I AM aware that this subject in the hands of a native Welshman is in danger of suffering injustice, owing to the natural tendency we have of overestimating the excellences of our own nation, and of cherishing undue zeal for its peculiarities.
On the map of the island of Great Britain is seen a small spot, comprising only twelve counties. This is Wales. There by England’s side, and forming a part of it, our country for centuries has preserved the purity of its language and its distinct nationality. Our origin and early development as a nation must in all probability remain among the hidden mysteries. We have ancient stories touching this point in abundance. Some of these productions of the bards contain passages that savor of reality and truth, but they are often so coupled with the absurd and the monstrous as to be wholly unreliable.
It is perfectly safe to say that Britannia was peopled by the Welsh many centuries prior to the Christian era; for at the first invasion of that island by Julius Cæsar, he found them, although “ barbarians,” yet a powerful and warlike people, possessing wonderful military skill peculiarly their own, and abundance of horses and chariots of war. From Cæsar’s account of his first great battle with the Britons it appears that they proved to be almost more than a match for the best fighting legions in the world, under the leadership of the greatest general. Nothing definite is known of the island for nearly one hundred years after Cæsar’s departure. The next army from Rome was sent during the reign of Claudius, under the lead of Aulus Plautus, who was met by the famous Caradog ap Brân. This valiant Briton fought as many as thirty-two battles, but was finally betrayed and taken a prisoner to Rome. In the reign of Nero, Queen Boadicea, in the island of Anglesea, after the death of her husband, raised an army of one hundred and twenty thousand men, and led them in her own person against the enemy. The battles were terrific and sanguinary, and for a long time her name was a terror to the Romans.
The Welsh were not confined to the island of Great Britain. As late as the fifth century they were a strong nation in France; and it is recorded as a matter of undisputed history that in that country they had no less than twentytwo sovereigns. During their conflict with the Roman power, and the frequent tumults among themselves, the Welsh in Britain were governed by kings until the year 688. From this time until the thirteenth century they had what they termed princes.
With Llewelyn ap Gruffydd ended the principality of Wales as an independent power in 1282. But for two hundred years after this there were frequent uprisings against the oppressive sway of England, the most formidable of which was under the impetuous leadership of Owain Glyndwr; and not until the accession of Henry Tudor (Henry VII.), who was Welsh on his father’s side, did Wales become to all intents and purposes a part of England. Since then all has been tranquil and peaceable. The peculiar Welsh traits and nationality have been singularly preserved; and even to-day, the language is cultivated by their scholars and cherished by the masses with unabated devotion.
In regard to the Welsh, we may safely say that it is the oldest living language in Europe. It possesses a literature reaching back to remoter times than that of any modern tongue. Unlike Irish and Scotch Gaelic, it is not dying out. It has a genuine literary as well as oral existence. And although the changes it has undergone since the days of Taliesin are numerous, yet it is essentially the same tongue that fell in vehement, angry eloquence on the ears of Cæsar and Agricola. We regard it with veneration as the solitary link that unites those distant ages to our own. To an Englishman, or any one not conversant with the language, the Welsh seems full of strange and inexplicable peculiarities. Indeed, a Welshman even is sometimes led to exclaim, “ Thou art fearfully and wonderfully made! ” Its most striking features are the multiplicity of its grammatical permutations. For example, the word father in Welsh is tad. It so remains after “ the” and “our ” (y and ein) : y tad, and ein tad. But after “my” (fy) it is nhad; after “thy” (dy) it is dad; after “ her " (ei) it is (had. Thus the letter t is changed into nh, d, and th. The same rule is applied to any noun commencing witli t. The mutable consonants are nine; namely, c, p, t, b, d, g, ll, m, rh. All these as initials in verbs, nouns, adjectives, and other parts of speech, undergo several modifications.
