Collection Title: Merthyr Pioneer
Institution: The National Library of Wales
Rights: The copyright status or ownership of this resource is unknown.
"Clarion" Heroics. SEE PAGE 2
Snowden's Great Speech SEE PAGE 7
Conscience & Conscription. What is truth?" asked jesting Pilate, and did not wait for an answer. What is ooIÍ- acience. asked an earnest Prime Minister, and left the question to the tribunals. "The Daily Express' immediately "yelled Shirkers," and Mr. Joynson Hicks proposed the abolition of the Conscience Clause. Somebody quoted Shakespeare. A long time ago some Greek students were walking through the streets of their ancient city, and one of them asked the question, "What is justice?" And they set themselves to answer the. question, and they talked and thought and discussed about men, manners, poetry, education, war, government, and the State, and their discussions were written down by Plato in a big volum*. They had started out to define an abstraction, and they had planned out a scheme for an ideal city; they had con- ceived an Utopia, in their imaginations they had built up the" Republic." It was one of the first great experiments in philosophy. To-clay, the question "What is conscience ?" is being propounded. It is not with the intention of encouraging budding philosophers, nor of giving an incentive to the study of metaphysics. On an interpretation of that question it is to be decided whether a man is to be bond er free, a private citizen or a conscript. In a, certain number of days, af- ter a certain number of days, the guardians of our national destinies have decreed that we have to answer that question in a good, honest, lgeal maimer, or become morsels in the Lord Derby Scheme of national nutrition. We are to solve the riddle of the Sphinx of Modern England or become its victims. For a vague pledge, vaguely interpreted, has to bo fulfilled the Cabinet fall foul of the phrase "negligible quantity"; so they pass on to the simpler question of conscience. Conscience "Mid Religion. I Many people regard the Conscience Clause as an undignified exhibition of national tolerance. It is on record that the local greengrocer gave it as his opinion that Mr. Asquith was weak. Others thought that toleration and free specli should be done away with in order to win the war; and so smashed up meetings at the Qua- ker Church in London. Conscience is too often construed to mean a man's religious beliefs. This is entirely wrong. Thei; are thousands of young men throughout the couiiti-y who oppose Consei-lption for soeial l and ethical reasons, and not on purely religi- ous, grounds. Such opposition i* dmxted ag- ainst the whole Bill, and not merely concentra- ted upon an attempt to obtain exemption for those who object to the taking of human life. The Government proposal, and particularly the Prime Minister's speech, show that lie, and those for whom he speaks, completely misunder- stand the position of the man who refuses to be a party to militarism and its objects. In his speech the Prime Minister said "Those of us who know the real facts of British life know quite well that there are a great many people belonging to various schools of thought who are quite prepared to serve their country in the war, but who object on conscientious grounds to the taking of life. They are quite willing, however, to perform many other mili- tary duties. Such a statement is quite a mis-representa- tion of the facts. The Quaker objects to any d%t- that means assisting in the prosecution of the war. Why this sudden outburst of broad- mindedness P Early in the war the Society of Friends offered its ambulance corps to help the stricken soldiers of any nationality to the British Government. The British military au- thorities refused this offer, because the Quak- ers would not take the military oath. Then the Friends' Service Committee offered its services to the .French Government, The French Government, acsepted the offer. Why, then, has the Government suddenly become devoted to the Society of Friends? Is it an attempt to split up the opposition to. the measure ? Politics and Conslcence. L kMlJ But the Friends are not tne uVUJ resolved to leave no stone unturned to smash the Bill. Throughout the country, thousands of young tnen not connected with the Society or Friends, will say: "We do not base our oppo- sition to this principle on Christian but on social and ethical convictions, we will refuse to be a part of any military machine, which grinds out death and suffering to the peoples of Europe, and but makes for disaster and ruin to all that is best in the world." The last 18 months have seen many changes; popular opinion is now gone raving mad; the blood-curdling yells of the jingoes have roused national passion and national hatred until the voice of reason has been suppressed and well nigh silenced. A raving press has driven on L a muddled Government to folly and panic; Gal- l'ipoli and Sulva Bay are but the least of the crimes. A cleverly-worked recruiting dodge-* or a solemn pledge!