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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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has not hindered Herodian (lib. 5.) in his History) of Antoninus
Basilianus, to tell us that the Phoenicians called this goddess
Astroarche, forgetting that this name is not Phoenician, but pure
Greek, and signifies the Queen of the Stars, Pausanias (m ir;«

z z 2



360 NOTES.

conicis) saySj~" the Pyrrichians have in their country the tern,
pie of Diana Astratea, and the reason why they called her so
was, because the army of the Amazons stopped there, and went
no farther." This is another instance of Grecian vanity and
absurdity, to derive the Phoenician Astarte from the Greek
Alpha privativt, and Stratos, an army. Most unfortunately all
the ancient deities, or at least by far the greater part of them,
have passed to us through the medium of the Greek and Roman
languages, and are so mutilated and distorted, as hardly to be
recognized. When stript of this disguise, the Celtic deities are
Taram (Thunder) — Eas, or Es, a Cataract — the name of their
god of war, — Teutat, Heat, an epithet of the sun, and the same
with the Taaut of the Phoenicians, mentioned by Sanchoniathon,
and the Teutat of the Egyptians, mentioned by Cicero — Bealan,
or Aballtt (names of the sun) — Onvana (the sea.}— Og?nadh
(learned, a name of Hercules) — and Astarte (the moon, the
same as the Astarte of Sanchoniathon.) Hence it is evident that
the Celtic mythology has overstepped that of the Greeks and
Homans, and is more ancient than either. Teutat and Astarte
are strictly Phoenician, though the Greeks claim the first under
the name oi Mercurius Trismegitus, and the last under the name
of Adrastea, Astratea, Astroarche, Juno, Diana, &c. Beal is
also a Phoenician deity. Aballa (pronounced Apalla) I have in
a former note shewn to be the radix of the Greek ApoHon, and
the Roman Apollo, As to Eas, Taram, Ogmadh, and Onvana,
they are so peculiarly Celtic, that no other nation has ventured
to claim them, though the Romans have added Taramis to their
Jupiter. Not one Celtic deity is of Greek or Roman origin,
though their chief deities, as well as their religious rites, can be
demonstrated to be Phoenician. It is therefore historic truth
that the Celts are more ancient than the Greeks, and that they
migrated from Asia to Europe, before Greece had even a name
and were in fact (which is now generally allowed) the Aborigi,
nes of Evirope.



NOTES. 361

Note LXXXVfl.

Vergobretus. — On the testimony of Caesar, (lib. 1. cnp. 16.)
Liscus was chief magistrate or Vergobret of the iEdui. This
Vergobret was elected annually, and had the power of life and
death over his own nation. Divitiacus was at the same time
Archdruid, The true etymon of this word is Fear-gOjBhraiih,
or according to the Irish dialect, Fer.go.Breth, i. e. " the maa
for judgment." The Indian Brahmin, (Latinized Brathmanniy
or Brachmanni) is a name of the very same import. In the San-
scrit language, Brath signifies judgment and man, a man.
Brathman, or Brachman or Brahmin, (for they are all the
same) literally signifies the judgment man, or man for judgment.
Mr, Pinkarton has been kind enough to favour us with a Go-
thic etymology of Vergobret, but has prefaced it with "a grave,
formal, deliberate falsehood. " Vergobret, (says he, vol. 1. p.
286.) the name of a magistrate among the German gauls, as
■Ccesar tells us." Now Cassar tells no such thing, but the very
reverse. Mr. Pinkarton has indeed, contrary to Caesar's ob-
vious meaning, laid hold of the Belgae, as German Gauls, but,
except in this instance, has laid no claim to the Celtae, the inu
habitants of Gallia Celtica, or Lugdunensis, The Edui were a
gens or tribe of the Celts, and inhabitants of Celtic Gaul. Ccesar
uniformly places them in this district, and Pliny, (lib. 4. cap.
18.) is as express to the point as words can make it. lie, as
well as Caesar^ places the Carnutes, (in whose territories the
Druids annually met,) in the same district. Cassar says the
Germans had no Druids, yet, on the testimony of Cicero, Divi-
tiacus, cotemporary with Liscus the Vergobret of the Mdui,
was himself an j^duan, and an Archdruid. The iEduaa nobi.
lity were, on the motion of Caesar himself, (Tacit. Annal. lib.
11. cap. 7.) admitted to the honourable privilege of Roman se-
nators. This distinction was the more flattering, because though
the application was general, from the whole of Gallia Comata,
which included Belgic, Celtic, and Aquitanian Gaul, the Edui
alone obtained this signal honour. The only Vergobret^ men.



