Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

6 erthygl ar y dudalen hon




PUBLIC MEETING AT ABERDARE. [BY OUR OWN REPORTER.] On the night of Wednesday last, a public meeting was held in Siloa Chapel, Aberdare, "to take into considera- tion the evidence of the Itev. John Griffith, vicar, in the Government Reports respecting the state of morals in the parish of Aberdare." Previous to entering upon our account of the proceed- ings at this meeting, we think the "evidence" above referred to should be given as it appears in the Com- missioners' Reports, so that the public may know what the meeting had "to take into consideration." The fol- lowing, therefore, are the statements which the commis- sioners publish as the evidence of the llev. John Griifith. Question Are you acquainted with the condition of the miniug and manufacturing population in any part of Wales 1 Answer: Yes but I beg to be responsible only for my own parish of Aberdare. State your opinion of it under the following heads:- DOMESTIC ACCOMMODATION. — Most excellent. The cottages are all well buittand most comfortably furnished; some, indeed, for that class of people, extravagantly so. SOBKIETY.—Generally speaking, there is very little sobriety. The men drink in beer-shops, and are occa- sionally joined by the women but, on the whole, the women drink at. home. Saturday night and Sunday night, and also Monday morning, are always spent in drinking if the times be good. If it be after pay-day the carousal is generally extended till Tuesday, or even Wed- nesday. PROVIDENCE AND ECONOMY.—Nothing can be more improvident, than the Welsh miners and colliers. In their houses I have witnessed it myself. 1 have conversed with I masters and their clerks, and they have told me there is scarcely any instance of a man earning even the highest wages, some £ 13 a month, none under 18s. per week, who does not before the month is out overdraw his account. This I have had confiimed by the shopkeepers, or rather provision-houses, who have told me that trom the last Friday in each month till the following Monday none live harder or poorer than these people, though during the whole of the month previous none could live better or more extravagantly. They all keep books. From this Friday the accounts are always checked by the shopkeepers to prevent their increasing the debt above the month's pay. RELIGIOUS FEELING AND OBSERVANCES.—Their reli- gious feelings are peculiar to the temperament of the Welsh. They are very excitable—have nothing like what is considered elsewhere a disciplined religious mind. They go to meeting at six, come out at eight, and spend the remainder of the evening in beer-shops. Properly speaking, there is no religion whatever in IllY parish at least I have not yet found it. CARE FOR THEIR CHILDREN, AND SENSE OF PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY.—The Welsh are very fond of their children; but they have no idea of parental responsibi- lity. No matter how well off a man may be, he imme- diately takes his hoy from school as soon as lie has arrived at the legal age to go to work. Once at work, the child becomes a man in miniature. He contracts all the vices of a man; he drinks, smokes, and commits alt kinds of immorality. There are spots in my parish, where of a summer's evening, knots of these men in miniature may be seen, ages varying from 12 to 17, congregated together to drink & smoke in the open air. The moment a child com- mences to earn money he feels his independence, and on the slightest quarrel with his parents he separates from ins fa- ther's roof, takes lodgings elsewhere, and becomes, as it is unnecessary to say, the nuisance of the whole community. I could cite many instances of this description. 1t is also no unlrequent thing to see the father and the sou come out of the beer-shop together, both intoxicated, the father amused to see the lad of i3 following his own example. The parents themselves being uneducated, they have no idea of its advantages to their children. When I have gone to parents to induce them to send their children to the parish school, ihej have done so with the idea that they were conferring 1111 ouligatiuu upon me rather than a benefit upon their children. FEELING TOWARDS THEIR EMPLOYERS AND SUPERIORS. —This depends very much on the character of the times. If the times are good, they know that they can get work anywhere they please, and therefore they are independent of master and everybody else. A leading iioninaster in my parish made me a remark the other day: he said, alluding to the late bad times, "Iremember when the men used to touch their hats to me; I am now obliged to touch my hat to them." CAPABILITY OF FORMING A JUDGMENT ON THE TRUE INTERESTS OF THEIR CLASS, & GENERAL INTELLIGENCE. —As the bulk of the people are engaged iu mining all day, and spend their evenings for the most part in the tavern, and as they are totally uneducated, I do not be- lieve they ever reflect on their position beyond the pre- sent moment. Intervals of sensuality, and labour as the means of procuring them more, seem to me, as far as my experience goes, to be the only subject which mostly en- gages their attention. A sense of theit. own position ill life they certainly have none, and perhaps it is as well they have not any, as this in its present state is very degrading indeed. Naturally the Welsh are very intelli- gent—perhaps more so generally than other inhabitants of the British Isles. WHETHER IMPROVING OR RETROGRADING, AND :N WHAT RESPECTS; AND WHETHER LtKELY TO CONTINUE IN THE SAME DIRECTION.—My parish in its present uneducated condition is ceitainly retrograding. We are now making efforts, which I hope will be successful, to build schools. Without, however, extraneous assistance, we shall never be able to combat the mischief entirely. It has gone far beyond individual exertions to do so. WHETHER THEIR MORAL CONDITION 13 IMPROVED, OR THE UKVERSE, BY GOOD TIMES.