—has made popular feeling divided, and the single men—presumably with the assent of the married men-are to be con- scripted, with so many safeguards" guaranteed with the sacred word of the politicians. The Government tells us, "We believe as solemnly as you do in liberty and the voluntary system, but we must win the war." Our reply wi[I be: "Wre (Will not assist in this great crime you call war whatever the penalties may be." The Tragedy of Germany and the Triumph I of Ireland. -1 Miss Jane Adams, a prominent member of the Women's International League, was in Berlin a few months ago, and while there she learned on first hand authority that over two hundred German youths had been shot, in the early days of the war, for refusing to take part in military service. It is perhaps the greatest tragedy of the whole war. Militarism tad grown in the early days, and could not be fchafeen ul. Two hundred young German con- ?cnptstriedto throw off the yoke, but they failed. I They failed because Conscription had the nation in its iron grip. Who knows, if militarism had been resisted when iilfstapplied in Ger- many, what the history of Europe might havel been ? Conscription came, and came to stay, and will stay until the German people them- selves smash it from within. Mr. Bonar Law, in the House of Commons on Monday, bluntly admitted that Conscription was impossible in Ireland becal"o the people would not tolerate it. Ireland had seen enough of tyranny. What is to become of England? We have two examples—the example of Germany and the example of Ireland. Let militarism come, and it comes to stay. Young Germany failed because it once let the seed get firmly planted. Irelnd is free because the Government knew that young Ireland would smash the Bill. If Irish democracy can stop the militarisation of Ireland, Young England must, and will do it. EMRYS HUGHES. I
The ClubCollectors9 99 A Union
The ClubCollectors9 99 A Union. HAPPY GATHERING AT BENTLEY'S. I NEED OF ASSISTANCE FROM ORGANISED WORKERS. The Merthyr Branch of the National Union of Life Assurance Agents held its annual general meeting last Friday at their meeting room, Bentley's Hall. A fair number of mem- bars turned up, and the business was got through with rather more hurry than usuai owing to the fact that all looked forward to the tea and entertainment that were to follow. Notwithstanding that fact, some questions re- ceived the serious attention of the members. A brief report of the proceedings of the Mer- thyr Boroughs Ti-akles and Labour Council, as given by the delegate, elicted a resolution which will call the attention of the above- named Council to the serious fact that the assurance agents are by no means as well organised as they should be, and urging the delegates at the next Trades Council meeting to do all in their power to get all Trades Unionists to patronise only Union members. This course, if taken up by the Trades Un- ionists affiliated to the Trades Council, will in future have a. marked effect on the state of the organisation locally. I may here possibly be allowed to digress a little, if only to mention one iait .tint, oi all tlip peopiv that have suffered owing to their tad: of organisation, the assurance agents have suffered the most. Not only have they so far failed to get any consideration since the outbreak of the war, as organised trades have succeeded in doing, but we have gone back; cheaper tables have been introduced which very materially affect the agents' income (a 7, per cent. table for instance, of one of the largest companies, is known among the local agents as the workhouse table). It reduces our earning capacities to a considerable extent; also all the wealthy companies have introduced the "Block Sys- tem," which not only compels the agents to collect at 71 per cent. reduction in commission, but makes them, in the majority of cases, servants of their wealthy masters, and not ag- ents on commission. That means a marked difference to those engaged; it makes such agents liable to be punished for minor offences which, in reality, are only errors where under their original agreements they would be im- mune. In fact, one wealthy company has man- aged to get agents to work at the handsome maximum of 28/- or 30/- per week without, additional emoluments of any kind. If we can only prevail on our fellow-agents to become organised, such a state of affairs would, without any doubt, become impossible, and we therefore ask those who are more for- tunate to assist us in bringing in the indiffer- 6 > r|u> laggards, and those who are so weak, so full of the fear of the officials, that they a'le a ways a source of danger to their fellow ao-ents I db f r Mn conMent that this appeal of ￼ ? Ui °-lr Trade, Council will ? the n .n», | '-l niK'na Z1'* those outside into either rvf +! £ branches catering for a?urance n o-pnf" in + OUgl1' and all of which are affiliated to the Trades Council. All the retiri ffi 1. C1 a "h? retiring officials were re-elected and at ,i botit ￼ ￼ about 40 agents sat down to a spVlennddiiVd I ? in t fact, the catering was excellent and Serves the heartiest thanks of all con- Aft.