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[and "the power of his thunder who can understand?"*] we will not venture on the disquisition of this new one.
IN THE EARTH.
Reader, pardon me a word of Earthquakes in general. Seneca beholds them most terrible, because most unavoidable of all earthly dangers. In other frights, [tempest, lightning, thunder, &c.] we shelter ourselves in the bowels of the earth, which here, from our safest refuge, become our greatest danger. I have learned from an able pen, that the frequency and fearfulness of earthquakes gave the first occasion to that passage in the Litany, "from sudden death, good Lord, deliver us."
Now to WALES. The inhabitants of this county have a constant tradition, that where now the Meer Llynsavathan spreadeth its waters, stood a fair city, till swallowed up by an earthquake; which is not improbable. First, because all the highways of this county do lead thither; and it is not likely that the loadstone of a bare lake should attract so much confluence. Secondly, Ptolemy placeth in this tract the city Loventrium, which all the care of Master Camden could not recover by any ruins or report thereof,§ and therefore likely to be drowned in this pool; the rather because Levenny is the name of the river running through it.
Saints KEYNE-CANOCH-CADOCK.-The first of these was a woman (here put highest by the courtesy of England): the two latter, men; all three saints, and children to Braghan, king, builder, and namer of Brecknock. This king had four-andtwenty daughters, a jolly number; and all of them saints, a greater happiness; though of them all the name only of Saint Keyne surviveth to posterity. Whether the said king was so fruitful in sons, and they as happy in saintship, I do not know; only meeting with these two, Saint Canoch and Saint Cadock (whereof the latter is reported a martyr) all flourishing about the year of our Lord 492, and had in high veneration amongst the people of South Wales.
I know not whether it be worth the reporting, that there is in Cornwall, near the parish of St. Neot's, a well arched over with the robes of four kinds of trees, withy, oak, elm, and ash, dedicated to Saint Keyne aforesaid. The reported virtue of the water is this, "that whether husband or wife come first to drink thereof, they get the mastery thereby."**
Natural Questions, cap. i.
Job. xxvi. 14.
Dr. Hackwill, in his Apology, lib. ii. sect. 4.
As he confesseth in the Description of this Shire.
See Camden's Britannia, in Brecknockshire.
Rob. Buckley, MS. in vitis SS. Mulierum Angliæ, in vitâ Sanctæ Keynæ, fol. 90. **Carew's Survey of Cornwall, p. 130.
St. CLINTANKE was king of Brecknock; a small kingdom for an obscure king, though eminent with some for his sanctity. Now it happened, that a noble virgin gave it out, "that she would never marry any man except the said king, who was so zealous a Christian."* Such as commend her good choice, dislike her public profession thereof, which with more maiden-like modesty might have been concealed. But, see the sad success thereof: a pagan soldier, purposely to defeat her desire, killed this king as he was one day a hunting: who, though he lost his life, got the reputation of a saint;† and so we leave him-the rather, because we find no date fixed unto him; so that the reader may believe him to have lived even when he thinks best himself.
GILES de BRUSE, born at Brecknock, was son to William de Bruse, baron of Brecknock, and a prime peer of his generation. This Giles became afterwards bishop of Hereford, and in the civil wars sided with the nobility against king John; on which account he was banished; but at length returned, and recovered the king's favour. His paternal inheritance (by death, it seems, of his elder brother) was devolved unto him (being together bishop and baron by descent), and from him, after his death, transmitted to his brother Reginald, who married the daughter of Leoline prince of Wales. If all this will not recover this prelate into our catalogue of Worthies, then know that his effigies on his tomb in Hereford church holdeth a steeple in his hand, whence it is concluded that he built the belfry of that cathedral, as well he might, having so vast an estate. death happened anno 1215.
SINCE THE REFORMATION.
THOMAS HOWEL was born at Nangamarch in this county,§ within few miles of Brecknock; bred fellow of Jesus College in Oxford, and became afterwards a meek man, and most excellent preacher. His sermons, like the waters of Siloah, did run softly, gliding on with a smooth stream; so that his matter, by a lawful and and laudable felony, did steal secretly into the hearts of his hearers. King Charles made him the last bishop of Bristol, being consecrated at Oxford. He died anno Domini 1646, leaving many orphan children behind him.
I have been told, that the honourable city of Bristol hath taken care for their comfortable education; and am loath to pry too much into the truth thereof, lest so good a report should be confuted.
Jo. Capgrave, in Cabal. S.S. Brit.
English Martyrology, on the 19th August.
So was I told by his brother, Mr. James Howel.-F.