362 NOTES,

tioned by Cajsar !s Liscus, the chief magistrate of the iEdui,
who, on the testimony of all authors, antient and modern, (not
excepting Pinkarton himself,) were Celts proper. The man
■who can thus deliberately violate truth, insult common sense,
and contradict himself, as well as all authors who have mention-
ed the ^dui, deserves pity rather than reprehension.

Vergobretus, he derives from Vergen, to render justice, and
Obrest, first or chief. Virgin.Abreast, (Virgo Obversata)
would have been fully as much to the purpose. Vercingeiorix,
and Veremund, he derives from the Anglo.Belgic fVer, a man.
The Roman Vir sine gutture (a man without a throat,) and Vir
mundus, (a well-dressed man,) would have been sterling in com.
parison of this. He derives G(dcacus, from the Gothic Galisan,
to collect. Strange ! passing strange ! that he did not derive it
from the Greek Galaxy, or make it an abbreviation of GilKga.
cu$. The Grampian Hills, (Mons Graropins of Tacitus,) he de-
rives from the Danish Gram, a warrior. Considering the bleak
heathy appearance of these hills, our vulgar phrase, Grim-Puss,
(a black cat,) would have been infinitely more appropriate,
Rins, a range of hills in Galloway, he supposes, are derived from
the runes, a sort of rude alphabet used in Denmark so late as
the 12th century. They are commonly called the Helsing runes.
This is the very ne plus ultra of etymology, for the Gallovidian
hills, certainly bear an unequivocal resemblance to the Runic aU
phabet. He derives Alpin from Alp, a devil. This is a stroke
of admirable retaliation, on Alpin, for the signal defeat he gave
Vin^SLrioa's /avouriie Picts at Reslennet. It was impossible he
could do less, than dubb him a devil.

Having given the reader a short specimen of immaculate Pin.
kartonian etymology, I shall next give a list of Gothic foreign
names, which he considers as synonimous with, or bearing a
strong affinity to names in Scotland, i)/?oi and Mouse; Hoop
and Hope; Struer and Anstruther; Fariltosta and Fairntosh;
Gamel and Campbell; jGalstcde and Gala; Ellum and Elvon.
foot; Mclderup sMd Meldrum ; J esterup vinA Yester ; Kulundt
and Calkadar ; JVedehpang and JVeddel; Dallroth and RoUisat/;



NOTES. 363

silver and Jlva; Melosa and Melrose; Gillberg and Gilchrist;
Ales and Hailes; Falkenavo and Falkirk; Coldenkirke and
€owdertknows, &c. &c, &c. The reader will find these syno.
Dimes and etymologies, with many more of the same precious
and immaculate description, vol, 1. p. 163 — 154 — 286—287 —
288, &c.

A man who has got this Gothic mania into his head, has cera
tainly reached the very last stage of etymological madness. The
affinity only consists in three or four initial, medial, or final let«
ters, and on the principle here laid down by him, he might with
equal facility and propriety trace the strongest affinity betwixt
Hamilcar and Hamilton ; Carthage and Carlaverock ; Achaia and
Auchterarder ; Pentecost and Pentland; Abarimon and Abetm
lemno; Carnaim ajid Carnmanairn; Pannonia and Pananachi
Balaena and Balantrae ; Quatour-Mille and Carmylie ; Camhy-
ses and Cambuslong; Aro and Yarroio; Salve and Solway;
Caput and Caputh ; Pituilaria and Pitarrow ; Chili and Killt-
cranky; Campania nud Camphelltown; Altona and Altgrand;
Acarnania and Aquharny ; Sanchoniathon and Sanqiihar ; Jero.
boam and Jersey ; Berosus and Bervie ; BucoUcon and Buchan ;
Belisarius and Belfast; Armageddon and Armagh; Tanais and
Tain; Ti/re and Tyrconnel; Fores z.nA. Forres ; Thuritii and
Turin; Delphinus and Dalvin ; Esca aadlEsk; Comarora and
Cameron; KalUroos (Greek) and Culross; MugilnnA Macgill,
Infernus and Inverness ; Goree and Gozorie ; Sincerus and Saint
Cyrus, &c.

