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I-Cardiff - Corporation._




I The Man About Town. I


The Man About Town. I The death of Mr Daniel Owen, the Welsh novelist, has served to call attention once more to the fact that there has been little or nothing of Welsh literature translated into English. In an extravagant eulogy of Welsh literature the other day the Star said that the circulation of Daniel Owen's Rhys Lewis would in all probability rouse the envy even of a successful English novelist, with all the world for his public. For the sake of the late Mr Owen, his executors, and his publishers, one would like to believe this for the sake of Welsh literature and its supporters one hopes it is an accurate estimate; but is there one individual who knows anything of literature and publishing and of literature in Wales who does not set these statements down as extravagant nonsense ? 40 Without detracting from the fame and memory of the late Mr Daniel Owen, it is a fact that many ardent Welshmen in Welsh Wales reading the obituary notice contained in these columns have confessed that they have never seen or even heard of his books before many more have spoken of their desire to read his novels and their inability to get hold of them. During the last fifteen years he wrote five novels, all of them instinct with the Welsh spirit, and full of that fugitive charm which invariably eludes the translator." This last statement is made by the warne writer. If there are five such novels from the pen of the late author of "Rbys Lewis." or any Welsh author, for the sake of the Ifanie of Welsh literature and the benefit of that great reading public speaking the English language, I would ask that some prominent Welsh literati turn their attention to translating these novels whioh are instinct with the Welsh spirit," To say that the charm of Welsh literature escapes the translator is to beg the case. The primary facts of existence are the same, and men are moved by love, devotion, anger, revenge, and the desire for self-preservation and advancement the world over. We want to know how Welsh writers deal with these feelings, and to say that they cannot be translated is to claim something for Wales that is not claimed for any other people ancient or modem. I The demand Is made for translations of Welsh literature into the English tongue as much for the benefit of thousands of English speaking monoglot Welshman as for the great English reading public, who will never know what W"lps I thinks and feels except through the medium of translations. I am confident that Wales would be better appreciated if her literature were known by the aid of the translator. One would think that the friends of Wales would favour the handing down in the language of the greatest literature in existence of Welsh thought and ex perience in Wales as manifested in its own literature. Extravagant eulogy of Welsh literature will not increase its influence or make it better known- English translations will. It is absurd to say that the language of Shakespeare, Milton, and Tennyson, and of Lewis Morris will not convey the fugitive charm of the Welsh spirit. Every literature and almost every language has contributed largely to the wealth and variety of English books. ( China and India, Greece and Rome, Italy and Spain, Germany and France, Russia and Scandinavia have yielded their treasures which have found appreciative readers in English and Welsh homes through transla- tion. Unquestionably they have lost some of their charm, yet their power is but slightly impaired in translation, and we would not on this account be left without the wisdom of the writers of Greece and Rome, the impressiveness of Dante, the humour of Cervantes, the seriousness of Goethe, the wit and the sarcasm of Voltaire, the social outlook of Tolstoi and Ibsen. If the late Daniel Owen—who by common consent was the greatest novelist that Wales has seen—did for Wales what Jane Barlow is doing for Ireland. Hall Caine for the Isle of Man, Blackmore for Devonshire, and a knot of writers for Scotland, then no greater service can be done to his memory, to Wales and to the great reading public than to give his novels to the world in an English dress. Young Wales- educated Wales—has plenty of work before it. Instead of abusing the stranger for his ignorance of the beauties of the country, the good qualities of its people, and the power of its literature, they should exert themselves in the direction I have already indicated. There is not even a good and easily accessible collec- tion of the translations already made. Lady Charlotte Guest has shown by her translation of the Mabinogion that English is an excel- lent vehicle for Welsh romance, and no one can reasonably find fault with the transla- tions of the lolo MSS." There is a wide field here for honest labour in the pleasant paths of literature, worthy the attention of Cymmrodorion Societies and Young Wales" organisations, who are consumed with the desire to do some- thing worthy of Wales. I have only just looked over the hedge into the field of I, Welsh literature and found the prospect entrancing. What Wales needs is a band of enthusiastic literati to open wide the gates to the whole English-speaking world. Barry is ambitious in a praiseworthy direc. tion, and she will make a good start in the formation of a public museum by obtaining the whole of the archaeological remains dis- covered on Barry Island during the recent excavations. A beginning is everything, and knowing the vigorous development of Barry one need not be surprised to find there in the course of a very few years a capital museum. One thing they should guard against, and that is the bringing together a collection of old lumber which may be curious, but unin- structive. Let them set out from the beginning to collect upon scientific and int elligent lines, with a well-defined end in I view. Cardiff has got as much old lumber to spare from the town collection as would stock a Dime Museum of Freaks and Curiosities. Barry should avoid this. In reading Wirt SikesV" British Goblins the other day I came upon a passage which is interesting in view of the work now pro- ceeding on Barry Island. The volume was published in 1880, and the passage serves to show the changes of the past 15 years :—" On Barry Island, near Cardiff, is the famous well of St. Barruc or Barri, which was still frequented by the credulous up to May, 1879, at which time the island was closed against visitors by its owner, Lord Windsor, and converted into a rabbit warren. Tradition directs that on Holy Thursday he who is troubled with any disease of the eyes should go to this well, and having thoroughly washed his eyes in its water, shall drop a pin in it. The innkeeper there formerly found great numbers of pins-a pint, in one instance—when cleaning out the well. It had long been neglected by the sole resi- dent of the island, whose house was a long distance from the well, and at a point nearer the main land; but pins were still dis- covered there from time to time." Again:—" There was in old days a chapel on this island; no vestige of it remains. Tradition says' that St. Barruc was buried there, and the now barren and deserted islet appears to have been anciently a popular place among the saints. St. Cadoc had one of his residences there. He was one day sitting on a hill top in that island when he saw the two saints, Barruc and Gwalches, drawing near in a boat, and as lie looked the boat was overturned by the wind. Both saints were drowned, and Cadoc's manual book, which they had in the boat with them, was lost in the sea. But when Cadoc proceeded to order his dinner, a salmon was brought to him, which, being cut open, was found to have the missing manual book in its belly in an unimpaired condition." Barry should stari a quest for St. Barruc's bones and St. Cadoc's manual book which was saved from the sea in such mar- vellous fashion by the salmon! It is being acknowledged everywhere that the tramway systems should be in the hands of the Corporations over whose roads they run. In some cases they are being successfully managed by Corporation Com- mittees. Leeds has just adopted electricity in place of horse power for the trams, and the Manchester Corporation have taken steps to acquire the tramways for the town at some future period. One great advantage possessed by a Corporation owning the tramways is the power to' regulate their running for the benefit of the townspeople and the full control which they possess over the roads. The masters of the principal thoroughfares in Cardiff are not the Corporation or the ratepayers, buo the Tramways Co. The Company won't repair their tracks; the Cor- poration threaten futilely, but do nothing hence the roads are a disgrace to the town and a positive danger. If the Corpora- tion owned the tramways there would be an end to all this, but even now the Council have the power in their own hands, and for some reason don't use it. Individual mem- bers of the Corporation have deolarod the condition of the streets to be dangerous and disgraceful. Why do not they insist again and again on the danger and the disgrace being removed by the Tramway Company or see thac the Corporation workmen repair the roads and charge the cost to the Company ? A prospective purchase of the tramways should not be made the excuse for neglect- ing the roads by a private company.


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