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Owen
Owen
404

medical studies he resolved to enter the baptist ministry. He joined the Baptist College at Bristol, but in a year the petty persecutions of his fellow-students, debt, and a roving spirit drove him back to Wales. After keeping school for a short time at Gilfach, near Aber, Carnarvonshire, he was invited to take charge of the small baptist churches of Talygraig, Galltraeth, Ty'ndomen, and Rhos Hirwaen, in the Lleyn district of Carnarvonshire. He was accordingly ordained, and settled at Llangïan, shortly afterwards marrying Anne, the daughter of Thomas Jones of Rhandir, a farmer of the locality. Owen's stipend was small, and he was still compelled to eke out a livelihood by keeping school and by giving medical advice to his neighbours. In 1824 he made his first appearance in literature. Being out of humour with the ‘Cymreigyddion’ or Welsh Language Society of Lleyn, he sent to ‘Seren Gomer,’ the leading Welsh magazine of the day, an article on ‘The Poverty of the Welsh Language,’ signed ‘Brutus, Lleyn.’ The ability of the article, which went to show that the Welsh had no literature worthy of mention, was at once recognised; it was answered by Gwallter Mechain and Carnhuanawc, and when Owen revealed himself as its author his reputation as a Welsh writer was established. Fame, however, did not bring him bread, and, under pressure of poverty, he falsely told Dr. Lant Carpenter of Bristol that the congregations under his charge were leaning towards unitarianism, and asked, since he, as their minister, shared their views, for help from the presbyterian fund. The inquiries set on foot by Dr. Carpenter soon exposed the deception; the facts came to the knowledge of the baptists of North Wales, and at the Pwllheli Association ‘Brutus’ was expelled from the baptist denomination. His father-in-law was an independent, and this, with his fame as a writer, secured his admission as a member of the church of that denomination at Capel Newydd. He marked his change of allegiance by writing a book against adult baptism, but, though allowed to preach in the independent churches, won no great popularity among them. His next step was to move to Tyddyn Sweep, Maen addfwyn, near Llanerchymedd, Anglesey, where there was an independent church. Here he met with no better success, and in a short time moved again to Bontnewydd, near Carnarvon. At both places he kept school.

Towards the end of 1827 he became editor of ‘Lleuad yr Oes,’ an undenominational monthly magazine, published at Aberystwith; and early in 1828 he established himself at Llanbadarn Fawr, within easy reach of the printing office. In 1830 the printer, who was on the eve of bankruptcy, sold the goodwill of the ‘Lleuad’ to Jeffrey Jones of Llandovery, whither accordingly ‘Brutus’ followed it as editor. Here it was as unprofitable as at Aberystwith, and in October 1830 the goodwill was sold to William Rees, a Llandovery printer, and a number of independent ministers who wished to start a similar magazine in connection with their denomination. The result was the appearance of the ‘Efengylydd’ in 1831, with ‘Brutus’ as editor; but in 1835 differences arose on political questions between the publisher, a churchman, and the independent ministers, who were the chief contributors, and the ‘Efengylydd’ ceased to appear. The independents started the ‘Diwygiwr’ at Llanelly; Rees established the ‘Haul,’ with ‘Brutus’ as editor, for the defence of the church. This involved a fresh change of creed on the part of ‘Brutus,’ who now became a churchman.

He continued to edit the ‘Haul’ until his death, making it the vehicle of merciless satire of the nonconformists, whom he had deserted. His home for the earlier part of this period was a cottage in Cwm dwr, on the road from Llandovery to Brecon. Later on he moved to Bron Arthen in the same district. He died on 16 Jan. 1866, and was buried in Llywel churchyard.

‘Brutus’ was the author of the following Welsh works: 1. ‘A Treatise in Defence of Infant Baptism,’ Aberystwith, 1828. 2. ‘Proceedings of the Established Church,’ 1841. 3. ‘Eliasia,’ notes on the career of John Elias of Anglesey (d. 1841), written under the pseudonym of ‘Bleddyn,’ 1844. 4. ‘Christmasia,’ a similar account of Christmas Evans (d. 1838). 5. ‘A Geography of the Bible,’ Llangollen, n.d. 6. ‘Brutusiana,’ a selection of his non-controversial writings, published for him (free of cost, it is said) by Mr. Rees of Llandovery in 1855. Since his death ‘Wil Brydydd y Coed’ has been reprinted from the ‘Haul’ (Carmarthen, 1876), and a second edition has appeared of ‘Christmasia’ (Liverpool, 1887).

[The fullest account of ‘Brutus’ is that given in the Traethodydd for April and October, 1867, by a friend of long standing (the late J. R. Kilsby Jones, it is believed); there is a fairly complete bibliography in Ashton's (Welsh) History of Welsh Literature from 1650 to 1850 (1894). Information has been kindly supplied by Messrs. T. Roberts and H. Ellis, Aber, and Mr. A. McKillop, Llanerch y Medd.]

J. E. L.

OWEN, EDWARD (1728–1807), translator of Juvenal and Persius, third son of David Owen of Llangurig, Montgomeryshire,