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We beg to assure the Gwyneddigion Society, that we have the greatest confidence in their prosperity, and that we shall ever be happy to afford them our zealous co-operation in forwarding their wishes, while they continue to evince their present honest and patriotic principles of action.
The burlesque style which has been adopted to throw an air of ridicule over the formation of the Cymmrod rion Society, is well worthy of the Pindaric school; but we refer our readers to the paragraph itself, to determine whether the desire of the writer to display his wit upon such an occasion has not the effect of producing a reflection on the judgment of one who could pen statements so absurd, and in some instances unfair and untrue. One of the latter we insert; it is this, that “every individual who could boast of a long pedigree, or of a few hundred acres of bog or mountain, appeared in the list of vice-presidents.” In reply, we beg to say, that this assertion is a conviction to our minds, and, no doubt, to those of our readers, that it has been made by one of the many who legislate for the world from the attics of Grubstreet or the purlieus of St. Giles's : he has wished to depict the poverty of the country in the illustration, but the attempt reminds us how exceedingly threadbare must have been the information which he himself possessed on the subject; a reference to the programmes of the London Eisteddvod, in which a list of vice-presidents appears, will corroborate our remarks; we are fond of third authorities.
The common insignia of office is attempted to be made the subject of farce, and we feel that, while we notice the insipid remarks which the “ author" has made, we are conferring a much greater honour than such a composition can possibly deserve ; but we wish to do every justice to the ungallant individual, whoever he may be who has paid so poor a compliment on the fair sex as to suppose that they would allow themselves to be “ dragged to this strange scene by their ill-judging papas.” But we now proceed to the " graver” subjects of difference, and “ to the fact of its utter apathy of the most essential purposes of its foundation.” “What good, let us ask, has it done to any thing
connected with the literature, the history, or the poetry of Wales ? Has it published any thing worth reading—or worth even the paper and print that have been wasted on its “Transactions?” We answer, No! Has it rescued from obscurity any literary treasure, or elucidated any of the perplexities of our early national history ? No! Has it, after the manner of the Thames Street furrier, afforded assistance—nay even encouragement—to one single son of Cambria? No! Has it, during any period of its ten years' existence, done one single thing in strict accordance with the avowed purposes of its foundation ? It has not ; and we will briefly tell our readers why.
“The acting members of the Cymmrodorion, in other words, the council, consist of the least influential—we had nearly said, least respectable-individuals of the society. Acting under the apparent responsibility of the other and more eminent officers, they proceed entirely according to their own selfish caprices. If they meant well, and were disappointed in the result of their
measures-as many greater councils have been before them--we should pity, and not condemn them: but this is not the case. They act wilfully, and with their eyes open, to the great injury of the society, and tu the infinite disgust of all rational people. We do not say this out of pique or ill-will to any single member of the Cymmrodorion, or of its council; indeed, as far as we are individually concerned we have no cause for complaint; but having been honoured by the distinction of one of the society's prizes, we naturally feel a little interest in its welfare and respectability. Besides, being very nearly a thorough-bred Cambro-Briton, and dating our pedigree considerably beyond the deluge, the amor patrie is strong within us; and, notwithstanding the evil days upon which our poor country has fallen, and the busy part which some of her magnantes have taken in the propagation of this evil, we love her still. We love her blue hills and her secluded lakes; we love her glens, her woods, her rocks, her streams, her cataracts, for she is our “father land;” -we were cradled amidst her, mountains, and may we finally repose in their calm and quiet bosom !
“But, it will be said, this society must be of some advantage by the distribution of its prizes, and by the good fellowship which it must naturally promote amongst the natives of the Principality, as well as by enabling the rich and generous to subscribe their money towards the laudable object of its institution. As far as the prizes are concerned, the plan and purpose are beneficial, we will readily allow; but the mode in which they are awarded is not impartial. The council, of course, constitute the tribunal, to whose judgment the productions are submitted ; and we have reason to know, that, with very few exceptions indeed, the writers are sufficiently well known before hand. Hence impartiality is impossible; and hence it is that certain individuals, whom we could mention, have nearly monopolised the whole series of prizes. In addition to this, the council fix upon the subjects: and we know of no regulation which prevents any one of them from entering the lists as a candidate.” (Pp. 174, 175.)
