kimkat0135e Wales And Her Language Considered From A Historical, Educational And Social Standpoint
John E. Southall. 149 Dock Street, Newport, Mon. 1892.
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Wales And Her Language Considered From A Historical, Educational And Social Standpoint  With Remarks On Modern Welsh Literature And A Linguistic Map Of The Country.
John E. Southall. 149 Dock Street, Newport, Mon. 1892.

CHAPTER III. 48-105.

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION OF 1846 — BISHOP THIRLWALL — "SUNDAY" SCHOOLS AND STATISTICS OF LANGUAGE TAUGHT — CONDITION OF DAY SCHOOLS IN ENGLISH AND IN WELSH-WALES — INEFFICIENCY OF TEACHERS — WELSH LANGUAGE GENERALLY EXCLUDED — PARENTS — TRUSTEES AND MANAGERS — MONMOUTHSHIRE — DELINQUENCY OF EMPLOYERS OF LABOUR — LEWIS EDWARDS, OF BALA — IEUAN GWYNEDD — SIR T. PHILLIPS — DEFECTIVE MORALS.
 

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Mae’r testun mewn llythrennau coch heb eu cywiro hyd yn hyn / The text in red has not been corrected yet.

Sef yw y tudalennau hyn / i.e. the following pages:

 

049, 050, 051, 052, 053, 054, 055, 056, 057, 058, 059, 060, 061, 062, 063, 064, 065, 066, 067, 068, 069, 070, 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, xxx, xxx, xxx, 079, 080, 081, 082, 083, 084, 085, 086, 087, 088, 089, 090, 091, 092, 093, 094, 095, 096, 097, xxx, 099, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105,

 

 

 

image892

CHAPTER III.

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION OF 1846 — BISHOP THIRLWALL — "SUNDAY" SCHOOLS AND STATISTICS OF LANGUAGE TAUGHT — CONDITION OF DAY SCHOOLS IN ENGLISH AND IN WELSH-WALES — INEFFICIENCY OF TEACHERS — WELSH LANGUAGE GENERALLY EXCLUDED — PARENTS — TRUSTEES AND MANAGERS — MONMOUTHSHIRE — DELINQUENCY OF EMPLOYERS OF LABOUR — LEWIS EDWARDS, OF BALA — IEUAN GWYNEDD — SIR T. PHILLIPS — DEFECTIVE MORALS. 

In 1846 the Government undertook to direct an enquiry into the state of Education in the Principality of Wales, especially into the means afforded to the labouring classes of an acquiring a knowledge of the English language.

The terms of the enquiry called forth the following able criticism from the acute and learned Bishop Thirlwall of David's, well known in English literary circles as the author of one of the Standard Histories of Greece. He acquired sufficient knowledge of the Welsh language to be able to preach in it, and was the only Bishop who had the courage to vote for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. He says in 1848: —

" I think it is to be regretted that, according to the terms in which the object of the enquiry was originally described, it was directed to be made, not simply into 'the state of education in the principality of Wales,' but 'especially into the means afforded to the labouring classes of acquiring the knowledge of the EngUsh language.' I think this addition was unnecessary, because the investigation of this point must have formed a main part of a full enquiry into the state of education in Wales; while the putting it thus prominently forward was attended with two unhappy effects: one is, that it lent a handle to those who wish to represent the Commission as an engine framed for the purpose, among others equally injurious, of depriving the people of Wales of their ancient language. The other is, that it tended to suggest



 

 

image893

[CHAP. III. WALES AND HER LANGUAGE. 49

or confirm an exaggerated conception of the efficacy of schools,

in producing a change in the language of the country. This I

regard as one of the most pernicious errors that beset the subject;

and I am afraid that it prevails very extensively among persons

who have great influence over the management of schools. It

might have been thought, that a very little observation and

reflection must be sufficient to convince every one that a school,

however well conducted, must, of itself, be almost utterly powerless

for such an object, where a language taught in it for a few hours

in the day is one which the children never think in nor use at any

other time. It ought, I think, to be evident, that a general

change in the colloquial language of the country is only to be

expected from the operation of very different causes; though the

school learning may, in conjunction with them, contribute to

promote it. But the persuasion of its adequacy for the purpose is

not simply a theoretical error, but one which, so far as it prevails,

tends most seriously to obstruct the progress of good education.

For, under this impression, the managers of schools prohibit, not

only the learning of the Welsh letters, and the reading of Welsh

books, but all use of the language in school hours."

Now I wish my readers, though I fear some of those I desire to reach will fight shy of this volume, from the very beginning, would just give due weight to these words, — "one of the most pernicious errors;" "tends most seriously to obstruct the progress of good education." Are they the words of an hot-headed Eisteddfodwr, or of a man of one sided culture, on whose opinions the successors of the broken down schoolmasters of 1846, look down with indifference from their superior vantage ground of 1891. No, they came from the "Esgob call Tyddewi," who has left his mark in English literature, not a Welshman, but an Englishman, who deserved to be listened to because he knew what he was talking about, which could not be averred in the case of nine out of ten utterances on the subject by representative persons.

Gr


 

 

image894

                                                                                                                                                                                       
50 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [chap. III.


The names of the Commissioners were R. R. W. Lingen, M.A., Jelinger C. Symons, and Henry Vaughan Johnson, each of whom furnished the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education with a report on the district,* undertaken by them individually. These reports contain valuable information, and will doubtless, be again and again referred to by future historians of Wales, We must, however, bear in mind, that they were drawn up by men to whom Wales was a foreign country, and who were obliged to accept much evidence at second-hand without using such discrimination as would have laid in their power, had the sphere of their labours been in London; we must also bear in mind that their reports shew very little evidence, that they were, in the first place, any way adequately acquainted with the social, moral, and intellectual state of the labouring class in England. * If they had been, I think, they would have received the facts presented to them in Wales, with a judgment tempered by a wider range of experience. It is true they were not called upon to give a judgment, so much as to collect and classify evidence, which they did in a laborious and, in some respects, admirable manner; nevertheless, the inferences drawn from the facts were not, on the whole, adequately representative of the reality.

The reports evoked forth quite a storm in Wales; the whole incident was called "Bred y Llyfrau Gkision."f Sir Thomas Phillips, a Welsh speaking Welshman — the Mayor of Newport who withstood the Chartists in 1839, appeared in the lists as the Champion of Wales, and shewed clearly that on the score of morality, instead of Wales being, as might have

* E. W. Lingen took Carmarthen, Pembroke and Glamorgan. J. C. Symons —Cardigan, Brecknock, Radnor, and part of Monmouth. H. V. Johnson- North Wales. + "The Treason of the Blue Books."


 

 

image895

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III. J HER LANGUAGE. 51


been gathered from the Commissioners' report, utterly in the shade, side by side with England— though they did not say so in so many words — so far as statistics of illegitimacy are indications, six out of nine Enghsh districts, including Yorkshire and the Northern Counties, were worse than Wales; and, moreover, that the worst county in Wales in this respect Radnorshire is almost entirely AngUcized in speech; Montgomeryshire and Pembrokeshire being the next, neither of which are thoroughly Welsh counties.

Many of the Commissioners' remarks on the extremely inefficient and defective means of intellectual and moral training would, doubtless, have applied to some parts of England as well as to Wales. Even Wm. Howitt, the son of a man of property, "went to a dame school, and then to one kept by a merry little man, the baker of the village. This schoolmaster was wont to come whistling out of his hot bakehouse to hear his pupils read, and to set them their copies in the intervals of setting his bread."*

Events move rapidly in our days: the railway and the telegraph, and almost an universal system of schools under efficient, trained teachers and inspectors, are now taken as matters of course, and we almost forget how near we are still living to the time when the machinery of education was on an altogether different basis, when these and other developments of civilization were still in their infancy.

Since the publication of this Report, in 1848, a new generation has had some time to grow up, and now mainly occupies the scene of action. To many of them it will appear almost incredible, that Wales was what it was at that time; they will, however, bear in mind that the description of the country, given by the Commissioners, does not illustrate an all-round

* See Records of a Quaker Family. London: Harris & Co., 1889, p. 181.


 

 

image896

                                                                                                                                                                                        52


WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.


view, but rather some aspects of it, as presented to the minds of persons who had apparently the disadvantage of no previous common bond of sympathy or association with the people they went to visit.

J. C. Simons and R. W. Lingen, in particular, naturally looked to the Established Church, and its dignitaries, to perform the office of Virgil, when he conducted Dante into purgatory, and the last mentioned Commissioner was provided with powder and shot in the shape of introductions to the Lords Lieutenant and the Bishops of his district. The former (J. C. S.) had letters of introduction from the Bishop of Hereford, and a circular letter from Connop ThirlwaU, Bishop of "St." David's.

Although, as will be seen, education has put on a new face since the time of the Commissioners, I propose to take up some pages of this book, with extracts from the reports, which will, I believe, not be altogether unwelcome to many who may not readily be able to refer to the originals, and which are necessary to my purpose of endeavouring to present materials for an historical manual of Welsh Education in its relation to the language. The pages refer to the 8vo. edition.

In the Government instructions issued to the Commissioners, they were reminded of the fact that "numerous Sunday schools have been established in Wales, and their character and tendencies should not be overlooked in an attempt to estimate the provision for the instruction of the poor." The Reports, accordingly, contain a mass of statistics of these schools, which would be out of place for me to attempt to reproduce here. I will however, include some of them bearing on the question of language, besides various remarks made by the Commissioners, or other persons which appear worthy of attention.

For convenience sake the extracts will be grouped together


 

 

image897

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] HER LANGUAGE. 53

under separate headings, one of which will refer to those called Sunday schools, and others to day schools in English speaking parts of Wales, others to the Teachers, the condition of the school houses, School Patrons and Managers, character of the teaching, Welsh language and literature, and General Remarks.

FIRST DAY (SUNDAY) SCHOOL.

A prominent feature in the Report was a full amount of detail of the schools on the first day of the week, known as Sunday Schools. Here, the Welsh language, excluded from the day schools, found, and does still find, a place — and an important place; but the real fact remains, that in consequence, much secular instruction was given in the way of teaching reading in that language: and this did not escape the notice of Commissioner Symons, who uttered a protest which has been repeated by some of the friends of Wales of late years.

I cannot close these remarks on Sunday-schools without venturing to express my disapproval of the practice, common alike to Church and Dissenting schools, of allowing young children to learn and read in them. This is surely a perversion of the object and spirit of the institution. I have frequently seen persons occupied in teaching little children to speU and pronounce small words, not only engrossing their time with the drudgery of elementary instruction, but disturbing the rest of the scholars. Schools thus conducted cease to be seminaries of relio-ious knowledge and sink into week-day schools of the lowest class. It is a fallacy to say that no secular instruction is given in Welsh Sunday-schools: this is secular instruction, and of the most profitless and least spiritual kind. (Symons, p. 285.)

The Commissioner objects to the burden of teaching reading, in these schools, which afforded the only opportunities for the mass of the population to learn to read their mother


 

 

image898

                                                                                                                                                                                        54 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.

tongue, and yet he objects to the more preferable way of teaching it in the day schools. If reading had not been taught there, what could have been taught except viva voce? He embodies in his report, without comment, the testimony of John Saunders (Independent preacher), that these schools supplied much of the deficiency of the day schools.

This was an evil then, and it is an evil now: the proper place for secular instruction is the day school — not a gathering professedly for religious purposes. Is it not surprising that the leaders of the people have not long ago given due weight to the considerations which occasioned the above quoted remarks?

