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Welsh History Review


Vol. 14, nos. 1-4 1988-89

John Morris-Jones. Book review.

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evidence to support the inferences drawn therefrom. The author acknowledges his
reliance on inferential analysis, but one wishes something more had been provided.
This failing of the book stems from the deliberate eschewing of quantitative modes,
and rejecting the 'macro' in favour of the 'micro' approach. The study would be
improved by utilising 'macro' and 'micro' methods alongside one another, and by use
of a wider perspective than that merely of 'time and space'. As a spatial analysis of
a single valley system at one point in time, it stands somewhat alone and needs to be
put into a wider context. How precisely does the development of the valleys fit in to
the overall development of the coalfield and how exactly did differences in mining
development affect them? Were they typical in these respects?
Despite these criticisms, in the Welsh context this book is a pioneering step in the
right direction. Further studies of other valleys at other times, both earlier and later,
will be needed, however, before all the answers can be provided. Whilst studies of
later censuses must await the release of the appropriate material to researchers, we
hope that Jones and others will be stimulated to carry out more studies of this sort,
though we plead for a broadening of their scope, particularly away from the reliance
on purely inferential reasoning.
Cardiff Business School
JOHN MORRIS-JONES. By Allan James. University of Wales Press on behalf of the
Welsh Arts Council, 1987. Pp. 89. £ 3.50.
'In one sense, he was the creator of the period which has now come to an end.' The
words are about Sir John Morris-Jones; they were written by W. J. Gruffydd in an
obituary tribute in Y Lienor in 1929 and like so many of Gruffydd's interpretative
judgements on Welsh cultural life they are true, essentially. John Morris Jones was
indeed one of the principal architects of that renaissance of literary culture which was
the most lasting result of the Young Wales movement of the 1880s.
His part in the renaissance was that of the nation's teacher as to what was correct
and commendable in linguistic usage and in literary standards. It was a role which he
accepted for himself as a student at Oxford in the eighties, under the influence of
Owen M. Edwards's enthusiasm and John Rhys's tutorship, and it was to govern the
rest of his career. The conventions of correct linguistic usage had to be defined and
promulgated. This he did in a brilliant article on the Welsh language in 1891 new
edition of Y Gwyddoniadur, in his magisterial 1913 Welsh Grammar: historical and
comparative, and, just as important, in dozens of articles and angry letters to the
press. New literary standards had also to be propagated, in a definitive analysis of the
rules of Welsh metrics, in his own exemplary exercises in verse, as well as in his
controversial personal views on poetic diction and on the function of poetry. At the
same time the proper criteria of historical scholarship had to be applied to disprove
bogus claims about the antiquity of the Gorsedd of Bards and to establish the
genuineness of poems in Welsh from as early as the late-sixth century.
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