Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

. (page 19 of 185)
Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 19 of 185)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Gwynedd (in the northwest), Powys (in the
centre and northeast), Gwent (in the southeast)
and Dyfed (in the southwest), together with
the contiguous parts of South Wales. This
latter division in its totality was often called
Dcheubarth (i. e. the south part). These divi-
sions practically survive in the dioceses of
Bangor, Saint^ Asaph, Llandaff, and Saint
David's respectively. The country was anciently
divided into cantrcfydd (hundreds), and each
cantref was usually divided into two cymydau
(commotes). Some of these cantrefydd (pi. of
can[t] (hundred), and tref (.homestead), such
as Rhufoniog (Romaniacus), in Denbigh-
shire, Dunoding, the land of Dunod (from Do-

nates), in Carnarvonshire and West Merion-
eth, bear Latin names, and must have clearly
obtained these names during or after the
Roman occupation. The division into county
and borough divisions is due to the assimila-
tion of the Welsh territorial system to that of
England. The title a Prince of Wales,* derived
from the ancient principality of Wales, is now
conferred by the reigning sovereign on the heir-
apparent In recent times, the connection of
this title with Wales has been emphasized by
the acceptance of the office of Chancellor of the
University of Wales by His Majesty King Ed-
ward VII., then Prince of Wales, and after-
ward by the present heir to the throne. Wales
has also recently received recognition of her
national emblem of the Red Dragon as part of
the armorial bearings of the Prince of Wales.

The Welsh people, though comprising sub-
varieties, form a distinct type among the peoples
of the United Kingdom. The causes of this
are largely physical and economic, acting from
the remotest times, and on this basis the Welsh
have developed a political, social and mental
history of their own. The individuality of
Wales is the more remarkable owing to her
proximity to England and her exposure to
English influences. The country stands, how-
ever, in the most obvious contrast to the central
plain of England on which it borders, and its
individuality has, to a great extent, a geograph-
ical basis. Wales consists almost entirely of a
mass of mountains and uplands, intersected by
various streams and rivers, the largest of which,
the Dee, the Severn and the Wye, are on the
east. In the lower valleys and the more level
districts of the country, there are tracts of good
land, but the upper valleys in the mountainous
districts are subject to very heavy rainfalls, and
are of little value for agriculture. There are
also many large upland tracts, which can only
be used for sheep-grazing. The population of
rural Wales varies in density, but, owing to the
smallness of the farms, it is often larger in pro-
portion than in some of the agricultural districts
of England. In the last century the distribu-
tion of the population of Wales underwent a
great change by the discovery (especially in the
south Wales coal-field) of great mineral wealth;
and the consequent attraction of large masses
of people into the industrial districts. These
economic developments, too, have had a great
effect on the social evolution of modern Wales.

Social Evolution and History. — The available
evidence as to the prevalent type of the Welsh
people shows that they are on the whole less
fair, tall and bulky than the farmers of the
English plains. They are, as a rule, more wiry
and hardy than muscular, and a certain pre-
dominance of the nervous over the muscular
system gives them, in certain districts especially,
an air of keenness, sensitiveness and vivacity.
The freshness of the air and the beauty and
variety of the scenery also contribute to this
end, as well as to an appreciation of linguistic
aptness and poetic imagery. The excellent
voices of Welshmen, too, are mainly due to the
purity of the air. Brachy-cephalic types are
rare, but mesocephalism prevails. Though the
extreme blonde type is uncommon, there is a
fair proportion of light or reddish hair, and, in
south Wales especially, a considerable arfraix-

Digitized by



ture of pale-faced, black-haired and markedly
dolichocephalic men, who look as if their type
had been evolved in the shelter of the ancient
forests of the country. Generally speaking, it
may be stated that the prevalent types are the
natural counterparts of the conditions of life
of the Welsh farmer and his dependents, with
its hard toil, careful calculation and plain fare.
Out of doors there is abundance of fresh air,
but indoor ventilation is often sadly neglected,
and in, some districts phthisis is common.