I have thus presented to the reader a specimen of Mr. Pinkar-
ton's etymologies, and have added a few more constructed on
his own model, that mankind may duely estimate its immense
merits, and the incalculable benefits to etymological and histo.
ric truth, which must necessarily result from it. No wonder
that be undervalues Celtic etymology, when his own is (to use his
own phrase) so super-superlative. Many of our Celtic etymo.
logists are speculative and visionary enough, but Mr. Pinkarton
has outdone them all. Where is the Celt, from the first origin
of the name down to the present hour, who could have taken sn



364 NOTES.

sublime a flight, as to discover that Kulundt was Cullender ',
that Fariltosta was Fairntosh ; that the Grampian Hills were
warriors ; that the Jlps were devils, and that the hills of Gallo-
way were runic letterst

But his treatment of the CeJtSj and of Celtic etymology has no
parallel, and cannot be justified on the score of common decen.
cy, or even of avowed hostility. I hope the reader will excuse
me for laying before him a few specimens. Celtic etymology is
indeed the peculiar madness of this superficial age. Vol. 1. p. 138.
We dream that these Celtic namas just fit the persons, places, ^c,
hut never dream that three thousand others would all fit as zzell;
and that a cap and hells would fit stillbetier. Vol, 1. p. 138 &
139. Read StBift, good Celtic etymologists, read Swifi. Ibid,
p. 139. iS'mcA etymology is therefore always folly, but Celtic
etymology is sheer madness. Ibid. These Irish etj/mologies are
mere second sighted delusions. Swiff s mock etymologies ofAndro.
machiefrom Andrew Mackie, Sfc. are rational in comparison of
them. Vol. 1. p. 157. Is not this Lunacy? But such are all
Celtic etymologies. Vol. 1. p. 158. Must not our Celtic neigh,
hours have a remarkable defect in their understandings, and be
lust in the frenzy of disordered fancy ? What shall zee say of those
who trust them in points of science, when they cannot even be
trusted in points of common sense ? Ibid. p. 158 & 159. From,
Diodorus Siculus and others, it is clear that the manners of the
Celts perfectly resembled those of the Hottentots, Append, to
vol. 2. p. 68. JVhat their own mythology was, zee know not, but
it in all probability resembled that of the Hottentots, or others of
the rudest savages, as the Celts antiently were, and are little bet.
ier at present, being incapable of any progress in society. Ibidem.
For he, (AI. Pelloutier), rvas so ignorant as to take the Cells and
Scyihaefor one people, in spite of all the antien/s who mark them
as literally toio calo different, and in spite of our positive k-now,
ledge here in Britain, who know the Celts to be mere radical sava.
ges, not yet advanced even to a state of barbarism, and if any fo.
reigner doubts this, he has only to step into (he Celtic part of
Wales, Ireland, or Scotland, and look at item, for they are just



MoTfis. 365

as they were, incapatle of industry or civilization, even after hay
their blood is Gothic, and remain as marked by the antients,fond
of lies, and enemies of truth. — Ibidem & p. 69. Geofrey of
Monmouth, most of the Irish historians, and the Highland Bards
and Senachies of Scotland, shezo that falsehood is the natural prOm
duct of the Celtic mind, and the case is the same to this day. No
reprobation can lie too severe for such frontless impostors ; and
to sai/ that a znriter is a Celt, is to sat/ that he is a sitanger to
truth, modesty, and morality. — Ibidem. If towns were built for
them they would not inhabit them. — If peopled ivith Highlanders,
they will be in ruins in half a century. — Had all these Celtic
cattle emigrated fve centuries ago, how happy had it been for the
country ! All we can do is top/ant colonies among them ; and by
this, and encouraging their emigration, to get rid of the breed.— ^
Vol. 1. p. 341. >

