Immagini della pagina

(should be Vychan”), “ Wendont” or “Wendot” (should be Wendon”), “Gwyneth” (should be Gwynedd), was there ever a time

) when these names were “of common acceptance between the English and the Welsh”? And it is with surprise that we read his opinion on the royal house of Dynevor, " the history of this eminent race of princes who so long baffled all the efforts of the English monarchs to reduce them to subjection". We presume, if we have studied our history aright, this assertion is founded upon sentiment, and not upon historical facts.

We cannot but sympathise with the spirit which animated the author when he began his work; for from his words we were led to believe that we were about to enter upon a learned work setting forth in a graphic manner, and that, too, in a continuous whole, the various elements and factions that contended for so many centuries in Wales and along the borders for the mastery. But we must own to some disappointment here. A history is not a mere record of uninteresting and uneventful acts, nor the stringing together the names of petty men who happened to be connected by birth with some house of certain pretensions, but who of themselves, and in themselves, were simply and truly so many dead men as regards their connection with the real history of their country. A historian should soar above his subject, having it well in hand at the same time. From his vantage ground he should be able to inspect, as upon the face of a map, the whole array of facts. He could then easily connect the various events of the periods concerning which he writes, and dropping minor details, pick out and dilate upon the eventful ones, bringing in, as a matter of course, the various relations and connections they have with kindred events and circumstances.

We shall now proceed to make a few remarks on some of the leading features of this work. We quite agree with the author that the system of gavelkind, engendering, as it did, the baser and more selfish feelings, and being a deadly foe to a common sovereignty, was one of the main causes of the overthrow of the Welsh. Mr. Bridgeman would seem to be a believer in the story of the three hundred wolves' heads. This story rests upon the authority of William of Malmesbury alone. No allusion is made to this tribute by any Welsh or Saxon writer. Even upon the showing of the Norman monk this story cannot be true, for he says that Edgar commanded Judwall, King of the Welsh, to pay him yearly a tri. bute of three hundred wolves. We take Judwall for Idwal Voel; but the Welsh chronicles assert that Idwal Voel was killed in battle by the Saxons in 943, while Edgar did not begin to reign before 959. But we are glad to find no mention whatever of the “ triumphant procession by water” at Chester. Hence we conclude that

1 Or Fychan or Bychan (little, small). Vachan is not a Welsh name.

? Wendot or Wendont is not a Welsh name. Wendon means white (guen) skin (ton or tonen).


Mr. Bridgeman, like ourselves, is a thorough unbeliever in that piece of fiction. He says that the sons of Hywel Dda defeated the sons of Idwal Voel at Aberconway. Llanrwst was the scene of this battle. He makes no mention of that redoubtable monster, Hywel Ddrug ; and he dismisses “the head and shield and defender of the Britons”, Griffith ap Llewelyn ap Seisyllt, with a footnote !

By the “hills of Carnau” we presume he means the offshoot of Plynlimon, above the village of Carno, Montgomeryshire. He says that Griffith ap Cynan was assisted by an army of “ Irish Scots”. He gives no authority for this statement; and we are not aware that there was at any period of history such a compound of nationalities as “ Irish Scots”. The Brut y Tywysogion says that Trahae

y arn was assisted by the “Scots”, while Griffith was aided by the Irish. Perhaps these facts will account for the compound of "Irish Scots” of this battle, which was one of the most decisive and eventful recorded in Welsh history. Mr. Bridgeman says it took place in 1080. Its date is generally given as 1079.

In a footnote (p. 36) an interesting fact is recorded concerning the “intrepidity of a Welsh contingent", who fought against Stephen at the battle of Lincoln. This interference in the affair of England will remind us of the part taken by Welshmen in supporting Edmund Ironside against the Danes; in frustrating the designs of Harold, son of Godwin, in the council at Northampton; by countenancing the dilatory earls, Edwin and Morcar; in stubbornly resisting, side by side with Dane and Saxon, the Normans at York; while it prepares us for the part taken by the Welsh at such critical periods of English history as the rebellion of Simon de Montfort, the wars of the Black Prince, the rising of Hotspur, the struggles of the rival Roses, the rebellion of Buckingham, and the contentions of King and Parliament. The battle of Corwen and its results are well described. One great peculiarity of the Welsh princes was the suddenness of their attack, either upon one of themselves or upon the English. To wit, the rising of Iorwerth ap Owen ap Caradog ap Griffith against Caerleon after its capture by Henry II, and his departure for Ireland.

