Hide Articles List

1 article on this Page



S T,0 RIE S OF WALES. • u; BY. W. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS, > Author of Gwilym a Benni Bach" Gwr y Dolcm," &c. { V I. T REV 0 R'S GREAT SPEECH.. [Copyright 1905 by W. Llewelyn Williams in the United States of America.] Ei sain^mewn Saesneg swynol."—TELYNOG. John Trevor was born in a neat little, white- 'washed, straw-thatched cottage in the village of LJanelwid, which was called Myrtle Hill. His father was a carpenter, and his mother was a most superior person, who had at one time been a housemaid at the Plas. He had been ,christened John Jones, but when he was sent to the County School-for young John was a smart lad and quick at his studies—he called himself John Trevor Jones. From the County School he proceeded to Aberystwyth College, where he developed a hyphen, and took first class honours in the University of Wales. John wielded a facile pen, and, instead of vegetating as a schoolmaster, he took to journalism as naturally as a duck to water. In time he gravitated to London, where he became the Parliamentary reporter to a great daily news- paper. John was now in his element, for he was essentially a political animal. He entered for the Bar, and to the astonishment of his parents and all his old friends, he was" called" under the name of John Trevor. But John Trevor's ambition was neither journalistic nor forensic he always felt that his real domain was politics. He joined two or three debating societies, he became a member of talking political clubs, and he figured largely on provincial platforms, especially during bye- elections. He was always full of political .gossip, and he discussed the characters and achievements of his leaders with the confidence and accuracy born of intimate knowledge. Everyone predicted for John a brilliant Parlia- mentary career. John was too wise to predict his own future he was content with knowing that he was too clever to fail. His fame as a speaker became known to the Party organisers, and he came to be looked upon as a useful man in an emergency. If an M.P. failed to carry out an engagement, John was always ready to act as substitute. If a Labour organisation in the Midlands wanted a lecture on the Taff Vale decision or the follies of the Workmen's Compensation Act, Barrister John was always handy, or if a somewhat prosy candidate applied for a speaker who could make things hum, John could always be relied upon to supply the fireworks. Once upon a time John was asked to accom- pany a dull candidate to the centre of his future constituency-- an old county town within fifty miles of London. On the way down in the train the candidate thought it well to warn John of the character of the audience he might expect. "I suppose, Trevor," he said, "you are used to addressing responsive Welsh audiences, and I daresay you will find to-night's audience some- what difficult. The stolid Saxon does not cheer as readily as the impressionable Celt-but he takes it all in all the same." John was a bit nettled. "Why on earth does this pompous ass," he said to himself, think that he can teach me what English audiences are like ? I've addressed more audiences in a year than he has in a lifetime." Aloud he only said, Oh, I quite understand :an English'audience,—in fact, I have addressed more English than Welsh audiences and juries." That's all right, then," cheerily replied the candidate, "only I thought it well to warn you in advance." It was perhaps as well that he did. In all John's experience he never came across an audience quite as stolid and unresponsive as that which awaited them in the stodgy little Town Hall. Mr. Alderman Scroggs, J.P., was in the chair. Immediately they arrived he opened the meeting. The audience sat dull-eyed, heavy, unnoticing, uninterested. After the chairman, the candidate addressed them on the fiscal question, the edu- cation question, the licensing question; but the audience refused to be tickled by any fly. He grew eloquent on Chinese Labour,-but the audience gazed leaden-eyed at the wall, their look as vacant as their mind. John was aghast. He was a lively, mercurial person, who was always to a large extent dependent on his audience for his inspiration, and responsive to its moods. I can't speak to these clods for ten minutes," he soliloquised. I must fire away for a bit, and sit down before I break down." The candidate at last made an end of speaking, but for all the audience showed or cared, he might have gone on for hours,—or never have spoken at all. They paid the same attention to his silence as to his speech. They did not even pay him the empty compliment of a perfunctory cheer when he resumed his seat. "Now," said Mr. Alderman Scroggs, "I have great pleasure in calling upon Mr. Trevor of the Hundred Club to speak to the resolution." The audience never turned a hair. John could catch no curious eye fixed expectantly on him. He had a sensation of addressing a row of empty chairs. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen "-he began in his resonant voice. There was a cheer from a man in the corner nearest the platform. John turned gratefully in that direction, and saw that his backer was a short, stout, broad-faced man with Cymro" written on every lineament. Ha ruminated John, "at least I have one friend in the crowd." He launched out boldly. He presently tried a joke. The short, stout man in the corner 'laughed uproariously. The audience for the first time shifted their position and turned a stony glare on the profane disturber of their repose. But the interrupter was cheerily uncon- scious of the commotion he was creating. John tried a peroration which he had never known to fail. The man in the corner cheered and applauded frantically. Half-a-dozen persons seated around him caught the infection, but the rest of the audience remained stolid and silent. Encouraged by his success, John trotted out his neatest phrases, his most trenchant epigrams, his choicest stories, his irresistible jokes. There was one man in the audience who thoroughly enjoyed them all. It was the man in the corner. He laughed till he cried, he cheered till he was hoarse, he clapped his hands, he stamped his feet, he was as good as an audience in himself. His enthusiasm was catching. Presently the six or seven people who sat around him grew wildly excited. They evidently looked at John's stout friend as their leader. When he laughed, they guffawed; when he cheered, they roared their approval. John began to enjoy himself. He felt he had never been so happy. His wit took on a keener edge, his eloquence became more spontaneous, he thrilled with passion, he melted into tender pathos. Sub-consciously he glowed with satisfaction as he remembered how coldly the candidate had been received. The candidate himself was amazingly impressed by John's performance.. When John sat down after a soul-stirring peroration, the man in the corner led an outburst of applause which by this time had become fairly general. John's eloquence and the enthusiasm of the man in the corner had at last broken through the icy indifference of the audience. "I congratulate you, Trevor," whispered the candidate warmly to him, "you have indeed performed a miracle. Never have 1- seen an audience so moved in this town before." John murmured some modest deprecation. He felt grateful to his stout friend, and deter- mined to thank him at the end of the meeting for his valuable encouragement. The usual votes of thanks brought the meeting to a close. The stout man saved John the trouble of seeking him out. He pushed his way through the crowd to the platform, accompanied by the friends who had been sitting round him in the corner. Excuse me for being so bold as to ask," said the stout man, as they came to hand-grips, but are you a Welshman ? "Certainly," said John, delightedly; "and you need not tell me that you are one too "That I am," replied his new friend, "and do you speak Welsh ? Of course," said John in the vernacular, "I could speak no other till I was ten." There for you, now exclaimed the stout man, and I could not till I was sixteen. And might I be so bold as to ask you what part of Wales you come from ? From Carmarthenshire," said John. Look you there, now replied the stout man. Let me shake hands again. I am a Shirgar, too They shook hands heartily again. And may I ask you your name ?" asked John. "My name is William Thomas," replied the stout man. And, since I am so bold as to ask, what part of the county do you come from ? From Llanelwid," answered John. "Llanelwid?" excitedly exclaimed William Thomas. Llanelwid ? Why, I come from Llanelwid, too. And who may you be in Llanelwid ? I am the son of Myrtle Hill," replied John. Myrtle Hill ? said the stout man. "Thomas Davies used to live there in my time." Ah that was before I was born said John. "You must have left the parish many years ago." Oh, dear me, yes," sighed William Thomas. My father used to live in Pencae, but I left over forty years ago, and haven't been near the place since my poor mother died twenty-eight years ago." "Well, how is that? queried John. "You see," said the stout man reflectively, I went first to keep a milk walk in London, but did not get on very well at the trade. Then I married an Englishwoman, and my children only speak English. There's glad I am to hear the old language once more I have not heard a word of it for twelve years-ever since we