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Howells, William - Letter to Orson Pratt - 11 Dec 1850

December 11, 1850

Brecknockshire, one of the twelve counties of Wales, contains about 512,000 acres of land; little more than the half only being cultivated, in consequence of the barren nature of its mountainous soil. Population about 50,000. Copper, lead, iron, coal, limestone, in abundance, are the most important natural products of this county. The agricultural produce consists of oats, wheat, rye, barley, &c., and there is also a considerable exportation of wool, timber, butter, cheese, and cattle of various kinds to the markets in the neighbouring English counties. This county is supposed to derive its name from Brychan, a native prince of the 5th century, the Welsh name for the county being Brychering. Frew towns surpass Brecknock in picturesque beauty, the different mills and bridges on the rivers Usk and Honddu, the ivy mantled walls and towers of the old castle, the massive embattled turret and gateway of the priory with its luxuriant groves added to the magnificent range of mountain scenery, form in many points of view the most beautiful, rich, and varied outline imaginable. The various denominations of the day divide among themselves (with few exceptions) the inhabitants of the town; who to their credit are very religious, having their churches, chapels, colleges, alms-houses, &c., besprinkled through the length and breadth of the place, so that one of the officials of the town remarked, there was no place for "Mormonism" neither should it set its foot within its boundaries.

The officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have had to contend with many trials in their laudable exertions in establishing gospel principles of truth and intelligence in the towns and villages of this county, like other places in Wales. Occasionally they have to travel some twenty to fourty miles per diem, from one place to another, over craggy and boisterous mountains, through wet and cold, and at the end, three or four persons only may think proper to attend to their warning voice the others being bound by prejudice and superstition. But there are exceptions, sometimes they have multitudes flocking together from all parts. Some few weeks past two of the brothers, after a harb day's work, preached the "Word if Life" to some two or three hundred hearers, but not having a friend amongst them, they had to retire after the meeeting was over, supperless, to lay down their heads and wearied bodies on a bed of straw in a barn. But there are exceptions also to such ungrateful conduct. In many places in Wales they are received by the wealthy farmers, and entertained with great kindness, they are not sent away pennyless, nor on foot, having servants and horses to guide and carry them from one place to another. After such conduct it is a general rule for us to hear of our benefactors becoming subjects of the kingdom themselves, and that God called them also to go and preach the gospel. Others who have been in the church for some time, are gathering up their wealth and are going forth with songs of gladness to the fruitful valley of the beautiful land of Zion, unknowingly, yet truly described by Wordswowrth, the Poet, as--

"A lowly vale, and yet uplifted high,
Among the mountains."

From whence those who are already gone send their bewitching letters, containing interesting accounts of their prosperity, preparing for their Welsh brethren that should follow from the mountains of Wales, flocks of Welsh Mutton on the rich luxuriant mountains of Ephraim.

Their testimony of the goodness of God, both spiritually and temporally, in causing all things to work together for their good, is sent forth to their Welsh farming friends and relations through the medium of the "Welsh Trumpet" of Zion, by our excellent trumpeter John Davies, in charming notes, that leave an influence behind, through the length and breadth of this country, that causeth the Prince of darkness with his imps to look confoundedly serious.

Some of the great folks at Brecknock thought their citadel too strong for the poor "Mormons" to scale, and take possession of the place. But to the terror of some of the inhabitants the report was circulated that the Latter-day Saints were coming, to establish Emmanuel's Kingdom in the heart of their city, in the name of the Lord God of Israel. The mayor of the town took the lead in defending their rights of conscience against the intruding party; on the right he was well supported by the great folks, and also the Protestant parties, with their clergymen, learned tutors, students, and a host of local preachers; and for the left in such emergency, the alliance and help of the Roman Catholic church, "the old Mother," was not to be despised; besides they had barracks filled with soldiers, and noble officers in reserve in case of necessity; so the mayor with great confidence informed the two little Mormon officers, that they should not preach within the confines of the town! doubtless the brethren would have retreated immediately, had it not been for the higher power that authorized and commanded them to preach. The battle commenced, the enemy thought success certain; but here, like all other places, the few that fought under the banner of truth and righteousness gained the victory; and established their head quarters for the present, in a fine hall at the "Bull" Inn. So they have the Old City Bull to protect and cover the Saints, regardless of the Protestant and Roman Catholic Bulls.

On the 8th instant the victorious party held their conference in the town of Brecknock, and as a leading article they baptized in the city, the evening previous, a wealthy farmer, after a serious conversation he had with President Phillips, and one of the first steps taken at the commencement of the conference was the organization of a brach of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the heart of the city. The addresses delivered in English and Welsh by brother W. Sims and President Phillips were interesting and to the purpose. I had also to throw in my mite. Nathan Ddu, one of the endowed Welsh bards, and one of the officers connected with the conference, poured forth poetic intelligence in melodious strains of Welsh Englinion, that would have caused Milton's heart to leap for joy, if such an instrument were to be found in the English languge. The present mayor of the town of Brecon, and many wealthy gentlemen, the superintendent of police and the force are acting with Christian kindness and benevolence to the brethren. May the Lord our Master bless them now, and favor them in the day, when the actions of all shall receive their due reward.

For this cordiality and sympathy from the great in Brecon and other towns, the thousands of Saints in Wales, return their sincere thanks: praying continually for their welfare. Neither do we wish anything but prosperity and happiness to follow the former mayor, with whom we had to contend for liberty to preach the Gospel of Christ.

Praying the Lord to grant that "the little one" at Brecon may soon become a thousand,

I remain, your brother in the Lord,


P.S.--I have just received an interesting letter from our beloved brother Mr. Taylor, from Paris, all is well, with good prospects



Howells, William


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