"L'Angleterre et la vie anglaise: XXVI. Le sud du pays de Galles et l'industrie du fer. Carmarthen, les eisteddfodau et les Iron-Works de Merthyr Tydfil"

Name of traveller

Alphonse Esquiros (1812-1876)

Reason for travel

  • political exile and living by his pen in Britain

Date of travel

probably 1864

Au moment où j’étais dans le pays de Galles, un grand eisteddfod devait avoir lieu à Llandudno. Je m’y rendis, curieux d’assister à une des scènes les plus émouvantes chez un peuple si sensible à la poésie. (Esquiros 816)


  • agriculture:
    • finds similarity between Welsh and Breton cattle
    • Welsh sheep are about half the size of English ones
  • clothing:
    • description of women's clothes and tall hats noted in markets, but in decline in towns
    • older women lament decline of costume, that represents their identity
    • notes women's wearing of hats indoors in rural areas
    • form of Welsh hat is explained by the rainy Welsh climate
    • notes lack of shoes and proper clothes on children in Merthyr, women there dressed like men
  • customs:
    • description of Llandudno Eisteddfod 23 August 1864 and general history of eisteddfodau, bards and contest
    • notes on courting, and marriage customs, description of 'bundling'; funeral customs, flowers on graves
    • Welsh coracles as remnants of Celtic heritage
    • Welsh way of carrying infants in shawl
    • critical of English contempt for Welsh culture; unreliability of English informants
  • industry:
    • technical descriptions of factories in Merthyr
    • great success of metallurgical industries contrasted with extreme poverty of workers
    • south Wales best location to study modern industries
    • social depravation, rise of social unrest, violence and child labour 
    • describes spectacle of iron works at night
  • language:
    • notes pride in the Welsh language and its preservation particularly with support of Eisteddfod, but fears it is doomed
    • schools, tourism and industrialisation as threats to Welsh language, it is not suitable for business
    • discusses Welsh grammar
  • literature: gives a history of Welsh literature from its beginnings to the eighteenth-century revival
  • recreation:
    • south Wales provides what the English call a Romantic landscape
    • great numbers of tourists along the Severn attracted by ruins now conquered by nature
  • terrain:
    • contrasts rural Carmarthen with touristy Wye valley and industrial Merthyr Tydfil
    • industrial pollution, black skies, smoke, 
    • the setting of industrial south Wales still picturesque
    • land is fertile but hilly
  • transport:
    • travels by train and steam boat
    • describes railway pier over Severn
  • author of guide book with broad sections on Wales: Itinéraire descriptif et historique de la Grande-Bretagne et de l'Irlande. Paris: Hachette, 1865. 182-205, 237-73. Print.
  • not to be confused with his book of the same title: L'Angleterre et la vie anglaise. Paris: Hachette, 1859. Print.
  • click here to read the full account

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Esquiros, Alphonse. "L'Angleterre et la vie anglaise: XXVI. Le sud du Pays de Galles et l'industrie du fer. Carmarthen, les eisteddfodau et les Iron-Works de Merthyr Tydfil." Revue de Deux Mondes 55 (1865) : 801-43. Print.