The Journal of William Roberts ('Nefydd'), 1853-62
E D Jones, National Library of Wales journal Vol VIII/2 Winter, 1953.
Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales
This is a complete extract of this series of articles [Gareth Hicks 2002]
Below is the first part in Vol VIII/2 Winter, 1953
- which includes extensive general commentary on elementary education covering the whole of Wales, and with journal entries from Dec 1853 to July 1854, which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.
- The second part Vol VIII/3 Summer 1954, Journal entries from July 1854 to Dec 1855, which cover his visits to places all over south and west Wales.
- The third part Vol IX/1 Summer 1955, Journal entries from February 1856 to June 1856, which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire
- The fourth part Vol IX/3 Summer 1956, Journal entries from June 1856 to November 1856, which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Brecknockshire
- The fifth part Vol IX/4 Winter 1956, Journal entries from November 1856 to May 1857, which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire, Pembrokeshire and Brecknockshire.
- The sixth part Vol X/1 Summer 1957, Journal entries from June 1857 to Feb 1858, which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire, and Brecknockshire.
- The seventh part Vol X/2 Winter 1957, Journal entries from February 1858 to November 1858, which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire, and Brecknockshire.
- The eighth and final part Vol X/3 Summer 1958, Journal entries from November 1858 to February 1862 (although no entries for 1860/1 ) , which cover his visits to places in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire, and Brecknockshire.
William Roberts, a Baptist Minister at Blaina, Monmouthshire, and author of Crefydd yr Oesoedd Tywyll... 1852, a study of Mari Lwyd and Welsh folk customs, was in 1853 appointed agent in South Wales for the British and Foreign School Society. He was a native of Lannefydd, Denbighshire, hence his penname 'Nefydd'. The draft of the journal of his activities, written for the information of the Society's Committee, from 1853 to 1862 is preserved as N.L.W. MS. 7106. It is a valuable document for the history of the development of elementary education in South Wales.
The two great voluntary societies for the promotion of elementary education, the Royal Lancasterian Society founded in 1808, re-named 'British and Foreign School Society', and enlarged in 1814 to put the propagation of the educational methods of Joseph Lancaster on a sound basis, and 'The National Society for promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church throughout England and Wales', established in 1811, made little headway in Wales during the first thirty years or so of their existence. In a land becoming predominantly nonconformist the British School system, based on Biblical instruction without catechism or particular creed, was more suitable than schools founded specifically to instruct children in the tenets of the Anglican church. The National Society had the advantage of the patronage of the clergy and the upper classes, and, moreover, when government grants and the attendant system of inspection were introduced, the British School movement had to contend with the natural reluctance of dissenters to accept state aid for education. The prejudiced report of the Commisioners on Education in Wales in 1847, published in 1848, did little to commend government inspection in the eyes of Welsh Nonconformists, and for a time strengthened the hands of advocates of the voluntary principle.
Joseph Lancaster's enthusiasm for his establishment at Borough Road and the monitorial system had led him to undertake lecture tours in Wales (his housekeeper was a Welshwoman) in 1806 and 1807, and a few schools in South Wales, in their Lancasterian title, traced their origin to an early phase of Lancaster's activity. The general introduction of British Schools into Wales, however, was largely due to the energy of a young Poor Law Commission official, Hugh Owen, whose name stands out in the history of elementary, secondary, and higher education in Wales.
In 1843, Hugh Owen issued to the Welsh periodical press, and in pamphlet form, an open letter to the people of Wales entitled Ysgolion Dyddiol. Dated at 8 Coles Terrace, Islington, on 26 August 1843, it had the counter signatures and approval of James Hughes of Jewin Crescent, the Welsh biblical commentator, and Griffith Davies of the Guardian Assurance Office, the famous actuary. The letter advocated the establishment of a British School in every locality, with County Associations governed by elected committees representating the various religious denominations, the acceptance of government grants towards building, and the training of teachers at the Borough Road Normal School, as the means of securing effective schools based on full liberty of conscience. Hugh Owen had first hand experience of running a British School in Islington, and he was able to induce the Committee to appoint special agents in Wales. The Reverend John Phillips, a Calvinistic Methodist, was appointed to work in North Wales in 1843, and was later joined by the Reverend Hugh Pugh, Mostyn, an Independent, and the Reverend John Mills, Ruthin, another Calvinistic Methodist. In Seren Gomer for April 1845, Hugh Owen reviews the successful career of John Phillips as agent in North Wales, and refers to suggestions for the establishment of a Normal College in the principality. He was obviously in favour of continuing the practice of training the teachers in Borough Road as the day schools were conducted in English. He feared that sectarian jealousy would make it difficult to secure an acceptable principal in Wales, but he felt sure that the society would be ready to establish a Normal College in Wales at the proper time. The second letter ends with a reference to the activities of the Congregational Board of Education in South Wales where the sturdy opposition to state aid had been respected by the British and Foreign School Society. It was under the auspices of this Board that the Brecon Training College, afterwards moved to Swansea, was founded in 1846. Hugh Owen had serious misgivings about the prospects of the Congregational Board in Wales, partly on account of its denominational character and partly because it was committed to the voluntary principle. In 1846, he took the lead in the formation of the Cambrian Educational Society and became its honorary secretary. This society acted as a sort of an auxiliary to the British and Foreign Schools Society. The South Wales British Schools Association arising out of the Merthyr Conference of 1854 performed a similar service.
The backward state of Welsh elementary education at this period was clearly exemplified in the 1847 Reports. A less prejudiced witness, Joseph Fletcher, H.M. Inspector of British and Foreign Society Schools, in his report for 1846 to the Committee of Council on Education (pp. 111-12), confirms the testimony of the special commissioners. He reports that 'although the great mass of the Welsh population now send their children to Sunday schools, in which, after many years they learn to read the Scriptures in Welsh, and obtain a considerable amount of catechetical instruction in them, in the same language, yet day schooling in the principality appears never to have advanced much beyond the instruction given in the petty private schools of individual instruction, such as held a narrow but undivided sway in England previous to the time of Bell and Lancaster'. Mr. Fletcher considered that this state of things arose partly from the difficulties of language.
The statistics given for the winter of 1846-7 in the Reports of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the state of education in Wales (1848) show the relative strength of the British Schools as against National and denominational schools in North and South Wales;
|B & F Schools-Number/Pupils
|Other Schools - Number/Pupils
Monmouthshire was only partly covered by the Commissioners. They reported on two British Schools in that county, one at Pontnewydd and the other at Mynyddislwyn.
The conviction that Welsh educational needs could not be met by voluntary aid alone gradually grew in strength and before the appointment of William Roberts as agent for British Schools in South Wales even the Reverend David Rees of Llanelly, one of the most eloquent opponents of state aid, had capitulated. The controversy is reflected clearly in 'Nefydd's journal, but he was able to observe with satisfaction that conversion to the British School standpoint was growing apace during his early years in office. He had a firm supporter in the Government inspector of British Schools, Joseph Bowstead, who saw in that system the best form of schooling for the children of the Welsh nonconformist working classes. 'Nefydd' was obviously the inspector's chief mentor on Welsh affairs.
