LIFE AND LETTERS: IT is impossible to tell with certainty who the first pro- fessional English man of letters was, but the claimant, with the strongest prima facie case is undoubtedly the object of this sketch, to wit, James Howell. He seems to have been the first man in these islands to have thought of earning his living by means of his pen, and to have regarded literature as a lucrative profession. Apart, therefore, from any intrinsic merits he may have had his historical importance is obviously great, and one cannot but wonder how it is that his name is practically unknown even amongst students of literature. James Howell was born about 1594 either at Abernant, Carmarthenshire, or at Llangammarch, Brecknockshire. His father was a clergyman, Thomas Howell, a remarkable man in many ways. He had fifteen children, and traced his pedigree back to Rhodri the Great. In 1610, James entered Jesus College, Oxford, where he was elected a fellow in 1623. Soon after taking his degree he was appointed a sort of commercial traveller by a glass-ware company, and went for a long journey on the continent, incidentally becoming a very accomplished linguist. In 1622, he was sent to Spain on a diplomatic mission, and was concerned in the futile attempt to bring about a match between Prince Charles and the Infanta. During the next ten years he held various court appointments, and in 1632 he was sent on an embassy to Denmark. Subsequently he was appointed clerk to the privy council, but in 1643 he was arrested for debt and committed to the Fleet, where he was destined to languish till 1651. In Charles I's reign he had been a staunch supporter of the court, but the Protectorate found in him an equally staunch supporter of Cromwell, and at the Restoration he was able to cajole Charles II. into making him a free gift of £ 200 in addition to appointing him historiographer royal at a salary of £ 100. He died in 1666. But it is for his literary work that Howell deserves to be remembered. He had written some trifling poems and a few pamphlets in his youth, though they are not of much importance. But after his imprisonment in 1643, he became a most amazingly prolific w iter on almost every conceivable topic. He published works on history, geo- graphy, political and social questions and etymology. His energy is no less amazing than his versatility. A glance at Sir Sidney Lee's list of his published works in the Dictionary of National Biography will make the reader rub his eyes. As has been suggested, the importance of these writings does not depend upon their intrinsic value. Howell wanted some money very badly, and was quick enough to find an excellent method of making it. He wrote on topics that were of great interest at the time, and supplied the public with useful information in a palatable form. Were he alive to-day he would certainly be among the greatest of our journalists. But we have not yet mentioned his masterpiece. While in prison he brought out a volume entitled Epistolae Ho-Elianae familiar letters domestic and foreign pa.tly historical, political, philosophical. Upon emergent occa- sions." This purports to be a collection of his private JAMES HOWELL. By Eivion Owen. letters during a period of about twenty-five yeais, but it seems probable that the majority at least weie concocted at the Fleet. This, of course, does not imply that they were not based on actual letters. They are very much starched, like all letters intended for publication, and no doubt give an exaggerated impression of the writer's importance, but with all their faults, the human interest of their vivid pen pictures is such as to justify even a twentieth century reader's spending an odd hour or so in their perusal. A Welshman ought to find the volume peculiarly interesting owing to the frequent references to the writer's native country and his native language of which he had made a close study. On his first visit to France, Howell was much impressed by the fertility of the land and contrasts it with the bleak and barren hills of England and I am sorry our country of Wales should give more instances hereof than any other part." But when he came to the Alps he changed his tune Our mountains in Wales, as Eppynt and Pen- maenmawr, which are so much cried up among us, they are molehills in comparison of these they are but Pigmies compared to Giants, but Pimples compared to Warts." Later on he is reminded of Welsh faces :­ ‘ ‘ When I passed through some parts of Lombardy, among other things, I observed the physiognomies and complexions of the people, men and women and I thought I was in Wales, for divers of them have a cast of countenance, and a nearer resemblance with our nation, than any I ever saw yet and the reason is obvious Unfortunately the reason he gives is not at all obvious and, if printed here, would only rouse the ire of our modern ethnologists. There are frequent references in the letters to Jesus College, which was quite as closely connected with Wales then as it is now. In 1621, a new principal, Sir Eubule Thelwall, was appointed, and Howell had hopes of a fellowship. I pray God," he writes to an Oxford friend, he perform what he promiseth, and that he be not over partial to North Wales men." An interesting feature of the letters is the familiarity they indicate between Howell and some of his most dis- tinguished contemporaries. Lord Herbert of Cherburgy Archbishop Laud, Sir Kenelm Digby, Gabriel Harvey and Lord Strafford, to mention no more, are all numbered amongst his correspondents. There is a most interesting letter to Ben Jonson Father Ben, you desired me lately to procure you Dr. Davies's Welsh Grammar, to add to those many you have I have lighted upon one at last, and I am glad to have it in so seasonable a time, that it may serve for a New Year's gift, in which quality I send it you. One wonders what Father Ben thought of the Welsh Grammar. Towards the end of the collection we find a very modest letter to My rev. and learned countryman, Mr. R. Jones Sir,-It is, among many other, one of my imperfections that I am not versed in my maternal tongue so exactly as I should be. The reason is, that languages and words (which are the chief creatures of man and the keys of knowledge)