Mr Thomas Edward Ellis M.P. (1859-1899)
Dies at Cannes form Over-Work
Nationalist, Politician, Educationalist
Fills High Office with Dignity
An Ardent Welshman and Patriot
With deep regret we announce today the death of Mr. Thomas E. Ellis, M.P., for Merionethshire Mr Ellis died at Cannes at eight o’clock on Wednesday morning, and it is not too much to say that a painful shock was felt through the United Kingdom when the new was known. For the young Welshman, he was only forty, was only at the beginning of a career laden with the fullest promise, and it is not yet a year since we were all rejoicing with him, amid the sounds of wedding bells ringing over the quaint Welsh ceremony which united him to one of Cardingshire’s fairest daughters.
Through the future that then lay before him one seemed to see am easy path to high places in the service of the State, and particularly of the political party for which he had toiled, as it now turns out, at the cost of his life to serve. For it is fairly certain that a physique at no time robust was entirely shattered by the constant toil of the trying and wearing duties of Chief Party Whip. Under tow ministries it devolved upon Mr Ellis to keep intact two much small majorities that the marvel is, not that he should have given way under the pressure but a frame so unfitted for the tearing and enduring work of up-to-date Parliamentary warfare should have stood the strain so long and well. Down to last year, however Mr Ellis kept in fairly good health, but during his honeymoon in the Usk Valley in Junes of last year he was seized with an illness that never afterwards entirely forsook him. In the autumn he and Mrs Ellis went to Egypt, and on returning to England he declared himself as feeling much stronger. Hard work as the beginning of the session again told upon his health, and he was compelled to remain at home for some days in the middle of March. The hon. Member left London, with Mrs Ellis, on the Saturday previous to the rising of the House of Commons for the Easter recess. He had been suffering from an attack of influenza, and it was thought that a short sojourn in the South would enable him to return to his Parliamentary duties with renewed health. After Mr Ellis’s arrival at Cannes cheerful reports were received from him as to his improving condition, but he must have suffered a relapse since the last communication, and on Wednesday morning a message was received at the Central Liberal Offices form Cannes stating that the hon. Member died at eight o’clock, the cause of death being brain fever.
Letter from Mrs Ellis
The Press Association Bala correspondent states: The news of Me Ellis’s death reached Bala and Cynlas, the deceased gentleman’s Welsh home, early on Wednesday morning, causing the utmost consternation and general sorrow throughout the district. Before proceeding to Cannes, Mr Ellis spent a week end at Cynlas, and he then appeared far from strong, and in need of complete rest. His family are naturally distressed as the result of the sad occurrence. About an hour before the news arrived at Cynlas a letter came to hand from Mrs Ellis: “I am very sorry to tell you that Tom is not well. He has been complaining of headache since we have been here. Now and then it would get better, but this morning his agony was terrible. We sent for the doctor, and he has just been, and said his temperature is too high, and that there is a little congestion at the base of the right lung, which means something, pleurisy, the doctor says, but he could not tell better tomorrow. I cannot tell you how I feel, for it is so disappointing that he should be ill again so soon. The doctor thinks the fatigue of travelling must have been too much for him.”
Brain Fever the Cause of Death
Sir John Brunner’s first intimation to Me Ellis’s relatives of his critical condition was conveyed in the following telegram: “Tom developed brain fever last night, and is passing away. No strength in reserve. Doctor is here. Bitterly grieved for you.” The final wire was; “Tom passed away at eight o’clock having been unconscious for twenty-four hours.”
Telegram to Mr Ellis’s Father
Mr Hudson secretary of the National Liberal Federation, wiring from Brighton to Mr Ellis’s aged father says: “Alas! I am stricken by the terrible news. You have lost the best of sons. Mrs Ellis has lost the truest of husbands, and I have lost a dearest friend. That God may give you strength in this hour of deepest sorrow is the prayer of one who knows what sorrow is.”
