« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
THE RIVER CONWAY.
"Old Conway's foaming flood.”
THE scenery on the banks of the Conway is amongst the most magnificent of North Wales. Rising from a small lake in the hill country of Denbigh and Carnarvon, the river flows through districts of unequalled beauty and grandeur, where Nature wears her most charming and most savage aspect, foaming over a rugged channel, or flowing placidly through green banks, still as the sky it mirrors on its bosom. It first takes a north-easterly direction, and so reaches the Holyhead road; then turns to the north-west to Bettws-y-loed; then due north through the Conway valley, here by the town of Llanwrst, there by the frowning Castle which the first Edward built to overawe the newly subjugated Welsh. With some slight irregularity, it forms all through its course the boundary between Denbigh and Carnarvon. Swelled by its tributaries Maihno, Ceirw, Clettur, and other streams, it continues its course to the Irish Sea, its whole length being about thirty miles.
employed by the ancient
The Coracles, the native boats, similar to those Britons, are used by the fishermen on the Conway. wickerwork covered with skins or strong canvas. when their owners have completed their work, they strap them on their backs and march home with them. Few of them weigh more than five-and-twenty pounds. So did the ancient Britons before the legions of Julius descended on our coasts, and Albion became tributary to Rome. What brought the Romans here? Was it not the report of the exquisite beauty and inestimable worth of British pearls, and where abounded British pearls so greatly as in old Conway's stream? You may catch trout in that stream-you may find near its mouth the pearl muscle-and with Conway pearls Cæsar enriched the breast-plate which he gave to Venus, a votive offering for his good success. And Conway pearls were given sixteen centuries later to Charles the Second's queen, and figure, so it is said, among the jewels in the Crown of State. Even now the pearl muscles are taken in considerable quantities, and yield a handsome profit.
But visitors to Conway's banks are not likely to go-a-pearl fishing; if they want sport they look for it in the trout stream, and may enjoy a day's angling if so inclined in the midst of the most charming scenery, philosophising, if so it be their humour, with old Isaac Walton, and moralising over hook and
bait. But the scenery is the great attraction: the hills and vales, the tumbling waters and the silent stream, the sequestered hamlets and crumbling ruins, the grey mountain peaks, flooded with golden light, and backed with a blue expanse of sky.
Conway Castle, built by Edward I. in 1284, is a noble structure,—“ a more beautiful edifice never arose." Its form is oblong, placed in all parts on the verge of a precipitous rock, one side is bounded by the river, another by a creek full of water at every tide, and most picturesquely shaded by hanging woods. The other two sides face the town. Within are two courts, and on the outside project eight vast towers, each with a slender one of amazing elegance issuing from the top, within which has been a winding staircase. In one of the great towers is a fine window in form of an arched recess or bow, ornamented with pillars. The Great Hall suited the magnificence of the founder. It extended 130 feet in length, was 32 feet broad, and of a fine height. The roof was supported by eight noble arches, six of which still remain. There were two entrances into the fortress, one from the river, one from the town. The town itself is of no considerable importance, and much of the space within the walls is used for garden ground. It stands on a steep slope, and is fenced by twenty four round towers.
The biographer of that distinguished writer Mrs. Hemans, tells us that some of the happiest days the young poetess ever passed, were during occasional visits to friends at Conway, "where the charms of the scenery combining all that is most beautiful in wood, water, and ruin, are sufficient to inspire the most prosaic temperament with a certain degree of enthusiasm; and it may therefore well be supposed, how fervently a soul constituted like hers would worship Nature at so fitting a shrine,"
"Nature's vast realms for ever to inspire,
"When from the chain
Of foreign victors Briton's chief withdrew,
SIX miles west of Corwen is a bridge of singularly interesting aspect, and properly known as Pont-y-Glyn Diffwys, or Bridge of the Glen. A single arch resting on two precipitous rocks spans the river, which after winding tranquilly through the green valley, here falls with an abrupt descent over a craggy precipice.
The wild grandeur of the scene has rendered this spot a favorite haunt of visitors, especially those who, having an artistic or poetic temperament, find gratification in the sublimity of rock and waterfall, the magnificence of Nature unspoiled by Art.
The whole neighbourhood of Pont-y-Glyn abounds with interest, not only for those who are in search of the picturesque, but to the antiquary and historian. In the bleak and barren districts of Cerrig-y-Druidion there are still the remains of the wars and worship of our ancient British forefathers. Here we are forcibly reminded of their heroic struggle against the Roman invaders, and especially of the virtue and bravery of that pattern of courage and patriotism, Caractacus. The remains of the British fortifications are traditionally associated with his name and exploits; and here it is said he offered formidable resistance to the overwhelming force of the Imperial legions.
Caractacus was one of those men whose heroic natures admirably fit them to rule and to guide their fellows,-men, who rise superior to the circumstances by which they are surrounded, and who even in misfortune and defeat win the admiration of their conquerors. A Caractacus in chains was grander than a Claudius in purple; and stripped of all he possessed—uncrowned, enslaved, and dragged as a captive through the streets to grace a Roman holiday-he was a man who never forgot his manhood, a soldier who never forgot he was a soldier, a King whose heaven-born royalty could not be torn from him by the hand of man.
Time may have thrown around the heroic virtues of this ancient King more than natural lustre, and the speech which Tacitus has ascribed to him may be polished and adorned with an artificial elegance, but allowing for all