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HISTORY OF THE DRUIDS: | Secret Societies

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on Mar 11, 2012 in Wicca









^ Copious appentiijCi



H. HUDDLESTON, Schoolmaster, Lunan,










IliARLY imbued with a competent knowledge of the Greek

and Roman languages, I imbibed, along with them, every possible

prejudice against the Celts. I was, from my infancy, taught to

consider them a parcel of demusavages^ their language an unintelligible

jargon, and their boasted antiquity the raving of a disordered

imagination. Dazzled with the splendour of the classic

2^(fgc, I endeavoured to derive every thing from the Greek and

Roman languages. I had even gone the hopeful length, of deriving

Penpont from Pene Pontus ; Catterthun from Cast? a Thani;

Dunnipace from Duni Pads ; Criiden from Cruor Danorum;

with a thousand other fooleries of the same kind.

About twenty years ago, the treatise now offered io the public,

fell into my hands. I was astonished io find that it tore up

by the roots the whole philological system, which I had so long

held sacred and invulnerable. The boasted precedency of the

Greek and Roman languages now appeared, at least, doubtful.

Determined to probe the matter io the bottom, I devoted my sejrious

attention to the history, the antiquities, and language of

the Celts : the result was, that I found it established by the most

unquestionable authorities that the Celtic language was a dialect

of the primary language of Asia; that the Celts were the abo*

rigiual inhabitants of Europe, and that they had among them,

from the roost remote antiquity, an order of LiieraU named


Druids^ to whom the Greeks and Romans ascribe a degree of

philosophical celebrity, inferior to none of the sages of antiquity.

These important points being fixed, every diflficulty vanished, and

the similarity of the European languages to that of the Celts, can

be satisfactorily accounted for.

Respecting theiorigin of language, we have no occasion to rc«

sort to hypothesis or conjecture. It is a point clearly and absolutely

determined by the sacred records^ the best of all evidence.

Language was the immediate gift of God to man. It formed a

constituent and essential part of our great and general ancestor,

and constitutes the noblest characteristic of humanity. Without

It reason had been mute, and every mental faculty languid and


From the same sacred source we know, that the whole human

jace spoke one and the same language, up to tlie building of Ba.

2)el, when mankind were dispersed by the intervention of Providence,

that the most distant parts of the world might be inhabited.

The confusion of languages, which then took place, cannot

be taken literally and absolutely, otherwise it must follow that

there were as many different languages as individuals at Bab«l.

Jlence no two individuals would have been intfcilrgible to each

other, and the purposes of social intercourse, for which alone

language was conferred on man, would have been wholly defeated.

The term confusion of language is, most probably, nothing

Kiore than a strong oriental metaphor, expressive of dissention or

discordancy. Most languages have such a metaphor; and even

among ourselves, when Me see two persons engaged in a violent

TCrbal altercation, there is nothing more common than io express

it by saying, they are not speaking the same way. Intervention

of time and place will innovate any language ; and the simple

fact of the dispersion of ?nankind^ will sufficiently account for all

the alterations which language has since undergone.

Nothing has so much perplexed philologists, as the affinity, or,

as it is more commonly called, the intermixture of languages:

The fact is, tlie primary language of Asia, or, in other words, the

ianguage of Babel^ is the groundwork of the whde, ^t\d all pi”


Ihtm retain stronger or fainter marks of affinity, in proportion

as they are primary, intermediate, or more remote branches of

this primary root. Of all the phanomena of language, the most

remarkable is the affinity of the Celtic ‘dud Sanscrit, which cannot

possibly have come in contact for more than three thousand years,

and must, therefore, owe their similarity to the radical tincture

of the primary language of Asia. The Braminical tenets, relig5>.

ous rites, knowledge of astronomy, and severity of discipline,

so much resemble the Druidical, as hardly to leave a doubt of

their having been originally the same.

That the Celtic is a dialect of the primary language of Asia,

has received the sanction of that celebrated philologist the late

Professor Murray, in his Prospectus to the philosophy of language.

