Diwrnod ym Mharis

Wedi dod o hyd i ddarn a ysgrifennais rai blynyddoedd yn ôl. O am gael dychwelyd i Baris!

 

Paris imi yw rhedeg neges i brysurdeb y rue Lepic erbyn naw, a’r stondinau llwythog yn ymestyn dros ymyl y pafin i ganol yr heol: caws gafr, saim gwydd, pâtisserie, perlysiau, y cyfan yn arwain i fyny’r rhiw tua Montmartre.  Gyda’r Sacré-Cœur ar ei gopa a’r Moulin Rouge yn gysglyd wrth ei droed, rhaid cyrraedd cyn y twristiaid os am gael cynnig mefusen neu domato i’w profi.  Yna hel clecs wrth y peiriant coffi yn yr hen Bibliothèque nationale erbyn deg: pwy sy’n darllen beth heddiw, pwy fethodd godi mewn pryd i sicrhau lle yn y ciw boreol.  Dianc boed haf neu aeaf i erddi’r Palais Royal gyda brechdan i ginio.  Sgwaryn o ardd ffurfiol Ffrengig, ffynon yn ei chanol, wedi’i hamgáu gan resi o goed, yna gan golofnau, ac yn goruchwylio’r cwbl ribidires o ffenestri na cheir eu gwell ond yn y Place des Vosges.  Yn rhyfedd iawn, dim ond Ffrancwyr a darllenwyr ddaw yma, a’u brechdanau, i freuddwydio.  Gwrthod y demtasiwn i bicio draw i’r siopau dillad yn y Place de Victoires, neu fynd am dro bach i’r Louvre am y prynhawn, a’i heglu hi am fws i groesi’r Seine.  Rhyfeddu bob tro at yr olygfa wrth oedi mewn tagfa ar y ffordd i ddarllen llawysgrifau yn y quartier latin.  Teimlo gwefr wrth droi tudalennau canrif mewn llyfrgell fechan guddiedig sy’n swatio yng nghysgod y Panthéon a’i enwogion.  Yna darlith gan Derrida erbyn amser te.  Mae Derrida yn smygu pib ac yn gyrru car gwyn, ac yn traethu’n glir, ac mae’n feidrol.  Rhuthro wedyn am y metro, osgoi sgwrs a golwg cyd-deithwyr yn ofalus, a cheisio ymgolli yn un o nofelau Sylvie Germain cyn cyrraedd.  Erbyn wyth mae’r Place Blanche ar ddeffro – breichiau’r felin yn troi, llond bysus o dwristaid o’r Almaen yn archwilio’r bwydlenni’n swnllyd, wrth i’r stondinau wacáu, ag i’r Parisiaid ddiflannu i’w fflatiau.  Taro heibio’r popty pedair-awr-ar-hugain, ‘run peth ag arfer, diolch.  Yna cilio, y cyfrifiadur dros f’ysgwydd yn drwm o syniadau a throednodiadau’r dydd.

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French travellers visit the Ladies of Llangollen at Plas Newydd

The Ladies of Llangollen, Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831), were famous for their Francophilia among other things, and they were known to welcome French visitors to their home at Plas Newydd.

2009_0214_171122AA

Plas Newydd. Copyright Nicholas Shilton

http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/27760/details/PLAS+NEWYDD%3B+HOUSE+OF+THE+LADIES+OF+LLANGOLLEN%2C+BUTLER+HILL%2C+LLANGOLLEN/

Poor Louis Simond, a Frenchman who had lived in America for twenty years before making his tour of Britain with his English wife, discovered this fact rather too late, as he recounts in his travelogue, Journal of a Tour and Residence in Great Britain, during the Years 1810 to 1811, by a French Traveller (Edinburgh, 1815), which he quickly translated into French as Voyage d’un Français en Angleterre pendant les années 1810 et 1811 (Paris, 1816). On arrival in Llangollen they sent a note requesting permission to visit Plas Newydd, making the mistake of announcing themselves as American travellers. But the ladies were cruel: ‘Les belles dames se sont montrées cruelles’ and they refuse. Later on back at the inn Simond’s landlady remarks that they would probably have been let in if only the ladies had known that they spoke French:

‘La maîtresse à l’auberge, qui probablement nous avait entendu parler français, a remarqué que ces dames aimaient la langue française, et que si elles eussent su que nous la parlions, nous aurions été admis. L’avis était venu trop tard.’ (pp. 320-321)

For more on Simond’s travels in Wales see

http://etw.bangor.ac.uk/accounts/journal-tour-and-residence-great-britain-during-years-1810-1811-french-traveller-remarks-co