Now the grounds of interference on the part of our contemporary are so rational and meritorious, that we should feel a pleasure in taking part with him in an honest cause : he has depicted in the most glowing of imagery his fondness for that in which our own hearts are essentially connected; he has related his family tie, and founded upon all this the grounds of those charges which we have detailed, and to each of which we purpose to reply, being influenced as well as himself by that "amor patriæ" which he has made the signal for the onset, and the inspiring principle of his zeal.
The “ Transactions” are the first results of this institution, and contain the writings and researches of the greater portion of our present Cambro-British talent, as well as selections from valuable unique mss. The antiquarian discoveries have afforded much useful and historical information, they are replete with early accounts of our country, and throw considerable additional light on the laws and institutions of Great Britain ; they have rescued from oblivion some of the compositions of the early bards, and have been useful as books of reference, in the compilation of a recent work by one of the first of our modern historical writers.*
• Sir James Macintosh's History of England, and acknowledged by him to the proprietor of our work to have afforded the information required.
The Cymmrodorion have within the last two years voted a very liberal donation for the continuance of the archaiology, thus forwarding the rery object of the founder of the Gwyneddigion, the patriotic Owen Myvyr, and the publication of the Mabinogion, a work exceedingly curious and interesting, in its translated form, to the literary world generally.*
“ The council" are not now constituted judges of the merits of the papers sent in for prize adjudication. Do not the names of Wiffen, Sharon Turner, Dr. Owen Pughe, Sir S. R. Meyricke, “ Walter Davies of Manafon," sufficiently of themselves repel the assertions which the writer has made against the respectability and influence of the society? and who, by the bye, do not compose “ the council,” and we much wish it were possible that they did honour the Cymmrodorion, for its station would then be equally high as that of any literary society in Europe. Will it be believed that such men would wink at a perversion of the fund at the disposal of the society, or in any way allow themselves to be mixed up in literary jobbing? we need say no more-our readers will be satisfied on this part of the subject.
We accord in opinion with the writer on one point, commented upon in page 177, namely, that an annual concert appears to be not in unison with the affairs of a Welsh Literary Society, interspersed as it may be with Cambro-British music; but this part of the business being decided on by a majority of the London members, the council are bound to abide by their decision.
We now proceed to another material topic of the article of our contemporary, in which he attempts to confute some of the arguments of an essay published under the patronage of the Cymmrodorion, and for which one of its prizes was awarded. The following question, however, is very facetiously asked in an appended note :
May we ask, what reference the subject of this essay has to the original purposes of the Cymmrodorion, and why it was selected on the present occasion ? We should like to know, also, how many candidates there were for this prize."
We have already stated that the society was founded upon principles of general utility to the Principality, and we feel this to be a question which, if properly solved, would be extremely beneficial to society, inasmuch as its most important interests are involved in the proper regulation and well-being of its national church. The second question we cannot do better than answer in the words of Dr. Wm. Owen Pughe: “ it would be highly desirable that this essay should be printed by the Cymmrodorion, under the sanction of its author.”
The first objection taken by this Goliah of critics is certainly of the most insignificant character; and, in reply to the latter part of the note, we beg to state that there were two candidates
* The early nursery tales of certain tribes of the ancient Britons.
for this prize. We shall now give another extract, for they afford us considerable amusement:
“The title of this paper is derived from one of the last successful prizeessays of the Cymmrodorion, which the author has anonymously, published, under the clumsy title of An Essay on the Causes which have produced Dissent in Wales from the Established Church.'”
The writer has thus proceeded warmly to the work, determined to quarrel with some one, and, consequently, knocks down a title which was given to the essayist, as a trial of his skill, by the society itself.
