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A Saint and His Progeny

By E. Vernon Jones

IN the summer of 1871 a boat glided pleasantly down the river Tywi from Carmarthen to Llanstephan, bearing with it young Tom Brigstocke who was playing host to his boyhood friend home from Dover. It was a happy occasion not the last of its kind which the home-comer had impatiently looked forward to and would remember throughout an eventful life far removed from his native town of Carmarthen, though many times he would come back to visit his relatives, meet old friends and revitalise himself to face the challenges of the calling to which he had dedicated himself even as, a boy.

The visitor from Dover belonged to a notable Carmarthen family, for his grandfather had long before established a reputation throughout Wales, and his father, although his repute would be much less widespread, was already a respected professional man in the town and would soon become one of its most important public officials. But the young man home on holiday would be the most eminent of them all though his younger sister would vie with him and his fame would run beyond the boundaries of his native Wales.

The story of this family has one of its beginnings another goes back to Frankfurt-am-Main not in Carmarthen but in the village of Llannor in Caernarvonshire, where old Hugh Hughes, the grandfather already mentioned, was born in 1778. He started his working life as a gardener and after a sojourn in gentleman's service at Bristol, not entirely beyond reproach, he followed his brothers into the Wesleyan ministry. From 1807 onwards Hugh Hughes worked many circuits throughout Wales, arriving at Llandeilo in 1814 and at Carmarthen in the following year for the first of his three ministries there. In 1817 he went to Cardiff and thereafter the family moved to Machynlleth (1819), Caernarvon (1821), Denbigh and Llanrwst (1824), Llanidloes (1826), Carmarthen (1828), Brecon (1831), Swansea (1834), and Merthyr Tydfil (1837), before returning again to Carmarthen in 1840. He retired in 1843 as a supernuminary and spent the rest of his life in Carmarthen.

Revered as a Saint
His name is an important one in the history of Welsh Wesleyanism and it has been said that he was 'revered throughout Wales as a saint' and that 'men spoke of him only in love'.1 He founded many new chapels in the Principality and was chairman of the Welsh province of South Wales from 1829 to 1843. In 1834 he became the first Welsh minister to be elected to the Legal Hundred.2 Hugh Hughes contributed frequently to Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd, which he edited for a while, and collaborated in a Welsh translation of John Wesley's 'Notes on the New Testament'. Among his other writings was an autobiography, which was published after his death, the work having been edited by his son-in-law, Isaac Jenkins.

Hugh Hughes died of chronic bronchitis at Tabernacle Row, Carmarthen on the 17th December 1855 and was buried in the graveyard of Ebenezer Welsh Wesleyan chapel with his son Hugh, a draper who had died of phthisis in Guildhall Square on the 12th January 1848 at the age of 27 years;3 The tombstone still survives to announce that Hugh Hughes 'having spent forty-eight years of his life in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ through the Principality finished his course with joy'.

During his ministry at Brecon from 1812 to 1814 one Elizabeth Price had gone to hear Hugh Hughes preach, was greatly impressed and surrendered herself to his charms, and although she was of good family she was content to forfeit the gaieties of social rounds to become his wife. But perhaps she was not cast to be the ideal help-meet of a minister, though there is nothing to suggest that she was unsuccessful in her role. Nevertheless she was an aloof person who could never be like others, and although she had married a husband who had started life humbly, she could not bring herself to talk intimately with lesser folk like gardeners. She was appalled by the ill-mannered behaviour of the plebeian part of Carmarthen's population and she considered there were few children in the town fit to associate with her own. The little girl who was escorted home for failing to curtsey was not an exception and the dumbfounded mother who received a lecture on the proper upbringing of children was only one of many whom she felt to be sadly in need of such a correction. Yet she prayed thrice daily, insisted on the household joining her and never failed to attend service at Ebenezer, the little chapel at the back of the town.4 She died of natural decay in her eightieth year on the 18th January 1871 at 6 Waterloo Terrace, Carmarthen and was buried with her husband and son.

Another Bismarck
Surviving was a son, John, and a daughter, Elizabeth.5 The son was born in 1817, the year Hugh Hughes was transferred to Cardiff, and although he never achieved renown anything like as far-flung as his father's, he nevertheless distinguished himself in his own community in Carmarthen. For nearly fifty years, Dr. John Hughes, as he was to become, played an indispensable part in the life of the town, filling many official and voluntary offices with a notable administrative flair. He was Coroner, Chairman of the Board of Guardians, Chairman of the School Board, Borough and County Magistrate, Income Tax Commissioner, member of the Board of Conservators, member of the Burial Board, surgeon to the Artillery Militia stationed in the town, Factory Surgeon, Police Surgeon, Governor of the Grammar School, Surgeon of the Railway Provident Societies and President of the Literary and Scientific Institute. In addition, he was medical officer of health for Carmarthen Borough. At the time of his death it would be said that he was the last of the civil surgeons of the Army, who once received the personal thanks of the Duke of Wellington (then Commander-in-Chief) for successfully coping with an attack of scurvy in the Carmarthen garrison.6