Basile-Joseph Ducos (1767-1836) had more luck when he visited in 1826, and describes his guided tour of their property in his travelogue Itinéraire et souvenirs d’Angleterre et d’Écosse 1814-1826, vol 4 (1834):

‘Nous avions fait demander la permission de visiter leur domaine où elles accueillent volontiers les Français. Une pente douce y conduit. Nous y sommes arrivés par un chemin ombragé, sinueux, charmant. La maison n’est qu’une chaumière ornée. Des sculptures gothiques tant soit peu prétensieuses, surchargent la porte et les fenêters qui sont cintrées en ogive. La bibliothèque est éclairée par des vitraux coloriés. Une rotonde sert de laiterie. L’ordre, l’arrangement, les soins les plus minutieux se montrent partout, dans ce modeste ménage dont lady Élénora nous a fait gracieusement les honneurs. Il nous restait à voir les jardins. Leur étendue est médiocre, mais il y a tant d’art dans le dessin des sentiers qui les parcourent, que nulle part on n’en aperçoit les limites. Un point de vue est-il ingrat? Des massifs le dérobent. Aux endroits d’où l’on domine la rivière, les ravins, hérissés de rochers menaçans, les aspects romantiques de la contrée, des percées s’ouvrent et permettent de porter au loin les regards. Quelquefois on rencontre un berceau de feuillage et de fleurs. Là se trouve un banc confident muet des plus tendres épanchemens. Peut-être attend-il les deux causeuses. Craignons de nous rendre importuns, malgré les aimables propos de notre vieille cicérone. Aussi bien sommes-nous loin de la couchée que nous nous sommes prescrite.’, pp. 190-191.

[We had asked permission to visit their property where they are keen to welcome the French. A slight slope leads to it. We arrived there by way of a shaded, winding, charming route. The house is just a decorated cottage. Some slightly pretentious Gothic sculptures weigh down the door and windows with their pointed arches. The library is lit by stained-glass windows. A rotunda serves as dairy. Order, tidiness and attention to detail are to be seen everywhere in this modest household that Lady Eleanor graciously showed us around. The next thing was for us to see the gardens. Though their surface area is not great, there is such art in the design of the paths that run through them that there is no position from which their limits can be seen. Any view that is found unattractive is screened by banks of planting. From the parts that overlook the river, the ravines, studded with threatening rocks, the romantic aspects of the land, vistas open up and guide the gaze into the distance. Here and there are bowers of foliage and flowers, a bench, discreet confidant of the most tender of effusions. Perhaps it awaits the two lady conversers. We’re afraid of getting in the way, despite the kind words of our aged guide. Also we’re a long way from the accommodation that we had arranged.]

http://etw.bangor.ac.uk/accounts/itin%C3%A9raire-et-souvenirs-dangleterre-et-decosse-1814-1826

One French visitor who would surely have received a warm welcome was Louis Antoine Philippe d’Orléans, duc de Montpensier (1775-1807), the younger brother of Louis Philippe who became King in 1830, and son Louis-Philippe known as Philippe Égalité. He was living in exile in Twickenham on account of what the Ladies referred to in their letters and diaries as ‘the horrors in France’, and came to Wales in summer 1806 in order to sketch the landscape and to console himself that his family had forbidden him to travel to Scotland to visit Elizabeth Forbes, with whom he was in love. He chronicled his travels in Wales in a series of letters addressed to Elizabeth’s mother, but intended for her: Correspondence to Mrs Forbes, Seaton House, Aberdeen MS 2358 University of Aberdeen. Wearied by so many society functions in Twickenham and London, he writes on the 20th September that he had intended to make just one visit in Wales, but abandons even that plan in order to avoid the risk of further engagements:

‘The only [visit] I had an idea and intention to pay was to the female hermits of Langollen, but having heard of some races taking place under the management of Sir W.W. Wynne, just in their neighbourhood, and at the very time I meant to call upon them, I gave up even that, knowing that it would have been very difficult for me in that case to disentangle myself from Sir Watkin’s kind invitation.’

http://etw.bangor.ac.uk/accounts/correspondence-mrs-forbes

Their most famous French visitor was novelist and educationalist Madame de Genlis (1746-1830), who was also in exile because of the Revolution. She describes her visit in her Mémoires inédits de Madame la Comtesse de Genlis, published over a quarter of a century later in 1825 (with an English translation – Memoirs of the Countess of Genlis – appearing in the same year), complimenting the Plas Newydd library: ‘très-belle’( p. 349), and the ladies’ French: ‘elles parloient français avec autant de facilité que de pureté’ (p. 348).