Sir John Brunner and Lord Rendel are making the funeral arrangements. The body will arrive at Bala on Saturday, and the interment will take place at the Cefnddwystarn Cemetery, close to Cynlas, on Tuesday. A memorial service is likely to be held at Bala.
Story of His Life
From the Farm to the Councils of his Nation
The most prominent figure in the Welsh Radical part has fallen. “Tom Ellis,” as he was familiarly known, is dead. It is impossible to conceive any event of a public character which could come more closely home to the hearts of the Welsh people. “Tom Ellis” was essentially one of themselves, and he never forgot or ignored that fact, even when promoted to high office under the Liberal Government. Mr T.E. Ellis the member of Merionethshire, Patronage Secretary to the Treasury, and Senior Liberal Whip, was born at a farm called Cynlas, on the Rhiwlas Estate, near Bala, in 1859. Like all true Cambro-Britons, his parents determined to give their son the best education they could afford. He was brought up in a religious atmosphere, and was a true specimen of the production of the old Welsh university, the Sunday school, where he was a prominent scholar and faithful teacher before he was almost out of his teens. He made such progress and distinguished himself so much in the various schools in the surroundings of his native place as justify his father in sending him to the newly-opened university college at Aberystwyth.
Here again, Tom Ellis was a prominent figure, and came out, not only with flying colours as a scholar, but as a thorough Welsh Nationalist. He went afterwards to Oxford, and after taking his degree he was for a time private tutor to John Cory’s sons and afterwards private secretary to Mr Brunner, M.P. He was with the latter gentleman in 1886 when he was called to contest his native county in the Liberal interests, and it came about this way: Mr Robertson of Pale, after being elected only in 1885, did not seek re-election in 1886, and the Merionethshire Liberals were rather in a dilemma for a candidate. At last they invited Mr Herbert Lewis, the present member for the Flint Boroughs. In declining the invitation, Mr Lewis said that they had amongst themselves one of their own sons of the soil, a far more fat and able person to represent them in Parliament namely, Mr T.E. Ellis, Cynlas, Bala. After a long discussion, and, very reluctantly, he was invited; and, although he was opposed by one of the largest landed proprietors in the county, he was returned by 1,000 majority. Since then he was prominent enough in and out of Parliament for the pubic to form an opinion of him: but, whatever that may have been, everybody must admit that he was a true Cymro, never failed to take advantage of every opportunity to bring forth the claims of his dear native land, and that he had not forgotten his brethren, although promoted to an office under the Liberal Government.
Mr. Ellis proved one thing for the Liberal party and, indeed, for all parties-namely, that, as the London “Echo” pleasantly phrased it, “a man of fashion is not indispensable in a, successful Patronage Secretary. It is not necessary that he ‘should have acquired the art of picturesque posture. It is not necessary that he should be dressed by the artists of Conduit Street or Burlington Gardens. It is not even a condition of his success that he don a new and glossy hat every new moon. No doubt we have entered upon reactionary times, and the kibe of my lord is no longer galled by the toe of the peasant in too close proximity to his noble heel. Equally certain is it, therefore, that fifty or thirty years ago Mr. Ellis would have been impossible as a Whip. But that only shows what slaves to custom were our political progenitors.”
Mr. Ellis first acted as Junior to Mr. Marjoribanks, now Lord Tweedmouth, and in June, 1894, succeeded him in the post of Chief Whip. The accession to themost important office from a party point of view under the Crown was heralded by some sharp criticism from the men of fashion, from the disciples and apostles of tradition. Liberals, it was said, would not obey any but a patrician Whip, a man with a showy wife, a giver of dinners, an invitation to which is a passport to the holy of holies of society. Most gloomy were the misgivings of these pessimists; and, one thing added to another, the smallness of the Government majority, the opposition of Mr. Labouchere to Lord Rosebery’s Premiership, the rival claims to legislative precedence, and the settled gloom ci the Chancellor of the Exchequer, added to the selection of a bachelor as Whip, would, it was prophesied, bring down the Ministry before Ascot. But the Government outlived those vaticinators, and it was mainly due to their Whip that they survived until the middle of 1895. Mr. Ellis not, only falsified the gloomy prophecies of Radical seers; he more than redeemed the foresight of his former chief, the late Patronage Secretary. He was, in fact, a better shepherd than Mr. Marjoribanks ever showed himself. He always did with gentleness what Mr. Marjoribanks attempted with harshness, and the fathers of the party out lived their wives’ objection to a Whip whose house could not be a rallying point for the dowagers and their daughters.
