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The plain truth is, all those reports of the beaver are no better than vulgar errors, and are disproved both by sense and experience; for his stones are so placed in his body, as those of the boar, that it is impossible for himself with his teeth to touch them. And some maintain they cleave so fast to his back, they cannot be taken away without loss of his life.
However, grant the story true, the gelding of himself would not serve his turn, or excuse the beaver from hunters now-adays, except he could also flea off his skin, the wool whereof is so commonly used for the making of hats. All that I will add is this, that what plenty soever there was of beavers in this county in the days of Giraldus, the breed of them now is quite destroyed, and neither fore foot of a beaver (which is like a dog's) nor hind foot (which is like a goose) to be seen therein.
Being well at leisure in this little county, we will observe (what indeed is general to all Wales) something proverbial, and conducing to our necessary information.
In effect the same in English with "Fine, fine;" when mothers and nurses are disposed to please their little ones in dressing them. Take the original thereof: when Roderick the Great divided Wales betwixt his three sons, into three dominions, North Wales, South Wales, and Powis; he ordered, that each of them should wear upon his bonnet, or helmet, a coronet of gold, being a broad lace or head-band indented upwards, set and wrought with precious stones called in the British talaeth, and they from thence ytri twysoc talaethioc, that is, “the three crowned princes."* But now either the number of princes is well multiplied in Wales; or, which is truer, the honour of Talaeth is much diminished; that being so called wherewith a child's head is bound uppermost upon some other linen clothes. Thus the English have that which they call the crown of a cap.
"Bu Arthur ond tra fu."]
That is, "Arthur was not, but whilst he was." It is sad to say, "Nos fuimus Trojes." The greatest eminency when not extant is extinct. "The friar never loved what was good."
Ne thorres Arthur Nawd gwraig."]
That is, "King Arthur did never violate the refuge of a woman." Arthur is notoriously known for the mirror of manhood. By the woman's refuge, many understand her tongue, and no valiant man will revenge her words with his blows: "Nullum memorabile nomen,-fœminii in pœnâ."
"Calen Sais wrah Gymro."]
That is, "The heart of an Englishman" (whom they call Saxons) "towards a Welchman." It is either applied to such who
* Dr. Powell, in his History of Wales, p. 36.
are possessed with prejudice, or only carry an outward compliance without cordial affection. We must remember this proverb origined whilst England and Wales were at deadly feud, there being better love betwixt them since the union of the nations.
"Ni Cheitw Cymbro oni Gollo."]
That is, "The Welchman keeps nothing until he hath lost it." The historical truth thereof is plain in the British Chronicles, that when the British recovered the lost castles from the English, they doubled their diligence and valour, keeping them more tenaciously than before.
"A fo pen, bid bont."]
That is, "He that will be a head, let him be a bridge." It is founded on a fictitious tradition thus commonly told: Benigridran, a Briton, is said to have carried an army over into Ireland; his men came to a river over which neither was bridge nor ferry; hereupon he was fain to carry all his men over the river on his own back. To lesson men not to affect the empty title of a general, except they can supply their soldiers with all necessaries: be their wardrobe in want of clothes; kitchen in want of meat, &c. Thus honour hath ever a great burden attending it.
We will conclude these general proverbs of Wales with a custom which was ancient in this nation. They had a kind of play, wherein the stronger who prevailed, put the weaker into a sack; and hence we have borrowed our English by-word to express such betwixt whom there is apparent odds of strength, "He is able to put him up in a bag."
It is observable, what a creditable author reporteth, that there was in this county a city (once an episcopal see) called Llan-Badern-Vaure, that is, Llan-Baderne the Great, which city is now dwindled to nothing.
Reader, by the way, I observe that cities surnamed the Great come to Little at last, as if God were offended with so ambitious an epithet: "Sidon the Great," "Nineveh the Great,"S "Babylon the Great, it is fallen," &c. But the cause of the ruin of this city was for their cruel killing of their bishop, which provoked divine justice against them.
I hope the Welsh, warned herewith, will for the future demean themselves with due respect to such persons; and am confirmed in my confidence from their commendable proverb, Na difanco y Beriglawr; "Vilify not thy parish priest;" and then much more ought the bishop to be respected.
Dr. Davis, in his Proverbs, litera Ch.
Roger Hoveden, and out of him Mr. Camden in this County.
Revel. xviii. 2.
Carmarthenshire hath Pembrokeshire on the west, the Severn sea on the south, Cardiganshire on the north, Brecknock and Glamorgan-shires on the east. The mountains therein are neither so many nor high as in the neighbouring counties, affording plenty of grass, grain, wood, fish, and what not? Besides, nature here giveth the inhabitants both meat and stomach; the sharpness of the air breeding an appetite in them.
There is a place in this county called Golden-grove, which I confess is no Ophir, or land of Havilah, yielding no gold in specie, but plentifully affording those rich commodities, which quickly may be converted thereunto; and the pleasure is no less than the profit thereof. It is the possession of the right honourable Richard Vaughan, baron of Emelor in England, and earl of Carberry in Ireland. He well deserveth to be owner of Golden-grove, who so often hath used a golden hand, in plentiful relieving many eminent divines during the late sequestration.