http://etw.bangor.ac.uk/accounts/m%C3%A9moires-in%C3%A9dits-de-madame-la-comtesse-de-genlis-sur-le-xviiie-si%C3%A8cle-et-la-r%C3%A9volution-fran

There’s lots more information on visitors to Plas Newydd at

https://ladiesofllangollen.wordpress.com/

This research was undertaken as part of an AHRC-funded project http://etw.bangor.ac.uk. If you know of other French visits of near misses, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in European Travellers to Wales, French literature, French Revolution | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost paintings of Wales by French Royal in exile

A member of the French Royal Family, living in exile in Britain during the French Revolution, sketched Hafod Uchtryd in Ceredigion, and was mistaken for a French spy at Cilgerran Castle!

Antoine_d'Orléans_(1775-1806)

By Amédée Faure (1801-1878) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Louis Antoine Philippe d’Orléans, duc de Montpensier (1775-1807), younger brother of Louis Philippe who became King in 1830, and son of Louis Philippe, known as Philippe Égalité was living in exile in Twickenham with his family from February 1800. Montpensier was eager to learn about Britain, and was a keen amateur artist; his education had been overseen by Madame de Genlis, who arranged art lessons for him with the Polish artist Silvestre de Mirys (1742-1810). We know, from his letters, that Montpensier went on a sketching tour of south Wales in 1805, and possibly also in 1803.[1] This was followed by a sketching tour of parts of north Wales, where he sought consolation in summer 1806 (27th August to the end of September), when Elizabeth Forbes, with whom he was in love, had been removed from Twickenham to Scotland by her family. Banned by his family from travelling to Scotland to visit her, he sets off for the Welsh mountains driving a phaeton with two horses, accompanied by a groom named James and a servant called George White, and carrying books and sketching material. The account of his tour that has survived is a series of letters addressed to Elizabeth’s mother, but intended for her.[2] See the database of the ‘European travellers to Wales’ project for a map of this journey and notes on the content of his letters http://etw.bangor.ac.uk/accounts/correspondence-mrs-forbes.

But what of the pictures? These seem to be lost. However there are details of them in a catalogue of Montpensier’s works by J. Vatout, Notices Historiques sur les Tableaux de la Galerie de SAR Mgr le Duc d’Orléans (Paris: 1826), vol. iv, pp. 513-32.

This catalogue shows that he visited different parts of Wales on his other trips there, and lists his artwork by title, and sometimes provides a description.

For 1803 the catalogue gives a detailed description of his view of a waterfall at Hafod Uchtryd, Cwmystwyth, Ceredigion:

This is the cave known popularly as robber’s cave, or officially as the Hafod Uchtryd Cavern Cascade http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/23026/collection/HAFOD+UCHTRYD+CAVERN+CASCADE/

This is how it looks today (and presumably then too) https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruthanddave/20421383248

http://www.welshruins.co.uk/hafod-robbers-cave-pontrhydygroes-ceredigion

The catalogue describes landowner Thomas Johnes’s manmade waterfall that falls at the back of a cave to delight his visitors. Montpensier has included at least two people in his picture, one gesturing towards the water and the other showing surprise.

Also in 1803, so presumably as part of the same trip, he sketched ‘Vue de la cascade de Mellincourt dans la principauté de Galles’ [view of the waterfall at Mellincourt in the principality of Wales]. Here is an engraving of it by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, a slightly earlier European Traveller to Wales http://search.digido.org.uk/?id=llgc-id%3a1131867&query=melincourt&query_type=full_text&page=1.

 

For 1805 is listed ‘Vue des ruines de l’abbeye de Vale-Crucis dans la principauté de Galles’ [view of the ruins of the Abbey of Valle Crucis in the principality of Wales]

Also for 1805 is listed ‘Vue du pont de Mallwyd’ [view of the bridge at Mallwyd].

And also for 1805 is listed ‘Vue des ruines de Kilgaran-Castle dans la principauté de Galles’ [view of the ruins of Cilgerran Castle in the principality of Wales], http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/95037/images/CILGERRAN+CASTLE/

 

This picture includes a representation of Montpensier sketching, and shows what happened to him at Cilgerran: some little boys mistook him for a French spy who was making maps, and started throwing stones at him.

For 1806 are listed ‘Vue d’un petit lac sur la route de Bedkellert à Caernarvon’ [view of a little lake on the road from Beddgelert to Caernarfon], and ‘Vue de la Montagne de Snowden dans la principauté de Galles’ [view of Snowdon mountain in the principality of Wales].

