray pony:’ but when two persons had been executed, and three transported, on his evidence, the nature of his employment became known, and he was execrated by the whole country.  One moonlight night, as I was skinning a fine stolen wether, which I had suspended and spread out on an old storm-beaten thorn, in a field adjoining the mountain, easy in mind, and so fearless of danger that I whistled in a half-hushed manner, as I followed my illicit occupation, a circumstance took place that wrought a violent change in the tone of my mind.  My thoughts ran on the whimsicality of the idea of selling a portion of this very mutton to the rightful owner, on the morrow, which was market day, and laughing inwardly at the thought; all at once, Stalking Simon, with a single stride, moved from behind a mossy elm, grey as his own suit, and stood before me.  My blood curdled with the sudden transition from mirth to terror; but when the stone-hearted wretch made the old Judas-like reply, ‘It is only me neighbour, searching for my stray pony,’ I knew the amount of my danger, and my terror changed to savage ferocity p. 187against the vile informer who had ruined so many of my friends and neighbours.  In the fever of my hatred I darted on him, grasped his collar with one hand, and with the other stabbed him to the heart.”

Thus ended Wat’s relation, when he again exclaimed “Oh God where shall I fly?  I cannot return, for that road leads straight to the gallows, and in London I should be in hourly danger of being seen by somebody from the country.  Since the perpetration of this deed of blood I have not known an hour’s peace, save in the madness of the intoxicating cup.  Heaven is my witness, I could be content with slavery, and smile beneath the man-driver’s whip—could strip myself and wander the world in nakedness, or herd with beasts, to regain my former peace and innocence!  Oh, I could labour till my bones ached, and my exhausted body dropped to the earth with fatigue, to be once more free from the keen stings of a guilty conscience.”

Wat was now a figure of the most heart-torn remorse; his reddened eyes were tearless, and seemed burning in their sockets; while large drops of sweat rolled down his sun-burnt cheeks, and his whole countenance exhibited the most intense agony.  In such an hour as this, Twm was no comforter, although he was much affected, but merely listened in silence.  A grey-coated man now approaching the tavern, brought dreadful associations to Wat’s terrified conscience, and in the utmost trepidation he darted out at the back door of the inn, and ran across the fields with the speed of a pursued murderer.

p. 188Our hero, now a pedestrian, hurried off on his journey, determined to make up for the time lost at Maidenhead, by walking at a spirited pace; and without stopping a moment, he passed through Langley, Broom, and Colnbrook, hoping to reach Hounslow at least that night.  He had travelled unimpeded till within two miles of the last named town, when he met a long-bearded man, who might have passed for the high priest of a Jewish synagogue.  Twm stared at him with surprize, but passed on a few steps, when he heard the other at his heels; and turning round, he found him with a pistol aimed at his head, as he called out in the true slang of the road, “Your money or your life.”

Our hero, having now met a few rencontres of this kind, had lost his terror of them; he answered in a submissive style, declaring that he had no money of his own to resign, but it was true he had a considerable sum of his master’s: “I don’t see,” quoth he, “why I should lose or risk my life for any master’s service, though I should like it may appear that I made some resistance before I resigned his property; and therefore if you first fire your pistol through the lapel of my coat, you shall have all;” when the footpad immediately did as requested.  “Now,” quoth Twm again, “another shot through the skirt on the other side.”  “Very true,” replied the thief, and fired his other pistol as directed.  “And now, for a finish,” said Twm, “before I give up to you this large sum, just fire a shot through my hat,” laying it down on the ground as he spoke.  “I have no more shot,” cried the p. 189robber.  “But I have!” exclaimed our hero, triumphantly, producing a pistol, “the contents of this you must take instead of the money I spoke of—a just reward for a shallow knave, whose length of beard is greater than of brains:” at which words, perceiving that the bearded thief aimed to escape, he fired his pistol and shot him dead.  Tearing his false beard off, he bore it away as a trophy, and hastened onward.

Being now, as he was previously informed, in the very republic of highwaymen and foodpads, our hero, though greatly fatigued, resolved not to spend the night at Hounslow, but persevere in his route and go the additional nine miles, which would bring him to the great metropolis, and his journey’s end, before he rested.  It was near one o’clock, when at length after many inquiries among the Watchmen, he found out the Bull and Gate inn, Holborn; where with blistered feet and sadly fatigued body, he joyfully took his supper and ordered his bed.  Who but a pedestrian could enter into his feelings!


Twm’s return to Wales.  The death of Sir George Devereux.  The loves of Twm Shôn Catti and the lady of Ystrad Fîn.  Their joys converted into sorrows.  Their parting.

It was soon known at Ystrad Fîn that our hero had fulfilled his commission by delivering the money with which he was intrusted, at the place of its destination; and great anxiety was expressed p. 190by Sir George and his lady for his return to Wales.  The baronet, however, was not destined to put his benevolent intentions in his favor into execution, for, about two months after Twm’s departure, on riding home an ill-broken horse, which he had purchased at Brecon, he was thrown, and killed by the fall.  His widow, of course, appeared in weeds; but as the last like her former union with the high pedigreed Thomas ap Rhys ap William Thomas Goch, the former proprietor of Ystrad Fîn, was a marriage of interest planned by her father, Sir John Price, of the Priory, Brecon, it was thought her grief on the occasion was not excessive: at least, such appeared to be the general opinion among the gallants of Brecon, many of whom waited anxiously for the throwing off of her mourning, to declare themselves candidates for her heart and hand.

Month after month passed away without Twm’s return; and when a whole year had run its course, the lady of Ystrad Fîn, who had frequently expressed her alarms for his safety, at length concluded that he certainly was no longer on the records of the living.  The young widow speaking of him one day to a female friend, described him as very beautiful of person, and one who deserved the favors of fortune; the greatest of which, in her estimation, would be his acquirement of rank and station by marriage—by an union with a liberal fair, who could overlook his humbleness of birth in consideration of his personal merit.  “But the generous young man,” said she, while the tears started in her fine eyes, p. 191“is doubtless dead.  I feel for him as an amiable unfriended stranger who deserved a better fate than to die in obscurity, as Nature had formed him for distinction, if not renown.”

The conversation then changed, when the widow’s fair friend jocularly alluded to the probability of her again doffing her weeds for bridal robes.  “Never!” exclaimed Lady Devereux, “twice have I been a wife and widow, and can safely assert that, love never had a share in the disposal of my hand.  Twice have I been bartered to suit the capricious views and family pride of a father; but were it possible for me to utter ‘love, honor, and obey,’ again, within sacred walls, it should be to one whom I love indeed—love, honor, and obey!—and not to the contemporary of my grandfather, or my father’s schoolfellow.”

It was about two months after this conversation took place, that our hero appeared, well mounted on a goodly steed, and entered the court yard of Ystrad Fîn.  In a moment, the circumstance was told to Lady Devereux, who almost leaped from her seat, and hurried to meet him, as he reached the entrance of the hall.  Twm had heard of the decease of Sir George, and prepared himself with the tone and manner of a condoler, but found it quite unnecessary when he noticed the brisk advance and gay countenance of the handsome widow.  “My dear Mr. Jones, welcome, most welcome, back to Wales, and trebly welcome to me and the lonely walls of Ystrad Fîn!” was her first salutation, as with her natural cordiality she stretched out her right hand, p. 192which our hero eagerly seized, ardently pressed, and held to his lips.  She was not long in discovering the change for the better which had taken place in his address; his former ungainly diffidence and indecision of manner being supplanted by easy confidence, supported by high animal spirits.

The widow, in conversing with her friend Miss Meredith, declared herself delighted with him, and our hero appeared no less pleased with the lady.  At her invitation, he became an inmate of the house, until, as she said, he could put himself to rights.  The sum of money left to her care, was delivered up to him with considerable additions, in return for his services by the journey to London, and from her own private bounty.

When the youth, beauty, and frank good nature of the lady are taken into account, it will be no matter of surprize that our hero was soon very deeply infatuated with the lady of Ystrad Fîn; or that he should, agreeably to his matured character, very energetically protest himself her sincere admirer, friend, and even lover!  If the lady chided him, it was with that gentleness that seemed to say, “Pray do so again.”  If she turned aside her head to conceal her blushes, smiles ever accompanied them, in coming and retreating; or if she frowned, it was so equivocally, that for the life of him, our hero could not help considering each transient bend of the brow as so many invitations to kiss them away, which the gallant Twm never failed to accept and obey.  These golden days were too rich in p. 193delight to last long.  As the good-natured and most virtuous world discovered that they were very happy and pleased with each other, it breathed forth its malignant spirit, and doubted whether they had a legitimate right to be so; of course deciding that they had not, and consequently awarding to the lovers the pains and penalties of persecution and mutual banishment.  When they had become, for some time, undivided companions, and walked, rode, danced at Brecon balls, and resided under the same roof together, although under the strict guidance of moral propriety, as daily witnessed by the lady’s female friends: it will be no wonder that scandal at last became busy with the lady’s fame.  An additional incentive for raising these evil reports was, that she had rejected the attentions of several of the rural nobles, who had endeavoured to recommend themselves to her good graces.  All at once, like the inmates of a hornet’s nest, the various members of her family, the proud Prices of Breconshire, buzzed about her ears, and stung her with their reproaches.  She bore all with determined patience, until assured that her fame had been vilified, and that she had been described as living a life of profligacy and dishonour.  Conscious of rectitude, however indiscreet she might have been, the haughtiness of her spirit now rose, as she indignantly repelled the infamous charges; in the end, requesting her dear friends and relatives to dismiss their tender fears for her reputation, and keep to their own domains for the future, or at least not trouble hers.