In the discharge of his public duties he was feared yet respected for his integrity and for his gentlemanly bearing. As a committee chairman he was especially efficient, insisted on punctuality and never tolerated lax behaviour. Because of his many offices and the firm discipline with which he exercised them, it is not surprising that he came to be known as Bismarck, a sobriquet which his granddaughter has recorded was prevalent in 'certain slack quarters of the town'.7 But this view of him was not always confined to the lower orders, a fact of which he was not unaware, yet it did not worry him because he was confident in the assurance that he was doing his duty to the best of his not inconsiderable ability. That this was so he himself revealed, for in his annual report to Carmarthen Borough Council for 1876 he stated : 'I have sometimes been made aware that my conduct has been considered officious and unnecessary, especially where there was a medical man already in attendance. I therefore feel it right to state that I cannot avoid acting in this manner without neglecting my duty as laid down by the Local Government Board.'

Dr Hughes held the office of medical officer of health to Carmarthen Borough Council for seventeen years, being the first to be appointed following the setting up in 1873 of an urban sanitary district under the Public Health Act 1872. That he had a high sense of responsibility concerning his duties has already been indicated and it is evident that he never courted popularity or even esteem at the expense of the proper discharge of his office. If he ever came to know that he was called Bismarck one feels that he would have accepted the fact as a compliment to his dedicated purpose, for much of his effort was directed against public ignorance and official lethargy. Time and again his annual reports reveal an unwillingness, even a refusal, on the part of all too many to believe that pestilential visitations could be eliminated by proper precautions and right behaviour.

Battle Against Ignorance
His reports8 provide an invaluable if depressing picture of personal and public health, or lack of it, in Carmarthen during the 1870s and 1880s, when scrofula was the biggest killer, and scarlet fever, typhoid, small-pox, even typhus and cholera, were dreaded enemies to guard against. Repeatedly he appealed for measures to be taken to ensure dry and warm homes in order to combat scrofula and other consumpitive diseases that were encouraged by dampness resulting from flooded pavements and absence of downpipes on most of the town's dwellings. For more than twelve years he protested annually and doggedly about the lack of cross-channels to drain water from the pavements and thus prevent it seeping into foundations to cause dampness. In wet weather, he complained, it was more comfortable to walk on the roads than on the pavements. Over and over he warned about the dangers of insanitary conditions. 'I have again to call your attention to the very prevalent practice of burying the contents of emptied cesspools in small gardens close to houses,' he lamented. 'Many persons throw the contents of their cesspools over the Quay wall. The people living in Water Street and its neighbourhood empty theirs in the small stream of water crossing that street near the Turnpike Gate.' Disposal by such methods meant that the town stood on a site saturated with sewage poison and until there were adequate sewers and every house had a water closet the battle against disease could not be won, nor could the expectation of life be prolonged beyond the average of 33 years, 11 months and 16 days, which was the mean reported for the year 1873, an expectation about six years shorter than that in the country districts immediately surrounding the town.

Domestic conditions were no better. Frequently he drew attention to cases of fatal diseases in overcrowded houses. 'In one case of Typhoid Fever,' he reported for the year 1877, 'the father, mother and four children lived entirely in one room, 14 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 6 1/2 feet high. They all slept together, with the sick child, aged seven, in one bed.' Earlier he had reported to the Council : 'In 1874 I was in a small room in this town where the body of a young woman who had died from scarlet fever was laid out on a bed. There was another bed in the room, and on it a young seamstress was sitting making mourning clothes. She had never had the disease, and, on my remonstrating with her on her imprudence, she was evidently quite satisfied that I ought to have felt much reproved when she said that she was in God's care.' Ignorance and carelessness assumed a religious aspect, he observed, as many people preferred 'to believe that taking ordinary precautions against contagious disease manifests a want of faith in Providence, forgetting that it would be as well and reasonable to expect that if they threw themselves into the fire or into the river they would be protected by Providence from the natural consequences'.

Hastened Burials
Often he saw dead bodies lying uncoffined in overcrowded homes, the victims having died from highly contagious diseases. He got them coffined immediately and the coffins filled with fresh charcoal or disinfectants, and arranged for burial to be hastened. Frequently he requested day and Sunday schools not to admit children suffering from infectious diseases. Peremptory instructions like these inflamed the sensibilities of bereaved relatives and offended the solicitude of indulgent parents, but the good doctor remained undeterred in the face of selfish ignorance that would continue to destroy many lives until such time as he hoped the law would render every householder liable to punishment if found guilty of not reporting the presence of contagious disease.

The fifty-three public bakehouses in the town in 1873 received his special attention. In one bakehouse he found an open privy in the same room as, and close to, the oven. In another a donkey was kept. Henceforth he was to insist that every one be kept clean and the law as to white-liming walls and ceilings strictly enforced.

