National Geographic : 1918 Dec
THE NATIONAL GEO' Christianized Ireland by persuasion, established at Armagh a school attended by seven thousand students. Saint Columba created at lona, in the Hebrides, monastic seminaries, a strong hold of Christian teaching, thronged by foreign youth, who carried back to less favored coun tries this light from the West. The Irish Christians, long unconnected with Rome, afterward became devout Catholics. The vigorous efforts of Henry VIII and of some of his successors to force Protestantism upon them only embittered resentment. Had the English remained Catholic or the Irish be come Protestant the heat of later difference might have been partly prevented. The settle ment of English and Scotch colonists in the northeast corner of the island further compli cated the situation by the introduction of a hostile religious element. Of the Irish in Ireland, 3,243,000, or three fourths of the entire number, are Roman Cath olics. The more than a million Protestants are members of the Protestant Episcopal and Pres byterian churches. The homeland of the Irish has an area of 32,586 square miles. How nearly one, geo graphically, are the appropriately called Em erald Isle and Great Britain few persons ap preciate. The width of the shallow North Channel, between the Mull of Cantire (Scot land) and Torr Head, is only 132 miles. The Irish Sea, between Dublin and Holyhead (Wales), is less than 70 miles across, and St. George's Channel, at the southern extremity, is less than 50 miles wide. Irish, "the classic language of the Celts," is fast yielding place to English. Spoken in the middle of the last century by more than half the people, it is now spoken by less than one seventh. The population is likewise steadily growing less. There were a million more inhabitants in Ireland in 1801 than there are today. A very careful census was taken by the British Gov ernment on the Act of Union to determine the number of representatives in Parliament to which Ireland was entitled on a basis of popu lation. The number thus determined was made permanent, because the government wanted the Irish to feel that they would never have less representatives than then, and also because it was believed that the Irish, being prolific, might have in time an inconveniently large number of representatives in Parliament. As it turned out, however, at present Ireland has one representative for about every 42,000 people and England one for about every 70,000 people. Scotland, with several hundred thousand more inhabitants, has about two-thirds as many members of Parliament as Ireland. "The claim of blood was the strongest which the ancient Celt knew." There is nothing finer or more Celtic than the devotion of the Irish in foreign lands to their kin at home. The exuberant nature, the sometimes flighty purpose, the impractical attempt, the daring, generous spirit, the faithful and sympathetic nature, the courtesy and the quickness, the love GRAPHIC MAGAZINE 529 of poetry and song, mark alike the ancient and the modern Celt. None but a Celtic soul would have chosen the harp as its national emblem. THE BRITISH * The names, Englishman, Scotchman, Welsh man, are historic, each invested with precious traditions of its own. Yet each is a local ap pellation, fitly associated with a limited area in an island that itself is small. Because English men form the majority in the island, the mis take is often made by foreigners of speaking of the "English ambassador," "the English army," "the English navy," when in fact there is no such thing. "The meteor flag" is not the symbol of a petty insular distinction, but of the British race. In the larger personality of the Britisher the Englishman, the Scotchman, the Welshman, and many an Irishman are lost and forgotten. THE WELSH The Welsh formerly held possession of all the western coasts of Britain from the mouth of the Severn northward for three hundred miles. They are now found chiefly in the Principality of Wales. Though amalgamated with a far more numerous people, they possess a distinct importance of their own. Together with the Bretons of Britanny in France and the Cornish, now absorbed in the main English body (the Cornish language has been unspoken for over one hundred years), they constitute the Brythonic group, or one half of the once great Celtic family. Brython is the name under which the Welsh include themselves and the ancient Britons. In spite of the marked revival of Welsh literary effort in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Welsh language is steadily giv ing way before the English. In 1911 only four tenths of the two million Welsh could speak their Celtic tongue at all. Thirty years earlier it was in daily use by seven-tenths of their people. There was no horror of invasion, no form of resistance, no phase of alternate victory and defeat, which, from the time of the Ro mans, for centuries the Welsh did not undergo. Finally Llewelyn submitted to Edward I in 1277. The heir to the English throne was to bear the title of Prince of Wales, and the grandson of the Welshman, Owen Tudor, be come King of England as Henry VII and found the Tudor dynasty. Shortly afterward * See also, in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE, "England: The Oldest Nation of Eu rope," by Roland G. Usher (October, 1914); "Channel Ports and Some Others" (July, 1915); "London," by Florence Craig Albrecht (September, 1915) ; "One Hundred British Sea ports" (January, 1917); "What Great Britain is Doing," by Sydney Brooks (March, 1917), and "What the War Has Done for Britain," by Judson C. Welliver (October, 1918).