Iolo Morganwg at William Owen Pughe, 20 Rhagfyr 1798

(NLW 13221E, tt. 55-8)

Address: Mr William Owen. B.B.D., No. 40 Penton Street, Pentonville, London
Postmark: [?G] JA 2 [?---]; 10 o'Clock JA 2 99 [?----]
Source: NLW 13221E, pp. 55-8
Status and condition: right-hand margin obscured by binding of manuscript

Flimston, December 20th 1798

Dear Sir,
I have lately been in such a perpetual bustle endeavouring to dispatch out of hand what I could not possibly leave unfinished, and otherwise preparing for my journey to Hafod Uchtryd, that I have not been able to write sooner either to you or Mr O. Jones, working every night till nine o clock, returning then home from a distance of some miles &c, and Sundays always employed in some journey that I had no time for otherwise. I am now nearly prepared, and shall with life and health be entirely so in four or six days. Nothing afterwards will prevent but very bad weather. At present, the weather is tolerably good, tho' we have lately had some frost and even a slight fall of snow, both which are but seldom experienced before Christmas in our part of Wales. It is fourteen or fifteen years at least since we experienced the same before, and then not in the severe degree of this winter; but what has hitherto been the most obstructive to travelling was the floods owing to heavy rains that have generally prevailed since the beginning of November. If you can furnish me with an introductory letter, or at least send a letter to Mr Johns (unless you can wait on him in person), I think it will be proper. If Mr Williams, Strand could favour me with a line of introduction to Ystrad Meyric school and library, I should thank him. As soon as your letter arrives I shall be ready to set out, or so in a very few days afterwards, for I have now, and very soon shall have all my work in such order as to lay by till spring comes on. I shall thank you for shewing this to Mr O. Jones or informing him of its' contents, as I shall be a few days longer before I write to him. You have ere this read Edeyrn Dafawd Aur. Part of his introduction with some variation has been given by Sion Rhydderch in his almost worthless Grammar. I have William Llµn's grammar written in 1535 - I think that you have seen it. I have also a copy of Sion Brwynog's grammar, differing but little from William Llyn, both which differ not much from that of D. Ddu Hiraddug, a copy of which I have, but all these differ much from Edeyrn. I cannot help think that there are but two system[s] of grammar in our language - that of Edeyrn and that of D. Ddu Hiraddug. All the copies that I have seen are from one or the other of these, with no great varieation. I have a manuscript grammar of about the year 1630, which from its similarity of principle, expression &c, may be fairly enough supposed to be copied or rather imitated from J. D. Rhys, unless we may supposed it a copy from that whence J. D. Rhys drew up his. This manuscript is anonymous, only that the Revd Mr Gamage of St. Athan, about 1720, ascrib[es] it to Sir Edward Stradling to whom J. D. Rhys dedicates his Grammar (in Latin). I hope to meet with D. ab Gwilyms grammar, that is said to be in Cardiganshire by Iago ab Dewi and by others now living. I not long since me[n]tioned to the Revd Mr Hort of Bristol (the coadjutor of Mr Estlin, whom you know, I think) the bardic idea [?of] five elements. He informed that the Bramins had the sam[e] idea, as appeared from a lately printed translation by Sir William Jones from the Sanscreet. I instantly sent for and have lately had it. I was astonished to find in this wo[rk] religious and philosophical doctrines so similar to thos[e] of the ancient bards of Britain, and so strikingly so [?that], had not your Llywarch Hên and my Poems been published three years before the appearance in t[he] English language of this work of Sir William Jones, a[?ll] the world would have sworn that we had borrowed fr[om] it what we have published. This translation is entitl[ed] Institutes of Hindu Law, or the Ordinances of Men[u according to the Gloss of Cullúca, printed in 1796 for Sewell and Debret. It is a six shilli[ng] volume, written {in Shanscret, in metre} in an aphoristical manner and a great part of it triadical, and is supposed by S[ir] William Jones to be one of the old compositions existing. Were proper reserches made in all the ancient langua[ges] of the world, we might possibly be able to recover the patriarchal religion and philosophy, and find them to [?be] more rational and pure than any thing in the so much boasted discoveries and improvements of the present age. This ancient wisdom is now in several parts of the world emerg[ing] into light, out of the Sanscrit language, out of the Welsh triades &c, by the present reformer Hajabi in Egypt and Arabia. The Chinese and even Peruvian langu[ages] have contributed considerably towards the restoration of this Ancient of Days `whose garments are as white as snow', and I cannot help thinking that it is this the prophet Daniel intends in chapter VII, verses 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 [?&c]. This he represents as taking place on the casting down the thrones of the tyranical monarchies. Read the whole prophecy. The Ancient of Days or primeval principles of snow-garmented truth, justice, benevolence, liberty &c are represented as sitting in judgement on the principle of falsehood, oppression, malevolence, tyrany &c. Favour me with your opinion.

I will pretty soon send you a copy of all the trïoedd [triads], the principal, tho' hitherto little noticed, boast and glory of our language.

You ask my opinion of the words `llodwedd', `llodwy' &c. I would as follows attempt to discover their meaning: `llawd' seems to signify productiveness &c, whence `llawd', the productive state of a sow, `llodig', in `hwch lodig' & `hwch yn llodi'. We use `gweirlawd' in Southwales for the same thing as `gweirglawdd' in Northwales. So does D. ab Gwilym:

Gweirlawd, a than frig irlwyn,
Yw nghartref, cell ystref llwyn
(`Cywydd y Llwyn', pp. 503-504).
[The meadow, and under the branch of a green thicket,
Is my home, the bower-dwelling of a bush
(`The Cywydd of the Bush', pp. 503-504)].

Query, whether there may not be some affinity in sense as well as in sound between `llâd' and `llâwd', as `cladd' & `clawdd', a digging; `nad' & `nawd', an outcry; `badd' & `bawdd', immersion; `gwàl' & `gwawl', a wall; `hâd' & `hawd', whence `hodi'; `sud' & `sawd'; with the English words cane & cale; Welsh `cawn' (reeds), `cawl' (coleworts). I can not form any better conjecture at present. Compliments to Mrs Owen and Aneurin yr ail &c, Mr Owen Jones and his family &c, Mr & Miss Harper. I will send you some remarks on a curious passage in the Hindu laws very soon, as well as a letter to Myfyr.

I am, dear Sir,
Yours, and his, most humble servant,

Edward Williams

Mr & Mrs John Owen are well, and present compliments.