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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preached, &c." This Coifi was chief priest and counsellor ta
Edwin, king of Northambria, when converted by Paulinus, ia
the beginning of the 7th century, Mr. M'Pherson, in his Z)?f.
sertdiioH on tke Celtic Antiquities, is (as far as 1 know) th.e firsts
who takes notice of this remarkable passage in Bede,

The nameCoiS/i/is also preserved in the following Gaelic pro.^
verb: — Gefogasg clach do lar, tsfiaug' no sin cobhair Choihidh.
i. e. " The stone cleaves not faster to the earth than Corn's help-
to the needy." — Mcintosh's Gaelic Proverbs, page 34,

Dr. Smith, in h\s Hislort/ of the Druids (page 8th), has given
us the same Gaelic proverb.

Coifi.Dru!j or £?ry, is a phrase still used iathe Highlands-of
N a-

280 NOTES.

Scotland, and signifies a person of extraordinary merit. — Jamie.

son's Hist. Culdees, p. 27.

Dr. Jamieson mentions an old man who never addressed the
Deify by any other name than that of Archdruid or Coifi. — Hist.
Culdees, page 29.

From these quotations there can remain no doubt that this
■word exists in the history of Bede, and in the language, pro-
verbs, and traditions of the Highlands of Scotland. The true
matter of surprise is, that no one has attempted to explain the
word. Even Dr. Jamieson himself, in his History of the Cul-
dees, published about a year ago, expresses his wonder that it
has not been done, but without remedying the defect.

This appears to me the more extraordinary, as the word still
exists in the Gaelic language. Caobhadh, or Cobhaidh, or Coib-
hidh (for they are all the same), signifies a man expert at arms;
a protector or helper. Coibham signifies to protect. Coibhan
signifies a person noble, or highly exalted. Coibha signifies
knowledge or nobility. Coibhantadh means helped or protected.
These words are respectively pronounced Coivi, or Coivai/ —
Coivam — Coiva, and Coivantay. Hence I do not hesitate to ren-
der Coibhi', helpful, and CoiSAi' Drui, the helpful Druid. This
explanation is strongly corroborated, not only by the Gaelic
proverb before inserted, wherein the principal stress and empha.
iis rests on the word help ; but by two collateral instances, which
I shall adduce from the Greek and Roman mythology.

Ovid, lib. 1. fab. 9. makes Phoebus (the same with the Celtic
Bel) enumerate his titles and inventions to Daphne, and, among
the rest, mention,

• Opifcrqne per orbem


I. e. " I am called the help.bearcr over the world."
Callimachus, in his hymn to Apollo, expresses himself thus: —

Polloi se Bocdromion caleousi — i. e. " Many call thee the auxi..

liator or helper." — Tytler^s Edition, line 69.

Thus we see the Gaelic Coibhi, the Latin Opi/er, and the

NOTES. 281

Greek Boidromios, strictly synonimous. Ovid informs us, be.
sides, that Opifer was Apollo's universal title. If so, Coibhi'
must have been one of his names or attributes, in the Gaelic Ian.
guage, and was, no doubt, assumed by his chief priest, by way
of distinction and pre-eminence — a custom not uncommon among
the heathen priests.

Note XXXVIII.— Pa«x 119.

Under pain of excommunication, Sfc. Caesar has transmitted
to us the most prominent particulars of the Druidical excommu.
nication, lib. 6. cap. 13. — Si quis aut privaius aut publieus
eorum decretis non stetit, sacrificiis interdicunt. Hee'e pwna
apud eos est gravissima, Quibus iia est inierdictum, ii numero
impiorum ac sceleratorum habentur ; lis omnes decedunt; aditum
eorum sermonemque defugtunt: ne quid ex contagione incomm»di
accipiant : neque iis petentibus jus redditur, neque honos ullus
communicatur — i. e. " If any person, either private or public,
does not acquiesce in their decisions, they interdict him front
their sacrifices. This is, among them, the severest punishment.
They who are thus interdicted, are reckoned impious and ac-
cursed; all men depart from them; all shun their company and
conversation, lest they sustain some misfortune from their conta.
gion ; the administration of justice, and the protection of the laws»
is denied to them ; and no honour is conferred on them.

