He had a special aptitude for learning languages , and his thorough knowledge of Latin and Greek provided him with a firm foundation for learning other languages, such as French , Spanish and Italian . He had a good knowledge of German , Russian and Polish , and could read most of the other Slavic , Scandinavian , Hungarian , and, of course, Celtic languages. He was interested in the Eastern languages , such as Persian and Arabic , and he took up the study of Sanscrit and Pali to acquire first-hand knowledge of the religious literature of India . It was his mastery of Sanscrit that enabled him to translate the Mahāvastu , the scriptures of the oldest of the Buddhist sects, into English , and which was published in three volumes under the auspices of the Pali Text Society in 1949-56 . According to Miss I.B. Horner , the Society's secretary , this first translation into any language is an outstanding contribution to Buddhist studies; he succeeded in overcoming and explaining the difficulties of the text, and translated it into a beautiful, flowing English style.
He contributed articles to Welsh periodicals on Celtic studies, religion and bibliography. He published Welsh translations of Breton and Russian short stories in Yr Efrydydd , 1935 and Yr Haul 1945 , and Persian sayings in Yr Efrydydd , 1934 . He published articles in Yr Haul ( 1942-4 ) on unascribed Latin hymns in the Emyniadur (the Welsh Anglican hymnal, 1897 ), contributed to the Dictionary of Welsh Biography , and wrote the introduction to the section on Welsh proverbs in Racial proverbs … edited by S.G. Champion ( Routledge , 1938 ).
His relaxations were chess and an occasional novel. He enjoyed watching football and cricket and was an enthusiastic bowls player . His hardness of hearing made conversation difficult for him and he developed interests such as these, which did not depend on conversational ability. He was a true gentleman, friendly, unassuming and respected by all who knew him. His wife died on 29 July, 1955 , at the age of 64, and the third volume of the Mahāvastu is dedicated to her as a tribute to her patience and inspiration in the course of his work on the translation. He died suddenly on the 20th February, 1957 , a few months before he was due to retire, and he was buried in the cemetery of Maenygroes Congregational chapel , near New Quay .
John Keith Evans, Caerwedros, New Quay
Published date: 2001