kimkat0145e Wales And Her Language Considered From A Historical, Educational And Social Standpoint
John E. Southall. 149 Dock Street, Newport, Mon. 1892.
31-05-2017

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Gwefan Cymru-Catalonia
La Web de Gal
les i Catalunya
The Wales-Catalonia Website

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 VII. 245-312.

ENGLISH INTEREST IN GERMAN, AND REASONS THEREFOR - DESIRE TO LEARN WELSH COMMON ADVICE TO BEGINNERS NATIVE GRAMMARS PERSONAL EXPERIENCE EDUCATIONAL VALUE OF WELSH, SOME OF ITS PECULIARITIES WELSH AND ENGLISH LANGUAGES CONTRASTED MODERN WELSH LITERATURE THE TWENTY-FOUR METRES ISLWYN, OSSIAN GWENT, DAFYDD IONAWR, AND OTHERS WELSH PROSE PERIODICALS AND NEWSPAPERS FUGITIVE LITERATURE WELSH PUBLISHERS THE FUTURE.


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245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 261, 262, xxx, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298, 299, 300, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312,

 

 

 

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CHAPTER VII.

ENGLISH INTEREST IN GERMAN, AND REASONS THEREFOR - DESIRE TO LEARN WELSH COMMON ADVICE TO BEGINNERS NATIVE GRAMMARS PERSONAL EXPERIENCE EDUCATIONAL VALUE OF WELSH, SOME OF ITS PECULIARITIES WELSH AND ENGLISH LANGUAGES CONTRASTED MODERN WELSH LITERATURE THE TWENTY-FOUR METRES ISLWYN, OSSIAN GWENT, DAFYDD LONAWR, AND OTHERS WELSH PROSE PERIODICALS AND NEWSPAPERS FUGITIVE LITERATURE WELSH PUBLISHERS THE FUTURE.

It is not an uncommon thing for English boys and girls entering, for the first time, upon the study of German to find that it has a strange fascination for them. There is something in German which seems to call forth a deeper response from the inner nature than French, and the young student traces with delight the words conveying homely ideas, which are nearly alike in both languages, and feels as he progresses, as if there was an element cramped in his mother tongue, which he unexpectedly finds has shot up into a luxuriant and vigorous growth in German, so that on the whole it commands more enthusiasm both in school and college, than does any classical or modern language commonly studied there.

So much for the language of the great Empire of Central Europe, but what if I affirm about Welsh that it too has the power of awakening the sympathies and the enthusiasm of a large number of English students in an equal and, perhaps, in a much greater degree than German? True, it does not open out so much pleasure as does the latter in the exhibition of such close relations between many familiar household words, but then there is the response from the inner nature which is called forth by the sound of the words themselves, the construction

 

 

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246 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.


of the sentences, and the general rhythm of the language.

Are Englishmen susceptible to the impressions from these sources, which so mightily stir the minds of many Welshmen?

I believe a large number, especially of those living in the western half of England are, and that on the other hand there are a number more, especially those living in the eastern half, who would regard them with indifference, even if they would not positively nauseate under them; and I further believe that were the practical test of ability in learning Welsh applied under equal conditions to a representative collection of youths from the western half, and to another from the eastern half, that the palm for facility in acquiring it would have to be given undoubtedly to the western-half youths. That is to say, youths from Cumberland would beat those from Lincoln, and youths from Devonshire those from Sussex.

Whether or not this theory is perfectly worthless, remains for my readers who are competent to do so, to judge. It is, however, given here under the belief that there is a foundation for it in the facts. Another deduction therefrom is quite clear, viz., that if Welsh were taught to the English-speaking youth of Wales, it would in general be much more readily acquired than in many parts of England.

In any case, it is a fact that there is a considerable inclination on the part of many of the better-educated English-speaking inhabitants of Wales to learn Welsh, which is partly evidenced by the readiness with which a little book of phrases, &c., with the misleading title,* " How to learn Welsh," has sold, if I may judge from the information given from W. H.

* I say misleading, because the contents consist of little else than phrases and the meanings of words.


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 247

Smith's bookstall at Newport, and by other symptoms of interest.

There are four reasons for this inclination:

I. The wish to mix on equal terms with those who know both languages, sometimes for business reasons, sometimes for curiosity or social reasons, and to understand better the phenomena of their daily life.

II. The inner penchant alluded to.

III. For the sake of philological and archaeological investigations.

IV. For the sake of reading the literature.

However, whatever inducements it may offer, the study of Welsh can naturally be considered from two chief standpoints:

First That of the philologist, the archaeologist, and the pure litterateur, the bookworm or the university man.

Secondly As a living language spoken in the Nineteenth century, and as part of the social and intellectual life of the 900,000 or 1,000,000 who habitually use it, or listen to it from the lips of preachers.

In this chapter I purpose to consider the language and its literature chiefly from the latter standpoint, viz., that of everyday life, or rather as it concerns the many and not the few.

This study has not yet found its level at Oxford and Cambridge, nor in the examinations of London University. The time, however, is coming when it will do so, and this is a fact perhaps generally recognized. Its future as a scientific study may safely be left in the hands of Professor Rhys, and others who shall follow him.

What is not so generally recognized, is that it may still find a level in Wales itself, side by side with English in almost every department of national life, and it is with a view to facilitate such a result, or rather to arouse Welshmen to


 

 

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248 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII,


consider what is involved in it, that the writer has chiefly been inclined to enter on this work.

N'ow, as this book will probably fall into the hands of some who are only English-speaking, they may wish to be told the best method of procedure in learning Welsh. Bearing in mind the very different degrees of previous culture, age and stamp of mind which form factors in the case, it is impossible to give any general rule which will best apply to all would-be, self-taught students.

The first step in almost any case, is to get the key to the pronunciation and accent; though anything like perfection in these respects would require years of practice, to a person reared in the heart of England, at the same time I do not know that the difiBculties are in themselves any greater than in French pronunciation. For a foreigner (a Londoner, for instance) a passable facility is not nearly so difficult to attain as is generally imagined; if, for instance, the student reads the directions in his grammar, and then gets some acquaintance to read a few verses in the Testament, or some stanzas of poetry; if he really has an ear for the language, two or three hours divided into small periods for every occasion will set him on his legs, and he will have a better foundation to go forward on, than the German I heard of at Aberystwith some years ago, who attempted to speak to the people there the Welsh he had learnt in Germany, but was a " barbarian" unto them.

The next step, if he has had previous experience in learning languages, would be to go roughly and quickly through a grammar, say Spurrell's, published at Carmarthen, learning off most of the prepositions and other particles by heart, but not attempting to burden his memory with much besides, and then thoroughly to go through the grammar a second time carefully noting the inflections and verbal constructions, while at the same time using daily, say for fifteen minutes only, a


 

 

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CHAP, VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 249

bilingual book, or the English and Welsh Testaments used together, which will increase his vocabulary without wasting his time searching a dictionary, and he will find that in such a course many difficulties gradually vanish, and a familiarity with the language is induced. I would also recommend him to supplement this by committing to memory some stanzas of poetry, even if he is not able entirely to translate them; such a simple piece for instance as Mynyddog's " Gwelais Johnny bach yn myn'd i'r ysgoL" This will tend to initiate him into the genius of the language perhaps as much as any means at his disposal.

To still further increase his vocabulary he must resort to considerable dictionary work in translating, say from periodicals such as Y Traethodydd, or Y Geninen, or Cymru. A further advance still will be made when the student is able to read the Cywyddau and Englynion of modern poets, to say nothing of ancient ones, which many Welshmen themselves find beyond them. I mention these two metres, because in them, as well as in others governed by the laws of Cynghanedd,* he will find a larger proportion of uncommon words than in works in the free metres.

To attain a more thorough grammatical knowledge, especially of Welsh syntax, there is not a better work to be had than Rowlands' Welsh Grammar, supplemented by a volume of Exercises by the same author, which will assist in speaking and writing the language, though not abrogate the necessity of practice in order to a colloquial use of it.

To quite a young person, and one who is unacquainted with a foreign tongue, I would recommend "Welsh as a specific subject," Stages I. and II.f Stage III. is not published, but may be, soon after this book is in my readers' hands.

* Cynghanedd generally involves alliteration. It is a term not easily Englished. t Simpkin, Marshall and Co., London, 6d. each.

n


 

 

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250 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

The initial mutations, or changes of some of the initial consonants, under certain conditions, doubtless have frightened some people who have commenced the study of the language; in reality, however, this is a far less obstacle when properly encountered than may be supposed, so far as reading the language is concerned, though it is a more difficult matter to obtain absolute correctness in writing and speaking it.

Before quite leaving the question of grammars, our ideal student will, after learning to read the language, find it worth while to look at one of the various grammars written in Welsh, such as "Oramadeg Huw Tegai;"* or "Oramadeg Caledfryn;" not that there is much philological science to be gleaned from them, but they sometimes touch on various matters such as the rules of poetry and prose, not strictly belonging to an English-Welsh grammar, and therefore may not improbably be intended for the use of country people and others who wish to compete in literary meetings with comp<^sitions of their own.

The number of native Welsh Grammars is a singular feature in the modern literature of Wales. A vernacular writer in Yr Adolygyddf has commented on it, and I take the liberty of freely translating an extract from his article.

"We should recollect that we cannot on every occasion draw comparisons between the Welsh and the English. We have no Eoyal, princely, nor aristocratic families among us to influence our customs. The few rich ones who live in the country are strangers to the people as regards language, and foreigners in respect of religion. We do not possess such an extensive and wealthy middle-class as exists in England, but v e are, as a nation, composed of farmers, small shopkeepers, and working men. Tinder these circumstances it is clear that the influences which govern the mass must arise from themselves. This truth appears more clear, when we recollect that the preachers of Wales spring from

* Published by Humphreys, Carnarvon. t Cyf, ii. 176.


 

 

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CHAP. VII. J [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 251

the ranks, and that the priests who belong to the moneyed class have but little influence on their fellow countrymen. Perhaps the history of the world does not present a parallel case. "When the nation saw that the boneddigion:^ were forgetting and despising their language, they devoted themselves to its culture. When they saw that their shepherds only cared for the flock on shearing day they chose for themselves teachers. When they understood that there was no longer any vision in the old mass houses (cyssegroedd) they stirred themselves to build new worship houses, and they can hsten complacently to the Bishop of Llandafft recounting their success. "The priest of G-lyn Tafi: took me," said he, " to a place at the side of his. house where eleven chapels could be seen, and only one church." Many another priest, besides an old renegade from the Nonconformists, could have done the same thing with the Bishop.

The Welsh were obliged to do this, or sink into barbarism. After all care about them, either from the Grovernment or the higher classes had ceased, they were obliged to care for themselves, or to die of neglect. The Irishman resolved to die. [? linguistically], the Welshman resolved to live, and the different effects of the two conclusions are easUy to be seen in the present condition of the two nations. The Welshman threw himself on Grod and himself, and the consequence is that the nation, as a nation, is moral, intelligent, and religious. A proof of the truth of what we have been saying is the great number of Grammars that are continually being published, and a remarkable fact is, that some of them are composed by persons who only enjoyed but few literary advantages. Having studied their language themselves, they present the. fruit of their labours to the care and notice of their fellow countrymen, and although some of the teachers of the people frown on things hke this, yet we gather from them an unshaken assurance that the Welsh wUl not allow themselves to be uneducated.

Perhaps it will not be out of place for the writer to give ', ^...* Geptlemen. t (?) Bishop Olipliant,


 

 

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252 WALES XSV [CHAP. VII.

some outlines of Ms personal experience with regard to learning Welsh. I was, perhaps, nine years of age when a warm attachment sprang up in my mind towards Wales, kindled by what cause I scarcely know, unless by some small portion of Gray's fine poem, " The Bard," given in " Little Arthur's History of England." Some of my readers may be familiar with the opening stanza, addressed by the bard to Edward L

Euiu seize thee, ruthless King,

Confusion on thy banners wait,

Though fanned by conquest's crimson wing,

They mock the air in idle state;

Helm nor Hauberk's twisted mail,

Nor e'en thy virtues, tyrant, shall avail

To save thy soul from mighty fears,

Prom Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears.

It was not, however, till years after that I read the whole poem, one of the finest lyrics in the English language, and had the allusions explained.

This attachment was perhaps the more singular as one of my early governesses, although belonging to an old North Welsh family, and a descendant of Owain Glyndwr, was English by education, an Episcopalian by religion, and antagonistic or indififerent to anything distinctively Welsh, nor was there anything in family connections or bias that appeared likely to incline any member of it to "eat the leek." I had, however, heard my father mention in company that he should like to know Welsh, mainly, I suppose, for conversational purposes.

When about twelve years of age I had the enjoyment of visiting Welsh-Wales, and carried home a trophy in the shape of a copy of " Yr Herald Cymraeg," without, of course, being able to read it, and recollect, moreover, how astonished I felt,



 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 253


being told at one of the Cambrian Railway Company's stations, that the Welsh still called themselves Cymry. These then, I thought to myself, are the identical people that allied themselves to the Teutons, and sacked Rome under Brennus, 490 B.O., an event which had been well impressed on my mind by means of a " Child's History of Rome," and how extraordinary that nearly the same name should have been preserved!