The literature of the Welsh has been divided into four periods. The first extends from the earliest times to the Norman Conquest (1066), the second from the Norman Conquest to the English Reformation (1536), the third from the Reformation to the beginning of the reign of George III. (1760), and the fourth from 1760 to the present. In regard to the earliest date of Welsh literature there has been, and is now, much dispute. The oldest specimens are in rhymed verses, and are claimed to have been written at different periods in the sixth century by Aneurin, Taliesin, Llywarch Hen, and Myrddin. Some English authors have doubted the anthenticity of these productions, others have admitted their genuineness, Mr. Stephens, of Merthyr Tydfil, in his Literature of the Cymry (1849), vindicates them and is considered conclusive.
In the second period Wales became rich in native bards, among whom we find Meilyr, Gwalchmai, Einion, Llywarch ap Llywelyn, Iolo Goch, Sion Cent, and above all Dafydd ap Gwilym, on whose poems there was a very interesting paper in the November number of the Westminster Review, 1873.
Among the literature of the third period (1536—1760) may be mentioned the first book printed in the language. It was an almanac with a translation of the Lord’s prayer and the ten commandments, by William Salisbury. In the following year the same author published the first dictionary in Welsh and English, and executed the greatest part of the translation of the New Testament. In 1588, Dr. William Morgan published the first translation of the whole Bible into Welsh. Various causes coöperated to give new impetus to Welsh literature after the accession of George 111.; periodical publications were established, patriotic societies were increased, and the fires of Methodism burned in the valleys and blazed on the mountains.
The principality is well supplied with the best of literature in both languages. The generality of the clergy speak English with sufficient ease, many of them fluently; but very few preach in English. Their libraries contain standard works, not only on theology, but also on science and art. Weeklies, monthlies, and quarterlies are ably conducted and well sustained; the working population are fair readers, and on general topics are well informed. The darlith (lecture) seems to be more popular in Wales than even in America, and is usually delivered in the interest of some benevolent enterprise.
The Welsh in America, although in number far below many other bodies of foreigners, are numerous, and by their industry, morality, religion, and general deportment have won the commendation and respect of the nation that has adopted them. There is a strong conviction among many of the Welsh that one of their own nation discovered America, and established himself here with a goodly number of his countrymen, as early as 1170, over three hundred years before the discovery of Columbus. The history, as far as it goes, may be authentic. A man of some eminence and of an adventurous turn of mind, by the name of Madawg ap Owain Gwynedd, sailed westward from Wales with a number of ships and many people. He returned after a protracted absence, and reported that he had discovered a vast and beautiful country in the far west, and that he had left. the most of his company there. His description of the new country was so fascinating that a large company of men, women, and children concluded to embark with him for this land of promise. He started again for the same destination with ten ships; and there the history, correct or otherwise, ends; for the famous Welshman and his companions were never more heard of. The landing of the emigrants in this country is not sustained by any proof. The first Welsh emigrant of note to America, in regard to whom we have any history, is Roger Williams, a name too closely identified with the early history of our country to need comment.
There was no Welsh settlement in America before the days of William Penn. Among the first settlers of Pennsylvania who landed in 1682 were a large number from Wales, mostly Quakers from the vicinity of Dolgellau. Mr. Froude, in his history, informs us that they bought of Penn forty thousand acres of land near the city of Philadelphia, and that the emigration continued for many years, until they had become quite numerous, and occupied several townships. Many of these were men of means, culture, and influence; glad, undoubtedly, to have escaped the temporal and spiritual oppression of the home government. Welsh churches were organized, Welsh chapels were built, and Welsh ministers addressed large audiences in their native tongue.
In the early days of the city of Philadelphia, the Welsh language was freely spoken in its streets and market-places; and to-day, among its best citizens and most cultivated scholars, there are hundreds in whose veins runs pure Welsh blood. They have lost their language, but their Cambrian names tell the story of their origin. In the early history of Pennsylvania we find the names of many eminent Welshmen. Among these were Rev. Abel Morgan, author of a Welsh concordance published in 1730; David Lloyd, a prominent lawyer and chief-justice; Ellis Pugh, a noted physician of Philadelphia, and author of the first Welsh book published in America; Thomas Lloyd, first governor of Pennsylvania; Dr. Thomas Wynn, the speaker of the first assembly; Rowland Ellis, a celebrated Quaker; the eminent Cadwaladers, and others too numerous to mention.
