Thursday, July 13, 2006

Happy 113th Birthday!

113 years ago today, the last member of the Morgan family to live at Tredegar House was born.

Evan Frederic Morgan, 4th Baron, 2nd Viscount Tredegar, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, Knight of the Constantinian Order of St George, Knight of St John of Jerusalem, Knight of Malta, Knight of the Cape and Sword to Popes Benedict XV and Pius XI, (among other titles) was born on July 13, 1893.

Some quotations on Evan from certain notables:

"The inimitable Evan Morgan, poet, painter, musician, aristocrat and millionaire. The unique fairy prince of modern life."
Aldous Huxley

"A fantasy"
Nancy Cunard

"The one person I know who CAN give a party."
Aleister Crowley

"A little red absurdity, with a beak of a nose, no chin, and with the general likeness to a callow but student bantam cock that has run to legs and neck."
Virginia Woolf

"The re-incarnation of Rameses. He must posses cosmic secrets."
Ronald Firbank

"A character straight out of fiction"
Barbara Cartland

"A birdlike sort of man. Possibly because his mother, the dowager Lady Tredegar, built the biggest bird's nest in all the world...She apparently hatched nothing in it except - who knows - Evan?"
Gore Vidal

"There seems to be much wrong with him."
Sir Caspar John

"He tinkers."
H.G. Wells (when asked about Evan's intelligence)

"Sometimes suffers from a too volatile fancy in conjunction with an overactive tongue."
Augustus John

"He should not have lived in this century. He should have been born in a doge's palace."
Sir Walter Monckton

He was a quite extraordinary man. For all those who would sneer and degrade Evan Morgan in his lifetime, there would be an equal or greater army who would defend and sing his praises. They would speak of a man who fought a constant battle against pomposity and dullness and routed the pair of them. They would speak of acts of great kindness. Of an incomparable host, raconteur and friend. Of a man who was always surrounded by laughter, because he generated it himself. Fearless, impetuous and eccentric to the point of madness, he always lived life on his terms. He was the sort of person who made life more interesting, more fun, more exciting.

He was a poet, novelist, artist, musician, gourmet, pilot, occultist, papal chamberlain, collector, arts patron, bird tamer, journalist, parliamentary candidate, diplomatic attache, Major in the military, part of the secret service....the list goes on and on.

He preferred fantasy to reality and who could really blame him? His outlook on life seemed to be: on to the next adventure, the next horizon, but, never, ever, stop moving, not for a second. He always moved quickly and was very agile, (Augustus John suggested his movement was very bird-like) and appeared to be constantly restless. Perhaps he was. The lines that best sum up Evan Morgan (and perhaps the era in which he lived) for me, come from Tennyson's Ulysses:

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!

Evan Morgan was never in any danger of rust.

1 comment:

Tim said...

He was certainly one of the greatest of Welsh eccentrics.

Too little is generally known about this amazing character.

Truly unique, he could make Tredegar House a fortune if they used his story properly. I caught Paul's talk on Evan, and came away amazed. I have never heard of anybody quite like him before!

Hail the Prince of Parrots!