In 1878 the following series of letters about Timothy Morgan Owen appeared in the
MR T. MORGAN OWEN
SIR – Who is Mr. T. Morgan Owen? The first time I observed the name was in a paragraph of The Western Mail, which was headed “Justice to Wales,” but all it contained was a statement of the fact that this gentleman was about to be removed from Cardiff to Rhyl, as a school inspector, and the editor neglected to inform his readers to which division of Wales – north or south – “justice” was done by the change. Next I saw in Eddowes’s Shropshire Journal a speech delivered by Mr. T. Morgan Owen at the anniversary meeting of an antiquarian society at Welshpool; and I was struck by two circumstances that were somewhat odd; first, that a speech on education (which it was) should be delivered on such an occasion; and secondly that the paper reported nothing else connected with the meeting. Not long after this, the Journal gave an oration, which it called “the speech of the evening,” at a Saint David’s dinner in some remote part of Wales, the speaker being Mr. T. Morgan Owen, and here again the rest of the proceedings were ignored. More recently has the same paper had a notice of something by Mr. T. Morgan Owen, that he wrote in a semi-scientific publication called the Montgomeryshire Collections, but not one word about the other writers, or their performances. On the 5th of June last we have a highly flattering reference to Mr. T. Morgan Owen in a leading article of the same “journal,” and more references to him in two leading articles of June 12th.This is the more remarkable as the Journal being a Salopian newspaper, has somewhat to go out of its province to discant upon the merits of Mr. Morgan Owen. At a more recent date than the foregoing I find Mr. T. Morgan Owen commenting on some remarks on Nonconformity made by the Duke of Westminster at Mold, in which we are told that as none of his grace’s ancestors have been men of talent, the Duke’s utterances are not worthy of the attention of the wise. And now, in this present month of August we have Mr. Morgan Owen breaking out in a fresh place – indeed the eruption has spread a good deal during the month; one day he is “interviewing” the Premier, and the next orating at Menai Bridge. On Wednesday last he again figured in the Journal of Proud Salopia, and an astonished county of Montgomery is called upon to contemplate the difference between “men whose commercial prosperity is dependent upon the toil of navvies and the perils of colliers,” and “gentlemen like Mr. T. Morgan Owen.” Again let me ask who is “Mr. T. Morgan Owen?” The writer in the Shrewsbury Journal could no doubt tell me. In one of his speeches Mr. Morgan Owen says – “his ancestors have always been conservative,” and his utterances about the Duke of Westminster warrant us in supposing they must also have been men of mark. Who, then, is he? Does he derive his genius from that branch of his family represented by the “T”, or by the “Morgan,” or by the “Owen?” That “T” does not stand for talent in his case, I opine from the fact that of late he seems to be sinking it, and affecting rather to call himself “Mr Morgan Owen.! –
I am, &c., PURSUIVANT
24 Aug 1878:
MR T. MORGAN OWEN
SIR – There is at least one person living who seems thoroughly to believe in “Mr T. Morgan Owen:” and the “rigging of the Press” in his behalf is by no means confined to the journal of Shrewsbury. It was only on Saturday last that the North Wales Express gave Mr T. Morgan Owen’s Menai Bridge manifesto – abundantly interlarded with “cheers” and “applause” – introduced with the paragraph:-“As the pubic interest has been centred during the past week on the speech of Mr Morgan Owen, Her Majesty’s Inspector, at the Menai Bridge Eisteddvod, we publish the same, &c., &c.” This sort of thing has been going on a long while, and I don’t wonder at the question being asked, “Who is Mr T. Morgan Owen?” I think I am able to answer it. He is said to be the son of a worthy old public servant who has served his county with credit, and now enjoys a well-earned pension, residing at Llanidloes. Where Mr. T. Morgan Owen ranks in the family I cannot say; when I knew that district, old Mr Owen had three or four sons, and I remember the names of Elijah, Elias, and Timothy amongst them, but I do not remember that there was a Morgan.- Yours, &c., T.J.
5 Oct 1878:
WHO IS MR T. MORGAN OWEN?
