Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

15 articles on this Page





The Watts-Hughes Voice Figures.


The Watts-Hughes Voice Figures. INTERESTING LECTURE AT DOWLAIS. On Thursday last week, as announced in the Merthyr Express," Mr. John W atts, of Bowes Park, London, delivered his scientific lecture on the above subject, at Bethania Chapel, Dowlais. The unique subject of tho lecture, coupled with natural pride and intensity of I interest always taken in the name and life of the late Mrs. Watts-Hughes, proved sufficient to attract a large and interested audience. In the unavoidable absence of the Rev. Peter Price, Councillor Isaac Edwards (Deputy-Mayor) pre- sided. After a suitable introduction by the chairman, I who referred to tho Bethania Church as being the spiritual birthplaco of Mrs. Watts-Hughes Mr. John Watts, with the eloquence and skill 1 of an accustomed lecturer, quickly charmed the audience, who listened with rapt attention. Appropriately, the lecturer prefaced his re- marks with a short biographical sketch. Old readers of the Merthyr Express," doubtless with rapturous delicrht, will recall memories and incidents in the life of one. who shone with remarkable lustre throughout the diversified character of her life work. Mr. John Watts the youngest brother of Mrs. Hughes' (who also bears the same relationship to Mr. Thomas Watts, Mount Pleasant-street, and Mr. William Watts, BryAheulog), during the course of the I lecture, evinced perhaps excessive diffidence in speaking of the qualities and work of his sister, but, happily, panegyrical effusions, by some of the Itlost celebrated of the Victorian era, in the personages of Tennyson, Browning and Watts, have been preserved, and will appear in the forthcoming work- of her biographer, who is already engaged in the work of collating for what, most assuredly, will proved an interest- ing volume. Mrs. Watts-Hughes was born at Dowlais, in 1847, and, as a child singer, attracted I considerable attention. Assisted financially by the old No. 1 Temperance Choir, at the age of 16 she studied at Cardiff. In 1869 she became a student at the Royal Academy, under the tuition of Manuel Garcia, and was the holder of the King's Scholarship, and the possessor of a remarkable, voice and musical talent amounting to genius. She was a friend of the world-renowned Jenny Lind, who wrote of her in the following terms:—" I have never met anyone so related to me in the art of music. Two sisters only have I in the art-Madame Schumann and Mrs. Megan Watts-Hughes. Although thus. gifted Mrs. Watts-Hughes has not found that place in the roll of musical fame ascribed to her contemporaries, a fact accounted fot in a duality of obstacles, briefly summarised, Mrs. Hughes' indifferent health, and in the endowment of a deep religious nature. The concert platform became repugnant to her, and almost at the very outset of her musical career she practically ceased public singing, always excepting religious gatherings and matinees, and also the slums of the East End of London. To such work her lUe was given with whole- hearted devotion and consecration. In 1872 her marriage took place with Mr. Hugh Lloyd Hughes, a proficient linguist, who also was a devoted religious worker. Of a creative bent of mind, much of her leisure was occupied in scientific investigation. A friend of Professor Tyndal, she became, through him, interested in the science of sound. The study of sound had a fascination for her. She seemed to live in a world of sound. For her there was music in the wind,.the rustling of the leaves, the ripple of the water, the rain, thunder, and even, the vehicular traffic of the street seemed to convey music to her soul. Whilst reading on the subject of sound she was first introduced to Chladui's figures. The frenchman discovered that sand placed on a plate and the bow of a violin drawn across- the edges, the vibration caused certain definite forms to appear. Chaldui however, never got beyond the elementary stages, as may be seen on comparison with the figures of. Mrs. Hughes. Both specimens are exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Experimenting with the human voice she discovered it possessed a wonderful power for directing movements of disc, above comparison with any other musical instrument. She also found that the singer can create notes of various pitch and strength, and can also shape, colour and" modify these, and cause them to convey a definite meaning. Through the instrumentality of the Eidophone" and membranes, with the relentless perseverance of twenty years of experiment, Mrs. Hughes was able to produce forms of infinite character, which were the admiration of scientists, musicians, painters and poeu" the same having been on two occasions exhibited at the annual meetings of the Royal Society. In this aspect of her work Mrs. Hughes' was greatly impressed with the idea that even as she produced these beautiful forms by the sound of her voice, might it not be that the world itself was formed by the sound of God's voice at that time when the earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the earth. The lecture was illustrated by a powerful lime-light lantern and by actual specimens. The pictures were truly described as wonderful and unique, and each set of figur were demon- stratively received, with much cheering. Votes of thanks to the lecturer were proposed and supported by 'Mr. John Jenkins (Spring- street), Mr. Cymbryd Hughes, and Mr. David Morgans (Morlais-etreet). The lantern was manipulated by Mr. Isaac Edwards, assisted by Mr. Cynfelin Hughes and Mr. J. Steveii Davies. J_


Poor Law Reform. j

. Dowlais Chamber of Trade.






[No title]