Joseph Bowstead devoted a considerable proportion of his 1854 Report (pp. 635-45) to the special problems of his South Wales district, including Monmouthshire which he considered to be 'bound up with the adjacent Welsh shires by ties of a common industry, a simultaneous development of similar resources and characteristics, and the use of the same language for colloquial intercourse among the working classes'. He drew attention to the rapid growth of population in the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth, which had outstripped the various means of civilization, leaving a lamentable deficiency in the opportunities for education. The causes of the backwardness in education he ascribed to the isolated position and comparative poverty of parts of the principality, the sudden increase of industry and population, and the consequent derangement of social habits and institutions in other portions of the country, the common use for colloquial purposes of a language different from that which was usually taught in schools or employed in literary compositions, and above all, the variety of religious persuasion. The population of South Wales was eminently religious and attendance at public worship approached nearly to the maximum, with scarcely a residuum of persons indifferent or doubtful as to the sect to which they should belong. He estimated that the proportion of churchmen among the trading classes of South Wales in general did not exceed one to five, and that in the neighbourhood of not a few iron and coal works the Church was numerically weaker than any one of the leading sects. In such a country as Wales, where every man not only was, but prized above all things the right to be, his own theologian, the Church had no prospect of re-conquering universal submission to her authority. South Wales was therefore permanently in a totally exceptional position in religious polity, and demanded a corresponding change in the educational system. In England, the people in general gladly accepted education in schools established by the Church and managed and inspected by its clergy. The system had also been tried in Wales but the country was still imperfectly educated. The people were anxious for instruction, especially in the English language, but it was commonly offered to them under circumstances which were distasteful, in schools where children ran the risk of being imbued with catechisms and formularies which their parents not seldom held in a sort of abhorrence. Some enlightened employers of labour, themselves attached to the Established Church but convinced by experience and knowledge of the people that Church schools could not succeed among them, had established schools intended to combine Protestants of all sects. The Nonconformists themselves had done very little, being generally in favour of voluntary action, but the subject was being reopened. Meetings had been held at Blaina and Merthyr and a South Wales British School Association had been formed for the avowed purpose of 'promoting education in South Wales according to the unsectarian principles of the British and Foreign School Society, with the aid of the Committee of Council on Education'. There was then a rare opportunity for action on the part of the Government, but some modification of the official system was indispensable. South Wales had to be recognised as a land of Dissenters, and the schools intended for its benefit had to be such as to command the confidence of men who held nothing so precious as perfect religious freedom. The right of the parent to be the sole director of his child's religious training had to be held sacred. The Nonconformists of South Wales for the most part were ready to act with the Church on terms of perfect equality and to support combined schools, basing their highest teaching upon the Bible, but rejecting all catechisms and denominational peculiarities. The Sunday Schools were sufficient for denominational instruction. The schools best suited for such a population were those based upon the unsectarian, yet strictly scriptural, principles of the British and Foreign School Society. It was also premature to require certificated or registered teachers in Wales. The insistence on fee simple conveyance of school sites should be abandoned. There should also be a relaxation of the restrictions on the age and number of 'apprentice teachers'.
The section of Bowstead's Report devoted to South Wales was reprinted at Carmarthen in 1855 in a pamphlet entitled British Schools best adapted to the Educational Wants of Wales. To it are added extracts from the Reports of the Reverend H. W. Bellairs, the Reverend Harry Longueville Jones, Inspector of National Schools in Wales, and Dr. James Cumming, Inspector of Schools in Scotland, containing remarks similar in tendency to those of Joseph Bowstead. This pamphlet was probably compiled by William Roberts, 'Nefydd'. It ends with extracts from speeches favourable to the British School principle and an appeal for support for the Society.
Bowstead's report called for comment by Connop Thirlwall, bishop of St. David's, in his Visitation Charge of 1857. Discerning certain signs which suggested that the Committee of Council was adopting Bowstead's policy of favouring dissenting schools in Wales, Thirlwall returned to the subject with more spirit in his seventh Visitation Charge in 1860. He denied that dissenting parents were deterred from sending their children to National Schools by the bugbear of the Catechism. In December 1860, Bowstead prepared and distributed nearly three hundred copies of a circular in South Wales inviting opinions of nonconformists as to which was the juster interpretation of their sentiments --- that of the Bishop and the National School Society, who asserted that the Welsh dissenters were perfectly satisfied with the National Schools or that of the inspector which represented the dissenting body as generally distrusting such schools and not unfrequently holding aloof from them. He received more than an equal number of answers from individuals and meetings of dissenting bodies which were entirely in agreement with the views which he had expressed in his Report. He printed for private circulation a selection of one hundred and twenty two of these letters and resolutions in a pamphlet entitled Letters concerning Education in South Wales, suggested by a recent charge of the Bishop of St. David's. Stroud, 1861. Thirlwall replied with another letter for private circulation, dated 4 May 1861 and entitled A Letter to J.Bowstead, Esq., H.M. Inspector of British and Foreign Schools, concerning Education in South Wales. It was printed by Gilbert and Rivington in London, 1861. The bishop considered the inspector's pamphlet to be little more than shadow-boxing, and dealt with matters raised in several of the letters. An appendix contains letters shewing 'how little dissenting parents are actually deterred from sending their children to National Schools by the Catechism', a denial that children attending the Carmarthen National Schools would be liable to punishment for declining to answer questions in the Catechism or that they would be compelled to attend Church Service or the Church Sunday School, an account of the origin of the British School at Abergwili, and a statement of the position at Ferryside and Llangendeirne. One of the letters criticised by Thirlwall was No. 83, written by Dr. David Lloyd of the Carmarthen Presbyterian College, concerning the British School at Abergwili. David Lloyd published his answer at Carmarthen in 1861 under the title of A Letter to J.Bowstead, Esq . . . Confirming all the statements made by No. 83 in the 'Correspondence', which statements the Bishop of St.. David's has rashly and most inconsiderately stigmatized as 'Pure Fictions', 'Fabrications', &c. The controversy was continued on the pages of the Carmarthen Journal. Another letter singled out for comment by the Bishop was No. 91,written by William Morgan, Independent minister at Carmarthen. Morgan also replied in a pamphlet printed by William Spurrell at Carmarthen in 1861 --- A Letter to the Lord Bishop of St. David's, on the subject in dispute between his Lordship and J.Bowstead, Esq. . . . An anonymous pamphlet, probably by W. R. Baxter ( The Education Question and the Bishop of St. David's: A Review of His Lordship's Recent Charge ... &c.), was published in London in 1861. This reviewed the Charge, Bowstead's Letters, and Thirlwall's Letter to J.Bowstead from the nonconformist and British School standpoints. A letter by 'Nemo' originally published in The Cambrian, 4 October 1861, was printed as a tract at Neath. The letter, entitled A Letter addressed to the Bishop of St. David's on the religious instruction given in British and National Schools, defended the British Schools. Another anonymous publication under the title of ' Essays and Reviews' anticipated: extracts from a work published in the year 1825 and attributed to the Lord Bishop of St. David's, London, 1861, being extracts from Thirlwall's translation of Schleiermacher's A Critical Essay on the Gospel of St. Luke, though not specifically coupled with the educational controversy was almost certainly meant to discredit Bishop Thirlwall at this juncture by bringing him under the same condemnation as Dr. Rowland Williams. Joseph Bowstead had to return to the controversy on the proportion of Dissenters in Wales years later in The Welsh Education Question: A Letter to the Editor of the Quarterly Review.... Stroud, 1870.
