Page:Historical characteristics of the Celtic race.djvu/18

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deal with Gauls: in the words of Sallust—"Cum Gallis pro salute, non pro gloria certari"—that a war with the Gauls was for existence, not for glory. Therefore we need not wonder that the catastrophe of 390 B.C. was burnt deep into the Roman remembrance, as shown by the hesitation as to rebuilding the city and by the temporary paralysis which made them think of huddling into the ruined Veii.

In the minuter touches of the historian, much of interest reveals itself regarding this event. The suddenness with which the Gauls took fire at an insult, the impetuosity of their march, are features to be noted. "Flagrantes ira" says Livy; "cujus impotens est gens"—"Burning with indignation, a passion which nationally they are unable to restrain." May we not see in this little touch a spark of that Esprit which we know, or did know of in ourselves as the perfervid temperament of the Scots? So with Buchanan, whose "Scoti" are properly the Gaels, our forefathers are characterised as a race "ad iram natura paullo propensiores".

Let us not forget also the splendid picture of this scene in the Virgilian Shield of Æneas.

Galli per dumos aderant arcemque tenebant,
 Defensi tenebris et dono noctis opacæ;
Aurea cæsaries ollis atque aurea vestis;
 Virgatis lucent Sagulis; turn lactea colla
Auro innectuntur; duo quisque Alpina coruscant
 Gaesa manu, scutis protecti corpora longis.

"The Gauls were at hand marching among the brushwood, and had gained the summit sheltered by the darkness and the kindly grace of dusky night. Golden is their hair and golden their raiment; striped cloaks gleam on their shoulders; their milk-white necks are twined with gold: each brandishes two Alpine javelins, his body guarded by the long oval of his shield." (Conington). A very Turner or Gainsborough in verse, radiant in colour.

Virgatis lucent sagulis—This can be no other than the Tartan, and the heart warms to the gleam of it, discerned even at a distance of two thousand years. Buchanan must have recognised this, when he writes regarding the dress of the Scottish Highlanders—"Veste gaudent varia ac maxime virgata"— no doubt a Virgilian reminiscence.