That the Celts were the aborigines of Europe, and their

language tlie aboriginal one, even Pinkarton himself is obliged

to admit. It is a point, on all hands conceded, that neither colonies

nor conquerors can annihilate the aboriginal language of

a country. So true is this, that, ev^n at the present day, the

Celtic names still existing over the greater part of Europe, and

even in Asia itself, afford sufficient data whereby to determine?

the prevalence of the Celtic language, the wide extent of their

jincient territories, and their progress from east to west. The

P».oman language unquestionably derives its affinity to the San.

scrlt through the medium of the Celtic ; and to any one who pays

minute attention to the subject, it Avill appear Self-evident that

the Doric dialect of the Greek, founded on the Celtic, laid the

foundation of the language of Rome. The Gothic, over tlie

whole extent of Germany, and the greater part of Britain an<l

Ireland ; the Phccnician, or Moorish, in Spain, kc. Sec. kc. are,

all of them, merely recent Guperlnductions ingrafted on the Cel,

tic—the aborii^inal root. Conquerors generally alter the form

or exterior of the language of the conquered, to their own idiom ;

but the basis or groundwork is always that of the aboriginal lan^

guage. The Roman language GoM/ci:;^^/ produc<d thri Italian,

The Celtic in Gaul (with an admixture of the lingua rusilca Ro^

smnci) G’Ahkized^ produced the Ftench* The old Brlt^h^H


dialect of the Celtic) Saxonized, produced the Euglish, &c. &c.

kc. Whoever would rear a philological system radically sound

(as far, at leasf, as respects the languages of Europe), must,

therefore, commence with the Celtic, otherwise he will derive the

cmise from the ejfect-^the root from the branches.

Though the treatise now published contains, in substance, all

that is certainly known respecting ths Druids, still it is much to

be regretted that Mr. Toland did not live io accomplish his greater

work. No man will, perhaps, ever arise equally qualified for

the task. Dr. Smith, indeed, professes to give us a detailed

History of the Druids^ but the moment he quits the path chalked

out hy Mr. Toiand, he plunges headlong into the ravings of

(what Mr. Pinkarton denominates) Celtic madness. The candid

reader will hardly believe (though it is an absolute truth) that he

ascribes to the Druids the invention of telescopes diui}, gunpowder.

The fact is, that the stores of classic information respecting the

Druids were greatly exhausted hy Mr. Toland ; and Dr. Smith

could find nothing more to say on the subject.

The great desideratum for a complete history of the Druids

is the publication of the Irish manuscripts. What a meagre

figure wt)uld the history of the Levitica/ Priesthood make, had

we no other information respecting them, than what is contained

in the Greek and Roman page. Dr. Smith could not condescend

on one Druid, whilst Mr. Toland, from the Irish manus.

cripts, has given us the names of a dozen. He also assures us,

that much of their mythology, their formularies, and many other

Important particulars respecting them, are still preserved in the

Irish records. Nor can we doubt the fact. Ireland was the ne

p!ns ultra of Celtic migration ; and whatever is recoverable of

the ancient Celtic history and literature, is here only to be found.

The Irish manuscripts (the grand desideratum for perfecting

the history of the Druid,) were to me wholly inaccessible. The

r.otes which form the appendix to the present edition, are chiefly

derived from the Greek and Roman classics. In whatever manner

Ihey may be received by fhe p’jbMc, their merit or demerit

willesclusiFLvy rest with rpyself. Oq the score of assistance


(with the exceptibn of some remarks on the Hebre\? word Chil,

obligingly furnished by the reverend David Lyal of Caraldston)

I have not one obligation (o acknowledge.

To my numerous subscribers I am highly indebted. That a

“Work so little known, and the editor still less, should have re.

ceived so liberal a share of public patronage, could hardly have

been anticipated. Among the many individuals who have exerted

themselves in procuring subscriptions, it would be ungrateful

not to mention Mr. John Smith, post-master, Brechin ; Mr.

Walter Greig, tenant, Kirkton Mill; Patrick Holland, Esq. of

Newton ; Mr. Forbes Frost, stationer, Aberdeen ; Mr. James

Dow, supervisor of excise, and Mr. John Smith, stationer, Montrose;

Mr. George Anderson, tenant, Carlungie ; Mr. David

Duncan, tenant, Inchock; and particularly Mr. David Gibson

post-master, Arbroath, whose exertions have been great and indefatigable,

I am sorry, that, in the course of these notes, I have had occasion

so frequently to mention Mr. Pinkarton. The truth is,

that gentleman has saved me a world of labour, by concentrating

into one focuSy whatever could militate against the honour, or

even the existence, of the Celts, A reply to him is, therefore,

an answer to all who have adopted, or may adopt, the same er*

Toneous theory. I am fully sensible, that, in combating the pa»

radoxes of this gentleman, I have sometimes betrayed a little

warmth. But this, I flatter myself, will be found hardly as a

drop in the bucket^ compared to his own boisterous scurrility.

