Education In Wales
( Originally Published 1921 )
AS Wales established a State system of secondary education eleven years before England, and as this precedent possibly hastened England's acceptance of the principles which were embodied in the Act of 1902, this seems the natural place to insert a chapter on the history of university and secondary education in the Principality.
In the Middle Ages Welshmen flocked to Oxford in considerable numbers; and later Queen Elizabeth, mindful of her Welsh descent, founded Jesus College specially for them. The first project for a special university for Wales was formed during the Commonwealth. The object, how-ever, was not to foster Welsh nationality, but the reverse. The Puritan government regarded the Welsh as a race of obstinate royalists and episcopalians, and the university was to be a means of converting them to proper republican and anti-episcopal principles. The Restoration put an end to the project; and, before anything more was heard of a Welsh university, the absentee Georgian bishops had alienated the mass of Welshmen from the Established Church, the Methodist Revival had made religion, in a changed form, their main interest, and the Romantic movement had revived Welsh poetry, established the Eisteddfod, and inspired a keen interest in the antiquities, language, and literature of the people.
When the great age of school foundation closed early in the seventeenth century, it left Wales poorly supplied with grammar schools. Like their English counterparts, they mostly sank into insignificance by the nineteenth century, and none of them was fortunate enough, like the nine "public schools," to improve its fortunes. Such small schools existed at Bala, Bangor, Beaumaris, Bottwnog, Brecon, Cardigan, Carmarthen, Cowbridge, Denbigh, Deythur, Dolgelly, Haverfordwest, Hawarden, Lampeter, Llanrwst, Presteign, Ruabon, Ruthin, St Asaph, Swansea, and Ystrad Meurig. The seventeenth century, so full of interest in connection with Welsh elementary education, has practically nothing to show in connection with Welsh secondary education.
The religious revival was the root from which the modern educational movement in Wales sprang. Before the end of the eighteenth century the need of training candidates for the ministry had led to the foundation of theological colleges, which of necessity had to supply what was lacking in the secondary education of their students. Somewhat later the Anglican Church followed suit, as Bishop Burgess of St David's found that most of his clergy had had no other' education than a year at Ystrad Meurig, a school which, like others at the time and till much later, received adults as well as boy pupils. He consequently promoted the foundation of Lampeter College in 1827, and there was a demand that it should acquire something of a university rank.
The forties saw a great educational revival. At first it centred round elementary education, and was led by Sir Thomas Phillips of Newport, Sir Hugh Owen, and the Rev. Henry Griffiths. In 1846 Owen founded the Cambrian Educational Society. As regards elementary education, the movement received an unfortunate check through the excitement created by the adverse report of a Commission on Welsh elementary schools, which was popularly called "Brâd y Llyfrau Gleision" (the treason of the blue books). The movers, however, directed their attention to higher education. In 1849 Phillips, in a book called Wales, the language, social conditions, moral character and opinions of the people considered in their relation to education, which is the best authority for the history of Welsh education up to that date, urged the foundation of Durham university as a claim for the establishment of a university for Wales. Historically the two projects were closely connected, as the Commonwealth had conceived them both. Moreover, Scotland had four universities and Ireland one. The only immediate outcome was that Lampeter received the privilege of conferring the degree of B.D., an unsatisfactory solution, both because the right to grant degrees has else-where been confined to institutions of university rank and because Lampeter was a strictly denominational foundation. Shortly afterwards a petition was sent up to Parliament by Welsh clergymen resident in Yorkshire for the first time definitely demanding the establishment of a real university.