—It is the general ob- servation of every one who has resided in the mining dis- tricts, that there is more improvidence, more drunkenness, and, what may seem itrange, more actual want of food, in good than in bad times. One of the medical men in my parish, who was here during the late bad times, has often observed to me that he sees a greater want of com- fort in cottages now, whose owners are earning £ 12 and 1:; 13 a month, than when they earned only £4 or £5 a month. EXTENT TO WHICH ENGLISH IS UNDERSTOOD.—In my parish the English language is very generally understood. The knowledge of it is increasing daily. In a very few years it will, I do not question, be universal. We have had within the last 12 months a large importation of people from the south of Pembrokeshire, from Radnor- shire, and from Monmouthshire. These people have entirely lost their Welsh, and the consequence is that it has had a very visible effect on the people among whom they have come to live. With the exception of the original inhabitants of Aberdare, nearly all my parishioners either actually converse or are able to speak in English. POSITION, CHARACTER, AND INFLUENCE OF FEMALES AMONG THEM, AND HOW FAR THE DUTIES OF MOTHERS AND WIVES ARE ADEQUATELY UNDERSTOOD & FULFILLED. —Nothing can be lower, I would say more degrading, than the character in which the women stand relative to the men. The men and the women, married as well as single, live in the same house aud sleep in the same room. The men do not hesitate to wash themselves naked before the women; on the other hand, the women do not hesi- tate to change their under-garments before the men. Promiscuous intercouse is most common, is thought of as nothing, and the women do not lose caste by it. WHETHER AN IMPROVED SYSTEM OF EDUCATION IS REQUIRED FOR THIS POPULATION—WHAT MEANS EXIST FOR PROCURING IT—THE BEST MANNER OF EMPLOYING THOSE MEANS.—Of this there cannot be a question. The means at present are very limited. For a parish of 10,000 people there is accommodation only for about 180 child- ren, by voluntary subscription. My opinion is, that no means can ever adequately be found, unless by the inter- ference of Hovernment. The voluntary system can never meet the difficulty. The evil has been allowed to exist too long, and its effects have spread too far, ever to hope that it can be done effectually by any other means than what the legislature might supply. (Signed) JOHN GRIFFITH, Vicar. Upon entering the chapel, a few minutes previous to the time appointed for commencing the proceedings, we found it crammed almost to suffocation, and had the greatest difficulty in elbowing our way to the platform, where we were most readily accommodated with a geat at the table. There seemed, in our opinion, to be at least two thousand persons present, all of whom, from the begin- ning to the end of the meeting, conducted themselves ill the most orderly maimer, the utmost decorum and pro- priety of demeanour being most conspicuous throughout. It its said, and we believe with perfect accuracy, that there were some hundreds of people outside the chapel who were not able to obtain admittance. The shops and places of business, we were informed, were closed at about seven o'clock, in order that an opportunity might be afforded for all persons to attend the meeting. The proceedings were opened by Mr. Morgan Thomas, who moved that the chair should be taken by Mr. David Williams, of Ynisgynon Colliery,—a proposition that was unanimously carried. The Chairman said he had more regret than pleasure in having to preside upon such an occasion. He regretted the circumstances which had rendered this meeting ne- cessary: but he rejoiced in having an opportunity afforded to the public of Aberdare, of openly dissenting from the statements which had been put forth respecting the habits and coudition of the people. Some might say that the promoters of this meeting were actuated by feelings of ill-will towards the present incumbent of the parish but to that he (the Chairmau) would say No" (hear). Others might say that the object was to attack the es- tablished Church; but to that he would again say "No." He was certain there was no man better received in this parish by all classes than the Rev. John Griffith had been when he came here as their clergyman (hear). It was to be regretted that circumstances should have arisen to dis- turb that good feeling. Nothing was intended against the established Church this WIIS a meeting in which the character of Churchmen and Dissenters was concerned, as both had been included in the slander; and, therefore, whatever expression of opinion the meeting might give utterance to it could not affect the Church, as the subject to be considered was one of a local nature,—the object of those assembled being to clear their characters from aspersions which had unjustly been thrown upon them. He believed the inhabitants of Aberdare had been re- ferred to in the Commissioners' Report; and he under- stood that reflections ot an unwarrantable character had been freely indulged in (hear). His position and amount of-local knowledge gave him as much advantage as any man in arriving at an opinion respecting the character of the population of this neighbourhood, inasmuch as he had resided here, and had been intimately acquainted and connected with the place from his childhood. He had been bred amongst the working classes and, being at one period of his life a workman, he had had an oppor- tunity of observing the principles, feelings, and habits of those with whom he then associated (hear). He after. wards became an employer; and had then the advantage of knowing the feelings of employers towards those in their service so that he knew the feelings of masters towards workmen, and of workmen towards their mas- ters. Knowing these things, he