kimkat0137e 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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Gwefan Cymru-Catalonia
La Web de Gal
les i Catalunya
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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 V. 161-202.

DISCUSSION IN "WESTERN MAIL" GEORGE BORROW ROYAL EDUCATION COMMISSION, 1887, AND NOTES ON THE EVIDENCE OF WELSH WITNESSES DEATH OF D. I. DAVIES CYMMRODORION MEETING IN LONDON, AND THE PAPER OF INSPECTOR EDWARDS REPORT OF COMMISSIONERS AND CONCESSIONS TO WALES ADDRESS OP PRINCIPAL EDWARDS PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE IN TEACHING WELSH.


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Maer 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:

166, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, 172, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, 178, 179, 180, xxx, 182, xxx, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, xxx, xxx, 192, xxx, 194, 195, 1xxx, xxx, 198, xxx, 200,

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER V.

DISCUSSION IN "WESTERN MAIL" GEORGE BORROW ROYAL EDUCATION COMMISSION, 1887, AND NOTES ON THE EVIDENCE OF WELSH WITNESSES DEATH OF D. I. DAVIES CYMMRODORION MEETING IN LONDON, AND THE PAPER OF INSPECTOR EDWARDS REPORT OF COMMISSIONERS AND CONCESSIONS TO WALES ADDRESS OP PRINCIPAL EDWARDS PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE IN TEACHING WELSH.

In the previous Chapter I omitted to state that the publication of the foregoing letters, in the Baner ac Amserau Cymru, preceded in point of time the formation of the Society for Utilizing the Welsh Language in education, of which the first general meeting was held at Cardiff in the autumn of 1885. For a summary of its avowed objects and principles, see Appendix G. It almost immediately received a very encouraging measure of support from Welshmen, in almost all parts of Welsh-Wales, and aroused a spirit of discussion in part ventilated in the columns of the Western Mail, which, as we have already seen, opposed its aims.

The Vicar of Ruabon, in a communication to the same paper, ably replied to a correspondent who had urged the superior claims of French and German on Welsh children. He says

The proposal, as I understood it, was to introduce Welsh, not as a substitute for English, but as an optional specific subject, and to say that a smattering of French or German that could be acquired at an Elementary School would be preferable for Welsh-speaking children to an accurate grammatical knowledge of their own language would seem too absurd. It would probably be generally admitted that accuracy and observation are the two most important things to be aimed at in all mental training. And, regarded simply



 

 

162 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.

as an educational instrument, what could there be for Welsh children that would be more likely to conduce to the formation and strengthening of these habits than their proper and systematic training in the grammatical laws and construction of the grand old language in which they think and speak? There can be no doubt a knowledge of the two languages adds very much to the intelligence of the Welsh children. But this knowledge taught grammatically, and, as your correspondent says, philologically, as far as such teaching could be made suitable for children, would make the advantage they already possess far greater. Your correspondent was wrong in saying that "every English or foreign scholar who has mastered the language says that the literature it contains, does not justify the time and labour of acquiring it." Mr. George Borrow, quoted in your article of the 18th inst., thought differently. The last time I met him, on a pilgrimage to the grave of Dr. Owain Pugh, at Nantglyn, some 25 years ago, I well remember his saying that he considered that even the writings of Hugh Morris and Goronwy Owain alone were quite sufficient to repay anyone for the study of the Welsh language. This, however, is quite another question to giving Welsh children the power of reading and writing their own language with accuracy and intelligence.

Perhaps my readers will pardon my making a short digression, to give some account of Geo. Borrow, although his book on Wild Wales is doubtless familiar to some of them. His father had a military appointment in Ireland, where the son learnt some Irish, and afterwards as a lawyer's clerk in one of the Eastern Counties of England, he took up the study of Welsh, being assisted by a Welsh groom, whose acquaintance he had formed.

As he was of Cornish descent on one side, he possessed a certain ingenium which I have no doubt much facilitated the acquisition of Celtic languages. However that may be, he was not content with a mere smattering of Welsh, but acquired a sufficiently extensive knowledge of it, to read almost anything



 

 

CHAP. V. [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 163

in the bards. How did he attain what many Welshmen themselves fall short of? By reading Dr. W. O. Pughe's "Coll Gwynfa" ("Paradise Lost") twice side-by-side with the original. Many years after he travelled in Spain and Portugal, and gave to the world the records of his journeys in "The Bible in Spain," but he never forgot his early love of Welsh; and in 1854 went a walking expedition through the country. His work is marred by the introduction of a good deal of public-house chat, but it betrays an acquaintance with Welsh literature far more extensive than is to be found in the works of half-informed English tourists of an earlier date, whose works are looked up to as standards, and in vain we search Pennant and Nicholson, or such County Histories as Fenton's and Coxe's for the kind of information we get here.

George Borrow did not go to gaze on half effaced effigies in parish meeting houses, to describe the gables of manor houses, or even so much the beautiful scenery of the country, as he went to see the people, knowing not merely their language but the character of their literature; not merely so, but he was able to quote their poets from the stores of his powerful memory, e.g., on the top of Snowdon, he repeats

Oer yw'r eira ar Eryri, o ryw

Ar awyr i rewi;

Oer yw'r ia ar riw 'r ri,

A'r Eira oer yw 'Ryri.

O Ri y 'Ryri yw'r oera, o'r r

Ar oror wir arwa;

O'r awyr a yr Eira,

O'i ryw i roi rew a'r ia.

and then relates how three or four English stood nigh with "grinning scorn," and how he apostrophized a Welshman who came forward and shook his hand. "I am not a Llydawan


 

 

164 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.


[a Breton]. I wish I was, or anything but what I am, one of a nation amongst whom any knowledge save what relates to money-making and over-reaching is looked upon as a disgrace. I am ashamed to say that I am an Englishman.

Despite its blemishes Borrow's Wild Wales still remains the only book in the whole circle of English literature which illustrates fairly-well the literary side of the Welsh character, though he almost entirely omits mention of nineteenth century writers, nor can an introduction to this period suitable for English students be found anywhere at present.

Matthew Arnold a few years later called the attention of the English public to Welsh literature, but as he was unacquainted with the language he was naturally unable to take a comprehensive view of it.

I will now select another letter from a well known Welshman, which is valuable, because it is an unvarnished testimony to the result of these parents' prejudices, which, unhappily, appear to be given way to, if not fostered by some elementary teachers, if not school managers. Newspaper correspondence, as a rule, is not worth reproducing, but I cannot debar myself from using it on the present occasion, because it illustrates (1) the intellectual and social history of Wales, in a certain part of the nineteenth century, (2) the action of general principles, and is of assistance in forming conclusions, which the mere ipse dixit of the author would not warrant.

E. Roberts, of Pontypridd, wrote as follows:

My good father, holding then the mistaken notion held by some still, that a knowledge of Welsh would retard my progress in learning English, forbade me to have anything to do with the Welsh language, and even went the length of forbidding me to attend a Welsh Sunday School. Submitting to the parental authority, I did not attend a Sunday School or attempt to learn Welsh until I was about sixteen years of age, although



 

 

CHAP. V. [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 165

I was practically a monoglot Welsh lad. My education up to that period, I can assure you, was anything but a pleasure, for the little I learnt was learnt mechanically; the intellect had nothing to do with it. When I thought of entering college I thought it high time that I should know something of what
grammar really was. I therefore procured Mr. R. Davies's Welsh Grammar, and committed a great part of it to memory; but, this grammar being so erroneous in many parts, I had but an indistinct
idea of what grammar really was, until I began to translate from Latin into English. Then my eyes were opened on the subject, and all that I had stored in my memory first became of any use to me. But what a drudgery I had passed through previous to this! And that simply because the familiar Welsh was not used as a medium for explaining matters to me. I have thus given my experiences at some length, because my own case is an illustration of the difficulty which a Welsh boy meets with in trying to learn
English without the aid of his native tongue. It is my firm belief that if what this Society aims at doing had been done in my youthful days, I would have made a great deal more progress
intellectually and educationally, in English and in Welsh, than I
did. The sad experience of my youthful days makes me yearn for some method of teaching Welsh boys similarly circumstanced in a more intelligent and pleasurable way.