The mutual relationship between dissenters and members of the Church of England is a common topic in 'Nefydd's journal and the entries are completely in line with the standpoint represented in Joseph Bowstead's Reports. The reference by Bowstead to the difficulty created in Wales by the refusal of the Committee of Council to sanction grants for leasehold premises is re-echoed in the journal. The agent and the inspector appear to have co operated with much cordiality and 'Nefydd's presence at his side on inspections of schools in thoroughly Welsh-speaking areas must have been of particular advantage to the inspector in his ignorance of the language of the children examined by him.
It is clear from the journal that the teaching of Welsh as a subject in schools was confined to those supported by Lady Benjamin Hall, better known as Lady Llanover from her husband's elevation to the peerage in 1859. The modest use of Welsh as a medium of instruction seems to have been tolerated, though inspectors varied in their attitudes from deploring the disuse of the language for explanatory purposes to discouraging its positive cultivation. That knowledge of the language on the part of teachers was considered desirable in places as far removed from one another as Talgarth and Cardigan is clear from 'Nefydd's journal. Bowstead's reports show that he considered the knowledge of Welsh to be an advantage and the ignorance of it a disadvantage in teachers. Welsh education was bedevilled from the beginning by the false assumption that a foreign medium of instruction had to be drilled into the brains of Welsh children before the process of education could begin. It is surprising that men of intelligence did not see the fallacy upon which the Welsh educational system was being established. The sections of inspectors' reports on the question of the Welsh language and its place in the schools are well worth serious attention now that the genocidal character of the system which they were setting up has become all too apparent.
Joseph Fletcher, in the 1846 report already cited, placed the responsibility at the door of the Welsh people themselves, and he accounted for the low level of instruction in Welsh day schools by reference to the language difficulties:
".........for English being the language of promotion, a Welsh parent of the humbler class does not care to send a child to a day school at all, unless the first object be to learn English; and to make any valuable progress with such books and in such schools as alone have heretofore been available, has demanded a time, and an aggregate of expense, which it has been difficult to afford. For the universal method of teaching English has been to place lessons in English in the hands of the children, and, by individual instruction, to get them to attach the right value to the letters, and the right pronunciation to the words, without any conception of their meaning whatever. Such a conception is chiefly restricted to a few children in a top class, to whom the master addresses explanations in their native language. But these explanations have been so little essential in general estimation, that in places not far removed from the English border, there is a considerable inclination, in both patrons and parents, to have English masters, who do not understand Welsh at all; and in these localities, if the parents know anything at all of English, they speak it to their children; a practice which must tend, as in Ireland, to the ultimate eradication of the Celtic dialects from popular use, though they will always be studied and preserved by the antiquary. So strong, indeed, is this desire for English, that it is a fundamental rule of the day schools, that English only shall be spoken in them; a rule to which it must be very difficult indeed to get a practical obedience, and scarcely less cruel to attempt it; for it deprives the little things of all explanation of their hard technical tasks, however glibly they may be enabled to run off the words before them. I mention these facts that their Lordships may be informed, not only of the low state of secular instruction from which recent effort is but now beginning to raise the population, but that, however attached the higher classes of the principality may be to the ancient tongue of their fathers, possessing as they do the use of others, yet that the mass of the population have no indisposition to acquire English, but, on the contrary, are exceedingly desirous that their children should learn it; with no express intention, assuredly, of their abandoning the use of Welsh, but comparatively careless whether it be retained in after generations or not. A number of new schools on the British System, under native masters trained at the Borough Road, and using the books there employed, are now coming into operation, especially in North Wales, and promise, by a course of more intelligent instruction, to give to the children within the radius of their operation some of the advantages even of classical education in the intelligent acquisition of a new and copious language . . . And I doubt not that if infant schools were introduced more extensively, wherever the population is numerous enough, they would gladly be used by the parents, not only for the ordinary advantages offered by such institutions, but for that of an early introduction of the little ones to a knowledge of English; for many are the grievances which accrue to the people from their prevailing ignorance of the language in which justice is administered and all important business transacted."
Fletcher returned to the question of the use of Welsh in this Report for 1848-9. (pp. 293-4). It is evident that with a little more courage he could have placed Welsh education on a healthier footing, though like Matthew Arnold he could not tolerate the active cultivation of Welsh:
"...........I would entreat that both the masters' and children's knowledge of their own language should have some weight in arriving at a just estimate of their proficiency, or they will be unequally matched against English children working in their own, and not, as the Welsh children are, in a foreign tongue, which, in the remoter localities, they very seldom hear except in school.
It is this difficulty of language, the great stumbling block of the whole race, which makes the aid of pupil teachers or monitors so essential in a Welsh school, while the method of its support, necessarily by a graduated scale of fees, has prevented the higher paying, because more advanced scholars, who were alone fit for the employment, from being ever used as such, or at all events, working in such an office with the willingness, perseverance, and skill requisite to its discharge . . . The pupil teacher being instructed in some of the arrangements and methods of the best infant schools, as well as in the holding of classes and drafts according to the fundamental organization of their own . . . a proper use might be made of their own language, now absurdly discarded, even in the technical exercises of the younger, in learning to read English, and in attaining to the first ideas of number, the geometrical forms, the forms of letters, &c.; . . . the schools should have a greater extent and variety of familiar secular lessons in English on boards than they at present possess, and the pupil teachers should have each a Welsh and English dictionary, to aid them in getting up their lessons; but complete sets of lessons, Welsh and English, on the Hamiltonian system, would not be of essential value in the secular instruction; nor challenge the favour of parents, who are anxious only for the English; nor be expedient, as forcing into higher cultivation a language which is already the great obstacle to the wordly promotion of the people, and will continue to be such as long as it exists, and entails upon each new generation the labour of emerging from it. English should continue to be the simple unembarrassed text, to vivify which the pupil teachers and stipendiary monitors should be stimulated to make full and active use of the vernacular dialect, so far as it extended, and beyond its scope English alone will suffice for the best use of all, instead of coining the English words of modern civilization into a bastard jargon, mis-called Welsh. By this proper use of Welsh, indeed, even the uninstructed parents of the children would presently be made to perceive, that, through the sound mental vigour and active desire to learn which these would acquire, their progress in the acquisition of the language of their desire would be more rapid and sound than upon the old rote system, to which they have so willingly had their children chained, even to making it the greatest of school offences, and that most severely punished, to speak their native tongue; so little are they wedded to an antiquarian love for it, however dulcet its sounds so long as it continues to be the language of their infancy, their home, their country and their faith."
