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ART. IX. A Tour in Wales.
Boards. White. 1778.
Home-travels,' as their ingenious and very in
quifitive Author, Mr. Pennant, informs us, in an advertisement, conftitute the first part only of an account of his own country; and were actually performed in the year mentioned in the title-page. He fpeaks of this circumstance, with the view of fatisfying the public, that they are not formed out of tours undertaken at different periods. They comprehend a complete peregrination through the tamer parts' of his native country, or North Wales; the more wild and romantic scenery of which, he propofes to defcribe in a future volume.
His itinerary is illuftrated by twenty-fix plates, containing views of abbies and other buildings; Roman antiquities, particularly various antique inftruments and coins found near Flint; portraits, &c. In this, as in his former tours, the Author feems to have loft no opportunity of inquiring into the prefent, and especially the former ftate of the places through which he paffes; and of collecting a variety of information, chiefly hiftorical and genealogical, refpecting the many ancient caftles, religious houfes, &c. in his route, that have been the fcenes of memorable events; which he does not fail to record, whether they relate to general hiftory, or to that of particular perfons and families.
After defcribing St. Wenefrede's Well, and relating the legendary hiftory of the Saint, and the practices of her ancient devotees, the Author obferves, that she is not yet quite deferted, though the refort of pilgrims is exceedingly diminished. The greatest numbers are from Lancashire. In the fummer, ftill a few are to be seen in the water in deep devotion up to their chins for hours, fending up their prayers, or performing a number of evolutions round the polygonal well; or threading the arch between well and well a prefcribed number of times. Few people of rank at present honor the fountain with their prefence. A crowned head in the laft age dignified the place with a vifit. The prince who loft three kingdoms for a mafs, payed his refpects, on August 29th 1686, to our faint; and received as a reward a prefent of the very shift in which his great grandmother Mary Stuart loft her head * .
The ftream formed by this fountain, runs with a rapid courfe to the fea, which it reaches in little more than the distance of a mile. In the age of pilgrimage and fuperftition, nothing but a corn-mill or two, the property of the monks, found employ for this beneficial ftream; but the industry of the present
The late Doctor Cooper of Chester's MSS.
century, has given to these whilome holy waters, an extenfive degree of utility. On its banks are erected battering mills for copper, a wire-mill, a coarfe paper-mill, a fnuff-mill, a foundery for brafs; and at this time a cotton manufactory is establishing, the fuccefs of which will be an extenfive bleffing to the neighbourhood.
Many relics or memorials, of ancient mining and fmelting, appear in the county of Flint. A tradition prevails, that in very old times, there ftood a large town at Atis-cross, a place about a mile diftant from the town of Flint. Here great quantities of feoria of lead, bits of lead-ore, and fragments of melted lead, have been difcovered in feveral fpots; as well as in the adjoining parish of Northop. Thefe have, of late, been observed to contain fuch quantities of lead, as to encourage the washers of ore to farm the fpots. In this tract, many tons have been got within a small time; especially at Pentre FRWRN-DAN, or the Place of the Fiery Furnace, a name by which it has always been known, and which evince's the antiquity of fmelting in thefe parts; though this etymology was never confirmed, till these recent discoveries were made.
The wedge, or pick-ax, as we learn from Pliny, was used by the ancients, for the purpose of procuring the ftone or ore, by infinuating them into cracks formed by firft heating the rock, and then fuddenly pouring cold water upon it. The Author was prefented with a wedge, that had probably been applied to this ufe, and which was found in working the deep figures of Dalar Goch rock, in the parish of Dyfert, in this county.This little inftrument,' fays the Author, affords a proof of its antiquity, by being almoft entirely incrufted with lead ore. It had probably lain in the courfe of fome fubterraneous stream, which had brought along with it the leaden particles, and depofited them on the iron.-Pick-axes too-probably the Fractaria of the Romans *-have been difcovered in the bottom of the mineral trenches.