had no hesitation in saying in the face of the world, and fearless of con- tradiction, that Aberdare stood as high as any place in existence (cheers). They all knew that some unpleasant- ness—some disputes, had taken place betweetP-the men and their employers but who were the leaders in these disputes? Were they Aberdare meu1 No thpy were not (cheers) they all came from the other side of the Severn (cheers). Thej were Englishmen who had come here, and who sought, to sow dissensions between the workmen and their masters. That was during the time when the union" was in vogue, when men came from Birmingham, Manchester, and other places in order to stir up the workmen of this neighbourhood,and to foment feelings of ill-will. The Chartists, a;ram, had endeavoured to gain a footing here, but they were not Welshmen (cheers). The Aberdare men were far from counten- ancing any of the lectures which were delivered to them; but in many instances protested agaiust the proceedings of those teachers of sedition. Masters and men in this neighbourhood lived together upon the most amicable terms (cheers). The character of Welshmen had, how- ever, been put down in the worst class of all, whereas they deserved to be ranked with the highest. He (the Chairman) could sincerely tell the meeting, after an ex- perience of from 28 to 30 years, that the character of the Welsh workmen deserved to be most favourably men- tioned (cheers). When Welshmen or Welshwomen went to England—to London, or to an) of the great cities of the kingdom, what used to he the best recom- mendation they could carry with them? Why, that they came from Wales. That was sufficient; there was 110 occasion to ask them anything further. It was a suffi- ciant character to say that they came from Wales and that recommended them to situations in families, in store-houses, in counting-houses, or to any situation of tiust (cheers). But now, after the reports of the com- missioners had been published, the case was very dif- ferent. What would be the effect of these reports ? Welshmen were slandered through the whole world. Welshmen, at present residing in England, would naturally enough feel uneasy, and would sav to them- selves-" If my master, or my employer, hear such things said of my countrymen what will he think of me? Why, he must doubt me as well" (hoar). Should young women from Wales henceforth seek situations in London, in- stead of being as heretofore gladly accepted, they would be viewed with distrust-feelin;;s which the tellor of the reports naturally created in the minds of all who were unacquainted with the Welsh character (hear). The Chairman then referred to the number of cottages which had been built in Aberdare by workmen, which shewed that, those men had not spent their wages in the worst way certainly. The Rebecca Riots had occasioned great excitement in neighbouring counties, but Aberdare had not been mixed up with those things in any manner. Those disturbances had been occasioned by the heavy burdens which had been thrown 011 the smaller farmers and labouring population who were struggling to pay their rents and rates, but turnpike gates, being 80 numerous, formed a grievous tax upon them. He sym- pathized with them ill their sufferings, but he strongly condemned the mode adopted for obtaining relief: Go- vernment had very rightly transported bome of the leaders; but it had also, to a great extent, removed the cause of dissatisfaction, and persons could now travel for thirteen miles in a direct line, aud have only one gate to pay toll at (hear). Government felt that the people had been oppressed; but it disapproved of the mode adopted by them for obtaining redress. The Reports of the Com- missioners on the state of Education and morals in the Principality had been presented to Parliament and he thought no time should be lost in protesting against them. The object of this meeting was. to take into consideration the report made by the Rev. John Griffith. The Chair- man, like many others, had been of opinion that that gentleman's residence in Aberdare would have been pro- ductive of great public benefit: he had thought that in having the rev. gentleman as their vicar, they had ob. tained a great acquisition—that the moral and spiritual condition of the people would have been greatly bene- fitted, and that his assistance would have proved most valuable in numerous instances but he (the Chairman) feared that a contrary effect had been produced. The meeting should, however, judge of the matter. In a few weeks after Mr. Griffith had been a resident here, after he had had only a few weeks' experience of the place he gave his report to the commissioners. Upon that report he (the Chairman) would not make any observations' it would be read to the meeting. The report made by Mr Booker would, probably, also be read. Mr. Buoker is a gentleman of thirty years' experience in the manufactur- ing districts of this county—who had known his workmen long, and who was known of them he spoke as a "entle- man, and considered well what he said, being, from his long residence in the county, qualified to give au opinion upon the subject. Mr. Griffith, after au experience of only a few weeks, had made a report which was generally disapproved of in this parish. This parish contained a population of 10,000 persons; and how could he, after being here only a few weeks, give an opinion which was unfavourable to the bulk of the population, or, indeed any opinion at ail ? Mr. Griffith was a very intelligent mail, a very learned man, was possessed of the greatest literary acquirements; but as au old man had ob- served to him, that although a very sensible man iumany respects, yet, very strangely, he evinced a want of com- mon discretion. In making the report which had led this meeting to be convened, he certainly had fought against his own character. Mr. Booker, a gentleman who