Before handing the Welsh pupil teachers over to his coadjutor, Joseph Fletcher ( Report for 1851, p. 849) appealed for special help for them to acquire English:
"viz. that every encouragement should be given to their acquiring a facile use of idiomatic English in the course of their apprenticeship, by their Lordships allowing their stipends to be continued without intermission, though their teachers and parents and the supporters of their school should send them to pass six months (say in their third year) in following the ordinary course of their duties in an English school of the same kind as that in which they are apprenticed. If even yet more could be done in encouraging such a movement, it should, I think, be tried, since the whole population are as desirous to learn English as to remember Welsh; and surely this is all that can be desired in such a matter, since they will be no worse Britons for being good Welshmen."
The new inspector of Welsh British Schools was none other than Matthew Arnold and it is interesting to compare his report in 1852 with his almost identical attitude in his Study of Celtic Literature in 1867. He confined his interest in the Welsh language solely to considerations of philology and antiquarian dilettantism:
"The Welsh schools that I have seen are generally on the British system. Those connected with mining and manufacturing establishments stand on a peculiar footing of their own; those not so connected generally charge low fees, are well attended, and may be considered as really receiving the children of the poor. Indeed, the poor population of Wales is so entirely a dissenting population, that the British Schools acquire a peculiar importance there, and they are filled with the same class of children that one sees in the National schools in England. The children in them are generally docile and quick in apprehension, to a greater degree than English children; their drawback, of course, is that they have to acquire the medium of information, as well as the information itself, while the English children possess the medium at the outset. There can, I think, be no question but that the acquirement of the English language should be more and more insisted upon by your Lordships in your relations with these schools, as the one main object for which your aid is granted. Whatever encouragement individuals may think it desirable to give to the preservation of the Welsh language on grounds of philological or antiquarian interest, it must always be the desire of a Government to render its dominions, as far as possible, homogeneous, and to break down barriers to the freest intercourse between the different parts of them. Sooner or later, the difference of language between Wales and England will probably be effaced, as has happened with the difference of language between Cornwall and the rest of England; as is now happening with the difference of languages between Brittany and the rest of France; and they are not the true friends of the Welsh people, who, from a romantic interest in their manners and traditions, would impede an event which is socially and politically so desirable for them.
With a view to enable pupil teachers in Welsh schools the better to acquire a knowledge of English, the late Mr. Fletcher (whose patience, kindness, and untiring zeal in matters of education, acknowledged by all who knew him, I found especially remembered and appreciated in Wales) proposed that they should be sent for six months in the middle or latter part of their apprenticeship to perform their duties in English schools. The great objection to such an arrangement is that English schools might not be very willing to accept teachers imperfectly acquainted with the language in which they would have to teach. Difficulty, I think, would also often arise on the part of the parents of the pupil teachers and the managers of the schools employing them, when arrangements came to be made for meeting the expense of their six months residence in England. I myself cannot but think that it is from the masters of Welsh schools that the promotion of the use of English in their schools must come, and that at present the masters themselves of these schools, not knowing English thoroughly well, do not employ it in their intercourse with their apprentices and scholars by any means so much as they should. If it were possible for Welsh students to be sent invariably to English training schools, and on leaving the training schools to be employed for two or three years in English schools, before returning into Wales, that I think would be the plan most likely to bring about an increased use of English in the Welsh Schools. Such students possessing, it may be presumed, at least a fair acquaintance with English at the end of their apprenticeship, would increase it to a complete familiarity while residing at an English training school, and associating with English students; they would thus be perfectly serviceable in English schools, and a year or two's habit of teaching in English in these schools would give them that thorough mastery of the language which alone will induce them to speak it without reluctance and of their own accord."
Arnold makes the following observations on the language question in his detailed reports on individual schools in South Wales:
Maesteg. ' . . . the youngest children, who as yet know little of English, make a bad figure in their reading of letters and short words; as they get older and learn English they do better'
Caermarthen. 'With respect to the attainment of the children, they have first to learn English, and then to acquire their instruction out of English books; this throws them back as compared with English children, who are spared the first labour'.
Llandovery. 'As to the instruction, there is the drawback of the language'.
Llanelly. 'As to the instruction, the youngest children who know little but Welsh, are imperfect in their letters'.
Blaina. ' . . . the lower part of his school might with advantage have more done to Anglicise them'.
In 1852 and 1853 he also examined a number of British Schools in North Wales and made the following remarks on the position of the Welsh language:
Roe Wen. . . . 'more Welsh than those in the depths of Wales'.
- 1852 . . . 'for its system of elementary English instruction for Welsh children might be a model to the other schools of its class in North Wales'.
- 1853 ... 'the elements of an English education are well and industriously taught throughout the whole school'.
Marian Glas. 'With the exception of a few scholars at the top of the school, scarcely a child knows anything beyond the elements of English reading'.
Dyffryn. 'The mass of the children in this school are very young, newly entered, and almost wholly ignorant of English'.
Llanrhyddlad. 'The master ... has an intensely Welsh population to deal with, and the English language has made little way in the lower part of the school'.
Rhosybol. ' . . . the knowledge of English is by far too imperfect through the mass of the school. The other Anglesea schools that I have seen, some of them quite as remote, surpass this school, all of them in the acquaintance with English displayed by the scholars'.
Bethesda. 'The numbers are very large, the knowledge of English at present very limited, and the organization very rude'.
Port and Tremadoc. . . . 'the elements of English they have learned well'.
- 1852. 'A Welsh school of the most elementary class.'
- 1853 . . . 'the elementary instruction is good, particularly the middle part of the school, is excellently grounded in English'.
Towyn and Pennal.'The children are well grounded in English'.
Newtown. 'The difficulty of language is here removed, as the great majority of the children in this place speak only English'.
J. D. Morrell in reporting on British Schools, including some in North Wales, in 1852, made observations on the language problem:
Llangollen.'The younger ones enter the school quite unacquainted with the English language, and have to spend of course a proportionally longer time in learning to read.
Glyndyfrdwy. 'A small school amongst the Welsh mountains, to which all the children go wholly ignorant of the English language ... There were about thirty five present at the time I visited it (16 July 1852), of whom about a dozen could begin to read tolerably in the English Bible'.
Denbigh--- Girls. 'Most of the children are very young, and understand but little English'.
Llanrhyddlad. 'The population in this neighbourhood is totally unacquainted with English, so that the chief labour of the school is to teach the children to understand and read it'.