Two or three more years passed, and I accompanied my father to a Friends' Quarterly Meeting, at Neath. One of the notabilia of the visit was seeing a Welsh notice in some neighbouring grounds headed Bhyhudd; on returning to school, at York, I took the liberty to write Bhyhudd on a notice pasted upon one of the school doors, an act which, as might be expected, met with scorn. However, on returning from Neath, by the Neath and Brecon line, and hearing Welsh spoken in the carriage, I secretly made up my mind to learn it, being of a contrary mind to a certain English tradesman of my acquaintance, who almost felt himself insulted by some people speaking Welsh at Gloucester Station. Think what a "positive nuisance" it is to an Englishman to be in the company of persons whose speech he doesn't understand!

The course of education I was then pursuing did not leave me leisure to commence Welsh, but during the next vacation I bought dictionaries, and in the course of the subsequent half-year vn*ote to the Professor of Welsh, at Lampeter, to ask his advice as to books for reading. I think he recommended a bilingual booklet, published by the "S.P.C.K.," also F Cyfaill Eghoysig, and as an advanced book, " Drych y Prif oesoedd," and he added that he shonld be glad to hear from me again.

It came to the knowledge of the headmaster that I


 

 

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264 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

had been so impertinent as to venture to trouble such a person to spend his time writing to a boy like myself, and consequently I had to stand a reproof, though I suspect he somewhat chuckled at the idea, but I have no doubt that the Professor was really pleased to be called on to give the information, and that he would not have taken it amiss had I reported myself to him after he became Bishop of "St." Asaph.

After leaving school came a time of leisure, in which Spurrell's grammar and the Welsh-English Testament were my frequent companions, supplemented at first by the S.P.C.K. book alluded to, and, I think, a simple biography of Dafydd Lloyd, a cottager, in Welsh and English, with a number of the Cyfaill Eghvysig, followed by Caneuon Mynyddog. For pronunciation I had about ten days in Wales, in the month called "August," followed by a similar period in " October," during which I found myself for once at least a member of a Welsh " Sunday School" class, and got the old Town Crier of Aberystwith to read Glan Geirionydd's " Morfa Rhuddlan," which convinced me that there were certain poetic possibilities in the language which are beyond the reach of Enghsh. It was not long before I committed the whole of that remarkable piece to memory, and although it is too much at variance with Quaker peace principles to afford the same pleasure as formerly, some further notice is given of the poem a few pages further on.

During the winter succeeding, and for some years after, the requirements of business and other considerations, rendered it advisable to pretty much shelve this attractive study, in which, to the present day, I am far from attaining any high degree of proficiency. To intending students I would, however, say that two things will very much conduce to attaining a mastery of the language when its colloquial use is not easy: first, the committal of short pieces of poetry to memory, which


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 255

familiarize the mind with the genius and rhythm of the language; second, the practice of turning English into Welsh meiitally, by means say of first rendering a verse in the Testament into any sort of Welsh that comes to the mind, and then referring to the correct version.

There is one very striking line of difference between English and Welsh, and one which is very inadequately noticed either by Welshmen or Englishmen. For several centuries English has lost (or nearly lost) the power of forming new words from roots contained in the original Anglo-Saxon stock, and has been obliged to borrow a very large proportion of words expressing abstract ideas, as well as nearly all scientific terms, directly or indirectly, from Greek or Latin sources.

In considering this we must bear in mind that up to within a comparatively late period of the middle ages English was the language of serfs, and not that of culture, although it must have been all along the vernacular of a great majority of the nation. Now the result of all this appears to have been a sort of unconscious mental compromise when French could no longer be sustained, the writers of the transition period gradually learned to take English as their base language, and to modify, as well as amplify it, first by the introduction of many Norman-French words, and afterwards by words direct from the Latin. I am aware that the latter movement had effect chiefly in Henry VIIL's time, and subsequently, but believe it to be explained by the Norman-French influence having so efiectually nipped the growth of " English undefiled," that it came most natural to subsequent writers to recur to draw their materials for the expression of new ideas from classical ground.

Perhaps the most popular book of the day, in the latter end of the Fourteenth century, and during the first half of the Fifteenth, was Sir John Mandeville's Travels, written by a Hertfordshire man. He did not, however, choose English for


 

 

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2S6 WALES AST) [CHAr. VII.


his first medium of publicity, the book was written in French (about 1370), and afterwards translated into English, just as Stanley's Travels might be first published in English to secure the larger and more influential circle of readers, afterwards in Welsh to make the information it contained more completely general.

Now, if English had been the sole language of the nation for two hundred years, I don't think the writers of the Sixteenth century would have dared to introduce so many words of foreign origin, any more than Luther and his coadjutors did in Germany during the same period. As the matter stands, it would be a simple piece of afiectation now for any English writer to attempt to substitute for them those expressions, which we are well warranted in supposing the genius of the Anglo-Saxon language would have developed, if left to itself. It is rather the fashion to extol the purity of a writer or speaker's diction, while ascribing his influence to the use of Saxon terms, but such statements, when examined, have but little worth, except as comparisons between one writer or speaker and another. It is a simple fact that a man cannot express himself now in English concisely, or in an effective style, he can neither generalize nor specialize, without freely drawing into use words originating from extraneous sources. The day for an Anglo-Saxon development has in reality long ago passed, but at the same time a heavy, artificial, Johnsonian style is as repugnant to an ordinary Englishman as one from which classical words were excluded, would be either pointless or obscure.

Now, in Wales the case stands differently; Norman-French influence made itself strongly felt there, and tinctured the vocabulary of the time, especially with military terms, but it is doubtful if it ever was so much the language of the ruling classes as in England, and consequently its traces on the


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 257

Welsh of to-da)^ are much fainter than correspondingly in English.

When we come to words, the occasion for the use of which has arisen in modern times, the difference is still more striking; instead of the continual influx of foreign synonyms, there is a continued tendency in Welsh to draw upon its own stores. I call it a tendency because it has only partially had eflect, on account of the oft-mentioned condition of secular education. Of course English words have become incorporated in Welsh, some of them during the period under notice, say 1500, to the present time, most of them previously, but considering the peculiar circumstances in which Welsh has been placed, they are far fewer than might have been expected. In addition to these there are a large number of foreign words knocking at the door for permanent incorporation in the language ^words frequently used in conversation, and by writers, who do not profess an elevated style or pure diction, and which so far have knocked in vain, because they have rivals bred and born on the soil used by the most gifted pens of the nation, and which refuse to die. If only the literary cultivation of the language, nay, if only reading aloud in Welsh, and Welsh grammar are introduced into schools, these rivals will not merely live, but they will flourish, and lift their heads above the foreigners, who may not die, it is true, but have a more circumscribed existence.

It is this fact of a vocabulary adapted to the civilization of the Nineteenth century being to a large extent self-contained in his language which helps a Welshman the more easily to attain a certain standard of literary culture than an Englishman ceteris paribus, (which they are not), and this, be it remembered, constitutes in itself a powerful argument for introducing the language into a system of Welsh national education.


 

 

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258 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

What idea does the word Electricity convey to an English child? Absolutely nothing until, perhaps, he is a grown lad, when he learns that it has something to do with the telegraph wires, even then he may not be quite sure whether or no a lost umbrella can be sent by telegraph. He knows nothing of amber, and still less that elektron was a Greek word referring to the properties of amber. Now, Trydaniaeth, to the Welsh child is not an empirical collection of sounds, like electricity is to the English one; true it does not convey in itself a knowledge of the nature of electricity (and who knows that?), but it puts him in the track at once, and in grasping the idea of electricity, so far as communicable, he has a less distg,nce to go than his English brother.

Look then at astronomy, here is another empirical word, expressive enough when it is understood, but quite foreign in its radical components, to English home life; the Welsh have a ready key to it in seryddiaeth; so with DAEARYDDiAETH for geography. Take science again, how many vague phases of meaning are attached to that word in the mind of an English middle-class boy before he arrives at the general and popular acceptation of the term. The Welsh boy may have some difficulty, but far less of its kind when he hears of gwyddok.

Now, how does a Welsh schoolmaster deal with words like this. He is supposed to e-duc-ate, lead out the mind in the shortest possible time and most efficient manner, with reference to the requirements of after life; yet he does one of two things, either he absolutely ignores the Welsh terms, and confines himself to the empirical, hardly understood English ones if he has occasion to use any, or else he limits the use of Welsh ones entirely to word of mouth explanations, in the same way as if Welsh were a sacred language, as in the days of the Druids, to be spoken but not written, and not to


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 259

be brought before their pupils by the evidence of the eye as well as the ear.

The Department would doubtless have altered this long ago but for two things, viz., ignorance, and a fear that if such a course were pursued the children would be learning Welsh.

This feature of the adaptability of the language to education is remarkably little noticed by native writers, and many intelligent Welshmen of the present day seem scarcely alive to its existence, but the author of " Echoes from the Welsh Hills " has a few liaes to the point. An extract from that work is given in the appendix.

Much is said in Wales about the importance of teaching English, but I suspect that, while there is no controversy about the great importance of it, many who enunciate those platitudes are unaware how imperfectly the working and lower middle-classes in England are acquainted with their own language, far more imperfectly probably than the corresponding classes in Germany, where the difference between the literary and spoken language is less than in England. Of course English must be taught, but the generality of such advisers do not realize on the one liand, how difficult it is to teach English thoroughly, even where Welsh has long been extinct, nor how powerful an adjunct to education Welsh may be made.

One of the excellencies of Welsh consists in the number and force of the plural terminations which are in some degree classified according to the nature of idea expressed in the words. For instance, the plural of names of animals and birds generally ends in od, those of abstract nouns in au, trees and some natural objects in i, plurals and objects conveying an idea of immensity or vastness or power most frequently end in oedd, which is in itself a more powerful plural termination


 

 

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260 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

than any found in English; there are other terminations, such as ion and ydd, besides the modification of the vowel, which sometimes takes place.

It is a popular delusion to suppose that Welsh is a language abounding in consonantal sOuhds. In fact, it is said to be less so than English, but its peculiar strength and expressiveness is in part the result of its possessing three sounds not found in English, viz., those represented by the signs ch, II, rh, to which might perhaps be added ng, which is slightly more nasal than in English, and in part owing to the long vowel sounds being longer than with us prominent among these is the a sound in vast. There are, it is true, some features in the syntax which detract from conciseness, such as the construction of dependent verbal clauses, and the reduplication of personal and possessive pronouns, but on the other hand the language gains in its appositional power.

The question is sometimes asked, " What is the use of learning Welsh? It has no literature, and everyone can speak English." I will not now attempt to discuss the practical utility of the subject, but shall endeavour within a short compass to give a general view of the extent of Welsh poetical literature in the past, followed by notices of some of the chief bards of the Nineteenth century, after which will come some reference first to Welsh prose and the literature of Wales not strictly Welsh, secondly, to periodical and fugitive literature. This is necessarily a partial method of treatment, when the matter might well be expanded into a good sized book; under the circumstances, however, I do not know of a better.

There is one thing, that a study of the Welsh language and its current literature does for a stranger, it opens his eyes to the existence of a little world which he has previously known only by report. I have already alluded to this, and to the fact that a mere residence in the country is not sufficient



 

 

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CHAP. VII.] HER LANaUAGE. 261

to understand it; this will hold good so long as the Welsh language forms an integral part of the social life, and is the " natural exponent " of the religious convictions of any considerable proportion of its population, or even so long as its literature becomes an influential factor in their life, although in many other respects such individuals may appear to be Anglicized. I think this explains the anxiety of many servants of what is usually called " the Church " to substitute an EngHsh monolingual for a bilingual condition of the country, on account of the fact that their chief support arises from a monolingual minority, backed up by prestige, who pull one way, while the gwerin (the commonalty) pulls the other.

There are others of them who much doubt if this is the correct course to pursue. Certainly the English Government has proved that it does so, by its recent Episcopal appointments. Whether, however, that policy will be allowed so far to prevail as to permit the National Schools to become centres for the spread of the bilingual idea, or whether any disposition to yield in this direction is simply a sop for Cerberus, which will be snatched away as soon as he shews a disposition not to bark, remains to be seen by the generation that is just coming on the scene of action.

Of course my remark about Anglicized persons, not really knowing the country, applies all round, without distinction of rank or party, and is true both with respect to the industrial districts of Glamorganshii-e as well as the retired valleys of North; of any John Smith, of Tre'r Estron, as well as of the inheritor of the estate and twentieth descendant in the direct line of some Hywel ap Gwyddno ap Elidr fras, who cannot converse in the home language of his tenants, much less read the odes in praise of his ancestors.

Another thing which strikes a stranger is the amount of


 

 

image1106

262


WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]


[chap. VII.


contradictory testimony offered by Welshmen themselves as to the extent and calibre of the native literature. Compare the following:


"Welshmen's Testimony. One need only read the Welsh publications to be con- convinced of the non-utUity of the language for any practical purpose whatever. Incumbent of Trevethin, p. 97.


The Welsh language has no valuable vpritings, either in prose or poetry. Hector of Llanhilleth, p. 96.


Englishmen's Testimony.

I come to the conclusion that the BngUsh language cannot answer the same purpose as the national language, and that the preservation of Welsh is the only hope for the Welsh nation to develop itself on its own lines.* T. Darlington, M.A., laith a ChenedlaetJioldeb.

He [G-eo. Borrow] considered that even the writings of Huw Morris and Goronwy Owain alone were quite sufficient to repay anyone for the study of the Welsh language. Verbal expression of G. B.; quoted by the Vicar of Ruabon, in 1885.

The testimonies of the two Welshmen are samples of what may be met with in our midst, though fear operates to keep such uninformed views from finding much public vent, while on the other hand we may add those of two more, and " poh un yn llym gyfreithiwr."

