Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/417

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Reviews. 381

accumulated during the past few years on the subject of early Christian origins and development in Ireland. A number of texts recently edited, such as penitentials, monastic rules, lives of saints, religious hymns, and fragments of liturgies, tend to render more exact and clear our knowledge of the social and ecclesi- astical life of Ireland and of the sister Celtic countries from the eighth to the ninth centuries. Dom Gougaud has taken full advantage of this new material, and his book is Hkely to become the standard work of reference on these subjects. His exhaustive and well-arranged Table de matures will be useful to students in all departments of Celtic literature and history. His work in- cludes a brief but useful chapter on the social conditions and pagan beliefs of the Celtic peoples ; studies on the origin and spread of Christianity in Ireland and in Armorica, and of the Irish missions on the Continent ; and a discussion of the special characteristics of the Celtic church, its questions of discipline and of worship, its institution, and its art and culture. The material is handled in the true historical spirit which seeks to realise and recpnstruct actual conditions rather than to draw from them arguments in support of preconceived views. In his own concluding words, "notre dessein, a nous, a ete modeste : rassem- bler les meilleurs des materiaux exhumes, les agencer avec le plus de vraisemblance possible, enfin les classer methodiquement, ainsi que Ton range dans les armoires des musees les debris des societes eteintes : ossa vides reriim vacuis exsuda niedullis" It is this orderliness and clearness of method, and this historical de- tachment of view, that give its value to the book. The folklorist will find matter of interest in the Christian as well as the pagan sections of the work; many of the peculiar developments of Irish Christianity, — its severe austerities, its forms of worship, its legends of saints, — have a throw-back into pre-Christian times and habits. Dom Gougaud is already well known to students of such subjects by a number of special studies bearing on various sides of Celtic Christianity, which have appeared from time to time in The Journal of Theological Studies and elsewhere. The results of these studies are now presented to the reader in book form.

We would remind Dom Gougaud that the theory of successive immigrations into Britain from the Continent of Gaelic and