As a set off against this may be mentioned the opposing attitude to the movement, which was taken by Professor Vance Smith of Carmarthen Presbyterian College, although only a recent settler in the country, and ignorant of the language. He met an able antagonist in Beriah G. Evans, the master of the Llangadock Village School, but since attached to the staff of the South Wales Daily News. It is really surprising that a person who must have possessed some educational acquirements of an advanced character should have allowed his mind to be blinded by prejudice, as to oppose the removal of an antiquated and effete system of education


 

 

166 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] CHAP. V.]

replete with both social and intellectual disadvantages, but which still more or less leavens nearly all the educational institutions of Wales. "The artificial propping up of the Welsh language" was a phrase used by Vance Smith, which a real thinker sliould have scrupled to use. What is artificial, is to purposely neglect the ordinary medium of thought, for the expression of ideas until a sufficiently secure foundation for their reception has been obtained through the use of another medium.

I quote the following from B. Gr. Evans's reply: You will, I am sure, readily concede that, being yourself only a recent coiner to Wales, you cannot be expected to understand Welsh, questions so thoroughly as those who have spent their lifetime among the people do. More than this, not being yourself possessed of the key of the Welsh language, wherewith you might be enabled to open for your students the door to further knowledge, you are placed under a serious disadvantage for estimating its practical value as an educational medium. Were the objects of the Society is to cultivate Welsh at the expense of English, then there would be force in your reasoning. '■' * I would appeal to you, sir, to throw the great, influence your position as principal of so important a training institution in Wales gives you to promote and not to obstruct a movement calculated to remove such disabilities, and which has already secured the adhesion of leading educationahsts who have enjoyed a hfe-long practical acquaintance with the people, their language, and their needs.

In 1886, a Royal Commission was appointed to enquire into the working of the Education Acts, of which the late Henry Richard was a member. The subject of bilingualism would probably, as usual, have been ignored had not that veteran champion of Wales secured its insertion in the syllabus of the points of enquiry. As a consqeuence, various Welshmen interested in the subject, were asked to give evidence.* In the course of their examination it was clearly indicated that room


 

 

CHAP. V.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 167

was open for the Government to make very considerable modification of these regulations as applied to Welsh schools. In fact, scarcely anything but a Code devised specially for Wales would have sufficed to remove all the legitimate objections raised of the present course of Welsh Education.

The names of the witnesses who gave evidence on the bilingual question were Ebenezer Morris, of Menai Bridge, Beriah G. Evans, Dan Isaac Davies, B.Sc, Dr. Isambard Owen, M.A., D. Lewis (Rector of Merthyr), Archdeacon Griffiths, T. Marchant Williams, Prof. H. Jones, of Bangor, and W. Williams, M.A. (Chief Welsh Inspector of Schools).

The evidence of these witnesses contains opinions or facts nearly identical with some which are noticed elsewhere in this book; but at the risk of being thought guilty of repeating myself, I venture to give a digest of some of its more salient features, which I believe will not be uninteresting to future students of Welsh history, whether they be so now or not.

Among the disadvantages arising from the present# system of ignoring Welsh, it was stated that

It makes a child nervous and afraid to give expression to his thoughts. Either he hates the language of his home or hates the foreign language. Evans.

Injury done is permanent. Majority leave school without literary knowledge of either language. Do.

Contributions to the Welsh press of a low order, through inefficient instruction, tend to debase the native purity of the language. Do.

If a teacher followed a well-defined system he would have no credit given him in the report. Do.

* The evidence has been re-published from the Blue Book in a collected form, under the title of Bilingual Teaching in Welsh Elementary Schools. Price 1s. J. E Southall, Newport, Mon.

# I say at present, because nearly all these difficulties remain, while only a few schools teach Welsh.


 

 

168 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] CHAP. V.]

Does not give the language the status of honour and respect it should occupy in the child's mind. Evans.

"The Welsh Sunday School is over-weighted, and has not only to teach religion" but also reading. D. I. Davies.

Parents in ignorance. Fancy a man cannot have two mother-tongues. Contradicts this from experience of his own family. Do.

Reason why, "gentry of Wales " do not command the influence they ordinarily might, is that they give up the language before the people. Do.

Omission of Welsh from pupil teachers' examinations a serious practical grievance. English girl from Cardiff to Bristol with a smattering of French gets marks for it. A Welsh girl who knows her own language far more thoroughly, gets no marks, and is shut out of her own college. Do.

Had it not been for the Welsh "Sunday school, very little real work would have been solidly done by our English schools. Griffiths.

Experience as Inspector of Schools in London, and as a teacher is, that neither German or French can be taught satisfactorily in a public elementary school under existing circumstances for many years. M. Williams.

Children often puzzled by anomalies in English Grammar, it would be a great advantage if Welsh grammar were taught.
Do.

If it were taught it would remove the shyness of Welshmen, and improve them intellectually. Do.

Many teachers think teaching Welsh would involve a great deal of additional labour * * I say, however, the teaching
of Welsh systematically would be helpful to them in every sense. Do.

Good of Wales dependent to a considerable extent on meeting the difficulty no community ever improved except


 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 169

by developing the forces, intellectual and otherwise, that it possesses, and Wales will never be made richer by neglecting its language; nor do I think the English will be known better. For on the border counties where they do leave their Welsh, or have done so, and become English, there is a degradation of intelligence, because they do not really become English.

Prof. H. Jones.

Speaking of parents the majority, especially the more intelligent, would see the importance of teaching Welsh.

Do.

[re Candidates for Training College]. The Welsh are very much handicapped by having to be examined in a language which is not their vernacular. Chief Inspector Williams.

Believes English might be more thoroughly acquired by the use of Welsh. Do.

Teaching Welsh as a special and class subject may prove a great blessing to the children. Has not quite made up his mind on the subject. Would like those who believe in it have a chance to try. E. Morris.

"They only learn to read like parrots." Do.

Thinks poetry should not be included in English. [Why could he not say, he would substitute Welsh poetry?] Do.

Take number of chapels of four leading denominations, as 3511; of these 2853 are entirely Welsh, 898 English. Evans.

English chapels as a rule small, and ill-attended. Welsh services often crowded. Do.

"Sunday" school the great educating medium for the Welsh-speaking population here, they have obtained the only instruction in their own language they have ever had. Do.

Welsh literature made accessible to them by "Sunday" teachers. Do


 

 

170 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.

Wide-spread taste among working classes for Welsh literature and composition; but absence of educational facilities to attain a grammatical knowledge of language. Do.

Better enunciation in reading found in Welsh schools than in Gloucestershire. Davies.

Took a bilingual parish in Brecknockshire; found people could not read Welsh, but anxious to have sermons in it. They have a fondness for the language it is the language of their inner soul, so to speak. Lewis.

Neath very much Anglicized, people do their shopping in English, but the people will go perhaps in scores to an English chapel, but by hundreds to a Welsh one. No predecessor of his [at Neath] could preach in Welsh with anything like fluency for 50 years. Griffiths.

Englishmen as colliers "before they have been underground six months they come out as Welshmen." Do.

National virtues found to a greater extent in Llanelly than in more Anglicized Swansea. Do.

Circulation of 100,000 (Welsh) newspapers every week: 60 years ago not one. Do.

The additional time and labour involved in carrying out our suggestions would be trifling indeed. Williams.

Modern Welsh poets frequently have more power than they are able to manifest. Jones.

Welsh treatise on the philosophy of Hegel, another text book on Logic commended. Conducted lectures in Welsh on Greek philosophy and on modern ethics at Bangor; and "more admirable classes," chiefly of working men, he never had. Did not know "any cultivated Welsh person" who did not prefer to attend worship in the Welsh rather than in the English language. Do.