Note XXXIX.— Page 120.

A world of places are denominated from these cams, ^c— It
would be endless to enumsrate all the Cams, that occur in Great
Britain and Ireland. They are also numerous over the continent
of Europe, and Asia. Carna, or Carnia, or Cardinia, was a
goddess who presided over human vitals. Ovid lib. 6. Fast.
Carneus, a name of the sun. C'allimachus' hymn to Apollo, Car-
nana, a city of the Minesi. Steph. Lexicon. Carnantce, a nation
near the Red Sea. Ibidem, Carnapee, a nation near Maeotis,
Plin, lib. 6. cap, 7. Carne, a town of Phoenicia, nefir Mount

282 NOTES.

Libanas. P/in, lib. B. cap. 20. Came, a city of MoYis. Vide

Stcphmum. Carni, a people bordering on the Istri. Plin. lib.

3. cap. 18. t'amon, or Carnion, a city of Arcadia. Plin. lib.

4. cap. 6. Carnodunum, a town of Vindelicia, on the Danube.
Ptolein. lib. 2. cap. 13. Carnorum, the same with Carnules, a
region in France. Calepin. Dictionarium. et Caesar, lib. 6. cap.
13. Car«Mn<«7K, a town on the confines of i'anwoma. Plin. lib.
37, cap. 3, Car»«nf(, the inhabitants of said town, Plin. lib. 4.
cap. 12, Camus, an island of Acarnania; vide Stcphanum.
These are only a few of the many similar names, which might be
collected. They are, however, sufficient to establish the great
extent of the Celtic possessions. The attention of the reader is
particularly requested to Carnodunum, which is the Celtic Cam-
Dun, i.c, Cairn-Town, of ivhich we have many in Scotland, par-
ticularly one at Newton, near Arbroath, and another in the pa.
rish of Fordoun nea.T Monboddo. Dun, pronounced Toon, is the
radix of the English Town. Cam is a word so peculiarly Celtic^
that wherever we find any place so denominated, we may with
certainty infer that it was inhabited by one or other of the Celtic

Note XL.— Page 121.

Were a thanksgiving for finishing their harvest. — This was
the grandest of all the Celtic festivals. Hallow even, is still
memorable in our days, for the number of fires kindled, and the
arts or cantrips that are used to pry into futurity. This is
also the night on which, according to vulgar tradition, the tear.
locks atid wiidies (Druids and Druidesscs) mounted on broom.
slicks, black cats, &c. used to transport tl.emseWes through the
sir, in Laplaud, the moon, &c. It is needless to enlarge ou
castonis so well known, but wiiocvcr would see a more full ac-
count of them may consult Burns' Hallow e'en. There is no-
thing aaalagous to these customs in the christian system j and
we n'.ay therefx»re conclude, thpy were of Druidic origin. To
the sam-3 source we may safely asc-ribe ail th^ vulgar notions of

NOTES. 283

witchcraft, Fairies, &c. and the Tarlous cures and antidotes
against witchcraft still preserved j of which I shall gire one ex.

Roan tree and red thread.
Put the witches to their speed.

The rejoicing for the finishing of the harvest is, in most places
of Scotland called Kirn, a corruption of the word Cam or Cairn,
I have remarked, in a former note, that the more solemn and ex-
traordinary acts of religion were performed at the Cairn, and
hence this feast or rejoicing, being one of the greatest solemnity,
and always held at the Cairn, was by way of pre-eminence, dig-
nified with the name. In later times this feast has been called
a maiden, if the harvest is finished before Michaelmas, and if after
it, a Carlin. In some places it is called the Claybck, which is
a corruption of the Gaelic Cailoch, i. e, an old woman, and is
synonimous with the before-mentioned Carlin. But by far the
most general name is Kirn or Cairn.

Note XLI.— Page 121.

To which Virgil alludes in his Golden Branch.— The interview
of jEneas and the Cumaoean Sybill, in the 7th book of Virgil, is
extremely beautiful, but by far too long to be inserted in these

^neas, wishing to visit the Infernal Regions, applied to the
Cumacean Sybill for advice and direction. She tfUs him he
must first search for a Golden Branch, and carry it as a present
to Proserpine.

