Sgip i gynnwys

Radnorshire Society transactions

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Vol. 41 1971

W.J. Rees, 1772 - 1855 : a portrait.

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volume on The Claims of Ossian was published in 1825 and straightway
he began to distribute copies gratis to several public libraries and "in-
telligent persons connected with Celtic literature in Wales and elsewhere."
When Rees was in London in May 1826 he had a number of volumes to
give away to his Cymmrodorion friends. Rees spoke of him as a "literary
giant" and used to visit him as often as he could. By this time Edward
Davies was an old sick man, almost blind and unable to follow his studies.
He looked forward to the intelligent, congenial conversation of his friend
and took advantage of his offer to catalogue his Celtic library and to
arrange his manuscript papers for preservation. He gave a large number
of these to W. J. Rees, who preserved them among his own literary remains.
On one of his visits, when Rees hoped "to exhiliarate him in his present
cheerless state", Edward Davies related to W. J. Rees the story of his
life. After his death in 1831, Rees published a Memoir to his friend in the
third volume of the Cambrian Quarterly Magazine.
It was in 1826 that W. J. Rees first heard of the project to publish the
Mabinogion. Angharad Llwyd sent him a copy of a Prospectus, "To be
published by subscription in 2 volumes, Royal 8vo, price Two Pounds
in boards, Y Mabinogion, or the Ancient Romances of Wales, with a
literal version in English, and illustrated by W. Owen Pughe
Rees immediately sent his name in as a subscriber, but not many
followed his example. The London Welshmen considered it too expensive.
At the time of the Denbigh Eisteddfod, Rees doubled his subscription and
got his brother and his nephew to subscribe as well. But this ambitious
project again fell through.
The Cambrian Quarterly Magazine has already been noted. Ever since
the Cambro-Briton had ceased publication in 1822 the members of the
Cambrian Societies had felt the need to fill the gap. W. J. Rees favoured
the title The Cambrian Repository, and John Jenkins would have liked
John Blackwell of Mold to be offered the editorship. Neither of them got
their way. Mr. Henry Davies, the Librarian of the Cambrian Institution
in London, was appointed editor, but even before the magazine appeared
he had been asked to resign. In 1828, when W. J. Rees received a Pros-
pectus, he found that the name had also been changed, which annoyed
him, ‘ ‘ although the mere name is not important yet the alteration
does not seem to me to be any improvement," he wrote. The new editor
was Samuel Humphreys, a native of Montgomery, who according to John
Jenkins, "had never made Wales, her langugage or her literature his
study." Henry Davies, having taken umbrage, removed himself from
London to Cheltenham, where he edited The Cheltenham Album for many
years. When the first volume of the Cambrian Quarterly Magazine appeared
in 1829, the Subscribers' List was headed by the Rt. Hon. Lord Ashley.
This young nobleman had been anxious to learn Welsh and was provided
with a tutor by Thomas Richards, formerly of Berriw, and since 1826
Rector of Llangynyw in Montgomeryshire. In the Autumn of 1827 Lord
Ashley spent a week at the rural Rectory of Llangynyw, where Thomas
Richards entertained Gwallter Mechain, Dr. William Owen Pughe and
Rowland Williams, his neighbour at Meifod. They held a Gorsedd cere-
mony for his entertainment and bestowed upon him the Bardic name of
Lleon Llaw Gyffes. On the death of his father Lord Ashley succeeded to
the title of the Earl of Shaftesbury and he became well known for his
humanitarian reforms.
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