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"England hath long been mad and scarred herself-
BRECON is a borough and town of South Wales, capital of the county of the It is an old place, irregularly built-and therefore very picturesque, with three good streets besides the High-street, and four churches: St. John's, originally attached to the Priory; St. Mary's, a chapel of ease (both Gothic, and nearly rebuilt in Henry VIII.'s reign); St. David's, built soon after the Conquest, and Christ Church, a collegiate edifice established by Henry VIII. The town is well paved, supplied with good water, and lighted with gas; it contains several handsome shops and capital private residences, and boasts a County Hall, a building of the Doric order, and admirably adapted to the purposes for which it is designed.
Roscoe has described Brecon as "one of the pleasantest towns in the Principality, possessing architectural remains which connect it with the most important events of past ages, and surrounded by natural objects of the most sublime and beautiful character."
Among the architectural remains, those of the Castle enclosed within the grounds of the principal inn are perhaps the most interesting. In this Castle, by order of Richard III., Morton, Bishop of Ely, was confined as a state prisoner. This is the bishop to whom Shakespeare makes King Richard
My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,
I saw good strawberries in your garden there;
But the bishop fell into disgrace, was banished to this Welsh fortress, and there concerted with Buckingham the overthrow of the Usurper. Soon after Richard's accession to the throne, the Duke repaired to the Castle where Ely was confined. Buckingham's dissatisfaction was instantly perceived by the prisoner, a prelate of great sagacity and penetration, who rapidly insinuated himself into the Duke's confidence by exclaiming against Richard, whom he justly represented as a barbarous tyrant. Buckingham was well disposed to listen, and in
the violence of his passion denounced vengeance on the King. The Bishop is said to have advised him to claim the crown for himself, as sprung from Anne, daughter of Thomas Woodstock, Earl of Gloucester, and the third son of Edward III.; but the Duke reflecting that in such a case the friends of Henry Earl of Richmond would unite with the house of York against him, refused to attend to the Bishop's advice, and resolved to espouse the cause of that nobleman, who was the true heir of the house of Lancaster. It was resolved to communicate the project to the old Countess of Richmond, that she might apprise her son of their design. The Bishop being intimately acquainted with one Reginald Burg, steward to the Countess of Richmond, sent for him to Brecon, where the secret was communicated to him, and he promised to engage his mistress in the scheme. No sooner had he departed than the Bishop entreated the Duke to allow him to repair to his diocese: but Buckingham alleged that such a step would be extremely imprudent, as it would awaken the suspicion of Richard. The prelate, however, being now indulged with more liberty than he had formerly enjoyed, took an opportunity to escape to Ely and cross the sea to Flanders, from whence he despatched a letter to the Duke, exhorting him to proceed in his enterprise, and assuring him that he could render him better service abroad than at home, a free agent on the continent than a prisoner in Wales.
The result of the plot thus contrived in Brecon Castle is familiar to all. King Richard, "his restless heart continually tossed and tumbled with the terrible impression and stormy remembrance of his past life," saw a formidable opponent threatening to strike the crown from his head, the sceptre from his hand. Bosworth field was the closing scene of the struggle, and heaven smiled on "the fair conjunction" of "the white rose with the red."
The portion of the ruin of Brecon Castle in which the Bishop is said to have been incarcerated, still bears the name of Ely Tower.
"It had been once a place of great renown,
CARDIGAN, South Wales, capital of the County of the same name, stands on the north bank of the Teivy, about five miles from its embouchure in St. George's Channel. It has a population of about five thousand, but has no manufactures of any great importance; and the bar at the river's mouth injures the trade by only allowing vessels (except on rare occasions) of under 100 tons coming up to the town. A stone bridge spans the river, and connects the town with Bridgend in Pembrokeshire; another bridge crosses the inlet of the river on the west side of the town. It has one good street, and several of an inferior character, an ancient Church, a Town-hall, a County Goal, and a Free Grammar School. None of these buildings are remarkable for their architectural beauty.
But there are some parts of the Old Town singularly picturesque, and the remains of the Old Castle, its crumbling walls overgrown with ivy, is a fine subject for an artist's pencil. These ruins are on a cliff at the side of the river, and mainly consist of two circular bastions. In ancient times, however, the Castle was a place of considerable strength. It was well constructed; and ably defended many a time when the Welsh Princes were at war with each other, and carried fire and sword into each other's domains. With the means of destruction which civilization has multiplied, the engines of war employed by our ancestors are but as children's toys, the remains of an old feudal Castle suggest little of that stony strength for which they were really famous. The chivalric age is represented to us as being very gorgeous and noble, but it was exceedingly barbarous; and if those who sigh for the good old times could only be transported into their midst, they would soon be glad to come back again to the comforts and conveniences of the nineteenth century. Could the old Welsh Princes, think you, have treated us so well, in all the feudal state of Cardigan Castle, as mine host can serve us at the White Hart or the Black Lion? Compare the well-spread board and assiduous attendant at either of these hostels with the descriptions which are still preserved of some of those ancient feasts-feasts at which they
Carved at the meal
In gloves of steel,
And drank the red wine through the helmet barred.