Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

17 articles on this Page



ST. ASAPH DEBATING SOCIETY. i.NAUGURAL ADDRESS BY THE REV. W. GLANFFRWD THOMAS. The first meeting of this society, for the Autumnal ossion of 1881, took place on Wednesday evening, "'ct. 22nd, at 8.15. :e was not so large an attendance as usual, o the fact that few of the citizens knew of meeting, it having been but little advertised. The Rev. W. Glanffrwd Thomas, vicar of St. saph, delivered in an impressive and powerful manner the Inaugural Address of the coming ses- sion. We are sorry that there were not more pre- sent to hear and to inwardly digest, the many sound arguments which the rev. gentleman ad- vanced, in favour of Debating Societies. The Rev W. G. Thomas rose to deliver the inau- gural address, and was warmly received. He said Allow me to congratulate you on the occasion of in- augurating the Debating Session of this useful in- stitution. We look back with joy to the pleasant evenings we spent here last winter, and the good debates we had, and we had many of them. You Mil agree with me when I say that we derived from them not only pleasure, but much benefit; and we re-start because we believe the debates did good iu the past and are capable of doing more good in the future. In the first place this is the only institu- i ion of the kind in the city, and that is no small recommendation. Here the labourer, the shop- keeper, the artisan, the school-boy, the clergyman, the doctor of laws, and the doctor of physic, meet to spend together a pleasant evening once a tveek, and discuss the topics of the day. or some other to- pics, and exchange ideas, thereby becoming ac- quainted with each other, to know our different and various ways of thinking and of looking at things. That of itself in my opinion helps to advance the loral as well as the intellectual improvement of en and boys. And not only ought we to look at the institution as a good one in this sense, but we ought to consider it our duty to patronize the place and take part in the debates as often as we can. I know that there are people who will not agree with me on this point. They have told me 80, and at the same time they would attend a place where debates are carried on under another name. What is going on in public-houses, where a dozen or two of men meet every night to discuss matters—religion, politics, business, trade, gossip and scandal. I say it is a debatinf society with far less order, and far more inflamn ;ory materials than we have here, where there is neither beer nor brandy to cloud under- standing nor inflame the passions. Indeed, sir, I 'm extremely anxious that the city and neigh nrhood should be made more sensible of the im- t,vrtance of the society. We are not politicians; nothing of the sort. We are not denominational in any way. We do not belong to any party or rank in the place. We specially wish to disclaim any re lafion with sect, party, 01 politics, and wish to stand if from what may appear to be even a section of Truth. Let politics perish. Let party feeling i or run rampant somewhere else. W e have hing to do with them in any shape or form. For me motto oi this society and its great aims are to mend the heart, improve the taste, and enlarge the understanding. We need these things And we recognise the need. Ti.e fact of establishing insti- tutions of this kind is an acknowledgement that the heart meds mending, the taste needs improving,and that the understanding needsenlarguig. If we can j do i'i little towards reaching these Loble aims, if we can help ourselves, and others to move iu this direc- t on, it would require no great mental abilities to prove that we ought to have the sympathy of all as well as tho encouragement which kind words, liberal hearts and pockets, can give in. Wo can venture boldly to assert that the debating society in this place has done something in the way oi mend- ing the heart, improving the taste, and enlarging tho. understanding of members, contributors, and heaters and it is fair to arguo from what it has done to what it is capable of doing in the future. I remember having read in some great author's or another (I forget in whose work I have seen it) that a book is of same value if it yields harmless amuse- mout; it is still more valuable if it communicate in- struction, but if it answer both purposes it is truly a matter of importance to mankind. What is true with respect to a book is also true with respect to a society. If it yield harmless amusement it is of some value. I need not tell you that tho debates in the past did yield us harmless amusement. Tho Rev. Mr Morton tickled our risible emotions more than once. His remarks, whether original or quotations, created laughter there was humour,wit and learn- ing combined, and we readily allowed thai we had some fun, we con res-'d wining!that we laughed heartily many time and went home the better for it. Who will begrudge that Show me the man who cannot laugh, and is angry when other men laugh, and T will -how you a man with a terrible bad liver and worse conscience. Why laughter is an expression of joyous feelings. It is a visible sym- torn of inward satisfaction. It is the chief dis- tinction of our rationality. Milton says Smiles ii-oru reason liow, to brute-3 denied And are ot love the footl And Carlyle said that the man who cannot laugh is only fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils but his own life is already a treason and a stratagem. If we laughed during our debates we did so because we were amused—harmlessly amused. When Mr John Wynn, made some remark that hit the mark or perhaps missed it, when speaker after speaker trembled on the verge of a break down as soon as he stood up, we were not wrong in laughing. In all these things there are elements of harmless amusement. The society therefore is valuable. But that is no all. If it communicate instruction it is still more valuable. And that it is possible to blend sweetness and utility in debates, no one here will care to deny. Is it not a fact that some of the best papers written on history and human science were read at debates and published in the British Controvertialist," and other periodicals of that typeAnd we found ourselves that the debates here were instructive and entertaining; and we mean them to be so again. We want harmless amusement, but we want instruc ion als). We want to talk and talk well; to think, and to think methodically. We want to become acquainted with each other's views, and learn to respect each other in the midst of different expressions of opin- ions, taste, and abilities. I do not hesitate to say that our society comes up to the mark we have mentioned. It is of some value if it yield amuse- ment, is still more valuable if it communicate in- struction, but if it answer both purposes it is truly a matter of importance to mankind. I know that our debates were imperfect. Not even tha Houses of Parliament can claim perfection, but I want the people of St. Asaph and others to think of the vast disproportion between what is good in