He read more Welsh now than he had ever done before in the whole course of his life. He supposed he might consider himself as having arrived at years of discretion at all events, he had reached that time of life when people were able to judge somewhat of the literary character of an essay or the beauty of a poem, and all he could say was that when he turned back, not only to

* T. Darlington has learnt Welsh, and I translate from an address of his in that language.


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 263

the old Welsh poems, but to some of the later ones, he found them the most beautiful things he had ever read in any language in his life. There were Welsh poets now who wrote most lovely things, and if they could only get them published, they would hare the effect of elevating men's minds. Report of Speech hy Judge Gwilym Williams, 9th mo., 1891.

The surpassing loveliness of the Celtic language, and the inestimable value of the literature of the Cymry, were revealing themselves to the very people who not long since treated the one with supercilious irreverence, and the other with unmeasured contempt. * * * * He contended that their poetry generally contained a subtle refinement of expression wedded to beautiful thought. T. Marchant Williams, in 1888.

I will assume that the depredators of Welsh literature are qualified to speak; that being the case, and they are not few in number, it is evident that doctors disagree, and the student must decide for himself as to the value of their allegations.

At the outset, I would advise him to broadly distinguish between language and literature. Quite true, the difierence is self-evident, but let it be also known that the value of a language does not necessarily depend upon the literature preserved in that language either as respects quantity or quality.

It is possible that a language may be wanting in precision and powers of expression, that is to say, of course, that it possesses radical deficiencies as an instrument for the communication of ideas and mental impressions, but at the same time it may possess a valuable literature. Another language may have a most meagre literature, and yet be one of the most perfect exponents in existence of the language of the human mind in a state of civilization. It is a mistake to assume that for any but colloquial purposes a language should be studied mainly on account of its literature. In some cases this is true,


 

 

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264 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.


in others, and Welsh is notably an exception to such a rule, however extensive the literature may be, the povi^er possessed by the language per se, is in itself a means of mental development, vrhich might in the abstract justify the study of it.

Dismissing for a time this matter of language j??er se, we will suppose the idea student to have climbed to the top of the hill of difficulty in the way of acquiring a passable facility in reading modern Welsh, what is the nature of the prospect before him?

The remains of the oldest poets, whose works are extant, are supposed to date back to not long after the time when the Roman forces were withdrawn from our island, but it is not till the Eleventh century that we have any indication of a considerable body of native literature existing.

From that time down to the accession of Henry VII., the names of a large number of writers are handed down, some of their works have been printed, but many more are lying in manuscript, either at the British Museum or in private libraries. The works of very few poets up to the Seventeenth century have been printed in a separate form. One exception is in the case of Lewis Glyn Cothi, a writer during the wars of the Roses: a considerable body of mediseval poetry exists in the Myfyrian Archmology, published by T. Gee, Denbigh, and in Gorchestion y Beirdd, by Humphreys, Carnarvon.

The chief interest of by far the larger portion of these is antiquarian, from their throwing light on the character of the times in which they lived, incidentally rather than otherwise, as much of the matter is taken up with the praise of the princes or chiefs who patronized them, or with the recital of of deeds of arms.

One of them, Dafydd ap Gwilym, stands out pre-eminently as an amatory poet, as well as in descriptions of nature, and is still considered to hold the chief rank in that and succeed-


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 265

ing ages. He was one of the earliest writers who conformed to the laws of cynghanedd.

Few people have any idea of the immense amount of manuscript literature which must be existing in Wales, the production of which is largely fostered by the Eisteddfod system. A few of the poems and essays are published, and a large number are consigned to oblivion, not always because they have no merit, but because the writers have not the means, or the desire to risk loss by publication.

Poems written in the twenty-four measures, such as the Odlam, for which chair prizes are awarded, are more difficult for the general public to read without a certain amount of training and a facility in the literary language which many Welshmen, especially in South Wales, are deficient in. I believe this to be one reason why so many compositions are allowed by their authors to lie dormant.

In the poetic department of literature it is surprising at a first glance, out of such a large number of volumes and booklets published during the present century, how small a proportion is now accessible to the public. This is mainly due to reasons which I will refer to further on. Notwithstanding these deductions the body of printed poetry which remains is quite considerable for the size of the country.

"Wrtydyn" is publishing, mYGeninen, a complete list, so far as known, of all Welsh poetical publications printed since the commencement of the century to the present time; it is unfinished,* but I gather that the total number of works is likely to prove not less than 1,000. Some few of these are reprints, but the great majority are original publications.

Much that has been published is of a character so difierent, both in manner and in form, to what we find in English, that

* The editor seems to set slight store by this valuable list, as the publication of it has only gone on at intervals for nearly five years.


 

 

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266 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

it amply repays examination; though my own acquaintance with this great mass of Welsh poetry is slight enough, it is perhaps sufficiently general to be utilized in remarks that may interest my readers, though not satisfy them.

At the outset we do well to bear in mind that there appears to be strong reason to believe that rhyme was first cradled among the Celts,* and from them it crept into the Romance languages, then into the Teutonic and Scandinavian ones. We have no classical Latin rhymes, no Anglo-Saxon rhymes, but we find rhymes existing among the gogynfeirdd (the most ancient Welsh poets), Taliesin and Aneurin. Such a circumstance might prepare us to expect special developments of the poetic art among the descendants of the Britons.

So far as the Welsh are concerned we are not disappointed, and even in this Nineteenth century, with its superabundance of material energy, their language exists as one of the most harmonious of modern Europe, with a poetical literature which is absolutely inapproachable, so far as the relation of sound to ideas is concerned, by any Continental tongue. I am not saying that Welsh has produced greater poets than any other nation, but I say this, that there will be more poetry in the works of a Welshman, bracketed equal in ability with a foreigner, than in the works of the latter, simply by dint of the Welshman having superior material to hand. German is effective, but heavy; Italian, emasculated, lacking in force; Spanish, grand, but wanting in flexibility; French, in range of sound and emphasis, is deficient; while English is more unemotional, and does not readily lend itself to rhyme, as compared with the Cymric tongue, which again is superior to its sisters, the Cornish and Breton.

Probably among other reasons why, when Welshmen wish to

* The subject has been discussed by Schultz, in a Prize Essay some years since.


 

 

image1111

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 267

write poetry, it is almost invariably performed in Welsh, is the one that even presupposing an equal familiarity with both languages, they feel they could not do themselves justice in English; but if they want to write prose it is more likely to become a simple question as to whether what they wrote would find a market if in Welsh, and whether they could sufficiently reach the classes intended, by confining themselves to the latter; so that frequently considerations of name, money, and sometimes of greater usefulness, incline them to English, as a vehicle for prose compositions, but seldom for poetical ones.

However, that may be, it is a fact that a cultivated style of Welsh prose has received but scant attention. No one can point to a master of Welsh prose in the same sense that we can point to Froude or Ruskin, as masters of EngUsh.

When we deal with poetry the case is diff'erent. If it be true that the powers of the language are as yet comparatively undeveloped in prose, it is far otherwise in poetry. For hundreds of years past there has been such attention paid to this department of literature, and such intricate rules have been formed for the guidance of candidates, into what are considered its classic paths, that the effect has been extraordinary in preserving in use a large vocabulary, although, at the same time, gratifying a taste for sound at the expense of original thought.

What I term its classic paths, are guarded by the Llyffetheiriau (the shackles) of cynghanedd. In the early poetry of Wales this appears to have not existed at all, or only to a limited extent, but, as a writer has observed, after the independence of the country was gone, it was no longer the clash of arms, but the jingle of consonants resonance, if we use a more respectful term, which attracted the bards' attention. Certain new bardic rules sprang up, but in the confusion


 

 

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268 WALES ANU [CHAP. VII.

incident to the outbreak of Owen Glyndwr, and the bitter hostility of the English Government to the bards, these rules appear to have got into an unsettled state; in part to remedy this an Eisteddfod was called at Carmarthen, in 1451, under the presidency of Gruffydd ap Nicholas (ancestor of Lord Dynevor), when a bard of the north, Dafydd ap Edmwnt, a landowner of some position, won the chief prize by compositions in the twenty-four measures, which bear his name constituting what is called the Dosparth Gwynedd.

The bards of Gwent and Morganwg were not willing to concede superiority to these measures, and continued a system of their own, differing but slightly from the other, and which is known as Dosbarth Morganwg. All these metres contain cynghanedd, i.e., a regular sequence of consonants, and no Chair prize at any modern National Eisteddfod is awarded to a composition in free metres, but in their published works nearly all the bards now use both the free metres, in which we find a considerable variety as well as beauty, and also the mesurau caethion (the restricted metres).

Of the latter, one of the most striking to an Englishman is the englyn, of which there are three kinds, the commonest being the Englyn Unodl Union. There have been repeated attempts to exemplify this in English. It is, however, quite unsuited to our language, and generally falls flat on the ear.

By means of the englyn a great deal can be said in a short space. Hence it is peculiarly suited for epigrams or for short descriptions of men or things.

The englyn must contain the above-mentioned alliteration in each line. The syllables runs 10-6-7-7. One last word of the third or fourth lines must be of one syllable; each of the three last lines must rhyme with the word preceding the dash in the first line; the word or words succeeding the dash in the first line must alliterate with the second line.



 

 

image1113

CHAP. VII.] HER tiANCJUAUii;. 26 J)

The following is an example of an English englyn, followed by one of Ceiriog's, taken from his poem, " YDaran" (Thunder)

" Wake sweet Harp! Why warp in woe why linger, In languishing sorrow? Let no rough and bluff wind blow Thy waitings on the willow."

Yn J ddu enyd, nsiwdd i anian nid oed Ond Daw noddwr pobman; A Hwww ddaeth ei Mman I'n hjd du mewn enhjd dan.

The latter exhibits an example of gynghanedd groes (cross consonancy); the former of cynghanedd sain, or consonancy of sound, which involves either a sequence of final consonants, or finals combined with one or more in the first syllable of the succeeding word. The letters printed in itahcs indicate the cynghanedd in the Welsh stanza. Note that nd D in the second line correspond with nd d after the dash in the first line, and that the syllable an rhymes in all four lines.

That this style of composition is by no means extinct may be inferred by the fact that no less than 110 englynion by as many competitors, were sent to the adjudicators at the Swansea Eisteddfodd, 1891, for the l prize ofiered there.

Another pretty metre is the hypynt hir, consisting of two triplets, each with syllables 4-4-8; the last syllable of the fourth and sixth lines rhyming, also their fourth syllables rhyming with each of the other lines, e.g.

Tsgrifenydd

Myg areithydd Deg areilydd digwerylon

Hynafiaethydd

A chyfleithydd lawn gy weirydd Enwog wron.


 

 

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270 WALES A2fD [chap. VII.


To discuss Welsh prosody at length, is both beyond my scope and abilities, while asking my readers to accept cum grano salis, the declamations by a certain class about the poverty of the literature until they feel able to form a judgment of their own. If there is one thing more ^than another, noticeable about Welsh poetry from a general point of view, that is, its realistic power. Under its influences the sky lowers more darkly, the lightning flashes more vividly, the thunder rolls more heavily, the tempest tossed ocean dashes itself against the rugged rocks more awfully and more grandly, the brook murmurs more sweetly, the lark ''pours forth a clearer note, and springs up to the heavens more lightly, the peaceful and the calm of nature, the light and the shade, the stupendous and the vast, as well as the minute and the insignificant seem to be brought out in bolder relief, and in language that is at once more expressive and harmonious than we are accustomed to in English.

Whether the bard describes the lily or the rose, a drop of dew, or a dashing waterfall, spring-time or winter, the efl'ect of the wild wind of the mountains, or the soft breezes of sunmier, and whether he is talented or not, a very genius, or common place, his language almost invariably lends an intangible charm to his subject. When he deals with humanity, when he goes to the house of mourning, or calls for the exercise of other emotions in which the human breast is participant, the heart beats quicker, and the sympathies are more readily enlisted, so far as it is in the power of language to afiect them. Read "Elen Wynn," by Mynyddog; or " Bedd y dyn Tylawd," and ask thyself reader, whether Wordsworth, a Pen-fardd Lloegr, has written anything to match either of them.

But what about the weaknesses of Welsh poetry? One of them is certainly the excessive amount of personal praise lavished by the bards upon their friends, either living or dead.


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 271

One would think to read the effusions poured forth in various newspapers or periodicals, that Wales was simply a land of prodigies, faultless characters, extraordinary geniuses; in fact, that the common-place was rather the exception than the rule.

It is highly probable that the rules of Cynghanedd have fostered a disposition to write couleiir de rose descriptions of men and things by the introduction of words implying more than the reality, but which came in convenient for poetic requirements, until the habit has become firmly engrained. I say this, making all due allowance for a poet's license, to convey his thoughts in metaphorical or even hyperbolical language, and with regard to these personal poems, we must make further allowance for a people whose affections are warm, and whose habits are strongly sociable; notwithstanding a real evil exists in this direction, which urgently calls for reformation.

These habits are by no means of recent growth, part of the profession of the ancient bards being the compositions of Cywyddau Moliant (odes of praise) to their patrons or friends, as well as elegies on their departure. Call to mind the well-known incident of Grufiydd Gryg and Dafydd ap Gwilym, fourteenth century bards. In the midst of a poetic quarrel several retaliatory poems passed between them, and Gruffydd plumed himself that he was made of different metal to Rhys Meigen, who has fallen dead on the spot, stung by D. ap Gwilym's biting retorts.