Notwithstanding this rough reception of her p. 194generous advisers, and reporters of the world’s slanders, others came, almost daily, buzzing still the same tale, till at length tired and wore down in spirits, she consented to send away her deliverer and friend, as she called him, from the protection of her roof.  Our hero, however, could never be brought to distinguish between her real kind feelings towards him, and the constrained appearance which her altered conduct made in his sight.  Free as the air, as he felt himself, he could not understand why a great and wealthy lady could not at least be equally unshackled and independent.  Explanations and excuses were entirely thrown away upon him, as he could not, or would not, understand aught so opposed to his happiness and preconceived notions.  When at length it was made known to him that the separation was inevitable, and the season of it arrived, he received the astounding intelligence like a severe blow of fortune, that struck him at once both sorrowful and meditative.  Pride and resentment, from a sense of injury, at last supplanted every other feeling; and, starting up with a frenzied effort, he ordered his horse to be got ready, and gave directions for his things to be forwarded to Llandovery; after which he wrote a note, and sent it to the lady’s room, requesting a momentary interview with her alone, before he took his departure.  She came down with a slow languid step, and met him in the parlour.  Her eyes were red with weeping; and before she could utter a syllable, our hero’s much altered looks affected her so much, that she burst out into heavy sobbing.  “Do not p. 195think hardly—do not feel unkindly towards me, Jones,” were her first words; “I entreat you to give me the credit due to my sincerity, when I assure you that the sacrifice I made on consenting to part with you, was—yes! although I have buried two husbands who loved me tenderly, it was the heaviest of my life.”  Twm replied in a tone and manner that evinced both his pride and sufferings: “I have but few words, madam, and they shall not long intrude upon your leisure.  I came here a stranger, and had some trifling claims, perhaps, on your attention.—Those claims have been more than satisfied—noble has been your remuneration of my humble services, your beneficence generous and princely.  A change took place in your destiny; you honoured me beyond my merits, and bade me stand to the world in a new character.  You called me friend, your sole true friend in a faithless world.—Nay, lady, your lover.  I loved, and love you, with a pure but unconquerable flame.  Blame me not if I am presumptuous—it was your own condescension, your own encouragement, that made me so, and elevated me to a stand of equality with yourself.  You gave me hopes to be the future, the only husband of your choice.  You stretched forth your hand to aid my efforts, as I eagerly climbed towards the darling object of my aim; but before I attained the summit, you, madam, in a spirit of caprice or treachery, dashed me headlong downward, to perish in despair.  Your great and wealthy friends will praise you for this, while mincing madams and insipid misses shall learn a noble lesson by your conduct, and p. 196emulating you, become in their day as arrant coquettes and tramplers on manly hearts, as their more limited powers and vanity will permit.  But enough! you shall have your generous triumph,—and from this hour I tread the world without an aim, a wanderer in a wilderness, reckless of all that can either better or worsen my state in life.  Advancement, estimation, the pride of generous and applauded deeds, I here abjure; nor from this hour would I raise my hand to save from annihilation the being I am—for life is henceforth hateful to me.  Lady, farewell—never will I cross your path; but you may hear of my wayward steps,—and if in me you are told of a wretched idiot, a being whose mind had perished while his frame was strong, let it strike strongly to your heart that it was yourself that wrought that mental desolation.  Or if they name me as a lawless being, plunged headlong into deeds of guilt and madness, remember it is you, you, madam! you are the authoress of my crimes and sorrows, and may be, of an ignominious death to follow my career of guilt.  And now madam, farewell indeed!”  On which he darted out, mounted his horse, and rode off; while the unhappy lady of Ystrad Fîn, whose agitation choked the utterance of replies, caught a last glimpse of him, and fell on the parlour floor in a swoon.

p. 197CHAP. XXIV.

Twm’s eccentricities.  His rural adventures with the two sheep, the white ox, and the grey horse.  Teaches the farmer how to pound the squire’s trespassing pigeons.

When our hero arrived at Llandovery, his sorrows were augmented on learning that his faithful friend Rhys the curate was no longer to be his comforter, though much needed under his present mental depression; it was no small satisfaction to him, however, to be informed that he had been inducted into a good living in a distant part of the principality.  The life he led at Llandovery, although lodging at an inn, was, for some days, that of a solitary; days! alas for the consistency of the lover,—days, we repeat, and not weeks or months, much less years, of seclusion from his kind.  He soon illustrated the Shakspearian adage, “Men have died, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.”  But by him every thing was to done by strokes of boldness; to banish his cares, he plunged at once into intemperance; and from merely tolerating a little cheerful company, he entered the society of the greatest topers and madcaps to be found, till he emulated and outdid the highest, and became the very prince of wags and practical jokers.  He was, of course, recognized as the capturer of the tremendous highwayman Dio the Devil, and the acknowledged preserver of the lady of Ystrad Fîn, which, with his relations of many freaks and vagaries in England, together with the assured fact that he had been once in London, p. 198and spent a year there, gained him no inconsiderable share of celebrity.  One day, while the landlord of the Owen Glendower inn was trumpeting forth the humorous fame of his lodger, among a parlour full of country squires, who were dining together, after the business of Quarter Sessions was over; a merry magistrate named Prothero said, that he was certain he had a servant, a shrewd fellow, whose wits never slumbered, whom he would back in a bet against the vaunted cleverness of Twm Shôn Catti, in any feat of dexterity that could be named.  To come to the point, he said, he would lay a wager of five pounds that Twm could not steal a sheep from shrewd Roger, his ploughman, who the next morning should carry one to the village of Llangattock.  Twm was sent for; and being invited to sit among these rural nobles, appeared as complete a high fellow as the best of them.  Without the least hesitation, he accepted Mr. Prothero’s wager, and deposited five pounds with the landlord, as the merry magistrate had already done.  Early the next morning shrewd Roger rose, and shouldered his sheep, vowing before his grinning fellow-servants, who grouped round to crack their jests on him, that the wild devil himself should not deprive him of his burthen.  As he proceeded along a part of the high road, up a slight ascent, he discovered with surprise, a good leathern shoe lying in the mud.  A shoe of leather, be it known, in a country where wooden clogs are generally worn, is no despicable prize.  The shrewd servant looked at the object before him with a longing eye; but p. 199reflecting that one shoe, however good, was useless unmatched with a fellow, spared himself the trouble of stooping, for troublesome it would have been with such a weight on his shoulders, and passed on without lifting it.  On walking a little further, and pursuing a bend in the road, great was his surprise on finding another shoe, a fellow to the former, lying in the sledge-mark, which, like the rut of a wheel, indented the mud with hollow stripes.  In the height of his joy he laid down the sheep, with its legs tied, beside the shoe, and ran back for the other; when Twm Shôn Catti, watching his opportunity, sprang over the hedge, and seized his prize, which he bore off securely, won his bet, and ate his mutton undisturbed.

Prothero, although the most good-humoured of country gentlemen, was rather angry with shrewd Roger, whose shrewdness became rather questionable.  It was admitted, in excuse, that the most cunning, at times, may be accidentally overreached by his inferior in wit: on this plea the merry magistrate was conciliated, and induced to enter into another wager, precisely like the former, when a similar sum, against our hero, and in favor of his servant was laid and accepted.  The man of shrewdness, as before, determined to use the utmost vigilance and caution to preserve his charge and redeem his reputation.  He grasped his load, which was a fine fat ewe, most manfully, and swore violent oaths in answer to his master’s exhortation to chariness, that human ingenuity should never trick him again; but

“Great protestations do make that doubted,
Which we would else right willingly believe.”

p. 200In his way to Llangattock, he had to pass partly through a wood, which he scarce entered when the bleating of a sheep attracted his attention, and he came to a dead stand, as he intently listened to what he conceived a well-known voice.  “Baa!—baa!” again saluted his ear: a sudden conviction rushed across his mind that this was the very sheep he had before lost, which he imagined might have been concealed by Twm in the rocky recesses of that woody dingle.  What a glorious chance, thought he, of recovering his lost credit with his master, and depriving his antagonist at the same time, of his hidden prey, and the laurels achieved in the winning of it.  He instantly deposited his burthen beneath a tree; and eagerly forcing his way through the copse and bushes, he followed the bleating a considerable way down the wood, when to his great dismay it ceased altogether.  A thought now struck him, though rather too late, that the bleating proceeded from no sheep, but a most subtle ram, in the person of Twm Shôn Catti: he hurried back in a grievous fright, and found his surmises but too true—the second sheep, and his high reputation for shrewdness, had both taken flight together.

On being confronted with shrewd Roger, in his master’s parlour, Twm recognized in him an old acquaintance, and no other than the clever youth with whom he had exchanged his feminine attire at Cardigan fair, and made off with his coat.  On being reminded of that affair, and told by Twm that he was the fair ballad-singer with whom he was so deeply captivated, the poor fellow was absorbed in wonderment.  He then p. 201related to his master the whole of that adventure, with the episode of the parson tossed in a blanket for a bum-bailiff, in such a manner as to excite the most immoderate laughter on the part of the jest-loving Prothero, who good-naturedly assured his man that he lost but little credit with the sheep, when it was considered that he stood opposed to an arch wag of so much celebrity.

Fortune was not so scurvy a stepmother to Twm as to confine him long to a diet of mere mutton, but took occasion to vary it very agreeably with a change of beef.

Determined to have more mirth with our hero, at the hazard of some loss, Prothero offered to oppose to his cunning, the collective vigilance of his husbandmen and maidens; laying a bet with him that he should not steal a white ox, which, with a black one, was to be yoked to the plough.  The plough to be held by Roger and driven by another servant; while two girls, driving each a harrow, should also be on their guard to prevent his aim if possible.

Twm accepted the bet, and obligingly undertook to convey away the white ox, and eat the gentleman’s beef, provided it turned out sufficiently tender; protesting, with a half yawn and the perfect ease of a modern Corinthian, that he was absolutely tired of mutton, which he had too long persisted in eating, against the judgement and advice of his physician.

The day arrived, the great, the important day, big with the fate of the white ox.  The plough was guided and the cattle driven, while the two bare-footed maidens giggled and laughed till the p. 202rocks echoed, as they whipped the horses and ran by their sides, till the harrows bounced against the stones, and sometimes turned over; their mirth was excited by the idea of Twm’s folly in accepting such a bet, and thinking to steal the white ox from under their noses, the impossibility of which was so evident.  The two servants at the plough also cracked and enjoyed their joke at the thoughts of our hero’s temerity, at the same time keeping a wary eye in every direction, armed against surprisals, and exulting in the thought that for once, at least, the dexterous Twm would be baffled in his aim.  Time passed on; the day waned away towards evening, and as their fatigue increased, their vigilance gradually lessened.

A Llandovery-man, known to them all, passing through the green lane by the field, now addressed these husbandmen, laughing at their caution, and assuring them that Twm had given up the idea of outwitting such a wary and clever party, and was at that moment drinking his wine with their master, whom he had allowed to win the wager.  “Allowed, indeed!” quoth a sharp-tongued lass, as she stopped her harrow to listen, “pretty allowing, when he could not help himself.”  “Aye,” cried the other girl, “so the fox allowed the goose to escape, when she took to flight and escaped his clutches.”  Roger and the plough-boy exulted in their anticipated reward of a skin full of strong beer; thus the whole party was excited to a high pitch of triumphant mirth.  The Llandovery-man was of course a decoy, and his report had really the p. 203effect of throwing them off their guard, which another circumstance contributed to aid.  The rural party had rested, sitting on their ploughs and harrows, at one end of the field, while they listened to their informant; and now were about to resume their labours, when a hare started from an adjoining thicket, crossing the ground towards the opposite hedge.  Suddenly the halloo arose, away ran the ploughmen and girls, and away ran the yapping sheep-dog, amid the clamour of shouting and barking; but still stood the wondering oxen, whose grave looks of astonishment gradually changed to a more animated expression of alarm on the arrival of Twm Shôn Catti.  Having loosed his captive hare to decoy the clowns, he availed himself of their absence to dress the black ox in a white morning gown,—that is to say, a sheet, which became him much, and contrasted with his complexion amazingly; and the white ox he attired in a suit of mourning, formed of the burial pall, which he had borrowed of the clerk of Llandingad church for that express purpose, and having loosened his fair friend from the yoke, they suddenly disappeared through a gap in the hedge.  Although busily engaged in the gentlemanly pastime of the chase, the husbandry worthies now and then glanced towards the plough, but seeing, as they thought, the white ox safe, returned to it at a leisurely pace, till quickened as they neared it by the singular sight before them: and their petty vexation at losing the hare was now swallowed up by the terrible circumstance of the loss of their especial charge.  A suitable lamentation p. 204followed of course, which was succeeded by fear and trembling, from a conviction that Twm Shôn Catti dealt with the devil; and that the hare which they had chased was no other than the foe of man in disguise.  This reasonable and self-evident assumption quite satisfied their merry master, who deemed himself well compensated for his loss by the hearty laugh he enjoyed.