had had thirty years' experience aniongst his work- men, had given them a character in a gentlemanly maimer, and had truly described the state of thinr»s ill this county. Mr. Rowland FothergUl had stateluome time back, that the Welsh workman was superior to the English workman-was a better specimen of that class of the community (hear). He (the Chairman) hoped that the people of Aberdare would Henceforward Dy their lives and conversation give a complete contradiction to the reports. He hoped that no one would in any improper way endeavour to resent what had been said of them by doing any injury to the person or property of those who had spoken unfavourably, and with injustice, of the people of the place. He hoped they would make mani- fest by their conduct that their aim was to conciliate rather than to annoy (loud cheers). The Chairman then addressed the meeting in Welsh to a similar effect. The Rev. Thomas Price, Baptist minister, then spoke in English, saying that with the permission of the Chair- man and meeting he would read the evidence of Mr Griffith in the Welsh language, in order that those pre. sent might understand what that gentleman had said of them, and might also know whether they were guilty of the offences imputed to them or not. Ph. Price then read Mr. Griffith's evidence in Welsh, a copv of which extracted from the Commissioner's Blue Book appears at the commencement of this report.] After the evidence had been read Mr. Price moved the first resolution which will be found ill our advertising columns. He then said that he entirely sympathized with the worthy Chairman in the remark which he had made relative to his feelings of regret, in having to assemble upoH 8uch uu occasion this evening: he (Mr. Price) sincerely regretted it him- self: he wished it had been otherwise; hut as things had transpired as they had, he was glad to sec so numerous an attendance (cheers). He was exceedingly sorry that the building was not much larger to contain all who were desirous of being present. In common with many others he had looked to Mr. Griffith, when he came to leside in the parish, as a great acquisition. They must have had a clergyman, and it was a source of much satisfaction to have a talented gentleman-a man that could command respect, and who might use his influence with the higher classes, in quarters that none other but the clergyman could reach, for the benefit of the place generally. He (Mr. Price) could assure the meeting, and it was well known in Aberdare, that all classes, high and low, received Mr. Grimth with open arms. He ( Mr Price) begged also to tell them that when Mr. Griifith met with this kind reception—when he was welcomed by all clalises honoured. by all—at that very time he was engaged in penning his evidence to the commissioners, which evidence appeared in the reports (hear) for he (Mr. Price) wished to remaik that at the time Air. Grif- fith penned his evidence, contained in the reports, he had only just come into the parish of Aberdare. All persons respected him—all were inclined to receive him with open arms. It was then, when he was receiving con- tinuat instances of kindness from all classes of the com- munity, he wrote the statements which the meeting had just heard read in the Welsh language. The resolution to which he (Mr. Price) wished to call the attention of the meeting, assumed, in the first place, that Mr. Griffith was a stranger in Aberdare when he gave the evidence required by the commissioners. The meeting would re- member that Mr. Griffith came amongst them in March; that Mr. Commissioner Lingen visited the neighbourhood on the 29th or 30th of March; and that, consequently, the evidence of Mr. Griffith must have been given in the latter end of March, or in the early part of April. He (Mr. Price) would give Mr. Griifith to the end of April; but then he would only have been a resident about a month (hear). Therefore, he (Mr. Price) begged to submit that Mr. Griffith was not in a position to form a correct opinion of the character of the inhabitants of the place. In this parish the inhabitants were scattered here and there: it contained a population of nearly 10,000 j how, then, was it possible for Mr. Griffith to have made hiinselt acquainted with things, and to make a report to Government of such a nature, which report was to be laid before both houses of parliament (hear) ? Let it also be borne in uiiud that Mr. Griffith knew very well that he was writing a report that would be made use of in the House of Commons. The commissioners of course knew perfectly well that that was the design of their mission. Mr. Griffith could not have been ignorant ot the tact; and, therefore, he deliberately sat down in his study, and wrote the evidence for the express purpose of conveying certain impressions to the members of the House of Commons relative to the state ot things in the parish of Aberdare. The resolution which he (Mr. Price) had read, called on the meeting to deny the state- ments put forth by Mr. Griffith, as being totally untrue. If time would permit of it, he (Mr. Price) could con- tradict every sentence in the report but one. He would give Mr. Griffith credit for one statement; and that was, that the colliers washed themsehes in the presence of the women. The first thing Mr. Griffith told them in his evidence was, that the 0 houses were most excellently built. [Mr. Price then read this answer, for which see Mr. Griffith's evidence, already referred to.] The speaker admitted that the houses built by workmen, and others which had been recently erected, were well built; but iu the majority of cases all the houses built by the compa- nies were uncomfortable and incommodious; they con- tained in general one room down stairs, and something Hke I an apology for a room up stairs. Where, then, could the colliers wash themselves, if they did not do it in the pre- sence