He is, in fact, a second IshmaeL His hand is against every man

and e\ery man’s hand against him. To him, and his favourite

Goths, I do not bear the slightest prejudice. But the man who

can calmly behold the deliberate and uniform perversion of his.

toric truth—the unofifending Celts, and the sacred records, trampled

under foot, with the most sovereign and satirical contempt,

in order to form the basis of the wildest Chimcera which ever

disordered a human brain, must be endowed with feelings which

I would not wish to possess.

The reader is respectfully cautioned net to mistake the obsoS


lete mode of writing in Toland’s treatise, for typographic*! errors.

So scrupulously exact have I been in presenting him to

the public in his native dress, that I have not even ventured to

alter .vhat, in some instances, appeared to ^be the mistakes of

the printer. In the other parts of the work, I am happy to observe

that the errors are few and venial; and a list of all such

is given, as could in any degree obscure the sense, or perplex the



Page 29, line 15, for there verse, read f/ie reversed

40, line 23, for Cirea, read Circa,

43, line 4, forfavourable, read unfavourable,

96, line 21, for koerhiis, read koccus,

197, line 27, for orbs, read Orhe.

360, line 3, for Cloumba, read Columha,

’276, line 26, for Samanai, read Samanaei.

line 28, for Samanoi, read Samanaei,

279, line 30, for Choiliidh, read Clioibhidh,

287″, line 26, for sacram, read sacrum,

326, line 14, for their, read M^rrf’.

339, line 6, for «/»?, read sunt,

375, line 36, for Britains, read Britonsf,

395^ line 141, for partibusj rodid paribus.




John TOLand was bom on the SOtli November,

1070, in the most northern peninsula in Irehiiid,

on the isthmus whereof stands Londonderr}


That peninsula was originally called Inis-Eogan^

or Inis-Eogam, but is now called Enis-Owen.

Toland had the name oi Janus Junius Jiiven him at

the font, and was called by that name in the school

roll every morniug; but the other boys making a

jest of it, the master ordered him to be called John,

which name he kept ever after.

Mr. Toland is reported to have been the son of

a popish priest; and, he hath been al3used by

Abbot Tilhidet, Bishop Hijetius,and others, on the

gronnd of his alleged illegitimacy: which, were it

true, is a most base and ridiculous reproach; the

child, in such a case, being entirely innocent of t’le

guilt of his parents. Had Mr. Tcland been really

. A


illegitimate, Mliich was not the case, no infamy

could have attached to him on that account, unless

he can be supposed to have had the power of directing

the mode of his coming into existence.

The following testimonial, given him at Prague,

where he was residmg in 1708, will, however, sufficiently

remove so foolish and groundless an imputation.

It runs thus:

htfra scripti testamur Dom. Jocmnem Tolaml,

ortiim esse ex honesta, nobili ei cmtiquissimafaniiUa,

quce peri^hires centenos cmnos, ut Regni Historia et

eontimia mo7istrantmemoria, in Peninsula Hihernue

Enis-Owen dicta prope nrhem Londino-Deriensem

in Ultonia, perduravit. In ciijus reijirmioremjidem,

nos ex eadempatria oriundi propriismanihus suhscripsimus,

Pragce in Bohemia, hac die 2. Ja7i. 1708.

Joannes O’Niellsuperior Collegii Hihernorum,

i. S, Francisus O’Deulin, S. Theologice Professor,

Rvdolphus O’Neill, S. Theol Lector.


” Vv e subscribers testify, that Mr. John Toland is

” dos({^nded of an honourable, noble, and very an-

” cient fcuuily, which resided several centuries on

” the Peninsula of Ireland, called Enis-Owen, near

” the city of l^ondonderry in Ulster, which the

“” history of that kingdom, and continual mention

*’ of the family clearly establish. For the surer

*’ credence of this, we, natives of the same country^


^^ have subscribed ^yith our own hands at Prague,

** in Boliemia, tliis 2d January, 1708.”

The Reader will see from this cei’tificate of the

Irish Franciscans at Prague, that Mr. Toland was

honourably, nobly, and anciently, descended.