The performance of an important duty in the presence of so much ignorance, prejudice and indifference demanded a man or purposeful character and the town of Carmarthen was fortunate that it found him in the person of Dr John Hughes. Anyone less resolute would have surrendered to despair, but Dr Hughes soldiered on and by January 1882 he could report to the Council: 'Within the last 26 years you have spent Thirty-five Thousand Pounds in removing nuisances, and in works intended to improve the sanitary condition of your District, and it would be very unsatisfactory if you could not be assured of some definite amelioration of the public health. I am sure that I can testify to the general elimination of sickness in the District, and I am not solitary in that belief. At any rate it is an uncontested fact that for the seven years 1842-8, that is, before any sanitary works had been commenced, the average death-rate in the District was 26.2, and the death-rate for the last seven years 1874-80 was only 21.2. This means the saving of about fifty lives every year, the avoiding of a vast amount of sickness and of the poverty and other miseries resulting from it, as well as an improvement of the general health.' The saving of this much life and a lot of misery to boot justified for him the new health legislation, though none knew better than he that the battle was only partly won. His last report is dated 11th January 1890 and he retired in the autumn of that year.

A Salute for Everybody
If the official view of him suggests a martinet, in private life Dr Hughes was 'retiring and unassertive to a fault'.9 He would never have sought publicity even had he not been known to everbody in the town and in the district for miles around. This reticence may have sprung, partly, from consciousness of his physical stature, but it is likely, too, that he inherited some of his father's gentleness, which manifested itself in a pathological reserve. He was a tall, commanding man with a shock of iron grey hairs10 and deep set eyes, and would have been a conspicuous figure in any street scene, acknowledging almost everybody with a wave of his stick or hand. When an inquisitive grandchild enquired why everybody knew him he was able to reply with truth that it was because he saw 'most of them into the world'. And he would see many of them out of it. But though he saluted all, he never doffed his hat to anyone, a gesture which he seems to have associated with servility, whereas he was possessed of an independence that refused to admit that he was anybody's inferior. There was one exception, however. He readily took off his hat to Bishop Thirlwall, whose learning and character he greatly respected. A tale is recorded that on one occasion he was sent for by the Bishop to attend a nephew. This so alarmed a local clergyman that he felt obliged to warn the Bishop that he was dealing with a dissenter. Unimpressed, Dr Thirlwall replied : 'I have sent for Dr Hughes to supply me, not with theology, but with medicine.'11 36SpillmanStreet.thumb.jpg

His home at 36 Spilman Street12 was more than ample to accommodate a large household and to provide him with a peaceful retreat of his own, for his study was separated from the rest of the house by the surgery and a long passage. Here he relaxed in a favourite jacket of indeterminable age, on his head a crownless straw hat, and all the while smoking his pipe and drinking the cold tea which would be sent him by the jugful.

In his religion he was a true son of his father, being a regular attendant at the Wesleyan chapel. For him, a disreputable fellow was one who got drunk on Sundays instead of going to chapel. He was equally mindful of his Welsh heritage, passed on to him by a father who liked to claim an ancient lineage as the result of his excursions into family genealogy, which were the delight of his old age. And if the son had any doubts about the father's boast, he had none about the antiquity of his race. 'We can trace the date of the first Olympiad,' he averred, 'but no one knows the date of the first Eisteddfod. The beginnings of our race are lost in the mists of time.'

When young John Hughes returned from London after qualifying as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, he was soon to fall in love at first sight with a vivacious beauty.13 He was among the eligible beaux of the town; she was the granddaughter of an immigrant Jew. At first she rejected his advances, but soon succumbed and like her Aunt Sarah before her settled down to married life in Carmarthen. Her father was Philip Phillips, son of Samuel Levi,14 who was probably born at Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany. Levi, by way of London, arrived in Haverfordwest, where he settled. Here he and his brother Moses were befriended by one Phillips, whose surname they eventually took for their own and both became baptised at St. Mary's Church, Haverfordwest. Samuel, a prosperous jeweller, became one of the founders of the Haverfordwest Bank and the Milford Bank. He had several children, who, besides Philip, included Sarah. This daughter married the Rev. David Charles I.

A Woman of Quality
Anne Phillips, who was to become the wife of John Hughes, went to a superior school at Brighton and was known for her brilliance and vitality. The raising of a family left her with delicate health so that her vivacity mingled with whims and moods, but her quickness of mind and facility of speech were never impaired. No one walked or talked quite like Mrs John Hughes, and she always managed to be distinctive in her dress. The doctor and his wife made a striking couple, but it is likely that she was the intellectual superior of her husband. Certainly the doctor's wife was more than a match for her formidable mother-in-law; anything old Mrs Hughes could do the young Mrs. Hughes could assuredly do better. She regarded herself as a woman of quality, could never travel anything but first-class and always insisted on the best of everything. But for all that she drove a very hard bargain at Carmarthen market, where she would go with a faithful man-servant in attendance, but at a regulation distance behind his mistress. When she wished to sample the butter and cheese displayed for sale she called upon her retainer for her own knife in preference to the unwiped implement proffered by the vendor. In the market-place she must have been an unwelcome terror for some, but for those who were not the victims of her ready tongue she was very likely the eccentric object of suppressed giggles. But it was this doting mother's perceptive mind that would be the legacy she would bequeath to the most brilliant of her talented children.

