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Reports of the commissioners of inquiry into the state of education in Wales, appointed by the Committee of Council on Education, in pursuance of proceedings in the House of Commons on the motion of Mr. Williams, of March 10, 1846.. online

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Online LibraryGreat Britain. Commissioners of Inquiry into the SReports of the commissioners of inquiry into the state of education in Wales, appointed by the Committee of Council on Education, in pursuance of proceedings in the House of Commons on the motion of Mr. Williams, of March 10, 1846.. → online text (page 44 of 65)
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ED. Ww. SEYJIOUR. J

No. 45.

Rev. David Charles, Principal of the College of Trevecca*
Brecknockshire.

February 17, 1847.

1. AT Talgarth there are two day-schools, one attached to the Church
of England, and the other based upon free and unsectarian principles,
and conducted on the British system. The master of this iaiter is a
competent person. There is also a day-school at Llangorse, and
another at Llanfihangel-Tal-y-Llvn villages, situate about 3 or 4



354 On the State of Education in Wales,

miles off. I can, however, scarcely reckon on the competency of their
masters ; the general defect appears to me to be in the method of com-
municating knowledge to the young.

2. There is much ignorance among the poor in general, but more
especially among farm-servants, who are extremely deficient in every
kind of religious and useful knowledge. The poor, however, are
better informed on religious subjects than any other.

3. The morals of this part of the country are certainly very defective :
owing to the system of drinking cider, &c., so prevalent here, drunken-
ness is the common sin of both farmers and their servants; seldom
do we meet farm servants returning from any considerable distance
with their master's waggon or cart but that we find them intoxicated,
while it is quite lamentable to witness the number of drunken farmers
returning from market on Saturdays. In harvest time this practice is
still more prevalent. There is also among- the class mentioned very

ittle attention paid to the observance of the Sabbath.

4. The means of religious instruction are ample, and are well attended
by tradesmen, labourers, &c., and their families.

fet % 5. The general character of the people of this neighbourhood is
marked by great indifference to any social improvement. Knowledge
is not generally appreciated, and this circumstance has its concomitant
results, such as belief in witchcraft, &c.

6. It certainly would be the most powerful means of improving the
people, as it would tend to elevate their character and direct their
industrial pursuits.

7. There are many who are very anxious to provide or procure means
of instruction for the people, the value of education is not, however,
appreciated by the majority.

8. The English language is fast gaining ground in this neighbour-
hood, so much so that the Welsh will not continue to be the prevailing
language in a few years. The admixture of both English and Welsh
in the dialect at present spoken renders it highly desirable that the
people be correctly taught in the languge they will have to use in future.

9. A good day-school has been erected at Talgarth, in which the
neighbourhood has felt much interest The subscriptions to the build-
ing, however, have not been adequate to defray the expenses incurred.
It is very improbable that proper means of instruction will be generally
provided in this part of the country without extraneous aid in the erec-
tion of schoolhouses.

10. The people require schools unattached to any one creed. They
regard liberty for their^children to attend their own places of worship
on the Sabbath as of the highest importance ; it would therefore be
desirable that whatever .Government aid be given, it be applied in such
a manner as to secure this. I believe that were means to erect school-
houses supplied, it would in general be sufficient, and education would
be greatly promoted.

11. I would suggest that the fact of the great majority of the Welsh
being Dissenters ought to be taken into serious consideration in the
adoption of any plan for their social improvement. Their motives are
conscientious to a high degree, and any system opposed to the free and
unfettered exercise of their religion will but mar their best feelings. I
would a/so recommend that the Welsh receive their knowledge of the



Brecknock, Cardigan, and Radnor. 355

English language through the medium of their own at first, by means
of Welsh-English books. The want of this mode of Jnstruction^has
been a great drawback, which I have often desired to get removed.

DAVID"CHARLES.



No. 46.
The Rev. D. Parry, Vicar of Lly well, [Brecknockshire.

18th February, 1847.

1. YES; and they are defective in point of number to answer the
population of the country; and in some instances the masters are not
sufficiently competent, for want of higher and more general attainments.