Besides which, we see none of the “ clumsiness" complained of, and much wish that the reviewer had rescued his character from the charge of hyper-criticism by affording us some other in his own peculiar phraseology. There are two points upon which we feel it absolutely necessary to make a few remarks, before we further proceed: first, as to the cause of the Merthyr Tydvil riots, which mainly originated in the machinations of certain Staffordshire emissaries, added to the very great distress from the unprecedented depressed state of the iron and coal trade, acting on the poverty of the unfortunate and ever to be commiserated colliers. The second point is, a total denial that Sir Watkin was the subject “ of very cordial execration amongst his own cheerfully-respecting dependents:" for it is a fact, well known every where and to every one, excepting
our author,” that he was chosen by the operatives themselves to act as mediator upon the occasion. We trust we need offer no apology for the numerous extracts we are induced to make, partly for the amusement of our readers and partly for the refutation which we subjoin to them. But here comes one that partakes so largely of the former class, that it behoves us to inform the peasantry, some of whom we are proud to say are the readers of our pages, of the cockney idea of their state of wretchedness.
“ Thus, actual want, except in cases of sickness, or other unavoidable misfortunes, is rarely the lot of the Welsh peasant. His condition, God knows, is
and wretched enough, as far as the absence of all luxury can make it."
We consider that there is frequently a “ luxury" in the bosom of a poor Welsh peasant, hard as the times may press upon him, which many of our modern authors seldom experience, and this is a feeling of humble but contented independence, added to that which not a few of our London periodical writers rarely possess, we mean the “
luxury" of being out of debt. There is a truism, almost a solitary one, in this article, to which we most cordially assent; it is a comment on the character of the respected member for Merionethshire, for whom we, in common with every one who has the pleasure of knowing him, entertain the greatest regard, and even gratitude, for the example he has afforded to his country. He is one of those oldfashioned worthy indivi als so often referred to even at the present day, but too rarely met with. The next point against
which“ our author" stumbles, for he proceeds so circuitously in his arguments that, when he happens to write with any thing approaching to rationality, it appears to be the effect of accident rather than design; he states, however, that “he must endeavour to set mankind right," with his “ accustomed
energy and facility!” Now, how does he perform that which he so modestly proclaims to be an attribute of his labours of criticism? Guided by the infallibility of this “accustomed energy and facility,” he enters into a long tirade against the divine Wesley, whom he insinuates (in common with some of the “ primitive professors") to have seceded, in the first instance, “ either in accordance with their own wild whims, or to effect some purpose of a nature not strictly pious.” The primary cause of dissent we assert to be a difference of opinion, (sometimes arising, as in Wales, from an inefficient performance of divine service,) and persecution is its consequence; but not, as “our author” states, that dissent in religious matters is to be referred always “ to persecution." Then follows a lengthy quotation respecting the commencement of dissent in Wales, purporting to be translated from a Welsh periodical, entitled the Trysorfa. Now, as this account is given, the reader would at once suppose it was a clever translation of “ our author's," with his “ accustomed energy and fucility;" but, upon reference to the introductory chapter of the Prize Essay, we find that this interesting little history has been extracted without any acknowledgment from the pages of the essayist. Following this is about half a column of print, given as original matter, but, having once “ caught the Turk,” we are unwilling to let him go without affording him a further proof of our tonsorium capability. The reader will discover our meaning upon comparing the half column, mentioned in page 178 of the periodical, with page 6 of the Essay, being another long extract which the essayist has acknowledged in his notes to have obtained from an original source.
“ The old grievance of appointing English clergymen to Welsh benefices is revived by our essayist, with a virulence quite alarming. In allusion to this subjeci, “What,' he asks, 'is the fact at the present moment in Wales ? All the highest church preferment is in the hands of men utterly ignorant of the Welsh language:' and forth with follows a woful lamentation, because 'a whole district should be virtually deprived of the rite of confirmation'this, in our author's opinion, being the principal benefit conferred upon his flock by a bishop."
It is admitted therefore to be “ an old grievance,” that of appointing Englishmen to Welsh benefices, and that the bishops, against the express words of the 24th article, administer the rite of confirmation in a language not understood by the people. The flippancy of the arguments and observations made upon this subject, are unworthy a writer professing himself to be a defender of the church of England; and we are convinced that no pious clergyman could read them without the strongest feelings