Welsh Journals

Search over 450 titles and 1.2 million pages

WALES. Vol. Ill] APRIL, 1896. [No. 24. PAST AND FUTURE PROGRESS. An Eisteddfod address* by the Principal of Jesus College, Oxford. "ERE we have been holding an Eis¬ teddfod ; it is one more in¬ stance of the attachment of the Welsh to their national institution; and it calls to my mind the time when I was, years ago, studying at a German uni¬ versity. There the students showed little liking for the patriotic dictum, Ubi patri, ibi bene " where one's fatherland is, there one is all right." In the full vigour of their youth, they preferred putting it the other way,— Ubi bene, ibi patria ("where one is all right, there is one's fatherland.") Here we may say, " Where Welshmen are at home, there the Eisteddfod is ;" or shall I put it the other way ?—" Where the Eis¬ teddfod is, there Welshmen are at home." Well, I leave it to you, as you must perceive how closely identified the two things are, —the Eisteddfod and Welsh nationality. The Eisteddfod has grown to be a part of the Kymro, or as an old shepherd I knew long ago on the slopes of Plinlimmon would have pithily put it, Yr un yw f'ewyrth y Figyn a'i fagas. Here we have, then, been holding an Eisteddfod out of our own country, in the Englishman's land ; but somebody says, " Wait a moment," and I must consider my words. Are we holding it outside our own country ? That, I see by your faces, I outside our own country, as it will at once appear if we look into history. In the first place, this part of the island belonged to men of our kith and kin before any Englishman set foot here ; and, in the second place, this settlement of Welshmen on the Tees is a part of the reconquest of England by the Celt, a reconquest which has been proceeding on all sides ever since the days of the Tudors, and proceeding at an accelerated rate in recent times. I can¬ not go into the whole story how the Brythons lost this part of the island; but when the Romans ruled here, the tract embracing what is now Wales and the north of England, and also sometimes the country beyond to the rivers Clyde and Forth, seems to have been entrusted to the charge of an officer called "Dux Britanniarum," or Duke of the Britannias. The Brythons appear to have continued that arrangement under a leader named Cunedda Wledig. That means Cunedda the Ruler or Prince, for though gwledig now means rustic or belonging to country life, being derived from and associated with gwlad in the sense of the Latin rus, or country in its rural aspect, in older Welsh gwledig was correlated rather with gwlad in the sense of the country as a state and political organisation. Hence it is that in old Welsh literature the word gwledig means, not a rustic, but a statesman in the sense of ruler or prince. In the last resort it comes from the same Aryan source as the English word " wield," as when you speak of a person wielding power. In ancient English one had on-wealda (a magistrate) and al- wealda (all-ruling, said of the Almighty), and kindred formations, including Bret- walda (ruler of the Britons or of Britain). must answer in the negative; we are not * The greater part of thia address was delivered to the Middlesborough Welsh Society, at an Eisteddfod held on the 3rd January last. 10 145