In order to alter this disgraceful state of things, the monks of Woollos Priory (?), on the site of the Austin Friars' Timber Yard, Newport, resorted to a " pious" fraud.* They spread in North Walps a report of the death of Dafydd ap Gwilym, and in South Wales a report of the death of Gruffydd Gryg. This resulted in each expressing their grief in such mournful

* See Wilkins's History of Wales, p. 48, and Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymreig, p. 148.


 

 

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272 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VIT.


and affectionate elegies, that when the ruse was discovered a warm friendship was begun that lasted to the end.

Personally, I consider another weakness of Welsh poetry, is the prize system, which causes many poems to be written under artificial promptings. Of course it does not follow that all prize poems are necessarily much damaged by continually looking to the opinions of a committee of judges, and by being on fixed subjects, and there is no doubt that the volume of literature is vastly increased by this system, but it must detract from originality of treatment.

My preceding remarks must not be understood as altogether condemning or depreciating cynghanedd; it is simply a further extension and elaboration of one of the main principles of rhyme. If it has shackles on the one hand, it has power in the other, when used by a master; nor do I not think it will disappear even with the Twentieth century, the strife of tongues, the din of mental or physical battle. The awdl may remain, plain rhyme may remain, but the poetry of abstract thought will more than hitherto be expressed in blank verse.

Without attempting to criticise or even offer a fair resum^ of the scope and character of modern Welsh poetry, the following pages will give the general reader, especially the English reader, some further ideas in the subject than he can glean elsewhere, while not feeling myself precluded from giving short extracts from the originals, which cannot in justice be served up in translations. The following are notices of the works of bards which are chiefly still in print.

Modern Welsh poetry, so far as it is published, may be almost said to begin with Huw Morris, of Pontymeibion, the " Eos Ceiriog," whose works were re-printed at Wrexham, in 1823. He lived from 1622 to 1709, and his language is nearly as intelligible as the Welsh of the present day. Just as in English, we find a great gap^between the language of the


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 273

Fifteenth century and that of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth, so we do in Welsh. Lewis Glyn Cothi, who died about 1490, is difficult, few WelshmeiJ could read him at first sight with pleasure. Huw Morris is as intelligible as Bunyan, and is considered one of the best writers of his time.

The latter, as regards melody of verse, may be called the Spenser of Wales, however much he was unlike him in other respects. Spenser made extensive use of the Alexandrine stanza of Tasso, one which is seldom or never used now, though graceful and effective. Huw Morris wrote a good deal in a metre which is perhaps peculiar to Wales, and more striking to the ear than Spenser's; very few have handled it since, the most notable being Edward Richard, of Ystrad Meurig. Its peculiarity lies principally in the last line, which to be effective must be read with two pauses, the previous three with one only, in the centre. The following is an example:

Dyn anghall dan wingo, ni fyn mo'r gorphwyso,

Lie gaUai o wreiddio, a Uwyddo ar wellhad; Bhoi serch ar gymdeithion, ae ofer chwareuon,

Tw perion arferion ei fwriad.*

GoRONWY OwAiN, born 1722, is one of the most remarkable poets Wales has produced. The son of very poor parents, means were procured through the generosity of a friend to send him to Oxford, and hence his introduction into the Established Church. It is reported as a proof of his readiness in acquiring knowledge that he was only three months learning Arabic, and that Greek, Latin, and Hebrew were at his fingers' ends. His cywydd on the "Last Judgment" is esteemed a masterpiece, but not easy for a beginner. It is included in his works sold by I. Ffoulkes, and the notes in that edition are by his friend Lewis Morris {Llewellyn Ddu).

* Carol Cyngor in Cyf. ii. 123. Wrexham Ed. MM


 

 

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274 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

Goronwy Owain has dazzled men by his genius, and the lofty flights of his imagination. Contemporary with him was another writer, who shortly before had been, like himself, a curate in the Established Church; the one wrote for the few in the language of the learned, and the other met rich and poor on a common platform, and influenced men's hearts as very few writers have done before or since; hence it is that William Williams, of Pantycelyn, is still read, and his name still honoured wherever the Welsh language is spoken. Almost as a matter of course he is called the per-ganiedydd, the sweet singer, and, in fact, the extraordinary facility, though hot always the polish of his pen, both in Welsh and English verse, warrants, the term.

The last edition of his works (nearly complete) is quite recent. Vol. I. is published by Evans, Holywell; Vol. II. by W. Jones, Newport, Mon., 1891.

In his " Theomemphus," and other writings, we are brought in contact with an allegorical Eighteenth century style of treatment, npt altogether in accordance with present-day taste, e.g., in " Theomemphus," a poem of some 1,500 stanzas, no less than thirty-eight personages, such as Philocritus, Orthocephalus, Seducus, and Boanerges, mostly with Latinized names, are introduced, but the author, in his preface, says that it cannot be called an allegory, as the persons are real men, sins, graces, temptations, and other inward and outward enemies. It is principally by his hymns that Williams, Pantycelyn, will be remembered; some of them are superficial, but with regard to others, few Welsh hymn writers have surpassed him in depth of feeling.

I have mentioned Goronwy Owain, because he seemed to follow nearer to Huw Morris in the point of time, but presuming that- 1 am now writing principally for readers who wish Welsh literature introduced to their notice, rather in the


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 275

order in which it is easiest followed and understood, and as there is not any set scheme of treating the subject historically, the name next to be introduced is one of our own day.

IsLWYN (1832-1877?) lived within a few miles of Newport, near Ynysddu Station; he wrote both descriptive and reflective pieces. There is a slightly Germanic vein in his writings. Common consent gives him one of the iirst places among the bards of the latter half of this century, but only a small portion of his works are published, others of them still lie in MSS. under the care of a relative at Ynysddu. The following is from his description of Bala Lake, in "Cader Idris": Ardderchog Lyn y Bala,

A Hen o arian rydd Amryvyiaeth hoff i'r oror Lie 'r egyr dor j dydd. Ac f el angylaidd ddringfa

I fynu 'r wybren fry Mynyddau 'r Aran welir, Pob gris yn fynydd sy' A chadwen faith y Ferwyn Sydd yn canllawio Uwybr I yspryd yr ystorom 1 rodio tros yr wybr. Morgilfach Aberteifi,

Pel gwerddlas fytbol waen, Tn mhell i'r gorllewinbwnc, Tmegyr oil o'n blaen: OssiAN GwENT. Close on 100 short poems of this writer are published by Hughes, of Wrexham. They contain some exquisite touches of external nature the lark, the nightingale, the swallow, the wren, the redbreast, the lake, the moon, the sea, frost and snow, the winter's wind, the lily and the primrose, all form subjects of separate treatment. A good many are well within the grasp of children. One

 

 

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276 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.


short poem of this class, full of pathos, begins thus: Fe syrth y ddeilen olaf The last leaf will wither

Cyn bo hir, Before long,

Mae'r oeraidd drwst y gauaf - The cold blast of winter

Tn y tir. Now has come.

How is it that children in elementary schools are compelled to continue grinding away to commit to memory such poems as " Casablanca," while others much more suited to develop their powers of expression are close at hand, in the works of writers of their own country. Such a one in particular is that fine lyric of Islwyn's " Gyrwch Wyntoedd," which in form somewhat recalls Schiller's " Lied der Glocke." It begins, Gyrwch wyntoedd, Eush wild winds on

Ar eich hyntoedd, Tour wanderings,

Dros y Uyn, O'er the lake,

Bros y glyn, O'er the vale,

Dros|y^bryn, O'er the hill,

A thros lawer Alpfor gwyn. O'er mountain seas of white snow.

Ossian is still living at Rhymney, in Monmouthshire.

Ieuan G. Geiriontdd. I have already alluded to his " Morfa KHuddlan," which furnishes a style of poetry equally with the peculiarly melodious metre used by Huw Morris, scarcely to be found in England.

The poet is standing near the Marsh of Rhuddlan; as he looks to the west the sun is slowly sinking down behind the majestic mountains of Carnarvonshire, the shades of night gradually creep over the landscape, while the subdued roar of the distant waves meet his ear, and his heart beats fast while he thinks of how the blood of Wales was spilt at the very spot he stands on. He seems in the twilight, to see the indistinct glimmer of the shields, and hears the clatter of warlike missiles projected against it, the hissing of the arrows, and feels the very trembling of the earth, while above all.



 

 

image1121

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 277

Caradawg's voice is heard sharp and loud. He goes on describing the conflict, and the anxiety felt in all Wales as to the issue. All of a sudden a bitter shaft of sorrow strikes him, while he hears the harsh rejoicing cry of the enemy. The original is deeply realistic

Troswyf daeth, fel rhyw saeth, alaeth, a dychryn, Och! rhag best, bloeddiau, tost ymffrost y gelyn.

Then in consternation and confusion those who were awaiting the issue at their doors, flee to the hills, while the rocks, the vales, and the hiUs participate in their mournful cries, which reach even to Eryri (Snowdon).

Bryn a phant, cwm a nant, llanwant a'u hoergri Traidd y floedd draw, i g'oedd, gymoedd Eryri.

The effectiveness of this piece is due to no small extent to the wonderful adaptation of the metre to the subject: in each couplet, there are no less than eight rhyming words, and yet the matter flows so naturally, that a reader is all but unconscious of the fact.

I believe that those of my readers who are able to judge, will agree with me that from the study of this single poem alone, we may conclude that a field of poetry is open before us, into which the English language cannot enter as a competitor. Were the whole body of Welsh literature struck out of existence but this one piece, it would of itself give a stamp to the character of the language which would warrant such a conclusion, as to its almost unequalled power.

While we search English literature in vain for a poem wherewith to make a comparison with "Cyflafan Morfa Rhuddlan;" in point of metrical structure, we shall not be altogether at a loss to find one in Monkish Latin; to wit, the source of some devotional pieces familiar to English ears,


 

 

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278 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

such as "Brief life is here our portion," and "Jerusalem the Golden." The original, some of my readers may recollect, commences,

Hora novissima, tempera pessima sunt vigilemus, Bcce minaciter, imminet arbiter ille supremus.

Only a portion of the poem, "De contemptu mundi," from which it is taken is, so far as I know, published in England; in each couplet there are six rhyming words, and the author, Bernard de Morlaix, judging from his name, appears to have been a Breton if so a Celtic language was probably his mother tongue.

The "Awdl an Orlifiad Cantre'r Owaelod" (ode on the inundation of the Lowland Hundred), and " Ymdrech Serch a Bheswm" (the contest between affection and reason), illustrate further Glan Geirionydd's extraordinary powers.

Watcyn Wyn, headmaster of a private school at Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, is a living bard; one of his prize poems on "Bywyd" (Life), was published at Merthyr, 1882. It is a campuswaith easy to read, and although composed in a free metre, with eleven or twelve syllable couplets, it is distinctly Welsh in its character. Like hundreds of other Welsh publications, it is probably very little known. Ossian Gwent wrote a beautiful poem on " Solitude " (Unigedd); Watcyn Wyn follows him with one on "Silence" {Dystwwrwydd); though not written in such a sweet metre as Ossian's, it is full of matter, and great thoughts not fully developed. The following is an extract:

t)j ddwfn dawelwch, O! mor ddwfn fyfyriol,

Terfynau dy fwynhad mor annherfynol;

Tr enaid yn ymgoUi 'n dy gyfeillach,

I'th fynwes fawr yn gwasgu, dynach, dynach.


 

 

image1123

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 279

O anherfynol fawredd diddechreuad, Ehyw annibynol ddim o ran dy haniad; Dy lanw dystaw ar ei donau llyfnion, A nofla'r enaid i for mawr dy swynion.

Towards the end of the poem a few stanzas are introduced in a different measure.

One of the writers holding a chief place, both in poetry and prose, is the late Gwiltm Htrabthog, of Liverpool, where his works are still to be obtained. Hiraethog is not merely known in Wales, but in Germany, as may be seen by the following extract from the letter of a Welsh Elementary schoolmaster, who had studied abroad, to the late D. I. Davies:

"When I was settled down comfortably in my lodgings at Leipzig Dr. Loth, Dr. Tegner, Dr. Erdmann, and Dr. Logler called on me wishing me to read Welsh with them. I need not tell you that I was very glad to comply with their request, and we commenced our work in earnest. 1 showed them my little library of Welsh books, and gave the loan of them to them until they procured their own. The plan they adopted was the following: They read carefuUy through SpurreU's Grrammar, and commenced with a very easy prose writer; they then mastered Eowland's Grammar and commenced " Emmanuel." I ought to mention that Dr. Tegner was very well versed in the comparative philology of the Semitic languages, and Dr. Erdmann in the comparative philology of the Aryan languages. In reading Welsh they traced every Welsh word to a similar word either in the Semitic or Aryan group of languages. By doing so they were able to remember the meaning of the word when it occurred again in their reading. In about six weeks they were able to read the " Emmanuel " of Hieabthog with ease and account for all the idioms. When I returned to Cambridge, I received a letter from Dr. Erdmann, written in a very good Welsh style, which is a proof that the Welsh language can be mastered in a very short time by anyone who is well versed in the comparative philology of the Aryan languages.