Twm entered Llandovery, leading his white ox in triumph; having tied together several silk handkerchiefs of various colours and thrown them across its horns, while the head and neck were adorned with a gay garland, formed of a profusion of wild flowers.  Loud were the huzzas and laughter with which he was received by the juvenile part of the population of Llandovery; not one of whom enjoyed the sight more than the good-humoured Prothero, who cheerfully paid the bet, and from a tavern window had a full view of the scene, which he declared excited his laughter till his heart and sides ached with the agreeable convulsion.

Our hero loved variety; without altogether alienating his affections from beef and mutton, he evinced a very ardent passion for horse-flesh; and pursued it with all the fiery zest of a first-love, when impeded by difficulties the most insurmountable.  The lady of Ystrad Fîn still sitting on his heart like a night-mare, and pinching it with pain, rendered him, however amusing to others, miserable enough within himself.  Lassitude, chagrin, and bitterness, often betrayed themselves in his countenance and manners, and p. 205were only transiently removed by the hilarity of the company with which he mixed, or the freaks which he played in his ill-combined humours of mirth and sorrow.  Reckless of consequences, he now entered into follies less innocent than hitherto detailed, led to them more by a spirit of youthful wildness than any really criminal intention.

Being one day at Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, he saw his old enemy, Evans of Tregaron, riding into the town on a fine grey horse; he determined in an instant that he would deprive him of a property which he deemed too good for such a churl; and as self-will was with him the sole ruling power that claimed either his attention or obedience, the affair was at once settled.  Off rode the dauntless Twm, on the parson’s horse, to Welshpool fair, where he soon found a purchaser for it, and received the amount in hard cash.  The new proprietor of the grey steed was well pleased with his bargain, and Twm took a generous pleasure in making him still happier, by descanting further on the noble creature’s merits, which, certainly, was very generous, as he was not interested in vaunting its qualities.  “I protest to you, in honesty and truth,” said he with much earnestness, “you have a greater bargain than you imagine; as I was not at all anxious to sell him, I have omitted to inform you of half his good points: he is capable of performing such wonderful feats as you never saw or heard of.”  “You don’t say so!” exclaimed the elated purchaser, staring alternately at his horse and in the face of our hero.  “A p. 206fact I assure you,” cries Twm, with the most sober face imaginable; “and if you don’t believe me, I’ll convince you in a moment, if you will allow me to mount him.”  “Oh certainly, with many thanks,” quoth the delighted Jemmy Green of past days.  Twm very leisurely mounted, and after a variety of postures and curvetings, gradually got out of the fair into the high road; suddenly giving spur and rein to the “gallant steed,” he astonished his new friend by his disappearance.  The “green one” had to confess with bitterness of heart that the jockey had certainly kept his word, as he shewed him such a trick as he never before saw or heard of.

Twm had scarcely been seated at the Owen Glendower, on his return to Llandovery, when a person called upon him, who described himself as a small farmer living in the neighbourhood, his name Morgan Thomas, and having heard so much of his cleverness, he came to consult him on an affair of great weight.  He had been sadly annoyed, he said, by the continual trespassing of a certain squire’s pigeons on his ground, which made such a havoc amid his wheat, yearly, that the loss was grievous to him: he had computed his damages, and applied for the amount, for the four last years, reckoning that the forty pigeons would devour at least a bushel of wheat each, annually.  The squire only laughed at his claims and complaints, telling him he might pound them, and be d—ned, if he liked, when he would pay the alledged damages, and not till then.  “Now, to pound them I should like vastly,” quoth Morgan Thomas, “but without the squire’s p. 207polite invitation to be d—ned at the same time.  But,” added the poor farmer, “pounding pigeons, I look upon as impossible; yet as you have the fame of performing feats no less wonderful, if you will pound those mischievous pigeons for me, I will engage to give you half the amount of my claims.”  “Agreed!” cried Twm, and grasped his hand, in token that he undertook the task.  He sent a quantity of rum to the farmer’s, next morning, and steeped in it a peck of wheat, which he afterwards scattered about the farm-yard.  The pigeons came, as usual, and eagerly devouring the grain, each and all soon appeared as top-heavy as the veriest toss-pot in Carmarthenshire; and, like the said fraternity, incapable of returning home, they fell in a stupor on the ground.  Our hero, assisted by the farmer, picked them up, tied their legs, and put the whole party in the pound.  The squire, who was no other than Prothero the laughing magistrate, ever pleased with a jest, especially when cracked by our hero, immediately paid the farmer’s demand; and Twm generously refused the proffered remuneration for his very effective assistance.


Twm composes and sends to his mistress his Cywydd y Govid.  Visits her in disguise, and obtains the solemn promise of her hand.  Description of the romantic hill of Dinas, and the excavation in it, since called Twm Shôn Catti’s cave.  Twm suspects himself jilted.

While our hero was thus pursuing his vagaries, the unhappy lady of Ystrad Fîn, who had not p. 208known a day’s peace since his absence, was daily wavering between a resolution to send for him back, to bestow on him her hand, and a deference for her father and proud relatives, who insisted that if ever she married again, it should only be to a title and fortune; by which they should themselves share in the honor.  In the mean time information was brought to her, of his wild tricks and excesses, greatly exaggerated to his disadvantage, which gave that kind-hearted lady the greatest concern, as she conceived herself in part the authoress of his misfortunes.  Twm, at the same time, felt that his tedious absence from the fair widow was no longer to be endured; and as he knew her conduct to be daily watched by her father’s spies, he determined on paying her a visit in disguise.  Previous to putting his design into execution, he composed and sent her the following poem, in which he dwells on, and over-rates his own misfortunes, in a strain calculated to move her tenderness in his favor.


The outcast’s forced ally is mine,
   Affliction is his name;
It is a ruthless savage mate,
And like a foe that’s pale with hate,
   To crush me is his aim:
His cruel shafts are fiercely hurl’d,
He forced me friendless on the world.

If forward, seeking good, I wend,
My eager steps out-strips the fiend;
If backward, I retreat from ill,
My cruel foe arrests me still;
p. 209I seek the flood, to end despair.
Relentless Govid meets me there,
And tells of endless pangs for pride,
The wages of the suicide.

Fell Govid’s mighty in the land,
His children are a horrid band,
Who joy in hapless man’s distress,
Lo, one is Debt—one Nakedness;—
And Need against me doth combine,
(Fierce Govid’s loveless concubine);
And Care, that knows not how to yearn,
Is Govid’s consort, keen and stern:
And thus this family of ill,
E’er bruise my heart and bruise my will.

Though lost to me the tranquil day,
My vanquisher I hope to slay,
The fierce enormous giant fiend
No more the heart of Twm shall rend,
If thou, my lady-love! but smile,
Thou gentle fair, devoid of guile—
Thou darling object of my choice,
Oh bless me with assentive voice,
And soon shall Govid lay his length,
A corse! struck down by Rapture’s strength.

Lady Devereux had read this little poem over the third time, and repeatedly wiped the tears from her beautiful blue eyes, when the maid entered her chamber, and in a tone of complaint informed her mistress that there was a very importunate and troublesome gypsy in the kitchen, who, after having told the fortunes of all the servants in the house, and partook of the usual hospitalities, insisted on seeing her, to tell also, she said, the fortune of the lady of the house.  “I am not in a mood to relish such foolery now, so send her about her business,” answered the lady, in a tone more sorrowful than angry.  “It is quite useless,” replied the girl, “to attempt to send her away; big Evan the gardener tried to take her by the shoulders, and turn her out by force, but she whirled round, grasped him by the arms, p. 210tripped up his heels, and laid him in a moment on the floor.  There she sits in the kitchen, and vows she will not budge from thence for either man or woman, till she sees the lady of Ystrad Fîn, whom she loves, she says, dearer than her life, and would not for millions harm a hair of her head.”  Although too deeply absorbed in sorrow to have her curiosity much excited, she went down stairs, and approaching the sibyl, who had now taken her station in the hall, asked, “What do you want, my good woman?”—“To tell you,” answered she, “not your fortune, but what may be your fortune if you choose.”  “Let me hear then,” said the lady of Ystrad Fîn, with a faint incredulous smile, walking before her, at the same time, into a little back parlour.  Before she could seat herself, the apparent gypsy caught her right hand wrist, and looking round, whispered in her ear,

“To heal your torn bosom, and ease every smart,
Oh take—he’s before you—the youth of your heart.”

The colour fled the fair widow’s cheeks, and in a moment she sank in a swoon in her lover’s arms.  Soon recovering, she desired her maid to deny her to every body that called, “as,” added she with a smile, “I have particular business with the gypsy.”  A scene of tears and tenderness ensued; when Twm, with the utmost fervour, urged his suit with the young widow.  She replied that her father had insisted on, and received her promise, that she would wed no being but who either bore a title, or stood within a relative to one.  “You did well,” replied our hero, with the most impudent and easy confidence, “and your p. 211promise, so far from militating against me, is really in my favor; for am not I the son of a baronet? his natural child, ’tis true, but still his son; and you would break no promise to your father in marrying me; but if you did, so much the better, for a bad promise is better broke than kept.  I have friends at this moment, who are doing their utmost to move my father, Sir John Wynne of Gwydir, to own me publicly for his right worthy son; and if he does not, the loss is his, for I shall certainly disown him else for a father, and claim the parentage of some greater man.”

Twm’s rattling assertions in this respect were more true than he was himself aware; for his friend Prothero, the merry magistrate, learning accidentally, by a chance rencontre with Squire Graspacre, many particulars of his birth, and the hardships of his neglected childhood, determined, if possible, to get him righted at last.

Twm, as he had predetermined, used the present tete-a-tete to some purpose, and soon succeeded in obtaining from the fair object of his hopes a decisive promise that she would be his forever.  The joy of our hero knew no bounds, nor did the lady very strenuously resist his rapturous embraces; but seemed to find her heart relieved by the resolution she had come to, that now, forever, put an end to the conflicting doubts as to her future course, which had so long torn her heart, and banished her peace.

Noon was now verging into evening, and at the earnest request of his mistress, Twm consented, to save appearances, immediately to quit p. 212her roof.  She directed him to wait for her, and her confidential friend Miss Meredith, at the entrance to the ancient cave on the top of Dinas, which was the name of the conical hill exactly fronting the mansion of Ystrad Fîn.  He accordingly took his departure; and winding round the base of Dinas, he crossed the river Towey, which, being then in summer, was there little more than a brook.  After walking over a couple of fields, and a piece of rough common, he had to cross the Towey once more, when he commenced his ascent at the only part of this very steep hill where it was possible to climb.  During his former stay at Ystrad Fîn, this wildly romantic height had been his favorite haunt, as the cave in its side was the greatest object of his wonder.  It was, in fact, a mighty mound, that bore all the appearance of having been, at the period of its formation, convulsed by an earthquake, and in the height of nature’s tremendous heavings, suddenly arrested and becalmed, even while the huge crags were in the act of tumbling down its steep sides.  A narrow valley circled its base, and the mountains around of equal height with itself, separated only by this deep and scanty dell, seemed as if rent from it, during the supposed convulsion of the earth, and Dinas left alone, an interesting monument of the memorable event.  The surface of the acclivous ground was so speckled with huge loose stones, that it was dangerous to hold by them in ascending, as the slightest impetus would roll them downward.

