Picture of George Borrow

George Borrow

places mentioned

Cerrigydruidion to Bangor

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Lacing-up High-lows - The Native Village - Game Leg - Croppies Lie Down - Keeping Faith - Processions - Croppies Get Up - Daniel O'Connell.

I SLEPT in the chamber communicating with the room in which I had dined. The chamber was spacious and airy, the bed first-rate, and myself rather tired, so that no one will be surprised when I say that I had excellent rest. I got up, and after dressing myself went down. The morning was exceedingly brilliant. Going out I saw the Italian lacing up his high-lows against a step. I saluted him, and asked him if he was about to depart.

"Yes, signore; I shall presently start for Denbigh."

"After breakfast I shall start for Bangor," said I.

"Do you propose to reach Bangor to-night, signore?"

"Yes," said I.

"Walking, signore?"

"Yes," said I; "I always walk in Wales."

"Then you will have rather a long walk, signore; for Bangor is thirty-four miles from here."

I asked him if he was married.

"No, signore; but my brother in Liverpool is."

"To an Italian?"

"No, signore; to a Welsh girl."

"And I suppose," said I, "you will follow his example by marrying one; perhaps that good-looking girl the landlady's daughter we were seated with last night?"

"No, signore; I shall not follow my brother's example. If ever I take a wife she shall be of my own village, in Como, whither I hope to return, as soon as I have picked up a few more pounds."

"Whether the Austrians are driven away or not?" said I.

"Whether the Austrians are driven away or not - for to my mind there is no country like Como, signore."

I ordered breakfast; whilst taking it in the room above I saw through the open window the Italian trudging forth on his journey, a huge box on his back, and a weather-glass in his hand - looking the exact image of one of those men, his country people, whom forty years before I had known at N-. I thought of the course of time, sighed and felt a tear gather in my eye.

My breakfast concluded, I paid my bill, and after inquiring the way to Bangor, and bidding adieu to the kind landlady and her daughter, set out from Cerrig y Drudion. My course lay west, across a flat country, bounded in the far distance by the mighty hills I had seen on the preceding evening. After walking about a mile I overtook a man with a game leg, that is a leg which, either by nature or accident not being so long as its brother leg, had a patten attached to it, about five inches high, to enable it to do duty with the other - he was a fellow with red shock hair and very red features, and was dressed in ragged coat and breeches and a hat which had lost part of its crown, and all its rim, so that even without a game leg he would have looked rather a queer figure. In his hand he carried a fiddle.

"Good morning to you," said I.

"A good morning to your hanner, a merry afternoon and a roaring, joyous evening - that is the worst luck I wish to ye."

"Are you a native of these parts?" said I.

"Not exactly, your hanner - I am a native of the city of Dublin, or, what's all the same thing, of the village of Donnybrook, which is close by it."

"A celebrated place," said I.

"Your hanner may say that; all the world has heard of Donnybrook, owing to the humours of its fair. Many is the merry tune I have played to the boys at that fair."

"You are a professor of music, I suppose?"

"And not a very bad one, as your hanner will say, if you allow me to play you a tune."

"Can you play Croppies Lie Down?"

"I cannot, your hanner, my fingers never learnt to play such a blackguard tune; but if you wish to hear Croppies Get Up I can oblige ye."

"You are a Roman Catholic, I suppose?"

"I am not, your hanner - I am a Catholic to the back-bone, just like my father before me. Come, your hanner, shall I play ye Croppies Get Up?"

"No," said I; "it's a tune that doesn't please my ears. If, however, you choose to play Croppies Lie Down, I'll give you a shilling."

"Your hanner will give me a shilling?"

"Yes," said I; "if you play Croppies Lie Down; but you know you cannot play it, your fingers never learned the tune."

"They never did, your hanner; but they have heard it played of ould by the blackguard Orange fiddlers of Dublin on the first of July, when the Protestant boys used to walk round Willie's statue on College Green - so if your hanner gives me the shilling, they may perhaps bring out something like it."

