Scholar of Rare Gifts and Wide Interests 7/12/1937
In an appreciation of Mr. Benjamin Morgan, of London, occasional inspector of the Board of Education in Wales, who died in a Cardiff hotel last week, a correspondent writes:
Wales is poorer through the death of Ben Morgan. Unusually versatile, he had a varied career, and throughout his life he exercised his rare gifts lavishly and freely.
He was educated at Pentrepoeth School; Carmarthen, under a great headmaster of the old tradition – Mr. Morris Jones. Later, at Aberystwyth, he took a degree in science, but even here his restless spirit forbade exclusive devotion to one subject of study, for he took a keen interest in art and music.
For a few years he was science master at the County School, Cardigan. He then went to London and taught at secondary schools there, first at Kilburn Grammar School and afterwards, until his is retirement last August at Owen’s School, Islington. At Owen’s – evidence of his amazing range of interests – he was in turn science master, geography master, music master, and finally, art master.
Sang In Opera
During all these years he played a great part in the musical life of the country. He sang in opera regularly for two years at the Old Vic, and for a long period. In addition to meeting the exacting demands of school work, he had devoted his energies to opera, oratorio; ballad singing at the City Temple, and at St. Clement Danes, Strand. Lately he had frequently given recitals for the B.B.C. in Wales.
Perhaps his greatest happiness came from his association, as occasional inspector, with the Welsh Department of the Board of Education. He began by lecturing at teachers’ courses at Oxford and in Wales. Later he conducted investigations into the teaching of music in various areas in Wales. As a result the Welsh Department of the Board of Education published a memorandum “Suggestions on the Teaching of Music in Wales.”
After this he was given the task of investigating the teaching of art in public elementary schools. At the same time he began inspecting art in secondary schools for both the Central Welsh Board and the Board of Education. He had completed his investigations in Pembrokeshire and had begun his work in Cardiff when he was cut down.
The Sleeping Lion
Hundreds of teachers in Wales learnt to love Ben Morgan. Gentle, kindly, unassuming, yet he knew their difficulties and entered sympathetically and intimately into discussion of their problems. Instinct with wise counsel, with a rich store of practical suggestion, and, indeed, of quaint but valuable hint and artifice, he left behind him after all his visits of inspection convictions of the possibility of triumph over difficulty that impressed themselves upon the life of the schools. He, himself, strove after the unattainable. The impossibility of that quest was perhaps the reason why he was helpful to others.
A capacity for passionate indignation went hand-in-hand with gentler elements of character. There was a sleeping lion to him that roused at any hint of injustice of wrong, particularly wrongs that tended to cripple child life.
He lived intensely and he died with his energies at full stretch. One of his colleagues at the Board of Education writes of him:
Pob creffit a phob ceifyddyd garodd ef,
A rhoes I ni ran yn ei afiaith gref,
Wyneba antur ei ddiddiwedd daith
Heb ball ar nwyf, heb dorri ar ei waith
Mr. Morgan was buried ay Peniel burial-ground, Carmarthen on Monday, the body having been conveyed from Morriston.
The Rev. A.J. Williams officiated at Morriston, and the Revs. S.P. Jones (Peniel) ad J. Morris, Morriston at Peniel.
Principal mourners were: Mrs. S. Morgan (widow); Mrs. Watkin Jones, Llandrindod Wells, and Mrs. S. Hook, Denbigh (sisters); Mr. and Mrs. Price, Morriston, Mr. and Mrs. G. Jones, Morriston, (brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law); Mr. Emrys J. Price, Morriston (nephew); Mrs. Ben Thomas, Mrs. Sam Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Hywel Griffiths, and Mr. Cyril Thomas, Carmarthen (cousins); Mr. and Mrs. Dunn Williams, and Mr. and Mrs. J. Griffiths, Carmarthen.
A large number of representatives of the teaching profession were also present.
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