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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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Gaelic adjectives Umbracht and Druidie are also synonimous,
and signify, shut up, or inclosed, i. e. " retired or contemplative
men." Plin. lib. 3. cap. 14, derives Umbri, ab Imbre, i. e.
" from rain," because, as he says, they were tiifi most ancient
inhabitants of Itaiy ; and alone survived the deluge. This is
another instance of the folly of the Greeks and Romans, who
endeavoured to find the etymon of all words in their own Ian.
gija.ge5. Cdlepine derives Umbri from Umbra, on account of
the umbrageeus nature of the country. But this is a mistake
of the same kind, for it is extremely probable that the Romans
derived thuitUuibra, as well as all its derivatives from the Gaelic.
C^ljepine says it contained 300 cities before they were destroyed
by the Etrusci. Were the names still remaining in antient
coHutries clearly ascertained to be Celtic, duely weighed, they
yro»\i furnish perhaps the best criterion, to delermine the Cel-
tic migraticTas. In antient Umbrin we find thcriTer Umber {ho.



292 NOTES.

die Umbro, as theltalians use the Ablative Instead of the Nomina.
tive) the same with the Humber in England. In the same district
we find a town of the name of Narnia, the same with Nairn in
Scotland. Here we also find a man of the name of Tages (Gallice
Tagh or Tadgh, the same name as that of the grand father of
Fingal) of whom Cicero, de divinatione, lib. 2, gives the follow-
ing account. Tages Quidam dicitur, in agro Tarquiniensi,
quum terra araretur, et sulcus altius impressus, extitisse repente,
et eum affatus esse qui arabat, &c. i. e. " When a man was
plowing in the Tarquinian field, and had drawn a deep furrow,
a certain one Tages is said to have started up suddenly, and ad.
dressed him." But this Tages, according to the books of the
Etrusci, is said to have had the appearance of a boy, but the
wisdom of an old man. When the plowman, terrified at the
sight of him, had raised a loud cry, the people assembled, and
all Etruria convened in a short time to that place. Then Tages
spoke many things in the audience of the multitude, who marked
all his words, and committed them to writing. But his whole
speech was confined to the Haruspicinian doctrine, i. e. "the
art of divination by the entrails of victims, &c." Ovid. lib. 15.
Metam. mentions this same Tages.

Indigent dixcre Tagem, qui primus Hetruscam
Edocuit gentem casus aperire futaros, &c,

i. e. " The aboriginal inhabitants call him Tages, who first
taught the Tuscan nation to disclose future events."

Were we in this manner to pervade Europe, and contrast
the names found therein, with the names in any particular dis-
trict of Britain or Ireland, we might form a tolerable conjectare
of the origin of the inhabitants. The Fir.Bolg of Ireland (Tirt
Belgici,) are unquestionably a colony from Belgic Gaul.
Caernarvon in Wales, (Civitates Narbonensis) derives its name
from Narhhonne, a town in Gallia Narbonends. The Taixali of
Aberdeenshire were ^ircbabiy from the Tcxelln Holland. The
Fins are frequent in Br.tiin and Ire'and, and on the Baltic we
find a wliole district (Fiulan !) bearfng their name. Tacitus rfc



NOTES. 293

Morib. Genn, cap. 1 5. gives a particular description of these
Fenni or Finni. Nor is tiiis mode of reasoaing, if kept within
reasonable bounds, either fanciful or hypothetical. We knovr
for certain that British colonists have carried British names to
every quarter of the globe, particularly to Artierica and the
West Indies. Were all authentic history lost, still the identity
of these names, with names still remaining in Britain, would
clearly establish their origin. Mankind in all ages have evinced
the strongest attachment to the names of their progenitors, bene-
factors, deities, and native soil, and these they have generally
carried along with thum, and preserved under every difficulty
and danger.

Note XLV.— Page 129.