"Very good," said I; "begin!"

"But, your hanner, what shall we do for the words? though my fingers may remember the tune my tongue does not remember the words - that is unless . . ."

"I give another shilling," said I; "but never mind you the words; I know the words, and will repeat them."

"And your hanner will give me a shilling?"

"If you play the tune," said I.

"Hanner bright, your hanner?"

"Honour bright," said I.

Thereupon the fiddler taking his bow and shouldering his fiddle, struck up in first-rate style the glorious tune, which I had so often heard with rapture in the days of my boyhood in the barrack- yard of Clonmel; whilst I, walking by his side as he stumped along, caused the welkin to resound with the words, which were the delight of the young gentlemen of the Protestant academy of that beautiful old town.

"I never heard those words before," said the fiddler, after I had finished the first stanza.

"Get on with you," said I.

"Regular Orange words!" said the fiddler, on my finishing the second stanza.

"Do you choose to get on?" said I.

"More blackguard Orange words I never heard!" cried the fiddler, on my coming to the conclusion of the third stanza. "Divil a bit farther will I play; at any rate till I get the shilling."

"Here it is for you," said I; "the song is ended, and, of course, the tune."

"Thank your hanner," said the fiddler, taking the money, "your hanner has kept your word with me, which is more than I thought your hanner would. And now your hanner let me ask you why did your hanner wish for that tune, which is not only a blackguard one but quite out of date; and where did your hanner get the words?"

"I used to hear the tune in my boyish days," said I, "and wished to hear it again, for though you call it a blackguard tune, it is the sweetest and most noble air that Ireland, the land of music, has ever produced. As for the words, never mind where I got them; they are violent enough, but not half so violent as the words of some of the songs made against the Irish Protestants by the priests."

"Your hanner is an Orange man, I see. Well, your hanner, the Orange is now in the kennel, and the Croppies have it all their own way."

"And perhaps," said I, "before I die, the Orange will be out of the kennel and the Croppies in, even as they were in my young days."

"Who knows, your hanner? and who knows that I may not play the old tune round Willie's image in College Green, even as I used some twenty-seven years ago?"

"Oh then you have been an Orange fiddler?"