2. Yes ; the major part of them are unable to write and to do plain
arithmetic. They are also very deficient in the knowledge of history,
common geography, and the simple elements of astronomy, as well as
most other branches of general knowledge.

3. The morals of a great number are defective, in respect of chastity,
truth-telling, and veneration for God's sacred name. In proof of which,
suffice it to allude to the number of illegitimate children in the county ;
to the little reliance that can be placed on what is often said or spoken,
provided the individual have some bias or interest in the matter; and
to the frequent abuse of God's holy name in the common intercourse
and transactions of life. These are facts well known to all observants'
minds, and loudly calling lor some means of reformation.

4. Most of them attend some place of religious worship, and enjoy
the benefit of Sunday-schools ; but we have deep cause to regret, as
regards the majority of them, the absence of that general anil decided
reformation in the moral character which we have reason to expect from
the use of such means.

5. They are for the most part quick, shrewd, and clever, in propor-
tion to their advantages, evidently possessing sufficient natural abilities
to form as useful members of society as any within Her Majesty's
dominions, were they equally blessed with early cultivation ; and they
are rather warm-hearted and kindly disposed, though their temperament
generally requires to be somewhat softened and subdued, which can
only be effected by early mental culture and sound moral training.

6. I have not the least doubt of it ; for as nothing tends more
powerfully to elevate the mind and give a high tone to the moral
feelings of man than good, sound, Scriptural education, when com-
menced early, I feel confident that the morals and conduct of the
people would be greatly improved were the means of such mental
training generally established throughout the country ; f or we often
painfully witness how little can be effected in changing the leading
features of man's moral character when the mind has not received
proper training at an early age, while susceptible of deep and lasting
impressions.

7. Yes, many of them, and especially the most intelligent ; but
perhaps the greater number merely lament their inability, from poverty
and the small number of day-schools, to supply their children even with
the education now so scantily afforded.

{ 8. Yes, and I think it desirable that it should be better taught ; for



356 On the State of Education in Wales,

all our accounts being kept in English, most books for the improvement
of the mind being written in English, and all public business being
generally transacted in the English language, there can be little doubt
but that a better teaching of it would confer great benefit on the
principality.

9. We have no prospect of being able to establish any additional
day-schools, or to improve those we now have, without aid from
Government towards the support of competent masters.

10. I think, as the country can be supplied with efficient education,
that Government must ultimately take the education of the country into
their own hands, so far as the payment, in whole or in part, of com-
petent masters, leaving the erection of buildings to the exertions of
each locality ; for the latter, requiring only a temporary effort, may be
accomplished by local means, but the former, requiring permanent
support, cannot be secured without the aid of Government; and their
salaries should average from 401. to 70/., according to local circum-
stances. And should Government propose a general and comprehen-
sive scheme of education, based on sound Biblical teaching, without
insisting on the Church Catechism being learnt by the children of
Dissenters, when objected to, and allowing them to attend their own
Sunday-schools, I fully believe that such a plan would meet with little
or no opposition from all the most respectable and most numerous of
Dissenting communities ; for the subject of education has of late so
arrested the attention of the public mind, that a large portion of all
classes of society are now become willing to make some concession to
insure that most desirable object. And, in my opinion, any general
plan of education must be on the principle of amalgamation, and not
by separate schools to meet the diversities of creed ; for the latter plan
would tend to create and perpetuate among us all manner of jealousies,
strifes, and animosities ; while the former would be productive of
union, harmony, and love. And I would recommend that the appoint-
ment of masters be vested either in Government or the proprietors of
the soil, which would prevent every contention that would attach to any
other mode of appointment.

11. I think that the masters should possess higher and more extensive
acquirements than the generality of those now employed; but that
those amongst them who have devoted a considerable portion of their
Jives to teaching, and are decently competent, should, in consideration
of past services, be retained on the list.

And I also think it advisable that Government Inspectors be ap-
pointed to visit the school periodically as a stimulus, both to the
scholars and masters, and a guarantee to Government for their proper
management.

DAVID PARRY.



No. 47.
The Rev. John Hughes^ Curate of Llanelly, Brecknockshire.

