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larity and proportion of its structure. It took in both
sexes ; and the female Druids were in no less esteem for
their knowledge and sanctity than the males. It was divid-
ed into several subordinate ranks and classes ; and they all
depended upon a chief, or Arch-Druid, who was elected
to his place with great authority and pre-eminence for life.
They were further armed with a power of interdicting from
their sacrifices, or excommunicating, any obnoxious persons.
This interdiction, so similar to that used by the ancient
Athenians, and to that since practised among Christians,
was followed by an exclusion from all the benefits of civil
community ; and it was accordingly the most dreaded of all
punishments. This ample authority was in general use-
fully exerted ; by the interposition of the Druids, differ-
ences were composed and wars ended ; and the minds of the
fierce Northern people, being reconciled to each other, under


the influence of religion, united with signal effect against
their common enemies.

There was a class of the Druids, whom they called
Bards, who delivered in songs (their only history) the ex-
ploits of their heroes; and who composed those verses
which contained the secrets of Druidical discipline, their
principles of natural and moral philosophy, their astronomy,
and the mystical rites of their religion. These verses in all
probability bore a near resemblance to the golden verses
of Pythagoras ; to those of Phocylides, Orpheus, and other
remnants of the most ancient Greek poets. The Druids,
even in Gaul, where they were not altogether ignorant of
the use of letters, in order to preserve their knowledge in
greater respect, committed none of their precepts to writ-
ing. The proficiency of their pupils was estimated princi-
pally by the number of technical verses which they retained
in their memory : a circumstance that shows this discipline
rather calculated to preserve with accuracy a few plain
maxims of traditionary science, than to improve and extend
it. And this is not the sole circumstance which leads us
to believe that among them learning had advanced no
further than its infancy.

The scholars of the Druids, like those of Pythagoras,
were carefully enjoined a long and religious silence ; for if
barbarians come to acquire any knowledge, it is rather by
instruction than examination : they must therefore be silent.
Pythagoras, in the rude times of Greece, required silence
in his disciples ; but Socrates, in the meridian of the Athe-
nian refinement, spoke less than his scholars: everything
was disputed in the Academy.

The Druids are said to be very expert in astronomy, in
geography, and in all parts of mathematical knowledge.
And authors speak, in a very exaggerated strain, of their
excellence in these, and in many other sciences. Some
elemental knowledge I suppose they had ; but I can


scarcely be persuaded that their learning was either deep
or extensive. In all countries where Druidism was pro-
fessed, the youth were generally instructed by that order;
and yet was there little, either in the manners of the peo-
ple, in their way of life, or their works of art, that demon-
strates profound science, or particularly mathematical skill.
Britain, where their discipline was in its highest perfection,
and which was therefore resorted to by the people of Gaul,
as an oracle in Druidical questions, was more barbarous in
all other respects than Gaul itself, or than any other coun-
try then known in Europe. These piles of rude magnifi-
cence, Stonehenge and Abury, are in vain produced in
proof of their mathematical abilities. These vast structures
have nothing which can be admired, but the greatness of
the work ; and they are not the only instances of the great
things which the mere labor of many hands united, and
persevering in their purpose, may accomplish with very
little help from mechanics. Th^ may be evinced by the
immense buildings, and the low state of the sciences, among
the original Peruvians.

The Druids were eminent, above all the philosophic
lawgivers of antiquity, for their care in impressing the
doctrine of the soul's immortality on the minds of their
people, as an operative and leading principle. This doc-
trine was inculcated on the scheme of transmigration, which
some imagine them to have derived from Pythagoras. But
it is by no means necessary to resort to any particular
teacher for an opinion which owes its birth to the weak
struggles of unenlightened reason, and to mistakes natural
to the human mind. The idea of the soul's immortality is
indeed ancient, universal, and in a manner inherent in our
nature : but it is not easy for a rude people to conceive any
other mode of existence than one similar to what they had
experienced in life; nor any other world as the scene of
such an existence but this we inhabit, beyond the bounds of


