John Toland.

A new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory online

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hanging from his shoulders, and a bent bow in his
left hand. Upon the whole it is Hercules. I was
of opinion that all these things were perversely
done, in dishonor of the Grecian gods, by the
Gauls to the picture of Hercules: revenging
themselves upon him by such a representation, for
having formerly over-run their country, and driv-
ing a prey out of it; as he was seeking aftert he
herd of Geryon, at which time he made incur-
sions into most of the western nations. But I
have not yet told, what is most odd and strange
JH this picture; for this old Hercules draws after
him a vast multitude of men, all ty'd by their ears.
The cords by which he does this are small fine
chains, artificially made of gold and electrum, like
to most beautiful bracelets. And tho' the men
are drawn by such slender bonds, yet none of 'em
thinks of breaking loose, when they might easily
do it; neither do they strive in the least to the
contrary, or struggle with their feet, leaning back
with all their might against their leader: but they
gladly and cheerfully follow, praising him that
dra'Ws them ; all seeming in haste, and desirovis to
get before each other, holding up the chains, as if
they should be very sorry to be set free. • Nor will



I grudge telling here, what of all these matters
appear'd the most absurd to me. The painter
finding no place where to fix the extreme links of
the chains, the right band being occupy'd with a
club, and the left with a bow, he made a hole in
the tip of the god's tongue, (who turns smiling to-
wards those he leads) and painted them as drawn
from thence. 1 look'd upon these things a great
while, sometimes admiring, sometimes doubting,
and sometimes chafing with indignation. But a
certain Gaul who stood by, not ignorant of our
affairs, as he show'd by speaking Greec in perfec-
tion (being one of the philosophers, I suppose, of
that nation) said, I'll explain to you, O sti-anger,
the enigma of this picture, for it seems not a little
to disturb you. We Gauls do not suppose, as
you Greecs, that Mercury is speech or eloquence;
but we attribute it to Hercules, because he's far
superior in strength to Mercury. Don't wonder,
that he's represented as an old man; for speech
alone loves to show its utmost vigor in old age, if
your own poets speak true.

AH youDg men's breasts are with thick darkness fill'd;

Bat age esperienc'd has much more to say,

More wise and learned, than rude untaught youth.

Thus, among yourselves, hony drops from Nes-
tor's tongue; and the Trojan orators emit a cer-
tain voice call'd Lirioessa, that is, a Jlorid speech;
for, if I remember x\^h\.,Jio%vers are call'd Liria.


Now that Hercules, or speech, shou'd draw men
after him ty'd by their ears to his tongue, will be
no cause of admiration to you, when you consider
the near affinity of the tongue with the ears. Nor
is his tongue contumeliously bor'd : for I remem-
ber, said he, to have learnt certiain iambics out of
your own comedians, one of which says.

The tips of all prater's tongues are bor'd.

And finally, as for us, we are of opinion, that
Hercules accomplish'd all his atchievments by
speech; and, that having been a wise man, he con-
quer'd mostly by persuasion; we think his arrows
were keen reasons, easily shot, quick, and pene-
trating the souls of men; whence you have, among
you, the expression of wing'd words. Hitherto
spoke the Gaul." From this ingenious ^picture
Lucian draws to himself an argument of consola-
tion: that the study and profession of eloquence
was not unbecoming him in his old age, being ra-
ther more fit than ever to teach the Belles Lettres;
when his stock of knowledge was most complete,
as his speech was more copious, polish'd, and
mature, than formerly.

II. As my first instance is furnish'd by a man,
who, for his eloquence and love of liberty (quali-
ties no less conspicuous in your lordship) deserv'd
to have his memory consecrated to immortality,
which was all that the wisest of the ancients un-
derstood by making any one a God; so ray second



