Death of the Bardic Knight
Great National Loss
An Admired interpreter of Cymric Character
The Poet’s Literary Eminence.
Sir Lewis Morris passed peacefully away at his residence, Penbryn, near, Carmarthen, between nine and ten o’clock on Tuesday morning. Not only his native county of Carmarthen, but the whole of the Principality will mourn deeply the loss of a true interpreter of the Welsh character, a Cymro to the core, a great educationist, and a lover of all that is beautiful both in nature and in the mysterious unseen. He was a typical born-poet, and to this his very presence bore a striking testimony. Often had he mentioned within recent years that he had spent himself in verse and song, still he went on writing. The ambition of his waning life was to build a watch tower or observatory on his hilly home, which stands on the south side of the river Towy, and commands one of the most beautiful views of the surrounding country – Merlin’s-hill on the right, and on the left the lovely country rough which the meandering tidal waters fi w to the estuary of Carmarthen Bay.
The tower was in course of construction in Penbryn under the supervision of Mr Ernest Collier architect. Carmarthen, and some 11 or 12 days ago, whilst interesting himself in its formation, it was nearing completion, Sir Lewis contracted a cold, and was compelled to seek refuge from the treacherous November blasts in the seclusion of his library. Among the pictures here is a fine one by a contemporary Dutch artist, Machrenen, representing the wreck of the Spanish Armada on the cruel rocks of the Galway coast. On Saturday night an attack of diabetes, a malady from which he had long and secretly suffered, laid him low. In spite of medical skill he was unable to rise on Sunday, and on the following day his son and heir, Mr Arthur Morris, who was in Newcastle-on-Tyne, and his daughter, who was staying in London, were summoned by wire to join the family circle. Lady Morris and her eldest daughter being then at home. Frequent recurrences of the chronic disease, combined with a weak heart, of which he had for a long period complained, made it difficult for him to combat the last attack, and the poet of Penbryn succumbed calmly to heart failure on Tuesday morning. The only intimation that the Carmarthen residents had received of the illness of the poet was through the columns of the ‘South Wales Daily News,’ on Tuesday morning, and neither they nor those nearest and dearest to sir Lewis realised that the end was so near therefore, the sad news came as a shock to the whole neighbourhood, and no doubt it will be received with profound grief in London. It was only the other day that the upright form of Sir Lewis was seen in the streets of the borough of Carmarthen and at the meetings of the public, bodies of the county, and although his tread was remarked to be less firm than hither to, still he appeared healthy and strong. Sir Lewis Morris is now universally mourned.
In the death of Sir Lewis Morris, Wales mourns the loss of one of the most distinguished of her sons, and English letters is bereft of one who, for very many years, has occupied a place in the foremost ranks of British poets. When Lord Tennyson passed away, and, in 1896, another was selected for the Poet-Laureateship, a loud protest arose throughout the land, and it has not yet been explained how the eminent claims of the Welsh knight came to be ignored. Years afterwards,a well-known writer declared, “Though not so nominally, Lewis Morris is in fact and deed the Laureate today.” Even during the lifetime of Lord Tennyson, Sir Lewis was often singled out by the late Queen Victoria, on great State occasions, to express in appropriate verse the sentiment of the hour. A notable instance of this was his ode in 1887, on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, and when he was decorated with the Jubilee Medal. Lord Tennyson indeed, regarded him as his probable successor in the Laureateship. Mr Alfred Austin, however, was selected by Lord Salisbury, and in 1895 the great poet who has now passed away was, for his services to literature, rewarded with a knighthood.
In Wales today, it is Sir Lewis Morris’s great work for his native country, rather than his eminence in letters that will be most dwelt upon. For Sir Lewis, above all things else, was a patriot of the noblest type and rendered enduring services to Wales, when, first with Sir Hugh Owen and his contemporaries, he helped to found the University College at Aberystwyth, and subsequently, loading the pioneers of a succeeding generation, he helped in the arduous task of creating the University of Wales. A poet and a patriot, he was also a politician of the Liberal school and at one time he was ambitions to represent his county in Parliament. But while politics in the abstract interested him, he was by nature unfitted for the rough and-tumble of political campaigns and it, is to his credit that repeatedly he placed the interest of his party above those of his own personal advancement. As far back as 1868 when he was nominated in the Liberal interest as a candidate for the Carmarthen Boroughs, he retired in favour of Sir Arthur Stepney, so as to secure the unity of the Liberal forces, and for the same reason, in 1883, and in the same constituency, he retired in favour of Sir John Jones Jenkins, now Lord Glantawe. Two years later, in 1885, he was in the running for selection as Liberal member for East Carmarthenshire, and once more in the interests of party unity he gave way in favour of the late Mr David Pugh. The only contest he fought was in 1886, when he was defeated by a small majority in the Pembroke Boroughs by the late Admiral Mayne. For some years, up to 1890, Sir Lewis was vice-chairman of the Political Committee of the Reform Club.