"I have, your hanner. And now as your hanner has behaved like a gentleman to me I will tell ye all my history. I was born in the city of Dublin, that is in the village of Donnybrook, as I tould your hanner before. It was to the trade of bricklaying I was bred, and bricklaying I followed till at last, getting my leg smashed, not by falling off the ladder, but by a row in the fair, I was obliged to give it up, for how could I run up the ladder with a patten on my foot, which they put on to make my broken leg as long as the other. Well your hanner, being obliged to give up my bricklaying, I took to fiddling, to which I had always a natural inclination, and played about the streets, and at fairs, and wakes, and weddings. At length some Orange men getting acquainted with me, and liking my style of playing, invited me to their lodge, where they gave me to drink and tould me that if I would change my religion, and join them, and play their tunes, they would make it answer my purpose. Well, your hanner, without much stickling I gave up my Popery, joined the Orange lodge, learned the Orange tunes, and became a regular Protestant boy, and truly the Orange men kept their word, and made it answer my purpose. Oh the meat and drink I got, and the money I made by playing at the Orange lodges and before the processions when the Orange men paraded the streets with their Orange colours. And oh, what a day for me was the glorious first of July when with my whole body covered with Orange ribbons, I fiddled Croppies Lie Down, Boyne Water, and the Protestant Boys before the procession which walked round Willie's figure on horseback in College Green, the man and horse all ablaze with Orange colours. But nothing lasts under the sun, as your hanner knows; Orangeism began to go down; the Government scowled at it, and at last passed a law preventing the Protestant boys dressing up the figure on the first of July, and walking round it. That was the death-blow of the Orange party, your hanner; they never recovered it, but began to despond and dwindle, and I with them; for there was scarcely any demand for Orange tunes. Then Dan O'Connell arose with his emancipation and repale cries, and then instead of Orange processions and walkings, there were Papist processions and mobs, which made me afraid to stir out, lest knowing me for an Orange fiddler, they should break my head, as the boys broke my leg at Donnybrook fair. At length some of the repalers and emancipators knowing that I was a first-rate hand at fiddling came to me and tould me, that if I would give over playing Croppies Lie Down and other Orange tunes, and would play Croppies Get Up, and what not, and become a Catholic and a repaler, and an emancipator, they would make a man of me - so as my Orange trade was gone, and I was half-starved, I consinted, not however till they had introduced me to Daniel O'Connell, who called me a cridit to my country, and the Irish Horpheus, and promised me a sovereign if I would consint to join the cause, as he called it. Well, your hanner, I joined with the cause and became a Papist, I mane a Catholic once more, and went at the head of processions covered all over with green ribbons, playing Croppies Get Up, Granny Whale, and the like. But, your hanner, though I went the whole hog with the repalers and emancipators, they did not make their words good by making a man of me. Scant and sparing were they in the mate and drink, and yet more sparing in the money, and Daniel O'Connell never gave me the sovereign which he promised me. No, your hanner, though I played Croppies Get Up, till my fingers ached, as I stumped before him and his mobs and processions, he never gave me the sovereign: unlike your hanner who gave me the shilling ye promised me for playing Croppies Lie Down, Daniel O'Connell never gave me the sovereign he promised me for playing Croppies Get Up. Och, your hanner, I often wished the ould Orange days were back again. However as I could do no better I continued going the whole hog with the emancipators and repalers and Dan O'Connell; I went the whole animal with them till they had got emancipation; and I went the whole animal with them till they had nearly got repale - when all of a sudden they let the whole thing drop - Dan and his party having frighted the Government out of its seven senses, and gotten all they could get, in money and places, which was all they wanted, let the whole hullabaloo drop, and of course myself, who formed part of it. I went to those who had persuaded me to give up my Orange tunes, and to play Papist ones, begging them to give me work; but they tould me very civilly that they had no further occasion for my services. I went to Daniel O'Connell reminding him of the sovereign he had promised me, and offering if he gave it me to play Croppies Get Up under the nose of the lord-lieutenant himself; but he tould me that he had not time to attend to me, and when I persisted, bade me go to the Divil and shake myself. Well, your hanner, seeing no prospect for myself in my own country, and having incurred some little debts, for which I feared to be arrested, I came over to England and Wales, where with little content and satisfaction I have passed seven years."

"Well," said I; "thank you for your history - farewell."

"Stap, your hanner; does your hanner think that the Orange will ever be out of the kennel, and that the Orange boys will ever walk round the brass man and horse in College Green as they did of ould?"

"Who knows?" said I. "But suppose all that were to happen, what would it signify to you?"

"Why then divil be in my patten if I would not go back to Donnybrook and Dublin, hoist the Orange cockade, and become as good an Orange boy as ever."

"What," said I, "and give up Popery for the second time?"

"I would, your hanner; and why not? for in spite of what I have heard Father Toban say, I am by no means certain that all Protestants will be damned."

"Farewell," said I.

"Farewell, your hanner, and long life and prosperity to you! God bless your hanner and your Orange face. Ah, the Orange boys are the boys for keeping faith. They never served me as Dan O'Connell and his dirty gang of repalers and emancipators did. Farewell, your hanner, once more; and here's another scratch of the illigant tune your hanner is so fond of, to cheer up your hanner's ears upon your way."

And long after I had left him I could hear him playing on his fiddle in first-rate style the beautiful tune of "Down, down, Croppies Lie Down."


Ceiniog Mawr - Pentre Voelas - The Old Conway - Stupendous Pass - The Gwedir Family - Capel Curig - The Two Children - Bread - Wonderful Echo - Tremendous Walker.

