Графични страници
PDF файл

and tightening to its extent, the compression became almost insupportable; at last, in spite of every effort to disengage himself, he was dragged from his horse. The affrighted Merlyn, finding himself manacled by the rope, darted off with increased speed, pulling Goronwy over the rocky ground and stunted brushwood. The animal, terrified at so unnatural a spectacle, dashed onward, under the hope of freeing himself from the rope ; but the rebounding body of Goronwy still followed: the horse's struggles to free himself were truly frightful. Whether the sufferings of Goronwy were protracted, or whether some friendly rock dashed out his brains at the outset of the struggle, cannot be known; but the wild animal, frenzied and blinded with terror, rushed over the beetling cliff overhanging the sea-shore ; and the hunter and the horse were found at the bottom, a disgusting misshapen semblance of what they had been when living.


Translated from the Welsh, said to be a Translation from the Italian of

Boccace; by Dr. John David Ruys, in the time of Queen ELIZABETH.

Beneath the wide-extending skies,

How many things we view,
That strike our unexpected eyes,

With mode entirely new !


Nor new I deem what days of yore,

Ey'd in its outline faint;
But things we never knew before,

Or only thought could paint.


Ye Gods! whilst thus my thoughts pursue,

New fancies without end ;
When shall I see that wonder new,

An old and faithful FRIEND!



“On the Alps
It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh,
Which some did die to look on.”—Antony and Cleopatra.

CAER CONAN, the lofty tower of the King, * rises on the summit of an immense cone of earth, or rather living rock. It is a circular building, with four great square buttresses, or turrets, that lift their heads far above the connecting battlements of the tower in giant stability, the monument of unknown ages. The lower part of the walls of this timedefying fortress is twenty feet thick, and more than eighty feet in height. Their breadth lessens on the inside several feet, at the basement of every story or chamber of the tower, of which there are two above the lower floor, which is over a deep and dismal dungeon; this, however, is not perceived on the outside of the walls, nor commenced till far above the reach of the batteringram and all the ancient destructive engines of war. These two upper chambers are the state apartments of the king, the stairs which lead to them are within the solid walls, which, also with one of the ponderous turrets, contain two other chambers of lesser dimensions, ornamented with carved pillars, groined arches, and rich mouldings, and lighted by two small windows, commanding the most extensive and beautiful prospects.

The lower part of this castle slopes, with its protecting buttresses, for many feet towards the foundations, in the shape of an artificial mount, greatly adding to its strength and majesty; while a long flight of stone steps, that will not admit of more than two persons ascending together, leads to its lofty entrance; rendering all hostile access to the interior extremely difficult and dangerous. The door is formed of plated iron, and its massy bars are of the same heavy metal.

A deep fosse encircles the hill on which this fortress stands, in which the waters of the Dune reflect, like a pure

• Theodoric the Goth, after his conquest of Italy, gave to his soldiers lands and benefices as military stipends for services in the field of battle.

mirror, the trees that flourish on its steep banks, and the broad and heavy shadows of Caer Conan castle. A narrow bridge of wood leads across this vast moat, which, in times of danger, is entirely removed. In the ample court, surrounded by its rocky rampire, stands the immense hall of shields, the feasting-place of the valiant in war, with numerous booths and tents for the retainers,* chieftains guards, and slaves of the potent Ardoc prince of Bigantium. This regal war-dwelling appears to have been built by the ancient Britons, on a superior plan even to that of Dunheved,+ one of their earliest castles, erected in an eastern style of archi tecture, learned from the Phænicians, who formed settlements among them, at least on the western coasts of the island, and instructed them in their arts and sciences and the worship of their gods—if all these, and numerous oriental customs, were not brought with them from the east, which will always remain with us a doubt.

The Castle of Caer Conan commands a fine extent of valley scenery, through which the Dune pursues its course to the bosom of the ocean; the distant hills are clothed to their summits with forest trees, while rich pastures and thick groves adorn the wide-spread lands below. Such is the tower of Caer Conan, or the city of the king; the tombs of whose founders are as unknown as their history.

“Why sighs the Princess Dalclutha, when the birds sing so cheerily in the woods around her father's tower, and all things look so happy in the light of the sun ?” said Utha, the aged nurse and attendant of the Bigantian princess, as she stood by her in the inner chamber of Caer Conan.

“How can I forbear to sigh,” answered the princely maiden, " when I am kept like a captive, by my stern father, within these thick-ribbed walls, with no courtiers but rude, unpolished warriors; no attendants but poor ignorant damsels, who have never seen a Roman city; and no amusements but to sport with the fawns in the forest, and gather flowers on the sunny banks of the Dune, then fling my garlands on the waters, and watch them floating down the

• The feudal system, so far from being introduced into this Island by the Normans, was in full force among the ancient Britons. The clanship of the Highlands is a sufficient proof of this, without referring to written authorities. The law of Guvelkin, says Whitaker, is an original and natural branch of the feudal system, and long continued a part of the feudal tenures in Wales and Ireland.