In 1854 Owen called a conference to press for the institution of colleges on the model of those recently set up in Ireland. This project was temporarily shelved in favour of on@ for founding a training college. The success of this appeal showed that popular enthusiasm could easily be roused for educational objects. Advocates went round the country, eloquently pleading in wayside chapels; money poured in freely from poor congregations; and it was clear that the rural communities of Wales were as zealous for education as the artisans of Glasgow and Lancashire. Welsh education was a spontaneous growth, owing nothing to the State and little to wealthy manufacturers, but created mainly by country congregations or those of small market towns. No sooner had the training-college project been realised by the foundation of Bangor Normal College in 1852 than the university scheme was revived at the Eisteddfod of 1853. At this point the religious difficulty entered, Churchmen being satisfied by the granting to Lampeter of the right to give B.A. as well as B.D. degrees. Owen's first idea was to set up two colleges, one in the north and one in the south; but a site at Aberystwyth presented itself and the geographically central position led to its acceptance. The College was opened in 1872 and prepared for London degrees. Owen continued for the rest of his life to be the soul of the movement for maintaining the College as he had of that for founding it.
It is easier to stir enthusiasm in order to raise a capital sum than it is to maintain a steady flow of annual subscriptions. There was likewise a period when students came in none too freely, the number sinking from a maximum of 93 to 57, and these coming almost entirely from the few neighbouring counties. In 1879 the Welsh members therefore brought forward a motion in favour of government aid for Welsh higher education. It was defeated in Disraeli's House; but in the following year Gladstone obtained a large majority at the general election. Glad-stone was a resident in Wales and knew something of its needs. When Hugh Owen continued to press for an enquiry the new government set up a Committee under Lord Aberdare to enquire into the whole question of secondary and higher education in Wales. The part of its report which dealt with schools will be considered when we come to the Intermediate Education Act; as regards higher education, it reported in favour of setting up two colleges which should receive government grants. One was to be in the populous industrial area of Glamorganshire; the other should either be the existing college at Aberystwyth or a college situated in North Wales. The evidence on the matter of a full degree-giving university was somewhat divided; but the argument which decided the Committee was that Lam-peter already possessed this privilege and that Lampeter was a denominational institution. They looked therefore to a future federation of Lampeter and the two proposed colleges into a full university.
The government adopted the Committee's proposals as to state-aided colleges. Till their site should be determined a temporary grant was made to Aberystwyth, and a valuable precedent was created which was subsequently extended to England. Arbitrators were appointed to examine the competing claims of Cardiff and Swansea to be the site of the South Wales college. They decided in favour of Cardiff, and the college was opened in 1883. Twenty-five years later Swansea also established its claim that its technical college should be reorganised as one of the constituent colleges of the university. North Wales re-fused to be satisfied by the existence of a college as distant as Aberystwyth and, after the claims of thirteen competing towns had been examined, Bangor was selected and the college was opened in 1884. The government grant was now withdrawn from Aberystwyth and given to the two new colleges; but Aberystwyth fought hard for existence, and eventually the government agreed to give a grant to all three.
It is remarkable how rapidly, after one gap had been filled, the Welsh educational enthusiasts set themselves to discover and fill another. Secondary schools came next. The Aberdare Committee had reported that only 1540 boys and 265 girls were receiving secondary education apart from those in private schools. Excluding Monmouthshire which possessed a fine educational endowment, only two of the old grammar schools, Christ College at Brecon and Friars School at Bangor, and one new foundation, Llandovery College, were really flourishing. Bangor and Brecon both owed their position to Daniel Lewis Lloyd, afterwards bishop of Bangor. His career is typical of Wales in the nineteenth century, though in England we should have to look several centuries earlier for parallels. Born in 1843 on a farm in Cardiganshire, the most Welsh of all Welsh counties, he received his education at the two small schools of Lampeter and Ystrad Meurig, went up to Jesus College, Oxford, and was appointed curate at Dolgelly, where, by one of those curious makeshifts to which the old grammar schools had to resort, the curate was also on the staff of the school. Lloyd thus drifted into the scholastic profession. In 1873 he was appointed to Friars where, in the days before the Schools Inquiry Commission, the irremovable headmaster is said to have flogged away almost all his pupils and to have enjoyed a life of leisure to the end of his days. Lloyd was at Brecon from 1878 to 189o, and, in days before county scholarships, he used to tour the elementary schools in search of promising pupils. Enthusiastic, fiery-tempered, and forgiving, he knew everything of individual boys, to whom he was a hero. Llandovery, now the largest boarding-school in Wales, had among its headmasters the present archbishop of Wales and the present bishop of St David's. Monmouth School was reorganised as a result of the Endowed Schools Act, being one of the six largest endowments on which the Schools Inquiry Commission had presented detailed reports. These four schools together accounted for two-thirds of the secondary school boys in Wales.
