URIEN RHEGED AND HIS SON OWAIN— I MOST peoples have heroes of a distant past to whom they turn, from time to time, for inspiration. Such heroes may be historical; they may be half-mythical. In both cases legends have gathered round some nucleus of fact, and, when we examine these legends critically, the hero that emerges may be very different from the actual person who is the basis of that hero-worship. Ireland, for example, has a number of heroes, St. Patrick, Brian Borhu, and many others. India, to-day, makes heroes of such widely differ- ent personalities as Asoka and Sivaji. France still finds inspiration in Roland and St. Louis. Spain glories in its stories of the Cid Campeador. The legends that have gathered round Charle- magne have not yet ceased to influence the life of much of Western Europe. All of these charac- ters, real historical characters, have become centres of romance or of cycles of one sort or another. They have become immortalized in 'sagas,' or epics, or floating bodies of folk-lore tales. The saga and the epic are amongst the greatest of things in the life of man. To-day, saga and epic play less part in the world than they have ever done before; and that is partly because the critical historical faculty has been carried to excess. I am far from criticizing historical criticism; but I do think one of its results, the stripping of heroes of all their attend- ant trappings, the minute dissection of and re- jection of romance, has been a disastrous result. Now, I always feel that legend itself, apart from its evidential value in regard to historical facts, which is an entirely separate matter, is itself an historical fact, one of the most important historical facts in human life; and the critical historian, who fails to recognize that that is so, is most unscientific in his criticism. Legend enshrines in itself the aspiratiors, the hopes, sometimes the achievements of a people; it ex- presses the soul, the imaginative flights of a people. And it is impossible to judge of a people historically, unless you know what its soul is or has been, or what it has imagined for itself. If historical criticism ignores the soul of a nation, if it ignores the ideals of a people, by ignoring the poetical fancies it has created for itself, it goes a very long way towards killing the nation. I feel that that is one of the things that has happened to Wales in recent times; and it will account for much of that tendency towards a An Old Welsh Ideal of Manhood by T. P. Ellis loss of national identity which is a common com- plaint of the day. We have lost our legends: and hence are losing ourselves. The Welsh people has a number of heroes in its past. For instance, there is King Arthur. Now, I am intensely interested in the critical question as to how far King Arthur was an historical person. But I am far more interested in the question of what the Welsh people made of Arthur, be he imaginary or real. I am far more interested in how the Welsh ideal of Arthur influenced the life of Wales, and how the expectation of his return kept alive the spirit of Wales through century after century of tribulation and of woe. Wales knew he was not dead, but sleeping, sleeping until the great bell should ring out to tell him that the hour of need had arisen for him to rouse himself from sleep. It is of much greater importance to know that he never died than to enter upon an enquiry as to whether he ever lived. Far more important than a critical query of his historical achievements can possibly be is to know how a knowledge of the ideal of him spread over the whole of Europe, and ultimately affected the whole course of European history and literature, moulding and altering the char- acter of that vast period, which we speak of as the Middle Ages, leaving, even to this day, echoes of his glory ringing in our ears. Outside the Christian Faith, there has been no figure like that of King Arthur in its influence upon human thought for something like fourteen hundred years. That is what I mean when I say that legend is itself an historical fact, oft-times of infinitely greater importance than the historical episodes out of which legend has grown. The legends of a people, the ideals it has created for itself, are the links which forge the centuries, as they succeed each other, into a con- tinuous chain. It is by the legends of a people that one can judge of the characteristics of a people with far greater accuracy than by a con- sideration of verifiable dry-as-dust historical facts. Even the greatest achievements of a people, such as a tremendous military victory, have turned, very often, on a mere fortuitous chance; the creation of legends is not a matter of chance; it is the method whereby a people expresses the soul that is within it. Give me the legends of a people, and I care nothing for its material successes or failures.