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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/431

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9*" 8. XL MAY 30, 1903.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


volumes of poems, the * Lyrics ' and the ' Early Blossoms,' in the Traethodydd quarterly review for April, 1847 ; but neither writer seems to have refreshed his memory by a re- perusal of that article before sending his notice to the press. As the volume of the Traetho- dydd containing the essay referred to happens to be in my possession, and as it is, for more reasons than one, a very valuable and interest- ing paper, I venture to abridge portions of it. "Idriswyn" says that the paper is by the editor, Dr. Lewis Edwards. If so, it is a notable instance of a generous heart, a keen intellect, and a poetic and cultivated mind successfully struggling against and breaking down the prison-walls of a rigid Methodist training. As the paper was triumphantly pointed to by Evans's friends in Keren Gomer and other periodicals at the time, it is evident that the persecution of the young poet related therein was based on no substantial grounds. "Idriswyn" says, quite correctly, that Evans was born on a small farm in Llanarth, Cardiganshire, in January, 1818 ; that, after attending school in a cottage near his father's farm, he was sent to Dr. Thomas Phillips's academy at Xeuaddlwyd ; and that he remained there for some three years ; but when he goes on to say that Evans's biographers are wholly silent as to the interval between his departure from Xeuaddlwyd and his admission to Lam- peter, "Idriswyn " is mistaken.

The essay in the Traethodydd gives a pretty minute account of this interval. It says that Evans ("unless our memory is at fault :; ) published a hymn-book while at Xeuaddlwyd, the contents of which form the latter portion of the verse in ' Early Blossoms.' In Decem- ber, 1840, Evans was admitted as a pro- bationer for three months at the Brecon Independent College, where he remained till March, 1841, when he was admitted, in the ual way, to the full privileges of a student ; it "at the very moment of his admission is path was choked with thorns." He re- ived a letter from home, informing him at a grave accusation was brought against im. As this charge was of a nature that he could not disprove or do anything with regard to but protest his entire innocence, he and his teachers came to the conclusion that the wisest course for him would be to leave the college, hoping that circumstances would bring his innocence to the light. For five long and miserable years he kept school in various localities, published the 'Early Blossoms,' and tried hard, but in vain, to get readmitted to Brecon College. Although there was no certainty that he had trans-

gressed, and although many circumstances strongly argued his innocence, the poor poe was unceasingly persecuted (erlidiw/d). "It is a very easy thing for old and influential ministers to suppress a poverty-stricken youth, however bright his talents^ and how- ever pure his previous life may have been ; but such influences are riot, we believe, em- ployed to the best purpose when used in this way."

Under persecution Evans's feelings became embittered,

" and contemned nature, roused in all her majesty, drove the poet further and further apart from his tormentors. In the midst of all these harassing difficulties that ever confronted him, he thought of going to America to perish like Goronwy Ovvain and Gwenffrwd. But this chafing and restless mood passed away at last. We are not perfectly clear as to the cause of the change, but have a suspicion that the Churchmen had a hand in the business. Perhaps, however, the ' Maid of Aeron ' deserves most of the credit for detaining the bard within the ramparts of ancient Wales. At any rate, fate and the men of the Church and the damsel of Aeron, at the very moment that some of his friends were on the eve of getting justice done him by his restoration to Brecon College,"

diverted his course. "He married the damsel, joined the State Church, and he is now at the College of St. David, as sober a student as the saint himself."

As the above account is taken from no obscure or out-of-the-way source, but from the leading Welsh review of the time, it is somewhat strange that two such prominent llenc/rion as Mr. Eilir Evans and " Idris- wyn " should apparently know nothing about it except some vague echo at second-hand. A glance at a paper in the succeeding number of the same review on Dr. Thomas Phillips, of Xeuaddlwyd, might have enabled "Idris- wyn" to tell a plainer, if rather less glow- ing tale about the advantages that it was possible for Evans to have reaped from his stay at that school. J. P. OWEN.


TOWARDS the close of the fifteenth century the church of St. Thomas a Becket and the adjacent burial-ground were the scene of a bloody tragedy. So terrible was this that it was judged necessary to purify the chapel and chapel yard from the pollution they had contracted. That such desecration took place we learn from documents issued by the Archbishop of York in 1482 History has handed down no particulars, and tradition is entirely silent.

The following is a free rather than literal translation from the document :