A Popular Tale in Glamorgan

*"The Welsh always, in their popular tales, conclude with moral or prudential inferences. There are two hills in Glamorgan, called Craig-y-Dinas, one in the parish of Lantrisaint, the other in Ystradyfodwg, on the confines of Brecknockshire. There is also a hill of the same name in the Vale of Towey, not far from the town of Carmarthen. In Glamorgan the tale is related of the Carmarthenshire hill, while in Carmarthenshire the hill is said to be in Glamorgan. There are other tales of a similar cast in Glamorgan, and indeed in every part of Wales; but I have forgotten them, and must inquire of those who still relate them. It is not yet too late to attempt their salvation from the perdition to which they are consigned by Methodism. "The Welsh idea of fairies is that they are the souls of such as were not so depraved as to merit hell, nor so divested of evil as to be admitted into heaven. They are supposed to be benevolently disposed to all virtuous men; but vice, and especially lying and sluttery, they most abominably hate, and punish, invisibly, all who are addicted to these habits."

 
Print

A Popular Tale in Glamorgan

A Welshman walking over London Bridge, with a neat hazel staff in his hand, was accosted by an Englishman, who asked him whence he came. "I am from my own country," answered the Welshman, in a churlish tone. "Do not take it amiss, my friend," said the Englishman, "if you will only answer my questions, and take my advice, it will be of greater benefit to you than you imagine. That stick in your hand grew on a spot, under which are hid vast treasures of gold and silver; and if you remember the place, and can conduct me it it, I will put you in possession of those treasures."

The Welshman soon understood that the stranger was what he called a cunning man, or conjuror, and for some time hesitated, not willing to go with him among devils, from whom this magician must have derived his knowledge; but he was at length persuaded to accompany him into Wales; and going to Craig-y-Dinas, the Welshman pointed out the spot whence he had cut the stick. It was from the stock or root of a large old hazel: this they dug up, and under it found a broad flat stone. This was found to have closed up the entrance into a very large cavern, down into which they both went. In the middle of the passage hung a bell, and the conjuror earnestly cautioned the Welshman not to touch it. They reached the lower part of the cave, which was very wide, and there saw many thousands of warriors lying down fast asleep in a large circle, their heads outwards, every one clad in bright armour, with their swords, shields, and other weapons lying by them, ready to be laid hold on in an instant, whenever the bell should ring and awake them. All the arms were so highly polished and bright, that they illumined the cavern, as with the light of ten thousand flames of fire. They saw amongst the warriors one greatly distinguished from the rest by his arms, shield, battle-axe, and a crown of gold set with the most precious stones, lying by his side.

In the midst of this circle of warriors they saw two very large heaps, one of gold, the other of silver. The magician told the Welshman that he might take as much as he could carry away of either the one or the other, but that he was not to take from both the heaps. The Welshman loaded himself with gold: the conjuror took none, saying that he did not want it, that gold was of no use but to those who wanted knowledge, and that his contempt of gold had enabled him to acquire that superior knowledge and wisdom which he possessed. In their way out he cautioned the Welshman again not to touch the bell, but if unfortunately he should do so, it might be of the most fatal consequence to him, as one or more of the warriors would awake, lift up his head, and ask if it was day? "Should this happen," said the cunning man, "you must, without hesitation, answer No, sleep thou on; on hearing which he will again lay down his head and sleep." In their way up, however, the Welshman, overloaded with gold, was not able to pass by the bell without touching it—it rang—one of the warriors raised up his head and asked, "Is it day?" "No," answered the Welshman promptly, "it is not, sleep thou on;"so they got out of the cave, laid down the stone over its entrance, and replaced the hazel tree. The cunningman, before he parted from his companion, advised him to be economical in the use of his treasure; observing that he had, with prudence, enough for life: but that if by unforeseen accidents he should be again reduced to poverty, he might repair to the cave for more; repeating the caution, not to touch the bell if possible, but if he should, to give the proper answer, that it was not day, as promptly as possible. He also told him that the distinguished person they had seen was ARTHUR, and the others his warriors; and they lay there asleep with their arms ready at hand, for the dawn of that day when The Black Eagle and The Golden Eagle should go to war, the loud clamour of which would make the earth tremble so much, that the bell would ring loudly, and the warriors awake, take up their arms, and destroy all the enemies of the Cymry, who afterwards should repossess the Island of Britain, re-establish their own king and government at Caerlleon, and be governed with justice, and blessed with peace so long as the world endures.

The time came when the Welshman's treasure was all spent: he went to the cave, and as before overloaded himself. In his way out he touched the bell—it rang— a warrior lifted up his head, asking if it was day,— but the Welshman, who had covetously overloaded himself, being quite out of breath with labouring under his burden, and withal struck with terror, was not able to give the necessary answer; whereupon some of the warriors got up, took the gold away from him, and beat him dreadfully. They afterwards threw him out, and drew the stone after them over the mouth of the cave. The Welshman never recovered the effects of that beating, but remained almost a cripple as long as he lived, and very poor. He often returned with some of his friends to Craig-y-Dinas; but they could never afterwards find the spot though they dug over, seemingly, every inch of the hill. He lived in this crippled and poor condition very long, a warning to all, of the evils which result from a want of knowledge and prudence, teaching not to be covetous, not to neglect good advice, and never to trust that they can, without danger, give way their own wishes, except one— the wish to be good. *