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The Western Mail of January 10th contained the following:
The year being the jubilee of the publication of Dickens's great work, several inquiries have appeared in Notes and Queries relative to the existence of persons bearing the name of the leading character in the book. A playful answer appears in this week's issue of our contemporary from the pen of the editor of the Red Dragon, whose remarks possess an interest to Welsh people which makes it well worth our while to reproduce it to them. "I wonder," Mr. Harris writes, "whether any of your readers are aware that there lives at Penarth, near this town, a portly Pickwick rejoicing in the prenomen Eleazar. I have long known Sergeant Eleazar Pickwick as one of the most meritorious officers of police in the county, and have often chaffed him on, not only the nominal but the personal resemblance to Dickens's hero, as depicted for us by 'Phiz.''
The satirical weekly Whip, whose birth we recently noticed, culivates Welsh pretty largely. It has a "Mrs. Morgan Jones's Letter," purporting to be written in Welshwoman's English, and frequently intersperses its other matter with phrases from the vernacular. This was notably the case with a somewhat extended and not altogether complimentary criticism of the proceedings of the Cymmrodorion eisteddfod at Cardiff on Christmas Day. The paper has smartened up considerably in its later issues.
The Sunday at Home for January begins a series of articles on the "Hymn Writers of Wales and their Hymns," of which the writer is the Rev. H. Elvet Lewis, Hull, an old contributor to the Red Dragon. In the course of his first paper the rev. gentleman may be found saying:
Among all the bardic quarrels of Welsh literature, the quarrel of Archdeacon Prys with William Cynval must be counted as its Iliad. The latter was a smith by trade, and received one day a message in verse from the arcbdeacon asking for a steel bow to be sent to a friend according to promise. The smith-who was also a poet-made a long delay, and sent his excuses back in verse. So the battle went on, poem for poem; then the archdeacon began to treble his blows, sending three satires together, and receiving the same number of fiery missiles in return. The archdeacon then thought he would finish his adversary with a fusillade of nine poems, but the sturdy blacksmith was sufficiently alive still to reply with another nine. Three times nine poems was the next ons'aught, but when the archdeacon had finished sixteen of them, a messenger brought him tidings that his rival had reached the dark and silent land where "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom -nor any noise of warfare! He threw his sword far into the sea; and there and then commenced an elegy bewailing the loss of so brave a foe, so skilful a poet !
A correspondence, carried on in the Athenæum, relative to the necessity or otherwise of preserving the old geographical boundary between Wales and England has just been brought to a conclusion by Mr. Edward Foulkes, Llanberis, in a letter from which we extract the concluding passage :-"A propos of what has been written in this correspondence," Mr. Foulkes says, "may I call the attention of Welsh publishers and of all interested in education in Wales to the need of providing elementary school books, especially primers on history, giving adequate place to Welsh history, which is entirely ignored in the books. published by English houses, now generally used? It is an anomalous state of things which prevails in elementary schools throughout Wales, in which children are taught the stories of the Saxon, Danish, and Norman invaders of Britain, but are left in entire ignorance of the history of their own nation and race."
The Right Hon. A. J. Mundella, M.P., ex-Vice-President of the Council on Education, addressing a meeting at Cardiff, on Saturday night, January 22nd, on the occasion of a Prize Distribution to the students of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, made some important remarks on the subject of a knowledge of Welsh. He said: "I am not amongst those who believe that the knowledge and study of the Welsh language is itself a hindrance to acquirements in English literature. On the contrary, it is an advantage to be bilingual. A man who thinks in two languages, who has resources in two vocabularies, is a better thinker, speaker, and writer than a man who only thinks and speaks in one. It is a striking fact recorded in the report I have before me that the Welsh children pass better on the average-or, rather, have done during the last year than the English children. The average passes in England are 85-14, and the average passes in Wales 85.76. If, therefore, the children who come from Welsh-speaking homes pass better in English than the English children who come from English-speaking homes, I cannot doubt that the man acquainted with your literature and native language who speaks Welsh and is master of English will find a facility in mastering modern languages."
E. A. DILLWYN.
Author of “ Jill," "The Rebecca Rioter," " A Burglary,” "Chloe Arguelle."
Mr. Morgan being seriously disquieted at Reginald's indifferent performance amongst the pheasants, and extremely anxious to have better shooting on the morrow, reflected deeply upon 'what could be done to secure that end besides withholding the brown sherry to which he attributed his guest's unsteadiness of aim. Sitting up late and large consumption of tobacco were no doubt bad for the nerves, and, therefore, to be discouraged just at present as much as possible. Consequently when the ladies went to bed and the two gentlemen adjourned to the smoking-room, Mr. Morgan only stayed long enough to smoke one pipe, and then took himself off to his couch, with an earnest recommendation to Reginald to follow his example speedily. Thus it was still quite early when all the inmates of Llysderw, except the last-named, had retired to their rooms, and everything seemed settled down peacefully for the night.
