from Brutes'.98 Never one to stifle his emotions, Jones defended his beleaguered fellow farmers with remarkable passion: We the poor remnants of ancient Britons are confin'd in the mountains of Wales cultivating an ungrateful soil, whose production is insufficient to support its occupier. The tendency of our boasted constitution to accumulate property into few hands, and the present wretched mode of taxing the produce of labor and the necessaries of life, has of late increased the number of our poor into an alarming degree, and must sooner or later reduce the laboring class into a servile dependence or absolute slavery, and which the insatiable avarice of the landed gentry has partly effected in our country; these primary planets or blazing stars move eastward (as usually contrary to the heavens) towards the capital in quest of places, preferments, plays or ladies of pleasure, and leave us under the malignant influence of their satellites, the supercilious and insolent agents and bailiffs; these rapacious cormorants, not satisfied with open racking, frequently join the fox tail to the bear's claw & make use of base circumventions to fleece us more effectually; and if tenants cannot make prompt paiment on fix't days, a train of Bums bailiffs and other under strappers will be let loose upon them, to make a havock of their property and reduce the unhappy defaulters in a few days into the utmost distress of want & poverty: and if we happen to complain of our hardships, we are immediately told in a true Aegyptian phrase 'that we are idle'.99 Even in radical circles frequented by the London Welsh, few writers could match William Jones for polemical vigour, and Gwallter Mechain believed that a 'flow of satire seemed to be interwoven with his very constitution'.100 Thomas Jones the exciseman chose his words carefully when he admiringly described him as 'the hottest-arsed' Welshman he had ever met.101 By 1791-92 life had become almost unbearable. A run of deficient harvests meant that sheep and cattle were dying for lack of fodder. Machines were displacing skilled craftsmen in the woollen industry and large numbers of unemployed men were increasingly prone to theft and mischief-making. Exorbitant rents imposed by avaricious landowners and draconian stewards, soaring taxes, onerous tithes and other sundry dues meant that helpless tenant farmers were 'withering like seedless bracken'.102 'Blessed Times! cried William Jones, 'the swinish Multitude are shoved by Devils into the sea 98N.L.W. MS. 1806E, f. 787; 13221E, f. 377. 99N.L.W. MS. 13221E, f. 387. mThe Cambrian Register, II (1796), 240. IOIN.L.W. MS. 13221E, f. 256 ('of a Deist, he is the firmest friend I ever met with-a'r mwya' tin-boeth a'r welais I erioed, os tynnir yn groes iddo'.). I02N.L.W. MS. 1806E, ff. 782-84; 13221E, ff. 267, 303-4, 311-12.