I WALKED on briskly over a flat uninteresting country, and in about an hour's time came in front of a large stone house. It stood near the road, on the left-hand side, with a pond and pleasant trees before it, and a number of corn-stacks behind. It had something the appearance of an inn, but displayed no sign. As I was standing looking at it, a man with the look of a labourer, and with a dog by his side, came out of the house and advanced towards me.

"What is the name of this place?" said I to him in English as he drew nigh.

"Sir," said the man, "the name of the house is Ceiniog Mawr."

"Is it an inn?" said I.

"Not now, sir; but some years ago it was an inn, and a very large one, at which coaches used to stop; at present it is occupied by an amaethwr - that is a farmer, sir."

"Ceiniog Mawr means a great penny," said I, "why is it called by that name?"

"I have heard, sir, that before it was an inn it was a very considerable place, namely a royal mint, at which pennies were made, and on that account it was called Ceiniog Mawr."

I was subsequently told that the name of this place was Cernioge Mawr. If such be the real name the legend about the mint falls to the ground, Cernioge having nothing to do with pence. Cern in Welsh means a jaw. Perhaps the true name of the house is Corniawg, which interpreted is a place with plenty of turrets or chimneys. A mile or two further the ground began to rise, and I came to a small village at the entrance of which was a water-wheel - near the village was a gentleman's seat almost surrounded by groves. After I had passed through the village, seeing a woman seated by the roadside knitting, I asked her in English its name. Finding she had no Saesneg I repeated the question in Welsh, whereupon she told me that it was called Pentre Voelas.

"And whom does the 'Plas' belong to yonder amongst the groves?" said I.

"It belongs to Mr Wynn, sir, and so does the village and a great deal of the land about here. A very good gentleman is Mr Wynn, sir; he is very kind to his tenants and a very good lady is Mrs Wynn, sir; in the winter she gives much soup to the poor."

After leaving the village of Pentre Voelas I soon found myself in a wild hilly region. I crossed a bridge over a river, which, brawling and tumbling amidst rocks, shaped its course to the north- east. As I proceeded, the country became more and more wild; there were dingles and hollows in abundance, and fantastic-looking hills, some of which were bare, and others clad with trees of various kinds. Came to a little well in a cavity, dug in a high bank on the left-hand side of the road, and fenced by rude stone work on either side; the well was about ten inches in diameter, and as many deep. Water oozing from the bank upon a slanting tile fastened into the earth fell into it. After damming up the end of the tile with my hand, and drinking some delicious water, I passed on and presently arrived at a cottage, just inside the door of which sat a good-looking middle-aged woman engaged in knitting, the general occupation of Welsh females.

"Good-day," said I to her in Welsh. "Fine weather."

"In truth, sir, it is fine weather for the harvest."

"Are you alone in the house?"

"I am, sir, my husband has gone to his labour."

"Have you any children?"

"Two, sir; but they are out at service."

"What is the name of this place?"

"Pant Paddock, sir."

"Do you get your water from the little well yonder?"

"We do, sir, and good water it is."

"I have drunk of it."

"Much good may what you have drunk do you, sir!"

"What is the name of the river near here?"

"It is called the Conway, sir."

"Dear me; is that river the Conway?"

"You have heard of it, sir?"

"Heard of it! it is one of the famous rivers of the world. The poets are very fond of it - one of the great poets of my country calls it the old Conway."

"Is one river older than another, sir?"

"That's a shrewd question. Can you read?"

"I can, sir."

"Have you any books?"

"I have the Bible, sir."

"Will you show it me?"

"Willingly, sir."

Then getting up she took a book from a shelf and handed it to me, at the same time begging me to enter the house and sit down. I declined, and she again took her seat and resumed her occupation. On opening the book the first words which met my eye were: "Gad i mi fyned trwy dy dir! - Let me go through your country" (Numb. XX. 22).

"I may say these words," said I, pointing to the passage. "Let me go through your country."