-P-r full Jllstwe had been done to the good things proved the President took the chair- and c,,ave a most interesting address, mainly dwelling on the necessity of all agents feeling the pride they should in' their work, and urging all to do all in our power to raise the status of the profession, and, as one of the most important means whereby we could do so, the need of our working harder than ever to bring in all the non-Union agents in the borough. After that, we had some excel- lent singing by some of the talented artistes of the town. Our old friend and comrade G. Da- vies, is one of the best known and accom- plished soloists in these localities, and was in his best form, and will ever be remembered bv this branch for his kindness m coming to our assistance so nobly. We intended having our entertainment all on our own, and I am glad to state we succeeded well. Recitations, speeches and songs followed, all of the highest order, and about 8 o'clock we brought the proceedings to a close after passing the usual votes of thanks to all who had so kindly assisted in the work. "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" and the National Anthem closed to us one of the happiest evenings ever spent by the local bran- ches, and we trust it will bear much fruit in bringing together in the near future a body of wage slaves who require aIT they can possibly gain from co-operative effort, if they are go- ing to preserve their rights and keen up in the race with other organised employees of other trades and professions. Mrs. Nobes and Mrs. Ashton particularly de- serve our heartiest thanks and our warmest congratulations on the splendid way in which they did the catering.
Aberbargoed and District Trades Council
Aberbargoed and District Trades Council. A meeting of the Aberbargoed. New Tredegar I and Pengam Trades Council was held at the Workmen's Institute on Tuesday evening last, Mr W. M. English, New Tredegar ,presiding. Delegates were pre- nt from all the affiliated branches. There » also present Mr. W. Harris (miners' organiser), Mr. John Hughes (treasurer); and Mr. Evan Rogers (secretary). The Secretary apologised for the absence of Councillors Albert Thomas (miners' agent), Isaac Jones (the president), and Sidney Beaver, all of whom were attending a special meeting of the Urban Council. A communication was received from the Bar- goed Trades Council with reference to the water supply of the valley, which stated that replies had been received from all the local au- thorities that had been written to with refer- ence to promoting a joint water scheme, but the replies could not be considered as satisfac- and it Was suggested that another joint meeting of the Trades Councils should be held to consider what further action should be taken. It was agreed to further co-operate with the Bargoed Council, but it was felt that in view of present circumstances it was not advisable to rush the matter. A comunication was read from the Secretary of the West Monmouth Labour Party intimat- ing that the annual meeting would take place shortly, and that affiliation fees were due, and inviting the branches to send. in nominations for the various offices, and also to send in any proposals they desired to have discussed at the annual meeting. Some discussion took place with reference to the affiliation fees, and to the source from which they should come. Mr. Harris (the or- ganiser) pointed out that as far as the matter affected the miners, the Miners' Federation had returned a portion of the parliamentary levy to the lodges to be used in support of local organisation, and these funds should be speci- ally earmarked for that purpose. If the money returned was being used for ordinary lodge pur- poses, then they were misapplied, as those who had claimed exemption from the political levy were receiving benefits from funds that they had not contributed to. It was decided that the Secretary arrange for the Organiser to at- tend any meetings where it was necessary to explain this matter. It was reported that Councillor Sidney Gr ffiths was about to resign his seat on the Bedwedty Urban Council, he having been appointed to a headmastership of a school near Mori mo- The matter lisu mi; n referred to the branches, the Secretary .vported that with one exception, all the lodges and branches had sent in a. nomination on behalf of Mr. Evan Thomas, Bedwelltv Road, Aberbargoed, whose name, therefore, would be submitted to the Urban Council to All the vacancy in accordance with the resolution already passed by the Council to observe the political truce. Mr. Moyle, New Tredegar, reported on the work of the Bedwellty Board of Guardians, of which lie was a member, and referred to the action of the Board in declaring vacant two seats in the Rhmyney Valley, in consequence of the non-attendance -of the members for over six months. One of the vacancies was in connection with Aberbargoed, and it was un- derstood