SIR, - From the scanty reply the query of your correspondent “Pursuivant” elicited, we were almost led to suppose that the next generation would have an historic doubt to settle, as this has had in arriving at the personality of Junius. Happily, however, the horizon is clearing, and we sgakk not have to say of the hero at the head of my letter, as Betsy Prig said of Mrs Gamp’s friend Mrs Harris, that there was “no such person.” Your correspondent informed us that Mr T. Morgan Owen was of opinion that the Duke of Westminster’s utterences could not possibly carry weight, because none of his lordship’s family had ever shown signs of genius; whereas his own family had always been Conservative; and judging from the persistent efforts of Mr T. Morgan Owen, in season and out of season, to enlighten everybody upon everything – presumably talented, of course we naturally want to know the T. Morgan Owen. The Owen we know, the T. we think we know, but who is the Morgan? The industrious party who so thoroughly believes in Mr T. Morgan Owen, and so constantly “rigs the press” in his behalf, adds nothing to our stock of information as to the individual, merely confining himself to the individual’s performances. Others, however, are not so reticent. A correspondent in your columns of August 24, traced three sons of a “worthy old public servant at Llanidloes,” named respectively, Elijah, Elias, and Timothy, and he believed the “T.” of our story came in the family somewhere. Since he wrote, Mr T. Morgan Owen has been going through a variety of ground and lofty tumbling, culminating in a brilliant performance at Montgomery. Here he chose to disturb the harmony and good feeling of an unpolitical agricultural banquet by a coarse and vulgar attack on an absent M.P., “whose purity and eloquence of diction and grammatical phraseology,” he said, “were only equalled by the extreme refinement of the delicacy of his mind and the brilliancy of his imaginative powers.” This attack on a neighbour was resented by a large number of the audience, but the party who believes in Mr T. Morgan Owen, in the issue of Edowes’ Journal of the following week, favored the readers of that paper with the panegyric now looked for as a matter of course in the papers open to “rigging.” Not so, however, in all contemporaries. In another the performance is thus noted:-“The crowning discredit, however, of the dinner was to come. In the exercise of his right and duty, the president had entrusted the toast of the county and borough members to Mr T. Morgan Owen. Considering the recent political utterances of Mr Owen, no one who thus put him up to speak, and on such a subject, could for a moment plead ignorance or doubt as to what would follow. And it is needless to pursue the course of Mr Owen’s aspiring though (as may be regretted in a school inspector) unaspirated eloquence. Alas! The neo-Tory is fond of mean tools.” But all this leads us no nearer the solution to the question at the head of my letter. It has, however, been the means of giving a clue. The reports of the Montgomery dinner have made the Tories somewhat ashamed, and the Radicals all over the country to laugh. And in the merriment we glean some inferences as to the family of the orator. We are told that–
In Norman hands in days of old
Came Roger brave and great,
He took possession of our land,
And lived in princely state.
“De Timon” followed in his train,
A doughty knight was he,
But Welshmen could not say his name,
And called him Timothy.
“De Timon” he had many sons,
And they had many more,
And so they went on, on and on,
As good folks did of yore.
Until one rose to serve the State,
Most peaceful warrior he,
Father to Timothy the Great,
The last branch of the tree.
Tories, preserve your glorious Tim,
For, knowing whence he sprung,
While you applaud his eloquence,
We will excuse his tongue.
Come Tories, on to battle,
While he, your guiding star,
Springs the paternal rattle
Above the din of war.
With such a descent no wonder Mr. T. Morgan Owen looks down on the Duke of Westminster. And how calmly he will be able to peruse the following plebeian performance from his exalted pedestal:-
AN ‘EARTLESS HEPIGRAM
The weakest of animals still have their use –
Rome, mistress of nations, was saved by a goose:
While, to keep the Montgomery Conservatives going,
The gods have sent down Mister T-m-t-y O-n.
But how do we grieve that from T-m-t-y’s spaches
Some scamp of a radical, spy of the Tr-c-‘s,
Had heartlessly stolen the orator’s H’s.
The party who believes in Mr T. Morgan Owen may perhaps like to make use of these extracts in the papers he “rigs”. If so, they are at his service.
12 Oct 1878:
AT IT AGAIN!
SIR,-The gentleman who believes in Mr T. Morgan Owen has been at it again in this week’s Shrewsbury Journal, and has so far let the cat out of the bag as to reveal the fact that at least he does not reside in Shropshire, although the form his genius takes is that of a leading article in the Shrewsbury paper. He calls your Oswestry contemporary “A Radical organ printed somewhere across the border.” Now, to a paper printed in the county town of Shropshire, “across the border” must mean Wales; and this apparent confusion in geography is doubtless due to the fact that the article was penned in the Principality. We shall get to the bottom of the T. Morgan Owen mystery in time, Mr Editor. We have only to “give ‘em rope.” .- Yours, &c., T.J.
October 10th, 1878.
N.B.-It “goes without saying” that the article in question compliments Mr T. Morgan Owen.