Archdeacon Griffiths introduced into his evidence the utterances of an eminent Welsh scholar, Robert Williams,


 

 

CHAP. V.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. l7l

a Vice-President of Lampeter, and of Bp. Thirlwall, which I have reserved till last, so as not to break the continuity of the summary. These authorities are quoted in the evidence (abridged) as under:

"I have often known people whose reading language was English, but whose speaking language was almost exclusively Welsh. What a confused medley of words and things must thus be produced in their minds. How the eye of the intellect must be dimmed, and its edge blunted, by the half caught gleams of ideas and tangled mass of doubts thus presented, which it can neither see distinctly nor decide with certainty. Can this be called education? or is it giving the mind of our peasantry fair play?" Then another short passage that I will read is this: "But what if, by our neglect of Welsh, we are throwing away a great gift of Providence? Is there any reason why a people should not learn and thoroughly understand a neighbouring language, without immediately smothering their own? Bishop Thirlwall held similar views and contended that no Welsh child ought to be thrown entirely upon the contingency that he may by the force of other circumstances than those of school life acquire sufficient English to cultivate his mind by the means which that language supplies, and that he ought not to be debarred in the meantime [by want of elementary education] from the benefits that may be derived from books in Welsh. He goes on to say. * * "I am fully convinced that no maxims opposed to these will bear the test of experience; and I rejoice to find that they begin to be more generally appreciated, and seem likely to exercise a greater influence on the system of popular education, than they have hitherto done.

Six or seven weeks after this evidence was given, the earthly hopes of a chief leader of the movement were shattered, a severe cold contracted in London never left him, and Dan Isaac Davies expired 5 mo. (May) 28, 1887.

Very seldom indeed in the history of Wales has any individual risen so quickly from comparative obscurity to a


 

 

172 WALES AND [CHAP. V.

position of such prominent note, and seldom has there been seen a funeral which manifested so much wide-spread feeling, as well as sympathy with the national aspirations which he represented. To an outsider, Cardiff may appear to differ but little from Hull and Sunderland; to such an one the loss of an educationalist, however great he may be in his own peculiar sphere, would scarcely be regarded as anything like a public event.

On this occasion between two and three thousand people were gathered from Swansea, Merthyr, the Rhondda Valley and other places, forming a procession a mile in length. I will not here introduce any reports of the speeches delivered on the occasion by various well-known Welshmen, some in Welsh and some in English. But enough has been said to shew that there was an indication of a remarkable amount of national feeling which would scarcely have been expected, and I think it convincingly shewed that the principles he represented were not simply the property of a few agitators or enthusiasts, but very largely echoed by all classes in Wales South Wales at least.

I venture, however, to give a short extract from "Morien" on the event, which, although Morienic in its style, comes from the pen of a ready writer

In the scholastic circles of the Principality he had been long known and admired; but at the time of his death, his name was rapidly becoming a household one in the homes of his fellow-countrymen generally. His mind was not too much imbued with "awen" to forget the practical in the imaginative. WhUe others simply cried, " Oes y hyd i'r iaiih Gymrafg." Mr. Dan Isaac Davies worked in the path of progress, and he fell, to rise no more, whilst engaged in re-opening the national avenues of the native language of the Welsh people. We had hoped that Wales had, at last, found in him one sufficiently able and earnest to restore the Cymric tongue to its ancient dignity as one of the learned languages of Europe, by making it the channel by which the youth of Wales



 

 

[CHAP. V. [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 173

might reach quickly the vast treasures of knowledge contained to-day in the English tongue. It is perfectly true that Mr. Davies had two objects in view by his propaganda, namely, making use of the native language of the Welsh in the work of education, and thereby facilitating the progress of Welsh children in the paths of education, and also restoring its lost dignity among scholars, of the great language of the Cambro-British people. * * Poor Dan Isaac Davies! With tears we lament thy death; thy work is done, for, doubtless, thou wert, in the mysterious ways of Providence, only to inaugurate a movement which will be long associated with thy name. Thou wert only to utter the old cry, "I'r lan a'r gain faner goch!" Thy early death seems to sanctify the movement! "Gorphwys, frawd, mewn tangnefedd."

In 1887, Welsh education came very prominently before the Eisteddfod meeting of the Cymmrodorion, held in London, and in the course of one of the meetings a paper was read by W. Edwards, M.A., Government Inspector of Schools, Merthyr Tydfil district, which I venture to insert here nearly entire.

As a whole, it is far too good a production to be consigned to the oblivion of fugitive literature, such as is the fate of the large majority of papers read at congresses and meetings of various kinds, except those perhaps of a purely learned character, which mark stepping stones in the progress of any particular art or branch of science.

Perhaps I shall be found fault with for taking up so much space with matter which is not original. If so, I would say that one of the objects of this book is not to present any one man's opinions or views on subjects which so closely concern the educational future of Wales, but to collate expressions from witnesses of very different antecedents, education, and circumstances, so that from the whole a better judgment may be formed of the facts of the past, and of the requirements of the future. Indeed there is a need for it. Much has been said


 

 

174 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] CHAP. V.]

and written, and yet the subject is so far from being thrashed out that, it is still one on which a definite verdict is yet to come.

From the point of view of a Government Inspector we scarcely expect enthusiasm, but we have here something more necessary, viz., impartiality and penetration. In reading it, one can only feel regret that at present the enlightened standpoint of the author is far in advance of that of many managers of schools, and of many Welsh teachers. He says

As one of the Inspectors charged with the administration of the Education Act, I beg to state that I regard the question of the utilization of Welsh purely as an educational one. It has no necessary relation to party or to sect. Nor do I appear here to join in any appeal for alteration in the present Code, which is probably elastic enough to admit of any change of practice that may be desired by the Society. What is really required now is a discussion on the principle, and in a matter of so much importance no one should stand aloof who can help the public to understand the principle and the reason why it is advocated. It is with many an incontrovertible axiom that the Welsh language is the bane of Wales, and that every friend should aim at its extinction. Others admit that a language spoken by only a thirtieth part of the population of these islands must essentially be a disadvantage, through the limitations of intercourse which it imposes, even although it were the most ancient and perfect language known to history. Let it be conceded, not absolutely, but for the sake of argument, that it would be beneficial for Wales if the native language were totally supplanted by English, the question remains as to the best means of arriving at this consummation. Now, there can be no doubt that the exclusion of Welsh from all the elementary schools, from all the grammar schools, and from all the colleges, is damaging to the vitality of the language. It operates in two ways: (1) directly by subtracting so many hours every day from the time that would otherwise have been spent in the practice of the native tongue; (2) by giving the Welsh a low-caste character.


 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 175

Welsh suffers in prestige from being totally ignored, when other subjects are honoured, and a tendency will be formed in the case, at any rate, of some children to speak bad English in preference to good Welsh. I cannot, therefore, deny that the cumulative effects of what I may call the repressive system, acting through many ages, will eventually destroy the Welsh language, especially in combination with many other outside influences; such are set up by the social and commercial intercourse with England, and the immensely preponderating quantity of English literature.

But when this is agreed, how much time must be allowed for the completion of the process? It is dangerous to prophesy, but I do not fear to affirm that more than a hundred, perhaps two hundred, perhaps 500 years will be required to achieve the death of Welsh. For it must be remembered that a repressive policy, in order to gain its end with any degree of rapidity, must also be complete. It is not enough to exclude Welsh from the schools and colleges. You must also make it penal to speak Welsh at fairs and markets, to print Welsh newspapers and books, to preach Welsh sermons. If you cannot or dare not do this, the language will resist for centuries the effect of its banishment from education.

It is a plausible assertion that children who hear and speak and read only English at school, will become really familiar with that language, and discard the vernacular for the rest of their lives. But no account is here taken of the Welsh environment. Even while the child is attending school the outside intercourse counter-balances to a considerable extent the effect of school atmostphere. Nay at the school itself, during the time of recreation Welsh is the language of play, as I have had many opportunities of observing in my own district, which is far from the centre of Wales. It may be doubted whether the child is subjected to English influence for more than five hours in the day. He is probably more than double this time under the influence of purely Welsh surroundings. When his school career ends, at the early age of twelve or thirteen, the environment is wholly Welsh, and it is not merely antecedently probable, but a matter of experience that in parts of Cardiganshire,


 

 

176 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE} CHAP. V.]