Mr. Tom Ellis was a many-sided man, and occupied a large place in the public life of Wales. He was an educationist whose claims to be heard on the subject were second to no other Welsh member or Welshman of any class. He was thoroughly acquainted with the social and religious life of the people, and could speak with authority on questions affecting the government, doctrine, or discipline of the denomination to which he belonged, the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists. He had familiarised himself from his boyhood with those interesting native gatherings, literary meetings or eisteddfodau, and knew what to say, and he always spoke sense on those occasions, when he was invited to fill the presidential chair. He possessed the literary gift to a very large extent, and wielded a trenchant pen both in Welsh and English, an accomplishment of which very few Parliamentary representatives could boast from the time of Henry VIII to our own.
As an educationist it is impossible to over-estimate the importance of his services. In a biographical sketch of this kind it is only fair to record facts and leave them to speak for themselves. Thousands of our readers must have disapproved of the policy which was adopted by those in power when the Welsh Intermediate Education Act came into force, bringing ancient endowments under the Act, and throwing them open to all irrespective of religious or denominational considerations. We shall not stop now to dis- cuss the justice or injustice of such a policy, and will only say that Mr Tom Ellis had a leading hand in shaping the course of inter- mediate education in Wales as we now find it. He worked harder than any other man in or out of office, probably, in order to carry out the clauses of the Act; and he succeeded immensely; -succeeded in the face of strong opposition where weaker men would have miserably failed. Whatever be the merits of the Welsh system, or whatever the advantages the country will reap from it in time to come, its foundation is in great part due to the exertions and enthusiasm of the member for Merioneth. There was no Welshman who took greater interest in Welsh education in all its phases, or greater pride in the very complete system established in Wales, for the growth of which from the beginning, young though he was, he was an admiring witness. He was a member of the court and warden of the Guild of Graduates of the University of Wales, and of the Central Board of Intermediate and Technical Education, positions which he was eminently well fitted to fill. We have just said that Mr. Ellis was a literary character of great ability. It was little, how- ever, he wrote. His life was too busy, and, alas, too short, to write much, but he brought out a volume, in connection with his friend Sir John Brunner, on the subject of education, and he contributed many articles to the press of his native country in both languages. He had much to say on those questions which have agitated the Welsh mind especially since 1868.
Disestablishment and disendowment, the land question, and, of course, his favourite theme, Welsh education. On more than one occasion he entered the lists as a controversialist. The circumstances in which he appeared in opposition to the Bishop of St. Asaph on the Denbigh school question are well known. Of course, both combatants had their friends who were certain in their own minds that their favourite had the best of the discussion. However, this may be said, that Mr. Tom Ellis was a formidable opponent on any question on which he felt keenly. Mr. Ellis, moreover, did much useful work by assisting in the publication of a series of Welsh classics for the sake of students in our intermediate schools and colleges. In fact, up to the time of his death he was engaged in preparing one of the selected works for the press “Llyfr y Tri Aderyn,” by Morgan Llwyd o Wynedd, an old mystic of the Caroline period, in whose writings Mr. Ellis was greatly interested.
