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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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Dounced hard as jBT. A very great affinity betwixt the Greek,
Roman, and Celtic languages, can be clearly traced. In the
present instance, it is sufficient to remark, that the Roman
CcBtus, is merely the Celtic Ceat latinically terminated. Chris,
tianity was introduced into Ireland about the middle of the fifth
century, and from the sameaera we may date the decline of Drui.
dism in that kingdom. Hence the "Bards, freed from the re-
straints of their superiors the Druids, appear to hare run into
great irregularities ; and to counteract these was the object of
the present council.

NotE XX.— Page 77.
Third order of the Celtic literati. — Mr. Toland refkons only
three orders of Celtic literati, viz. Druids, Bards, and Ouateis.
Ammianus Marcellinns, lib. 15. pag. 51. has the same classifi.
cation, with this difference, that instead of Ouateis, he mentions
Etibages. This Mr. Toland, with good reason, supposes a cor.
ruption of Ouateis. Dr. Smith, in his History of the Druids,
has so servilely followed our author, that in all matters of im-
portance, he may be properly denominated the Tolandic Echo.



268 NOTES.

In some points of inferior moment he has aimed at a little orlgi.
nality, and in the present case, gives the etymology of Eubage.s,
viz, Deu' Phaiste, and in the oblique cases 'eu vaiste, -which he
translates, good or promising youths, and latinizes Eubages,
On this OTCrstrained and unnatural analysis, I leave the classical
reader to make his own remarks. If Eubages is not a corrup.
tion of the Greek Ouateis, it can admit of a satisfactory solution,
as compounded of Eu.Faigh, i. e. a good poet. Eu has the
same signification in the Greek and Celtic, with this difference-
that in (he former it is an adverb, and in the latter an adjective, i
Faidh, a poet or prophet, is sometimes written Faigk. Vide
Shaa's Gaelic Dictionary. Every one knows that Taigh (the
grandfather of Fingal) is latinized Tages ; and by the same ana-
logy, Eu.Faigh would be latinized Eufages, which might very
easily degenerate into Eubages.

What renders this etymon more probable is, that a turn for
poetry was an indispensible requisite with the Druididal sect,
through all its subdivisions. Cssar, as has already been no.
ticed, says they learned so great a number of verses, as cost
them sometimes twenty years' study. Dr. Smith (page 5th) agrees
with Toland, that the Eubages were the lowest order of the
Druidical sect. Ammianus JMarcellinus is of the same opinion,
when he proceeds thus : — Eubages Scrutantes serin et sublimia
naturcB pandere conabantm . Inter hos Druides ingeniis celsio.
res, SjC. Et Bardi quidemfortia virorum illustrium facta heroi.
cis composita versibus, cum dulcibus lyree viodulis cantitarunt. —
Lib. 15. page. 51. i. e. " The Eubages investigating the seri-
ous and sublime things of nature, endeavoured to explain them.
Among these the Druids were men of more exalted genius, &c.
And the bards too sung the brave actions of illustrious men
composed iu heroic poetry, to the sweet strains of the lyre.

Note XXI.— Page 78.
One of the prime Druids, ^c. — This Archdrvid was Divitia.
cu» the Eduan, the friend and intimate acquaintance of Cscsar,



NOTES. 269

It is rather remarkable that CiEsar, who had a high esteem for
him, did not inform us of this circumstance. Toland's quota,
tiou from Cicero may be rendered in English thus,—" And there
are also Druids in Gaul, of whom I myself was well acquainted,
with Dlvitiacus the Eduan, your entertainer and panegyrist, who
declared that the study of nature, which the Greeks call physi-
ology, was well known to him ; and partly from augury, partly
from conjecture, foretold future events."'