 

 

image1124

280 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

Some fifty years ago it was the opinion of persons competent to judge, that Dafydd Ionawk (died 1827), the author of " Cywydd y Drindod," was one of the greatest poets of his time. This poem is composed in the Mesur caeth, called Cywydd deuair hirion, and consists of 11,005 lines, being nearly 500 lines longer than " Paradise Lost," and is said in the plan of its arrangement to resemble Pollok's " Course of Time." The cywydd is, I am sure, too monotonous a measure to make a long poem popular, though it may be used with good effect on pieces of a moderate length. It is made up of heptasyllablic couplets, the final word of one line must be a monosyllable, the final word in the* other line constituting the couplet must consist of two or more syllables, consequently the accent falls alternately on the last, and on the last syllable but one in each line, which gives a pleasing effect.

Daniel Ddu o Geredigion spoke thus highly of Cywydd y Drindod as "a masterly performance, of equal merit with Paradise Lost, The spirit which it breathes is truly religious, and the poetry of it is beautiful beyond comparison. I have perused it, I think, fifty times, and the more frequently I do so, the more am I pleased and gratified."*

Dafydd lonawr was a scholar of Ystrad Meurig Grammar School, under Edward Richards, one of the chief bards of that day, and there, in order to test the power of his awen, before commencing his great poem, " Cywydd y Drindod," he composed a cywydd on "The Thunder." One of his Welsh reviewers, leuan Gwynydd, alludes to this in language which I am disposed to give a translation or paraphrase of here, as the style is eminently rhetorical and Welsh, though it necessarily somewhat loses its force in a translation.

" Look at his mental efforts (ddirdyniadau),f as he was * " Character of the Welsh as a nation," p. 88. t Writhings.



 

 

image1125

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 281


trying to find a subject to measure his strength with (ymaflyd codwm ag ef)* He thought of the pleasant dales, but that would not do. He heard the birds singing, but that would not do. He looked on the bright flowing waters of the Dysyni, but the awe^i did not flow in accord with them. The evening breeze gently sighed, but it did not move the strings of his harp. The flocks of sheep pastured on the hills, but their bleatings did not raise the sympathy of the great genius which was about to manifest itself. The wind whistled wildly, there was a little movement; the ocean roared, and the breast of the bard heaved back responsive {rhuai yr eigion, ac adruai mynwes y hardd); the cloud grew dark, and the tumultuous torrent of his heart was pent up; the thunder burst, and the flood-gate of the genius which was to deluge the literature of his country with glory, was removed. The thunder touched the spring of his soul. He had within a divine consciousness of very great strength."

More than that, leuan might have added that he looked upon the writing of Cywydd y Drindod as a kind of fulfilment of a Divine mission, to which his heart had been turned from boyhood.

Dafydd lonawr occupied various situations as under master or usher, and after a love disappointment he made up his mind never to fall in love again. His poem on "Y Drindod" being finished, he asked his father for assistance to publish it, but was indignantly refused. Means were, however, obtained from a Thomas Jones, of Ynysfaig, on condition of his sacrificing his patrimony, but of being kept during his life by the said Thomas Jones: with him he lived, except seven years passed as teacher in Dolgelly, till his death, in 1827. During his residence at Dolgelly, he is described as running about, leaping, clapping his hands, and

* Wrestle with.


 

 

image1126

282 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.


throwing his hat into the air with the greatest delight. If the Education Commissioner of 1847 had been able to predate his visit to the time when Dafydd lonawr taught the free school there, what kind of a report would he have given? especially if he had heard that the clapping of hands and laughing sometimes continued through the night. We need not be surprised to learn that not everyone at Dolgelly was convinced of his being in a state of sanity. So it is, great genius often borders on the debatable limits between the sane and wnsane.

Jones, author of " Character of the Welsh as a Nation," says that D. I. was "one of the greatest contributors that Wales has ever produced to the poetical department of its literature;" whether he will ever be brought prominently again under public notice, time will show, but in these days the eccentric, though gifted and religious author of " Cywydd y Drindod" is but little known.

The following is from Cywydd y Daran, and will give the reader, who has some initiation into the language, an idea of the style of a cywydd generally:

T daran o'i du oror Mai berwawg derfysgawg for. Wybrendwrf , braw drwy 'r bryndir, A dychryn drwy 'r dyffryn dir.

The following is from C. y Drindod, where Eve is relating to Adam a frightful dream or vision she had had, presaging the

fall:

PoenTsv/rth, mewn cwsg^aw yr<hiais,

Gl-wae|fi, yr oedd gwayw i f ais. Tywyllwch tewdrwcli a'm todd. Caddug anf erth a'm cuddiodd. Chwyrn iawn yr awn ar un wraith I lawr i ddyfnder mawr maith.

Note the Cynghanedd italicized in the first line.



 

 

image1127

CHAP. VII.] HER LAiJGirAGE, 283

Perhaps a more popular poet than any of those]' above-mentioned is Ceikiog, who though formerly a stationmaster on the Mid-Wales Railway, is considered the chief lyric poet of modern times. Then there is Mynyddog, full of pathos and humour; Eben Fardd, of Carnarvonshire; and Dewi Wyn o Bssyllt, of Glamorganshire, all deceased, who would require special notice, were this volume a history of Welsh literature.

There is one more poetical composition which I will allude to now, namely, the version of " Paradise Lost," by Dr. W. O. PuGHE (Idrison). Some sixty years ago George Borrow made that his war charger on which to ride victoriously through the difficulties that beset an understanding of the language used in raediffival Welsh poetry,* and I do not think that a private student will even now find much more efficient assistance in auy other book, which arises from the simpje fact that a great many uncommon words are used in its composition, which are easily explained by reference to the English original. From the point of view of some Welsh critics this translation of the " Coll Gwynfa" has the unpardonable fault of containing forms of Welsh which are never used elsewhere, "I- and are the product of Idrison's inventive faculty, but the man who has no criterion to judge by, but the language of the poem itself, acknowledges that it is a truly grand performance, superior to a subsequent

* G. B. tells us that at the expiration of his clerkship, in past Anglia, he was able to read not only Welsh prose, but " what was inttnitely more difficult, Welsh poetry in any of the four-and-twenty measures, and was well versed in the composition of various old Welsh bards," especially those of Dafydd ap Gwilym, whom he always considered as the greatest poetical genius that has appeared in Europe since the revival of literature.

t Since writing the above my friend, Michael D. Jones has supplied the following remark: " Dr. Owen Pughe used to say that he did not use any word in ' Coll Gwynfa' that was not used iu some part of Wales in his day. I collected hundreds of these words for Daniel L3,s (Daniel Sylvan Evans). There are many unrecorded now, and used by the inhabitants of localities."


 

 

image1128

284 WALias Aift) [CHAP. vii.

attempt by I. D. Ffraid, to put Milton into a more generally readable form. The Welsh language free from the shackles of Gynghanedd, rises in the blank verse of Pughe to the height of the subject, sound and sense combining together in majestic concordance, and seeming to dispel the idea of a translation.

W. 0. Pughe was one of a small band of London Welshmen who, at the beginning of the century, united together to rescue a large number of old MSS. from oblivion, and published considerable selections from them in three volumes, under the title of the " Myvyrian Archteology of Wales," named from "Myfyr," the nom deplume of Owen Jones, one of the three who issued the work. Up to the present time, a reprint of this, forms the principal source accessible to the public, of Welsh poetry written from the Sixth to the Fifteenth centuries, except in the case of a few authors whose works have been printed, while a considerable number of productions still lie in manuscript, either in the British Museum or elsewhere, where it is difficult, though perhaps not impossible, to make their acquaintance. Another very much smaller publication called " Gorchestion y Beirdd," containing similar productions, and which is a reprint of a work published in 1773, is to be obtained at Carnarvon..

In a paper entitled, " A Short Review of the Present State of WelshManuscripts,"insertedin the "Myfyrian Archasology," and written probably by W. 0. Pughe or lolo Morganwg, the extensive character of Welsh verse, up to the Fourteenth century, is thus alluded to

Our system includes not only all the varieties of verse that have yet been produced in all known languages, and in all known ages, but also a number equally great of such constructed verses as we have neither seen nor heard of in any country or in any tongue, and yet these latter are by far the most beautiful and musical that we have.


 

 

image1129

CHAP. VII.] 1HER liANGTrAGE. 285

As time goes on the number of unpublished MSS will be gradually diminished, through their being transcribed for the printer. The Welsh MSS Society has done some work in that direction, which was commenced in 1840, two years after the publication, by private enterprise, of "The Mabinogion," by Lady Charlotte Guest, with an English translation of her own. This is a mediaeval work, consisting largely of Arthurian romances and children's tales. Quite lately a new edition, and one, I understand, in first-rate style, has been published under the care of J. Gwenogfryn Evans, of Oxford.

Before dismissing the subject of Welsh poetry, we may notice a great dej&ciency, viz., the absence of any good anthology. From all the vast store of modern poetry, printed and manuscript, there are scarcely any pieces collated in a representative collection worthy of the name. Is it because Welsh publishers are only half asleep and half awake, fattening on their gains?

Blackie and Son, Edinburgh, did, it is true, publish "Ceinion Llenyddiaeth Gymreig" (Beauties of Welsh Literature), some time since, in six parts, at 2s. each, but they introduced hardly any pieces belonging to the Nineteenth century. If the principals of that firm had known Welsh, and the whereabouts of the literature, as well as they knew English, I incline to think they would have taught a lesson to some of the native publishers, though they had, it is true, a Welshman as editor.

In the Department of Welsh prose, though the publications are numerous, the number of leading names is but small. The late Lewis Edwards, of Bala (father of Principal T. C. Edwards), Gwilym Hiraethog, Gwallter Mechain, and Brutus, are among the principal belonging to the present century, among a multitude of theological writers. The three first will be mentioned again.

Brutus (1794-1866) was for many years editor of " Yr


 

 

image1130

286 . WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. Vll.

Haul," an Episcopalian monthly, where his pungent easy style, made his name known far and wide.

This is what one of his friends, Titus Lewis, F.S.A,, said of him :*

Tr Haul became not a periodical, but a classic. The dialogues of Brutus were considered not only a triumphant embodiment of Church principles, but there was also ofEered in them, month after month, such food for thought, full of renewed beauty and freshness, vigour, and grand creation, such force of expression and flashing wit, such gorgeousness of imagination, almost pictorial, as will destine them to live as long as the Welsh language is a vehicle for thought. "Well, it may be objected. " "What more do you want? have we more in favoured England?" Alas! with all its beauty, freshness, and wit, the writings of Brutus were cast in a mould of bitterness. It might be said, " he knew not of what spirit he was.'' Classical as the writings of Brutus must be regarded, powerful though they had been, and will be, yet there was underlying them all a vein of scathing satire, and such a burning sarcasm, that Brutus came to be regarded by his opponents, the Dissenters, as a walking vial of wrath, a quenchless wildfire, a corrosive sublimate. * Brutus had under-currents of the most kindly and genial disposition, and the great depths of his grand human heart were brimful of charity and humane feehng, but for that, his ferocious lashings and merciless invective and satire served to keep his good traits concealed, and men knew not of them.

One of Brutus' works, " Wil brydydd y Coed " (Will, the poet of the Wood), is still in print at Carmarthen. Another entitled " Christmasia," is to be had at Liverpool; the latter is biographical, and contains little or no satire.

Perhaps he did not more than equal a much less known writer, Siluriad, in Y Oeninen, for 1885, and again in 1890,

* At the Swansea Episcopalian Congress, 1879, as reported in the 8. fV.B. News.



 

 

image1131

CHAP. Vn.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 287

whose trenchant article, " Denommational Philistinism of Wales," excited considerable attention at the time but I fear less reformation. "Siluriad" attacks in vivid satire the degeneracy of the lectures and literary meetings, and then makes the denominations one by one feel his lashes, while the impartial reader has to admit that much may be well deserved, and that the writer himself is rather a reformer than a misanthrope.

A new school of Welsh prose is now arising, which aims at reproducing as literature the llafar gwlad (common talk), or rather, I might say, as combining some colloquial methods of expression with what has hitherto been the standard of literary Welsh.

Owen Edwards the editor of Cymru, and some of his University friends, are considered representatives of this innovation. Not long ago a bookseller known to the writer offered Cymru to a massive old Welshman, himself a literary character, and an admirer of his native language. It was returned, after being taken home, with the remark, " Cymerwch e'yn ol, nid wyf fi yn leicio Cymraeg hechgyn Bhydychain 'na" (Take it backjl don't liketheWelsh of those Oxford boys). Notwithstanding this remark of my old friend's, the style of 0. E., although very much sui generis, is very readable, and therefore popular, being a stepping stone from the colloquial to the more abstruse literary language, which is sometimes in the South called "deep Wel^," i.e., beyond the speaker's capacity. While popular, it is neither slipshod nor boorish, being historical and picturesque, investing even small details with interest.

Speaking generally of Welsh prose, the rhythm is distinctly diflferent from that of English: when it is idiomatic, and the words are well chosen, the effect is very pleasing, yet it cannot be denied that, except for periodicals, it is likely to be continued, on a small scale only, in the future, unless systematic instruction in Welsh become more general.


 

 

image1132

288 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

Welsh is pre-eminently the language of cumulative effects; in Welsh writing as well as in public speaking (though I am but little familiar with the latter); adjective is piled upon adjective, antithesis upon antithesis, one apt illustration follows another, until the rivulet becomes a strong current, and the hwyl of forgetfulness carries away both teacher and listener; just as cynghanedd of sound forms one of the chief charms of Welsh verse to many critical ears, so Welsh prose of the class I allude to, possesses an almost unconscious, invisible cynghamedd of sense, representative of the people and of the country.