From these strictures the reader will see that Mr. Pinkarton
is decidedly hostile to whatever bears the name of Celt, and no.
thing will satisfy him but their utter exterminatipn. He must,
no doubt, be sensible that his Gothic system can never prevail,
so long as there is one Celt left in the world to advocate the
cause of truth, reason, or common sense. I have alreetdy shewa
that if Celtic etymology is madness, Pinkartonian etymology is
super-superlative madness. As a historian his powers are
equally colossal and gigantic. He seats his beloved Goths on
the- throne of Nineveh exactly 344 years after the creation of the
world. , Can Celtic madness produce any parallel to this ? He
is indeed the very Don Quixotte of history. What a pity that
no coadjutor, no faithful Sanchp, was found to second hisQuixo.
tic efforts. All historians who have preceded, or followed him,
have studiously shunned the Pinkartonian path. But as I will
immediately ha^e occasion to advert to his merits as a bistoriaa,
I shall not enlarge farther at present,



3 A



DISSERTATION

On the Antiquity of the Use of Letters among the
Celts ingeneral, and the Irish in particular; with
some Remarks on the Number and Antiquity of
the Irish Manuscripts,



THAT the Celts were the Aborigines of Europe', is a po'rat
vaquestioned, and unquestionable, and it must faencc also follovr
that their language was the Aboriginal one. To both these
points, Mr. Pinkarton, their grand antagonist, has folly acceded.
At what period they passed froti Asia io Europe, can admit of
no certain deterniifiation. The period when they became ac-
quainted with letters is equally uncertain. But if we n»ay lay
any stress on the affinity of their ihythology, their deities, thpir
religious rites, and peculiar customs, to those of ChaJdea, Phoe.
nicia, and Egypt, we have reason to conclude, that they were
sooner acquainted with the use of letters than is generally aU
lowed.

The history otAbarh, the Hyperborean priest of the Sub, is too
-well established to admit of any deubt. About seven ceirtarres
prior to our aera, he wrote several treatises on different sob*
jects. He spoke Greek as perfectly and as fluently as Pytha.
goras himself ; nor does he appear, from the testrmony of the
Greeks themselves, to have been in any respect inferior to that
great philosopher. Tacitus, (de Morib. Germ. c. 6.) informs
us that the Germans, man and woman, were equally ignorant
of the use of letters. Pinkarton himself, {vol. 2. p. 19) admits
that the Germans, Scandinavians, Polanders, and Russians, were
not acquainted with letters till the 9th century. It is well known
that the ahtient Greeks gave tli« name of Hyperboreans to all



NOTES. 36i7

the nations situated without, and to the north of the straits ot
Gibraltar. Abaris might thus have been an inhabitant of the sea.
coast of Spain, of Gaul, of Germany, of Scandinavia, of Poland|
of Russia, of Great Britain, or of Ireland. But as Tacitus and
Pinliarton betwixt them, have proved the utter ignorance of all
the Hyperborean nations, except the Celts, up to the Slh century,
it must follow that Abaris was a Celt. It is therefore historic
truikf that Abaris, a priest of the sun, and a Celt, spoke Greek
elegantly, was a profound philosopher, and wrote several treati.
ses, 1500 hundred years before the Germans, Scandinavians,
Polapders, and Russians, had learned the nlphabet. It is, thek'e.
fore, no wonder that Pinkafton has not once condescended to
mention the name of this illustrious Celtic philosopher and
Druid.

