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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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candour, when he imposes on the public, as Jusloric truth, the
following ridiculous fiction of his own brain. " But to return
(says he) to the Picti, the Romans unhappily not catching from
the pronunciation the old name Peukini, must have bec>n puzzled
how to modify this barbaric term: for as Piki implied in Latin
woodpeckers, ^c. a victory over these Piki, would have sounded
odd in their annals. The Cumraig Britons called them Vhith.
iiaid, and the Romans could have only Latinized this name
Picti, which was worse and worse, for a battle with Ficti



NOTES. 337

feigned people, people of fiction, would have been matter of
laughter. From Scandinavian pronunciation, (he name was
Vtci, towns, or Victi, conquered, or Vccii, carried, so that ths
confusion was endless. Picti coming first to hand, took, tha-
place of all." Vol. 1. page 368 and 369.

From this visionary dream, unsupported by the least shadow
of authority, we are told that the Romans were puzzled to find
a name for the Picts. That they deliberated about calling them
PiHy butthis was rejected, because it signified M)oo6(pecA:er*. They
then thought of Ficti, but this was also rej acted, because it signified
feigned people. They next deliberated on Vici, towns, Victi, con-
quered, and Vecti, carried, but all these shared the same fate. At
last they hit on Fkti, which they preferred to all the rest; yet Mr.
Pinkarton tells us, that Ficti, which he himself places the
sixth in order, came first to hand. But it is well known the Ro-
mans were by no means over.delicate respecting even their owa
names, and must have been less so respecting those of barbarians
and enemies. Two of the most celebrated Romans were sirnam.
ed Bestia, and Brutus, i. e. beait, and brute. Ovid, a poet
of no mean celebrity, was sirnamed Naso, i. e. Nosy, a name
even in our own days given to such as have enormous, or Ovidian
noses. No man in his senses will imagine the Romans gave
themselves the least trouble about the name of the Picts, farther
than Latinizing it in the same manner as they did Galli, Scoti^
Britanni, (Jaledonii, &c.

Had Mr. Pinkarton searched for the word Pic* in the abori«
ginal language of the Picts themselves, he could not have failed
to discover it. The Picts in the Gaelic have two names, viz.
Cruinith, Gruineacht, or Cruitne, (for it is differently written).
Fortunately Mr. Innes, (see his Critical Essay) has rendered
this, name painted, in which I perfectly agree with him, and
shall only add that the Gaelic verb Cruinicam, whence the name
is derived, signifies io paint. The other name Vict, by the Ro.
mans rendered Picti, and by our historians Picti, Pichti, and
Piachti, is merely the Gaelic Pichatach, Latinically terminated.
Pichat, in the Gaelic signifies a magpie, and its regular adjec-



338 NOTES.

tive Pkhatachslgn'iCiespie.coloured, variegated OT painted. Vichat

sometimes written Viche and Vighe, is synonimous with the Ro.
man Pica. The Irish Cruineachl, the Gaelic Pichatach, (gene,
rally abbreviated Fichtach,) and the Roman Picii, have the same
signification, and nothing more is necessary to support this ety-
mology, than to prove that the Picts painted themselves. But
Mr. Pinkarton has rendered this unnecessary, as he reckons the
Pictish custom of painting themselves the very quintessence of
their claim to a Gothic origin. See vol. 1. p. 126. As to the
name Scot, it is evidently the Gaelic Scauth, signifying a swarm
or cofony, and hence figuratively an exile, fugitive, or wanderer.
Scaoth is diflferently pronounced Skyth, Skyt and Scut. It is
evidently the same with the Greek Slcythai, and the Roman
Scyihae. That the ancient Scythians were a migratory people,
Mho subsisted by pasturage and hunting, is so universally allow,
ed, that it is unnecessary to prove it. But it would be in vaia
io look for the etymon of the Scythians in the Greek or Roman
languages, whilst in the Celtic the radical meaning is still re-
tained. Is it not therefore most probable that the Scythian Ian.
guage was a dialect of the Celtic? Mr. Pinkarton is fully aware
of this objection, and provides against it by telling us the Scots
were Scythians, but learned the Celtic language after their arri.
»al in Ireland. From what authority he procured this informa.
tion, he has not informed us, and it therefore rests on his mere
assertion.

