The League of Young Bretons. By Yan Bricler. THE League of Young Bretons (Unvaniez Yaouankiz Vreiz) is the most modern expres- sion of the renascence of Brittany. Since it is the logical result of the revival movement which began about 1800 it is necessary, in order thoroughly to understand the part it plays, to know something of the history of Brittany. A recent article by M. Mocaer gave, in these pages, an outline of the history of the Bretons since they were separated from the Welsh, and that sketch is enough to explain the Breton movement of to-day. It shows in chronological order how our national rebirth has come about. First of all there was the desire to study, the making of Breton grammars and dictionaries, the collection of folklore. Then came the spirit- ual movement: a few people, feeling that all that goes to make Brittany is beautiful, wished to preserve her charm, and felt that it was to her interest that this should be done. They united therefore to preserve the language, the traditions, and the interests generally of Brittany. They held meetings and much was written on the subject, including some beautiful poetry. After the war (1914-18) a new society was formed, its object being to unite the youth of Brittany. In the trenches young Bretons felt very. strongly that they were different from the French. When they got home they knew things about Brittany which no one had ever taught them. Others, younger still, fired also by pride in their land, joined them. They studied and they published month by month, in their organ "Breiz Atao" (Brittany for Ever), the result of their reflections. As a result of their study the young Bretons have realised that the ideas of their predecessors were too vague and incoherent; they have dis- covered what are the rights of their country and what is her situation to-day, and finally they have laid down a line of action likely to end in the revival of Brittany, and from that has developed the programme which their society has adopted. In order to understand on what this programme is based, it is essential to study the actual situ- ation of Brittany. Since the beginning of the sixteenth century Brittany had lost her independ- ence. Since the end of the eighteenth century she had lost all liberty, and she submitted to the laws of the French Republic and also to the decadent influence of the French people. The French Government shows its attitude towards Brittany in several ways : (I). It desires Brittany, as a separate entity, to disappear. To achieve this, it uses every means in its power: the schools, the army, the navy are its most powerful instruments. The State School is not the only means of education in France, but the private schools imitate it in their curriculum in order that they may have the same success in civil service examinations. This, then, is the fate awaiting the child who goes to school to learn to read in neighbourhoods where Breton is the usual language. The teacher tells him, in French, to read from a book which is written in French. Since the child cannot under- stand, his education is begun by gestures, as though he was deaf. He reads words which have no sense for him and sentences which call up nothing in his mind. In short, he is made to do that insensate thing, to learn to read in a tongue which he does not know. Luckily some teachers make use of, Breton-when the inspector is not there On the other hand there are schools where the equivalent of the "Welsh Note" is still used. The results of this method of education are deplorable; the Breton people know neither Breton nor French. They cannot improve their minds by any reading; they cannot increase their vocabulary; they are placed in a position of in- feriority in comparison with other nations. In the barracks, and in the navy of the Republic, Bretons are made fun of, and sometimes repri- manded, for speaking Breton. Those whom the schools have not already made ashamed of their mother-tongue, often lose there what was left of their national pride. In order the more easily to assimilate Brittany to France, the Government conceals from her her history. It is almost impossible to find in the school books a word on the history of Brittany, and the little there is consists usually of false- hoods and unwarranted interpretations of facts. (II). The French Government shows by its anti-Breton attitude, that it is aware of the exist- ence of Brittany. which existence, however, it does not admit officially. It treats Brittany as though it were inhabited by Frenchmen, as the following examples show Administration. In France the State interferes in the affairs of private individuals far more fre- quently than does the British Government. As the Breton language is not recognised, endless annoyances result for Bretons who do not speak French, or speak it only indifferently. Moreover, officials are ceaselessly changed from one depart- ment to another; those of Breton origin are rarely placed in their own country and Bretons have to deal with strangers who know nothing of their land Finally, the country was divided into departments, in 1789, by men who knew nothing at all of the natural divisions of Brittany, from whence comes real annoyance for the population Justice. First of all, the French civil code has grave faults which are keenly felt in Brittany. Then, by reason of the non-recognition of Breton, the situation of litigants is very painful, cases are prolonged, etc. How can the evidence of a wit- ness be clear and precise in a tongue which he knows only slightly ? When the witness does not
This text was generated automatically from the scanned page and has not been checked. Typical character accuracy is in excess of 99%, but this leaves one error per 100 characters.