Page:Historical characteristics of the Celtic race.djvu/16

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and in which, therefore, their peculiar character may be expected to be discerned.

At the dawn of recorded history, we find the Celt already occupying a vast area of Western Europe, and exercising a wide ascendancy. We know of no period during which he is not in possession; we find him always in the stream of history, never in the fountain. From low down the Danube, along by the ridges of the Alps, we discern his tribes entrenched; and the topography of Western and Middle Europe, in so far as its river names and mountain names are concerned, rests on a Celtic basis, and is unintelligible, unless from Celtic roots, even in regions from which the Celtic race has long retired. But without claiming for them a wider area than from the Adriatic to the Hebrides, from Gallia Cisalpina to our own Western Isles, we meet with this strange phenomenon, that, unlike the other Aryan races of Europe, the Celts, when first historically discernible, are seen to be flowing eastward, and, as it were, backward, instead of westward. One of these eastward eruptions poured down into the valley of the Po, whence we know that basin in Cæsar's time as bearing the name of Cisalpine Gaul. Another and later eruption was deflected round the head of the Adriatic, poured down into Greece as far as Delphi, crossed the Hellespont, and ultimately became quiescent in the heart of Asia Minor about 270 B.C. The name Galatia enshrined for us in the N.T,, in the great epistle of St Paul, is the monument that marks the Celtic race in its furthest eastern extension as a returning tide.

That is the limit in space: the limit in time, beyond which we cannot trace them chronologically, is the well-marked date of 600 B.C., the founding of Massilia, now Marseilles, a Greek colony upon Gallic soil This well-ascertained event is important in another respect, that it brought the Celts into contact with the Greek race, and gave them early access to the arts and culture of the authors of European civilisation. Hence Cæsar tells us that in the camp of the Helvetians, and, therefore, in the interior of Gaul, he found camp rolls kept in Greek characters, the knowledge of the Greek alphabet having been propagated from Massilia as a centre far into the interior of ancient Gaul. There is, therefore, evidence obtainable regarding the Celtic race six centuries before the Germanic race comes, through Cæsar and Tacitus, into distinct