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ARIETTE. i

LITTLE BELL.

HOUSE-HUNTING IN "WALES.—1845.

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HOUSE-HUNTING IN "WALES.—1845. (Continuedfrom our last.) INSPIRED by those animated pages, we descanted with the profoundest erudition, to our astonished companion on the box, about its machicolated towers, and the fidely propor- tioned mullions of the hall. If you ascend the walls of the castle," we exclaimed in a paroxysm of enthusiasm, as if we were perched on the very top, you will see that the castle occupies the centre of an undulating plain, chec- kered with white-washed farm-houses, fields, and noble groves of oak. The tower and village of Ragland lie at a short distance, picturesquely straggling and irregular. To the north, the bold and diversified forms of the Craig, the Sugar Loaf, Skyrids, and Blorenge mountains, with the outlines of the Hatterals, perfect the scene in this direction; whilst the ever-varying and amphitheatrical boundary of this natural basin, may be traced over the Blaenavons, Craig y-garayd, (close to Usk,) the Gaer Yawr, the round Twm Barlwm, the fir-crowned top of Wentwood forest, Peny-cae-Mawr, the dreary heights of Xewchurch and De- yauden the continuation of the same range past Llanishen, the white church of which is plainly visible; Trelleck, Craig-y-Dorth, and the highlands above Troy Park, where they end." We were going on in the same easy and off-hand manner to describe some other! peculiarities of the landscape, when a sudden lurch of the carriage brought the book we were furtively pillaging, into open view, and we were forced, with a very bad grace, to con- fess our obligations to the author. A very beautiful ruin it is, certainly, and we made a vow to devote a day to ex- ploring its remains, and judging for ourselves of the accu- racy of the guide-book's description. Even if the road had no recommendation from the lovely openings it gives at every turn, it would be a pleasure to travel by it in sun- ahine, for the edges along its whole extent were a com- plete rampart of the sweetest smelling May. Such miles of snow-white blossoms we never saw before. It looked like Titania's bleaching-ground, and as if all the fairies had hung out their white frocks to dry. And the haw- thorn blossoms along the road were emulated on all the lit- tle terraces at the side of it; the apple and pear trees were in full bloom, and every little cottage rejoiced in its or- chard—so that, with the help of hedges and fruit trees, the whole earth was in a glow of beauty and perfume—and we prophesie this would be a famous year for cider and perry. Abergavenny has a very bad approach from Monmouth, and we dreaded a repetition of the delays we had just es- caped from; how great, therefore, was our gratification, when we pulled up at the door of the Angel, and were shown into a splendid room, thirty-five or forty feet long, by twenty wide, secured bedrooms as clean and comfortable as heart can desire, and had every thing we asked for with- the precision of clockwork, and the rapidity of steam. The Three Cocks began to descend from the lofty place they held in our esteem, and we resolved, for one day at least, to rest contentedly in such comfortable quarters, and look about us; so forth we sallied, and in the course of our pilgrimage speedily arrived at Aberga'ny Castle. Talk of pieturesqueness! this was picturesque enough for poet or painter with a vengeance—great thick walls all covered over with ivy, crowning a round knoll at the upper part of the town, and looking over a finer view, we will venture to say, than that we have just described as seen from Rag- land and to complete the beauty of it—the comforts of modern civilization uniting themselves to ancient magni- ficence—the main walls have been fitted up by one of the late lords into a pretty dwelling-house, which was at the moment occupied by one of the surgeons of the town. This is the true use of an antique ruin—this is replacing the coat of mail with a rain-proof mackintosh—the steel casque of Brian de Boisguilbert, with the Kilmarnock nightcap of Bailie Nicol Jarvie. And in this instance, the change had been effected with the greatest skill; the coat of mail and steel casque are still there, but only for show; the mackintosh and nightcap are the habitual dress; and few dwellings in our poor eyes are comparable to the one, that outside has the date of the crusaders, and inside, the conveniences of 1845. The town has a noble body-guard of hills all round it; and perched high on almost inacces- sible ledges, are little white-walled