Sir Lewis Morris was descended from a race of literary giants, being a great grandson of the eminent Welsh bard, litterateur, and antiquary Lewi Morris, of Anglesey (Llewelyn Ddu o Fon), who, with his gifted brothers, Richard and William Morris, in 1751 founded the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. Lewis Morris the first left Anglesey for Allt-y-Fadog. Llanbadarn-fawr, Cardiganshire, and one of his arms settled in Carmarthen. A grandson, Lewis Edward William Morris, who lived for a time at Blaennant, Breconshire, and subsequently took up his residence at Carmarthen, was Sir Lewis Morris’s father, the mother being Sophia, a daughter of the late Mr John Hughes, of Carmarthen.
Sir Lewis Morris died in his 75th year, having been born on January 23rd, 1833, at Mount Pleasant, Carmarthen. Educated first at the Cowbridge and the Sherborne Grammar Schools, he had a distinguished career at Jesus College. Oxford, where, in 1855, he not only got a first class in the final school of classics and philosophy, but also carried away the Arnold University Prize for an English Essay. His university record shows he took first-class moderation in 1853 first-class Lit. Hum in 1855 and was Chancellor’s prizeman for English Essay in 1858, when he took his M.A degree. He was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in November, 1861, when he obtained a certificate of honour of the first-class, and practised chiefly as a, conveyancing counsel until 1881. In 1877 Sir Lewis was elected an honorary fellow of Jesus College and in 1879 the King of Greece, in recognition of his services to the cause of freedom in the East, appointed him a Knight of the Order of the Saviour of Greece.
Sir Lewis Morris’s first official connection with Welsh education dates back to 1879, when he succeeded the late Sir Hugh Owen as honorary secretary of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. A year later he was appointed by Mr Gladstone as a member of the Departmental Committee of Inquiry “into the present condition of Intermediate and Higher Education in Wales.” Lord Aberdare was chairman, and among Sir Lewis Morris’s colleagues on that committee were Viscount Emlyn (now Earl Cawdor), M.P., Mr Henry Richard, M.P., Professor John Rhys, M.A., and the Rev. Prebendary Robinson, of the Charity Commission. Of these only two now remain, viz., Sir John Rhys and Earl Cawdor. In 1904, when he was entertained to a complimentary banquet by the Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion, Sir Lewis declared that it was his labours on that committee in 1880-81 that, led to his forsaking law and taking to education, with literature added as a recreation. The report of the Departmental Committee, in the drafting of which Sir Lewis played a conspicuous part, was published in 1881, and to that document Wales owes both its admirably organised system orintermediate schools and its university. For years afterwards Sir Lewis worked indefatigably for the cause of the Welsh University and that, university which obtained its charter in 1893, honoured him in 1900 by electing him as its junior deputy chancellor, and in December, 1906, by conferring upon him at its Cardiff meeting, the degree of,D.Litt. honoris causa. This degree according to the records was awarded him as one who had contributed worthily to increase the poetical treasures of the English language, and who had attained a very definite eminence among contemporary men of letters.” He was one of the senior members of the Council of the University College, Aberystwyth, and was one of the two vice-presidents of that institution. He had served also on the governing bodies of both the North Wales and the South Wales University Colleges.
In 1868 Sir Lewis Morris married Florence, the widow of Mr Franklin C. Pollard, of New York, and the issue of the marriage was a son and two daughters. Of his son, Mr Arthur Morris, the deceased was particularly proud. He made special reference to him on May 4th, 1904, when opening an intermediate school at Pembroke Dock. “A special occasion,” Sir Lewis remarked, because this must be almost, if not quite, the last of the many schools at the opening of which I shall have had the honour to assist.” At the close of his speech he said. “I take, as my ancestors Lewis Morris the poet and Admiralty hydrographer of long ago did, a great interest in this magnificent haven. Of late I have an additional new bond of sympathy with naval matters, because my son, a protégé of my good friend and your former representative. Sir Edward Reed, has built, as his inspector, the greatChilean battleship, which the Admiralty recently bought, has just been appointed, on its successful completion, to the important post t of senior assistant, manager of the warship department at. Lord Armstrong’s great shipyard at Elswick. It was, as it seems, only the other day tha.t he was a, boy at Westminster m School, and he is still in his twenties.”
Besides his efforts for the educational advancement of the Principality as a whole. Sir Lewis Morris associated himself in a particular manner with the educations I progress of his native country. He was one of the trustees of the Carmarthen Grammar School before it came under the Intermediate Education Act; and one of the co-operative members of the defunct, Carmarthenshire County Governing Body. Besides his connection with the educational movement, this bardic-knight associated himself with all the Welsh national movements of the last 33 years. He was an active member of the London Cymmrodorion Society, and held the position of chairman of the National Eisteddfod Association.
