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JI--.----,-LITERARY ASSOCIATIONS…

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JI LITERARY ASSOCIATIONS OF MERTHYR TYDFIL. [By A. J. PERMAN, M.A., COUNT* SCHOOL.] (Given before Merthyr Naturalists' Society.) (Continued from last week.) The "Literature of the Kymry" was pub- lished at the expense of Sir John Guest, and it is to his wife, Lady Charlotte Guest, that we now turn as the next notable figure in the liter- ary history of tho town. She was Lady Char- lotte Elizabeth Bertie, daughter of the ninth Earl of Lindsey, and was born at Stamford in 1812. Marrying in 1833 Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Guest, this versatile and extraordinary woman threw herself ardently into the life of her adopted country, and of her husband's home. She took a deep interest in the Dowlais Schools, and in the welfare of the Dowlais workmen. She visited their homos and gave wise counsel to their wives. She aided in the successful management of the works after her husband's death, and she learnt Welsh so thor- oughly as to gain an enduring reputation as the translator of some of the most characteristic of the Celtic romances. Her versatility was as remarkable as her industry. Between 1877 and 1880 while her son-in-law, Sir Austin Layard, was ambassador at Constantinople, she actively aided the fund for the alleviation of distress among Turkish women and children. She col- lected china, earthenware, fans, and the play- ing-cards of all nations. She published two magnificent folios on fans, three on playmg- cards. She w.as given the honorary freedom of the Fa.nmakers' and Playing-card Makers' Com- panies. In her later years she was blind. But her wider title to fame is that he trans- lated into English the "Mabinogion"—the fa- mous collection of "Tales of the 'Prentice Bards," going back to the twelfth century, and perhaps "in circulation years, if not centuries, before." They are of two classes, "one," as Lady Charlotte Guest remarks in her preface, "celebrating heroes of the Arthurian cycle. the other referring to nersonages and events of an earlier period." The latter are much the older, and are such stories as those of Branwen. the daughter of Llyr; of Math, the son of Mat.honwy; the "Dream of Maxen Wlerlig." The Arthurian stories are such as "TCilhwch and Olwen," "Owain and the Lion," "Peredur," and "The Dream of Rhonabwy." The translation was published in three large volumes (1838-49). with the Welsh text, a large number of valuable explanatory notes, and sev- eral parallel versions—partial or complete—in French, German, Icelandic, and Swedish. The patriotic feeling with which the work was com- posed mav be seen from the interesting dedica- tion to the translator's two sons. "Ivor and Merthyr," the present Lord Wimborne, and Mr. Merthyr Guest, who settled in Somersetshire, and married Lady Theodora Grosvenor, sister or the late Duke of Westminster:—"Infants a* you yet are, I feel that I cannot dedicate more fitly than to you these venerable relics of an- cient lore, and I do so in the hope of incitinr you to cultivate the literature of Old Wales, h- whose beautiful language you are being ini tiated. and amongst whose free mountains yo" were horn. May YOU become early imbued witJ, the chivalric and exalted sense of honour, the fervent patriotism for which its sons havf ever been celebrated. May you learn to emu'atc the noble qualities of Ivor Hael. and the attachment to your native country which d; tinguished that Ivor Bach after whom the elder of you was named. r WARM PRAISE. The translation has won the warmest praise on all hands. Thomas Stephens, in his judicial way, says, "The version correctly mirrors forih fhe spirit of these antique stories, and is as much distinguished for elegance as fidelity. Tier ladyship's good taste led her fully to ap- preciate the charm contained in the simplicity of the original, and she has been eminently sue cessful in producing a version at once simple, animated and accurate." And Mr. Nutt. who re-edited the translation in 1902 with learned notes, praises her warmly for the mingled strength and grace of her style, the unerring skill with which she selects the right word, the right turn of phrase which Butf/rests an atmos phere ancient, remote, laden with magic, with out any resort to pseudo-archaism, to Wardour- street English." The great success of Lady Charlotte Guest in this very difficult and delicate task has naturally led to the inquiry whether she was not aided by Welsh scholars, whose knowledge of the lan- guage must necessarily have been deeper and morc accurate than her own. And there seems no doubt that she wa3 helped over difficulties by Taliesin Williams, the famous schoolmaster of Merthyr; by Mr. Jenkins, also a schoolmaster in Dowlais; and by the Rev. John Jones, known as "Tegid," a Fellow of Jesus and Pre- centor of Christ Church, Oxford, afterwards Rector of Nevin, Pembrokeshire, who stayed frequently at Dowlais House, and whoso accom- plished scholarship must have been of the great- est service to the translator. The style, bow- over. lS one and the same throughout, and with- out doubt it must be Lady Charlotte's own. She achieved a fame as remarkable as it is unu- sual, involving as it did the conquest of an alien tongue, the assimilation of the inner spirit of a far-remote period and of a foreien literary form, and the presentation of these in a man- ner acceptable alike to the enthusiastic Welsh- man and to the critical Englishman. She re- mains a notable, somewhat enigmatical figure. Where Welsh litterateurs have captured their thousands, she-an En!2'lishwom8J1ha.s captur- ed her tens of thousands for a real appreciation and admiration of these Celtic tales. But the why and wherefore of her triumphant excursion into Welsh literature are obscure, and we cannot picture her, place her, or realise her surroundings as we caD picture the chemist- historian of the "Literature of the Cymry," busy ona moment in the preparation of a draught or prescription, and the next at his desk deep in the obscurities of Taliesin or the problems of tho Welsh Triads. A DIFFERENT FIGURB We turn now to