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ARTHUR   MEE
(1860-1926):
SOME REFERENCE MATERIALS 

Photo of A. Mee

Introduction

A selection of reference materials relating to Arthur Mee are presented here, taken from a number of sources, some of them obscure. Only materials out of copyright are included.

For an overview of the life of Arthur Mee, see:



Information in Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr

Silas Evans dedicated his book to Arthur Mee. The dedication reads,

I
MR. ARTHUR MEE,
CAERDYDD,
NODDWR SERYDDIAETH YNG NGHYMRU,
A SYLFAENYDD CYMDEITHAS SERYDDOL CYMRU,
FEL ARWYDD DIFFUANT O EDMYGEDD A PHARCH,
Y CYFLWYNAF Y GYFROL HON.

YR AWDWR.

This translates into English as,

TO
MR. ARTHUR MEE,
CARDIFF,
PATRON OF ASTRONOMY IN WALES,
AND FOUNDER OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF WALES,
AS A SINCERE INDICATION OF ADMIRATION AND RESPECT,
I DEDICATE THIS VOLUME.

THE AUTHOR.


There follows a photograph of him using his telescope in his run-off roof observatory to study the Sun.

Left: the photograph of Arthur Mee on the dedication page of Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr. He is shown using his 8-inch reflector to study sunspots by projection.

(This photograph was published earlier in the Cambrian Natural Observer, 1902, vol. 5, facing page 1, published in 1903, with the caption, "8 1/2 inch reflector arranged for viewing the Sun (Arthur Mee).")

Arthur Mee wrote a Foreward in English in Seryddiaeth a Seryddwyr.

A short biography appeared in the book, pages 281-282. It reads as follows (with a translation into English to follow):

Mr. ARTHUR MEE (1860-).- Ganed yn Aberdeen, mab y Parch. G. S. Mee ac Elizabeth, merch J. Phillips, o Sir Benfro. Ymbriododd yn 1888, â Claudia, merch y diweddar D. Thomas, Llanelli. Daeth i Gaerdydd yn 1892, ac yno y mae heddyw, ar staff y Western Mail, ac yn byw yn Tremynfa, Llanishen. Nis gallwn roi ond crynhodeb o'i fywyd a'i waith. Mae yn gymeriad amryddawn ac amlochrog- seryddwr, hanesydd, hynafiaethydd, a bardd; awdur Observational Astronomy; Heavens at a Glance; Reminiscences of an Amateur Astronomer; Story of the Telescope. Gynt yn F.R.A.S.; yn awr yn aelod o'r B.A.A. a Societe Astronomique de France. Bu yn defnyddio ei adlewyrchydd wyth modfedd a hanner am lawer blwyddyn, ond gwnaeth anrheg ohono i Barri, ac yno y mae heddyw mewn lle cyfleus ar y Buttrils, a defnyddia yn awr ei wydr chwe modfedd. Mae wedi darlithio llawer yn ei amser, ac wedi cyfrannu llawer i gyhoeddiadau fel y Knowledge, y B.A.A., a'r English Mechanic. Ef a ddug allan Who's Who in Wales. Mae yn un o'r rhai mwyaf gwylaidd a gostyngedig a rodia'r ddaear. Ei hoff waith yw cynorthwyo ereill ymhob modd yn ei allu, ac mae ugeiniau o seryddwyr ieuainc heddyw yn ddyledus iddo am hyfforddiant, ac yn canu ei glod.


This is Rhys Morris's translation of Silas Evans's account:

MR. ARTHUR MEE (1860-).-He was born in Aberdeen, son of Rev. G. S. Mee and Elizabeth, daughter of J. Phillips of Pembrokeshire. He married in 1888 Claudia, daughter of the late D. Thomas of Llanelli. He came to Cardiff in 1892, and there he is today on the staff of the Western Mail and lives in Tremynfa, Llanishen [a part of Cardiff]. I can only summarise his life and work. He is a versatile and many-faceted character - an astronomer, historian, antiquary, and poet; author of Observational Astronomy; Heavens at a Glance; Reminiscences of an Amateur Astronomer; Story of the Telescope. Formerly a F.R.A.S.; now a member of the B.A.A. and Societe Astronomique de France. He used his eight-and-a-half-inch reflector for many years, but he has made a gift of it to Barry, and there it is today in a convenient place on the Buttrills. He now uses his six-inch glass. He has lectured much in his time, and has contributed much to publications such as Knowledge, the B.A.A. and the English Mechanic. He publishes Who's Who in Wales. He is one of the most modest and humble persons to walk the earth. His favourite work is to help others in every way he can, and scores of young astronomers today are indebted to him for his coaching, and sing his praises.