Sir Lewis resided at, Penbryn in the parish of Llangunnor, almost within a, stone’s throw of Carmarthen. He was the owner of the Cystanog estate, near Carmarthen, which is said to contain valuable lead deposits he also possessed a large anthracite property near Llanelly, and was a director of the Carmarthen Gas Company. He was a J.P. for the County of Carmarthen, and his quiet humour often relieved the monotony of a, prolonged inquiry. Sir Lewis was a brother to Mr C. E. Morris, a one-time chairman of the Carmarthenshire County Council, of which Sir Lewis was an alderman.
As Poet and Essayist
An Appreciation. Sir Lewis Morris was a many-sided genius of extraordinary attainments. He was almost equally great as a classic, an essayist, and a poet, the other phases of his work are dealt with elsewhere. His University triumphs marked him out in his early days as a scholar of the highest possibilities and his love of the literature of Greece and Rome was to bear fruit in his later years. It may be said that his most lasting work is his achievement as a poet it is as a poet that he is chiefly known to fame, and in this appreciation we discuss first, necessarily in brief form, his position among British poets. It is of course, no easy task to define his position with any degree of certainty: time is the great critic, and it remains to be seen whether his “Epic of Hades” will stand that test. We do not think, however, that it will be seriously disputed that he stands in the front rank of the poets of his generation. He had not the Imperial scope or the lyric loveliness of Swinburne nor the magic of words of Tennyson. He did not lay claim to the philosophy of Browning nor the impetuous fire of William Watson. But he possessed qualities as a poet that are lacking in the works of any of these. His refined taste and sweeping rhythm his optimism and his learning, these were equalled only by his wonderful-imagery and his overpowering sincerity. It was comparatively late in life ere the poetic element began to find expression and he tells us how he enjoyed the keen delight of having been possessed for a long time by a beautiful subject that of his great epic.
Much of the book was written amid the not inappropriate sounds and gloom of the “Underground Railway,” and I recall, he once said, the battered note-book and the pencil, writing illegibly at express speed, as the lines rushed out headlong and (he added) the nods and winks of the young City clerks who thought their fellow-traveller crazy, while he was in imagination basking happily in the sun of Hellenic skies though really fathom deep amid the grime and sulphurous fumes of London. The epic is an attempt to retell the stories of Hellenic mythology with a modern and allegorical setting and if it be allowed that the sentiment is sometimes weak and the Artistic is not always evident, it cannot be doubted that the effect produced by the work as a whole challenges comparison with the greatest of modern serious poems. Its popularity has waned somewhat just as all great works have their “lean and fallow years,” but it ensures enduring fame for its gifted author it gives him a place in the long procession of British poets “the ever-lengthening pageant, of the blest.” His other works are “Songs of Two Worlds,” now collected in edition in 1876 appeared “Gwen a Drama, in Monologue,” and there followed the “Ode of Life.” Songs Unsung,”Gycia, a Drama.” “Songs of Britain,” “A Vision of Saints,” “Songs Without Words,” “Idylls and Lyrics,” “Harvest Tide,” “The New Rambler,” Many articles from his pen, addresses on literary and educational subjects, have also been published.
As a critic he was inclined to be more severe than sound at all events he never overpraised. He could easily hold his own with the greatest censors of his time, and his knowledge of men was remarkable. He was a devoted friend of Tennyson, and there were few in the world of literature, during the last half century, that he did not know personally. It is to be regretted that he never gave us an Autobiography, for in his essays and papers he has shown how popular such a work would have been. In his death the country has lost-one of its noblest thinkers literature one of its brightest ornaments. He was of the type of Dr. Johnson greater than any book he could have written. Many distinguished persons in various parts of the United Kingdom have wired their deepest sympathy with the widow and family. Sir Lewis’s medical attendant was Dr. Parry, of Carmarthen.
The late Sir Lewis Morris 22.11.1907
Interment at Llangunnor
On that hillside I know which scans the vale,
Beneath the thick yew’s shade
For shelter when the rams and winds prevail.”
On Saturday afternoon the last stage in the earthly career of that illustrious son of Wales, Sir Lewis Morris, knight, poet, and educationist, of Penbryn, was reached, when in keeping with his wish expressed in his beautiful poem “At last,” quoted above, his mortal remains were laid in their last resting place on the hillside in the quaint old churchyard of Llangunnor, and beneath the shade of those fine spreading “solemn yew trees evergreen,” claim the attention of all visitors to this God’s acre. There is a ring of pathos in the fact that only two Sundays previously the departed poet Stood upon the soot where he is buried, and chatting with (the Rev. D. D. Evans) again repeated his de- sire to be buried in that peaceful old churchyard, from which, as he says in his poetry,
“Shall I no more admire
The winding river kiss the daisied plain?
Nor see the dawn’s cold fire
Steal downward from the rosy hill again?