Roman pigs of lead have been found in different parts of Britain. The Author defcribes three which he has feen; one of which was found in the county of Stafford, in the year 1771. It was buried four feet underground. Its length is twenty-two inches and a half; the weight 152 pounds, that is, only about two pounds heavier than our common pigs of lead. On the upper furface is a rim; within that, in raised capitals, ftruck when the metal was hot, is this infcription; IMP. X VESP. X VII. × T. × Imp. X V.× Cos. of Imperatore Vefpafiano Septimum Tito Imperatore Quintum Confule : which answers to the year 75 or 76.
• Pliny, lib. 33. C. 4.
The Author alfo deferibes, and gives a drawing of a large mafs of copper, that had been caft likewife by the Romans, which was found at Caer hen, the ancient Conarium; and which probably was fmelted from the ore of the Snowdon-hills, where lately much has been got.. It is fhaped like a cake of bees-wax, and weighs 42 pounds. In the middle of it, there is a deep concave impreffion, with the words SOCIO ROME: across thefe is imprefled obliquely, in fmaller letters, Natfol. Mr. Pennant conjectures, that poffibly Nat. may ftand for Natio, or the people who paid this fpecies of tribute; and Sol for Solvit, that being the ftamp-mafter's mark; and that the cakes thus ftamped, might have been bought up by a merchant refident in Britain, and configned Socio, ROME, or to his Partner, at Rome,
The Author's defeription of the fingular structure of the principal ftreets in the city of Chester, and his conjecture on the fubject, may perhaps be acceptable to our readers:
The form of the city evinces the origin to have been Roman, being in the figure of their camps; with four gates; four principal ftreets; and variety of leffer croffing the others at right angles, dividing the whole into leffer fquares. The walls, the precincts of the prefent city, mark the limits of the ancient. No part of the old walls exift; but they stood, like the modern, on the foft free. ftone rock, high above the circumjacent country, and escarpée on every front.
The ftructure of the four principal freets is without parallel. They run direct from eaft to weft, and north to fouth; and were excavated out of the earth, and funk many feet beneath the furface. The carriages are driven far below the level of the kitchens, on a line with ranges of fhops; over which, on each fide of the streets, paffengers walk from end to end, fecure from wet or heat, in gal feries (or rows, as they are called) purloined from the firft floor of each houfe, open in front and baluftraded. The back-courts of all thefe houses are level with the rows; but to go into any of these four streets, it is necessary to descend a flight of feveral steps.
Thefe rows appear to me to have been the fame with the ancient veftibules; and to have been a form of building preferved from the time that the city was poffeffed by the Romans. They were built before the doors, midway between the streets and the houses; and were the places where dependents waited for the coming out of their patrons, and under which they might walk away the tedious minutes of expectation. Plautus, in the third act of his Meftella, defcribes both their fituation and use:
Viden' vestibulum ante ædes, et ambulacrum ejufmodi ? The fhops beneath the rows were the crypta and apothecæ, magazines* for the various neceffaries of the owners of the houses.
The streets were once confiderably deeper, as is apparent from the fhops, whofe floors lie far below the prefent pavement. In dig
ging foundations for houfess the Roman pavement is often difcovered at the depth of four feet beneath the modern. The leffer freets and alleys, which run into the principal Areets, were floped to the bottoms of the latter, as is particularly vifible in Bridge Street; but these are deftitute of the galleries or rows.
It is difficult to affign a reafon for thefe hollowed ways. An antient hiftorian mentions the existence, in his days, of certain vaults and paffages, of which not a trace, nor even the leaf memory is left, notwithstanding the most diligent fearch and enquiries have. been made. In this cyte, fays the author of the Polychronicon, ben ways under erthe, with votes and ftone-werke wonderly wrought ; thre chambred werkes. Grete ftones I grave with olde mennes names therin. There is also JULIUS CEZAR's name wonderly in fiones grave, and other noble mennes names also, with the wrytynge about; meaning the altars and monumental infcriptions: but he probably mistakes the name of Julius Cæfar for that of Julius Agricola; to whom, it is reasonable to fuppofe, fome grateful memorial was erected. Üalefs these hollowed ftreets were formed by the void left after the de. ftruction of these great vaults, I can no more account for their formation, than for the place which thofe antient Scuterrains occupied. None have ever been difcovered, by the frequent finking of cellars for new buildings on the fite of the old; tradition has delivered no fuch accounts to us; nor is their exit to be traced beneath the walls in any part of their circumference. The only vaults now known, are of a middle age, and which belonged either to the hotels of the great men, or to the religious houfes difperfed through the city."
