LETTERS ADDRESSED TO H. A. BRUCE, FIRST LORD ABERDARE IN 1970 the Henry E. Huntington Library in San Marino, California, acquired a cache of private letters addressed to Henry Austin Bruce, First Baron Aber- dare (1815-95). About 500 in number, they remain uncatalogued and largely unknown, and hence deserve to be brought to the attention of historians of both Wales and Great Britain. They cover the period from 1851, a year before Bruce was elected M.P. for Merthyr Tydfd, to 1893, two years before he died. Unlike the published volume of Bruce's correspondence, the Huntington collection does not include many letters written by Bruce himself, or written to him by members of his own family. But the list of correspondents represented here is varied enough and sufficiently distinguished politically to attract historians' attention. Queen Victoria, John Bright, J. A. Froude, W. E. Gladstone, Lord Granville, Sir George Grey, Holman Hunt, Charles James, Benjamin Jowett, Robert Lowe, J. S. Mill, Alfred Ollivant, Anne Ritchie, Samuel Smiles, Lord Shaftesbury, Hippolyte Taine, Rowland Williams, and scores of statesmen, politicians and foreign diplomats are among the letter-writers. The subject-matter of the letters is almost as diverse: congratulations on Bruce's elevation to the peerage in 1873, matters relating to Bruce's period as home secretary (1869-73) and under- secretary of state for the home department (1862-4), his defeat at Merthyr in 1868, Ireland, and other subjects. Bruce represented Merthyr Tydfil in Parliament from 1852 to 1868. In the first election after the passing of the Reform Act of 1867 he was defeated by a combination of political, religious, social and industrial factors that have been thoroughly described by Professor I. G. Jones.2 There were three candidates for this new two-member constituency in 1868: Richard Fothergill, a local iron- master, Liberal and philanthropist in nonconformist causes; Henry Richard, a nonconformist minister who appealed to the newly enfranchised working-classes; and Bruce, a local Anglican landowner and coalowner with a considerable reputation as a Liberal. In the event, only one of the local grandees, Fothergill, was returned; the other seat went to Richard at the head of the poll. The Huntington collection includes several letters written to the defeated candidate by acquaintances, friends, former colleagues and even political enemies, commiserating with him, consoling him, condemning his former constituents and, in one case, graphically predicting in apocalyptic fashion (and more accurately than he knew) Merthyr's reduction to 'dust and ashes'. Extracts from some of these letters are given below, partly to indicate the historical value of the Huntington collection and partly to reflect the attitudes of some of Bruce's contemporaries to the epoch-making election of 1868 in Merthyr.3 If Bruce was unable for some time to grasp the full significance of this election for working-class politics in Britain, he was evidently not alone in Wales or elsewhere in the weeks that followed.4