Feb. 27, 1847.
1. CONSIDERING the extent and population of the parish, I am of



Brecknock, Cardigan, and Radnor. 357

opinion there is a deficiency. The only school attached to the National
Society is at the lower and most thinly populated part, while the school
supported by the Clydach Iron Company is confined to the children of
their own workmen.

2. There is not more than one-third of the adult population can read,
and a still smaller proportion are able to write ; while from the little
intercourse they have with strangers, and the prevalence of the Welsh
language, they are but slightly acquainted with the common obser-
vances of civilized life.

3. Partly so; their dwellings are almost universally destitute of those
conveniences which are necessary to the health and comfort of mankind,
and from the practice of the males stripping to wash themselves in the
presence of the females, the usual barriers between the sexes are done
away with, and the result is shown in the frequency of illicit intercourse.
Drunkenness is also prevalent, although 1101 to so great an extent as
formerly.

4. The majority attend Dissenting places of worship, where the
services are in the Welsh tongue. There is morning service in the
parish church in English, which is usually well attended, but princi-
pally by the more educated classes. The afternoon service at the parish
church is in Welsh, and is thinly attended. The Wesleyans have
English service, which is well attended, as also is an evening service in
English at a school-room licensed by the Bishop ; and in the upper
part of the parish, Brynmaur, are Baptists' and Primitive Methodists'
or Ranters' places of worship, where the services are English, which
are attended by many who would attend the church if there was one
here.

5. The conduct of the people, although in the main orderly, is
marked by strong suspicions of any attempt to do them good. They
dislike strangers, and are consequently narrow-minded. This arises
partly from the ignorance of the Dissenting teachers, and partly from
the prevalence of the Welsh language.

6. Undoubtedly it would.

7. To a certain extent they do, but from a desire of gain, although
getting very good wages, will put the children to work at so early an
age as to give them no chance of being permanently bettered by going
to school.

8. The English language is gaining ground, and it is desirable it
should be better taught as a means of overcoming prejudice, and pro-
moting a better knowledge of science, and of other portions of the
empire.

9. No. There is a school- room recently erected at Brynmaur upon
the principles of the British and Foreign School Society, but there are
no means for its support. At present about 70 children attend.

10. If Government were to aid in erecting a school-room at Bryn-
maur on the National system, it would no doubt receive aid from the
better-educated classes in the neighbourhood, and might be used for
the services of the church on Sunday, when there can be no doubt it
would be filled.

11. The small size and inconvenient situation of the parish church
has been one cause of the prevalence of Dissent. The population is
near 10,000, and only church accommodation for from 300 to 400



358 On the State of Education in Wales,

while full 4,000 reside at Bryinnaur, four miles from the parish church.
The burial-ground attached to the church is much too small, and in-
conveniently full.

JOHN HUGHES.



No. 48.

The Rev. James Denning , Curate of St. Mary's, Brecknock.

10th February, 1847.

1. YES, there are four day-schools connected with the Church in the
town of Brecon, ami only one of the teachers of those schools was ever
in a training establishment. I believe all the teachers are deficient in
" order," and that the discipline of the schools is very defective. We
want well-trained masters.

2. The poor seem ignorant on most subjects, except how to cheat,
and speak evil of each other. They appear not to have an idea of
what the comforts of life are. There are at least 2000 persons living
in this town in a state of the greatest filth, and to all appearance they
enjoy their filth and idleness, for they make no effort to get rid of it.
From my experience of Ireland, I think there is a very great similarity
between the lower orders of Welsh and Irish both are dirty, indolent,
bigoted, and contented.

3. The defect in morals which is most remarkable to a stranger, is
the double dealing. No person here ever asks the sum he intends to
take for an article. The seller vows and declares he will not dispose
of an article for a less sum than he at first asks, but presently he lowers
the price if he sees you unwilling to buy. Many may suppose the
asking of a second price for an article does not prove a defect in morals;
but I think that every right-minded stranger when coming to Wales
would, on consideration, be obliged to confess that morals are very low

ndeed with regard to selling and buying. Truth is not regarded when
money is concerned. The women drink quantities of gin.

4. There are three churches in Brecon capable of holding 2000, and
there are seven Dissenting chapels that might contain about the same
number, or perhaps not quite 2000. The large mass of people go on
Sundays to some place of worship.

