A Comical Tragedy. I By THOMAS THOMAS. The Tribunals for dealing with exemption claims under the Military Service Act have af forded much amusement to those who have fol- lower. their proceedings. No burlesque could ever induce more laughter; and, indeed, their functions being of the nature of a farce, the result was bound to be conducive of merriment. i attended some of these tribunals-, and I have never enjoyed myself more in my life. Were I an applicant for exemption myself, per- haps the procedings would be less suggestive of humour, but being outside the scope of the Compulsory Act, I could let myself go. It. was a, sight for the gods to see the composition of some of these Tribunals. Such a fine stalwart lot of men—men of robust health, just turned their 41st birthday; strong, virile, and active,, they were men who would have 'oeen a crediti to any army; but. alas! they were over age, and consequently had to forego the duty of combatant warfare for the less hazardous, but none the Jess important duty of sitting in judgment on the shirker. And they did sit. It was all so funny. These members—they had such a pompo?lic, df?- such a took of authority; such a pompous de- portment and they exercised their functions, with such sovereign dignity, with such a pat- riot; > sense of responsibility and national re- quirements that were their functions not known to represent a farce, some of the incid- ents witnessed could easily be mistaken for a tragedy. Being a farce, one was expected to laugh—though tears might have been more ap- propriate. For instance, in one Tribunal, a weak, sickly youth, hard of hearing, claimed exemption on, tb-3 grounds of a conscientious objection to war. The height of the lad was about five feet and' a shadow, and he looked as if a year's deten- tion in a convalescent home might fit him for milking cows. The healthy, robust members of the Tribunal* looked at him with that lofty air of impartiality so essential for the proper conduct of their difficult duties; and the chairman, who looked young an d strong enough to undertake any military service, began ask- ing the presumptuous youtn a rew questions. The questions—I forget what they were ex- aütJy-but were something to the effect: "Where was Moses when the light .went out?" And if a German sought his mother's life, would lie not have the culprit's gore?" The youthful craven did not answer because he could not hear the questions, though to give the questioner credit, he shouted loud enough. Eventually the Tribunal decided that the claim for exemption could not be entertained, which decision was made known to the cowardly shu'ker by violent gestures. To see the look of wonder oil that child's face was excruciatingly funny. I simply rolled with laughter, though I noticed a few sentimental fools in the audito- rium snivelling and weeping. The silly idiots; there is no place for effeminacy under military law. The Tribunal was there to get men into the army—and the were getting them. After disposing of this case to the satisfac- tion of their own consciences, and the appro- bation of Lord Derby, the members of the Tribunal prepared to dispense justice to the next shirker. This was a brisk, strong, active younu man who asked for partial exemption on the plea of the importance of his labour- a, footman to his employer, a wealthy city mag- nate. He was rightly granted two months' exemption. Afterwards, another young man appeared ,k.fte,i,wa.r& I("Xe?nWtion on the grounds of do- c l ?i.,Iiiilri.g tot-a mestic necessity. He was one of fouB brothers —one of whom had been killed at the front, whilst the other two were on active service, and he alone remained to his widowed mother and sister. The claimant had tIe temerity to remind the Tribunal of Mr. Asquith's pledge (or was' it assurance) about the sole remaining sons of widowed mothers, but the chairman in- terposed saying they, as a Tribunal, were only concerned about getting men into the army, and had no time or inclination to bother with assurances which were not embodied in an Act of Parliament. The application was dis- missed. Main other interesting cases came before the Tribunal, which were all dealt with patriotically and relentlessly. Mothers, with tears running down their faded cheeks, pleaded for exemption for sons w ho were their only support; fathers, pale with anxiety, appealed for sons who were physically and mentally unfit for the army; but the Tribunal was inexorable. In many cases the Advisory Committee had determined the issue before the applicant made his appearance, and the Tribunal gave its verdict in accordance with the Committee's decision. It was a case of Heads I win, tails you lose" with every appeal. It was screamingly funny to see the pur- blind, the lame, the consumptives and other victims of chronic diseases appealing for ex- emption on the grounds of bodily infirmities; and as their claims were summarily dismissed their woe-begone stricken faces were enough to make