Chiaroscuro: Fragments of Autobiography

Chiaroscuro: Fragments of Autobiography

Chiaroscuro: Fragments of Autobiography

Chiaroscuro: Fragments of Autobiography

Excerpt

PEMBROKESHIRE is divided into two parts by a line cutting across the county separating it sharply into Welsh- and English-speaking districts. Upon the basic Welsh, not to speak of pre-Celtic aborigines, have imposed themselves Scandinavian, Roman, Norman, Saxon, Irish and Flemish elements. The English spoken is good but the Welsh, I am told, is better. Haverfordwest, the centre of the Flemish colonization, was the home of my father's people. Successive bands of mercenary troops, weavers and masons from Flanders at the beginning of the twelfth century, by royal permission, and with a view to keeping the turbulent Welsh in check, were allowed or encouraged to intrude on the then Scandinavian town and district of Haverford (Havrefiord), and ended by dominating more than half the county. The name of a suburb of Haverfordwest, Prendergast, attests the permanence of the colonization, and the neighbouring village of Langum is reputed to be still inhabited by authentic descendants of the 'Flemings'. who elsewhere seem to have amalgamated with the Welsh. In view of the mist that hides my origins, mysterious as those of any hero of antiquity, I have sometimes wondered if a strain from Flanders may not have enriched the family bloodstream. Nothing could be likelier.

If I was ever curious about our past history, I was not encouraged to investigate it by my father. 'We come of a . . .

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