Merionethshire, and even of Glamorganshire, away from the towns, the child frequently in a few months loses almost all his hold of English. Although therefore it may be admitted that the day schools do exercise a decidedly inimical effect upon the life of the Welsh language, it should at the same time be remembered that their influence operates only during the third part of the child's working day, and ceases altogether at a very early age.

If the schools were all boarding schools, so that the children might be withdrawn from all contact with the Welsh stock from which they sprang, the effect might conceivably be more measurable, hut even on this hypothesis the Anglicizing influence would be incomplete, unless the children were confined to separate cells when not under instruction. The people who are sanguine of the speedy success of the present system do not realize the difficulty of killing a language, which at the present moment is very far from moribund, and may live as long as Dutch or Danish. The total neglect of Welsh will surely help to sap the vigour of the language, but what happens during the long era which must elapse before the end comes? A policy which gags the mouth of a child, stupidly ignores the habits and associations of home, and crushes every native sensibility, can only result in immense waste of energy, in the lowering of the tone of the nation, and in a paralysis of the intelligence of many generations of Welshmen. Is it fair that even a barbarous dialect should be so ignored in education as Welsh is at present? There is an outcry of sympathy if the children of Lapps and Poles are treated in this way, but nearer home there is a case of outrage upon nature and reason which is worthy of equal condemnation.

The blame rests upon the Welsh themselves for the continuance of this state of things, for the Department has not yet refused to grant any concession which has been asked for by the Society.

 

* * Words may be read to almost an unlimited extent without the assimilation by the mind of the ideas to which they correspond. By the bilingual method the link between the English word and


 

 

CHAP. V.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 177

the idea is established. In the study of any other foreign language this is the method that would universally be adopted.

It has been urged that the best way to teach a child Prench is to send him to school in France, where he would hear no English. But the cases are not parallel. In one case the whole environment would be French, and the child must learn French, as a child is sometimes taught to swim, by being thrown into deep sea. You have not the struggle between the environment and the school, which creates the chief obstacle in Wales.

The advocates of bilingual teaching recommend that in districts where Welsh retains its hold as the common medium of intercourse, Welsh and English should be taught in connection. Welsh as well as English reading books should be used, the one set being idiomatic translations of the other. These books are not merely an instrument of interpretation, but also subject matter for a comparison of the grammar and idioms of the two languages. In some districts Welsh is weak, or divides the field equally with English. There, Welsh would be more advantageously taught as a specific subject to the highest standards for its purely educational value, while in the lower standards Welsh might occasionally be employed for purposes of illustration. In every town or village where any Welsh is spoken an opportunity should be afforded of learning to read and write Welsh correctly at some period of the school course. It is not proposed by the Society to agitate for the compulsory reading of Welsh, as it is feared by some. They wish to make the teaching simply permissive. There are many prejudices to be overcome on the part of school managers and teachers and parents before the movement in favour of bilingual teaching becomes general.

There are some persons, be it observed, who make it a reproach that Welsh is so seldom spoken correctly by the masses. Should it not rather be a matter of wonder* that the idiom is so purely maintained when the only instruction in Welsh is given in Sunday schools? But the same individuals inconsistently oppose the only

 

* How true this is, those who know Wales can vouch.


 

 

178 WALES AND [CHAP. V

means by which the defects in the common speech can be cured.

As a matter of fact, the language of a Welsh peasant is far more correct than that of his compeers in England. The Marquis of Bute said at the Cardiff Eisteddfod, "For a man to speak Welsh, and willingly not to be able to read or write it, is to confess himself a boor." This is a noble sentiment; and it should put to shame those others who wish to keep down the Welsh as a nation of boors, rather than grant the instruction which would save them from the reproach. The bilingual idea is to be applied to schools of all grades. Eor there should be no division of classes.

What has done so much mischief in Wales in times past and present is the chasm existing between the English-speaking landowner and gentry and the Welsh-speaking community. What separation of interests, material and spiritual, has resulted from this cause!

Let the opportunity, at all events, be given to the children of all classes to learn the rudiments of the language of the people. To a very numerous class, viz., to those who are to become the ministers, the lawyers, the doctors, and the teachers of Wales, instruction in Welsh will clearly be a professional advantage.

One strongly felt objection to the proposed Welsh-English instruction is that although the object primarily is merely to utilize Welsh to learn Enghsh better than to improve the general intelligence thereby, yet Welsh itself will at the same time be improved. This is to some people a great rock of offence. They are afraid that the longevity of Welsh will be favourably affected when it is systematically taught, even in a parallel line with Enghsh. Even if their fears are well founded, the objection cannot be listened to, if it is true that only by biUngual instruction can a Welsh child have an intelligent grasp of English. But I feel certain that the life of Welsh will not be appreciably prolonged by its recognition in schools. The status of the language will be raised, a more correct way of speaking will be in vogue, but it is the very essence of biUngual teaching that it makes the scholar facile in two


 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. l79

languages. If Welsh will be strengthened, English will receive an accession of vigour.

Tou may have a bilingual nation for any length of time, if by bihngual nation is meant a nation, two sections of which speak different languages, but there is no instance on record of a nation of bilinguals. Switzerland is no example, for the bihngualism of Switzerland is only the overlapping of the French and G-erman, and such a bilingualism is obUgatory along every border. But when every Welshman knows English as well as he knows Welsh, and there is no nucleus of monoglots to act as a preservative, the weaker language vdU then rapidly die. But it will die a honourable death, instead of being strangled in disgrace. Welsh will have done its work. The continuity of the nation will have been preserved. The parents and the children will not have been made strangers by the premature forcing of an alien language. The children of the EngUsh resident will be brought into kindlier intimacy with the children of the Cymry. Finally, time will have been given for the transference of whatever is worthy in Welsh literature to the kindly keeping of that universal inheritor, the language of England, in which the genius of the Welsh will find a larger and more durable home.

What do you say, my readers, to having these lines written in gold on the portals of every school and every college in Wales.

Zbe bilingual idea is to be applied to scbools ot all grades,

What say you to ousting, as ignorant or incapable, every school manager, be he a high and mighty cleric or a village grocer, vrho will not subscribe to this advice of the Inspector " In every town or village where any Welsh is spoken an opportunity should be oifered of learning to read and write Welsh correctly at some period of the school course."

"Every town or village," recollect, includes those partially populated by Somerset and Gloucester workmen, the presence


 

 

180 WALES AND [CHAP. V.

of whose children is supposed by some teachers to place an obstacle in the development of the bilingual idea. Why should the children of the soil for the supposed interests of these strangers be deprived of such opportunities of reading and writing their mother-tongue as systematic instruction in it can afford them.

What are you going to do to help fill up this social "chasm" that the Inspector speaks of (the very expression which was running in the writer's mind many months ago), caused by a portion of the people by habit, association, and preference, speaking a language and reading a literature of which the wealthy and influential are almost entirely ignorant? What are you going to do to remove those prejudices of school managers, teachers, and parents, which the same experienced authority tells us must be overcome before the movement becomes general?

One of the objects of the volume is to call the attention of the Welsh people to these inconsistencies, and blots upon their character as a practical people, to the errors made venerable by the incrustations of centuries, to the need of greater educational enlightenment, and to the desirability (I would here even go further than Inspector Edwards), of not leaving the decision of these matters, mainly in the hands of either managers, teachers, or parents, who are frequently either from inexperience or ignorance, not the fittest authorities to decide upon them.