Entry in Who's Who in Wales, First Edition, 1920

Arthur Mee acted as editor of the first edition of the book Who's Who in Wales in 1920. He included a self-deprecating entry about himself which devoted much space to his father. It read humorously,
MEE, Arthur ("Idris"), Editor "Who's Who in Wales"; b. Aberdeen, Oct. 21, 1860; s. Geo. Samuel Mee and Elizabeth, dau. of James Phillips, a Pembrokeshire farmer. After a brilliant career at Glasgow University, cut short by overwork, Geo. S. Mee (whose father was a Northampton man), became pastor of a Baptist Church at Aberdeen, where his powers soon attracted attention, and are referred to at some length by Sir. Robertson Nicoll in his "Life of James Macdonell." Leaving the ministry for journalism, he edited the Bradford Observer for a time, a paper there, dying in 1876. Intended for the medical profession, his son Arthur Mee saved many lives by becoming a journalist; m. 1888, Claudia, dau. late David Thomas, Llanelly; removed to Cardiff, 1892, and has been ever since connected with the Western Mail in various literary capacities; has dabbled in many things - Astronomy (an observer since 1878), Welsh Antiquities, Genethliacal Astrology, Esperanto, etc.; author of books and brochures on several of these subjects; Member British and French Astronomical Societies; contributor to Knowledge, English Mechanic, B.A.A. Journal and Transactions, and other scientific publications, and of course the Western Mail (one of the oldest contributors to its famous "Wales Day by Day"). At present his leisure is mostly occupied in explaining to enquirers that he is not Arthur Mee of the "Children's Encyclopaedia." Rel. Christian (no Church); Pol. None, Address: Tremynfa, Llanishen, Cardiff.



Obituary in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Following his death in 1926, an obituary appeared in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 36, 123, January 1926, written by "H.P.W." (certainly Hugh P. Wilkins, who had been a friend of Mee).
ARTHUR MEE. - Arthur Butler Phillips Mee was born on October 21, 1860. He was the son of the late Mr. George Samuel Mee, who, after a brilliant career at Glasgow University, became pastor of a Baptist Church at Aberdeen. Arthur Mee was born in that town, and moved to Llanelly when his father left the ministry for journalism. Mr. Mee's early years were spent in Llanelly and there he married Miss Claudia Thomas, a native of the town. He joined the staff of the Western Mail in 1892, and remained connected with that journal as an assistant editor up to the time of his death.

Astronomy was one his earliest hobbies and throughout his life he retained the keenest interest in the science. He made a speciality of Mars and the Moon, observing for years with an 8½ in. Calver reflector. Two of his Martian drawings appear in Flammarion's "La Planète Mars," while on March 11, 1892, he observed for the first time, the transit of Titan and its shadow on the globe of Saturn. In addition to several booklets, he published an excellent work on "Observational Astronomy," one of the best companions for amateur observers. His selenographical work was of considerable value; a large portion has not yet been published. He was original Member of the Association, and was at one time a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and one of the Société Astronomique de France.

The internment took place at Cardiff Cemetery on January 19, in the presence of a large and representative gathering.

- H.P.W.



Mee's Paper about the Transit of Saturn in M.N.R.A.S

Arthur Mee described his simultaneous observation of Titan in front of Saturn's disc and its shadow on the planet in a paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 52, 423-424, April 1892. It read:



Note on the Transit of Titan, 1892, March 11. By Arthur Mee.

      This evening, with pretty fair definition, I had been observing the Moon, and afterwards (about 10.15) turned my 8 1/2 in. Calver equatoreal on Saturn. I immediately saw, a little way within the southern limb, and slightly east of the meridian, a dark spot, and almost immediately afterwards, a brown spot still further to the east. I watched the pair with powers 200-400 till I had to leave the telescope. The dark spot seemed central at 10.30. Looking up the almanac next day, I found the dark spot was the shadow of Titan in transit, and it at once occurred to me that the brown spot must be the satellite itself, and, as I can find no record of a similar previous observation, I venture to forward this note, hoping that others with ampler opportunities will tell us more of a deeply interesting if not unique phenomenon.
      Llanelly:
      1892 March 11.



Accounts about the death of Arthur Mee in the Western Mail

The Western Mail, the newspaper for which Arthur Mee worked until his sudden death in January 1926, carried a number of tributes.

A long article about Mee, which included a small portrait photograph, appeared in the Western Mail on Saturday, 16th January, 1926, page 8. The text is reproduced below.



DEATH OF MR. ARTHUR MEE.
ASTRONOMER, POET AND AUTHOR.
HIS WORK ON THE "WESTERN MAIL."
STORY OF A VERSATILE LIFE.

