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SOUTH WALES 90 YEARS AGO. — BY T. FREDERICK LEWIS. "Newport is a narrow straggling town, and has nothing to detain you except per- haps the King's Head, a good Inn." Thus wrote the Rev. R. H. Newell, B.D., in his book "Scenery of Wales," published 90 years ago. Copies of this book are now very scarce. I entered Wales at Bedwas Bridge," he further remarks. Then he went on to Caerphilly, and compares the leaning tower at the Castle to the leaning tower of Pisa." From Caerphilly he proceeded to what he describes as Pont-ty-Pridd (Mud House Bridge). Pont-ty-Pridd consisted of a few cottages. The Bridge at Pont-ty-Pridd had then the largest arch in the world. The span was 140 feet wide, or 42 feet wider than the Rialto." The Rhontha Vawr was a beautiful valley, with a population of a few dozen. Vawr," the writer explained, is the feminine of # mawr (great)." Yr Hondda means the good and clear." From the Rhontha Vawr he went on to Aberdare, a mere hamlet, thence to the Vale of Neath, Neath town, and Swansea. The Mackworth" was the best hotel at the latter town, which also contained an interesting Wedgewood Pottery. A good many ships were built at Oystermouth. From Swansea the writer proceeded to Carmarthen, thence to Tenby and Pem- brokeshire. It is curious that the two places that attracted his interest most in Pembroke- shire were Kilgerran and Maenclochog, or Maencloghog, as he writes it. Kilgerran Castle fascinated him because it was the "favourite study" of Wilson, the great Welsh artist. It may be news to thousands of South Walians to be apprised of this latter fact. Wilson was a native of Montgomeryshire, and the son of a Welsh clergyman. He proceeded to London, and studied in Rome. Later he acquired fame as an artist in England, and was one of the founders of the Royal Academy. His picture of Niobe caused quite a sensation, and was bought by the Duke of Cumberland for a big sum. After inheriting a small property in Wales, he lived there until his death. The most beautiful Welsh women this writer ever saw were at Maencloghog. They wore blue cloaks and were very handsome. In his description of them he recalls the saying of Giraldus: Both sexes of the Welsh exceeded any nation in attention to their teeth, which they rendered like ivory by constantly rubbing them with green hazel and a woollen cloth." We are afraid that the Welsh people of to-day are not so particular about the care and appearance of their teeth. Of his visits to Pembrokeshire the writer said I was amused at the simplicity of the people here, wondering that my friends should trust me so far from home, on foot and alone, and thinking how anxious they must be to hear of my safety." At Maen- cloghog the people were very much taken up with the writer's eyeglass My eyeglass was a perfect novelty, which they handled and examined with as much care and curiosity as the Brobdignagians did Gulliver." Cardigan town consisted chiefly of miser- able cottages of mud, squalid and dis- gusting." Proceeding through Cardigan- shire the writer said that there was little else except civility and eggs to be met with." At Tregaron eggs were ten a penny. Of the Welsh people the writer (himself an Englishman) wrote The Welsh people have keen intelligent faces, and I even found them civil, hospitable, and honest." This opinion by an English writer of the native Welsh is in pleasant contrast to the stupid and malicious vapourings of the Draig Glas type of to-day.
The Royal Commission on Ancient Monu- ments in Wales and Monmouthshire has resumed its inspection of the ancient monu- ments of the county of Montgomery. This county abounds with numerous relics of bygone ages, and is an important county for treatment. However, the Commission is making very favourable progress, and it is hoped that the First Report will be pub- lished shortly Mr. A. Neobard Palmer, Wrexham, who is an expert archaeologist with very wide ex- perience, has been appointed Assistant In- spector to the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments. Mr. Palmer will soon commence his inspection in the county of Flint, with which he is thoroughly acquainted and of which he has made a special study. Mr. G. Eyre Evans, Aberystwyth, a very well- known antiquary, has also accepted a posi- tion as Assistant Inspector, and will be entrusted with the work in West Mont- gomery. Swansea seems to have a very bright future, judging from the recent expansion of trade there. The new dock has already accomplished good work. Mr. Keir Hardie is very active during these days. At a meeting he addressed in Cwm- amman he declared that if it had not been for the demands made by the Labour and Irish parties Mr. Asquith would not have tackled the House of Lords question. The first volume of the report of the Welsh Antiquities Commission will be issued shortly. It will, however, be a formal affair, giving an account of the work done up to date. The memoir and works of the late Rev. David Rowlands, B.A. (Dewi Mon), Principal of the Brecon Memorial College, by the Rev. H. Elvet Lewis, M.A., King's Cross, will con- tain some very interesting contributions from the facile pen of the late Principal Rowlands in poetry and prose. Among the prose works will be Pennod ar Lasdwr" and Ein Diffygion Cenedlaethol (" Our National Weaknesses "). The Rev. Thomas Nicholson, of Paddington Chapel, is con- tributing a chapter of reminiscences to the memoir. In the current issue of the CELT is pub- lished an article entitled South Wales 90 years ago." The items are gleaned from a very old book published at that period. We have no doubt that CELT readers will find many facts therein of which they were not hitherto cognisant, notably the statement that Kilgerran Castle, Pembrokeshire, was the "favourite study" of Wilson, the great Welsh artist.
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