Iolo's WorkIolo's polymathic interests are represented by the broad range of topics he discussed in his unpublished manuscripts and published works. This variety also reflects the way in which he was stimulated by the spirit of the age: he wrote about the history and development of the Welsh bardic tradition (Bardism), Welsh metrics, linguistics, local history, Unitarianism, Oriental religion, contemporary political events, agriculture, industrial development, longevity, folk tunes, natural remedies, how to mix cement and which trees were best suited to make a sturdy hedge.
His inability to concentrate on one specific subject, and the necessity of earning a living as a stone mason in order to provide for his family accounts for the fact that Iolo did not manage to complete every project. This is how he described the difficult task of completing 'The History of the Bards' as well as the material he had promised for The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales (1801–7):
my materials lay in great confusion, owing to the necessities of my being obliged to leave off my studies for other occupations, to work at my trade for bread, &c, and owing to such things and the frequent and long interruptions of my studies, my chain of ideas and arrangement were so broken and all their connections so broken, as to escape my memory, so that on returning to those studies and not recollecting what I had previously written, I wrote the same again over again and again and in other things only added more and more to my mass of confusion, so that I found myself more and more obstructed in my progress rather than going on.
(NLW MS 21285E, Letter no. 880, Iolo Morganwg to Owain Myfyr, 5 April 1806.)
However, despite his poverty and lack of spare time to write, Iolo did succeed in bringing some projects to fruition and also contributed to others: Dagrau yr Awen (1772), Barddoniaeth Dafydd ab Gwilym (1789), The Heroic Elegies of Llywarç Hen (1792), Poems, Lyric and Pastoral (1794), Trial by Jury (1795), The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales (1801–7), Salmau'r Eglwys yn yr Anialwch (1812), Cyfrinach Beirdd Ynys Prydain (1829).
Iolo's wife Margaret described his tendency to promise more than he could deliver as 'building castles in the air' and Iolo himself used the same phrase on more than one occasion to describe his ventures. The following items are among the projects that did not see the light of day. Notes, proposals and plans for the majority of these items may be found amongst Iolo's papers and manuscripts:
• 'Diddanwch y Cymry' (Entertainment of the Welsh, an anthology of poetry, 1770s)
• 'Dywenydd Morganwg' (The Delight of Glamorgan, a quarterly magazine, 1780s)
• 'Selected Pieces of Ancient Welsh-Poetry' (translations of poetry by the canonical poets of the period of the Cywyddwyr, 1790s and 1810s).
• 'The History of the Bards' (1794)
• 'Christianity versus Kingcraft, with a Plan proposed for abolishing the Christian Religion, as inimical to the Rights of Man.' (1794)
• 'Dissertation on the Rights of Man, with four Plans of Republican Government, humbly addressed to the American States, in their United and Individual capacities. To which will be added observations on the ancient Constitution of Britain deduced from the Welsh Laws of Howel Dda. and a new Plan of Limited Monarchy on Patriarchal Principles.' (1794)
• 'The History of the Ancient Bards of Britain, compiled from Authentic Manuscripts in the Welsh Language. with elucidating Extracts from ancient Poems, The Bardic Triades, and a review of what Ancient foreign writers have said on the subject. Or an attempt to ascertain the true principles of Liberty, Natural and Political, and the Duties of man as a member of society.' (1794)
• 'Christian prophecy fulfilled in French infidelity, and thereby the evidences of Revealed Religion corroborated, with a new argument advanced for the existence of a Deity and the connective necessity of Divine Revelation.' (1794)
• 'A new plan for civilizing the American Indians, and other Barbarous Nations, addressed to the british Protestant Dissenters.' (1794)
• 'A new and equitable plan for the Abolition of slavery. Addressed to Parliament of Great Britain.' (1794)
• 'An additional Volume of Poems as partly original and partly translations from the Welsh.' (1794)
• 'A Dissertation on Infant Baptism or sprinkling The clearest and in its arguments the most conclusive of any that has ever been written hitherto. By E.W. Explorer of the Den of Thieves to his most Supernal Majesty the King of Kings.'
• 'Traethawd ar Areithyddiaeth gan Dr Blackwell wedi ei gyfieithu gan Iolo Morganwg, B.B.D.' (An essay on Oratory by Dr Blackwell translated by Iolo Morganwg B.B.D.)
• 'Translation of Young's Farmer's Calendar by E.W.'
• 'A Grammar of the Welsh Language, with Canons of Celtic Etymology and the Rules of Welsh Versification'
• 'The History of Caerfilly Castle from the first notice of it to the time of Henry the eighth By Edwd. Wms...'
• 'To the prince of the Powers of the Air, King of Corsica, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, Defender of Billy Pit's Faith, Head under God of the Church of Britain. This little work is with all the pomposity, all the adulation, all the Church and Kingism, and all the Blasphemy, of Regal etiquette, inscribed, addressed, Dedicated, &c, &c, &c, by his most sacred majesty, most redoubter and Democrat, Antagonist and Republican opponent'
• 'War incompatible with spirit of Christianity' - An Essay by Edwd Wms.