« ПредишнаНапред »
article of dress, that I should, from a feeling arising out of ancient consanguinity and national attachment, really sympathise still more acutely with the people in this, to me, mark of barbarism among them; but, when I see the same thing equally common in Normandy, Picardy, and alınost every part of France, as well as in other nations of the continent, I am in this respect the more reconciled to its existence among our old allies and kinsmen.
It must not, however, be supposed that the French peasantry have no other kind of shoes, as they all possess, for their fête days, leathern shoes, like other people. But, nevertheless, the impression produced upon an Englishman by the first appearance of the sabot is not easily effaced, and even its very sound in the streets is peculiar to itself. For the continued noise ade in the French towns on a market-day, by the heavy tramp boted peasants along the pavement, cannot be compared to any thing on this side of the channel.
Whoever examines his recollections of foreign countries which he may have visited, will probably find that, while many have subsided almost into complete oblivion, there will still be some so vivid as, by their recurrence, to call up in the mind a perfect and correct representation of scenes which, without such aid, might remain altogether unremembered. Now it happens to myself that there are two descriptions of noises so domiciled in my ears, that I imagine I can never entirely forget them, or their accompanying localities. The one is the noise made by the march of the cows through the village of Chamouni every morning on their way to be milked; each cow having a harsh sounding square iron bell tied round her neck, forming, as they pass in procession under one's bed-room window, one of the strangest choruses imaginable, and often causing the recently arrived traveller to start from his sleep, and gaze towards Montblanc and the glaciers for an explanation of this, to him unaccountable, disturbance. The other is the noise caused in the streets of Morlaix by the tramp of the sabots in the market-place, and which, in fine weather, commences early enough to surprise the weary traveller before he has finished his morning nap, and increases more and more as the peasantry arrive from the country, until at length even sleep and fatigue give way to the more powerful effect of curiosity.
Having now exhibited the Bas Breton in his broad hat, wide braccæ, and heavy sabots; in order to complete the picture, there remains one characteristic more to be noticed, which is the walking-stick. This article, which I believe is peculiar to Brittany, is formed of a round twig, or sapling, of the usual length and size, having a part of the root attached, and shaped into a knob at the end, similar to that of the large club-headed walking-stick occasionally seen in our own country. But, instead of the knobbed end being held in the hand, as is the practice among ourselves; here, on the contrary, the small end is held in hand, while the knob rests on the ground; and, in order to prevent its slipping out of the grasp, a piece of string is passed through a hole near the upper end, thus forming a loop, which may be placed about the wrist, or the hand, after the fashion of the little pocket bludgeon, or staff of office, carried by our constables. From the formidable appearance of this weapon, and the security which is provided for holding it firm in the grasp, a suspicion might be entertained that it is sometimes employed in services of a less peaceful nature than that of affording assistance in walking. But when the universality of its appearance is considered, as even the very priests carry it with them in their walks, it is evident, that whatever offensive designs may have given rise to the practice, it is now continued as a matter of custom only. However, on inquiry respecting the habits of the Bretons, I am inclined to think that as they once rivalled their Cornish relatives in the art of wrestling, so this club-shaped baton is only a memorial of the amusement of single-stick, still retained in the west of England. I have likewise heard it remarked, that a few years ago the Bretons were exceedingly expert in the use of that formidable weapon, called a quarterstaff, and which, though once very general in England, and still seen in the hands of constables in some remote districts, yet, having of late years fallen much into disuse, may require some explanation. This article of rustic warfare consists in a rounded stick of ash, or other tough wood, about six feet long, and as thick as may be grasped in the hand without inconvenience, being of equal size from end to end. This stick, which is called quarterstaff, to distinguish it from the single-hand stick, is held in both hands near the middle, as shown in some of the old woodcuts to Robin Hood, and the Pindar
of Wakefield, and is then twisted about, and shifted from hand to hand, as may be most expedient for the purpose of attack or defence. I have seen a man go through the exercise of quarterstaff with so much dexterity, that in whirling the stick around his head and body, such was the rapidity of its motion, that it assumed the appearance of the spokes of a wheel moving about him, thus rendering him perfectly secure against any attack with a similar weapon; and, when in imitation of striking at an opponent, he brought it down in its full length with a twohanded blow,—the effect was really terrific. If our old English yeomanry were as expert at the exercise of quarterstaff as this foreigner, the constabulary force, thus armed, must have been a most formidable body.
