Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

might experience the great joy of recovering what he had fully considered as lost. Whilst we smile at the man's attempt to philosophize on the subject of an accident, we must not forget to admire his sterling honesty. This exposure is made, because a similar part is frequently played, under similar circumstances, by many persons in the principality.

Sufficient care has not always been exercised, in the appointment of those who guide the minds of the rising generation, and teach the young idea how to shoot. The difficulty of obtaining competent teachers, has often led the friends of education to acquiesce in the appointment of individuals, very deficient in point of scholarship, and objectionable as regards moral qualifications. This has been productive of most serious consequences to the moral and social state. A case occurred, not long since, the facts of which deserve to be recorded, as they illustrate the character of parties who form a considerable part of Welsh society. A teacher was appointed to a small school, in a rural district, in a county of North Wales. Some time afterwards a stranger came to reside in the parish, whose business it was to see that the duties of the school were properly performed. For some months he did all in his power to encourage the schoolmaster, and to promote his comfort, perceiving all the while that he was a person unfit to be entrusted with the care of children. He had often to exclaim, ' Hic niger est'--this is a black one; still it was his intention to put up with his numerous imperfections, had the conviction not forced itself upon his mind, that he was countenancing a very depraved and worthless character-one who did nothing to improve the minds, but did much to corrupt the morals of the valuable beings committed to his charge. The school was generally in a state of confusion when visited by the superintendent. On such occasions, the pedagogue would endeavour to assume authority, by getting into a passion, and threatening signal vengeance on the children. His language was both too mean and too horrible to be recorded. In addition to his other faults, he was so given to scandalizing that no one escaped the venom of his tongue. Occasionally he would get intoxicated and neglect his duties. During one such fits of intemperance, he went to the school, and commenced playing with the children, with which the little people were delighted, and they began to pull him about and mount on his back, reducing him to the attitude of a quadruped. He was the most notorious character in all the country for telling untruths. All these things combined made the duty of the superintendent plain. No course was left him, but to inform the gentleman who patronised the school and paid the stipend of the master; the gentleman gave him notice to quit, which threw him into great confusion, but set his tongue more on fire than ever. He however immediately wrote a character of himself, representing himself as very unworthy of blame, and fully competent for the discharge of the duties incumbent on a schoolmaster. This document he took to the neighbours around, whom he earnestly implored to sign it, and he succeeded in persuading a great number of farmers and others to comply with his wishes. Ilis object was to counteract the influence of the superintendent with the gentleman who had given him his discharge. The simple, good natured people, took compassion on him, and petitioned in his favour, though he was fast corrupting their children; but the gentleman, much to his credit, remained firm, and informed the teacher that if his testimonial had been signed by all in the county, of the same class in society as those who had subscribed their names, he would not regard it as worthy of any attention.

Again, the sequel of this affair, brings to light some of the singularities of the Welsh character. The expelled teacher applied to his parish for relief, threatening to leave his family and abscond, and saying many more fierce things, with a view of inducing the parishioners to interfere on his behalf. A leading man amongst them took the business in hand; and there being a school vacant within three miles' distance, he made application for it, and recommended this very individual. The committee of management, though fully aware of his expulsion, and the circumstances which led to it, yet were induced to disgrace themselves by giving him the appointment. In recording this instance of outrage on morality and common sense, it is not intended to convey the impression, that cases of quite so bad a character frequently occur, but it does illustrate the heedless and criminal disposition of the middle and lower classes in our country, not only to bear with, but to encourage persons of depraved principles.

Some years ago, a person holding a situation of importance became obnoxious to the people with whom he was connected. So much were they dissatisfied with him, that they agreed together to petition for his removal. The case was considered by the proper authority; and the person against whom complaint had been made, was summoned to appear before his superior. Previous to his doing so, he invited the people to meet, and represented to them that certain ruin awaited him, which, he was convinced, they did not wish to see effected. He stated that another situation was vacant to which he might be appointed, if he could prevail on them to sign a testimonial which he had prepared, in which an honourable character of himself was drawn,

The goodnatured people immediately relented, and all agreed to sign the document, which he carried before the authority to which he was responsible; in consequence of which the complainants, in their turn, were summoned to account for laying accusations against a man, to whose character they had borne so favourable a testimony. The case was effectually quashed, and the poor people have had to reconcile themselves, in the best manner they have been able, even to the present day, with their functionary.

If these sketches, and others which I consider it my duty to make, tend to lower our national character, it does not ap

an

pear that other nations have any reasons for boasting, as similar, and even greater imperfections and follies, are to be found amongst them. Take the following account as example, which belongs to the first nation on earth - the English :

“A clever Jury.—At the Kirton-in-Linsey sessions, on monday last (a day in April, 1840,) a man was tried for stealing a quantity of pig-iron from an ironmonger at Gainsborough. After the chairman had summed up, the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against the prisoner! The chairman explained to these wise men that the prisoner was indicted for stealing, and that they must say whether he was guilty or not. The jury put their heads together again, and said, we bring in a verdict of six months on the wheel. Ultimately these Solons returned a verdict of Guilty.” This precious sketch has just gone round all the newspapers in the kingdom, but I question whether twelve such thick-headed jurymen could be found in any county in the principality.

The Defects of the Welsh as a nation are many. Though possessed, to a great extent, of the means of improvement, yet many reprehensible habits, and deep blemishes attach to the national character. Of these I am bound in faithfulness, however disagreeable the task, to give a brief outline. I own I approach this part of my subject with considerable regret.

I begin by charging the Welsh nation with the want of an enterprising spirit. This in times so remarkable as ours for the onward movement of every civilized nation in the world, in opening up new sources of national wealth, and acquiring additional rights and privileges, falls little short of a national sin. Nevertheless, so far as regards measures of public improvement, and the attainment of national rights, a deadly apathy pervades the principality. The unhappy religious and political divisions which exist, make a simultaneous movement, for the attainment of any valuable object, a matter of impossibility. No new plan, of any importance, is devised, for the improvement of the country, either in a physical, an intellectual, or a moral point of view. Nearly all the measures of any interest, except those of a religious nature, originate with persons that are not natives, though the principality presents an immense field for improvement. Does it not arise from a want of enterprising spirit that nearly all the articles of dress, of a superior kind, are manufactured in other countries? All fine woollen cloths are made either in Yorkshire or in the West of England. No hats of a superior construction, nor boots and shoes which the wealthier classes will use, are manufactured in Wales. And why should this be the case? The purchasing of them drains the country of its wealth, and keeps the population poor. Will it be said that England, and other parts of the kingdom, take our copper, lead, and iron ; and that we export our coals and slates, for which we receive cash payments; and that our cattle are sold to supply the English markets? But England has sufficient wealth and generosity to take whatever we can export, without requiring that we should have no manufactures of our own, and especially without expecting that the wealthier classes of Wales should be under the necessity of procuring all their wearing apparel from her trades-people. If some men of capital were to apprentice a few clever youths, in Exeter and Leeds, where the best woollen cloths are made; and others in one of the districts of Ulster, where the best linens are manufactured, these, having returned, and being in possession of capital and a knowledge of trade, might commence business as manufacturers, and succeed in improving their own fortunes, as well as in conferring lasting benefits on their country. But alas! generally speaking, our numerous brooks and rivers flow in their

course,

from

age to age, without conferring any other benefits than watering cattle, and occasionally turning a corn-mill!

Another serious charge which lies against large sections of the Welsh community, is the want of strict adherence to

« AnteriorContinuar »