Billeder på siden

that she wanted him for, of course he must go. Damnable, hideous old hag as she was, whom he hated so that it was all he could do to keep from openly manifesting his dislike, he must nevertheless obey her summons, and force himself to cajole and wheedle, and pretend to love her! He was at her beck and call for the present, and must make the best of the intolerable thraldom till there was a good opportunity of putting an end to it. But once let him get such an opportunity, and he rather flattered himself he would make the most of it. And as one never knew when a chance might come in one's way, and as it would be too silly not to be prepared for it when it did come, he would take a certain little box of his with him when he went to see her. It only contained a few innocent looking little capsules, and would stow away easily in a pocket, and be no weight and no trouble to carry. He did not expect to be lucky enough to get the opportunity he wanted so quickly as this, and at the very first visit; but still no one could tell what would happen, and the capsules might come in handy, perhaps. If she were only out of the way, and Gladys--that is to say Nant Olchfa-his, what a good time he would have!

(To be continued.)


Hail, winter visitor! The air is chill.
Cold lies the snow upon the distant hill;

But thou hast glowing thoughts our hearts to thrill.
Hail! Messenger of smiles and whispers sweet.
To honour thee long-parted loved-ones meet.
For thee Time seems to stay his hurrying feet.

Of old thy praise was sung to lute and lyre.
Mute is the harp that thou did'st then inspire.
Thy circle now is round the social fire.

For Druid only was thy mystic Rune,

The symbol of thy sprigs with silver strewn,

The lore that thou did'st learn from sun and moon.

Thou tellest us of years that pass and die,
Of others born to bear the seasons by;

But, of thyself, vouchsafest no reply.

Thou lookest from above with thoughts of yore,
Of ancient groves, that fringed a peaceful shore,
Thy silence now was Bardic song before.

A death-like trance hath lulled the forest tree :
The sleeping flowers forget their Summer glee:
But Death in vain an emblem seeks in thee.


It is natural that I should have chosen this subject, not only because it is closely interwoven with my own professional life, but also because it involves, in the opinion of more competent judges than myself, the future of Welsh character and the part that character is to play in the history of the British Empire. Mr. Matthew Arnold, in his brilliant and suggestive book on the study of Celtic literature, pronounces the peculiar endowment of the Celtic, as distinguished from the Germanic races to be graceful fancy, and it is to the infusion of a measure of this spirit that he ascribes the superiority in style and delicacy of English poetry over that proceeding from a more unmixed Teutonic stock. Literary style, in short, comes more naturally to a Welshman or Irishman than to an Englishman, more naturally to an Englishman again than to a German. And great as the monumental works of English literature are, it must be acknowledged that there exists among the English middle-class little of that keen interest in literature and art for their own sake which strikes one so forcibly on first coming in contact with Welsh people. England has produced and still nourishes more and greater literary giants, but there is not now, it is doubtful if there ever was, such a widely spread literary and artistic instinct among the English masses. The oft-quoted instance of the eisteddfod is so remarkable that I cannot help quoting it again. It is something for any nation to boast of that the favourite institution of its lower and middle classes affords the only modern parallel to the artistic competitions of the Panhellenic games. The Greek, it is true, with that universality and completeness of view so characteristic of Hellenic genius, united intellectual and physical culture in his national festivals. So far, Wales must confess inferiority, but if a choice is to be made between these two sides, candour forces the admission that the Welsh eisteddfod is in conception, at least, a truer representative of the Greek Olympia than the English racecourse. In short we may take it as an admitted truth that the Cymry possess nationally as well as individually a special

*An Address delivered before the Welsh National Society of Liverpool, October 11th, 1886.

literary bent which has been denied to their more prosperous neighbours. Doctor Isambard Owen, in the vigorous address on race and nationality which he delivered before the Cymmrodorion Section at the National Eisteddfod this year, does not hesitate to assert that in this instinct is to be found "the key to the history of the Welsh people." "This belief," he says, "in the universality of intellectual enjoyment, this spontaneous creed of the democracy of culture, is the idea which has inspired the Welsh nationality, is the social gospel which Wales has to offer to the world. It is singular," he proceeds, "that the part of our common kingdom in which the love of intellectual pursuits is most widely diffused, and in which intellectual culture is of the essence of the national idea, should be of all the part worst supplied with the means of systematic mental training." If there is any truth in these remarks, it is impossible not to feel the extreme gravity of the subject I have chosen. To adapt Doctor Owen's own words: The Welshman of to-day deprived of education is an organism incomplete, lacking its perfect development. His intellectual capacities are his fighting arm; what can avail him in the battle of life if his right arm be withered and stunted from childhood?