which the mind extends itself with great difficulty. Admi-
ration, indeed, was able to exalt to heaven a few selected
heroes: it did not seem absurd that those, who in their
mortal state had distinguished themselves as superior and
overruling spirits, should after death ascend to that sphere
which influences and governs everything below; or that
the proper abode of beings, at once so illustrious and per-
manent, should be in that part of nature in which they had
always observed the greatest splendor and the least muta-
tion. But on ordinary occasions it was natural some should
imagine that the dead retired into a remote country, sepa-
rated from the living by seas or mountains. It was natural
that some should follow their imagination with a simplicity
still purer, and pursue the souls of men no further than
the sepulchres in which their bodies had been deposited;
whilst others of deeper penetration, observing that bodies
worn out by age, or destroyed by accidents, still afforded
the materials for generating new ones, concluded likewise
that a soul being dislodged did not wholly perish, but was
destined, by a similar revolution in nature, to act again, and
to animate some other body. This last principle gave rise
to the doctrine of transmigration ; but we must not presume,
of course, that where it prevailed it necessarily excluded the
other opinions ; for it is not remote from the usual proced-
ure of the human mind, blending, in obscure matters, imag-
ination and reasoning together, to unite ideas the most
inconsistent. When Homer represents the ghosts of his
heroes appealing at the sacrifices of Ulysses, he supposes
them endued with life, sensation, and a capacity of moving,
but he has joined to these powers of living existence un-
comeliness, want of strength, want of distinction, the char-
acteristics of a dead carcass. This is what the mind is apt
to do : it is very apt to confound the ideas of the surviving
soul and the dead body. The vulgar have always, and still
do, confound these very irreconcilable ideas. They lay the


scene of apparitions in churchyards ; they habit the ghosl
in a shroud, and it appears in all the ghastly paleness of a
corpse. A contradiction of this kind has given rise to a
doubt whether the Druids did in reality hold the doctrine
of transmigration. There is positive testimony that they
did hold it. There is also testimony as positive that they
buried or burned with the dead utensils, arms, slaves, and
whatever might be judged useful to them, as if they were tci
tx5 removed into a separate state. They might have held
both these opinions; and we ought not to be surprised to
find error inconsistent.

The objects of the Druid worship were many. In this
respect they did not differ from other heathens ; but it must
be owned, that in general their ideas of divine matters were
more exalted than those of the Greeks and Romans, and
that they did not fall into an idolatry so coarse and vulgar.
That their gods should be represented under a human form,
they thought derogatory to beings uncreated and imperisha-
ble. To confine what can endure no limits within walls
and roofs, they judged absurd and impious. In these par-
ticulars there was something refined, and suitable enough
to a just idea of the Divinity. But the rest was not equal.
Some notions they had, like the greatest part of mankind, of
a Being eternal and infinite ; but they also, like the greatest
pait of mankind, paid their worship to inferior objects, from
the nature of ignorance and superstition always tending

The first and chief objects of their worship were the ele-
ments ; and, of the elements, fire, as the most pure, active,
penetrating, and what gives life and energy to all the rest.
Among fires, the preference was given to the sun, as the
most glorious visible being, and the fountain of all life.
Next they venerated the moon and the planets. After fire,
water was held in reverence. This, when pure, and ritualty
prepared, was supposed to wash away all sins, and to qual


ify the priest to approach the altar of the gods with more
acceptable prayers ; washing with water being a type natu-
ral enough of inward cleansing and purity of mind. They
also worshipped fountains, and lakes, and rivers.

Oaks were regarded by this sect with a particular ven-
eration, as by their greatness, their shade, their stability
and duration, not ill representing the perfections of the
Deity. From the great reverence in which they held this
tree, it is thought their name of Druids is derived, the
word Deru in the Celtic language signifying an oak. But
their reverence was not wholly confined to this tree. All
forests were held sacred ; and many particular plants were
respected, as'^endued with a particular holiness. No plant
was more revered than the mistletoe, especially if it grew
on the oak ; not only because it is rarely found upon that
tree, but because the oak was among the Druids peculiarly
sacred. Towards the end of the year they searched for this
plant, and when it was found great rejoicing ensued : it was
approached with reverence ; it was cut with a golden hook ;
it was not suffered to fall to the ground, but received with
great care and solemnity upon a white garment.