Any of my readers who wish to obtain further information on the subject of Welsh literature have a choice of the following books, which will carry them at least to the end of the Eighteenth century. 1. Stephens' "Literature of the Cymry," which embraces the period from 1080 to 1322, but is now out of print. 2. "Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymreig," by the late Gweirydd ap Rhys, of Holyhead, an essay which won the 100 prize in the National Eisteddfod of 1883, and is published by Foulkes, of Liverpool, price 10s 6d, demy 8vo., 488 pp. This is a history of Welsh literature from 1300 1650, and is likely to be a standard work of reference for some years to come. 3. " History of the Literature of Wales, from the year 1300 to the year 1650," by Charles Wilkins, Ph.D., published by D. Owen, Cardiif, 1884. This is not quite so complete as the former work, but it is very readable, and in English, though anyone capable of following them would prefer extracts from the originals rather than translations.
4. "Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry" (sold by Humphreys, of Carnarvon), is a Bibliography of all printed books in Welsh, or relating to Wales, down to 1800, interspersed with short

 

 

image1133

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 289

biographical notices of many of the authors, and incidental information which much heightens its value.

This work, by a Wesleyan preacher (Gwilym Lleyn), gives evidence of an immense amount of labour and research, existmg over a long number of years, and was published in 1869, by John Pryse, Llanidloes, under the editorship of the learned D. Silvan Evans; it is still one of the standard books of reference, without which a student of the literature of Wales can scarcely consider his library complete. When and by whom will the Bibliography of this century be executed?

The first person who subscribed for "Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry" was a Monmouthshire collier, but not many collier's sons in this county, under the present system of education and present surroundings, have the chance of growing up with the capacity to appreciate such a work.

Three out of the four Bishops were subscribers Llandaff being the exception doubtless the influence of Silvan Evans gave prestige to the book in clerical circles among others we find the Lady Llanover, Earls Vane and Powis, Judge Johnes, Andreas o Fn, Idrisyn, and a number of persons who evidently belonged to the class of small shopkeepers or working men.

A fifth work, by Charles Ashton, a Merionethshire policeman, carrying forward the history* of the literature from 1650-1850, which received a prize at the Swansea Eisteddfod, of 1891, is still lying in manuscript, with a probability of its being shortly published. Whatever the character of this work is, it is beyond the bounds of reasonable probability to suppose that one man can give anything like exhaustive treatment to the subject for this period. It may break up the fallow ground, but will no doubt leave ample room for another work

*This (in Welsh) is a companion volume to Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymreig, and not a Bibliography, such as Llyf. y C.


 

 

image1134

290 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.


going over the same ground, provided sufficient buyers can be found.

There are other books belonging rather to the literature of Wales than strictly to Welsh literature, which may claim our attention, inasmuch as they illustrate in some shape or other " Wales and her Language."

One of these is Dr. John David Ehys's " Cambrobritannicae Cymricaeve linguae Institutiones," a Welsh Grammar written in Latin, and published in 1592. The author is principally known in Wales by this work, written after returning from a residence in Italy, during which he had issued a book in Latin, on the "Pronunciation of Italian."

In the Latin title to the former, it is expressly stated that these "Rules and Rudiments" were "not less necessary than useful in order to understand the Bible, which had lately been idiomatically and elegantly translated into the Cambro-british language." To these he added explications of the rules and varieties of Welsh poetry.

In the Welsh introduction he speaks of a little " improvement and cultivation" of late given to the language by some good and learned men, " principally for the purpose of translating the Bible into our own language." He then alludes to the general diffusion of classical knowledge among the nations who have paid particular attention to their own languages, and hints at the tendency to denationalization which accompanied the era of the Union:

But we may obserye that many of our own countrymen have become so vain, so proud, so conceited, so affected, and so negligent of BFcrything that is patriotic, and so ignorant of their own language, and so attached to everything that is foreign and exotic, and consequently so different from most other nations, that if they have been but a short time out of their own country they pretend to have forgotten their native language, and if they



 

 

image1135

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 291


condescend to make an attempt to speak, they do so in so conceited and afiected a manner that their former acquaintances are astonished to hear them, and feel quite ashamed of them.*

Speaking of the MSS. of his time, he says: I was at last in a manner compelled to do what I could for my nation and country, in order to draw the attention of the learned to the many heauties of our own mother tongue, and the many curious remains still concealed in numerous Welsh MSS., now fast hastening to decay in the chests and libraries of those who do not seem disposed to publish, or to permit others to peruse and examine them.

Of the whole work 1,250 copies were printed in London, and published at the expense of Sir E. Stradling, of Glamorganshire, a scion of an old Norman family. The reader is referred to " Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry " for further details, both about the author and his Grammar.

Only one copy of it has ever come under my notice. When a youth, some twenty years ago, this was exposed for sale in a bookseller's shop in Bristol, bound in vellum, and with the name of Stradling inside, perhaps in the handwriting of Sir E. Stradling himself. I was quite unaware at the time of its unique character, but the cursory glances bestowed on it gave such results that very shortly Stradling got mixed up in my dreams. The only Nineteenth century Stradling I can distinctly call to mind, is a working man, whose name occurred in the pay-sheet of a Glamorganshire colliery, near Caerphilly.

The next book, which it is within my compass to refer to, is one well known to Celtic philologists at home and abroad, viz.,. the "Archfeologia Britannica," of E. Lhuyd, a native, it is generally supposed, of that corner of Shropshire which belongs to Welsh Wales.

* Wilkins' Literature of Wales, p. 167.


 

 

image1136

292 Wales and [chap. vii.

For the purpose of obtaining information about the Celtic languages, he engaged in long and expensive journeys in Ireland, Cornvrall, and Brittany, if not the Highlands, towards the cost of which he received considerable assistance from various subscribers, and in rendering an historical account of the status of the Welsh language, it may not be out of place to examine the subscription list, prefixed to the great work published in 1707, which contained some of the results of his investigations. This included those who assisted towards the expenses, receiving apparently a copy of the book, and others who contributed without subscribing, altogether about 210 names.

Sir Thomas Mansel, of Margam, appears to have been one of his chief supporters. The list includes several Englishmen of high position, including Prime Minister Harley, the Earl of Clarendon, Lord Spencer, the Marquis of Powis, and Trelawney, Bishop of Worcester, the same Trelawney of Tower of London note, in James XL's time, whose Cornish lineage is suificiently indicated by the refrain,

" And shall Trelawney die, and shall Trelawney die? And twenty thousand Cornishmen shall know the reason why."

It is not impossible that Trelawney's father or grandfather were Cornish-speaking, which would naturally the more incline him to patronize E. Lhuyd.

Among members or connections of well-known Welsh famihes we find Sir J. Aubrey, Henry Somerset Duke of Beaufort; R. Foulks, E. Brereton, Sir W. Glyn, Sir Jeffrey Jeffrey, Sir C. Kemyes, Sir R. Middleton, Sir R. Mostyn, Sir R. Puleston, Sir E. Stradling, Sir J. Wyn, Powel, of Nanteos; Price, of Gogerddan; Salisbury, of Rug; and Vaughan, of Corsygedol.


 

 

image1137

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 293

The introduction of his "British Etymologicon"* is addressed to a man he calls, in a style extremely offensive to right feeling, the "Right Reverend Father in God, Humphrey, Bishop of Hereford." Bishop Humphrey was no novice in Welsh, as amply appears by this address, and elsewhere. Possibly he was the last Welsh-speaking Bishop of Hereford, for the Hanoverian dynasty, which shortly became paramount, is not credited with any favour towards Welsh ecclesiastics.

E. Lhuyd's preface itself is worth reading, if only to shew the difficulties such a man had to encounter. It is followed by a curious set of congratulatory verses, in Irish, Gaelic, Latin and Welsh, and these again by a Welsh preface, "At y Cymry."

To the Cornish Grammar he prefixed a Corpish preface of his own, the first piece ever printed in that language, and to his Irish-English Dictionary, an Irish preface. As a philological authority, Lhuyd has been long superseded, but his book is still not without interest.

Another work, but not occupying such original ground as either of the two preceding, was Thomas Richards' " Welsh-English Dictionary," pubhshed in 1753, based probably upon the "Welsh-Latin Dictionary" of Dr. Davies, of Mallwyd, published in 1682.

Somewhat singularly, R. Raikes, of Gloucester, was one of the vendors whose name appears at the foot of the title page. Why a Gloucester bookseller should make a speciality of seUing a Welsh Dictionary we cannot easily understand, unless it were vdth a view to secure Herefordshire or Monmouthshire customers. W. Williams, bookseller, Monmouth, takes twenty-five copies it is questionable if it would be safe

*This was a. short vocabulary of about twenty pages, containing English words, with their equivalents either in Welsh or some other language, forming the 8th part of the work.


 

 

image1138

294 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [chap. VII.

for anyone there now to take two. This large number of twenty-five copies can hardly be understood, but as an indication that East Monmouth and South-west Herefordshire contained at that time country squires who were either able to read or took an intelligent interest in the language. Raikes, however, only appears to have subscribed for one copy.

Other subscribers include Sir T. Mostyn, M.P. for Flintshire, W. Morgan, of Tredegar, and Capel Hanbury, of Pontypool, M.Ps. for Monmouthshire; Herbert Mackworth, M.P. for Cardiff; John Lloyd, of Peterwell, M.P. for Cardiganshire; and SirT. Salusbury (sic), Knt.; nearly all these names represent families existing at the present day, and I strongly incline to believe that they were Welsh-speaking. When "Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry" appeared the Mackworths and the Hanburys had become too much Anglicized to be likely subscribers; the Morgans, not quite Anglicized in sentiment, but out of the circle of Welsh letters; on the other hand three of the Salisburys and Sir Piers Mostyn appear in the list.

Periodicals and Newspapers.

In the course of compiling this volume, I entertained the idea of giving a tolerably complete list of extinct periodicals, but have since had to abandon it; the difficulties of procuring even a passable list are great, and very few Welshmen are equal to the task of furnishing one.

What I have seen of these convinces me that along with much rubbish, along with much of merely a transient interest, there is a good deal stowed away in their pages, illustrating the religious, social, andhterary history of Wales. A man who has the scent of a trained book-hunter developed in him, will not however, be long before he picks up various copies on dusty shelves in small booksellers' shops, or on bookstalls, say in Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol, or Chester.


 

 

image1139

295 CHAP. VII.]


[WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE


The following is an attempt to present, more or less completely, a list of all Welsh periodicals and newspapers published in 1892, at the time of writing:

CTLCHGEAWNAU (Pbeiodioals).


NAME.

CHABACTBK.

PLACE OF PUBLICATION.

WHEN ISSUED.

Athraw, Tr

Baptist

Llangollen...

... Monthly, Id.

Baner y Plant

Independent

Corwen

.. Weekly, Id.

Caniedydd y Plant

Children's Singer..

. Briton Ferry

... Parts, 4d.

CennadHedd,Y ..

. Independent

. Merthyr ...

... Monthly, 2d.

Cerddor.Y

. Musical

, Wrexham ...

...Monthly, 2d.

Cerddor y Cymry . .

. Ditto

, Llanelly ...

... Weekly, Id.

Cronicl, Y

. Independent

Bangor

... Monthly, 2d.

Cyfaill Eglwysig . .

. Episcopalian

. Carmarthen

... Monthly, Id.

Cyf aill yr Aelwyd. .

. Family Undenom'

1 Llanelly ...

... Monthly, 3d.

Cyinru

. Undenominational

Carnarvon . . .

... Monthly, 6d.

Cymru y Plant

. Children's Paper . .

Ditto . . .

... Monthly, Id.

Cwrs y byd

. Independent

. Ystalyfera

... Monthly, Id.

Diwygiwr

. Independent

. Llanelly ...

... Monthly, 3d.

Dysgedydd, Y

. Independent

. Dolgellau ...

... Monthly, 4d.

Dysgedydd y Plant

Ditto

. Ditto ...

... Monthly, Id.

Drysorfa, Y

. Calv. Methodist ..

. Holywell ...

... Monthly, 4d.

Trysorfa'r Plant..

. Ditto, Children's ..

Ditto ...

... Monthly, Id.

Eurgrawn Wesley

-



aidd, Yr

. Wesleyan

. Bangor

... Monthly, 6d.

[Frythones.Y

. Girls' Periodical . .

. Llanelly ...

...Monthly, 2d.

1

[Now emerged with

Cyfaill yr Aelwyd). J

Geninen, Y

. Undenominational

Carnarvon...

... Quarterly, Is.


(Two extra numbers yearly).


Greal.Y

.. Baptist

. Llangollen...

... Monthly, 3d.

Haul, Yr

. Episcopalian

. Carmarthen

... Monthly. 3d.

Lladmerydd, Y

. Calv. Methodist ..

. Dolgellau ...

... Monthly, 2d.

Llusern, Y

Ditto

. Carnarvon...

... Monthly, Id.

Newyddion da

. Missionary

. Newport, Hon.

... Monthly, Id.

Pregethwr, Y




Trysorfa'r Adroddwr Eecit. and Singing

Briton Perry

... Quarterly, 3d.

Tlws Cerddorol ..

. "Singer's Jewel" ..

. Briton Ferry

... Six parts, 3d,

Traethodydd.Y ..

. Undenominational

Carnarvon...

... Bi-monthly, Is.