Such a provision for secondary education was obviously quite inadequate. Moreover, it was too closely associated with the Church of England to satisfy a community where the Nonconformist majority was brimful of educational zeal. In England the effective demand came from the professional classes; farmers, artisans, and shopkeepers only began to think of a good secondary education when they found a supply offered to them. Hence till 1902 the really effective portion of English secondary education was modelled on the lines of the reformed public schools. In Wales the demand was for something which should form the next rung of the "ladder" from the elementary school. Those were days when every clever and ambitious boy in Wales wished to become a minister, and when his success in reaching a theological college was the pride of his family. In their early days the university colleges were compelled to do a large amount of secondary school work: indeed at the time of their foundation many persons were inclined to regard it as their function to take boys from the elementary schools and pass them on to Oxford. The theological colleges were obliged to conduct preparatory schools of their own.
The Aberdare Committee came to no very definite conclusions as to the solution of the problem. They were anxious that Wales should have equal facilities in the shape of first-grade schools with England; but neither commissioners nor witnesses were clear how such a type of education, which with a scattered rural population necessarily involved boarding-schools, could be provided at a cost which should be within the reach of parents of moderate means. They saw too that the provision of first-grade schools only touched the fringe of the problem : and that the main demand was for schools of a less ambitious type which would be readily accessible to day-pupils in every district. Provision for girls was more urgently needed even than for boys; but the Committee was a little too early to adopt the solution of mixed schools. They saw that rate or State aid or both were essential conditions of financing the schools adequately; but they evidently felt that, in expressing such an opinion, they were making an unprecedented proposal.
It was left to the Welsh private members to carry a scheme through Parliament. A private members' bill must necessarily be simple and of a kind to appeal to the public. The Intermediate Education Act of 1889 fulfilled these conditions. It set up a uniform type of schools, not very expensive, and numerous enough to be accessible to every district. A government bill, embodying the findings of a Royal Commission, would probably have been more complicated, and would have provided for more differences of type ; but it is by no means certain that, without the light of subsequent experience, it would have provided the types which were really needed, and it may be assumed with confidence that it would not have made the same popular appeal as this easily comprehended measure. Provision was to be made by counties. The original schemes for the various schools were to be drawn up by three representatives of the County Council and two nominees of the government. When once the schools were founded, they were to be administered by a governing body for each school (or pair of schools in cases where the boys' and girls schools were separate) ; but all these local bodies were to be in some measure under the control of a central governing body for each county. Except in populous areas the schools were "dual," which in practice has come to mean mixed. The County Councils were empowered to raise a halfpenny rate—the first ever avowedly raised for secondary education-and the Treasury was to pay pound for pound. By 1895 thirty such schools had been founded, and by 1902 the number had risen to ninety-five. Mon-mouth, Llandovery, and Brecon refused to give up their independence; but the bulk of the older schools voluntarily converted themselves into county schools under the new act.
The Welsh Intermediate Education Act was clearly a model for much of the English Act of 1902. County Councils received even larger control under that Act; rate aid and treasury aid both appear; and the type of school set up was meant to be very similar. The faults in the early working of bureaucratic administration of education will have to be considered shortly: for the moment let us consider only the benefits which resulted from the creation of a new type of school. For the first time schools were established whose normal function was to take the most promising pupils of the elementary schools, to continue their general education, and to pass on those who eventually proved most apt to the local university. When Huxley spoke of the "ladder," the metaphor, though unintentionally, suggested a strait and narrow way, by which elementary schoolboys could singly climb with difficulty the ascent to which their more favoured neighbours could crowd up through a broad staircase. These schools provided something more than a "ladder" in this sense. The elementary school pupil who comes out top of his school finds transfer to the secondary school the natural and normal event. The discovery of the nation's brains is no longer left to the merest accident. In rural Wales, at any rate, the parent is rare who puts his boy to work at fourteen in order to earn an immediate wage if the chance is open to him of proving a real success at the university.