In ancient times, and in all countries, the profession of
physic was annexed to the priesthood. Men imagined that
all their diseases were inflicted by the immediate displeas-
ure of the Deity, and therefore concluded that the remedy
would most probably proceed from those who were particu-
larly employed in his service. Whatever, for the same
reason, was found of efficacy to avert or cure distempers
was considered as partaking somewhat of the Divinity.
Medicine was always joined with magic ; no remedy was
administered without mysterious ceremony and incantation.
The use of plants and herbs, both in medicinal and magical
practices, was early and general. The mistletoe, pointed
out by its very peculiar appearance and manner of growth,
must have struck powerfully on the imaginations of a su-


perstitious people. Its virtues may have been soon discov-
ered. It has been fully proved, against the opinion of
Celsus, that internal remedies were of very early use.
Yet if it had not, the practice of the present savage nations
supports the probability of that opinion. By some modern
authors the mistletoe is said to be of signal service in the
cure of certain convulsive distempers, which, by their sud-
denness, their violence, and their unaccountable symptoms,
have been ever considered as supernatural. The epilepsy
was by the Romans for that reason called Morbus Sacer ;
and all other nations have regarded it in the same light.
The Druids also looked upon vervain, and some other
plants, as holy, and p . >bably for a similar reason.

The other objects of the Druid worship were chiefly
serpents in the animal world, and rude heaps of stone, or
great pillars without polish or sculpture, in the inanimate.
The serpent, by his dangerous qualities, is not ill adapted to
inspire terror ; by his annual renewals, to raise admiration ;
by his make, easily susceptible of many figures, to serve for
a variety of symbols ; and by all, to be an object of religious
observance : accordingly no object of idolatry has been more
universal. And this is so natural, that serpent-veneration
seems to be rising again even in the bosom of Mahome-

The great stones, it has been supposed, were originally
monuments of illustrious men, or the memorials of consid-
erable actions, or they were landmarks for deciding the
bounds of fixed property. In time, the memory of the
persons or facts which these stones were erected to perpetu-
ate wore away ; but the reverence which custom, and proba-
bly certain periodical ceremonies, had preserved for those
places was not so soon obliterated. The monuments them-
selves then came to be venerated ; and not the less because
the reason for venerating them was no longer known. The
landmark was in those times held sacred on account of its


great uses, and easily passed into an object of worship.
Hence the god Terminus amongst the Romans. This relig-
ious observance towards rude stones is one of the most
ancient and universal of all customs. Traces of it are to
be found in almost all, and especially in these Northern
nations ; and to this day in Lapland, where heathenism is
not yet entirely extirpated, their chief divinity, which they
call Stor Junkare, is nothing more than a rude stone.

Some writers, among the moderns, because the Druids
ordinarily made no use of images in their worship, have
given in to an opinion, that their religion was founded on
the unity of the Godhead. Buf this is no just consequence.
The spirituality of the idea, admitting their idea to have
been spiritual, does not infer the unity of the object All
the ancient authors who speak of this order agree, that,
besides those great and more distinguishing objects of their
worsliip already mentioned, they had gods answerable to
those adored by the Romans. And we know that the
Northern nations who overran the Roman Empire had in
fact a great plurality of gods, whose attributes, though not
their names, bore a close analogy to the idols of the South-
ern world.

The Druids performed the highest act of religion by
sacrifice, agreeably to the custom of all other nations.
They not only offered up beasts, but even human victims ;
a barbarity almost universal in the heathen world, but exer-
cised more uniformly, and with circumstances of peculiar
craelty, amongst those nations where the religion of the
Druids prevailed. They held that the life of a man was
the only atonement for the life of a man. They frequently
enclosed a number of wretches, some captives, some crimi-
nals, and, when these were wanting, even innocent victims,
in a gigantic statue of wicker-work, to which they set fire,
and invoked their deities amidst the horrid cries and shrieks
of the sufferers, and the shouts of those who assisted at
tins tremendous rite.


