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BIOGRAPHY OF THE| COWBRIDGE…

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BIOGRAPHY OF THE COWBRIDGE CENTENARIAN. INTERESTING REMINISCENCES OF OLD DR. SALMON. On Friday last, Mr William Reynold Salmon, M. R. C. S., of Penllyn Court, Cowbridge, completed his 104th year, and attained an age for which it may well be doubted if there are any completely authenticated parallels or precedents. Dr Salmon stands distinctly in a class by himself. He is happily, still alive, and there is incon- testible proof that he was born on March 16th, 1790. There is still extant the mother's diary, in which she inscribes her thankfulness to God that she had passed her tryall," and that 104 years ago today a boy was born for whom she invoked divine sustenance and protection. There are the inquiries made by the College of Surgeons, of which Dr. Salmon is the oldest living member. There is the result of the researches made by the high officers of Masonry at the time they accepted for the Walhalla of the Craft a portrait of the patriarch, who is THE OLDEST FREEMASON IN THE WORLD. I was a very young man," Dr. Salmon remarks, when I was admitted an original member of the Jerusalem Lodge of London." With the havoc of time diplomas and certificates are lost or have perished but the facts have been verified, and they combine to make the venerable old gentle- man, in one respect at least, the most remarkable figure of the closing century. Imprimis, he is only a Welsh centenarian in the fact that Wales is the land of his adoption, and his residence, more or less for the best part of a century. Marriage brought him a Welsh estate of some historic interest but he is of Saxon blood. He comes of good Suffolk stock-the Salmons, of Market Wick ham, where his father practised medicine until early in the century, when circum- stances led him to seek a new home in the then pastoral regions of Glamorganshire. At Market Wickham, William Salmon first saw the light; as a child he accompanied his parents on their weary journey across England, of which he yet retains a remembrance at Cowbridgo he grew up and was educated from there, it being deter- mined that he should follow his father's pro- fession, he went to London to Walk the Hospitals," and he walked them, as he permits one to suppose, vety much after the fashion of the lively young men of that day. His inclination was towards an active life, and in preference to the quiet, if lucrative, engagements of a country practice, lie elected to become an Army surgeon, in the hope of finding some more exciting occupa- tion with Wellington's army. "I was the youngest medical officer in the British Forces," he says and probably because of his youth his desire for foreign service was thwarted. He was attached instead to a regiment stationed in Swansea, the name of regiment and date not now remembered, but it was after Swansea piers were completed, and before the new harbour was opened known as Fabian Bay," so it was before 1827. Swansea, in those days, was an uneventful town —"little more than a villia^e," Dr. Salmon notes incidentally—with not much in it, to satisfy an ambitious spirit. Yet while he was at Swansea the event occurred which was to change the current of his fortune. the event occurred which was to change the current of his fortune. There can be few left to recollect the tragic circumstances of the death of Major Deere but of the Deeres, their atliHuee, and their posses-ions, one may find a sufficient record in Mr G. T. Clark's Glamorganshire Families." They owned Penllyn Court, and through intermarriage were representatives of the ancient line of the Thomases, of Llaumihange!, who suffered in estate under Cromwell for supporting the Royalist cause, and particularly for the aid lent to Charles at the B uttle of St. Pagan's. Major Deere, the last male descendant, riding from Cowbridgo to Swansea, was thrown from his horse and died. The young Army surgeon, who, doubless from his connection with Cowbridgo, was a friend of the family, was the first to carry the sad news to Penllyn Court. The sequel was in due time marriage with the heiress of the Deeres and ownership of the broad acres of Penllyn Court and The Garth. Dr. Salmon must then have been in the first fulness of manhood. He was thence- forth free to indulge his longing for a moving, ebullient life. He retired from the Army, thougli he did not give up his piofession altogether, since there are to-day old people in that restful and well-favoured nook of Glamorganshire who speak gratefully of the skilful services he rendered them half-a-century and more ago. But there was no need to devote the remainder of his days to his father's practice. Independence enabled" him to enjoy the life of a country gentleman, and to travel when he choose, as hedid choose often. He was not a great sportsman, it would seem neither a hunting man, nor much of an angler, though the streams in his own district of South Wales must have be.?n more troutful then and more tempting. He had, however, the roaming dis- position strong within him, and there were all the opportunities present. The victories of the Great Duke had cleared the Continent of the difficulties and dangers which for years h id cherished the pleasures of the grand Tour." Dr. Salmon, at that early date, began hisseriesof foreign journeys, and in the course of years he has travelled much. It hai been told how, after the downfall of Napoleon, when Pa-is was at length nearly as free to the roving i^ti' l shman as it is now, Dr. Salmon put horses to his carriage and posted across England to the Channel, over the Channel to France, and so to the enfranchised capital along road- which Sterne had traversed in his "Sentimental Journey," and thousands of our curious English folk were then hurrring post haste. There is some little confusion of memory and, perhaps, misunderstanding, owning to the patriarch's increasing deafness, as to whether the first visit was made in 1814, when the allied sovereigns entered the