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THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF WALES:

WHAT IT WILL DO.

Her Majesty's Jubilee has already brought about an important work for Wales. The choice of a representative public meeting of Cardiff and other parts of the Principality has, after a protracted discussion of more than ordinary interest, carried on, for the most part, with ability, judgment, and fairness, declared itself in favour of a scheme for the erection as a Jubilee memorial of a National Institute for Wales in Cardiff. Such a scheme consolidates in a worthy and tangible form many projects, some perhaps unsettled in their shape --but others, and by far the greater number, possessing qualities of proved strength and direct influence for good. The societies whose interests by the resolution of that meeting have become amalgamated are the Royal Cambrian Academy of Arts, the Cardiff Naturalists' Society, the Cardiff Literary Society, the Cardiff Photographic Society, and what is of considerable importance from the national point of view-the Cambrian Society of South Wales and Monmouthshire, together with the Society for the Utilisation of the Welsh Language, and the Cardiff Cymmrodorion Society. These are to be associated with a proposal which has been for some time forcing itself to the front as a measure of true necessity, viz.: the extension of the building used by the municipality of Cardiff for the purposes of a Free Library, Schools for Science and Art, Museum, and Art Gallery.

Apart from the advantage to be thus conferred upon art, science and literature, both by union and community of interest, a National Institute offers the best means for an effective welding together of national and local organisations for culture; and having in view the gradually increasing importance of Wales, both with regard to education, laws, and national policy, as well as in other directions where her voice has hardly been heard until recently, the establishment of a National Institute amongst her largest representative communities will be of service to all that concerns her true interests. Thus it is that those desires--more or less indefinite-for centralisation which have long existed in various shapes, and which now for the first time are outlined with clearness, may well be regarded as having for their end the accomplishment of some noble and notable embodiment of the loyalty of Welsh people at a time when all the kingdom is casting about for suitable methods of commemorating the Jubilee Year of the Queen.

We may take it that each separate society in the amalgamation erects, by means of its own peculiar object, a separate pillar of strength, the foundations of which are already well laid. The advantages of vigour and earnestness are on the side of the workers; but their work is yet before them, their objects unaccomplished-a most decisive reason why their pillars of strength should not become pillars of salt, and why we may look forward to seeing them composed into one design under the governing lines of unified national sentiment. And why should we not hope that this consolidation of worthy aims and aspirations will result in a great and permanent work? The time is appropriate, and the scheme now brought into existence is a national and local necessity.

Wales, during the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, has built up systems of trade entitling her to a first place in contemporary record. Perhaps the very rapidity and engrossing diligence with which she has been doing this left insufficient opportunity, until recently, for the development of a comprehensive scheme of education, but that good work has been begun, is thriving, and will bear its fruit. As yet, however, the arts, and even those sciences so intimately affecting her worldfamed natural productions, bear an altogether inadequate relation to her commercial status. In such matters the race is before the Welshman, and his native character in art has yet to be attained. Scarcely at all do the glories of a past school of artists or native architects tend to awaken his sympathy or emulation. Contrast, for instance, the size of Wales with that of Belgium. The difference is not great; but the one country is full of educational art agencies. Centuries ago Belgium heard the resounding anvil of trade, whilst her cities sheltered thousands of grimy toilers, and her quays teemed with merchandise. Thus were created the means by which from above her busy canals and level meadows arose the great halls of commerce, the cathedrals, and those other masses of architecture which, with the works of her schools and guilds of painters in every city, still mark Belgium as a wonder amongst the hives of human art and industry, past and present. It is true that much. of this was due to the magnificence of king or noble, or to that great ecclesiastical system which has always recognised a handmaid, if not a sister, in fine art; but very much was also the work of the people, who saw in the graces of art the most suitable and pleasing expression of the dignity of their industry, and of the greatness of their commerce. The great school of Rubens was equally supported by noble, churchman, and commoner, and the memorials of art in Belgium remain as evidences of grandeur of mind in a people who hardly had, politically or nationally, an existence.

Wales, until a hundred years ago, yielded little beyond the

pastoral valley or mountain; hardly more than the simple village church expanding here and there into some graceful abbey, where sylvan beauty and rocky salmon-leap had attracted the pious love of the Cistercian-sometimes too modest to lay claim to art character of any kind. Except these, it was only where the turreted keep of the Norman or Edwardian baron, or the gables and mullions of the Tudor Manor House, gave variety to crag or vale, that the voice of art-even of the rudest-could appeal to the mind of the Welshman. Perhaps this is why, "Among our ancient mountains and from our lovely vales," the influence of any kind of art feeling is totally absent in the chapels built during the Nonconformist period. Most of these are architecturally spectacles of the saddest kind, and nowhere more so than in those populous districts where the wealth flowing from "good times " could, with proper direction, have inculcated and fostered the principles of good taste.

