Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Wales. For I had an opportunity, only a few months ago, of lecturing before this Society upon this very subject, and 1 then submitted to my fellow-members such evidence as seemed to me to support the conclusions enunciated above. In connexion with this subject, I may, however, especially refer to the valuable researches of my friend, Professor Boyd Dawkins, more particularly to his discovery of platycnemic, or flat-shinned, skeletons in chambered graves in Denbighshire, which may be referred to the neolithic or later stoneage.

But, setting aside any archæological evidence derived from the bone-caves, barrows, or other sepulchres in Wales, we may finally look at the outcome of our inquiry into Welsh ethnogeny. If we admit, as it seems to me we are bound to admit, the existence of two distinct ethnical elements in the Welsh population, one of which is short, dark, and dolichocephalic-call it Silurian, Atlantean, Iberian, Basque, or what you will; and the other of which is tall, fair, and brachycephalic, such as some term Cymric, and others Ligurian; then it follows that by the crossing of these two races we may obtain not only individuals of intermediate character, but occasionally more complex combinations; for example, an individual may have the short stature and long head of the one race, associated with the lighter hair of the other; or again, the tall stature of one may be found in association with the melanism and dolichocephalism of the other race. It is, therefore, no objection to the views herein expressed if we can point to a living Welshman who happens to be at once tall and dark, or to another who is short and fair.

At the same time, I am by no means disposed to admit

1 For Prof. Boyd Dawkins' contributions to the subject see his interesting works on Cave-hunting, 1874, and on Early Man in Britain, 1880.

that when we have recognised the union of the xanthous and melanic elements in Wales, with a predominance of the latter in the south, we have approached to anything like the exhausting limit of the subject. Still earlier races may have dwelt in the land, and have contributed something to the composition of the Welsh. In fact, the anthropologist may say of a Welshman, as a character in “Cymbeline” says of Posthumus, when doubtful about his pedigree,

“I cannot delve him to the root."

It is possible that the roots of the Welsh may reach far down into some hidden primitive stock, older mayhap than the Neolithic ancestors of the Silurians; but of such pristine people we have no direct evidence. So far, however, as positive investigation has gone, we may safely conclude that the Welsh are the representatives, in large proportion, of a very ancient race or races; and that they are a composite people who may perhaps be best defined as Siluro-Cymric.

90

THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF WALES.

AN ADDRESS

DELIVERED TO THE CYMMRODORION SECTION OF THE

NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD OF 1880.

By LEWIS MORRIS, M.A., Honorary Fellow of Jesus College,

Oxford ; President of the Section.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, -We are met here this evening to re-establish, if possible, the Social Science Section of the National Eisteddfod, which, commencing, I think, in the year 1862, under the patronage of the Council of the Eisteddfod, was discontinued when that Council ceased to exist, some ten or more years afterwards. From that time to the National Eisteddfod held at Birkenhead, in 1878, there was nothing to answer to the former Social Science Section. In the last-named year, an attempt was again made to revive the institution, under the excellent presidency of my friend Professor Hughes, and papers of great ability and interest were read by various distinguished men. But whether it was that the subjects chosen for the papers were not sufficiently interesting to Welshmen as such, or that the hour and place of meeting were not well chosen, or that at Birkenhead people only care to be amused, the fact undoubtedly is, that the attendance was lamentably small-so small, indeed, that the experiment collapsed before the Eisteddfod meeting came to an end. I think it quite possible that if that attempt had been made at Carnarvon, or in any other real national centre, the result might have been very different: and I am inclined to deprecate the repetition of the experience of an Eisteddfod held out of Wales, and attended by a motley assemblage of people, chiefly attracted by a vague curiosity. But the real lesson of these repeated attempts and failures is to me a very instructive one. I do think they point to a conviction, on the part of the most thoughtful Welshmen, that the Eisteddfod as it at present is constituted, interesting and creditable as it undoubtedly is to the tastes and the refinement of the people, is not wholly satisfying, and that many of us, while recognising with pleasure the large number of valuable prizes which it has recently become the practice—and especially on the present occasion—to offer for subjects bearing upon the moral and physical condition of the people and their amelioration, for essays on health, food, the condition of dwellings, the earnings of the labourer and artizan, thrift, morals, and last, but not least, education (all of which were treated, as I am informed, by the former Social Science Section), are yet of opinion that more may be fairly done in this direction by the Eisteddfod than las been done yet. I do not, nor, as far as I know, does any one wish to, dethrone from their supremacy the sister arts of poetry and music, which now bear rule at the Eisteddfod meetings, but I think in the future it may well be a matter for consideration whether one day of the four, or, possibly, two afternoon sittings, might not be devoted to discussions proceeding on the lines of the economical or social subjects for which prizes are given. I hope no one will suspect me of not liking music. On the contrary, I think, and have often said, that the musical taste, which is sơ characteristic of the Welsh nation, should be cultivated to the fullest possible extent. Music speaks with a common and universal language, vague indeed, but infinitely tender and solemin, mighty beyond the power of words, full of yearning, full of the mystery of this wonderful life of ours, full of sublime echoes, which are to many instead of a complete theology, of the mighty voice without us, whose sound is in the sea, and in the sky, and in the hills, and in the inmost recesses of the human heart. As to poetry, no one, I am sure, considering whose descendant I am, will suspect me of disloyalty to that delightful art. There are some things of which it is impossible to speak satisfactorily, and of which it is best, therefore, to be silent. I believe myself that to every one, in his or her degree, glimpses of an ineffable and supreme beauty and goodness are vouchsafed from time to time, to some very rarely, to others more frequently, and that it is only the gift of expression, granted or denied, which distinguishes the poet from his fellow-men. But then it unfortunately happens that there are few who can speak this divine language with effect, and even those who can are filled with a consciousness that what they are privileged to say might well have been said better and more fully.

The conclusion to which I would come is that, to some of us, who would like to be frequent attendants at Eisteddfodic meetings, it would be no diminution of the interest and pleasure which they excite if we felt that we were not merely amusing ourselves—undoubtedly, in a very creditable way, but, still, amusing ourselves—but were doing something which might leave our fellow-countrymen happier and better. And this is the real meaning of the revival of our Social Science Section under a new name—not a better name, by any means, as it seems to me, but still, one which has not to struggle against memories of former failure.

As to the good which has been done by the Social Science Association of England during the twenty or more years of its existence, I believe it would be very difficult to exaggerate it. Almost all the reforms in the law during that time have taken their rise in, and are the direct or indirect result of the deliberations of the Association. The great practical difficulties of punishment and of prevention of crime, the treatment of the pitiful race of young criminals, the ques

« ForrigeFortsæt »