We may, however, take it for granted, that his

relations were papists ; for in his preface to Christimnty

not Mysterious, he tells us, ” that he was

‘* educated from the cradle in the grossest super-

” stition and idolatry, but God was pleased to

*’ make his own reason, and such as made use of

^’ theirs, the happy instruments of his conversion.’*

He again informs us, in his Apology^ ” that he was

^’ not sixteen years old when he became as zealous

” against popery, as he has ever since continued.’*

From the school at Redcastle, near Londonderry,

he went in 1687, to the college of Glasgow;

and after three years stay there, visited Edinburgh,

where he was created Master of Arts on the 30th

of June, 1690, and received the usual diploma

from the professors, of which the following is a


Universis et singulis ad quos prcesentes liters perrenient,

NOS universitatis Jacohi Reo-is Edinbnrgen(

B Professores, Salutem in Domino scmpiternam

comprecamur: Unaqne testamur inge^umm hunc bonce

Spei Juvenem Magistnim Joannem Tolaiid Hiher^

‘iiinn, morihus, diligodia, ct laudabili successu se no-

\ -2


his ifa approbasse iit 2X)st cditum PJdhsopldci pro-

Jeclns c.icnneny Solemii jnore Magister in Arllhiis

liheralihys rcuwiiiaretur, in Comitiis Jiostris Iauireads

anno Salutis Miilesimo, Sexcentesimo el Noiwgesimo^

irigesimo die Junii: Quapropier non rhihitaums

euni 7iunc a Nobis in pairiam rcdeuntem,

lit cqreginm Adolescentem, onmibtts qiios adirc^ vcl

(/uibusctmi versari contigerit, de rncliori noia commendarCy

sperantes ilhnn (opitidante divina gratia)

.Litcris Msec Testimonialihus fore abimde responsurmn.

In quorumJidcm inclyia Civitas JSdi/ibnrgnm

Academics hvjus parens et Allrix sigiUa siio piiblico

fiteras sijngraphis Nostrisporro conjirmari jussit,

Al. Monro, S, S. 1\ J). Professor Frhnarius,

Jo, Strachan, S. S, T, D. ejusdemque Professor.

I), Gregorie, Math. P.

J. Herbertus Kennedi/, P. P,

X. S, J. Dnunmond, IL L. P.

Tho. Burnet, PL P.

Txohertus Henderson^ B. ct Accdemitc ah Archie


Dahamus in supradieto

.ithencco Regio I’^ldo.

die Julli anno jlird’C

Cfuistiance 1690. J


‘* To all and every one, to whom tlie present let-

*’ ter may come, ^Ve the professors of the univer-

” sity of Edinburgh, founded by King James, wish

‘* eternal salvation in the Lord: and at the same

” time testify, that this ingenuous j outh, Mr. Jolm

*’ Tolaiid, of excellent promise, has so highly satisLIFE


‘* fied US by liis good coiuhict, diligence and laud-

” able progress, that, after a public examination of

” bis progress in ])]ulosopby, he was, after the usual

” manner, declared Master of the liberal Arts, in

” owx Comitia Lrrureafa, in tlie year of Redemption

‘* 1(J90, oOth Jnne: Wherefore we do not hesitate

” to reconnnend him, now returning from us to his

‘^ native country, as an excellent young man, to all

” persons of better note, to whom he may have ac-

” cess, or with whom he may sojourn, hoping that

*’ he (throngh the aid of Divine Grace) will abun-

” dantly answer the character given him in this

” diploma. In testimony of which, the ancient

” city of Edinburgh, the parent and benefactress

” of this academy, has ordered this writing with

” our subscriptions, to receive the additional con-

‘* firmation of their public seal/’

Given in the aforesaid Royal >

Athenaeum, 22d July, 1690.


Mr. John Toland having received his diploma,

returned to Glasgow, where he resided but a short

time. On his departure, the magistrates of that

city gave him the following recommendation.