of the women ? They must either do it or turn the I women out of the house (hear). But to the honour of the working people of Aberdare be it said, the houses which they had built for themselves are well and eomfortablv finished; however, he (Mr. Price) denied Mr. Griffith's statement as far as the houses built by the companies were concerned. He also denied that the houses were extravagantly furnished," and enumerated the articles of furniture usually to be found in workmen's houses. They would find in the first room a clock, a chest of drawers, a good-sized round table, a common table for use, half a dozen chairs, and Peter Williams's Bible (laughter). Also, in many instances, the Emblems of the Odd Fellow, or some other society. Very generally the four Evangelists would be found hung up around the walls (laughter). These were the things that generally made up the furniture in the first room (laughter). There was another little room in which the heads of the family slept. There were two bed-rooms up-stairs in one ot which the young men who were lodgers, and the sons ot the house slept and in the other room the women slept. He (Mr. Price) would, therefore, ask Mr. Griffith how was it possible that the inmates all slept in one room except they did it on purposed [The re- ference made by Mr. Griffith to sobriety" was then read.] Mr. Prica said he did not mean to deny but that there was too much drunkenness in Aberdare. Many were fond of getting drunk, and did get druuk but he begged most distinctly to state that drunkenuess was not a characteristic of the Aberdare workman (hear). He begged to state that Sunday was not spent in drinking (hear). He would venture to assert that nor one out of 800 persons ever frequented a public-house on Sundays (hear). In support of this opinion Mr. Price read a remark made by an Englishman, Mr. Samuel Garrett, who, after having ample opportunities for observing the character of the workmen of this district, had spoken very favourably of them,—much more favourably than he did of the morals of English workmen. With reference to the assertion that women went to public houses, Mr. Price said that in some instances—that is, when a woman had the misfortune of having a drunken husband, she was obliged to go to a public-house in order to entice him home. He denied the statement that women were at all addicted to the vice of intemperance in drinking. Drunkenness was not a characteristic of the Welsh women. He would take Mr. Griffith round the cottages, and ask him how were the various families to be maintained, how was provision to be made against sickness, or death, if men and women spent their money in drinking1 Mr. Price said that the days after a "pay" were not spent in drinking in public- houses; Mr. Griffith would have been nearer the truth if he had said that excesses sometimes tuok place after "the big draw." [The statement made by .\1. Griffith with reference to the improvident habits of the workmen was then read.] In order to meet this statement, Mr. Price said that the people of Aberdare had established within the last forty years no less than from forty to forty- live societies, for the express object of providing against the contingencies of sickness and death. The people supported these societies by contributions amountin-f to £2ùO per month, or £2,400 per annum. Mr. Price would like to lead Mr. Griifith from Hirwaiti to Aber- aman, in order to point out to him from 1500 to 1800 houses which had been built by workmen alone within the last few years (cheers). This fact did not speak much against the workmen's provident habits. He then con- troverted the statement that workmen overdrew their accounts in the office; and explained that the customs of iron works would not permit of such a practice, as a mau must work five weeks before he is entitled to receive a month's pay—masters retaining a week's pay in hand. Therefore, if they supposed a man to earn £12 a month, he must draw more than jE15 before he could overdraw his account. He denied that workmen overdrew their accounts, or that shopkeepers had con- firmed that statement. If any shopkeeper had said so, let his name be mentioned. Mr. Price said it was a great mistake to assert that working men lived hard and poor from the Saturday to the Monday preceding the pay. This assertion was one of the greatest errors made by Mr. Griffith. It was said that workmen kept shop- books that was very true; but it was not their fault; it was the fault of the truck system. Would to God that that system was buried eternally (hear). He then re- ferred to the workmen of the North of England, and coutended that the position of the Welsh workman was much more creditable. Then came the statement with reference to the religious knowledge possessed by the people. It was said that the Welsh had peculiar feelings" on the subject of religion what were those fepli ugs 1 Decidedly Nonconformist (cheers). The peo- ple of Aberdare did not wish to be tampered with they wished every mau to be at liberty to worship his God according to the dictates of his own conscience. The speaker then remarked upon the excitement which had been exhibited in the parish, and said that under the circumstances no other result could have .been anticipated, as many assertions were mJde, uf a most unfavourable and unwarrantable nature, as re- garded the character of the people, which assertions were entirely founded in error. He would not deny but th.u some of the young men frequented beer .shops and pub- lic-houses on Sundays; but be begged leave to state that it was a standing rule in religious communities beloiigiug to Dissenters, that every man who frequented a public- house on a Sunday should be excluded from the commu- nity. These exclusions occurred very rarely. The next statement in the evidence was the treatment of children by parents. Mr. Price said that there