 

However, when the Palais-Royal was sacked in 1848 Montpensier’s artworks disappeared.

Is there any hope of hope of recovering these images of Wales? We know that our artist showed his sketches of Wales to guests at a dinner party in mid-October 1808, at which the Duke of Kent and a number of French notables were present, and that the guests praised them (Hays, p. 213). We also know that he made paintings based on the sketches, and he mentions in particular one that he made as a gift for the Duke of Berry (Hays, p. 215). So there may well be paintings or copies waiting to be discovered!

This research was undertaken as part of an AHRC-funded project http://etw.bangor.ac.uk

 

[1] Malcolm Hay, Prince in Captivity : Based on the Memoirs and Unpublished Letters of Antoine Philippe d’Orléans Duc de Montpensier, 1775-1807 (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960), pp. 165-66, p. 162.

[2] Antoine Philippe d’Orléans, Correspondence to Mrs Forbes, Seaton House, Aberdeen. MS 2358 University of Aberdeen. Extracts from these letters, in the original English, are printed in Malcolm Hay.

Posted in European Travellers to Wales, French Revolution, Uncategorized, Visual arts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

More French views of Swansea

Here are a few more French views of Swansea to add to the previous post.

Maudet de Penhouët, Letters Describing a Tour Through Part of South Wales (1797)

‘Before we got to Swansea we saw immense forges at work, and I could not enough admire the genius and œconomy of commerce, which transports copper hither out of Cornwall, in order to be wrought, coal being the principal production of this country, which is wanting in the other. Swansea feels greatly the advantage of this commerce; by its situation it is, as it were, the staple town between the interior country of Wales, and the opposite coast of England, particularly Bristol. Company also frequents Swansea for the advantage of Sea Bathing, and I have heard say, that it would be a place of great resort if the Bathing was better conducted; but, notwithstanding this, and though on the great road to Ireland, there is but one decent inn, the master of which is not backward in taking due advantage of such a circumstance.’ (pp. 42-43)

Amadée Pichot, L’Irlande et le pays de Galles (Paris, 1850) arrives in Swansea by boat from Bristol. According to Pichot Swansea is a bit like Dieppe (other French travellers compare Aberystwyth to Dieppe), and is connected by steamboat to Bristol, Waterford, Cork and Dublin. He then mentions the ship building industry, the surrounding coal and copper mines, and tousism.

‘une ville agréable du troisième ordre : c’est un peu notre ville de Dieppe, un port qui, sans commerce extérieur, prospère par le cabotage, par la pêche et ses chantiers de construction, d’où sortent chaque année de beaux navires de commerce : à cette dernière industrie se rattachent des corderies et des fonderies; enfin, dans le voisinage de Swansea, on trouve des mines de charbon et des mines de cuivre : c’est en dire assez pour faire apprécier l’importance d’une ville de dix à douze mille habitants, qui, par ses bateaux à vapeur, est en communication périodique avec Bristol, Waterford, Cork et Dublin. Chaque été, Swansea est aussi le rendez-vous d’une assez nombreuse foule de baigneurs qu’attire sa belle baie’ (p. 149).

Alfred Erny, author of “Voyage dans le pays de Galles.” Le Tour de Monde 15.1 (1867), visits in 1862, takes an omnibus excursion to the Gower, and describes Swansea as:

‘la ville la plus importante et la plus populeuse du pays de Galles’ (p. 263), but note that ‘important’ here should be translated as something like ‘considerable’ or ‘substantial’.

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French views of Swansea

In advance of my lecture in Swansea on ‘Views and visions of Wales in nineteenth-century French travel writing’ on Monday 16 November, here are some French views of Swansea. Many more can be found by searching the ‘European Travellers to Wales 1750-2010’ database here: http://etw.bangor.ac.uk/accounts-of-travel

Alfred Erny travelled through Wales in 1862, and makes a huge effort to see harmony instead of pollution in Swansea:

‘la vallée de Swansea, où l’air est vicié par les vapeurs arsenicales et sulfureuses des manufactures de cuivre. Partout le sol est aride et dégarni de verdure; on affirme pourtant que cette atmosphere n’est pas pernicieuse aux ouvriers, et qu’un grand nombre d’entre eux arrivent à un âge très-avancé’ (‘Voyage dans le pays de Galles’, in Le Tour du Monde, p. 263).

