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"Letters from Wales" by Frances H. Davies

February 8, 1912 - May 9, 1912

The Spectator - February 8, 1912

[This letter was to A.P. Benjamin, Editor of The Spectator, who had just retired. BH]

A. P. Benjamin, Editor:-

Congratulations and best wishes from one of the oldest of the Spectator correspondents. Over 25 years ago when F. B. Smith installed me as a correspondent as Rip Van Winkle and other such names. I earnestly hope the success the Spectator has attained will still continue and if I am spared to return in April will hope the new Fairview correspondent will give up their work to the old one.

Since I am writing the last letter from here I have visited at a place called Caersws or the ancient city 'tis dubbed on account of the historical and many ancient relics unearthed there during the excavations for a new chapel, such as pottery, old coins of gold and copper, very, very ancient.

While there I was favored with the sight of a quaint brocaded satin robe worn by Charlotte, wife of George III, date 1782 very odd and very elegant. It was a relic bequeathed to a member of the family we visited, the said member being a suitor of King George III and I also saw a newspaper printed in 1782 with a photo of royal pair in same and to cap the climax I was given a very dainty shoulder shawl by the same family, ancient style worn in 1832, royal relic also of the same family, so I feel wonderfully ancient and touched with a tinge of royalty.

There has been quite a fall of snow hereabouts. The snow is very heavy with water, not like our American snow.

There has been much havoc on the sea by the storms especially on the Scottish coast, many lives lost. Hope Neptune will be calmer by the time we embark. The lovely trip over was a very enjoyable one.

We are soon to visit other places having recent invitations and still we are enjoying the visit to the old home.

Trusting the old editor and wife in Sunny California will renew their youth and enjoy the balmy air of the Pacific Coast. I am longing for a glimpse of the Gold Gate of California. So may follow in W. F. B.'s wake later on.

The Spectator - March 14, 1912

Talgarth Mills
February 22, 1912

Once more, dear editor, I am going to inflict a bit of impressions upon you. This letter is a bit of strange happenings that sometimes occur in ones lifetime.

There is a C.M. [Calvinistic-Methodist] chapel where we spent the winter, our nephew, D. Davies [David Davies], being a strong pillar in the C. M. church and at the annual meeting the pastor, Rev. Griffith Jones, and wife were at our home. Conversation drifted on and Mr. Jones was so desirous of seeing America, asked me if there were any C. M. churches near us. I told him there was over at Freedom and one at Centerville, the pastor, Rev. George Lamb, being an old friend. Why, he said, he was her mother's cousin, that lady being a Miss Perkins of Cardiff, was married to a Capt. Thomas Thomas of Cardiff, now dead, Mrs. Jones, the minister's wife, being a daughter of the said Miss Perkins.

We also heard of Rev. Lamb while guests of Edward Jones of Maesmaur Hall where we were especially invited guests. Mr. Jones is the adviser of the millionaire, D. Davies, whom he wants us to meet later on. Both Mr. and Mrs. Jones and their three lovely girls did all they could for us and our entertainment.

The family of the founder of the D. Davies' millions is getting out a biography of the family and Mr. Davies and the late D. Davies' father were brothers, so he is the first cousin of the deceased millionaire. They want us to furnish materials to aid in the biography as my husband was intimate with him in daily toil for years.

The weather here has been damp and muggy. Softly falling rain pitter patters down incessantly.

They are waiting for the sunshine,
all the sweet, the lovely flowers,
And the throbbing of their pulses
are so near akin to ours,
They will waken into beauty ere the
Winter wind hath gone,
And their broidered dresses gaily
will be donned by everyone.
The shuttles they are busy and the
workers toil and spin
In their fairy hidden workshops no mortal enters in,
For the hand divine is teaching each
tiny one his plan,
That no mortal ere can teach them
poor fable, paltry man.

