I have now put forward the hypothesis of the Celtic Church as it has never been expressed previously; I have diminished nothing, and any contrary inferences have been proposed so far temperately; but the issues are not entirely those of the Graal legend, and in view of all that comes after a few words in conclusion of this part may perhaps be said more expressly. It should be on record, for those who have ears, that the Welsh Church, with its phantom and figurehead bishops, its hereditary priesthood, its fighting and sanguinary prelates, and its profession of sanctity as others profess trades, seems a very good case for those who insist that the first Christianity of Britain was independent of St. Augustine, which it was, and very much indeed, but on the whole we may prefer Rome. When we have considered all the crazes and heresies, all the pure, primitive and unadulterated Christianities, being only human
and therefore disposed to gratitude, it is difficult not to thank God for Popery. But it would also be difficult to be so thankful, that is to say, with the same measure of sincerity, if we were still in the school courses and belonged officially thereto. I mean to say, although under all reserves, that there is always some disposition to hold a fluidic brief for Rome in the presence of the other assemblies. William Howitt, the historian of priestcraft à rebours, once said: "Thanks be to God for the mountains!" It is well to quote from our enemies, but not in the sense of our enemies, and hence I read by substitution the seven hills and the city built thereon. Let therefore those who will strive with those who can over the dismembered relics of apostolical Christianity; but so far as we are concerned the dead can bury their dead. We have left the Celtic Church as we have left carved gods. A Pan-Britannic Church might have been the dream of one period, and were that so, seeing that it never came to fulfilment, we could understand why it is that in several respects the Graal literature has now the aspect of a legend of loss and now of a legend of to-morrow. The Anglican Church seems in this sense to recall for a moment that perverse generation which asked for a sign and was given the sign of Jonah. It has demanded apostolical evidences to enforce its own claim and it has been given the Celtic Church. Let us therefore surrender thereto the full fruition thereof. There may be insufficiencies and imperfect warrants in the great orthodox assemblies, but in the Celtic Church there is nothing which we can regret. Gildas and St. Bernard are eloquent witnesses concerning it. The Latin rite prevailed because it was bound to prevail, because the greater absorbs the lesser. On the other hand, and now only in respect of the legends, let us say lastly that the ascension of Galahad is, symbolically speaking, without prejudice to the second coming of Cadwaladr. It does not signify for our purpose whether Arthur ever lived,
and if so whether he was merely a petty British prince. The Graal is still the Graal, and the mystery of the Round Table is still the sweet and secret spirit of universal knighthood.
It follows, in fine, that we must go further, and in the next section, as one who has been in exile among disjecta membra, like Marius among the ruins of Carthage, I shall re-enter into my own patrimony. To my old friend, Arthur Machen, himself of Caerleon-upon-Usk, I owe most of the materials which have been collated for the presentation of the hypothesis concerning the Graal and the Celtic Church. He collected them in my interest out of his good heart of brotherhood, and I trust that in the time to come he will extend them further in his own.