Twm, at one time, when assisting his mistress to climb the steep sides of Dinas, in his wild way p. 213said, that he had no doubt but an earthquake had turned the bosom of the hill inside out, so that no secret could be therein concealed; archly insinuating that he trusted the time would soon come when without so violent a process, her own fair bosom would be equally open to him, while it rejected the stony barriers that then stood between him and her heart.

The entrance into this excavated work was no less singular that the petite cave itself.  It was through a narrow aperture, formed of two immense slate rocks that faced each other, and the space between them narrower at the bottom than the top, so that the passage could be entered only sideways, with the figure inclined forward, according to the slant of the rocks: a thin person being barely able to make his way in, while a man of some rotundity might also succeed, by rising on his toes, and forcing himself upwards.  Between these rocks of entrance, a massive stone block was wedged at the top, so that it formed a rude and faint resemblance of an arch.  After sidling so far through a comparatively long passage, it was no small surprise to find that it led to so small a cave; scarcely large enough to shelter three persons huddled close together, from a shower of rain.  What it wanted in breadth, in possessed however in height, as it ran up like a chimney, to the altitude of forty five feet, and was open at the top to the very summit of the mount, forming a skylight to the room below.  Although the little cave was deficient of a solid roof, a very rural one was formed by the large tufts of heather, and fern, which sprung p. 214through the crevices of the rocks; the whole being surmounted by the pendant branch of a dwarf oak, that with many other trees stood like a crown on the elevated head of Dinas.  However singular the interior of this cave might appear to our hero, he found a superior pleasure in examining the grand combinations that graced its exterior.  There he saw, with never satiated delight and wonder, objects of the most romantic character, curiously united here near the junction of three counties.  The rocky Dinas, with its many inaccessible sides, besides the loose crags before mentioned, was partially covered with aged dwarfish trees, all bending in the same direction; many with their heads broken by tempests, but still throwing out fantastic-looking branches, while others, stark, sere, and shrouded in grey moss, were things that seasons knew not.

The opposite mountain, called Maesmaddegan, facing the entrance of the cave, was more gaily bedecked with underwood, birch, oak, and the mountain ash; while the junction of the rivers Towey and Dorthea, [214] enlivened the gloom caused by the deep gulfs which separated Dinas from the parent mountain.

However interesting these objects might formerly have been to Twm, he looked now only in p. 215one direction,—towards the spot where he might catch the earliest glimpse of his approaching mistress.  Out of all patience at her long delay, he now began to wonder at the cause of it, when at length, to his great dismay, he saw one female hurrying on, and her not the right one, although the faithful Miss Meredith.  Having reached the side of the river, which separated her from the base of Dinas, and finding that he was watching her, she placed a paper on the rock and a stone upon it, then kissing her hand to him, sportively, she turned about, and hastened homeward with the utmost precipitation.  In his eagerness to overtake her, Twm attempted to run down the declivity, but soon lost his footing, sliding and rolling down several yards, by which he was for a few moments rather stunned.  Losing all hope of catching his mistress’s confidante, to learn the cause of her non-appearance, according to promise, he applied to the paper on the rock, which he found to be a note hastily scrawled with a pencil, containing merely these words—“My father has unexpectedly arrived, with several of his friends—can’t see you till at Llandovery on fair day.  Yours ever.”—“By the Lord!” muttered Twm to himself, “if this is a coquette’s trick which she puts on me, it will avail her nothing in the end;—mine she is, by promise, and mine she shall be, in spite of the devil, and all her Brecknockshire friends to boot.”  Determined to bring his affairs with the widow to a speedy crisis, he changed his clothes, and soon made his way to Llandovery.

p. 216CHAP. XXVI.

Twm’s vagaries and disguises at Llandovery fair.  The adventure of the bale of flannel and the iron pot.  Quotations from Catwg the wise.  Twm discovered.  A strange catastrophe.

The day of Llandovery fair arrived; and Twm, who calculated nearly as much on the amusement he intended to create on this occasion for himself, as with meeting his mistress, determined that the grey horse should become the hero of another adventure.  Much to their credit, the neighbouring gentry had recently opened a subscription for rebuilding between thirty and forty poor people’s houses, which had unfortunately been burnt down; and our hero resolved that every farthing gained by the grey horse, or otherwise, clandestinely, should be appropriated to this laudable purpose.  It was no small satisfaction to him to find that while it mortified the purse-proud vanity of the haughty squires to see so large a sum attached to his name, it had the good effect of increasing their contributions, resolved not to be out-done, in money matters at least, by so obscure a personage as Twm.

For the purpose here named he assumed the garb and manner of the most absolute lout that ever trudged after a plough tail.  His feet were thrust into a very heavy pair of clogs, or wooden-soled shoes, which being stiff and large, maintained such a haughty independence of the inmates, as to need being tied on with a hay-band.  His legs were enveloped in a pair of wheat-stalk leggings, or bands of twisted straw, winding round and round, and covering them from the p. 217knee to the ankle.  A raw hairy cow-hide formed the material of his inexpressibles, which were loose, like trowsers cut off at the knee; and his jerkin was of a brick-dust red, with black stripes, like the faded garb of the old Carmarthenshire women.  A load of red locks, straight as a bunch of candles, hung dangling behind, but in front rather matted and entangled, quite innocent of the slightest acquaintance with that useful article, a comb: the whole surmounted with a soldier’s cast-off Monmouth cap, so highly varnished with grease, as to appear water-proof.  Without any apology for a waistcoat, he wore a blue flannel shirt, striped with white, open from the chin to the waistband, which answered the purpose of a cupboard, to contain his enormous cargo of bread and cheese and leeks, which, as he was continually drawing upon his store, stood a chance of soon becoming wholly inside passengers.  Added to this, his booby gait, and stupid vacant stare was such, that his most intimate acquaintance might have passed him by as a stranger.

Instead of entering the horse-fair, he stood with his dainty steed of grey at the entrance of the town, and munched his bread and cheese, apparently careless whether a purchaser appeared or not.  Many persons, in passing by, gazed with wonder at this piece of cloddish rusticity, and asked if the horse was for sale; but receiving such drivelling and dolt-like answers, it became a matter of wonder who could have intrusted their property to such an oaf.

Just as the ground was once more cleared of p. 218gazing idlers and unprofitable querists, a gentleman, well mounted on a chesnut-coloured hunter, entered the town, and cast an eager eye at the grey horse.  Twm recognized him at a glance as a Breconshire magistrate, named Powell, one of the many rejected admirers of the lady of Ystrad Fîn; riding up to our hero, he asked if the horse was for sale.  Twm answered in broken English, imitating the dialect of the lower class, “I don’t no but it iss, if I can get somebody that iss not wice, look you, somebody that was fools to buy him.”  “But why,” asked the gentleman, “don’t you take him into the horse-fair?”  “Why indeed to goodness,” answered Twm, “I was shame to take him there; for look you, he hass a fault on him, and I do not find in my heart and my conscience to take honest pipple in with a horse that has a fault upon him, for all master did send me here to sell him.”  “Well, and what is this mighty fault!” asked the stranger, smiling.  “Why indeed to goodness and mercy,” replied Twm, “it was a fault that do spoil him—it was a fault that—”  “But what is the fault?” asked the Breconshire magistrate impatiently: “give it a name man.”  “Why indeed to goodness,” replied the scrupulous horse-dealer, “I will tell you like an honest cristan man, without more worts about it; I will make my sacraments and bible oaths”—“I don’t ask your oath,” cried Powell, almost out of humour, “merely tell me in a word, what ails the horse?”  “Indeed and upon my sole and conscience to boot, I can’t say what do ail him.”  “You don’t?” cried Powell in an angry tone, and looking as surprised and p. 219wroth as might be expected from a proud Breconshire magistrate.  “Confound me if I do,” replied Twm, “but I will tell you why he wass no good to master; it wass this—Master iss a parson, a great parson, a gentleman parson, not a poor curate, one mister Evans, Rector of Tregaron, and the white hairs do come off the grey horse here, and stick upon his best black coat and breeches; and that wass his fault.”

It is needless to add that the rising choler of the fiery Powell immediately subsided, and laying no particular stress on this singular blemish, purchased the grey horse, and paid for it at once, apparently glad to escape from the tedious fooleries of the strange horse-dealer.

Anxious to discover his mistress, he chose another disguise, not daring to commune with her in his own proper person.  He now appeared in a sober grey suit, shining brass buckles, stockings of the wool of a black sheep, and a knitted Welsh wig of the same, that fitted him like a skull-cap, and concealed every lock of his hair.  Thus arrayed, he presented the appearance of a grave puritanical mountain farmer, from the most remote district of Cardiganshire.  After gazing awhile at the motley train that constitute a fair, in a Welsh country town, he noticed a well known old crone, who had the reputation of being exceedingly covetous and disagreeable.  Lean, yellow, and decrepid, her ferret-eyes glanced eagerly about for a customer, as she held beneath her arm a large roll of stout striped flannel.  Twm, unobserved, took his stand behind her, and dexterously stitching her bale to his p. 220coat, he, with a sudden jerk, transferred it from the old woman’s grasp to his own.  Her wonder and dismay was unutterable.  Elbowed and toed by the bustling crowd who were passing to and fro, she knew not who to vent her spleen upon; but, in utter despair, set up a tremendous howl, as a requiem for her beloved departed.  Instead of seeking the assistance of a light pair of heels, Twm scarcely moved a yard, but drew from his pocket a little black lighted tobacco-pipe, and puffed a cloud with admirable coolness, while his right arm lovingly embraced the bale of flannel.  Roused by the old beldame’s outrageous expressions of grief and fury, he moved up to her with apparent concern, and asked in a very pathetic tone, the cause of her sorrow, which she related with many curses, sobs, and furious exclamations.  Shocked at her impiety and want of resignation, Twm took upon him to rebuke her, and edified her much, by an extempore discourse on the virtue of patience; assuring her she ought to thank heaven that she was robbed, as it was a most striking proof she was not a neglected being.  In conclusion, he remarked, that fairs and markets in these degenerate days were so sadly infested with rogues and vagabonds, that an honest person was completely encompassed by dangers.  “Now for my part,” continued he, “I never enter such places without previously sewing my goods to my clothes, which you ought also to have done, in this manner”—shewing, at the same time, the roll beneath his arm, which he thought the old crone’s eye had glanced on, with something like a light p. 221shadow of suspicion, that however instantly vanished, on this notable display and explanation.

Hawking a roll of flannel through a fair was too tame a pastime for our hero, when unaccompanied with more animated trickery, and he began to think of giving it up, that he might more leisurely pursue his principal vocation of searching out the lady of Ystrad Fîn, when the genius of whim provided more mirth for him, and arrested his attention.

