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THIS PRINCIPALITY hath the Severn sea on the south; Irish ocean on the west and north; England on the east, anciently divided from it by the river Severn, since by a ditch drawn with much art and industry from the mouth of De to the mouth of Wye. From east to west [Wye to Saint David's] is an hundred, from north to south [Carlion to Holyhead] is a hundred and twenty miles.
The ditch, or trench, lately mentioned, is called Clauhd-Offa, because made by king Offa, who cruelly enacted, that what Welchman soever was found on the east-side of this ditch should forfeit his right hand ;—a law long since cancelled; and for many ages past, the Welch have come peaceably over that place; and good reason, bringing with them both their right hands and right hearts; no less loyally than valiantly to defend England against all enemies, being themselves under the same sovereign united thereunto.
It consisteth of three parts, the partition being made by Roderick the Great, about the year 877, dividing it betwixt his three sons: 1. North Wales, whose princes chiefly resided at Aberfrow 2. Powis, whose princes resided at Mathravall: 3. South Wales, whose princes resided at Dynefar.
This division, in fine, proved the confusion of Wales; whose princes were always at war, not only against the English, their common foe; but mutually with themselves, to enlarge or defend their dominions.
Of these three, North Wales was the chief; as doth plainly appear: first, because Roderick left it Mervin his eldest son. Secondly, because the princes thereof were by way of eminency styled the "Princes of Wales," and sometimes "Kings of Aberfrow." Thirdly, because, as the king of Aberfrow paid to the king of London yearly three-score and three pounds by way of tribute, so the same sum was paid to him by the princes of Powis and South Wales.
However, South Wales was of the three the larger, richer, fruitfuller; therefore called by the Welch Deheubarth; that is,
* T. Mills, in his Catalogue of Honour, p. 292.
But that country,
"the Right side;" because nearer the sun. being constantly infested with the invasions of the English and Flemings, had North Wales preferred before it, as more entire, and better secured from such annoyances. Hence it was, that whilst the Welsh tongue in the south is so much mingled and corrupted, in North Wales it still retaineth the purity thereof.
It is not so champaign and level, and by consequence not so fruitful as England; mostly rising up into hills and mountains of a lean and hungry nature; yet so that the ill quality of the ground is recompensed by the good quantity thereof.
A right worshipful knight in Wales, who had a fair estate therein, his rents resulting from much barren ground, heard an English gentleman (perchance out of intended opposition) to brag, that he had in England so much ground worth forty shillings an acre. "You," said he, "have ten yards of velvet, and I have ten score of frieze; I will not exchange with you." This is generally true of all Wales, that much ground doth make up the rent; and yet in proportion they may lose nothing thereby, compared to estates in other countries.
However, there are in Wales most pleasant meadows along the sides of rivers; and as the sweetest flesh is said to be nearest the bones, so most delicious valleys are interposed betwixt these mountains.
But now how much these very mountains advantage the natives thereof, in their health, strength, swiftness, wit, and other natural perfections; give me leave to stand by silent, whilst a great master of language and reason entertaineth the reader with this most excellent and pertinent discourse:
"This conceit of Monsieur Bodin I admit without any great contradiction, were he not over-peremptory in over-much censuring all mountainous people of blockishness and barbarism, against the opinion of Averroes, a great writer; who, finding these people nearer heaven, suspected in them a more heavenly nature. Neither want there many reasons, drawn from nature and experiment, to prove mountainous people more pregnant in wit, and gifts of understanding, than others inhabiting in low and plain countries. For however wit and valour are many times divided, as we have shewn in the northern and southern people, yet were they never so much at variance, but they would sometimes meet. First, therefore, what can speak more for the witty temper of the mountain people, than their clear and subtle air, being far more purged and rarefied than that in lower countries. For, holding the vital spirits to be the chiefest instruments in the soul's operation, no man can deny but that they sympathize with the air, especially their chiefest foment. Every man may, by experience, find his intellectual operations more vigorous in a clear day, and on the contrary
most dull and heavy when the air is any way affected with foggy vapours. What we find in ourselves in the same place at divers seasons, may we much more expect of places diversely affected in constitution. A second reason for the proof of our assertion, may be drawn from the thin and spare diet, in respect of those others. For people living of plains have commonly all commodities in such plenty, that they are subject to surfeiting and luxury, the greatest enemy and underminer of all intellectual operations. For a fat belly commonly begets a gross head and a lean brain; but want and scarcity, the mother of frugality, invites the mountain-dwellers to a more sparing and wholesome diet. Neither grows this conveniency only out of the scarcity of viands; but also out of the diet. Birds, fowls, beasts, which are bred upon higher places, are esteemed of a more cleanly and wholesome feeding, than others living in fens and foggy places. And how far the quality of our diet prevails in the alteration of our organs and dispositions, every naturalist will easily resolve us. A third reason may be drawn from the cold air of these mountainous regions, which, by an antiperistasis, keeps in and strengthens the internal heat, the chief instrument in natural and vital operations. For who perceives not his vital and by consequence his intellectual parts, in cold frosty weather, to be more strong and vigorous than in hot and sultry seasons, wherein the spirits be defaced and weakened? This disparity, in the same region, at divers times, in regard of the disposition of the air, may easily declare the disparity of divers regions, being in this sort diversely affected. A fourth reabe taken from the custom and hardness whereunto such people inure themselves from their infancy; which (as Huartus proves) begets a better temper of the brain in regard of the wit and understanding; which we happen to find clean otherwise with them who have accustomed themselves to deliciousness. These reasons perhaps would seem only probable, and of no great moment, were they not strengthened with foreign and domestic observations."*
Thus much I thought fit to transcribe out of our author, unparalleled in his kind; confident that our ensuing work will be a comment on his text, or rather will, by the induction of several instances, natives of Wales, be the proof of the truth of this his most judicious assertion.