"No one will hinder you, sir, for you seem a civil gentleman."

"No one has hindered me hitherto. Wherever I have been in Wales I have experienced nothing but kindness and hospitality, and when I return to my own country I will say so."

"What country is yours, sir?"

"England. Did you not know that by my tongue?"

"I did not, sir. I knew by your tongue that you were not from our parts - but I did not know that you were an Englishman. I took you for a Cumro of the south country."

Returning the kind woman her book, and bidding her farewell I departed, and proceeded some miles through a truly magnificent country of wood, rock, and mountain. At length I came to a steep mountain gorge, down which the road ran nearly due north, the Conway to the left running with great noise parallel with the road, amongst broken rocks, which chafed it into foam. I was now amidst stupendous hills, whose paps, peaks, and pinnacles seemed to rise to the very heaven. An immense mountain on the right side of the road particularly struck my attention, and on inquiring of a man breaking stones by the roadside I learned that it was called Dinas Mawr, or the large citadel, perhaps from a fort having been built upon it to defend the pass in the old British times. Coming to the bottom of the pass I crossed over by an ancient bridge, and, passing through a small town, found myself in a beautiful valley with majestic hills on either side. This was the Dyffryn Conway, the celebrated Vale of Conway, to which in the summer time fashionable gentry from all parts of Britain resort for shade and relaxation. When about midway down the valley I turned to the west, up one of the grandest passes in the world, having two immense door-posts of rock at the entrance. the northern one probably rising to the altitude of nine hundred feet. On the southern side of this pass near the entrance were neat dwellings for the accommodation of visitors with cool apartments on the ground floor, with large windows, looking towards the precipitous side of the mighty northern hill; within them I observed tables, and books, and young men, probably English collegians, seated at study.

After I had proceeded some way up the pass, down which a small river ran, a woman who was standing on the right-hand side of the way, seemingly on the look-out, begged me in broken English to step aside and look at the fall.

"You mean a waterfall, I suppose?" said I.

"Yes, sir."

"And how do you call it?" said I.

"The Fall of the Swallow, sir."

"And in Welsh?" said I.

"Rhaiadr y Wennol, sir."

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

"We call the river the Lygwy, sir."

I told the woman I would go, whereupon she conducted me through a gate on the right-hand side and down a path overhung with trees to a rock projecting into the river. The Fall of the Swallow is not a majestic single fall, but a succession of small ones. First there are a number of little foaming torrents, bursting through rocks about twenty yards above the promontory on which I stood. Then come two beautiful rolls of white water, dashing into a pool a little way above the promontory; then there is a swirl of water round its corner into a pool below on its right, black as death, and seemingly of great depth; then a rush through a very narrow outlet into another pool, from which the water clamours away down the glen. Such is the Rhaiadr y Wennol, or Swallow Fall; called so from the rapidity with which the waters rush and skip along.

On asking the woman on whose property the fall was, she informed me that it was on the property of the Gwedir family. The name of Gwedir brought to my mind the "History of the Gwedir Family," a rare and curious book which I had read in my boyhood, and which was written by the representative of that family, a certain Sir John Wynne, about the beginning of the seventeenth century. It gives an account of the fortunes of the family, from its earliest rise; but more particularly after it had emigrated, in order to avoid bad neighbours, from a fair and fertile district into rugged Snowdonia, where it found anything but the repose it came in quest of. The book which is written in bold graphic English, flings considerable light on the state of society in Wales, in the time of the Tudors, a truly deplorable state, as the book is full of accounts of feuds, petty but desperate skirmishes, and revengeful murders. To many of the domestic sagas, or histories of ancient Icelandic families, from the character of the events which it describes and also from the manner in which it describes them, the "History of the Gwedir Family," by Sir John Wynne, bears a striking resemblance.