instance shall be taken from a woman, whose
frailty and perfidiousness will serve as a foil to
those learned Druidesses, and other illustrious
hei'oines, which I frequently mention in my his-
tory. I introduce her in a passage I have occa-
sion to allege, when I am proving, that wherever
the Gauls or Britons are in any old author simply
said to offer sacrifice (without any further circum-
stances added) this nevertheless is understood to
he done by the ministry of the Druids ; it having
been as unlawful for any of the Celtic nations to
sacrifice otherwise, as it Avas for the Jews to do so
without their priests and Levites. " The Druids,"
says Julius Caesar*, " perform divine service, they
offer the public and private sacrifices, they inter-
pret religious observ'^ances:"' and even when parti-
cular persons would propitiate the Gods, for the
continuing or restoring of their health; "they
make use of the Druids," adds hef, " to offer
those sacrifices." "'Tis the establish'd custom of
the Gauls," says Diodorus Siculus:|;, " to offer
no sacrifice without a philosopher," which is to
.say, a Druid: and Strabo so expresses it, affirm-
ing, that " they never sacrifice Avithout the
Druids §." This unanswerable proof being pre-

* lUi rebus dWinis intersunt, sacrificia publica ac privata pro.
curant, religiones interpretantur. De Bello Gallico, lib. 6. cap. 1 2.
+ Administrisque ad ea sacrificia Druidibus utuntur. Ibid.

$ E&fl? 3'rtuTet? icl, fjfiiitya Qve-taTi ito(Hv av£L> *f•^^oo■•<]>ev. L,ib. 5. ptt^' 508. Edit.
i EfluH h iwt Kvii) AfuiW. Lib, 4. 2>og-. 30S. Edit. Amstcl.


mis'd, now follows one of the passages, wherein a
Gaul being said simply to sacrifice, 1 think fit to
relate the whole story. 'Tis the eigth of Parihe-
nius of Niceas Love-stories, related before him (as
he says) in the first book of the history written by
Aristodemus of Nysa, now lost. This Parthe-
nius addresses his book to Cornelius Gallus, for
whose use he wrote it, being the same to whom
Virgil inscrib'd his tenth JEclog. The story runs
thus. " When the Gauls * had made an incursion
into Ionia, and sack'd most of the cities, the Thes-
mophorian festival was celebrated at Miletus;
which occasioning all the women to assemble to-
gether in the temple, that was not far from the
city: part of the barbarian army, which separated
from the rest, made an irruption into the Milesian
territory, and seiz'd upon those women; whom the
Milesians were -forc'd to ransom, giving in ex-
change a great sum of gold and silver. Yet the
barbarians took some of them away for domestic
use, among whom was Erippef, the wife of Xan-
thus (a man of the first rank and birth in Miletus)
leaving behind her a boy onely two years olde.
Now Xanthus, passionately loving his wife, turn'd
part of his substance into money, and having
amass'd a thousand pieces of gold, hecross'd over
with the soonest into Italy, whence being guided
hj some whom he had intertain'd in Gi'eece, he

* 'OTf Js ii raXarai )!ttTtJpa|iuv tdv limay, et qiJiE seqnBntur,

. t Aristodemus calls her Gythimia.


came to Marseilles, and so into Gaule, Then he
went to the house where his wife was, belonging
to a man of the greatest authority among the
Gauls, and intreated to be lodg'd there; where-
upon those of the family, according to that na-
tion's usual hospitality, cheerfully receiving him,
he went in and saw his wife, who running to him
with open arms, very lovingly led him to his
apartment. Cavara* the Gaul, who had been
abroad, returning soon after, Erippe acquainted
him with the arrival of her husband ; and that it
was for her sake he came, bringing with him the
price of her redemption. The Gaul extoU'd the
generosity of Xanthus, and strait inviting several
of his own friends and nearest relations, hospitably
treated him, making a feast on purpose, and plac-
ing his wife by his side; then asking him by an
interpreter what his whole estate was worth, and
Xanthus answering a thousand pieces of gold, the
barbarian order'd him to divide that sum into four
parts, whereof he should take back three, one for
himself, one for his wife, and one for his little son,
but that he shou'd leave him the fourth for his
wife's ransom. When they went to bed, his wife
heavily chid Xanthus, as not having so great a
sum of gold to pay the barbarian, and that he was
in danger, if he could not fulfill his promise. He
told her, that he had yet a thousand pieces more

* So he's Ham'd by Aristodemus : and it i& to this day a com.
mon name in Ireland. Fid. Aclftr attaintwg Shane O Neil.