This county affording no peculiar COMMODITIES, let us proceed to
Giraldus Cambrensis reporteth a fountain to be in this county (let he himself find it out, and justify it) which, conformable to the sea, ebbeth and floweth twice in four-and-twenty hours. But seeing this in a maritime shire, possibly there may be a more than ordinary communication betwixt it and the ocean, and then the wonder is not so great.
More credibly it is related, that there are in this shire strange subterranean vaults, conceived the castles of routed people in the civil wars. And no wonder, seeing David first set up in defensive posture for himself in the cave of Adullum ; so that, having no place where he could safely set the sole of his foot above ground, all his present help was under the earth, and future hope was above the heavens.
ROBERT FARRAR, an Englishman by birth, but where born unknown, was a prime martyr of this county. A man not unlearned, but somewhat indiscreet, or rather uncomplying, which procured him much trouble; so that he may be said, with Saint
Laurence, to be broiled on both sides, being persecuted both by Protestants and Papists.
He was preferred to be bishop of Saint David's by the duke of Somerset, then Lord Protector, who was put to death not long after. Some conceive that the patron's fall was the chaplain's greatest guilt, and encouraged his enemies against him. Of these, two were afterwards bishops in the reign of queen Elizabeth, viz. Thomas Young, archbishop of York, and Rowland Merrick bishop of Bangor.
SIR RICE аp THOMAS was never more than a knight, yet little less than a prince in this his native county, if the author of "Prœlia Anglorum " may not be believed,
"Ricius Thomas flos Cambro-Britannum."
King Henry the Seventh will himself witness his worth. To him, lately landed at Milford Haven with contemptible forces, this Sir Rice repaired with a considerable accession of choice soldiers, marching with them to Bosworth field, where he right valiantly behaved himself. That thrifty king, according to his cheap course of remuneration (rewarding gownmen in orders, by him most employed, with church livings, and swordmen with honour) afterwards made Sir Rice knight of the order; and well might he give him a garter, by whose effectual help he had recovered a crown.
Elmelin in this county was one of his principal seats, whose name and nature he altered, building and calling it Newcastle;* and I believe it one of the latest castles in Wales, seeing since that time it hath been fashionable to demolish, not to erect, fortified houses.
As he appeared early, so he continued long in military action; for I find him, in the fourth year of king Henry the Eighth, conductor to five hundred light horse, at the pompous and expensive siege of Therouenne, where I meet his last mention in our English Chronicles.
WALTER DE DEVEREUX, son of - Devereux and Cicely his wife (sole sister to Thomas Bourchier last earl of Essex) was born in the town of Camarthen,† and by queen Elizabeth in his maternal right created Earl of Essex. One martially minded, and naturally hating idleness, the rust of the soul.
Though time hath silenced the factions, and only sounded the facts of queen Elizabeth's court, no place had more heart-burnings therein; and it was a great part of God's goodness and her prudence that no more hurt was done thereby. Many maligned
* Camden's Britannia, in this County.
Mills, in his Catalogue of Honour, in the Earls of Essex.
our earl-tantæne animis aularibus iræ-desirous to thrust him on dangerous designs. Nor need we consult the oracle of Apollo to discover his chief adversary, seeing he was a prime favourite, who loved the earl's nearest relation better than he loved the earl himself, whom he put on the project of Ireland.
Yet was not our Walter surprised into that service, seeing injuria non fit volenti; and being sensible that his room was more welcome to some than his company at court, he willingly embraced the employment. Articles (the first and last, I believe, in that kind) are drawn up betwixt the queen and him, who was to maintain such a proportion of soldiers on his own cost, and to have part of the territory of Clandboy in Ulster for the conquering thereof. So much for the bear's-skin. Now all the craft will be to catch, kill, and flay the bear himself.
Well, to maintain an army (though a very little one) is a sovereign's and no subject's work, too heavy for the support of any private man's estate, which cost this earl first the mortgaging, then the selling outright his fair inheritance in Essex. Över he goeth into Ireland with a noble company of kindred and friends, supernumerary volunteers above the proportion of soldiers agreed upon.
Sir William Fitz-Williams, lord deputy of Ireland, hearing of his coming, and suspecting (court jealousy riseth very early, or goeth not to bed at all) to be eclipsed by this great earl, solicits the queen to maintain him in the full power of his place, without any dimunition; alleging this much to conduce to the honour of her majesty, whom he represented. Hereupon it was ordered, that the earl should take his commission from this lord deputy, which with much importunity and long attendance, he hardly obtained, and that with no higher title than " Governor of Ulster."
After many impressions (not-over successfully) made in Ulster, he was by the deputy remanded in the south of Ireland, where he spent much time (take much into little in my author's words as to his general performance) nullius bono, sed magno suo damno.† His friends in the English court grew few and cold, his foes many and active; affronts were plentifully poured upon him, on purpose either to drown him in grief, or burn him in his own anger. From Munster he was sent back into Ulster, where he was forbidden to follow his blow, and use a victory he had gotten: yea, on a sudden stript out of his commission, and reduced to be governor of three hundred men: yet his stout stomach (as true tempered steel) bowed without breaking; in all these afflictions embracing all changes with the same tenor of constancy. Pay-days in Ireland came very thick, moneys out of England very slow; and his noble associates began to withdraw, common men to mutiny; so that the earl himself was at last recalled home.
• 200 horse and 400 foot. Idem, anno 1575.
† Camden's Elizabeth, anno 1573.