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PN Review 275
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This report is taken from PN Review 274, Volume 50 Number 2, November - December 2023.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
My old running mate Tom Prichard (‘T. Jeffery Llewelyn’ as he styled himself) had a thing or two to say about the English in Wales when, having more or less abandoned the stage, he started out as writer. In his picaresque novel Twm Shon Catty (1839), he writes of landowner Squire Graspacre, ‘a plain, blunt, sensible man… [who while]… entertaining a most exalted opinion of English superiority… found many things in this nation of mountaineers highly worthy of imitation among his more civilised countrymen’. Gentle satire. What follows is altogether different: ‘Unlike any of the half-bred English gentlemen who literally infest Wales, and become nuisances and living grievances to the people – building their pretensions to superiority and fashion on a sneering self-sufficiency, and scorn of customs and peculiarities merely because they are Welsh’. Thankfully some were different, not least among these William Coxe and Richard Colt Hoare.

Soon after our return to Wales in 1966, albeit somewhat further east and south of where we started from, I heard about ‘Coxe’s Monmouthshire’ – a useful introduction, I was told, to the history of our new home in Caerleon. It wasn’t that I ignored the advice, but other considerations got in the way. So barely a month has passed since I at last acquired a copy of An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire by William Coxe, 1801. Two volumes, leather-bound, ‘aeg’ as antiquarian book catalogues say, with hardly a scuff and richly illustrated, it is in remarkably good condition for its age. I would wager it has spent far more time decking a shelf than in the hands of ...

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