donkeys laug,h, and we did laugh up- roarousliy. It is difficult to understand the mental make-up of these physical wrecks who so bare-facedly hide their cowardice behind their infirmities. Had they a grain of patri- otism in their constitution they would not think of asking for exemption. Are not their miser- able bodies safeguarded by the-Navy? And yet they had the audacity to shirk, or to try to shirk their obvious duties as citizens. Sup- posing a brutal German were to swim the North Sea and attack their mothers and sisters? Would they then hide behind their infirmities or would they manfully catch hold of the ruffian and pitch him headlong into the Dolico station ? Fortunately, members of the Tribunals are made of sterner stuff than than these miserable shirkers. Should a murderous German attack their wives, or mothers, or sisters' they would patriotically demand the protection of the po- lice, which, of course, would not be right for shirkers to demand, though they pay the police rate. Moreover, the Tribunals are engaged to make I good Lord Derby's nebulous figures of 650,0001 unattested young mem. The number has to be I found even should our jails and asylums be exempted for the purpose. That sufferers, from chronic ailments who are passed wholesale! into the army will spend their time in hospit- aIR matters not; that beds set apart for woun- ded soldiers will be occupied by physically un- i fits is of no consequence; what matters is — that 650,000 shirkers have to be accounted for, and the Tribunals have been established to achieve that object. And they are doing it. Ye gods, they would pass a corpse into the army if of military age; for it is age and not fitness which is the qualincation. To see a six- foot member of a Tribunal questioning the claims for exemption of a five-foot, puny, ema- ciated bit of male protoplasm whose only visible signs of life are a pair of shivering pants is enough to crack one's ribs. Thelll the Conscientious Objector is a soure" of infiite delight. The members of the Tribunals are in their dement when these shirkers are placed on the rack. Not that the Tribunals get it all their own way, but the questions* put to Conscientious Objectors are a marvel of Scriptural knowledge. Quotations from Aristotle are brought forward and attributed to one of the Prophets. Sometimes Shakespeare is mis- taken for Jeremiah; and as for the New Testa- ment its interpretation at the Tribunals com- pletely outclasses every theological expert's ex- position. Still, with all the little defects of the Tribunals, their main function will have been accomplished—for assuredly Lord Derby's 650,000 are Being, accounted for.
No Confidence in Tribunal. I LLANTRISANT AND LLANTWtT VARDRE HuRAL DISTRICT TRADES ANI LABOUR COUNCIL. A meeting of tl*, above Council was held at the Institute, Tonyrefail, on Thursday, March 2, Mr. James Dicks presiding. After the minutes were confirmed, Mr. Mar- ch* Jones addressed the meeting, and on behalf of the South Glamorgan Labour Party, re- quested the affiliation of the Counicl to the South Glamorgan Labour Party. Mr. Jones also suggested that as a means of securing a personal link between the South Glamorgan Labour Party Executive and the Trades and Labour Councils throughout the division, that the Trades and Labour Councils should elect a member each to the Exec;utive.It was decidèd to put the matter on the agenda for the next meeting. Old-Age Pensioners. I A letter was read from the War Emergency Workers' National Committee requesting the support of the Council to the proposal of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain that Old- Age Pensions should be increased from 5/- to 7/6 per we,eii.-A resolution was unaniniaiis- ly passed in support of the proposal, and copies ordered to be sent to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Local Tribunal under the Military Service I Act. The constitution of the Local Tribunal under the Military Service Act was discussed, and as there was not one. Labour Member an the Tribunal, the following resolution was passed and copies ordered to be sent to the parties mentioned in She resolution: That having regard to the Government's pledge to give fair Labour representation on the Local Tribunals under the Military Ser- vice Act, 1916, and to the circular of the Local Government Board requesting local authorities to apraiint Labour representa- tives on such Tribunals, that we call the at- tention of the Prime Minister, the Labour Party, the M.P. for the Division, and the Rural District Council of Llantrisant and Llantwit Vardre to the fact that in this dis- trict not one Labour representative has been appointed upon the local Tribunal. We also desire to place on record our entire lack of confidence in a Tribunal constituted as ours is of men of the other closses only. This class prejudice has already smashed the Gov- ernment's pledge,, and will lead to decisions favourable to their own class, and against the workers. Nuisances at Tonyrefail and Gilfach Goch. I The Gilfach delegates called attention to the inconveniences at Gilfach Goch through a lack of urinals, and to the nuisance caused by the failure of the District Council to properly sca- venge the distoz-ict. No scavenger visited the Gardeu Village at Gilfach or Glamorgan Ter- race.