Old maps of Pennsylvania are thickly dotted with Welsh names. We find Meirion, Gwynedd, Caer'narfon, Pencader, Maldwyn, etc. But the old Omeraeg in those regions has become extinct, though in many houses you will yet find Welsh books preserved by great-grand-children of the early emigrants.
Between the arrival of the first Welsh settlers in Pennsylvania and the commencement of the Revolution in 1776, ninety-four years had passed away; the emigration from Wales had been slow but constant; and in New England, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and especially in the city of Philadelphia, many of the Welsh had become celebrated as merchants, lawyers, doctors, clergymen, teachers, and statesmen. We are justly proud to name among these THOMAS JEFFERSON, and among the signers of the Declaration, besides the illustrious author, we find the names of the following Welshmen: Stephen Hopkins, William Williams, William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Button Gwyneth, Lewis Morris, Robert Morris. In that protracted struggle many of the Welsh covered themselves with glory on the battle-field. Others, by their generous contributions, rendered effective aid. Robert Morris, a rich banker of Philadelphia, by his unbounded liberality and great skill as a financier gave the young republic invaluable assistance in its days of agony and strife. But “the tribulations of those days” had a depressing influence on the Welsh churches. The congregations were often scattered, and the organizations abandoned.
In Philadelphia and its vicinity, the nation as a distinct Welsh-speaking people did not long survive the Revolution. Their decline in that region discouraged further emigration, and gradually those that remained turned their faces to more inviting portions of Pennsylvania, and other States, where land was offered on very favorable terms. Between 1796 and 1802 settlements were established in various portions of Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio.
At present there are settlements in as many as twenty States. In regard to the number of Welsh in America there is among themselves a diversity of opinion. Some put down the figure as high as three hundred thousand. This may be correct, if unmistakable descendants are included, but from what I can learn, the Welsh-speaking population of the country is far below that figure. Rev. R. D. Thomas, in his most excellent volume recently published, Hanes Cymry America (History of the Welsh in America), puts them down at 115,716, and distributes them as follows:—
Pennsylvania, 32,974; New York, 21,840; Ohio, 24,810; Vermont, 1350; New Jersey, 912; Maryland, 800; District of Columbia, 50; Virginia, 100; West Virginia, 300; Tennessee, 200; Massachusetts, 500; Maine, 300; Indiana, 200; Illinois, 2035; Michigan, 400; Wisconsin, 18,260; Minnesota, 1745; Iowa, 2265: Missouri, 2195; Kansas, 1750; Nebraska, 200; California, 2000; Oregon and Territories, 500.
Nominally, at least, they are very religious. Wherever in America a settlement of Welsh is found, however small, you will certainly find a chapel there. Unlike their American friends, they are not at all at home while worshiping in School-houses. Like the royal worshiper of Judah, they cannot, rest until they have built a house for the Lord. As far as religious tenets are concerned, all the sects in this country are intensely orthodox. They are firm believers in the doctrine of the trinity, the vicarious sufferings and death of Christ, justification by faith, the resurrection of the body, the general judgment, and the endless duration of rewards and punishments in a future state. There are of course many Welshmen who have no faith in the correctness of these doctrines, but I believe there is not one religious society among the Welsh in this country that does not fully accept all the points just mentioned. We have Arminians and Calvinists; we have sprinklers and immersionists; but when it comes to fundamentals, all the sects are a unit.
These are divided among four denominations: the Calvinistic Methodists, the Congregationalists, the Baptists, and the Episcopal Methodists. The first two are not far from equal in number and strength, and comprise between six and seven eighths of the whole. The Baptists come next. The Methodist Episcopal Church has only seven churches and less than three hundred members. Although the Protestant Episcopalians among the Welsh in this country have no organization, many of our people are deeply attached to that form of worship, and have united with English churches.