Tywysydd

. Indep'nt Children'i

3 Llanelly ...

... Monthly, Id'


 

 

image1140

296


WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE]


[CHAP. VII.


NEWTDDIADUEON (Nbwspapees).


NAME.


CHABACTBE.


PLACE OF PUBLICATION.


WHEN ISSUED.


Baner ac Amserau

Cymru

Brython, Ye

Celt, Y

Cenhadwr, Y

Columbia

Clorianydd, Y

Cymro, Y

Dravod, Y

Drych, Y


Liberal Unionist . . . Independent Ditto ... American Welsh Episcopalian Welsh Socialist Welsh Colonial American Welsh


Genedl Gymreig, Y Welsh Nationalist

Goleuad, Y Calv. Methodist ..

Gwalia Conservative

Gwyliedydd, Y ... Wesley an

Herald Gymreig, Yr Liberal

Llan a'r Dywyso-


, Denbigh ... Lampeter ... Bangor New York . . . Chicago Llangefni ... Liverpool ... Patagonia ... Utica,N.Y.... Carnarvon . . . Dolgelly . . . Bangor Khyl Carnarvon . . .


gaeth, Y Episcopalian

Khedegydd.Y ... Labour

Seren, Y Local

Seren Cymru ...Baptist Tyst a'r Dydd, Y ... Independent Tarian y Gweithiwr Workmen's Udgorn Rhyddid ... Nationalist


... Merthyr ...

... Eestiniog ..; ...Bala ... Carmarthen

... Merthyr ...

Organ Aberdare ...

... Pwllheli ...


Werin, Y Labour Nationalist Carnarvon .. .

Wythnos, Yr ...Local Corwen

ENG-LISH NEWSPAPEES with Welsh

News of the Week

South Wales Star

Cambrian News

The Observer

The Journal

Glamorgan Free Press...

Merthyr Express

Merthyr and Dowlais Times

Pontypridd Chronicle

Central Glamorgan Gazette

Bridgend Chronicle ...

Cardiff Times

Herald of Wales

Industrial World


... Bi-weekly,2d.&ld ... Weekly, id. ... Weekly, Id.

... Weekly.

... Weekly, Id ... Weekly, Id. ... Weekly. ... Weekly, Id. ... Weekly, 2d. .. Weekly, Id. .. Weekly, Id. ... Weekly, Id.

.. Weekly, Id. .. Weekly, Id. . Weekly, id. ... Weekly, Id. .. Weekly, lid .. Weekly, Id. .. Weekly, Jd. ..Weekly, id. .. Weekly, Id.

Reading. Cardiff. Cadoxton. Aberystwyth.

Ditto. Carmarthen. Pontypridd. Merthyr. Dowlais. Pontypridd. Bridgend.

Ditto. Cardiff. Swansea.

Ditto.



 

 

image1141

CHAP. VII.] HEK LANGUAGE. 297

The history of early periodical literature is mainly denominational; three of the earliest, viz., Y Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd, Y Dysgedydd, and Y Drysorfa, each of them backed by powerful and religious bodies, exist at the present day. Seren Gomer was another early periodical, edited by a Baptist, (Jos. Harries), which has long been extinct.

Of course periodical literature in England is very largely the product of the present century, and in Wales it may be said to be more entirely so. The first magazine issued was a threepenny fortnightly, in 1770 Yr Eurgrawn Cymreig, which existed just over three months. The second, the Cylchgrawn Cymreig, started at Trevecca, 1793, was a quarterly, of which only five numbers appeared, and bore the same sub-title, viz., Trysorfa Gwyhodaeih (Treasury of Knowledge) as its predecessor. For an interesting account of these ventures see the " Traethodau Llenyddol," of L. Edwards. When the Nineteenth century dawned on Wales not a single vernacular periodical existed, nor for some years until Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd appeared.

In 1828 John Black well, speaking at Denbigh, alluded to the fact of fourteen periodicals rising from the monthly press, and to the anomaly that the peasantry were almost the only contributors to their Welsh pages.* It remains a fact to-day, that contributors to the Welsh Press,, both periodical and newspaper, are not unfrequently persons from whom similar contributions would be much unexpected in England, but it is perhaps less so as regards periodicals than in Blackwell's day; on the other hand a stranger can hardly fail to be struck with the number of writers who have received an advanced education, some of whom have distinguished themselves in English examinations, who not only write freely in their own language, but retain (comparatively) a pleasing puiity of diction in it,

* " Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry " Publisher's preface viii. PP


 

 

image1142

298 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP, VII.

although, as hinted previously, the educational disabilities of the language (if I may use the term) have prevented Welsh prose reaching that perfection it otherwise might.

The three undenominational organs, exercising the widest spheres of influence at the present day, are Y Traethodydd, now in its forty-eighth volume; Y Geninen, established 1883; and Cymru, 1891. Neither of these three are exactly paralleled in English periodical literature. All of them, though pursuing different lines, are miscellaneous in the character of their contents, "Y Traethodydd" being the most metaphysical and philosophical; "Y Geninen," controversial, political and literary; "Cymru," historical and educational all of them biographical and poetical. "Cymru" is strongly tinctured with the personality of the editor, who moreover understands the value of good printing, and illustrates his matter copiously by engravings: within a very few months the circulation of this new offspring of Celtic enterprise has gone up to about 5,000.

Probably the highest circulation of any of the periodicals belongs to Trysorfa'r Plant, about 37,000 monthly; of the newspapers, Y Genedl Gymreig may have about 23,000 weekly.

Though the fact is not clearly brought out by the foregoing lists, an immense preponderance of the circulation of periodical and newspaper literature belongs to North Wales and Cardiganshire, comprising half the total Welsh-speaking population who read considerably more than the other half residing in the remainder of South Wales. At any rate, east of Llanelly the South does not seem able to develop such a vigorous literary life as finds its centre in the historic district of Carnarvon.

FUGITIVE LITERATURE. Properly speaking we should class newspapers under this heading, they have, however, been enumerated above, and do not call for much comment, as a whole, being inferior in general worth to the periodicals:



 

 

image1143

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 299


it is to the latter that strangers must principally look for illustrations of Welsh thought.

Almanacs furnish other specimens of fugitive literature here is an extract from the frontispiece of one for 1890, published at Cardigan:

John Jones a John Bull sydd gym'dogion

Ond faint o gyfeillion nis gwn; John Bull sydd o lynach y Saeson,

R gvsT tra pheryglus yw hwn; John Jones sydd yn G-ymro tra gwledig,

Ond gwir wr boneddig yw ef , Md ydyw o duedd derfysglyd,

Dros heddwch y cyfyd ei lef.

How exceedingly grotesque to an Englishman this appears the next stanza begins

.John Bull sydd o duedd ymyrgar, Gwr gwaedlyd o'i febyd y bu.

of the third I will English the first four lines, thus

Bull's coffers are crammed full of riches,

Altho' he has a big debt iii hand, O'er the ocean his wide estate stretches.

But the monster has stolen aU his land.

the fourth begins

Bull wthia ei iaith ar y bobloedd, A chais Seisnigeiddio pob He.

The English reader will better understand the piece when I say that it is about two neighbours John Bull (hereinafter called Bull) and John Jones. John Jones is represented as a person who, although admittedly countrified, is of superior birth, of quiet habits, and ranges himself on the side of "peace and order." Bull, on the other hand, is a dangerous character, of a quarrelsome, fierce disposition from his youth


 

 

image1144

300 WALES AKD [CHAP. VII.

upwards; he has abundance of money, also landed property in foreign countries, but to tell the truth, he is at the same time heavily in debt, and has acquired the said property by very questionable means. This does not exhaust all Bull's failings; he has a disagreeable way of thrusting his language down other people's throats, and trying to anglefy every place he can. The almanac winds up by alluding to a league between John Jones a rather more distant neighbour called Pat, and another called the Albanwr, who hails from Caledonia, by means of which they hope to keep Bull more within bounds, and, in fact, the author prophecies that the latter will get the worst of it. Poor John Jones, I fear, thy alliance is a mesalliance.

Not very far from the place where this publication was issued is an institution commonly called St. David's College, Lampeter, where some of the young Joneses go to be trained up in what Bull calls his Church. The managers have a peculiar knack of fitting the students for their after life by entirely excluding Welsh sermons from the College pulpit, except on one day of the year, although, as a matter of fact, the great majority will be placed in parishes where Welsh largely preponderates as the home language; some of them where it is almost exclusively used.

Whether they think that Welsh does not pay, and the more pay the more souls " cured," or " cared for;" or whether they hold the view of a certain mitred personage, that Wales is only a "geographical expression," they do not make bold to say. However that may be, a troublesome newspaper man from the North, named Gee, publishes in the banished language some very provoking letters written to his paper from Cardiganshire about Bull's Church, and actually goes the length of calling the said Church Yr Estrones the StrangeresB (to coin a word), which repeatedly forms a head-



 

 

image1145

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 301

ing in this paper. As a reward for his trouble, he is reported to be the best hated man in Wales.

Another specimen of a very different class came from the pen of a medical student at Thomas' Hospital, when waiting for the lecture. I only give a portion to avoid prolixity. Eben Fardd's translation is, it will be seen by Welsh readers, inferior to the original in freshness and simplicity:

Tra crwydro'r wyf a chalon brudd

Ar hyd y nos,

Heirdd heolydd Tref Oaerludd,

Ar hyd y nos,

Llais hiraethlawn a ddyweda,

Pell jw gwlad yr iach fynydda,

Dinas estron yw hon yma,

Ar hyd y nos. * * *

Tng Nghymru anian wena'n beraidd,

Ar hyd y nos, . Pant a bryn sydd baradwysaidd,

Ar hyd y nos;

Pyncia'r adar rhwng man frigau,

T dyfEryn chwardd gan frithlon flodau,

Peroriaeth ydyw swn ei ffrydiau,

Ar hyd y nos.

BBEIf TAEDD's TEANSLATIOIf.

Whilst with heavy heart I roam,

Ar hyd y nos,

O'er London streets far, far from home,

Ar hyd y nos:

The whispers of sweet longing tell,

Tar are the mountains that excel

This City where but strangers dwell,

Ar hyd y nos.


 

 

image1146

302 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [chap. VII.


Simple nature smiles in Wales,

Ar liyd j nos;

Grlory crowns her hills and dales,

Ar hyd j nos;

Sweet the sounds of her cascades

Music all her woods pervades,

The valley's verdure hardly fades,

Ar hyd y nos.*

The student was the late Dr. John Pughe, of Aberdovey (loan ap Hu Feddyg).

One more reference to fugitive literature: I was walking with a well-known Welshman, while he was speaking to me of the persecutions endured by Dissenters within comparatively recent times in the neighbourhood where we were, and remarked, as near as I can recollect, " there is a power greater than the landlord's."

What does he mean? thought I to myself.

"It is that of the satirist. If anything particularly bad happened, there were generally two or three young men who went home and wrote a piece on the subject."

Somewhat singularly the last editor of Williams, Pantycelyn, confirms this view in his prefatory biograpliical notice, where he supposes that Williams may have escaped the fierce persecution which fell to the lot of some of his contempararies, through the fact of his being a bard, and remarks that the "proud squire or the boorish priest would rather pay the heaviest fines, or go to prison for a year, than be ' immortalized ' in a tuchangerdd, or made public [ystrydebu] in an interlude " [such as the productions of Twm o'r Nant, or Jonathan Hughes]. The satirical poem is a tuchangerdd.

* It must be borne in mind that tlie y of kyd, and the o of nos, are both long. " Up to night-time " would destroy the cadence, though preserve the number of syllables.


 

 

image1147

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. .S03

Welsh Publishers. We cannot compare the state of Welsh literature with that of English without reference to the publishers. An overwhelming proportion of English works are published in London. Edinburgh secures a gradually lessening share as a prime centre, and it is seldom that any work intended for general circulation appears in the provinces without the name of a London firm appearing on the title page.

London is the great, and the the only gi-eat centre for book distribution in England. It is so, partly for purely economical reasons. Country booksellers frequently make contracts for the conveyance of London parcels, and carriage being up to a certainlimit, afixed standing expense,is not necessarily increased by the inclusion of a new book, of which the carriage, if it came from Birmingham or Glasgow, would eat into a large proportion of the profits, if not annihilate them; independently of this, the fact of a dozen different publishing houses being near each other, and being able to supply a dozen different books which are perhaps required by an agent, to make one parcel for the country trade, tends of itself to economy. London publishers are usually not printers, they are simply mediums of publicity and distribution, relying upon the retail trade of the whole kingdom as their constituency.

Now modern Welsh literature had its beginning principally in books of a religious character, which naturally called into existence a set of publishers relying for patronage on one or the other of the leading denominations of Wales.

The publishers of such books stood little or no risk, their principal profit lying in the printing, further responsibility being shouldered by the denomination or individuals with an extensive interest or acquaintance therein. To this class of business was attached one of a more purely literary character, which in one or two cases has spread into considerable dimensions, travellers are employed, and their productions have


 

 

image1148

304 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.


come to be pretty widely known, but probably in comparatively few cases does the copyright belong to the publishers.

To put the matter in brief, Welsh, as compared with English, is handicapped by the following technical}, reasons: (1) the increased difficulty of distribution; (2) the fact that there is no centre in which a miscellaneous order can be collected by an agent; (3) a considerable portion of the total literary output has been entrusted to small printers, who either do not understand how to bring their productions before the public at large, or have no particular incentive to do so.