A poor half-starved looking fellow, with a merry eye, that poverty had sunk, but could not quench, now made up to him, and strove to bargain for a few yards of his flannel; but on reckoning his money, found he could not come up to his price, as he said he had to buy a three-legged iron pot, in addition to a winter petticoat for his wife: “and,” observed the man of tatters, with a grin of miserable mirth, “it will be better for her to go without flannel than our whole family to want a porridge pot.”  Twm liked this man, but not his logic; conceiving he made too light an affair of what was perhaps heavy about his dame, who might be no sylph in figure; which implied a want of courtesy and due deference to that fair train, whose indisputable right to warm petticoats claimed precedence of all pots, pans, and every earthly consideration.  “Here, take this bale, take it all, for I have lost my yard and scissors, and pay me when you grow rich;—confound your thanks! away with you, bestow it safe, then return here; perhaps I may get thee an iron pot at as cheap a rate as the flannel.”

p. 222This ragged man, by his alacrity and silent obedience, seemed to understand the spirit he had to deal with.  Off he ran with his enormous present, and immediately returned; when our hero accompanied him to the shop of an old curmudgeon of an ironmonger, whose face, hardly distinguishable behind his habitual screen of snuff and spectacles, seemed of the same material as his own hard ware.  The man of rags was quite in luck, and, as instructed, followed his benefactor into the shop in silence.  Twm examined the culinary ware, with all the caution of an old farm wife, asking the prices of various articles, and turned up the whites of his eyes in the most approved puritanic fashion, expressive of astonishment at such excessive charges.  Old Hammerhead indignantly repelled the insinuation, and swore that cheaper or better pots were never seen in the kitchen of a king.  “Then you must mean the king of the beggars,” quoth Twm, “for you have nothing here but damaged ware.”  “Damaged devil! what do you mean?” roared the enraged ironmonger.  “I mean,” replied Twm Shôn Catti, with provoking equanimity, “that there is scarcely a pot here without a hole in it; now this which I hold in my hand, for instance, has one.”  “Where! where!” asks the fiery old shopkeeper, holding it up between his eyes and the light; “if there is a hole in this pot I’ll eat it: where is the hole that you speak of?”  “Here!” bawls the inexorable hoaxer, pulling it over his ears, and holding it there, while the necessitous man, who did not seem much unlike a thief, took p. 223the wink from his patron, and was walking off with a choice article, which he had selected from the whole lot, when Twm whispered in his ear, “Take better care of it than you did of the two sheep and white ox.”  “Thou art either the devil or Twm Shôn Catti,” replied the other, in an under tone.  “Mum! and be off,” said Twm, and off went shrewd Roger, for he it was, who now deemed himself more than paid for his coat lost at Cardigan some years ago, by a freak of Twm’s.

Loudly roared the hardwareman, but his voice was drowned in the fatal cavity.  Having tied his hands behind his back, Twm left him howling and sweating beneath the huge extinguisher, and made, as he took his departure, this consolatory and effective exit speech—“Had there not been a hole in it, how could that large stupid nob of yours have entered such a helmet?”

As he reached the street, and mixed with the crowd, he noticed a general and very rapid movement towards the town-hall.  As the assemblage increased, its course, like a choked mill-dam, became more and more impeded, until the whole restless mass became consolidated, and stood still perforce.  Our hero had forced his way till near the entrance of the hall, when he ventured to ask what cause had drawn together such a crowd; but he got no immediate answer, as many came there, like himself, drawn by the powerful influence of curiosity.  At length he heard his own name buzzed about, by many voices; one said that Twm Shôn Catti, whose humorous tricks were the themes of every p. 224tongue, was discovered to be a great thief: and that he who had fought against highwaymen, was at last become one himself, and committed all the robberies which had taken place in that country for years past.  One said that he could never be taken; and a third contradicted that assertion, declaring that he was then fettered in the hall, and waiting to be conveyed to Carmarthen gaol.  One assigned him the gallows as his due, while another tenderly replied that hanging was too good for him.  Opposing the sentiments and opinions of all these, more than one declared that the hemp was neither spun nor grown, that would hang Twm; and pity it should, as he was the friend of the poor, and an enemy to none but the stupid, the cruel, and the oppressive.

The town crier now came out of the court, and, obtaining silence, he informed the assembled multitude that the magistrates who were now sitting, required that any “person or persons” who might have been defrauded in the fair, should now come forward, so as to form a clue towards the identity of the robber, which it was generally believed was no other than the notorious Twm Shôn Catti.  The crier retired, and in a few minutes made his appearance again, and read the court’s proclamation, offering a reward of twenty pounds to any person who would apprehend the said Twm Shôn Catti; which was answered with loud hisses by the majority of the crowd, that effectually drowned the applause of the rest.

Pleased with this evidence of his popularity, the pride of desperate daring seemed to have p. 225blinded his better judgment, as he immediately formed the singular and hazardous resolution of entering the hall, to learn the cause of the present discussion, for he was utterly ignorant of the precise act of his that now engaged the polite attention of their worships.

That any person in the perilous predicament of our hero should venture on such an expedient, will doubtless astonish the common-place man of weak nerves and prudent views; but when enthusiasm, and the pride of achievement, even in a worthless cause, actuates the passion-fraught breast, supplanting the place of reasoning calculation, the wonder vanishes.  The desperate outlaw, whose temerity is applauded, feels the gust of heroism in as warm a degree as the generous patriot whose claim to renown is better founded, and graced with national approbation.  Twm soon found himself in the hall; for his own native energies stood him in better stead than the fabled cap of Fortunatus: he wished, and obtained; hated, and was revenged; desired to tread a difficulty under foot, and obtained his purpose, while the generality of men would be analysing every shadow of obstruction that impeded their aim.  He took his stand in a conspicuous place near the bench, the “awful judgment seat,” which was at this time filled by his laughter-loving friend Prothero, whose ruddy happy round face had deprived law itself of all its terrors.  Before him, among others, he found his old friend, Evans of Tregaron, who had been sputtering a confused account of our hero’s gracelessness, from his childhood, to the last trick p. 226which he had played him, by stealing his grey horse at Machynlleth.—How he had cheated a purchaser of the stolen horse at Welshpool; and how the said horse was traced into the possession of a simple fellow in straw boots and cow-hide breeches, who that very day had sold it to his friend Mr. Powell; which sale, he contended, could not stand good, as the stolen horse was his property to all intents and purposes, which he could prove by creditable witnesses.  This recapitulation of Twm’s tricks tickled the gravity of Prothero amazingly; and at every close which Evans made in his narration, he was answered by the loud “ho, ho, ho!” of the sitting magistrate.  Mr. Powell then told his story, and, in conclusion, said he was in the commission of the peace in the town of Brecon.  “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, “here we are, three magistrates, ho, ho, ho! three magistrates, and all fooled by Twm Shôn Catti.—Clever fellow, ho, ho, ho! wild dog, ho, ho, ho! means no great harm—never keeps what he steals—gives all to the poor fellows that want—did me out of two sheep and a white ox, ho, ho, ho!—I wish him joy of them, ho, ho, ho!  Never mind, gentlemen, the fun of the thing repays the loss, which can be shared between you.  Let Mr. Evans take the horse, on paying Mr. Powell what he gave young cow-breeches, ho, ho, ho! better that than lose all.”  Mr. Powell immediately acceded to this arrangement, but the unaccommodating Evans insisted on having the horse without any payment, and made some tart remarks on conniving at a rascal’s tricks and villanies.  “For my part I’d shoot him dead like p. 227a dog!” cried the reverend preacher of peace and concord; drawing, at the same time, a pair of pistols from his coat pocket, and replacing them, in a fiery fit of passion.  “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, “but you’d catch him first, brother, ho, ho, ho!—too cunning for you, for me, and all of us—might be here this moment, laughing in his sleeve at us, for what we know, ho, ho, ho!”

Our hero, in his primitive attire, now attracted the attention of the justices, by the utterance of a deep groan, while he appeared wrapt in the perusal of a small book.  Prothero, alive to every thing allied to comicality, burst out into a loud ho, ho, ho!  Evans arrayed his naturally gloomy brows in a magisterial frown, and Powell smiled, with an expression of wonder.  “What are you reading, friend?” asked Prothero, chuckling as he surveyed the black Welsh wig.  “The wisdom of Solomon,” quoth the man of solemnity, drawing the muscles of his face most ludicrously long; “but mark you, worshipful gentlemen, I mean not the Solomon of scriptures, but our own Cambrian Solomon—that is to say, Catwg the Wise, the excellent and erudite abbot of Llancarvan, and teacher of the bard Taliesin.”

“A fine fellow, no doubt, but can’t you read him at home? why do you bring him here?” asked Prothero, good-humoredly.  “Wherever I go, I have resolved to make his wisdom known, and to reprove all deviators from it, in the sage’s own words,” quoth Twm.  “Poor man, poor man, he’s crazy, his brain turned, perhaps, by p. 228too much study,” observed Prothero.  “An impudent fellow!” cried Evans; “but you are strangely lenient here in Carmarthenshire; were I the king, I would have all such fellows put in Bedlam.”  Twm looked at the clerical magistrate, then read from the book, “If a crown were worn by every fool, we should all of us be kings.”  “Gentlemen, he calls us all fools!” cried Evans.  Twm, without raising his eyes from the book, read on, “Were there horns on the head of every fool, a good sum might be gained by shewing a bald man.”  “Gentlemen, he makes us all cuckolds!” cried Evans, in his usual passionate sputter; “however it may fit you, gentlemen, I can safely say, that no such disgrace as a horn belongs to my brow.”  Twm read on;—“If the shame of every one were written on his forehead, the materials for masks would be surprisingly dear.”  “Ho, ho, ho!” roared Prothero, till the hall echoed with his loud laughter, which the Cardiganshire magistrate seemed to take as a personal affront, and sulkily observed, that this was no place for foolery, but for gravity, wisdom, and truth.  Twm read on, “If no tongue were to speak other than truth and wisdom, the number of mutes would be astonishingly great.”  The consequential Evans, mumbled something about his own mode of doing business at Cardigan, and declared that he would commit such a fellow to gaol for three months, at least, for disturbing a court of justice.  Twm cut him short with another passage from Catwg; “Were the talkative to perceive the folly of his chattering, he would save his breath to cool his broth.”  Here p. 229Powell of Brecon entered a little into the spirit of the scene, by quoting also from the well-known aphorisms of Catwg, applying the passage to Twm himself;—“If the buffoon were to see the vanity of his feat, he would leave it off for shame.”  This feeble hit excited the applause of the good-humoured Prothero, who clapped the speaker heartily on the back, and, amid his eternal ho, ho, ho! exclaimed, “Well said, brother, well said; better silence him with wit than by authority; well done, well done!”

Our hero now very pointedly directed his quotation against the Breconshire magistrate; “If the lover were to see his weakness, terror would drive him to a premature end.”  A general laugh at the expense of Powell, instantly followed.  To him that passage was considered peculiarly applicable, as the known unsuccessful woer of the gay widow of Ystrad Fîn.  It was a tender string to touch so roughly; losing his ease and temper at the same instant, he cast a most ungracious frown at the utterer of proverbs, and said in an under tone of threatening energy, “Whoever you may be, it were not wise of you to repeat such conduct towards me again.”  “Again?” said Twm, pretending to misunderstand him, “Oh, certainly, I’ll give you the passage again, or any other, to please you, ‘If the lover—’” (here Powell’s face blazed with anger, as he clenched his fist, and cried, “You had better not.”)  Twm began again,—“If the lover—of war, were to see his cruelty, he would fear that every atom in the sunbeam might stab him as a sword.”  This dexterous evasion, with p. 230the point given to the words “of war,” had its full effect in restoring the good humour so suddenly disturbed; but that beautiful passage from the aphorisms of the old Welsh abbot failed to elicit the applause which its moral merits deserved: nor could we expect to find decriers of war among farmers and country squires.