It is hard to say whether as politician or educationalist Mr. Ellis did most service to Wales, but in neither capacity did he endear himself to the Welsh people as on those occasions on which he would address them in their own language on questions never touched before by any public man. He drew their attention to the necessity of providing better houses to live in, and of beautifying those houses by the introduction of pictures within and flowers and trees around them. He reminded Welshmen how neglectful they were of their famous dead, from the dawn of their history down, and urged them to raise monuments in every hamlet with a view to inspire Welsh youths of to-day and of the future with the lives and deeds of their ancestors. Mr. Ellis always proved attractive to his countrymen wherever he was or whatever subject he took in hand, but on no occasion in his life did he appear so interesting as on his wedding day. Everything conspired to make that event a popular and memorable one. Apart from the glamour which surrounded the name of Mr. Ellis himself, the bride was popular, a member of a family which had played a conspicuous part in the religious and intellectual life of Wales for at least a. century and a half. The bridegroom and bride, with their friends, improved the situation by making the wedding as Welsh in character as circumstances would allow; and the Welsh people entered fully into the spirit of their dream. The popularity of the pair was amply demonstrated by the unusually large number of presents that poured into their laps from all parts of the country, including the magnificent gifts of Lord Rosebery, Lord Tweedmouth, and other notabilities. Eventually Mr. Ellis’s Welsh friends invited him and his wife to a splendid banquet given in his honour. Unfortunately, much of the pleasure that would have accrued from that gathering was marred by the weak state of Mr. Ellis’s health ever since his honeymoon. Little Mr. Ellis’s friends thought that his married life, which looked so promising and so full of happiness, would have been cut so short. The Welsh people of all classes congregate as it were around his grave to express their grief for the departed and their deep- felt sympathy with his young widow.
His Electoral Battles
Mr. Ellis entered Parliament in 1886, and he had to fight for his seat at every election. His record in this respect is as follows:-
T. E. Ellis (L.) 4,127
J. Vaughan (C.) 2,860
T. E. Ellis (L.) 5,175
H. Owen (C.) 1.937
T. E. Ellis (L.) 5,173
C. E. J. Owen (C.) 2,232
Services to Education and Agriculture
In 1859, the year in which Thomas Edward Ellis was born, the most far-seeing and enthusiastic Welshman then living would not have believed it possible that twenty-seven years later the son of a small tenant-farmer would be member of Parliament for Merionethshire, and in a few years longer would be called upon to fill the important offices of Patronage Secretary to the Treasury and Senior Liberal Whip in the House of Commons. Unlikely, however, as it appeared to Welshmen who lived and held sway 40 years ago, this, and more, has happened in connection with Mr. Tom Ellis; and the fact marks a change in the political and social life of the Principality which it is difficult to fully realise. What produced the change was the memorable election of 1865, and especially that of 1868, and the remarkable spread of higher education in Wales. In 1859 the position of parties was nearly equal, but nine years later the Liberals returned 22 members, while the Conservatives won only eight seats. This was evidence that the old order had given place to the new, that the Tory squirearchly of Wales had been brushed aside by the democracy, and that no longer was it deemed necessary that a Member of Parliament should be the son and heir of a wealthy landlord or a man of fabulous wealth. A new race of Parliamentary candidates had appeared in the field, and in 1886 Mr. Ellis was one of them. We have been familiar with the new type of member for many years, and have come to think that the new is not inferior at least to the old. But it took Welshmen, even Welsh Radicals, a long time to become thoroughly reconciled to the change. Welshmen are a conservative people, even when their political creed is Radicalism.
It is impossible to say how early in his career Mr. Tom Ellis began to think seriously of politics as the chief business of his life. There are proofs that he was an advanced politician at Aberystwyth, and a more advanced one still at Oxford. In the debating society at the former institution no one took a more prominent part in political discussions. He settled questions of policy which weighed down the mind of many a Prime Minister with ease, and showed how empires should be governed with wonderful facility. No doubt, the problems which appeared to him in those days so easy of solution in after life looked vastly more complicated and important. Mr. Ellis’s parents belonged to the Calvinistic Methodist persuasion, and tradition has it that they intended him to follow in the footsteps of Daniel Row- lands, Thomas Charles, and Henry Rees, and become like them, a giant of the pulpit, a “ten o’clock” preacher at the sassiwn, where he would electrify ten thousand people with his eloquence. The son, no doubt, was anxious to carry out the wishes of his parents up to a certain point in his career. But a change came over his thoughts, and he made up his mind that he was destined for another sphere of work and influence than the Calvinistic Methodist ministry. The Corph, no doubt, by his decision lost an excellent preacher and minister, but gained in other respects, for Mr. Ellis never forgot the rock from which he was hewn, and did everything in his power to advance the interests of his denomination, of which he was a faithful member to the last.