the debates and what is bad. In everything human there is a mixture of good and evil, but are we on that ac- count to throw away everything that is human F I think some one argued once that farmers ought to set fire to their harvest because a few tares had sprung up among the corn And a socialist once argued, that because oppression will some times take place where there is subordination; and luxury where there is security that we should therefore renounce all government, or as some one advised mankind to run naked to the woods, and there en- counter every hardship of savage life in order to escape from the toothache and rheumatism. Civi- lization has its failures, but we prefer it with its toothache and rheumatism to savage life even with its promised freedom from gouc! Now if we re- ject every useful institution because of failings or possible inconveniencei, we must reject all bodily exercise, and all bodily rest. Drop cricket for fear of being hit by a ball. Drop going to bed lest we should fall over the sidb and crack our shoulder bones. But we must not go further in this direc- tioii, the point is too clear to require proof. But looking at our present position what have we to say 1' Aud looking to the future what have wa to suggest: We are now re shirting. We are like boja wlio have oomo baolr to school after a long holiday. We have not exactly surveyed the ground over which we have to travel. We have not col- lected our wits as it were. We feel that we are able to do some work, but what sort of work we cannot exactly say. Tho first thing to do is to select subjects. We cannot talk unless we have something to talk about, and we cannot talk well unless our subjects be such as to inspire us. And indeed, it should be one of our chief aims to become accurate speakers, not only to speak glibly, but grammatically. There is an amusing story told of a beggar once, who applied for alms at the door of a partisan of the anti-begging society. After in vain detailing his manifold sorrows, the inexorable gentleman peremptorily dismissed him. "Go away" he said, Go, we cauna gie yo llacthing." H Y uu might at least," replied the beggar, with an air of great dignity and archness, "have refused me grammatically." By practice we come to speak readily and accurately. But we wish it. clearly to be understood that tho debating society is not a nursery to bring up vain talkers or conceited spouters, neither are we ambitious to distinguish ourselves as disputants. But we may, for the sake of argument, put, the matter in this form." Men g'o about and talk. They meet in companies they talk; who will prevent them ? OD the street, in the field, in the workshop, in the train, in the bar, or in the drawing room, they of course talk, and what is done universally among us, we ought to aim at doing it well. And it ought to ba the aim of everyone, from the humblest labourer to the highest peer, to be able to use the great gifts of reasoning and talking in the best possible man- ner—the manner most worthy of the Great Giver of all good gifts. But I may be allowed to go further than that. Let ua study and select subjects that will do good not only to the debating society but to St. Asaph and the country at large. Subjects that will be useful. Let us get out of narrow, sectional or political groves to look for subjects of the highest importance. We all believe that virtue and truth are of the highest importance, that in them is laid the foundation of human happiness, that on them depends the very existence of human society. Therefore let us be in earnest to make the debating society the means to vindicate truth and virtue, let every effort to speak, let every new and every old subject, and every speech on them be such as to lead people to believe that the society by its work and character has justified its establishment. There is another thing to which I should like briefly to allude. That the subjects for discussion should be seleoted as soon as possible and be made known before hand, and that there should be fitness be- tween the subjects chosen and the charaoter and abilities of those who are going to lead the debates. For instance, if Mr Wynne read a paper on the "Phenomena, of Eclipses" we should doubt the fitness of things in the debate, but if Mr Wynne told us something of his experience as a mechanic or about trade, &c., he would do us service. If Mr Salisbury Jones treated us to "Physics and Math- ematics," we would be doubtful whether he could make the subject attractive and useful to all the hearers, but if Mr Jones led a debate on some Welsh characters, or. led us into the fields of Blue Ribbonism, he might do us a great deal of good. However, I would suggest that the committee should meet at once to select the subjects for the session and that Literature, Science, Art, Biography, and History, should be the fields over which we go in quest of subjects. There are very many fine characters in Welsh history which would be capital subjects for discussion. A paper might be read one night, and matters relating to the time, life, and history of the personage in question would afford subjeots for discussion the week following. Sometimes a paper might be written on a certain book—a novel — with the view of ascertaining the scope, character, and aim of the book. Some of Dickens'n works "David Copperneld," for instance, would afford a capital scope where the reasoning powers would be trained and the imagination developed. We could also compare the great writers of the last ffour centuries, and trace with delight to our- selves and benefit to others the progress of learning and literature in this land. In fact, there" arc splendid fWds opening in every direction, inviting us to cull their flowers, call- ing the debater to walk over Jhem and find subjects that will amuse and impro, nd benefit readers, speakers, and auditors. I say anything more, except express the wish i.t the session whidl we now inaugurate will be a success- ful one iu every respect. Among the speakers were Mr John Wynne, Dr. Easterby and Mr Lewis, the Grammar School, and Mr Jones, the Post office. All these gentlemen warmly praised Mr Thomas' address and the Bug-j gestions and the good advice which he had given, namely, that the young men and members of r,he society should prepare carefully the subjects for debate, and should cultivate greater precision in speakin" and as it wero, kcpp more tu the point | than they had hitherto done. The President, the Rev. B.-njatnin llughes, acknowledged the justice of the remarks made by the rev. lecturer and the different speakers, but aided th it perfection was not to be expected and the society was intended for educational purposes; so that no young In an need be afraid to get up, and let his opinions be known. The president concluded by announcing that the next meeting would take placa on that night week, October 29tli, at the same hour and in the same place and he asked those present to do their best to let their friends know of the debates, and all were welcome.






[No title]




; RHYLi______