What is the remedy? Plainly, nothing else than to teach Welsh children at the day schools to read Welsh in all districts where there is a considerable proportion of them attending Welsh classes and Welsh preaching on the first day of the week.

Henry V. Johnson, the North Wales Commissioner, gives some very apposite remarks on the educational effect of these schools; and although it would not be true to say that the resources of the language in every other branch, except theology, are meagre, the character of the demand for current Welsh literature is very considerably modified by the fact that the terms used in many books of a secular character are too unfamihar to make them popular. He says —

The language cultivated in the Sunday schools is Welsh; the subjects of instruction are exclusively religious: consequently the religious vocabulary of the Welsh language has been enlarged, strengthened, and rendered capable o£ expressing every shade of idea, and the great mass of the poorer classes have been trained from their childhood to its use. * * They have enriched the theological vocabulary, and made the peasantry expert in handling that branch of the Welsh language, but its resources in every


 

 

image899

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] HER LANGUAGE. 55


other branch remain obsolete and meagre, and eyen of these the people are left in ignorance, (p. 519.)

What wonder that its resources in other branches remained obsolete, when no further means of cultivating it were afforded.

The following two paragraphs illustrate Lingen's attitude to these schools: —

They gratify that gregarious sociability which animates the Welsh towards each other. * * The Welsh working-man rouses himself for them. Sunday is to him more than a day of bodily rest and devotion. It is his best chance, all the week through, of showing himself in his own character He marks his sense of it by a suit of clothes regarded with a feeling hardly less sabbatical than the day itself. I do not remember to have seen an adult in rags in a single Sunday school throughout the poorest districts. They always seemed to me better dressed on Sundays than the same class in England. (Lingen, pp. 5 and 6.)

Most singular is the character which has been developed by this theological bent of minds isolated from nearly all sources, direct or indirect, of secular information. Poetic and enthusiastic warmth of rehgious feeling, careful attendance upon religious services, zealous interest in religious knowledge, the comparative absence of crime, are found side by side with the most unreasoning prejudices or impulses, an utter want of method in thinking and acting, and (what is far worse) with a wide-spread disregard of temperance whenever there are the means of excess, of chastity, of veracity, and of fair deaUng. (do., p. 9.)

If this isolation from secular information is so prejudicial, why be so jubilant (as will be seen further on) that there should be no secular institution for a distinctively Welsh education, which might pave the way for a wider scope of mental ideas.

A 1st day (Sunday) school teacher in the Welsh part of Caio hundred, Carmarthenshire, sent the learned Commissioner


 

 

image900

                                                                                                                                                                                        56


WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. CHAP. III.]


a letter, from which the following, verbatim et literatim, is

extracted: —

I am very please to take little trouble to answer your letter about the Sunday Schools, in hope that your Searching about the Daily and Sunday Schools, will come to good consequence to the Welsh Nation.

Our Creator make many of them a People of Strong Abilities, and a possessors of various talents, but because their ignorance Spend their time in poverty to get their living in Slavery as a pig and his snout in the ground they got no advantage to make use of their abiUties in defect of learning and knowledge. But Some of the young people are under good education, the Children of the Noblemen and Gentlemen farmers but the greater part of them in Towns: and in the countrys one here and one there. The major part of the welchmen, not knoweth in what quarter of the world they live? this thing I think is very true.

In the time ago riseth up some Excellent people in Philosophy and Theology among the welch Nation as one of the *welch Poet say's about one of them, called The Eeverend Mr. Rowlands Llangaetho,

Talentau ddeg f e roddwyd iddo

Pe'i marchnattodd hwy yn iawn Ae* o'r deg fe'i gwnaeth hwy'n gannoedd Cyn maihludo 'i haul brydnhawn.

I hope that you'll not be angry with me, because I have on my mind to desire on you, Sir, to give me a httle presant, that is, the Map of the land of Canaan, (do., pp. 185 and 186.)

At Llanelly, in connection with the Capel Als School (Independent), some of the parents objected to their children "being taught Welsh on Sundays." This objection would now be scarcely so likely to occur.

* William Williams, Pantycelyn. The stanza is given as printed, but I am inclined to think that the errors in the Welsh spelling were due to the compositor or the transcriber.



 

 

image901

[chap. III. HER LANGUAGE. 57

The following observation is undoubtedly just: —

[Grilead School, wholly Welsh]. Eeadiness and propriety of expression, to an extent more than merely colloquial, is certainly a feature in the intellectual character of the Welsh. (Lingen, p. 136.)

J. C. Symons says of the Dissenting schools, that the routine is admirable, and of the "Church Sunday Schools," they want life. The whole system is spiritless and monotonous and repulsive instead of attractive to children;" and in the way of general remarks —

I have heard very curious and recondite inquiries directed to solve even pre-Adamite mysteries in these schools. The Welsh are very prone to mystical and pseudo-metaphysical discussion, especially in Cardiganshire. The great doctrines and moral precepts of the Grospel are, I think, too little taught in Sunday Schools. They are more prone to dive into abstract and fruitless questions upon minute incidents, as well as debatable doctrines, — as for example, who the angel was that appeared to Balaam, than to illustrate and enforce moral duties or explain the parables. (Symons, p. 285.)

Somewhat contrasting with the remarks of Lingen on such schools are those of the third Commissioner, H. V. Johnson, he says: —

As the influence of the Welsh Sunday school decreases, the moral degradation of the inhabitants is more apparent. This is observable on approaching the English border. * «> *

The humble position and attainments of the individuals engaged in the establishment and support of Welsh Sunday schools enhances the value of this spontaneous effort for education; and however imperfect the results, it is impossible not to admire the vast number of schools which they have estabhshed, the frequency of the attendance, the number, energy, and devotion of the teachers, the regularity and decorum of the proceedings, and the striking and permanent effects which they have produced upon society, (p. 519.)

H


 

 

image902

                                                                                                                                                                                        58 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [OHAP. HI.


It may interest some of my Welsh readers to consult the following tables, which may be taken as fairly correct for 1846. I have only inserted the statistics of some counties for fear of swelling the list to an immoderate size.

Statistics oe "SriTDA'r" Schools BULOifGiNG to the peincipal

DBjrOMIITATIONS IN VAEIOITS CoTOfTIBS, SHEWING PEE CBNTAGB

AS TO Language in which insteuotion is giten.






English and


 rotal number

 Welsh only

 English only

 Welah

 CAEMARTHEKSHIRE.

 of .schools.

 per cent.

 per cent.

 per cent

 Episcopalian

 48

 18-8

 22-9

 58-3

 Calvinistic Methodists

 78

 68-0

 1-3

 30-7

 Independents

 no

 46-4

 •9

 52-7

 Baptists

 55

 45-5

 —

 54-5

 glamoeganshire.





 Episcopalian

 92

 4-3

 79-4

 16-3

 CaMnistic Methodists

 90

 72-2

 4-5

 23.3

 Independents

 99

 52-6

 5-0

 42-4

 PBMBEOKESHIEB.





 Episcopalian Schools

 52

 9-6

 82-7

 7'7

 Calrinistic Methodists

 44

 50-0

 25-0

 25-0

 Independents

 57

 38-6

 31-6

 29-8

 BRECKNOCKSHIRE.





 Episcopalian

 40

 10-0

 77-5

 12-5

 Calvinistic Methodists

 45

 80-0

 4-4

 15-6

 Independents

 51

 43-1

 2-0

 54-9

 monmouthshiee.





 Episcopalian

 30

 3-3

 80-0

 16-7

 Independents

 34

 11-7

 20-6

 667

 Baptists

 40

 5-6

 22-5

 72-5

 CARNARVONSHIRE.





 Episcopalian Schools

 16

 18-7

 25-0

 56-3

 Baptists

 16

 80-0



20-0

 Calvinistic Methodists

 137

 99-2



•8

 Independents

 49

 93.7

 2-1

 4-2

 DENBIGHSHIRE,





 Episcopalian

 32

 6-3

 28-1

 65-6

 Calvinistic Methodists

 104

 83-7

 7-7

 8-6

 Independents

 40

 72-5

 7-5

 20-0


 

 

image903

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. HI.] WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE].. 59

Eadnoeshibe — 6 out of 53 schools were conducted in English and Welsh.

What difference in these proportions is observable in 45 years I am. unable to say. The figures do not afford a trustworthy index of the proportion of the population speaking Welsh, because they give per centages of schools and not of scholars; and as R. W. Lingen remarks of those in both languages in his district, the English class is generally very small; he says, in reference to indirect means for spreading English —

The Sunday schools in nowise conduce to such an end. Thirty-eight per cent, of them are conducted in Welsh only, and 36"4 per cent, in hoth languages. In the latter, however (excepting the Church schools), the BngUsh class is generally very small, being composed either of those children who are going to a day school, and whose parents object their being taught Welsh on Sundays, or else of those adults who are not of the labouring class. (p. 51.)

We find, however, that the Episcopalian body are foremost [then under English bishops] in carrying forward what Lingen and Symons regarded as the important work of superseding the Welsh language. In Glamorganshire, 79'4 per cent, of their schools were conducted in English only; but 72 "2 per cent, of the Calvinistic Methodist schools, in Welsh only.

The following table of Pembrokeshire statistics shew that these schools were attended by a larger proportion of the population in the Welsh speaking district, than in the English.


COIINTT OF PEMBROKE.

 Total per cent, of

population attending 1st day (Sunday) school.

 Per cent, of

Scholars

attending

Episcopalian.

 Castlemartin Hundred

 lOj

 82-0

 (English speakmg District)



 Dewisland (Welsh speaking District)

 25

 7-0


 

 

image904

                                                                                                                                                                                        60 WALES AND [OHAP. III.


That is to say in Castlemartin of the small proportion of the population, viz., 10| per ceat., who went to the "Sunday" school, four-fifths attended those managed by the Episcopalians, whereas in "Dewisland" 93 per cent, were attenders in Non-conformist schools.

DAY SCHOOLS IN ENGLISH-SPEAKING PARTS OF WALES.

R. W. Lingen remarks on the greater number of resident gentry and proprietors in the part of Pembrokeshire called "Little England beyond Wales," and connects this fact with a superior class of day schools, which he says " compensates for the absence of Sunday schools." {Report, p. 174, Castlemartin hundred and Borough of Pembroke.) It will be seen, however, by the folio wiag extracts, that very much had to be said on the other side.

— Davies, Independent minister of Grolden, near Pembroke, considered that in and about Pembroke there was a general carelessness on the subject of education, and that, as regards religious knowledge, the people were inferior to those in the "Welsh districts. The Sunday schools are fewer, and worse attended.

The master of the Apprentices' school [at Pater] said —

It was difficult to realize, except by experience, the bai'-kwardness or rather utter absence of secular education in Wales. * * The style of the Scriptures, their only reading-book, did not enable them to read with intelligence the most ordinary work upon subjects of common information. Such was the experience of a man who was coming into daily contact with what are rather the ilite of the Welsh labouring classes in an English-speaking part of the country, (p. 175.)

The reader will here note — inability to "read with intelligence the most ordinary work," in a place which has been English speaking for centuries.

