Western Mail, 22 September 1914

The Pied Piper of Criccieth + Zoom In
"For he led us, he said, to a joyous land, Where waters gushed and fruit trees grew, and flowers put forth a fairer hue." - Robert Browning. "We have been too comfortable, too indulging - many, perhaps, too selfish. And the stern hand of Fate has scourged us to an elevation where we can see the great everlasting things that matter for a nation. The great peaks of honour we had forgotten, duty and patriotism, clad in glittering white. The great pinnacle of sacrifice, pointing like a rugged finger to heaven. We shall descend into valleys again, but as long as the men and women of this generation last they will carry in their hearts the image of the great mountain peaks, whose fingers are unshaken, though Europe rock and sway in the convulsions of a great war. (Loud cheers.) -" Mr. Lloyd George at the Queen's Hall, London.

Lloyd George made this speech, calling for the creation of a Welsh Army Corps, and drawing on his version of a Welsh martial tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, in an attempt to reconcile Welsh national sentiment with the wider interests of the British state. It was a rousing call to arms and Staniforth likely shared Lloyd George's hope that it would meet with an enthusiastic response from the young men of Wales. Yet it is entirely possible that a reader might have drawn a different conclusion from the same image. The story of the Pied Piper does not end happily, after all, for, as Browning puts it, at the end 'Piper and dancers were gone for ever.' Although Staniforth meant to boost the patriotism of his readers, we can not be certain that he achieved his desired impact. Staniforth had used a similar image on previous aoccasions to suggest that following a different 'Pied Piper' (such as C.B. Stanton, the militant miners' agent from Aberdare ['The Pied Piper of South Wales', Western Mail, 4 November 1910]) would lead to disaster. He cannot have been unaware of the potential for ambiguity.

Events: None assigned

Topics: Art and Literature, Recruiting, Welsh Army Corps

Individuals: David Lloyd George

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