Here the general attention was called to the entrance of the ex-proprietor of the roll of flannel, who almost deafened them by the vehemence of her complaints, which, however, were too incoherently expressed to be immediately understood.  “Oh! my roll of flannel, my fine, excellent flannel! all of my own spinning too,—eight and twenty good yards, and a yard and a half wide—my wooden shoe too that I lost in the crowd—and my poor corns trod off by the villains—my dear sweet flannel, all of my own carding and spinning—nobody but the devil himself, or his first cousin Twm Shôn Catti, could have taken it in such a manner—it was whisked from me as if a whirlwind had swept it away.”  At length she paused for want of breath, and Twm approached her with the air of a comforter, and read from his book, “Were a woman as quick with her feet as with her tongue, she would catch the lightning to kindle her fire in the morning.”  It is probable that she did not perfectly hear this passage, as, on perceiving Twm, she gave a shout of joy, and then, as incoherently as before, appealed to the magistrate; “This honest man, your worship, knows it all.  I told him, the moment I lost my flannel—this worthy man, your worship,—a good man, a wise man, p. 231a man who reads books, your worship, he can witness.”

A fresh hubbub at the entrance of the hall, now diverted all the attention from the old woman’s complaint, and loud were the shouts of laughter on beholding the object that now presented itself.  Supported by two constables, who rather dragged forward, than led him, came Twm’s friend the hardwareman, crowned with the identical iron pot before-named, which the officers, as a matter of official formality, or to indulge their own facetiousness, refused to remove, till in the presence of a magistrate.  When his laughter had a little subsided, Prothero ordered the pot to be removed, and his hands untied.  The hardwareman then told his lamentable tale in a few words; in conclusion, he declared, that having overheard certain words between the robber and his accomplice, he had learned that the thief was no other than Twm Shôn Catti.  His eye now caught the figure of our hero, and with a yell as astounding as if the eternal enemy of man stood before him, he cried, “There he is! there he is!  As heaven shall save me, there stands the man, or devil, who crowned me with the iron pot, while his accomplice ran off with another.”  “And who robbed me of my flannel!” roared the old woman, who now changed her opinion, as her earliest suspicions became thus suddenly confirmed.  “And who stole my grey horse!” bawled Evans of Tregaron.  “And who sold it to me, when disguised in straw-boots and cow-hide breeches,” cried Powell of Brecon, who had now closely examined his features.

p. 232A violent rush upon our hero, by the whole party, now ensued; but Twm eluded their eager attempts to grasp him, sprung upon the table before the bench, and, drawing a couple of pistols from his coat pockets, held one in each hand, and kept them all at bay, protesting that he would shoot the first who would advance an inch towards him.  Loud was his laughter, as they all started back: but the great laugher, Prothero, now sat silently on the bench, alarmed for his safety, which he had thought to secure by giving him warning of his danger, in the feint of the proclaimed reward for his apprehension.  As he stood in this manner, with extended arms, watchful eyes, and grasping the pointed pistols with a finger to each trigger, Powell of Brecon exclaimed, “Thou art a clever fellow, by Jove, Twm! very clever for a Cardy; but wert thou with us, the quick-witted sons of Brecon, thou wouldest soon find thyself overmatched and outwitted too.  I dare thee to enter Brecon, to trust thy wit—come there, and welcome, and thou shalt stand harmless for me, in the affair of the grey horse.”  Twm smiled, and nodded, in token of having accepted his challenge.

By this time Evans of Tregaron, with some of his followers, got behind him, and clung to his right arm, but with one violent effort Twm shook them away, as the mighty bull throws off the yelping curs that dare attack him.  Then, with a single leap, he sprung from the table into the crowded court, where a lane was formed for him, and rushed out at the door unimpeded, and pursued by his accusers.  They soon lost sight p. 233of him among the moving multitude, some of whom dispersed from fear of accidents, while others followed him as spectators.  To the great astonishment of his pursuers, they next caught a view of him mounted on that grand subject of contention, the grey horse.  He took the route to Ystrad Fîn, followed by them all, including several constables in the employ of Evans of Tregaron, and many disinterested people from the fair.  Loud were the shouts of the numerous riders; loud the tramp of galloping horses; and wild the disorder and terror created, as Twm at different intervals turned on his pursuers, and fired his pistols.  This caused a powerful retrograde movement among them, by which the foremost horses fell back on those behind them, unhorsing some, who lay groaning and crying on the ground, and frightening others altogether from further pursuit.  It was on this occasion that a bard of that day wrote the stanza which appears in the title page, thus translated by the late Iolo Morganwg:

“In Ystrad Fîn a doleful sound
Pervades the hollow hills around;
The very stones with terror melt,
Such fear of Twm Shôn Catti’s felt.”

Twm at length, although closely followed, reached the foot of Dinas, where he dismounted, sprung from stone to stone, that formed the ford of the Towey, and climbed the steep side of that majestic mount, with the utmost agility and ease.  Like a prudent sea-captain chaced in his small boat by a fleet of rovers, till he reaches his own war-ship, and springs up her p. 234fort-like side, in the extacy of surmounted peril, conscious strength, and superiority, Twm now attained the summit of a prominent gnoll, and waved his hand triumphantly, in defiance of his foes below.  Evans of Tregaron, with his crew of catch poles, made an attempt to climb also; Twm permitted them to advance about twenty yards above the river, when he commenced, and at the same time ended his warfare, by rolling down several huge stones, that swept them in a mass into the very bed of the Towey, sadly bruised, and some with their bones broken, from whence they were extricated by the amazed and terrified spectators.

The Tregaron magistrate met a woful disaster on this occasion; starting aside, to avoid the dreadful leaping crags that threatened to crush him, his pistols went off in his pockets, and carried away, besides his coat-skirts and no small portion of his black breeches, a large portion of postern flesh, that deprived him forever after of an easy seat, on the agreeable cushion which nature had provided.  Amusing to the population of Tregaron was the singular sight of their crest-fallen magistrate and his hated gang, brought home in a woful plight, as inside passengers of a dung-cart, which had been hired for the purpose; and more than all, that their discomfiture should have been caused by their long-lost countryman, Twm Shôn Catti.

Our hero, in the mean time, like a princely chieftain of the days of old, enthroned upon his native tower of strength, marking in his soul’s high pride the awkward predicament of his baffled p. 235foes, perceived them all depart; leaving him the undisputed lord of his alpine territory, the glorious height of Dinas.  After witnessing, with his limbs stretched upon his mountain couch, the glorious beauty of the setting sun, he entered the cave, tore from its top a sufficiency of fern and heather to form his bed, threw on it his fatigued, over-exerted frame, and soundly slept till morning.


Twm’s exploits at Brecon.  The adventure of the ducks, the crow’s nest, and the crockery ware.  His successes at the Eisteddvod, the Races, and the Ball.  His singular marriage with the lady of Ystrad Fîn, and various other matters.  Conclusion.

Our hero awoke by sun-rise, after a refreshing sleep; but his mind was far from being cheered by the bright beams of morning.  Unable to account fairly for his second disappointment of seeing his mistress, according to promise, he gave way to despondency, and conjectured the worst—that she was no longer true to her vows, but had yielded to the persuasions of her haughty relatives, and become a renegade both to love and honor.  He was now, however, so near her residence, he could at least ascertain how matters stood; and, after many efforts of resolution, he descended the hill for that purpose.  On crossing the Towey, he was surprised to find that the “gallant grey” was still left for him; he was busily feeding in an adjoining field, and the saddle and bridle hung dangling from a storm-stricken old thorn.  He felt this, directly, as a p. 236handsome piece of attention to him, on the part of Powell of Brecon, who, doubtless, had left it there for his convenience.  On examining further, he found a note, tied to the bridle, from that generous individual, inviting him to be present at the Eisteddvod, the Races, and the Ball, which were to take place successively in the gay town of Brecon.

At Ystrad Fîn he found nobody but the servants, who informed him that their lady, Miss Meredith, and the late visitors, were all gone to Brecon, and would not return for some days.  This intelligence determined him to go there also; and, recollecting a trunk of clothes of his, which had been left ever since his former sojourning here, he called for it; and having dressed himself, and placed, with other things, in his saddle-bags, an elegant suit which he had brought from London, he mounted his horse, and rode off for Brecon.  About a couple of miles beyond Trecastle, he overtook a poor fellow driving an ass, laden with coarse crockery ware, who turned out to be no other than “shrewd Roger.”  He had been enabled to commence this humble merchandize by the success he met with in the sale of the greater portion of the roll of flannel, received from our hero the day before, with the produce of which he purchased the stock of an old Neath hawker, whom illness had detained at Llandovery.  Having long been married to a Cardiganshire lass, they both, pretending to be single, entered Squire Prothero’s service at the same time, but the circumstance being at length discovered, they were both discharged, p. 237and had since lived in great poverty; and therefore our hero’s bounty was a great lift in life to the lowly pair.  After some jests on the feats of the fair day, Twm spurred on, but not before he had purchased the whole of Roger’s stock, which, however, that worthy was to take to Brecon, for a purpose to be hereafter described.  At Brecon he took lodgings at the Three Cocks’ inn, to which he gave the preference, on account of the sign being the armorial bearings of the celebrated David Gam, the hero of Agincourt.

The town, although continually filling, seemed now as full as on a fair.  While our hero looked out at the window to observe Roger, who arranged his crockery in front of the inn, his attention was suddenly caught by the sound of a harp, which proceeded from the kitchen.  To his great surprise, he found the performer to be his old friend, the venerable Ianto Gwyn of Tregaron.  The old man was very glad to see him, and after learning the particulars of the fortunes he had met since he left his native town, proceeded to inform him of the Tregaron news.  His mother was well, and had received the various small sums which he had sent her at different times, and was in daily hopes of burying her churl of a husband.  Wat the mole-catcher was arrested in London by young Graspacre, who sent him down to Cardigan, where he was hanged two months before.  Rachel Ketch was dead; having broke her heart for the loss of her money, which had been stolen by Wat.  In conclusion, the old man said that he had come to the Eisteddvod rather as a spectator than a candidate p. 238for the prize, having accidentally hurt his right hand, which had nearly disabled him altogether from playing.  “That circumstance is now the more provoking,” said the old man, “as I am convinced that were my hand well, I should certainly win the noble silver harp, which is to be the meed of the best player.”  Twm took his musical friend up stairs, and, after dining together, began coquetting with the harp, which, with the hand of a ready player, he tickled into alternate fits of grief and laughter, as he ran over many of our most popular airs.  The old man jumped up from his seat, and embraced him with raptures, protesting that he could not fail to win the harp, if he chose to be a candidate.  Our hero, having practiced but little on the harp since he left London, felt considerable diffidence in becoming a competitor among proficients in music, but resolved, at any rate, to avail himself of the instructions of his friend Ianto Gwyn.  Intensely anxious to meet his mistress once more, he sought an early opportunity of a walk through the streets; but instead of the desired one, it was his lot to meet Powell the magistrate, who gave him a jocular and right hearty welcome.  They were soon joined by two other high bloods of the town, one a wealthy attorney, named Phillips, and the other a reverend and right portly son of the church, who shone more at the punch-board than in the pulpit.  They all adjourned to the parlour of the Three Cocks, where the best of wine was soon in request, and a gay scene of conviviality and good fellowship ensued.