Nor watch the frowning cloud,
Sublime with mutterings loud
Burst on the vale, nor eves of gold,
Nor crescent moons, nor starlight cold
Nor the red casements glimmer on the hill
At yule-tides, when the frozen leas are still?”
These lines clearly speak the great love that the author had for the beauty of the scenery to be viewed from this eminence, which takes in glimpses of Merlin’s and Grongar hills, with the confluence of the Gwili and the Towy lying immediately at the foot. The church, which dates back prior to the Reformation, contains a monument to the celebrated author, Sir Richard Steele, who at one time owned considerable land in the neighbourhood. In a poem called the “Head of the Rock,” the following beautiful couplet to Llangunnor appears:
“Behold Llangunnor leering o’er the vale,
Pourtrays a scene to adorn romantic tale.”
The grave of the celebrated poet of Penbryn, is situated high up on the slope in the north-east portion of the churchyard, alongside that of his spinster sister, Rebecca, who predeceased him in 1861, and in line with that of his mother and father. The latter grave stone bears the inscription, “Sacred to the memory of Lewis Edward William Morris, Mount, in this parish, born November 16th, 1799, died June 30th, 1872,” and “Sacred to the memory Sophia Morris, widow of the late L. E. W. Morris, born February 13, 1806, died December 31, 1857.” The grave was lined with moss, intermingled with leaves of the yew juniper, and laurels by the gardener of Penbryn, and served to remind one of the many laurels the late Sit Lewis had won in the world of literature.
The funeral was a private one, confined to members of the family, this course being adopted in consequence of the delicate state of health of Lady Morris, who was unable to attend. An intimation had, however, gone out that friends wishing to join the cortege could do so at the Church, and numerous admirers availed themselves of this opportunity. The gloominess of the weather was appropriately in keeping with the mournfulness of the occasion, and a pathetic sight was to witness the small knots of country folk gathered here and there alongside the route, anxious to obtain a last glimpse of the coffin containing the mortal remains of him they loved so dearly in life, and who took in them the warmest interest, but consolation was found in the fact that the Knight of Penbryn “though dead, his works would live for ever.” The heavy polished oak coffin, with massive brass fittings, bore the inscription engraved on a brass breast-plate was,
Sir Lewis Morris, Knight of Penbryn, Born January 23, 1833. Died Nov. 12, 1907.
Prior to the removal of the coffin, a short service was held in the hall by the Rev. D. Evans (vicar of Llangunnor). There was a profusion of beautiful floral tributes, the two placed on the coffin, in the hearse, being those sent by the widow and children. There were three carriages, the first containing the Bishop of St. David’s, the Ven. Archdeacon Evans, and the Rev. D. D. Evans. The other two carriages contained the following chief mourners: Mr. ‘Arthur “Morris, Newcastle-on-Tyne (son and heir); Miss Morris and Miss Ethel Morris (daughters); Mr C. E. Morris, solicitor, Penrhos, Carmarthen, and the Rev. John Morris M.A., rector of Narberth (brothers); Mr. Charlie Morris, Carmarthen, and Mr Jack Morris, Narberth (nephews), the Rev. E. T. Roderick, Bosherston Rectory, Stackpole Court (cousin); Mr. Lloyd Morris, Llanelly; and Lieut. Colonel Aslett, a near neighbour and friend. The route taken was along Mount Pleasant, passing Babell Chapel, through Pensarn to Llangunnor Road, and in all residences and houses, blinds were drawn in token of respect. At the Star Inn, the mournful procession turned up the narrow, stony highway, leading directly up the hill to the church near its summit. At the lych-gate the coffin was met by Bishop Owen, Archdeacon Evans, and the Vicar, the latter reading the Sentences as the mournful procession wended its way to the church. Inside, the first part of the burial service was taken by the Vicar, and the Ven. Archdeacon read the lesson most impressively. The hymn, “Lead Kindly Light.” was sung with much fervour, and Miss Francis, Myrtle Hill, gave an effective rendering of “0 rest in the Lord” on the organ. The coffin was then borne to the grave by the local in inhabitants including three old and trusted servants, Mr Davies, carpenter, Penbryn. Mr Edwards, gardener, and Mr. Nicholls, cottager, Pensarn. The scene around the grave was very impressive, and a hushed silence fell around, as the body was lowered into the grave, and the Archdeacon in measured tones, commenced reading the second portion of the burial service. The committal prayers were solemnly read by the Bishop of the diocese, and then the congregation having joined in a feeling rendering of that beautiful Welsh hymn, “Bydd myrdd o Ryfeddodau Mawr,” the Bishop pronounced the Benediction, and the great poet’s wish expressed in verse, had been realised.
