All the sterner and darker aspects of the period are chronicled with a grim fidelity in the Visions, the wrongs and vices of the age are exposed with scathing earnestness. Ellis Wynne set himself the task of endeavouring to arouse his fellow-countrymen and bring them to realize the sad condition into which the nation had fallen. He entered upon the work endowed with keen powers of perception, a wide knowledge of life, and a strong sense of justice. He was no respecter of person; all orders of society, types of every rank and class, in turn, came under castigation; no sin, whether in high places or among those of low degree, escaped the lash of his biting satire. On the other hand, it must be said that he lacked sympathy with erring nature, and failed to recognize in his administration of justice that “to err is human, to forgive, divine.” His denunciation of wrong and wrong-doer is equally stern and pitiless; mercy and love are rarely, if ever, brought on the stage. In this mood, as in the gloomy pessimism which pervades the whole work, he reflects the religious doctrines and beliefs of his times. In fine, when all has been said, favourably and adversely, the Visions, it will readily be admitted, present a very faithful picture of Welsh life, manners, and ways of thought, in the 17th century, and are, in every sense, a true product of the country and the age in which they were written.
I. VISION OF THE WORLD.
One summer’s day, the Bard ascends one of the mountains of Wales, and gazing a long while at the beautiful scene, falls asleep. He dreams and finds himself among the fairies, whom he approaches and requests permission to join. They snatch him up forthwith and fly off with him over cities and realms, lands and seas, until he begins to fear for his life. They come to a huge castle—Castle Delusive, where an Angel of light appears and rescues him from their hands. The Angel, after questioning him as to himself, who he was and where he came from, bids him go with him, and resting in the empyrean, he beholds the earth far away beneath them. He sees an immense City made up of three streets; at the end of which are three gates and upon each gate a tower and in each tower a fair woman. This is the City of Destruction and its streets are named after the daughters of Belial—Pride, Lucre and Pleasure. The Angel tells him of the might and craftiness of Belial and the alluring witchery of his daughters, and also of another city on higher ground—the City of Emmanuel—whereto all may fly from Destruction. They descend and alight in the Street of Pride amidst the ruined and desolate mansions of absentee landlords. They see there kings, princes, and noblemen, coquettes and fops; there is a city, too, on seven hills, and another opposite, with a crescent on a golden banner above it, and near the gate stands the Court of Lewis XIV. Much traffic is going on between these courts, for the Pope, the Sultan and the King of France are rivals for the Princesses’ hands.