Now I would suggest a plan whereby the whole current literature may be centralized, viz., by all the printers of Wales selecting a representative, say in Bangor or Cardiff, or in both places, and agreeing to send to such a one a few copies, on sale, of every work issued by them, on condition of the agent printing, and sending out at his own expense, a certain number of catalogues embracing all such works in stock.

By the adoption of a similar plan to the above, any person in a remote district wishing to know exactly what was in the market, could send for the catalogue and order from it. Of course this would necessitate the payment of commission on orders which might otherwise have come first hand, but I feel sure that the sale of Welsh books would be increased, and that it would eventually pay the printers, besides possibly bringing some obscure but worthy authors into notice. If the printers decline to co-operate, why could not such a society as the Cymmrodorion arrange for a repository of Welsh literature. Some such idea was mooted years ago by the late D. I. Davies.

Out of a considerable number of Welsh printers and publishers five may be mentioned more particularly:

H. Humphreys, Carnarvon, is remarkable for issuing


 

 

image1149

CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 305

ninety-six small penny pulalications, all of a miscellaneous character, such as the "History of the Huguenots," "Napoleon," " William Penn," " John Peniy," " Christopher Columbus/' " Translators of the Welsh Bible," which are to be had bound in two volumes at 5s. 6d. each; also " Llyfryddiaeth y Cymry," printed some twenty-two years ago, at Llanidloes, which is now offered at the reduced price of 10s. 6d.

T. Gee and Son, Denbigh: Newspaper publishing is undoubtedly the backbone of this firm, but they publish the following among other works: Welsh Encyclopaedia, in 10 vols., 7 10s., in boards; Myvyrian Archaeology, with a translation of the laws of Howell Dda, 2; English-Welsh Dictionary, by D. Silvan Evans, 2; and Dr. Pughe's Welsh-English Dictionary, l 10s.; the latter will be perhaps the best Welsh-English dictionary obtainable until the completion of that in course of compilation by D. Silvan Evans; Hiraethog's " Emmanuel," in two parts, 5s. and 4s., are to be obtained here, also others of his works. Hiraethog was scarcely less noted as a prose writer than as a chief bard of modern times. A selection of his prose works, price 16s., is to be obtained from

I. FoTJLKBS, Brunswick Street, Liverpool, who is issuing a new edition of the " lolo MSS." in prose and verse, at 21s. His present hst includes "Enwogion Cymru (The Notables of Wales), at 21s.; the " Mabinogion," 17s.; and a shilling series called "Cyfres y Ceinion," one of which is the poetical works of Goronwy Owain: other two each contain 1,000 selected englynion by a large number of authors.

W. Spurrell and Son, is the only important Welsh book firm in South Wales. Their list includes the late William Spurrell's Dictionaries and Welsh Grammar.

The works of Gwallter Mechain, now out of print, were published over twenty years ago, by W. S, three vols., 24s.; the


 

 

image1150

30f) WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VIL


first volume is principally Welsh prose on archaeological and literfiry subjects, the second Welsh poetry, the third English prose, lectures, addresses, and letters.

The Welsh-English Dictionary, by D. Silvan Evans, of which two parts are already issued, will, if nothing prevent its completion, be by far the most important work hitherto published by W. Spurrell and Son, this will not merely be an elaborate dictionary, but will, from the amplitude of its quotations, be such a repository of literature as to make its appearance almost a national event. The English Government might, in fact, do much worse than subsidize such an undertaking.

T. Jones, of Treherbert, has Islwyn's "Awdl ar y Nefoedd;" " Caniadau " by Euryfryn; also a booklet of Mynyddog's, at popular prices.

Hughes and Son, of Wrexham, are the most extensive book publishers in the Principality, among their works are " Cofiant John Jones, Talsarn," by the late Owen Thomas, 10s. 6d., considered a masterpiece of biography; Works of Ceiriog, 7s. 6d.; Theological and Literary Essays, by the late Lewis Edwards, of Bala, 7s. 6d. each vol.; the Literary Essays (Traethodau Llenyddol) constitute one of the standard volumes of Welsh prose, not of an immediately theological character; they are principally reprints from " Y Traethodydd," and embrace, among others, articles on " Coll Gwynfa " (Paradise Lost), " Kant's Philosophy," and " the Writings of Morgan Llwyd," "Welsh poetry" and "Logic." Mynyddog's Works, Hugh Morris {Eos Ceiriog) , and Canwylly Cymry, * 5s. each; Rowland's Grammar and Exercises, 4s. 6d. each; Dafydd lonawr, for 3s. 6d., Gramadeg Caledfryn and GrEimadeg Dewi Mon, 2s, each., besides a considerable number of other works, principally theological and poetical are to be obtained here.

* A cheaper edition of " Canwyll y Cymry" is published by W. Jones, Newport, Mon.



 

 

image1151

CHAP. VII.] HER LAUGtTAGE. 307

In South Wales there is a considerable falling off in the purchases of Hughes and Son's books. Really this is not much to be wondered at, they appear willing to run scarcely any risk, although probably a wealthy firm, nor do they attempt to introduce any new ideas into the trade, nothing even similar to the " Cyfres y Ceinion," of I. Foulkes, or the little penny publications of Humphreys, nor anything got out in better style altogether, to parallel, say Cassell's 3d. vols. in English literature, with, of course, less matter to meet the necessary smaller circulation in such a limited area.

The popular demand may be insufficient, but has any serious attempt been made to develop or create one?

There is at present but little published in Wales as a stepping stone between the ability which is possessed by thousands of young people in South Wales to read a little Welsh, and the ability to read with sustained interest any standard book, such as even " Drych y Prif Oesoedd " (out of date though that be). This stepping stone is practically taken in English, so far as many in England and Wales are concerned, by means of unmitigated rubbish, London comic papers, cheap novelettes, and the like, sold at railway book-stalls and elsewhere. In Welsh, it is partly supplied by "Cymru," and would be further by the publication of such a series as " Llyfrau 'r Bala," began sometime since by Owen Edwards. How much more food for reflection or useful information is there in such a book as " O'r Bala i Geneva," than in a publication like "Snap Shots,"and a whole tribe of unmentionables, whose names shall not disgrace the pages of this book, and yet the language of this series (" Llyfrau'r Bala ") is within the reach of any ordinary youth or maiden of eighteen in Welsh Wales, and would be more so if the elementary schools developed the foundation knowledge gained out of school on a systematic basis.


 

 

image1152

308 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP, VIl.

In fact there is still room for an enterprising publishing firm to help fill up this gap to really assist in educating the taste of the nation, and familiarize the young people with the language they already know in part.

Have any of the larger Welsh pubUshers warmly promoted Welsh day school education? With one exception (T. Gee), strange to say, although the adoption of such a course would almost infallibly strengthen their trade and improve both the quantity and quahty of the vernacular literature, they stand to one side, not perhaps apathetically, but to say the least, as though it was a matter not worth their while to spend a penny on an effort to provide for the literary future of the nation, in which either they or their successors will be so much interested pecuniarily. If English becomes the prevailing language, they will cease to be publishers to any considerable extent, while the distribution of literature, will still more than at present be made from London.

By far the larger part of the 1,000 poetical works estimated to have been issued during this century have been put in the hands of small printers, perhaps local friends of the authors, w'lio liave trusted to their own immediate circle for the sale of their works. The result has been a low bill for inferior workmanship, poor paper, and poor ink, and a very limited circulation; they would like to get at all Wales, instead of half a county, but how to do it they know not, and perhaps after a few years the remainder of their stock is destroyed, or sold for waste paper. In fact the " remainder " of the first edition of Cywydd y Brindod, was burnt by the author.

Be that as it may, the number of rare books in Wales is excessively large, none of the officials of pubhc institutions appearing to have even the ghost of an idea of making collections of their own local literature. Ask the pubhc Ubrarians at Swansea, Cardiff, and Newport, or the local secretaries at


 

 

image1153

CHAP. VII,] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 309

most of the working men's clubs in Wales, if they aim at securing copies of all works published by authors residing within or on the borders of their county. Can they furnish fair samples of the local train of thought, which will enable a future historian to see what was said, and how it was said, by men of the period? No, their inanaging committees would feel like fish out of water, or else targets of ignorant ridicule if they attempted such a thing, and then the said librarians might think themselves ill-used if they were expected to be aufait in unearthing half forgotten odlau, or even some plain cofiant of a local worthy.

Does Newport Library possess anything of Islwyn's; Cardifl" any of the Rhondda booklets; Swansea any of the Swansea Vale and East Carmarthen poets? The two latter libraries may possess a few gifts of comparatively well-known works, but that is a very different thing to having a comprehensive collection, such as a few sixpences and shillings spent every quarter of a year would have brought together.

The idea of a Welsh museum has been mooted again and again, but has taken little root, possibly because the popular idea of a museum is rather confined to fossils, skeletons, stufiied birds, and that ilk. It is, however, a matter that certainly deserves to be brought before the pubUc again, though iu a few generations it will be a much more difficult and expensive matter to obtain a fairly perfect collection of Welsh literature than at present.

Gwilym Lleyn advocated more than twenty years ago a Welsh museum, where a copy of every Welsh book, or relating to Wales, might be preserved. He says, in reference to the need of such a place containing fugitive literature, that an Elegy, Association Circular, or Almanac, may give more information than would be supposed on first thoughts, and that complete sets of the periodicals ought to be obtained,


 

 

image1154

310 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.

T mae Marwnad, Llythyr Cymanfa, Oerdd neu Almanac weithian yn rhoddi mwy o wybodaeth nag a feddylid ar y dybiaeth gyntaf ac heb law hyny gwelid yn angenrheidiol meddu holl gyfnodolion Cymreig pob oes yn llawn. Llyf y 0. preface xxii:

Although the fact is not clearly brought out in the preceding pages, present day Welsh literature may be looked upon as being the result of two somewhat distinct historical currents, which are necessarily more or less mingled.

There is a literature in a line of continuity with that possessed by Wales in the middle ages, which may be described as national, and largely unique in its character, j'et always the property of the few, rather than of the nation at large.

We have, first of all, the old bards, and the elaborate versification settled in the Fifteenth century; then, a small but almost unbroken succession of those who were initiated into the system during the three succeeding centuries down to Goronwy Owain, while the Grammar of J. D. Rhys, the Dictionary of Dr. Davies, and the "Archasologia Biitannica," successively paved the way, both for the systematic study of Welsh or kindred languages, and for increased attention being given to the records of the past, which otherwise might have remained in oblivion; in the same line again we have the ' Myfyrian Archaeology," the labours of lolo Morganwg, and subsequent publication of the " lolo MSS.," Gwallter Mechain's works the " Mabinogion," and other works.

Turning now to the other current, to which we are principally indebted for the existence of an extensive and popular Welsh literature in the Nineteenth century, we place its source with the works of Wm. Salesbury, and the translation of the Welsh Bible, in the Sixteenth century, "Canwyll y Cymry," and other religious works, in the Seventeenth; while its great expansion is due indirectly to the Methodist revival of the Eighteenth, and the general practice which arose shortly


 

 

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CHAP. VII.] [WALES AND] HER LANGUAGE. 311

after of teaching young and old in Dissenting congregations to read their own tongue. To the ability to read, writing was frequently added as a selp-tatjght art, then the additional acquirement of literary composition, contributions to the Denominational magazines, and the coming forward as a local poet or essayist.

If it had not been for this religious movement (which in reality included secular instruction), the literature of Wales in the Nineteenth century would be within much more contracted limits than it actually is, and we should not be able to record the phenomenon of (roundly) 1,000 poetical publications being issued during that period.

We must, however, also consider that the mental energy of the people once stimulated, has caused the popular current to run somewhat alongside that other and more classical one, though we see, especially in some places in South Wales, that the process of AngUcization has so far absorbed that energy, that a development in either direction is dwarfed.

We have in our own day the chair awdl and more popular englyn, or the continuation of the style of the old literature, as well as the study of the literature itself, side by side with the language as an academical subject, though only to a very small and limited extent; and we have on the other hand the simple pryddest, or poem, the literature adapted to the capacities of the people, which may or may not yet become invigorated with fresh life and firmness, in accordance with the course followed by the leaders of the national education. If that is the case, the division between the esoteric and and exoteric, the inner and outer circles will become less and less sharply defined what more, let the Twentieth century

ten.

Enough has been said in the preceding pages, to indicate that in the Welsh language itself we have an instrument


 

 

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312 WALES AND [HER LANGUAGE] [CHAP. VII.


remarkably adapted for popular culture, and by a certain obtuseness of insight or by prejudice on the part of the governing powers almost as remarkably neglected: a language not merely adapted for the imparting of ordinary and necessary knowledge, as well as applicable to many of the material exigencies of modem life, but in a high degree nervous, refined, and capable of calling forth the emotions, as well as educating the perceptive faculties: a language moreover certainly worthy the attention of Welshmen, and one affording to EngKshmen an excellent and bracing mental exercise, far more so, in fact, than either French or German.

Then as to literature, the civilized world will probably never turn to Welsh, to find expositions of the latest solutions of biological or physical problems, or even of , the most pressing social questions, what however it will expect to find, is word-painting of a high order, vivid portraitures, life-like sketches of men and things which may if handled aright, be of service to mankind. Welsh literature moreover, is a living literature ever seeking expansion, but ever being cribbed, confined, and weakened by the peculiar and adverse circumstances which it has to face.

In the concluding chapter we will refer again both to the signs of vitality, and signs of decay exhibited in the principality at large, with regard both to the spoken and written language.


 

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