We are told that in 1165 Rhys ap Griffith ap Tewdwr Mawr completed the conquest of Cardiganshire by the capture of Aberystwith Castle ; but in 1171 we find that Henry II “gave” Cardiganshire to Rhys, and that Rhys gave horses, and that he promised more hostages to Henry. This is proof positive that Rhys was the vassal of the English monarch. He became, in fact, the tool of Henry, who flattered his vanity, by making him his Justiciary of South Wales. Of the princes of South Wales, Iorwerth of Caerleon alone displayed a brave and patriotic spirit. But Rhys, though servile in the king's presence, was a man of much shrewdness, and was endowed with great perseverance and determination. He won the esteem of his people by such events as the gathering of music aud song at Aberystwith. Shortly after his visit to Oxford, in company with other Welsh princes, in 1177, he proved himself to be a warrior and




a diplomatist, for he not only defeated the Norman lords, but he also succeeded in reconciling himself to the king. Domestic treason and family strife now assailed him. Rhys was captured by his illegitimate son Maelgwyn,' two sons were blinded by their brothers; Rhys Grug and Meredith, two other sons, rose against their father, but were captured by him. Then followed Rhys' raid along the borders. His capture of the Castles of Clun and Radnor, and the defeat of the English at Radnor, brought to an honourable close an eventful life. The words of the Welsh chroniclers concerning this prince are expressive of the sincere lamentations of a crushed and disunited people ; of a people prone to magnify the importance of the deeds of their princes, when those princes were no more, rather than expressive of actual facts. And this can be easily accounted for, when we bear in mind that the Welsh are an impulsive and imaginative people; that they are as easily excited to a pitch of beavenly enthusiasm as they are depressed to the most awful depths of despair. As a matter of course, people of such a temperament are naturally hero worshippers. The scourging of the decomposed body of this prince is one of the many instances of the cruel vindictiveness of the Romish hierarchy.

Rhys was succeeded by his son Griffith who was delivered up to the English by Wenwynwyn ap Owen Cyveiliog, Prince of Upper Powis, in exchange for a castle. He was released. Maelgwyn, like Harold, refused to abide by his oath sworn over relics. He also sold his patrimony to King John, and was, in consequence, cursed by the clergy, and also by the people as a traitor. Upon the death of Griffith ap Rlys, his brothers, Rhys Grug and Maelgwyn seized his possessions, to the exclusion of his sons Rhys and Owen. This act was quite in accordance with the ways of the strongest, as recorded in Welsh history. Llewelyn of Gwynedd summoned a parliament of all the lords of Wales. This is significant as reviving the privileges of the Pendragon, in right of his descent from Anarawd, eldest son of Rhodri Mawr. This prince took advantage of Wenwynwyn's capture by the English at Shrewsbury to seize his lands. He also seized the lands of Maelgwyn, part of which he kept in his own possession, and the remainder he handed over to Rhys and Owen, sons of Griffith. It is interesting to observe that the bailiffs of Carmarthen were able to retaliate upon Rhys ap Griffith.

Mr. Bridgeman gives the following for Maelgwyn and Wenwynwyn, Maelgun, Maelgon, Mailgon, Melygon, and Wenunwen.

? For Crug, Mr. Bridgeman writes Crig, which is not a Welsh name.

s Brut y Tywysogion thus laments the death of this Prince : “Alas! for the glory of battles, the shield of the knight, the defence of the country, the ornament of weapons, the arm of strength, the hand of the generous

eye of discrimination, the illustrator of courtesy, the summit of magnanimity, the substance of energy. Like Achilles in the strength of his breast ; Nestor in kindness, Tydeus in bravery, Sampson in strength, Hector in prudence, Hercules in gallantry, Paris in beauty, Ulysses in speech, Solomon in wisdom, Ajax in mind, and the foundation of all the excellencies."

ones, the



In 1215 the Welsh princes were in harmony, and their united forces gained a victory over their mortal foes. This is an instance of their power and daring, when influenced by patriotic sentiments alone. Nothing figures forth more clearly the difficulties that an English army had to undergo in Wales than the letter quoted by Mr. Bridgenian from Matthew of Paris. The noble writer says: “We lie here watching, praying, fasting, and freezing. We watch in defence against the Welsh, who beat up our quarters every night; we pray for a safe passage home; we fast because we have no food

we freeze because we have no warm clothing, and only linen tents to keep out the cold.”

