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there must be some chosen curse, some hidden thunder, in the stores of heaven, red with uncommon wrath,' to blast the men who trample on the laws which forbid impurity, and who tempt the ruin of themselves and their country, to gratify their unhallowed passions!
The more respectable part of society in the principality, set themselves against the habit, and allow nothing of the kind, to their knowledge, in their houses. Expulsion is the immediate consequence when servants are found to indulge in the practice. The Calvinistic Methodists as a body have, for years, carried on a war against it; but will they allow me to say, that I fear they have mistaken the best method of eradicating the evil ? They, as parents and masters, must reform their sentiments in regard to the intercourse previous to marriage, and must reform the regulations of their household. If the whole community of virtuous people do this, the foul disgrace which at present hangs over us as a nation will soon be taken away.
Frequent complaints are made of the prejudices fostered by religious parties in Wales against one another. How much brotherly affection may be cherished by persons belonging to the same communion, towards their own brethren, I cannot undertake to state. It is to be hoped that most of those who enlist themselves under the same banner of religion, cherish that esteem and kindly feeling for their fellow-travellers to eternity, which the Christian Legislator commands. But the facts are notorious, that much civil dissention, and frequent divisions of single congregations into opposing parties, occur, among the various sects in the principality. The ebullition of passion, of folly, and of narrow-mindedness, indulged on these occasions, forces upon us the opinion that religion is at a very low ebb indeed among these pugnacious tribes. Contentions of this kind are carried on chiefly by those parties who advocate a republican form of church government. The two bodies of Methodists, owing to their more aristocratic system, are comparatively free from civil commotions, but of these the one which has hitherto kept most compactly together is the Calvinistic party.
A strong feeling of prejudice is entertained, by each religious party, against all the others which coexist. And though this feeling may not be so fierce in its operation, at the present time, as it was in former years, it is very
evident that the evil principle is still at work. When one denomination erects a place of worship in any neighbourhood, another body, having a few members in the same locality, will build a sort of opposition house, and that frequently close to it. Who that has travelled from Machynlleth to Aberystwyth, has not observed, on the road side, two meeeting-houses, at furthest not more than fifteen or twenty yards apart from each other? It may well be supposed that the bickerings, the unchristian reflections, and the bigoted practices of those who frequent such places, must be of very general occurrence.
Political strife, likewise, is in a state of great activity in this country. Much injury is done to the feelings, the temper, and the social circumstances of the community, by the unreasonable modes of proceeding adopted by the different political partisans. Generally speaking the higher classes drop their hostility, when the occasions which excited them have passed away, and they act with that gentlemanly conduct which their station in society and their education prescribe. But rancorous feelings are harboured, for a long time, by the lower functionaries connected with elections. The spirit of strife is kept up by the periodicals and journals, which, in scurrility, misrepresentation, and uncharitableness, may vie with those of England or any other country. But such as profess to be of a religious character leave those of England very far behind in the race of discord. All these contain a mixture of religion and politics, accompanied by a great number of anecdotes, which are prejudicial to other parties, especially the Church of England. The Editor of one of these
publications, a short time ago, after inserting articles which tended to disorganize the universe, all the year round, at the close of it, thanked his correspondents for the Christian spirit which they had displayed !
THE CAUSES which have acted in producing the faults and defects which we have pointed out, in the Welsh character, deserve to be briefly considered. They are undoubtedly various and complicated, and more space would be required to trace them, even imperfectly, than the limits of this Essay will allow. I can therefore only glance at a few of them. The natural depravity of the human heart must be assigned as the principal source, whence flow the imperfections of every character, whether individual or national. Other agencies contribute their influence, but the root of all the evil must be sought in the fallen condition of man.
A sound education does much to improve the character of mankind, and to save individuals and communities from many of the unfortunate habits which lead to shame, and call for humiliation. The kind of education which the Welsh people have been receiving could hardly be more defective. This arose, in a great measure, from the scarcity of competent teachers, and this again was occasioned because of the very inadequate remuneration generally given to persons engaged in tuition. No situation requires more genuine qualifications than that of an instructor of children, but no class of men have fewer pretensions to those qualifications than the majority of the schoolmasters employed in our country.
An improvement is evidently taking place in this interesting class of persons; but the character of the nation has been formed by the training received in days that are gone by. It may be hoped that the next generation will far surpass the one now existing, both in intellectual attainments and moral excellence. The reflections which I have felt it my duty to make, on the schools of Wales, are not intended to be applied to the few Grammar schools, established in different parts of the country, at which the wealthier classes are educated. We have to do, at present, chiefly with those institutions which produce their influence on the mass of the people. In many of the towns, and I might mention Bangor, Carnarvon, and Beaumaris, the national schools are conducted with great care, being superintended by competent teachers. In addition to what I have stated, several causes appear, why these valuable establishments, generally, are not more productive of benefit to the community. The first is that the scholars are, in some instances, too numerous for the efficient superintendence of one man; and, in the next place, the children are taken from school after so short a stay, that the training loses its effects amidst the powerful influences, of a deteriorating kind, which act on the youthful mind. This second cause seems to be, by far, the greater grievance. In villages and rural districts, the first grievance is seldom felt, but it is to be lamented that a premature removal from the school, in conjunction with other influences, prevents the children from deriving that benefit which otherwise they might. In all the day-schools instruc. tion is communicated in inaccurate English, but the language spoken by the lower classes, even in towns, and by all in the rural districts, is the Welsh. This unnatural state of things is the giant difficulty with which education in Wales has to contend. The understanding is not engaged and enlightened, because instruction is given in an unknown tongue. A very small part indeed of the tuition is devoted to the explanation of the meaning of English words; so that, in truth, neither Welsh nor English is taught, to any purpose, in the schools of the principality. The consequences are many, and are most injurious to the honour, and even to the prosperity, of the inhabitants. The auditor of a union, in one of the counties of North Wales, could pass the accounts of only two parishes, out of about fifty two, at an audit which took place, I believe, last year. Such accounts are amongst the simplest thing which a man may be called upon to make up, and yet such is the defective state of scholarship in our country that, in about fifty parishes, persons appointed to fill parochial offices could not make the statement of their receipts and payments so intelligible as to pass the usual examination. I received this information from a man who was present, when the business was transacted, and who was himself a parish officer at the time.
Much has been done, of late, in the diocese of Bangor, to advance the cause of education, and to improve the character of the National Schools, by the zeal and activity of the Very Reverend the Dean; and it may be confidently expected that the additional measures which have been just adopted, for the purpose of training competent teachers, will infuse new vigour into the whole national system of education.
The following is a tabular view of the state of education in Wales; which is, as far as I know, the only one that has been published by authority. It is taken from the Penny Cyclopædia, Art. Great Britain :
Infant schools.... 53 Scholars 1,866.
(Of these 192 are endowed.)
Sunday schools .. 1899 Do. 173,171. The want of fixed and active principles, of a virtuous nature, is a sure consequence of inefficient training; fickleness of mind, indecision of character, or brutal obstinacy, will be the result. In circumstances of some difficulty, the man who has no sound view of the principles which ought to guide his conduct, will act at random, and most likely will act wrong. As to the confined sphere within which people have generally to move, the common-place views which they have received from their parents and neighbours, may answer their purpose tolerably well. But in new and untried situations, an acquaintance with general principles, and the possession of a steady mind, are of the greatest importance. Some attention to these suggestions, by the adoption of measures to remedy the defective