Welsh politics, especially Welsh Liberalism, gained immensely by Mr. Ellis’s connection with it. From the first, probably, he cut out a line of action for himself. His early ambition was to become a Welsh Nationalist. The idea was not quite original to him, but he borrowed it from Mr. Parnell, who in the eighties was a force to be reckoned with in Parliamentary circles. In Mr. Parnell he saw the regenerator of Ireland and it occurred to him that he might with advantage apply the policy of the uncrowned Irish King to Wales. So great an admirer was he of the Irishman that his friends now began to call him “the Welsh Parnell.” The epithet was not altogether misplaced, for not only was the policy of the two Celts similar, but their aspirations and even their temperaments were alike. No Welsh member ever had more self-command than the member for Merioneth. When other Welsh members lost their heads he kept cool, and knew what to say and what to do. In the earlier part of his political career Mr. Ellis on Welsh platforms, in addressing meetings of his countrymen, may have often employed extreme language and appeared reckless. But it should be remembered that Tom Ellis in Wales in those days was a different man from the member for Merioneth in the House of Commons. He was always on his best behaviour under the Speaker’s eye, and, no doubt, his conduct, his coolness under fire, and his wisdom, favourably coolness under fire, and his wisdom, favourably impressed his great political chief and other leading Radicals, and eventually made matters comparatively easy for him when he assumed the difficult office of Chief Whip.
Cambria mourns! She has lost one of her most beloved sons in “Tom Ellis,” as we all loved to designate this gifted son of the Valley of the sacred Dee. He was a Cymro every inch of him, and the welfare and prosperity of Wales and its people were to him as the breath of his nostrils. Like the young hero of Longfellow, with the word “Excelsior” inscribed on his banner, Tom Ellis bore the flag of Wales to the highest pinnacle of Britannia. In the House of Commons and on many public platforms he was one of the ablest young Welshmen among the advocates of the land of his birth. Old Meirion weeps today for the loss of her popular young representative in the Great Council of the Empire, and “Morwynionglan Meirionydd,” will deck his bier with the white water lilies of their several lakes, in token of his blameless life, and that his soul has winged its way to the silent land which is the birthplace and native clime of flowers.
Mr. Thomas Ellis was pre-eminently atypical young Welshman of his generation. He was one of the firstfruits of the new system of higher education established in Wales by the efforts of the late Sir Hugh Owen, Lord Aberdare. Sir John Puleston. Sir Lewis Morris, Mr. Stephen Evans, and others. Earlier, in the fifties we had Swansea Normal College and the Bangor Training College for schoolmasters. Those two infused throughout Wales a love of higher education. One could point out such Welshmen as Mr. T. Marchant Williams, Mr. Cadwalader Davies, and others, whose tongues were touched by the sacred embers from the altar of the Bangor Training College. But to Aberystwyth we are as a nation indebted for a system of education to rival even Oxford and Cambridge in its higher walks. There Mr. Thomas Ellis, Principal Roberts, and others of the same stamp were fledged for the higher regions of learning. It was stated quietly at Aberystwyth during the festivity in honour of his marriage to Miss Davies, of Cwrt Mawr, that Tom (as his dear old friends called him) was a lively youth at home, at Cynlas, near Corwen. One of them told me of an amusing exploit in which Tom played the leading part, and that was in imitation of a nightingale. It appears that as a boy he had purchased at Chester a whistle with a peculiar trill in its notes when blown artfully. He took his station in one of the woods near Corwen, and played on the whistle in imitation of the warbling’s of a nightingale. He did this nightly, and crowds of music-loving people assembled on the borders of the wood, and listened entranced to the music of the supposed singing bird. By and bye railway excursions from Bala, Llangollen. Blaenau Ffestiniog, &c., were organised, and the roads were dangerous from rushing breaks, all full of people “going to hear the nightingale.” Tom Ellis piped away finely, except when overwhelmed with laughing. At last the truth became known, and, as in most cases, some blamed the piper, and others greatly enjoyed the fun which “the son of Cynlas” had provided for an admiring countryside.