The necessary interdependence of the mem-
bers of the scattered communities of rural
Wales has produced a certain sociability, fluency
and aptitude for cooperation in public affairs,
though in religious matters there is consider-
able cleavage. The chief religious denomina-
tions are the Calvinistic Methodists, the Inde-
pendents and the Baptists. In purely Welsh
districts crime is very rare. The conditions of
Welsh agriculture from the remotest times,
under necessities of soil and climate which
often frustrated man's best hopes, have created
a deep-rooted sense of man's dependence on
powers that are beyond his control, and beneath
the markedly religious spirit of the Welsh
people there lies this fundamental instinct, the
traditional intensity of which at times finds
vivid expression. To this feeling are also linked
a sense of the pathos of life, which has found
utterance in Welsh poetry, a deep attachment to
the soil, a minimizing of the importance of
human distinctions in the face of the powers of
Nature, and a passion for a kind of natural jus-
tice, which has expressed itself in modern times
mainly in a demand for religious equality and
the disestablishment and disendowment of the
State Church, and in the desire to correct by
means of education the disabilities of birth and

The social evolution of the country has been
largely conditioned by its geography. This is
such that the economic value of land varies
greatly. Until recent times, the stress of com-
petition was almost entirely for the surface
products of the soil. The discovery of mineral
wealth, however, has now given the economic,
social and political evolution new directions.
In the hunting, pastoral, fishing and agricul-
tural life of man in the Stone, Bronze and
Iron Ages, right down to modern times,
whether Wales was invaded by Iberian, Goidel,
Brython, Belgian, Roman, Saxon or Norman,
the motive of the struggle was essentially the
same, namely, the possession of the good lands
of the country, such as the river valleys and the
flatter districts afforded. In Wales, the records
of the ancient system of land tenure suggest
that the weaker and stronger communities came
to be interspersed, the better type of holdings
being held by freemen in family groups, while
the unfree villagers farmed their land mainly by
a system of co-tillage. The basis of social life
was mainly tribal, and the necessary social ad-
justments produced a correlative body of custom
and law.

The successive invasions of the country have
left numerous archaeological traces, as for ex-
ample, the fortresses of unmortared stone of
which Trerceiri in Carnarvonshire is an excel-
lent instance. This fortress is now assigned by
archaeologists to about 100-50 B.c. The Romans

developed the road communication ; and worked
some of the lead mines of the country. After
the departure of the Romans, the western coasts
were harassed by invaders from Ireland, and
Britons from the north appear to have been in-
vited to assist in their expulsion. Some of
these families, notably that of Cunedda Woledig,
remained in Wales and became the founders of
Welsh local dynasties. The struggles against
the English and the Normans brought war into
the foreground of Welsh life. The conquest of
Wales by Edward I. led to the establishment of
a network of castles and garrison towns, gov-
erned by English law and custom, while the
country districts remained Welsh. This led to
constant friction, and the revolt of Owen
Glyndwr (Glendower) was essentially a
struggle of the country against the towns. The
reign of Henry VII. (a descendant of an
Anglesea Welshman, Owen Tudor) was hailed
with great enthusiasm in Wales, but it was this
prince and his son Henry VIII. who finally
assimilated the Welsh legal system to that of
England. Wales maintained its attachments to
the Crown even through the Civil War, and
until the second half of the 19th century was
mainly conservative in politics.

The discovery of coal, slate, lead and other
minerals, as well as the industrial and commer-
cial revolution generally, has given the life of
Wales a new aspect. In Glamorganshire, Mon-
mouthshire, East Carmarthenshire, East Den-
bighshire and the slate districts of Carnarvon-
shire there are thriving and progressive
industrial communities, with corresponding fa-
cilities for communication by land and sea. The
rapid development in question is well exempli-
fied in the case of Cardiff, (q.v.) which has
grown in a few decades from being a moderate
sized market town into one of the leading coal-
ports of Britain. New docks, too, for Irish and
Atlantic traffic have been built by the Great
Western Railwav at Goodwick in Pembrokeshire.
There is in Wales a considerable sea-faring
population and in Montgomeryshire, Carmarth-
enshire and Merionethshire there are some
woollen factories. The industrial districts of
Wales and the large towns of England, as well
as the United States and the colonies, have ab-
sorbed the superfluous population of the Welsh
country districts, until depopulation has in sev-
eral places been the result. The price of
agricultural labor has gone up, and, owing to
the greater possibility of finding employment
elsewhere, there is a more independent attitude
toward the governing classes in religion and
politics. Local government has more and more
fallen into the hands of Liberals and Noncon-
formists, and there are now no Welsh Conser-
vatives in the House of Commons, but the land-
owners are mostly Conservatives. See Great
Britain: Local Government.