that the position was open to a nominee of the Labour Party, inasmuch as the retired member claimed to be a Labour nomi- nee at the last election, and had attended meetings of the Labour Group. Mr. Harris, the organiser, had also written the Council drawing their attention to this vacancy, and in answer to questions Mr. Moyla stated that the Members of Relief District 6 had been asked to bring a suggestion for a successor from Aberbargoed, and the Clerk of the Board had declared that politics had nothing to do with the work of the Guardians. Mr. Harris stated that Mr. Walter Long, now President of the L.G.B. which was the Government Department which had control over the Guardians, had ex- pressed on the floor of the House of Commons that the truce should be observed everywhere, and he (Mr. Harris) had not taken any action with reference to the other vacancy, as it was not a Labour seat. It was decided that all the branches having members in the Aberbargoed area should be asked to send in nominations by Monday next, and that a meeting be held next Wednesday to appoint a representative, whose name should be submitted to fill the vacancy. The New Tredega,r delegates drew the atten- tion of the Council to the very bad lighting of parts of their district, especially Phillipstown. The Council were evidently attempting to economise, but showed a great lack of discretion in selecting the lamps that should be in or C C out" at certain dangerous spots in Der- llwyn Street, where there were dangerous steps, the lamp was out, whereas the lamps were in in certain other parts where there was no danger. Also certain of the roads in the same district were also in a very bad oondition —especially that which led from the Constitu- tional dub (which club is not used by dele- gates) to Fothergill Road. A complaint was also made as to the danger arising from a broken stop tap" cover on the road from Pengam and Fleur-de-lis, which, if not attend- ed to, may result in the Council being held responsible for a serious accident. Complaint was also made as to the lighting at the Garden City, Pengam, and it was decided that the Secretary should write the Labour members drawing their attention to these complaints, some of which had previously been reported to the Trades Council. The momentous question of Conscription was discussed, and the following resolution, moved by Mr. Wm. Jones, and seconded by Mr. Evan Thomas, was carried 1-inanimously-- That this Trades Council expresses its un- alterable opposition to the Conscription Bill now before Parliament as entailing a grave violation of the religious and conscientious convictions of thousands of British subjects, and pledges itself to suppport in every possi- ble way those who refuse, notwithstanding ,any penalty, to submit to its provisions.
I No Truck with Centralisation
No Truck with Centralisation. MERTHYR INSURANCE COMMITTEE RE- AFFIRMS ITS OPPOSITION. The Merthyr Insurance Committee, at its meeting on Tuesday night, had the unexpected pleasure of the presence of one of H.M. Insur- ance Commissioners, whose address consisted of a plea for the Committee to break down its resolution of the previous month not to join in with the other Welsh Committees in a Centra- lisation Scheme for the examination and check- ing of prescriptions by Cardiff. Our readers will remember that a few days prior to the re- ceipt of an invitation to join in this scheme the Merthyr Committee had practically come to a mutually agreeable understanding with their checker, and nothing that was urged by the exponents of the Centralisation Scheme was sufficient in the mind s of the Committee at its last meeting to justify them in scrapping their own plans. This was emphatically set forth at the last monthly meeting, and was presum- ably the cause of the visit of the Commissioner on Tuesday. His speech followed the lines already fully reported of the general arguments of the pro- tagonists of centralisation; his only two real point's that touched the situation from a new view point so far as Merthyr was concerned being his plea that the audit department had been seriously depleted by enlistments, etc., and the centralisation would facilitate and expedite the work, which would otherwise almost be impossible on the present staff, and also a half-threat that any deficiency at the close of the year uncovered by the funds laid aside out of revenue for this work would have to be met by the local committee unsup- ported by the Central Authority. The. matter was again fully discussed, but at the close the Committee re-aiffrmed its inten- tion of standing out of the scheme. The Com- mittee has so far managed to work very well, and has covered the cost from its own funds, so that the threat did not deter them in arriving at a decision to re-affirm their previous resolution; and whilst sympathising with the audit staff, this was not regarded as a sufficient exe-,Lise-,to justify them in retreating from the position adopted and breaking their cont- ract with their own examiner.