** We, the magistrates of Glasgow, under sub-

” scribing, do hereby certify and declare, to all

” Vvhom these presents may concern, That the

** bearer, John Toland, Master of Arts, did reside

” here for some yeares, as a student at the univer-

‘* sitie in this city, during which time he behaved

‘* himself as ane trew prolestant, and loyal sub14


” ject, as witness our hands, at Glasgow, the penult

” day of July one thousand six hundred and nine-

** tie yeares, and the common seal of office of the

” said city is hereunto affixt.

” John Leck.

” L. S. George Nisbitt.”

It is worthy of remark, that Mr. Toland resided

at Glasgow during the years 16B8 and 1G89, the

two last of the bloody persecution of the Church

of Scotland, and must have been an eye witness of

many tyrannical and relentless scenes. It is well

known, that the students of Glasgow, as a collective

body, repeatedly joined the citizens, in repelling

several of the military parties sent against

them; and there can hardly remain a doubt, that

Toland made one of the number. This sufficiently

accounts for the certificate given him by the

magistrates of Glasgow.

Mr. Toland dates his conversion from the 16th

year of his age, which nearly coincides with his

arrival in Glasgow ; for it will be recollected, that

he did not complete his 20th year, till the 30th of

November after leaving this city. It is tlierefore

most probable, that he was here converted from

popery, and imbibed these notions of the simplicity

and purity of Christianity, which he afterwards


Instead ofreturning to Ireland, Mr. Toland went

In England, where he lived (as he informs us in


Ins Apology) in as p:ootl protestant families as any

in the kingdonj, till he went to the famons miiversity

of Leyden, to perfect his stndies, under the

celebrated S>anheniins, Triglandins, &c. There

he was supported by some eminent dissenters in

England, who had conceived great hopes from Ins

uncommon parts, and might flatter themselves, he

Mould one day become the Colossus of the party;

for he himself informs us, in a pamphlet published

at London in 1697, that he had lived in their communion,

ever since he quitted popery. “Mr.

Toland (says he, in answer to the imputation of

being a rigid non-conformist) will never deny but

tlie real simplicity of the dissenters’ worship; and

X\\Q seeniing equity of their discipline, (into which,

being so younp;, he could not distinctly penetrate)

did gain extraordinarily on his affections, just as

he was newly delivered fi-om the insupportable

yoke of the most pompous and tyrannical policy

that ever enslaved mankind, under the name or

shew of religion. But, wlien greater experience,

and more years, had a little ripened his judgiaent,

he easily perceived that the differences were not

so wide, as to appear irreconcileable; or at least,

that nsen who were sound protestants on both

sides, should barbarously cut one anothers’ throats,

or indeed give any disturbarice to the society about

them. And as soon as he understood the late

heats and animosities did not totally, if at all, pro»

ceed from a concern for mere religion; he allowed


himself a latilude in several thini^s, that would

have been matter of scnijile to him before. His

travels increased, and the stndy of ecclesiastical

history perfected this disposition, wherein he continnes

to this honr; for, whatever his ov,n ojiinioii

of these differences be, yet he finds so essential an

agreement between French, Dutch, English, Scottish,

and other i)rotestants, that he is resolved

never to lose the benelit of an instructive discourse,

in any of their churches, on that score; and, it

must be a civil, not a religious interest, that can

engage him against any of these parties, not thinking

all tlieir private notions wherein tliey difle^r^

worth endangei-ing, much less suliverting, tlie public

peace of a nation. If this (pnrsies he) makes

a man a non-conformist, then i\h\ Tjland is one


In 1G92, Mr. Daniel Williams, a dissenting

minister, published a book, entitled, Gospel Truth

Stated afid Vindicated, in oj)position to ]3r. Crisp.

Mr. Toland desired the author of tlie Bihliotheque

Universelle to give an abstract of it in that journal.

The journalist complied; and, to the abstract

ofMr.Williams’s book, prefixed IVlr. Toland’s

recommendatory letter, and styles? him >Siudent in

Divim’ty. Bibliotheqne Univeisclic, torn ’23d, page


HaA iug staid a])0ut two years at Leyc en, he returned

to England, and scon after went to Oxford,

where, besides the couversatiou of men.


lie had the advantage of the public library. Here

he collected materials on various subjects, and

composed some pieces, among others, a Disserta^

Hon, wherein he proves the received history of the

tragical death of Atilius Regulus, the Roman consul,

to be a fable; and, with that candour which

uniformly characterizes him, owns himself indebted

for this notion to Palmerius.

