HEAR a laugh, an uproarious contagious laugh, surging up and through the
window of the village inn as I walk past. A tinkle of glasses and a volley
of guffaws float from the warm room inside to the lonely Vale of Glamorgan
road, and I stop and wonder what can be causing this merriment. “Eto,
Henry, eto! Encore!" come the shouts, and a voice, loud, humorous,
and out of tune, bursts forth:
“Once I was a
Yn cario glo mewn
well genni geffyl heb un croen Na mwlsyn Sion y Crepin!”
companion, smiling, turns to me and says, “That’s Henry Llewelyn, the
huntsman. Come and meet him.”
step in and see the centre of attraction, a hale, hearty old fellow,
bubbling over with humour and excitement; a veritable Falstaff in his
irrepressible merriment, a Welshman of the age before Puritanism took the
heart out of full-blooded Cymric laughter. “Born in 1854, sir, born in
1854, and I can laugh as heartily as any youngster in Glamorgan 1” he
shouts to me in Welsh, shaking me violently by the hand and slapping me on
the back until my bones almost rattle.
so old that we’ll have to shoot him!” cries the landlady, viewing her
customer with pride and fondness.
me !" replies Henry Llewelyn, “They’ll never find the gun
that’ll shoot me! “Nor is he far wrong, for he has led the life of a
huntsman, and to do that a man must have a bodily frame of steel, a chest
proof against the mist and rain, a nerve which stands the strain of sudden
shocks, and a voice which can send the “ Tally-ho!" ringing over
hill and dale.
must be a bold horseman, risking his neck many a time each season; he must
have a masterly touch with hounds, and even when they are got to kennel he
must be ever watching and working. An arduous life indeed, but what a
wonder Henry Llewelyn is still a youngster at 79, proving the truth of the
Arabian proverb, “Allah reckons not in the life of man the hours spent
in the chase!”
Allah omitted in Henry Llewelyn’s life every hour devoted to hunting,
our Glamorgan huntsman might well rival Methuselah in longevity. From
boyhood the cry of the hounds has resounded in his ears; the memory of the
last meet and the anticipation of the next have filled his mind, and the
clatter of horses’ hoofs has been music to him.
remembers every hound in detail, and as he talks, volubly and emotionally,
he sees Frolic Ty Llwyd, Lili o’r Glyn, Chairman Pwllyfelen, Corner Twin
Rhoderick, Pleiad Tyn y Berllan, Palas Troedyrhiw, and Drummer and Laddie
Cymmer speeding, with their noses to the ground, in hot pursuit.
dear, O dear,” he cries, and there is a flicker of dampness about his
eyes and a suspicion of a swelling in his throat.
gorau’r byd I The best hounds in the world! I remember Peinter
Gelli’rhaedd, Countess Rhiwgarn, Belman o’r Colliers, Topper yr Erw
Uchaf, Miller and Foreman Wil y Gof. Eos, Music and Drunkard Tyn y Cymmer,
and Royal and Ruby Tynducoed!”
know well as he declaims the names of these hounds that, though they have
long hunted their last fox and are now slumbering in hidden canine
graveyards in fields and gardens in the valleys, he still minutely
remembers their features and idiosyncrasies.
their names imply, these Welsh hounds were not in kennels, but were "Cwn
y walks,” and were kept in different farms and inns. Henry Llewelyn’s
pack was the “ "Cwn Tyn y Cymmer,” and they were real Welsh
the old huntsman tells of these hounds he becomes an actor of the most
melodramatic type— he waves his hands, he makes extravagant use of
gesture, and when he reaches a climax in his story he seizes his cap and,
clutching it firmly, shakes it in the air. This action is usually
accompanied by a savage out-pouring of words, followed by a sudden hush
after the storm, during which the cap finds its way back to the head and
the actor pauses for effect.
story leads to another and each brings a song to his mind.
I remember the hounds of Mr. Jenkins, Ijanharan. Well, well! Dear old Mr.
Jenkins, Llanharan I He always used to call for:
glywsoch son am gwn Llanharan.
Pentwyn a chwn y cyfan,
mae rheii wedi cypli,
clychau’n mynd I chwarae,
moch bychain a’r ffwlberti
cadnoaid yn y coed yn crynu
ofn cwrdd ag un o’r rheii!”
inn then re-echoes to his laughter, which is the symbol of his joy in life
and of his philosophy, summed up by him in these words:
one consolation. If everything should fail, They’re bound to find us
the workhouse or the jail!”
bombardment of mirth follows, and Henry Llewelyn turns from his philosophy
of hunting when I ask him: “What was your most famous hunt?”
question is certainly wonderful bait, for an interesting picture results.
most famous hunt? I’ll tell you. We began on foot on Mynydd y Bedw, in
the Cymmer, where the Coedca tips now are. We raised the fox in Gelli
Draws, near Pontypridd, and off we went to Wauncastella, Pengarn, crossing
then Gaerscraban, down to Coedlai (Coedely) to Farm Craigwala, Mynydd
Llambad, and to Mynydd y Gaer. Then down we rushed to Wern Tarw, over Cefn
Irgoed, back to Wern Tarw, crossing Mynydd y Gaer again, down to Felin
Ifan Ddu (Blackmill), then to Llangynwyd, Maesteg, to Bryn Troegam, and at
last we killed at Nantyffyllon!”
Llewelyn chuckles with glee and reminisces further, thinking now of the
men he remembers best: “There was Twin Evans yr Albion, Cilfynydd, old
Williams y Glog, Mr. Nichols, Merthyr Mawr, the Talbots of Margam, the
Gwynns and the Spencers, and above all Willy Morgan, M.F.H., Tyn y Cymmer,
with whom I used to live.”
what do you think of hunting today? “ is my final question.
Llewelyn groans, his gleaming countenance darkens, and, shaking his head
morosely, he moans:
“There’s not so many hounds today. O dear, O
dear! There is no pack now in Llanharan, nor in Llanwynno, nor in
Treherbert, nor in Gilfach, and none in Tyn y Cymmer. All are gone!”
But Henry cannot moan for long. Cheerfulness
will break out, and long after I have stepped out into the road I hear his
laugh, uproarious and contagious, resounding through the inn window and
echoing down the road.