Author Topic: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847  (Read 10814 times)

Offline pinot

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #9 on: Saturday 11 August 18 23:51 BST (UK) »
Thanks, Peter, for the invaluable link. The findings of the Blue Books are as relevant today as they were at the time of their publication. No Welsh person should be unacquainted with their conclusions and the Anglo-centric premise of their authors. Thankfully my ancestors escaped the worst of their recommendations. Diolch.

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Offline sallyyorks

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #10 on: Sunday 12 August 18 05:46 BST (UK) »
Thanks, Peter, for the invaluable link. The findings of the Blue Books are as relevant today as they were at the time of their publication. No Welsh person should be unacquainted with their conclusions and the Anglo-centric premise of their authors. Thankfully my ancestors escaped the worst of their recommendations. Diolch.


Wasn't the point of the commission to improve educational standards?

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Offline pinot

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #11 on: Tuesday 14 August 18 00:41 BST (UK) »
Yes, in accordance with the imperialist Anglo-centric C19th zeitgeist.

Offline Peter Evans

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #12 on: Tuesday 14 August 18 03:07 BST (UK) »
Clearly anglocentric, however gives a pretty good look at the appalling state of schooling in Wales at the time (I have only looked at the North Wales volume), as well as a bit of social commentary.

Offline sallyyorks

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #13 on: Tuesday 14 August 18 09:48 BST (UK) »
Yes, in accordance with the imperialist Anglo-centric C19th zeitgeist.

In what way?

Offline MaecW

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #14 on: Tuesday 14 August 18 13:01 BST (UK) »
There is a good explanatory article on "Wikipedia" under the title "The treachery of the Blue Books".
Basically, the level of education across both England & Wales was very poor at this time (Scotland had its own, better, system.). A commission was sent to review Education in Wales : "The enquiry was carried out by three English commissioners, Ralph Lingen, 1st Baron Lingen, Jellynger C. Symons and H. R. Vaughan Johnson. The commissioners visited every part of Wales during 1846, collecting evidence and statistics. However, they spoke no Welsh and relied on information from witnesses, many of them Anglican clergymen at a time when Wales was a stronghold of nonconformism."
This is where "the imperialist Anglo-centric C19th zeitgeist." comes in. The commissioners could not, or would not, recognise that children educated in the non-conformist Sunday schools (which were real schools, teaching the basics) were both literate and numberate but in their own language, Welsh..   Had their report stopped there, it would have been bad enough but they went on to attack,without justification, the whole culture of Wales, attempting to connect Non-Conformity and the separate language with a whole raft of social ills.   This was typical of the approach of English-speaking colonists in the Empire at this time, dismissing local cultures, denigrating anything seen as "different", and, in particular, trying to discourage the use of the native languages.  The "Welsh Not" notices used to punish, embarrass and denigrate children heard speaking their own language in school was replicated certainly in Canada and New Zealand, (and probably other colonies) where pupils were often beaten for using the language of their home and community in school.
This policy seems to have worked in Ireland where, despite strenuous efforts after Independence, the language survives but has not revived. In Wales, retention of the language has always been seen as important to help define the nation and there is an understanding that "a people who lose their language lose their soul".
My Welsh forbears, unlike Pinot's, regrettably lost their language and I was not brought up in Wales so I have only a few words but, as an example of "lost in translation", try to explain all the connotations of "hiraeth" in one English word ! Impossible, there is no true English equivalent ! At times it can be very frustrating not to have the right words available to express a feeling in simple terms !
This is why I use "Yma o hyd" as a byline. It means "We are still here" and is just a gentle reminder that there people with older roots than the English in these islands and that, despite nearly a thousand years of attempting to assimilate them, they have retained their identity.

Maec

Baron (of Blackburn), Chadwick (Oswaldtwistle), Watkins (Swansea), Jones (x3 Swansea), Colton (Shropshire), Knight (Shropshire/Montgomery) , Bullen (Norfolk), White (Dorset)

Offline sallyyorks

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #15 on: Tuesday 14 August 18 15:43 BST (UK) »
There is a good explanatory article on "Wikipedia" under the title "The treachery of the Blue Books".
Basically, the level of education across both England & Wales was very poor at this time (Scotland had its own, better, system.). A commission was sent to review Education in Wales : "The enquiry was carried out by three English commissioners, Ralph Lingen, 1st Baron Lingen, Jellynger C. Symons and H. R. Vaughan Johnson. The commissioners visited every part of Wales during 1846, collecting evidence and statistics. However, they spoke no Welsh and relied on information from witnesses, many of them Anglican clergymen at a time when Wales was a stronghold of nonconformism."
This is where "the imperialist Anglo-centric C19th zeitgeist." comes in. The commissioners could not, or would not, recognise that children educated in the non-conformist Sunday schools (which were real schools, teaching the basics) were both literate and numberate but in their own language, Welsh..   

But in the wiki article it says that the inquiry/commission 
Quote
... was carried out as a result of pressure from William Williams...who was himself a Welshman by birth and was concerned about the state of education in Wales...
...[it] concluded that schools in Wales were extremely inadequate, often with teachers speaking only English and using only English textbooks in areas where the children spoke only Welsh, and that Welsh-speakers had to rely on the Nonconformist Sunday Schools to acquire literacy.

This seems to suggest that the commissioners were not criticising the Welsh language as such, but that Welsh was not being used in schools that were not Nonconformist. Leaving the Nonconformists with a monopoly on education. The British government/the state was not involved in education at this time. In fact most children, in Wales or England, had no education at all. So the state  made no legislation on it. It wasn't until the 1870's that compulsory education was considered. So I'm not sure it can be described as 'imperialsim' or 'colonialism' and wouldn't the teachers forcing children to speak English have  themselves been Welsh?