It is not generally known that in his early days, after finishing his education at Oxford, Mr. Ellis was tutor for a few years in the Cory family near Cardiff, and during that period was a weekly contributor to a Cardiff daily “up the street.” He wrote under the nom de plume “Cynlas,” the name of the farmhouse near Corwen where his parents still dwell a home now in deepest sorrow. It seems that, like the “Lewys Ddu o Fon,” his heart was still in Meirionydd, and presently it became plain that SwyddFeirionydd had her eye upon young Ellis, for the county elected him to represent it in Parliament. He was not long there before he attracted the attention of the Prime Minister, the late Mr. W. E. Gladstone, and the grand old man acted towards him as if he regarded him as one of the hopes of gallant little Wales. He appointed him the Chief Liberal Whip in the House of Commons, and no greater token of the confidence of Mr. Gladstone in him, both for tact, urbanity, and general ability, could have been shown. I have often seen the young Cymro in the midst of venerable statesmen on the Treasury Bench, and the scene always had for one a deep fascination. Even before Mr. Ellis became the Chief Liberal Whip, he had gained the ear of the House of Commons, and the entire assembly of the first gentlemen in Europe would listen to his speech with the deepest attention, while now and then sonorous “Hear, hears,” of Mr. W. E. Gladstone, like the growls of an old lion in a pleasant mood, showed how attentively the great Liberal orator was following the argument of the eloquent young Welshman.
After Mr. Ellis became the Chief Whip many funny inquiries were made even of him himself by Welsh country people as to the nature of the office he held in the Liberal party. It appeared that, some of the brethren supposed that the whip Mr. Ellis wielded was for whipping the Tories with, for surely he was not retained to thrash members of his own party. Most natives of Wales regarded the position occupied by Mr. Ellis as of the same nature as that occupied by Joseph in the council of Pharaoh in Egypt. And many of his fellow-countrymen inquired after him in the precincts of St. Stephen’s, as if he were the brother of each of them. “Y mae i nifrawdyno!” Thus many of the nation of the Cymry felt at St. Stephen’s, as none of them had ever felt before, a kind of personal as well as public interest in the “English Parliament” in London. It was one of the most delightful things in life to witness Mr. Thomas Ellis receiving in the great central-hall of the Houses of Parliament Welsh countrymen and countrywomen, especially those coming from dear old Meirionydd. He was invariably bareheaded, with his golden hair neatly turned, and his face was without a beard or whiskers. With a beaming face he came to the visitors, and his cheery greetings were delivered in the most delightful Welsh that one can listen to on this side of the Land of the Blessed. Like his friend Mr. Lloyd-George, M.P., he seemed to revel in his familiarity with the language of the old folks at home. Both spoke with eloquence the language which was spoken in the halls of Caswyllion and Lludd in London, 2.000 years and more ago. Mr. Ellis would greet the writer even in the precincts of the House of Commons in Welsh, and carry on the conversation in that tongue as if he knew no other.
He was a great admirer of the Earl of Rosebery, and during the Premiership of that noble loud I asked the young Welshman what he thought of the new leader, and the reply, the animated reply was to the effect that he was one of the most lovable men on the face of the earth. Mr. Thomas Ellis’s tenure of office was not always comfortable. Some envious soul inspired unkind paragraphs about the way he filled the office of Whip in the Liberal party and the paragraph appeared in the “World.” He asked the writer if he had read the para- graphs, and. on replying in the affirmative, Mr. Ellis hinted that they were inspired by a Welsh member, but he did not mention any name. Mentioning this may have a useful effect as a lesson of value to teach the fostering of a better spirit in the future on the part of those who might be inclined to allow jealousy to rule the roost.