Bear in mind, too, that the foregoing paper is not the product of the brain of an impractical enthusiast, a mere theorist, as some of the opposers of bilingualism in Wales are apt to class its advocates; it is the expression of man who is pre-eminently entitled to a hearing though we may differ from him on minor points. For instance, he appears to the writer to much under-rate the influence of bilingual instruction in prolonging the life of the language, but on the central point viz.,


 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 181

the desirability of bilingualism, or teaching Welsh, not simply allowing its use in explanatory processes becoming universal where the language is spoken, and that it should be applied to schools of all classes, we agree.

If this had been done ten or fifteen years ago, we probably should not have had the pitiable spectacle, alluded to elsewhere, of a well-to-do Welsh publisher in Wales unable to read the books issuing from his own press, and having to depend on the judgment of others as to their character, if he form one.

In some other points also I am incUned to differ from the author, as for mstance where he advocates Welsh and English reading books being the idiomatic translation of each other. To give an effective bilingual education, this should only be partially the case; some pieces, particularly poetry, should be inserted in each language and untranslated.

Second only in importance to the Inspector's paper was a short speech by the then Warden of Llandovery College, in which he said that education in Wales should be of a distinct, and national, and Welsh character: education was not merely putting a number of facts and figures into the pupil's head, but consisted also in the development of the mind: it was not creating, but fashioning and forming raw material; it was impossible to educate a Welsh-speaking Welshman unless a knowledge of the Welsh language were taken into account: although from one point of view it might be a mistake to devote two hours a week to teaching a boy Welsh, yet it would be found as a fact that he learnt Latin and French all the quicker for having that knowledge.

Observe that the warden used these adjectives in characterizing what education in Wales should be.

Distinct. National. Welsh.

Distinct means that there should be a clear essential


 

 

182 WALES AND [OHAP. V.


distinction between education in Wales and that over the border, which there is not at present.

National means that it should be general throughout the country.

Welsh means that instruction in the Welsh language should form an integral part of such distinct and national education.

These two advocates of biKngualism may be regarded as representative men, both filling important educational positions, both having a claim on the confidence of their countrymen.

Take another practical witness Owen Owen, head master of Oswestry High School in the Welsh portion of Shropshire. He was strongly in favour of leaving education in Wales entirely to Welsh men and Welsh women. They should aim at a "complete and thorough national system," leading step by step from the village school to the University. I suppose that he also would be considered both successful and practical in his profession.

In 1888 the Report of the Education Commissioners was issued, which shewed that although it was composed entirely of Englishmen, with the single exception of Henry Richard, they had been so thoroughly convinced of the reasonableness of the demands of the Utilization Society, that almost every point asked for was conceded to. They recommended

That schools in Welsh districts should be allowed to teach reading and writing of Welsh concurrently with English.

Permission to use bilingual reading-books.

Liberty to teach Welsh as a specific subject.

To adopt an optional scheme for English as a class subject, founded on the principle of a graduated system of translation from Welsh into Enghsh for the present acquirement of English grammar.


 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 183

To teach Welsh with English as a class subject.

To include Welsh among the languages in which Queen's scholarships and certificates of merit may be annexed. The next step to which the friends of the movement turned their attention was to secure the adhesion of the Government to these recommendations, so that it might be possible to give them practical effect. In this work Sir John Puleston, M.P., himself of a North Wales family noted in these pages, took an active share, and repeatedly interviewed Sir W. Hart Dyke, the President of the Committee of Council on Education.

The result, as is well known, was regarded as a complete success for the principles of the Society; every recommendation of the Royal Commission being adopted by the Government, with the exception of the inclusion of Welsh in Queen's scholarship subjects for pupil teachers. This was a great omission, but it is hoped that it may be remedied before long. As one of the South Wales papers pointed out, these concessions in effect, open the door for a thorough change in the whole system of Welsh elementary education, although little prominence indeed is actually given them in the Code; but besides embracing the afore-mentioned recommendations, in practice they give advantages not quite apparent to one not familiar with elementary school working, which are indicated by the following summary.

I. A grant of 4s. to be paid per head for each child passing in Welsh Grammar, as a specific in Standards V., VI. and VII.

II. A grant of 2s. per child in the average of the whole school for successful results in teaching English as a class subject by means of translation from Welsh to English.

III. In all standards, and in all subjects, bilingual reading-books may be used, and bilingual copybooks may be used in teaching writing.


 

 

184 WALES AND [CHAP. V.


IV. The geography of Wales may be taught up to Standard III., and the history of Wales may be taught throughout the whole school, by means of books partly Welsh and partly English, and a grant of 2s. per head on the average of the whole school may be earned for each of these subjects if the results of the examination are satisfactory.

V. Schools taking up the new method of teaching English as a class subject may also claim the right to substitute translation from Welsh to English for English composition in the elementary subjects, and thus reap a double benefit.

VI. Finally, the small village and country schools, so numerous in the Principality, may, for the purpose of class teaching re-arrange the standards into three groups, e.g., Group 1, Standards I., II.; Group 2, Standards III., IV.; Group 3, Standards V., VI., VIII. This will be a material relief to under-staffed schools.

In the Spring of 1889, after these concessions had been made known, a meeting of the Utilization Society was held at Aberystwith, the Earl of Lisburn taking the chair at the public meeting. At the previous members' meeting Principal Edwards in the course of an admirable speech remarked

It appears to me a real danger to the intellectual and moral life of the Welsh people, this transition from "Welsh to English. Whatever may be said about Welsh, it is a simple fact that Welsh is a literary language. It has been found amply sufficient to express the most abstract truths of ethics and religion. It is at once the symbol and the instrument of a civilization. To regard such a language as an encumbrance, and not a most potent ally, in the education of the people who think and worship in it, whose intellectual and moral life is fashioned by the ideas it has conveyed to their minds, is fatuous and guilty conduct. (Cheers.) To permit the people of Wales to lose their knowledge of literary Welsh, the language of the Welsh Bible, so that they will under-


 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 185

stand no other Welsh than the laongrel patois of the streets, is to abandon deliberately the creative influences of the past, to break for ever with the enobling examples of our great men, to throw away the heritage of many centuries, in order to start afresh forsooth from the low intellectual and moral condition of savage tribes. Let English come into Wales and take possession, if it can. But let the intellectual and moral life of the future be the natural development of the past. This it cannot be if we foolishly and criminally neglect to teach literary Welsh until we have accomplished the task of teaching literary English. Hitherto, this most important work has been done in Wales by Sunday schools. Putting aside for the moment the spiritual interests of Wales, and regarding the question only in its intellectual aspects, I do not hesitate to avow my strong conviction that all sects and parties alike ought to acknowledge their indebtedness to our Welsh Sunday schools and to their peculiar characteristics, and to make a great effort to maintain their efficiency. But they cannot adequately meet the demands of the age. The people must be taught, not only to read the Welsh of Bishop Morgan, but also the Welsh of Goronwy Owain, and to feel in the very depth of their being the creative influence of the past that should always be present, and of the dead that never die.

What do you say, you lethargic officials and managers steeped in the traditions of Whitehall? What do you say to these words of a man whom Wales delights to honour? The people must (it is in your hands very largely to make it a practical MUST) be taught not only to read the Welsh of Bishop Morgan, but also the Welsh of Goronwy, or if Goronwy is too difficult, that of Islwyn and Hiraethog.

Time has amply justified the following:

Having obtained all it asked from Government, the Society must take into account the sluggishness of a considerable number of school managers, in whom as in most officials, the vis inertiae is strong. Not indeed that the country at large can be justly charged


 

 

186 WALES AND [CHAP. V.


with apathy. An intelligent observer made the remark that whereas the study of Irish is but the hobby of a few antiquaries in Dublin, the entire people of "Wales love their language and wish it to live. At the same time, the Society will not find that all School Boards have enough foresight to see the necessity for the immediate and full adoption of the concessions made in the New Code. Public opinion must be continually formed and maintained on the question, until the use of "Welsh in teaching English and the teaching of "Welsh as a literary language become universal in "Welsh speaking districts. But this will never be brought about unless suitable text-books are provided. * * A strong and successful Society is an instrument for good which ought not to be thrust aside too soon, and this Society will not perish, so long as it adapts itself to the special wants of the time, and performs its work with the same energy in the future as it has shown in the past.