Toward the clofe of his Tour, the Author gives a very full and entertaining account of the ancient and fingular mufical eftablishments in this country. Caerwys, in particular, a town now mouldering away with age, was the place where the sessions of the bards and minstrels had been held, for many ages. It was, in fhort, the principal feat of the British Olympics. None but bards of merit were fuffered to rehearse their pieces, and minstrels of skill, to perform. These went through a long probation; judges were appointed to decide on their respective abilities, and different kinds of degrees were conferred, and permiffions granted for exercising their respective faculties. And although Edward I. exercifed a political cruelty over the generation of bards of his time; yet the crown, our Author obferves, thought fit afterwards, to revive an inftitution fo well adapted to foften the manners of a fierce people. Our princes nominated the judges, who decided not only on the merit, but on the subject likewise of the poems; and, like our modern Lord Chamberlains, would take care to licence fuch only as were agreeable to the English court.
On this occafion, the Author gives us a copy (the original of which is in the poffeffion of Sir Roger Moftyn) of a commiffion iffued by Queen Elizabeth, empowering and requiring the persons therein named, to hold one of these musical feffions; and
ordering all and every perfon and perfons," that intend to maynteigne theire lyvings by name or color of Mynftrells, Rithmers, or, Barthes,"-to appear before them on the day and in the place appointed, " to fhew their learnings accordingly.' You are required likewife,' fays the commiffion, to repair to the faid place, and calling to you fuch expert men in the said facultie of the Wellhe mufick, as to you shall be thought convenient to pceade to thexecuçon of the pmifs, and to admytt fuch and fo many as by your wifdomes and knowledges you fhall fynde worthy into and und the degrees heretofore in semblable fort, to use exercise and folowe the fcyences and facultes of theire pfeffyons in fuch decent ord as fhall apptaigne to each of theire degrees, and as yo' difcrecons and wifdomes fhall pfcribe unto them, gave straight monycons and comaundm' in of name and on of behalf to the reft not worthy that they returne to fome honeft labor and due exercife, fuch as they be moft apte unto for mayntenaunce of their lyvings, upon paine to be taken as fturdy and idle vacaboundes, &c."
A poetical and mufical feffion was held in confequence of this commiffion; and the Author gives us the names of all those who received their degrees. The degrees in the poetical faculty were four; and thofe in the mufical were five. The Reader will, perhaps be amufed, by our prefenting him with the numbers, at least, and titles of the refpective graduates in both faculties.
Four pefons were created Chief Bards of Vocal Song; feven others, Primary Students of Vocal Song; three more, Secondary, and three others, Probationary Students of the fame. Of the candidates for degrees in inftrumental mufic, in the first place, on the Harp, were created three Chief Bards and Teachers of Inftrumental Song; five, Chief Bards (but not Teachers); four, Primary Students; five, Secondary Students; and three, Probationary Students, of Inftrumental Song. The degrees refpecting the Crwth, the other musical instrument, are of the fame denomination with the five preceding, and were conferred on twenty-one perfons. We omit the titles thefe graduates received in the Welsh tongue; except that of Pencerdd, which defigned one of these chiefs of the faculty he was candidate in, and who only could affume the office of an inftructor. The chief of our days,' fays the Author, is that uncommon genius, the blind Mr. John Parry of Rhiwabon, who has had the kingdom for his Cylch Glera, or mufical circuit, and remains unrivalled.'
Every Pencerdd was allowed to take in difciples for a certain fpace of time, but not above one at a time. A difciple was not