Iolo Morganwg to Margaret Williams, 27 August 1794
(NLW 21285E, Letter 841)
Address: Margaret Williams, Flimston, Cowbridge, Glamorgan
Postmark: AA[?]; 27; 94
Source: NLW 21285E, no. 841
London, August 27th 1794
I have had for more than half a year a very bad headach, so as to be unable for whole weeks together to do any thing. I was up however always, with but a few exceptions. I had the same of complaint this time two years. I never had this kind of headach in the country, so that I believe it to be a London disorder of the summer to me. The only relief that I could find was going a few miles out of town into the fields where I have sometimes stayed all night and have been the better for it. I have been assured that it is an inflamation of the brain, and very dangerous in many respects. But whatever it is, it has for a long time disabled me from doing any thing or going any where. Subscriptions come in very fast for the history of the bards which I am about. I am now, and have been for some time, employing myself at the British Museum, looking into old manuscripts and printed books for materials that I want. It is an endless work to do this. There are four very large libraries, the Cotton Library, the Harleian Library, the Sloane Library and the Kings Library. The catalogues only of all these are upwards of twenty very large folio volumes, each as large as the largest church bible. I have after all found but little to my purpose in the British Museum, but no man must publish history, if he wishes to obtain any credit, without looking into the British Museum. I have found what was much more to my purpose at the Welsh Charity School, but I have been lately very unable to write any thing, and my eyes have been so affected that I am obliged to use green glasses. I have been for a fortnight at Hackney, five miles from here, the north east part of the town. I came home yesterday and found three newspapers left for me which you will find at Cowbridge next Saturday morning. I shall keep them one day to look over them. I have not looked at newspaper or any thing else, except some attempts to write, this month. I am going to look into St. Pauls' Library for a few days, perhaps a week, and to begin next Monday. I shall put an end to the British Museum work this week. Write me one letter and let that come as soon as possible, and I hope that I shall in my answer to it inform you that I am beginning my way home. As I have taken this work in hand, I must be at it, that it may be ready for the press next November. I receive no money till the book is delivered. The London mob have at last been roused into action and have done themselves honour. They suppressed the shameful kidnapping houses without doing any other injury to any thing or to any man. One of my reasons for staying at Hackney was to be out of the mobbing and kidnapping part of the town, for there are some blackguards, and amongst them one Reeves, Jones the harper, and others that would injure me if possible and are daily laying snares for me. But they are not cunning enough. These very loyal sons of bitches have nothing in view but self interest, and of course become knaves, and unavoidably afterwards fools. Reeves is angry with me for the compliment that I paid him in the first page of my preface. Jones is as angry with me because I would not give him the materials that I have for the history of the bards. He wanted them for his mixen of a history that he has lately published, as full of lies and absurdity as his head is of stupidity, or his heart of rascallity and malignity. I gave him too much of my time and labour for nothing. But every thing with which I supplied him was most shameful, perverted and misrepresented to make it serve the purposes of his own wild and very stupid preconceptions. On this I withheld from him what I once intended to give him. This made him endeavour to be as much as possible my enemy. My book was published before his and when he saw my proposals for a history of the bards, and what I had said of all that had hitherto written any thing on the subject, in page xviii of my preface, in the notes or pages 3, 4 and 6 of the second volume, and also in page 233 of the same volume, he became mad. He thought he should be able to get me into Newgate, the Tower, Botany Bay or any where to prevent my publication, and for that reason went to the fellow called Reeves, to magistrates, to every person and place where he thought he should succeed, endeavouring to lay informations against for what he called sedition, treason &cc., but the poor devil failed in every attempt. But when my book appears, if I live to see the time, I fancy that poor Jones will have nothing to do but to hang himself. For I shall expose his willful lies in such a manner and with that his ignorance, and shall also tell the world who wrote the whole from Mr John Walters, down thro many hands, to myself, and that Jones never did any thing but pervert and add willful and studied lies. Do not feed your fancy with suppositions that I am in any danger from Jones or any other informer, from kidnappers, mobs &c. I keep clear of all. See Mr Walters if you can. Present my compliments. I hope he and family are well. Tell him that a supply of his Dictionary is much wanted and is daily called for. He would do well to send them up as soon as possible. I shall see Mr O. Jones tomorrow and then write myself to Mr Walters. I hope that you and the children, and also my father are well. Write soon and give me some account of matters.
Let me know whether a newspaper in which I had packed up some proposals came safe to hand. Tell Mr Walters that I wish he would take in hand the writing of a Welsh grammar to prevent the appearance of a very erroneous one that will, I fear, otherwise appear. The Welsh language is got into hands that will barbarize it to the devil. If not in time prevented, my history of the bards affords some slender opportunities of checking this, and I shall avail myself of them.