It is not uncommon to hear the Welsh advised to learn


 

 

image905

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] HER LANGUAGE. 61

English for the sake of its literature, but I venture to say now,

and shall have reason to repeat myself, that the mass of the

English people have not yet learned English in the sense

of the authors of those platitudes. Barbarian manners and

inability in the Welsh to master literary Enghsh are largely

ascribed to the influence of their language. Why not ascribe

all the torpidity of good, honest Hodge to the influence of

his language. On the whole it is very much to be doubted

whether the limited range of ideas which Lingen notices was

greatest in the Welsh or the English speaking districts, and if

so, what ground has he to say of the Welsh workman that his

" language keeps him under the hatches." If it was true of

poor Tafly going from his mountain hut to the ironworks, why

not of the above-mentioned Hodge. Probably the latter had

fewer difficulties in some directions to contend against in

working his way to be overman, and then to be manager, but

the former had a skill in dialectics which the other did not

possess, and which was not so easily marketable in £ s. d., as

mechanical ability.

The statement above referred to was a slipshod one, which though made 44 years ago, I have seen quoted in 1890. There was no evidence to warrant R.W.L. m saying this; he had ample evidence for saying that ignorance of English kept Welsh workmen under the hatches; but knowledge of Enghsh, as the passport to advancement in the material world, does not necessarily imply ignorance of Welsh. He would with much more justice have said that a faulty system of education had that depressing eSect.

What of the late David Davies, chairman of the Barry Dock and Railway Company; what of Edward Williams, son of Taliesin ap lolo, late manager of Bolckow, Vaughan and Company, Middlesbro'? The writer happens to be acquainted with the shipping agent for a large and well known firm of


 

 

image906

                                                                                                                                                                                        62


WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. CHAP. III.]


colliery proprietors, who remarked not long ago, " While I am speaking to you I am translating from Welsh (mentally) into English;" at any rate that fact did not disqualify him for a responsible position.

Pursuing the point further —

"The non-comprehension of what they read is by no means confined to the children who speak "Welsh, and read EngUsh; it prevails also amongiSt those of whom English is the mother tongue. The reason is that the Enghsh they read is not the English they talk. * * * I found children who read fluently, constantly ignorant o£ such words, as ' obssrre,' ' conclude,' ' reflect,' ' psrceive,' ' refresh,' &c." (Symons, p., 255, 256.)

He rightly observes that one reason of this is that English children are Anglo-Saxon born, while the books use words of Norman-French or Latin derivation. It does not seem to have occurred to him that Welsh children receiving information on an abstract subject through the medium of Welsh would have, in this respect, an advantage over English ones of the working class, in that little or no time need be wasted in drilling the meaning of the words into them.

A schoolmaster's wife in the Eaglish part of Radnorshire informs him —

The parents do not wish it [questioning on mental teaching]: they do not send their children to day-schools to get rehgious, or, in fact, "'any mental education; they send them purely from a money motive, that they may advance themselves more easily in life; and to this end, reading English, writing, and ciphering, are esteemed certain and sufficient means. {Symons, p. 242.)

At Presteign, Radnorshire, endowed school: — " The children evinced no symptoms of mental culture of any kind."

At Buttington, Montgomery (H. W. Johnson's report): — AU were ignorant of Scripture; and a scholar in the first class believed that St. Matthew wrote the History of England.


 

 

image907

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] HER LANGUAGE. 63

At Bersha/m, in the county of Denbigh, scholars were questioned on outlines of Scripture History: — " They were ignorant of everything."

Ignorance of English was not confined to teachers who were natives of Wales: the master at Holt, Denbighshire, " speaks English with a broad Cheshire dialect, and very ungrammatically."

At Northop, Flintshire: —

English is spoken in this part of the parish of Northop; but notwithstanding this, the children recently admitted could not tell me which was their right hand and which their left. (p. 499.) SCHOOL-HOUSES AND SUBEOUNDINGS.

Very little comment is needed from me under this or the succeeding head, the paragraphs given, will, it is hoped, elucidate the History of Wales in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.

The school was held in a room, part of a dwelling-house; the room was so small that a great many of the scholars were obliged to go into the room above, which they reached by means of a ladder, through a hole in the loft; the room was lighted by one small glazed window, half of which was patched up with boards; it was a wretched place; the furniture consisted of one table, in a miserable condition, and a few broken benches; the floor was in a very bad state, there being several large holes in it, some of them nearly half a foot deep; the room was so dark that the few children whom I heard read were obliged to go to the door, and open it, to have sufficient light. (Lingen, p. 21.)

This school is held in the mistress's house. I never shall forget the hot, sickening smell, which struck me on opening the door of that low dark room, in which 30 girls and 20 boys were huddled together. It more nearly resembled the smell of the engine on board a steamer, such as it is felt by a sea-sick voyager on passing near the funnel, ('do., p. 25.)


 

 

image908

                                                                                                                                                                                        64 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP, III.


This school is held in a ruinous hovel of the most squalid and miserable character; the floor is of bare earth, full of deep holes; the windows are all broken; a tattered partition of lath and plaster divides it into two unequal portions; in the larger were a few wretched benches, and a small desk for the master in one corner; in the lesser was an old door, with the hasp stiU upon it, laid crossways upon two benches, about half a yard high, to serve for a writing-desk! Such of the scholars as write retire in pairs to this part of the room, and kneel on the ground while they_write. On the floor was a heap of loose coal, and a litter of straw, paper, and all kinds of rubbish. The Vicar's son informed me that he had seen 80 children in this hut. In summer the heat of it is said to be suffocating; and no wonder, (do., p. 25, 26.)

This school is held in the church. I found the master and four little children ensconced in the chancel, amidst a lumber of old tables, benches, and desks, round a three-legged grate full of burning sticks, with no sort of funnel or chimney for the smoke to escape. It made my eyes smart till I was nearly blinded, and kept covering with ashes the paper on which I was writing. How the master and children bore it with so little apparent inconvenience I cannot tell, (do., p. 26.)

The schoolroom was originally a cow-shed, converted into a schoolroom without any attempt even to mend the paving of the floor, which was weU worn and so uneven that the rough benches in it were propped up by large stones; the walls were of mud, the roof of decayed thatch, without any attempt at a ceiling; and there were only two small windows at each end, affording little light in the middle of the place. Each child had a book, and nearly all were reading aloud, each by himself. The master, a poor half-starved looking man, came out rod in hand to met us. Our visit, he said, was not unexpected, as he heard we were going about. (Symons, pp. 274, 275.)

Until the winter was far advanced, although the weather was



 

 

image909

[chap. III. HER LANGUAGE. 65

most severely cold and damp, fires were rarely found in these desolate places in Cardiganshire, p. 239.

I found the schoolroom used as a receptacle for churning materials, gardening-tools, and sacks of flour. * * Of these [49] only 14 knew the alphabet.

At Mydrolin, the room in which the school is held is a low, dark, damp building, erected partly of stone and partly of mud, and thatched with straw, altogether unfit for a place to conduct a school in. The floor of it, on the day I visited it, was completely covered with mud and water, worse than some places on a country road on a wet day. (Symons, p. 277.)

A Radnorshire school — The door guarded by a pig!

Having been assured it was at the church, I tried in vain to gain access to the building itself; and as I was turning away in despair, I heard the hum of a school in a wooden hut, in the last state of decay, with extensive plains of mud in front, and a pig asleep at the door. The thatch was mouldering away, and there was scarcely a whole board in the entire building. Having passed through a sepulchral sort of kitchen, I obtained access through it to the school-room — an inner room, or rather a slip of one, in which it was not easy to steer one's way safely through the beams and rafters by the dim light of two minute windows, one at either end. A handful of children were ranged on rude seats along the walls. [Nantmel, English speaking district.] (Symons, p. 272.)

THE HEADMASTERS DESCRIBED.

The present average age of teachers is upwards of 40 ye3,rs; that at which they commenced their vocation upwards of 30; the number trained is 12-5 per cent, of the whole ascertained number; the average period of training is 7-30 months; the average income is £22 10s. 9d. per annum; besides which, 16-1 per cent, have a house rent-free. {Lingen, p. 53.)

Of course, these figures apply to his district — Carmarthen, Glamorgan and Pembroke. Imagine the schools of Wales, in





 

 

image910



WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE].
[OHAP. III. 1891, being staffed with teachers that is, head masters and mistresses (for in those days paid assistants were so few as to be unlikely apparently to affect the return), whose average income was only £22 10s. 2d. per year, and that only 16"1 per cent, lived rent free. In North Wales the gross average income from all sources, so far as returns were given, was £26 19s. 2d.

The list of previous occupations of these so called teachers presents a miscellaneous medley, affording room for reflection e.g., it includes clerks, carpenters, cooks, drapers, milliners, farmers and farm servants, labourers, mariners, and married women, whereas only one in eight had served any apprenticeship to it. Think, moreover, of a private school, " somewhat superior," when, after attempts to fix a charge of 10s. a quarter, it was found necessary to make a separate bargain for each child, according to the means and willingness of the parents.

J. C. Symons remarks that "the established belief for centuries has been that it requires no training at all" to be a schoolmaster; but even in those early days there was a certain amount of negative uniformity among the masters, as indicated by the following, in which it transpires that they were usually found doing anything but teaching, while in this instance "blindman's buff" supplied the place of a fire.

It is singular that in three or four instances only have I found a schoolmaster occupied in teaching on suddenly entering a school of the common class. I have far oftener found them reading an old newspaper, writing a letter or a bill, probably for some other person, reading a "Welsh magazine, or doing nothing of any sort. At one school, near Aberystwyth, I was attracted, while passing along the road, by the boisterous noise in school, and on entering it found the whole of the scholars playing at blindman's-buff, or some similar game, though the dust and confusion prevented me


 

 

image911

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. Ill,] HER LANGUAGE. 67

from ascertaining what it was. I found that the master was absent, and had gone to warm himself at a neighbouring cottage; and on arriving he said that he told them "to have a bit of play, just to warm them."

The following paragraph refers to the usual equipraent of schools: —

A Welsh schoolmaster of the ordinary description thinks himself well supplied if he is provided with two long tables and one short table, two or three forms for the children, a chair for himself, a score of Bibles, slates, and Vyse's spelling books, a few copy books, plenty of primers, two or three Walkinghame's Tutor's Assistant; an old newspaper, a rod, and if it be winter, a heap of peat in the corner, complete the sum of his wants, and of the recognized requirements of the scholars. The area of the room is often ludicrously insufficient, and at other times uncomfortably large. (Symons, p. 240.)

H. Vaughan Johnson, after referring to mere youths being put in charge of wholly undisciplined and ignorant scholars, says, still worse results are occasioned by employing aged persons and cripples, e.g. the master at Kilkin, Flintshire, was a miner, disabled by ill health.

I will however summarize some of the notable features of the schoolmasters in his district in short sentences following the name of the place they belonged to. Penbleddtn — Income, £19. Apparently induced to accept

these terms by the loss of one eye. Pbntrecaehelyg (Vale of Clwyd) — A quarryman fractured

his leg. Determined to commence teaching, but studied

Latin and Greek! for nine months instead of undergoing any

training. Llanbrynmair, Mont. — A village shopkeeper — children

laughed at everything that was said to them. Penygroes, Mont. — Untrained, made innumerable errors in

catechizing the scholars, pronounced wild weeld, region,

ragion.


 

 

image912

                                                                                                                                                                                        68 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [OBU.P. III.


Holt, Denbigh. — Englishman, spoke very ungrammatically, when he thought a blunder was committed, corrected it by committing another.

Halkin, Flint. — Englishman, says whoole for whole, han for an.

Aberfpraw Free School. — Master assured H. V. Johnson that the children understood nothing of what they read in English, but he attempts no kind of explanation.

"Church" School, Ruthin.— An Englishman, with no system of interpretation. Scholars all Welsh. His questions few, slowly conceived, and commonplace.

