Culture

The Times republishes 100-year-old editorial asking: ‘Is the Eisteddfod worthwhile?’

21 Aug 2021 3 minutes Read
The National Eisteddfod sign in Llanrwst. Picture by Ifan Morgan Jones.

The Times has republished a 100-year-old article which asks if the National Eisteddfod is “worthwhile”.

The London-based newspaper questioned the value of the Welsh language cultural festival way back in 1921, saying that a “leading northern musical critic” complained about the “severe strictures” on its “musical significance”.

The editorial, which bemoaned what it described as the “insufficiency of Welsh music”, was reprinted in the paper’s ‘From the Archive’ segment.

It does go on to suggest that it can still be “maintained, even by an Englishman” that the Eisteddfod is “amply worthwhile”.

He says this is because English people can “cherish” the “outpouring of the Welsh national spirit, even if they only regard it as a useful safety valve”.

This was not the first time The Times has published an editorial which took aim at the Eisteddfod.

In 1866, it infamously declared that the Welsh language was “dead” and claimed that the Eisteddfod was “the most mischievous and selfish pieces of sentimentalism which could possibly be perpetrated”.

The article that was republished today said: “Is the Welsh National Eisteddfod worthwhile? The five day gatherings at Carnarvon (sic) in the first week of August, with their daily attendance of 7,000 to 8,000 persons, and the realization of a surplus of about £3,000, might be deemed sufficient for an affirmative answer if the achievement of a popular success were all that is at stake.

“A leading northern musical critic, however, is inclined to be sceptical, and has repeated at some length his severe strictures on the musical significance of the Eisteddfod.

“As one who sat through it on several days, I should like to protest against a judgment based solely on the insufficiency of Welsh music at its present stage. It is admitted that on this front the Eisteddfod is disappointing.

“But when all this has been allowed for it can still be maintained, even by an Englishman, that the Welsh National Eisteddfod is amply worthwhile.

“The Eisteddfod is vastly more than an annual occasion for the display of Welsh vocal and instrumental talent. It is the most vivid and invigorating expression of the cultural activities of the whole of a ‘small nationality’.

“The English people ought to value and cherish this recurrent outpouring of the Welsh national spirit, even if they only regard it as a useful safety valve.”

‘Too hopeless’ 

In its infamous editorial about the about Wales in 1866, The Times suggested that the Welsh were too hopeless to look after themselves.

It said: “A rare existence on the most primitive food of a mountainous race is all that the Welsh could enjoy if left to themselves.

“All the progress and civilization of Wales has come from England, and a sensible Welshman would direct all his endeavours towards inducing his countrymen to appreciate their neighbours instead of themselves.”

“The Welsh language is the curse of Wales. Its prevalence, and the ignorance of English have excluded, and even now exclude, the Welsh people from the civilisation, the improvement, and the material prosperity of their English neighbours.

“For all practical purposes, Welsh is a dead language.”

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Dai Rob
Dai Rob
1 month ago

LOLOL!!!
Desperate times!!!

Roderich Heier
Roderich Heier
1 month ago

The ignorance and arrogance of it is astounding!!!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

The International came to my home town when I was a kid, my folks put up a family from Bombay (as was) and it provided a chance to back up my father’s assertion that it took all kinds to make a World…they kept in touch with these people from the other side of the World for many years. That is what the International means to me…

Aled Rees
Aled Rees
1 month ago

and these people wonder why they are hated the world over.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Aled Rees

Bizare debate in HOC on Afghanistan, btw. Like Queen Vic. was still on the throne.

Last edited 1 month ago by j humphrys
Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 month ago

It does make one wonder how the language still exists. Mind you, I know from genealogy that most of my family didn’t know much English back in the C19 so perhaps my ancestors just didn’t realise their day to day language was actually dead and they carried on speaking Welsh out of blissful ignorance! Later my family even became bilingual, unlike most of the more intelligent people of Britain. We continue in our stupidity even to this day.

Meic Batten
Meic Batten
1 month ago

Oh well. I’ll just have to ignore my neighbours and their children and only speak English to them. How am going to manage when friends and relatives in other parts of Wales eMail me in Welsh? I wasn’t aware that Welsh was dead. I

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
1 month ago

It doesn’t surprise or bother me what was written in The Times back in 1866. It DOES bother me that The Times took the decision to reprint it in 2021. It wouldn’t have done so if it didn’t feel sure that its readership would enjoy reading all that prejudice. Now THAT is a cause for concern.