had not been schools in Aberdare of such a nature as to induce work- men in geuerul to send their children to them. He did not deny but that there were instances in which children left the parental roof as soon as they were able to earn money, and had quarrelled with their parents; but he maintained that the statement was anything but a fair and correct description of the mode of life adopted bv the lads and young men of the place generally. He could point out hundreds of young men, from 15 to 25 years of age, who so far from having left the paternal roof, had never even as much as bought a pocket handkerchief for themselves. They lived with their parents—gave them all their earnings, which, with what their parents earned, formed a common fund. The other statements with reference to the conduct of youngsters Mr. Price differed from; and then proceeded to notice the next point in the evidence, which had reference to the demeanour of work- men towards their employers in periods of prosperity and adversity. Unquestionably there were idle strollers in Aberdare—not natives of the parish-who were often the occasion of much disquietude; but characters of that description existed in every populous community. The general demeanour of the people of Aberdare to their em- ployers and to the gentry was respectful—they felt at all times grateful to their employers (cheers). Mr. Price next contended that the people of Aberdare had not re- trogaded. The district had made extraordinary advances within the last century. Forty-six years ago there was only one chapel in the place they had now sixteen cha- pels. Forty years ago they had not a single Sabbath school; now they had from tweuty to twenty-five (cheers). Forty years ago there was scarcely a benefit society in existence among them; now they had from forty to forty- five—and yet they were told they were not advancing, that they were retrogading. The statement that there was more want in the workman's house when he earned £ 12 a month than when he earned much less was absurd, and (Mr. Price said) he would leave it without a single observation. It was obvious that iu periods of prosperity workmen were enabled to retrieve their losses, and to pay little debts. Then came the assertion that men and women lived in the same room, &c., &c., which Mr. Price said was really too monstrous to be received for one mo- ment: it would be an insult to the common sense of the meeting to enter into any argument or explanation to prove its groundlessness. The women of Aberdare stood as high with regard to moral purity as any women in the kingdom (loud cheers). Mr. Price strongly urged the meeting not to consent to receive aid from Government in providing for the education of the youth of the place: the voluntary principle was amply sufficient to meet all their wants in that respect, more especially if Mr. Griffith would join with Dissenters, and combine his influence with theirs. Mr. Price then supported his opinion by reference to statistics contained in a pamphlet recently published by Mr. Evan Jones, of Tredegar, whom he highly eulogised. The speaker pointed out to the meet- ing thut within the last 37 years there had been erected in Aberdare sixteen places of Divine worship at an expense of about £ 1O,UOO; and that those places were supported at the annual expense of £ 2,000. Besides which, twenty Sabbath schools aud forty benefit societies had been esta- blished so that the voluntary principle, which had accom- plished so much, surely might provide ample means for the education of the children of the poor without having recourse to the aid of Government. If one-fourth of the po- pulation of Aberdare were to subscribe the small sum ot five shilliugs annually, half-a-dozen schools might be supported. All that was required was the cordial co-operation of all classes, and also the assistance of Mr. Griffith they wished to have all his influence with them, which, if granted to them, would tend to remove many serious difficulties,—" They would then have their ship afloat, and it would arrive at the promised and glorious haven" (cheers). Mr. Price concluded by briefly recapitulating his objections to Mr. Griffith's evidence, and by slating that if it were left uncontradicted, its effect on the public mind, and on the members of the Legislature, would be most prejudicial to the character ot the Dissenting ministers of the place, inasmuch as it would appear that despite all the advantages of their Chapels and Sabbath- schools, the people were still in a deplorable state of ignorance. He resumed his seat amidst much cheering. Mr. David Davies, jun., Aberdare, seconded the pro. position, which was then formally put from the chair, and carried unanimously. Rev. William Edwards, Independent minister, after a few general introductory observations, said he viewed this meeting as a most important movement. It was important to the present inhabitants of Aberdare, and it might be important to posterity. This meeting had been convened, all they had heard, for the purpose of taking into consideiatiou the evidence given by the vicar of the parish to the commissioners, which evidence had been lead in English and in Welsh; and he (Mr. Edwards) concurred with the previous speakers in condemning the statements put forth by Mr. Griffith. First, the witness was an incompetent one, because he had not been a resi- dent in the parish for any considerable time, and, there- fore, could not have furnished himself with accurate information respecting the real state of morals aud edu. cation. And besides, the evidence was liable to objection on many other accounts. Nine-tenths of the inhabitants of Aberdare were Dissenters; who, of course, cannot expect as much as common courtesy from such an enemy to Dissent aa the vicar had hitherto proved himself to be; however, he (Mr. Edwards) begged to state that he bore no