John Hughes and his wife lived into old age. Dr Hughes died at the age of eighty on the 27th October 1897 at Penrheol, Barry, the home of his son Arthur,15 a few years after leaving Carmarthen because of failing health. His wife, bed-ridden in her last years, died early in the year 1900. They were survived by two sons and three daughters.

Anne Hughes had several children. The first and third of her sons she lost, and even the second boy was scarcely expected to live. This second son, Hugh, was born on the 8th February 1847 and when a few weeks old a dubious doctor hazarded the prediction that the child would not survive his seventh year. Hugh was so tiny that he had to be carried on a pillow, but a mother's tender and unceasing care saw him through a delicate childhood. He grew up to be the young man who boated with healthy joy down the Tywi with Torn Brigstocke in the summer of 1871.

This boy, who was to win fame by the name of Hugh Price Hughes, was born in a 'little house', No. 10 King Street, next door to Carmarthen's Post Office.16 Though he inherited the patronymic of his paternal grandmother, Hugh was the son of his mother, whose scintillating qualities and power of speech he derived in generous measure. Often during his life he would proclaim his Jewish blood with defiant pride. Like so many undersized children, he was a lively and agile lad who was never still. When he went to Carmarthen Grammar School at the age of nine he showed himself from the outset to be a leader both in studies and in games, particularly cricket, a game he would love all his life. In winter he was an enthusiastic skater whenever opportunity came. The young Hugh was sure to be among the first at Bishop's Pond in Abergwili when winter was agreeably hard enough to afford the necessary facility for that most graceful of leisure activities.

Although the family worshipped at the little chapel of Ebenezer,17 occasionally the young Hugh accompanied his friend Torn Brigstocke to St. Peter's Church, especially when the assize judge, with the mayor and corporation, attended in state. At such times he indulged a secret envy and regretted the Wesleyan lack of ancient tradition. But despite its high pews and unadorned interior, Ebenezer was a friendly place, for which the family had a great affection.

At the age of eleven Hugh departed from the Grammar School to attend Colston's, a Methodist boarding school at Swansea which later moved to Mumbles. His father had given careful thought to the choice of school, but his decision was partly influenced by Mrs Hughes's desire that it should be one where delicate boys might receive motherly attention. Such care Mr Colston's wife was able to give and during his early terms she did, as it turned out, sit up with the young Hugh through one or two nights. Here the lad continued to excel both at work and at play, for whatever he undertook he applied himself with an energy which ensured that he came first among his fellows.

The Boy Preacher
When he was but thirteen Hugh was overwhelmed by a religious experience which set him on the course he was to take through life. One summer morning some Cornish fishermen sailed into Mumbles and betook themselves to the chapel on the cliff where Mr Colston and his charges were attending service. In the prayer meeting that followed they prayed with a fervour that moved Hugh to a highly charged religious feeling, which was repeated after a second visit by the fishermen. Weeks later he was again greatly moved, this time by an American visitor who came to preach at the chapel. From that day he knew what he wanted to do. Dr Hughes had nursed a wish to see his son become a barrister-at-law, an ambition which the boy appeared to share, but now Hugh knew it must be otherwise.

Encouraged to become a lay preacher, Hugh took to the cottages about the Mumbles coast, preaching to humble folk while still only fourteen years old. Soon he would go into the pulpit of the Wesleyan chapel in Swansea. But when he wrote to tell his family of his decision to become a Wesleyan preacher, it must surely have been the briefest letter of his life : 'My Dear Father, I believe it is the will of God that I should be a Methodist preacher. Your affectionate son, Hugh.'

Though the news was received with expressions of outward joy, there lurks the suspicion that the parents' more secret sentiments were not without a measure of disappointment. Mrs Hughes wept, hers being ostensibly tears of joy, but in a woman's tears lies a mystery sometimes too deep for understanding. In his study, Dr Hughes wrestled with his own feelings, which he found hard to diagnose. Perhaps he, too, suppressed a vicarious ambition in generous deference to his son's decision. Whatever his true feelings, he wrote at last to tell young Hugh: 'I would rather you were a Wesleyan preacher than Lord Chancellor of England.'18

Ebenezer.thumb.jpg Although he had already preached around Mumbles and in Swansea, Hugh postponed preaching in his home town until he felt master of himself, and in advancement of his apprenticeship he filled engagements in the surrounding countryside, notably at Llanstephan and Laugharne. At Llanstephan he preached 'to all the gentry and to Lady Hamilton, for she would come to hear him like the rest'. And whenever he was home he would pester the caretaker for the key to Ebenezer. Here he would rehearse before an imaginary congregation, watched unbeknown to him through a window by his father on one occasion. When he was still not seventeen years of age, Hugh preached his first sermon to his own people at Ebenezer. The date was the 21st December 1863. His mother and sisters were present, as well as his grandmother, the widow of Hugh Hughes, and his friend Torn Brigstocke. There was one notable absentee: Dr John Hughes. Never once did the reticent father face the ordeal of listening to a gifted son preach before a congregation; perversely, he could not rid himself of the fear that he and his son would make fools of themselves before the whole town. But after it was over Mrs Hugh Hughes trembled with excitement at the thought that the grandson would follow in the illustrious steps of the grandfather. And Tom Brigstocke was to remember to the end of his long life19 his friend's self-possession and the flow of words that came forth so abundantly. The success of the occasion was repeated the following year, this time at the English Wesleyan chapel, where he preached his first sermon on the 31st July 1864.