Shan Morgain
1 month ago
Reply to  Crwtyn Cemais

Good point. But the Times is just a rag these days so not a big deal.

Penderyn
Penderyn
1 month ago
Reply to  Crwtyn Cemais

its important to know what was written in 1866 as it helps explains why vast swathes of the Welsh are cut off from their ancestors language

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

The London Times proving they’ve been attacking the Welsh language and culture for well over a hundred years, shameful.

Penderyn
Penderyn
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

1000 years at minimum. pick up any history book lol

Steve George
Steve George
1 month ago

Ond, er gwaetha pawb a phopeth,
ry’n ni yma o hyd!

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Fuddy duddy scribblers existed in the 19th century, no surprise there. However the Times electing to rerun this kind of old nonsense in the 21st does nothing other than prove that the rag has diminished further in relevance.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

As much as I’m now used to it – this colonialist, pathetic, ignorant and quite frankly racist attitude to Wales and the Welsh language does still p**s me off. Who the hell are these people? Who do they think they are? However, there is no point in getting riled up – we’ll have the last laugh when, upon independence, we’ll build a more prosperous, equal and fair country than that of our neighbour.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Damn right! But isn’t that what they really fear?

Penderyn
Penderyn
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

who are they? People who own huge amounts of assets and land in your backyard

Shan Morgain
1 month ago

It has always been the policy of Westminster (English Govt) to eradicate Welsh. In the 18thC/ early 19thC William Owen Pughe laboured to construct a Welsh dictionary to support it and expand it. The early London Welsh societies were English speaking but by 1800 required knowledge of Welsh, much like our public employees today. The situation remained cordial with important works like the Mabinogion published bilingually. By mid 19thC Welsh was flourishing which alarmed the Saes/ English. The famous “Blue Books” insult by HM Education inspectorate described the Welsh as promiscuous and dirty, explicitly calling for Welsh to be stopped… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago

I believe the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru is the largest Arts festival in Europe. It appears the Sais are jealous. Well hell mind them.

Ray Woodley
Ray Woodley
1 month ago
Reply to  John Davies

No. That would be the Glastonbury Festival

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray Woodley

Not an arts festival. Pop music for teenagers.

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Quite so. Thank you. Glastonbury is not only for teenagers (I went when I was 34 and enjoyed it) but a pop festival is indeed a different type of event. The Eisteddfod Genedlaethol is unique. I have been a couple of times and although my Welsh is limited and stumbling I felt at home and enjoyed every minute. (If you are English-speaking Welsh don’t worry about meeting hostility on the Eisteddfod field. Fluent speakers love a learner). It is of course very much a national celebration; a cheerful and confident assertion of ourselves as a distinct nation. No wonder an… Read more »

Ray Wokdleg
Ray Wokdleg
1 month ago
Reply to  John Davies

The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is its full name.

It has all forms of arts poetry, theatre etc

So it is a bigger arts festival.

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray Wokdleg

They can call Glastonbury whatever they like. What’s in a name? But the big thing there is the bands. The big question is always “who is headlining at Glastonbury this year?” It is really a pop festival with a few extra bits tacked on, tiny in comparison with the main events. Michael Eavis and his team may be trying to develop it into a more broad-based and varied event. He may even be trying to imitate the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol! If so good luck, I wish him every success. But at the moment a pop fesitval is what it is.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  John Davies

Maybe Womad would be a better comparison…

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  John Davies

Come to think, in the town of Glastonbury there is no shortage of Druids. Perhaps they could be brought in to ceremonially open the festival?

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Is the Times ‘worthwhile’? 🤔

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Not for Cymru. Maybe Financial Times or Le Monde? Not sure, as most news comes fast through the net. China and Russia news of increased importance, so best not rely too much on western media alone during these days of Eurasia and Belt and Road.
For the inkies the future is analysis by experts?
Cymru could do with a twice-weekly “Digest Cymru”?

Penderyn
Penderyn
1 month ago

The Times in the 1990s posted incredible bigotry against the Welsh. We dont forget

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