It is noteworthy that the whole conception of a series of steps from the elementary school to the university is of British origin. It was unknown in France and Germany, to which English legislators were looking for educational models during the period of the Royal Commissions and for some time later. If the idea was taken from anywhere, it was from Scotland; and, outside the British Empire, the only great country where it is to be found is of British origin, namely the United States. Democratic education is as British as are democratic political institutions. Critics of the Welsh system are sometimes inclined to compare its efficiency with that of the Prussian system to the detriment of the former. The comparison misses the point. The Prussian Gymnasium provided a connected secondary school course from nine to nineteen. It was bound to teach more than can a course which at the earliest begins at twelve. But the efficiency was won at the expense of entirely debarring the working classes from its advantages. The boy who began in an elementary school ended there. It was assumed that all boys of a certain social position would complete their educational career and that no boys of a lower social position would carry it beyond fourteen. Such a system made organisation delightfully simple. Latin could be begun at nine, French at eleven, Greek at thirteen, geometry, algebra, and natural science At the earliest age at which experience showed that they could be digested, and a ten years' connected course of history, geography, and literature could be so devised that no period, no country, and no author of importance should be omitted. The elementary school course, on the contrary, cannot be arranged for the benefit of the few pupils who will ultimately proceed to the university. But education needs two factors for success, efficient teaching and innate capacity. The democratic system widens the area of selection so enormously that, even assuming that capacity is twice as common among the classes which have pushed their way upwards than among the rest of the population, this increased field probably secures at least five times as large a proportion of able pupils; and, in the long run, this will compensate for the shortened period of secondary schooling. The pupils transferred from the elementary schools start with a handicap which they may not have made up by the age of eighteen, but they may easily be ahead by twenty-three.
The use of the term "intermediate school" suggests that the framers of the scheme hardly contemplated that the schools would be in the fullest sense secondary. It seems to have been thought by the Aberdare Committee that sixteen would be a usual age for entering the university colleges. Experience has falsified expectations. Though few pupils remain at school beyond sixteen except those who are proceeding to the university, yet the age of entering the Welsh colleges is now normally exactly the same as that which prevails at Oxford and Cambridge, so that the future university students complete their secondary school course.
The establishment of the schools thus soon produced a supply of students for the colleges who could at once enter on degree courses. It was felt that the time had come for the federation of the colleges into a national university. From their inauguration Viriamu Jones, the first principal of Cardiff, had never lost sight of the idea. On the foundation of the South Wales College he had relinquished the principalship of an organisation in being—Firth College, Sheffield—to venture on an untried experiment among his own people. He supplied an enthusiasm which never relaxed till he worked himself into an early grave. He strove vigorously to keep education in touch both with large employers of labour and with workmen's organisations, which is as much the secret of success for a college in the industrial area of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire as in the large towns of the North of England. He fought for intermediate schools, for university extension, and for the formation of a national university. He held that the dependence of the colleges on the external examinations of London tended to create a false estimate, in the minds both of students and of the general public, of the place of examinations in university education. " We are an over-examined people; the bloom of originality is too often brushed from an original mind by our examination system." In 1888 a conference of the three colleges had already agreed to ask for a federal university on the lines of Victoria—the lines which within a few years Victoria sought to alter—but except on federal lines it is difficult to see how there could have been a university at all. An alternative scheme was, however, suggested by R. D. Roberts, who held offices in connection with the extension work of Cambridge and London, by which the university should send forth itinerant lecturers and give its degrees to candidates who attended evening classes.