† Launceston castle, vide “Munimenta Antiqua."


dancers among

stream, till borne from my sight, like those short-lived pleasures I enjoyed when at the magnificent court of the Emperor Carausius, never, I fear, again to return !"

“Mogontus* save me!" exclaimed the nurse, “what would the child have? Can any thing be more pleasant than these fields full of fresh flowers, and those shadowy forests, where the pretty dun-coloured fawns are playing like innocent children, and the harts and elks skirmishing with their knotted antlers like armed warriors, while the wild horse tosses his mane like a streaming banner, and the white bulls, with their females, prance about like the cowslips of the valley. Then, haven't you the jovial sports of hawking and hunting ?+ How charming to view the tercel-gentle and the merlin hovering in the air, and darting about, like shooting stars, after their prey! O, when I was young, nothing was so delightful to me as scampering over mountain, valley, and plain, after the hawk and the hound! Ah, the days that are past! and the joys that I have seen! they may well make me to sigh. in the pride of your youth and beauty—0, by the spirits of the woods, when I was young, I could have leaped over the moon at the sound of the horn, the shout of the hunters, and the cry of the hounds; so giddy and gay!—now, woe worth the hour, I can scarcely jump over a straw.”

“ I hate those vulgar sports, Utha, that lead me to mingle with savage hunters, base as they are ill-bred, and savage as they are base.”

“ Then haven't you,” returned the nurse, “the pastimes and diversions of the castle? Doth it not please thee to behold the warrior youths perform our Tadogan, or fathergames, of running, leaping, swimming, and wrestling? O, in former days it did my heart good to view our gallant young men, with their fine forms, and speckled skins, so beautifully figured over with beasts and birds, blue as the blessed heavens, striving nobly for the prize in their manly

But for you,

An idol or god among the Brigantii.-See Cambden. † “ Every chieftain among them (the Britons) maintained a considerable number of birds for the sport. The Thracians and Britons were once the only followers of the sport. It seems to have been universal among the Barons, and to have been followed with spirit.”Hist. Manch.

Some readers may perhaps be surprised when we tell them, that so late as A.D. 785, down nearly to the end of the Saxon octarchy, there was a necessity for enacting a law against the barbarous practice of body-painting.

Wilkin, Conciliu, t. 1. p. 150.


wrestling matches! Ah, how I grieve to think that those charming paintings of the skin, those noble adornments and national badges of a right true Briton are fast getting into disuse, through the effeminate manners and fashions of these hated outlandish Romans! The time will soon come, I foresee, when all our young warriors of rank and power will be as clean-skinned as a new-born infant, and the ghastly smock-faced wretches look like a young swan in its first plumage. O, that I ever should live to see the day when a British warrior looks like a puling girl in her swaddling-bands!—Out on such disgraceful apostacy of ancient customs!


the red plague light on the innovators of the manly and noble fashions of our forefathers !"*

“And I, Utha, reply, Blessed be that generous, polished, enlightened, and noble people, who have humanized the Celtic nations, and before whose exalted refinements such hideous barbarism as thou delight'st to behold is happily fast fading away. Dost thou think, after having once beheld the elegance and amusements of the Roman court, I can endure to look on the wrestlings of rude soldiers ?

“Shade of the spear-armed Boadicia !” exclaimed Utha, “how changed are our princely maidens! Well then, there are the chariot-races in the circ yonder; surely they must delight thee. I once contended myself with six of the bravest youths in my day; ay, lady, and won the prize too. I lashed my steeds on with the grace of a British queen, and shouted with the best of them in the circle. O, I shall never forget when the oaken garland was placed on my brows, nor how it set off my fine long glossy curls! Out upon

it! I am now as grey as an old wolf of the forest.But surely, lady, if you dislike your country's manly games, you must approve of our Barddoniath ; when in the hall, beneath your father's tower, there is such twanging of harps, such songs and choruses, and such rivalry for the prize. Then the light-heeled dances Sighing again ! shame on you, lady! why you ought to be as merry as the lark yonder, warbling in the clouds, and as frisky as a wanton fawn. O, that I were but young again, to set you an example of cheerful-hearted gaiety!"

“Nay, Utha, all here is gloom and solitude to me. I hate the boisterous games

and wild diversions of our barbarous

* Malmesbury, speaking of the Angles, says, “ Picturatis stigmatibus cutem insigniti."

« ПредишнаНапред »