O patron ofSoractfshigh abodes, Sfc. — Within the country of
antient Umbria stood the celebrated hill of Soracte. ' Of this
•word I have been able to find no satisfactory analysis. In the
Gaelic language we find Sorach or Sorch an eminence, and the
adjective Sorachta acervated, perhaps in allusion to the Acervus-
or Corn of Apollo, which stood on this hill. That the Greeks
and Romans might render the Gaelic Sorachta in their language
Soracte is by no means improbable. What will add weight to
this conjecture is that the Greek verb Soreuo and the Gaelic
verb Soracham are synonimous, both signifying to acervate.
On this hill the Hirpins (see Toland's quotation from Pliny)
performed' their yearly sacrifice to Apollo. One of the feats
practised on these occasions by them was dancing over the fire
barefooted, for which they enjoyed many important immunities
by a decree of the Roman senate. These Hirpins used to be-
smear their feet with a certain ointment (see Toland's quotation
frem^Varro) which rendered them invulnerable to the fire.
That such an ointment was known to the antients is beyond all
doubt. Ovid, lib. 2. Fab. 1. clearly alludes to it in the follow-
ing words:

Turn pater ora sui sacro medicamine nati
GoDtigit, & rapida: fecit patientia flanmie,
P p



294 KOTES.

i. e. " Then the father (Phoebus) rubbed the face of his son
(Phaethon) with a sacred ointment, and made it capable of en-
during the rapid flame."

I have observed, in a former note, that Dr. Smith confounds
the Gabha-bkeil (jeopardy of Beal) with this juggling trick of
the HirptHS, and (p. 46) gives us a particular description of,
'what he imagines, a fiery ordeal, or tryal by fire, Gabha-Bheil,
(the clutches of Beal) is a proverbial expression importing that
every victim devoted to that deity must be sacrificed. Though
there are not wanting instances where a victim has escaped, still
■these instances are extremely rare, and hence the Gabha-Bheil
signifies the most imminent danger. Between Bets two fire*
(Ittir dha tbeine Bheil) is a phrase of the very same import.
As io the Hirpins there was no ordeal at all in their case. Thejr
were supported at the public expence. They were no criminals,
And as to the effects of the fire, they were sufiiciently guarded
against it by the ointment before mentioned. It is very extraor.
4linary that any man should have dreamed of an Ordeid, where
there was neither criminal, trial, nor danger. The custom itself
is, however, unquestionably Dniidical, and a convincing proof
that the Umbrians were Celts.

The only other Celtic peculiarity which I shall notice in this
district is the Etruscan god Msar, See Antient Universal Histo-
ry, vol. 18. p. 540 ^ 342, Sfc. Several attempts have been made
to derive this god from the Hebrew ; from the Celtic Esus, &c.
The fact is the word is pure Gaelic, as any one capable of turn.
jng up a Gaelic dictionary will at once perceive. Eas, and
Easar or Aes, and Aesar (for the Gaelic orthography is not
well settled) are synonimous, and signify a Cataract, and hence
£guratively, any thing impetuous or irresistible. It i» a beauti.
tiful and appropriate emblem of the omnipotence of the deity.
This word Aes occurs frequently in Italy. Aeds, a river of
Vmbria, mentioned by Pliny, lib. 3. cap. 14. Aesis, a town of
the same region, mentioned by Ptolemy, Mdiim, mentioned
by Strabo, the same as the preceding. Aesinafes, the iuhabi.
tauta of the said tpwn, PHn^f lib, 3, cap. 14, Aeiidum, a towu



NOTES. 295

of the Up'bri, f'tik Ptolnm. Aesa, a town of Thrace, nide Ste.
p&ttasm. AesarnSy a itver sear Crotooa, in Magna GrsKaa,.
StrabOy Hb. 7,

Notnit!i4(andiag the many cotrjectm'es respectjog the Tascaa
god Mi-ar, H is the Umbriaa, or (which is the same thing) the
Celtic Aesar, adopted by the Tuscaas, the conquerors of the-
Umbrians. The Celtic god Ems, about Mthora there have a!so'
been many grvBiidtess ctMijectuTes, is merely the Gaelic Aes^ or
Eas, or M», (for they are all the same) ktinicaUy terminated
Mstts. Aesfheter, in the Gaelic language, stiil signifies god, and
literally meaBS the men of the Cataract.

