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Welsh outlook


Vol. 6, No. 8 Aug. 1919

Eisteddfod symposium : The need of reform.

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THE early introduction and ultimate passing of another
Eisteddfod Reform Bill is foreseen by expert
students alike of Eisteddfodic meteorology and of national
renaissance. 1 say "another" reform bill advisedly,
for that which many must realise is about to come will
not be the first, nor even the second, within living memory.
This renewal of interest in the People's University is as
certain as the rebirth of the national spirit, and as inevit-
able as the periodical recurrence of political upheavals, or
of religious revivals. There is a tide in the affairs of
nations as of men, and of literary as of political institutions.
He who attempts to stem the rising tide will merely repeat
Canute's experience. In Wales the Eisteddfod is only
one medium for the expression of the national spirit;
political activities is another. Revived interest in the one
is a sure accompaniment to the birth-pains which are the
natural forerunners of the others.
Wales is to-day repeating the story of a generation ago.
She stands on the verge of a great social and political revolu-
tion-as she did a little over thirty years ago. The re-
birth of the national spirit is presaged as certainly by the
growing universal demand for autonomy, by the revived
thirst for improved educational facilities, by the rising cry
for fuller recognition of the native language in all official
and academic spheres, as it is in the desire for Eisteddfodic
Reform. It was the same a generation ago. Tom Ellis,
consciously or unconsciously moved by the new life
pulsating in the nation's veins, shattered the shackles
which the territorial magnates had imposed on the electo-
rate, and threw open the doors of St. Stephen's to the
tenant equally with the landlord Viriamu Jones, Isambard
Owen, and Brynmor Jones secured a charter for a Welsh
University the system of Welsh Intermediate Schools
was established Dan Isaac Davies, Archdeacon Griffiths,
and others founded the Welsh Language Society which
first secured official recognition for the mother tongue in
the day schools of Wales the Bardic Gorsedd was re-
modelled, the National Eisteddfod Association recreated,
and the National Eisteddfod itself revivified and reduced to
a semblance of order.
That was over thirty years ago. What do we see to-
day ? Follow the sequence given above. Labour and its
leaders are repeating the victory won by Tom Ellis the
University Charter is being remodelled the system of
Secondary Education is being unified the Union of
Welsh National Societies, like Samson's foxes, are burn-
ing up the shocks, the standing corn, the vineyards, end
olives alike of the once dominant Philistine and of his
emasculated emulator Dic Shon Dafydd. Within and
without the Gorsedd Association and the National Eis-
teddtod Association is heard the demand for reform,-
and the national consciousness, no less than the national
conscience, cries aloud for making the National Festival
more subservient to national needs, and more consonant
with enlightened national aspirations.
By Beriah Gwynfe Evans
That the lay reader should appreciate the existing
situation, it should be explained that the National Eis-
teddfod is to-day, like the United Kingdom, under the
rule of three estates :-the Gorsedd of Bards, the National
Eisteddfod Association, and the Local Committee. The
supreme authority is vested in the Gorsedd and the Eis-
teddfod Association. Each of these possesses an equal
power of veto. No National Eisteddfod can constitu-
tionally be held without the sanction and approval of both
these organisations. Each is supreme in its own sphere.
The Gorsedd contents itself with upholding and protecting
traditional bardic privileges, and seeing that Eisteddfodic
ceremonials are conducted decently and in order. The
Association concerns itself mainly with ensuring the
financial solvency of the annual Festival, and with the
publication of the "Transactions," including, within
prescribed limits, the successful literary compositions.
The Local Committee undertakes all local arrangements,
and becomes solely responsible for providing the requisite
finances. Before the invitation of any locality for the
honour of holding the National Festival can be even con-
sidered, the Local Committee must pledge itself in writing,
signed, sealed, and delivered, to submit in all essential
matters to the authority and rules of the two supreme
authorities-the Gorsedd and the Association. This
involves, among others, the following
1. The invitation must be endorsed by the Local
Authority (e.g. Town or Urban Council) under its
official seal.
2. A duly executed Bond, signed by the requisite
number of guarantors, for a minimum amount of
One Thousand Pounds to meet any possible
deficit in the Eisteddfod balance sheet.
3. To submit the List of Subjects to the supervision,
and all and any portions of such list to the veto of
the Gorsedd to recognise the Gorsedd as the
supreme authority in all matters pertaining to the
conduct of the Eisteddfod to extend the tradi-
tional hospitality to the Archdruid and his entourage
at the Proclamation and during the holding of the
Festival and to accord to the assembled Gorseddic
Bards their traditional privileges.
4. To hand over to the combined Gorsedd and National
Eisteddfod Association, one-half of the nett surplus
resulting from the holding of the Festival.
The Gorsedd and the Association undertake in return
to perform certain specified reciprocal duties,-the chief
of which on the part of the Eisteddfod Association, is to
supplement by means of special prizes the Local Committee's s
Prize List, and to print and publish the official Trans-
actions of the Eisteddfod. This latter obligation, it
should be remembered applies equally whether the Eis-
teddfod balance sheet shows a surplus or a deficit; thus
the financial success or failure of the Eisteddfod in no way
affects the subsequent publication of the Transactions.
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