Owen of Llangoed. Founded on fact. To Fleetwood Williams, Esq. of Liverpool (extract)
by Richard Llwyd (Bard of Snowdon; 1752–1835)
Location: English-Language from Wales 1789–1806First Part.
Where is the Muse that loves the good,
The plaintive strain to offer;
But to the bright benignant breast,
That feels for all that suffer.
’Tis this that prompts her now to bring,
To thee, a noiseless story;
For Fame confines her brazen trump,
To deeds of martial glory.
She flies on every breeze that blows,
To spread her loud narration,
Nor Seas resist, nor Alps repel,
The true, or false, inflation.
To her, the Muse consigns the names,
That court Ambition’s bubbles;
And sings the hamlet’s humbler cares,
A peasant’s joys and troubles.
Where Courda* once, in days of yore,
Taught Faith a cell to rear;
A cottage stands, beneath the cliff,
To Owen’s feeling’s dear.
To every heart, how dear is home,
(If worth that heart possesses)
It still renews our earliest joys,
A parent’s fond caresses.
A brother’s, sister’s dear embrace,
The love-increasing battle,
The little play-things, still preserved,
The first-engaging prattle.
Six Olive branches gather’d round,
This crowded Cottage table,
Till Time declar’d, that Owen, now,
To guard the flocks was able.
The Muse records the sorrowing day
When Owen went, though willing,
To earn his bread, a little man,
A new importance feeling.
The tears ran down his mother’s cheeks,
His father saw them – sighing;
His play-mates shook his little hands,
And all the group – were crying!
The rushy cap now crown’d his pate,
The mystic crook, his sceptre;
The flocks and fields, his people, realms,
And Nature sole preceptor.
With pastoral pipe,* this infant Pan,
Commenc’d his new vocation;
Completed soon, his present views,
A shepherd’s education.
The linnets lov’d his dulcet voice,
The larks drew near in numbers,
And thought they wak’d the morning sun,
From night’s protracted slumbers.
They met at noon his brightest blaze,
They join’d their grateful voices;
Thus Nature, in the sweetest strain,
Through all her realms rejoices.
’Twas thus when Day’s decending [sic] boons,
On western waters rested;
They knew their little nests were safe,
By Owen unmolested.
And if he had, the Virtues, Muse,
Even Heaven itself had hated;
The impious hand, that touch’d their hopes,
The future song frustrated.
Thus Owen daily kept his flock,
On Marian’s* summits seated,
And distant saw, the passing sails,
By every breeze inflated.
Now saw on Llangoed’s fertile shores,
The placid waters waving,
And now beheld, on rocky steeps,
The billowy rollers raving.
A novel wish, in Owen’s thoughts,
Intruded now, was growing;
The place they came from, where they went,
The curious itch of knowing.
He now left Llangoed’s pastoral banks,
And Dwynwen’s region, Dona,*
Exchang’d for Mersey’s busy shores,
His dear maternal Mona.
And sudden on his comrade crew,
Rush’d bands of ruffian sailors;
What once were Britain’s gen’rous tars,
Were now – degraded jailors.
O! Britain, sure no parent thou,
If thus thy sons are treated;
Thou, that on ocean’s proudest car,
By their brave arms at seated!
Repentant, clasp them to thy heart,
With warmth maternal cherish;
Let Power the guilty* only grasp,
Let Justice only punish!
He soon forgot the ruffian gang,
When Britain’s foes drew near,
His bosom caught the patriot blaze,
Her every field grew dear.
And when the conflict fierce began,
Her every right defended,
As if, on his brave arm alone,
Her every claim depended.
Not Blake, who check’d Batavian pride,
On Britain’s seas parading;
Nor Russell, when La Hogue beheld –
Her naval Victors leading.
Nor those that with her Hawkes and Howes,
Her sceptred seas contested;
Nor when her welfare and her fame,
On Rodney’s efforts rested.
Nor yet, when fell infuriate France,
In seas of blood, though wading;
Fled, vanquish’d, when her Nelson fought –
St. Vincent – Duncan – dreading.
Not these, nor Valour’s stoutest sons,
In Times’s transmitted story,
Enjoy’d their Country’s triumph more,
Than Owen – Britain’s glory.
Now Peace came down, her healing wings,
O’er warring worlds extended,
And Discord, for a while, at least,
To Death’s dark caves descended!
When Britain’s warriors left the waves,
Unnumber’d breasts were burning;
Affection, Love, and Hope, and Joy,
To hail her Youth returning.
By distance, absence, Home in view,
Its every charm was heighten’d,
Though Winter, with a silver vest,
Its lordly cliffs had whiten’d.
At length, in sight of home arriv’d,
His eyes on Llangoed feasting;
The bliss which Absence only gives,
Her treasur’d joys was tasting!
In fatal hour, a Fair he met,
And pilgrim-like, enquir’d
What tale employ’d the public voice –
Of what it last grew tir’d.
“On Monday last, a dreadful day.
(May Heaven avert another)
At once, in Llangoed, Death entomb’d
A father and a mother.
Ye orphans poor! ye faithful pair!
So Heaven’s high will decided,
That they who in their lives were one.
Should, dead, be undivided.”
Unnam’d, in Owen’s boding breast,
The truth terrific thunder’d;
And he, who brav’d the red broadside,
By one dread word – was murdered.
Ne’er yet was Sorrow’s pointed dart,
With heavier hand inflicted;
That moment, Hope, in happiest hues,
Had joys in view depicted.
Thus fell on Owen’s suffering soul,
Woe’s dull o’erwhelming measure;
Thus fell, from Joy’s exulting lips,
The sparkling cup of Pleasure.