We regret to record the death, which took place at Tremynfa, Llanishen, on Friday evening of Mr. Arthur Mee ("Idris"), for many years a popular member of the staff of the Western Mail. Although feeling a little poorly, Mr. Mee came to the office as usual on Friday and went through his work with the care and the quiet humour that were always characteristic of him. He left, as was his wont, in the early afternoon, with a cheery farewell to his colleagues, but when he reached home at lanishen
[sic.] he became ill and a doctor was called. At eight o'clock he passed away from heart failure.

Mr. Mee's death, coming so suddenly and unexpectedly, has caused the profoundest regret to his colleagues on the staff of this paper and to a very large circle of friends. Small in stature, Mr. Mee was nevertheless a great character and a man of many accomplishments. He had a gift of unexpected humour in conversation, sometimes genially cynical and always shrewd and witty, that made him unique, but apart from this, he had many qualities that endeared him to his friends, and his kindness of heart was unfailing, his care and attention to detail unflagging to the end.

EARLY YEARS IN LLANELLY.

Born at Aberdeen on October 21, 1860, he was the son of the late Mr. George Samuel Mee and Elizabeth, the daughter of the late Mr. James Phillips, a Pembrokeshire farmer. George Mee had a brilliant career at Glasgow University, cut short, unfortunately, through overwork, and subsequently became pastor of a Baptist church at Aberdeen, where his powers soon attracted attention, and are referred to at some length by the late Sir Robertson Nicoll in his "Life of James Macdonell." Leaving the ministry for journalism, George Mee edited the "Bradford Observer" for a time. His health failed him, and he went to Llanelly as editor and part proprietor of the "South Wales Press." Arthur Mee was only sixteen when his father died. He was intended for the medical profession , but, as he put it in his humorous way in an autobiographical note, he "saved many lives by becoming a journalist." His early years in journalism were spent in Llanelly, and there he married Miss Claudia Thomas, daughter of the late Mr. David Thomas, of that town. He joined the staff of the Western Mail in Cardiff in 1892, and he had ever since been connected with this journal as an assistant editor.

AS AN ASTRONOMER.

To the general public he was best known as an astronomical observer, lecturer, and writer. Astronomy was one of his earliest hobbies. As [sic.] the age of eighteen he was a competent observer, and throughout his life he was a keen and watchful student of natural phenomena. As a lecturer on astronomy he was much sought after in South Wales, and he varied the subject with delightful descriptions of travels in Ireland, North Wales, and other places. He had the faculty of interesting everybody, cultured and poorly educated alike, and some of his most entertaining lectures were delivered to gatherings of seamen composed partly of negroes and Asiatics [sic.] in the neighbourhood of Cardiff Docks. As an astronomer he possessed a very fine equatorial telescope, which he presented some years ago to the Barry Astronomical Society. It is erected on the Buttrils, and is a source of pleasure and interest to many people. He wrote frequently in these columns and also in books on astronomical subjects, and he had made a special study of the moon and the rings of Saturn, about which he could speak with some authority. His star maps and astronomical notes were very widely read and studied. In recent years he was attracted to astrology. He took a delight in casting the horoscopes of his friends, and he received many letters acknowledging the accuracy of his readings of the stars. The deeper and more exact science of astronomy, however, was his greatest love. But he had many others, amongst them Welsh antiquities and languages. He mastered the Welsh language. He was a French, Latin and Greek scholar, and even Esperanto at one time claimed his attention.

In literature his tastes were catholic. As a young man he took a prominent part in the literary life of Llanelly, and whenever appealed to concerning matters of history or literature connected with the tin-plate town he proved a mine of information. For several years he was secretary of the Llanelly Debating Society and took an active part in the debates.

ON THE "WESTERN MAIL."

His work on the staff of the Western Mail was varied. For many years he produced, sometimes daily, a short topical poem relating to local occurrences and public men, and the genial, pointed wit of "Idris" was read with great delight in the "Wales Day by Day" column. He was a voracious reader. He took a delight in the modern novel as well as in the most learned book on philosophy, and he had an unerring capacity for seizing upon the heart of a book that made him an invaluable reviewer. He contributed to some of the scientific journals, and amongst his own books "Observational Astronomy" is, perhaps, the best known. He lived his life in the atmosphere of books, and he loved to visit the Central Library, on the committee of which he once served as a co-opted member, acquiring a personal knowledge of the treasures on the shelves equalled only by that of the Librarian and his chief assistants. But he was no bookworm in the sense that he shut out the other interests of life. Behind his serious face there lived a genial, kindly soul that took a catholic interest in all about him and moved his friends to laughter by his shrewd, amusing but never offensive observations. For more than 30 years he has contributed to these columns. Some of the articles which but yesterday he wrote appear in today's issue. Such are the swift changes of death.

Arthur Mee may have been said to have died as he would have wished, in harness. He leaves behind him the memory of a quiet, unobtrusive, but forceful personality, and those who know how sweet has been his domestic life will sympathise deeply with his widow, who for 37 years has been his devoted companion.