Here again we have a man well known outside Wales, whom some of his friends perchance, think too much of an Anglicizer, often occupying English pulpits, yet not satisfied with the bare " utilization of Welsh to learn English," but positively enforcing it as an educational maxim, that the teaching of Welsh as a literary language should become universal in jWelsh-speaking districts, and foreseeing that only by continued exertions can the deleterious whims or caprices of local managers, and the vis inertias of schoolmasters be overcome.

At the same meeting at Aberystwyth, Morgan Owen, Inspector of Board Schools, said that he was pleased to see the interest many parents took in the subject. In South Wales in many cases, though parents objected to see their children doing home lessons in English subjects, they were very glad to find a Welsh book brought home in their hands. This apparently conflicts with other testimony as to parents' views. I conclude that the true solution of the difficulty is, that in districts where the parents fear that their children will grow up



 

 

OHAP. v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 187

monoglot Welsh, they are often opposed to any secular education in Welsh, but where there is a danger of the children growing up monoglot English they are glad of opportunities given at school to return to the old language. Professor Roberts of Cardiff said

The great and rapid success of the agitation indicated that the Welsh language was destined to render another signal service to the nation, in addition to its services in the past. During the past fifty years, in spite of the fact that much of the cultured opinion of the country was for relegating the language into neglect and decay, the body of the people and their trusted leaders adopted another course. They in fact " utiUzed" the language not as a barrier to keep the people in darkness but as the sole available means of educating and informing the nation by speech and in writing. By a flood of lectures and periodicals and other literature, the people had been so educated that in no part of the kingdom could the masses be said to be more inteUigent and better informed on all general questions than in Wales. But while the people thus utiUzed their language to their great and permanent benefit it was wholly neglected and ignored in the official system of education.

Yes, so wholly neglected and ignored that the " flood of [vernacular] lectures and periodicals" have, in certain districts, become almost things of the past, though the want of familiarity with the language in the rising generation, which would have been induced by a Kttle education in it at school.

T. E. WilUams, Abeiystwith, comparing Radnor with Cardigan, said

Eadnor had lost its Welsh. By this time it had become EngUsh not only as far as language was concerned, but the EngHsh spoken in the county was about the poorest English they could get anywhere, and, educationally, it was one of the lowest counties, if not the lowest in Wales. On the other hand, let them take the county


 

 

188 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.


of Cardigan. There they had Welsh spoken, and, educationally, Cardigan was one of the highest counties in Wales.

Not merely so, he might have added, but Radnor and Cardigan resemble each other ethnologically, perhaps, as much as any two counties in Wales, if so, the inferiority of Radnor is not accounted for by difference of race.

Speaking at the public meeting. Professor Lloyd believed that the study of Welsh grammar afforded a better mental training than the study of French or German.

They also wanted to utilize Welsh literature. English literature was no literature to Welshmen who had grown up to mature years without a knowledge of the English language. He did not understand the associations the subtle associations of the words; and he thought that was well illustrated by the fact that the one English poet whom Welshmen knew something of and appreciated was Milton, and the reason was that they understood the background of Milton.

This may be true, but in fact English literature is "no literature" to Englishmen who have grown up to mature years, without some previous literary training in the very language they are supposed to speak. To enjoy Milton, it is not simply necessary to be born in an Enghsh home, and to have learnt to read and write.

The literature of the newspaper is accessible, but scarcely that represented by more modern names, such as Cowper and Tennyson. Welshmen are often recommended to learn English, or to value it for the sake of the literature; but in point of fact the best English classics are not much read except by the professional or leisured classes, and even at this fag-end of the nineteenth century, perhaps less than ever, if we except co-temporary writers, whereas a Welshman has less mental labour to go through to appreciate writers of the same class and degree in his own language, than the Englishman has in


 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 189

his; not that I am placing actual Welsh literature on a level with English, but shewing its possibilities with regard to the mass of the people.

In the meetings of the Society for the Utilization of the Welsh Language there has been generally a studious avoidance of praise of the language, doubtless lest its claim on the public should be prejudiced by the introduction of sentiment, but on this occasion it was reserved to a foreigner to Wales, a Roman Catholic Priest (Hayde), of Cardiff, to fill up the meed of admiration for the intrinsic beauties of the Welsh language.

Respecting the Welsh language, he might say that he had never studied a language in which he had felt more interest, more pleasure and more mental training. The idioms and the structure of the language were so different from those of other languages that by comparing them the student acquired strength of mind, and that was the great end of education. ■■' * Welsh was not only a most beautiful language, but would compare favourably with Itahan, Spanish, Portuguese, German and others with which he was acquainted; and he said further that if Welsh had been developed as German had been developed during the past one hundred years by some of the greatest men who had ever lived, and as EngUsh had been developed by the writings of Shakespeare and others. Welsh to-day would have been looked upon as one of the most perfect languages on the face of the earth.

He ended with a short address in Welsh, quoting

Tra'r mor yn fur i'r bur hoff bau, O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

So much for the utterances of public men and officials. They are neither few in number nor deficient in sense and quality. Supposing these expressions of opinion, these marks of sympathy with a proposed public object, had been made with a corresponding intensity in England, can we suppose for


 

 

190 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V,


a moment that the English character would have allowed the whole thing to sink into partial oblivion?

Certainly not. There would either have been dissentient voices, strongly biasing public opinion in the other direction, or else those who had put their hands to the plough would not be satisfied, until with the sweat of their brow, success had crowned their patient and constant endeavours.

Welsh people are not always made of that sort of mettle. They are not very fond of facing wind and weather, and of actions as good and as sound as words. I have spoken of public opinion; although a solution of this question will affect every family in Welsh Wales, and a great many in English Wales, it is not to be supposed that it is exactly one in which the mass of the population have a mature judgment, but it certainly deserves to be met with a distinctly active attitude, either of opposition or of positive countenance and co-operation by intelligent persons interested in the conduct of Welsh education.

So far as opposition goes, few movements spread over a large area have encountered less of an open and public kind. What then are the tangible results before us in Wales? After the great exertions made by some friends of the new Society; after the lapse of six years in the work of practically reforming the system of elementary education, directly they amount to little more than the following, viz.:

 

1. The publication of two small text books* for teaching Welsh as a specific subject, while the third advertised some years ago as "in preparation," is still, so far as the author's information goes, lying in the limbo of the future.

 

2. The introduction of Welsh as a specific subject into a few schools, mostly in semi-Anglicized districts.

* Welsh Stage I., 1887. Welsh Stage II., 1889. Simkin Marshall and Co., London; 6d. each.

 



CHAP. V,] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 191


It will thus be seen that at the end of six years the great majority of the rising generation is untouched, and unaffected by this incipient reformation.

This is at first sight discouraging. In reality, however, it is not quite so much so as may appear, although direct results are extremely meagre. Indirectly, there is reason to believe that the educational status of Welsh has been somewhat raised, and a further place assigned to it in developing the intelligence of children than previously. This cannot be however, thoroughly and efficiently done without the use of Text Books, partly printed in Welsh, in the actual course of instruction in elementary subjects.

The Bilingual Books which, in 1889, the Council of the Welsh Utilization Society was to issue "without delay," are still not forthcoming, and it is to be feared, notwithstanding the warm and zealous recognition of the Society's claims on Wales, there will be a danger unless more energetic and thoroughly systematic action is taken, of relapsing into a quiet and slavish acquiescence in the status quo.

