« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
"Honour and shame from no condition rise,
Act well your part, there all the honor lies."
THE Pont-y-Prydd—the beautiful bridge-is a remarkable structure thrown over the Taff. It is formed of one arch of surprising elegance. Before the erection of this bridge, the Rialto at Venice was the largest stone arch known in the world. Since the completion of the bridge over the Taff, several other stone arches of extraordinary dimensions have been constructed both in England and France, and the immense strides made by engineering science have thrown the Pont-y-Prydd, the Pont de Neuilly, the graceful bridge at Dublin, &c. &c., into the shade. But in its time, the bridge was regarded as a most astonishing work of genius ever conceived. Its effect is still particularly grand and striking. It rises to the height of thirty-five feet above the water, and in the segment of a circle of 170 feet in diameter. Lofty mountains rise at either extremity of the erection, and the water rushes with a full and rapid tide below. An inscription in the centre of the bridge fixes the date of completion at 1756, so that Pont-y-Prydd has now endured the test of more than a century.
The most interesting matter connected with this structure is the circumstance of its having been erected by a self-taught native mason, William Edwards, who united with his regular occupation the management of a farm and the duties of a Dissenting minister. He was born in 1719, in the parish of Eglwysilan, in Glamorganshire, and lost his father while still very young, so that the whole responsibility of his education devolved on his mother, a duty which she conscientiously and faithfully discharged. William soon began to display a taste for building, and in the humbler species of masonry acquired considerable expertness. He was chiefly employed in erecting and repairing stone fences for the farmers in the neighbourhood, work which he accomplished by merely piling the stones together without mortar; but some masons being employed to erect a shed, William watched their operations with lively interest, and made excellent use of the opportunity. He began to build sheds, out-houses, even dwellings, and at length a mill. His fidelity and integrity recommended him no less than his extraordinary skill, and the self-taught architect rose in his profession, and in the twenty-seventh year of his life undertook to build a bridge over the Taff.
In the year 1746, Edwards set to work, and in due time completed a very light and elegant bridge of three arches, which was generally acknowledged to be superior to anything of the kind in Wales. He guaranteed its security for seven years, but in less than three it was swept away by a flood. This was no light misfortune to poor Edwards, but he did not suffer himself to be discouraged, and in conformity with the contract proceeded to build a new bridge. determined to adopt with the new structure a novel idea, and to span the river by a single arch of 140 feet from pier to pier. The erection of the arch was finished in 1751, but before the parapets could be added, the weight of the masonry sank the bridge into the water over which it was raised. Edwards, undaunted by his second failure, set to work a third time, and by the introduction of several improvements in its construction triumphantly accomplished his work. "He reduced the weight by the introduction of three cylindrical openings or tubes in each side of the arch, securing greater stability with a diminution of material; involving, as it appears, the very principle of which we have the most distinguished example in the mighty Tubular Bridges of Conway and Bangor."
The ingenious and worthy man who built the bridge, is a striking instance of what may be accomplished by ones own unassisted exertions, and by assiduity of application to any one pursuit.
"Once hung about with pikes and bows,
And swords and good old bucklers which had stood against old foes."
THE old Castle at Hay is perhaps one of its most interesting features. An old ruin, telling by the remains of its strength of what doughty work it was made to do in the old times; by the remnants of its splendor of what it has formerly been the scene; and by its crumbling walls of the decay which waits on all mundane things-the vanitas vanitatum of earthly glory-speaks to the heart, and preaches a homily such only as can be preached when the "stones cry out of the wall."
Very little there is to interest the archeologist, but amply sufficient to rivet the attention of the poet or the painter. Banner and flag are furled, and the wild plants spread their green pennants to the sky; the halls are deserted by the gay or warlike denizens, and given up to the wild birds; surely, there is enough for sad thinking—no more the gallant array of knights ride forth from the Castle to foray and fray; no more my lady looks forth from her casement, and cheers the heart of her cavalier with a last adieu; no more the feasters gather in the hall, while in the music gallery the minstrels set their feet a dancing; -gone, all gone, and mingled with the dust, consigned to mound and monument, until a louder trumpet shall ring out a summons that shall make the graves give up their dead.
The knights are dust,
And their good swords are rust,
Their souls are with the Saints-we trust!
Turn we from the Old Castle to the Town. The Manor of Hay was given by Bernard Newmarch to Sir Philip Walwyn, the probable founder of the Castle. It is a market-town, with some prosperity, but a rural, out-of-the-way place. It stands on the eastern bank of the Wye, at the junction of the Counties of Radnor, Brecon and Hereford; it consists of a High-street and a cross avenue. The trade is not extensive, though the situation is favourable for inland commerce. The Hay railway runs between the wharf of the Brecknock Canal near the Brecon, and the village of Partin Cross, in the parish of Eardisley, in Herefordshire, where the Kington railway joins it. From numerous antiquities found in the vicinity, it is probable that this was a