There were none among the ancients more emiuent foi
all the arts of divination than the Druids. Many of the
superstitious practices in use to this day among the country
people for discovering their future fortune seem to be
remains of Druidism. Futurity is the great concern of
mankind. Whilst the wise and learned look back upon ex-
perience and history, and reason from things past about
events to come, it is natural for the rude and ignorant, who
have the same desires without the same reasonable means
of satisfaction, to inquire into the secrets of futurity, and
to govern their conduct by omens, dreams, and prodigies.
The Druids, as well as th% Etruscan and Roman priest-
hood, attended with diligence the flight of birds, the pecking
of chickens, and the entrails of their animal sacrifices. It
was obvious that no contemptible prognostics of the weather
were to be taken from certain motions and appearances in
birds and beasts. A people who lived mostly in the open
air must have been well skilled in these observations. And
as changes in the weather influenced much the fortune of
their huntings, or their harvests, which were all their for-
tunes, it was easy to apply the same prognostics to every
event by a transition very natural and common ; and thus
probably arose the science of auspices, which formerly
guided the deliberations of councils, and the motions of
armies, though now they only serve, and scarcely serve, if
amuse the vulgar.

The Druid temple is represented to have been nothing
more than a consecrated wood. The ancients speak of no
other. But monuments remain which show that the Druids
Avere not in this respect wholly confined to groves. They
had also a species of building, which in all probability
was destined to religious use. This sort of structure
was indeed without walls or roof. It was a colonnade,
generally circular, of huge rude stones, sometimes single,
sometimes double ; sometimes with, often without, an


architrave These open temples were not in all respects
peculiar to the Northern nations. Those of the Greeks
which were dedicated to the celestial gods, ought in strict-
ness to have had no roof, and were thence called Hy-

Many of these monuments remain in the British islands,
curious for their antiquity, or astonishing for the greatness
of the work ; enormous masses of rock, so poised as to be
set in motion with the slightest touch, yet not to be pushed
from their place by a very great power : 7at altars, pecu-
liar and mystical in their structure, thrones, basins, heaps
or kearns ; and a variety of other works, displaying a wild
industry, and, a strange mixture of ingenuity and rudeness.
But they are all worthy of attention ; not only as such
monuments often clear up the darkness, and supply the
defects, of history, but as they lay open a noble field of
speculation for those who study the changes which have
happened in the manners, opinions, and sciences of men,
and who think them as worthy of regard as the fortune
of wars, and the revolutions of kingdoms.

The short account which I have here given does not con-
tain the whole of what is handed down to us by ancient
writers, or discovered by modern research, concerning this
remarkable order. But I have selected those which appear
to me the most striking features, and such as throw the
strongest light on the genius and true character of the Dru-
idical institution. In some respects it was undoubtedly
very singular ; it stood out more from the body of the
people than the priesthood of other nations ; and their
knowledge and policy appeared the more striking by being
contrasted with the great simplicity and rudeness of the
people over whom they presided. But, notwithstanding
some peculiar appearances and practices, it is impossible
not to perceive a great conformity between this and the
ancient orders which have been established for the purposes


of religion in almost all countries. For, to say nothing of
the resemblance which many have traced between this and
the Jewish priesthood, the Persian Magi, and the India
Brachmans, it did not so greatly differ from the Roman
priesthood either in the original objects, or in the general
mode of worship, or in the constitution of their hierarchy.
In the original institution, neither of these nations had the
use of images ; the rules of the Salian as well as Druid
discipline were delivered in verse ; both orders were under
an elective head ; and both were for a long time the law-
yers of their country. So that when the order of Druids
was suppressed by the emperors, it was rather from a dread
of an influence incompatible with the Roman government,
lhan from any dislike of their religious opinions.



IT was the pleasant harvest time,
When cellar-bins are closely stowed,
And garrets bend beneath their load,

And the old swallow-haunted barns
Brown-gabled, long, and full of seams
Through which the moted sunlight streams.

And winds blow freshly in, to shake
The red plumes of the roosted cocks,
And the loose haymow's scented locks

Are filled with summer's ripened stores,
Its odorous grass and barley sheaves,
From their low scaffolds to their eaves.