Had Cicero not given us this information, there is a passage
in the lAfe of Divitiacus, which must for ever have remained in-
explicable. Caesar ordered Divitiacus to make head against his
brother Dumnorix. Divitiacus, among other things, says — ■
Quod si quid ei a Ccesare grdvius accidtsset, quum ipse eum locinn
amiciticE apud eum teneret, neminem existimaturmn, nom sua vo.
hintate factum ; qua ex refuturutn, uii totius Gallice animi a se
avertereniur. — Cassar, lib. 1. cap. 20. i. e. "If Caesar should
inflict any severe punishment on his brother, whilst he himself
stood so high in Csesar's friendship, every one would imagine it
was done with his concurrence, and hence the affections of all
Gaul would be alienated from him." How should a private indi-
vidual in the petty state of the ^^dui, be afraid of losing the
good opinion of all Gaul ? The question is unanswerable, till
we are made acquainted that he was their Archdruid, and thea
every difficulty vanishes.

Note XXII.— Page 79,

Proposes taking a journey for six months, S^c, — Mr. Toland
Lad it in contemplation to write a larger History of the Druids,
which he did not live to accomplish. What is now offered to
the public is contained in three letters, addressed to the Lord
Viscount Molesworth, his patron and benefactor. It was never
intended to meet the public eye, but was published, along with
some other posthumous pieces, about five years after his death.
The last of these letters is dated April 18, 1719, and he died
the 11th Marchj 17i22. Posterity has long regretted, and will

M m



270 NOTES,

always regret, that a man so eminently qualified for the task,
did not liTe to accomplish it. The present work professes to be
nothing more than a specimen or prospectus of his larger one.
Summary and brief as it is, it is twice as long as Dr. Smith's,
which is held out to be a detailed and complete history. There
is not one fact of importance ia Dr. Smith's history, which has
not been anticipated by Mr. Toland. As to the uncandid man-
ner in which the reverend doctor has dealt with oar author, I
leave it to the impartial reader to determine ; but I do not hesi.
tate to affirm., that had not Mr. Toland led the way, Dr. Smith's
history had never m^de its appearance.

Note XXIK.— Page 81.

Ogmius, Sfe, — From this piece of masterly criticism. It will
appear how impossible it is to explain many passages in the Greek
and Roman classics, without a knowledge of the Gaelic Ian.
guage. Respecting the Gaelic Hercules, Toland has been so
full, as to leave no room for me, or any one else, to enlarge on
the subject. I must, however, request the reader to bear in
mind (as it is a subject to' which I will have occasion to recall
his attention) how perfectly the Gaelic philosopher or Druid,
mentioned by Lucian, spoke the Greek language, and how inti-
mately he was acquainted with the Greek poets and the Grecian
mythology.

Note XXIV.— Page 92 & 93.

Mr. Toland's remarks on the Irish manuscripts deserve parti,
cular attention. Though Pinkarton, Innes, &c. have indulged
themselves freely in reprobating these manuscripts, on account
of the foolish and improbable stories they contain, yet Mr. To.
Jand, in this respect, has outdone them all. It is remarkable,
that the interpolations and alterations of ancient manuscripts
may principally be dated from the commencement of the chris-
tian aera. Before that period the heathen nations had nothing,
Jjeyoud tlie Umits of their authentic history, but fable and coii-



NOTES. 271

jecture to guide them. This is remarkably the case with the
Greek and Roman mythology. Whateter historian could invent
the most plausible story, was sure to be listened to, and at the
same time could not be detected, because there was no certain
criterion whereby his works could be tried.

At the christian asra a very different scene presented itself.
The history of the world, from its creation, and an accurate
chronology of all events recorded in the sacred scriptures, was
displayed ta mankind. The heathen nations, sensible that their
histories could not stand the test of this criterion, made the ne-
cessary alterations, principally in point of chronology. The
histories of Greece and Rome were, however, at this period, so
widely disseminated^ that it would have been madness to risque
the attempt.

Another cause of these alterations was the well meant, though
most unjustifiable conduct of early christians, who moulded
many of their ancient books to promote the cause of Christianity.
Hence we have the prophecies of Zoroaster, Hystaspes, and the
Sybills respecting the Messiah — the character and description of
the person of Christ in Josephus, &c. &c. But these interpola-
tions are so palpable that they are easily detected.