Amongst those who assembled at the churchyard to pay their last tribute of respect to the great poet were: Mr. Mervyn Peel, Danyrallt; Mr. H. J. H. Lawrence, Narberth; the Rev. Canon Camber-Williams and Mrs. Williams, Carmarthen; Mr. J. Lewes Thomas, Caeglas; Mr J. Lloyd Morgan, K.C., M.P.; Mr. R. M. Thomas, town clerk of Carmarthen, and secretary of the Welsh Church Commission; Mr. E. H. Morris, Brynmyrddin; Cant. E. C. Harries, Bryntowy (deputy chief constable of Carmarthenshire); Principal W. J. Evans, Greenhill, Carmarthen; Rev. T. R. Walters. M.A., R.D., The Parsonage, Carmarthen; Mrs. Mayhew, Aberglasney; Mr. Lester. Furnace Lodge, Carmarthen; Miss Jenkins, Penymorfa; Mr. D. C. Roberts, J.P., Aberystwyth (chairman of the Cardiganshire Education Committee, representing the University of Wales); Mr. Angus. Cardiff (registrar, representing the Welsh University, Cardiff); Dr. Parry, Carmarthen (medical attendant to the family); Mr. D. C. Parry, Llanelly (ex-chairman of the Carmarthenshire County Council); Mr. David Francis, Eversley, Llanelly (who was a great literary friend and admirer of the deceased): Mr. E. S. Allen, headmaster of the Carmarthen Grammar School; Mr. J. B. Morgan, architect, Llanelly; Mr. John Francis and Mr. Jack Francis, Myrtle Hill, Carmarthen; Mr. Walter Spurrell, J.P.; Mr. T. E. Brigstocke, J.P., C.C., Carmarthen; Mr. D. H. Thomas, Starling Park; Mr. D. E. Stephens, solicitor, Trawsmawr; I Mr. D. D. Davies. Cowell House, Llanelly (mineral agent at Llanelly to deceased); Mr. H. C. Tierney, Carmarthen; Mr Henry Howells, J.P., Trevaughan; Mr. J. F. Morris, solicitor, Bryn, Roma; Mr. Williams, Cambray House; Mr. E. J. Collier, architect, Carmarthen; Mr. B. A. Lewis, manager to the Carmarthen Gas Company (of which company the de- ceased had been a director for years); Mr. A. LI. Davies, borough accountant, Carmarthen; Mr. W. Jones (chairman) and Mr. Dunn Williams (conductor), representing the Carmarthen Male Voice Party, of which choir the deceased was president; Mr. George Morgan, Albert House; Mr. R. T. Stedman Thomas, Bell Vue, Pensarn; Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Cwm, Mydrim (representing the Mydrim tenants); Mr. E. Colby Evans, J.P., Guildhall Square; Mr W. Isaac; Mr. Thos. Thomas, Myrtle Villa, Wellfield Road; the Rev. W. Hugh Phillips, Risca (ex-high sheriff, chaplain for Monmouth); Mr. Gwilym Samuel. Carmarthen (representing the Carmarthen and District Teachers’ Association); the Rev. D. J. Thomas. Congregational minister, Carmarthen the Rev. T. Rhondda Williams (at a lecture by them on Monday night, at Carmarthen. Sir Lewis was to have presided.)
Magnificent floral tributes were sent by the following: A large wreath of laurel leaves and arum lilies, with purple sash, “from his sorrowing wife,” and a beautiful cross from the children, Amy. Arthur, and Ethel, “to our dearest father,” both of which were placed on the coffin; Mr. C. E. Morris and F. Morris; Lord Glantawe and Miss Ellaine Jenkins, The Grange, Swansea; the Lord Bishop of St. David’s and Mrs. Owen, The Palace, Abergwlli; Lady Lloyd of Bronwydd, who sent a lyre with a broken string; Capt. Stewart, Alltyrodyn; Mr. and Mrs. Gwynne Hughes. and Mr. Henfrey, Tregeyb, a harp with a broken string; Mrs .Mayhew, Aberglasney; Mr. Ernest Collier, Carmarthen; Mrs. D. E. Stephens and Davies, Trawsmawr; Mr D H Thomas, Starling Park; Gwladys M Leurlock, the Rev. D. D. Evans and Mrs. Evans, Llangunnor Vicarage; Mr. and Mrs. Aeron Thomas; Mr J. Lewes Phillips, Bolahaul, a close neighbour; Mr Lloyd, Rhagatt, Corwen; Mr. E. Lloyd Morns, Lieutenant-Colonel and Mrs. Aslett, “With the profound grief and deep respect of the University of Wales,” Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Allen, the Grammar School, Carmarthen; “In affectionate remembrance from the boys of the Grammar School, Carmarthen,” where the deceased was first educated; “In loving memory, from Toddy and Billy,” Miss Jenkins, Penymorfa; Mr. and Mrs. Timmins and family, 24, Queen Park, Bath; “From his gardener and coachman,” the Rev. and Mrs. Edward T. Roderick, Bosherston Rectory, Pem.; “From Kitty, to her dear father-in-law and Phyllis to dear grandfather”; Ethel Lewis (laundress), and Jonah Nicholls (cottager), and one from Hannah, Fanny, and Annie (maids at the house). Other tributes, including letters and telegrams were received from Lord Rendel; Sir Isambard Owen; Principal Roberts, and the registrar of the U.C.W., Aberystwyth; Sir James Williams-Drummond, Bart. (lord-lieutenant of Carmarthenshire), Edwinsford; Col. and Mrs. Gwynne-Hughes, Glancothi; Mrs. Reid, Spilman Street, Carmarthen; Mice Jenkins, Penymorfa; Sir David Brynmor Jones, K.C., M.P., and Lady Brynmor Jones; Sir John Williams, Bart, Plas, Llanstephan; Mr. Llewellyn Williams, M.P., and Mrs. Williams; Mr. R. E. Jennings and the Misses Jennings, Gellydeg; Mr. Joseph Joseph, Llangennech; Rev. W. A. Edwards, Bridgend; the Dean of Wells; Mr. and Mrs. Stepney-Gul.6ton, Derwydd; Mr. and Mrs. H. Brunei White, The Grange, Carmarthen; Mr. John Francis, Myrtle Hill; Mr. W. Fearside, Sidney Cottage, Cam.; The Author’s Syndicate; the Carmarthen Gas Company; Kegan Paul, the deceased’s publishers; The Fathers at St. Mary’s Retreat, Carmarthen; Miss Gladys Lloyd; Mrs., Mr and Miss Lester, Furnace Lodge, Carmarthen Dr. and Mrs. E. R. Williams, Spilman Street, Carmarthen; Capt. and Mrs. Harris. Bryn- towy; Sir Owen and Lady Roberts, Mrs. Roberts, Cromwell-road, London; Mrs. Price, Glanmorlais; Mr. Richard Tree, London; Mr. D. H. Thomas, Starling Park; Principal W. J. Evans; Mr. Edgar Jones, Barry; Mr. and Mrs. Dethridge, London; Mr T. Davies and Son, Llanelly; Mrs Hoarder, Carmarthen Mrs. and Miss Richards, Carmarthen; Mr and Mrs. Belt, London; Mrs. Clement Parsons, London; Mr. and Mrs. Morris Tonas, London; Mr. and Mrs. C. N. Speever, London; The Rev. Charles and Mrs. Neil, London; Mr. E. Lloyd Morris, Llanelly; Mr. Ernest Collier, Carmarthen (the architect of the observatory which is being built at Penbryn); Mrs. Hart and family; Mr. Mackenzie Bill.
Carmarthen Guardians Sympathy
At the meeting of the Carmarthen Guardians on Saturday (Mr. D. L. Jones, J.P., Derlwyn, presiding), the Rev. A. Fuller Mills said: You know as well as I do that during the week the County of Carmarthen, the town of Carmarthen, and the Principality of Wales has lost one of its best and most eminent men. I refer to Sir Lewis Morris, a man highly respected by all who came in contact with him. Whatever their views or opinions in public matters were, everybody respected Sir Lewis Morris as a gentleman, as a scholar. By his urbane manner, his ability, and other qualities, he commended himself to all. If he were only a poet, we as a town, as a county and Principality would feel proud of him as a poet of no mean order. His poetry I am sure will be appreciated in centuries to come more even than at the present day, and will be like Milton’s. Although I would not class him with Milton, I place his poetry on such a high level that, like Milton, it will be read a hundred years far more than at the present day. But he had qualities unusual in a poet; poets are usually dreamers. It is not often you find a poet who takes much interest in public life. He was a practical man, especially in the matter of education. Wales is indebted in a great measure to Sir Lewis for the efforts he made in solving the great problem of education, especially University and Secondary education in regard to the Principality. Besides that he was a man of great integrity of character and reputation. We shall miss him here, a man belonging to the old families of Carmarthenshire, the old school. They are dropping off, one by one, so that we begin to feel that we are the poorer for men. It does not matter how much richer we may get in wealth, if we get poorer in the men. It is the worse for the town, the worse for the country, when we lose one after the other we feel we are the poorer. I beg to move a vote of condolence with the family, and that we place on record our high esteem of his work and character and reputation, and the services rendered by Sir Lewis Morris to the community at large in the years gone by. I am sure you will all feel with me in the resolution which I heartily and very sorrowfully move this morning. Mr. David Phillips, Llangunnor, and Mr. John Phillips, Caerleon seconded the resolution, which was carried in silence, all the members rising to their feet.
