Page:Historical characteristics of the Celtic race.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


us in Cæsar, have their simulacra still floating in the geography of France—Lingones, Langres; Arverni, Auvergne; Treviri, Treves; Remi, Rheims; Caletes, Calais; Parisü, Paris; Veneti, Vannes; Turones, Tours; Mediomatrici, Metz; Bituriges, Bourges; &c. On the other hand, non-Celtic names like the German Strassburg or Scandinavian Bec in Normandy, are few and far between in the topographical nomenclature of France, which is therefore Celtic to the core. And whence this difference between France and England? Were the conquering Franks not Teutonic like the victorious Saxons? Yes, but the Franks under Clovis or Chlodwig simply subdued, the Anglo-Saxon under Cerdic and Hengist extirpated, and the reason of this seems to have been that the Saxon conquered while still heathen, the Frank obtained ascendancy after he became Christian; and hence arose the difference of treatment meted out to the subject population. Further, the Frank not only preserved the subject people, but he did not rob them of their lands; although he imposed himself as an over-lord or signior, and exacted certain dues, he himself remained a huntsman and a sportsman, as well as a warrior; contented himself with the produce of the woods and the forest, and so by a happy compromise, as Gibbon remarks, left the cultivated parts to their Gaulish possessors. It is on evidence of this kind that historians affirm the people of France to be still largely Celtic (George Long will have it, to the extent of 19-20ths, which seems an over-estimate, and overlooks the Basque element in Gascony and Aquitaine), but in any case we can claim the people of France as illustrating largely the virtues and also the weaknesses of the Celtic character. Moreover, there is ground for affirming that the great eruption which we know as the French Revolution—the eruption which changed the face of modern society—was largely a Celtic movement; it was a bursting of the fetters imposed by the Teutonic Frank, the shaking off of the Feudalism which was the growth of Frankish institutions; and, as a result of this eruption, the France of the Revolution became under that movement more Gaulish and less Frankish. One of the songs of Béranger, the poet of the Revolution, bears witness to this. "Forward, ye Gauls and ye Franks!" "En avant, Gaulois et Francs!" where the Celtic element is made to accompany or even take precedence of the Teutonic. The relative proportion of these