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Presidential Address.


Presidential Address. Mr. Lloyd George, in opening his presi- dential address, said he had to apologise because he had undertaken a task with- out being able to accomplish it. ("No," and laughter). He could not plead that when he accepted the presidency he did not know that he was undertaking a great task which might be a great tax upon his time and his strength as well; but his brethren were so kind as to say that they would not expect him to under- take the ordinary work of the presidency, and he therefore felt that through the year he had taken full advantage of their kindness. He had been an unprofitable servant—(" No, no ")—but he felt for all that that he had been doing their work- (cheers)—in another sphere. He was a bit of a taxgatherer—indeed, at the pre- sent moment he was regarded as the head publican—(laughter)—rather a hopeless kind of material for the making of a preacher—(laughter)—but in other days they made an apostle of one publican— J (hear, hear, and laughter)-though that apostle was compelled first to leave the exchequer. He was going back to the receipt of custom to-morrow-(laughter)-. because he had not quite finished with taxing (cheers). There was one dis- advantage, that while lie had been fairly busy he had not had the time to prepare an address worthy of the Union and worthy of that occasion. He had had in mind some things which he wished to tell them, for a layman ought to be able to say things that preachers could not say for fear of being misunderstood. A lay- man, seated on his stool-(Iaugliter)-and on a lower level, saw things from a different standpoint. He had several things of that sort to say, not only to Baptists, but to the Nonconformists of Wales, and especially with reference to the efforts that they must make to keep Nonconformity alive in Wales. NONCONFORMITY AND WALES, Thdt evening he desired to limit his remarks to one thing, viz., the import- ance of Nonconformity to the life of Wales (arrnlause). Nonconformity was more im- portant to Wales to-day than it ever had been, and its grip on the nation was tighter than ever. He had read in the South Wales Daily News what pur- ported to be an outline of the report of the Welsh Church Commission. He could not say whether it was a correct outline or not, but by looking at the figures he saw that three out of every four of the members of religious communities in Wales belonged to the Nonconformist Churches. He was, of course, taking for granted that they could depend on the figures of the Established Church (laugh- ter). It needed more than the grain of a mustard seed of faith to do that (re- newed laughter). Still, assuming, as these figures showed, that three-fourths of the religious people of Wales were Nonconformists, it meant more in Wales than in England, for the reason that there were more Church members in Wales in proportion to the population than there were in Eingland-very many more. In Wales the national life was formed, the national character of the people, the country's present and future were forged and moulded in the smithy of Nonconformity (cheers). What was the influence of Nonconformity upon Wales? The Bishop of St. David's the other day at the Church Congress said that he was glad to say that Nonconformity was doing much good. He (Mr. Lloyd George) did not like to see the Bishop of St. David's patronising Welsh Nonconformity (ap- plause). Every drop of grace in the bishop's heart had been drawn from a Methodist spring, and he would have had more of it had he not kicked over the pitcher (loud laughter). But he would not speak of the speeches of the Bishop of St. David's nor of any of the other clergy at the Church Congress, but would depend rather upon the great facts of the work done by Nonconformity for the democracy of Wales. The culture of the Welsh people was in the hands of Non- conformity. He used the word advisedly. The culture of the Welsh democracy depended upon Nonconformity (hear, hear). Take the day schools. They were very good, and were improving every day, and he learnt that they were excellent in the Rhondda (applause). There were many districts of which they could not say this, but taking the places where they had the best elementary education he said that the children did not remain long enough in the schools to form their character, to open up their minds, nor to make true scholars of them (hear, hear). That was one of the great and important matters of the future, not only for Wales. but for the whole of Great Britain. In Prussia the children were kept in school until they attained the age of 17 years. In Switzerland the same, and in parts of America they remained in school until they were 18—and these were the nations they in Britain were called upon to com- pete with. They could -not successfully compete so long as the children left school just when their minds began to appreciate education (applause). CHAPELS AS UNIVERSITIES. People who could afford to keep their children in school left them there until they reached 21, 22, and 23 years. The democracy should have exactly the same advantages in this direction as every other class of the community (applause). He drew attention to this in order to show that tne mental culture of this nation was not influenced so much by the day school as it should be, and therefore they must depend upon something else to discipline, to purify, and to strengthen their understanding. The secondary schools were creating a revolution in Wales, but only one out of every 20 or 30 of the Welsh children passed through them, while only one out of 200 or 300 passed through the colleges. The culture of the democracy, therefore, must depend upon something else. What was it? The. chapels of Wales were the colleges of the common people (applause). They got everything there they found in the col- leges—the classes, the lectures. and especially the atmosphere (cheers). All these three were essential to the making of a college, and especially a successful university, and they were all to be found in the chapels of Wales. He was not speaking of religion, but of the chapels as educational systems, in order that they might see what excellent education was given therein. What if the English democracy were trained from the moment they began to spell in the highest litera- ture of their nation, and that this went on through the days of childhood, youth, maturity, and old