Inquisitive Youth
Young Hugh Hughes left Colston's school before he was sixteen, there being little more that he could learn there. He had secured his Oxford senior certificate while he was still a junior and for so long had he been foremost in his studies and a leader in games that he suffered not a little from boredom, and there had been occasions when he had appeared to his fellows to be impatient and even dictatorial. He therefore returned home to Carmarthen, where his father deemed it advisable that the youth should spend a couple of years in preparation for his entry to college. This interlude proved to be mildly trying for the father, who had a daily tussle with his son for possession of The Times and from time to time was concerned over the youth's abounding self-assurance, which sometimes came near to rashness, and an inquisitiveness about other people's affairs that offended the more sensitive elements in the community. Even years later, he would find it necessary to try to persuade his argumentative son to control this latter propensity. 'My dear Hugh,' he would admonish, 'there is one book you really must read and that is the book called Mind Your Own Business'. But it could never be a successful persuasion in respect of one who held the conviction that everything was everybody's business.

In preparation for his entry into college Hugh habitually studied at his grandmother's house in preference to the family home in Spilman Street, which was too lively a place to encourage the pursuit of serious work without interruption. Evidently he could not command the luxury of a private study like his father. It was his fond grandmother who facilitated his studies by affording him her own best room20 until he entered the Wesleyan Theological College at Richmond in Surrey in 1865 at the age of eighteen. At the entrance examination he had again distinguished himself, but for once he did not come out top. Even so, he came second out of a hundred and forty-six candidates, of whom he was the youngest save one.

At Richmond he quickly moved into a position of leadership, and the governor, the Rev. Alfred Barrett, whose daughter Hugh would one day marry, soon predicted that Hughes would achieve fame. Inevitably he became captain of the cricket eleven, but he failed in his endeavour to have a barrel of beer available so that his men might quench their thirst during matches. Much as this may have affronted the college authorities, it seemed a most natural request to one who had been accustomed to taking a glass of beer every night with his father at home, and in his third year it was equally natural that he should refuse, though almost alone, to join the newly formed temperance society, which he quickly labelled the Insane Society. Similarly, he had little sympathy with revivalist and evangelical attitudes. This masterful independence did not endear him to his colleagues and during his four years at Richmond he made few intimate friendships. Although he may on occasion have won admiration for his undoubted talents, he was more generally the object of resentment. Many thought him conceited, a charge from which he exonerated himself by claiming that he simply had a just appreciation of his abilities. But despite his self-assurance and easy manner, qualities which he inherited from the womenfolk of his kin, he yet had his fits of depression, which may have sprung from an awareness of the deficiencies in his character.

The Hierarchy Offended
His progress through college at Richmond was not uneventful and more than once his strong convictions led him into trouble with authority. On the most serious of these occasions, although he got the approval of the younger element, he offended the hierarchy of the Methodist movement and escaped drastic punishment only by the skin of his teeth. But nothing could impede his academic progress and predictably he took his B.A. at London University in 1869. Before the year was out his college days were behind him and he found himself at Dover in his first ministry.

During his three year stay at Dover he did something less predictable. He signed the temperance pledge. This change-about resulted from the fact that his chapel was in the middle of the poor quarter of the town and he came to believe that, for the masses, total abstinence was the only way to control intemperance in a society where drunkenness affected almost ever family. As a minister, he thought that by his own example he could best persuade others to abstain. Thus Hughes was prepared to make a personal sacrifice in order to help others. But he never became a fanatic in the temperance cause and justified his action on humanitarian grounds. In the spring of 1870, the young man who had been a Tory not averse to a glass of beer could surprise Tom Brigstocke by writing in a different though flippant guise: 'You will be deeply grieved to hear that I have now developed into a ferocious and revolutionary republican. This, added to my temperance vagaries, should lead you to put up your shutters when I come home to Carmarthen and go into the deepest mourning.'21 But Tom Brigstocke never did put up the shutters and it is not recorded that he went into mourning over the news.

In 1872 Hughes was moved to Brighton and it was during his ministry there that he married, on the 20th August 1873, Katherine Howard, the daughter of Alfred Barrett, governor of Richmond College. His best man was his dearest friend, Tom Brigstocke, to whom he had written a month earlier saying : 'Your special duty will be to keep me from fainting in the extremity of my terror, and from over-sleeping myself on the awful morning, if I sleep at all.' It was a joyous occasion attended by all the family from Carmarthen and unmarred by the fact that the wedding carriages got mixed up with a funeral procession. The honeymoon was spent in Switzerland, which the couple toured extensively, only narrowly missing Tom Brigstocke when their itineraries crossed at Thun.