The last time I met Mr. Ellis was at Aberystwyth, on the occasion of his marriage, in June, 1898. There is no harm in stating that his almost adoration of the lady who then became his bride was more than even usually touching. It is stated that Miss Davies consented to become Mrs. Ellis when on a visit to the neighbourhood of Shrewsbury, and that on the very day on which the meeting was held in that place to consider as to the best place to establish the offices of the University of Wales. Miss Davies loved Aberystwyth, and so did Mr. Ellis now more than ever; and at the meeting he startled people with the unusual vehemence of his speech in favour of Aberystwyth. That delightful town by the Cardigan Bay had become in his eyes the hub of creation and the paradise of Wales. He was often chaffed by his intimate friends about his outburst on that occasion. At the funeral of the deeply-lamented Mr. Edward Davies, Llandinam. I saw Mr. Thomas Ellis with his father by his side. His father seemed to be still in the prime of life, and bore the appearance of a substantial Welsh Calvinistic Methodist deacon, as I believe he is. There was an expression of quiet dignity about him, and I could swear I could see signs of the inward joy the grand old Briton felt when witnessing the warm greetings his Tom was receiving from all classes gathered together in the hall of the departed princes of commerce who had reigned at Llandinam. One cannot help picturing the sad scenes at the old Cynlas home today! All Wales, from the peer to the peasant, will tender to the bereaved mother, father, and suiters-noted for their intelligence-the most heartfelt sympathy. All will shed tears of commiseration for the lovely bride of last year who is now left a widow. Her own mother, too, and the other relatives will receive the deepest sympathy. No one who saw them together could fail to notice the warm place Mr. Thomas Ellis occupied in the hearts of them all.
Tribute by the Welsh Radical Leader
Mr Ellis as the Apostle of Welsh Nationalism
[By Mr Alfred Thomas, M.P.]
I regard Mr. T. E. Ellis, M.P., as having been the first, as well as the greatest, of the Young Welshmen. I look upon him ae the apostle of the Young Wales party. I believe he has done more than anyone else-more even than all the others combined, to bring Wales to its present advanced political condition. The chief directions in which he promoted the interests of Wales were higher education, reform of the land laws, and the elevation of the social condition of the Welsh people. What was wonderful in him, in my view, was that, beginning life with so few advantages, he attained such a high position in the political world. He had not many aids to popularity, yet he attained it. He will be known in the future for the moral influence which throughout his brief day he exercised over the people of Wales and over his party. It is my opinion that there is no other man in the whole Liberal party who, considering his social position in life, could have wielded such an influence. Personally, I was on terms of the very warmest friendship with him and during the time I have held the responsibilities of the chairmanship of the Welsh party he rendered me most valuable assistance. In passing. I may mention that there is a melancholy interest attaching to the fact that the last words I had with him were in relation to the dinner which I intend giving to the party, the date of which was postponed from the 12th to the 15th of this month to suit Mr. Ellis’s convenience, for he expected to have returned to this country by the later date. No doubt, his example and influence did much to bring out a large number of young men who would not otherwise have come to the front. No man during the last quarter of a century has been so much copied and made an example of by the young and rising generation. No young man has ever before made such an impression upon the people of Wales. Mr. T. E. Ellis will always be considered as one of Wales’s greatest patriots. While there may be members of the Welsh party who appear more brilliant than he was there are none who approach him in that true mark of genius: an infinite capacity for taking pains.
