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Not long after, he was sent over the second time into Ireland with a loftier title than (the length of the feather makes not the heap the higher) of earl marshal of Ireland, where he fell into a strange looseness (not without suspicion of poison); and he died anno 1576. His soul he piously resigned to God; his lands (much impaired) descended to his son Robert, but ten years of age. His body was brought over, and buried in Carmarthen, the place of his nativity; and his widow lady (to say no more) was soon re-married to Robert earl of Leicester. Let me add, that he died in the 36th year of his age, fatal to his family, his father and grandfather dying in the same;* which year Robert earl of Essex his son never attained to; and whether it had not been as honourable for his grand-child Robert earl of Essex† to have died in the same year of his age, or to have lived longer, let others decide.


AMBROSE MERLIN was born at Carmarthen, a city so denominated from his nativity therein. This I write in conformity to common tradition (and he who will not errare cum vulgo must pugnare cum vulgo); my own judgment remonstrating against the same, finding the city called Mariadunum in Ptolemy, before Merlin's cradle was ever made, if Merlin's cradle was ever made.

His extraction is very incredible, reported to have an incubus to his father, pretending to a pedigree older than Adam, even from the serpent himself. But a learned pen demonstrateth the impossibility of such conjunctions. And let us not load Satan with groundless sins, whom I believe the father of lies,§ but [in a literal sense] no father of bastards.

Many are the pretended prophecies of Merlin, whereof the British have a very high esteem, and I dare say nothing against them; only I humbly tender to this nation's consideration a modest proverb of their own country, "Namyn Dduw nid oes Dewin," (that, besides God, there is no Diviner.) Yet I deny not but that the devil can give a shrewd conjecture; but often the deceiver is deceived. Sure I am, Merlin's prophecies have done much mischief, seeing such who pretended skill therein, that they could unfold his meaning (though, for my part, I believe they must have the devil's key who open the devil's lock) put Owen Glendower on his rebellion against king Henry the Fourth,|| persuading him the time wherein he would recover the Welch Principality, which caused the making of those cruel laws, with Draco's, written in blood against the Welch, which no tender Englishman can read without regret.

• Camden's Elizabeth, anno 1576.

The famous Parliamentarian general, who died Sept. 13, 1646.-ED.

Dr. Brown, in his Vulgar Errors, book 7. ch. 16.

§ John viii. 44.

|| Dr. Powell, in his History of Wales, p. 386.


There want not those who maintain Merlin to be a great chemist; and those, we know, have a language peculiar to themselves; so that his seeming prophecies are not to be expounded historically, but naturally, disguising the mysteries of that faculty from vulgar intelligence.


The best prophecy I meet with in Merlin, which hit the mark indeed, is what I find cited out of him by Giraldus Cambrensis:*Sextus monia Hiberniæ subvertent, et regiones in regnum redigentur," (the Sixth shall overturn the walls of Ireland, and reduce their countries into a kingdom.)

This was accomplished under king James the Sixth, when their fastnesses (Irish walls) were dismantled, and courts of civil justice set up in all the land. But enough of Merlin, who is reported to have died† anno


How this county (with the rest of Wales) hath preserved its woods in our unhappy civil wars is to me unknown; yet if they have been much wasted (which I suspect) I wish that the pitcoal, which in some measure it affordeth, may daily be increased for the supply of their fuel.

In his History of Ireland.

The tradition is, that Merlin did not die, but was laid asleep by magic; to which fable Spenser alludes. He is supposed to have lived about the end of the fifth century.-Ev.


This county hath the Irish sea on the west, Anglesea (divided by Menaifret) on the north, Denbyshire on the east, and Merionethshire on the south. This I have observed peculiar to this county, that all the market are sea towns (being five in number, as noted in the maps) which no other county in England or Wales doth afford.

The natives hereof count it no small credit unto them, that they made the longest resistance against, and last submitted unto, the English: and, indeed, for natural strength, it exceedeth any part of this Principality; so that the English were never more distressed than in the invasion thereof.

I am much affected with the ingenuity of an English nobleman, who, following the camp of king Henry the Third, in these parts, wrote home to his friends, about the end of September 1245, the naked truth indeed, as followeth: "We lie in our tents watching, fasting, praying, and freezing: we watch for fear of the Welchmen, who are wont to invade us in the night; we fast for want of meat, for the half-penny loaf is worth five pence; we pray to God to send us home again speedily; we freeze for want of winter garments, having nothing but thin linen betwixt us and the wind."

Yet is this county in itself sufficiently plentiful (though the Welch had the wit to keep food from the English); and Snowdon hills therein are commended by my author,* for fertility of wood, cattle, fish, and food.

Smile not, reader, to hear of fish in so high mountains which have plenty of pools interposed.


