From Our Welsh Correspondent.
The conventions of letter-writing are long since dead, but I propose to resurrect one of them. And that is to preface my letter with some justification for writing it: an apology for intrusion.
Why then, a Welsh Letter? The question is relevant. And the answer is that the Welsh news of the newspapers is almost unintelligible because it is isolated, torn roughly from its context to find an uneasy footing amidst a crowd of crises and testmatch results. For Wales is rarely frontpage news for long. Cardiff murders, South Wales strikes, and, of course, the doings of Mr. Lloyd George—these for a time have stolen the " Hitler-Mae West " thunder. And since " man bites dog" is better news than "dog bites man," and since Wales is regrettably wanting in sensations, Fleet Street looks elsewhere for its copy.
Last Week's Sensation But Wales had quite a lot of space last week, and it proved my point quite satisfactorily. Special correspondents (none of whom knew Wales, much less Welsh), made Court One of the Old Bailey uncomfortably full. Primed by the lunch-time editions, quite a number of bank clerks stopped to hear Hen Wlad Fv Nhadau sung outside the Court—and missed their usual trains as a result. Plain-clothes policemen took notes at a Hyde Park meeting. It was all very exciting, and, as an old man said to me, well worth the cost of a special excursion.
It was, then, according to highly-paid writers in important papers, a " sensation "—and they ought to know. Since then Wales has gone back to the Rugby pane where she really belongs.
But the Bombing School Trial was, in fact, considerably more than an " incident." It was merely the culminating point of something much more important. Divorced from what had gone before, the trial was just an item of news—particularly interesting because the accused insisted on speaking Welsh since they did not recognise the jurisdiction of the Court.
Months of Agitation
What had gone before? From June to December. 1935, scores of local bodies and religious organisations protested against the Air Ministry's proposal to set up a Bombing School in Lleyn.
In February, 1936, Sir Philip Sassoon refused to consider the difficulties raised by a Welsh member of Parliament.
In March, the Caernarvon Labour Party opposed the plan. In the same month meetings and canvassing began in Lleyn.
On March 31, the Prime Minister refused to see Mr. Saunders Lewis who had asked for an interview to express to him the widespread Welsh indignation at the plan. In April, the representative bodies of all the Nonconformist denominations passed resolutions of protest.
On May 13. it was announced that protests representing 150.000 people had been received, and that 93 per cent. of those canvassed in the Lleyn district were against the proposal to turn their native land into mr arsenal and bombing centre.
Premier Refuses Deputation
Further questions were asked in the House of Commons, with the same result as before. In June, a request to Mr. Baldwin to receive a deputation was signed by the Bishop of Menevia (Mgr. McGrath), principals of colleges, university professors, and representatives of every aspect of Welsh life (except the Anglican Church, which remained consistently aloof). The Prime Minister refused.
The petition from Lleyn was presented to Parliament. It was not even acknowledged by the Prime Minister. On September 8, at 1.30 a.m., the Bombing School was set fire to. It was burning for more than twelve hours and over £5,000 worth of damage was done.
Throughout the months of agitation, the Welsh press, with scarcely an exception, has given full support to the campaign of protest. This is in itself noteworthy. Equally noteworthy was the silence of the English press, which entirely ignored the growing tide of indignation.
When the damage had been done, and the leaders had been jailed. the rights of Wales became " news." But not before.
The Language in the Courts The current number of Y Llenor (Hughes, Is. 6d.) contains an important article by Judge .Artemus Jones, K.C., on The Law of Henry VIII in the Light of the Original MS. Judge Jones discusses the question of the use of Welsh in the lawcourts (usually held to be forbidden by the Act of Union of 1536).
It has been suggested that the Statute Law Repeal Act, 1887, includes the section of the 1536 Act that refers to the use of Welsh. The Repeal Act specifies para. 20
of the earlier Act. The difficulty arises over the numbering of the paragraphs in the Act of Union.
The section which penalises Welsh men for using Welsh can, by another method of counting, be considered to be para. 17.
Is, then, the relevant paragraph No. 17 or No. 20? This is the question to be decided, and Judge Jones's article, while it does not settle the matter. seems to a layman to show that the penalising paragraph was in fact repealed in 1887.
B.B.C. Plans for Wales
It is announced that Lord Davies is to open the new B.B.C. transmitter at Penmon, Anglesey, on February 1. The ceremony will be broadcast on the national wavelength, and among the speakers will be Mr. Hopkin Morris (Welsh Regional Director), Sir Noel Ashridge (Chief Engineer) and Mr, Cecil Graves (Director of Programmes).
The transmitter has a strength of 5 kilowatts. and tests have shown its radius to include Wrexham to the east and Aberdaron to the west.
In July, Wales is to have a distinctive wavelength, and Washford (for the south) and Penmon (for the north) will between them broadcast 24 hours of Welsh programmes weekly (compared with 15 at present). The Welsh wavelength will be 373 metres. This will be made possible by grouping together the London, North and Scottish National wavelengths on 261.1 metres.
Varia "The rejection of Christian belief in the nineteenth century has led to the rejection of Christian moral standards in the twentieth."—The Rev. W. H. Harris in " Heddiw."
"If Mr. Valentine is worthy -more worthy, say some of his church-members —to retain his position as a minister of religion, are not Mr. Saunders Lewis and Mr. D. J. Williams worthy to retain theirs as teachers? Is there such a spate of good teachers that we can afford to lose two of the best in Wales? "—Professor Gruffydd, in " Y Llenor."