Rhosybol. 'On the whole the school is flourishing, and presents a pleasing aspect of the progress now making amongst the juvenile portion of the Welsh population'.
Llangefni. 'The great majority of the children are totally unacquainted with English'.
Reference has already been made to Joseph Bowstead's views on the desirability of an acquaintance with Welsh on the part of teachers. The following comments are taken from his 1853 Report:
Llanelly, Copper works. 'Perhaps their reading is hardly equal to their other attainments, but this is a difficult point with Welsh boys'.
Maesteg, Spelter works. 'She [the teacher] has the advantage of knowing Welsh'.
Maesteg, Llynvi works.
- Boys. 'The junior classes are ignorant and backward, which is owing in a great measure to bi-lingual difficulties. The master is both energetic and skilful, but does not speak Welsh'.
- Girls. 'She [Miss Watson, the teacher] has the disadvantage of not speaking Welsh'.
Hafod Works. Girls. 'The reading was as good as it would be reasonable to expect among Welsh Girls'.
Carmarthen Lancasterian. Girls. 'The reading in this school is unusually good for Wales. The first class reads very nicely, and has almost lost the Welsh accent'.
Maesteg Ironworks. Girls. 'The girls read very well for Wales'.
Blaina. Boys. 'This must be allowed to be a very good school, when we consider the material of which it is formed, the constant changes of residence among the people employed at the iron works, the little value set by them upon education, and the difficulties of having a spoken language altogether different from that taught in the school'.
An account of the attitude of H.M. Inspectors of Schools towards the Welsh language over the last hundred years would be an interesting study, and an anthology of extracts from their reports on the subject would be illuminating. It was a subject that recurred time after time in their reports. It seems, however, to have been less of an obsession with the Reverend Harry Longueville Jones who examined National Schools in Wales from 1848 to 1864. The problem of course existed in the schools under his care, but it may have been more generally ignored by National School managers. Some voices were raised against the practice of ignoring Welsh in the religious instruction which was a cardinal principle of National Schools. James Williams, rector of Llanddeusant in Anglesey, in a pamphlet published in 1860 under the title On Religious Instruction in National Schools in Wales in a letter to the Lord Bishop of Bangor argued that the refusal to use the Welsh language in the National Schools was the chief reason why the children who were educated in them were not drawn to the church in after life. He also considered that the practice contributed to the lamentable ignorance of scriptural truths which was becoming increasingly apparent in spite of all the educational facilities provided. The North Wales Commissioner in 1847 had drawn attention to the results of the disuse of Welsh as a means of explaining what was meant to be taught to the children. Longueville Jones's report for 1854 showed that the evils then complained of still existed in religious instruction. Williams's own school at Llanddeusant had been held up as a model and he was convinced that the distinction was due to the free use of Welsh as a means of explanation in the school. The open letter was addressed to Bishop Campbell, who had taken trouble to learn Welsh and therefore could be appealed to on the subject, yet Williams hastened to assure the reader that he was not what was called a 'Welsh Patriot', adding that 'In love and admiration for the language of my country I yield to no man'. We have by now grown familiar with such affirmations which invariably precede any attacks upon the Welsh language. Williams had never faltered in urging the knowledge of it as of paramount importance in the persons of bishops and high (local) legal functionaries, but he had always looked forward to the time when the necessity for it should no longer exist. The greatest obstacle to the advent of the desired end was the mistaken view of those influential persons who were taking the wrong road towards it by crying 'Let us get rid of the Welsh' instead of adopting his cry of 'Let us have the universal acquisition of English'. The Committee of Council on Education were not granting an additional augmentation of £5 to schoolmasters showing proficiency in Welsh in order to prolong the existence of the language and to check the spread of English but in order to further the end in view by using the Welsh language to explain and make clear the ideas intended to be made known by the English Lesson Book. Welsh was to be used as an instrument but it was not to be cultivated. In the Llanddeusant school all the Welsh required to be taught was 'the Conjugation of Verbs, giving the equivalent in English for every Mood, Tense, and Person; and the declension of Pronouns under the same conditions'.
The Committee of Council on Education in a circular to Principals of Training Colleges, 22 January 1857, had directed that the letters G and W should be recorded in the calendar against the names of candidates taking Gaelic and Welsh at the annual Christmas examination and having their papers marked 'good' or 'excellent', and that an extra £5 would be allowed over and above the usual augmentation to such certificated teachers as should be teaching in schools certified by an Inspector as schools in which a knowledge of Welsh or Gaelic was needful. This was to encourage such teachers to remain in those schools where alone such a qualification was useful.
The Inspectors were not in favour of setting a paper in Welsh for qualifying for this augmentation. Dr. F. Temple objected to it in his report on the Church of England Training Colleges, and his successor B.M. Cowie, in 1859, set out the objections to the cultivation of Welsh which the paper encouraged:
"From inquiries made in Wales, of schoolmasters, local managers and others, I have been led to think that the Welsh paper set at the Christmas examination is a mistake. Welsh parents object to their children being taught Welsh; they want them to learn English. In some cases they have been known to withdraw their children from schools where Welsh was taught. To teach Welsh on paper, and grammatically, to students, is therefore unnecessary. Nobody wants it. Nobody will have it, if they can help it. It is a hindrance and not a help in the progress of material and general education. Schoolmasters have told me that they regretted the time thrown away upon it. I would urge your Lordships, as my predecessor, Dr. Temple, did, to abandon this paper, and adopt his reasonable suggestions that Welsh masters teaching Welsh schools, who are certified by Her Majesty's Inspectors as having a colloquial knowledge of Welsh (a real advantage and one much valued for the sake both of children and their parents), should be entitled to the annual gratuity of 5l(£).,without any examination on paper."
That Her Majesty was not of the same opinion as her Inspectors is clearly shown in a letter written by Queen Victoria some ten years earlier. The Queen's conception of the place of the native language in education was far ahead of that of her responsible Ministers and inspectors of schools. She wrote to the Marquis of Lansdowne, 3 March 1849, on the subject of education and added her views on the teaching of Gaelic and Welsh:
"The Queen takes this occasion of repeating her hope that Gaelic will be taught in future in the Highland schools, as well as English, as it is really a great mistake that the people should be constantly talking a language which they often cannot read and generally not write. Being very partial to her loyal and good Highlanders, the Queen takes much interest in what she thinks will tend more than anything to keep up their simplicity of character, which she considers a great merit in these days.
The Queen thinks equally that Welsh should be taught in Wales as well as English."
Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, third marquis of Lansdowne, was then President of the Council and he promised the Queen that her wishes would be met, without showing clearly that he knew the difference between Gaelic and Welsh.
William Roberts, 'Nefydd', is strangely silent on this important aspect of Welsh education. A firm stand for the use of Welsh, similar to that taken by Griffith Jones, Llanddowror, in the eighteenth century, would have altered the whole character of Welsh education.