On the other hand, when the Irish historians deduce their ori.
gin from Cassarea, Noah's niece, or from the three daughters of
Cain, and mark such events as took place prior to the christian
aera, with the letters A. M. — i. e. anno mundi, or year of the
world, it is evident these alterations, additions, and interpola.
tions, must have been made since the introduction of Christianity j
but it does not follow that the date of these manuscripts must be
as late as the christian aera, otherwise it must follow that Zoroas-
ter and the Sybills also wrote posterior to Christianity, which, we
know, was not the case.

But an unquestionable proof of the antiquity of these manu-
scripts is, that they contain the rites and formularies of the
Druids, and must consequently have been written prior io the
christian aera j for it is a fact, that St. Patrick and his successors,
instead of recording the rites of the Druids, did every thing in

M m. 2



272 NOTES.

their power to consign them to utter oblivion. All that is there-
fore wanting, as Toland justly remarks, is a skilful hand, to
separate the dross from the ore.

Note XXV.— Page 95.

The use of letters has been very antient in Ireland. — This point
has been most strenuously controverted. The antiquity of the
use of letters among the Celts stands on incontrovertible evi-
dence; but as I wish the reader to have perused the History of
Abaris, before I enter into this discussion, I shall conclude my
notes with two short dissertations, in the first of which I shall
prove that the use of letters among the Celtic tribes is much
more early than is generally allowed, and in the second endea-
Tour to account for the great number, and high antiquity of the
Irish manuscripts.

Note XXVI.— Pagb 102 & 103.

Mr. Toland here gives an enumeration of Druids which conld
have been no where found but in the Irish manuscripts. Indeed
it is his intimate aiquaintance with these manuscripts, and the
Celtic language, that constitutes the peculiar excellence of the
work. Dr. Smith, in his Histort/ of the Druids, (page 11) caa
find no authority that the Druids had wives, except in this pas.
sage of Toland, which he quotes. In quoting it he uses that dis-
ingcnuity which characterises his whole conduct to Toland, and
quotes his own poem of Dargo Macdruibheil first, and then To-
land. This Dargo Macdruibheil is * Gaelic poem which the Dr.
wrotedown from oral recitation, and orthographized, as bethought
fit, lictT.iwsX^teiiiDargothesonof the Druid of Beil. Any man
ef candour will be cautious of quoting one of his own works, to
support another of them, particularly, as from the silence of
Ossian respecting the Druids, there is more than reason to sus.
pect, that this as well as some other circumstances have been
modelled to supply the defect. That the Dr. could not find one
Pruid in Scotland married or unmarried, till he modelled a sir.



NOTES. 273

name for the purpose, whilst Mr, Toland from the Irish records
has given us a dozen, is a very singular fact. I shall, however,
in my dissertation on the antiquity of the Irish manuscripts, ac-
count for this singularity.

Note XXVII.— Page 104.

Bachrach, Sfc. — This is another of these well intended, though
disingenuous attempts, to propagate Christianity by falsehood.
It stands in no need of such surreptitious aid. It is, however.'
no small proof of the authenticity, as well as the antiquity, of the
Irish records, that the eclipse which happened at that memo,
rable crisis, was observed and transmitted to posterity by the
Irish.

Note XXVIII.— Page 105,

■ That Patric burnt 300 volumes, 8^c. — Having reserved my re-
marks on the antiquity of the use of letters in Ireland, till to-
■wards the close of these notes, I shall only point out {o the read-
er, that the use of letters must have been long known in Ireland,
prior to Patric's arrival, else he could have found no books to
burn.

Note XXIX.— Page 107,
Adder-stanes, £{c. — Mr. Toland is here perfectly correct whea
he ascribes this name to the lowlands of Scotland. I have in my
younger days heard the tradition respecting them a hundred
times. The very same story is told of the Adder-stanes, which
Pliny relates of the Druid's Egg, without the omission of one
single circumstance. The reader will see the Druid's Egg treat-
ed of at length in the 12th note.