It is an idea which London University has more than any other been able to attain, and it is an idea of which we shall hear more in the future. But it had two great defects. First, it is a very different thing to have a university throwing out tentacles in all directions and to have the tentacles without the university. If either is to be created first, it must be the nucleus. Where could the higher work, which inspires the rest, go on if the university had no local habitation? Secondly, it presumes a university of part-time students. Part-time students will be technological students, for whom there is no division of interest; for they learn by night the principles of what they do by day. But the arts or pure science student who is studying for half his time is serving two masters—with the usual result. It is true that hitherto the extension work has been the weak side of the Welsh university; but this is possibly a reaction against the movement to make it the whole of its work. Lord Aberdare and Viriamu Jones fought hard for a teaching university built up on the three colleges, and by 1891 their policy was accepted; and the charter of the new university received the royal approval in 1893.
With this event the constructive period in the history of Welsh education closes and the critical begins. The whole organisation existed; it was left to test its working by experience and to modify it as that experience suggested. The criticisms which have been brought against the schools and against the university must be considered separately.
Criticism of the schools generally resolves itself into criticism of the Central Welsh Board. This body came into being as follows. One of the conditions on which the government agreed to give grants to the intermediate schools was their submission to an annual inspection and report. The governing bodies were anxious to avoid too rigid control from Whitehall, which still carried the burden of Robert Lowe's sins. In 1892 therefore the Treasury assented to the creation of a central board for Welsh inter-mediate education, only reserving the right to the Charity Commissioners, to whom the board reported, to conduct a further inspection or examination if it should seem necessary. Viriamu Jones strove hard that the University Court should become the central authority, with a view to securing the co-ordination of secondary and university education. He was supported by the veteran principal of Jesus, Sir John Rhys ; but the governing bodies would not accept the proposal, and in 1896 the Central Board, consisting mainly of representatives of the County Governing Bodies, together with a few representatives of teachers and of the University, was set up. There can be no doubt that the new body committed the very fault which it had been created to avoid; for it tended to regard written examinations as the one test of the efficiency of a school and to give or to withhold grants purely on the results of its annual examinations. It had no exact counterpart in the educational machinery of other countries, and it seems to have interpreted its function as similar to the delegacies or syndicates appointed by the English universities for the conduct of local examinations. Inspection was wholly subordinate, and Wales exhibited the phenomena which we have already noticed in connection with England, the establishment of a series of examinations—preliminary, junior, senior, and honours—the annual testing of all pupils except those at the very junior stages, the repeated sending in of candidates for the same examination to secure more distinctions for the school, compulsion on candidates to enter at the earliest possible age, over-pressure, and illdigested knowledge. These evils were accentuated by the fact that Welsh pupils are more ready to work and had less tradition of "canny" devices than their English cousins, that the very zeal for education among parents who often had never been at a secondary school themselves and had not learned by experience that more effective work may be done in seven hours than in eleven increased the danger of over-pressure, and that, most of the schools being mixed, the girls were encouraged to risk their health and mental freshness by conscientiously endeavouring to do what their brothers could only manage with the utmost difficulty. On the whole, however, these evils were first discovered in Wales because State secondary education was thirteen years older than in England, and probably their discovery has done something to demolish the examination fetish in the larger country.
Another criticism often brought against the Central Welsh Board is its supposed neglect of the practical subjects. This may be partly explained by the bookish conception of education which prevailed everywhere at the time when the Board was set up. The Act defined "inter-mediate" education as one "which includes instruction in Latin, Greek, the Welsh and English language and literature, modern languages, mathematics, natural and applied science, or in some of such studies, and generally in the higher branches of knowledge," while technical education was defined as including " any subject applicable to the purposes of agriculture, industries, trade, or commercial life and practice, including science and art classes." This was the universal conception in 1889. The laboratory had taken its place alongside of the class-room; but that any true education could come from the saw or the spade was undreamt of. But what of art and music? Where were ye, Nymphs, when arts which had taken their place in the national culture ages ago were omitted? The answer can only be found by an analysis of the mixture of idealistic and utilitarian motives which influenced parents. They did not, as a rule, choose for their sons occupations which would bring in wealth; there is much truth in the saying that every able young Welshman wished to be a teacher or a preacher. Such ambitions may partly arise from a desire to escape "shirt-sleeve" occupations; but they likewise imply in the community which cherishes them a respect for the things of the mind. Technical education, which appeals to the desire for wealth, was not therefore in great demand; but, among the things of the mind, a technical motive was at work, favouring those subjects which were needed in the ministerial or scholastic callings; and, as these were precisely the subjects which had formed the staple of traditional schooling, they were eagerly seized. When the claims of art, music and hand-work as essential elements in the education of the whole man began to be pressed both in Great Britain and in America, the difficulty that these subjects in no way assist the pupil in his subsequent university course proved, in Wales as in England, the most serious obstacle to their recognition. Neither country has yet solved the problem. The literary ideal of education, which in England in the past was a peculiar possession of the classes which sent their children to schools conducted on public school lines, is, however, now so threatened everywhere by the rising tide of commercialism, that twenty years hence there will probably be no complaint that there are more aspiring teachers and preachers than there are class-rooms or pulpits to be filled, and a future generation may be glad that in rural Wales the old Victorian ideal still persists among all classes.