After giving the woman sixpence I left the fall, and proceeded on my way. I presently crossed a bridge under which ran the river of the fall, and was soon in a wide valley on each side of which were lofty hills dotted with wood, and at the top of which stood a mighty mountain, bare and precipitous, with two paps like those of Pindus opposite Janina, but somewhat sharper. It was a region of fairy beauty and of wild grandeur. Meeting an old bleared-eyed farmer I inquired the name of the mountain and learned that it was called Moel Siabod or Shabod. Shortly after leaving him, I turned from the road to inspect a monticle which appeared to me to have something of the appearance of a burial heap. It stood in a green meadow by the river which ran down the valley on the left. Whether it was a grave hill or a natural monticle, I will not say; but standing in the fair meadow, the rivulet murmuring beside it, and the old mountain looking down upon it, I thought it looked a very meet resting-place for an old Celtic king.

Turning round the northern side of the mighty Siabod I soon reached the village of Capel Curig, standing in a valley between two hills, the easternmost of which is the aforesaid Moel Siabod. Having walked now twenty miles in a broiling day I thought it high time to take some refreshment, and inquired the way to the inn. The inn, or rather the hotel, for it was a very magnificent edifice, stood at the entrance of a pass leading to Snowdon, on the southern side of the valley, in a totally different direction from the road leading to Bangor, to which place I was bound. There I dined in a grand saloon amidst a great deal of fashionable company, who, probably conceiving from my heated and dusty appearance that I was some poor fellow travelling on foot from motives of economy, surveyed me with looks of the most supercilious disdain, which, however, neither deprived me of my appetite nor operated uncomfortably on my feelings.

My dinner finished, I paid my bill, and having sauntered a little about the hotel garden, which is situated on the border of a small lake and from which, through the vista of the pass, Snowdon may be seen towering in majesty at the distance of about six miles, I started for Bangor, which is fourteen miles from Capel Curig.

The road to Bangor from Capel Curig is almost due west. An hour's walking brought me to a bleak moor, extending for a long way amidst wild sterile hills.

The first of a chain on the left, was a huge lumpy hill with a precipice towards the road probably three hundred feet high. When I had come nearly parallel with the commencement of this precipice, I saw on the left-hand side of the road two children looking over a low wall behind which at a little distance stood a wretched hovel. On coming up I stopped and looked at them; they were a boy and girl; the first about twelve, the latter a year or two younger; both wretchedly dressed and looking very sickly.

"Have you any English?" said I, addressing the boy in Welsh.

"Dim gair," said the boy; "not a word; there is no Saesneg near here."

"What is the name of this place?"

"The name of our house is Helyg."

"And what is the name of that hill?" said I, pointing to the hill of the precipice.

"Allt y Gog - the high place of the cuckoo."

"Have you a father and mother?"

"We have."

"Are they in the house?"

"They are gone to Capel Curig."

"And they left you alone?"

"They did. With the cat and the trin-wire."

"Do your father and mother make wire-work?"

"They do. They live by making it."

"What is the wire-work for?"

"It is for hedges to fence the fields with."

"Do you help your father and mother?"

"We do; as far as we can."

"You both look unwell."

"We have lately had the cryd" (ague).

"Is there much cryd about here?"


"Do you live well?"

"When we have bread we live well."

"If I give you a penny will you bring me some water?"

"We will, whether you give us a penny or not. Come, sister, let us go and fetch the gentleman water."

They ran into the house and presently returned, the girl bearing a pan of water. After I had drunk I gave each of the children a penny, and received in return from each a diolch or thanks.

"Can either of you read?"

"Neither one nor the other."

"Can your father and mother read?"

"My father cannot, my mother can a little."

"Are there books in the house?"

"There are not."

"No Bible?"

"There is no book at all."

"Do you go to church?"

"We do not."

"To chapel?"

"In fine weather."

"Are you happy?"

"When there is bread in the house and no cryd we are all happy."

"Farewell to you, children."

"Farewell to you, gentleman!" exclaimed both.

"I have learnt something," said I, "of Welsh cottage life and feeling from that poor sickly child."