Side by side with this development, there has
grown up a desire for a measure of national
self-government, especially in the sphere of edu-
cation; and the first instalment of this was
given in 1897 by the establishment of the Central
Welsh Board for Intermediate Education, for
the purpose of controlling the secondary schools
founded under the Welsh Intermediate Educa-
tion Act of 1889. These schools have made very
rapid progress, and now contain over 10,000

Digitized by



children. The establishment of the University
of Wales, federating the University College of
Aberystwyth (founded in 1872), Bangor (1884),
and Cardiff (1883) is a phase of the same move-
ment. Royal charters, too, have been granted
for the foundation of a Welsh national museum
at Cardiff and a Welsh national library at
Aberystwyth. Several private collections of
Welsh MSS. have been already bought for the
latter. The great difficulty, however, in the way
of complete national development and unifica-
tion is the absence of a metropolis within easy
reach of all parts. The most convenient meet-
ing-place for the whole of Wales is Shrewsbury
(the ancient Pengwern), which lies outside the
Welsh border.

In addition to the foregoing factors of modern
Welsh development, it should be stated that in
the summer months there is a very great influx
into Wales of visitors from England and else-
where, in search of health and pleasure, and that
for their accommodation whole towns have
grown up along the coast. This link with Eng-
land has helped to bring Wales into closer and
closer touch with the outer world, while still
living its own life and maintaining its individu-
ality. Of the fine arts music and poetry are
the only ones that have received extensive

Language. — The Welsh language (called in
Welsh Yr iaith Gymraeg) is an Indo-European
tongue belonging, together with Breton and
Cornish, to the Brythonic branch of the Celtic
family. The first form of Celtic speech intro-
duced into Wales in the Bronze period was
probably Goidclic (to which Irish belongs), and
Prof. Rhys thinks, from .the evidence of the
Goidelic Ogam inscriptions, that Goidelic ling-
ered in Wales into the 7th century A.D. Welsh
has undergone far more changes due to analogy
and the like than Irish, and its grammar, which
is now in the analytic stage, has been greatly
simplified. About 800 Welsh words were bor-
rowed from Latin during the Roman occupation
of Britain. There are several dialects and sub-
dialects of spoken Welsh, but the literary
language has a historical tradition of its own.
The spelling is almost entirely phonetic Some
of the river-names of Wales may be pre-Celtic.
The Welsh language has a vigorous life, though
English is now almost universally known. See
Celtic Languages.

Literature. — Wales has produced a very con-
siderable body of literature, and the literary
instinct is very widely disseminated among the
people. The poetry contains many gems,
especially as the poetic expression of the com-
mon lot and destiny of man. The oldest extant
poem belongs to the 9th century a.d., but its
form and diction show that there was already
behind it a literary tradition. The earliest
manuscript collections of Welsh poetry are the
< Black Book of Carmarthen J (12th century),
the ( Book of Aneirin > (early 13th century);
and the ( Book of Taliessin ) (14th century).
Several of the poems therein contained are
shown by internal evidence to be pre-Norman.
The literature of Wales is best viewed as a
social product, secular and ecclesiastical. The
mediaeval prose writings are developments from
the oral narratives told at the courts of the
Welsh princes, annalistic expansions, transla-

tions from Latin and French, lives of the saints,
Arthurian legends (q.v.). and other literature
popular in the Middle Ages, such as the prophe-
cies of the Sibyl and Merlin and the Helen and
Charlemagne narratives. The mediaeval poetry
consists mainly of elegies, eulogies and hymns.

The chief literary centres at this time were
the courts of the princes and the monasteries.
After the decline of Welsh independence, Welsh
poets still had many social patrons, and many
poems were dedicated to them. The poetry of
love and nature, too, which succeeded the older
poetry of war, found expression in the beautiful
verse of Dafydd ab Gwilym and his imitators.
Another phase of poetry which flourished,
especially in the 15th and 16th centuries, was
that of minute description and epigrammatic
conciseness. The metres tended to be intri-
cate and difficult. The Reformation and the
revival of learning led to the translation of the
Bible, the composition of Welsh grammars (two
of which are in Latin), the study of Welsh his-
tory and the composition of metrical versions
of the Psalms. In the 18th century Welsh
poetry and literature generally expanded into
new types, and the result was the institution of
the National Eisteddfod and of various societies
for the encouragement of Welsh literature. The
Eisteddfod has also given a great stimulus to
the music of Wales.