Hughes's next moves were to Tottenham in 1875, Dulwich in 1878 and Oxford in 1881, the year he took his M.A. degree at London University. So marked was his success that in 1884 he was transferred to London as superintendent minister at Brixton Hill. Here he soon became the leader of the 'Forward Movement' as a result of the enthusiasm with which he introduced new ideas and new energy into the Methodist connexion. It was a natural consequence that Hughes should be chosen to set up a West London mission, which was to be imbued with a social as well as a religious life. The mission was opened at St. James's Hall in Piccadilly in October 1887 and the first service was conducted by the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon.

'The Nonconformist Conscience'
The remainder of his life was spent in London leading the work at St. James's Hall and of the Forward Movement. But these activities engaged only part of his enormous energy. In 1885 he had been largely instrumental in founding the Methodist Times, of which he was editor from the outset. Hughes threw himself in the venture with all his ardour and considerable journalistic ability and although it came into being to advance the policy of the Forward Movement, the journal became much more than a denominational newspaper. If it was a 'Hughesful paper', as his critics described it, the Methodist Times did nevertheless become a powerful influence far beyond the sphere of Methodism. Hughes never hesitated to enter the lists of controversy and the views of his journal were awaited with respect by the more thoughtful of the reading public; at the peak of its influence it is said 'to have been an object of anxious attention to Cabinet Ministers when it next appeared after a debate on social issues.22 In a long and bitter controversy, he supported his friend Dr (Sir) H. S. Lunn, who had contributed articles attacking missionary methods in India, but he made his greatest impact in giving rise to a phrase that was long to be famous and indeed is still not forgotten.

Intended as an expression of censure, the phrase had its origin in this way. In 1886, Sir Charles Dilke, a distinguished politician who might have become prime minister, was involved in a divorce scandal and, later, large sections of public opinion were outraged by the even more sensational Parnell episode; in both cases, Hughes denounced what he believed to be a pollution of public life, with the result that his opponents referred to the tenderness of 'the Nonconformist conscience'. Undismayed, Hughes thanked them for the welcome slogan by rejoining, 'Let us see that we are worthy of this title which has been bestowed upon us.' The power of this Nonconformist conscience "was shown in 1890 when Hugh Price Hughes effectively voiced the demand that Parnell must resign as a result of the O'Shea divorce action. Amid a seething audience in St. James's Hall, while a gang of converted toughs acted as 'chuckers out' to the very astonished Irish hecklers, Hughes made his devastating peroration, `We stand immovably on this eternal rock: what is morally wrong cannot be politically right'."23 In October 1896 the Methodist Times could reflect exultantly, 'Sir Charles Dilke defied the Nonconformist conscience and is a political outcast today. Parnell despised the Nonconformist conscience and he destroyed himself and his party. Lord Roseberry ignored the Nonconformist conscience for a race-horse, and the world sees the result.' The same conscience was 'pricked into a new awareness of the evils to be found in great cities .... These and a hundred other crusades burned in the heart of Hugh Price Hughes with an intense and devouring flame, and led him to press for closer co-operation between the Free Churches and indeed with all the Churches.'24 In 1885 a pamphlet called The Bitter Outcry of Outcast London recruited the support of this crusading zeal and a great meeting held at Exeter Hall was addressed by Hughes and chaired by Lord Shaftesbury.

The Warring Sects
HughPriceHughesImage.thumb.jpg His last years saw him very much engaged in the controversy concerning the reform of state schools and the provision of religious instruction in them. The warring sects as well as the secularists kept up a long and relentless debate in which Hughes, although he was represented in the Press and its cartoons as one of the champions of Nonconformity, was prepared to compromise with the Anglican and Roman Catholic interests rather than yield to secularist demands for schools free of religious instruction. On the other hand, he did not favour denominational schools, each giving instruction according to its own tenets, an arrangement which he thought would have led to an even greater separation of the denominations. For himself he would have been content with a universal system of Board Schools giving religious instruction of a restricted kind common to all sects. The debate culminated for the time being in the Education Act of 1902, but by the time it was passed his health was failing and his role in its consequences was destined to be cut short.

Hughes was a conspicuous figure at the Reunion Conference at Grindelwald in 1892 and he suggested terms by which the separated churches might be reunited.25 This conference was inaugurated by Dr Lunn and to it were invited the leaders of the Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church and English Nonconformity. His leading part in this conference, which was followed by others, did not affect Hughes's desire to consolidate the influence of Nonconformity, however, and in the same year he was the chief promoter of the Free Church Congress. He also played a leading role in the establishment of the national council of the Evangelical Free Churches, being its first president in 1896. In 1898 he became the foremost representative of his denomination by being elected president of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference.

