Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

follow that all the peoples who are closely linked together by speaking, or by having at some time spoken, these Keltic languages, are as closely linked together by ties of blood? Great as the value of language unquestionably is as an aid to ethnological classification, are we quite safe in concluding that all the Keltic-speaking peoples are one in race—that they are true Kelts?

The answer to such a question must needs depend upon the sense in which the anthropologist uses the word Kelt. History and tradition, philology and ethnology, archæology and craniology, have at different times given widely divergent definitions of the term. Sometimes the word has been used with such elasticity as to cover a multitude of peoples, who differ so widely one from another in physical characteristics, that if the hereditary persistence of such qualities counts for anything, they cannot possibly be referred to a common stock. Sometimes, on the other hand, the word has been so restricted in its definition, that it has actually excluded the most typical of all Kelts-the Gaulish Kelts of Cæsar. According to one authority, the Kelt is short; according to another, tall: one ethnologist defines him as being dark, another as fair; this craniologist finds that he has a long skull, while that one declares that his skull is short. It was no doubt this ambiguity that led so keen an observer as Dr. Beddoe to remark, nearly fifteen years ago, that "Kelt and Keltic are terms which were useful in their day, but which have ceased to convey a distinct idea to the minds of modern students."1

No anthropologist has laboured more persistently in endeavouring to evoke order out of this Keltic chaos than the late Dr. Paul Broca. This distinguished anthropologist

1 Mem. Anthrop. Soc. Lon., vol. ii, 1866, p. 348.

2 The following are Broca's principal contributions to this vexed question:-" Qu'est-ce que les Celtes?" Bulletins de la Société d'Anthropologie

always held that the name of Kelt should be strictly limited to the Kelt of positive history-to the people, or rather confederation of peoples, actually seen by Cæsar in Keltic Gaul-and, of course, to their descendants in the same area. Every schoolboy is familiar with the epitome of Gaulish ethnology given by Julius in his opening chapter. Nothing can be clearer than his description of the tripartite division of Gaul, and of the separation between the three peoples who inhabited the country-the Belgæ, the Aquitani, and the Celta. Of these three peoples the most important were those whom the Romans called Galli, but who called themselves, as the historian tells us, Celta. The country occupied by the Keltic population stretched from the Alps to the Atlantic in one direction, and from the Seine to the Garonne in another; but it is difficult to find any direct evidence that the Kelts of this area ever crossed into Britain. Broca refused to apply the name of Kelt to the old inhabitants of Belgic Gaul, and, as a matter of course, he denied it to any of the inhabitants of the British Isles. Writing as late as 1877, in full view of all the arguments which had been adduced against his opinions, he still said: "Je continue à soutenir, jusqu'à preuve du contraire, ce que j'ai avancé il y a douze ans, dans notre première discussion sur les Celtes, savoir, qu'il n'existe aucune preuve, qu'on ait constaté dans les Iles-Britanniques l'existence d'un peuple portant le nom de Celtes.1

Nevertheless, in discussing the Keltic question with M. Henri Martin, he admitted the convenience, almost the pro

de Paris, t. v. p. 457; "Le Nom des Celtes", ibid. 2 sér. t. ix, p. 662; "Sur les Textes relatifs aux Celtes dans le Grande-Bretagne", ibid. 2 sér. t. xii, p. 509; "La Race Celtique, ancienne et moderne", Revue d'Anthropologie, t. ii, p. 578; and "Recherches sur l'Ethnologie de la France", Mém. de la Soc. Anthrop., t. i. p. 1.

1 Bulletins de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris, 2 sér. t. xii, 1878, p. 511.

priety, of referring to all who spoke Keltic languages as Keltic peoples, though of course he would not hear of their being called Kelts. "On peut très-bien les nommer les peuples celtiques. Mais il est entièrement faux de les appeler les Celtes, comme on le fait si souvent."1

Whether we use the word Kelt in its wide linguistic sense, or in the narrower sense to which it has been reduced by the French anthropologists, it is important to remember that the Welsh do not designate, and never have designated themselves by this term or by any similar word. Their national name is Cymry, the plural of Cymro. My former colleague, the Rev. Professor Silvan Evans, kindly informs me that the most probable derivation of this word is from cyd- and bro, "country", the old form of which is brog, as found in Allobroga, and some other ancient names. The meaning of Cymry is therefore "fellow-countrymen", or compatriots. Such a meaning naturally suggests that the name must have been assumed in consequence of some foreign invasion— possibly when the Welsh were banded together against either the Romans or the English. If this assumption be correct it must be a word of comparatively late origin, and helps us but little in our enquiry into the early relations of the Welsh. 2