Attended a Committee at Hirwaun (between Merthyr and Swansea) with a view to aid them in establishing the school, and to obtain Gov. aid towards paying off the debt upon the Building, which was erected in 1849, cost near £300---they collected some hundreds of pounds from time to time, which sum was spent in maintaining the Teachers, furnishing the school &c. The Com(mittee) is now in £220 debt (on acct of the buildings &c.)---Population 4000. --- children once in school 150. The school had been closed for some time, but now will be re-opened. Mr. Bowstead will visit it in August.
Attended a Committee at Aberdare with the same view, the Com, after working on the voluntary principle alone, became involved in debt, and applied for Gov. aid, and the school is now in a fair way to be established on a permanent footing. Population in this district near 20,000.---They seem to think of building two more schools as soon as they can, about 1 1/2 mile distance from the present one, and from each other.
Visited Risca for the same purpose as the above, the school (which is an excellent building) is closed, and they have applied for Gov. aid. Population about 4,000.They want a certificated master --- Will give him from £60 to £65 besides what he can get from his certificate and Pupil Teachers.--- Had once as many as 300 children in school.
Attended the Borough Road schools to gain as much information as I could respecting the nature and order of the schools under the direction of Mr. Langton.
Could not leave my room in consequence of a severe attack of Biliousness & Cold I had by travelling to and from London.
December 22 & 23.
Sent 32 letters to various parts of S. Wales, with a view to carry out the suggestion made by Hugh Owen Esquire, when I was in London; viz. of establishing a Committee in each County --- Beginning with the Welsh part of Monmouthshire, and Glamorganshire.
Visited Bryn Mawr at the request of the Committee of the School, to give directions to fill up the Papers to be sent to the Committee of Council respecting the school which they intend to build; and to give them the answer of Mr. Hooper the Solicitor of the Duke of Beaufort (respecting the selling of the old school, and the grant of land towards building the New school) with whom I called at the request of the above Committee when I was in London, Dec. 9th.
Translated the Circular sent by H. Dunn Esq. respecting the last Minutes of the Committee of Council on Education, dated November 18th, that it may be ready to appear in the Welsh Periodicals and Newspapers.
Visited Blaenavon with a view to establish a British School in that populous district. It is likely that it will be proceeded with as soon as possible. They were here under the apprehension that they could not obtain the Gov. grant because there is a National school already, although 9/10 of the population are Dissenters, and of course cannot approve of attending church, and learning Catechism.
Visited Ebbw Vale to meet a respectable and an influental Dissenting Minister from Pembrokeshire, Rev. T. Williams, Llangloffan, to arrange about my visiting that County in the Spring of this year to establish schools &c.
Additional remarks proposed to the notice of the Committee.
(1) I find that the late meetings at Swansea and Merthyr to re-establish the Normal College (which had proved an entire and a disgraceful failure) will operate in some measure against me. However I am not discouraged,'or I find that although the deputation consisted of highly respectable persons (Messrs. Morley, Baines, Alexander, and Rev. H. Richard) the effect produced by their visit was not such as might have been expected.
(2) One more of the schools established on the voluntary principle has come over to be redeemed by applying for Gov. aid, after having been working very inefficiently for a considerable time; viz., the one at Rumney. I am to attend a Committee there at their request on Friday next. The number that have been lately rescued in that manner ....
(3) Quotation from Traethodydd about Welshmen being inspectors.
- To Hirwaun & Aberdare---£-9s.6d
- Risca--- 3s-4d.
- Ebbw Vale---2s.-6d.
- Postages &c.--- 5s.2d.
- (sub total) --- (1-2s-6d.)
- London ---3-15s.- 6d
- (sub-total)--- (4-18s-0d.)
- Monthly Salary ---5-0s-0d.
- (total--- £9-18s- 0d.)
- Rec'd the above
- W Roberts.
Merthyr Tydvil. In this very populous district there is a strong opposition to Government aid, and still they will not do anything towards educating the poor on the voluntary system. &c &c &c &c .
Blaina. Held a meeting here preparatory to a large meeting of Ministers and Laymen of all denominations to be held at this place on Feb'y 20th.&c. &c. &c.
Bryn Mawr. Attended a Committee at this place to arrange about uniting the efforts of Churchmen and Dissenters; and to consider the terms proposed by the Clergyman. &c. &c. &c.
P.S. In sending your next Journals please fold them as this is folded and enclose them in a long envelope or wrap them in a sheet of letter paper.
Dowlais. This district contains no British School, although the Dissenting population may be considered (as is generally the case in the works) about 9/10th at least. The late Sir J. J. Guest erected two good schools here some years ago, both of which have boys' and girls' schools on the National System: and they are very good schools. There was a movement for a school on the British System here previous to the visit of Messrs. Morley, Baines &c. to Wales. At that time some changed their opinions about receiving Gov. aid, and being (as they thought) too weak to proceed without it, the project was abandoned.
Bryn Mawr. Having on the 27th of Jan'y been appointed one of the Sub Committee to try to unite the efforts of Churchmen and Dissenters, the Sub Committee met this day. The meeting lasted 3 or 4 hours. The Church party wanted ' to abandon the name B.S.' and also ' to have always one of the Teachers from the Cheltenham Institution'. Much was said pro. & con. The Dissenting party conceded the first point, but objected to put anything in the Deed concerning the latter; because the B. & F.S.S. gave to Churchmen the same advantages as Dissenters, and Churchmen being in B.M. only about 1/30th part of the religious population.
Blaina. Visited and examined the children in this school one part of this day and corresponded with various persons in S. Wales the other part. The Blaina school under the efficent management of Mr E. Jones may be considered now the best school in the surrounding district. About 230 boys on the books.
Ebbw Vale. In this very populous neighbourhood they intend to have a B.S. built. The School that is there now is a National School, and is in connection with the works. Population about 12,000.
Victoria Works. This place is similarly situated to the above, but there is now no prospect of having a B.S. Population about 4,000.
Blaenavon. Building a B.S. is in contemplation here, and greatly needed. Only one National School --- population about 6,000. --- I had visited this place on the 29th of Jan. and came now to give some further explanations how to proceed.
Llanelly (Breconshire). Some friends in this place were very wishful to have a good B. School built with Gov. aid. One person off'd £50 towards the erection of such school, but the Baptist and Independent ministers being opposed to Gov. aid frustrated this good intention, at least for the present. Population about 5,000 --- no school for the poor.
February 13 & 14.
Risca. Attended at the request of the Committee to consult about the reply of R. R. W. Lingen, Esq. in which he says that one condition the Committee of Council requires to grant any aid is that the Site must be Fee simple. I had understood from a footnote on the School building Form No 4, that a Lease of 99 years is admissible. I consulted Mr Dunn and he thinks the footnote equivalent to a refusal. However if that is the case, and if they will adhere strictly to it, it will create a serious obstacle in my way, as I explained to M, Dunn.