Electric Theatre I
Electric Theatre. I To those who have not yet witnessed the world's masterpie- ~>rwdr- ».iou. "Cahiria," we -tionglj advist. to » effort to-day or to-morrow. Enormolls crowds have been the order daily, and equally large are the number turned away failing to obtain admission. We were privileged to witness a private projection of this magnificent production, and can honestly say Mr. Bowen deserves the highest praise for his selection and placing the opportunity to Merthyr picture goers. Ever since his advent into the picture world, we have seen reproduc- tions of the highest class. It was ho who first introduced the only original talking pictures into Wales. "The Kinemaoolour" is also res- ponsible to him by its introduction into Mer- thyr. Now again we record the world's greatest production. "Cabiria," without a doubt, is ab- solutely the best picture that has ever been placed upon a screen in this district. We fully dealt with the story in our last week's issue, and again say, "Do not miss it." It is shown promptly each day at 2.45, 5.30 and 8.15 p.m. In addition, the music is charming, and is alone worth the admission paid. On Monday next, "The Carpet from Bagdad" is the chief attraction. This is the first Selig Red Seal production Merthyr picture goal's will see on Monday and the following two days. It is an original story, and con- tains in a marked degree the essentials for a successful production. It is full of good, strong gripping situations of an Oriental type, and gives opportunities for several magnificent out-door settings. As the title implies, the theme is redolent with the charm, cunning and langour of the East. Some idea of the out- and-out sensationalism of the scenes may be gauged from the fact that the natural duplic- ity of the Turks is supplemented by the more violent knavery of American crooks. The well- known actress, Kathlyn Williams, features. The sandstorm in the desert, the crowd and bustle of a Turkish mart, the camels, the tiger and the aforementioned crooks are all tri- umphs, not only of camera art, but of the producers' genius for staging, grouping and posing. To out a long story short-it is a pic- ture which all readers should see. On Thursday next "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab," adapted from the world- famous novel by Fergus Hume, which millions have read and often re-read is announced. No novel enj oyed a greater vogue or created more stir than "The Mystery of a Hansom Cafe," and those whose memories carries them back to the early Nineties remember how ex- traordinary was the interest aroused by the dramatic version of the story. In many res- pects the film is an improvement upon the novel for it enables us to see certain things that are only hinted at by the author. Familiar London scenes used as backgrounds add consid- erably to the interest of the story, it being so well known throughout; the acting and photography are all that could be desired. The court scene in particular is splendidly done, and in every detail is an accurate representation of a great criminal trial. "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab" should prove very popular the last three days next week. "We may also mention that "The Rosary," a 5-part production, and the "Eternal City" are booked to the Electric Theatre. Further an- nouncements will shortly be made. The Or- chestra has been considerably augmented, and renders very classical and popular pieces each day. At any rate J.B. is at the head of affairs, and has carefully studied his natrons' interests bv giving them the best possible productions on the market. Children are carefully looked after on Saturday mornings, and are given an extraordinarily long show of 31 hours for Id, and 2d.