The Celts seem, from the most authentic evidence, to have
jbeeo well acquainted with the Greek language. Caesar says, (lib.
1. cap, 29.) Jit Castris Heloetiorum tabulae repertae siint Ute-
ris Graecis confeftae, et ad Caesarem perlatae quibus in tabulis
ratia eonfecta erat, qui rmmerus domo exisset eorum, qui arma
ferre poisent, et item separalim pueriy senes, rmilieresque. i. e.
" Tables were found in the camp of the Helvetii, written in
Greek characters, or in the Greek language (for the words
Graecis Uteris, is a very equivocal phrase, and may admit of
either signification,) and brought to Caesar, in which had lieea
made out a particular account of all those able to bear arms who
had set out from home, and also of the children, old men, and
women, separately.'' This is another clear proof that the Celts'
at least understood the Greek characters, and perhaps the Ian.
guage itself. The Helvetii had undertaken a great and basiar.
dous enterprize, and wished to conceal the extent of the loss,
whatever it might be, from the vulgar. Had tjiese registers been
made out in Celtic, they might have fallen into the hands of im-
proper persons, and been perused by them; but when written in
Greek characters or the Greek language, they were intelligible
only to the higher ranks. I believe no instance can be conde.
scended ou, where a man, or any number of men, can read and

r> A 2



368 NOTES.

write a foreign language, without being able, in some measure, to
read and write their own. At any rate this passage is a clear
proof that the Celts could read, write, and calculate, for these
registers reached as far as 368,000. If Pinkarton will not al.
low the Celts an alphabet of their own, he cannot, at least deny
that 1850 years ago, they used the Greek one.

The same author, (lib. 6. cap.'l4.) gives us a pa«sage still
more explicit, and more to the point in question. Nequefas
esse existitnant ea Uteris mandate, quum in reliquis fere rebus,
publiets, privatisque rationibus, (Graecis) Uteris, uiantur. i. e.
"Neither do they think it lawful to commit these things to
writing, (letters) when commonly in their other affairs, and in
their public and private accounts, they make use of (Greek) let-
ters." It is easy here to see that the word Graecis is the inter,
polatioo of some ignorant transcriber, who, finding it inserted
by Caesar, (lib. 1. cap. 29.) imagined it had been here omitted
by mistake. He has, however, inserted it within a parenlbesis,
so that we are at liberty to retain or reject it. In the former
passage, Caesigt merely relates a detached action of the Helvetii
on a great and criticail emergency, whereas in the present case
he is detailing the ordinary conduct, and wary policy of the
Druids. Though it is as clear as the sun that Graecis roust be
exploded, still I have no objection to take the passage as it is.
It is not for this or that particular alphabet that I am contend,
ing, but only for the antiquity of the use of letters among the
Celts. This passage is another incontrovertible proof, that the
Druids committed to writing ordinary occurrences, as well
as their public and private accounts. It was only to their uii/s.
teries that the prohibitory law extended. Indeed, were all other
evidence wanting, the very words _/bs uon habebant (they had a
law against it) would clearly establish the fact ; for there can
be neither law, restriction, nor prohibition against a thing to.
tally unknown. Can any man, in the face of such irresistible
evidence, deny, that the Celts had manuscripts at least as early
as the time of Caesar ?
The next instance I adduce is from Toland, (p. 168) where



NOTES. 369

he gives us a long quotation from Lucian. This the' reader is
desired to peruse with attentioij. He will here iind another
Abaris equally acquainted with Grecian history and mythology,
and equally skilled in the Greek language. Lucian calls him a
philosopher, a name of the same import with the Celtic Druid,
Lucian was, on this occasion, present on the spot, and conversed
with the Gaelic philosopher face to face, so that it is impossible
he could be mistaken. This direct and collateral instance, were
there any doubt of Abaris' being a Celt, would sufficiently clear
it up. Let Mr. Pinkarton, or his abettors, condescend on any
German or Scandinavian equally learned, si^ centuries after the
time of Lucian, and I will surrender them both. Can any ra.
tional being imagine that these Celts, who were such admirable
adepts in the Greek language, had not learned the alphabet of
their own.