Abertillery. Being the Chairman of the Committee of Abertillery British School, we (myself and some of the Com.) met this day J. Norton, Esq., Bond St, London, (Architect) and the Contractor to sign the Contract.
Conference on Education. I had this day to make some preparations towards the Conference to be held on the 20th.
Blaina Conference. This was the day of our meeting. Respectable ministers and laymen from among all Denominations met together at 10 o'clock in the morning, and our consultation lasted almost all the day. Mr E. Jones of the B.S. and myself joined in the expense of preparing a dinner for all the strangers.
Visited a few Gentlemen according to the resolution passed in the Conference.
1 was sent for to see my dear Mother on her death bed in N. Wales. She died on the 25th and was buried on the 2nd of March 1854.
Abersychan. A new school is now in course of being erected in this place by the Company (Messrs. Darby & Co.) to be carried on similar to the British Schools; without any Sectarian restrictions. I intend visiting T. Brown Esquire to try to have it on the British System, and under Government Inspection.
Pontypool. This may be considered one of the best schools that are carried on entirely on the voluntary principle. One reason for its being so efficient without Gov. aid is that the Proprietors of the Pontypool Works subscribe £50 annually towards it. Mr. T. B. Smith is a good schoolmaster, he has about 300 children in the school; six pupil Teachers.
Cwmbrane. The British school in this place is supported by the Company (Messrs. Darby & Co). The Teacher is Mr T.Lewis that was formerly at Llangadock in Carmarthenshire. It is a good school with about 100 children. It might be better with a greater number of children in it, if there was a better schoolroom erected.
Devauden. There is a small school in this place on the B. System held in an Independent Chapel-- about 25 children. There is also a Church school supported by an endowment. It is considered a very good one.
April 10 & 11.
Rumney. The Rev. David Edwards of Bryn Mawr and myself went according to appointment, and had a long interview with G. P. Hubbuck, Esquire, the manager of The Works, respecting the two B. Schools; viz. the adopting of the one that now exists, with its debt and the building of a new one. Mr Hubbuck will lay the matter before the Directors of the works in their next meeting. He said that as far as he was himself concerned, that he was determined to have two good British Schools at Rumney.
Corresponding with various Gentlemen & Ministers in South Wales respecting the adjournment of the Meeting that was to be held at Merthyr Tydvil, untill it shall be convenient to Hugh Owen, Esquire, of London, to be with us at that meeting.
Risca. The Committee of this school is still in trouble; because the Com. of Council refuses to give anything towards the Building on account of the site being on lease of 99 years and not freehold; but they are more courageous now than they were some time ago, they think now that they will be able to pay the remaining debt in a few years by voluntary efforts alone. The school has been shut up since October last in this populous district.
Twyngwyn. They are going to establish a B. School in this place. A Committee is formed, and they have commenced operations by erecting a large room in connection with a Baptist Chapel. This is on the border of the extensive Parish of MynyddisIwyn. The Population of the neighbourhood is about 800 or 900.
Bedwas. Being on the way from Twyngwyn to Caerphilly I spent this day here. There is an endowed Church school on a more liberal scale towards Dissenters than they are generally in this place. There was a B.S. held by O. Jones who removed to Tryfil &c.
Caerphily. Having spent the Sunday and Monday in this place, I visited the Sunday schools, and the day schools. There is a school on the B. system, and a liberal Church school. The former is chiefly a boys' school, and the latter a girls' school. Mr Tamping the Teacher of the former has between 60 and 70 children, and Miss M. Evans has about 40.
Tongwynlas. There is a school on the British System kept by Mr D. Jones and Mrs J. Jones his wife --- about 60 children. It was established 4 or 5 years ago. They are in want of a better schoolroom.
April 26 & 27.
Pyle. The first of these days being appointed by Her Majesty for fasting & praying, I could do nothing. On Thursday I visited the house of G. T. Lewis who applied to the Boro' Road but unfortunately I did not meet with him, I saw several persons of influence, ministers, &c., who are very anxious to establish a good school if they can. I gave them every direction that I could, and promised to visit them again after the Committee is formed &c.
Bridgend. There are several influential Dissenters very much for having a B.S. established in this place. There are good National schools, and it is feared that it will be difficult to establish another.
Returning this day.
Darren Felen. In this populous neighbourhood several friends of the various Denominations of Dissenters being anxious to establish a school on the British system wished me to give them some information how to proceed in order to establish a school. Some being for Gov. aid and others against, it was resolved to form a Committee including an equal number of all the religious Denominations in the place and to meet again as soon as possible in order to know each other's opinion on the subject.
May 2 & 3.
Talgarth. Having had a hint from a friend to visit the British School in this place, I found here a most painful instance of depending entirely on the voluntary efforts of a rural district like this for educating the poor. The population of this town and neighbourhood is about 1500. There are two schools for the poor besides the British school; one, is a very inferior one in connection with the Church, kept in the vestry by the clerk, who is also the sexton. This person has but very few children under his care, and he is very ill adapted for instructing them. The other school is one of Madam Bevan's schools which remove from place to place in Wales every three or 4 years; this is also but a very inferior one. In 1845, the Dissenters bought a Cottage for £120 with a large garden attached, upon which a B.S. was erected, which cost about £240. The whole cost of the Deeds, walls &c. in addition to the above £360, came to about £400. They collected money and cleared off £160, leaving £240. About 4 years ago as the Committee was running in debt by maintaining the school and paying the interest of the £240, they were about selling the property. The Clergyman offered to take [it] from their hands to be converted into a National school. They did not like the idea of doing that, they applied to the Com. of Council for aid towards the debt, and gave only the use of the room gratis to the excellent Teacher (who had been qualified at the Boro' Road, and was reported by J. C. Symons Esq., in 1847 as one of the best in the Principality). The Com. of Council kindly promised them £120 towards the debt, but the Committee thought that they could not collect the remaining £120 therefore they went on as before paying £7 (in addition to the rent of £5 which they rec'd from the Cottage) annually. Now they were about to come to the resolution to sell the property, I promised to help them to collect the £120, and advised them to apply again to the Com. of Council, and we resolved to have another meeting soon.
Bryn-y-gevnffordd. Returning from Talgarth I found a small British school kept in a Calvinistic Methodist Chapel --- about 60 children---a pretty good school, of the sort.
Beaufort. The present British School is held in a Wesleyan school room; the beginning of this year a move was made to have a New school erected with Gov. aid. But the anti-Gov. aid party prevailed. Now there is a further effort being made towards the same, and it was settled to make an application to that effect. There are about 140 Children in this school.
May 8 & 9.
Bryn Mawr. The Committee of this B.S. has been successful in paying off the remaining debt on the old school. There is now a general desire to have a new one erected more in accordance with the approved plans of the present day to meet the requirements of this populous place. This school was built in 1844 in a healthy place, but since then it has been surrounded by houses, Gas works &c. which renders it unhealthy, but there is a great difficulty in the way of getting Gov. aid because the Duke of Beaufort will not give or sell the land only grant 99 years lease, which is not admissible by the Com. of Council. There are about 120 children in school. The Teacher is not well qualified, but he is the best that they could get during the absence of Mr Rees Lewis who is now at the Boro' Road.
