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THE DEAN OF BANGOR ON EDUCATION…

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THE DEAN OF BANGOR ON EDUCATION IN WALES. On Monday evening, in the presence of the members of the Menai Literary and Scientific Society, an address was delivered by the Dean of Bar gor, in the Assembly-room of the Bangor People's Cufe, in regard to the college for North Wales. The chair was occupied by Colonel the Hon W. E. Sackville West. The P""n of Bangor, after some preliminary observations in reference to the recent conference at Chester, said :—I think that most Welshmen will agree in the belief that the conference acted wisely in accepting the Government grant for a North Wales College. Public opinion has been divided upon this point during the last dozen years. S /me have held very ttrougly that the best way of promoting higher education in Wales is to strengthen the grammar schools, to found a large number of exhibitions for the maintenance of poor students, and to send young Welshmen to the English universities. Mr Cornwallis West and Mr Darbishire enforced this view with ability and fairness at the conference. But they commanded very few adherents. Popular opinion has for years been in favour of a Welsh University College. For years I was a doubter. But after reading the report of the Departmental Committee, and tha evidence by which they have supported their conclusion, I can no longer doubt. The benefits that may be expected from university colleges in Wales have been so often described by educational enthusiasts that I will only dwell very briefly upon the subject. That the influence of two or more national colleges, ultimately united under a syndicate empowered b7 charter to confer degrees, as suggested in the report of the committee, would be very great can hardly be doubted. The benefits upon which I set the highest value are the three following:- L The preservation of Welsh nationality. 2. The termination of Welsh exclusiveness. 3. The promotion of unity of spirit. The distinct nationality of the Welsh people is a fact. It is very refreshing to read the wise and generous language in which the Departmental Committee have recognized its significance as entitling Wales to the educational treatment adapted to the distinct character of her people The Welsh are loyal, contended, proud of their position as fellow-citizens with English, Scotch, and Irish, in this great empire (applause). But they have their own type of character and distinctive gifts (hear, hear). If they case to be Welsh, they will fail to be English, but will probably become the nobodies, known as the des- picable family of Die Shon Dafydd. No race in the world is more in- tensely national than the Scotch. Their system of education has been a mint into which the best ore of the Scottish nature has been brought from generation to generation, to be refined and purified. and to receive the distinctive moral and intellectual stamp by which Scotch nationality is known throughout the world. We may cherish a hope that in the course of ages Welsh university colleges will, in the words of the committee, while preserving the national type, improve and elevate it, and at the same time giv > opportunity for the development of any literary tastes or intel- lectual aptitudes which may be characteristic of the nation." But while Welsh nationality is a gift of God, to be cultivated, Welsh isolation is an evil to be lamented, and, if possible, terminated (hear, hear). The Welsh peasantry are in their own language as cultivated, morally and intel- lectually, as any peasantry that I know in the world (hear, hear). I love the Welsh language (applause); but it is the language of only a million of people (hear, hear). To know no language but Welsh is to be confined on a beauti- ful, but small and somewhat barren intellectual island, on which the scent of wild flowers is more abundant than the corn and wiae of literature and science. I have always held that, while a million of Welshmen live, whose minds and hearts can be reached by no language but Welsh, those who profess to be their guides should have a real and cultivated command of that tongue. But I have also always held that any man who could be guilty of excluding one Welshman from the knowledge of English would be guilty of a crime (hear. hear). Now, it is a marvel that there are hundreds of thousands of people livine within an eight or ten hours' journey of the capital of the British Empire who are ignorant of its language. Why is this? It is due to the fact that the popular leaders of the Welsh masses have had no means of higher education withing their reach (hear, hear). There is one greatly needed blessing Jhat collegiate education may help to give us far more effectually than the grammar schools. I mem the blessing of social -And spiritual unity. We are divided in our religious life. It is true that our divisions are more in form than in doctrine, and that underneath the divided sur- face there lies a broad common ground of funda- mental truths upon which all tike their spiritual stand. But divisions that are only format have many evils, and it is desirable that those evils should as far as possible be lesaened. How can that be done ? All will admit that absolute unity is an attribute of the ideal church. If the church on earth were pefect, without human infirmity or corruption, there would be no divisions. But human nature has in all ages been present to mar the Divine ideal. In Wales, perhaps, there has been as much of human nature in the church as anywhere else. The result is that there are two great forcesin our religious life-the force represent- ed by the Church and the orce represented by the Nonconformist bodies. If the Church iuWales were suddenly blotted out of existence, the Noncon- formist societies would miss an influence that modi- nes their beiug and which they cannot afford to lose. If the Noncomformitt societies were to disappear in a moment, the Church would lose an inpatus that is necessary to her health. Without the Church there would be danger of spiritual anarchy; without Nonconformist societies there wculd be danger of spiritual lethargy (hear, heir). As then both these forces must exist for