Note XLVI.— Pace 131,

/« most places of this last kingdom, the common people delieve
these obelises to be men transformed intb stones by the magic of
the Druids. — We find the very same idea mentioned in the Ara-
hian Nights'' Entertainments. Druid and magician are synoni.
mens terms, and what could be more natural, than that tha
ignorant vulgar should ascribe to the magical power of fhs
Druids, such works as seemed to exceed human exertion. A
Roman causey through Lochar Moss, in Dumfries.shire, is still
ascribed td the magic of Michael Scott. A thousand such in.
stances might be condescended on.

Note XLVII.— Page 131.
We find the practice as early as St. Patrick himself, tch», hav.
ing iuilt the church of Donach.Patrick, ^c. — That St. Patrick
should have sanctified obelises or colosses, erected in the times
of paganism, is a very extraordinary circumstance, and deserves
particular attention. That idolatry originated in a snperstitioug
respect for the dead, can hardly be doubted. Be this as it may,
we find the ancient places of worship extremely simple. Jacob
set up an obelise, or single erect stone, at Bethel. Apion ac-
cuses Moses of departing from the established custom of wor-
shipping at obelise*. — Vide Josephum, p. 734. — ^Aiaong the

p P 2



296 NOTES.

Celts, obelises, or erect stones, were the only places of worship.
The obelises sanctified by St. Patrick were undoubtedly Druidi-
cal places of worship, and he could have no possible motive for
consecrating them, except that of converting them into christian
churches. On the other hand, it can hardly be imagined that
he should have been so circumscribed as to be obliged to make
use of the Drnidical temples, or that he could have done so
without the consent of the Druids. The most natural inference
is, that, seeing the -Irish addicted to their idolatrous temples and
priests, St. Patrick sanctified the former, and converted the lat-
ter, making both subservient to the important purpose of propa.
gating Christianity. Indeed Mr. Toland asserts, that none came
sooner into the christian religion, or made a better Jigure in if,
than the Druids.

If this hypothesis is well founded, it clears up some points in
our ecc'esiastical history, on which we have hitherto little more
than mere conjecture. There appears to have been a studied de-
sign in St. Patrick and his successors, to consign the very name
of Druid to oblivion. It is not mentioned (as far as I know)
ly any ecclesiastical writer from the 4th to the 15th century,
though it stitl existed in the Gaelic language, and in the nume.
Tous names of temples, and other places denominated from the
Druids. This policy of the early ecclesiastics in Ireland was
"founded on expediency, as well as necessity. The name Druid
was one of the very first respect among the Celts. It was no-
where mentioned in the sacred records, and there was conse-
quently uo express scriptural command to eradicate this parti-
«alar species of idolatry. To remedy this defect, the name ap-
pears to have been altered to Magi and Chaldei (Magicians and
Chaldees), names strictly synonimous with that of Drttid, and
clearly condemned in scripture. Innes, in his Critical Essai/

(as has been noticed in a former note), vol. 2. p. 464. says

" in the Latin lives of St. Patrick and Columba, the Druids are
called Magi." In Adomnan's Life of St. L'oiumba, we have an
account of an interview betwixt that saint and a few of these
Magi, at tht palace or castle of Brudi, king of the Pitts, in the



