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ledge; and yet these gentlemen had never read a page of Welsh literature, nor did they understand a word of the language. Mr. Richard indignantly protests against their competency on the point which they undertake so oracularly to decide, and arrays overwhelming evidence in disproof of their rash and silly judgment.
•What greatly aggravates the absurdity in this case,' he justly remarks, 'is the fact, that these adventurous gentlemen, instead of restricting themselves to their proper duty as inspectors of schools, aspire to give a complete estimate of the national character, and of the whole system of society -to pass a judgment on the domestic habits, the religious institutions, and the literature of the country, together with the influence and operation of all these on its social character, and the development of its civilization ; and all this without knowing a syllable of the language. Could so radical a disqualification be supplied by the aid of assistants and interpreters? Mr. Symons, in one place, speaking of the anomaly of administering justice in English to a people who do not understand the language, makes this strong remark— The mockery of an English trial of a Welsh criminal, by a Welsh Judge, in English, is too gross and shocking to need comment.' Now, did it never occur to him, that to bring a whole nation to trial, under circumstances yet more unfair and disadvantageous, had in it at least something equally gross and shocking ?' The fact is, that such an appointment, after the Ministers had been expressly admonished against it, was an experimentum in corpore vili, an ungenerous presumption on the helplessness of their victims, which I believe they would not have dared to inflict, had they not thought that the poor Welsh were an obscure, defenceless, and unfriended people, on whom they could practise any injustice with impunity, because there was no one to stand up in vindication of their rights.'--p. 199.
We cannot enter on this branch of the subject, but must content ourselves with recommending it to the attention of our readers. The friends of the Commissioners must bitterly regret the folly which has exposed them to so severe and merited a condemnation.
The mode of procedure adopted by the Commissioners fully accounts for their gross blunders, though it cannot excuse them for the unfairness of merging their character as judges in that of the partizan. It is true, they were young Whig barristers, who probably accepted the job, as a step to further promotion ; but they must have been amongst the most short-sighted of mortals, or have calculated largely on the wickedness of their employers, if they expected their interests to be permanently served by such wholesale defamation. Wales is notoriously a dissenting country. The proportion of dissenters to churchmen is as eight to one, and it might, therefore, have been expected, that the Commissioners would, if only to preserve the appearance of impartiality, have consulted the former equally, at least, with the latter. Did they do so? We do not ask for more than this. We are willing to reduce our demand to such a level, but below this we cannot go; and if we show that they did not, nay, further, that an overwhelming majority of the witnesses cited, belonged to the smaller section, and were avowedly favourable to government interference, then it is idle to talk of the impartiality of the Commissioners, and it would be the mere drivelling of idiotcy to place reliance on their Reports. • They began their work,' says Mr. Richard, 'under the influence of a foregone conclusion. They were sent, and they fully understood this implied purport of their mission, to make out a case in favour of government aid and interference.' This is strong language, we admit, but let our readers judge whether it is not true. On arriving in the Principality, the Commissioners waited on the bishops, to consult them in the delicate task of selecting suitable assistants. These dignitaries naturally enough recommended the clerical students in the Church College of St. David's, at Lampeter, and this advice was immediately adopted, only two dissenters being employed.
And then, as to the sources whence information was sought. This was equally characteristic, and reflects like credit on their honesty and trustworthiness. An overwhelming majority of the people, as already stated, are dissenters; and their ministers live amongst them, are acquainted with their condition, have their confidence, and know intimately their language and sympathies. The reverse of all this is notoriously the case with the clergy of the Church of England, and yet it turns out, on enquiry, that of the 311 persons examined, 159 were clergymen, and 73 lay churchmen; while only 34 were dissenting ministers, and 45 lay dissenters. The gross injustice of such & procedure becomes still more apparent, when traced in particular districts.