Glowing reference by Canon Camber-Williams
St. Peter’s Church with its hallowed memories was ever dear to Sir Lewis, who could often be seen there at the services. At the morning service on Sunday the preacher, the Rev. Canon Camber-Williams, M.A., paid a glowing tribute to his memory. Among those present were Mr, Arthur Morris (son) and Mr. C. E. Morris (brother), the hymns sung including “0 God our help in ages past,” “Sons of God,” “Peace, perfect peace,” and “Nearer my God to Thee.” Basing his sermon upon 1st Timothy, 4 to 7, “Exercise thyself unto Godliness,” Rev. Canon Camber Williams said that the word rendered exercise in the original reference to the practice of gymnastics. As the young Greek developed his bodily power in his youth by gymnastic exercise as a preparation for the duties of manhood, so St. Paul directed Timothy to develop the powers and capacities of his soul by exercise in Godliness. Each of the various periods of which our life on earth consists is preparatory, and a state of probation for the succeeding period, and the use made of each period determines our position in that which follows. The probation of childhood determines the position of youth, and the use or neglect of the period of youth settles the position in manhood. This religion says is the relation of time to eternity, this life and this world are the period and place of probation and preparation for the world and the life to come. This was the function of religion. This was the object of the church s existence to be a gymnasium of Godliness. Proceeding, the preacher said that the words of his text, “Exercise thyself unto Godliness,” seemed to sum up the teaching of one whose place that day was vacant among them. They mourned the loss of a great man, all the greater through the unassuming and unostentatious life which he led in their midst. The world of English literature mourned the fall of one of its princes. To them at St. Peter’s he was known as a reverend and devotional worshipper. By his writing he had taught them the love of Nature. References to the beauties of his well-beloved Vale of Towy sparkle like gems in al- most every piece of his work. He also taught them the love of country. Right through his patriotic poems were free from the modern narrowness and bitterness. He could extol Wales without depreciating England. He knew it was not necessary to bes- mirch the English in order to glorify Welshmen. He could be an ardent Welsh patriot without ceas- ing to be a proud citizen of the greater England. His songs thrilled with the note of pride in Britain as the home and mother of freedom.
Oh, my England! oh, mother
Of Freemen! oh, sweet,
Sad toiler majestic
With labour-worn feet.
He was proud of Britain and of the share which Welshmen had in rearing its splendid edifice of justice and liberty, culture, and progress. He taught us also to hear the voices of Nature, both outward Nature and the nature of man, speaking of God, the soul and eternity, and he voiced for them the intuitive certainties of the soul and its craving for God and the life hereafter. Instead of being lost as too many prophets today were, in the intricacies of the machine of creation, he with unerring eye beheld the hand that wrought, and still directs the universe.
Be still, oh ye of little faith repining
That the purpose of the Eternal will is dead.
The immensity of the universe to him but enhanced the undying greatness and majesty of man’s comprehending mind.
For ever and for ever
The eternal mountains rise,
And lift their virgin snows on high
To meet the silent skies.
Yet shall this soul which measures all,
While there stand steadfast, sink and fall?
For ever and for ever
The swift suns roll through space;
From age to age they wax and wane,
Each in its ordered place:
Yet shall this soul whose inner eve
Foretells their cycles, fade and die?
And above all he taught us how to strive upward and ever upward to be pure and holy and noble, to exercise ourselves in Godliness.
Oh, fair young souls, strain upward, upward still, I Even to the heavenly source of purity!
Brave hearts, bear on and suffer! Strike for right, Strong arms, and hew down wrong!
Carmarthenshire Education Committee
At a meeting of the Carmarthenshire Education Committee on Thursday in last week, the chairman (Mr. John Lloyd, Penybank) said that before they commenced the proceedings he wished to mention the great loss they had sustained in the county by the death of one of their most valued members, their distinguished colleague, Sir Lewis Morris. It was well-known to them that he took an active and prominent part in the affairs of the county, and had rendered valuable services to the cause of Welsh education, not only in Carmarthenshire, but throughout the whole of the Principality. Sir Lewis was the pioneer of their Welsh system of university and secondary education, which laid the basis of the progress that they saw around them today, and a system they, as Welshmen, were truly proud of Wales today mourned the loss of one of the most distinguished of her sons, and he was quite sure that they would all agree with him in deeply sympathising with the family in their present great bereavement. He begged formally to move that their condolences be sent to the family in their sad bereavement.
Mr. H. Jones-Davies, Glyneiddan, in seconding, said that the death of Sir Lewis Morris was a loss to Wales, but doubly so to them as a committee, to some extent because of his great and long services that he had at all times rendered to Welsh education, and especially in regard to secondary education in Wales. He took an important part when he served on the Commission of 1881, and he might say the memory of Sir Lewis would be handed down to posterity as being indissolubly connected with secondary education.
Prof. D. E. Jones, Carmarthen, supported the motion. He had had the great privilege and pleasure of knowing Sir Lewis Morris for over 30 years, and consequently he could endorse all that the Chairman and Mr. Jones-Davies had said as to the active part he took in Welsh education. Sir Lewis had distinguished himself as a poet, and also as an educationist. One thing he could say from his personal knowledge of Sir Lewis was that whatever he did, he did it conscientiously.