Latf t Arbore opaca
Aoreis et foUis et lento vimine ramus<

i. e. "A branch with golden leaves and a slender stalk, is con-
cealed in a dark tree,"

Sed non ante datur telluris operta subire
Anricomos quam quis decerpserit arbore fcetut.

i. e. ** But no one can desceud to the infernal regions, till he
lias first plucked this golden branch from the tree."

284 NOTES.

JKaeas, by the guidance of two doves, discovers this golden
l)ranch, which is thus dsscribed.

Quale Solet Sylvis Brumali frigore viscum,

Fronde virere nova, '

Talis eiat species auri froadentis, npaca

i, c. " Such |was the [appearance of this golden branch on the
dark oak, as when the Misletoe uses to flourish with new vigour
in the woods, during the winter.cold."

There were ten Sybills, viz. the Persian, the Lybian, the Del.
phian, the Cumcean, the Erythroean, the Saniian, the Cnmanian,
or Eolian, the Hellespontlan, the Phrygian, and the Tiburtinian.
• — Vida Calepinum.

GcUius, lib. 1. cap. 19. relates the manner in which these
books called the Sybilline, were sold to Tarquinius Priscus, by
an old woman, supposed the Curoanian Sybill. They were kept
in the capitol with the greatest care, and consulted as an oracle
on all emergencies. These books were burnt by Siilico, when
he rt'belled against Honorious and Arcadius. These Sybills are
so famous in Roman history, that I shall only endeavour to ana.
lyze the name.

Si/LUl has been uniformly derived from the Greek Theobule, i.
e. " the council of God." There are, however, only two of
these Sybills, to whom the Greeks can have even the slightest
claim. Had these Sybills been of Grecian origin, we might
have expected, to have found at least the Delphic one, mentioned
by Potter in his antiquities, when treating of the Delphic oracle.
The fact is, Apollo himself is not a Grecian god, but borrowed
from the Celts, as I shall presently shew.

Siiadh or Suidh (the radix of the Latin Suadoo) is pronoun-
ced Sui, and signifies counsel or advice. Suidh.Bheil, pronoun-
ced Siii.Beil, signifies the counsel ef Bel, and determines that
these Sybills were exclusively prophetesses of Bel or Apollo
whereas the Greek Tlieobnk, besides its utter incongruity to
the word Sybill, would make them prophetesses at large without
astiictiiig them to any particular deity, and must therefore b»

NOTES. 285

rejected. I have, in a former note, shewn that the Celtic Drui^
was by the Greeks rendered Dry, with the addition of their ter.
minating sigma. What in the Celtic is sounded ui, the Greeks
render by their Ypsilon. Hence Sui.Bel, would be Graecized
Syhela, which might easily degenerate into Syhilla. Pliny men-
tions a people in Aquitania (a part of Gaul) named the Sybil,
lates; so that the Celts have more claims than one to the Sybills.
Nat. Hist. lib. 4. cap. 19. The Gaelic etymon of Si/bill ma.kes
her peculiarly the prophetess of Bel or Apollo. Virgil makes
her exactly the same. Erery one knows that gold does not grow
on the branches of trees, and this golden branch is only the yel.
low (croceum) misletoe, poetically hyberbolized. I do not,
therefore, imagine, there can remain the least doubt, that the
golden branch of Virgil was the misletoe of the Druids, or that
the Cumcean Sibyll was a Druidess. For the etymon of Apollo
see next note.

Note XLII.— Page 122.

Carnea, 8fc. — The Sun was the earliest, as well as the most
universal object of idolatrous worship. As such, hia first name
on record is Bel. Early after the deluge, we find mankind
erecting to him a superb monument or temple at Babel. I have
often wondered that none of our Celtic etymologists have ren-
dered this word Bal-Bheil, i. e. " the house or temple of Bel."
They have given us a thousand etymologies far less probable.
It was built on the vale of Skinar (Gallice seanar pronounced
Shinar) i. e. " the vale of the Senior or Elder," in antient times a.
title of the highest distinction, and was probably a sepulchral
monument erected to the memory of their ancestor Noah, or
some other distinguished individual. In the neighbourhood of
Forfar we have a collateral instance, viz. Bal-naSkinar, i. e.
" the house of the Senior or Elder." Ur of the Chaldees was
the next edifice dedicated to Bel, and on or Heliopolis of JEgypt,
was perhaps erected about the same time, Ur signifies light or
fire, and is found in every dialect of the Celtic, It is also He-