age, being taught the works of Milton, Shakespeare, Byron, Addison, the Saxon Chronicles, and the works of Bede, and even learning the laws, say, by reading Blackstone's Com- mentaries. Yet this was the kind of work that was being done in the Welsh chapels continually. They found one giving a lecture in the morning and another in the evening, whilst in the afternoons all their lives they read excellent works. The people were taught the best literature and the works of the finest writers, such as the masterpieces of the Book of Job, the high literature of Isaiah, and the eloquent epistles of Paul. They learnt the history of perhaps the strongest nation the world ever saw—or at any rate the toughest—the history of its foun- dation, its wars, its reformers, its philo- sophers, and its prophets, as well as the history of its great revivals. The fact that the Welsh democracy from its cradle to its grave was grounded in knowledge of this kind and made the learning thereof a matter of duty throughout life, made him say that Nonconformity made the culture of the Welsh nation. When he heard some men who knew no more of vVales8than they knew of Timbuctoo talk- ing of the Welsli nation as if they were half barbarians-people who themselves knew not whether William the Conqueror was a racehorse or a prizefighter—(laugh- ter)—it made his blood boil. Where could they find an educational system so com- plete and so perfect that would supplant this? He did not know where it could be found. There was no better culture for the mind and spirit and soul and char- acter of a nation than what they had in the chapels of Wales (applause). He was glad to see signs that Nonconformity was broadening—that the curriculum was being extended. They had not only the Sunday School and tile preaching on Sundays, but the churches during week- nights invited younrr people more espe- cially to lectures and debates which were bound to enlarge and open out their minds. Nonconformity had done more to give stability to the Welsh character than anything else. The Welsh, being Celts, had been blessed with much imagination, and this made them a verv live and quick nation, requiring a good deal of discipline. Goethe said, When I become acquainted with a man, my first inquiry is with what does he employ him- self. and how and with what degree of perseverance." What was the chief work of the Welsh nation, and with what determination did it pursue it? The old reputation of the Celt was that he gene- rally began something with great zeal and much enthusiasm he was all afire at first but never carried anything, through. Yet the Celts, under Brennas, were the first to take Rome. 'He did not know how much truth there was in that estimate of the Celtic character, but whatever truth there was in it the more necessary was it for the Celtic nation to have a system that kept them at work continually (cheers). Nonconformity was the first power to do that for Wales—it taught them perseverance, it taught them organ- isation, and the importance of permanent work—work that had no flash about it, work that brought no immediate fruit, but work that meant patience and long waiting. CREDIT TO WELSH CALVINISTS. Nonconformity in Wales started full of enthusiasm, with great gatherings all over the land—Sassiwn gatherings on Bala Green, tHe multitudes, crossing the moun- tains to listen to Rowlands, of Llan- geithio. Then came seraphic orators like Christmas Evans, John Elias, Williams o'r Wern, and Thomas Aubrey. Let this credit be given to the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists—that they, were the first to discover the importance of bringing this enthusiasm under control and utilising it in propelling .machinery—(cheers)—instead of allowing it to run to waste like a majestic Niagara, and when the several denominational systems were thus utilised more was done towards forming Welsh character than anything in history. Bacon wrote that no palace was worthy of any- thing unless it had two parts—one part to feast in and to dance in, and another part to live in. That was the palace of Welsh Nonconformity (cheers). It began its palace by building a banqueting cham- ber-the great religious gatherings at Bala and Llangeithio its great preaching Cymanfaoedd, its Union gatherings, its Cyrddau Pregethu." But it also pro- vided places in the palace in which Non- conformity could live and work. He likened the theological colleges of Wales to so many kitchens where theological sustenance was prepared and cooked, and humorously referred to Principal Edwards, who sat before him, as the chief baker in the Cardiff kitchen. The palace of Welsh Nonconformity was complete, and three- fourths of the Welsh nation lodged therein—(laughter and applause)—and better lodgings they did not want. NONCONFORMITY AND POLITICS. It was Nonconformity that taught Wales her politics. Wales got her politics out of her religion. It was religion that introduced Wales to politics (cheers). Wales started therefore on a high level (loud cheers). He had nothing to say against those who sought material advan- tages in politics, but greed for material advantages would have been, for a nation, but a poor introduction to politics. He was a great admirer of Sir Robert Peel's measure for the abolition of the Corn Laws—cheap bread for the people (loud cheers). Might it never get'dearer (renewed applause). It was scarce enough on many a table without anyone taking a slice of it—(cheers)—but he was glad it was not Corn Laws that brought Wales into politics. It was religious liberty (cheers). The difference? It was the difference between principle and advan- tage. Wales came into politics seeking no material benefits; it sought not the bread that perisheth, but the bread ever- lasting. Wales never asked Lord Palmer- ston or Mr. Gladstone, What shall be given to us?" Wales.came into politics because she saw the light of principle. He often left Wales for months together, but whenever he returned he found the rocks and the mountains steadfast in the same places. Snowdon stood to the very inch on the same spot as he had pre- viously seen it. And so it was with a nation whose politics were deep-rooted in principle. He had seen England ablaze for liberty; yea, Britain ablaze from end to end: but he had also seen the fires flicker out, leaving not even smoke behind, and before many years passed a strange fire burned on the altars. But Snowdon (Continued on page 8).


Mr. Lloyd George at Treorchy.…