NOTES. 297

following words: — " Sed et illud noti est taceridum quod a!i-
quando de tali incomparabili vocis ejus Sublevatione juxta Bru-
daei regis manitionem, accidisse traditnr. Nam ipsesanctus cura
paucis fratribus extra Regis munitionem dum Ttspertinale's Dei
laudes ex more celebraret, quidam Magi ad eos propius acceden-
tes ia quantum poterant prohibcre conabantur, ne de ore ipso-
rutn- divinae laudis sonus inter Gentiles andiretur. Quo com-
perto sanctus quadragesimum, et quartum Psalmum decantare
caspit. Miruraque in modum ita vox ejus in acre eodem me-
mento instjir alicujus formidabiiis tonitrui elevata est, ut et rex
et populus intolerabili essent pavore perterriti." i.e. " Nor must
I omit to mention that incomparable elevation of his voice, which
is said to have happened near the castle of King Brudi. For
when the saint, with a few of his brethren, according to custom,
was celebrating the evening praises of God, certain Magi ap.
preaching near to them, did every thing in their power to pre-
vent the Gentiles from hearing the sound of the divine praisn
which proceeded from their mouths. Which being known, the
saint began to sing the fortieth and fourth psalm. And his
voice was, in a wonderful manner, in that very moment, elevated
into the air, like a formidable clap of thunder, so that the king
and the people were struck with intolerable fear." Messingham,
in his life of the same saint, lib. 1. ch. IS. p. 168, gives us a si-
milar instance in these words, — " Eodem in tempore vir vene.
randus quandam a Eroickano it/ago Scoticam postulavit servam,
humanitatis miseratione liberandam — i. e. " At the same time
the venerable man (St. Columba) demanded from Broichanus tha
magician, a certain Scottish maid-servant, whom, from motives
of pity and humanity, he intended to set at liberty." It is wor-
thy of remark, that St. Columba converted and baptized Brudi
in 565, at which time the Magi or Druids before-mentioned were
found at his court — a clear proof that the Romans did not com-
pletely extirpate the Druids in Britain, as generally imagined.

Merlin the mid, commonly called Merlinus Caledonius, an
inhabitant of Alcluid, and unquestionably a Druid, ilourished
about 570. The English Merlin, or Merlin the Magician, aU*



293 NOTES.

a Druid, lived abont a century earlier. Of the Scottish MerKn,
or Merlin the wild, ve bare a curioos account furnislied bjr
Pinkarton (vol. 2, page 275 — 276) in a qaotaticn from Geofrey
of Monmouth : —

Dux Venedatornm Feridums BeJIa gerebat
Contra Gueonolouni, Scotias qai regoa rejebat.-—
Venerat Meriinus ad bellnm cum Feridnro,
Kex qnoqiie Cambrsrnm Rodarcits, —
licce victori venit ebvins alter ab aala
Rodarchi Regis Cambroram, qui Ganiedam
Duxerat uxorem, formosa conjuge felix ;

Itlerliui soror ista fuit

Aferriqne jubet vestcs, Volncrc! «jnc, CancsqBe,
Quadrupedesqfie cite?, aDnrm, geaimmtfue mirantes,
Poct)Ia qu!e scolpsit GaietaudHS in ncbe sigeni.
Singula pr^eteadit Vati Rodarcbus et offcct, —
Corruet urbs Acelud, &c.

i. c. " Feridiurus g^eneial of the Yencdati, made war on Gueno.
lens king of the Scots. Merlin had accompanied Feridurns to
the war, as also Rodaichus king of the Cambri. Lo there
comes another from the hall of Rodarchus king of the Cambii,
tomeettbeceDqueror, who had married Ganieda, and was happy
ia a. beautiful wife. She was tli£ sister of Merlin. And Ro.
darchus orders garments, hawks, hounds, swift steeds, gold,
shiniGg gems, and goblets wiuch Guielandas had carved in the
city Sigeni, to be brought, and. presents and oJTers them one bj
one to the prophet. The city Alcluid shall fall," &c.

We thus see that Merlia the wild (Meriinus Sylvestris) was
no mean person. His sister Ganieda w.as nobly married, and
he himself for his vaticinatioa, which was a prominent part of the
Df iridical office, received a present whkh might have suited an
em^peror. It were an easy matter to trace Druids even down to
the present day under thfi different denominations of warlocks^
magicians, inchaniers, charmers, fortune tellers, jugglers, &c.
But this is unnecessary, as it must occur to every intelligent
person, that Dcuidlsm, though it bais changed its name, is not
extinct, but ia more or k»9 practised in every district, aod almoKt



NOTES. 299

in etery family of the kingdoni. So far respecting the Druids
nnder the name of Magi.

