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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/103

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Part II.
71
INTRODUCTION.

in the Celtic Island of the west. From this they are now migrating, still following the course of the sun, to carry to the New World the same brilliant thoughtlessness which has so thoroughly leavened all those parts of the Old in which they have settled, and which so sorely puzzles the purer but more matter-of-fact Aryan tribes with which they have come in contact.


Religion.

It may appear like a hard saying, but it seems nevertheless to be true, to assert that no purely Celtic race ever rose to a perfect conception of the unity of the Godhead. It may be that they only borrowed this from the Turanians who preceded them; but whether imitative or innate, their Theology admits of Kings and Queens of Heaven who were mortals on earth. They possess hosts of saints and angels, and a whole hierarchy of heavenly powers of various degrees, to whom the Celt turns with as confiding hope and as earnest prayer as ever Turanian did to the gods of his Pantheon. If he does not reverence the bodies of tlie departed as the Egyptian or Chinese, he at least adopts the Buddhist veneration for relics, and attaches far more importance to funereal rites than was ever done by any tribe of Aryans.

The Celt is as completely the slave of a casteless priesthood as ever Turanian Buddhist was, and loves to separate it from the rest of mankind, as representing on earth the hierarchy in heaven, to which, according to the Celtic creed, all may hope to succeed by practice of their peculiar virtues.

To this may be added, that his temples are as splendid, his ceremonials as gorgeous, and the formula as unmeaning as any that ever graced the banks of the Nile, or astonished the wanderer in the valleys of Thibet or on the shores of the Eastern Ocean.


Government.

It is still more difficult to speak of the Celtic form of government, as no kingdom of this people ever existed by itself for any length of time; and none, indeed, it may be suspected, could long hold together. It may, however, be safely asserted that no republican forms are possible with a Celtic people, and no municipal institutions ever flourished among them. The only form, therefore, we know of as peculiarly theirs, is despotism; not necessarily personal, but rendered systematic by centralized bureaucratic organizations, and tempered by laws in those States which have reached any degree of stability or civilization.

Nothing but a strong centralized despotism can long co-exist with a people too impatient to submit to the sacrifices and self-denial