Giraldus Cambrensis telleth us how there is a lake in Snowdon hills, in this county, which hath a floating island therein. But it seemeth that it either always swimmeth away from such who endeavour to discover it, or else that this vagrant, wearied with long wandering, hath at last fixed itself to the continent. He telleth us also of monoculous fishes, though not fully acquainting us how their one eye is disposed; whether, Polyphemus-like, in the midst of their head, or only on one side. The truth is, these one-eyed fishes are too nimble for any men with two eyes to behold them.

• Matthew Paris, anno notato, p. 924.




"Craig Eriry, or Snow don, will yield sufficient pasture for all the cattle of Wales put together."*]

Some will say this cannot be literally true, except the cattle. of Wales be few beneath, and Snowdon hills fruitful above, all belief. The best is, the time is not expressed how long these hills will suffice for their pasture. But let us not be so morose, but understand the meaning of this expression, importing, by help of an hyperbole, the extraordinary fruitfulness of this place.

"Diange ar Gluyd, a boddi ar Gonway."]

That is, " to 'scape Clude, and be drowned in Conway :" parallel to the Latin,

"Incidit in Scyllam qui vult vitare Charibdin."

However that pilot is to be pitied, who, to shun Scylla, doth run on Charibdis, because these rocks were near, and a narrow passage betwixt them; whereas the two rivers of Clude and Conway are twenty miles asunder, affording men scope enough to escape them; but little or much in such cases are the same with indiscreet persons.


EDWARD, the fourth (but first surviving) son of king Edward the First and queen Eleanor, was born at Carnarvon in this county, April 25, 1284. No prince ever ascended the English throne with greater, or used it with less, advantage to himself.

First, (though his father had in a manner surprised the Welch to accept him for their prince (pleading his royal extraction, birth in Wales, inability to speak a word of English, and innocence that none could tax him with actual sin); yet I find them not for his father's fallacy to think the worse of his son-sic juvat esse deceptos-and generally they accepted him, as preferring that a prince should be put with wit rather than with violence upon them.

In England he succeeded to a wise and victorious father, who happily had hit the expedient to be both beloved and feared by his subjects, leaving the land in so good a posture for government, that touch the wheel, and it would turn in the right track of itself. But this Edward first estranged himself from his subjects, and, in effect, subjected himself to a stranger, Pierce Gaveston, his French minion, and after his execution to the two Spencers, who, though native Englishmen, were equally odious to the English for their insolence.

Hence it was that he first lost the love of his subjects, then of his queen (the vacuity of whose bed was quickly filled up), then his crown, then his life. Never any English king's

* Camden's Britannia, in Carnarvonshire.

case was so pitiful, and his person less pitied, all counting it good reason that he should give entertainment to that woe which his wilfulness had invited home to himself. His violent death happened at Berkeley Castle, September 22, 1327.


There is an island called Berdsey, justly reduceable to this county (lying within a mile of the south-west promontory thereof) wherein the corpse of no fewer than twenty thousand saints are said to be interred.*

"Estote vos omnes sancti."

Proud Benhadad boasted that "the dust of Samaria did not suffice for handfuls for all the people that followed him."+ But where would so many thousand bodies find graves in so petty an islet? But I retrench myself, confessing it more facile to find graves in Berdsey for so many saints, than saints for so many graves.


JOHN WILLIAMS was born at Aber-Conwy in this county; bred fellow of St. John's college in Cambridge, proctor of the university, dean of Westminster, bishop of Lincoln, lord keeper of the great seal of England, and lastly archbishop of York. In my "Church History" I have offended his friends, because I wrote so little in his praise; and distasted his foes, because I said so much in his defence. But I had rather live under the indignation of others, for relating what may offend, than die under the accusation of my own conscience for reporting what is untrue. He died on the 25th day of March, 1649.


RICHARD VAUGHAN, born at Nuffrin (or else at Etern) in this county, was bred fellow in Saint John's College in Cambridge, and was afterwards successively bishop of Bangor, Chester, and lastly of London; a very corpulent man, but spiritually minded; an excellent preacher and pious liver, on whom I find this epigram,‡ which I will endeavour to English:

Prasul es (6 Britonum decus immortale tuorum)
Tu Londinensi primus in urbe Brito.
Hi mihi Doctores semper placuere, docenda

Qui faciunt, plus quam qui facienda docent.
Pastor es Anglorum doctissimus, optimus ergo,
Nam facienda doces ipse, docenda facis.
"Prelate of Loudon (O immortal graċe

Of thine own Britons) first who had that place.
He's good, who what men ought to do doth teach;
He's better who doth do what men should preach.
You best of all, preaching what men should do,
And what men ought to preach that doing too."

* Camden's Britannia, in Insulis Britannicis.
Cited in H. Holland, but made (as I have been told) by J. Owen.

1 Kings xx. 10.

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