DoLwrDDELEN, Carn. — Master 54. Previously cattle dealer and drover. Scholars positively laughed at his attempting to control them.

Overton (Enghsh Flintsh.) Free School. — ^Only 2 out of 6 who profess to know arithmetic, could work a plain sum in addition.

Epailrhqd, Denbigh. — Formerly a farm servant. His method of teaching grammar is unusual. He reads the book and the children repeat after him, as if making responses at church.

"Church" School, Llandysilio. — A mere boy (19), untrained, knew but little Welsh, while only one scholar knew English.

"Church School," Llanynys, Denbigh.— Pupils stated that Pharaoh was king of Israel, and the master commended them, saying, "very good." Called British, Brutish, and the like.

Grespord (English part of Denbigh). — Master in a public-house at 10 a.m.; boys playing with all their might. Afternoon, master again absent, boys playing at horses.

Llanpynydd, Flint. — Master did not attempt to suppress the tumult, uproar and disorder prevailing during the visit. Commissioner feared lest a general fight should ensue before examination was finished.


 

 

image913

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. Ill,] HER LANGUAGE. 69

"St." David's "Church" School, Festiniog. — Continual uproar. Girls sweeping the school floor unbidden, and struck the heads of the boys with a broom while the examination was going on.

Rhyl. — Had taught for four months only. Was extremely deaf. Cannot detect mistakes nor ascertain when scholai-s are making a disturbance.

Llandyrnog "Church" School — Aged and infirm. Appears to have had no education.

Rhiwlas, Llansilin. — Formerly a blacksmith, for father he smAfayther and gounzillor for counsellor.

"Church" School, Ruthin. — Master trained for eight months at Westminster. The folio w^ing extract is really of too outre a character to be condensed: —

Neither master nor scholar appeared to have any idea of manners or disciphne. While I examined the school, all remained sitting, including the master; I could not do the same, as there was no seat left. The boys sat lolling luxuriously with their hands in their pockets, and answered or not, just as they felt inclined. In the mean time all business was abandoned by the rest, who collected themselres in groups, looking on and talking. One or two monitors amused themselves by wandering about, striking the younger boys, but indiscriminately, and with no useful object in view. I could with difSculty walk across the room without catching the saUva which the boys were spitting in all directions — not through disrespect, but from habit.

Please note — The Commissioner standing, boys lolling luxuriously, amusements of the monitors, the "difficulty" of walking across the room, &c.

British and Foreign School. Ruthin. — One of the best in North Wales. Master inspired the pupils with a desire for knowledge, but neglected discipline. The Commissioner


 

 

image914

                                                                                                                                                                                        70 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. CHAP. III.]


regrets that scholars so intelligent, and making such progress in all subjects, should not be taught manners. Few schools in North Wales were found destitute of a cane or birch rod.

PATRONS AND MANAGERS.

A large class of the promoters of schools were unqualified to "select masters or superintend institutions." For instance, the promoters of a British school of great reputation, represented in high terms the extent of instruction and attainments of the pupils, but when examined, in grammar, it was found that the pupils had never heard of the singular or plural number.

H. V. J. next describes how the children are specially coached up to answer questions gone through beforehand, so that when "the gentry visit them" * * "they gain great approbation and obtain the credit of being excellent institutions."

Speaking of schools richly supported by the "clergy and wealthy classes," H. V. Johnson says —

The visitors and promoters of such schools appear to have overlooked the defect which lies at the root of all other deficiencies — the want of books expressly adapted, and of teachers properly qualified, to teach English to Welsh children. The majority appear conscious (sic) that English may remain an unknown language to those who can read and recite it fluently; others have frequently assured me that Welsh parents would not endure any encroachment upon their language — an argument which would seem to imply great ignorance of the poor among their countrymen, who, as I have already stated, insist on having English only taught in the day-schools, and consider all time as wasted which is spent in learning Welsh, (pp. 477, 478.)

The complaints have been generally made by persons among the higher classes, who, through neglect, have aUowed their schools to become extinct, or, through misapprehension of the character


 

 

image915

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] HER LANGtTAGE. 71

and temper of the inhabitants, have failed to adapt the style and subjects of instruction to the requirements of those whom they professed to teach, (p. 486.)

A fatal delusion has misled the promoters of schools in North Wales. They have supposed that, if children make use of the Bible as a handbook to learn reading from the alphabet upwards, and if catechisms be carefully committed to memory, the narratives and doctrines therein contained must be impressed on their understandings and affections, (p. 500.)

Bear in mind, good reader, that we are now adverting to persons who were the victims of a "fatal delusion," and permitted in the schools under their care a defect which lay at the "root of all other deficiencies." Did they belong to the lower stratum of society? No; we may reasonably suppose that some of them had received an English University education, and yet in the year 1891 there is evidence that exactly the same defects would be found in the schools under the care of their successors, had not they in some respects reaped the benefit of other men's labours; and in one important matter — the want of books expressly adapted for teaching English to Welsh children, the "clergy and wealthy classes" are content, and many of them very well content, with the system which the Commissioner of 1846 condemned, which degrades Welsh without properly elevating English; while they appear to receive with stolid indifference any outcry for a more reasonable and more natural method.

In the discharge of his duty the North Wales Commissioner collected some valuable evidence about endowments and school fiinds which it would be out of place to reproduce, at any great length, in this book. In North Wales the endowments exceeded £4,000, excluding a large amount under litigation. Of this a considerable proportion was misapplied.

At Bryneglwys, Denbigh, for instance, there was an endow-


 

 

image916

                                                                                                                                                                                        72 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.


ment, but the school was closed. The clergyman appointed himself master, i.e., pocketed the stipend of one.

Llanerftl, Mont. — A valuable endowment. One of the trustees farms the charity estate without accounting for rents, in return for which he professed to act as schoolmaster. Had eight scholars, and was frequently absent. Outbuildings out of repair and occupied by geese, hatching. RuABON Grammar School. — Valuable endowment of £100 per year.

I found the school-room, which would accommodate 81 scholars, partly filled with coals, and the remainder used as a lumber-room, being covered with broken chairs and furniture. The glass of the windows was broken, and the room neglected and filthy in the extreme. The lumber and dirt appeared to hare been accumulating for several months, and, except some tattered books, without covers, in the window-seats, there was no^vestige of the school vi'hich is said to have been held there. Deythur, Montgomery — Endowment reduced by Law Suits; £88 paid to the nominal master, a clergyman; school conducted by an usher, previously an agricultural labourer, and was inferior to the average of the lowest schools in North Wales. Pupils understood more EngUsh than Welsh.

Here is plain speaking about supporters of National Schools, giving a notable illustration of pleidgarwch or sectyddiaeth in the Establishment.

In addition to the above-mentioned abuses, it is important to state that it is a practice in North "Wales for the trustees of endowed schools which are not absolutely connected with the Established Church, to allow waste and dilapidation, and to neglect to visit and examine the scholars, with the professed object of inducing their parishioners to consent to have the schools united with the National Society. I allege this upon the authority of their own statements, in which the practice and the motives of it were avowed.



 

 

image917

[CHAP. III. [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 73

We can imagine such pious trustees holding up their hands in holy horror at the wrangling in the denominational literature of the benighted Dissenters; for this, it is evident they had but two remedies; one was to extinguish the Welsh language, the other to drive the wanderers back to the bosom of their Mother Church.

H. V. Johnson finds that out of the funds of 517 schools the rich subscribe £5,675, and the amount raised by the poor is £7,000, adding—

It is important to observe the misdirection of these branches of school income, and the fatal consequences which ensue.

The wealthy classes who contribute towards education belong to the Established Church; the poor who are to be educated are Dissenters. The former will not aid in supporting neutral schools; the latter withhold their children from such as require conformity to the Established Church. The effects are seen in the co-existence of two classes of schools, both of which are rendered futile— the Church schools supported by the rich, which are thinly attended, and that by the extreme poor; and private-adventure schools, supported by the mass of the poorer classes at an exorbitant expense, and so utterly useless that nothing can account for their existence except the unhealthy division of society, which prevents the rich and poor from co-operating, (p. 511.)

The report further speaks of parents purchasing exemptions from the rules requiring conformity in religion by payment of a small gratuity, to increase the "slender pittance" of the master — of expulsion where poor parents held out — of a compromise in other cases, the children being cautioned by the parents not to believe the Catechism, and to return to the "paternal chapels" as soon as they have finished schooling— of the "inexpedience" of such a system being not yet apparent, except to a few; and moreover when speaking of private adventure, and dame schools of an utterly worthless character,


 

 

image918

                                                                                                                                                                                        74 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [OHAP. Ill,


"tliat nothing can account for their existence except the determination on the part of Welsh parents to have their children instructed without interference in matters of conscience," while such schools exhaust the greater part of the £7,000 contributed by the poor towards education.

The intellectual results produced by the present class of Church schoolmasters, reduced as they are to such extremities, has been already seen in the ignorance of scholars, not only respecting the distinctive doctrines of the Church, but of the first element of Christianity, (p. 512.)

H. V. J. complains respecting indiiference as to education on the part both of parents and children. After alluding to the fact that many scholars walked eight miles a day, he very justly remarks, considering the value of the instruction, they cannot be expected to " expend more time in an occupation so unprofitable."

WELSH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.

In dealing with the Welsh language and literature, as might be expected, the three Commissioners were very largely dependent for information upon other persons.

Lingen and Symons pass by the phenomena of existing Welsh literature with very scant notice indeed. Johnson, on the other hand, makes what appears to be an honest attempt to analyze its character, though he was far from doing it justice. Lingen and Symons adopted a directly antagonistic position to the existence of the language. Johnson stood more on neutral ground: the two former, however, obtained the ear of the Government, and not long after the publication of the report Lingen was given the important post of Secretary to the Committee of Council on Education, and it may well be beheved that his subsequent attitude towards Welsh education was very much influenced by the judgment he had


 

 

image919

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] HER LAJi^GUAGE. 75

previously formed on imperfect data, and more or less in conjunction with preconceived opinions.

He comes across a characteristic of Wales, though a by no means universal one, parents wishing to exclude Welsh from the secular education of their children (this is much more the case in thoroughly Welsh districts, than partially Anglicized ones), coincident with their choice of Welsh as the "natural exponent" of nearly every social relation and all religious exercises.

Tet, if interest pleads for English, afEection leans to Welsh. The one is regarded as a new friend, to be acquired for profit's sake; the other as an old one, to be cherished for himself, and especially not be deserted in his decline. Probably you could not find in the most purely Welsh parts a single parent, in whatever class, who would not have his child taught English in school; yet every characteristic development of the social life into which that same child is born — preaching — prayer-meetings — Sunday schools — clubs — biddings — funerals — the denominational magazine (his only press), all these exhibit themselves to him in Welsh as their natural exponent, partly, it may be, from necessity, but, in some degree also, from choice. * * He [the Welshman] possesses a mastery over his own language far beyond that which the Englishman of the same degree possesses over his. (p. 10.)

Couple this statement with the confession of Symons, that children at Presteign, where Welsh has been extinct for generations, evinced "no symptoms of mental culture of any kind," and vidth the evidence of Rees, the publisher of Yr Haul:—

The Welsh peasantry are better able to read and write in their own language than the same classes in England. Among them are many contributors to Welsh periodicals. (Lingen, p. 10.)

