Far From the Madding Crowd. o "AN UNKNOWN COUNTRY" IN WALES. By R. E. Davies. IF you take a map and draw a line from Machynlleth in Montgomeryshire to Llan- dovery in Carmarthenshire, another from Machynlleth to Rhayader, and a third from Rhayader to Llandovery, you will enclose a triangle of country that is comparatively unknown and is probably the wildest tract in Great Britain, south of the Scottish Highlands. The whole region abounds with interest, and each of the three towns above-named present many notable features to the historian. Machynlleth (the Maglona of the Romans) was the scene of one or two thrilling episodes in the career of Owen Glyndwr. Here in 1402 the States of Wales assembled, and in the little Parliament House, still standing in Maengwyn Street, Owen was crowned. But a tragedy nearly set its seal on that gathering, for among the representatives was David Gamm, who had come from Breconshire to assassinate Glyndwr. Happily, the treachery was discovered in time, and Gamm, after narrowly escaping with his life, was imprisoned for some years. He lived, however, to make some atone- ment in the eyes of posterity, for at Agincourt he displayed reckless gallantry, and was knighted on the battlefield by King Henry of Monmouth as he lay a-dying. Llandovery is noted for its castle, which, in the latter part of the reign of Henry VI., belonged to Griffith ap Nicholas, a powerful chieftain of South Wales, and who possessed immense estates in the counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan. He fell at the battle of Mortimer's Cross, and his wealth, power and character have been well described in an ode by Gwilym ab Ieuan Hen, one of his bards. Rhayader, on the upper Wye, is but a few miles from the Abbey of Cwmhir, which was destroyed by Glyndwr and is now a ruin among the Radnor Hills. Machynlleth is in the valley of the Dovey, and it is almost literally true that one can walk from thence to the Towy vale of Llandovery, with very few obstructions by wall or fence, some fifty miles, as the crow flies. Indeed, the journey can be prolonged to the Vale of Usk at Brecon without opening a gate or climbing a fence. The territory comprises a block of unbroken moun- tains which includes portions of Montgomery, Radnor, Brecon, Cardigan, and Carmarthen,-a virtual solitude of some seven or eight hundred square miles. The old road from the east to Aberystwyth, following the River Wye from its source and climbing thirteen hundred feet over a spur of Plynlimon, is the only highway in the entire country; the rest are mere horse tracks. And curious it is that these impressively wild and widespreading wastes of mountain and glen that wall off the long county of Cardigan from the rest of the world have not even a concrete name. That illuminating humorist and chronicler, Giraldus Cambrensis, writing in the twelfth cen- tury, tells us the Welsh called them the Moun- tains of Elynedd and the Normans styled them Moruge, but a name was necessary in those days, as they formed a prominent feature in the inces- sant wars between the men of North and South Wales, and in the long struggle of both in the Middle Ages against the English. The un- negotiable nature of the thick barrier they formed between the west coast country and the Border Welsh has left the county of Cardigan-the old Kingdom of Ceredigion-a land unto itself, with social and ethnological characteristics that dis- tinguish it in conspicuous and familiar fashion among Welshman from the rest of Wales, North or South. It may be wondered how a region so wide and so wild and so beautiful remains absolutely virgin to the outsider's tread, but the average Briton knows little of his own country. Plenty of tour- ists ascend Plynlimon from Aberystwyth and Llanidloes in the summer months, but not one of them sets foot upon the hundreds of square miles of heaped-up solitudes to the south, though one might fancy that the wonderful view over them from the humpy top of the famous mountain would surely tempt an occasional wanderer. Plynlimon is the chief summit of the third great mountain group of North Wales, and stands on the border line of the two divisions of North and South Wales. It is a mountain of far greater importance than its height (2,469 feet) and not very striking shape would indicate. The ascent may also be made from Machynlleth (ten miles) but should on no account be attempted without an experienced guide, as, owing to the frequency of bogs, con- cealed under a smooth and apparently firm turf, it is certainly the most dangerous mountain in Wales. The range bearing the general name of Plynlimon, consists of a vast group of moun- tains, of which three are pre-eminent in elevation, and on each of these is a carnedd, or pile of stones. The highest of the three is still further divided into two peaks, and on these, as well as on another prominent part of the same height, are other heaps of stones. These five piles may have been designed to cover the remains of slain warriors, and serve as memorials of their exploits, or erected as landmarks or military beacons and that from them the mountain range came to be designated "Plimplimon," which signifies the five beacons, and hence the highest peak may have been called "P.en-lumon" (the head or sum- mit of the beacon). In the early period of Welsh history this mountainous district was the scene of many a struggle; in later times, an exterminat- ing warfare was carried on here by Owen Cyfeiliog, Prince of Powys and Howel ap