The name Vict and Scot are nearly coeval. Had the Picts
brought their name with them from Scandinavia, three centuries
before our aera, Tacitus would not, in the first century have
called them Caledonii. But the truth appears to be, that in the
third century a new nation, (the Scots from Ireland), came ia
contact with the Romans, and that nation which, before the ar-
rival of this colony in Argyleshire, was denominated Caledonii^
was now divided into Victs and Scots, It is really pitiful to see
the shifts Mr. Pinkarton is obliged to have recourse to. He
calls Scot, (vol. 1. p. 366.) the little zcord Scot, not recollecting
that his own favourite word P«A is at least one letter less.



NOTES. 339

Mr. Pinkarton, that he may appropriate to his beloved Goths
the sepulchral monuments wherein burnt human bones are fonnd,
says (vol, 1. p. 4l3.)-^there is no room to believe that the Celts
ever burned their dead at all. Will any man imagine that he
could be ignorant of the following passage of Cajsar (lib. 6. cap,
19.) — Funera sum, pro cullu Gallorum, magnifica et sumptuoia.
iimniaque quae vims cordi fuisse arbitrantur in ignem inferunty
eiiam animalia; ac paulo supra hanc memoriam servi et clienteSj
quos ah its dilectos esse constabat,justisfunebribus covfcctis, una
cremabantur — i. e. " The funerals of the Gauls, considering
their circumstances, are magnificent and sumptuous; and they
throw irXo the fire whatever they imagine was most esteemed
by the deceased when alive, and even animals. A little before
the recollection of the present day, those servatits and clients
who were most beloved by them (the-necessary funeral rites being
performed), were burnt along with them." This is another in-
stance of Mr. Pinkarton's disingenuity.

Indeed he has, in many cases, hard work, but his dexterity is
admirable, though, in some instances, extremely ludicrous. The
vitrified forts in Scotland have outlived both history and tradi-
tion. There was therefore no authority for making them Pictish,
for which cause he does not mention them in the text, but in«
forms us by a note, (v. 2. p. 251.) that they were built by one
Vaull Macktyre in the 13th century. In the present case his
usual ingenuity seems to have failed. As it was his intention
not to ascribe them to the Celts, he should have assigned then
to some gentleman of Gothic name ; for as Vaull Macktyre was,
■from the very name, clearly a Celt, these edifices must still be
Celtic. Strange ! that he could not have rendered them a lusus
natures, or made Torfceus swallow thera.

The Celtic names which every where occur, are a source of
infinite uneasiness to Mr. Pinkarton. He has indeed laid it
down as an axiom. That language is the surest mark, whereby
to discover the origin of nations. Yet he will not allow one ar.
gument to be deduced from this axiom }n favour of the Celts^
but monopolizes the whole for his beloved Picts. Vid Penden.



340 NOTES.

nu, (says he,) in Asia Minor bear the same origin as Pendennis
in Cornwall? This question is best answered by proposing a
few more of the same kind. Did New England in America,
bear the same origin with Old England in Britain ? Did Magna
Grcecia bear the same origin as Grcecia Antiqua? Did ISova
Scotia bear the same origin as Scutia Antiqua? Did Prince of
Wales' Island bear the same origin as a British Prince of Wales?
Did Montrose estate in Jamaica, bear the same origin as Motilroe
in the county of Forfar? Did New IlollandheaT the same origin
as Old Holland? Did the Caltdonian Fik bear the same origin
as the Norwegian Viht-oeriar ? This last Mr. Pinkarton has an-
swered in tlie affirmative, and swallowed without a grudge, be-
cause it suited his favourite system. Whenever any word oc-
curs which would favour the Celts, it is a mere Jail of letters,
but he can hammer out a name for his favourite Yiks, where
there is nofall\of letters at all. Fihiveriar, is merely the Saxon
or Gothic FJA?, -signifying strong or wight, and Veriar, the same
with the Roman Vir, or the Celtic I ear, signifying a man. It is
literally our modern sirname wightnian.

