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Neu Wreichion Oddiar yr Eingion


Neu Wreichion Oddiar yr Eingion By CADRAWD. A VISIT TO CARNHUANAWC'S GRAVE. (Continued from last week.) The Vaughans of Tretower have contributed many notabilities. Sir Roger Vaughan, who fell at Agincourt, was the first husband of Gwladys, daughter of Sir David Gam, and was the ancestor of Henry Vaughan, the Si/rist, tile" metaphysical" poet, and predecessor of Wordsworth. In recent times the family has been represented, by Dean Vaughan of LiandaH, Cardinal Vaughan, and his eloquent brother Father Bernard Vaughan. They arc also allied with the noble house of Beaufort and Pembroke through the illusttrious Her- berts. We now proceed to Cwmdu. The meadows slumlwe peacefully, and" all the air a solemn stillness holds. how the sacred calm that breathes around. Bids every tierce tumultuous passion cease In still smaii accents whispering from the ground, A grateful earnest of eternal peace." And yet, Carnhuanawf describes Celts, Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans fighting in this valley under the shadow of the everlast- ing hills with unexampled ferocity. These peaceful fields were once deluged with blood- shed, and given over to devastation. The Hon. Mabel Bailey writes that her father, the late Lord Glanusk, when shooting, found a curious plant, of which he knew not the name. A farmer promptly told him that the local tradition was that it only grew where Danes' blood had been shed. It is a known fact in history that when the Danes were defeated by Alfred' the Great in 896 they fled in large numbers to this secluded country. The parish of Cwmdu has always been noted for its nume- rous ruins of camps and military fortifications. The churchyard occupies one of the finest spots in the whole district. Tbe sacred edifice is being carefully restored on a large scale, and is a magnificent building, but not yet completed. Carnhuanawc took a great delight in trees and plants, and all the varied forms of vegetable life. To him also— Every flower that breathed Contained thoughts too deep for tears." He must have been extremely happy in this rural retreat, with the flowers for his com- panions. and nature's orchestra playing its full accompaniment throughout the year. natives protest against the name Cwm- tfttf black valley, and always repeat the old with great solemnity— Cam enw vw Cwmdu, Waeth cwm. gwyn yw'n cwm nr." (Black valley is wrong we say, For ours is white throughout the day). There is a large collection of yew trees in the churchyard, and the majority of the graves are well kept. Carnhuanawc's tomb is strong and solid, made of native stones. In shape it is a flat tomb on masonry, with solid, dressed stone courses, plain but well dressed. In gazing silently upon the tomb I remembered how Carnhuanawc had, many months before his death, chosen this spot for his grave. He directed that his remains should be buried in this beautiful earth the parochial graveyard. forbidding all unnecessary expense and ostena- tious display. His friends would have been glad to bury their beloved pastor inside the sacred edifice, but he had strictly forbidden this. It seems that so much of it had been done in previous centuries that the walls of the church otiad been undermined, so that extensive slips and fissures had given ample warning of a possible catastrophe if this practice was con- tinued much longer. Eminently sane in all things, it was also. no doubt, more in keeping with his simple tastes to be buried outside the church, amid the flowers and trees he loved so much. Besides, he frequently repeated an old Welsh saying "Yr eglwys i'r byw ar fonwent i'r meirw." (The church for the living, but the graveyard for the dead.) His funeral was announced to be private, but so many friends and neighbours arrived at an early hour, that the company amounted to about four hundred persons. As we stood bareheaded over Camhuanawc s tomb. our minds went back in meditation to that exqui- sitely pathetic November morning in 1848, when Cambria's great historian was laid in his lowly grave, with many a hill and valley between him and his native Buallt; and yet within thesacred borders of Brvchan p country, where he had lived and moved for so many years as a faithful shepherd of the tJ09k. With him that day were buried a multitude of remi- niscences of nun and movements—some of which, it is true, are perpetuated in his writings, but many also are irretrieveably lost, and will bo heard of no more. They appeared in his table talk and his public orations— Like snow flakes on the river, One moment white, then gone for ever." The day of his funeral was memorable in the annals of his district. The valley of Cwmdu was flooded with sunshine and beauty. The blue sky was cloudless, and the solemn still- ness was only broken by the heavy sound of a funeral peal from the muffled bells of the parish church. The mountain wind was fast asleep in his lonely cavern, and the sun shone brilliantly, although not in its full strength, for it was the parting glory of the autumn. The surrounding hills towered with an awe-inspiring haze of mystery into the regions of immensity —fit emblems of that communion with the invisible which the departed seer experienced all through life. The service was altogether in Welsh, the inspired accents of which Carnhuanawc had always heard when a child at his mother's knees, on the hearth of Pencaerelin, at Llanfi- hangel Bryn Pabuan-his native hamlet in Llanafan Fawr. When the mourners reached the grave the silence was so complete that nothing was heard but the bearers' tread, and the music of the birds from the adjoining groves—a proper requiem for the repose of this unsophisticated child of nature. When the officiating clergyman began the prayers the whole multitude knelt with him on the turf, and copious tears were shed by young and old. It was a sorrow which seemed hopeless, and they were quite indifferent to all things around. When the service was over, the silence continued, nobody turned away, but all re- mained with their heads uncovered, and tearful eyes gazed on the coffin, as if unwilling to yield up theic long and last farewell. It is some interest to note that the Rev. George Howells, Vicar of Llangattock. was the officiating minister. He claimed kinship with the famous Howell family, viz., James Howell, the courtier and historian and Dr. Thomas Howell, Bishop of Bristol in the reign of Charles I. Their father was curate of Llangammarch for some years, ana his son, the Bishop, was born there. The funeral sermon was preached by Mr Howells on the following Sunday from Deut. xxxiv., 5. He described how humility of disposition and supremacy of intellect were allied in his departed friend and brother. Carn- huanawc's interest in the peasantry was deep and undying, and yet. some of thc most learned and refined men in Europe courted his society. He \vas the happiest, because the most con- tented, of human beings. He envied no one, coveted nothing, expected nothing, but he cheerfully assisted all who asked him aS far as his money, time, and talents could avail to promote the best interest of Wales and Welsh- men. (To be concluded next week). -L-

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