During the 19th century Welsh literature and
Welsh studies of every kind have been greatly
advanced, and, in addition to the Welsh books
published, there is a flourishing newspaper
and periodical press. The national quarterlv
journals (<Y Geninen,> the Leek, and ( Y
Traethodydd,> the Essayist) often contain
articles by Welsh scholars that are of high
literary merit. The bent of the national mind
at the present day is toward theology, philos-
ophy, history, criticism and politics. The edu-
cational institutions of Wales are creating a
public which demands critical thought and
modern methods, but whose instinctive attach-
ment to the main lines of Welsh life has pre-
served a love for those forms of literary
expression in the Welsh tongue which are the
inherited and natural correlatives of that life.
Welsh literature tends to survive to-day, owing
to the unwillingness of Welshmen to give up the
language and forms of expression that are th%
psychical correlatives of the typical life of the
land of which they themselves are the products.
The prevalence of the Welsh language as the
tongue of religion even in English towns, has
its root also in the same instinctive feeling for
the tradition of the life of the race. See Celtic

For Jopography, climate, etc., see Wales,
also the article Great Britain: Geographical
Environment; for industries, commerce and
trade see Great Britain: Agriculture; Min-
ing; Fisheries; Industries; Commerce; Bank-
ing and Currency; Railways; Shipping, etc.;
for history, and further details on ethnology,
language, literature, etc., see Wales; Celts;
Cymry; Celtic Languages; Great Britain:
The Conquests ; Medieval England ; English
History of the i/th Century; The i8th
Century; The 19TH Century, etc

Bibliography.— Topography, Ethnology, etc.—
Avebury, <The Scenery of England> (includ-

Digitized by



ing Wales) ; Bradley, ( Highways and Byways
of North Wales, * and < Highways and Byways
of South Wales ) ; Giraldus Cambrensis, ( Des-
criptio Cambriae ) ; Carlisle, ( Topography of
Wales * (London 1811) ; Lewis, topographi-
cal Dictionary of Wales ) ; Lloyd, i Bilingual
Historical Readers* (Carnarvon) ; Owen, ( Pera-
brokeshire ) (London 1892) ; Sir Thomas
Phillips, < Wales * (London 1849) ; Rhys and
Tone's, ( The Welsh People * ; Seebohm, ( The
Tribal System in Wales * ; Southall, < Wales
and her Language > (Newport) ; T. Stephens,
'Welshmen* (Cardiff) ; Report of the Welsh
Land Commission.

Social Evolution and History. — Anwyl, Cel-
tic Religion, > (Constable) ; Brut y Tywysogion
(editions of J. Gwenogfryn Evans and of the
Rolls Series) ; Edwards, <The Story of Wales> ;
Morris, <The Welsh Wars of Edward I.*;
Myvynan Archaeology of Wales (Denbigh) ;
Owen, <Laws of Wales* (Rolls Series) ; Palmer,
( History of Ancient Tenures in the Marches of
North Wales * ; Rees, ( History of Noncon-
formitv in Wales* ; Reinach, ( Mythes, Cultes,
et Religion>; Rhys, Celtic Britain,* <Celtic
Heathendom,* and < Celtic Folk-lore* ; Ripley,
( The Races of Europe* ; Tout, <The Conquest
of Wales*: Vinogradoff, ( The Growth of the
Manor* (Sonnenschein) ; Walter, <Das Alte

Wales* ; <The Record of Carnarvon* (Record

Language. — Anwyl, ( Welsh Grammar* (Son-
nenschein; Archiv fur Celtische Lexicographic;
Loth ( Vocabulaire vieuxbreton* ; Loth ( Les
Mots latins en breton* ; Rhys, ( Lectures on
Celtic Philology* (London) ; Zeitschrift fur
Celtische Philologie ; Zeuss, Grammatica Celtica,
and c Revue Celtique.*

Literature. — Evans, ( Reports on Manuscripts
in the Welsh Language* (Historical Manu-
scripts Commission) ; Lady Charlotte Guest,
'The Mabinogion* ; Gweirydd ab Rhys, 'Hanes
Llenyddiaeth Gymreig* ; Jones and Rhys, <Llyfr
Ancr Llanddewibrefi* ; Loth <La Metrique Gal-
loise*; Nutt, <The Mabinogion*; Rhys,
< Arthurian Legends* ; Skene, <The Four An-
cient Book of Wales* ; Stephens, < Literature of
the Kymry* ; Stephens. <The Gododin* ; Miss
Weston, <Percival*; Zimmer, <Nennius Vin-

dkatus - > Edward Anwvl,

Professor of Welsh and Comparative Philology
and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Urn-
versity College of Wales, Aberystwyth; Chair*
man of the Central Welsh Board for Inter-
mediate Education; Author of ( Welsh Acci-
dence,* 'Welsh Syntax,* * Celtic Religion in
pre-Christian Times,* etc.