gay city, or a year later, when Europe anew breathed more freely after the utter debacle of June 16th, 1815. But if there were two visits, it is at least certain that Dr. Salmon was one of the earliest arrivals in Paris after news had been received of Wellington's crowning achievement at Waterloo. The battle-field had more attraction for him at the moment than the fascinations of the capital rejoiceing at the restora- tion of Louis XVIII. to his throne. He hastened to Brussels to find one half the city a hospital, and the other in high festival over the defeat of the Corsican Upstart." He explored the fateful plain while there were yet bodies unburied and survivors of the conflict to tell of their own knowledge how the field was fought. That was a time when relics of the battle had no need to be made in Germany," or Birmingham either, and Dr. Salmon gathered freely of veritable spoils of the warring hosts, many of which are still treasured in the museum of his own making at Penllyn Court,' though he says "as many again I gave away.' Some years later the doctor returned to the Continent for a longer sojourn, and it is reported that for some time he practised at one of the French watering-places. Abroad, or in London, he spent most of his time, with occasional visits to his Glamorganshire home, until the burden of three score years and ten compelled a less active life, and then Penllyn Court became a welcome I haven of rest. Memory is capricious in these high latitudes of L C.71 age, and it would be folly to judge Dr. Salmon's I interest in the scenes and events he has passed through by the fragmentary recollections he retains of them now. Ten years old at the beginning of this century, his earliest memories are of the alarm Napoleon's name inspired in English homes—how the Sccurge of Europe was made the bogie man with whom nurse-maids frightened troublesome children—how, indeed, when he was a boy of 11, French troops and a llotilla were collected along the French and Dutch coasts for the invasion of England. He was fifteen when Trafalgar was fought, and remembers the profound sensation caused by Nelson's death. Pitt and Fox are more than mere names to him he recalls the great comet of 1811 the intense frost of 1812; the death of Princess Charlotte and some- thing of the Army scandals associated with the ) Duke of York or his intimates. It marks the great gap which his lifetime bridge to be' reminded that he was 30 w ben George JTI. died; at the age nf 81. after a reign of nearly 60 year." Of course, h? r alls the accession of that hrigh" luminary Goortre IV. the divorce proceeding against Q'leen Caroline and the death of Georg >, for Dr. Salmon was a man of 40 when King Wiliiama-cended the Throne. But the great political events of that day and generation, Oil which one would like to gather the views of a contemporary, his impression is no longer so vivid as it is of incidents long anterior. Of the Rebecca Riots, the long and exciting Reform agitation, the Chartist risings in Merthyr and Newport, Dr. Salmon has little now to tell. The mention of O'Connell suggests a shrug of the sholders and the observation, "Ah! a noisy man;" while the commotion caused by the demand for Catholic Emancipation is unknown or has been forgotten, He has in mind, nevertheless, the interest aroused by the romances of which Waverley was the anonymous herald he kept up more than a country squire's acquaintance with literature he read Thackeray, and once met him at a place near Covent Garden and Dickens he knows, by Pickwick chiefly. Dr. Salmon admits, in reply to a question, that he has put down some jottings of places he has seen and people he has met. There is some sort of a diary, I afterwards ascertain, among his papers but this information has to be accompanied by the statement that he has given strict injunctions that all his private papers are to be destroyed. He ha, his friends tell one, a holy horror of publicity, and hates seeing his name in the newspapers. When this is mentioned it will be understood that he is not the man who would willingly sit still to be inter- viewed," and chat will help to explain the absence of many dates and the want of consecutiveness in this attempt to set down some of his reminiscences. What a store of recollections one would expect his memory to pour out in regard to the then and now of South Wales. The country he has lived in for nearly a century—has been transformed during that. time, or in little more than half that time, as probably no other region of equal area in our islands has been. It has developed on three sides of him in a manner that amazes one when one reflects that its enormous expansion has been effected during tho term of one individual existence. Baton these points of local history the venerable gentleman has not much to say. All the changes have been gradual, and he has noted only their effects. His most vivid remin- iscences belong to the great past —to an earlier England rather than to early Glamorganshire. Hag hp any theory of longevity ? he has been asked any system of dieting for the prolonga, tion of years. Dr. Salmon is no theorist in this regard. He has taken care of himself," he Eays: and from incidental remarks it may be infetred that be has taken care of himself in a manner very different to that recommended by asceties, or even by physicians like Sir Henry Holland or Sir Andrew Ciark. He has lived well, and yet lived long. He has thoroughly enjoyed life, and, despite that, enjoyed a preternaturally long life also, Reference has been made to the museum at Penllyn Court. It contains much that is interest- ing besides the Waterloo relics. There are many souvenirs of the bygone Salmons of Market Wickham: a picture of the old mansion of his fathers a portrait of the mother, whose diary contains the record of the patriarch's birth some exquisite minatures, and a variety of curiosities gathered from all over Europe. Dr. Salmon is still wonderfully well. He is up and about daily.

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