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190 FOLK-SONGS OF LOWER BRITTANY.
unbroken tradition of popular poetry for thirteen centuries, with strong traces of heathen influence extending back much farther, in almost absolute purity of language and definite historic characterization, and it was regarded from an ethnologic point of view as of hardly less importance than the discoveries of the remains of the Lake dwellers and other tokens of the existence of prehistoric man. Apparent credibility was given to the authenticity of the collection by the fact that the Breton people had preserved their language in its native condition and form, and by their customs, dress, and manner of life were marked off from the rest of the French people by a distinct line, which showed the strength, originality, and persistence of the race. It was known that they retained the original characteristics of the Celtic race, its fervency of religious faith, its melancholy, its sensitiveness to the mysterious influences of nature, its passion and its loyalty, and that many of its customs and habits of life were distinct survivals of medievalism, and utterly anomalous to the spirit of modern civilization. It was therefore not thought impossible, if extraordinary, that the ancient ballads should have been preserved in their original purity, and the compositions of the ancient bards and minstrels still remain to be collected from the lips of the wandering mendicant singers, who gathered audiences