The barons met in arms at Oxford (Mad Parliament) upon the excuse that they came in readiness to march against the Welsh. Again we perceive the influence the affairs of Wales had upon those of England at critical periods. Once more we have to record the treachery of Welsh princes towards their country, in the persons of Rhys ap Meredith ap Rhys Grug and Rhys Wendon. It is, however, refreshing to remember that these traitors were afterwards treated with the greatest indignity by Edward I. The complaints of the sons of Meredith ap Owen are soothing to one's offended sense of patriotism, inasmuch as they show forth in the clearest manner the rewards these renegade Celts received at the hands of the Saxons.

The footnote (2) p. 173, shows that the writer is a critical student of history. No victory could be more complete than that of Edward I over the Welsh. The treacherous death of Llewelyn, the ontrageous murder of David, the capture of Griffith and Cynan, sons of Meredith ap Owen, of Griffith and Llewelyn, sons of Rhys Vychan, of Hywel ap Rhys Grug and of Rhys Vychan ap Rhys ap Maelgwyn, crushed the spirit of the Welsh. In a word, Wales was prostrated by the utter discomfiture and overthrow of its leaders, traitors, and good men alike.

Mr. Bridgeman rather taxes the reader's patience, as he previously must have wasted his own energy, by allotting, with the greatest nicety, every paltry acre of land now to this prince and then to that. Rhys ap Meredith ap Rhys Grug wiped out the memory of his treachery by his crael death at York. He was drawn at the tails of horses to the place of execution, and then drawn and quartered. The same sad fate met Cynan ap Meredith at Hereford.

We now pass on to the doughty deeds of Owain Glyndwr; and we would recommend the reader to study carefully the cruel laws passed against the Welsh by the English Parliament of 1401. These are given at length on p. 255. Some interesting facts concerning the heroic struggle of Glyndwr, and the ancestry of Henry VII, together with the readjustment of various lands, and several tables of pedigrees, bring the work to an end.

We have endeavoured, by drawing the reader's attention to a few of the leading subjects of this book, to show that it is well worth a careful perusal. It is, in fact, a laborious compilation. Mr. Bridgeman has shown what one man can do in the way of record and research. He has set us an example of unwearied patience and industry. He has also exhibited considerable skill in the arrangement of the Princes of South Wales, and strict impartiality in his conclusions; and as the possessor of such sterling good qualities as these, he fully deserves our unqualified commendation. His genealogical tables are no less gratifying to those gentlemen now alive, whose names appear therein, than they are evidences of a taste on the part of the compiler for recording in detail the minutiæ that collectively make up a history; and we only regret that the labours of the diligent student have not been moulded and modelled by the skill and discrimination of the historian,

The Gossiping Guide to Wales, by Askew Roberts, has just appeared in a new and enlarged edition, containing “ descriptive routes and geological and botanical chapters, and illustrated with twelve maps and Snowdon panorama”. With the limitation of the title to “North” Wales, and of the “Guide” to those places which lie on the lines of railway, or within easy access of them, we can commend this little book as an amusing and instructive companion to the tourist, who will derive from it a large amount of useful information as well as of entertaining gossip. The botanist will delight to vary his enjoyment of Barmouth with a search for the flora, of which Mr. Walsham How has indicated the existence in that neighbourhood; and his stay at Llanberis with discovering the rare plants which Mr. T. Butler points out on Snowdon and the Glyders; whilst Mr. Croft's brief summary of the geological features of the Principality will be welcome to the student of geology. The lithograph maps will be especially acceptable to the pedestrian, who can seldom procure the Ordnance Maps of the district where, perhaps, he most of all needs them. With the Gossiping Guide we would recommend the tourist to take with him Murray's Handbook, which abounds in solid information upon every part of North Wales ; and then it will be his own fault if he does not thoroughly enjoy even the rainy days he will be sure to meet with.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

N.B.— With the October number of the Journal we hope to issue a biographical Preface to the Celtic Remains, which will then be brought to a close. It is to be from the pen of the compiler's grand. son, the distinguished author of The Songs of Two Worlds, etc.


« IndietroContinua »