Wales was affected as well as England by the Board of Education Act of 1899 and by the Education Act of 1902. The former, by handing over the powers of the Charity Commissioners to the newly-constituted Board of Education in London, substituted a real for a nominal master over all the Welsh authorities, including the Central Welsh Board. The Act of 1902 made the County and ,County Borough Councils, acting through their Education Committees, the Local Education Authority for all classes of school, and they thus took the place of the old County Governing Bodies and often encroached on the powers of the Local Governing Bodies.
The effect of the former change was seen in due course. The idea of devolution was in the air; but, whereas in regard to things of the body it is very difficult to disentangle Welsh administration from English (a letter from North to South Wales, for instance, goes by way of Shrewsbury and Hereford), in things of the mind the two countries are very different. Hence there has been some tendency to try devolution first in educational matters. The Board of Education, which shared with all bureaucracies the love of power, cleverly secured it by a superficial concession to this desire. It established a separate Welsh department which turned into a reality the nominal powers formerly vested in the Charity Commissioners; but this branch had no real independence, and was under the direct control of the President of the Board. The Welsh branch of Whitehall in consequence had over-lapping jurisdiction with the Central Welsh Board, and the question of " dual inspection " led to a long controversy. Some sympathy can be felt with Whitehall. It had experienced a sudden conversion. It was conscious that, in its unregenerate days as the Committee of Council, it had been given over to the idolatry of examinations. Its officials, like all converts, were now the most zealous preachers of the doctrine which they-had once persecuted. Preliminary and junior examinations were hewn down and burned in the fire; it was proclaimed as an article of faith that two examinations only might be accepted, one at sixteen and the other at nineteen; and possibly they were feeling their way to see if these examinations might not, as in Germany, be controlled by the State. In England the old heathenism had plenty of adherents, but no college of priests: in Wales the Central Welsh Board seemed to occupy the latter position. It was summoned to recant, but it took some time to recite the new creed properly. The Inquisition began its work; the order of merit in which the successful candidates in the honours examination had been placed was the first victim; the newly-instituted examination between the senior and honours examination had a short life; the junior examination was sentenced to death but the execution of the sentence was deferred. Ultimately the Central Welsh Board subscribed to two articles of the new creed; first, that inspection is more important than examination; and secondly, that music, drawing, woodwork, needlework, laundry, and housewifery are canonical subjects in the curriculum. But Whitehall is watching it carefully, and any day an indictment may be laid against it as a relapsed heretic.
