Welsh Journals

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V\ .■ ALES. Vol. I.] SEPTEMBER, 1894. [No. 5. tV' THE HISTORY OF WALES. IV.—WHO THE WELSH ARE. N early com¬ munities the family tie was of the strong¬ est, and the family circle was most ex- clusively sacred. It was impossible for a stranger to enter into a family that was not his own, save by the fiction of adoption and of pretending that he was descended from the ancestral god of the family. Stranger and enemy were the same. The purity of the family blood was jealously guarded. The family honour was asserted in many a fierce blood feud, the family possessions could not be alienated except through ceremonies so elaborate that alien¬ ation was hardly possible at all. While the desire for isolation was so strong, while the hatred of strangers was so great, while possessions and religion were bound up with the purity of the family blood, why is it that the blood of the inhabitants of the remotest glens of Wales or of the silent reaches of Sweden is a mixture of the blood of many races ? The desire for keeping together is not the only desire that forms a motive power in the history of man. There is also a desire for moving on. In the history of progressive nations,-—from the mountains of central Asia to the shores of the Western Ocean,-^-there has been a continuous move¬ ment westward. This migration of nations was the cause of conquest, of the growth of classes by super-imposing conqueror on conquered, of the mixture of blood by the gradual assimilation of the two. Before the daring Genoese and Portu¬ guese ventured out into the Western Ocean, Wales lay on the very fringe of the known world. From its mountains men gazed into the mystery of that unknown and limitless ocean, and felt that . they had reached the end of the earth. It was only the most adventurous that reached our shores,—from them came the Pelagius and the Abelard of history. In the dimmest distance we see a great race of short men, with dark hair and eyes, and of a swarthy complexion, moving northwards and westwards. They came, perhaps, along the northern coast of the Mediterranean, from Egypt and Arabia, from the home of weird beliefs about death, from the deserts that have given the world so many heroes and so many great creeds. We have given them the name of Iberians. Their language has been lost, unless it lingers in a few place names, and unless it explains some of the peculiarities of the grammar of our own language. But they are probably the most important element, at this very day, in the constitution of the Welsh people. After them there came another people,— greater in stature and mightier in war, with colder blood and more virtue. The Celts were tall, with fair hair and blue eyes. They came along the mountains which divide the great northern plain of Europe from the peninsulas of the south. They remained mighty hunters and warriors, despising the skill of the Iberian 193 13