I The Duration of Wars
I The Duration of Wars. I MR. ALBERT HARRIS REFUSES TO TURN PROPHET. Mr. Albert Harris delivered a very interes- ting lecture last Sunday to the Comrades of the Dowlais Branch of the I.L.P. Comrade Sam J'ennings occupied the chair, and stated that the lecture was entitled "Wars and their Duration. Mr. Harris said that there was nothing more interesting to-day than a, survey of the wars of the past ages, and to see from that survey if we can deduce any generalisation which would help us to form some judgment as to the proo- able duration of this war. The only man of standing in this country who has put himself up as a prophet is Lord Kitchener, who said we were in for a long war. If we looked at the wars of the last half of last century we should probably see what Lord Kitchener was thinking of. The Crimean War, comparatively speakinc was a very short war. The war with Austria and Germany was a short war. The war between France and Germany was a short war. Take the wars which are so frequent in the Balkans: only a few months. And the Italian war of libe- ration. The Russo-Japanese war was a short one. The Boer War was a short one. If we look over these wars for the last half century they lasted between 12 and 18 months, with the ex- ception of the American Civil War. which lasted from 1861 to 1866. It is quite possible that when Lord Kitchener spoke of a three years' war, he was taking the average of the wars of the last half century. But look at the wars of the 18th Century. They had an immense amount of fighting in those days. It was the. century in which we were building up an empire. The war of the Austrian succes- sion lasted 7 years. From 1793 until 1815 we had the Napoleonic Wars, when practically the whole of E'ir°Pe was fighting Napoleon. In the 14th and 15th century we were fighting against France for practically 100 years. It is certain that the present war will be compa- ratively short in comparison with those wars. The war of 300 year-, ago was a very different thing to the war of to-day. War in those days was a pretty decent game. It was really Napoleons genius which changed the wars of years into the wars of months. Napoleon went in for large armies. You can fight very well with large armies, but yr.m can't keep them for ever. If you ff:"Ï1. Isrge army, „ the length of v- ran maintain it in th" field will i'ruu If we can put 6 or 6 million men in the field, unless we can finish the job in six months we are in a very awk- ward posittion. When Napoleon had his "largest armies he was nearest defeat. What is the mili- tary policy of Prussianism? The Kaiser has ruled his country for 40 years without a fight. What has been the policy of Germany genera l- ly? J?hort wars and quick returns. Go back to Frederick the Great, who was the most war- like of the German Icings. He got into the seven years' war and wriggled out of it as soon as he could. There was the Austrian and Ger- man War—a matter of six weeks. Look at their war with Denmark. This present kind of war is not what the Germans liked. Thev believe in short wars and quick returns. In copchidmg an admirable lecture, Mr. Harries said he could not guess how long this war was going to last. He had had too much experience with elections to try guessing how long this war would last. (Laughter.) The lecturer was cordially thanked at the close of the meeting.
Women and the National Crisis
Women and the National Crisis. COMPREHENSIVE AGENDA FOR BRISTOL CONGRESS. mi TT"» i T, me women's i-Abotir League, the political organisation of working women in the Labour Party, holds its annual conference at Bristol on Tuesday, January 25. This year's chairman is Dr. Marion Phillips, who will deliver an ad- dress dealing with women's part in the war, and their industrial position after the war. The resolutions cover a y?ry wide range, Tanhde mclude a protest against Conscription. The remainder of the agenda deals for the most part with practical questions of special im- portance to women and children. On Women's Employment the Executive moves: — That in view of the increasing demand for women in work on munitions of war, this Conference demands that Parliament shall require: (a) ThaWhenever a woman is oooupied on work usually performed by a man, she shall receive equal pay for equal work, and that this shall apply both to time and to piece rates; (b) That a minimum wage sufficient to allow a reasonable standard of life shall be fixed for all women employed on making munitions of war; (c) That the factory laws rotating to hours, kind of work, and conditions gener- ally shall not be so relaxed as to permit any practices likely to result in permanent deterioration of the physique of women and girl workers; (d) That every wage-earning woman dis- placed at the end of the war to make place for a man who has returned to his ordinary work, or because war work has been brought to an end, shall be employed on useful work for the community at a reasonable wage until she is able to find employment in the ordinary labour market. Another resolution urges the enfranchisement of women at the end of the war. With wo- men's instinct to care for those who are help- less, the League has put forward plans for sett- ling disabled soldiers and sailors on the land, for increasing Old Age Pensions, and for better protection of the blind. OCher subjects are education, the price of food, and the care of health, especially of mothers and babies.