Tryfil. There is a small B.S. in this place held in a Dissenting Chapel supported chiefly by the Iron masters in connection with which these large Limestone quarries are --- about 50 children attend. Population about 400.
Cwm Du. Being near my way home I visited this place. There is a National school supported by an endowment, It is held on a liberal scale. About 46 children.
May 17 & 18.
Abertillery. An objection was raised against this school by the Architect on account of the road to it being a tenure of a person not of age. It was resolved that I should (with another member of the Com.) wait on H. Bailey, Esq., to ask for a Road to it in another direction. We went and Mr Bailey answered ' that it was enough for him to give the site, playground &c. and that he would not give the road'. However we found out afterwards that there is an Act of Parliament made so that such lands can be given towards such objects.
Twyngwyn. The Committee of the B.S. in this place (which I had visited before on the 21st of April) are now commencing the school having prepared the room and engaged a Teacher of the name of Thos Parry. They have about 50 children to start with. It is to be supported at least for some time, by the school pence and voluntary subscriptions.
Corresponded with various persons in S.W., &c.
Darren Felen. This place which I had visited on the 1st of May, became more ready to commence. It was resolved to proceed for the present without Gov. aid in a room belonging to an Independent Chapel. Mr. H. Rosser was engaged as Teacher, and they have 120 Children to commence. The population of this place is almost entirely of the working class.
Llantarnarn. There is a B. School in connection with the Iron Works and supported by the Company, about 80 Children in the school. They intend to build a more convenient schoolroom which is greatly needed.
Castletown. This place is without a school. There is a strong desire in some of the inhabitants to have a school erected in connection with Gov. aid --- Population of the neighbourhood about 900.
Tydee works. Hearing that some of the Dissenters intended to have a B. School erected in this place I went thither and had conversation with several of them and found them in earnest about it. They intend to build a school in connection with Gov. aid according to the last Minutes of Council, the population of the parish being under 2,000.
Newport. I visited the Girls' B. school in this town, and also the Infant school. Miss Hescroff who has the superintendence of both is rather a superior Teacher. These schools (and also the boys' school which is in the other end of the Town) are supported entirely by voluntary subscriptions; several of the Committee are very much opposed to Gov. aid, otherwise these schools, good as they are, might be made much more useful and efficient, and consequently better attended in such an important town as this. The National School here being under Gov. inspection carries the sway, and even children of Dissenters are sent there. The number of children on the books is about 160 including both schools --- average attendance about 135.
Llandewi. There is no school in three miles around from this place, excepting a small Dame school and the Rev. T. Lewis, who has been keeping a school here for several years and has given up about twelve months ago, is very anxious to have one if he and his friends can manage to get the necessary amount of money. I am requested there again soon.
Llanflhangel Crucorney. British school. This is a good little school, considering that it is in a Rural District. Number of children on the books 70, average attendance about 50. Mr G. James is a teacher of much experience.
Abergavenny. British School. I visited this school, and was very much pleased with Mr T. Tomkins, the Teacher. He is assisted by Mrs Tomkins.The number of children in this school is only from 60 to 70 which is much below what we could wish in such a town as this but (to use the Teacher's own words) it is impossible for a school without Gov. aid to compete with a school under Gov. inspection, and that being a good school and the charge being only 1d per week, whereas the charge at the B.S. is 3d on an average.
Newport. I intended visiting the Boys' B. School in this town on the 2nd instant but finding that the Girls' & Infants' schools were as much as I could visit that day and the following day being Saturday on which no school is held, I deferred untill today. Mr Brown the Teacher finds the same difficulty here as Mr Tomkins does at Abergavenny to compete with a school under Gov. inspection. This is a pretty good school but the number of children attending it is miserable, especially when we consider that it has been established near 40 years ago and that the population of Newport is about 21,000, and also that the Dissenters are so numerous & influential here. The Anti-Gov. aid party is strong here, and that is the reason for the neglect of the school.
Bassaleg. This little place has a good National school supported by Sir Charles Morgan, and filled chiefly by Dissenters. There are several very wishful to have a British school here but they are afraid that it cannot be established.
Machen. This is similarly situated to Bassaleg. There are Boys', Girls'& Infants' schools in connection with the church, and rather liberally conducted. Dissenters are in these works very numerous.
Crumlin. This small hamlet is now increasing very fast in its population in connection with the new works that have lately been commenced there. A church school has been established there some years ago. Now the number of Dissenters so much on the increase here every month it is to be hoped that a B. S. can be established here ere long.
Saint Mellons. In this place the Dissenters being numerous and strong, they intended some 3 or 4 years ago to build a B.S. on a piece of ground, the property of the Parish; but some wanted to apply for Gov. aid, others opposed, and by that they frustrated the object in view, and the Clergyman came forward and the Churchwardens sold him the piece of ground, and a National School is built upon it. 0! when will my dear brethren (the Dissenters) be wise enough not to stand in their own light !
Bryn Mawr. I went to this place with Mr Dunn's letter advising us not to discontinue our applications to the Lords of the Council although they refuse to grant aid towards schools on leases of 99 years. The Duke of Beaufort owns the whole neighbourhood and he will only give 99 years.
Corresponded with various persons respecting my intended visit to the Western part of Wales, Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire, &c.
Mr. Tomkins of Abergavenny said to me on the 9th instant 'When we commenced this school seven years ago the Church Schools were very inferior; and then this school drained off a good number of their scholars, until this school and a room that we rented then for the Girls' school became crowded. After that the Churchmen of the neighbourhood were moved with zeal and activity and they improved their schools very much, and put them under Gov. inspection; and now they are draining ours'.
1 have noticed the same fact in many other places, and I dare say those Agents that have been for years working for the B. & F. School Soc'y have noticed it before I had the honour of being engaged, but it may not be out of place for me to notice that competition of the National & British Schools upon the whole answers very good purposes, in provoking the zeal of each other, and also to cause the National schools to exercise much more liberality towards Dissenters.
Tongwynlais. When I visited this place in April I found that they were greatly in want of a commodious room. A plan was then adopted for obtaining one, and I promised to visit them afterwards soon, and to assist them in carrying out the plan. But in the meantime a lady of the name of Mrs. Lewis of Green Meadow came forward and she has been so kind as to give them gratis the use of a large room about 50 feet by 26 (which she has fitted up for a school at her own expense). The number of children has increased to about 70. They are in want of books, & maps &c.
Canton. This is a newly populated district near Landaff. A new school room has been erected in connection with the Baptist Chapel in this place, for a B. school which will be supported by the voluntary subscriptions of the congregation.
I Returned home this day. It was not convenient for me to visit the British Schools at Cardiff this time.
(to be continued)
E. D. JONES.