Note XXX.— Page 107,

Glaine nan Druidhe, — This was the Druid's Egg already
treated of. If we may credit Dr. Smith, he tells us (page 62)
that, this glass physician is sometimes sent for fifty miles to cure



274 NOTES.

diseases. Ilis account is by no means improbable, for (his aniB-
kt was held in high estimation, and superstition is very difficolt
to be eradicated. The Dr. might have given Mr. Toland credit
for being the first who pointed out the name. But be adopts it
as his own, without making the slightest acknowledgment. He
imagines the word Glaine exclusively Gaelic, and hence infers
that the Druids were great glass.manujacturers. He says they
practised the art in gross on their vitrified forts, and improved
it to that degree, that at last they constructed telescopes.

Pliny in his natural history, and particularly book 36. chap.
26. treats fully of the invention and manufacture of glass. It is
on all hands allowed to have been invented by the Phcenicians,
and the name is also probably Phoenician, the name of every new
invention being generally introduced with the invention itself.
The word is not exclusively Gaelic. In the Greek language,
Glene signifies the pupil of the eye, brightness, Sec. Id the
Gaelic language Glaine, besides glass, signifies clearness or
brightness; and to anyone acquainted with the force of the
Greec Ela, it will at once occur, that these words are nearly
sytionimous in sound, and completely so in signification.

The doctor's telescopic hypothesis rests on the mistaken
meaning of a quotation from Hecateus, who sai/s, the Boreadee
bring the moon very near them. This the doctor imagines could
not be done without telescopes. Now though we grant the doctor's
postulatum, that the Boreadte were Bards or Druids, still the
hypothesis is as objectionable as ever.

The doctor tells us, that the proper signification of Druid is a
magician; and it is really astonishing that he should not have
known that it was the prerogative of all magicians^ dcducert /m-
warn, i, e. "to bring down the moon." Virgil, eclogue 8th,
says — " Carminavel cccloposstint deducere Innam, i. e. " Charms
can even bring down the moon from heaven."

Ovid, in bis Metamorphoses, book 7, fab. 2. makes a famous
witch say — " Te quoque luna traho, i, e. " I also bring down
the moon."

Horace, in his 17th epode, makes Canidia say,



KOTES. 275

-et pola

Deripere lunam vocibus possim meie.

i. e. " And I can pull down the moon from heaven by tny words.'*
It is not once to be imagined that the Druids, who highly ex-
celled in magic, would not have a pull at the moon, as well as
other magicians; but I think we may safely infer, that it was
not, by telescopes, but by incantations, that this operation was
performed. See Dr. Smith's Hist. Druid, page 62, 63, 64.

Note XXXI.— Page 107.
Mr. Toland, in these pages, says, that many nations borrow-
ed part of theie rites from the Gauls. He also enumerates seve-
ral of the Druidical monuments ; but as all these particulars are
separately treated of, in a subsequent part of the history, I shall
advert to them respectively in the order in which they occur.
In translating the Greek quotation from Diogenes Laertius, Mr.
Toland has rendered Keltois Gauls. In this there is no error;
still I wish he had rendered it Celts, that name being not only
much older, but, in fact, the original name; and Gauls (Galli,
Latine, Galtach, Galice), being more modern alterations of it.

Note XXXri.— Page 110.

Cam, tfc. — The particular kind of Cams here spoken of, were
constructed for the great public solemnities of the Druids, as
the temples were for the more stated and ordinary purposes of
religion. The altar on the top sufficiently distinguishes them
from any other description of Cams.

Note XXXIII.— Page 115.