If every thing Celtic is sure to be reprobated by Mr. Pinkar-
ton, the Celts themselves are still more roughly treated. He
never mentions them with temper. lie calls them the first sa~
vages of Europe — the savage Celts — Calherens, Kerns, and Thieves
—mere savages — the true Milesian breed, &c. &c. Not one
Highlander (he says) is to be found in the whole history of Scot,
land after the year 1056 — they are mentioned as thieves and rob-.
bers — thei/ are dreaded by the Lowlanders, as all civilized nations
fear savages — they are like the Macassars and wild Americans,
&c. &c. Is this the sober language of history, or even of de-
cent abuse? The Cells have been harrasscd and plundered by
the Goths time immemorial, and eventually driven from the ou«
extremity of Europe to the other; nor are they at all culpable
for having made repeated efforts to recover what was originally
their own.



NOTES. 34X

Note LXVI.— Page 183,

Had their tin from hence. — That the Greeks and Phoenicians
traded to South Britain for tin, as early as the time of Herodo.
tus, can admit of no doubt; and hence the British islands are by
him named Cassiterides, Pliny (lib. 7. cap. 56.) mentions In.
sula Cassiteride — i. e. " the Tin Island." If the Celts in
Wales, at so early a period, wrought the tin mines to that ex-
tent, as to supply Greece and Phoenicia, they cannot have been
such savages as Pinkarton represents them. With his usual
etymological mania, he derives Cassiteros (tin) from the Greek
CaMa, meaning a hase woman. But vfhere, in the name of won,
der, can the name be found, but where the article was produced ;
and is it not natural to infer that the Greeks borrowed the name
along with the article. This we know to be generally the case;
for no nation can have a name for a thing totally unknown. Mr.
Pinkarton rests his etymology on the groundless assertion, that
it was at first principally used as mock silver for ornaments to
prostitutes. No such thing is the case. The word is the Celtic
Casse-tair, (pronounced Cassiter) to which the Greeks added
their peculiar termination os, and formed Cassiteros. Casse.tair
signifies the vulgar or base sheet or bar, to distinguish it from
silver, which is called Airgad — i. e. " the clear or precious sheet
or bar." This is no vain fancy, for ^n the Gaelic, Tara signifies
the multitude, and Cran Tara, the beam of the multitude, or the
beam of gathering, being used to convoke the multitude on any
sudden emergency. The adjective Tair signifies any thing per.
taining to the multitude, and hence base or vulgar. So far,
therefore, from Cassiteros being derived from the Greek Cassa,
the Greek Cassa is derived from the Gaelic Casse; a base woman
jbeing to a virtuous one, what tin is to silver. Not only the word,
but the very antithesis is Celtic. The Celts were early acquaint,
ed with the precious metals. They could not work the tin mines
vfithout being acquainted with silver; and the Druid's Egg,
from the most remote antiquity, was bound in gold,

X X



342 NOTts.

Note LXVIL— Pace 183.
The Gigonian Stone.— Of this word I have been able to find
no satisfactory analysis ; but, from the description, it is unques-
tionablj a rocking stone.

Note LXVIII.— Page 187.