Eloquent Tribute by Mr Lloyd-George
A Political Meetings Sings a Hymn
Speaking at a Liberal meeting in Conway on Wednesday night, Mr. Lloyd-George, M.P., said the appalling news they had heard had stunned him, and he could hardly trust himself to speak about it. One could not even realise it-it was so sudden, so unexpected. Mr. Tom Ellis was to him, not merely a colleague and a friend, but one might almost say a brother. (Hear, hear.) A few nights ago he and Mr. Ellis sat at midnight in the House of Commons, and Mr. Ellis remarked that he had not felt so well for many months past. The keen breezes then blowing in London seemed to have a bracing effect upon him. His health had nearly broken down, but now he felt better than ever. He was full of hope when starting for the South of France, where he hoped to derive so much benefit. It would be a long time before even Wales realised what a loss she had, as a nation, sustained in the removal of Mr. Ellis. He felt sometimes that there was some kind of curse following the Celtic peoples which he could not understand: Directly a man arose who proved himself fitted to be a leader, and was making his usefulness felt, then he was suddenly stricken down. Directly they reached the door of hope they found it suddenly shut against them. Tom Ellis one of the best and most honest Liberals this country ever had had been taken away in the prime of his manhood. Mr. Maclaren had told them of his ability. Not only was he the first Welshman to become a Chief Whip of any party, but he was the first ordinary man belonging to either of the five nations, and probably no man so young had previously held a position so important in either of the political parties. Probably, too, there was no man in the House of Commons in whom the leader had more confidence. Although he had never been in the Cabinet, he was consulted on every important question. Mr. Ellis was a man unusually strong in Counsel; his wisdom, his judgment, his common sense, made him a trustworthy counsellor always, and it was a loss, not only to Wales, but to the whole party of freedom to lose a man of the wisdom of Tom Ellis. In addition to being so able, he was essentially a plucky man. He had quite broken down in health, and yet he never lost hope, even when defeat seemed imminent. An instance of this might be mentioned. Not long ago the Welsh members raised in the House a question with regard to the freedom of the Nonconformists of Flint. They determined to fight hard on behalf of their fellow-religionists and fellow-countrymen in the district. The question was to be raised at midnight. Mr. Ellis was ill. Only those who saw him could realise how he was racked by the distressing cough from which he suffered. There were very few members there. There were but three or four Welsh members in attendance, but at 12 30 in the morning Tom Ellis broken in health and physique, was there to fight for his country and his creed. (Applause.) He (Mr. George) supplicated him to go home, but his reply was, “No;” I am going to stick to it. I am going to see this through. It was Mr. Herbert Lewis who had brought the matter forward, and there was something pathetic in the earnestness with which Mr. Ellis added, “No, I won’t go yet; I’m going to stand by Herbert, There he remained trudging through the lobbies until three o’clock in the morning, fighting for Wales and the Welsh faith. (Hear, hear.) On the following morning he was up betimes and at the Liberal offices, and the night they were to raise the same question again they only reached it at about one o’clock in the morning. Three or four members for Wales were present, and Tom Ellis was one of them. In his then state of health so near as he was to his death the fatigue must have greatly taxed his strength, but there he sat until a quarter to three in the morning. Yes, Tom Ellis was essentially a plucky man. No more courageous representative ever entered Parliament to fight the cause of any nation than Tom Ellis (applause)-and it was ail aspect of his courage that he was always full of hope. Never was he disheartened or depressed. Notwithstanding the defeat sustained by the Liberals at the last election, Tom Ellis was still sanguine as to the future. He never for a moment despaired for the cause of humanity, freedom and human progress throughout the length and breadth of the land. He was a fine man the finest Wales ever sent to the House of Commons. (Applause.) Mr. Harold Spender having spoken, The Chairman said no resolution would be proposed from the chair that evening, but he asked all present, in testimony of their respect for Mr. Tom Ellis, and of their sympathy in the sentiments which had been so eloquently and beautifully expressed, to stand up in silence in their places. The audience rose in response, and the Rev. T. D. Jones, Congregational minister of Conway, gave out a verse of the Welsh hymn, “0 fryniau Caersalem,” which was sung with affecting fervour by all present. The proceedings then closed.