Tully (a better orator than historian, yet better historian than metallist) affirmeth that Britain affordeth "ne micam auri vel argenti," (not a grain of gold or silver); understand him what in his age was discovered. Otherwise Wales, and especially
Carpenter's Geography, Book II. Chap. xv. p. 258.
Cardiganshire, yields ROYAL MINES,* where the silver holds standard, and pays with profit for the separation from lead, and the refining thereof, as by the ensuing particulars will appear.
1. Six mountains there are in Cardiganshire (pardon, British reader, if I spell them rather after our English pronunciation, than the Welch orthography); viz. Comsomelock, Tallabant, Gadarren, Bromefloid, Geginnon, and Cummerum.
2. The Romans first began to mine here (as appears by their coins found therein), working in trenches, not above twenty or four-and-twenty fathom deep, and found plenty of lead.
3. The Danes and Saxons wrought by sheafts; so they call what is long and narrow; whether mounting into the air (as spires of steeples) or sinking into the earth, as their pits here, a hundred fathom deep.
4. They found great plenty of lead; but at last deserted their works, either because the vein of metal failed, or they drowned with the eruption of water.
5. Customer Smith, about the latter end of the reign of queen Elizabeth, discovered silver in Comsomelock; and sent it up to the Tower of London, with great expence, to be coined.
6. After his death, the design was prosecuted, and more perfected by Sir Hugh Middleton, knight; coining the silver to his great charge, as his predecessor, at the Tower.
7. After the death of Sir Hugh, Sir Francis Godolphin of Cornwall, knight, and Thomas Bushell, esquire, undertook the work.
8. King Charles, for their greater encouragement, and sparing their expence, granted them power of coinage at Aberrusky in this county.
9. Thomas Bushell† (Sir Francis dying soon after, and Comsomelock being deserted) adventured on the other five moun
10. Not disheartened that the first year and half afforded no effectual discovery, at last these mines yielded one hundred pounds a week (besides lead amounting to half as much) coined at Aberrusky aforesaid.
11. The pence, groats, shillings, half-crowns, &c. of this silver, had the ostrich feathers (the arms of Wales) for distinction stamped on them.
* In a Work, published in 1642, by Thomas Bushell, entitled “A just and true Remonstrance of his Majesty's Mines Royal in the Principality of Wales," we have a good account. The author was farmer of his Majesty's minerals, and worked five mountains in Cardiganshire, and minted silver enough to clothe the king's garrison at Oxford. The success of the Parliament forces in Wales put an end to his researches. After the Restoration, he went to work in Mendip-hills, but died two years after."-ED.
+ It is related of Bushell, that when cleansing a spring in his estate at Enston, he discovered a rock capable of much artificial improvement, which he accordingly bestowed on it; and when Charles I. and his queen visited this neighbourhood, 1636, he presented it to her Majesty, with all the pageantry of those times.-Athenæ Oxonienses, Vol. II.-ED.
Then came our civil wars, and discomposed all the work; when mattocks must be turned into spears, and shovels into shields; or else probably before this time the project had arrived at a greater perfection.
Here, by the way, it is richly worth the observing, how the modern manner of mining exceedeth what was formerly used; for, thirty years since, they began at the top of a mountain, digging directly downwards with their shafts, which was subject to a double mischief, of damps and drowning. Besides, vast was the expense before they could come to the bowels of the mountain, wherein the oar (if any) was most probably expected.
Since, they have gone a more compendious way by adits, making their entrance some five feet and a half high (and perchance as broad) into the mountain, at the lowest level thereof, so that all the water they meet with conveyeth itself away, as in a channel, by the declivity of the place. And thus they penetrate the most expeditious way athwart the middle thereof, which bringeth them to the speediest discovery of the metal therein.
But the rarest invention is, the supplying of the miners with fresh air, which is performed by two men's blowing wind by a pair of bellows on the outside of the adit, into a pipe of lead, daily lengthened as the mine is made longer, whereby the candle in the mine is daily kept burning, and the diggers recruited constantly with a sufficiency of breath. This invention was the master-piece of Sir Francis Bacon, lord Verulam ; and not only acknowledged by Thomas Bushell, his grateful servant, but also effectually prosecuted by him; a person innated with a public spirit, if he might meet with proportionable encourage
And here, methinks, it were fitting (pardon, reader, a short digression) that rewards should be given to such undertakers who are the discoverers of profitable projects; and not only to such who exactly hit the mark, but even to those who ingeniously miss it, because their aberrations may be directions to others. And though many tympanies and false conceptions would happen, yet, amongst many miscarriages, some pregnant wits would happily be delivered of rare inventions; especially if the State would be pleased to be their midwife, favourably to encourage
This is found in many places in Wales; but in Carnarvonshire the best in many respects. First, because so near the sea, so that they may cast the ore into the ship. Metals elsewhere are digged, as out of the bowels of the earth, so out of the bowels of the land; I mean, so far from any conveyance by water, that the expence of the portage swallows much of the profits