Beside his travels in Europe, Hughes visited Egypt, Palestine and America and wrote about his experiences in those countries. In addition to his weekly journalism he wrote extensively. His chief publications were : The Atheist Shoemaker, 1889, The Philanthropy of God, 1890, Social Christianity, 1890, Ethical Christianity, 1891, Essential Christianity, 1894 and The Morning Lands of History, 1901, the latter being reflections on his travels in Greece, Egypt and Palestine. The Atheist Shoemaker professed to be the account of a Soho shoemaker who recanted his atheism in favour of the Christian faith shortly before death. The publication attracted the suspicion of leading Free-thinkers like Bradlaugh and Holyoake, but Hughes, not feeling at liberty to do so, refused to reveal the identity of the convert as they demanded. There followed frequent meetings between Hughes and Holyoake, from which there sprang a mutual respect, though their views were widely divergent.

Magnetic Power
Hughes was unquestionably one of the most distinctive figures in the religious life of Britain at a time when religion was still a powerful influence in society and most certainly his is a significant place in the history of Wesleyan Methodism. Although he was a fiery and passionate preacher, he was no mere revivalist, for 'he filled his sermons with theological content and he was as deeply devoted to the care of men's bodies as he was concerned of the need of their souls'.26 Doubtless it was his reputation as a speaker of magnetic power that pursuaded Lord Roseberry to go to St. James's Hall one evening and hear him preach. Later Lord Roseberry sent him an appreciative note saying he had been much impressed, and subsequently the two men exchanged letters on the subject of Nonconfortnity.27 In his chosen vocation he achieved the ultimate eminence the chair of John Wesley. This was a predictable eventuality for all save his father, who reserved doubts until the end on account of his son's temperament and died without seeing him succeed. But his mother survived, though bed-ridden, to witness the crowning glory of the great and good work which long, long before she had so earnestly prayed he would be called upon to do.

Hugh Price Hughes possessed all the qualities necessary to take him to the forefront in almost any field he might have chosen for his life's work. One eminent observer thought he would have made a fine general. There were others who thought his proper place should have been Parliament, where his gifts would likely have taken him to high office. Had he been a lawyer, too, he might even have become the Lord Chancellor that Dr John Hughes denied himself the pleasure of anticipating when young Hugh decided he would be a preacher. And had he been an Anglican, like his friend Tom Brigstocke, it is interesting to speculate on what episcopal throne one feels confident he would have filled.

But despite all his gifts, there was one that Hugh Price Hughes lacked. Although he survived his seventh year in defiance of his doctor's prediction, he was without the physical stamina that could have taken him into old age like his parents. Many labours discharged in a white-heat of intellectual energy took heavy toll by the time he had reached his fifty-sixth year and he died of apoplexy in London on the 17th November 1902, surviving his father by less than five years and his mother by less than three. He left a widow, two sons and two daughters. Hugh Price Hughes was one of five children who lived beyond infancy. Beside his younger brother Arthur, he had three sisters, the eldest of whom, despite an unpropitious childhood, was to make a mark in the field of women's education in the pioneering days of the nineteenth century. Like Hugh, Elizabeth Phillips Hughes was born in King Street, Carmarthen, but four years later on the 12th July 1851.

'Poor Bessie'
In her early years Elizabeth showed none of the intellectual promise of her brother; on the contrary, she was distinguished for her backwardness and it is recorded that at the age of ten she could scarcely read.28 In such an unenvious position she was fortunate, however, that Hugh's guidance was available to her, though she must have resented his patent superiority, which he never tried to conceal. 'Poor Bessie,' he declared, 'understood nothing, positively nothing, but I toiled and perspired and made it all clear to her. I should have been a coach. I have a great faculty for making people see things.' Helped out of her early deficiency by her able though conceited brother, the adolescent girl was attracted by academic pursuits, and a growing awareness of her own ability to teach pointed the way she would take. But her path was not made easy. Though her mother had great ambitions for Hugh's future, she had little sympathy for her daughter's intellectual aspirations, believing that while suitable instruction at a school for the 'daughters of gentlemen' was permissible, indeed desirable if a proper match were to be assured, a woman's place was in the home bringing up a family.

Such a conventional prospect held no appeal for Elizabeth, who determined upon a career and in furtherance of it she could count herself fortunate in attending school at Hope House, Taunton, though later she came to realise the inadequacy of her schooling there. She continued her education more satisfactorily at Cheltenham Ladies' College and after teaching there for four years she was admitted to Newnham College, Cambridge in 1881.29 She was now thirty years of age and for the first time she experienced the joy of learning at a place where it was regarded as a desirable exercise to be encouraged. She studied the moral sciences and now she received instruction that satisfied her intellectual appetite. In 1884 she was placed in class one of the Moral Sciences Tripos and in the following year she was awarded second class in the Historical Tripos. She later proceeded to M.A.

Now fully equipped with the best academic training available to her in those Victorian days, she was quickly blessed with the opportunity to exercise her teaching abilities. After coming down from Newnham in 1885 she was appointed principal of the Cambridge Training College for Women Teachers. The college, designed for training Girton and Newnham graduates as secondary school teachers, was established through the efforts of Frances Mary Buss, a contemporary of Emily Davies, the champion of women's rights in the field of education. Emily Davies and others like her had overcome prejudice against academic enlightenment for women and in 1885 Miss Buss could write that 'Cambridge is willing and a suitable lady is ready'.