Thus far, some sort of a soporific has prevented the elementary schoolmasters uniting, as they should do, and knocking at the door of the Society's Council Chamber demanding the speedy issue of these Bilingual Books, and it is to be feared that the apathy of the Department is partly responsible for this. After receiving the report of the Royal Commissioners, which most clearly shewed that various injuries were being inflicted on Wales, and a certain amount of educational power allowed to run waste through the present method being pursued; after the generous concessions made by the Government to the claims of Wales, how is English-Welsh, as a class subject, treated in the Code? Simply allowed a most insignificant place, just barely mentioned in a sort of note. How is it treated in the Departmental instructions to Inspectors for 1890? Surely


 

 

192 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.

with all this weight of evidence, the permanent oiBcials at Whitehall would tell the Inspectors that it was their duty to assist in inaugurating a radical reform in the education of Wales, not in an authoritative way, but by suggestions to school managers and teachers, and by recommendations that they should endeavour, as soon as may be, to equip themselves for a better system which promises to improve the knowledge of English as well as of Welsh. Did they thus call attention to the first steps necessary to break up the fallow ground?

No. Not by a single word. It was as if the said permanent officials, or whosoever drafts out those instructions to the Inspectors, was desirous of hushing the whole thing up, and in all probability the chiefs "My Lords," had too much to think of, to notice such an apparently trifling omission.

It would, however, be injustice to Lord Cranbrook and Sir W. Hart Dyke, to question the sincerity of the interest they have taken in the matter, but we must come to the conclusion that if all the heads of the Department had reciprocated these sentiments, it would have been easy to have given such additional force to the movement that every schoolmaster and every manager in Welsh Wales would have felt a certain amount of moral suasion to change tactics.

Beyond vice voce explanations &c., the work done has been entirely confined to dealing with Welsh as a specific subject, i.e., teaching it as a foreign language in the three higher Standards only. The uninformed reader may need to be told that specifics are extra subjects, such as algebra, agriculture, French, physiology and domestic economy, which are to a considerable extent at the option of the School Board or managers. Success in these is paid for by a grant per head from the Government.

It is practically found that specifics can only be attempted in few schools, and many children leave school before entering


 

 

CHAP. V.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 193


Standard V. The Utilization Society was quite aware that much more would be needed than the introduction of the specific, as they said in their memorial to the Royal Commission in 1886: "We should however deeply deplore the restriction of concession to Welsh needs to the introduction of the specific subject only, as from the nature of the majority of the schools in Wales, such concession would benefit but comparatively few."

To Gelligaer School Board, bordering on Monmouthshire, belongs the honour of first introducing Welsh, viz., in 1885, before the issue of either of the Text Books. Some gleanings of the experience gained there and elsewhere will doubtless be interesting to the reader.

A Welsh schoolmaster thus commented upon the results of the first examination in the Gelligaer schools:

Here we have one School Board alone, without adequate text books, and with a large admixture of English-speaking children among its pupils, passing over 82 per cent, in the first examination in Welsh as a specific subject, and adding thereby a sum of twenty-one pounds to the school fund in additional grants. In one instance 62 per cent, of the children examined spoke English habitually at home, and yet 92 per cent of these English-speaking children passed successfully in their first examination in Welsh! One purely English child a girl was reported as having attained the third highest place in percentage of marks for Welsh exercises.

One of the head masters under the Board evidently regarded the matter something as a fad, and simply allowed two pupils to stand, but later on came to see that it might be more useful and profitable than he had anticipated, and successfully passed a considerable number.

In the report to the Education Department (Blue Book of 1888), Inspector Edwards, of Merthyr, appears to be quoted as speaking favourably of the text books of the Society; and


 

 

194 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.


Inspector Bancroft remarked on the fact that children in the English speaking parts of Pembrokeshire are often remarkably slow in answering one question in arithmetic.

The Chief Inspector in issuing the report, refers to the great slowness with which the teaching of Welsh was spreading, and alludes to parents and managers' objections, comprising the "popular delusion" spoken of in Chap. IV. He adds very much to the purpose. "Surely a movement which aims at improving what cannot now be considered satisfactory ought to have a fair trial, and to be pushed forward by enlightened educationalists, without waiting for a demand from the parents, most of whom naturally believe that the present system must be the best that can be devised."

Of course it ought. I am very glad such a man is in such a position, and has the good sense and boldness to make the remark. Ask the parents their opinion about the land laws and the Established Church, or the labour movement, and they have a right to be listened to, but it is a doctrine that should be most strongly protested against, that they should dictate a system of education to persons whose opportunities for forming a broad and liberal judgment are far more extensive than theirs.

Parents in general have but a limited idea of what education, even such an education as is possible and suitable for their circumstances in life, means: they need strong minds to direct: so do many school managers, and this narrowness of culture is one of the difficulties the Welsh has to contend against.

Inspector Pryce, of Carmarthenshire, in the same report, appears to depreciate teaching Welsh, which was entirely excluded as a specific from his district, but gives no reason except the unpopularity with parents, not of the language, but of its introduction into secular education.


 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 195

In the Welsh Division Report for 1890, published in 1891, the Chief Inspector alludes to the fact that "specific subjects are almost confined to higher-grade Elementary Schools," such as those established in large towns like Cardiff, where we should naturally expect to find not much Welsh attempted, and that ordinary schools find sufficient to do without, while teaching httle more than "elementary, and two class subjects," an observation which accentuates the remark following, that the "full value of the movement will not be attained till bilingual reading books be used in the lower standards"; he even goes further than this, and says that his experience has strengthened his conviction that advantage would accrue from using "the child's knowledge of his own language in teaching not only English but other languages as well."

Although specifics are thus handicapped, after listening to the Chief Inspector, we will give some consideration to the reports of Inspectors.

The Carmarthen district Inspector says: "Welsh has not yet been chosen as a specific subject in any school in my district. This is, no doubt, partly owing to the children in the larger schools possessing a fair knowledge in English, especially in the higher standards.". Now, in fact, if these children are bilingual, the reason assigned is a poor one. He admits to passing 408 in specific subjects; the boys in Algebra and animal physiology, and the girls in domestic economy. Algebra, it is true, would teach them to think, but so would Welsh, besides enlarging their powers of expression.

The Denbigh District Inspector says: "Welsh seems to be the popular specific subject in my district * * * in one school, strange to say, an English girl beat her Welsh fellows in this subject." This is simply the Gelligaer experience repeated. If popular in the Denbighshire district, which includes semi-Anglicized Ruabon, why not in Carmarthenshire,


 

 

196 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.

where a convenient knowledge of both languages co-exists to a large extent? If the reason assigned is that the children in the latter know Welsh already, why not, on the same ground, say that they know English already in Llanelly and Carmarthen, and refuse to teach them English composition.

The Pembroke District Inspector remarks on most of his schools, being unable to go in for specific subjects, that Welsh would "probably be more popular as a class subject, as there are but few scholars above the 5th Standard."

The Merthyr District Inspector (W. Edwards) says: That as things are at present, Welsh is begun to be taught too late in a child's course, and that a boy cannot take kindly to the conjugation of Welsh verbs, and the declension of nouns, when he has not previously read a Welsh book, and become familiar with the written form of the language, which he only knows colloquially.

What is said from the Carnarvon district, the "very headquarters of modern Welsh literature, and Welsh writers the classic ground of llenorion a beirdd now, and perhaps for a long period, in the future? Absolutely nothing. The Inspector has an English name, and though he may possess a small knowledge of the language, it is believed that he rarely exercises it.

In bilingual districts the subject is more likely to be popular with parents, but the ogre of the English manager or member of a School Board, who thinks he knows what the children want, but wishes to checkmate Welsh, is still more likely to present itself. Perhaps he is a colliery or tin-plate manager, or even a tradesman from across the border, and it is not impossible that he will approach the subject with that dogmatic assurance of a "little knowledge" which is sufficient to be a "dangerous thing."


 

 

CHAP. v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 197


Mynyddislwyn School Board, for instance, took Welsh not long since. In the only school under that Board, with which I am acquainted, it was a success, the children were getting on well; but at the end of some five months, without assigning a reason they stopped it, under an Englishman as chairman, and one or more English members. It is true that one of the head-masters is also an Englishman, and I heard he makes fun of their language to his Welsh scholars. Perhaps the influence of the two combined, i.e., of two or three ignorant persons who happened to be in positions of authority, was allowed to turn the judgment of the Board back from the course on which it had entered.

