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simply because use had made them familiar to the people. Undoubtedly they were, at first, corruptions, which afterwards were sanctioned by being employed in poetic compositions, and subsequently in prose writings. In the Welsh language, as well as in the English, there is a standard method of writing, and all departures from it are considered vulgar and erroneous. The peculiarities of no part of Wales can be deemed an improvement on the method of wording understood to be agreed upon by the whole principality. The dialect of North Wales, like the Doric, is very broad, and its favourite letters are a and o: in Denbighshire and Flintshire the principal letters are e and i ; but it would be vain labour to search the South for the sonorous grandeur of the Ionic, or the polished elegance of the Attic. The difference existing between the Silurian dialect and that of Gwynedd is so great, that a plain man from the Island of Anglesey, and another of the same description, belonging to Glamorganshire, would have considerable difficulty in comprehending one another. With the exception of some of the ministers of religion, and they are exceptions only whilst engaged in preaching, all classes of people in Wales speak the dialects of their respective provinces alike. As far as a difference exists, the higher classes have the disadvantage in point of purity and correct
Most of them speak in a broken manner, and mix abundance of English words with their Welsh. this is done the more elegant the speaker considers himself to be. As we descend to the farmers and labourers, the idiom and peculiarities of the language, are more clearly discernible, especially this is the case in Powys and Gwynedd,
The greatest violation of the fundamental principles of Welsh, which our neighbours in the South commit, is in pronunciation, one of the most obvious rules of which is, that with only one exception, every letter has its proper sound, and that all the letters in a word be sounded. These two principles are habitually disregarded in South Wales. Abbrevia
tions of words, indistinctness in the enunciation of words made short, the sound of the letter i substituted for that of u and y and the rapid joining of words and sentences together, form the peculiar features of their dialect. In the neighbourhood of Aberystwyth, indeed, the people speak in a smooth and clear manner. But when one hears a native of some parts of Pembrokeshire, he is disposed to think that the letter « is kept in a perpetual dance upon his tongue. It is some of the scholars of South Wales that are the principal advocates for that barbarous system of orthography which clogs and disfigures the language with consonants instead of accents, which after all do not answer the purpose intended, as the position of the accent is on the vowel and not on the consonant.
The Southwalians are of a warmer temperament than we in the North. They show much kindness, good nature, and affability, so long as they continue in a friendly state of feeling. They are easily excited both in the way of kindness and in the way of anger. They have greater vivacity, and assume something more of politeness than the North Wales people can pretend to possess. These things however are of no weight when put in the balance against sincerity, candour, and faithfulness. A man is not to calculate upon the existence of much solid friendship where he has seen very smiling countenances. The people of the South are fond of conversation, and are even garrulous ; one of them will talk as much in five minutes as a Northwalian will in fifteen, especially when he is a little excited. But education and religion are doing much to improve their character; and I must own that some of the finest specimens of human nature may be found in the South.
During the last twenty five or thirty years, a great revival has taken place in Welsh literature; but it is remarkable that the interest felt in its cultivation, has by no means impeded but rather assisted the diffusion of the English language. It is stated that the English has advanced twenty miles into the principality, in the course of the last twenty years. But it is not to be supposed that the Welsh has ceased to be understood and spoken in all the parts thus overrun with English, but that the latter has gained the ascendency over the former. In the greater number of the large towns, English is habitually spoken, and it is the medium of religious worship, particularly in the Established Church, once or more, on every Lord's day. And for those who are Dissenters, there is in many places an English service at a meeting-house.
All legal documents must be written in English, except wills, which are valid though made in the language of the principality. It is very seldom that bills or receipts are made in Welsh. With very few exceptions all signs on shops and public houses, and even the names of dogs and horses, are English. Horned cattle happen to be the only animals known to the writer that have Welsh names. In regard to mankind their names are generally, though not universally, made to sound as much as possible according to an English fashion. The amount of Welsh words understood by the greater part of the people are but few, compared with the immense stores of the language. In almost all the arts, particularly those of modern date, the technical terms employed by the English are adopted; these are mangled, and made to sound as much like Welsh words as possible, by a termination. All that is taught in day schools is communicated in the English language. Scientific knowledge, as far as it is acquired, is invariably obtained by the same medium. Divinity may be, and in truth is, well expressed in our own tongue. But though the spoken language of the principality be as I have stated, yet it contains abundance of elementary words, capable of being applied to all the sciences; and, to meet the demands of modern inventions, Welsh words may be easily compounded, to express their different parts and operations, and make them more intelligible to our countrymen than they can be in the En
But to introduce such terms among the people, and make them common in Wales, would require a better Welsh education than is given in any part of the country.
The relative strength of the Welsh and English languages in the principality, as far as I am able to form a calculation, is as follows, allowing the population to be, at the present period, about 900,000.
400,000 who speak Welsh only.
one half of whom understand the latter
well, the other half but very imperfectly. 100,000 whose language is English, and who have
no acquaintance with the Welsh. Having given a general but an imperfect outline of the state of society in Wales, it is necessary that some of the peculiar features of its character should be exhibited.—Previous to the conquest of Wales by Edward the first, our nation was remarkable for its warlike disposition. The love of independence was so strong, that for its preservation, life was cheerfully endangered on the field of battle. The nation being divided into small principalities, without a confederacy under one general head, internal dissensions produced most disastrous consequences, and reduced us to one of the smallest sections of the human family. At a very early period of the present era, Christianity visited our land, and the Welsh nation became distinguished for its enlightened and celebrated
It was under the care of Asser, a Welsh scholar, that Alfred the Great pursued his studies with so much success, and it was that illustrious monarch who founded the University of Oxford. It may be safely affirmed that no nation possessed men of superior knowledge, sanctity, and eloquence. Heaven has been adorned with constellations of saints, taken from among
the ancient Britons. In process of time, however, a complete revolution was effected.
The conquest of the country by Edward I, put the Bards of the
nation under his power. They, because they sung the people into a state of insubordination, were massacred, and nearly all our literary compositions were devoted to the flames. It is generally believed, and indeed it is a fair deduction from the previous state of knowledge, and the subsequent rapid transition of the nation into ignorance, that we had the holy Scriptures in the ancient British tongue, and it is almost a certain inference that among the compositions destroyed were our translations of the Divine Oracles; though it is probable, as indeed I have been informed by an antiquarian, that some few fragments still remained. In consequence of losing the Bible from general use, Wales was plunged into the darkest shades of paganized Christianity. Popery, that sure fosterer of human depravity, became the dominant religion. Civilization declined, and a general state of ignorance and superstition prevailed. Robberies, murders, and immoralities of every kind, overspread the land. Such was the state of things previous to the Reformation. The change which took place at that glorious time, laid the foundation for succeeding improvements. The excellent translators of the Bible, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, re-opened the temple of truth, for the Welsh nation to enter, that they might survey the various beauties exhibited within, present their prayers on the great altar of heaven, and commune with him who sitteth on the mercy-seat, waiting to be gracious. A host of worthies are recorded as having appeared during that period. Some time after, Vicar Pritchard lighted his 'candle,' which assisted in dispelling the spiritual and moral darkness which covered the nation. One of the most effectual reformers of Wales was the Rev. Griffith Jones of Llanddowror, a man whose name will ever be held dear by every Welshman, and which every churchman must in an especial manner revere. By his very enlightened and powerful ministry, by his publications, and particularly by the circulating schools which
* The title of the Vicar's Work is The Welshman's Candle.'