At Swansea, there is no doubting how poisonous and pernicious industry is: the air is ‘vicié’ [related to the word ‘vice’, that is lacking in oxygen, contaminated], the fumes are of arsenic and sulfur, and the ground is barren. However, affirms Erny, these conditions seem to suit the workers very well indeed. In fact they thrive on it – and live well into old age!

In 1865 Simonin recommends visiting Swansea:

‘La rade, le port, les docks, le canal de Swansea, les environs eux-mêmes de la ville couronnés de collines, et s’étendant autour d’une large baie, sont intéressants à visiter. On se plaît aussi à parcourir la ville, percée de belles rues, égayée par quelques monuments modernes, et entourées, dans les faubourgs, suivant l’usage anglais, de gracieuses maisons de plaisance et de jolis jardins.’ ‘Une visite aux grandes usines du pays de Galles’, in Le Tour du Monde (1865), p.325

He then manages to visit the Mr Vivian’s factory, but only on condition that he sketches no diagrams of furnaces (he tells of a friend who had been banned on a previous visit for havingmeasured the length of a copper rolling mill!).

He also claims that ‘real’ Wales begins in Swansea:

‘C’est à Swansea que commence à proprement parler le pays de Galles. A Cardiff, où nous sommes déjà passés, à Newport où nous nous arrêterons en quittant le pays, l’élément étranger domine, ou du moins la race galloise s’est peu à peu fondue avec la race saxonne et normande; mais à Swansea et plus avant dans l’ouest et dans l’intérieur, les mœurs et les usages welches sont assez bien conservés.’ (p. 331)

Albert Huet in 1877 is not very nice about Swansea, describing it as a type of Hell:

‘le Railway traverse comme un enfer. Tous ces ouvriers travaillant dans huit fonderies de cuivre, le long de la mer et dans un cercle de fonderies d’étain du côté de la terre, apparaissent aux voyageurs comme s’ils étaient au milieu des flammes,’ Un tour au pays de Galles (Paris: 1877), p. 20

It is somewhere you wouldn’t go on purpose unless you worked in the metal or pottery industries; however, a tourist can find a ‘gîte’ here he reassures his reader:

On n’irait pas exprès à Swansea, à moins d’être commerçant en métaux ou en poteries. Mais le touriste y trouve à la fin de la journée un gîte et un moyen de repos (p. 20).

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Clarens at Cwmystwyth: tracing Rousseau’s ideas to Ceredigion

Thomas Johnes of Hafod Uchtryd in upland Ceredigion was a man of broad cultural horizons, who received his formal education in Edinburgh. He made his grand tour in 1768-71, during which he visited Switzerland, Spain and Italy, and spent some months in Paris. He inherited the Hafod Estate in 1780 and served as Whig Member of Parliament for Cardiganshire and was also its Lord Lieutenant. He and his wife Jane and daughter Mariamne, while devoted to Hafod, were also in contact with London-based culture. On his return from the Continent Johnes remained a Francophile, as we see from his translation of Froissart’s Chronicles into English, a huge undertaking, and which kept its place as the standard translation into the twentieth century. Though he was also very interested in Welsh antiquarianism, and famously allowed Iolo Morganwg and William Owen Pughe to spend time with the manuscripts in his library in the 1790s, he was not himself a scholar. He was more of a collector and bibliophile, and is most famous for the landscape that he created. It is in this very practical and permanent, if indirect, way, that we see some of Rousseau’s ideas come right into the heart of Wales.

He and his family oversaw the planting of over three millon trees, and the creation of flower gardens at Hafod. An important influence on their ideas on landscape was The English Garden, a long poem in four books, by William Mason,[1] a friend of Glipin, the author of the Observations of the River Wye. Johnes was so keen that Hafod should be included in any subsequent editions of this work (indeed it was included in 1789), that he took some sketches by Thomas Jones to show Gilpin, and claimed that Mason’s English Garden had been his guide in transforming the Hafod estate. This meeting is described by Gilpin in a letter to Mason in April 1787:

The walks, & lawns were laid out by Mr. Mason’ whose English garden he took in his hand; & wanted no other direction. So if you want to see an exact translation of Yr. book into good Welsh, you myst go to Mr. Johnes’s seat in Cardiganshipre.[2]

Rousseau was Mason’s ‘favourite philosopher’,[3] and is directly invoked in notes by the author’s friend William Burgh, that were included in the second edition of The English Garden (1783). Burgh refers us to ‘Rousseau’s charming descriptions of the Garden of Julie, Nouvelle Eloise, 4 partie, lett. 11th’.[4]

