Page:Historical characteristics of the Celtic race.djvu/30

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Before concluding, I may just refer to one testimony emerging recently in an unexpected quarter, which gives me hope that the potentiality of the Celtic element may still survive, and the genius and sparkle also, which often accompany the Celtic fire.[1] It is a voice from the Deanery of Westminster in the heart of Saxondom, for Dean Stanley is the speaker, as reported by Bishop Thirlwall. The Bishop tells us how the Dean, in a semi-jocular, but still serious vein, claimed to have Welsh blood in his veins.

"You heard," writes Thirlwall to a friend, "what Stanley said about his semi-Cymric origin. I do not know whether you were also told that he attributed all the energy and vivacity of his character to his Welsh blood. I believe your theory is that the relation between the two great divisions of mankind—the Celtic and non-Celtic—is that of Mind to Matter; and that whenever the two elements are combined in an individual, the only use of the grosser is to serve as ballast to moderate the buoyancy of the more spiritual. Though the theory may not have needed confirmation to yourself, you will be able to cite Stanley's spontaneous confession for the conviction of gainsayers." (Thirlwall's Letters to a Friend, p. 42.)

This is, no doubt, hyperbole to be taken cum grano although there is a large measure of truth in the statement and of sincerity in the exponent. Yet, without claiming such superlative potency for the Celtic intellect and character, we may feel confident that it has a distinctive differentia of its own which makes it worthy of our homage, worthy, therefore, of our efforts to preserve it, a peculiar aroma attaching to it, a sparkling, yet tender old-world weirdness which the world ought not willingly to let die. These title-deeds and memories of your race are no mean heritage; and when to the historical memories to which we have alluded we add the poetical and literary memories preserved for us in the Welsh legends of chivalry circling around King Arthur, and the Gaelic legends of Ossian circling around Fingal; when we find that twice in the ages the pulse of a new poetic emotion passed over Europe from the Celtic lyre, that Ossian threw his spell over both Goethe and Napoleon, the strongest spirits of the past age, and that the glamour of the Cymric Arthur has subdued the greatest poet

  1. Ferguson enlarges on the 'deductive brilliancy' of the Celtic Mind, in other words its Idealism. (Handbook of Arch., pp. 514-8.)