LONDON WELSH PAPERS. I. LATER PERIODS. T HE Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion is the phcenix of Welsh institutions. It has risen from its own ashes and risen again. To-day it enjoys a proud estate as the premier Society of the Welsh people, but it has come through misfortunes to its present glory, and its varied history has been twice broken by failure and collapse. Though of old origin, our Honourable Society does not carry off the palm for age. That goes to the Society of Ancient Britons, with which the first genera- tion of the Brethren was closely related. The career of the Cymmrodorion falls into three periods. Its first period lay between 1751, when it was founded by Richard Morris, and 1787, when it was crushed by the weight of Pennant's British Zoology." From many points of view this is the most fascinating phase, and a detailed account of it is given later on in this paper. The second period began in 1820, and ended some- where in the forties. Its fate was determined by the decline and fall of the eighteenth century spirit amongst the London Welsh. This new era opened under the presidency of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. With him as captain, the Cymmrodorion or Metropolitan Cambrian Institution, established under Royal Patron- age, June 24th, 1820,* set out upon the sea of troubles. The Marquis of Anglesey headed the list of members, which ended with a group of the inevitable Joneses. Even the Marquis could not, however, make the way of the Brethren absolutely smooth, for this is written of the revived Society:- It did not escape the malevolence of some pseudocritics, nor the tooth of envy that ever gnaws at everything generous and patriotic. It was attacked anonymously in the newspapers of the day. Every individual," says the writer of one of these tirades, who can boast of a long pedigree or a few hundred acres of bog or moun- tain appears in the list of vice-presidents." In spite of the malevolence of pseudocritics (only too often exerted against the London Welsh !), the roll of the Cymmrodorion lengthened rapidly, and steps had to be taken to restrict the influx of members. The Society at once adopted the London Welsh tradition, and began to foster literature and knowledge. It offered medals in the great schools of Wales for the best essays in the native tongue. It provided prizes for Eisteddfodau, and it is pleasing to note that some excellent essays and poems were elicited, to be duly published in the Transactions." In 1833, this period of Cymmrodorion history comes to its climax. The moment of its zenith seems to have been the Anniversary Meeting at the Freemason's Hall. It included an Eisteddfod and a national con- By J. O. Francis. No Ill.: THE CYMMRODORION. Cyd unwn, Gymmrodorion, A'n gilydd yn un galon I ganu clod i'n Gwlad a'n laith; Dewisol waith Cymdeithion. cert. Their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria expressed regret at being unable to attend. But these splendours were too much for the Honourable Society. The national concert was ×alas I-its swan song. It soon afterwards began to show signs of decad- ence, and, though it lingered for a time, it gradually withered away and at length surrendered to its fate. It was numbered with the things of the past. As to the exact date of its surrender there seems to be difference of opinion. An old adage, born perhaps of the Triads, tells us encouragingly that there are three tries for a Welsh- man. It is aptly illustrated by the history of the Honourable Society, which, in 1873, after a lapse of nearly thirty years, was for a third time established. One link remained, however, with the Metropolitan Cambrian Institution, established under Royal Favour, June 24th, 1820. One member of the new assembly was able to put his aged hand upon the past and tell something .of the glories of yr hen amser gynt. Mr. W. Jones (Gwrgant) on being called upon to address the meeting, was received with cheers. He stood before them, he said, as the only surviving member of the Council of the old Cymmrodorion Society (cheers). Let us, too, applaud him, and may he, in the silence, hear our cheers. Gwrgant was of the optimists. Knowing that twice already had the Society been founded only to fail, he greeted the new adventure warmly, and stood, like Nestor, ready to counsel new warriors in an old cause. This revival in 1873 brings the Cymmrodorion into the memory of the living, and its course has run un- checked up to our own day. The revival was wel- comed throughout Wales, and, in particular, it is said that joy was expressed by a number of the Sons of Song gathered at the Mold Eisteddfod under the presidency of one whom the record refers to as Mr. J. Ceiriog Hughes." In the membership roll of the opening of this third period are the names of men to whom the young people of Wales owe a debt of gratitude too great for measur- ing. Hugh Owen, Morgan Lloyd, B. T. Williams, Stephen Evans, and Gohebydd were men who had already been in the van of the battle for Welsh education. The Welsh University remains for ever linked with the early leaders of the Cymmrodorion in this modern chapter. Its later stages have been closely related to the growth of the National Eisteddfod. This third period of the Cymmrodorion offers a good story for someone's telling. Information is plentiful, and the causes involved are worthy. The scribe who under- takes to narrate the story will find as one of his main documents the Cymmrodorion lore of Sir Vincent Evans.
This text was generated automatically from the scanned page and has not been checked. Typical character accuracy is in excess of 99%, but this leaves one error per 100 characters.