The Fate of the Language – 13 February 1962
The Fate of the Language was the BBC radio lecture given by Saunders Lewis on 13 February 1962. Saunders Lewis was the former president of Plaid Cymru, and his lecture had a stupendous effect on Welsh-speaking Welsh people.
Saunders Lewis called on Welsh people to refuse to fill in forms and pay taxes and licences if it was not possible to do so through the medium of Welsh. His opinion was that campaigners needed to be ready to pay fines and face prison in order to save the Welsh language. Here is part of the lecture -
“In April 1952 he and his wife bought a cottage in Llangennech near Llanelli, in an area where nine out of ten of the population are Welsh-speaking. All of the councillors who belong to the rural council of which Llangennech forms a part are Welsh-speaking: as are the council officers. So when the local tax bill arrived from “The Rural District Council of Llanelly”, Mrs Beasley wrote to ask for it in Welsh. Her request was refused. She then refused to pay the tax until she received the bill in Welsh. She and Mr Beasley were summonsed over a dozen times before the magistrates' court. Mr and Mrs Beasley insisted on a Welsh hearing in court. Three times the bailiffs removed furniture from their house, and the furniture was worth far more than the tax demanded. This continued for eight years... Their predicament became a subject of debate throughout the land, and the newspapers and radio and television pestered them every day. The cases in the court were interesting and important.
For example, the tax official's answer to Mr Wynne Samuel: 'The Council is not bound to print the tax papers in any language but English.' ...The Welsh language can be saved. Welsh Wales is a fair sized portion of Wales and the minority is not yet completely unimportant. Mr and Mrs Beasley's example shows how to proceed. During the eight years of Mrs Beasley's struggle, only one other Welshman in the rural district asked for the tax bill in Welsh... Restoring the Welsh language in Wales is nothing less than a revolution. Only through revolutionary means will success be had.”
This lecture led to the formation of the Welsh Language Society on 4 August 1962 during the Plaid Cymru Summer School at Pontarddulais.