« НазадПродовжити »
away, and he supposed the clergyman who had taken his place for the time had yielded to the solicitations of the village people up there, to have the bells rung in honour of Hirell Morgan's wedding to-day. Though she was a chapel woman, Mr. Lloyd had always said they should be rung on that occasion, if she married his pupil, which she had done.
The man was English, and though he spoke in a subdued voice, he was heard at the farthest end of the library.
Mr. Rhys was aware of this—was aware, too, by degrees, of the effect the man's words must be having upon his visitor at the library table. He had heard enough of Sir John's recent history to know this. And he felt with an unholy passion, that the work of punishment was being taken out of his hands into mightier ones-Cunliff was being made insensible to his efforts by this new calamity. For the moment his thirst for revenge became fiercer for being baffled.
He shut down the window, and slowly returned to the table to see how the confession was progressing
This time it had been nearly completed, but now—as Mr. Rhys looked down upon it-nothing but a watery, inky blister met his view, and moreover the writer's hands were clenched upon it, and his head was so bowed as to nearly touch them.
Drawing his hand again and again down his long gray beard, Mr. Rhys stood regarding him, full of thought and perplexity.
Suddenly his eyes lit with a generous fire worthy of those valiant Celtic princes from whom he was so proud of tracing his descent.
Gently he laid one hand on the blistered paper, and said, pointing to the door with the other
Go, Sir John Cunliff, go bearing with you my full forgive. ness, and the thought that her last tears were shed for you. May they baptize your soul anew. You need not write what I asked you. Since nature blots out the record, may God blot out the sin.'
'ARE THE ENGLISH ANGLO-SAXONS?!--A SKETCH WHICH
IMPATIENT READERS MAY PASS BY UNREAD. The cry of Anglo-Saxon as a distinctive mark of nationality, and Teutonic origin, is one that I verily believe no other people under the sun would raise under similar circumstances.
Suppose it for a moment strictly true, as applied to the greater part of England, what then? Is it true as applied to Devon, and to Cornwall; and to Manx Islands, to the Channel Islands, or to the Highlands of Scotland ? Is it true as applied to Wales ? Above all is it true as applied to Ireland, which alone has had a Celtic population of more than six millions ?
Reflect then, by the aid of these plain facts, on the good taste, the good sense, the patriotism, the chivalry, the honest regard for truth of the predominant race in ignoring such immense numbers of their fellow-citizens whenever the grandeur of the empire is in question, by the summing up all in the self-glorifying phrase, 'Anglo-Saxon.
It is quite impossible to acquit English writers and politicians of a disregard for truth in their treatment of this subject. Facts in every direction stare them in the face, if they will but take note of them, and point to exactly opposite conclusions to those which they eternally parade, as if in full faith, before the world.
For example: If the European character of England as & military power were to be traced back to the influences that most powerfully tended to its formation, we should all, I think, revert to that wonderful series of battles fought in France that is to say, to Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, as the events_ that impressed indelibly upon the imaginations alike of the English and of Continental nations, the idea of a prowess to which thenceforward everything was humanly possible. Now mark!
Those very battles were, in all probability, due as much to Celtic as to Anglo-Saxon valour. The connection between the earlier English Princes of Wales and the Welsh people was marked by special tokens of royal trust and honour, and especially by the gathering of a large number of Welshmen under the Prince's own command, for the French expeditions. At Crécy, in the Black Prince's own division, there were, apart from the archers, who played the part allotted to sharpshooters and skirmishers in modern battles, just one thousand Welshmen to eight hundred men-at-arms, presumably English, but who may have contained many persons from Ireland and other Celtic districts. These men-at-arms and Welshmen had the severe business of the hand-to-hand fighting to undertake, after the archers had created as much confusion as possible in the ranks of the enemy. To which body did the Prince give the precedence ? To the Welshmen; who, advancing under the flag of the Red Dragon of Wales, struck the blow that not only disorganised the whole French array by the slaughter of so many of its leaders, but, it is said, offended even the king, Edward, inasmuch as that they did not preserve the richer men for ransom. The gallant Welshmen thought their business was to hit hard, and not trouble their heads about moneymaking. So much for Crécy.
Now for Poitiers. The Black Prince himself commanded there; and it is certain the Welsh, as well as the Irish Kernes, were largely represented ; and the former being in his own favourite and tried division, we may be sure played their parts at least on an equality with the Anglo-Saxons.