o e

286 NOTKS-

brew, and is the radix of the Greek Uranos, the Latin wro, &c.
A parish in iGalloway is still named Ur. Heliopolis is com.
pounded of the Hebrew El, or Eli, i. e. " God and Pol, a city."
The proper signification of Pol, is a circle, cities being antiently
built in that form. Condudere Sulco, that is to encircle with a
furrow, is a common phrase for marking out the boundary of a
city or edifice. Most cities were built on eminences, for the
sake of defence ; and this was particularly the case in Egypt,
■where they had the inundation of the AV/e to guard against.
Hence the various significations of Pol, viz. a circle, the top of
a hill, the crown of the head, a well or pool of water, a city, &c.
Pol is the radis of <he Greek Poleo, Polls, and Polos. In the
Gaelic it is written Poll, and signifies a pool, &c. El, or Eli,
is the radix of the Greek Elios, i. e. the sun. In the €raelic
this word is written Al or Ail, that is, a roch ; and the adjective
Alia signifies rochy, or the most high. From the Gaelic Jl, the
Greeks seem to have formed their Alios, the same with Elios.
AH is in Turkey a title of the highest distinction. When Jacob
went to Fadan Aram, he set up a pillar, and called it Bfth.el,
i. e. the house of God. This, in the Gaelic, would be Bvlh, or
Jieth.ail, i. e. the house of the Rock, In scripture the Deity i?
called the Rock of Ages. The Strength of Rocks is ascribed to
him, &c. Hence it is doubtful whether the Celts have not re^
tained the radical, and the Hebrews, Egyptians, and Greeks,
only the figurative meaning of the word.

The etymon of Apollo has been uniformly mistaken. Calepin
(vide Dictionarium) derives it frpm the Greek verb Apollumiy
and instead of the Opifer, or benefactor of mankind, makes hint
Apolhjon, or the destroyer. There are several other derivations,
but all equally absurd. Apollo is merely a corruption of the
Gaelic Abellio, or AbaUa, pronounced Apellio, or Apalla, i. e.
the son of the most high, and differs little in orthography, and
nothing in signification, from the Greek Ap'-L/io, or Jp^-Alt'o,
i. e. the descendant of the sun. Most of the Celtic gods, Ale!.
ifjV), Saman, Bealan, &c. are diminutives. Thus, I hope, it is
flear, thit Llios, or Alios^ as well as their compound Apolh,

NOTES. 287

were bwfo-Wed dfeHles; find hence it will not appear •wondei'ful
tfiat the Greeks borrowed the religious rites peculiar to this
deity at the sdme time.

The Dorians, instead of Apolhm, used Apellbn, which ap.
preaches mmh nearer to the Gaelic Abellio. It may be here ne-
cessary to remark, that Ullapool^ m RoBS-sMre (Gaillice Ulla-
Poll) sFgiJifiea the circle of demotion. Vila is perhaps merely a
corruption Of the Gaelic Alia, whence the Saxons formed their
Hallow and Hdly, now written Hoii). If so, the Egyptian Heli.
pol^ the Greek Heliopolis, and the Ga«lic Ullapoll, are strictljr
synonimous. The Egyptians also named this city On, Now
Vim in the GaeMc still signifies a stone. The origin of this city
was, therefore, most probably, a stone set up in honour of the
Deity, such as Jacob set up at Bethel, and, when a city wa*
added, it received the name of Helipci, u e. the city or circle of
the Deity ; for all ancient cities were circular, or as nearly s»
as the nature of the emtneDceg on which they were built wottld
a>drait. This we kiiow was the form of Troy, Ca:rthage, the
Acropolis of Athens,. Rome, and a thousand others. Nay, Rome
itself derives its name from this very circumstance, and not from
Jiomulm,as generally imagined; for it is the Greek Rome, sig.
nifying a strength or fort, synonimous with the Gaelic Dun, and
derived from the Greek verb KoOf or Bonijim, to surround or
eneifcle. Hirtius, in his book de Bella Hispaniensif cap, S.
mentions a city near Cordova of the name of Vila, perhaps the
Promontorium Sacrum (hill of worship) mentioned by Pliny,
lib. 4. cap. 22. This city stood on the river Bcetis; and the
same author, speaking of this district, informs us, lib. 3. cap. I.
" that it was inhabited by Celts, and that it was manifest from
their sacred rites, language, and names of towns, that they were
descended from the Celiiberi of Lusitania." We need not,
therefore, hesitate to assign a Celtic origin to Vila, and identify
it with Vllapool before.mentioned. The circular mode of build,
ing before stated was borrowed from the circularity of the Sun^
the supreme object of Ethnic adoration.