17. Great Britain — National Finance. Na-
tional Debt.— The National Debt of the United
Kingdom, in the sense in which the term is
understood in several official returns, amounted
on 31 March 1906 to £743,000,000, but in addi-
tion to this there were various amounts ^ out-
standing which had been borrowed for military,
naval, and other works and broueht the *Ag-
gregate Gross Liabilities** up to £789,000,000.
Further, a sum of £71,000,000 had been borrowed
and lent to local authorities, and another sum of
£25,000,000 had been borrowed for the purpose
of establishing occupying land-ownership in
Ireland by the expropriation of the former land-
lords. The total £885,000,000 nominally con-
sisted of £585,000,000 of consolidated 2V2 per
cent stock (^consols**) redeemable at par at the
option of the State only after April 1923, £49,-
000,000 of nearly similar stocks and permanent
debt to the Banks of England and Ireland, £30,-
000,000 of 2$4 per cent war stock and bonds
which the State is bound to redeem at par in
1910. £43,000,000 of treasury bills and exchequer
bonds repayable at various dates, £82,000.000 of
the capital value of terminable annuities, £71.000,-
000 of local loans 3 per cent stock redeemable
at the option of the State onlv after 1912, and
£25.000,000 of 2# per cent Irish land stock,
half of which is similarly redeemable after
1021 and the other half after 1933. But most
of the terminable annuities, nearly 80,000,000 of
the consols, and about 50,000,000 of the other
securities are not in the hands of the public, but
are held by the State itself against its liability
to the savings bank depositors, so that it would
give a trner account of the real position to say
that the total debt consisted of about £685,000,-
000 in the securities just enumerated, and about

£200,000,000 in money payable on demand or at
very short notice to savings bank depositors.

The main body of the debt is chiefly due to
the wars in which the country was engaged be-
tween 1688 and 181 5. During that period the
debt grew from nothing (except a trifling sum
which Charles II. had borrowed from the gold-
smiths) to nearly £900,000,000. It then under-
went steady diminution till in 1899 it had fallen
to £628,000,000. The South African war brought
it up again to £771,000,000 in 1903, since which
year it has once more been diminishing. The
£46,000,000 of works debt has all been incurred
since 1890, and most of it since 1900, when it
only amounted to £10,000,000. The amount lent
to local authorities was only £8,000,000 in 1840,
and £26,000,000 in 1887. The Irish land debt
took its rise in 1891, but most of it is much
more recent.

The interest and sinking fund of the Irish
land debt is naturally provided for chiefly by
the payments made by the new Irish land-
owners, who are paying for their land by in-
stalments, but a portion falls on funds which
would otherwise benefit Irish local taxpayers
and another portion is defrayed by the tax-
payers of the United Kingdom. The local loans
debt is adequately provided for by the interest
and repayments received from the local authori-
ties. The works debt is made a charge upon the
annual parliamentary votes for the departments
concerned, in such a way that each loan will be
extinguished in 30 years at most. For the main
body of the debt the practice has been since
1876 to devote by legislation a certain annual
sum, called the 'permanent* or 'fixed* annual
charge, to interest and repayment taken to-

Digitized by



gether. As the sum thus devoted considerably
exceeds the interest, this plan, if carried out
without modification and without interruption
owing to fresh borrowing, would practically
convert the whole debt into a terminable an-
nuity, and extinguish it in a very moderate
length of time. But as a matter of fact the
''fixed charge was reduced from £28,000,000
to £26,000,000 in 1888 and by two steps to £23,-
000,000 in 1900, and it was only the fresh bor-
rowings of the South African war which led
to its restoration to £28,000,000 in 1905. The
difference between the a fixed charge* and the
interest is sometimes called the a New Sinking
Fund.* The "Old Sinking Fund* is any actual
surplus realized in the year. The general law
is that this also must be devoted to repayment
of debt, but when any considerable surplus hap-
pens to be realized, special legislation usually
interferes with the operation of the rule.

Expenditure, — The total expenditure on
revenue account for the financial year 1905-6 is
stated at £140,500,000, to which may be added
£10,000,000, the yield of certain general taxes
which is paid over to local authorities without

Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 19 of 185)