Augury was formerly one of the most universal svpersiitions,
&c. — Mr. Toland has enlarged so far on this head, that it is un-
necessary for me to add any thing on the subject. I shall, there,
fore, content myself with stating a very singular custom of the
Eritons, mentioned by Caesar (lib. 5. cap. 12.) — Leporem el
Gallinam ct Anserem, gustarefas non putant; hcec tamen alunt^ .
animi, ■voluptatisque causa — i. e. " They hold it unlawful to
eat the hare, the hen, or the goose ; yet they rear them for plea-
sure and amusement." Dr. Smith differs from Caesar, and sup-
poses that the Britons did eat them, but without adducing the
slightest authority. With his usual inaccuracy, he mentions the
hen and the goose, but omits the hare altogether. — See Hist.
Druid, p. 36. CiBsar had good access to know the fact, and
ought not to be contradicted, unless on good authority. To the
ficoie, the Romans themselves paid a superstitious respect, be-
cause they once saved the capitol. The hare and the cock are,
among ourselves, even at the present day, ominous. Pliny (lib.
10. cap. 21.) says, the premature crowing of the cotk in the
evening is portentous. The very same opinion prevails among
ourselves to the present hour. The same author (ibidem) says
they crowed a whole night, when they foretold the noble victory
of the Beotians over the Lacedemonians. One of the symbols
of Pythagoras is, Feed the cock, but sacrifice him not, bccatme he
is sacred to the sun and to the moon. — See Daccier's Life of Py.
ihagoras, p. 107. As to the hare, it is only necessary to observe
that it is the very animal Into which witches are, by the vulgar,
supposed to transform themselves. It is, therefore, most likely
that the Gauls reared the hare, the hen, and the goose, for the
purposes of domestic augury or divination, on any sudden cmer.



NOTES. 343

ge»cy, when no omen could be obtained from the wild fowls,
who were more without their reach.

Note LXIX,— Page 205.

JBorr. — This word has crept into our comraon colloquial lan-
guage; and there is nothing more common than for a person to
say, he will do any thing with all his Borr, or Birr — i. e. " with
all his strength." The radical import of the word is Strength^
or, when adjectively taken, Strong. Boreas — i. e. the Nortkm
wind, is supposed to be peculiarly Greek. But this groundless
idea may be confuted by any one capable of consulting a Greek
lexicon, and seeing the wretched attempts made to etymologize
it in that language. It is attempted to be derived apo tou Boaein
Icai Reein — i. e. " from roaring and running." The other deri.
valion is from Bora — i, e. " grass for cattle," as if Boreas were
a promoter of vegetation, instead of being a destroyer of it. The
merits of the Gaelic language have never been duly appreciated.
It is more or less the foundation of all the languages of the west,
and in particular those of Greece and Rome have borrowed co.
piously from it. I have already noticed, that Calepine derives
Apollo from the Greek participle Apoli/on, and makes him the
destroyer, instead of the benefactor of the human race — that Dr.
Ty tier and Mr. Bryant derive Apollo (Carneus) from the Greek
Keren, and by this means make him a Horn, or a Stork — that
Cicero derives Sol (the sun) from the Latin Solus (alone), and
makes him the solitary and exclusive traveller of the caslestial
expanse. In the present instance we see the Grecian etymolo.
gists ascribing to the north-wind (Boreas) the characteristic qua-
lities of a mad bull, and at the same time making him the geni-
al promoter of herbage and food for cattle, and by this means
ascribing to him a train of gentle and benevolent qualities, the
very reverse of these possessed by him. I have already rectified
the etymologies of Apollo, Sol, and Carneus, from the Celtic,
and shall now advert to that of Boreas. Borr, or Bar, in the
Celtic, signifies Strong, and Eas a Cataract, Tempest, or Blast
of Windf or any thing very impetuous. Bor-Eas thea literalljr

X X 2



344 NOTES.

signifies the Strong Wind, a name truly emphatic, and adml.
rably descriptive of the north wind, which is the strongest and
most impetuous of all winds. The Celts used this name, and
the Greeks borrowed it from them.