I had passed the first and second of the hills which stood on the left, and a huge long mountain on the right which confronted both, when a young man came down from a gully on my left hand, and proceeded in the same direction as myself. He was dressed in a blue coat and corduroy trowsers, and appeared to be of a condition a little above that of a labourer. He shook his head and scowled when I spoke to him in English, but smiled on my speaking Welsh, and said: "Ah, you speak Cumraeg: I thought no Sais could speak Cumraeg." I asked him if he was going far.

"About four miles," he replied.

"On the Bangor road?"

"Yes," said he; "down the Bangor road."

I learned that he was a carpenter, and that he had been up the gully to see an acquaintance - perhaps a sweetheart. We passed a lake on our right which he told me was called Llyn Ogwen, and that it abounded with fish. He was very amusing, and expressed great delight at having found an Englishman who could speak Welsh; "it will be a thing to talk of," said he, "for the rest of my life." He entered two or three cottages by the side of the road, and each time he came out I heard him say: "I am with a Sais who can speak Cumraeg." At length we came to a gloomy-looking valley trending due north; down this valley the road ran, having an enormous wall of rocks on its right and a precipitous hollow on the left, beyond which was a wall equally high as the other one. When we had proceeded some way down the road my guide said. "You shall now hear a wonderful echo," and shouting "taw, taw," the rocks replied in a manner something like the baying of hounds. "Hark to the dogs!" exclaimed my companion. "This pass is called Nant yr ieuanc gwn, the pass of the young dogs, because when one shouts it answers with a noise resembling the crying of hounds."

The sun was setting when we came to a small village at the bottom of the pass. I asked my companion its name. "Ty yn y maes," he replied, adding as he stopped before a small cottage that he was going no farther, as he dwelt there.

"Is there a public-house here?" said I.

"There is," he replied, "you will find one a little farther up on the right hand."

"Come, and take some ale," said I.

"No," said he.

"Why not?" I demanded.

"I am a teetotaler," he replied.

"Indeed," said I, and having shaken him by the hand, thanked him for his company and bidding him farewell, went on. He was the first person I had ever met of the fraternity to which he belonged, who did not endeavour to make a parade of his abstinence and self- denial.

After drinking some tolerably good ale in the public house I again started. As I left the village a clock struck eight. The evening was delightfully cool; but it soon became nearly dark. I passed under high rocks, by houses and by groves, in which nightingales were singing, to listen to whose entrancing melody I more than once stopped. On coming to a town, lighted up and thronged with people, I asked one of a group of young fellows its name.

"Bethesda," he replied.

"A scriptural name," said I.

"Is it?" said he; "well, if its name is scriptural the manners of its people are by no means so."

A little way beyond the town a man came out of a cottage and walked beside me. He had a basket in his hand. I quickened my pace; but he was a tremendous walker, and kept up with me. On we went side by side for more than a mile without speaking a word. At length, putting out my legs in genuine Barclay fashion, I got before him about ten yards, then turning round laughed and spoke to him in English. He too laughed and spoke, but in Welsh. We now went on like brothers, conversing, but always walking at great speed. I learned from him that he was a market-gardener living at Bangor, and that Bangor was three miles off. On the stars shining out we began to talk about them.

Pointing to Charles's Wain I said, "A good star for travellers."

Whereupon pointing to the North star, he said:

"I forwyr da iawn - a good star for mariners."

We passed a large house on our left.

"Who lives there?" said I.

"Mr Smith," he replied. "It is called Plas Newydd; milltir genom etto - we have yet another mile."

In ten minutes we were at Bangor. I asked him where the Albion Hotel was.

"I will show it you," said he, and so he did.

As we came under it I heard the voice of my wife, for she, standing on a balcony and distinguishing me by the lamplight, called out. I shook hands with the kind six-mile-an-hour market-gardener, and going into the inn found my wife and daughter, who rejoiced to see me. We presently had tea.

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

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