Before Christmas I paid a flying visit to that strange
region in South Wales where the rivers descend from the Black Mountain range and cut their way in deep trenches to the sea. It is a macabre place in a murky December—at the bottom a swollen, discoloured stream lined with the relics of decaying industry, above the squalid homes of the discards of that industry, and beyond sheep pastures and bracken-clad uplands. Down in the trough there are too many white faces and eyes which look as if they belonged to men under sentence, while above are the free winds and the pastoral hills. It is like the passage in the Pilgrim's Progress about the blind men groping among the tombs under the shadow of the Delectable Mountains. The curse of South Wales has always been that all its eggs were in one basket—the heavy industries, and she is trying to create new subsidiary industries to level out the risks. There is a hunger for work far greater than the hunger for bread. Unemployed men are paying to be allowed to work in the shops which private benevolence has started, though they are not allowed to sell the products of their labours. It is well to remember this side when we speak glibly about the abuses of the "dole."