hid in the shoos of his servants ; for that he did
not expect to find any bai-barian so equitable,
believing her ransom v»rou'd have cost him much
more. Next day the wife inform'd the Gaul what
a great sum of gold there was, and bids him kill
Xanthus ; assuring him, that she lov'd him better
than her country or her child, and that she mortally
hated Xanthus. Cavara took no delight in this
declaration, and resolv'd in his own mind from
that moment to punish her. Now when Xanthus
was in haste to depart, the Gaul very kindly per-
mitted it, going with him part of the way, and
leading Erippe. When the barbarian had ac-
company'd them as far as the mountains of Gaule,
he said, that, before they parted, he was minded
to offer a sacrifice; and havipg adorn'd the vic-
tim, he desir'd Erippe to lay hold of it: which
she doing, as at other times she was accustom'd,
he brandish'd his sword at her, ran her thro', and
cutoff her head; but pray'd Xanthus not to be
at all concBrn'd, discovering her treachery to him,
and permitting him to take away all his gold.
'Tis no more hence to be concluded, because no.
Druid is mention 'd, that Cavara offer'd this sacri-
fice without the ministry of one or more such (un-
less he was of their number himself, which is not
improbable) than that a man of his quality was
attended by no servants, because they are not spe-
cially mention'd : for ordinary, as well as neces-
sary circumstances, are ever suppos'd by good


writers, where there is not some peculiar occasion
of inserting them.

III. In my.tliird instance I return again to Her-
cules, of whojn a story is told in the same book,
whence we had the last; which, tho' related and
recommended by the author as a good argument
for a poem, affords, however, no small illustration,
to what I maintain, by much more positive proofs,
viz. that " Great Britain was denominated from
the province of Britain in Gaule, and that from
Gaule the original inhabitants of all the Brittish
Hands (I mean those pf Caesar's time) are descend-
ed." Listen for a moment to Parthenius. " Tis
said that Hercules*, as he drove away from Erj^-
thiaf tlie oxen of Geryon, had pentrated into the
region of the Gauls, and that he came as far as
Bretannus, who had a daughter call'd Celtina.
This young woman fallihg in love with Hercules,
hid his oxen: and wou'd not restore them, till he
shou'd injoy her first. Now Hercules being desi-
rous to recover his oxen, and much more admi-
ring the beauty of the maid, he lay with her ; and
in due time was born to them a son nam'd Celtus;];,
from whom the Celts are so denominated." INIany

* AEXSTUt it nat 'HpttxXE*, «ts a^* EpuOeiaf T«f r«pu(i*oy 0qv^ nyttyn, aXw^no S»a
T«f KeXt4>v X*P'*?» atfuXEfl-Qai Trapa BpSTawoy : tod Je apa VTCaf^tiv BuXarlaA^ KiKthzu
'y<if/.a: Je, ifa.tr6f.uray Tou 'Hpait>.EOiif, xaraxpu^ai Tas /3(iut ; /xn SiXliy Tl aTro-
Jouvai, II |U>i wpoTEpov «cuTil jUlj^6iiyal : xtv h HpaxXta, T» |U£v Toi xm TOC Couc tnayi^
jwav&y avaa-aitrairOai j iroXv fxaXKov to xrtXAof EKTX(f;-cvrrt m; Hop*if, avyytniFQtti qvtk :
wi avnig, x'""J r.i-tr.xonO!, ysniSai TraiJa KtXTev, a-f' ou Se Ke^roi !rp(W):>0fEu6..-
e-riv. Co;). jO.

f i\ow CadK. + Gallus, Gttlli.


of the antient writers raention the incursion of
Hercules into Gaule, when he made war against
Geryon in Spain; which the judicious Diodorus
Siculus shows to have been at the head of a pow-
erful army, not with his bare club and bow, as the
poets feign; and that it was he who built the for-
tress of Alexia, whereof the siege, many ages after
by Julius Caesar, became so famous. Diodorus
likewise tells this story of Parthenius, but without
naming Bretannus or Celtiaa. He onely says*,
" a certain illustrious man, that govern'd a pro-
vince in Gaule, had a daughter exceeding the rest
of her sex, in stature and beauty : who, tho' des-
pising all that made court to her, being of a very
high spirit; yet fell in love with Hercules, whose
courage and majestic person she greatly admir'd.
With her parent's consent she came to a right un-
derstanding with this hero, who begot on her a
son, not unworthy the pair from whom he sprung,
either in body or mind. He was call'd Gtalatesf,
succeeded his grandfather in the government,
and, becoming renown'd for his valor, his subjects
were call'd Galatiansij: after his name, as the
whole country itself Galatia§," This is plainly
the same story, onely that one writer supplies us
with the names, which the other omits ; and Ar-

fyEWTo, &C. [At^Bvp'a 5"6 tw 'HpaxXti jyiwJio-lv vw 0V9f*a, raXaTnv Trept^flTjTcj