—Oojrrplaint was also madp of the rein- forced concrete footbridge at Gilfaoh Goch. Whet, it rained a large pool of water gathered m frent of the bridge and made it impassable for women, and children without getting wet. The main roacl at Gilfach Goch was often flooded, too,, by water running from the Pen- rhiwfer Level. The Tonyrefail delegates complained of a nuisance at a stable near Gwalia House, High Street, Mud, dung and carts ob- structing the road leading to the avenue. One delegate suggested that this was the na- tural result of the District Council's war economy," and expressed the opinion that there would continue to be grave nuisances and dangers to the public health while the District Council insisted upon keeping an inadequate number of men to do the necessary work of the district. It was agreed that the Secretary should call the attention of the District Council to the complaints. I Payment of Cinema Musicians. I The Khondda Branch Secretary of the Mu- sicians' Union appealed for the Councils help in ar. effort to secure the payment of Union rate of Wages at the New Cinema, Tonyrefail. The rate paid at the New Cinema was 27/6 per week, whereas the Union rate which was paid in the Rhondda halls was 35/- per week. He had approached the proprietors, and had urged that 27/6 was far from a living wage, and that it was hardly fair to expeet a skilled musician to work for the sum. It was decided ta ask the proprietors to re- ceive a deputation upon the matter. Labour Representation eft Local Bodie" I The question as to how many and what seats should be contested upon the local bodies at the elections after the war was discussed, and it was agreed to defer consideration of the question. The matter to be raised next time at the discretion of the Secretary. I
A Voice in the Wilderness. THE UNHEEDED WARNINGS OF DERFEL. THE REV, T. E, NICHOLAS' INTERESTING LECTURE AT TUMBLE. Following close upon the visit of Mr. R. C. Wallhead to the Tumble I.L.P., Carmarthen- shire, a brilliant lecture was delivered on Mon- day evening last by the Rev. T. E. Nicholas,. LlaLgybi. These was an excellent gathering, who responded heartily to the tremendous and convincing onslaught made by the speaker upon those who had professionally forsaken their work for the Prince of Peace and Brotherhood, and who were now worshipping within the tem- ple of the God of War, upon whose altars they were invoking his blessings by the abundant sacrificing of the youth of Europe. The speaker's subject was A Rebel of Wales"—-the heroic and versatile R. J. Derfel, who was persecuted and ostracised by the re- actionaries of Welsh official Nonconformity be- cause he had dared to question and oppose the traditional dogmas of Welsh theologians, and the superficiality of our religious organisations. Derfel. to the horror of the Welsh theologian and the zealous chapel-goer, was a, terrific icon- oclast, who spent the latter half of his life breaking up the false idols that had endeared themselves so much to us, but which had. at the same time, blurred our vision to the good, the beautiful, and the permanent in life. His great desire was to inspire the churches to re- move the great emphasis they placed upon creeds to that of man. In my intercourse with men," said Derfel, "I have found out that the creeds count for little in their every- day con.duct.. I respect those who are not Christian as well as those who are, because 1 believe there are heathens doubters, and athe- ists as good as the oest Christians! As the speaker intimated, to Dorfel there were only two objects in the world of importance, and they were God and man, the latter being at least as important as the former. Static creeds have been the leeches that have sapped the churches of vitality. But. said Derfel, Creeds will have to go, Und their place will be occu- pied by good conduct and usefulness. Let the churches take warning in time, an d open their aortals wide enough to admit all willing to as- sist, in the redemption of man." But did the churches take warning? Did they give ear to Derfel's call to make themselves bulwarks against all superstition and oppression? "They did not," said the speaker. The hope- less collapse of the churches in this terrible crisis, the rush of the erstwhile followers of the Prince of Peace to the recruiting platforms and military tribunals, the invocations of priest, pi esbyter, and preacher to God to bless this hellish carnage, show that the veice of Derfel like the voice of Christ, fell upon the ears of those who, were lost in the externals of religion. If the church had been in reality a church of man, and not a church of creeds, if