Presentation of a Testimonial to the Rev. David Griffiths


We gave a few months ago a lengthy report of the opening of the new Church at Hirwain. We have now the gratification of recording another very interesting ceremony which illustrates in a striking manner the rapid progress of Church principles in this place. A few years ago, Hirwain was without even a tent wherein to worship God according to the rites of the Church of England. When service began to be performed in a small and inconvenient room the small but faithful band was pointed at with the finger of scorn, but by the energy and perseverance of the curate the small room and despised few have been replaced by an elegant Church, well filled every Sunday by the most intelligent and influential portion of the population.

It having become known that the Rev. David Griffiths, St. Lleurwg, had accepted the Incumbency of Ystradyfodwg, a general desire was felt that some fitting testimonial of the respect and almost affection in which he was held should be given him on his removal. Every, one, rich and poor, joined heartily and a large sum was immediately subscribed, and one of the most elegant and chaste testimonials it has been our good fortune to witness was the result, consisting of a very richly ornamented Cathedral Ormolu Clock in the Gothic style, with the followillginscriptiol1 on a silver plate: –

“Presented to the Rev. David Griffiths, B.C.L., on his departure for the Incumbency of Ystradyfodwg, by the inhabitants of Hirwain, where he had during six years officiated as Curate in a most able and acceptable manner won for himself the esteem and good-will of all classes, and was mainly instrumental in having the Church erected. October, 1858″

On Tuesday evening the presentation was made at the Assembly Room of the Cardiff Arms. A number of gentlemen sat down to an excellent dinner, provided by Mrs. Moore in her usual style, to which the Rev. David Griffiths, was invited. The Chair was occupied by Morgan Morgan, Esq., of Bodwigiad, and the vice-chair by John Matthews, Esq., of Hirwain. After the usual loyal and other toasts were disposed of, the Chairman briefly explained the object of the meeting, and expressed the pleasure he felt in taking part in it. He then called on Mr. Watkins, the senior churchwarden, to present the testimonial: –

“I Ladies and Gentlemen, – I need not tell you for what purpose we have met together tonight. This you are already aware of. When we learnt from the lips of our worthy friend, the Rev. Mr. Griffiths, that he was likely soon to leave this place for a new sphere of ministerial labour, one feeling appeared instantly to pervade the hearts of all his Hirwain friends, namely, that to suffer so good, so true and faithful a minister of God’s holy ordinances to take his departure from amongst us without giving him some testimonial of our respect and affection for him, as a pastor for a period of six years, would but argue an indifference on the part of those who have pro- fitted by his ministry, and who viewed with a spirit of gratitude the exertions he has displayed in promoting the spiritual welfare of us all” (cheers).

Then turning to the respected gentleman lie continued, Beloved and Reverend Friend, – The great services you have rendered in all matters appertaining to the welfare of the Established Church, in ministering spiritual comfort and consolation to the sick and to the poor; the indomitable and unwearied energy, the active and zealous support you so cheerfully and freely gave us whilst we were battling with all our might to procure a suitable and a commodious place of worship for the Church-going people of Hirwain, without which support all our own efforts in all probability would have proved useless; – these among numberless other acts of Christian benevolence and kindness you have been pleased so freely to bestow upon us have been recognised and justly appreciated by your friends here—the poor as well as the rich. It was, therefore, resolved unanimously that something should be given you in proof of the sincerity of our regard.

I now, therefore, on behalf of the subscribers beg to present you with a testimonial consisting of a time-piece of a chaste and appropriate design, purchased with a subscription freely and spontaneously entered into by the inhabitants of Hirwain, whose only wishes are that the same should be looked upon and kept as a heir-loom in your family from generation to generation. Your loss, Sir, will be deeply and severely felt, and now that the time is come in which you will take your final leave of us, which we sincerely regret, I can venture to say that I speak the sentiments of everyone here, as well as of those who from the nature of their avocations in life are denied the opportunity and the pleasure of being now present, “that you will carry with you their best wishes for your happiness and prosperity in time and eternity” (loud cheers).

After the lapse of a few minutes the Rev. David Griffiths rose, evidently much affected by the reception he had met, and addressed the meeting at considerable length. The following is an imperfect sketch of his address: –

Dear and kind Friends, – During the period I have had the privilege of being your pastor, you have been so good from time to time as to express your satisfaction at my labours amongst you, showing me many proofs of your kindness and sympathy, and which you did in such a manner as to convince me that they were real, that they were the off-shoots of willing minds testifying that I had endeavoured to do my duty as your minister in season and out of season. Thus, encouraged I remained here for the space of six years, and I hope that during that time I have not failed in my ministry to you of the things that belong to your peace. My chief object has always been to preach the word in its purity, to visit you in your sickness, and to attend to all your spiritual wants, but my own feeling is, that I have fallen short in doing them as I ought to have done. Yet, when you have been so kind as to invite me here to-night, to partake of your hospitality, and to sit together for the last time as pastor and flock, and again to pre- sent me with that substantial, lasting, and valuable testimonial which stands before us, I begin to think that you value my services above what they deserve. It is a great pleasure to a minister to find himself esteemed and respected by his congregation, and I believe that that cannot be gained unless he performs his duty fearlessly, without distinction or respect of persons, and if in this way I have won your approval it is a great comfort to me, as I consider that a minister must and ought to act towards all alike.