In treating of the Druids under the name of Chaldees, or as it
has been corruptly written Culdees, and by the monks latinized
Culdai, Keldcei, and Kelidcoi, I am well aware that I have many
difficulties to contend with. One party maintain that they were
presbyterian, and another that they were episcopalian. Their
origin is totally unknown, and even the very name has afforded
scope for more than a dozen etymologies, all equally plausible,
and equally unsatisfactory. In this state of things, it will
readily be admitted, that the origin, name, and history of the
Culdees, are involved in great obscurity. Pinkarton, (vol. 2.
page 272 and 273) asserts that they were all Irish, and conse.
quently they must have received Christianity from St. Patrick or
his successors. But it is admitted, on all hands, that they were
Im/ Ecclesiastics, a circumstance which could not have happened,
had ihey been regularly ordained by St. Patrick or his succes-
cessors, and sent to convert Scotland. To whatever side we
turn ourselves, if we follow the common opinion respecting the
Culdees, we find uncertainty and inconsistency. But if once
we admit that the Druids were Culdees, every difficulty vanish-
es, tind the simple fact is, that St. Patrick availed himself of the
aid of the Druids to convert Ireland. That, in compliance with
popular prejudice, he sanctified and made use of as many of their
temples, as suited his purpose. That these Druids were kept in
the subordinate station of lay ecclesiastics, and not admitted
to the dignity of regular clergy. That by degrees they returned
to Scotland, from which they had been expelled by the Romans,
and formed settlements to themselves independent of St. Patrick
and his successors, and maintained themselves in these settle,
ments till finally supplanted by the regular clergy about the
middle of the 13th century.

In the register of the priory of St. Andrews, we have sjme
important facts relative to the Culdees. " Habebautur taraen in
Ecclcsia S'ti Andtex, quota et quanta tunc erat, tredecim per
successionem carnalem quos JSeledeos appeljant, qui secundum



■A
,•500 ' ""■ NOTES..

suam aestiraationem^ et hominum traditionem, magis quam se-
cundum sanctorum sl^tuta patrum, yivebant." i. e. " Yet there
were in the church of kt. Andrew, such as it then was, thirteen
by carnal succession, whom they call Keldees, who lived accord-
ing to their own opinion, and the tradition of men, rather than
according to the statutes of the holy fathers."

And further, " Personas autem supra memoratae redditus et pos-
sessiones proprias habebant ; quas cum e vita decederent, uxores
eorum, quas publice fenebant, filii quoque, vel filiiB, propinqni
vel Generi, inter se di?idebant." i. e. " Bat the persons be-
fore mentioned (the Keldees) had proper incomes and posses-
sions, which, when they* died, their wives whom they kept pub-
licly, their sons, daughters, relations, or sons. in. law, divided
among themselves."

The dedication of this Culdee settlement, then named Kilri-
mont, i. e. " the temple on the king^s mount," to St. Andrew, is
narrated in the said register as follows. " Locum vero ipsum nota
evidente designatum, ex magna dcvotione septies circumierunt.
Rex Uungus, et ipse Episcopus Regulus, et Viri Caeteri, circui.
tione et perambulations ita disposita sf-ptena prajcessit Episcopus
Kegulus super caput suum cum omni veneratione Reliquias S'ti
Apostoli deferens, suo sacro conventu Episcopum cum Comiti-
bus Hymnidicis sequente. Illos vero devotus secutus Rex Han.
gus est pedentim, Deo intimas preces et gratias fundens devotas.
Regem vero secuti sunt viri optimates, totius regni nobiliores.
Ita locum ipsum Deo commendarunt, et pace regia munierunt.
In signum vero Regias commendationis, per loci circuitum divi-
sim 12 Cruces lapideas viri Sancti erexerunt ; Pt Deo cseli hu-
militer supplicabaut, ut omnes in il!o loco menle devota, et pura
jntentione orationis suaepetitionis efficaciam obtinerent." i. e.
" They, seven times, with great devotion, circumambulated thit
place, marked out witli distinct li.T)its, King Uungus, Bishop
Ilegulus himself, a^d their other alten'lants, ordered the manner
of this sevenfold citcumambulaiion as follows. Bishop Regulus
■went first, carrying on his head, with all due veneration, the
relics of the holy apostle, tlie sacred conveation fpUowiDg the



iroTES, 301

bishop, with their attendants, iinging hymng. ThedevoutKing
Hungus (Ungust) followed them on foot pouring out sincere
prayers and devout thanks to God. The king was followed by
the grandees and nobles of the whole kingdom. In this manner
thpy commended the place to God, and fortified it by royal
permission. As a monument of this royal commendation, these
holy men erected twelve stone crosses, at equal distances, encir.
cling the place, and humbly supplicated God, that all in that
place, who had holy minds and pure hearts, might obtain the
fulfilment of their prayer and supplication."

