as an organising principle in local politics because it traced the delicate networks of dependence and aspiration which ran throughout society. Furthermore, in so far as it gratified those aspirations, the interest performed a social function which could not easily have been fulfilled in any other way. Besides all the individuals who benefited from the patronage and attention given them by those in positions of influence, towns like Carmarthen benefited substantially from the attentions of paternalistic patrons. The town received an entirely new water supply in 1803 from Sir William Paxton, the borough M.P., whilst Lord Cawdor donated land along which an extension to the quay could be built, thus furthering Carmarthen's status as a trading port. In some cases, the Cawdors provided the local community with benefits which it might have found difficult to provide for itself. Rural Wales was poor, and thus the grants of money and land which Lord Cawdor made towards educational and religious projects had a special value. Although political life in Wales, in its attachment to individuals such as Lord Cawdor and his family, might give the impression of being 'feudal',113 political discourse was considerably more complicated than this would imply. Politics in fact touched every aspect of life in Carmarthen through the medium of the political interest. MATTHEW CRAGOE Swansea m Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, I, 38.