enmity whatever to that gentleman: as he was a man of talent, he admired him; as a minister of God, he respected him and if he were desirous of advancing the state of morals and education amongst the inhabitants of Aberdare, he (Mr. Edwards) would readily so on hand in hand with him but as he had preferred those charges against the people—as he had given such evidence relative to the state of morals and education in the district, he had proved himself to be a betrayer of his countrymen, He was not an efficient witness. His period of residence was too brief to have enabled him to have given evidence respecting the state of things in Aberdare" that could be depended on. The question on which he was desired to give an opinion was an important one,—important gene- rally to the whole community, and, therefore, ought to have been approached with caution. Believing the reverend gentleman's evidence to be inaccurate, he (Mr. Edwards) had no hesitation in joining his dissenting brethren in denouncing the fallacies that were sent forth to the public, and upon which public men were required to form opi- nions respecting the state of education and morals in Wales (hear). Mr. Edwards proceeded to read the resolution which he had been requested to move, which appears in our advertising columns; and afterwards argued (in Welsh) that as the Report of the Commissioners was founded on* evidence which was palpably erroneous, 110 reliance could be placed upon it. The manner in which the commissioners had executed the business entrusted to them was liable to excite suspicion and even the selec- tion of such gentlemen to be commissioners was objec- tionable. Who were they? Three strange gentlemen from London—three Churchmen senl. to spy out the nakedness of the land — to enquire into the habits, murals, and general condition of a nation, composed principally of Dissenters. Bear in mind that the com- missioners were Churchmen and also that those gentle- men, in all their visits, paid great, if not exclusive, attention to t.he clergy of the Established Church while eight out of every nine persons in Wales were dissenters from that Church. The speaker then stated who the commissioners were, and who their assistants were,— affirming that with one exception, that of Mr. William Morris, the assistants were also Churchmen, he bettered. He then enumerated the numbers of persons who had been called upon by the commissioners, with a view of showing that a large majority were members of the Church of England. How did Mr. Commissioner Lingen conduct the enquiry at Aberdare 1 He came there in March; he called on Mr. Griffith, who had been a resi- dent for about a month, more or teas he went to him to enquire into the state of a population of which that gentlemen could know but very little and did not call upon others who, from their great local knowledge and intimacy with the habits of the people, were much more competent witnesses (cheers). The parish of Aberdare was a populous one and it was an extensive one yet Mr. Lingen was content to draw all his information respecting the general condition of such a parish from a gentleman who was almost an utter stranger in the place (hear). If Mr. Lingen thought that Mr. Griffith was a competent person to give evidence in the case, that very circumstance proved that Mr. Lingen himself was incom- petent for the important tasK he had undertaken to per- form. Were any of the iron masters, any of the intelli- gent tradesmen called upon? If they were, their names do not appear in the Blue Books. How was that ? Did Mr. Lingen call on any of the agents who were necessarily acquainted with the habits of the population ? He had said that the Welsh element never attained ascendancy — that Welshmen never found their way into the office — but that statement was untrue, as numerous instances might be cited in opposition to the assertion (loud cheers). Many men had gone into the office who had not one drop of English blood in their veins, aud had discharged their duties there most credit- ably to themselves, and satisfactorily to their employers (cheers). Did Mr. Lingen call on any of them when he was here? There are eight Dissenting ministers in the place—two of them of thirty-five years, and six of them of from two to fifteen years' standing. Did Mr. Lingen call on one of the old ministers? Not on one (hear, hear). Did he call on Mr. Jones, who has been here 15 years? No, he did not (hear, hear). Did he cail on Mr. Pricd No (hear). He did not call on one of them I ("shame"). How then did he execute his commission? How did he proceed to obtain what was required- namely, accurate information respecting the morals and condition of the people of Aberdare. He seemed to have shunned all those who had the means of giving him information (hear). The Dissenters of Wales amounted to eight-ninths of the population; and yet in Aberdare Mr. Lingen had not called on one of the Dissenting ministers (Ii shame"). He did not take the trouble to ascertain what their sentiments were upon the highly important question he was desired to investigate. He did not ask them their opinion of the population that received instruction under their ministry, and with whose habits they were necessarily acquainted. Air. Lingen had said that Wales was retrograding; and had described the state of morals and education hcre as being but little in advance of what they were 2000 years ago, or iu the times of Caesar. Mr. Baines, jun., of Leeds, hall wrictell a letter to Lord John Russell, in which he had exposed the errors of these learned commissioners. Mr. Edward* then referred to Mr. Baines's statistics with the view of showing, that far from having retrograded, the country had effected great advances. In the valley of Aberdare, great improvements had taken place; and if time would permit, he said he could prove that the working classes of Wales were