cottages, that made us long for the wings of a bird to fly up and inspect them closer; no other mode of conveyance would be either speedy or safe, for the sides of the mountains are nearly perpendicular, and would have put Douglas's horse to its mettle, when he was on a visit to Owen Glendowr. Dark, gloomy, Tartarean hills they appear, and no wonder; for their whole interior is composed of iron, and day and night they are. glimmering and smoking with a hundred fires. They have a dreadful, stern, metallic look about them, and are as different in their configuration from the chalk hills of Hampshire, as they are from cheese. Some day, we shall ascend their dusky sides, and dive into Plato's drearier domains—the iron-works—a god who, in the present state of railway speculation, might easily be confounded with Plutus; and with this and many other good resolutions, we returned to the hospitable care of friend Mr. Morgan, at the Angel. Next day was ounday, and very wet. We slipped across the street, and heard a very good sermon in the morning, in a large hand- some church, which was not quite so well filled as it ought o rb beehn, and were kept close prisoners all day after- wards by the unrelenting clouds. fas.not yet attained, and we resolved to p. i y fresh vigour on our expedition to the Three •f. ^as only two-and-twenty miles off; our host, L that' ^ey say, is always found V»1A NF FL v. A ?> ?P°ke in the highest terms of the Yale of Glasbury, and its clean and comfortable hotel. He also made inquiry for us as to its present condition, ] and brought back the pleasing intelligence that it was not full, and that we should find plenty of accommodation at once. This did away with the necessity of writing to the landlord, and in a short time we were once more upon the road, maids and children inside as usual, and a natty pos- tillion cocking his white hat and flicking his little whip, in the most bumptious manner imaginable. Through Crickhowell we went without drawing bridle, and went almost too fast to observe sufficiently its very beautiful situation; past noble country scats, bower, and hall, we drove and at last wound our solitary way along a cross- road, among some pastoral hills, that reminded us more of Dumfriesshire, than any country we have ever seen. The road ascended gradually for many miles; and on crowning the elevation, we caught a very noble extensive view of a rich, flat, thickly-wooded plain, that bore a great resemblance to the unequalled neighbourhood of Warwick. Down and down we trotted—hills and heights of all kinds left behind us—trees, shrubs, hedges, all in the fullest leaf, lay for miles and miles on every side; and the scenery had about as much resemblance to our ideal of Welsh landscape, as ditch water has to champagne. Through this wilderness of sweets, stifling and oppressive from its very richness, we drove for a long way, looking in vain for the hilly region where the Three Cocks had taken up their abode. At last we saw, a little way in front of us, at the side of the road—or rather with one gable-end pro- jecting into it, a large white house, with a mill appearing to constitute one of its wings. "The man will surely stay here to water the horses," was our observation and so, indeed, he did—and as he threw the rein loose over the off horse's neck -there! don't you see the sign-board on the wall ? Alas, alas, this is the Three Cocks! An ;id- mirable fishing quarter it must be, for the river is very near, and the country rich and beautiful, but not adapted to our particular case, where mountain air and free ex- posure are indispensable. But if it had been ten times less adapted to our purpose, we had travelled too far to give it up. Can you take us in for a few weeks The landlord laughed at the idea. I could not find room for a single individual, if you gave me a thousand pounds. A party has been with me for some time, and I can't even say how long they may stay." And, corrobora ive of this, we saw at the window our fortunate extruders, who no doubt congratulated them- selves on so many points of the law being in their favour. Here were we stuck on the Queen's high road—tired horses, cooped-up children and the Three Cocks as un- attainable as the philosopher's stone. The sympathising landlord consoled us in our disappointment as well as he could. The postillion jumped into his saddle again, and we pursued our way to the nearest place where there was any likelihood of a reception—namely, the Hay, a village of some size, about five miles further on. Come along, we shall easily find a nice cottage to-morrow, or get into, some farm-house, and ruralise