Beal or Bealan, — This was the chief deity of the Celts, and
(ignifies the Sun. It is the same with the Phoenician Baal, the
Indian Bhole, the Chaldaic Bel, q.nd the Hebrew Bahal. Cale-
pine, under the word Baal, gives the following explanation of it.
£st nomen apud Tyrios quod datur Jovi, Nam Baal Pnnici
vidtntur dicere JPominum^ wade Bwhamariy quasi Dominum



276 NOTES.

Cwlidicant; soman quippe apud eos Ccelumappellatar,i. e. "It
is a name giTen by the Tyrians to Jupiter. For the Phosnicians
seem to call Baal a lord or ruler, whence Baal-saman, a phrase
of the same import as if they said, the lord of the skj, for the
sky is by them called Soman." We need not be surprised at
finding a Roman mistaking Baal for Jupiter. Pliny also con-
founds them. When speaking of Babylon he says — " Durat
adhue ibi Jovis Belitemplum, i.e. " There remains still there a.
temple of Jupiter Belus. — Nat, Hist, lib, 6. cap. 26.

The Phoenician Saman, the Hebrew Semin, and the Gaelic
Saman, are all so similar in sound and signification, thit there
can be no doubt of their having been radically the same. Sam,
in the Gaelic, signifies the Sun, and Saman is its regular diminu.
tive. When the Celts call Beal by the name of Sam, or Saman,
they only use the same eliptical mode of expression which the
Romans do, when they call Apollo Jntonsus, Jupiter Oli/mpiiis,
&c. It is only substiuting the epithet or attribute, instead of
the name.

In the county of Aberdeen there is a parish named Culsalmond,
but pronounced Culsamon, This is merely a corruption of the
Gaelic Cill-saman, and signifies the temple of the Sun. The In.
dian Gymnosphistce were subdivided into Brachmannce, and Sa.
manaei, the former being hereditary and the latter elective philo.
sophers, Vide Strabonem lib. 15. The affinity between the Bra.
minical and Druidical philosophy is so great, as to leave no
doubt of [their having been originally the same. Samanai is
merely the Gaelic adjective Samanach (descended of, or belong.
iag to the sun), grascized Samanaioi, and thence latinized Safua.
noi, in the same manner as Judach and Chaldach are rendered
Judcei and Chaldai.

Doctor Smith in his History of the Dritids, (page 16) with his
usual Celtic Juror, tears the monosyllable Beal to pieces, and
etymologizes it Bca' uil, i. e. the life of all things. No philolo.
gist should venture to blow up a monosyllable, unless there are
the most unecj^ivocal marks of a Crasis. Here there are none,
and the import of the word both in theJEIebrew aud Fhcenician Ian.



NOTES. 277

guages !s point blank against his hypothesis. But what renders
the matter still worse, he tells us that Tuisco of Germany,
and the Teutates of Gaul have exactly the same meaning. These
two Gods have been generally reckoned the same. Cicero de
Natura Deorum, lib, 3. page 301, reckons him the 5th Mercury y
and says, Hunc Mgyptii Theutatem appellant, eodemque nomine^
anni primus mensi.i apud eos vacatur, i. e. The Egyptians call
him Teutates, and the first month of their year is called by the
same name. In the margin he gives us the synonimous name
Thein, which every one knows is the Gaelic Tein, and signifies
Fire. Such a coincidence in the Egyptian and Gaelic languages
was hardly to have been expected.

But Cicero, in the margin, gives us a third name of this god,
viz. Tlioyth, As y occurs only in such Latin words as are of
Greek origin, Thoyth is evidently the Greek TItouth, adopted by
the Romans. In the Greek it is now obsolete. Thoyth or
Thouth is evidently the Gaelic Theuth or Tenth, signifying fire
or heat, and is synonimous with Tein before-mentioned.

Theuiates, or Teutates, is the most common and modern name,
and is evidently the Gaelic Teothaighte or Teuthaighte (pro.
nounccd Teutait), and signifying warmed. In the Gaelic lan-
guage we have many affinitives of this word, viz. Teth, Teit/i,
and Teuth, i. e. heat or hot. Tiothan, Tiotan, Tithin, Tethin,
' and Titan, i. e. the Sun, Teutham, Teotham, Tetham, and
Titam, i. e. to warm, &c. &c. That the name, as well as the
etymon of this Egyptian deity, can be clearly traced in the
Gaelic language, is a strong evidence that these languages were
originally the same.

