Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

14 articles on this Page







LOCAL GOSSIP. I — A very wholesome change has of late years taken; place in the treatment of the insane (writes -Cadrawd"). At thto time wheal gentlemen wore shirt collars that reached up to their eyes, and' swathed their necks with yards of deep-folded starched cambric, when their garments one and all were made to fit so tightly that the next great difficulty of the day after the morning dressing was the un- robing without absolutely tearing the gar- ments to pieces, when the ladies out-rivalled the sterner sex in the art of making them- selves uncomfortable through the agency of dress, submitting themselves to voluntary torture, what kind of treatment can we ex- pect them to have thought proper for the mentally amicted who, alas! had no voice In deciding whether they would submit to it cr not? Bedlam, was not an asylum for the in- sane, from the bufferings of the world, but truly a place full of horror; and unless the affected person seemed likely to prove danger- ous to himself or others, it was considered the most becoming course to allow- him to remain at large under the. slight restraint of his family, or in the care of a responsible family who for consideration would undertake the charge. Thus it was not at all an uncommon thing sixty or eighty years ago to meet one or two of these pitiable beings in a day's walk, some of whom would prove amusing in their harm- less vagaries, and' others perhaps inspire not a little terror. Sixty years ago the neigh- bourhood of Cowbridge was noted for having a goodly number of these people at large, and as their appearance abroad presented a social feature, which now happily no longer has oc- casion to exist, a brief account of them may have some small and noteworthy interest. Scott has not infrequently introduced a char- acter such as we speak of into his novels, and the quick observation, cunning and incongru- ous wit of the harmless-mad, give an effective picturesqueness to the pages of the novel. We do not propose to bring forward in this reminiscence any such characters, or produce a "Madge Wildfire." Highly effec- tive as some of cur characters might be in the hands of a true novel'ist, we are going to introduce to the reader Lewis Walters, a tall, gaunt figure, with an amazing appetite his hermit brother Henry in his lonely learned squalor in Cattle's-court; or Anna Ovens with her fantastic finery, her love of showing off her graceful" dancing, and her elevated pity for poor Lewis Walters. "Yes, poor fellow, he is mad, you know." In the coun- try there was Bessy" Buther" (a nick-name from the strange noise she often made in speaking) with her silk hat she had bought fifty years before while in service at the Has; Nanna, the Grove, whose husband was a blacksmith. Daily she was to be seen with & hug-e bundle upon her back in which she would search for some little thing to give the children, ehe being specially fond of babies. Then there were Molly Jacobs, of St. Bride's. Major, and Mary Russel, of Llandough, aueither of whom had any special trait beyond a wild desire to ramble about. Others then at large in the Vale were almost helpless and hapless, their madness sometimes taking a re- pulsive form. The fortunes of the Walters family make a. sad story. The father, the Rev. John Wal- ters, M.A., was rector of Llandough and St. Mary Church, and master of Cowbridge Free School. He was a man of extensive learning, an excellent Welsh scholar, and the author of xa Eaglish-Welsh Dictionary of great merit, which was the first book published1 in the County of Glamorgan, the first part being issued early in the year 1770. The Rev. Mr. Walters's family consisted of five sons, to whom he gave a good education. All the sons reached manhood, but two only survived their father—Lewis, the youngest, who was half-witted, &nd Henry, the elder, who be- came a hermit. Both of them were said to have shown in youth great mental promise, and to have been brought to the state in which they were for so many years known to the inhabi- tants of Cowbridge by the severe studies im- posed upon them by their father. Mr. Wal- ters left behind him little or no property. and at his death his sons removed to the town from the rectory of Llandough, to subsist upon the scanty income afforded; them by some clerical charity, and the slight benevo- lence of the neighbourhood. Henry lived1 alone in the small house down Cattle's-court; Lewis lived in lodgings pro- Tided for him by those who saw to the laying out of his share of the pittance, but came daily to attend his strange-tempered, but perfectly sane brother, who kept him in great subjection. What Henry's appearance was like during the early part of his twenty years' abode in Cowbridge I have not been able to ascertain, but during the latter part of it I have been told that he never went to bed, never washed himself, had no clothes on save a large flannel wrapper brought him by his friends and wore till it hung in: tatters. He allowed his beard to grow, and hair to re- main uncut, and the dust and' dirt of years covered everything in the house. The fur- niture of his rooms was scanty, the large arm chair which he occupied day and night, a table and stool were nearly all he could boast of beyond a curtain which he could dtraw round one portion, of the room, and screen himself from the gaze of a visitor or the un- pleasantness of the draught. In the back part of the room were heaps of books and papers, carelessly thrown about the floor. After his death "Felix Farley's Bristol Journal" for several years was found every copy unopened! The proprietor kept send- ing it, though he never got paid for it. Up- stairs there were more books, old ehina, and lumber, all thickly coated with the pervading dust. Yet this man, dirt and' dust encased 88 we see him, was most marvellously particu- lar as to cleanliness of all he ate. To begi. sritb, bis table, though wood of the greater part of it, could not be seen for dirt, was, at the spot where his plate was laid, as brightly polished1 ax possible. In the Memoir of the celebrated Vioar Pritchard, of Llandovery, published in 1867 ((the last and best of the several editions of "Canwyll y Cymru"), we aore informed that Mr. Rees Thomas, the prin- ter, who brought out the first edition of the above popslar work at Llandovery, took with tiim, when he removed his printing press to Cowbridge, the whole of the papers left by the old vicar of Llandovery, and that Mr. lieee, of Ton, was only three months too late to save them from the cartloads of papers which were taken out of the house in which Henry Walters had lived. These loads are niàto have been taken to a place called Waett y Gaer," and burnt as rubbisk. The only thing saved from this fire at Waen y Gaer was a portrait of the Rer. Mr. Wal- ters, in oil, which was for years afterwards seen hung in the parlour of a public-house at Cowbridge, but now cannot be traced. It is tfaid) that his picture in the time his son Xewis was Hving was so little valued or ad- mired by its owners that it had been stuck into the frame head downwards, and that by some chance he went into this tavern par- lour, recognised his father's portrait on the waD, and had sense enough to be indignant at the small respect paid to it. They paci- fied him, it is said, by restoring the portrait to its proper position



Mourning (tarda may be obtained…