Meanwhile it was being whispered that the university was guilty not only of the worship of examinations but of another false goddess, Red Tape. On this occasion the Board of Education, perhaps from a little uneasiness lest it had not cleared its own precincts entirely from the latter form of idolatry, did not formally figure at the trial, which was carried on before a Royal Commission over which Lord Haldane presided. Their report appeared in 1918. The difficulties inherent in the federal system, which had led to its abandonment in Victoria University, were ten-fold greater in Wales. Liverpudlians had urged as a reason for separation from Manchester that the time consumed in travelling prevented their representatives from attending university meetings. What would they have said if their only means of reaching a sister college had been by the Cardigan Bay Coast route? But there was a reason in the case of Wales, which there was not in the case of Victoria, why the abandonment of the federal system would have entailed a great loss. A federal Victoria embodied no idea; the Welsh university stood for the spiritual unity of the Welsh people. It was felt that administrative difficulties must- somehow be got over without sacrificing this ad-vantage. The Royal Commissioners seem to have arrived at a happy solution. The colleges should be given a large measure of independence as regards courses, syllabuses, and examinations; and the university should be made more than a combination of the three colleges. The reformed system of London on its internal side may have suggested this solution. The colleges were to be what University and King's Colleges were to London; but there would also be a technological organisation for South Wales, an extension system, a close connection with the National Library and the National Museum, a university press, and a central body for arousing and directing interest in national archaeology, history, and literature; in fact the university should be a brain controlling many limbs. The independence of the colleges would destroy the external character of the examinations and would do away with the need for much of the "red tape"; and the university would be set free to devote itself to constructive work.
The experience of Wales in the matter of her university may be of value to England at some future date when she seeks to set up provincial colleges for her rural areas. At present the prospect of an Eastern Counties University with colleges at Norwich, Lincoln, and Ipswich, seems as remote as in 185o seemed the prospect of a northern university with colleges at Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds: but the latter is now a matter of history, and why should the former be impossible? Cardiff is of course similarly situated to one of the English city universities; but Aberystwyth and Bangor have no counterpart in rural England. Yet there are indications that the age of great towns may be a passing phase. Mr H. G. Wells has seen visions of a time when London may be as accessible from Exeter as twenty years ago it was from Streatham. Works are being built as far away from big towns as conditions admit in order to avoid high rents. Electricity will hasten the process. Finally agriculture is always bound to assert itself. It is the oldest of industries and the most essential. And it will be mixed farming. The specialised wheat farming of Manitoba will pass away and the mixed farming of East Anglia will remain. If any change takes place, agriculture will become more intensive and more like the garden farming of Japan. Old King Coal reigns only till science has found a means to use other sources of energy, and who doubts her power to tame them? But Mother Earth will be the supply of man's food till the sun grows cold.
The University of Wales is sometimes accused of not being national. Before examining the charge, let us take the senses in which it undoubtedly is national. In the first place it is closely bound to the rest of the national system of education. There can hardly be a parish in the land which does not contain one of its graduates and some boy or girl who will some day be one of its graduates. It presents a goal to which hundreds of lads in isolated farm or mountain cottage aspire. It must contain a much greater percentage of poor students than the most democratic of English universities. Secondly, it is the centre of research into the national history, language, and antiquities.
The contributions of its staff to knowledge contain a high proportion of what is specifically national. It is true that it is not a wholesale manufactory of bards, but what university is? Poeta non fit can be no more overcome than the law of gravitation. In the third place it is closely bound up with the specific interests of rural Wales from theology to agriculture. May we hope that it will, in consonance with history, develop forestry into a great national industry? And it has no firmer friends than the slate quarrymen.
What then is meant by the charge? Sometimes it only means that the critic objects to some action of the university and uses "anti-national" as the worst name he can call it. But the criticism is not all of this kind. Perhaps the sense in which the university could be made more national is that the people at large should see more of it. London University, thanks to the smallness of its academic diocese, has been the first to bring its teaching to people's own doors. It is far more difficult in a scattered area. If a professor at Manchester or Birmingham announces a public lecture, all the constituents of that university area can with a short railway journey attend. Aberystwyth and Bangor can only solve the problem as Mohammed solved it in regard to the mountain. A beginning has been made by means of tutorial classes. Sir Henry Jones has adumbrated a scheme by which every village shall, if it wishes, see a representative of the university. When the university is accused of not being national, it probably means that the working men want, not merely to know that the clever boy of the village is working at one of the colleges, but to hear a teacher from that college in their own village hall. Let the critics think out a scheme : it needs men and money. But it will not be a substitute for the present system by which the able boy is removed to one of the university towns for eight months in the year: it will be an addition. The able boy is needed as one of the future lecturers. It is a difficult problem, but, if it is ever solved, it will be the finishing touch to the work of the university in rural areas.