One of the 'Mad People'
Elizabeth Hughes was certainly suitable and equally ready to accept the challenge of organising the new college. Undaunted by lack of money, which enforced painful economy, she tackled her new responsibility single-handed. At the outset the college was nothing more than a few cottages, near Newnham, and Elizabeth Hughes constituted the entire academic staff. But her outstanding ability and powerful personality ensured success in the face of difficulty and the derision of those who dismissed the pioneering principal and her students as 'those mad people at Cambridge'. In 1887 the college moved to more suitable premises, but another eight years were to pass before it could boast a worthy home.

These early years in the history of the college were a challenge to her undoubted administrative ability, but always she emerged the mistress of circumstance, and on the academic side she distinguished herself no less, for in her ideas and methods she was much in advance of her time. She drove herself hard and she expected the same of her staff; it was said that three or four years were sufficient to wear out her subordinates. Always there was a sense of urgency; indeed, impatience was one of her shortcomings, for she could never be content to wait for slow results any more than she could countenance second best when there was perfection to achieve in the interests of education and, more particularly, of teacher training. This latter was of great concern to her, for she felt, to use her own words, 'that the quickest, most effective way of improving education was to induce teachers to be trained, and to try and improve training'. This urge was not confined to the students in her care; for her, education was everyone's birthright and, characteristically, she persuaded her college council to make the lecture room available on Sunday evenings to working men and women. At these gatherings Cambridge lecturers and other scholars gave talks, which were followed by discussion, and these were occasions of great delight to her. But for all her self-reliance, she nevertheless enjoyed the encouragement not only of Miss Buss but of Miss Anne Clough, first principal of Newnham and sister of Arthur Hugh Clough, the poet. These two were contrasting supports to whom she could always turn for help; Miss Buss shared Elizabeth Hughes's administrative flair and energy, where-as Miss Clough was a poor organiser, but possessed sympathetic qualities beside intellectual ability.

Return to Wales
Because she made exacting demands upon herself as well as others, she felt that by the time she was forty-eight years of age she could no longer summon to her requirements the unlimited energy she had hitherto poured into her task, and in 1899, her health already impaired, she resigned her professional appointment. In her retirement she went to live with her brother Arthur at Penrheol, Barry, where her parents had joined him earlier. But she continued to be busily engaged in voluntary capacities, particularly in the field of education, her abiding interest; later she devoted her attention to other social activities, especially in connection with housing and public health, Her public life during this period included membership of Glamorgan County Council and its education committee, and of the governing bodies of the University of Wales and the University College at Cardiff. She attracted to herself many people who shared her interests and her home at Barry was a wellspring that afforded intellectual refreshment.30

Elizabeth Hughes organised the first Red Cross Women's Camp and during the First World War she was commandant of a V.A.D. hospital. For this work she received the M.B.E., being one of the first two women from Wales to be admitted a member of the newly created order. The University of Wales she had been the only woman on the committee that drafted the University's original charter recognised her services to education and social progress by conferring the honorary degree of LL.D. upon her in 1920. She retained her interest in Welsh literature and the bardic name she assumed Merch Myrddin was a remainder of the town of her birth. At Barry she founded the Twentieth Century Club, a women's society for study and discussion.31

In contrast to her brother, she broke away from the influence of her early upbringing to become a member of the Anglican church, but one need not impute the transferred allegiance to a reaction against Hugh's boyhood threats to put his head in the fire whenever she had shown an unwillingness to attend his prayer meetings. In their political views, brother and sister exchanged attitudes, for whereas Hugh had started as a Tory admirer of Disraeli and deserted to Liberal influence, Elizabeth though a Liberal for most of her life as late as 1921 she was described as Radical and Democratic32 became a Unionist during her last years.

She travelled widely, made a tour round the world, undertook lecture tours in Europe and America, which she visited twice, and for six months she held the chair of English at Tokyo. Among many articles and pamphlets she wrote were: 'A National Education and its Application to Wales', 'The Education of the Majority' and 'The Training of Teachers'. Her recreations included mountaineering and in her Alpine climbing she ascended the Matterhorn when she was forty-eight years of age. Such athletic activity and the energy she devoted to everything she undertook suggest a tall and lean person like her father, but she inherited neither his stature nor her mother's good looks, for she was rather short, rotund and plain. Her last years were marred by failing sight, but a partially successful operation saved her from blindness. She died at Barry on the 19th December 1925, physically broken though her mind was barely impaired.

Her fame never matched her brother's, yet in one way her career excelled his. Richly endowed, he made a mark in a man's world where the rewards of success were still almost exclusively reserved for men; she had been among pioneers in fields new to women who were breaking free from the confines of domesticity. He had fulfilled the great work his mother had prayed he would be called upon to perform; she had overcome the inadequacies of her childhood, defied the social conventions of her time, even her mother's prejudice, and ventured where not very many women had gone before. She aspired against odds, yet conquered mountains.
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