1 s-u/iTraira VajMria. rtftfnysflvh. Lib, 4. }iag, 303.

+ Gallus. + Gain. § GalHa.



morican Britain being probably the province,
wherein Bretannus rul'd (since we find it insinua-
ted, that Hercules had penetrated far to come to
him) 'tis still more than probable, that it was de-
nominated from him; as I shall prove beyond the
possibility of contradiction, that our Britain had
its name from that of Gaule, as New England has
from the old. Hesychius, in the word Bretannus,
is of the same opinion with me. So is Dionysius
Periegetes *, with his commentator Eustathius f :
and I am not a little countenanced by Pliny the
elder, who places Britons:]: on the maritim coasts
of Gaule over against Great Britain. But I have
moi'e evidence still. To say nothimg at present of
Csesar so many ages before Eustathius, Tacitus
likewise among the antients§, Beda among thoso
of the middle ages||, and some of the most cele-

■ LySx BjSTavsi,

Ytr. sa-t.

5: A Scaldi incolunt extera Toxandri pluribus noininibus:
(leinde Menapij, Morini, Oromansaci juncti Pago qui Gessoria.
cus Tocatur: Brilanni*, Amljlan;, Bellovaci, Hassi. Nat. Hist,
lib. 4. cap, 17.

§ In uni?ersum tamea a:stimanti, Gallos vicinum solum occu.
■passe credibile est: eorum sacra deprehendas, superstilionum
persuasione: Sermo baud multum diversus, &c. Ht, Jgrk,
cap. 11.

II Ilaic Insula Britones solilni, a quibus nomen accepit, inco.
las habuit; qui de tractu Armoricano, utfertur, Britanniam ad.
vecti, australes sibi partes illius TJndicarunt. Hist. Eccles. lib. 1 .
cop, 1,

• In quibnsdara cxemplaiibus, sej perpeiafn, Ih ivmi.


brated modern writers, are as express as words
can possibly make any thing, that Britain was
peopled from Gaule. Nor is the epithet of Great,
added to our Britain, any more an objection to
this assertion, than the coast of Italy, formerly
call'd Magna Graecia, cou'd be made the mother
country of Greece, when the cities of that coast
were all colonies from thence: besides that Great
Britain was anciently so call'd with respect to
Ireland, which (before the fable of the Welsh co-
lony in Gaule was invented) is call'd Little Britain,
as you'll see anon. These disquisitions come not
into the History of the Druids, but into the annext
Dissertation concerning the Celtic language and
colonies. There you'll see the folly of deriving
Britain from the fabulous Irish hero Briotan, or
from the no less imaginary Brutus the Trojan;
nor is the word originally Pridcain, Prytania, Bri-
dania, or descended from either Phenician, or
Scandinavian, or Dutch, or even any Brittish
words. The insular Britons, like other colonies,
were long govern'd by those on the continent;
and by the neigboring provinces, who join'd in
making settlements here. It was so even as low
down as a little before Julius Caisar's conquest;
in whose Commentaries* it is recorded, that "those
of Soissons had within their memory (says the am-

