history

Sir Humphrey Mackworth, ‘a genius richer than thy mines below’

March 20, 2021 0 Comments
Sir Humphrey Mackworth, ‘a genius richer than thy mines below’

The earth, thy great exchequer, ready lies is the title of a superb new collection of stories by the Welsh writer Jo Lloyd, who won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2019.  The nine pieces are very different one from another, in subject, setting and register.  But they all share at least two things. […]

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Anna Maria van Schurman

February 19, 2021 2 Comments
Anna Maria van Schurman

One of the most useful things an historian can do is to restore to us people from the past who have unjustly slipped from our collective memory.  Until recently an outstanding figure of early European science had vanished from sight almost completely, except in his home country.  In his lifetime, the second half of the […]

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The Cyfarthfa Philosophical Society

January 9, 2021 0 Comments
The Cyfarthfa Philosophical Society

The end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century saw the rise of local ‘literary and philosophical institutions’ throughout the British Isles.  They aimed to bring together like-minded people to discuss issues of the day.  The label ‘philosophy’ usually meant not logic or metaphysics, but an interest in the latest developments in […]

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Henry de la Beche defends slavery

December 4, 2020 3 Comments
Henry de la Beche defends slavery

If you were a financial beneficiary of a Caribbean sugar plantation dependent on slave labour, how would you react to the movement to abolish slavery?  Fight the movement aggressively in order to defend your interests?  Keep your head down and wait to collect your government compensation?  Admit the rightness of the movement’s cause, and ‘disinvest’?  […]

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‘Ymharadwys’: Pentre Eirianell

October 16, 2020 0 Comments
‘Ymharadwys’: Pentre Eirianell

Yn ddiweddar digwyddodd imi fod mewn sgwrs ebost â thenant presennol Pentre Eirianell.  Hwn yw’r hen dŷ fferm ar ymyl Bae Dulas ar Ynys Môn lle magwyd ‘Morysiaid Môn’ – Lewis, Richard, William, Elin a Siôn (neu John) Morris – yn gynnar yn y ddeunawfed ganrif. Gwelais i’r tŷ am y tro cyntaf ym Medi […]

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Anorffenedig

September 5, 2020 0 Comments
Anorffenedig

Bu farw Edward Lhuyd, un o’r ysgolheigion Cymreig mwyaf, yn ei ystafell yn Amgueddfa’r Ashmolean, Rhydychen ar 30 Mehefin 1709, yn 49 mlwydd oed. Pedair ar ddeg o flynyddoedd cyn hynny, yn 1695, argraffodd e gynllun uchelgeisiol iawn i baratoi a chyhoeddi llyfr mawr, amlgyfrolog, amlddisgyblaethol.  Teitl y cynllun oedd A design of a British […]

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John Ballinger

August 31, 2020 3 Comments
John Ballinger

There’s something faintly ridiculous about the phrase ‘librarian as hero’. But just occasionally librarians come along who, if not exactly heroic, at least have the capacity to astonish their successors with the number and breadth of their achievements. John Ballinger (1860-1933) was one such example. Ballinger was the Librarian of the Cardiff Free Library1 and […]

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Biscuits: gwallter’s top ten

August 28, 2020 4 Comments
Biscuits: gwallter’s top ten

In 1968, at the height of the student rebellion, Alethea Hayter published her influential book Opium and the English imagination.  In it she traced the critical role laudanum had on the creative work of Coleridge, De Quincey and other leaders of the English Romantic revolution.  I can’t make any such claims for the effects of […]

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Coleridge’s ginger wine

August 14, 2020 0 Comments
Coleridge’s ginger wine

Some think that the Notebooks are Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s masterwork.  In them he would jot any thoughts that occurred to his omnivorous, lightning-fast mind, wherever he was.  Snatches of poetry, quotations from other writers, jokes, lists of works he would write (most remained unwritten), apothegms, descriptions of landscapes, recollections, fragments of philosophy, memos to himself […]

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Six Classical

July 17, 2020 3 Comments
Six Classical

Things were different when we reached the sixth form.  Before then the teaching principle our school followed was ‘punch as many nails of knowledge into their dense skulls as possible, and some of them may stick there’.  ‘Turpe nescire’ – it’s a disgrace to be a dunce – was the school’s motto, and factual ignorance […]

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