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I had seen very few like them in Radnorshire, they were more especially attractive to me.
One Sunday afternoon I walked up the valley and over a mountain-ridge to the head waters of the Llia river, one of the tributaries of the river Neath, to see an ancient stone, named Maen Llia on the ordnance map. I was much pleased to find a huge erect slab of old red sandstone nearly twelve feet high, a photograph of which I am able to give through the kindness of Miss Florence Neale of Penarth. These strange relics of antiquity have always greatly interested me, and this being the first I had ever seen, produced an impression which is still clear and vivid.
The people here were all thoroughly Welsh, but the landlord of the inn, and a young man who lived with him, spoke English fairly well. Like most of the Welsh the landlord was very musical, and in the evenings he used to teach his little girl, about five years old, to sing, first exercising her in the notes, and then singing a Welsh hymn, which she followed with a tremendously powerful voice for so small a child. Her father was very proud of her, and said she would make a fine singer when she grew up.
While here, and also at Trallong, I went sometimes to church or chapel in order to hear the Welsh sermons, and also the Welsh Bible well read, and I was greatly struck with the grand sound of the language and the eloquence and earnestness of the preachers. The characteristic letters of the language are the guttural ch, the dd pronounced soft as
udh,” the ll pronounced "llth.” If the reader will endeavour to sound these letters he will have some idea of the effect of such passages as the following, when clearly and emphatically pronounced :-"Brenhin Brenhinoedd, ac Arglwydd Arglwyddi” (“King of Kings and Lord of Lords "). Again, “ Ac a ymddiddanodd â mi, gan ddywedyd, Tyred, mi a ddangosaf i ti briodasferch” (“And talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride"). These are passages from Revelation, but the following verse from the Psalms is still grander and more impressive :
Cyn gwneuthur y mynyddoedd, a llunio o honot y ddaear
a'r byd ; ti hefyd wyt Dduw, o dragywyddoldeb hyd dragywyddoldeb” (“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God ').
The Welsh clergy are usually good readers and energetic preachers, and seem to enjoy doing full justice to their rich and expressive language, and even without being able to follow their meaning it is a pleasure to listen to them.
Among the numerous Englishmen who visit Wales for business or pleasure, few are aware to what an extent this ancient British form of speech is still in use among the people, how many are still unable to speak English, and what an amount of poetry and legend their language contains. Some account of this literature is to be found in that very interesting book, George Borrow's “Wild Wales,” and he claims for Dafydd ap Gwilym, a contemporary of our Chaucer, the position of "the greatest poetical genius that has appeared in Europe since the revival of literature." At the present day there are no less than twenty weekly newspapers and about the same number of monthly magazines published in the Welsh language, besides one quarterly and two bi-monthly reviews. Abstracts of the principal Acts of Parliament and Parliamentary papers are translated into Welsh, and one firm of booksellers, Messrs. Hughes and Son, of Wrexham, issue a list of more than three hundred Welsh books mostly published by themselves. Another indication of the wide use of the Welsh language and of the general education of the people, is the fact that the British and Foreign Bible Society now sell annually about 18,000 Bibles, 22,000 Testaments, and 10,000 special portions (as the Psalms, the Gospels, etc.); while the total sale of the Welsh scriptures during the last century has been 35 millions. Considering that the total population of Wales is only about it millions, that two counties, Pembrokeshire and Radnorshire, do not speak Welsh, and that the great seaports and the mining districts contain large numbers of English and foreign workmen, we have ample proof that the Welsh are still a distinct nation with a peculiar language, literature, and history, and that the claim which they are
now making for home rule, along with the other great subdivisions of the British Islands, is thoroughly justified.
Our two other indigenous Celtic languages, Gaelic and Irish, or Erse, appear to have a far less vigorous literary existence. I am informed by the Secretary of the National Bible Society of Scotland that about three thousand Bibles and a little more than two thousand Testaments are sold yearly. The number of people who habitually speak Gaelic is, however, less than a quarter of a million, and the language seems to be kept up in a literary sense more by a few educated students and enthusiasts than to supply the needs of the people.
The Irish language is a form of Gaelic closely allied to that of Scotland, and there are still nearly a million people able to speak it, though only about one-tenth of that number use it exclusively. Owing to the prevalence of the Roman Catholic religion among the peasantry, very few copies of the Irish version of the Bible and Testament are now sold, and although the ancient literature was exceedingly rich and varied, any modern representative of it can hardly be said to exist. The strong vitality of the Welsh language as above sketched is therefore a very interesting feature of our country, and as it is undoubtedly suited to the genius of the people among whom it has survived, there seems to be no valid objection to its perpetuation. The familiar use of two languages does not appear to be in itself any disadvantage, while being able to appreciate and enjoy the literature of both must be a distinct addition to the pure intellectual pleasures of those who use them.
SHROPSHIRE AND JACK MYTTON
AFTER having finished our work in Brecknockshire we returned to Kington for a few months, doing office-work and odd jobs of surveying in the surrounding country. Among these what most interested me was the country around Ludlow, in Shropshire, where there are beautiful valleys enclosed by steep low hills, often luxuriantly wooded, and watered by rapid streams of pure and sparkling water. I had by this time acquired some little knowledge of geology, and was interested in again being in an Old Red Sandstone country, which formation I had become well acquainted with in Brecknockshire, and which is so different from the Upper Silurian shales so prevalent in Radnorshire. In this country we were near the boundary of the two formations, and there were also occasional patches of limestone, and at every bit of rock that appeared during our work I used to stop a few moments to examine closely, and see which of the formations it belonged to. This was easily decided by the physical character of the rocks, which, though both varied considerably, had yet certain marked characteristics that distinguished them.
One day we were at work in a park near a country house named "Whittern,” and my brother took a pencil sketch of it in his field-book. Just as he was finishing it the owner came out and talked with him, and seeing he was something of an artist, went to the house and brought out a portfolio of drawings in sepia, by his daughter, of views in the park and