Dowlais Stables – an additional comment

Many thanks to Victoria Owens, a keen supporter of this blog for the following piece that she sent as a comment on my previous post. As it is so interesting I thought it was worth sharing with everyone and deserved a post in its own right.

In January 1835, following Josiah John Guest’s return – unopposed- as Merthyr Tydfil’s MP, he and Lady Charlotte hosted a ball in the granaries above the Dowlais stabling to celebrate. Charlotte organised the decorations, which included patriotic transparencies proclaiming ‘W.R.’ [William Rex] and EGLWYS Y BRENEN [Church and King] drawn by the clerks from the ironworks office and hung where they caught the light. Josiah John’s Arms -‘with a Lyre and a fleur de lys’ according to the Merthyr Guardian, but when had he acquired the right to an heraldic device? – were chalked on the floor. The Rev Evan Jenkins, Rector of Dowlais, lent the Guests the church chandeliers, evergreens bedecked the walls and the band of the Cardiff militia provided music. The local gentry, whether or not they shared Guest’s political views, came in anticipation of a good party. By all accounts, the weather was vile, with thick snow delaying the London mail coach. In consequence, the local paper had much fun at the expense of a party of urban sophisticates who arrived too late for the fashionable quadrilles and had to make do with country dances ‘like Sir Roger de Coverley and Boulanger’.

(Information from the Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette, Saturday 24 January 1835 and Lady Charlotte Guest, Extracts from her Journal, ed. the Earl of Bessborough (John Murray: London, 1950, pp 37-38, 19 – 20 January 1835).

A Wizard at Cyfarthfa

The article, transcribed below, appeared in the Merthyr Guardian 170 years ago today:

On Friday evening, the 5th instant, by permission of R. T. Crawshay, Esq., Mr. Mathews, Wizard of Wizards, &c., exhibited his extraordinary feats of legerdemain at the Cyfarthfa ball room. The rapidity and cleverness with which Mr M. performed an almost endless succession of tricks, excited the wonder and curiosity of the spectators, and afforded very general satisfaction.

His ventriloquism was a novelty to many in the assembly and was very well done. But that which utterly confounded the shrewdest spectators in the room was the part enacted (as it would seem) by the so-called Mysterious Lady. She was truly blindfolded, and her back was duly turned upon the audience, yet she seemed to be perfectly cognizant of all that was carried on-and to every question she returned a correct and prompt reply. The contents of many a bachelor’s pocket were ransacked and every item was correctly described – she seemed to hear the very whispers of persons at a considerable distance from her, for she would pronounce aloud every secret that thus transpired. Even dumb show was significant to her for she appeared to see and understand it all.

A gentleman present shewed by chance a shilling of the Elizabethian age – a curiosity in its way – it was no sooner in Mr. Mathews’s hands than his lady yonder told him all about it. “Confound you” said one of the knowing ones present – I understand your other tricks very well, but this thoroughly puzzles me”- ” then you are confounded Sir”, was the prompt reply. This part of the performance was very cleverly accomplished.

The entertainment gave general satisfaction to a numerous and respectable company. The performances were repeated to a large company on Wednesday evening, with similar success.

Merthyr Guardian – 13 March 1847

Morlais Castle

Following of from Carl Llewellyn’s thoughts on the meaning of the word Morlais, here is a poem entitled ‘Morlais Castle’ that appeared in the Merthyr Guardian, that he has kindly transcribed.

MORLAIS CASTLE
by A.C. Luthman

I’ve climbed the hill where Morlais stands
And proudly looks on subject lands,
And though no more the banner tells
That there a belted chieftain dwells,
Nor stately dames nor maidens fair
Hold now their gentle revels there;
Nor minstrel wakes his love-notes sweet,
Or guides the dance of fairy feet,
Or sweeping strongly o’er the strings,
Of daring deeds of arms he sings.
Till fiercely up the warrior springs,
And calling for his spear and shield,
He deems himself in battle field
Nor fires beheld whose meteor ray
Gave dreadful promise for the day
Nor arms, that threw a sun like light
O’er vales enshrouded in the night;
Nor mingles with the eagle’s cry,
The trumpet’s tones of victory
Though all are gone, and Ruin’s hand
Hath swept her glories from the land.
Still sits she there in queenly state
And like a monarch struck by Fate,
She looks sublimely desolate
And hundreds to her mountain home
With wondering worship daily come,
And walk round where her bulwarks hoar
The wrath of heaven and mortals bore,
Till Time, the dread destroyer, came,
And shook to dust her giant frame;
One only spot his power withstood,
A temple of the living God,
Formed in its day with matchless skill,
And, though decaying, lovely still.
And one vast rock-hewn pit appears,
The wonder of successive years,
But whether used as druid’s cell
Or giant’s grave there’s none to tell.
I gazed around with heavy heart,
Then turned my footsteps to depart,
But ere I left I looked below
On vales now rich with sunset glow,
Vales where, by labour worn and soiled,
Uncounted vassals hourly toiled,
Or armed as faithful guards were set
Upon her massive parapet,
That Morlais on her rocky throne
Might rule in regal state alone
But oh how changed! Her power no more
Is owned by thousands as of yore!
The hinds are gone who once drew near
Her mighty gates with hearts of fear,
And now the peasant loiters by
And rarely upwards casts his eye,
Save when some passing stranger calls
And asks the way to Morlais halls,
When he replies, They once were there,
But now I scarce can tell you where.

The Glamorgan Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian
25th July 1840