'In the hundreds of Dewisland,' says a writer in the Principality' newspaper, ‘Keness and Kilgerran, in the county of Pembroke, in which the dissenters are as nine to one of the population, as the Report itself will prove, we find, out of fiftyfour who give their evidence, thirty-eight are clergymen of the Church of England, and not one dissenting minister! Yet there are living in the above district, a large number of respectable and influential ministers connected with the independents, baptists, and calvinistic methodists.' Indeed, nothing strikes s person acquainted with the Principality so strongly, in looking into these Reports, as the absence of almost all the most conspicuous men connected with Welsh dissent.
But this is not all. The Commissioners were not content with this most suspicious selection of their witnesses. They felt themselves at liberty to suppress the evidence given by many dissenters, and this, too, on the very points with which their reports were specially concerned. It would not, of course, do to omit entirely the names of dissenters. Such a fact would have revealed too plainly the sinister design of the Commissioners. A few dissenters were consequently examined, though their evidence was not wanted. It did not favour the 'foregone conclusion,' and is therefore consigned to oblivion, by these most impartial and veracious judges. But to the proof :
Not only,' says Mr. Richard, 'did these gentlemen ignorantly or wilfully omit to consult the best informed and most competent authori. ties, but they did far worse. Now, observe, I am not going to mince the matter; I have taken care to get firm ground beneath my feet before I stood here. I do distinctly and deliberately charge these gentlemen with having dishonestly garbled or suppressed, not once or twice, but in many instances, evidence given to them by some of the most respectable and intelligent men in Wales, but which evidence was almost uniformly in favour of the people. I will not refer to the numerous indignant complaints which constantly appear in the Welsh papers from persons whose evidence is contained in the Reports, against the mutilated form in which it is given, and against the manner in which the Commissioners have made a general application to the entire population, of certain strong expressions employed only in regard to a small and most depraved class of the population ; I go on authority of the most direct and undoubted kind, when I affirm that the following gentlemen furnished valuable and copious information to the Commissioners, every line of which has been suppressed :-The Rev. Lewis Edwards, Presi. dent of the Calvinistic Methodist College, at Bala : the Rev. John Phil. lips, Bangor, Agent for the British and Foreign School Society in Wales ; Dr. Owen Roberts, Bangor, a respectable lay gentleman, who has inte. rested himself long and deeply in the social and educational condition of his country ; Rev. Edward Davies, of Haverfordwest, who, in a letter I received from him this week, says,-'I gave evidence myself to Mr. Lingen, which covered nearly two pages of his folio note-book, and of which there is not a word in the Report ; simply because, I suppose, it tallied not with the grand purpose of making out a case for government aid ;' the Rev. Thomas Thomas, Principal of the Baptist College, at Pontypool ; the Rev. Evan Jones, of Tredegar ; the Rev. Mr. Bright, of Newport.' -p. 206.
The manner also in which inquiries were conducted, was singularly one-sided and suspicious. The witnesses were directed by leading questions, to the evidence that was sought. “Is there any deficiency of good day-schools, with competent masters, in your neighbourhood; and in what respects are they defective ? Is there much ignorance among the poor; and on what subjects ? Are their morals defective; and if so, in what respects ? State instances and facts which illustrate this. We need not say, what would be thought of such a mode of questioning in any court of justice; nor is it needful that we should deny the accuracy of the picture drawn, as a likeness of the general condition of the community. The attention of the witnesses was directed to the worst parts of society, and their replies are then exhibited, as a portraiture of the whole. I do not deny,' says Mr. Richard, that many of the evils depicted, do actually exist in Wales; though even these are, I firmly believe, in many instances, grossly exaggerated. But what I do object to, and vehemently protest against, is, the practice uniformly pursued by the Commissioners, of taking the utmost pains to hunt out, with the keen scent of a vulture, all the corruption and garbage of society, and putting these forward as fair average specimens of the intelligence and morality of the people. We need say nothing in support of this protest. Every rightminded man will instantly perceive and admit its force. We might as well appeal to the language of Billingsgate, in proof of the current phraseology of London, or to the morals of our gaming-houses and brothels, as illustrating the general tone of English society.