Derfel had succeeded in teaching the churches the true mealing of Christianity, thj proper value and respect would have been attached to human life, and we would not now be witnessing the spectacle of Europe ipad with the lust of read- ing and destroying human beings. Still (con- tinued the speaker, if the churches have fallen in too stress of the present great tragedy, there are others who have kept the banner of Chris- tianity unfurled. The belief in the saorednesfc of human life and the illimitable possibilities of the human personalty has not passed away out of the world because the churches have transferred their allegiance from Christian ideals to the devil of destruction. Every man who opposes this war, who refuses to submit to those who have engineered this catastrophe, and who believes that force does not make for progress, acts and thinks as every true Chris- tian should. The Independent Labour Party and all those organisations that are determined not to submit to the devilish machinations of the militarists are the people who in truth ex- press the spirit of Christianity. Derfel, con- cluded the speaker, had no fantastic and mis- leading notions concerning the horrors of war. To him it meant the very antithesis of honour and glory so eloquently praised by the military Press and "patriotic" poet. This "Welsh rebel" could only pronounce that— Rhyfel, dinvstir inagnelau—drwy ddu Hid A drydd wlad i angau; Dychryn a. swn gwyn sy'n gwau Ar genedi ing or gynau. Ffyrnig orchwyl uffernol-ydyw Iladd Wedl Uwyddiant oesol; Yii y diwedd andwyol Tnv- rys nwyd try'r oes yn oL 0 law gwyr a ryfel garant-ni ddaw, Byth un ddawn na llwyddia-nt; Y byd hwn yn anwn wnant Yn er. plioenau pan ffvnant. Gweddwon a, phlant sy'n gwaeddi-am dad llwyd Golliv yd yn y gelli; A mil brwd o'ti. mel a'u bri, „ Drywanwyd i drueRi. Vvylofain ddaw o ldydd-lle gynau Liu ganent mar ddedwydti- Lie unwaith bu llawenydd. Ochain sobr ac achwyn sydd. Trofwyd yr holl bentrefydd—llan a lys Tn heintus fynwentydd; Awelon mewn cywilydd Uwch y sarn yn beichio sydd. Arafwch bleidwyr rhyfei—ystyriwch Pad oes troi ar fagnd LlwYl" ing deyrnasa 1,1,elr el— Oesau a rydd vn isel. A heddwoh o Iweh y loes—a godir Yn g-eidwad i einioes Rhag vnryd loerig anfoes A gwarth rhai oes.
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At Random. I A I A certain. man drew a how at a venture. I By W. H. EVANS. I U Conscience." says the dictionary, "is in- iernal knowledge of right and wrong • How this ''internal knowledge" is acquired, is w h e "I another enquiry. In these days, when tlie term conscience, and conscientious objector is on everybody's lips, it were well fef: us to have some clear understanding of this impera- tive ought, and ought not, that rises up within us when we go to act/ or to speak things. A man's conscience is his own: it is something that has grown up in him as a result of his life experience. It is no divine gift, any more than other faculties of the mind. It is subject to the law of evolution- ary development, and every man's conscience -differs from another's, because his life experi- ences have been different. This moral restraint, which keeps one man in one way of life; which permits another to go in some other direction; who can judge itr' Who can say you have no conscientious objection to this or that? Not even Solon could arrogate to himself the right or the power to dictate to another the motion of those inward springs, whose movements, inscrutiable and hid from outward ken. make men cowards or heroes; sinners or saints; tyrants or martyrs. Yet we find all over Ae country tribunals set up to judge of this or that one's conscience. Are they not tri- bunals of futility? Bodies with one standard of measurement, and striving to measure the consciences of those who appeal to them with the yard stick of national expediency. Truly j we live in a curious world. Who would think .that we were whirling along the Cosmic High- ways, surrounded with the gleaming splendours of stars and suns and planets ? Man dances as :.a fly in the sunbeam, puffed out with the vani- ties and conceits: endeavours to seize the world and finds it but a bubble after all. Poor fool; when will he learn sense? Some day he will awake, but as Nature's days are long eons of time, we must not despair. She brings fruit once in a. milelennium. Here a Buddha, there a Socrates; still other where a Jesus. Yes. We have had our teachers; our wise men and iphilosophers and yet we lay in the mire. What trifling fools men are. Yet with what wond- rous potentialities are they blessed. All is vanity," says the Preacher. There is some modicum of truth in the statement. But I think that when the Preacher wrote that, he had. as good old Thomas Carlyle would say, Ü been doing obeisance to the gastronomic dehfcr somiewhat overmuch. I have been led to these reflections by the Teports of the workings of the tribunals. Their silly ineptitude is showing in every report of their proceedings. The