This epistolary novel by Rousseau had an extraordinary influence that reached well beyond francophone cultures. Published in 1761, it ran to some 72 editions in French before the century was out, and an English translation by William Kendrick appeared in the same year. Masses of novels featuring Julies, Julias, Julianas or Juliettes were published in Britain, from Mackenzie’s Julia de Roubigné (1777) to Helen Maria Williams’s Julia (1790), and still more British novels reworked its plot. What concerns us here is not so much the plot as the descriptions of nautre and ladscaping that form its essential backdrop. The creation of Julie’s garden on the Clarens estate is described in detail in the novel. She was herself responsible for the landscaping work (with some assistance from gardeners), and the result is utterly natural: ‘la nature a tout fait, mais sous ma direction’ [nature did everything, but under my supervision], says Julie. She goes on to explain her choice of native species, and that she had thrown climbers from tree to tree as garlands (‘guirlandes’). So as to give the impression that water flowed freely through her garden, she had re-routed water from the formal fountains in her father’s garden, thus undermining the formal tradition in gardening that reached its apogee in Versailles. The trees in her garden are filled with birds, because she plants crops especially selected to attract them so that they fill her garden with song, and she even provides nest-building materials. Despite this minute planning, the effect is convincing; in the words of Saint-Preux, Julie’s former lover: ‘la main du jardinier ne se montre point’ [The gardner’s hand is not to be seen].

The affinity between Johnes’s Hafod and Rousseau’s Clarens lies deeper than the land itself. Another letter in the novel describes the workings of the idealized estate run by Julie and her husband Wolmar in detail, and Rousseau tells us all about the practical arrangements, both agricultural and economic. Innovation is stressed both in terms of agriculture and in the care of workers. For instance Clarens offers workers a weekly prize as a reward for hard work, and they receive bonuses for good work as well as annual increments. Furthermore the masters are expected to lead through example. Thomas Johnes, rather like Julie’s fictional husband, was also an agricultural innovator who tried to be a benevolent landlord. For instance he employed a doctor for his tenants, and his wife Jane ran a school, for which she procured Bibles and Hannah More as reading material.[5] Mariamne, for her part, had such a passion for botany that she corresponded with Edward Smith of the Linnean Society. She also made a deep impression on William Shepherd, the Liverpool Jacobin and friend of the family, who says that: ‘the best authors in the English, French, and Italian languages she had read with diligence, and remembered with accuracy’.[6] In conclusion, then, it seems likely that someone from the family knew something of Rousseau’s novel, and Hafod Uchdryd can be considered a possible Clarens at Cwmystwyth.

[1] The Hafod historian Caroline Kerkham has suggested that Johnes’s landscape was modelled jointly on the estates of Mason’s hero Alcander, and that of Rousseau’s M and Mme de Wolmar [i.e. Julie and her husband] at Clarens, remarking that ‘Thomas Johnes’s empathy with Rousseau’s perception of nature is remarkable’, ‘Hafod: paradise lost’, Journal of Garden History, 11:4 (1991), 207-216 (213).

[2] Bodl MS Eng. Misc. d. 571, f.8v. I am extremely grateful to Bethan Jenkins for providing this transcript. See also Roger Hallett, ‘the Hafod Sketchbook of Thomas Jones’, Friends of Hafod Newsletter, 5 (Spring 1991), pp. 4-11 (p. 7, n. 23), and Mavis Batey, ‘The English garden in Welsh’, Garden History, 22:2 (Winter, 1994), pp. 157-61.

[3] Mavis Batey, ‘William Mason, English Gardener’, Garden History, 1:2 (Feb., 1973), pp. 11-25 (p. 12).

[4] Burgh’s note (p. 252) to book 4, line 358, William Mason, The English Garden: A Poem in Four Books, new edition, corrected, to which are added a commentary and notes, by W. Burgh (Dublin: 1786).

[5] ‘yr oedd llyfrwerthwr yn Llundain rywdro’n sôn am yrru dau focsaid o Feiblau, a mil o lyfrynnau bach o waith Hannah More, at Mrs Johnes’, Dafydd Jenkins, Thomas Johnes (1948), p. 37.

[6] A portrait of Mariamne is contained in Thomas Johnes’s obituary, written by Shepherd, cited in C. Kerkham, ‘The Rev. Dr William Shepherd and the death of Mariamne Johnes’, Friends of Hafod Newsletter, 14 (Winter 1996-7), 26-33.