Gladys had undressed and made ready for bed, and was standing before the fire in a reverie, when her meditations were disturbed by thinking that she heard a faint click in the passage outside, as if the handle of her door had been touched. The noise-if noise there were-lasted but a moment, and was so very slight that she was by no means sure of having heard anything at all. She called out "Who's there?" without in the least expecting that anyone really was there. And as all remained silent she took it for granted that the sound had only existed in her own imagination, and thought no more about it as she blew out her candle, got into bed, and drew the clothes up comfortably over her till little except the crown of her head was left visible.
Hark! had not one of the boards of the tower staircase creaked as if trodden on? She pushed back the bed-clothes that covered her ears and prevented her hearing clearly. But after listening for a minute or so, without anything being audible, she came to the conclusion that she had again been mistaken; so she troubled herself no further about the matter, and once more settled herself off snugly to go to sleep.
Drowsiness, however, had as yet not passed into actual unconsciousness when she was recalled to a condition of wakefulness by her nostrils, which made her aware of the presence of smoke, and informed her that something besides coal was burning somewhere within reach of smell. Could that mean that the house had caught fire?
Instantly there flashed across her a recollection of what had been said the night before during dinner. The fire-escape having got out of order was useless. The long ladder was too heavy and unwieldy to be moved about and erected without the help of several men. Consequently no one could possibly get at the window of a room as high up as hers was, from outside. Hence if there were a fire she had not a chance of escaping except by the staircase, and must avail herself of it without a moment's delay. To be shut up there in a fire, with the sole means of retreat cut off, would be a horror unimaginable.
These thoughts passed swiftly through her head whilst she sprang from the bed and ran to look out into the passage in order to ascertain the cause of the smoke and odour that had alarmed her. But the first preliminary necessary to looking out into the passage was to get the door open; and to that there was some inexplicable obstacle. The handle turned freely as usual, yet the door would not open. Whatever could be making it stick fast so obstinately? Locked perhaps? Not likely, for it was not her custom to lock her door at night. Still, she might have done it in a fit of absent-mindedness without noticing what she was doing. And her fingers left the handle to feel for the key with an eagerness which was stimulated to a high degree by an unpleasant consciousness that the smell of burning was continually growing stronger, and the smoke thicker.
To her surprise and horror she found the key-hole empty. Where could the key be? Ah! perhaps some part of her dress had got caught in it when she came to bed and closed the door; and it might have been pulled out of the lock and fallen down without her hearing it fall.
By this time she had no further doubts as to the fact that the house was really on fire, and matters looked too serious for her to waste a single moment. Therefore, she would not incur even the brief delay involved in lighting a candle if she could help it, and began feeling about on the floor in the dark
directly it occurred to her that the key might possibly be there. After groping for a minute in vain, however, she thought she would save time in the end if she stopped to get a light; so she jumped up, and hurried across to the table whereon the candle and matches lay. She had already began to call for help as loudly as she could; and she now made another attempt to give the alarm by pulling vigorously at the bellrope as she passed it. But for all that, she had small hopes of what other people could do for her; and felt that her safety probably depended entirely upon herself, and that she was lost unless she could get the door open in time to make her escape before the fire should reach the tower stairs.
Having procured a light in frantic haste, she sped back to the door, scrutinised every inch near it, and rummaged through each nook and corner into which she thought the missing key could possibly have fallen, or been shoved unconsciously by herself. In vain! Wherever it might be, it was certainly not discoverable; and when she realised that fact she desisted from the useless search with a sinking heart.
Then she bethought her of trying to batter down the door, and attacked it desperately. But its construction was far too solid to yield to such force as she possessed, and she speedily perceived that in this direction also her exertions were altogether unavailing. The rapidly accumulating smoke made her fling open the window to get air. She had often read of people letting themselves down from windows by means of sheets joined together- and in reading of that performance had always entertained considerable doubts as to its feasibility for anyone like herself who was unaccustomed to support her weight on her arms, and, therefore, she thought, more likely to tumble down headlong than to descend safely. But in spite of these doubts she would most certainly have made the experiment now, if only her situation had been less elevated. As it was, however, it was in vain to think of such a thing, on account of the great height of her window above the ground. Was there then nothing to be done? Alas-no! It was but too evident that she was unable to get out of the four walls of her room, and must wait there perforce for the flames to come to her a terrible fate to contemplate!
Yet, terrible or not, it was inevitable; and what she had to do now was to summon all her fortitude that she might die bravely and as she ought. There was in her somewhat of the spirit which prompted Walter Scott's Constance to defy her doom of living burial, with
Come he slow or come he fast,
It is but death that comes at last.
But yet in spite of Gladys' pluck she could not help shuddering at the thought of the fiery death that awaited her. Would,