reports are obviously cooked. The press has entered into -a conspiracy to bring the conscientious objector imfeo disrepute. They who have a conscience --and they are the salt of the earth in these day-—are made to look ridiculous. They are asked absurd question. How many times have I read: "Would you stand by and see the Germans murder your wife and children?" As if that was the question of primal import- ance. It never seems to have occurred to these worldly wisemen, that the question of "questions in these days is: "How comes it that after nearly 2,000 years of Christian tea- ching, aU the Christian nations of Europe are v mw^ring one another?" That seems to tne to be a fundamental query, one that it would be well if our legislators and theologians .and wise men thought upon. But at present they invoke tifoeir muimbo-j umbo god to strafe, strike some one who does not agree with them. Moreover, they do not seem to see the logic of their questions. A man who has no conscientious objection to killing Germans as no conscientious objection to killing Bri- tishers. Nay, will he not if he take the King's shilling, and the oath, be willing to shoot and stab his fellow-workmen, if they,, goaded into frenzy by hunger and want, riet and seek to take by force what is legally but not morally withheld from them? And who in those days. for they are coming—I can see them looming up in the distance —when men and -women will curse the hateful expedient they > are now adopting; who in those days will be, able to blame men for using the tools which the governors of the country have been at 'pains to have fashioned, and train them to use? When you admit the doctrine of force, it leads into all kinds of byways. It sinks law -and order, but proclaims that it acts in the interest of law and order. It has no room for •conscience or conscientious objectors. It tram- ples on honour, and lays in the dust the sac- red heritage of the ages, the liberty of the subject. What can the conscientious objector do? He will not get exemption on conscientious grounds. The tribunals will endeavour to shunt him off to some form of non-combatant service. What is he to do? Nothing. That is what I sug- gest. Adopt an attitude of indifference to all threats and cajolery. Do nothing, and keep on doing, it; simply sit tight. That is the free man's prerogative,. He can refuse to take any part or lot in the hateful business. He can abide by the logic of his conscientious ob- jection. For what can you do to a man who will not act ? Imprison him; still he can re- fuse to do anything. Shoot liim? He becomes a martyr, and in this case the blood of the, mar- tyrs will call from the ground in mute elo- | quence. and again will ring in the souls of J men the age old question, Am I mv brother's r Keeper ?" And from their blood will spring anew the tree of liberty and freedom, if so be the law is pushed to the uttermost extreme.. 'Comrades! the world needs men. Behold the fields of Europe reddened with blood. List to the sounds of weeping, the weeping of wo- men, the cry in 2 of the children. Do you hear the children crying. I Oh! my brothers?' And shall the hateful thing be repeated? Shall f- it be said in the days of stress men failed! Men were like sheep driven to the slaughter! Shall it be said of the men of to-day, as it was said of one of-old. "And like a sheep before its shearers was dumb."? Nay! Be men, and not machines. "fn the world's broad field' of battle, In the bivouac of life, Be not dumb. driven cattle: Be a hero in the strife." It is heroes we want. Not heroes of the blood-red sword, but -heroes of morai and spiritual worth.
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I Injured and Fined. I COAL MINES ACT CASES AT MERTHYR. John Parry, Station Hill Aberfan was sum- moned at Merthyr on Tuesday for committing a breach of the Coal Mines Act by having a pipe in his possession at the No. 1 Merthyr ale Pit.- Mr. Kenshoie, who prosecuted, said the 1 defendant had been an official at the colliery for 33 years, and had' been overman for 22 years. The pipe was not taken into the actual workings, but was left in the lodge room atj the bottom of the pit.-—Defendant, who pleaded) guilty, was fined 9/- or 7 days. Isaac Trotman and Thomis Jones, Treharris, were each fined 12 J or 9 days for committing a breach of the Coal Mines Act by sleeping in the Ocean Colliery, Treharris. -Fred. A. Bell, colliery repairer, Nelson, wasi hnod 12/- or 9 days for having a box of mat- ches in his pocket in the Ocean Colliery. Evan Dyer (28), Heolgerrig, and William Richards, Old Six Bells, HeoIgeTrig, were summoned at Merthyr on Tuesday for riding on trains of trams at Messrs. Crawshay Bros.' Gethin Pit contrary to the Coal Mines Act. Mr. D. W. Jones, who prosecuted, said both men were inj ured as a. result of riding on the trams, and might easily have been lgffl--d.- Defendants were eact, fined 20/- or 11 days.
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