It is well known that the Greeks, notwithstanding their
boasted antiquity, are but a modern nation in comparison of the
Jews, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Indians, Celts, &c. Before Tha/es,
■who was contemporary with Pythagoras, they had a few politi.
cians and legislators, but not one philosopher. Pythagoras
gained little knowledge in Greece, but studied principally in
India, Chaldea, Italy (Umbria), and, above all, in Egypt. The
dawn of philosophy in Greece happened only about six centn-
ries before the christian acra. Aborts, the Hyperborean priest
of the sun, and unquestionably a Celt (as I shall afterwards
evince), was the cotemporary and intimate acquaintance of Py>
thagoras, and does not appear to have been in any respect infe.
Tior to him. This is the more extraordinary, as Pythagoras had
completed his studies, before his acquaintance with Abaris com.
menced. Hence it is certain that the country of Abaris, at that
period, excelled Greece in the knowledge of philosophy. That
the Celts were the first inhabitants of Europe, is admitted by
Pinkarton,theirbitterest enemy. He even supposes(v. 2. p. 25.)
that Ireland, the most distant of the Celtic settlements, was in-
habited from 1000 to 2000 years before our aera. At any rate
the migration of the Celts from Asia, the cradle of the human
race, must have happened early after the deluge. They must
have preceded the Greeks several centuries. Within the period
of authentic history, we find them, intermixed with the Greeks,
for many centuries their neighbours, and not unfrequently their
conquerors. The same, with equal certainty, may be said of
the Romans. Is it then to be wondered at, that the languages
of Greece and Rome are tinctured with the Celtic?

The migration of the Celts from Asia to Europe is a very re.
snote event. Mr. Chalmers (see his Caledonia) says they met
with little struggle or opposition, else some tradition of the event



NOTES. 345

would have remained. But if they themseUes were the Abort,
gines, there -was nobody to struggle with.

Of all the post-diluvian languages, the Chaldaic has the fair-
est claim to antiquity. Abraham was called from Ur of the
Chaldees, and must have carried that language along with him.
The Hebrew language is, therefore, only a dialect of the Chal.
daic. That the Celtic is a dialect of the same language, is highly
probable. Nations have, in all ages, been extremely solicitous
to preserve their own name and the names of their gods. The
Chaldaic, Chaldach, and the Gaelic Caltach, (a Celt) are exactly
the same. That the same god, Bel, was the chief object of wor.
ship in both nations, is beyond dispute. From the same source
the Bramins, the Phoenicians, and the Hebrews, &c. borrowed
their language and their god, Bel or Baal. The most probable
etymon of the word Celt, or Caltach, is Cealiach (Latine Cosies.^
tes) — i. e. " men addicted to the study of the heavens." Ceo/,
or Cal, in the Celtic, signifies heaven, and its regular adjective
is Cealtaeh, or Caltach. The Chaldeans, from the most remote
ages, have been famed for judicial astrology, and the Celts,
while their Druids remained, were equally celebrated. Chasdim
-was the original name of Chaldea, but this was soon lost in the
empire of the Babylonians, Medes, and Persians, under whosa
dominion they alternately fell. Chaldach, which the Greeks
rendered Chaldaioi, and the Romans Chaldai, is merely an ap.
pellative expressive of their attachment to the study of the cseles.
tial bodies. I shall revert to this subject when I treat of th^
antiquity of the use of letters among the Celts.

Note LXX.— Page 206.

Boreades is merely a derivative from Boreas, and signifies the
sons or descendants of Boreas, in the same manner as Felides is
derived from Peleus, Boireadhach literally signifies strong, or
powerful. It is the same with the Greek. Boreades. Hyperho.
reans (Hyper boraioi),^s Mr, Toland well remarks, is a name
expressive of a people living very far north. Its proper signifi.
cation is, above or beyond (he North Wind, As both these are



346 NOTES.

derivatives from Boreas, which, in the former note, has been

analyzed, it is unnecessary to add more on this head.