5. The people, generally speaking, are thankful for any kindness
shown them, and the clergy are always respected when they are atten-
tive to their duties. The Welsh are warm-hearted and kind, and
might be much improved in morals if their spiritual teachers were men
of zeal and piety. But, alas ! the large body of the clergy are drones,
and the preachers fanatics.

6. I am quite convinced that if we had good schools built here, and
a superior class of men as teachers who would be good disciplinarians,
and strict in punishing any even the slightest deviation from truth, that
incalculable good would be effected. We want in Brecon Englishmen
as teachers, in other parts of Wales you must have Welshmen.

7. There does not seem to be a great anxiety amongst the parents
to get education for their children, certainly nothing amounting to the






Brecknock, Cardigan, and Radnor. 359

necessity which exists. But I think generally that a good system, if
provided, would be accepted, even though opposed by a few narrow-
minded preachers. Our girls' school is pretty well attended.

8. Yes, it is gaining ground, and until it is universally spoken
nothing effective can be done to raise the social character of the people,
and for this reason the arts and sciences, agriculture, &c., are brought
to perfection in England. If improvements are to be introduced here,
they must be by persons who have acquired them through means of
the English language. All scientific books are written in English ;
medical rnen study in English; our courts of law pronounce judg-
ment in English ; in fact, in everything but language we are part and
parcel of England. Teach English, and bigotry will be banished.

9. An etfort is being made to establish schools in connexion with
the National Society ; but I think Government will be expected to make
grunts for the purpose of meeting private subscriptions.

10. My firm opinion is, that the Church ought to be made the
means of imparting education ; and I um as firmly of opinion that the
people would accept it ; but owing to the bigotry of the preachers, I
think it would be a wiser plan at present for the Government to grant
sums in proportion to private subscriptions.

Let good teachers be prepared first of all ; give grants of money
for building schools, and an annual sum for the payment of teachers,
to be met by a similar sum by each school ; make it a rule to teach
English (indeed, it ought not to be granted unless this was insisted
on), and let an annual or half-yearly inspection take place; if these
things were done, I believe in a few years that the social, moral, and
religious character of the people would be greatly improved, and that
Wales would be one of the first in the scale of nations, in place of being
sunk in comparative heathenism.

11. I Ciinnot too strongly express my opinion about the necessity of
getting rid of the Welsh language. The clergy are content to remain
in carelessness, because they are aware no Englishman can intrude
here on account of the Welsh language : in consequence of this want
of healthy rivalry, many clergymen neglect their churches; regardless
of public opinion, they get the fleece and care not for the flock ; but
banish the Welsh language, and Englishmen would come and reside
here, and thus a healthy tone would be given to society. Our courts
of law would be cleared from the anomaly of having justice adminis-
tered in a language unknown to the people. The bigotry of the
preachers would be driven away : in fact, they are now aware that if
once the English language becomes universal, their occupation, like
that of Othello, would be gone. Therefore give us English schools,
and you may, under God, be made the means of cont'erring on poor
Wales a great and lasting blessing.

JAMES DENNING.



360 On the State of Education in Wales,

No. 51.
Francis Philips, Esq., Abbey-cwm-hir.

19th February, 1847.

1. WHEN I purchased the estate of Abbey-cwm-hir, nine years ago,
there was no school within reach of the people; the nearest being six
miles distant, at Rhayader, and the road over mountains scarcely
passable.

2. Very ignorant of religious and moral duties ; when the day and
Sunday-schools at Abbey-cwm-hir were first established, scarcely a
child could repeat, the Lord's prayer, and none had heard of the Church
Catechism. Education in general had been grossly neglected.

3. Crime of a serious character is not of frequent occurrence, but
bastardy, which is scarcely considered a crime or disgrace, is very
prevalent with young women ; those who afterwards marry generally
become industrious and domestic, but they have little idea of cleanliness
or comfort. The very high price of coal leads to pilfering of wood, &c.