in a much higher state of civilisation than similar classes in England were. The opiuious of various respectable men were then cited iu favour of this assertion; and it was said there were parties prepared, at any time, to maintain in fair, open discussion, the perfect truth of the statements which had been put forth in reply to the commissioners and others, whose writings bore most harshly & unjustly upon the character of the Welsh people. At the request of the speaker, the Rev. Evan Jones, of Tredegar, read an extract from the Nonconformist, we believe, in which Welshmen and Welsh women were most favourably spoken of. Mr. Edwards then continued by referring to the eulogy passed all the people of Glamorgan by Sir George Grey, in reference to the conduct of the inhabitants of the Maesteg district, when Dr. Bowring and his brother were robbed. The whole population had turned out, and previous to midnight—ilie robbery having taken place about noon—the thieves were safely lodged in custody and soon afterwards nearly the whole of the money was recovered. The inhabitants ot a locality had, some years ago, acted similarly when the cashier of one of the works was robbed of a large sum ot money oil Aberdare moun- tain. Mr. Evan Jones, ot Tredegar, had, however, given the letters of Cambro Sacerdos, Ordovicis, and the Reports of tbe Commissioners a mortal wound he had enabled the women of Wales to raise their heads, and once more to feel assured of respect. Mr. Edwards concluded his speech, of which this is but an imperfect sketch, amidst loud cheers. Mr. William Lewis, a working man, seconded ihe pro- position. He referred to the excitement which existed in the neighbourhood; and said that if the inhabitants had not evinced excitement under the circumstances of the case, he should have been ashamed of them. The Reports stated, iu eflect, that Aberdare was one of the most barbarous places 111 the world he had lived in it for twenty-two years-he had had the advantage of being made acquainted with the state of morals in the place- about twelve years ago he had competed for a prize offered by a Welsh society for the best account of the parish-he had been induced to enquire minutely into the state of morality in the place, and was able to form an estimate of the actual condition of tliiugs. He did not think that there was at all too much morality in the place but still, the people were not blamed for what they were guilty of, but sias were imputed to them of which they were inno. cent. The speaker then entered into statements with the view of showing that the habits of tobacco-smoking and drinking were not so prevalent amongst boys and young men as the public had been induced to believe. He also said that he was not aware that the workmen met on any particular day at ceitain places on purpose to drink ale. In his opinion Aberdare was certainly not behind hand with other localities which were similarly situated, in which dense masses ot men were congregated. He hoped the inhabitants would not be discouraged by what had been said against them, but that they would bestir themselves, reform themselves, and so conduct themselves, morally, socially, and generally, as to show that they were a well- regulated body. (Carried unanimously.) Mr. William Thomas, grocer, in moving the next reso- lution, spoke geuerally against the reports, aud particu- larly the evidence given by tbe vicar. He maintained that the workmen were in very numerous instances most provident in their habits, corroborating his assertion by reference to the number of houses built by workmen, their support of their places of worship, Sunday schools, and benetit societies. He entered into a minute calcula- tion of the expense incurred in erecting workmen's houses by themselves. He thought, the meeting should show to members of parliament, and indeed to the whole country, that the people of Aberdare were not what they had been represented. Rev. David Price, Independent minister, seconded the motion. He said that greater excitement prevailed now in Aberdare than had ever previously within the memory otman. Everybody felt grieved-men of influence and men ot low degree felt that the locality had been maligned. He referred to the habits of forethought which charac- terised many of the working men of the place, and to the provision made by the population for the due celebration of religious worship. He strongly condemned the as- sertion that there was no religion in the parish and in support of his contrauiction of that statement, referred to the chapels built by the people, to t^e religious habits of the people, to the professing members, aud to the Sunday- schools. (Carried unanimously.) Rev. Benjamin Evans, Baptist minister, Hirwain, in moving the next resolution, alluded briefly to his belief I that the reports were inaccurate. His pioposition was seconded by Mr. David Williams, grocer, Hirwain, and I carried unanimously. We find that the space at our disposal is exhausted, and that we must defer the publication of the remainder of the proceedings. After the last speaker had resumed his seat, there was a general wish expressed by those who were on the platform to hear Mr. Evan Jones, of Trede- gar, sddress the meeting, upon which he rose and was received with marked applause. His remarks were principally directed to the reports generally, which he characterised as being erroneous. After him there came a speaker of a very different character—a young man who said his name was "Matthew John, of Merthyr- Tydvil." His observations were considered sovety highly improper, that the Chairman directed him to stop. Votes of thauks were unanimously entered into to Mr. Evan Jones, The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, and to the worthy Chairman; after which the vast assemblage I quietly separated.

M 0 N M 0 U T H S H I H K…


Family Notices

[No title]