Had their report stopped there, it would have been bad enough but they went on to attack,without justification, the whole culture of Wales, attempting to connect Non-Conformity and the separate language with a whole raft of social ills.   This was typical of the approach of English-speaking colonists in the Empire at this time, dismissing local cultures, denigrating anything seen as "different", and, in particular, trying to discourage the use of the native languages.

This applied to parts of England too. The English working class, many who were also Nonconformist, especially in the northern industrial districts, were also criticised and accused of immorality in commissions. Female child coal miners in Yorkshire were criticised for working naked (Children's Employment Commission Mines 1842). The families and communities were criticised for drunkeness and lewd behaviour. I am not saying it is right that it happened but just giving some context of the times

The "Welsh Not" notices used to punish, embarrass and denigrate children heard speaking their own language in school was replicated certainly in Canada and New Zealand, (and probably other colonies) where pupils were often beaten for using the language of their home and community in school. This policy seems to have worked in Ireland where, despite strenuous efforts after Independence, the language survives but has not revived. In Wales, retention of the language has always been seen as important to help define the nation and there is an understanding that "a people who lose their language lose their soul".

Presumably the parents agreed with these teachers and wanted their children to speak English? The beating of children was commonplace at the time for all kinds of things. Wrong that it might have happened but again this is the context

My Welsh forbears, unlike Pinot's, regrettably lost their language and I was not brought up in Wales so I have only a few words but, as an example of "lost in translation", try to explain all the connotations of "hiraeth" in one English word ! Impossible, there is no true English equivalent ! At times it can be very frustrating not to have the right words available to express a feeling in simple terms !
This is why I use "Yma o hyd" as a byline. It means "We are still here" and is just a gentle reminder that there people with older roots than the English in these islands and that, despite nearly a thousand years of attempting to assimilate them, they have retained their identity.

Maec

My ancestors spoke Welsh, till at least 1911. They were from North Wales and when we visited relatives they still spoke it too but my Nan, or 'Nain', didn't like it and wouldn't speak it, which is a shame but I think she saw it as old fashioned. She was very modern and liked to dress in the latest fashions, she liked jazz, dancing and movies, and so I guess she wanted to be part of that English speaking 'zeitgeist'


Offline pinot

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #16 on: Wednesday 15 August 18 00:34 BST (UK) »
            Thanks to MaecW for a substantial contribution; it is sad but comforting to learn that the population of northern England at large was seen to be as disadvantaged as that of Wales. Nonconformism in Wales provided a free path to literacy and numeracy which the British government was decades away from offering, while the Church of England, true to its name, was an arm of the British establishment whose main interest was the preservation of the Crown and the ruling classes and the tithes and rents of the lower classes.
              The concept was dinned into the working class of Wales that English was the language of progress and social mobility, and was adopted by much of the population later in the century during the economic boom in industrial Wales. Thankfully the provision of State education created the means to give Welsh language, literature and history their place in education and our universities now provide the opportunity to complete a degree course through Welsh in in many disciplines.
                In the present day, Welsh-language courses are available for refugees and immigrants, and the recent annual National Eisteddfod of Wales, held in Cardiff, showed that people of many world-wide cultures were tempted to see what was going on in Cardiff Bay.
                In conclusion, were it not for our dear Trystan I would not be allowed to make posts here in Welsh (which I was forbidden to do on a BBC family history website) - Anglocentric?
                I think Arranroots may be regretting her 'hated by the Welsh' remark as she is, I suppose, getting all the consequent emails.
                If you're free next August, sallyyorks, why not visit the National Eisteddfod at Llanrwst; you might enjoy it.

Offline MaecW

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Re: Link: NLW "The Blue Books" online - The State of the Welsh Nation in 1847
« Reply #17 on: Wednesday 15 August 18 15:22 BST (UK) »
In brief (!) reply to sallyyorks :
 I do not pretend to be an expert on the complicated and confusing questions of the mix of religion and education in mid- to late-Victorian Wales. The question you asked was what Pinot meant by the phrase "the imperialist Anglo-centric C19th zeitgeist." and I endeavoured to explain it. The point is that the attitude of dismissiveness towards native culture and language, the seizing on supposedly "moral infringements" to condemn, and the insistence that only the values of a certain sector of the English middle classes had any validity, occurred not only, as here, in Wales but all over the Empire. At times this was assisted by the deliberate foisting of false histories by the authorities in order to justify what were otherwise reprehensible actions. This had the long-term effect of destroying the self-belief and self-confidence of the native people who, in many instances, instead of being able to move comfortably between their old world and the new one, were left unsure of who or what they were, finding themselves treated as second-class citizens irrespective of how ever hard they tried to fit in with the new society.
I could go on at length as to how these actions are still affecting people today but this is not really the place for that discussion.

To revert to the period of the Blue Books : They are called "The Treachery" because educated and intelligent Welsh of the period realised that the report, 'though originally well-intentioned, was ill-based and extremely biased. For a better understanding than the Wikipedia entry offers I suggest you read the relevant section of John Davies' History of Wales; only a few pages but well laid out.

Maec
Baron (of Blackburn), Chadwick (Oswaldtwistle), Watkins (Swansea), Jones (x3 Swansea), Colton (Shropshire), Knight (Shropshire/Montgomery) , Bullen (Norfolk), White (Dorset)