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Thomas Johnes yr Hafod, Julie a Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Prin bod angen cyflwyno teulu Thomas Johnes (1748-1816) yr Hafod i ddarllenwyr ardal Aberystwyth . Cofir am Johnes fel lluniwr y tirlun coediog a greodd ac a erys (i raddau) hyd heddiw ar dir Hafod Uchtryd, ac am ei ferch Mariamne, druan, fel llysieuegydd a fu farw cyn pryd. Yn ystod eu hamser yn yr Hafod plannwyd dros dair miliwn o goed, crëwyd gerddi blodau a rhwydwaith o lwybrau a fyddai’n caniatáu i’r ymwelydd ddarganfod rhyfeddodau’r fro. Ar y llaw arall, efallai bod angen cyflwyniad ar Julie, sef y prif gymeriad mewn nofel gan Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse. Oherwydd er i’w nofel wefreiddio darllenwyr Ewrop pan ymddangosodd yn 1761, gan newid bywydau a ffasiynau, a’n hagewdd tuag at natur, am byth, ychydig iawn o ddarllen sydd arni heddiw, er y gwelir crybwll ei theitl yn fynych.

Neges Rousseau yw bod trigolion y wlad yn gwbl wahanol i bobl y dref. Dywed yn blaen yn ei ragymadrodd ‘ffowch o’r trefi’. Cnewyllyn y plot yw bod Julie, fel Eloisa gynt, yn cwympo mewn cariad â’i thiwtor Saint-Preux, ond mae tad Julie yn gwrthod iddynt briodi oherwydd nad yw Saint-Preux yn uchelwr. Felly mae Julie yn priodi Wolmar, ac yn byw bywyd rhinweddol a duwiol gyda’i gŵr ar ystad yn Clarens, yn magu ei phlant, yn ffurfio syniadau am ‘natur’ ac addysg, yn goruchwylio bywyd a gwaith yr ystad gyda’i gwr, ac yn creu gardd arbennig. Cawn wybod am hyn oll trwy’r disgrifiadau o’r ystad, o’r ardd, ac o fywyd Julie, yn llythyron Saint-Preux, sydd wedi dychwelyd i’r ardal wedi sawl blwyddyn o deithio, ac yn ymweld â Clarens. Mewn un llythyr (Rhan 4 llythyr 10) ceir disgrifiad manwl o sut mae’r ystad yn Clarens yn gweithio: manylion y trefniadau, yn amaethyddol, yn economaidd. Pwysleisir yr arloesi, h.y. arbrofi amaethyddol ac hefyd y ffyrdd o drin a gofalu ar ôl staff. E.e. yn Clarens cynigir gwobr wythnosol i’r gweithwyr am waith caled. Maent yn derbyn tâl arferol, ond hefyd ychwaneg o arian am waith da, ynghyd â chynyddiad blynyddol [increment]. Yn Clarens mae’r meistri yn arwain trwy esiampl. Yn y llythyr nesaf ceir disgrifiad enwog o ardd Julie, ei ‘Elysée’, ei hoff le. Dysgwn mai Julie yn unig fu’n gyfrifol am y gwaith i gyd (gydag ychydig o arddwyr), er bod y canlyniad yn edrych yn gwbl naturiol, yn ôl honiad Saint-Preux. Ateb Julie yw ‘Natur wnaeth pob peth, ond o dan fy ngoruchwyliaeth’. Â Julie ymlaen i esbonio iddi ddewis planhigion brodorol, ac iddi daflu planhigion dringo fel garlant o goeden i goeden. Er mwyn rhoi’r argraff bod dŵr yn ffrydio’n naturiol drwy’r ardd, roedd hi wedi dargyweirio’r dŵr o’r ffynon ffurfiol yng ngardd ei thad. A thrwy hyn mae’n tanseilio ffurfioldeb gardd ei thad, a thraddodiad garddio’r Ffrancwyr. Mae’r coed yn ei gardd yn llawn o adar, oherwydd plennir cnydau yn unswydd er mwyn denu’r adar sy’n llenwi’r ardd â’u trydar, ac mae Julie yn darparu deunydd adeiladu nythod er mwyn eu cadw yno. Meddai Saint-Preux am y lle: ‘Nid yw ôl llaw’r garddwr i’w weld’. Pwysleisir hefyd bwysigrwydd hunan-gynhaliaeth: dylid bwyta bwyd lleol, syml, a chynhyrchu gwin a gwlân. Ond trasiedi sy’n cloi’r nofel, wrth i Julie farw wedi iddi neidio i’r llyn i achub un o’i phlant, ac wrth inni ddeall nad oedd hi, wedi’r cyfan, wedi concro ei theimladau tuag at Saint-Preux.