a very different figure, that of the scholar, critic and antiquarian, Geo. Thos. Clark, known, from the place of his re- tirement in later life, as "G. T. Clark of Taly- garn." Ho was the son of the chaplain of the Royal Military Asylum at Chelsea, and he showed his filiil piety by printing, in 1872, a collection of his father's sermons. Devoting himself to engineering, he became a pupil of Brunei, and lived for some time in India. Here he became interested in railway construction, and took a leading part in establishing the earliest lines in the Bombay district. He also prepared for the home Government a, compre- hensive report upon tha drainage of the city of Bombay. Returning to England he became, in 1852, co-trustee with Mr. Bruce (Lord Aber- dare) for the Guest estates, and for a number of years was the resident trustee at Dowlais, devot- ing his working days to the cares of management and oversight, and his leisure time to literature, and antiquarian research. He was indeed a man of extraordinary diligence. Besides the massive works to be noticed later he wrote ex- haustive reports for the General Board of Health upon the sanitary condition of Bangor. Brecon, Brynmawr, Coity Lower, Llanelly, Welshpool, Tenby, Towyn, and Wrexham, and he contributed innumerable articles to the "Builder," the "Archaeological Cambrensis, and other antiquarian journals. He was chair- man of the Merthyr Local Board of Health from 1860 to 1369; was chairman of the Board of Guardians (his bust is in the Board-room); and took a very active pa.rt in the life of the district, being at all times energetic in promoting any movements for the improvement of the condi- t;on of living and for the spread of education rand culture. An article which he contributed to the "Westminster Review" on the state of the homes, the hves, and general conditions of the inhabitants of-Merthyr and Dowlais attract- ed considerable attention. SIXTY YEARS AGO. Amongst other things, he says: "The houses are badly built and planned without any regard to the comfort of the tenants, whole families be- ;njr frequently lodged—sometimes sixteen in number—in one chamber, sleeping there indis- criminately. It is fortunate that fires are rare since the miners are accustomed to keep a. certain quantity of gunpowder under their beds, as bein- a dry and secure place." What- ever we may say of housing conditions to-day, it fa clear that in the middle of the nineteenth century thev were infinitely worse. It is, how- ever, upon his antiquarian works that Clark s fame rests, and more particularly upon his "Me- diæ"al Military Architecture in England, pub- lished in two large volumes in 1884. This book, which is made u" of materials printed in vari- ous times in the transactions of learned societies, in different journals, contains first a series of inquiries into the earthworks of the period from the departure of the Romans to the Gon- st; into the politicaJ value and influence of Vorm'an Castles. And second of a detailed des- -it)tion, minute and so far as was possible, Scrupulously accurate, of most of the chief cas- of England, a good many in Wales, and one r two in France and Scotland. In all, one hundred and two castles are dealt with, and in ost cases the descriptions are accompanied by Elaborate maps, plans and pictures. To give an H „ of the extent of the work it may be said '?e, -\f OT-i a is Castle occupies eleven lartre closely rintd pages; Dover, 24; and Cardiff 16. The style in which the work is written is clear nd concise without any pretence to fine writ- ? or elaboration of phrasing. The author at providing trustworthy materials for the aI. of the historian. "Although my work," he uses "has been rather that of a quarryman or fa>kmaker, I am sometimes led almost to re- bn 1 myself as sharing in the glory of the archi- t And it is undoubtedly true that such °rk as this is an essential preparation for his- r°ical writing, which may be more picturesque tor, _|.v make more appeal to the popular im- an"nation..What Clark did was done well, and —1 n imDortant respects was done, once for all. w adid for England and Wales what Viollet-le- 6 ^'irl for France, and just as Professor Free- said 0f tho "Decline and Fall:" "What- m r else is read, Gibbon must be," so we may cve tnr any student of military architecture in f^reat Britain, "Whatever is read, Clark must be," o HISTORICAL WORKS, Another work, the value of which can hardly reaiised by the general public, because it be- 1 o-s so to speak, to the foundations of history "l than to historv itself, is the four voi- unaS publi&hecl ia 1885-1893, of "Cartae et Alia munimenta quae ad Dominium Glamor- gan pertinent" (Glamorgan Charters"), and the "Contributions towards a C&rtulajy of Mar- gam," i.e., a complete collection of tho Chap- gam," i.e., a complete collection of the Chap- ters relating or belonging to MLargaia Abbey, is, though on a smaller scale, of the same kind. He published also "Genealogies of the Older Families of the Lordships of Morgan and Gla- morgan"; and a "Topography of Glamorgan," all filled with the results of laborious research and minute learning. An excursion into quite another field is his "Some Acoount of Sir Ro- bert Mansel, of Margam, and of Admiral Sir Thomas Button," i interesting enough to make one wish that ho had devoted himself more to biographical work. His pictures of Mansel, treasurer of the Navy and Vice-Admiral of England, "probably the ablest and most dis- tinguished public man whom Glamorgan has produced," and of Button, Arctic explorer and gallant Adiniral, "the one considerable man whom the town of Cardiff can claim as her own," are full of vivid, picturesque detail, and hae a human interest not found everywhere in Clark's work. He retired to an estate at Taly- garn, and died there in 1898 at the advanced age of 89. Few men have done more solid liter- ary work. It has no popular qualities, no appeaj to sentiment or the fashion of the moment; but it is honest and thorough, based upon sound investigation and precise observation. It will last when more showy productions have vanished for ever. (To be concluded.) 1

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