On Esek Harden's oaken floor,

With many an autumn threshing worn,
Lay the heaped ears of unhusked corn.

And thither came young men and maids,
Beneath a moon that, large and low,
Lit that sweet eve of long ago.


They took then places ; some by chance,
And others by a merry voice
Or sweet sinile guided to their choice.

How pleasantly the rising moon,
Between the shadow of the mows,
Looked on them through the great elm boughs !

On sturdy boyhood sun-embrowned,
On girlhood with its solid curves
Of healthful strength and painless nerves !

And jests went round, and laughs that made
The house-dog answer with his howl,
And kept astir the barn-yard fowl ;

And quaint old songs their fathers sung,
In Derby dales and Yorkshire moors,
Ere Norman William trod their shores ;

And tales, whose merry license shook
The fat sides of the Saxon thane,
Forgetful of the hovering Dane !

But still the sweetest voice was mute
That river-valley ever heard,
From lip of maid or throat of bird ;

For Mabel Martin sat apart,

And let the haymow's shadow fall
Upon the loveliest face of all.

She sat apart, as one forbid,

Who knew that none would condescend
To own the Witch-wife's child a friend.


The seasons scarce had gone their round,
Since curious thousands thronged to see
Her mother on the gallows-tree ;

And mocked the palsied limbs of age,
That faltered on the fatal stairs,
And wan lip trembling with its prayers !

Few questioned of the sorrowing child,
Or, when they saw the mother die,
Dreamed of the daughter's agony.

They 'went up to their homes that day,
As men and Christians justified :
God willed it, and the wretch had died I

Dear God and Father of us all,
Forgive our faith in cruel lies,
Forgive the blindness that denies !

Forgive thy creature when he takes,
For the all-perfect love thou art,
Some grim creation of his heart.

Cast down our idols, overturn
Our bloody altars ; let us see
Thyself in thy humanity !

Poor Mabel from her mother's grave
Crept to her desolate hearthstone,
And wrestled with her fate alone ;

With love, and anger, and despair,
The phantoms of disordered sense,
The awful doubts of Providence !


The school-boys jeered her as they passed
And, when she sought the house of prayer,
Her mother's curse pursued her there.

And still o'er many a neighboring door
She saw the horseshoe's curved charm,
To guard against her mother's harm ;

That mother, poor, and sick, and lame,
Who daily, by the old arm-chair,
Folded her withered arms in prayer ;

Who turned, in Salem's dreary jail,
Her worn old Bible o'er and o'er,
When her dun eyes could read no more !

Sore tried and pained, the poor girl kept
Her faith, and trusted that her way,
So dark, would somewhere meet the day.

And still her weary wheel went round
Day after day, with no relief:
Small leisure have the poor for grief.

So in the shadow Mabel sits ;

Untouched by mirth she sees and hears ;
Her smile is sadder than her tears.

But cruel eyes have found her out,
And cruel lips repeat her name,
And taunt her with her mother's shame.

She answered not with railing words,
But drew her apron o'er her face,
And, sobbing, glided from the place.


And only pausing at the door,

Her sad eyes met the troubled gaze
Of one who, in her better days,

Had been her warm and steady friend
Ere yet her mother's doom had made
Even Esek Harden half afraid.

He felt that mute appeal of tears,
And, starting, with an angry frown
Hushed all the wicked murmurs down.

" Good neighbors mine," he sternly said,
" This passes harmless mirth or jest ;
I brook no insult to my guest.

" She is indeed her mother's child ;
But God's sweet pity ministers
Unto no whiter soul than hers.

** Let Goody Martin rest in peace ;
I never knew her harm a fly,
And witch or not, God knows not L

" I know who swore her life away ;
And, as God lives, I 'd not condemn
An Indian dog on word of them."

The broadest lands in all the town,
The skill to guide, the power to awe,
Were Harden's ; and his word was law.

None dared withstand him to his face,
But one sly maiden spake aside
" The little witch is evil eyed !


" Her mother only killed a cow,

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