We had marked many other points in this lecture for comment, but must content ourselves with alluding to one. We refer to the evidence given by several clerical witnesses, on which the case of the Commissioners mainly relies. The Rev. Richard W. P. Davies, of Crickhowel, represents the mining districts of Brynmawr, in Breconshire, in colours the most hideous and revolting. The commissioner, Mr. Symons, readily avails himself of this evidence, and putting it in the foreground of his summary, gravely assures us, that not the slightest step has been taken to improve the mental and moral condition of the population. Now, what are the facts of the case? It is true, as the reverend detractor alleges, that there is neither church nor chapel of the establishment, within two miles of Brynmawr. But what then? There are six dissenting chapels, built at an expense of nearly six thousand pounds, and which numbered, at the time, one thousand one hundred and thirty-six members in actual fellowship, and furnished accommodation for every man, woman, and child, in the place. Nay more, a British school had recently been erected, at a cost of three hundred pounds, and two hundred Sunday-school teachers were actually engaged in the work of popular education. What shall we say to such facts? They speak for themselves, and need no comment. The witness who could give such evidence, and the commissioner who relied on it, are equally unworthy, to say the least, of respect and confidence.
The same glaring violation of truth is observable in the evidence of the Rev. J. Griffith, of Aberdare, but we pass it over, for the
present, in order to make room for another instance, adduced by Mr. Richard, and which we shall give in his own words. The extract somewhat exceeds our limits, but we cannot forego its insertion, and it does not admit of abridgment. Mr. Richard says:
*I prefer selecting from all others, for special examination and remark, the evidence of the Rev. Henry Lewis Davies, of Troedyraur, in Cardiganshire. And I do so for several reasons. In the first place, it is one of the worst (involving the most serious charges against the people and their religion) to be found in these three volumes. In the second place, it is put forward with great and studied prominence by Mr. Symons, in his summary. In the third place, it has been carefully culled as a choice specimen, by all the Whig papers, and published as an illustration of Welsh morality; and, in the fourth place, the parties on whose authority I am about to contradict its statements are personally and intimately known to me, as men on whose veracity the most absolute reliance may be placed.
The Day-schools are very deficient in Wales. The people generally desire and deserve to have better schools. I believe that good schools, where the Bible should be taught, without the Church Catechism or any sectarian doctrines, would flourish; but I am sure, that in this neighbourhood, no schools exclusively on any church or sectarian principles would answer, or be sufficiently attended. As an instance of this I may state, that when Sir James Graham's Bill was proposed, the Dissenters and Methodists in my parish opposed my school, and told the people I was a Roman Catholic. Very few children remained, and it was obliged to be given up in consequence. The Independents and Methodists then joined in establishing a day-school in my parish. They tried to teach eachtheir own doctrines and catechism in the joint school, and soon split, and were obliged to establish a separate school within two or three fields of each other; and yet their principles are nearly similar.
The Welsh poor people are wofully ignorant on all secular subjects. They used to be well instructed in the Sunday schools in the Bible and in scriptural truths; but latterly, since so much doctrinal controversy has arisen, they pretty nearly confine their questions, pwnc in Welsh,) and catechising, to polemics. For instance, such as State and Church connection; that confirmation is contrary to Scripture; that baptism ought to be by immersion, or the reverse ; Presbyterianism and Independency, etc.; they thus attend far less to Bible history and gospel truths than to these sectarian points. Having been absent in England for about twelve years, I perceived a great change for the worse in this respect, on my return six years ago ; and this state of things is rather worse than better now. The pwnc is generally printed, and always chaunted at the schools about here. They often meet at evening schools, in private houses, for the preparation of the pwnc, and this tends to immoralities between the young persons of both sexes, who frequently spend the night afterwards in hay-lofts together. So prevalent is want of chastity among the females, that, although I promised to return the marriage-fee to all couples whose first child should be born after nine months from the marriage, only one in six years entitled themselves to claim it.'