I hope I have alreaJy sufficiently evinced, that Apollo is not


288 ■ NOTES.

of Grecian, but Celtic origin ; and if any thing further were
•wanting to establish this point, it is presumed that Carnea will
compensate the deficiency. These Carnea were feasts held in
htfnour of Apollo, over all Greece, but chiefly at Sparta, where
Callimachus (see his hymn to Apollo) says they were first iotro-
dared. This festival was celebrated at Sparta in the month
Carneus, and at Athens in the month Metageitnion, both cor-
responding to our month of May. The whole festival was
clearly descriptive of a military expedition. Nine tents were
erected, and the festival lasted nine days. The chief priest was
called Agetes, i. e. general. Oat of every tribe five ministers
•were chosen, named Carneatai, i. e., or attendants at
the Cam. The hymns sung were called Cameioi nomoi, i. e.
Cam tunes, or hymns. The musicians, on these occasions, con.
tended for victory. The first prize was won by Terpander. —
See Potter's Antiquities of Greece, vol. 1. p. 374 & 380.

With regard to the etymon of Carneus, and the origin of this
festival^ there has been much diversity of opinion. Bryant and
Z>r. Tytler derive Carneus from the Greek Keren, which Bry.
ant renders a Horn, and Dr. Tytler a Stork, informing us at the
same time that Clarios is a name of the same import, whereas
Claries is evidently derived from Claras, a city of Ionia, famous
for an oracle of Apollo, See Tytler' s Callimachus, p. 44. & 45.
Others have imagined that Carneus is a corruption of Cyreneus,
from Cyrene, a town of Lybia. This idle idea is sufficiently
confuted by Callimachus in the following lines elegantly trans-
lated by Dr. Tytler : —

Some Bordromiiij, Clarios some implore,
But naoi'd Carneus ou my native sliore.
Tliec, great Carneus ! Sparta first possessd.
Next Thera's isle was with thy presence bltss'd,
you cross'd the swelling main from Thera's bowers
And then resided in Cyrmc's towers, i:c.— p. 4-1. & 4:i.

Thus we see that Apollo was named Carneus at Sparta, long
before he was known at Cyrene. It would be almost endless to
jidvert to all the groundless opinions vented on this head. It is

NOTES. 289

sufficient for my purpose to have incontroTcrlibly established
that Carneus was, among the Greelcs, a name of Apollo, and
that in their language, no rational or satisfactory etymon of the
word can be found. Indeed when we see such eminent Greek
scholars as Mr. Bryant and Dr. Tytler rendering Carneus a.
horn, or a stork, and at the same time mailing it synonimous
with Clarios, it is evident the Greek analysis is untenable, and
must be given up. Such has been, and always will be, the fate
of hunting for etymologies in a language where they are not to
b6 found.

Cam is a word so peculiarly Celtic, that it can hardly be mis-
taken. Its regular adjective is Carnach, Carneach, Carnadfi.
This last is pronounced Camay, to which the Greeks added their
termination os, and formed Carneios, It signifies any thing per.
taining to a Carn, and hence frequently signifies a priest. Apollo
was named Carneios, from being worshipped at the Cams, in the
same manner as Jupiter was named Olympius from being wor>
shipped at Olympus, or the said Apollo Delphicus from being
-worshipped at Delphi. Indeed Mr. Bryant very rationally sup.
poses, that the numerous appellations of the deities originated
in the Greeks mistaking the place of worship for the deity wor.
shipped, so that the different names of the gods were only the
names of as many temples. If so, what name could have been
found in the Celtic districts, more appropriate to Apollo thaa
Carneios. See BryanVs Mythology, vol. 1. p. 107. In the Cel-
tic we have many derivatives of Car«, viz. Carnan, a little Carn,
Carnam, to make a Carn,^ Carnal, a heap of stones, Carnfa,
piled up, &c. Sec.

