Symud i'r prif gynnwys

W$z Christian: ^tan&arir. Vol. No. 12. JUNE, 1892. Price One Penny. JAMES HUGHES (THE COMMENTATOR). liHERE are two classes of men—there are many in r fact according to the basis of classification,—but ir J there are two in the particular to which we now call W'n- attention, namely- the men who act out and the men who write. The men of action are the most prominent, but the man at bis book and his pen is often quite as laborious, quite as heroic, and he oftentimes passes through as much weariness and privation, and exhibits as much fortitude and perseverance as the man whose fame is blazed abroad. And yet no one ever talks of him. He labours, and toils, and transmits the fruit of his exertions to posterity, and then quietly passes away to his hard-earned repose in the grave. Who ever talks of James Hughes ? His com¬ mentary is talked of by everybody in Wales, at least by every Methodist, and is more widely read than any exposition in the Welsh language; but of the author only a few have any in¬ formation, and only a few care to acquire. And yet the story of his life—of the disadvantages he laboured under, of the difficulties he overcame, of the information he gathered, of the success he achieved, and of how he became the leading expositor of his country is an inspira¬ tion ; and here it shall— though not for the first time, be briefly related. He was born in the year 1779, in the county of Car¬ digan, and near the foot of a hill, known as the Trichrug. Around the base of this mountain he tended his father's few sheep, and early inhaling the spirit of poetry, he aspired to be a bard, and assumed the title of " Iago Trichrug." When he was of proper age he was apprenticed as a blacksmith, a calling which he followed for many years. His parents were not professedly religious, but James was early attached to religious services, and at the age of eighteen was himself converted under the preaching of David Parry, a preacher from Brecon- shire. At the age of twenty-one we find him in London seeking employment. He was at this time so ignorant of the English language that he found it difficult to explain that he wished to proceed to Deptford. Arriving at the latter place he found lodgings with a relative, and employment as a blacksmith at the royal dockyard. He proved himself a skilful and determined workman, and in token of his rapid ascent amongst his fellow-workmen he became known amongst them as " The Prince of Wales." He enrolled himself as a member with the Welsh Methodists of London, but wishing to acquire a knowledge of English, he attended English services, and was so irregular at the Welsh chapel that he was formally expelled from the society on account of his remissness. He soon mastered the English language, and passing on to higher linguistic attainments, he became credit¬ ably acquainted with Hebrew, and with the languages and literature of the ancient Romans and Greeks. But he did not neglect his mother tongue. In connection with Dr. Pughe— an eminent Celtic scholar with whom he formed an acquaint¬ ance—he spent much of his leisure in perfecting himself in • the refinements of Welsh grammar and literature. The two friends would read and translate some classical piece together, criticising in a free and friendly manner ; and it was in this way that James Hughes acquired that perfect mastery of the Welsh language, that has made his compositions a model of pure and forcible style. His hymns flow in graceful and pathetic strains, while his translations from Gray and Byron contain all the fire and force of the original writings, proving in fact that James Hughes was a poet of no mean order. In the meantime this pious and self-taught young black¬ smith had rejoined the Welsh Methodist fraternity. This took place in 1806, when the Rev. John Elias was preach¬ ing to the Welsh in London. In the year 1809, while James Hughes was still at the anvil, he was urged to enter the ministry, and seven years later was fully ordained at an association that was held at Llangeitho, Cardiganshire. It was after Mr. Hughes had been several years a minister —having the pastoral over¬ sight of the Welsh Methodist Churches in London, and after domestic responsibilities and troubles had increased, that he began the great and im¬ perishable work of his life, namely, his commentary on the whole Bible. The need for such a work had been previously recognised, and hence it was that Mr. Hughes found a ready publisher in Mr. Evan Lloyd, of Wrexham, who brought out the work in sixpenny parts. After six years of toil, the New Testament was completed, and the commemtary was published in two 12mo. volumes, the first containing 628 pages, and the second 768. The reception accorded the work was such that Mr. Hughes was powerfully urged and moved to go on with the Old Testament; and then began another long period of unremitting toil—part after part, and volume after volnme appearing, until, when six more years had passed, and the great com¬ mentator had reached the sixth verse in the thirty-fifth chapter of Jeremiah, the pen dropped from his hand, never more to be resumed. The exposition was afterwards con¬ tinued to the end of Malachi by the Rev. Roger Edwards, of Mold, but Mr. Hughes himself had been smitten with a fatal illness, and died peacefully in his house in Rotherhithe, on the 2nd November, 1844, and in the 65bh year of his age. He was buried at Bunhill Fields in the company of Bunyan and other worthies. . In personal appearance Mr. James Hughes was dignified and imposing, and in his last years exceedingly venerable. In disposition he was mild and nervous, and a martyr to the