generations, whatever may be the important changes that probably await the external life of the Church, it is of supreme importance that the evils of their co-existence should be lessened, and f \e benefits developed to the utmost. The evils f e strife, j alousy, bitterness, and an internecine rvalry in multiplying operations whereby ofteii the aergies of one side are devoted to neutralizing:the energies of the other, instead of being directed to 4-hat enlightenment and elevation of souls which both profess to seek. It has long seemed to me that a far greater degree of spiritual, if not ex- r, srnal unity might be realized. It may be a dream, vat it is a dream which I have cherished for years, r :lat religous unity might to a very great extent 3 renewed in Wales without the sacrifice of order a the one hand or of liberty on the other(hear,hear). have faith that the Church and the other Christ- ian bodies in Wales might be brought, not into tniformity, but into fuller spiritual unity, by a Tse and generous concordat of mutual recognitions :nder which the blessings of order would meet the blessings of liberty, and each side would derive ftom the other, in a happy union, those influences that it needs for the perfecting of its life. Why ao I speak of this to-night ? Because I am con- inced that no power is so likely to break down vails of separation and to reunite Welshmen in .eart and mind as the gentle, softening, humaniz- ing power of higher education. I take it for grant- ed that, in the course of time, if the university colleges are established, the great majority of the aligious teachers of Wales, in every denomination, will meet ia them for instruction in arts and sciences, and will drink, side by side with lay xtudents at the same stream of intellectual jife. rhe training of its religious minister is a work of the utmost importance to the country, and it is a work which the grammar schools, however devel- oped, will not be adapted to accomplish (hear, hear). The question which at present concerns us St tbis- Where is the college for North Wales to be ? What kind of college is it to be ? In answer to the first questioB, i venture to say that the college should be placed in such a position as to tring its influence to bear upon the inward life of what may be called Welsh Wales. The population of the three border count) 's that touch Bngland is, to a considerable extent, Anglicised, and is, at the same time, within reach of the edu- cational advantages offered by the colleges in Man- chester and Liverpool. The special work which Ae college for North Wales, has to do lies in the .^tneues of Welshisolation, and that work cannot be accomplished if it is placed too near the borders I of England. In answer to the question—What kind of college ought it to be ? I will say that it must be national, and, in order to be national, it I must be unsectarian. The college cannot be national unless every section of the community can avail themselves of all its advantages on equal terms. The religious difficulty, that is an obstacle I to such equality, must be overcome without en- dangering the religious earnestness of the people. How can that end be secured? By strictly con- fiuing the work of the college to instruction and examination in secular subjects, and separating the domestic from the educational life of the students. If a number of students are to live within the walls, under the government of the principal, who stands to them, for the time, in loco parentis, the college becomes their home. Every such home in a Christian land must have its family worship. It is obvous that the form of that worship, whatever it may be, cannot be acceptable alike to Jews, Roman Catholics, Churchmen, Orthodox Nonconf rmists, Unitarians, and Agnes- tics. However colourless it may be, the religious worship in the college will make it sectarian. In order therefore to secure religious neutrality with- out irreligion, and absolute equality of collegiate position for all, the university college must have no resident students, but be simply a place of secular I instruction and examination (hear, hear). Super- ficial critics have supposed that it is not consistent for an opponent of secularism in the elementary schools to be an advocate of un sectarianism in col- leges. The two cases are not analogous. In the elementary schools thousands of children are gathered together from houses in which negligent, ignorant, irreligous parents may have neither the will nor the ability to give them moral and spirit- ual instruction. If religious knowledge is not offered to them in the schools there aye many who fear tbat they may never obtain it elsewhere. It seems to many of us practically impossible to make effectual provision for their religious instruction outside of the school. But the difficulty that we think insuperable in the case of hundreds of thousands of children between the ages of five and thirteen, does not exist in the case of a few hun- dreds of youths between seventeen and twenty. To exclude religious instruction from the elemen- tary schools is, in the judgment of many of us, to endanger the religious life of coming generations. To confine the colleges to secular teaching is prac- tically compatible with the fullest security for the religious training of the students (hear, hear). The next question I will notice is this, How many colleges is Wales te have? The Depart- mental Committee ia their report recommend the erection of two colle!es, one for South Wales and another for North Wales, and that each shall re- ceive from the public funds a grant of ;t4000 a year. They suggest that the Aberystwith College, "whether retained in its present position or re- moved to Carnarvon or Bangor (page Ixvi.), must be accepted as the college for North Wales." I cannot express any surprise that the gentlemen who have taken so great an interest in the Aberys- twith College should have wished to save it from extinction by inducing the people of North Wales to accept it as sufficient for their wants. Their views were entitled to the utmost respect. But I also think that the North Wales delegates would have failed in their duty if they had consented to refer this question to the uncertain decision of a large but very imperfectly representative committee, the constituent elements of which I shall presently notice. The objections to the acceptance by North Wales of the Aberystwith College were so evident and sufficient that any delay in giving a negative answer to such a proposal was unnecessary, and must have proved injurious, by exciting false hopes on the one side and unfounded fears on the other. What, then, are the objections? It seems to me that there are three objections, based upon expediency, principle, and experience, all equally fatal to the claims of Aberystwith to have the college for North Wales. 