Note LXXI.— Page 207.
Hid it among the HypeTboreans, Sfc. — The assertion of Era-
toshenes, " that Apollo hid the arrow with which he slew the
Cyclopes, among the Hyperboreans," merits attention. I have
already noticed that Pausanias supposes Ollen (nearly the same
with the Irish name Ullin) founded the oracle of Delphi, and
was the first who gave responses in heroic verse. I have also
observed that almost all the Greek deities, and particalarly
Apollo, were borrowed from other nations. Bat whatever dif.
ference of opinion there may be on this head, it is on all bands
agreed, that Apollo deserted Delphi, and went to the Hyperbo-
reans. Demosthenes, who wrote about three hundred and fifty
years before our aera, says this oracle had begun, Philipjnzein —
i. e. " to return such answers as suited the views of Philip the
Macedonian. Lucian tells us,

. Non nlla secnia dono

Nostra carent majore Deum, qaam Delphica sedes
Quod siloit. • .

i. c. " Our age is not deprived of a greater blessing of the gods
than the Delphic oracle, which hath become silent." Strebo,
Juvenal, Claudian, &c. bear testimony to the same effect, and
for brevity's sake, the reader is referred to 'Patterns Antiquities.
where he will find the point discussed at some length, and wil
also see that the Greeks used to apply to the Hyperboreans for
responses, after the oracle of Delphi ceased. — Polter''s Antiqui'
ties, vol. l.p. 249—250, ^c.

Note LXXII.— Page 207,

Winged temple. — In the Greek of Eratoshenes, it is Naos Tie-
rinos, which Mr. Toland renders a temple made qfnings, or a
■winged temple. Perhaps the phrase Vterinos Naos may be best
explained by comparing it with Pteroenia epca — i. e. " winged
words," Now we know that words are neither made of wiDgs^



NOTES. 347

nor -winged. Tteroeis la generally applied to the flight of arrows,"
It is a figurative phrase denotiag great swiftness or celerity;
But fowls are not more famed for their celerity, than the height
to which they soar. Hence Vteroeis and Pterinos may signify
either rapid or lofti^. Sm/t words is a phrase admissible, but a
swift temple is nonsense, unless it could be made appear that
this temple, like that of LorretlOf flew through the air, and per.
formed an incredible journey in one night. Perhaps the most
natural signification of 'Pterinos Naos is a lofty temple.

It is, howeyer, easy to perceive the reason which induced
Mr. Toland to render it the winged temple. He imagined he
Iia,d found such a temple in the island of Lewis, and (p. 136. &
137.) particularly describes it. Dr. Smith (p. 65.) contents
himself with re.echoiog Mr. Toland's description, and does not
add a single ren)ark of his own. But the most extraordinary and
unaccountable circumstance is, that no attempt has been made
to analyse the name. It is differently pronounced Classarniss,
Clasharnish, and Ccdarnish, but all these have the same import.
In the vulgar Scottish dialect of the English, it is very common
to sound the Gaelic ch final, like the French cA, and render it
sh. Druineach (Drnidical) is commonly pronounced Druinislu
Clasharnish is then merely the common, corrupt pronunciation
of the Gaelic Clach Arneach — i. e. " the Judicial Stone, or
Stone of the Judge, Calarnish {CiUArneach) signifies the Judim
cial circle. Classerniss (^Clas- Arneach) signifies fhe Judicial en-
closure. Am, in the Gaelic, signifies a Judge, and Arnach,
Arneach, and Arnadh, (for they are all the same) signifies Judi.
cial, or any thing belonging to a judge. We have many other
names of the same kind, viz. Killearny (CiUArnad/i) in Ireland
— i. e. " the Judicial circle, Killearn (Cil-Airn), the name of
a parish in Stirlingshire — i. e. " the Circle of the judge. Airn
is the genitive of Am, KUlearnan (CiUAirnan), the name of a
parish in Ross.shire — i. e. " the Circle oi the inferior Judge,
&c, &c. Arnan is the diminutive of Arn, and its genitive Air.
nan. We can also trace the residence of these Judges in the
names Arn.hall, Arn-gask, &c. Gasc or Case (Casac) is the



548 NOTES.

abbreviated diminutive of the Gaelic Cas, a house, Whence the
Romans formed their Casa, a cottage. There is an Auchen.cas
in .the neighbourhood of Moffat. From Case is formed the ad-
jective Cascadh (pronounced Caskie). Caskie Ben, near Aber-
deen, signifies Me hill abounding with houses, and the vestiges



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 23 of 31)