The motion was carried in silence, all present standing.
St Peter’s Men’s Guild
At a meeting of the above Guild held last week, at Priory Street boys’ school, Carmarthen, the Ven. Archdeacon Evans proposed from the chair a sincere vote of condolence with Lady Morris and her children in their sad bereavement in the death of Sir Lewis Morris. He alluded to the admirable qualities of the great poet, and to the loss which Wales, education, and literature would sustain by his death. The vote was carried in silence, all present rising to their feet.
Carmarthen Male Voice Party
At the Carmarthen Male Voice practice on Sun- day morning last at the Pentrepoth schoolroom, Mr. Dunn Williams, G. & L., the conductor, moved a vote of sympathy with Lady Morris and the family, in the great loss they had sustained in the death of Sir Lewis Morris, president of the society. He referred to the great work the poet had done for Wales and education. The motion was carried in silence.
Sir Lewis Morris’s schoolmaster survives his brilliant pupil. Prebendary D. E. Williams, the gentleman in question writes from Llanstephan: “I was much surprised that in the notices of the lamented Sir Lewis Morris no mention was made until today of his brother, the Rev. John Morris, rector of Narberth, who was at the Carmarthen Grammar School at the same time as his brother Lewis, in the years 1846-7. Some years ago I sent Sir Lewis a copy of a sermon, entitled “The Testimony of St Peter,” preached at the consecration of the church of New Tredegar, and by return of post he wrote to me as follows: ‘When you were master of the Carmarthen Grammar School we all thought your days on earth would be few, you appeared in such a delicate state of health. I am glad you have survived that indisposition, and that you remember your old pupil.’ He used to bring me about 60 lines of Latin, &c., every morning, and scarcely ever had to be corrected. He was then about twelve of thirteen years of age.”
A Llandysul correspondent writes: “In the obituary notices of the deceased poet we read that he was Chancellor’s Prizeman for English essay in 1858, when he took his M.A. degree. It may interest your readers to know that the essay was printed as a pamphlet of 33 pages, the title-page of which runs thus: ‘The Greatness and Decline of Venice: A Prize Essay, read in the Theatre, Oxford, June 16, 1858, by Lewis Morris, B.A., Jesus College, Oxford: T. and G. Shrimpton, MDCCCLVUIII.’ The copy in my possession was presented to the late Alcwyn C. Evans, Carmarthen, and bears the following words in the author’s handwriting: ‘Mr A. C. Evans, with the writer’s best thanks for his help.’
Carmarthen Mayor’s “Beautiful almost Poetic” Tribute
Before proceeding with the business at the Carmarthen Borough Police Court on Monday, the Chairman (Mr. John Lewis, Ar-y-bryn) said he would like to say a few words concerning their departed neighbour, Sir Lewis Morris, who, though not one of the Borough Bench, was one of the county magistrates, and also a member of the County Council. Proceeding, the Mayor said: It grieves me that I have to make these remarks concerning a gentleman whom we all know, as a brilliant scholar, a thorough gentleman, and a poet of the foremost rank. But to-day he is no more in this world, and “his place knoweth him not.” He was born in Carmarthen some 75 years ago, and was greatly respected, not only in his native county of Carmarthen, but by the whole Principality, which will mourn deeply the loss of a true interpreter of the Welsh character, a Cymro to the core, a great educationist, and a lover of all that was beautiful both in nature, and in the “mysterious unseen.” He was one of the founders of the University of Wales at Aberystwyth in which place a painting of himself is hung on the walls. He also helped in the arduous task of creating the University of Wales. He was the author of many books, but perhaps the most popular of his works was “Epic of Hades,” which is at the present time in its 45th edition. It was said that the late Cardinal Manning was so much taken up with the book that he always carried a copy of it with him when travelling. But today Sir Lewis Morris is no more, but “though dead yet speaketh.” I move that a vote of condolence be tendered to Lady Morris and the family at Penbryn in their sad bereavement.
Mr. Morgan Griffiths (Lime Grove), in seconding, said it would be almost unnecessary for him to add to those beautiful, almost poetic words which the Mayor had used concerning the late Sir Lewis Morris. He had known Sir Lewis for a great many years. He was of a rather retiring disposition, but he was a great scholar and a true patriot. He believed Wales was everything to Sir Lewis Morris, and he almost buried himself in Wales. So passionately fond of his retreat was he, that he was making a most suitable addition in the way of a tower at Penbryn, so that he might bring in the beautiful scenery surrounding that district. As he had already said, he had nothing to add, and he endorsed every word the Chairman had said. Wales was poorer, Carmarthen was poorer, and they in the borough were poorer for the loss of so great a man.
The motion was carried in silence.