1. The present situation is inaccessible to the most populous and important districts of North Wales. From Anglesey, Car- narvonshire, Denbighshire, and Flintshire, the Liverpool and Manchester Colleges, and even the Dublin and Oxford Universities,' are more easily reached than the Aberystwitu College. The total number of students attracted to the college from North Wales in the ten years of its existence is less by sixty-one tha-:2 the number drawn from the small county of Cardigan, iu which it stands, and which has in fact supplied more than two-fifths of all its alumni. To ask North Wales to accept in satisfaction of its educational demands a college which experience has proved to be inaccessible to its youth is hardly reasonable. 2. But there is another objection, which, in my estimation, is still more fatal. The Aberystwith College has hitherto, owing to special circumstances, being endeavouring to progress on lines that cannot possibly lead to the fall success attain- able by a college really national and unsectarian. The college, instead of being a place for secular instruction, became also a home. That home inevitably derived its religious character in the eyes of the country from the tenets of the princip,al who was within its walls pater familias. The institution thus became liable to all the weakness without enjoying the strength of a sectarian col- lege. Notwithstanding much popular enthusiasm, the college has had but a languid existence. A large, intelligent, and wealthy section of the community has been compelied to withhold from it the support and sympathy that would have been accorded to a national and unsectarian movement, 3. But there is aoother objection that justified the vote of the North Wales delegates. The Aber- ystwith College has been unsuccessful. Without attempting to decide the exact degree in which it has failed, we can safely say that the failure has been sufficiently marked to justify the Chester Conference in finally declining to accept the Aber- ystwith College as the college for North Wales. But what is to become of an institution upon which so much money and labour have been ex- pended, and in which the people of Cardiganshire and the adjacent counties have a living interest? It has been suggested that it should be retained as a third college for Mid-Wales, and receive £1,200 a year out of the £4,000 apportioned to the North Wales College. If no more satisfactory arrangemeat can be made to save the institution from collapse, such a compromise may be deserving of favourable consideration. It is true that North Wales would lose £ 1,200 a-year. But it would not be unjustly treated if we bear in mind the pro- portion of its population to that of South Wales. I think, however, that a far better solution would be attained if the Government could be induced to make an additional granttof £ 2,000 a year to Aberystwith, as a college for Mid-Wales, leaving the grants of £4,000 a-year each for the North Wales and South Wales :colleges intact. The Welsh members of Parliament ought to be able to secure such a concession. Wales has not been treated with excessive liberality. After the neglect of many generations large arrears are due to her. No grants for buildings have been made to her. While Ireland has received a building grant of £100,000, and Scotland £ 140,000, it is hardly self-evident that this small and long deferred grant of £8,000 a year for the main- tenance of colleges ought to be accepted in satisfaction of the educational claims of the Welsh people. Although I have the strong and definite objection that I have described to the present residence of students within its walls, still I earnestly hope that the Aberystwith College in an improved form may be maintained by an additional grant of £ 2,000 a year from the Government. However this battle of the sites may be decided, I hope that the decision will have been so arrived at as to leave every section of the community in a temper to contribute liberally to the erection of college buildings worthy of their high purpose. If a national and unsectarian character is secured for the institution, I feel assured that the wealthy landowners of the country, who have hitherto held aloof from the movement, will recognize their responsibility and munificently discharge that duty which their high position prescribes, and the occasion requires. If the sympathy and co-opera- tion of all classes can be assured, the money re- quired will ba forthcoming in a few weeks. Should North Wales consent to sacrifice £ 1,200 or J61500 out of the JE4000 a year for a college in Mid- Wales I am sanguine that a college, genuinely national and unsectarian, will be rapidly enriched by the gifts and bequests of the lovers of high education, and that exhibitions and scholarships will not long be wanting to aid and encourage poor but meritorious students, the ablest of whom, after success in these local colleges, will, of course, find their way to the great universities to beek new worlds to conquer I (hear, hear). It will be well not to form too high expectations. It is possible that for some years the colleges may not attract any great mul- I tirude ot students, or realize more than a modest degree of success. But we may fairly venture to hope that, as time flows on, the colleges will pro- foundly influence the inner state of Wales, develop I the intellectual powers, and elevate the moral character of our people, and so erab'e them to win among the races of the earth that honourable posi- tion for which I believe them to be qualified by their natural endowments (applause).

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