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+ PontyDridd Guardians.


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THE MARCH FORWARD. The revival of Welsh national sentiment cf late years is most gratifying to all true patriots. The vitality which has been so spontaneously infused into the aspirations of the people has created new vigour all round. There is no splxeie of society where its influence is not felt, and the "fellow-feeling" of "hands across the sea," the responsive sympathy of compatriots in other countries, is both hearty and cheering. It must be admitted that the soil in which this new national life spread its roots had been previously well prepared. The truest and highest love to kith and kin, the desire for their advancement, and the formation of grand ideals, -ire all based on love to the Almighty. The preservation of the nobler traits of Welsh character, under the cold shades of unpardonable neglect, is due main- ly to the dominance of deeply religious instincts stirred into an activitiy by the efforts of the reformers of a hundred and fifty years ago. No- thing else can account for the intensity of the desire for the acquisition of knowledge and the cultivation of intellect so prevalent in Wales. The Welsh people to-day, for ought we know, might be on the same low intellectual level as their cousins across the English Channel—the Bretons—but for the pervading efforts and ele- vating influence of their Nonconformist religious teachers. These pioneers deserve our respect and admiration; and though it may be the fashion in certain circles to raise the lip in contemptuous levity at the mention of their names and work, it is to the 'orious self-sacrifice and the untiring effort exhibited by them in the face of so much obloquy and persecution that we are mainly indebted for the love of learning so characteristic of the Welsh people, and for their law-abiding citizenship. The keen enjoyment and appreciation of mental effort under the wise guidance or able teachers in oui Sunday Schools which dot hillsides and valleys all around, prepared the people to give enthusias- tic response to the call to avail themselves of the increased educational facilities brought to their doors. Wo would not, however, forget to give due recognition to the influence of the National Festival, the Eisteddfod, and its ad- juncts, the hundreds of competitive meetings annually held in every town and village through- out the land, as important factors in the de- velopment of literary and musical talent. What- ever may be said of the surroundings of the Eis- teddfod in the past, it no doubt materially assisted to keep the flame of mental progress burning. Long may this pa0."t'rn0ss for advance- ment and progress hold sway over the minds (,f our people. The "divine of A VGIl was wont to dcseLoJe the Welsh characters as being heavily marked with We "preenness" of inno- cence, simple credulity, combined with an irre- sistible inclination to boast o frich relations dead and alive, and the Welshman's attempts at En0."lish speaking were made to do (ilit.v as in- centives to ridieide. This was, no doubt, de- lightful enough as the background whereon to expose the sordid and designing propensities 01 his other characters. Oilier writers have also superciliously followed the example of the im- mortal William, and have gone further in the attempt to belnue and vilify the Welsh charac- ter. But those days of wilful misrepresentation are passing away. The bloom of whilom ver- dancy, if it ever existed, is gradually disappear- ing, and since John Jones has had the temerity to rub shoulder to shoulder with compe-.u>rs in all walks of life, his diffidence is also wearing off. As he becomes better understood, he is respected as he deserves to be. He is not now handicapped by the prejudices and overpowering presence of the "superior person"-his neai neighbour. He has discovered for himself that whenever he gets the opportunity, he can hold reins of government with as firm a grip as his neighbour can. Ho finds he can initiate and carry out movements, social, political and re- ligious, with as great success as others about him. And let it be said to establish this confi- dence in himself is the great desideratum, the great point to be gained, and the said John Jones may then be trusted to hold his own. The ability is there already-that fact is well- known-but through diffidence and reticence and hesitation at critical moments, the neighbour is allowed to forge ahead and the Welshman is well content, without a murmur, to take the back seat. The spread of education, combined with trustworthiness of character, and the rub- bing off of angularities by contact with others have succeeded in inspiring him with that indis- pensable confidence in his own powers which will open out to him the possibility of usefulness and emolument in all departments of service. The education imparted 20 or 30 years ago. crude and utterly inadeouate as it was, has nevertheless brought abundant fruit in the parents of to-dav in a srreatly extended appreciation of benefits reoeived. They have tasted of the sweets and realised in a measure its advantages in the battle of life. With the uplifting of the masses to a higher plane, and the impetus lately given, who knows but that the lively imagination, and the inventive genius inherent in the Celtic race, will start from its new vantage ground to add a larger share in the common contribution to the world's progress? Till comparatively lately, "as it was in the beginning," etc., was the dirge dinned into the ears of the -pople, damping their aspirations and stultifying their aim. Young Wales will, however, listen no longer to the melancholy refrain, but with outstretched hands and ardent hope will more and more ven- ture to grasp at the opportunity whenever it offers itself, and spring on to fortune and to fame. As it is, the numerous examples already before us of men of undoubted ability born and bred in the seclusion of remote localities, who with the aid of culture obtained under well-nigh insuperable difficulty, have attained to brilliant positions, will certainly act as incentives to effort on the part of those now entering on the struecrle of life. And now that we are fairly on the March Forward with the wide world before us, we cannot refrain from quoting advice given in Holy Writ, of setting aside the sins that do so easily beset us. What a calamity it would be to allow frivolous and unworthy objects to distract attention and engage energies so as to prevent bright hopes from being realised! Much as we admire the prowess of footballers and th" excellent qualities of endurance and tactical skill brought into play by cricketers, it would be a catastrophe if these should ever come to be regarded as the be-all and end-all of existence So far as athletics help to fit young men for the race of life, they are good and serviceable; but they should never be allowed to engross the whole attention. Above all and beyond all there is no more terrible and insidious enemy to present or future prosperity than strong drink, This is the Juggernaut under which briinant prospects are crushed and hopes blighted, end- ing in despair and destruction. Young men and women, shun it as you would the plague.



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