p. 239Each of the Breconians was well acquainted with Twm’s celebrity, and found unusual satisfaction in this meeting.  Being all high lads of the turf, the practice of betting was familiar to them; and the lawyer offered at once to oppose Twm in a match of angling for five pounds; and the bet should be, that whoever fished the largest weight, no matter of what kind, in half an hour, should be declared the winner.  Our hero, although a poor angler, accepted the wager, and Powell, as the umpire, wrote down the terms of it, which was signed by each.  Possessing himself of the angler’s paraphernalia, he repaired with them to the bridge; and had the upper side of it assigned to him, while Phillips took the lower.  The latter displayed a grand morocco pocket-book, filled in the neatest order with the most choice artificial flies, of every description, and soon had his handsome rod in order; while the former had nothing better than what could be procured at a shop.  The lawyer landed fish after fish, with great rapidity, and when half the given time was expired, Twm found himself much in arrears, and the continued good fortune of his antagonist left him, apparently, no chance of ultimate success.  “Confound these good-for-nothing flies, fetch me a beef steak!” cried he at last, and gave money for that purpose to a bye-stander, who immediately brought the article wanted.  “There’s a Cardy angler, fishing for trout with a beef steak!” cried the Breconians, with an exulting laugh; Twm said nothing in reply, but fastened several hooks in different parts of a strong line, to each p. 240of which he attached a small piece of beef, and, watching the movement of a flock of ducks that floated in luxurious ease down the Usk, he threw the whole among them.  Loud was the clamour of the aquatic crew, as they hustled each other, in their eagerness to partake of the showered feast, which they soon gobbled, and were drawn up to the top of the bridge by the singular angler above, amid the shouts and laughter of the numerous spectators.

Powell now held up his watch, and declared that the stipulated half hour was just up.  Phillips, as the conscious winner, produced a goodly shew of trout, and, as Twm had caught but four small fish, said it would be idle to weigh them.  “Not so,” replied our wag, “let the written terms of the bet be read, and you will find that my ducks have a right to be weighed against your boasted trout, aye! and shall make them kick the beam.”  Phillips stared at such an assertion made in earnest, and Powell read, “Whoever fished the largest weight, no matter of what kind, would be declared the winner,” and, as umpire, awarded the five pounds to our hero.  Some merriment at the expense of Powell was caused by his declaring himself the unlucky proprietor of the said flock of ducks; but with his usual good-humour, he proposed that the ducks and trout should be cooked at his house for their supper, in which Phillips acquiesed.

They were promenading, soon after this, in the agreeable walks of the Priory Grove, where there was a large rookery, almost every third p. 241tree being crowned with the nest of one of these sable and clamorous children of the air.  “Let us try,” said Hughes, who was also much addicted to betting, addressing our hero, “which can the most completely take one of those nests, you or I.”  “Done, be the bet what it may,” cried the Tregaron wag.  It was agreed that this boyish feat was to be for a wager of five pounds, and Phillips to be the umpire.  Hughes observed to his opponent, “I propose that we accompany each other up our respective trees, to be satisfied that nothing but fair play is used,” to which Twm assented, and gave him the first chance and choice of his nest.  The pair were soon at the top of a lofty oak, and the merry parson took out the eggs, one at a time, placing them in his coat pocket, and afterwards removed the nest, and brought it down with him.  Twm then went to a distant tree, and climbed to the top with the utmost caution, before his opponent had reached the lower branches, and, with good management, that proved him an adept in this idle business, placed his hat on the top, and thus secured the old bird.  Fastening the hat and nest together, he descended with them both.  Hughes was the first to declare his antagonist the winner; but the umpire requiring him to produce the amount of his adventure, his surprise was great, on finding that he had nothing more to shew than the empty nest; our hero having slipped his pen-knife through the bottom of his pocket, and received the eggs in the palm of his hand, in the same order that they were taken from the p. 242nest.  On this discovery, Hughes declared that Twm Shôn Catti would never meet his match, till Satan himself became his opponent.

While sitting with the aforesaid trio, some time after, paying their devotions to the bottle, at the Three Cocks, our hero contrived to bring Powell, who had hitherto fought shy, into a bet with him.  He declared that a stranger as he was, at Brecon, he firmly believed he could command, and be obeyed there, with greater promptitude than himself, although a justice of the peace and quorum.  “I’ll lay you twenty pounds to the contrary,” cried the magistrate.  “Done!” replied Twm, “and we can prove it without quitting this room, by opening the window, and practising on one of those people opposite.”  “Let it be on yonder crockery-ware man, who is the most conspicuous,” said Powell, and Twm, of course, could have no possible objection.  The magistrate opened the window, and called in a tone of authority, “Come here, you fellow; go directly to the Black Lion, and tell the landlord to let you have Justice Powell’s black mare, and bring her here to me.”  “I can’t quit my goods, sir,” said Roger, “or I would willingly oblige you.”  “I tell you, fellow, do as I order you, or I shall kick you and your ware out of the town,” said Powell in a blustering tone, and with a look the most terrifying that he could assume.  Roger repeated his former answer; and when the magistrate increased his threats, he burst out into a rude laugh, and, without further deference, said, he really believed that his worship was drunk: this p. 243was enough, and the worthy magistrate felt himself completely put down.  Our wag now took his turn, and commenced with him: “I say, fellow, did’st thou ever see, or hear of Twm Shôn Catti?”  “Yes,” replied Roger, “often at Llandovery, once at Cardigan, and now I see him before me at Brecon.”  “Well then,” continued Twm, “I order thee to give us a dance, in the middle of thy crockery.”  “With all my heart, if you order it, for I should dread to disobey Twm Shôn Catti more than twenty times my loss.”  On which he jumped, capered, and danced, in the midst of his brittle commodities, kicking and treading the dishes, pans, basins, and other articles, to powder beneath his feet.  “By the Lord, thou art a strange fellow;” said Powell, as he paid him down the amount of his forfeit; “and I foresee that there’s much more luck for thee than thou dreamest of: and I confidently anticipate what will surely come to pass in thy favour, my Cardiganian hero.”

These words, uttered in a very pointed manner, and with a significant expression of countenance, could not but excite surprise in him, to whom they were addressed; but on parting with the other gentlemen, after the jovial supper at the magistrate’s, he found, to his utter amazement, that Powell was in the whole secret of his affairs with the lady of Ystrad Fîn.  “She once,” said he, “played me a jade’s trick, but no matter, we are now friends, and she has even assisted me in my suit with her amiable friend, Miss Meredith.  In heart and soul, she is attached to you, Jones, but she is a weak yielding woman beneath the p. 244terrors of her father’s frown, and in some evil hour might again sacrifice herself, if you are too long out of her sight.  She is proud of you, and of your wild achievements, and even finds excuses for your most blameable courses.  Now, my advice is, that you will endeavour to distinguish yourself during the races, and start for the gold plate: the grey horse, I suspect, has blood in him, and will beat the best that is to run.”  “But why,” asked Twm, “did she not keep her promise to meet me at Llandovery fair?”  Powell replied that she was prevented by her father’s sudden illness; and great is her sorrow for the disappointment she must have caused.

The next morning was ushered in with the ringing of bells, firing of guns, and every demonstration of the gaiety that prevails on a gala day; and this was an especial one, to be honored successively by the Eisteddvod, the Races, and a grand Ball.  Between eleven and twelve o’clock, our hero, with many other musical and literary competitors, entered the town hall, in bardic trim, with the harp of his friend Ianto Gwyn, slung by a blue ribbon, and attached to his shoulder.

The hall, which was handsomely decorated, now shone with the presence of a vast number of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen; in fact, it was a bright assemblage of the beauty and fashion of the town, and surrounding country, sitting in anxious expectation of the commencement.  At length the business of the meeting was begun by a speech from the president, who occupied a central seat on the raised platform.  p. 245He dwelt emphatically on the laudable object of the Eisteddvod; “to preserve from annihilation one of the most ancient languages spoken by mankind, remarkable for its copiousness, energy, and expression; that, like a perpetual living miracle, kept its firm stand in this solitary nook of country, the principal vestige of our national characteristics;—to revive and preserve the beautiful melodies which had been the delight of our gallant and patriotic forefathers;—and lastly, by emulation, to keep alive the brilliant blaze of the native Awen, the darling poesy of the land, which yielded their fragrant and refreshing blossoms, lovely sacrifices on the altar of Taste; that with their incense appeased the rugged Genius of the cold and stern realities of life.”  Penillion singing succeeded; in which the minstrels of Merionethshire excelled.  The rest went on in rotation, minutely according with the description given by the ever-faithful Michael Drayton. [245a]

—“Some there were bards, that in their sacred rage
Recorded the descents, and acts of every age;
Some with nimble joints that struck the warbling string;
In fing’ring some unskill’d, but used right well to sing
To other’s harp; of which you both might find
Great plenty, and of each excelling in their kind,
That at the Stethva [245b] oft obtain’d a victor’s praise,
Had won the silver harp, and worn Apollo’s bays;
Whose verses they deduced from those first golden times,
In sundry forms of feet, and sundry suits of rhymes.
In Englyns [245c] some there were that in their subject strain;
Some makers that again affect a loftier vein,
Rehearse their high conceits in Cowyths; [245d] other some
In Owdels [245e] theirs express, as matter haps to come.

p. 246So varying still their moods, observing yet in all,
Their quantities, their rests, their measures metrical;
For to that sacred art they most themselves apply,
Addicted from their birth to so much poesy,
That in the mountains those who scarce have seen a book,
Most skilfully will make, as though from art they took.”

Among the given subjects for a Cowydd, or Poem, was “Govid,” or Affliction, for which it turned out that there was but one who had written on it, and, to Twm’s unutterable surprise, he heard his own poem of that title recited, and more than all, a prize awarded to it by the umpires.  Lady Devereux, who had attached her name to this effusion, was called upon to receive the meed of her talents.  That lady, who sat by her father, as one of the audience, now rose with dignity, and said with some emotion, that the poem so highly honored; was not of her composition, but had been sent to her by its author, a person of taste and ingenuity, whom she was bound ever to esteem; as to his valour and courtesy she had once been indebted for the preservation of her life.  Then naming Mr. Thomas Jones, as the author, she pointed him out; and, amid loud and long applause, a handsome silver medal was placed round his neck.

But why should we prolong, by intermediate detail, the ultimatum so easily inticipated by the reader?  Our hero won also the miniature silver harp, and the gold cup at the races; the admiration of the ladies at the ball, and withal, the wonder and esteem of the Breconians.  But alas! the buoyancy of spirits, and exultation of heart, which owed their evanescent existence to these distinctions, was soon doomed to give way p. 247to feelings of contrasting severity.  Now, while in the zenith of his glory, confidently anticipating, as the final crown of his happiness, the willing hand of his mistress, a note for him arrived at the inn, from the fair widow, that threw him into absolute despair—she told him in plain terms, that unless he could outwit her, all his hopes of her hand would be utterly in vain.  This intimation he could understand only as a formal permit to wear the willow as soon as he pleased; that she was otherwise engaged, and had altogether done with him.