As to Agincourt, less I believe is known as to the numbers present of the Welsh ; but the special brilliancy of their deeds and position is most suggestive. Henry the Fifth, who com. manded in person, sent to reconnoitre the overwhelming masses of the confronting French. Probably, the choice he made was a superb piece of diplomacy, as between himself and his small army in so tremendous a conjuncture. That peculiar property of Anglo-Saxons, in their own estimate, phlegm, did not it seems shine out in the moment of supreme danger from an English face, to the king, but from a Welshman's. It was his favourite Sir David Gam, who went, saw, and brought . back the report, that, when re-echoed through the camp, was almost equivalent to a new division for the army. The enemy he said were enough to fight, enough to be killed, and enough
to run away. Cæsar's veni, vidi, vici was scarcely happier than this; with the difference in his case of the ease of speaking epigrammatically after victory, and the difficulty of Gam's venturing to do so before.
But this is but the comedy-prologue to an awful tragedy. Eighteen French gentlemen banded together that day in a solemn determination to kill or to capture the English monarch, or die in the attempt. They failed. The king was saved. How ? By the rampart which the devoted Gam and his officers made around him of their breasts. They saved him, but died in the process. Was there ever, in all military history, a more touching incident than that of Henry coming to his dear brave-hearted Welshmen, after the battle was won, and knighting them in their moments of death, as the only mode left him to show alike to them and the world his heartfelt gratitude?
And then Englishmen, of this day, not of that, go blowing a brazen trumpet about the world, in memory of the AngloSaxon deeds, that made England great.
It may be thought this is a mere exception in our military history, however brilliant. Judge ye. Is it or is it not a fact that all or nearly all the great modern battles of England, whether fought in Flanders, in India, Egypt, Spain, or Belgium, have been fought by armies in which the Celts of the empire predominated? Why the Irish alone, I believe, even now, form something like half the British army. Was I then un. just to use the word 'honest'in connection with this cuckoo cry of Anglo-Saxon ?
The mention of the conquest of Agincourt, and of the Irish elements in the British army, remind me of other facts worthy our attention. After the death of King Henry, his widow married again ; and from the issue of that marriage sprang one of the greatest of English sovereigns. And the mere name of her dynasty makes the author of it, Owen Tudor, a household word, wherever the English language is spoken. Was Queen Elizabeth Anglo-Saxon ?
The other instance to which I referred is that of the greatest of modern military commanders—an absolutely perfect repre. sentative, I imagine, of Anglo-Saxons, in their own estimation -the Duke of Wellington; who, born in Ireland, and related, by the maternal side, to the illustrious Welsh family of the Tudor-Trevors, is not much more Anglo-Saxon than Queen Elizabeth herself.
I see you smile, and no wonder. But this is a far more serious matter than at first sight it may appear. British statesmen seek unity. They are ever ready to put in operation the extremest powers of government to coerce differing national elements into unity. We refuse, even to the death, the right of self-government, say for instance to Ireland, in the name of unity. Nothing, in English opinion, can be more criminal than for non-Anglo-Saxon elements to oppose unity. No punishment is too bad for the rebellious spirits that will not lovingly kiss the hand of authority in unity. And while all these things are so, amid the ceaseless strifes and heart-burnings thus produced, there rises, alike for those who yield and for those who struggle, the same eternal songs of triumph for Anglo-Saxondom.
WHAT BECAME OF THE ABORIGINES ? But are the English Anglo-Saxon, after all ?
I think not, and hope to show they may look to a much nobler ancestry.
Does it ever occur, I wonder, to the more thoughtful and cultivated men among them, to ask themselves as they read the spirit-stirring records of their very earliest history, what became of the Aborigines ?
Of course, I know, as they know, the babyish story, which even learned men have been content to accept as history, that the Britons were all killed off, or driven away into Wales, by the early Saxon invaders. I will deal with that presently. But there must have been other ideas and influences at work to strengthen and maintain such a conception of the origin of the English people through so long a period of time, accom. panied, as it was, by a reversal of the usual order of things; for whereas we find in history generally the memory and influence of great ideas or events gradually fading away, till at last they are little more than a recollection and a name; here, on the contrary, the original idea has gone on growing with the country's growth, till at last it has become one of the more conspicuous standing phenomena of the world.
What, then, have been these influences ? I think they may be thus enumerated :
First, as regards the earlier state of things, there would be - the hate felt by the successful invaders for those they had so deeply injured, who had struggled with them so long and so well, and whose civilisation they were unable to appreciate.