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HANES BYWYD Y PARCH JOHN EVANS,…

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HANES BYWYD Y PARCH JOHN EVANS, LLWYKYFFORTUN (Dan nawdd cyfarfod misol SirGaerfyrddin). Gan THO- MAS JOHN WILLIAMS, Myddfai. Llanelli: Argraffwyd gan Rees a Williams, Swyddfa y Diwygiwr. 1848. [Memoir of Rev. John Evans, Llwynyfibrtun. By T. J. Williams, Myddfai.] IF the concurrent testimony of contemporaries is to be at all regarded there can be no reasonable doubt that John Evans was a greatman. If general agreement on the part of men of all denominations is to be considered of any value, we may be equally certain that he was a good man. But if we trust for information and detail to the pages of this memoiry we fear that our only legitimate deduction will, be that he was a very odd, eccentric man, who had somehow or other acquired the fame of being a great man. We look here in vain for the greatness. It's form is too shadowy tobetangible. Mr. Williams has produced an amusing book it is well adapted to divert, and is therefore likely to sell. Indeed we are told thatnles, early application will be made, the six thousand copies will be gone. So far as the pecuniary part b of the transaction is concerned, we are glad tnat it is so, how much soever-we may deplore it, as furnishing a melan- choly proof of the want of taste and good sense prevalent among our countrymen. The work, as we have said before, is amusing, and very readable. The oddities of the style are at first sight par- donable, and one may read on without much vexation uiitil the end of the fourteenth chapter is reached. After that (with the exception of Chapter xvi.) the author seems de- termined to furnish his readers with the means of disprov- ing the assertion that John Evans was a great iucin, Which he has repeatedly reiterated throughout the forty-nine pre- ceding pages. Mis letters, selection's from his writings, and skeletons of sermons, might be very1 passable as the produc- tion of an inferior mind; but when we are informed that they are exactly like himself, and that he was the greatest of our countrymen, if not of the sons of men, we are inevi- tably led to the conclusion either that John Evans was, after all that is said to the contrary, a very inferior man, or that the author knows nothing whatever of greatness him- self, and is perfectly incompetent to judge of it in others. It would be invidious towards Mr. Williams, unfair to- wards the public, and unjust to ourselves, if we did not state the grounds on which we base our censure of his work. We like its spirit. It is catholic, and the author seemingly does not cherish any prejudice against other denominations. Some parts of the work are also tolerably well written and free to a considerable extent from the blemishes which per- vade the work. As there is nothing impossible, with care and practice Mr, Williams may become a good writer, but without muck qare we fear he will never excel. Though Demosthenes was not born an orator, yet by labour and'per- severance he became the first orator of his own or any other age. Mr. Evarfs, the subject of this memoir, had a natural talent for speaking. For writing he had but little taste, as is evident from the specimens furnished, by his biographer. Yet had ■he cultivated the art of writing he might have been very successful, and what we say öfhim we say of Mr. Wil- liams, The style of the present work is faulty. Its dress is gro- tesque and unseemly. We have in the memoir much of a careless, free-and-easy, conversational, interrogating style, just as if the author when writing was only half awake; or perhaps that we should describe him more accurately were we to say, that he was overheard when talking to himself, and "that the listener acted the amanuensis for him. Occasionally he writes in the singular number; by and by he is on very good terms with the royal WE, aud presently he has regained his indi- vidualism—though the we greatly prevails. We have Mr. Evans described as John Evans, (hvm Gwen, Mab Cwm Gwen, Mr. Evans, Llwynyfibrtun, John Evans, New Inn, and Mr. Evans. This is not occasional, but continuous throughout the work. The narrative of Mr. Evans's life is entirely unconnected. His character as a preacher, for in- stance, is given immediately after the chapter which nar- rateshisfirst attempts at preaching, and before that episode in his life when he sought clerical orders. The whole work is characterised with a great want of judgment. There is an attempt to make the hero too heroic. If his amiability is to be described, it must be done by asking if he -,vas,liot the most beloved among the sons of men ? In describ- ing his early religious impressions, the author must fix on the period when he was on his mother's breast. Won- derful influences," we are toldu by the author, descended upon him in the means of grace when he was in his mother's bosom." In proof of this it is stated that he used to look about him here and there and throw out his hands and the author gravely adds, "this is by no means incredi- ble." Indeed, we should think so; and we would engage any Sabbath-day to find a respectable number of infants in every well attended Welsh chapel, under wonderful influ- ences," if the acts mentioned in the memoir are true indica- tions of such influences. We should be sorry to deny that very young children may be religiously impressed we only mean to affirm that s evidence docs not sub- stantiate his case. ITe has produced several pictures of con- siderable beauty, but they are exhibited without any regard to order and effect. His leading idea seems to be keeping the worthy dead on a climax, and unless lie will have him there he seems dissaiisficd. In the cradle, on his mother's arm, in school, in church, in chapel, in private, and in public, in suffering and in enjoyment, in life and in death, it would seem, that Mr. "Williams believes he. could not be described without tllb kind offices of the superlative degree. Now this is doing injustice to the memory of the great and good man. He was a man of like passions with ourselves. It is unjust to the author himself, as it throws an air of suspicion over every part of his work, and most seriously impugns the soundness of his judgment. Our regret in connexion with this Work is increased when we reflectthat it appears under the sanction of the Carmarthenshire monthly meeting, and that it was actually examined in manuscript before committed to the press by two brethren. The deficiencies of Mr. Williams might have been overlooked, but when the monthly meeting has set the seal of its approbation on what he has done, it becomes the reviewer to utter his opinions in terms .more distinct and emphatic. The insertion of the letters and skeletons of Mr. Evans has done him great injustice. In a few short years, the public will have to decide upon the character of the venerable man from what has been put on record by the press. And whoever will judge of him from his remains in this work will form a most erroneous impres- sion. lie was a man to be heard and not read. His fair and manly form, his captivating address, his graceful enun- ciation, his sweet voice and purity of language, tendered him a most delightful speaker, but most of these are qualifica- tions that cannot be traced on paper.* If, as Mr: Williams hints, this memoir is to be had in remembrance until the millenium, we earnestly counsel him to re-write it, so that the next edition will be "revised and improved" to a considerable extent. Let him divest 'himself, if possible, of all eccentric oddities, and consent to humble his pen to write in a smooth, neat style. Let him thoroughly sift the various interrogations in which he has indulged in this edition, so that he may replace them with positive statements. But if he is conscious of superior' strength—if hfisftillYaware thatthereis a divinity within him that will overpower the crotchets of style, he may go on in his present course. But let him not mistake affectation for strength; and mental waywardness for mental superiority. Young writers must satisfy the public, that 'they are men of mind, before the public will permit them to depart from the ordinary rules of composition. The Carlylian style may to some extent be successfully imitated, but every writer who does so is not a Carlyle. The late lamented Dr. Hamilton has now his imitators, but among the tribe there is not one of. his mind. have the body, but the ,breath of life is. wanting. We have said before that the work is very readable. The riumefousrane'eaotes which it contains will help" the reader to go on from page to page. A few of these could have been judiciously omitted, but as a whole they invest the work with considerable interest. If it should be our fortune to meet Mr. Williams again in the walks of literature, we hope the task we may then have to perform will be more agreeable than the present.

FRANCE.

[No title]

IT ALY.

JAMAICA.

ARRIVAL OF LORD J. RUSSELL.

miuiEius.

SPAIN.