In 1695, he left Oxford, and came to London.

In 1696, he published his Christianity not Mysterious;

or, a Treatise, shewing that there is noticing

in the Gospel contrary to reason, nor above it; andy

that no Christian Doctrine can properly he called a

Mystery, Mr. Toland defines mystery to be a

thing intelligible in itself, but which could not be

known, without special revelation. And, to

prove the assertion, he examines all the passages

in the New Testament, where the word mystery

occurs; and shews. First, that mystery is read

for the Gospel ; or, the Christian religion in general,

as it was a future dispensation, totally hid from

the Gentiles, and but imperfectly known to the

Jews. Secondly, that some peculiar doctrines,

occasionally revealed by the apostles, are said to

be manifested mysteries; that is, unfolded secrets:

and Thirdly, that mystery is put for any thing veiled

under parables, or enigmatical forms of speech.

But, he declares, at the same time, that, if his adversaries

think fit to call a mystery whatever is

either absolutely unintelligible to us, or whereof


•\ve have but inadequate ideas; he is ready to admit

of as many mysteries in religion as they please.

So far, the candid reader will be apt to think

there is no great harm done. If Mr. Toland’s adversaries

did not choose to adopt his definition of

the word mystery, he professes himself willing to

accede to theirs; and, indeed, all that has been advanced

on either side of the question, is merely a

dispute about words. He pretends, that he can

i^iwe as clear and intelligible an explanation of the

‘mysteries of the gospel^ as of the phcinomena ofiiature:

and, do not our divines do the same thing,

by attempting to give a rational explanation of the

Trinity, and the Resurrection, the greatest mysteries

of the Christian religion? Such explanations

are the tests of the soundness of their doctrine;

and, who knows but Mr. Toland’s explanation,

had he given one, might have been orthodox.

This treatise alarmed the public; and several

clergy men replied to it. Messrs. Beconsal, Beverley,

Norris, and Elys; Doctors Pain, and Stillingfleet;

theauthor of the Occasional Papers; Messrs,

Millar, Gailhard, and Sywge, all entered the lists.

It was even presented by the grand jury of Middlesex;

but, this measure had no otlier effect, than

to promote the sale of the book, mankind being

naturally prone to pry into what is forbidden them.

This same year, Mr. Toland published a Discotcrse

on Coins, by Siguier Bernardo Davanzati^

a geutleman of Florence, delivered in the academy


there, uiiuo 1588; translated from Italian l)y John


Christianity not 3%5/mo«5 having found its way

into Ireland, made some noise there, as well as in

England; but the clamour was considerably hr

creased, on \he author’s arrival there, in the beginning

of 1697. Mr. MoUhieux, in a letter to

Mr. Locke, dated 10th April, 1697, says, ” The

*’ Irish ckrgy w ere alarmed against him to a

^’ mighty degree; and, that he had his welcome to

*’ that city, by hearing himself harangued against,

^’ from the pulpit^ by a prelate of that country.”

Mr. Toland himself tells us, in his Apology^

that he was hardly arrived in that country, w hen

he found himself warmly attacked from the pulpit,

which at first could not but startle the people,

who, till then, were equal strangers to him and his

book; but that in a short time, they were so well

accustomed to this subject, that it was as much

expected, as if it had been prescribed in the Ruh^

rick. He also informs us, that his own silence

respecting the book in question, made his enemies

insinuate that hjG w as not the author of it.

When this rough treatment of Mr. Toland from

the pulpit proved insignificant, the grand jury was

solicited to present him, for .a book written and

published in England. The presentment of the

grand jury of Middlesex, was printed with an

empliatical title, and cried about the streets. Mi’.

T.oJaDd was accordingly presentrid there^ the last


day of the term, in the Court of King’s Bench.

At that time, Mr. Peter Brown, senior fellow of

Trinity College, Dublin, published a book against

Mr. Toland’s Christianity not 3Iysterious, in which

he represented him as an inveterate enemy to all

revealed religion; a knight errant; one who openly

affected to be the head of a sect, and designed to

be as famous an impostor as Mahomet. Mr.