I need not speak of the nature and church government of three of the churches I have mentioned. But the English reader may not be so well informed with regard to the Calvinistic Methodists. They are a body exclusively Welsh. They cannot be found as a distinct sect among any other people. They had their origin in the days of Whitefield, and in the wonderful revivals under the labors of those flaming heralds of the cross, Daniel Rowlands of Llangeitho, and Howel Harris of Trefecca. Their first general association was held at Watford in Glaumorganshire, South Wales, on the 6th of January, 1742; where Rev. George Whitefield, with the two celebrities above mentioned, was present. Their ministry is talented and laborious. As a church they are deeply devotional and energetic, and in doctrine and government they much resemble the Old School Presbyterians.
During the last forty years, the spirit of union among the churches, both in Wales and in America, has been greatly on the increase. When I was a lad at home, the Arminians and Calvinists had long and bitter controversies, in which both sides manifested anything but that meekness exhibited in the character of the Man of Nazareth. The children, of course, would partake of the temper and impetuosity of their respective parents, and, possessing less judgment, would sometimes come to blows over the “ atonement.” This spirit, happily, has almost entirely disappeared.
Politically, the Welsh people, with few exceptions, are republicans; years ago the majority of them were found in the old whig party. When the war broke out and the issues were drawn, they were found almost as a unit on the side of the party in power. They are so to-day, and whatever may be the fate of parties, as such, in our country, the Welsh will be true to their moral convictions of duty.
In this country, as in Wales, the great preaching anniversary is the grand religious feature. It is held invariably throughout the settlements, by all the sects that have an organization sufficiently strong to sustain such a yearly gathering. These meetings are largely attended, and at each of them eight sermons are preached; two on the evening of the first day, and two at each of the three public services on the day and evening following. Among the Welsh it is considered complimentary to preach the second sermon at the public service, and I have often witnessed quite a strife between two preachers in regard to which should preach the first sermon, each wishing to give the other the preeminence.
My earliest recollections are identified with these Welsh preaching anniversaries. It may be possible that some customs are being slowly abandoned by the Welsh in America; but I am sure that the Cwrdd Mawr (great meeting) is as popular as ever, if not more so. They regard it with a veneration akin to that with which the Jews regard the feast of the Passover. This is no blind enthusiasm. It is a zeal according to knowledge. In these meetings much of the singing is congregational, and John Wesley’s advice to “ sing lustily ” is carried out. There are some celebrated old Welsh tunes which have been united in holy wedlock to as many Welsh hymns for a hundred years, and when these hymns are given out, it is well understood what tunes will follow. I have witnessed scenes that were spiritually grand during the singing of these veteran compositions. This is often the case in the evening of the second day, at the close of the meeting. I have one of these hymns in my mind this moment. I learned both the words and the melody over forty-five years ago, and whenever I hear them sung, my heart is “ strangely warmed.” Here is one stanza that I shall never forget in this world nor the world to come; —
Y gwna'i fy noddfa dan y ne’,
Ond yn ei glwyfau amwyl E' ?
Y bicell gre' aeth dan ei fron,
Agonvyd ffynhon i'n glanhau,
'Rwy'n llawenhau fod Ile ya hon.”
I have heard much singing in my day, in both languages, but never have I seen a more wonderful display of the power of sacred melody upon the human heart, than in the influence of that old hymn and tune at some of these Welsh meetings. The last three lines would be sung over and over again, while some of the more demonstrative would give way to the intensity of their religious feelings, and turn their singing into shouting.
The effect often produced by a popular Welsh preacher is wonderful. There is one peculiarity connected with their preaching which differs entirely from anything that I ever observed in English pulpits: it is usually marked by a great variety of intonations. I do not know t the origin of this chanting style of preaching prevalent among the Welsh, though it was probably introduced by the founders of Calvinistic Methodism. The judicious use of it is confined to the more passionate or pathetic parts of a sermon. It differs entirely from that monotonous tone that is often heard in English churches, or the chromatic chanting of the mass before papal altars; it is a melody of the purest nature. It is not an easy matter to impart to the English mind a clear idea of the genuine Welsh hwyl, or that musical style in which the minister pours forth his pathetic passages when under " full canvas.” A clergyman who has not an ear for music can never charm his hearers with this melodic hwyl, and it would be exceedingly unfortunate for him to attempt it, for it embraces the tones and semitones of the scale. Occasionally, however, a Welsh minister wholly destitute of this talent will endeavor to practice it. The best description I can give of this peculiarity is this: it is the application of sentences in a chanting style to portions of the minor scale. The minister is never at a loss how to apply the words to the melody; they appear to run together as by mutual attraction. The sentence is started, for instance, on E minor. The minister has his own peculiar melody. It ranges here and there from the first to the fifth, often reaching the octave, and then descending and ending in sweet cadence on the key-note. I am sure that in the genuine hwyl the intonations are always in the minor mode. The introduction and the deliberative parts are in the major, and the voice continues thus until the emotional point is reached; then it glides triumphantly into a thrilling minor, which generally continues to the close.
