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VALE CRUCIS ABBEY.
I passed by the Castle, once mirthful and splendid,
The ivy hung dark over portal and shrine.
Yet weep not, fair Cambria, though shorn of thy glory,
Thy star shall yet rise in assendance again,
Song and Science are treasuring the leaves of thy story,
VALE CRUCIS ABBEY, or, as it is sometimes called, Llan Egwest, is a ruin of considerable reputation. It stands in a green meadow at the foot of Bromfairr hill, about two miles distant from Llangollen, and for more than three hundred years was a house of Cistersians dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is said to have been founded by Mador ap Gryffdd Maelor, Lord of Dinas Brâu and Bromfield, grandson of Owen Gwynedd, Prince of Wales; and it was certainly dissolved shortly after the Reformation, when the building and its property was seized by the Crown, and so held until James the First, the princely pedant, granted it to Sir Henry Wotton.
Standing amidst the ruins of this old building, and gazing on the beautiful scenery by which it is surrounded, the mind, if it be warmed at all by imagination, recalls the memory of those recluses who, within the peaceful enclosures of the now dismantled edifice, sought and perhaps found that serenity which the world could not give. They quitted the broad arena of strife, where the world fought its battle, and each man contended for the mastery; the excitement of the struggle had for them lost all its charms, and the pomps and vanities of earth were but as "sounding brass and tinkling cymbal." They knew the world was a vain show, a gallery of painted pictures, and they turned from it with aversion to find-what? Was there no counterpart of the world within the cloister? did those who spurned its ambitions and its petty strifes, its envy, hatred and malice, find them all banished from the monastic house? Were there no heart-burnings here, no fond regrets, no sorrowful repinings, no small jealousies, no little acts of enmity?—was it true, that the much maligned world was really shut out by oaken doors and grated gates? Could these old walls speak, and the stones cry out, might they not tell us of those who sought peace seeking it in vain, because they bore beneath the grey serge a heart that beat in unison with the world's harmony beyond the convent walls?
VALE OF CRUCIS ABBEY.
Zimmerman's book on Solitude is a panegyric on the secluded life; but seclusion is not the right portion of man or woman. We were not made to be alone. Be it ours rather to make a bad world better; to shine out, if there be any lustre in us, that others may be benefited by our presence. Some people seem to imagine that in retiring from the world, they retire from all those things which make this world bad: but nothing can be further from the truth.
Dismissing for the present all thoughts of the Old Cisterians, their solemn midnight watchings and their long tarrying for death, we stroll into the neighbouring meadow, and look at the Elisey's Pillar, a round column on a pedestal. The story goes, that it was erected to the memory of Elisey, father of Brochmail, prince of Powis, by his grandson; but the old column was overthrown and broken, and its remaining fragment was set up, not quite a hundred years ago, by Mr. Lloyd, of Trevor Hall. There can be no question that it marks the sight of a tomb, as human bones in considerable quantities have been found in its immediate proximity.
A beautiful valley not far distant from Vale Crucis offers an attractive feature to the tourist. It is called Plas Penqwern, and is the property of the Hon. E. M. Lloyd Mostyn. The mansion is very ancient, and is said to have belonged to Tudor Trevor, Lord of Bromfield. "Some of the windows of the ancient house are retained entire, and an inscribed stone, supposed to be a coffin lid from Vale Crucis Abbey, is built into the wall."