The Spectator - April 1912

Talgarth Mills
March 12, 1912

This letter may be the last inflicted upon your readers for we expect to sail for home on the Mauretania April 15th, that is if we can reach Liverpool by train. The strike among the miners has crippled everything. Trains are being taken off on all lines. Trade is at a stand still in every city in the kingdom. If this climate were as it is in North America people would freeze to death but fortunately it is warm and sunny here. Grass is as green as it is in May in America, fruit trees, goose berries and currants are leaving out and where we visited yesterday the flower beds in full bloom, white and blue scented violets, tulips and hyacinths just ready to burst into bloom. I fairly reveled in the beauty of the old time flowers for I have always remembered them all the years I lived in America.

This is truly a beautiful country but it has one or two drawbacks. For instance if a man owns a farm and a river runs through the same full of salmon or trout, he cannot fish off his bridge or meadow unless he takes out a license. It is the same in hunting game.

There is a fine river running through our nephew's place here, a limpid, clear and beautiful river, only a stone's throw from the door, and full of speckled trout. We have enjoyed many toothsome dishes of the same. On nimrod went fishing this morning and soon the game warden came along. "Have you a license?" quoth the warden. "Yes" said our nimrod friend. "I don't think you have," said the warden. "I have forgotten it," replied the nimrod. By this time the owner, our nephew stood smiling by nimrod's side. "Who is this man?" asked the warden. "My uncle," replied Edward. "What, what," gasped the warden, "our uncle, well it takes a pretty smart fellow to corner him, he is keener than your father ever was," and stretching out his hand he warmly grasped nimrod's. "You," said he, "can go fishing all you want to and I won't trouble you." So undoubtedly he will for the river is so near, so tempting and also so very beautiful and it goes on gently to the great ocean waiting its coming.

We have been requested to bring help back to America. We undoubtedly could, but fear that all might not turn out favorably. Then another old friend wants us to look up a lady who was in America forty five years ago, like looking for a needle in a hay mow. We had hoped to meet a lady relative of the Owens and D. Williams families of Centerville but the statue prevents our going to her home so she will send gifts to her American friends by us. Another old friend wants a Welsh almanac. We can get that for her here.

I shall regret leaving this place very much, such grand, true hearted people are among our friends, but the memory of the visit will ever remain a green and hallowed one. I had hoped to go to my home but the railroad company will not assure safe travel so may not go. Hoping all old friends are well and we may soon meet again, I remain as ever.

The Spectator - May 9, 1912

After a very anxious and eventful voyage we are once more on terra firma. The first day after leaving Queenstown [Ireland], where we arrived at 4 a.m. April 14th, was an unusually beautiful spring one, sea calm, smooth and no wind to raise a white horse or breaker but in the early hours of the Sabbath evening just about dark the steamer stopped suddenly in mid-ocean, one of the first cabin passengers having jumped over board. Boats were lowered, search lights thrown out over the wide expanses of ocean but no form of the unfortunate man could be discerned. The merciless ocean held him in its hungry bosom.

We again set sail and ere long the wireless called us to put on full speed -- the Titanic was in dire need of aid. The captain gave orders for full speed but again came the mystic call on the briny deep that aid was too late, the mighty Titanic with her hundreds of precious souls, had sunk beneath the fathoms of water that covered the treasures of land and sea. What a shadow was cast over our people you may conceive. We were in fear of meeting a like phantom form on the mighty ocean. Our captain changed the course of his ship 150 miles to the southern course in order to avoid danger and thus with the exception of occasional fogs reached New York Friday morning about 4 a.m. of the 19th.

There was to have been a concert on board Wednesday night but it was given up and a subscription of nearly three hundred pounds was collected to aid the families lost.

On board the Mauretania, on which we came over, were some 2,000 souls, 950 steerage and cabin saloon sailors and so on made up a total of nearly 2,000 people. Among the cabin passengers were many notabilities, such as the steel magnates from Pittsburgh and a Bishop from Liverpool.

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Letters Aug-Dec 1911

© Barbara R. Henry