for a month or two delight- fully." Our hopes rose as we looked forward to a settled home, after our experience of the road for so many days; and we soared to such a pitch of audacity at last, that we congralulated ousrelves that we had not got in at Glasbury, but were forced to go forward. The world was all before us where to choose. The country seemed to improve — that is, to get a little less Dutch in its level, as we pro- ceeded— and we finally reached the Hay, with the deter- minatiou of Barnaby's raven, to bear a good heart, at all events, and take for our motto, in all the ills of life,— Never say die! never say die The hotel had been taken by assault, and was occupied in great force by a troop of dragoons, on their march into Glo'stershire. We therefore did not come off quite so well as if we had led the forlorn hope ourselves; but, after so long a journey, we rejoiced in being admitted at all. Two or three Welsh girls, who perhaps would have been excel- lent waiters under other circumstances, appeared to con- sider themselves on military duty, and no other; so we sat for a very long while in solitary stateliness, wonder- ing when the water would boil, and the tea-things be brought, and the ham and eggs be ready. And of our wondering there was likely to be no end, till at last the hungry captain, the lieutenant, and the cornet, were fairly settled at dinner, and at about eight o'clock we got tea, but no bread then came the loaf—and there was no but- ter then butter—and there was no knife; but at last, all things arrived, and the little ones were sent off to bed, and we amused ourselves by listening to the rain on the window panes, and the whistling of the wind in the long passages; and, with a resolution to be up in good time to pursue our house-hunting project on the morrow, we concluded the fifth day of our peregrinations in search of change of air. We had a charming prospect from the window, at break- fast. A gutter tearing its riotous way down the street, supplied by a whole night's rain, and clouds resting with the most resolute countenances on the whole face of the land. At the post-office-that universal focus of informa- tion — to which we wended in one of the intervals between the showers, we were told of admirable lodgings. On going to see them, they consisted of two little rooms, in a narrow lane. Then we were seat to another quarter, and found the accommodation still more inadequate; and, at last, were inconceivably cheered, by hearing of a pretty cottage—just the thing—only left a short time ago by Captain somebody; five bed-rooms, two parlours, large garden; if it had been planned by our own architect, it could not have been better. Off we hurried to the owner of this bijou. The worthy captain, on giving up his lease, had sold his furniture; but we were welcome to it as ten- ant for a year! "Are there no furnished houses iu this neighbourhood at all ?" "No—e'es—may be you'll get in at the shippus, which, being Anglicised, is sheep-house; and away we toddled a mile and a half to the shippus—a nice old farm- house, with some pretensions to squiredom, and the inha- bitants kind and civil as heart could wish. Yes, they sometimes let their rooms—to families larger than ours—they supplied them with everything waited on them-did for them-anù, as for the children, there wasn't such a placj in the county for nice fields to play in." We looked round the room—a good high ceiling, large window. "This is just the thing—and I am delighted we were told of your house." It would have been very delightful, but—but we ar'e full already, and we expect some of our own family home. And why didn't you tell all this before?—we nearly said —and to this hour, we can't understand why there was such a profuse explanation of comforts- which we were never destined to partake of. But just across the road, there is a very nice cottage, where you can get lodged—and we can supply you with milk, and anything else you want." Oho there is some hope for us yet; and a few minutes saw us in colloquy with the old gentleman, the proprietor of the house. With the usual politeness of the Welsh, he dilated on the pleasure of having agreeable visitors; and, with the usual Welsh habit of forgetting that people don't generally travel with beds and blankets, carpets and chairs, and tables and crockery, on their shoulders, he seemed ra- ther astonished when the fact of the rooms destined for us being unfurnished, was a considerable drawback. So, in not quite such high spirits as we started, we returned to the Hay. (TO BE CONCLUDED IN NEXT.)

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