The great popular annual gathering of a national character among the Welsh is the Eisteddfod, a literary and musical festival. The term is composed of two Welsh words, eistedd, to sit, and bod, to be; thus the word aptly conveys the idea of a body sitting and deliberating on matters of state or literature. The word is pronounced ise-teth-vod; the th in the second syllable sounded as in thou. The accent is on the penultima, which is, almost without exception, the rule for pronouncing Welsh ; adding au to the singular forms the plural. Eisteddfod, then, means a congress of bards, or a literary and musical convention. We find the Eisteddfod in vogue as early as the sixth century, and we are told that King Cadwalader held one in the seventh century. In 1176 Rhys ap Gruffydd, prince of the southern section, a warm and liberal patron of the bards, many of whom were valiant generals and popular advisers in the councils of the nation, held a grand Eisteddfod in Cardigan Castle, Wales, after having given notice for one year and one day, according to the rules of the bardic order. And thus, at shorter intervals throughout the centuries, these national conventions have been held on a magnificent scale. By to-day they have become a necessity to the people, both in Wales and in America. At one of these gatherings a list of subjects and prizes is announced for the next. Essay writing, poetry, music, singing, have a hearing, each branch according to the order prescribed. In this country thousands of dollars are annually given to this object, and the meetings are thus a source of intelligence and refinement to the nation. The modern festival differs somewhat from that of the olden times. But the old characteristics are watched over with loving jealousy, and no innovations are permitted to push aside the poetry, the song, and the harp. The popularity of the Eisteddfod is on the increase on both sides of the water. In America, some eight or ten of these are held annually in different parts of the Union. The most prominent, perhaps, meets at Utica, New York, on each New Year’s Day, when the large opera house is completely filled.
The Welsh language is particularly rich in poetry. That this is no better known to the literary world is due in a great measure to other causes than the language in which it is written. The Welsh metres are so circumscribed by rules, as to accent and rhythm, that many of them are entirely different from anything in that line in the English or, as far as we know, any other language. Their grand test of poetry, at least until lately, has been in what is termed mesurau caethion (restricted metres). In these are written the englyn, cywydd, and awdl. In this style of poetry there is a peculiarity that is very hard to explain to those who are strangers to our language. The best single word in English explanatory of this peculiarity is alliteration; but it falls far short of conveying a full meaning. A good poem in these restricted metres requires not only poetical genius, but also a great deal of mechanical ingenuity. Certain vowels and consonants in each line must bear an exact relation to each other. A production of this kind in Welsh may be highly meritorious in point of real poetry, and yet, if it fails in its mechanical construction, it is condemned. The great test production of the Eisteddfod hitherto has been the awdl, and this composition embraces the famous pedwar mesur a'r hugain (twenty-four metres), and each metre a caeth or a restricted one, where the perpetual harmonious jingling of the appropriate vowels and consonants is heard throughout. This is called cynghanedd (harmony). I may say here that this harmony, on perhaps a more simple scale, is also very often used by our Welsh poets in common versification, in hymns, Christmas carols, etc., and to me at least it has a charming effect. I can explain this peculiar Welsh cynghanedd better to my English reader with a common stanza in the “free” metres, than with an extract in the restricted ones. The following is from a fine production by my excellent friend, the late Dr. Robert Maurice, of Trenton, Oneida County, New York, whose writings abound in the most natural cynghanedd, as well as true poetry. I will mark those letters or parts of words that form the harmony:—
Iddo clywais eiriau clod,
Yn ei gwmni nid oedd gamwedd,
Dyn yn rhyfedd dan y rhod !
