Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/323

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

as a phylogenetic, and sometimes as a linguistic species. In the last-named sense, that to which I believe the use of the name should be restricted, it is the appropriate designation of a group of cognate languages spoken by peoples whose physical characters show that they are not the descendants of one common phylum in the near past. There are fair-haired, long-headed families in Scotland and Ireland; fair, broad-headed Bretons; dark-haired, round-headed Welshmen; and dark-haired, long-headed people in the outer Hebrides, McLeans, "Sancho Panza type"—men obviously of different races, who differ not only in color, stature, and skull-form, but whose traditions also point to a composite descent, and yet all originally speaking a Celtic tongue. The use of the word Celtic, as if it were the name of a phylogenetic species, has naturally led to hopeless confusion in the attempts to formulate race-characters for the Celtic skull—confusions of a kind which tend to bring physical anthropology into discredit. Thus Retzius characterizes the Celtic crania as being dolichocephalic, and compares them with those of the modern Scandinavians. Sir Daniel Wilson considers the true Celtic type of skull as intermediate between the dolichocephalic and the brachycephali; and Topinard figures as the typical Celtic skull that of an Auvergnat, extremely brachycephalic, with an index of 85!

Our traditional history tells that we, the Celtic-speaking races of Britain, are not of one common ancestry, but are the descendants of two distinct series of immigrants, a British and a Gaelic. Whatever may have been the origin of the former, we know that the latter are not homogenous, but are the mixed descendants of the several Fomorian, Nemedian, Firbolg, Tuatha de Danaan, and Milesian immigrations, with which has been combined in later times a strong admixture of Scandinavian blood. It is now scarcely possible to ascertain to which of these component strains in our ancestry we owe the Celtic tongue which overmastered and supplanted the languages of the other tribes, but it is strictly in accordance with what we know of the history of mankind, that this change should have taken place. We have instances in modern times of the adoption by conquered tribes of the language of a dominant invading people. For example, Mr Hale has lately told us that the speech of the Hupas has superseded the languages of those Californian Indians whom they have subdued. In like manner, nearer home, the English language is slowly but surely supplanting the Celtic tongues themselves.

We may here parenthetically note that what has been observed in the case of language has also taken place in reference to ritual and custom. Observances which have a history and a meaning for one race have, in not a few instances, been adopted by or im-