Fortunately the Spartans have preserved to us In their month
Carneus the name of the deity worshipped, and the Athenian?
in their month Metageitnion, which signifies a transvicination,
or change of neighbourhood, have preserved the important fact,
that this festival was introduced into Greece by foreigners,
I have already observed that both these months are the same,
and this Celtic colony which migrated to Sparta must have been
very powerful, otherwise the Spartans and Athenians would npt

200" NOTES.

each hate denorttinated one of their months to perpefsate fho
memory of the event. The nine tents and nine days whith th*
f«ast lasted, pwbaWy poiirt (Jie time this colony took »p in mi-
grating to Greece. Solas Grecian acccm»ts say they came fron*
Melite, others from Miletus or Acarnania. Though we should
grant all, or any one of these positions, it will, instead of iirya-
lidatittg, greatly confirm the Celtic cldiioi to this colony. If from
Melite (he Carthaginians bnilt this city, and (he Pbcenician and
Celtic religions rites bear sach a resemblance that Pinkarfon
pronounces them the same. If from Miletus, it is well knon-n
the Milesians make a conspicuous figure in the Irish annals ;
and as to Aearttania, it is merely the Gaelie A'carnunaeh, (Ach-
Carnanach, i. e. the Cam Hill, orr hill aboendiag witb caros]|
terminated according to the Greek idiom.

Fattsanias makes £0:0, a Delphian lady say, that Olen -with
the Hyperboreans founded the Delphic oracle, and was the first
wbot rettfrned answers in heroic Terse. The passage is thas
ti-sDsIated by Mr. Hatchin.

No Grecian yet warm'd with poetic fire

Could fit th' unpolisli'd language to the l^re.

Till the first priest of Phoebus Olen rose.

And chang'd for smoother verse their stunning prose.

See Potter's /intiquities of Greece, vol. 1 . p. 24i, 245.
Fytha'goras, to make men believe that he was the Hyperbo-
rean Apollo, shewed one of his thighs all of gold in a full assem.
biy at the Olympic games, if we credit Jamblicus and Porphy-
rias. See Dacier^s life of Pythag, p. 69.

As I will frequently have occasion fo revert to this point, I
shall only remark, that Mr. Potter is of opinion that the Gre-
cian religion was a compound of every (hing, and borrowed
from all the surrounding nationsw See Antiquities ofGreect,
vat. l.p. 173.

Note XLIII.— Pace 126,
Turn Soracle solum, Sfc. — Dr. Smith, p. 47, has inserted this
tjaotation at full length, but omitted Mr. Toland's translation
of it. Qn the contrary he has oraittcd the original quotation of

NOTES. 291

Mr. Toland from Virgil's Mneid, i.e.'* Summe De&m, sancte
custos, Sfc." and given as Mr. Dryden's translation of it. See
Dr. Smith's Hidory of ike Druids, p. 48, and Toland' s Histo.
ry of iite Druids, p. 126 if 127. Both these quotations, and
their translations stand at full length in Toland's history, but
the doctor, in order to conceal his obligations to Mr, Toland,
has given us the original of the one, and the translation of the
other. ladled, if the reader will give himself the trouble to
collate Dr. Smith's and Mr. Toland's history, he will at once
perctiive that he has made use of the whole of Toland's notes
and materjals, without making the slightest acknowledgment.

Note XLIV.— Page 128.

Umhrians under the name of Sabin^s. — Mr. Toland has so fully
proved the Umbrians or Sabins to be Celts, that he has left me
little to do on this head. But as Mr, Tolatjd's work is only a.
brief summary, I hope the reader will pardon me if I go a little
into detail. Independant of historic testimony, the very name
is Celtic. The Gaelic verbs Umbracam and Druidftm are syno-
nimous, and signify to embrace, shut up, or inclose. The

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 18 of 31)