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Welshmen Known in London.-XI.…


Welshmen Known in London.-XI. Mr. E. Vincent Evans. II MR. VINCENT EVANS fills such a large place in the Welsh life of London, that it is difficult to imagine how that community managed its affairs before he became a part of it. That it must have done so somehow is evident, for ,have we not records of Welsh movements in the Metropolis long before the oldest living Welsh- man therein walked in its streets, and Vincent- to call him by the name that he has made his own-is only in the prime of life yet. But, however, things were managed thirty years ago, it is quite evident that everything would be thrown into a terrible mess were anything to happen to him now. He is perhaps The Best Known Welshman in London. His name and person are familiar to the business circles of the busy city, the political circles of Westminster, the journalistic circles of Fleet Street, and the social circles of clubland. And he has become thus known, not because he is at the head of a great commercial establishment, nor because he is a prominent figure in Parlia- ment or the County Council, but simply because he is at the centre of Welsh life and movements. If an Englishman requires information about anything relating to Wales, he goes to Vincent; if a Welshman straight from the homeland wants to know how to sell a Welsh book, or how to find subscribers to any patriotic—personal too, for that matter—fund, he will be referred to Vincent. This is the door between Welshmen in Wales and the Welshmen in London, and through this door the Englishman must pass when he has business with either. And yet, Mr. Evans has had during the thirty years he has been in London, other important matters to see to. He holds a business position of great trust and. confidence, a position he could never have held if he neglected its duties. How he does it all is a secret not probably known to anyone but himself. A Son of the Hills. Mr. Vincent Evans is in a very particular sense a son of the hills. He was born about 48 years ago in a small farmhouse in Llangelynin, Merioneth, at the very foot of Cader Idris. When only four years of age he lost his mother, and the family moved to Trawsfynydd, still in the same county. This village is in the very heart of the mountains, a rugged, open, wind- swept district, but just the place to rear a strong, fearless, energetic, never-tiring Celtic manhood. All his youth was spent in this village among the hills. He was educated in the village National school, the only educational institution within reach, and at an early age was appointed pupil -teacher. When that period was completed he refused to proceed to study for Holy Orders, and turned his face towards London, where he has since remained, And willingly remained too, for there is no other place that possesses to him half the charm of London. Here he found himself in touch with the whole of Wales, from here he can watch all Welsh movements, and here also are the best oppcrtunities given to do service to the nation and the country that cannot be second to any other nation or country under the sun. But long before he left Wales his talents had been discovered, and one, at least, of the directions in which his life-work was to be done pointed out to him. He started his journalistic career at the early age of ten, so that he has just claim to the distinction of A Boy Correspondent. A children's Eisteddfod had been held at Trawsfynydd, and he, young as he was, had succeeded in capturing several of the prizes. At the close of the meeting, an old friend of the family, who was also himself a bit of a literary character, said to the boy, "you must send a report of this Eisteddfod to the Herald Bach." He did, and the report appeared. That was the beginning. The boy correspondent of those days has blossomed into the special Welsh correspondent" in London of the Manchester Guardian, South Wales Daily News, The Banner, and other Liberal papers. More than one sensational' announcement of Welsh policy in regard to important Welsh matters have been made through him. If there is anything in the wind that would interest Welshmen he soon gets to know of it, and what he does not know is not worth much from a journalistic standpoint. Of all Welsh institutions in London, there is none that holds such a position as The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. This Society was originally founded more than 150 years ago under Royal patronage. We have no space to follow its history from that early date to the present time. About 1875, it was revived and reformed, and during more than a quarter of a century has been the means of originating most of the organisations that have influenced the academic, educational, and literary sides of Welsh life. For the last eighteen years, Vincent Evans has been the secretary of this great and useful Society. Upon him falls the responsibility of arranging the meetings of the Society, both in London and in connection with every National Eisteddfod, finding lecturers, and openers of discussions, and editing Y Cymmrodor and the Society's Transactions. During the time he has held office, the Society, instigated by him chiefly, has established a Record Series Fund for the purpose of publishing the results of original researches in Welsh history, antiquities, literature, &c. Several important and most valuable works have already been issued, such as George Owen's "Pembrokeshire," the "Ruthin Castle Rolls," Hugh Williams' Gildas," and Edward Owen's catalogue of Welsh MSS. in the British Museum." Out of the Cymmrodorion Society, or by the efforts of its leading members, at any rate, sprang another institution that has done great service for nearly a quarter of a century now to Welsh literature and music. This is the National Eisteddfod Association, and Vincent Evans-" Y Finsent as he is called in bardic and Eisteddfodic circles-is at the helm of this body also. As secretary of the Association, he might justly be titled •; Permanent Secretary of the National Eisteddfod. Local secretaries, be they ever so able and successful, come and go, one generation passeth away and another cometh into its place every twelve months, but Finsent abideth. And though local committees and local secretaries are largely independent of any central control still, the unofficial power that the Association secretary wields is quite as large and quite as effective as any power a recognised central authority might possess. When the National Eisteddfod Association was first formed in the early eighties, there were rather loud murmurs and the bards on more than one occasion were inclined to resent any interference even of a friendly kind. But matters were smoothed over