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The "Ladies of Llangollen" as Sketched by Many Hands; with Notices of Other Objects of Interest in "That Sweetest of Vales"   By:

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THE "LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN," AS SKETCHED BY MANY HANDS; WITH NOTICES OF OTHER OBJECTS OF INTEREST IN "THAT SWEETEST OF VALES."

BY JOHN HICKLIN, EDITOR OF THE "CHESTER COURANT," AUTHOR OF THE "HISTORY OF CHESTER CATHEDRAL," ETC. ETC.

CHESTER: THOMAS CATHERALL, EASTGATE ROW; LONDON: WHITTAKER & CO.; ACKERMANN & CO., STRAND; DUBLIN: T. CRANFIELD.

MDCCCXLVII.

TO MISS LOLLY AND MISS ANDREW, THE PROPRIETORS AND OCCUPIERS OF PLAS NEWYDD. THE FAMED RETREAT OF "The Ladies of Llangollen," THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED, BY THEIR OBEDIENT SERVANT,

THE PUBLISHER.

THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN.

From the early age of Cambrian history, when the peerless beauty of the high born Myfanwy Fechan awoke the passion and the poesy of her admiring bard, Howel ap Einion Llygliw, down to the modern days of the more humble, but not less renowned maiden, "Sweet Jenny Jones;" Llangollen, "that sweetest of vales," seems to have been associated with recollections of tender and romantic interest. Our narrative, however, albeit it relates to the Ladies of Llangollen, refers not to whispered vows and moonlight serenades between gallant chiefs and damsels of noble birth; nor to sentimental tales of love in a cottage; but it is rather devoted to the records of a friendship, whose incidents and eccentricities have engaged the attention of many eminent literati and tourists. Most persons who take any interest in the scenery or topography of North Wales, have either seen or read of that singular residence, Plas Newydd, at Llangollen, for so many years the home of Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby.

About the year 1778, these ladies, impelled by a desire to lead a secluded life of celibacy, forsook the gay and fashionable circles in which they had moved; and in their search for a fitting spot, on which to pass their days together in devoted friendship to each other, and in acts of benevolence and charity to their neighbours, they visited Llangollen. Rambling along this charming locality one balmy evening, when the tranquil beauty of the lovely valley was lighted up by the mild splendour of the moon, their eyes rested upon a cottage that stood on a gentle eminence near the village; and there they resolved to fix their abode. They accordingly purchased the estate; built a new cottage on the site of the old one, in a remarkably unique and somewhat grotesque style of architecture; and laid out gardens, pleasure grounds, and rural walks with grottoes, temples, conservatories, rustic bridges, and other accessories for enjoying, in the undisturbed quiet of their own domain, the natural charms of their picturesque retreat. Their mode of life being singular, and their costume still more so (for they assumed a style of head dress resembling that of men, and always wore long cloth coats, rather like ladies' riding habits), they soon attracted the attention of the many travellers who passed through North Wales; and as they kept up an extensive and active correspondence with several eminent authors and persons of distinction, the "Ladies of Llangollen," for so they were always designated, made a much greater sensation in their seclusion, than many less remarkable persons who are constantly living in the business and bustle of society. Hence many literary pilgrimages were made to the recluses of Plas Newydd; and the "even tenor" of their way was often diversified by the calls of the illustrious, the learned, and the curious; from whom they were as willing to learn what was passing in politics, literature, and general gossip, as were their visitors desirous of having a peep within the charmed circle of this mountain solitude... Continue reading book >>




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