Ond o‘r diwedd, i'n didoli,
Angau difri ingawl dwys,
A’i law arfog er im' erfya,
'Dynai' gorffyn dan y gwys.”
Among the Welsh there is no end to the subjects and occasions for which the englyn has been used: deaths, births, and marriages; almost everything “ in heaven above, and on earth beneath, and in the water under the earth.” The following has one peculiarity that renders it even among the Welsh a specimen of literary curiosity. It sets forth in glowing terms the industry, perseverance, and ingenuity of the spider, but its distinction is in its being composed exclusively of vowels. It is full in all its parts, and in perfect harmony with the laws of the restricted metres:
Ei wyau a wea;
E wywa ei we aua’,
A'i weau yw ieuau ia.”
In the works of the old classic bards we see nothing of this alliteration: but about the fourteenth century we find a tendency toward this style of rhythm. Casnodyn is said to have composed the first englyn, in an elegy to Prince Madog.
Of late, a new school of poets has sprung up in Wales, which boldly repudiates what it terms the arrogant claims of the old school, and the restricted metres. They insist that the old style has greatly retarded the progress of true poetry in the principality, and that real merit has been sacrificed to mechanical harmony. The new school finds already among its patrons some of the finest poets in the country. They have so far advanced as to place themselves on a respectable footing at the Eisteddfod. They deserve much praise. They have introduced a healthy variety, and have won a deserved prominence for the Pryddest (Ode). But the old cynghanedd will never cease to be a grand feature in Welsh poetry.
As musical vocalists the Welsh stand deservedly high. Their choral singing is very fine. A short time ago a Welsh choir of five hundred voices from South Wales, under the direction of “ Caradoc,” astonished the world by its brilliant. performance at the London Crystal Palace, in a competition for a famous cup valued at a thousand guineas. They were opposed by the noted Tonic SolFa Choir, of London, the best in England. The judges without a dissenting voice proclaimed the Welsh choir victors. The applause was deafening, and to the lasting honor of the English choir be it chronicled, they cheered as heartily as any in the palace. Before their return to Wales the winners were feasted in royal palaces, while all along their journey homeward they were met by their enthusiastic countrymen with shouts of congratulation.
Miss Edith Wynne stands among the first vocalists of the world, and is equally at home in charming her countrymen with a Welsh song at the Eisteddfod, in thrilling English audiences in the spacious halls of the metropolis, or in delighting Americans at a Boston jubilee.
The Welsh in America, in proportion to their number and circumstances, possess all the musical zeal and vigor of their countrymen at home. And this feature above all others is being more largely developed every year. I have heard singing at their public conventions, in solos, duets, and full choruses, which was of a very high order. The Eisteddfod is gradually and constantly becoming more musical, and consequently more attractive. A movement has already originated preparatory to the forming of a choir of five hundred voices to sing at the great American centennial at Philadelphia.
We have three weekly newspapers: the oldest, Y Drych (The Mirror), published at Utica, New York; Banner America, published at Scranton, Pennsylvania; Y Wasg (The Press), published at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These three papers, in their mechanical execution and literary ability, will compare well with the best of our country English weeklies. We have three monthlies: the Cyfaill (Friend) is published at Utica, New York, for the Calvinistic Methodist Church, and edited by Rev. William Roberts, D. D. The Cenhadwr (Messenger) until a few months ago was published and edited by the late venerable Robert Everett, D. D., in the interest of the Congregational churches. The Cenhadwr took a noble stand for the downtrodden in the early days of abolitionism. Blodeu yr Oes (Flowers of the Age) is a sprightly juvenile published at Utica, and edited by Rev. M. A. Ellis, A. M.
One peculiarity of the Welsh, both at home and in America, is their comparatively small number of names and the great number of persons answering to the same name. Let every John Jones and William Williams be called out, and they would present a very large number.
