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PRINCIPAL RHYS ON THE ANCIENT…

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PRINCIPAL RHYS ON THE ANCIENT KYMRY. On Friday night Principal Rhys, of Jesus College, Oxford, delivered an interesting lecture on .'The history of ancient the Kymry' at the New J«win Welsh Chapel, London, Mr. J. H. Dav. being in the chair. There was a large and appreciative an- diemce. The learned lecturer began by tracing the History and meaning of the Nvord 'Kyniry,' and went on to say that misfortune caused the Celts to become one people under the common name of Kymry.' If the Kymry of the sixth century were of different race and tongue, what languages and races were in Wales in those times 1 In Roman times Wales was occupied by the tribes of the Silures and the Demets, who divided South Wales between them the Ordoviees, inhabited Mid Wales to Cardigan Bay and some tribe, of uncertain denomination, which lived under their shadow, inhabiting whole of Gwynedd from the Mawddach to the Anglesea. These main divisions could still be traced in the different Welsh dia- lects. The Welsh of Dyied still existed in the counties of Pembroke and Carmarthen, and the greater part of Cardigan and Brecon, the Wenhwyseg in Glamorgan and Mon- mouth, and the Wyndodeg in that part of North Wales called It was sometimes said that the Powyseg existed in the part of North Wales called Powys, but neither Powys nor the Powys dialect cor responded by any means with the mid- county which was once occupied by the Ar dovices. This difficulty required some fur- ther explanation. What, then, was the territory of the OrdoTices ? It comprised probably the northern part of Cardiganshire, the whole of Radnorshire, and Montgomery- shire, a part of Denbighshire, and that part of Merionethshire which lies between theDyfi and the Mawddach, the Cantref of Penllyn on each side of Bala Lake, the valley of the Dee, hyd gerliaw i Gaerileon,' and a good portion of England on the borders of Mid Wales. Ancient Gwynedd did not extend further south than the river Mawddach where Barmouth stands now. But what proof was there that those tribes which called themselves 'Kymry' where not of the same race or language? The proof lay in the fact that there still exist old tomb- stones of the fifth and sixth century, and the words on some of them are neither Welsh nor Latm. This strange language was commonly written in characters which are called Ogam,' and they look. at first sight, like the scores on the back of the door of an old-fashioned public house (laugh- ter). But the Ogam was old, and was found carved on the sides of hard stones, oftenest in Pembroke and Carmarthen. But it was to be found also in Glamorgan and Brecon, and as high up in Cardigan as Llanarth and Llanfechan, near Llan y-bryddair. It had not been found in North Wales except on one stone which stood on Bryn-y-beddau, in the parish of Clocaenog, in the Vale of Clwyd. But some slight trace of the same language was to be found on tombstones in Anglesea and Carnarvon, though it was Latin that was attempted to be written. Outside Wales Ogam stones were to be found in Cornwall and Devon, and about 250 in Ireland, the major parrtfcn the southern por- tion of the island. The language of the Ogam stones was not Welsh, but a kind of ancient Erse, traces of which were to be found also in the Book of Llandaff, viz. in the place-names, mainly, of Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Hereford. One was com- pelled to believe that the Erse did not en- tirely disappear from Wales before the seventh century. On the other band, no trace had yet been found of the Erse in Mid Wales, though it was only fair to say that but few burial stones had been found at all in that part. The inference that must be drawn from this was that soon after the Romans bad departed from Britain, the Erse had disappeared from Mid-Wales, while it was yet spoken in South and North Wales. The Ordoviees \»ere Brythons, and probably came to Wales as conquerors of the older inhabitants, before the Roman occupation. The Romans, however, compelled both con- querors and conquered to lay aside their arms, and by the time the Romans departed it would be strange if the Goidel was not equal to the Brython in skill and courage. The next hinge was the coming of a new power into Wales to drive out the Goidel, probably because the Brythonic Ordoviees were not in a secure posItIOn after the Romans had departed, in order to under- stand the nature and extent of the new oc- cupation, the dialect of Mid-Wales must be studied, and in order to be quite sure of proceeding from the known to the unknown, the learned lecturer said he must begin with his native Ponterwyd. The sound of the Rheidiol lingered so sweetly in his ears since the days of his youth that he found little to admire in all the other waterfalls of the Principality tcbeers). In that district, as well as in the whole of North Cardiganshire, from Llanrhystyd and Tregaron up, a dis- tinct dialect was spoken, different on the one hand from that of South Cardiganshire, and on the other hand from that of the dis- trict between the Dyfi and the Mawddach, but resembling closely the dialect in use at Bala, a.d the valley of the Dee. Why should this be ? The only answer which suggested itself was that at one time the dialect of the Ordoviees was spoken all over Mid Wales, but that another people had come and taken possession of the country between Plinlimon and Bala, that is, of those parts where the mincing dialect of Powys was spoken now. The next question that arose was, Who in- troduced the Powys dialect into Wales ? The answer, only a, conjecture, that it was Cun- edda Wledlg and his sorlS. The learned Principal gave extracts from the poems of the ancient bards to prove that Cunedda was a Brython of the Gododin tribe. Nen- nius said that Cun edda came to_ Wales to drive away the Go id e is, and that the Goidels were defeated with such slaughter that they never again returned. It seems improbable that Cunedda should have come from north of the Tweed to Wales, were it not that he had received an invitation from the Bry- thons. If the coming of Cunedda was the explanation of the divergence in the dialect of Mid Wales, some of his men must have settled down in great numbers in certain parts. There was no trace of _such occupa- tion in the dialect of Ceredigion, for in- stance. The same thing w&s true of Pen llyn and the Valley of the Dee. But the district between the Mawddath and the Dyfi was the home of Cunedda's eldest son, and from thence his men spread their dialect over the Ardudwy to Maen Twrog and Dol- gelley. Ardudwy was a part of old Gwyn- edd, and it was the only pad where the Powys,dialect was to be found. It might, therefore, be presumed that Cunedda's sons remained in the other parts only as rulers, and with too little force to change the people's dialect. In conclusion, Principal Rhys said the emblem of the Red Dragon, and Cadwaladr was called the 'Draco insu- laris.' Many attempts bad been made to kill the dragon from the time of Hengist, but the old motto was still true: Y ddraig goch a ddyry gychwyn.' In education es- pecially was the Dragon leading the van, and we might be sure that the Kymry had not yet finished their part in the develop- ment of the great Anglo-Celtic empire to which they belonged (cheers). A hearty vote of thanks proposed by the Rev. J. E. Davies, and seconded by Mr. Llewelyn Williams brought the proceedings to a close.

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