The process of instruction being conducted entirely with English books led, however, to the following remark: —

It would be impossible to exaggerate the difficulties which


 

 

image920

                                                                                                                                                                                       
76 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.

this diversity between the language in which the school-books are written and the mother-tongue of the children presents. In proportion as the teacher adheres to English, he does not get beyond the child's ears; in proportion as he employs Welsh, he appears to be superseding the most important part of the child's instruction. How and where to draw the line — how to convey the principles of knowledge through the only medium in which the child can apprehend them, yet to leave them impressed upon its mind in other terms, and under other forms — how to employ the old tongue as a scaffolding, yet to leave no trace of it in the finished building, but to have it, if not lost, at least stowed away — all this presupposes a teacher so thoroughly master of the subjects which he is going to teach, and also of two languages most dissimilar in genius and idiom, that he can indifferently represent his matter with equal clearness in one as in the other. (Lingen, p. 52).

Why should he be so anxious to leave "no trace" of the old tongue, to which he is a stranger, in the "finished building" of the completed education of the youth in Wales. A person entrusted with such a responsible post should have seen at once that English per se is not "the most important part of the child's instruction." Many thousands of English agricultural labourers have learned English from their early childhood, but they are still "under the hatches," and their intelligence remains comparatively undeveloped.

In 1847, as now, the parents of Welsh children were eager to have them taught English almost without exception, and being themselves ignorant, were quite content with the mentally wasteful way which is continued down to the present day of having all school-books solely in English.

We see in the above extract how the Commissioner appears nearly to come to the conclusion of the Welsh Utilization Society, that it would be best to employ bilingual books, but he shrinks from expressing it, evidently from the fear that


 

 

image921

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 77


while the children are learning English they will also learn the language he wishes to see extirpated from the country.

Although he acknowledges that the language cannot be "taught down" in schools, yet, the idea of an advanced bilingual education scarcely seems to have entered his head, as he speaks of schools not being called upon, —

To impart in a foreign, or engraft upon the ancient, tongue a factitious education conceived under another set of circumstances (in either of which cases the task would be as hopeless as the end unprofitable), but to convey, in a language which is already in process of becoming the mother-tongue of the country, such instruction as may put the people on a level with that position which is offered to them by the course of events.

Now, what the meaning of this mass of verbiage was, it is not easy to discover, but it is squarely evident that in substance it amounted to a repudiation of Welsh as a subject of instruction, and yet he acknowledges that the best mode of teaching English was found at the Venalt Works School, where the class was taught to translate, clause by clause, into Welsh; a system which he compares to the Hamiltonian viva vocκ. How is it possible to carry this excellent method into practice without interfering with the idea of employing the "old tongue as a scaffolding," and leaving "no trace of it in the finished building?" I venture to assert it is an impracticability, and is repugnant to the laws of the human mind. How was it again, that when R. W. Lingen's name figured as Secretary to the Education Department, and he doubtless had the power of initiating many reforms, that this "best mode of teaching" English was not recommended to all schools receiving the Government grant in Welsh schools?

Amid the gross inefficiency of the schools in his district J. C. Simons sees one gleam of light, but we fear it was a short-sighted vision; he says: —

"There is one most striking and important peculiarity in


 

 

image922

                                                                                                                                                                                        78 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. CHAP: III:]

them, which will be a subject of the utmost satisfaction to every friend to Wales: it is the fact that there is but one day school out of the entire number — the three counties of Brecknock, Cardigan, and Radnor — where the Welsh language is taught. It seems scarcely to have occurred to him that it is impossible to teach an English boy the French grammar without, to some extent, teaching him English; likewise, that a Welsh boy taught English thoroughly and in the most expeditious way, would have to be taught his mother tongue as well."

It is this fear of children learning Welsh, and which exists at the present time, that has been and continues to be one of the drawbacks of the intellectual progress of Wales, and has degraded Welsh schools from being the arenas of rational intellectual exercises of a higher stamp than those met with in English school life; into scenes of mechanical, irrational drudgery.

Notwithstanding the fact which Symons says, was "a subject of the utmost satisfaction to every friend to Wales," he has to admit that teaching English by the methods then in vogue were a failure.

Any inference, therefore, that the children were extensively learning BngUsh, drawn from the facts that the schools everywhere try to teach it, would be utterly fallacious.

It is strange that with the many improvements of modern education there are still schoolmasters, and possibly inspectors too, who cling to the old injurious system of excluding Welsh entirely from the day schools except for the purpose of simple explanation, so as to admit no books whatever printed in that language.

For otherwise well educated people in responsible positions to ignore Welsh as a medium of direct mental culture, and to regard it as an inconvenient obstacle to progress, appears rather


 

 

image923

                                                                                                                                                                                       

CHAP. III.] HER LANGUAGE. 79

a sheepish following of custom and tradition under the influence of the Government regulations in force until recently, than the result of a well matured and honest endeavour to fit the minds with which they are brought in contact for the circumstances.

I say that schoolmasters cling to the old method, not simply because they have been obliged to — although there is no obligation to read the English Bible at the commencement of schools — but because they, or at least their managers, have generally evinced so little disposition, to change a system condemned by such varied and respectable authorities, as are adduced in the course of this work, for one which would develop a better standard of intelligence in English, although involving a better mastery of Welsh.

J. C. Symons says the "Welsh language is a vast drawback to Wales, and that it is not easy to over-estimate its evil effects," and that there is no Welsh literature worthy of the name, although he had never read a page of what there was, while in a note he utters a half sneer at the Cymreigyddion y Fenni then in existence, and at their making English speeches once a year in defence of Welsh literature, saying, "Its proceedings are perfectly innocuous.

If what he and his modern representatives say is true, how is it that in Radnorshire and east Breconshire, where Welsh is extinct, we do not find the people intellectually far in advance of Carnarvonshire? Let them give a proper answer to that question before being so persistently dogmatic on an unstable foundation.

Of course, my readers will bear in mind that some of the evidence must be looked on with suspicion; we find for instance the magistrates' clerk at Lampeter says, "the Welsh monthly magazines do more harm than good," and he believes there is not a single Welsh weekly newspaper in existence.


 

 

image924

                                                                                                                                                                                        80 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [OHAP. III.

The following is from the pen of E. C. Hall, a barrister at Newcastle Emlyn: —

The two languages are a great facility to perjury. The want of accuracy in the knowledge of the language seems to remoye the feeling of degradation * * The Welsh language is

peculiarly evasive which originates from its having been the language of slavery!! (p. 34-5.)

Did it never occur to this man that if barristers, such as he, and the Judges of Assizes, and Chairmen of Quarter Sessions, were not allowed to perform their duties without a knowledge of Welsh, it should put a stop to some of the perjury he speaks of; and if he is so shocked at perjury, why does he bring in a shameful mis-statement about the Welsh language. Would he have called leuan Gwynedd's language, which I shall refer to presently, evasive had he been able to read it?

Colonel Powell, Lord-lieutenant for Cardiganshire, complains of people being disposed to shew less respect to the old families of the county than they used to be, and that the Welsh language is a great obstruction to the improvement of the people.

A land agent at Aberystwyth who held courts leet for the Lord-Lieutenant, echoes his master's words, and says that the language is an impediment to the improvement of the people; but he adds that the people are very much attached to it, although a preacher in the same county says they would not value a school teaching Welsh.

Now, while Commissioner Symons dismissed the subject of Welsh literature as scarcely worth discussion, and Lingen scarcely alludes to it all, Vaughan Johnson took the trouble to prepare an abstract of Welsh literature, or rather, I suppose, employed some one to do it for him, in which it appeared that at that time there were current 405 works (Welsh) printed and read in North Wales, of which 64 were books of poetry.




 

 

image925

                                                                                                                                                                                        [chap. III. HER LANGUAGE. 81 46, prose works on miscellaneous subjects. Although he ventured to remark about the latter, that most of them, besides books on domestic medicine, and diseases of cattle, were of a "frivolous character," he is candid enough to say that he was unable to obtain an impartial statement of the character of the periodicals, and accordingly printed in his appendix a translation and brief abstracts of their contents.

A "communication" is given on the "Exclusive character of Welsh literature," from which I extract the following:—

The poverty and indifference of the Welsh people, and the difficulty of withdrawing any of their attention from questions of theology and polemical religion, forbid all hope of extending Welsh literature, without the hearty and continued co-operation of the wealthier classes. No person would venture to set up a periodical of a merely literary or scientific character, unless he had the support of some religious party; and such a support cannot be obtained to any extent, (p. 251).

How can the wealthier classes co-operate, if they too are shut out from a knowledge of the medium whereby they might share their superior advantages with their poorer neighbours.

Take away every field of activity but one, from a Welshman as such, and why blame him or his language because he appears to be exclusive. Religion was undoubtedly intended to leaven the whole life and not to be the foundation for the battering rams of party animosities, or a vain love of disputation, which perhaps after aU has been a form of intellectual restlessness finding vent in an unusual way, but going unhappily under the name of religion, while the paths of general knowledge are made unnecessary hard and rugged.

The Commissioner alludes to numerous periodicals pubUshed in Welsh by means of which "all that goes on in England is known in Wales, being read by the quarrymen and tradesmen, but not by the farmers, they read nothing. * * It matters


 

 

image926

                                                                                                                                                                                        82 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.


not how plain and colloquial the style of a book, the farmers complain that they cannot understand it."

A sixpenny or at most a shilling book of a relig^ious character is the only safe publishing speculation in the Welsh language, and even this would be a loss, if it were not "pushed" in religious circles. It is by no means an uncommon thing for books to be advertised from the pulpit, in dissenting places of worship, (p. 522.)

To some extent, though not nearly so much as formerly, this remark holds good to day. There are populous sections of the country where Welsh theological works occasionally sell well, considering the class of buyers. Yet if a person were to write a general treatise in Welsh on a scientific subject, say agriculture, the same readers would find a difficulty in understanding him, and the sale would be small.

This is explained, not by lack of interest in those subjects, but because the opportunities of the people have been too limited to acquire a sufficiently extensive Welsh vocabulary (other than in the domain of Theology) to read general literature with interest.

I was not long ago at Mountain Ash, among a mining population, where a bookseller, with a Scotch name, assured me that he had sold one hundred copies of the 2/6 edition of Principal Edwards' Eshoniad ar yr Hebreaid (Commentary on the Hebrews). This is the more remarkable, as English is the usual language of the children; but the probability is that some of those very children will be added to the circle of Welsh readers, at least to that of Theological ones. In this instance, the large sale is accounted for by the Hebrews being at the time, a subject of examination among the Oalvlnistic Methodists. The same bookseller also told me that he had sold several copies of another religious work at 5/-.

NoWg so long as the language is scouted, frowned at, and thwarted in its growth in the day school, and the people are


 

 

image927

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP, III.] HEK LANGUAGE. 83

denied secular instruction in it, would it be a matter of wonder that " its resources in the other branches remain obsolete and meagre"? Would it be a matter of wonder that books on general subjects do not find a ready sale? It is however not correct to affirm that the resources of the language are meagre, and the wonder is that they have been developed so much as is the case.

Symons and Lingen, both of them comment on the extraordinarily unintelligent way in which Education was carried on, yet neither of them suggest such an improvement as bilingual books; although David Charles, Principal of Trevecca College, very sensibly said in a communication to J. C. S. — " I would also recommend that the Welsh receive their knowledge of the English language through the medium of their own, at first by means of Welsh books. The want of this mode of instruction has been a great drawback which I have often desired to get removed."

Not merely did David Charles make this objection, but another leading dissenter, Lewis Edwards, of Bala, held the same view, as shewn in the following translated extract from the Traethodydd of 1850. (See Traethodau Llenyddol, p. 120):—

Prom the bottom of our hearts we give our consent to every word that is said by Sir Thomas Phillips about the necessity of teaching Welsh children in the Welsh language. * * The truth is, that the easiest way for them to learn English is to give them a taste /or and knowledge in the Welsh language.