The reader will readily conclude that some hundred or two persons answering to the name John Jones, in a single parish, would create a “ confusion worse confounded.” But, happily, in Wales this embarrassment, at least in the rural districts, is obviated by a custom which may seem novel to the American reader. Every farm-house, and indeed every other house and hut in the principality, with the exception of those in cities and large villages, has its own distinct name, and this, unlike those of persons, is always different from all others. These names or designations are of an almost endless variety, and generally arise from some peculiarity of the locality or the sites on which the houses stand. Whenever a person’s name is mentioned in connection with any event whatever, the name of his house or farm is invariably given; otherwise, in most cases, it would be impossible to tell who the person was, for the name is claimed by at least fifty in that region. If it were announced in a city paper that on last Thursday Mr. William Jones, of the parish of Llanddeiniolen, on his return from town had unfortunately been thrown from his horse and seriously injured, the people would laugh at the blundering indefiniteness of the information, for they are acquainted with a hundred persons of that name in the parish. But if it had been written that William Jones of Glan’rafon (Riverside) had met with the misfortune, it would have been perfectly plain, for there is but one Glan’rafon in the whole parish. Without this usage, to us in America, events in Wales in connection with certain names could not be intelligible. I read weekly in the columns of Y Drych and Y Wasg, a list of deaths in Wales which would be of no value whatever to us in the absence of this distinction.
But how among the Welsh in the States? Here again we meet the same difficulty, but we are not able to find relief in the same way. In a few instances in the old settlements,individuals are distinguished by the names of their farms, which generally follow the appellations of those which their parents or ancestors occupied in Wales. In America, in Welsh settlements, the difficulty is sought to be obviated by the assistance of middle letters. In the town of Remsen, Oneida County, New York, some thirty years ago I was informed that the John Joneses and William Williamses, and a few other names, had used up the whole alphabet in middle letters to distinguish themselves from others, John A. and John B., and so on. When John Z. was reached, and another John Jones appeared, he had to be called John A. Jones No. 2. If any of our inventive Americans can furnish a scheme to relieve us from this embarrassment, they will be worthy to rank among the benefactors of mankind.
Another Welsh peculiarity is that a great number of their married ladies retain their maiden names. I know not how far this custom prevails in this country, but it does in some measure. In Wales it is quite common, especially among the peasantry. This was so in my own mother’s case. Although the wife of William Jones, she was always known among her friends and relatives as Nellie Hughes, and I am sure that no other name would have given her any satisfaction.
Welsh children are called by their fathers' first names; this is quite common, and the custom in a measure prevails in America. Among my near neighbors in Wales was the family of Llys y Gwynt. That was the name of the house. The father’s name was Richard Thomas. But the children, with one exception, were surnamed Pritchard (ap Richard); the exception among ten was Erasmus Thomas. It is so throughout the principality, but not so much as in former years. In America also this is often found. Robert Abram and Ellis Pritchard were brothers, and were wellknown citizens of Trenton and Steuben, in Oneida County. Here, however, this practice will soon die out, and the sooner the better. It is an unfortunate custom, through which the names of our ancestors are buried in impenetrable obscurity.
In regard to the future of our people in this country as a distinct Welshspeaking nation, it is not easy to argue definitely. In the older settlements the children, although able to speak the language, prefer to converse iu English. There is a strong probability that in these localities coming generations will gradually work out the old tongue, and that on the spots where now assemble crowded audiences to hear Welsh preaching, their descendants, in larger gatherings and iu more commodious churches, will gather to hear the gospel dispensed in the universal language of the country.
It is in the new settlements of the West that the Welsh language will be perpetuated the longest. Thither are the emigrants bound, and there they settle in strong numbers. There Welsh churches are built and Welsh ministers ordained. The language may yet become obsolete throughout the land, but that period must be remote; and when I attend our yearly Eistoddfodau, and mark the enthusiastic nationality, or gaze on the listening thousands at the preaching anniversaries, I am led to think that possibly it may never come. And for one, I am ready to cry from the depth of a full Welsh heart, “ Oes y byd i’r iaith gymraeg !” (" The world’s life-time to the Welsh language! ”)
Erasmus W. Jones.