England is the home of political institutions. Her people possess the evenness of temper, the rough common-sense, the dislike of change for the mere sake of change which are only to be found where political liberty is an old and sturdy forest growth. There is not a free institution existing in any part of the world at the present day the origin of which cannot be traced back to direct Anglo-Saxon handiwork, or to conscious imitation of it. Of England, the mother of free institutions, and still the soberest and most successful manager of them, we in Wales cannot hope to become the political teachers. Yet few who have lived even a short time in the Principality will deny that Wales has a lesson to teach which England would be the better of learning. But how can that lesson be taught while education, the instrument through which alone instruction can be imparted, continues so deficient? How singular that while the average of literary taste is higher in Wales than in England, the average of education should be distinctly lower? I doubt if Welshmen realise how utterly their ideas and social life are outside the ken of the Englishman. Wales is far less known outside its own boundaries than Scotland or Ireland. How is it that while the Scotch and Irish national airs are even better known in England than the old English melodies themselves, it is rare even for people of musical taste to have so much as heard of the Welsh melodies? It is not due to their inferiority: any competent musician will tell you that. True, one or two Welsh airs have found their way into England, but with the single exception of the "March of the Men of

Harlech," their origin is never suspected by most of those who hear them. In sacred music this isolation is still more remarkable. Probably not one educated Englishman in a thousand is aware that Wales possesses a native school of hymnology, more closely allied than the English and Scotch tunes to the German chorale, the sublimest of all forms of devotional music, but distinguished from it by a weird undercurrent of undefinable spiritual melancholy quite unlike the effect of minor tunes in any other national style. Having always had a taste for the study of the strong old tunes produced in such profusion about the time of the Reformation wherever that movement established itself, and for comparing the different manifestations in them of the same central idea according to difference in national temperament, I had been in the habit for some years of examining every collection of hymn tunes which came in my way. Yet till I came to live in Wales, in 1884, I had not merely never heard the sound of a Welsh hymn-tune, but was wholly unaware that such a thing existed. Now this is the epoch of Hymnaries. A few good tunes which had escaped the eyes of previous collectors would be a godsend to the editor of any of those numerous compilations which have been teeming from the press of late years, and which tempt one to parody the famous saying of Doctor Johnson about a certain book: "They contain much that is good, and much that is new; but what is new is not good, and what is good is not new." Welsh tunes have never found their way into English tune-books, not because the compilers have rejected them as unsuitable, but because they have not suspected their existence. It is true that the peculiarity of the metre would in some cases make it very difficult to discover appropriate English words. But some of the very finest, such as Alexander, Llansannan, Henryd, Eifionydd, Meirionydd, Old Jersey, Bangor, Edinburgh, are in well-known metres and could be sung to many of the best and most popular English hymns. Could anything illustrate more strikingly the absolute want of intercourse between the two races?

What is the cause of this? Not that the Welsh refuse to emigrate. There is a larger Welsh population in Liverpool alone than in any town in North Wales. But Welshmen who have left their own country do not mix or associate with the population amongst which they are thrown. They transplant their own social and religious organisations bodily, they live in a quarter of their own, they confine their intercourse with the rest of the population to business relations. So marked is this. tendency, that even at the University of Oxford Welshmen keep to themselves, and form "a peculiar people." Jones of Jesus is a puzzle to the English or Scotch undergraduate, as is attested


by many quaint and some uncomplimentary bon mots. Scotchmen, wherever they go, freely mix with the English population, and their influence is correspondingly powerful. They stand by each other, it is true, but they have sufficient self-confidence not to feel it necessary that they should live by each other. Here lies the root of the difference. The Scotchman possesses selfconfidence, the Welshman does not. The former launches out boldly into English life, confident of his own strength, the latter can never summon up courage for the decisive plunge. How are we to account for this contrast of confidence and diffidence ? Should it not be mainly attributed to difference in education? The Scotchman feels himself armed at all points. He has no fear for the future; if anything, he feels he has a better chance in England than in his own country, the average of education being lower in the latter country, and the prizes to be won more numerous and valuable. The Welshman feels the corresponding disadvantage. He knows English, but does not think in English; his education has been narrower; his experience of men and manners more confined. What more natural than that he should shrink back into himself, misunderstanding and misunderstood? As long as Welsh education remains in its present backward state, as long as English is a foreign language to the ordinary Welshman, which he can perhaps understand, but in which he feels as little at home as an Englishman in talking French, so long it is inevitable that Welsh life and Welsh thought will be without influence upon English thought, because almost wholly unknown to it. Wales can never influence England as Scotland, as even backward Ireland has done, till her sons cease to be the foreigners which for all practical purposes the mass of them continue to be at the present day. Every Welshman who desires that his race shall play their due part in the life of Great Britain, and, through it, of the world, will do what in him lies to realise this aim, first, by learning to think in English himself, and secondly, by encouraging his friends to follow his example. For thorough knowledge of English is to the Welshman at once the gate to higher education, and the sole channel through which he can communicate his ideas to the population of the British Empire and the United States, the population which is clearly destined to play the most important part in the future history of the civilised world. I must not be understood to advocate the disuse of Welsh; that is another and different question. I am only pleading for a thorough mastery of English. History shows that bilingual races have existed, and the loss of time entailed by the acquisition of a second instrument of thought is to a considerable extent compensated for by the freedom it gives from that besetting sin of men who know no tongue but their own, the subjection of thought to language. The basis,

« ForrigeFortsæt »