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Considerations like these might tempt one to believe that the Welshman has no inherent love for art, but let us look beneath the surface, and we shall there see indications of much promise that only opportunities for development are wanted to bring out a true aptitude for art. The Welshman is a Celt, and his fervour in oratory, his brilliant imagination, his poetic warmth, and his strong national feelings are but incipient forms of art-instinct. He can feel and express enthusiasm with a verve unknown to his neighbour, the typical Saxon, whose Teutonic qualities, more powerful and persistent though they may be, often lack much of that brilliancy and go" which-especially in these days-is so much esteemed in art work. Wherever else in Europe the Celt is found, there also is found good and true art-of a past age it may be-but only because European art has everywhere had its decadence, and its re-Renaissance has only come with the nineteenth century. But there are Welsh names great in art, and if they are disconnected with the Principality so as almost or entirely to lose identity therewith, that is only another proof that art influences meet with their response in the blood of the Welshman when he is brought into anything like close contact with them. The Joneses-Inigo, the architect, Owen Jones, the greatest British ornamentalist, and Burne Jones, the painter— will at once occur to mind as examples of what we mean. The founder (with Thomas Gainsborough) of English landscape painting was Richard Wilson, one of the early R.A.'s, who painted in Rome and London, whose works are amongst the most highly prized in collections of the first repute, and who, after years of toil in little better than poverty, returned to his native Wales to die. In the sister art of sculpture the Welshman has not failed: David and Joseph Edwards are names without which the history of sculpture in Britain is incomplete, and Mr. Milo ap Griffith

is to-day and in each Royal Academy exhibition worthily maintaining a reputation made under circumstances of no ordinary disadvantage.

From such facts as these there is all encouragement for believing that no stigma of non-appreciation for art need rest with the Welshman, if only he obtains that opportunity for practical sympathy with it which has hitherto been denied him. Associated with a National Institute of Wales, true national character and aim should attach to the Royal Cambrian Academy, and in a centre of population, and, consequently, of opportunity, like Cardiff, it can become a truly powerful agency for good-a possibility quite remote if its operations had remained confined to the means and development afforded by summer visitor or Manchester patron in the North. If the Royal Scottish Academy has furnished such art of an individualised national character as we see in the Royal Academy Exhibitions under the names of MacWhirter or Peter Graham, let us yet hope that the mountains, the rivers, the coasts, and harbours of Wales may, with the due fostering of an accredited home, yet produce a school of painters great in Wales, and only greater by repute in England and America. To such aims as these, for the giving loyal effect to the warrant graciously granted by the Queen to the Royal Cambrian Academy, to promote art in Wales, for the progress of science, and for the cultivation of English and Welsh literature, the National Institute of Wales gives a scope and a dignity which call on every Welshman with no uncertain voice to support it as an institution worthy of, and promptly responding to, his warmest sympathies.

Cardiff is to be congratulated in having selected an object consolidating such aims as these, especially when an institution so deserving as the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire had stepped forward with claims on the support of her citizens. The choice between such rivals was a hard one to make, and the matter for regret is, that either should suffer through the merits of the other. But even yet, judicious discussion may bring forth a means by which the requirements of both can be met by some association of interests. The committee charged by the public meeting recently held in the town with the establishment of the National Institute will, it may be hoped, find some means of securing unity for two schemes so equally worthy of encouragement. Some suggestions have already been made with this object, and it will rest with the college to elect if the desire here expressed can be brought into definite and acceptable shape.

St. John's Chambers,
Cardiff.

EDWIN SEWARD, R.C.A.

"SPRING."

FROM METASTASIO.

Once more, fair Spring in flowery guise
Returns to gladden anxious eyes;

Once more, amid our woodland bowers,
The gentle Zephyr wooes the flowers.
But to my heart, where true love burns,
Alas, alas, no peace returns.

Phoebus with piercing ray dispels
The ice which on the mountain dwells;
Beneath his touch, in verdure green,
Once more the grassy slopes are seen.
Fresh blossoms clothe the river side,
Washed by the spring's o'erwhelming tide.
The hoary oaks, long tempest tossed,
Once more shake off the tardy frost;
To the lone fields which they adorn,
A thousand fragile flowers are born.
Not yet amid their ranks are seen
The cruel farmer's ploughshare keen.
From Egypt's hot and sandy plain
The swallow wings her flight again;
Nor pauses till she finds a rest,
Safe sheltered in the dear old nest.
The ocean crossed, she knows no care,

Nor heeds the crafty sportsman's snare.

The loving shepherdess with pride
Flies to the crystal fountain's side;

Whilst mirrored there she braids her hair,
Her flock escape to pastures fair.
The angler hastens from the plain,
The pilgrim plods the road again.

The sailor, tossed upon the deep,
By stormy winds which ceaseless sweep,
Shipwrecked, regains his native shore,
And finds the wild waves calm once more;
Forgets the perils of the past

Safe anchored near his home at last.

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