* Saessones esse suos finitimos, latissimos feracissimosque agros
possidere : apud eos fuisse Regem nosti;\ etiam inetnoriik Divitia.
cura, totius GalliiE potenlissiinum; qui, cum raagn» partis harum


bassadors of Rheims to him) Divitiacus* for their
king, the most potent prince of all Gaiile: who
sway'd the scepter, not onely of a great part of
those regions, but also of Britain." In the same
dissertation, after exploding the Welsh fable about
Britain in France, you'll read as positive proofs,
that the ancient Irish, not one of their colonies ex-
cepted (the Nemetes, the Firbolgs, the Danan-
nans, and the Milesians) were all from Gaule and
Great Britain ; whose language, religion, customs,
laws and government, proper names of men and
places, they constantly did and do still use;
whereas (to forbear at present all other arguments)
not one single word of the Irish tongue agrees
with the Cantabrian or Biscaian, which is the true
old Spanish; the present idiom being a mixture
of Latin, Gothic, and Arabic. Besides this, all
the antients knew and held the Irish to be Bri-
tons, as Ireland itself is by Ptolomy call'd Little
JBritain'\. They were reckoned Britons by Aris-
totle, who in his book de Mwndo, calls the coun-
try lerneX; as Orpheus before him Ierms\, if
Onomacritus be not the author oiiheArgonauticaf

rpgionum, turn etiam Britannise imperium obtinnerU. De BeUo
Gallico, lib. 2. cap, 1.

* Different from DiTitiacus the Eduan or Burgundian.

t Mixji BpErl-via, lu Algamest. lib. 2. cap. 6.

} Ev TouTM -/£ ^Ev [mwoj] nni ^eyirai te Tuy;^fl«;..-iv urat Ji:, BfSTOHxai I'.tyt'
ftEvai, AX|3i(jv y.m Isfvn. C.ip, 3.

TiK/ ^'a:a HJ5-W a.ufnTwiffvi^a— — Vcr. I-.'IO,


or rather, as Suidas asserts, Orpheus of Crotona,
contemporary with the tyrant Pisistratus. And
if this be true, Archbishop Usher did not gascon
nade, when he said, that the Roman people cou'd.
not any where be found so antiently mention 'd as
lernis*. Dionysius Periegetes, before cited, is of
the same opinion in his Description of the world ^j
that the Irish were Britons: as Stephanus Byzan-
tins names it British Juvernia, the least of the two
ilandsX- Diodorus Siculus mentions the Britons
inhabiting the Hand calVd Iris^, a name better ex-
pressing Mre (vulgarly Erinn) the right name of
Ireland, than Jerne, Juverna, Hibemia, or any
name that has been either poetically or otherwise
iis'd. Strabo stiles Ireland Brittish lei-naW, as
his antient abridger calls the Irish, the Britons in-
habiting' lema^: and, if we may intermix ludi-
crous with serious things, where 'tis now read in
the same Strabo, that the Irish yvere great eaters**,
his said abridger reads it herb^aters1i1[, which
wou'd induce one to believe, that so long ago
Shamrogs were in as great request there as at
present. Pliny says in express words, that " every
one of the Brittish Hands was call'd Britain j

* Primord. Eccles. Britatmicar. pag. 724.

t /iio-a-os yijiTw earl Bfe'rlmiiei awio Fnniu. Ver. 566.

4: iDuCf Ria V Tifermnirji, rmn <(tra examroin. '

§ 'na-vcf xai TUB BfeTOTun, iws xaroimunTag mn mOfiiaZ<ll*eMn iji».

Lib. 5. pag. 309.
II 'Oi TUB B jeTanwnn If mm i JwiTfj, &c. Lib, 1. pag. HO.
T 'Oi Tun isefHiy nrri Mmiw/iiei BpsTani. Lib. 3>



wheras Albion was the distinguishing name of the
Britain now peculiarly so call'd, and so famous
in the Greec and Roman writings *." These parti-
culars (I repeat it) much below the dignity of our
history, will be found in the before-mention'd dis-
sertation; which, tho' infinitely less useful, I dare
prophesy will be full as much read, if not much
more relish'd. The greatest men, however, have
not thought it unbecoming them, to search at their
leisure into such originals: and I, for my part,
found it almost a necessary imployment, consi-
dering the light it adds to ray principal work.