This dedication of Kilrimont, a Ctddee establishment, took
place about 825; nor did the Culdees at this time leave it; for
we are further told — Kelidei namque in angulo quodam ecclesicBf
qu<B modica nimis erat, suum qfficium more suo celebrabant, i. e.
" For the Guldees performed divine worship in a certain corner
of the church, after their own manner, which was too small for
their accommodation," The register further adds — Nee potuit
tanium auferri malum, usque ad temjms felicis , memories Regis
Alexandri, i. e. " Nor could this evil be removed till the time
of King Alexander, of blessed memory." This Alexander died
in 1124, so that the church of Kilrimont presents the singular
phenomenon of the regular clergy and Culdees performing divine
worship in one, and the same church, during nearly 300 years.

After the relentless massacre of the Druids in the island of
Mona (Anglesey), mentioned by Tacitus, in his annals, lib. 14.
ch. 5. they appear to have kept carefully out of the way. The
Roman authors make no mention of them afterwards, till Am.
mianus Marcellinus found them in the Isle of Man. In Caesar's
time (vide lib. 6. cap, IS.) the chief school of the Druids was in
Britain; and he hence infers, that Druidism was invented ia
Britain, and thence translated into Gaul. Pliny (lib. 30, cap. 1.)
hazards a conjecture equally groundless, when he tells us, " that
Britain celebrated Magic (synonimous with Druidism) in such,
an astonishing manner, and with such great ceremonies, that it
appears to have given it to the Persians." The fact is, that the
Sruidi f^und the turbulent and warlike state of Gaul ill suitad

e q



502 ^'OTES.

■to their, contemptatire studies, and transferred their chief scho'ol
to Britain. On the inrasion of Britain by the Romans, they
would donbtless use the same precaution, and transfer their re-
cords and chief establishment to Ireland. This sufficiently ac-
counts for the number and antiquity of the Irish manuscripts.
The Irish were Celts, and certainly had their Druidical establish,
ments long prior to this period. And there cannot remain a
<Ioubt that the British Druids found Ireland their last asylum.
That an order of men, so numerous, so learned, and so highly
venerated by all ranks, should have totally disappeared, on the
arrival of St. Patrick, is not once to be imagined. On the testi-
mony of Giraldus Cambrensis (quoted by Mr. Toland in the
6th note on his first letter) there never was a martyr to Chris,
tianity in Ireland, so that the Druids did not fall victims to the
new order of things. Another proof that the Druids made
little or no resistance to Christianity is St. Patrick's burning
from 180 to 300 volumes of their records, as related by Dudiey
Forbes and Dr. Kennedy, see Toland's history, page 105.
That any individual, however respectable, conld have compelled
the Druids to give up their records, in order to be destroyed, is
not once to be imagined ; and this great sacrifice must be consu
dered as a voluntary act of piety, similar to that reccfrded in the
Acts of the Apostles, ch. 19. v. 19. St. Patrick's prjecursor,
Palladius (see Pinkarton, v. 2. p. 263.) was wholly unsuccess-
ful in his mission to Ireland, and found it in a state of Paganism.
St. Patrick's success was, probably, in a great measure, owing,
to his using the Druidical temples as places of worship, and gain-
ing over to his interest the Druids, the then established clergy,
hy which means the deeply rooted prej udices of the nation were
in a great measure complied with, and at any rate not directly
thwarted. The numerous places of christian worship still be-
ginning with the word Kil in Ireland and Scotland, which is Uie



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 19 of 31)