Meeting Miss Meredith in the walks soon afterwards, he sought an explanation with much earnestness, but she only burst out into laughter at his “serious sad face,” as she called it, and made her escape from his importunities.  This confirmed the worst construction which he had put on her conduct, and the “vile caprice and inconsistency of woman,” became the subjects of his bitterest railing.  Hearing that her company had preceded her in the way home, next evening, and that she was about to follow them alone, he resolved to way-lay, and put her under contribution, at any rate; which he conceived would be one way, at least, of outwitting her, and perhaps the right one.

Disguising himself in a heavy great coat, and a rough hairy travelling cap, which had always been his treasury, in preference to a pocket, in case of being at any time overpowered by numbers on the road, as no suspicion would attach of money being there concealed; he took his stand by the gate, that in those days led from p. 248the town into the mountains, through which the road ran to Llanspyddyd, Trecastle, and Llandovery.  At length the gay widow arrived, and Twm immediately caught a firm hold of her bridle, and, in an assumed snuffling tone of voice, demanded her money.  She begged hard for mercy on her pocket, but in vain; and gave at last a considerable sum, which, she said, was the whole contents of her pocket.  Our hero, while placing the booty in the crown of his cap, declared himself quite satisfied: “And so am I!” cried the spirited widow, and, at the same moment, grasped his cap and its whole contents, laughing aloud as she galloped away from him, she cried, “thus the widow outwits and triumphs over Twm.”

Here was our hero, at length, in a deplorable dilemma;—shorn of his laurels, and at once a bankrupt in love and fortune; as the cap contained the whole of the money brought with him to Brecon, as well as what he had gained there.  This inauspicious adventure, although it damped his spirits for the time, had the ultimate effect of rousing his latent energies to the highest pitch.  He was not long in hatching a scheme to forward his purposes, that, however, required the aid (which was offered to him) of Powell and his two friends.  Twelve o’clock the next morning saw him dismounting at the door of Ystrad Fîn, accoutred in a military costume, intended as a disguise, to gain immediate admittance as a stranger.  To his great dismay, instead of finding the door fly open to his knock, as he expected, it appeared to have been p. 249barricaded against him.  The lady of the mansion, with pompous formality, appeared at the window, like the warder of a fortress holding a parley at an outpost.  In a gay spirit of bantering, she declared, that the military uniform became him exceedingly, and begged to know what rank he held in the army.  Our hero parried these home thrusts with but an ordinary degree of grace, and, in a bowed spirit, intreated admission to the inner walls.  The lady Joan was quite peremptory in her refusal, declaring, that having lately heard so much to his disadvantage, she had decided to break off all future acquaintance with him as a lover; “especially,” added she, “as, instead of the witty person I thought you, I find you quite a dull animal, that any school-girl might outwit.”  Here she indulged in a provoking laugh, and bade him “good-bye,” as she turned to close the window.  “Nay then,” said Twm in a desponding key, “if we are indeed to be henceforth strangers, as we have been friends, true and warm friends, you will give me your hand, at least, in parting.”  She slowly stretched out her hand at the window, and our hero, with the eager spring of a hungry tiger, darted forward, grasped her wrist with his left hand, and drawing his sword with the right, exclaimed in a tone of fury, “Revenge at least is left me—by yon blessed sky above us, I’ll be trifled with no longer—off goes your hand, unless you consent to our union this instant, and on this very spot.”  “Lord! don’t squeeze so hard and look so fierce,” cried the lady of Ystrad Fîn.  Twm, with increased boisterousness, p. 250resumed, “On your answer will depend whether, for the remainder of your life, you will have a single, or a pair of hands—for on the pronouncing of a negative, this hand, this soft white hand, beautiful as it is, will instantly fly, severed from the wrist.”  “I would not so much care,” cried the lady of Ystrad Fîn, “but for your horrid name; I could not endure to be called Mrs. Twm Shôn Catti.”  “I have protested bitterly, and will not be forsworn,” cried Twm, “that here, even here, with your hand thus stretched through the window, the marriage ceremony shall be performed; and so your answer at once without evasion.”  “The parson of our parish is gone to a christening,” said the lady of Ystrad Fîn.  “Yes or no!” roared the terrific Twm, menacing the threatened blow.  “Well then, as I could not handle a knife and fork, or play my spinnet, or give you a box on the ear when I want pastime, I may as well say—yes!”  “Bless thee for that,” cried Twm in extacy, and eagerly kissed the captured hand.  With his left hand he drew forth a small bugle, and blew a loud blast that was re-echoed by the surrounding mountains.  Immediately a party of ten persons, wearing masks appeared, one of which was arrayed in a clerical habit, who without further ado commenced the marriage ceremony, Twm the while holding her hand through the window.

The wedding service had been more than half gone through, when four windows of the first floor were suddenly opened, and several persons put their heads out, while, with the most sideshaking p. 251peals of laughter, they looked down on this singular wedding.  The “ho, ho, ho!” of the merry Prothero, was heard with surpassing loudness; and, “Well done Twm,” were the first words that the spirit of titillation permitted him to utter.  Notwithstanding this interruption, the ceremony was finished, and parson Hughes pronounced them man and wife.  Unwilling to loosen the hand which he now considered his own, our hero held it fast till he entered the house through the window.  Once within the mansion that now called him master, an amazing change of circumstances took place.—The lady endearingly asked forgiveness for her latter conduct, while Twm intreated the same for himself.  Squire Prothero had been the author of many good offices to our hero; having conciliated Sir John Price, who, although a proud man, was also something of a humorist, as he proved himself in this instance.  A plan was concerted to throw every impediment in the way of Twm’s union, for him to surmount them as he could, to afford sport for the old baronet and his merry friend Prothero, in which trickery the lady herself was by promise compelled to join, which accounts for her latter conduct.  Being ushered by his bride into the drawing-room, our hero was introduced to, and well received by more than one stranger—namely, Sir John Price, and his own father!  On the following day their public wedding took place in Brecon, when our hero’s friend Powell was also united to the amiable Miss Meredith.  These parties being made happy, little remains to be added.  Evans of p. 252Tregaron, had soon after, to add to his other losses, that of his clerical gown, on account of a fine chopping boy affiliated on him by the luckless Bessy Gwevel hîr; and his magisterial functions were also numbered with “things which were, but are not.”

The annals of those times evince that our hero filled various civil offices of the first rank in the good town of Brecon, with great ability; and “Thomas Jones, Esq.” shines conspicuously on the list of its mayors and sheriffs; but no where more honourably than in the pages of his early friend Rhys—the Doctor Rhys—whose undoubted testimony crowns him with the fame of an accomplished herald and antiquary.  A single anecdote, illustrative of his good humour in late life, shall close this book.  “Bless me!” cried the lady mayoress one day to her husband, as they passed arm in arm through the street from church, “the people are always laughing to think of my having married you.”  “I don’t wonder,” replied the hero of these adventures, “for I always laugh when I think of it myself.”






[3a]  His wife’s name was Joan.

[3b]  The truth against the world.

[4]  The English pronunciation of Twm Shôn Catti, is Toom Shone Katty; instead of which the Londoners called it Twim John Katty, which seemed doubly ludicrous as the name of a tragedy hero.

[5]  Another cause assigned for the adoption of this name is, that a cat’s eye formed part of his armorial bearings.

[6]  A small cup, so called from its contents being able merely to damp the clay of a genuine toper.

[56]  It is a singular circumstance, that in the county of Cumberland is kept up among the peasantry a custom resembling this of the Welsh—voluntary contributions at weddings—which doubtless had its origin from the same source, and may be thus accounted for.  When the Britons were driven by the Saxons from the valleys of England to the mountains of Wales, a considerable number of them separating from their countrymen, remained and settled in the North of England, among the Saxons, in a district thence called “Gwlad y Cymru,” i.e. the land of the Cymru, since corrupted to “Cumberland.”  Adopting the language and manners of their conquerors, their own name as a people became entirely lost to their posterity, while this sole vestige (the contributions at weddings) alone remains, of their ancient customs.

[57]  In addition to the Gwahoddwr’s address, there is another mode prevalent in the present day, of inviting to the Bidding, by a printed circular, which in some parts of the principality supersedes that merry personage altogether, a thing to be regretted, as it deprives the rural Welsh Wedding of one of its most pleasant features, and cuts off its alliance with romance, and the manners of oulden tyme.  The following is a specimen of a Bidding circular.

October 5th, 182—

As we intend to enter the matrimonial state, on Saturday, the 10th of November next, we are encouraged by our friends to make a Bidding on the occasion, the same day, at the young woman’s father’s house, called Tynant, at which place, the favor of your agreeable company is most respectfully solicited; and whatever donation you may be pleased to bestow on us then, will be thankfully received, and cheerfully repaid whenever called for on the like occasion.

Your obedient Servants,

A. B.
C. D.

*** The parents of the young man, and his brothers and sisters, desire that all gifts of the above nature due to them, be returned to the young man on the above day, and will be thankful for all favors granted.—Also, the young woman’s parents and her brothers and sisters, desire that all gifts of the above nature due to them, be returned to the young woman on the above day, and will be thankful for all favors granted.

[62]  The large three-legged iron pot used for cooking.

[77]  Pronounced Coom dee.

[129]  Dio is in Wales, the diminutive or familiar of David.

[134]  This simple rustic song is a translation from a popular ballad by John Jones of Glangors, generally sung to the tune of “Will you come to the bower?”

[136a]  Strawberries strung or beaded on long grass.

[136b]  Ewes are milked in Wales, for which purpose they are driven from the hills and mountain in sheep-pens: their butter is also used for many purposes.

[138]  Hob y deri dando signifies “away my herd to the oaken grove.”  Mr. Parry, for whose Welsh Melodies the modern words were written, remarks, “There is something very quaint and characteristic in this ancient air, and it is popular in Wales.”

[152a]  Pennill signifies stanza.  The original, of which the above is a translation, runs thus—

Gwych yw y dyffryn, y gwenith, a’r yd,
Mwyn dir a maenol, ac aml le clyd,
Llinos ac eos, ac adar a gân;
Ni cheir yn y mynydd ond mawnen a thân.

[152b]  A Triban may be defined a lyric epigram; it is common in Welsh literature.

[172]  In the original—

“Nid twyll twyllo twyllwr;
Nid brâd bradychu bradwr;
Nid lladrad mi wn yn dda,
Lladratta ar ladratwr.”

[208]  Signifying “The Poem of Affliction.”  The original Welsh poem, in recitative measure, of which the above is rather a condensed paraphrase than a translation, is in no ancient MS in the possession of the late Mr. Jenkins of Llwyn-y-groes, Cardiganshire; and published in both Meyrick’s “Cardigan,” and “Hynafion Cymreig.”

[214]  Between these two rivers, before they unite, is an angular slip of lowland, being the last of Cardiganshire; Dinas, and all the interesting heights here described, are in Carmarthenshire; while the boundary of Breconshire is about half a mile off.  The reader who is a Welshman, will hence recognize the etymology of Ystrad Fîn, which signifies, The vale of the boundary.

[245a]  Drayton’s poetry is so constructed, that to read it with any harmony, there should be a pause in the middle of every line, when the sense will permit.

[245b]  Eisteddvod.

[245c]  The Welsh epigramic stanza.

[245d]  Cowydd, or Poem.

[245e]  Awdl, or Ode.


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