I made it my business, shortly before hearing this, to call at another Monmouthshire school where a different Board, though by no means warmly attached to the Welsh idea gave the master liberty to teach Welsh as a specific.

The sum of his testimony of the results of its introduction was:

1. That the children have a higher opinion of their language.

2. It is a success.

3. The children take an interest in it.

4. Their English is improved.

Now, if it is so in this school, why should it not be so in 1100 out of 1425 schools in Wales? Can anyone give a clear answer in the negative? I have read carefully, a good deal bearing on the subject during the last six years, and however much, invectives may be hurled, or contempt cast on those who work in the direction of bringing this about, nothing has yet been written or said which shews that the balance of evidence lies against the conclusion that this is about the proportion of schools in which Welsh can be used, either as a specific subject, or as a class subject side by side with English, or in the process of teaching elementary subjects, i.e. reading, writing and arithmetic.


 

 

198 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.


Into the 323 remainiag schools, perhaps it would be unwise to attempt to introduce anything of the sort at present, though with even where a minority of the population speak Welsh the Government concessions, still make it possible to teach it.

A boy, John Smith, for instance, can read a page of a bilingual book in BngUsh, if he knows nothing of Welsh. The next boy, David Hughes, half a page in English and half in Welsh; perhaps with general benefit to the class.

The following table shews the progress of Welsh as a "specific" during four years: 1887 1888 1889 1890

No. of scholars 1

examined in I 192 369 403 450

Welsh J

Passed 140 253 285 271

We must not look on Welsh as a specific, simply as an arrangement for the benefit of Welsh children. English children learn the language readily in Welsh districts. Near the very Monmouthshire school above mentioned, I was told that English children learnt Welsh with their fellows, and preferred talking it.

Children like those don't know much about nationality and sentiment the real pleasure, doubtless, arises from the second language awaking a hidden spring of mental power, which they are able to enjoy without much effort.

Putting specifics now for the moment aside, how does the current Report deal with other possible forms of teaching the language. Any thorough and widely extended system is, perhaps, not possible until the publication of the Text books, but in the meantime a little is possible in teaching English composition, in lieu of which translation from English into

 

 

CHAP, v.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 199

Welsh is allowed. All teachers, and managers ought to know that this is now permissible, and does not necessarily require the use of specially prepared school books to carry it out.

What does the Chief Inspector say? Why, that he is "surprised and disappointed" to find so few teachers availing themselves of it, while he is fully persuaded that the results would be more valuable than an attempt at Composition.

The Cardigan Inspector, weary of the insipid monotony of some portions of his work, says, after speaking of certain teachers being not quite up to the mark in English grammar, that in some cases of the sort "Welsh might very well be attempted, for there are many teachers in the Welsh part of my district who could make the subject interesting and beneficial to their scholars. I should be glad if some tried it, only for the sake of a little variety." [i.e. tried Welsh as a class subject].

Lastly, I will note the recommendation of the Merthyr Inspector, which, if carried into effect, would introduce Welsh into all standards and all schools, because that language would be incidental to the compulsory subject, reading. "It is, in my opinion, highly desirable that in all Welsh schools one of the reading books should be wholly or partly in the vernacular." He goes on to make the very sensible remark that parents are not capable judges of the merits of the change is convinced that a Welsh child will not lose in a material sense, and will gain a great deal intellectually, the bulk of teachers in his district could with very slight preparation qualify themselves for giving the bilingual instructions sanctioned by the Code of 1890.

Now, what meaning can we attach to this backwardness, when no less than 339 of them gave affirmative answers as to the desirability of the introduction of Welsh as a specific in


 

 

200 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. V.

 

1885? In part we must put it down to the fact that some of them may be waiting the appearing of Text Books, and only a few are in a position to introduce a specific to their schools. To be honest, however, this leaves a large part of the problem unexplained. 1 would venture on one hypothesis they share that common inheritance of weak humanity, a reluctance to launch out into the unknown when the known presents a plausible amount of satisfaction and ease.

''' Illi robur et aes triplex

Circa pectus erat, qui fragilem truci Commisit pelage ratem Primus * * '''

I would figure them like those children whose first introduction to the sea is at one of those Welsh watering-places where fond mothers have succeeded in steeling their own hearts to commit them to the care of some weather-beaten mistress of a bathing-machine, to give the young hopefuls willhe, nillhe, a good sousing into the briny deep.

Now some teachers are just in the position to profit by such a good sousing metaphorically, but who will be able to play the part of Gwragedd glan y mor?

Of course, in view of the appearance of the long-looked for bilingual reading books, and the consequent introduction of Welsh into all the standards, much that I have vmtten here may read like ancient history, before the present school generation has entirely left the benches. I must, nevertheless, treat the question as it is, and not as it may be in a short time; only thus can its bearings be grasped intellectually.

One cannot help strongly contrasting the extraordinary and popular demonstration at the death of the late D. I. Davies,

* Horace, Carm. Lib. I. iii. Around his heart were fixed stout oak and threefold brass, who first to the wild ocean entrusted his frail skiff.


 

 

CHAP. V.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 201

his being treated almost like a national hero, the long procession and the imposing array of influential names who either honoured his memory by their presence at the grave, or by written communications, with the small amount of actual pains which have been taken by such to spread the views which he so energetically and ably set forth, and to educate the country up to the necessary degree of discrimination in a matter apparently a detail of education, but in reality one of great and unforeseen importance.

One cannot help, on the other hand, reflecting on the lethargy, shall I say boorishness, displayed by a large majority of school managers in the face of such clear representations as have been made in public, though they may not have troubled to direct their reading to the quarters where non-official statements would be likely to be found, or to the official representations made by persons such as D. I. Davies, Chief Inspector Williams, and W. Edwards, appointed by Government to superintend schools, and advise on any point which the powers of the Code allow.

It is not the duty of the Inspectors (officially) to go and argue with these managers, but has there not been a Society established for the express object, amongst others, of educating public opinion? If it has failed in taking proper steps to do that, and remained quiescent, whose fault is it? Have the admirers of D. I. Davies's educational principles nothing to say or do, and is the presence of an influential Englishman, or Anglicized Welshman on a School Board, to quash all enquiry and linguistic enterprise in a district? Wait a bit, and when the bilingual reading books are issued we shall again have an opportunity of seeing what mettle Welsh educationalists are made of.

To ponder, in an unreasoning way, over parents' objections is childish. There are, however, some difficulties, one of the




 

 

202 WALES AND HER LANGUAGE. [CHAP. V.


principal ones of which is the want of previous training on the part of many teachers. But most or all of them will gradually vanish in a few years, or be greatly minimized under the influence of a special Code for Wales, and special regulations for would-be teachers.

As the Chief Inspector has remarked, the movement has done good in inducing some Inspectors to pay more attention to the scholars understanding what they read in schools. This is good so far, but Wales needs more than this. The scholars should not only understand that which it is attempted to teach them in school, but also should have the advantage of systematic training in the language which is taught them at home, and which for many, will form their principal medium of communication for the remainder of their life. In short, the efforts of school authorities should be directed not merely to enable the scholars to understand English, but they should also not be afraid to T-E-A-C-H W-E-L-S-H.

I will close the chapter by an extract* from a paper by one of the few schoolmasters who has had this practical experience

For the sake of our children, our chief care, who have so far been suffering wrong at our hands, inasmuch as an ignorant zeal has hindered their true progress, and we have taken from them the only means which they possessed of becoming intelligently instructed, to wit, their language the only proper key to open the door of their minds have slighted every thing that was dear and sacred in their eyes; have robbed them of the self-confidence which was necessary in order for them to grow up as men, and be men everywhere. Our cry for them is, make their path straight by giving their language the position it is worthy of in our educational system, that there may be more sympathy between the hearth and the day school, because the latter will be a "home from home" to the children, which it has not been in the past.

* Translated from "Cymraeg yn yr Ysgolion Dyddiol," gan T. Clement Thomas, in Y Traethodydd Gor. 1890.


 

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