Tacitus, (de Morib. Germ. cap. 1.) gives a traditionary ac.
count of Ulysses having penetrated into Germany, and built the
city Asciburgium, which he Graecizes Askipyrgion, i. e. " the
black tower," and concludes thus, Monumentaque et tumulos
quosdam Graecis Uteris inscriptos in con/inio Germaniae Rhae.
tiaeque adhuc extare. i. e. " There are some monuments and se.
pulchres, with Greek inscriptions, still remaining on the con-
fines of Germany and Rhaetia." Tacitus having narrated this
tradition, adds, " That he intends to adduce no arguments either
to confirm or refute it, but that every; one may credit or discre.
dit it, as he thinks proper." Tacitus hesitates to ascribe these
antiquities and Greek inscriptions, (as well he may) to Ulysses,
and certainly nobody will ascribe them to the Germans, then
and for seven centuries afterwards total|ly illiterate. I shall not
even ascribe them to the Celts, though from the circumstanct/s
of their having been the Aborigines of Germany, and from a very
remote period well acquainted with the Greek language, they
have the fairest claim to them. The Celtic claim to the early
use of letters stands on firm and stable ground. It needs no hy.
pothetical aid to support it, and I am determined to adduce '
none.



570 WOTES.

But, in another point of view, this passage isdirect to our pur-
pose. Tacitus was Procurator of Gaul, and resided there; nor
is there the slightest vestige of evidence of his having visited
Germany at all. He must therefi^re have derived this informa-
tion from some quarter or other. The Germans, (on his own
evidence then totally illiterate, and on the evidence of their stre.
nous advocate Pinkarton, equally so till the 9th century,) could
not have read the Odyssey, were incapable of distinguishing
Greek characters from those of any other nation, and certainly
still more incapable to trace the affinity of the German Asdbur~
gium to the Greek Jskipprgion. This is the ©ply etymology
-which Tacitus has hazarded in his whole treatise on Germany,
and is so forced that it could never have occurred to hint without
being pointed out. Here, therefore, as in the case of Abaris,
'we have no alternative, but must ascribe the account given to
Tacitus of Ulysses, and of these antient monuments, and Greek
inscriptions, to the Gaula, who, on iHe clearest evidence, were
iteM acquainted with the Greek alphabet, language, history, and
mythology.

I am well aware, that there are many who are willing to grant
that the Druids were early acquainted with the use of letters,
but then they contend that this noble art was exclusively confi-
ned to themselves. Even this compromise cannot be acceded to.
Caesar's words to the contrary are clear and decisive. The rea.
sons he assigns, (lib. 6. cap. 14.) for the Druids not committing
their tenets to writing, are these. Id mihi duabas de causis insii-
tuisse videntur, quod neque in vitlgum discipUnam cfferri velint
neque eos, qui discant, Uteris confisos, minus memoriee studere,
i.e. " They (the Druids) appear to me to have enacted this law
for two reasons, because they neither wished their doctrines to be
made known to the vulgar, nor their pupils trusting to the aid
of letters, to pay less attention to the cultivation of their me.
mory." Had Caesar, (and where is the man who had equal
nceess to know,') considered thu lower ranks in Gaul as unae.
t^uaiotcd with letters, would he have acted so inconsistently as
to tells uSj that the Druids did not conmit their doctrines to irrj-



NOTES. 371

ting, lest the VHlgar should read them. It is here wdrthy of re-
triark, that in this part of the sentence, the word Graecis does
not occur, nor in the sentence immediately following, where
Gaesar uses the word Uteris in the Same general sense. Indeed,
throughout the whole of this chapter, -it is evident that by the
AVord Uteris, Caesar does not mean the alphabet at all, but
the art of writing in general.

But as the anticeltic writers have made a great handle of this
word Graecis, to prove that the Celts were only acquainted with
the Greek alphabet, and had none of their own, I shall endeavour
to probe the matter to the bottom. Let us then retain, instead '
of exploding this word, and it must follow, 1. That the Druidic
prohibition of committing their tenets to writing extended only
to the Greek language. 2. That wherever the word Uteris oc*



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 25 of 31)