The dividing or the removing of friends apart is at all times a scene more easily felt than described, and so it is with me on leaving yon, who have always behaved towards me with such kindness, respect, and regard. I am sorrowful, and feel strongly that we are obliged to separate, but the more so when you have thought fit to give an additional proof of the value you have set on my labours amongst you by handing me that gratifying token of your esteem. But in taking the deep interest. I did in your spiritual wants and in helping to rear the Church, I was after all only carrying out our Lord’s injunction in spreading His word. My friends, you may depend upon it that that handsome, valuable, and chaste clock shall continue in my possession to the end of my days. I will preserve it in my family and hand it down as a highly precious memorial of your friendship, attachment and regard (loud cheers).

Mr. Evans proposed the health of the Chairman. He had only recently had the privilege of knowing from personal experience the excellent qualities with which he was gifted, and hoped he would soon take up his residence among them again (cheers).

The Chairman, who was warmly received, said he was very much gratified by the kind manner in which they had drunk his health. He never felt happier than in this neighbourhood where he was known. When away he might remain for days without recognising a single individual, but here everybody knew him, and the commonest labourer had a kind word to say to him (cheers). He concluded by proposing” Prosperity to the Town and Trade of Hirwain,” which was appropriately responded to by Mr. Bird.

The Rev. David Griffiths proposed “the health of the Churchwardens,” and dwelt on the services they had rendered during the building of the Church, and the interest they always take in everything that relates to its welfare.
Mr. Watkins returned thanks. Mr. Sims proposed the health of Mr. David Evans, and complimented him on the success of his efforts in obtaining the testimonial in the taste he had displayed in its selection. Mr. Evans said his friend, Mr. Sims, was really giving him too much credit. He had simply given expression to the general feeling of the place, and if any names were to be mentioned those of Mrs. Evans and Miss Watkins deserved it (cheers). He felt great pleasure in having contributed towards giving their friend and late pastor a testimonial, for he admired his manly, honest, and straightforward character (cheers). He considered the Rev. David Griffiths, a fair sample of what a clergyman ought to be. In these times of extreme opinions their friend was fortunate and sensible enough to steer clear of the Scylla of Dissent and the Charybdis of Rome, and pursue that middle course in which the strength, usefulness, and prosperity of the Church of England consists. Mr. Evans then referred to the mission of the Church in Wales, and condemned in strong terms the cry for Welsh Bishops and Welsh preaching as inimical to the true interests of the Church and the welfare and advancement of the Welsh people. The Rev. D. Griffiths then proposed the health of the Ladies in appropriate terms, coupling therewith the health of Mr. Lloyd, the representative of the Vale of Neath Railway Company at Hirwain, who spoke as follows: –
Mr. Griffiths has placed me in a position which I can hardly realize, being called upon to return thanks for the ladles. I like to be at liberty to pay them some compliment (laughter), as it is, I am classed as their representative, old thus prohibited saying anything in their favour. Yet I will, with your permission, isolate myself from amongst them for a moment for the sake of paying a tribute to their charming qualities, and by doing so quote the words of one of our greatest living novelists, who writes: –

“Fair are thy fields O England – fair the rural farm and the orchards in which the blossoms have ripened into laughing fruits, and fairer than all, O England, are the faces of thy soft-eyed daughters.”

To return again to my enviable position as representative of the ladies, I wish to call your attention that some crusty old bachelor – these words sound ominous in the present assembly, where I see so many of that unfortunate race (laughter), but I was going to remark, that some old bachelor says “that marriage is a female despotism tempered by puddings,” about which I have some doubt, and as Brutus says, if there be any (married) man in this assembly that can testify such is the case, to him I say, hold up your hand. None! I fancied not. The same rascal before referred to, asserts that woman’s politics is “Marriage.” Now, on behalf of the ladies, I beg to disclaim any such Machiavellian policy, but according to circumstances, we – that is, the ladies are prepared to return love for love, affection for protection, charity for temperance, obedience for kindness, and in fact to return, you men, an equivalent if, indeed, not more than an equivalent of every virtue in your vocabulary, which you are prepared to reciprocate to us. In conclusion, I beg to remind you, bachelors, that the famous line of Pope’s is now changed, and would exhort you all to remember it now reads thus, – “The proper study of mankind is woman.” Mr. Lloyd concluded by returning thanks for the ladies and himself.

The Chairman proposed the health of the hostess, who had catered so well for them, to which Mr. Moore briefly responded.

A ball was then held in honour of the occasion, and a most agreeable evening spent, to which the courteous and genial manner of the chairman materially contributed.

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