HENRY STAFFORD, duke of Buckingham.-Though Humphrey his father had a fair castle at, and large lands about Stafford (whereof he was earl), yet his nativity is most probably placed in this county, where he had Brecknock castle, and a principality about it. This was he who with both his hands set up Richard the Third on the throne; endeavouring afterwards, with his hands and teeth too, to take him down, but in vain.
He was an excellent spokesman, though I cannot believe that his long oration (to persuade the Londoners to side with the usurper) was ever uttered by him in terminis as it lieth in Sir Thomas More's history. Thus the Roman generals provided themselves of valour; and Livy (as he represented them) stocked them with eloquence. Yet we may be well assured that this our duke either did or would have said the same; and he is the orator who effects that he aimeth at; this duke being unhappily happy therein.
Soon after, not remorse for what he had done, but revenge for what king Richard would not do (denying his desire), put him on the project of unravelling what he had woven before. But his fingers were entangled in the threads of his former web; the king compassing him into his clutches, betrayed by Humphry Banister his servant. The sheriff seized this duke in Shropshire, where he was digging a ditch in a disguise.* How well he managed the mattock and spade, I know not. This I know, that, in a higher sense, "He had made a pit [to disinherit his sovereign] and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he had made;"+ being beheaded at Salisbury, without any legal trial, anno 1484.
NESTA.-Hunger maketh men eat what otherwise they would let alone, not to say cast away: the cause I confess (wanting matter to furnish out our description) inviting me to meddle with this memorable (not commendable) person.
1. She was daughter to Gruffin, prince of Wales: 2. Wife to Bernard de Neumarch, a noble Norman, and lord by conquest of this county: 3. Mother to Mahel, an hopeful gentleman, and Sybil his sister: 4. Harlot to a young man, whose name I neither do, nor desire to know.
It happened, Mahel having got this stallion into his power, used him very hardly, yet not worse than he deserved. Nesta, madded hereat, came into open court, and on her oath, before king Henry the Second, publicly protested (no manna like revenge to malicious minds, not caring to wound their foes,
Speed's Chronicle, in the reign of king Richard the Third. + Psalms vii. 15.
though through themselves) "that Mahel was none of Neumarch's son, but begotten on her in adultery."
This, if true, spake her dishonesty; if false, her perjury; true or false, her peerless impudence. Hereby she disinherited her son, and settled a vast territory on Sibyl her sole daughter, married afterwards to Milo earl of Hereford.
When Mr. Speed, in pursuance of his description of England, passed this county, no fewer than eight, who had been bailiffs of Brecknock, gave him courteous entertainment. This doth confirm the character I have so often heard of the Welch hospitality. Thus giving them their due praise on just occasion, I hope, that the British reader will the better digest it, if he find some passages altogether as true as this, though nothing so pleasing to him, in our following Farewells.
CARDIGANSHIRE is washed on the west with the Irish Sea, and parted from the neighbouring shires by rivers; and the reader will be careful that the similitude of their sounds betray him not to a mistake herein: 1. Dovi, severing it on the north from Merionethshire: 2. Tovy, on the east from Brecknockshire: 3. Tyvy, on the south from Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire.
My author saith, "the form thereof is horn-like"* (wider towards the north); and I may say it hath a cornucopia therein of all things for man's sustenance, especially if industry be used.
This county, though remotest from England, was soonest reduced to the English dominion, whilst the countries interposed maintained their liberty. The reason whereof was this: the English, being far more potent in shipping than the Welch, found it more facile to sail over the mountains of water (so the surges of the sea are termed by the poet†) than march over the mountains of earth; and, by their fleet, invaded and conquered this county in the reign of Rufus; and Henry the First bestowed the same entirely upon Gilbert de Clare.
Plenty of these formerly did breed in the river Tyvy, which (saith Giraldus Cambrensis) was the only place afforded them in all Britain. A cunning creature, yet reported by some men more crafty than he is; who relate that, being hunted, and in danger to be taken, he biteth off his stones, as useful in physic (for which only his life was then sought), and so escapeth. Hence some will have him called Castor, à castrando seipsum : and others add, that, having formerly bitten off his stones, he standeth upright, and sheweth the hunters that he hath none, that so they may surcease their pursuit of an unprofitable game.
Hence it was, that, amongst the Egyptians, the beaver passeth for an hieroglyphic of him who hurteth himself; though by Alciate, the great emblematist, he is turned to another purpose, to teach men rather to part with their purses than their lives, and by their wealth to redeem themselves out of danger.
Speed, in the Description of this County. +"Quanti montes volvuntur aquarum.”—(Ovidius.)