We are all Iberians here, or so I love to believe, grounding myself upon the learned Dr. Beddoes—a swarthy people, dark-haired, grey-eyed, rather under than over the mean height. The aboriginal strain has proved itself stronger than the Frisian, and the Danish type does not appear at all. There are English names among us, of course, such as Gurd, which is Gurth as pronounced by a Norman; but it is understood that we are neolithic chiefly on the distaff side. The theory that each successive wave of invasion demolished the existing inhabitants is absurd. Not even the Germans do that; nor have the Turks succeeded in obliterating the Armenian nation. No—in turn our oncoming hordes, Celts, Romans, English, Danes, enslaved the men and married, or at least mated with, the women. And so we are descended, and (let me at this hour of victory be allowed to say) a marvellous people we are. For tenacity, patience, and obedience to the law—not of men, but of nature—I don’t suppose there is another such people in the world. Those characteristics, for which neither Celt nor Roman, Teuton nor Dane, as we know them now, is remarkable, I set to the score of the neolithic race, whose physical features are equally enduring.
When you get what seems like a clear case in either sex, you have a very handsome person.
The most beautiful woman I ever saw in my days was scrubbing a kitchen floor on her knees, when I saw her first—not a hundred miles from here. Pure Iberian, so far as one can judge—olive skin, black hair, grey-green eyes. Otherwise—colouring apart—the Venus of Milo, no less. I don’t say that she was very intelligent. I wonder if the Venus was. But she was obedient to the law of her being—that I do know; and it is a matter of faith with me that Aphrodite can have been no less so.
Neither a quick-witted nor an imaginative race are we; but we have the roots of poetry in us, and the roots of other arts, for we have reverence for what is above and beyond us. Custom, too, we worship, and decency and order. We fight unwillingly, and are very slow to anger; but we never let go. Witness the last four dreadful years; witness Europe from Mons to Gallipoli. The British private, soldier or sailor, has been the backbone of the fight for freedom. But I am a long way from my valley in the Downs.