ASTRONOMER'S TRIBUTE.

Mr Dan Jones, F.R.A.S., Director of the Cardiff City Observatory at Penylan, in Astronomy a coadjutor of Mr Mee's and in general relations an old friend was greatly distressed to hear of his sudden death. "The news has come to me as one of the greatest shocks of my life," he said to a Western Mail representative, "especially when I recall the personality of the man. His association with astronomical matters dates back to my childhood days or even earlier. He was unquestionably one of the most enlightened astronomers that Wales has ever produced. His writings, his lectures, and his addresses have been welcomed in all parts of the country, and the loss sustained by Wales in particular will never be retrieved by the single efforts of one man. As far as I am personally concerned I have always been in close touch with him."

"His advice and readiness to help on all questions have been the means of placing me in the position I occupy today. Through his death I have lost one of the most faithful friends I have ever had. Words fail me to say more, though I feel deeply."

THE FUNERAL.

will take place at Cardiff Cemetery on Tuesday at noon.



Appreciations of Arthur Mee by the Vicar of Aberpergwm, by Rev. W. E. Winks, by Rev. Charles Davies, by Mr. J. R. Llewellyn and by Mr. J. Conway Davies, were published in the Western Mail on Monday, 18th January, 1926, page 9. That by J. R. Llewellyn concerned astronomy. Part of it read:



I had the privilege of enjoying the personal friendship of Mr. Mee for nearly forty years.

I remember, when Mr. Mee intimated his intention to present to the Barry Astronomical Society his valuable equatorial telescope, I ventured to ask why so valuable a gift went to Barry and not to Cardiff. His reply was so characteristic of himself. "At Cardiff," he said, "there are sufficient men of means to provide for the astronomical requirements of the city, but at Barry this may not be so." And at Barry Mr. Mee's splendid gift is greatly appreciated.



Arthur Mee's funeral was reported in the Western Mail on Wednesday, 20th January, 1926, page 5, column 4. The article read:



SEEKER AFTER TRUTH
FUNERAL OF MR. ARTHUR
MEE AT CARDIFF

The funeral of the late Mr. Arthur Mee (Idris), for many years assistant editor of the Western Mail, whose death occurred suddenly last Friday, took place at Cardiff Cemetery on Tuesday morning from his residence, Tremynfa, Llanishen, and was attended by a representative company of journalists who had been colleagues of the late gentleman and many other of his friends.

A short service at Tremynfa was conducted by the Rev. R. L. Rhys, vicar of Llanishen, and immediately afterwards the motor cortege proceeded to the cemetery.

The chief mourners were Messrs. W. L. Forsdike, D. J. F. Forsdike, and W. T. Forsdike, ex-Alderman G. F. Forsdike, and W. T. Forsdike (nephews) and W. T. Forsdike (grand-nephew). The representatives of the Western Mail Limited were:- Sir William Davies (editor-in-chief), Messrs. J. A. Sandbrook, G. H. Sutton, F. J. Hodson, J. R. Llewellyn (Barry office), Tom Jones, Picton Davies, J. H. Rickard, J. T. Jones, J. W. T. Ley, Cemlyn Jones, H. A. Davies, W. J. Minchinton, T. G. McCabe, D. R. Prosser, and A. P. Yates.

Others present included Messrs. Watkin Williams, Gwilym Hughes, James Turner, J. Martin Jones, Bert Allen, Watkin Williams, jun., Wallace James (Cardiff Cymmrodorion Society), the Rev. W. G. Legassick, B.A. (Llanishen Baptist Church), Messrs. W. M. Lewis, W. G. Walters, D. Pugh Jones, John Rees, F.R.A.S., F.R.G.S. (representing the Astronomical Society of Wales), C. L. Richardson, John Hales, and J. Lewis.

The Rev. Charles Davies, Tabernacle Baptist Chapel, the Hayes, Cardiff, conducted a service in the cemetery chapel and also officiated at the graveside.

In the course of his address in the chapel the Rev. Charles Davies, who had known Mr. Mee for many years, referred to him as essentially a seeker after truth and a man possessed of a remarkable mind. In his search after truth Mr. Mee explored innumerable fields of knowledge, and his interest in life and in the hereafter was insatiable until the end.

The motive which activated Mr. Mee in his intellectual explorations was not mere curiosity, but a sincere desire to seek for and to hold fast to that which was good. His was a beautiful character, and his kindness to young people was something to which the speaker could testify.

As a writer for the press, Mr. Mee had great opportunities of serving his day and generation, and in that capacity he was always true to the ideals of service.

The speaker made touching reference to the widow, Mr. Mee's life companion.

Messrs. Augustine J. Stone, undertakers, 5, Working-street, Cardiff, carried out the funeral arrangements.




   
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