The North Wales Commissioner displayed more practical ability than his colleagues, in severely commenting on the exclusive use of English books, and the English language, and says that the promoters of schools appear unconscious of the difficulty (as some are to-day), and the teachers of the possibUity of its removal.


 

 

image928

                                                                                                                                                                                        84 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.

After saying that he had found no class of schools in which an attempt had been made to remove the children's difl&culties of first learning English, he makes the following general remarks: —

Every book in the school is written in English; every word he speaka is to be spoken in English; every subject of instruction- must be studied in English; and every addition to his stock of knowledge in grammar, geography, history, or arithmetic, must be communicated in English words; yet he is furnished with no single help for acquiring a knowledge of English. As yet no class of schools has been provided with dictionaries or grammars in Welsh and English. The promoters of schools appear unconscious of the difficulty, and the teachers of the possibiUty of its removal.

Speaking of the Grammar School at "St." Asaph,

Those who learn Latin are provided with grammars, dictionaries, and vocabularies; but here as elsewhere no hand-books have been provided for learning EngUsh, although English is to many of the pupils as unintelligible as any dead language.

Nearly fifty years have passed away, Welsh education has been, very much in the hands of the English Government, clerical officials, and other persons, who have sought a share in its management, and yet this monstrous anomaly so disgraceful to the civilization of the nineteenth century remains, and it is even defended by a certain class of teachers bred under the influence of long standing customs and EngUsh laws.

H. V, J. introduced into his report a mention of the "Welsh note," a stigma of disgrace transferred to the last boy heard speaking Welsh. Among other injurious effects this custom has been found to lead children to visit stealthily the houses of their schoolfellows, for the purpose of detecting thbse who speak Welsh to their parents, and transferring to them the punishment due to themselves."


 

 

image929

                CHAP. III.] HER LAIWJUAGE. 85

The same Commissioner speaks of the impediment to efficient teaching oflfered by the prejudices of Welsh parents against the employment of their own language, even as a medium of explanation: " In the day schools we want our children to be taught English only; what good can be gained by teaching us Welsh? We know Welsh already." There are too many School Boards in 1891, where this kind of ignorance appears to prevail — concomitant recollect, with a genuine attachment to Wales."

The following table may be of some interest:-^

CLASSIFICATION OT DAT SCHOOLS ACOOEDING TO LANGUAGE IN

1846-7.

Language of Instruction.

Welsh only

English only

Welsh & English books

English books only* ] but Welsh spoken I 118 63 48 25 8 -- 7

in explanation J

Grammar of English.. 74 127 67 57 35 12 37 „ of Welsh . . — _ _ _ — — _ of both . . 2 2 1 ^ — — —

It should be borne in mind that Welsh spoken in "explanation" may simply mean that an ignorant schoolmaster used that language as the ordinary medium of converse with his scholars. It does not appear that there was any systematic bilingual instruction except in a few schools, and those where the habit prevailed to get the children to commit to memory the English of certain Welsh words.

He says (though incorrectly) "of this amount one-half have always spoken English '; thinks that English has not dis-

* For Pembroke, Cardignn and Radnor, information simply states " instruction given in Welsh and English." North Wales — Particulars not given.


Carmarthen.

 Glamorgan.

 Pembroke.

 Cardigan.

1

 Breeli;nocls.

 Ead- Mon- nor. moiithi. (Part of.)

 52

 258

 155

 75

 88

 43 120

 9

 1

 —

 —

 —

 — —



 

 

image930

                                                                                                                                                                                        86 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. CHAP. IIL]

placed one-tenth part of Welsh; and looks to good schools to expedite its progress.

Symons estimates the amount of population in his district, of whom English is the fireside language: —

In Brecknockshire, 23,500 out of 55,603 speak English. In Cardiganshire 3,000 „ 68,766 In Eadnorshire 23,000 „ 25,356


50,000 „ 149,725

A Brecon Curate, named Jas. Denning, writes to J. C. S.: —

I cannot too strongly express my opinion about the necessity of getting rid of the Welsh language. * * The bigotry of the preachers would be driven away. (p. 359.)

Lingen gives no estimate of this kind, but alludes to the district within which the English language may be considered as the mother-tongue of the people, as lying south of the London mail road — roughly speaking, we should say the Great Western trunk-line — from Cardiff to the coast of the Irish sea, except between Swansea and "St." Clears, which may be considered to have been Welsh.

Is it not a striking fact, that more than 40 years have passed since these enquiries were made, and since it was found that Welsh books were wholly excluded from the day schools with very trifling exceptions, and yet, that the Welsh speaking population has increased probably 20 per cent.: and there is more Welsh literature now than ever.

GENERAL REMARKS.

Symons alludes to the small proportion of the whole number of children in day schools who ever learn to write, but speaks highly of their proficiency in arithmetic, saying he had never witnessed more, after so small an amount of instruction, in any school either in England or on the Continent. "Wherever


 

 

image931

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP, m.] HBK LANGUAGE. 87

the children remain long enough in school their proficiency in figures is wonderful."

" Though they are ignorant, no people more richly deserve to be educated. In the first place, they desire it to the full extent of their power to appreciate it; in the next, their natural capacity is of a high order, especially in the Welsh districts. They learn when they are even badly taught with surprising facility."

The perpetual Curate of Builth (R. H. Harrison) writes: — " The "Welsh people are much quicker than the EngUsh. I have been much concerned in schools in England, and have succeeded well with them; but the "Welsh have much better and readier powers of perception; their reasoning powers are much less developed. There are, however, beautiful faculties lost here for want of proper cultivation. They would learn quickly and profit greatly by good schools." (p. 341.)

This was in an English speaking district — nearly entirely so. I have, however, heard a Welsh schoolmaster say that the reasoning faculties of bilingual boys were better developed than when they know one language only.

The following, from the pen of a witness, then President of the Independent College, Brecon, only recently deceased, who was, I believe, intimately acquainted with the language and habits of the people: —

Taken as a whole, 1 believe the "Welsh peasantry are decidedly superior to the EngUsh. Having spent twelve years as a minister in England, and in daily communication with the poor, I may perhaps be allowed to speak with some confidence. But all the other classes among us are immeasurably inferior, in point of information, to the corresponding classes in England. Nothing can be more worthless than the schoohng ordinarily given to the children of our small farmers and shopkeepers. This is especially the case with respect to girls all through Wales. Let me add, the


 

 

image932

                                                                                                                                                                                        88 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. HL

whole community suffers from the absence of that teaching, which would tend to fit boys to excel as mechanics or artizans. (p. 361.)

There haye been ministers among us, men of great mental and moral power and prodigious influence, men whom we need not blush to class with England's best, and whose memoirs will be instructiye to the end of time, but who nevertheless knew nothing of English, and never were able to write their names! In hundreds of our cottages, at this day, you may find men of most elevated habits of thought and feeling who never read a page in their lives but the Bible, (p. 362.)

Johnson speaks of the true method of teaching geography being inverted — that of home being neglected, children perfected in definition, can point out islands, straits, &c., yet suppose that such phenomena have no existence in North Wales.

Grammar— not taught a science, but as a matter of memory, a fault to which doubtless the Inspectors of 1891 could also attest.

The definitions and explanations in these works [Murray's Grammar, &c.J, which would be difficult to an English scholar, are incomprehensible to Welsh children, and the teacher, even if competent to interpret, neglects to do so. No part of the subject is illustrated by familiar examples suited to the capacity of children; and in the conversation of the teacher, the rules of syntax and grammar are far more frequently broken than observed.

MONMOUTHSHIRE.

As J, C. Symons subsequently devotes a special Report to ■ the eighteen westerly parishes of Monmouthshire, with a population at that date of about 100,000, and as I am writing in that county, my readers will, I hope, deal leniently with the desire to notice it a little more prominently than its relative importance warrants.

It is impossible not to admire the ability and integrity dis-



 

 

image933

[chap. III. HER LANGUAGE. 89

played in this production. It is evident that the previous few months' experience had fortified him for the undertaking. The electors of the Monmouth Boroughs, we fear, did not allow themselves to be much benefitted by it, as they shortly afterwards sent to Parliament, Crawshay Bailey, one of the iron-masters of the district, whom it may be lawful to make an exception to the rule, de mortiiis nil nisi bonum.

At the period of which I am writing the population of the county had increased at a faster rate than that of any other in the kingdom, being 36'9 per cent, between 1831 and 1841, when the Glamorganshire rate was only 3 6 '2. The population, it must be recollected, was by no means exclusively a Welsh one, there having been then, as is the case now, a considerable immigration from England and Ireland, which, combined witli the exclusion of Welsh from the day schools, has undoubtedly done much towards diminishing its use as a, family language, though there are at least 130 Monmouthshire congregations in 1891 to whom Welsh is preached weekly.* Possibly this immigration and other facts which the report brings to fight, had something to do with the low standard of attainment in Government examinations, which was shewn by the county not many years ago, and for long after a much more perfect system had been established.

In this county there was an improvement in the school-teachers, but a custom was frequent in the large works for the masters to make a deduction from the workmen's wages for the support of the school, and in some cases the Commissioner had to state that there was ground to believe that the masters made a profit on it, and the workmen did not "derive an equivalent from the fund usually raised from the wages, and to which they are compelled to pay."

* In the Appendix I hope to give exaet statistics of each denomination. M


 

 

image934

                                                                                                                                                                                        90 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [chap. III.

As regards training or mind teaching "it exists only in one or two schools, and there too owing to the shortness of the stay of the children among the older classes alone."

The understanding of ninety per cent, of the children who pass through these schools is just as Uttle improTed or informed as when they entered it. There is the same book-labour and rote-labour as in "Wales, with the same utter inactivity of mind. There is the same absence of thought and of desire to be taught to think. Schooling is desired simply because it is deemed a stepping-stone to gain, and a means to adyancement in Ufe. On that account is it alone sought for. The Bible is universally read in the day-schools, both great and small. Little children are found stammering through the Pentateuch or the Eevelations, who may be reading the Koran with equal profit, (p. 379.)

I am writing in a time when much attention is being devoted to Welsh Intermediate and BQgher Education, and with the consciousness that Welsh-Wales has produced, and has now within her borders many self-taught men, who are able to make mental comparisons, suggested by times and conditions, other than those by which they are immediately surrounded, and of whom it would not be just to say the discipline (schooling if we like to term it) to which they have subjected themselves, has been "desired simply because it is deemed a stepping-stone to gain;" but while this much is said, it applies to those who have a higher ideal of education than the average school manager in Wales. There is too much of the spirit of 1847 left behind, too much of the idea of turning Board schools and intermediate schools into money-making machines.

Quite true it is that there is a need for an education that shall better a child for after life, and so far as a more practicable scheme than the current one can be introduced, let it be so. The discrepancy really lies in the interpretation of the term "after life." Members of School Boards are too apt to confine


 

 

image935

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP, ni.] HER LANGUAGE. 91

it to the technical work of the office, the shop, or the workshop. Perfectly necessary in their way, as these are, a real educationalist applies it to the tout-ensemble of the future man, so far as any mechanical or material course of training can aflfect it. He of course sees the intimate connection between language and the use of ideas, hence he cannot afford to allow a vocabulary acquired in infancy to be dormant while he is endeavouring to develop the power of using and developing ideas and knowledge, entirely through a medium to become familiar with which involves a long period of mechanical drudgery. It is his clear duty (in Wales at least) to induce familiarity with this foreign medium, but to do it at the expense of sacrificing all culture in that which nature has provided ready to hand, as is done in the majority of schools in Wales, means a needless delay of the child's development.