1 Bulletins de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris, t. ix, 1874, p. 662. 2 It is scarcely necessary to add that the term Welsh was given by the Teutonic invaders to any people whom they found to be aliens in blood and in speech. On the Continent the same word is seen in the name of the Walloons; so, too, we find it in such place-names as Wälschland (Italy), Wallachia and Val-lais. In this country, the English called the Britons Wealas, or foreigners, and their country Weal-cynne. What we now call Wales they termed North Wales, because they recognised another Wales, and other Welsh, in the promontory of Cornwall and Devon. That promontory they termed West Wales, and a relic of this nomenclature still lingers in our modern Cornwall—the cornu, or horn of Wales. Nor should it be forgotten that there is also a French Cornwall—the narrow peninsula between Brest and Quimper, in Finistère, being known as Cornouaille, or Cornu Galliæ. In the north of England the great kingdom of Strathclyde was inhabited by Welsh.

All the evidence which the ethnologist is able to glean from classical writers with respect to the physical characters and ethnical relations of the ancient inhabitants of this country, may be put into a nutshell, with room to spare. The exceeding meagreness of our data from this source will be admitted by anyone who glances over the passages relating to Britain, which are collected in the Monumenta Historica Britannica. As to the people in the south, there is the well-known statement in Cæsar that the maritime parts of Britain, the southern parts which he personally visited, were peopled by those who had crossed over from the Belgæ, for what purpose we need not enquire. Of the Britons of the interior, whom he never saw, he merely repeats a popular tradition which represented them as aborigines. They may, therefore, have been Keltic tribes, akin to the Celti of Gaul, though there is nothing in Cæsar's words to support such a view.

Tacitus, in writing the life of his father-in-law, Agricola, says that the Britons nearest to Gaul resembled the Gauls.2 If he refers here to the sea-coast tribes in the south-east of Britain, the comparison must be with the Belgic and not with the Keltic Gauls. But his subsequent reference to the resemblance between the sacred rites of the Britons and these of the Gauls suggests that his remarks may be fairly extended to the inland tribes beyond the limits of the Belgic Britons, in which case the resemblance may be rather with the Gaulish Kelts. Indeed, this inference, apart from the testimony of language, is the chief evidence upon which ethnologists have based their conclusion as to the Keltic origin of the Britons.

1 "Britanniæ pars interior ab iis incolitur, quos natos in insula ipsi memoria proditum dicunt: maritima pars ab iis, qui prædæ ac belli inferendi causa ex Belgis transierant."-De Bello Gallico, lib. v, c. 12. 2 Proximi Gallis et similes sunt."-Agricola, c. xi.

Our data for restoring the anthropological characteristics of the ancient Britons are but few and small. It is true that a description of Bunduica, or Boadicea, has been left to us by Xiphiline, of Trebizond; but then it will be objected that he did not write until the twelfth century. Yet it must be remembered that he merely abridged the works of Dion Cassius, the historian, who wrote a thousand years earlier, and consequently we have grounds for believing that what Xiphiline describes is simply a description taken from the lost books of an early historian who is supposed to have drawn his information from original sources. Now Boadicea is described in these terms: "She was of the largest size, most terrible of aspect, most savage of countenance and harsh of voice, having a profusion of yellow hair which fell down to her hips." Making due allowance for rhetorical exaggeration, making allowance, too, for the fact that in consequence of her royal descent she is likely to have been above the average stature, and even admitting that she dyed her hair-a practice not uncommon among many ancient tribes-it is yet clear that this British queen must be regarded as belonging to the xanthous type-tall and fair. The tribe of the Iceni, over which this blonde amazon ruled, is generally placed beyond the limits of the Belgic Britons; though some authorities have argued in favour of its Belgic origin. If the latter view be correct, we should expect the queen to be tall, light-haired, and blue-eyed; for, from what we know of the Belgæ, such were their features. Cæsar asserts that the majority of the Belge were derived from the Germans. But notwithstanding this assertion, most ethnologists are inclined to ally them with the Celti, without, of course, denying a strong Teutonic admixture. Strabo

1 Mon. Hist. Brit., Excerpta, p. lvi.

2 "Plerosque Belgas esse ortos ab Germanis."-De Bello Gall., lib. ii, c. 4.

« ForrigeFortsæt »