Page:Historical characteristics of the Celtic race.djvu/27

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panion picture of the Welsh chief, Owen Glendower. He comes before us as the victim of sentiment, puffed up with portents at his own nativity, importing the creations of imagination from the airy hall of the poet into the domain of actual life, into the tented camp of the warrior. How much of meaning lies in that line in which Owen Glendower magnifies the resources at his command —

"I can call spirits from the vasty deep" —

There speaks the imaginative and romantic Welshman.

"But will they come, when you do call for them?"

asks the Percy, in reply, mocking the pretension.

In point of fact, it is in the Celtic area, either of Wales or of Scotland) that Shakspere finds his favourite material for the darker forms of the supernatural; and we cannot forget that it is the Celtic Macbeth whom he makes the central figure of that drama, in which he deals with the invisible Powers of Evil—another testimony to the affinity of the Celtic mind toward the Night-side of Nature, towards the weird and the "eerie" and the supernatural.

This brings us to say a word on the kindred theme of the religious sentiment of the Celtic race, their inborn reverential feeling, one of their most prominent and honourable characteristics. Like the romantic sentiment we have just been considering, which has drawn the Celtic mind toward the mystery of Nature, it is a plant rooted and grounded in the same soil, nurtured by the dews of the same Idealism. The blossoms of it may, in ancient and in modern times, not unfrequently resemble those of Superstition; yet it forms an inherent and characteristic product of the Celtic mind Regarding this feature, we have the evidence of Ernest Rénan, who is himself a Breton: how long that feeling may survive under his and other influences at work may be doubtful, but that it has lived all along the course of the Celtic history is both clear and certain. Says Rénan: —

"The characteristic trait of the Breton race in all its ranks is Idealism; the pursuit of an end, moral or intellectual, often erroneous, but always disinterested."

This character he pourtrays in minute detail, showing how it produces simplicitjy, unselfishness, devoutness; how it has almost