At Tredegar Town Schools, under a wealthy Company, in which Samuel Homfray had a leading position, and for which he had selected an able master, the funds appear to have entirely come from the stoppages in workmen's wages.

Much dissatisfaction was expressed at the children being compelled to attend the Church Sunday School though many of the parents are Dissenters. Some of the men are therefore compelled to pay for schooUng which they cannot conscientiously avail themselves of for their children, (p. 387.)

SiRHOWY Day School — Belonging to the Company. To persecute one [scholar] said meant to preach, and none could set him right * * Two thought the people in Scotland black.

Speaking of schools held on First day (" Sunday") he says — The Dissenting schools are superior to the Church schools in

every respect as means of reUgious instruction; the far larger


 

 

image936

                                                                                                                                                                                        92 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.

attendance of teachers, sittings each'witt their own classes, I'eading With and questioning' them, would alone give this superiority. I should fail in my duty, were I not to give a prominent place to this source of the slight moral right which prevails among this population; but one-sixth" part of whom it thus appears are subjected to this discipline, and their attendance is irregular, (p. 291).

Somewhat mourufully J. 0. S. adds —

The clergy are scattered and few in numberj and can make little way with the people against the combined jtiumbers and activity of the Dissenting bodies, who are inspiried no less by emulation among each other than by zeal for the sake of truth.

Speaking of the population generally —

Whatever is unsettled or lawless, or roving or characterless among working-men, as long as bodily strength subsists, has felt an attraction to this district, and a surety of ready acceptance and good wages which very few other districts have afEorded in so great a degree.

The whole district and population partake of the iron chara,cter of its produce; physical strength is the object of esteem, and gain their chief god. (p. 394.)

In fact, it seems to have been the policy of some ironmasters or colliery proprietors of that day, to collect together a band of ruffians, if they could get no others, settle them down to spread corruption among a population less deeply steeped in vice, and then keep them under their thumb by means of the truck system, or otherwise favour their being penniless. For instance "one or two benevolent ladies tries to get up a Provident Society," to encourage the men to lay something by, and applied to a large mine proprietor for his contribution and patronage.

" Indeed," he said, " I cannot give you either, for if I did, I would be arming the men against myself, and enabling them to strike for wages. I want them to spend their earnings and not


 

 

image937

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] HER LANGUAGE. 93-

hoard them." This waS an unusual case of candoiir, but hy no" means unusual policy. I taentibned it to a neighbouring magistrate, who told me he firmly believed it; and I heard from others, in whom I can place confidence, that the desire to deprive the men of the means of striking for wages, and to subjugate them to their employers, is said to animate their conduct, and it appears to be even more at the root of the truck-system than the immediate gain which springs from it. (p. 398.)

What a trust in Belial! It reminds one of that concern existing at the present day called the Rhymney Iron Company, Limited, whose sphere of operations is in or near Rhymney, Monmouthshire; they own a good part of the tow% consequently can manipulate houses and tenancies at will, they are reputed, moreover, to carry on an underhanded species of compulsion to induce workmen to deal at a large shop close to^ their works, and have on two occasions had to pay legal punishment through carrying out a miserable system of putting on the screw which led to positive contraventions of the Truck Act.

They also own a large brewery close at hand, which, I am informed by a local tradesman, is worth about half-a-million. Providence has so far prospered the endeavours of this beery- irony-grocery Company, as to enable them recently to declare a dividend of £0 Os. Od. percent. If the property is shortly in the market, it is to be hoped that it will fall into the hands of persons who will confine their attention to coal and iron. Having a number of Irish workmen, the Company is obliging enough to their priest to make stoppages from the men's wages (by their consent) towards his salary. la return for this service, it is scarcely beside the mark to suppose that they (the Company) expect a quid pro quo in the shape of influence on his flock in their favour.

We must however go back to Monmouthshire in 1846. .

Even the physical condition of the people seems almost-as if


 

 

image938

                                                                                                                                                                                        94 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. CHAP. III.]


contrived for the double purpose of their degradation and the employers' profit. Some of the works are surrounded by houses built by the Companies without the slightest attention to comfort, health, or decency, or any other consideration than that of realizing the largest amount of rent from the smallest amount of outlay. * * An immense rent, in comparison to the accommodation, is paid to the Company or master for these miserable places, (p. 397.)

The CommissioQer regarded the degraded condition of the people as " entirely the fault of their employers," and found the "grossest ignorance prevailing;" but on religious subjects they were generally better informed, when they knew anything, than any other subject. He issued a circular letter to various persons in the county, containing 11 questions, mostly referring to education and morals, one of which was —

Is the Enghsh language gaining ground; and is it desirable that it should be better taught, and if so, for what reason?

I make bold to give my reader extracts from the replies which reflect in some degree the state of mind of influential persons in Monmouthshire at that time, but apparently they mostly belonged to the Episcopalians, so that we are somewhat at a loss to know in what light the mass of the population were regarded by educated persons of other persuasions.

E. H. Phillips, M.D., of Pontypool, says- It is impossible to think of the social and pohtical conduct of the people without alarm. Their dissolute habits, their recklessness of living, their contempt for authority, their "speaking evil of dignities," must, if unchecked, bring on a state of things in this country which it is frightful to contemplate. I would not needlessly make invidious remarks, but I cannot help observing that much of that turbulent insubordination, and that haughty independence which spurns control, manifested by the people, may be


 

 

image939

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP, ni.] HER LANGUAGE. 95

attributed to the violent and inflammatory harangues which they often hear from platforms and pulpits of dissenters, (do., p. 400.) One of the reasons Dr. P. alleges why English should prevail more than than at present is that —

It would extend the influence and power of the Established Church, because it would remove the cause of complaint on the part of many "Welsh persons that they cannot get Welsh exclusively in the Establishment, which they forsake for Dissent, where this exclusiveness is generally found; and consequent upon this would be the general improvement of the people in due deference to their superiors and respect for the law of the land, (do., p. 401.)

This is followed by a short laudation of the "more peaceful and submissive character of the lower orders," who are members of the Church of England, over those of other sects.

The author of this book never had any personal acquaintance with Dr. PhiUips. At the time in which he wrote, English was the prevailing language at Pontypool, as is proved by the fact that within a few years afterwards, say 1860, Welsh was abandoned in the dissenting pulpits of the town, and its use has only quite recently been resumed. It is however doubtful whether the mother-church has correspondingly extended her "power and influence." Of course the reader will recollect that the terms "turbulentinsubordination," "haughtyindependence," "inflammatory harangues from the pulpits of dissenters," were written before there was a local Daily Press to pass its comments. Whatever the character of the Daily Press is, and I will not venture to stand as its apologist, it certainly would not be behindhand in giving Dr. Phillips an amply sufficient audience, even if one not much inclined to enter into the state of "alarm" in which he foimd himself.

Owen PhiUips, Pontnewydd, speaks of great ignorance among the poor, chiefly those from Gloucester and Somerset,


 

 

image940

                                                                                                                                                                                        96 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.

and of the natives of the Principality, being for the most part tolerably well informed, especially in religious subjects.

Jas. Hughes, Rector of Llanhilleth, writes from the point of view of the semi-educated Welsh Episcopalian with whom his own language is a "nuisance."

The English language is gaining ground but very imperceptibly. As the Welsh language has no valuable writings, either in prose or poetry, and as the Welsh people have not one single interest unconnected with the English, I consider the language to be a nuisance and an obstacle, both to the administration of the law, and to the cause of religion, imposing on pastors a double degree of work (or duty), by their having the Welsh and the English por-tion of the community to attend to.

He hoAvever speaks very plainly on the extremely harmful custom of agents of works keeping pubKc houses, where the men are expected to spend their earnings.

Again —

I have met with Welsh cottagers capable of arguing on the most abstruse theological points, and taking them as a whole, they are very well acquainted with the Bible; but the Welsh have absolutely a distaste for any other kind of reading. Seldom will you see a Welshman reading a newspaper, but he reads with unusual fondness such publications as extol his rehgious party or expose theiaihngs of those sects to which he does not belong. This fondness for divinity subjects, to the exclusion of all secular knowledge, I ascribe in a great measure to the absence of day-schools, which were nowhere to be seen in Wales until of late years..

I>id it never occur to Jas. Hughes, and to others who have made similar remarks that if some secular instruction were imparted in Welsh it would naturally open the way for the acq uirement of secular knowledge? He may have been a, well-meaning tna,n^ though it seepis he was in the habit of .putting on green spectacles when he looked at his countrymen, i



 

 

image941

[chap. III. HER LANGUAGE. 97

Let not my English readers go away with the idea that Welshmen do not read newspapers; they do, probably much more in proportion than Englishmen out of large towns. I speak of vernacular papers, though there is now a considerable coexistent circulation of English papers including much trash, especially in South Wales. As to the language having no "valuable writings," and being a "nuisance," it is scarcely necessary to say that such statements, and from such a quarter, should be met by a sufficiently prominent warning, — "Beware of the dog."

The Incumbent of Trevethin writes, —

One need only read the Welsh publications to be convinced of the non-utility of the language for any practical purpose whatever, religious, or commercial, and the sooner it becomes dead the better for the people.

How could it be of religious use when the country was swarming with Dissenters, who disseminated their schismatic principles by means of it, when, for some unexplained reason, the people took more kindly to them than to the holder of the Episcopal crook? How could it be of political use when it had not long before been proved that it was a stepping stone for "noisy demagogues" to get the ear of the people? As for commerce, Welsh was not much used therein, and therefore one did not need to read the periodicals to be satisfied of the fact.

Augustus Morgan, Rector of Machen, considered it very desirable that English should supersede Welsh for three reasons. 1. So that judge, counsel, and jury, in law courts may not be dependent on an interpreter. 2. To insure a more regular attendance of the rising generation in "parish churches." 3. Because revolutionary meetings had been held in Welsh, so that their proceedings might not be discovered.


 

 

image942

                                                                                                                                                                                        98 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. ILL

In the winding-up of this Report, the following outspoken paragraph occurs, indicating the judgment of the Commissioner, that this tax on wages as the only method of providing educational funds was an unhealthy one: —

The fierce struggle of interests (believed to be adverse) is ever present, fomenting envy, bitterness, malice, and all the inhumanities of hatred. It pervades the entire conception of the relation between labour and capital. There is, therefore, no confidence in the class through whose medium the remedy should be administered; nor are they inclined to administer it by other means than a tax on wages, which renders it repulsive to the recipients, whose sympathy and appreciation it is so essential to secure. No effective, voluntary efforts on the part of the people to obtain sound education can be expected whilst they are too ignorant to value it; nor will any voluntary exertion be made by those who can so well afford it, whilst that feeling prevails among the majority of the employers of labour which it has been my painful duty to develop and attest.

So much for the work of the three Commissioners and their reports, which displayed undoubted ability, and on the whole a desire to conscientiously fulfil their duties.

As far as the writer is aware, those portions of the reports which dealt mainly with education, did not call forth any great degree of comment in Wales. The Welsh people were generally aware of their deficiencies, and glad to have them rectified, but were unable, from various reasons, to oppose intelligent criticism to such of their conclusions as appear to have been other that the fruit of a well balanced, well informed judgment, though it will be seen that these weak points were not wholly unnoticed.

