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LOCAL GOSSIP.

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LOCAL GOSSIP. Rev. J. Evans, B.A., in his interesting il Lettrs written during a tour through South Wales in the year 1803," has the following reference to the Vale of Gla- morgan — We proceeded to Penmarck, where on the verge of a deep ravine stand the ruins of its castle. This with the manour was bestowed by Fitzhamon on one of his adventurous knights, Gilbert Humphreville; aud was one of the thirteen celebrated in Anglo-Norman story. But alas! what is wealth and power and transitory fame? In this instance, its vanity is striking. The seat of it is anni- hilated, the family is extinct; and the very name obliterated from the records of the time. The church is a good structure, standing on the high land adjoining; and three large venerable yews in the church- yard point out its antiquity. About half a mile to the west, on the verge of another ravine, through which runs a small stream called Kenfon, is the castle of Fonmon. This is a large but irregular pile; built as a noble residence and place of de- fence; which is evident from the thickness of the walls, the flat embattled roof, and a high watch-tower at a small distance from it. The founder was John St. John, one of the twelve knights to whom the lordship of Fonmon or FenvoTh, was allotted. It con- tinued in this family till the civil wars, when its owner was cruelly ousted for his loyalty; and the seignory, with its castle, bestowed by Oliver Cromwell upon Mr Jones, a colonel in the Parliament Army, the par- ticular friend and brother-m-law of the Pro- tector. In this family it remains, being the residence of Robert Jones, Esq., the present sheriff of the county. The castle has been modernised, the windows sashed, and the rooms decorated in the style of the time when the alterations were made. Many of the rooms are lofty and spacious, particu- larly the saloon, or, as it is called, the banqueting room. Some fine paintings by various masters, possess sufficient merit to attract the attention of a connoisseur; par- ticularly a portrait of the Protector, thought the most striking likeness extant of that ex- traordinary man, presented by himself to the ancestor of the family. At a small distance on the coast jets a foreland, called Break-sea Point, often fatal to mariners. Indeed, the whole coast is the terror of those who navigate the Bristol Channel. Sunk rocks and dangerous shoals lie in every direction, and numerous vessels are frequently wrecked on this insidious shore. You will blush for humanity, my friend, when you are informed that the cruelties exercised by the inhabitants of this coast to- wards the children of misfortune, surpasses the ruthless storm or raging ocean. No- thing can exceed the distress that persons must feel when driven in a moment on treacherous rocks, with nothing before their eyes but a certain and shocking death! Or should they survive, it will be with the loss of property and friends, and perhaps every- thing that makes it desiraule to live! But the conduct of those miscreants called wreckers, adds pain to sorrow and poignancy to distress. We had heard much of the rapine and cruelty of these human vultures; but as everything that tends to degrade the moral character of man has a retrospect to ourselves, and tends also to lessen our own consequence, we were unwilling to admit, but very partially, the reiterated testimony. A short period, however, furnished an oppor- tunity to some of the party for conviction. A large vessel, the Csesar brig, outward bound from Bristol to Santa Cruz in the West Indies, deeply laden, came ashore, in a dark night, on the rocks above-mentioned. The news that a fine prize was off Break-sea Point was quickly circulated. Numbers in- stantly flocked down to the coast for the pur- poses of plunder; and, oh! what were the sensations of the passengers and crew, when by the dawning light they discovered their situation! Not only that it was impossible to get off the vessel, but that she would soon go to pieces! "Meanwhile these harpies, by hundreds, were assembled, and boarding in all direc- tions; staving in casks and packages for the more easy conveyance of their contents to shore; breaking open lockers, rifling the un- fortunate passengers, and knocking down everyone opposing their designs or standing in their way! Some gentlemen in the neighbourhood came down with what strength they could collect, with a view to hinder their depredations; but showers of poplers, the large pebbles on the beach, soon convinced them that to attack or defend was in vain, and that the safety of their own lives depended upon a precipitate retreat. Indeed, their aim in the onset is often to murder the persons on board, that there may be no survivors to become evidence against them. So totally lost are they to those feelings generally discoverable in the com- mon robber, that neither age nor sex appears to make the least impression on their obdur- ate hearts. They strip even children and females, when dead, cut off their fingers and tear their ears for the sake of the clothes and jewels! and leave their naked bodies exposed on the beach, for interment to the returning ocean! It is affirmed that they frequently kindle fires on the various eminences, to allure vessels to the fatal shore; but, as we never witnessed this, we will stop at this point, where humanity shudders at the recol- lection, and nature recoils at the rehearsal. "These people, in other respects, are for the most part harmless and inoffensive; they act their different parts in society like other men, and are even esteemed industrious and honest; but when a wreck occurs, which they call a God-send, looking upon it as a special favour sent to them in the course of provi- dence, their nature seems changed, and they seize with rapacity and defend with ferocity what they conceive to be peculiarly their own. This idea must have originated in those barbarous laws that for- merly prevailed over all the northern coun- tries of Europe; and a few years ago subsisted on the shores of the Baltic; per- mitting the inhabitants to seize on whatever they could recover from vessels wrecked, as lawful prize. Ever since the time of Edward I. humane regulations have from time to time been made; and the law of wrecks gradually softened in favour of the dis- tressed proprietors and passengers; and a statute of the late reign puts the property under the charge of the sheriff, recoverable by the owner paying a reasonable salvage, and making it felonious to steal anything from a vessel, whether wrecked or not; everything seems to have been done that can be done by human laws, for the prevention of so foul a crime. But the most whole- same laws are unavailable for their end, un- less they are regularly executed; were num- bers to suffer for this crime, there cannot exist a doubt but it would be less frequent. But it too often happens, from the negli- gence and inattention of ship-owners and underwriters, that the force of the laws is weakened, and the desirable effects they were intended to produce completely ob- structed; as in the present case, by the ex- ertions of the sheriff and some of his friends, two of the ringleaders were secured, and committed for trial to Hereford gaol; but at the ensuing assizes, no prosecutor appear- ing, the culprits were discharged.

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