During my stay in Brittany, I had no opportunity of witnessing any contests in either wrestling, cudgel-playing, or quarterstaff, and therefore cannot undertake to state anything respecting the present cultivation of those games; but I am rather disposed to imagine that the present race of Bretons have been so much occupied in contests of a more serious nature, both in their own and other countries, that the ancient rural amusements of the villagers have been superseded by those of a more military character, and the cudgel and quarterstaff given way to the musket and the sabre.
In a former number I signified my conviction that, however strong the resemblance may be which the Welsh and Breton languages bear to each other in their original construction, yet that, from various causes, so great a difference exists between them at the present day, that the natives of Wales and Brittany are not mutually intelligible even in a single sentence of any length. But, notwithstanding this statement, which I had hoped was sufficiently corroborated by instances of personal experience, I have subsequently seen a contrary opinion advanced in an article by M. De KERDANET, published in the “ Cambrian Quarterly.” I shall therefore give a few examples of the colloquial language now in use among the Bas Bretons, and then leave it to every Welshman to judge for himself, whether it is possible for any native of the Principality, without a knowledge of French, and by the bare assistance of the Welsh, to hold a conversation with a Breton, in the language of Brittany.
In a Book of French and Breton Dialogues, published at Brest, about twenty years ago, the following examples are given, among a variety of others, of precisely the same character; and, as they are intended, not as illustrations of etymology, but as practical lessons for the use of those who would learn to converse in Breton, we must conclude that they are fair specimens of the language in daily use among the people.
DIALOG QUENTA. Bonjour Monsieur ?
De-mat deo'ch Autrou. Votre serviteur ?
Ho servic'her. Je suis le votre.
Me so hoc'h-hini. Comment vous portez-vous ? Penaos ac'hanoc'h hu? A votre service.
En ho servich.
A belec'h e teût-hu? Je viens de Rennes.
Eus a Roazon e leuan. Quelle nouvelle y a-t-il ? Pe seurt quelou a so ? Je n'en sais aucune.
Ne ouzon nicun. Où allez-vous ?
Pelec'h he zit-hu? A Morlaix.
Da Vontroullez. Faites mes complimens a Ma- Grit va gour'chemennou d'an dame.
Itron. Je n'y manquerai pas.
Ne vanquit quet. Should these observations fall into the hands of any of our Welsh countrymen who may be unacquainted with the French language, I shall give one specimen more, with an English translation. What do you want?
Petra a choulennit hu? Is the gentleman at home? An autrou so er guær? Yes, sir.
Ya Autrou. Is be up?
Savet ef-en? An hour ago.
Un heur so. Is he engaged ?
Ampechet ef-en? I believe so.
M'er gred. Who is with him?
Piou so gantan? He has company:
Compagnunez en deus. Can I speak to him?
Coms a allan-me outan? Soon.
Soudan. Where is he?
Have you Not yet.
In his room.
En e gambr. Shew me it.
Discuesit-hi din. breakfasted ? Dijunet hoc'heus-hu?
Non pas choas. Will you drink?
Ha choui a euteur efa ? What you please.
Ar pez a guerrot. Will you eat anything? Ha choui a euteur dibri un dra
bennac ? When I eat in the morning, I Pam bez debret d'ar mintin,
have no more appetite all n'em eus mui a appetit en day.
deiz. The above are specimens of the commonest expressions in the colloquial language of Brittany, and, however unintelligible they may appear on paper, I can assure the reader that, when spoken in conversation by a native Breton, they are, if possible, still more so.
(To be continued.)
In a former part of the Tour in Brittany a description was given of a Breton wedding, together with the ceremony of bidding or inviting the guests, which will be recognised by those acquainted with the customs of the Welsh, as bearing a striking resemblance to the usages still retained in the Principality. But, as these ceremonies vary in different districts, we subjoin the following invitation of the Gwahoddwr, as used in some parts of Caermarthenshire; and should any of our correspondents furnish us with those of other counties, we shall be happy to insert them when an opportunity occurs.
Arwydd fy mhastwn, yn awr mi a fostia,
Cennad pur ddifrad wyf attoch o ddifri,