What was however keenly resented, was the very strong language used in each report on the moral character of the people. As to whether or not this judgment was formed on evidence arriving from prejudiced sources I will not take upon



 

 

image943

GHAP. m.] HER LANGUAGE. 99

me to decide. It is however quite clear that in some parts of the country customs prevailed which had an exceedingly deleterious effect on the people. In the Traeihodydd for 1850 Lewis Edwards, of Bala (father of the present Principal T. C. Edwards), dealt with the subject calmly and clearly.

He said, "We cannot do less than express our conviction that the reports of the visitors should get a greater hearing than they have done. It was natural and proper to turn from the misleading descriptions they gave, but in the zeal to disprove untruth, the truth that they contained has been too much overlooked."

Quite of another spirit was the stinging lampoon of leuan Gwynedd, which appeared in the Almanac y Cymry, 1849, published by John Cassell. He there describes the commotion caused by the books of the "Three Spies."

Mae'r wlad jn llawn o ddwndwr.

A chodwyd fi drwy cynwr'; Ac achwyniadau sydd heb ri'

Ar lyfrau tri Tsbi'wyr.

He then alludes to the clerical informants of the "Spies," "who (Balaam like) taught them — the Commissioners — to run us down'' (diraddio).

T gwjr mewn dillad duon, A elwir offeiriadon,

A'u dysgent i'n diraddio am (Pel Balaam) Iwgr wobrwyon.

How thoroughly Welsh it is to drag in a Scripture simile when possible. The ParUamept he gives credit for picking out "sharp lawyers" for the work.

Anfonodd dri Tsbiwr,

Fob un yn llwm gyf reithiwr;

A'r tri yn Saeson uchel ben, I Grymru wen mewn fEwndwr.


 

 

image944

                                                                                                                                                                                        100 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [OHAP. III.

Y tri w^r awdurdodol

A aent mewn brys rhyf eddol,

I gasglu pob budreddi cas

Tn llyfrau glas anferthol. * * * *

Ar ol eu cael yn gryno, Hwy aethent oil i lunio

Ehyw dri o lyfrau gleision hyll, "Wnant yn mhob dull ein beio.

The four bishops are touched oflF in a verse each. Here is the long-headed Connop Thirlwall {call is scarcely translatable by any one word in English) advising a Government grant from Sioni (Lord John Russell), which leuan fears will be for the purpose of "buying" over the children. Mae Esgob call Tyddewi Yn dweyd mai callach tewi,

Ac ail ymdrechu prynu'r plant Drwy geisio grant gan Sioni.

leuan treats with biting sarcasm the charge brought by the Commissioners against the morals of the people, but the impartial reader will find that the evidence was of far too decided a character in each of the three reports to leave room to doubt that in some country districts, away from the polluting influence of large industrial centres, with their unsettled populations, the standard of popular feeling with regard to chastity was a low one, though at the same time the Methodists, and other religious bodies, had endeavoured to purify the atmosphere, evidently with some success. It is certain, as shewn before, that statistics failed to substantiate the imputation that Welsh-Wales was worse than England, and we cannot but feel that R. W. Lingen, in particular, made one or two unjustifiable remarks when dealing with the matter.

In Volume II. of Yr Adolygydd, a quarterly periodical for


 

 

image945

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP. III.] HER LANGUAGE. 101

"November," 1851, appeared an excellent article on "Anmweir-

deb" (unchastity), dealing in very plain, and yet not too plain.

terms with the subject. Probably the Commissioners' report

had called the writer's attention to the subject. He ends with

this beautiful and metaphorical language, after calling on his

countrymen to sound the trumpet of war against the evU* —

Os rhaid arloesi anialwch, codi pantiau, palu mynyddoedd, sychu

corsydd, a holiti creigiau, na ddigalonwch, mae Duw o'ch plaid.

Os parhewch i fed yn fEyddlon, cewch. weled eich gwlad wedi ei

gwaredu, eich cenedl wedi ei phuro, a'ch mabonau yn rhodio yn

rhydd. Pan waredir Cymru oddiwrth y gelyn mawr hwn, dawnsia

ei mynyddoedd gan lawenydd, llama ei bryniau gan orfoledd, a

chura ei choedwigoedd eu dwylaw gan falchder. Pryd hyn bydd

gorfoledd ar y ddaear, a Uawenydd yn y nef .

We must not dismiss without further notice the hostile

criticism oflFered to the Reports by Sir Thos. Phillips, then a

barrister in London, who published in 1849 a volume entitled

"Wales: the language, social condition, moral character, and

religious opinions of the people, considered in their relation to

Education." He writes from the Episcopalian standpoint,

mildly chiding some of the shortcomings of that church in

Wales, and apologising, as it were, for the existence of Dissent,

with which he was not wanting in sympathy.

He desires teachers for his own denomination, who will

"train up the young of her flock in accordance with the solemn

vow, promise, and profession made for each of them when

they were grafted into the body of Christ's Church," (he

evidently thinks the "graftmg" took place when a little water

* If you have to clear the wilderness ground, raise the valleys, lay low the mountains, dry up the bogs, rend the rocks, be not discouraged, God is on your side. IE you continue to be faithful, you will see your country delivered, your nation purified, and your sons walking free. When Wales is delivered from this great enemy, her mountains will dance for joy, her hills will leap vnth rejoicing, and her forests will clap their hands for gladness. Then there will be praise on earth and joy in heaven.


 

 

image946

                                                                                                                                                                                        102 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. CHAP. III.]

was sprinkled on the child's face), and quotes Archdeacon

Williams: —

The parish schoolroom is now the battle-field of the Church; and within, its walls must he decided the share of influence which

she is to exercise over the hearts and affections of the next

generation. Her influence, her very existence as an estahUshment,

are at stake: they must be won or lost upon this cast.

I refrain from quoting more, but the assumption of the Archdeacon in the next sentence, that the spread of true religion is at stake in this matter, is astounding.

Sir Thos. Phillips did not unite with the attitude of the Report towards the Welsh language. He says in his Preface —

The opinions expressed by the Commissioners on the language of the country, to which they attribute injurious influences on the character and condition of the people, have provoked much controversy, and are opposed to the views of competent judges. And he thus alludes to the statement as to moral character —

Such imputations, instead of being cast at random in public Reports, whjch, from their character, give force and poignancy to the charge, should be conveyed in language carefuUy \\'eighed, and strictly hmited by the extent and character of the evil. When indiscriminately scattered abroad, they excite a strong sense of injustice.

It is the admission of men, who have traveUed far and seen much, that in no country have they found women of greater gentleness and interest than the peasant girls of Wales.

Owing in good degree to the efifoi'ts of Su- T. P., the Committee of Council on Education, made an important concession to Wales in 1849, by allowing a good and systematic knowledge of Welsh to be accepted in pupil teachers' examinations in lieu of two subjects, and a less perfect knowledge in lieu of one subject oiily.


 

 

image947

                                                                                                                                                                                        CHAP, III. J HER LANGUAGE. 103

Shortly after, however, R. W. Lingen, was appointed Secretary to the Committee, and whether from this cause or from the lack of facilities, whereby pupil teachers were able to attain this "good and systematic knowledge," or from any other reason it was not much acted on, and many years ago the privilege was abolished, which were it revived now, could much more easily be made available on account of the great increase of Welsh educational books.

There is additional evidence that elementary education was in a most neglected state, not merely in Wales but also in England, if not contemporaneously with the visit of the Commissioners, only some seven years before.

The following paragraph from the introduction of Gibbs and Edwards' "Code of 1876," summarizes the state of things in England and Wales prior to 1839: —

Good schools were few and far between, the school houses were often squalid, with miserable furniture, few books, and scarcely any other school appliances. The attendance of the children was irregular, their attainments were wretched. The teachers were often ignorant adventurers, who had adopted the profession when they had proved their utter incompetency for any other calling, while those who possessed any knowledge were ignorant of good methods of imparting it. Eiot and disorder were kept under only by the most savage discipline."

In 1839, Government grants were first made to assist in the erection of schools. In 1843 they were extended towards the purchase of apparatus and the erection of training schools for teachers. In 1846, the year of the appointment of the Welsh Commissioners, in order to assist in keeping up a body of efficient teachers, provision was made for the augmentation by Government of the salary paid by managers to teachers who had obtained by examination a certificate of merit, and whose schools were well reported annually by Inspectors, and where satisfaction was also given to the managers themselves.


 

 

image948

                                                                                                                                                                                        104 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]. [CHAP. III.

In 1853 and 1856, Capitation Grants were made, by which from six shillings to four shillings were paid per head for each child under certain conditions.

The result of these successive educational advances was such a change over the face of the country that when W. E. Forster's Act of 1870 was passed with Compulsory Education in its train, there was no short and sharp transition between such destitution as had existed only 30 years before that, and the completed system we see in form to day. I say complete with regard to its exterior mechanism, as to the completeness of the results, I will here abstain from expressing an opinion.

As regards Wales, in particular, there are not many facts to add, but having noticed an article in Yr Adolygydd, for 1851, which appeared to indicate that the period of inefficient teachers had then passed away, I wrote to Wm. Williams, M.A., Chief Inspector for Wales, who has kindly sent a communication, from which I extract the following: —

I have a slight recoUection of the article to which you refer in Yr Adolygydd on " Yr Ysgol/eistr fel y mae," and I may say confidently that it could refer to only a comparatively small number of teachers, i.e., to the few teachers who had been trained between 1846 and 1851, at the British and Foreign Training College, Borough Eoad; the National Society's Training College, at Battersea; the Normal College started at Brecon, about the beginning of 1846, removed to Swansea in 1848, and conducted by the late Dr. Evan Davies, who was the author of the articles in Adolygydd, and possibly a few trained in Scotland.

The number of Church and National Schools in Wales increased, comparatively rapidly, from 1846 or '47, and this was due to several causes. The grants towards the erection of schools were from about this time increased and were very Uberal, amounting, I believe, to about 40 per cent., and as the value of school sites, which were often given, and the cost of haulage often done without



 

 

image949

[OHAP. III. HER LANGUAGE. 105

pay, could also be counted in the expenses, the grant in many cases amounted to probably 50 per cent of the actual money spent.

During this time Dr. Davies, of the Normal College, Swansea, and some of the leading Nonconformists in South Wales (like the late David Rees, of Llanelly), were opposed in toto to receiving grants towards the erection or maintenance of schools, and this greatly retarded for a time the spread of British and undenominational schools, and allowed the ground to be covered by Church schools. The Nonconformists of South Wales subsequently decided to accept grants, and British Schools spread comparatively fast from about 1855 to 1870, whilst a considerable number of the Church Schools fell into a state of inefficiency, or were closed.

By 1870 accommodation had been provided in Wales for probably from one-third to one-half of the population, but this was very unevenly distributed, and there were large tracts of country with no efficient school in them.

By what precedes it will be seen that the advancement of Welsh and English education was nearly collateral, and to ascribe the backward state of the former to the deleterious effects of the Welsh language, in spite of the strange adventures of the tri wyr awdurdodol, is an unfair inference.

For another generation, however, the people of Wales ignored secular education in Welsh, hoping that they might thereby learn English better, notwithstanding the more enlightened views of some of their leading men; and the Government ignored it both with that mistaken notion, and with the additional hope, there is ground to believe, of shortly effecting a linguistic bouleversement in the country. Just as Llewelyn ap Gruflfydd's head was welcomed outside the Tower of London with savage delight, so there have not been wanting men of position who would hail with satisfaction a bulletin conveying intelligence of the last expiring groans of the language spoken by that ancestor of our present Sovereign.

 

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