By Teutates the Romans understood Mercury ; but the mo.
derng probably considered him as Mars ; for that day of the
■week which the Romans named Dies Martis, we name Tuesday,
which is only an abbreviation of Teutates^ day, or Teuth's day.

Titan, by which the Greeks and Romans meant the sun, is, if
not a Celtic, at any rate an Egyptian deity; and,' in the course
of the notes, I will have occasion to shew that most of the
^rsek gods are borrowed. The utmost that can be granted ta

N tt



278 NOTEiS.

Dr. Smith is, that Beal and Teiitates are attributes of the same
god, in after times individually deified; but they are no more
s/noaimes than Areltenens and Intonsus.

Note XXXIV.— Page 116.

Cam Lhadron. — The reader will here notice a word of the
same import with the Roman Latro. The similarity betweea
the Greek, Roman, and Gaelic languages, is strongly marked.
This Gaelic word has also got into our colloquial language ; for
there is nothing more common among the vulgfir, than to call a
worthless person o. filthy laydron. The Celtic language only
gare way, on the continent of Europe, in Britain and Ireland,
la. proportion as the Gothic encroached ; and hence the Celtic
language was not expelled, but merely gothicized, as will most
obTiousIy appear to any one acquainted with the structure of
these languages. It would be in vain to search for the radix of
Laydron in the Gothic language.

Note XXXV.— Page 116.

Otter. — The proper signification of this word is a rock.^ or
shelve, projecting into the sea. (jun.otler, in the vicinity of
Stonehaven, is a noble illustration of this analysis, both in name
and situation. Dun-otter literally signifies the ybrf on the rock
projecting into the sea.

Note XXXVT.— Page 117.

Between Bel's two fires, — As Mr. Toland, tit his note on this
passage, informs us, the Irish phrase is Ittir dha theine Bheil,
Dr. Smith has also given us the Scottish phrase, Gabha Bheil^
i, e, the jeopardy of Bel. Both agree that these expressions de»
note one in the most imminent danger. Mr. Toland says Ihs
men and beasts to be sacrificed passed between two fires, aiul
that hence the proverb originated. Doctor Smith, on the con.
trary, imagines that this was one of the Druidical ordeals,
whsreby ciiminaU were triefl; and, instead of making them



NOTES. 279

pass betwixt the flreSj mbkes them match, directly across them.
Indeed he supposed the Druids were kind enough to anoint the
feet of the criminals, and render them invulnerable by the flames.
If so, there could have been neither dangef nor trial. It may
also be remarked, that had the doctor's hypothesis been well
founded, there was no occasion for two fires, whereas, by th»
phrase, between Bel's two fires, we know that two were used.
Doctor Smith has evidently confounded the Gabka Bheil, with a
feat practised by the Hirpins on Mount Soracte, of which I shall
take notice in its proper place.

Note XXXVII.— Page 118.

Archdruid, Sfc. — On the testimony of Cajsar, all the Druid»
were subject to an archdruid. His autem omnibus Druidibus
jtrceest utius qui summatn inter eos habet auctoritatem. — Lib, 6,
capt 13. i. e, " One Druid presides over all the rest, and is
possessed of supreme authority among them."

Coibh'i, the Gaelic name of this archdruid, is mentioned by
Bede in his Ecclesiastical History, book 2, chap, 13. — Cut pru
mus pontificum ipsius Coifi continuo respondit, ^c, Adjecit au-
tem. Coiji, quia vellet ipsum Paulinum diligentiiis audire de Deo.
quern prcedicdbat, Ifc. i. e. " To whom Coifi, his chief priest,
immediately replied, &c, Coifi also added, because he wished
to hear Faulinus more diligently concerning :the god whom he



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 17 of 31)