4. Owing to the tithe, which belongs to the Dean and Chapter of
Worcester, being paid very unwillingly to the creditors of a lay lord, by
whom it is entirely abstracted from the country, there is a hostile
feeling to the Church amongst the farmers, many of whom are either
Baptists or Methodists, and have Sunday nightly prayer-meetings at
their own houses. The church at Abbey-cwm-hir is now well attended,
principally owing to the exertions and popularity of the present re-
spectable curate ; but as he has also the care of another district and
large parish where he resides, it is impossible for him to visit his
distant parishioners as often as is desirable. As the salary of the
curacy of Abbey-cwm-hir is only 40/. per annum, it is scarcely worth
the acceptance of a man of respectability and ability, and it is to be
feared the services of the present curate cannot long be retained.
The incumbent has not visited the place during the last ten years. ;

5. They are, especially the women, civil and obliging in answering
inquiries, showing the road, giving shelter, or a cup of spring water.
They knit stockings for their families.

6. Unquestionably, the good effects of the day and Sunday school,
which my son Francis Aspinall Philips arid his wife support and
superintend, are very perceptible in the conduct and appearance of the
children j but until the landed proprietors and clergy take a much
greater interest in the conduct of the farmers and of the labouring
population, little permanent good can be expected.

7. The children are generally quick and intelligent, and are desirous
of instruction, as is evinced by the fact, that many come a distance of
more than three miles, through roads almost impassable; the parents
also frequently express their gratitude to my son and daughter for the
advantages afforded to their children by the establishment of the
school.

8. On my estate I never hear the Welsh language, but in the
parishes to the westward I believe it is generally spoken. I consider it
very important for the improvement and the condition of the people
that the English language should be generally introduced.

9. Nothing of the kind. I know of no school except the one my




Brecknock, Cardigan, and Radnor. 36 1

son and daughter established, which has now been in operation eight
or nine years.

10. In the present neglected state of the neighbourhood of Abbey-
cwm-hir, any aid from Government applied to schools would probably
lead to abuses and jobbing, unless very cautiously applied and strictly
watched.

11. The frequency of bastardy may in some degree be accounted
for from the want of decent accommodation in most of the farm-houses
and cottages, and also from the nightly prayer-meetings of the
Methodists and Baptists, which are generally followed by a kind of
gossiping, in which farmers and labourers delight. The wretched
state of the roads, the want of a resident gentry, and a better-paid
church, are all great bars to improvement.

FRANCIS PHILIPS.

The " inquiry" being addressed to me at Newtown Montgomery-
shire, only reached me yesterday. I shall be happy to give any further
testimony ; the application of a remedy for the present disgraceful
state of Radnorshire appears to me very easy ; time and space forbid
my now enlarging on the important topic.

P.P.



No. 65.

The Rev. Henry Griffiths, PRESIDENT of the Independent College,

Brecknock.

9th February, 1847.

1. Is there a deficiency of good day-schools with competent masters,
in your neighbourhood ; and in what respects are they defective ? Yes,
very great deficiency indeed. I am afraid few of the chil-
dren are made to understand what they hear or read. In many cases it is
mere parrot-work, and therefore, utterly incapable of producing any
healthful influence on character. This is still worse, where, having
nothing but English in school, and nothing but Welsh at home, the
children may be said to think in one language and feel in another.

2. Is there much ignorance among the poor, and on what subjects?
Taken as a whole, I believe the Welsh peasantry are decidedly superior
to the English. Having spent 12 years as a minister in England, and
in daily communication with the poor, I may perhaps be allowed to
speak with some confidence. But all the other classes among us are
immeasurably inferior, in point of information, to the corresponding
classes in England. Nothing can be more worthless than the schooling
ordinarily given to the children of our small farmers and shopkeepers.
This is especially the case with respect to girls all through Wales. Let
me add, the whole community suffers from the absence of that teaching,
which would tend to fit boys to excel as mechanics or artizaus. Ac-
cording to the Registrar of Marriages, nearly one-half of our men, and



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Commissioners of Inquiry into the SReports of the commissioners of inquiry into the state of education in Wales, appointed by the Committee of Council on Education, in pursuance of proceedings in the House of Commons on the motion of Mr. Williams, of March 10, 1846.. → online text (page 44 of 65)