Mae’n bryd dychwelyd i’r Hafod, ac ymdrechion Thomas Johnes i ddofi natur, i berswadio natur i greu llun. Honnai Thomas Johnes iddo wneud hyn: ysgrifennodd at George Cumberland, awdur An Attempt to Describe Hafod (1796) fel a ganlyn: ‘by beautifying it [h.y. natur] I have neither shorn or [sic] tormented it’. Tystiodd James Edward Smith iddo lwyddo hefyd, wrth ddisgrifio gardd flodau Mrs Johnes fel ‘a happy effort of nature, rather than any labour of Art’. Y mae’r tebygrwydd rhwng Johnes a Rousseau ar y tir yn mynd yn ddyfnach na’r eshthetig. Yn y nofel mae Clarens yn batrwm o gymuned wledig sy’n weithgar, yn gynhyrchiol, yn ffrwythlon, ac yn hapus, oll o dan orychwiliaeth Julie a’i gŵr Wolmar. Fel Wolmar a Julie yn achos Clarens, gwelai Thomas Johnes yr angen i arloesi ym myd amaethyddiaeth. Arbrofodd gyda bridiau gwahanol o ddefaid a gwartheg a chnydau gwahanol, ac yn ei laethdy llwyddodd wneud parmesan, ymysg pethau eraill (ond canfu nad oedd marchnad ar gyfer parmesan yng Nghwmystwyth ddwy ganrif yn ôl, a bu’n rhaid gwerthu’r caws yn rhad i’w denantiaid). Yng nghyd-destun prinder bwyd yn sgil y rhyfel yn yr 1790au, roedd Thomas Johnes yn awyddus i fewnforio cant o deuluoedd o’r Swisdir i Geredigion oherwydd tybiai y byddent yn barotach i arloesi nag ydoedd y brodorion. Yn anffodus gwrthododd y llywodraeth ei gefnogi, ac aeth ei gynllun i’r wal. Daeth ag arbenigwyr o’r Alban serch hynny, ac hefyd aeth mor bell â chynhyrchu llyfryn i annog moderneiddio, ac i wella byd ei denantiaid: A Cardiganshire Landlord’s Advice to his Tenants (1800), a gyfieithiwyd i’r Gymraeg fel Cyngor Priodor o Geredigion i Ddeiliaid ei Dyddynod (1800). Yr hyn sy’n amlwg, ac yn drawiadol, yw bod hyn yn fwy na mater o fod eisiau cynyddu’r elw o’r tir. Roedd Thomas Johnes yn awyddus i wella bywyd y gymuned. Roedd ef a’i wraig yn fawr eu gofal am eu tenantiaid – yn darparu meddyg ar eu cyfer, a moddion, adeiladwyd eglwys ac ysgol, a gwnai Mrs Johnes yn siwr bod y merched yn dysgu darllen a nyddu yn yr ysgol a oruchwiliai.

Hoffwn feddwl bod Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse wedi chwarae ei rhan yn hanes yr Hafod. Oedd y nofel yn un o’r llu cyfrolau Ffrangeg yn llyfrgell enwog Thomas Johnes (er gwaethaf bodolaeth catalogau o lyfrau Hafod, mae’n anodd gwybod beth oedd yno ar ba bryd, e.e. gwyddom fod gweithiau Rousseau yn llyfrgell Pesaro, ond ni chyrhaeddodd y casgliad hwn Hafod tan ar ôl tân 1807, ac felly’n rhy hwyr i fod wedi ‘dylanwadu’ ar Hafod)?  Efallai i’r Thomas Johnes ifanc ddod ar draws y nofel yn ystod ei deithiau yn Ffrainc a’r Swistir? Yn sicr doedd arno ef, na’i ferch Mariamne, ddim angen y cyfieithiad Saesneg a ymddangosodd yn fuan iawn wedi’r gwreiddiol: roedd ganddynt y gallu a’r diddordeb i fynd at y Ffrangeg. O ystyried angerdd Mariamne am natur ac am lyfrau, ac o gofio poblogrwydd nofelau Rousseau, mae’n anodd gen i gredu nad oedd hi wedi darllen yr enwocaf ohynynt.

Hyd yn oed os oedd enw Rousseau yn anhysbys i’r teulu hwn, gwelir ei ôl ar y bryniau yng Nghwmystwyth, oherwydd Rousseau oedd wrth wraidd y newidiadau syfrdanol yn yr agwedd tuag at natur a’r tirlun a welwyd ym Mhrydain yn niwedd y ddeunawfed ganrif. Newidiadau y mae Thomas Johnes yn rhan ohonynt.

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