IV. To return thither therefore, there are di-
verse passages, some longer, some shorter, in the
most ancient Greec authors we have, or copy'd by
these from such as are quite lost; which, tho' ge-
nerally neglected and unobserv'd, will be no small
ornament to the history I have taken in hand.
And, to say it here by the m ay, 'tis certain that
the more antient Greec writers, such as Heca-
teus, Eudoxus, Hipparchus, Eratosthenes, Poly-
bius, Posidonius (not to speak of Dicearchus and
others) knew a great deal of truth concerning the
Brittish ilands: by reason of the frequent naviga-
tions of the Greecs into these partb;, after the way
was shown them by the Pheniciaus; so antient
an author as Herodotus affirming, that his coun-

* Britannia clara Graecis nostrisque scriptoribus Albion

ipsi nomen fuit, cum Britanniae vocarentur omnes. [Insulae
nempe Britannicae.J Nat, Hist. lib. 4. cap. 16.


trymen had their tin from hence*, tho' he cou'd give
little account of the iland. But this commerce
being interrupted for several ages afterwards, the
later writers did not onely themselves vend abun-
dance of fables about these northern parts of the
world ; but treat as fabulous, what their predeces-
sors had recorded with no less honesty than exact-
ness. Of this I shall have occasion to give some
convincing proofs in this very letter. But not to
forget the passages of the antients, when you call
to mind those rocMng'Stones set up by the Druids,,
describ'd in the 14th and 16th section of our se-
cond letter, and whereof several are yet standing;
you'll not doubt but 'tis one of them, that is men-
tion'd in the abridgement we have of Ptolomy
Hephestion's history: who, in the third chapter
of the third book, is said " to have written about
the Gigonian Stone'\ standing near the ocean;
which is mov'd with such a small matter as the
stalk of asphodel, tho' immoveable against the
greatest force imaginable." This passage needs,
in my opinion, no comment. But we are to note,
when those old writers talk of any thing near the
ocean with respect to the straights of Hercules |,
and without specifying the place; that it may then

• __OvTe nnvt « Ja Kaa-e-irsfii»s Itvrat^ s» rm « xafcrmfn i)^t» ifoiTa, Lib,

3. caf. 115.

t nifi T«c ffipi va flxtavw Tiymnat irsrfu;, ««i «ti /»««• «o-i)>iiJi?M» urtfirai, Wfoj

X Now of Gibraltar.



be on the coast of Spain, or of France, in the
Brittish ilands, or on any of the northern shores.
It is onely to be discover'd either by matter of
fact, or by probable circumstances: as this Gigo-
nian stone (iov example) was necessarily in some of
the Celtic or British territories, whose Druids alone
set up such stones. So were the birds, whereof I
am now going to speak. " What Artemidorus has
deliver'd concerning the ravens (says Strabo*)
sounds very much like a fable. He tells us, that
there is a certain lake near the ocean, which is
call'd the lake of the two ravens, because two
ravens appear in it, which have some white in
their wing: that such as have any controversy to-
gether came thither to an elevated place, where
they set a table, each laying on a cake separately
for himself: and that those birds flying thither,
eat the one while they scatter the other about; so
that he, whose cake is thus scatter'd, gets the bet-
ter of the dispute. Such fables does he relate!"
But I wou'd ask Strabo, Avhat is there fabulous in
all this? or why shou'd the rude Gauls and Britons,
being iafluenc'd by the eating or not eatuig of ra-
vens, be thought more strange or fabulous, than
the tripudium solistimum of chickens among the

» TiuTB i' en fjuSuhftfty iipwt» ApTE/niSiifif, « wifj nut Kopixaf £ruf«fiair;v.
Aiftiva yap tiv» to} irafMimilitot ir»p« S^o iM)pax»> fVoniMO^OfAitot ; '^meiat i'
ir rotrrai ivo xopaxiif, tuv Sefla» trilfuya wapaVuito» t^orTat ; TOaf ow wipi Tiv»va/ii.
fia-gnroinlat, a<f>j!to^£»ouc hvfO t<fi' vf^nhov rovou, <ra»>Ja Sivtbc, im|S«)v)i(i» -^aura
fm-rifin yx,/; : tovj i'o^nis t^iirrmrafla fMv Krfl,nr,lait irxopmjjiiv; ot, i' it, rxi-

;-.ir6(;1(!.J-Cira,E)lI.K)». THuVa ^i» OUT /MuSwJtrlJO M}li, /,i6. 4,^)U£^. 303.


polite Romans? which Casaubon, I will not say

Online LibraryJohn TolandA new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory → online text (page 11 of 31)