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Wel9h Sketches. Second Series. By the Author of "Propos: for Christian Union." London: J. Darling. 1852.
The remarks which we made in reference to the first volume (s Archeeologia Cambrensis, 1852, p. 78) will equally apply to this. It is written in a plain attractive style, which, in conjunction with the impartial feeling and the great research it evinces, is sure to make it a favourite not only with our own countrymen, but also, or we are greatly mistaken, with those of the amiable author himself. The present series embraces perhaps the most eventful period of Welsh history, beginning with the Lords Marchers in the reigns of the earlier Henries, and ending with Edward of Caernarvon. The following extract will suffice as a specimen of the work; it is in reference to the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffyd :—
"In Mr. Jones' most interesting and ingenious attempt to harmonise the various accounts current on the subject, there is, it is plain, a great deal of guess-work. Tradition divides the burden of Llywelyn's death between Saxon treachery and
native treason Our English annalist
Stowe, clearly wrong in his main facts, may have been wrong also in his minor details. It is just as probable as not that Llywelyn used no reproachful words all. Having examined the whole account, I hope fairly and impartially, I find the admitted facts quite consistent with those uncalculated upon unexpected contingencies, which constitute 'the fortunes of war,' but quite inconsistent with any concerted plan or treasonable conspiracy. That the English had intelligence that Llywelyn was in South Wales, I grant; but there is nothing for, much against, the supposition that they knew that the Prince of Wales was with the detachment Welsh troops whose steps they were tracking. Will any one make me believe, that, had Llywelyn been driven from the strongholds of Snowdon by false assurances support, in order that he might fall a prey into the hands of his enemies, that there would not have been in the English camp some one or more counterpart counterparts to that ill-favoured apocryphal blacksmith, of whom we are told, recognise and secure the royal person? Would so little store have been set by him who was the life and soul of the national movement as that he should have been left to fall by the casual stroke of one who had not the slightest idea whom he had struck, and did not even care to ascertain, but, as though he reckoned the encounter as so much time lost, hurried on to join his comrades in the pursuit? It is my firm conviction, that, disastrous as was the event, it was unembittered by treason or treachery. 'Saxon' and ' treachery' are ill-assorted words. The men of Builth have for six centuries borne an unjust reproach; truth is mighty and will prevail, and take away their reproach from them. The hero who chased his foes upon a hundred fields, made royal Edward quail and turn to flight, was, by the inscrutable decree of the Almighty, ordained to die an obscure death by an ignoble hand. He was taken away from the evil to come. His failing sight hung on a glorious vision meet for the dying gaze of a patriot king. He beheld Cambria free. Her intrepid sons, manning their mountain battlements, looked down calm and fearless on the invading hosts beneath. He saw the standards of the aliens captured, fourteen foreign banners trailed in the dust, when as yet no calamity had struck, no cruel reverse humbled, his country's flag. The consolations of religion cheered his parting spirit; while through the land, wherever freedom and Llywelyn were dear—and in what heart of Cyraro glowed not that holy flame t—priests and people lifted up their voices and wept, saying with one accord, in the old words the old prayers—and we will say them, too, with all our hearts—' Dona ceternam requiem, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei, et requiescat in pace.' 'Lord grant to him eternal rest; may perpetual light shine upon him; may he rest in peace.' "—pp. 97-99.