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