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"The impetuous current never stayed its course,
Trembled and quivered at the awful shock."
THERE is not a finer bit of scenery in all North Wales than the pass of Aberglaslyn. The bridge which spans the stream with a single arch, adds considerably to the beauty of the landscape; the craggy rocks, the rushing water, the thick overhanging foliage, the tall dark pines, brought out against the sunlight, all make up a picture very striking in its effect.
The pass of Aberglaslyn is remarkable for the terrific grandeur of its scenery. The mountains rise almost perpendicularly to the height of sevenhundred feet, and in the midst a rock is pointed out as that on which the mountain bard-Rhys Goch Oryri, the contemporary of Owen Glendower, composed those songs of liberty which kindled the spark of enthusiasm in the breasts of his countrymen, and chanted those sad lays of lost hope and vain regret, which told the story of their overthrow.
In our own prosaic days we fail to estimate the awful power once wielded by the poet. In old days the poet was a priest, the priest a poet; the poet was a soldier, and the soldier was a poet. Poetry was not incompatible with the dignity of the soldier, or the sanctity of the priest. Tuning his song to the wild notes of his harp, the Welsh bard kindled the enthusiasm of his countrymen. He aroused their indignation by a story of wrong doing, their patriotism by a recital of their fathers' deeds, their heroism by a picture of their country's condition. Well might the proud usurper dread the bard! Influenced by his significant songs, the people went doubly armed against the foe, to revenge old quarrels, to revoke new laws, to assert their old liberty and the legitimate right of their princes. And has not the bard, the songwriter an influence in our own days? Did not one say, Sooner would he write the songs of a people than make their laws? Did not the songs of Beranger stir the hearts of the Frenchmen more than a trumpet? What an influence has the song of the Poet Laureat had on our own Rifle Movement!
It is no matter of surprise that the English invaders should regard with suspicion and dread the songs of the Welsh bards; that they should hunt down
these harpist patriots until they found no refuge but the caves and dens of the earth.
"Most glorious Wales! thou eagle of the rock,
That nestlest 'mid high mountains and wild streams,
Where floating mist thy frowning grandeur shrouds.
"Now-vale and hill are bright with joy and peace,
There gleams no weapon in the distant glen;
And flocks lie scathless by the wolf's lorn den."