Brown was afterwards made bishop of Cork ; and

Mr. Toland used frequently to say, *’ That he

made him a bishop.” This is the ssunejacobitical

g€7itleman, Avho, because he could not bear that

any person should drink the health of King William,

wrote a pamphlet against health-drinking,

as being a profanation of the Lord’s Supper!

Mr. Mollineux sent Mr. Brown’s book to Mr.

Locke, and, in a letter to him dated 20th of July,

1697, says, *’ Mr. Toland has had his opposers

** here, as you will find by a book I have sent you.

** The author is my acquaintance; but, two things

” I shall never forgive, in his book : the one is the

‘* foul language and opprobrious epithets he has

** bestowed on Mr. Toland, The other is, upon

** severar occasions, calling in the aid of the civd

** magistrate, and delivering Mr, Toland up to se-

• cular punishment. This, indeed, is a killiiig ar^

^’ gnm€7it; but may dispose some to think, that

** where the strength of reason failed him, there

” he flies to the strength of the sword,’ &c.

Mr. Toland, it seems, was dreaded in Ireland


as a second Goliath, who at the head of the Philistines

defied the armies of Israel, in so much,

that Mr. Hancock, the recorder of Dublin, in his

congratulatory harangue to the lords justices of

that kingdom, in the name of his corporation, begged

their lordships would protect the church from

all its adversaries; but particularly from the Toiandists.

But to give the last and finishing stroke to Mr.

Toland’s book, it was brought before the parliament.

Several persons eminent for their birth,

good qualities, and fortune, opposed the whole

proceedings; but finding themselves over-ruled in

this, they urged, that the objectionable passages

should be read: that Toland should be heard

in his defence personally, or at least, by letter.

All these propositions were rejected, and Mr. Toland,

unheard and undefended, w as ordered to be

taken into the custody of the serjeant at arms.

Mr. Toland made his escape, but his book was

burnt by the common hangman, on the 11th September,

1697, before the gate of the parliamenthouse,

and also in the open street, before the

town-house, the sheriffs and all the constables at


Dr. South, in the preface to his third volume of

sermons, compliments the archbishop of Dublin,

on his treatment of Toland, whom he calls a Mahometan

Christian ; and particularly, that he made

the kingdom too hot for him, without the help of


^faggot. The faggot had been kindled in Scotland

from the one end to the other, during the

twenty-eight years persecution, and innocent and

holy men burnt alive, merely for being non-conformists,

or, in other words, for not preferring- the

dogmas of arbitraiy and interested men, to the

sacred scriptures. Toland’s crimes appear to

have been much of the same kind, and it was very

consistent in the doctor to hint at a similar pu-



On Mr. Toland\s return to London, he publish-,

ed his Apology, giving an account of his conduct,

and vindicating himself from the aspersions and

persecutions of his enemies.

In 1098 party-disputes ran high. The partisans

of the house of Stuart wished to facilitate the

Pretender’s return, by keeping up no standing

arniy at all. Their opponents took different

ground. Several pamphlets appeared, and, a^

mong the rest, one from the pen of Mr. Toland,

wherein he recommends modelling the militia on

such a plan, as to render it adequate to the maiur

tenance of internal tranquillity, and repulsion of

foreign invasion. Indeed, on every occasion, we

find Mr. Toland a staunch friend to the revolu^

tion, and the protestant succession; and though

this was not the ostensible, still there is every rea^

son to reckon it the real cause of his persecution;

his enemies, almost to a man, entertaining very

different sentiments.


‘This same year, he published the Life of John

Milton^ M hich was prefixed to his works, in three

Tohimes folio. In the course of Milton’s hfe, Mr.

Toland proved that Icon Basilike w as not written

by Charles 1st, but by Dr. Gauden, and took occasion

to remark, that, v/hen this imposition was

practised on the nation, at no greater distance of

time than forty years, he ceased to wonder how so

many supposititiovis pieces, under the name of

Christ and his Apostles, should be published, approved,

&c. Had he denied Ihe Trinity, or blasphemed

the Holy Ghost, it would have been nothing

in comparison of curtailing the literary fame

of the royal martyr of the church of England.

Accordingly, Mr. Blackail, chaplain to the

king, in a sermon preached before the House of

Commons, 30th January, 1689, says, ” We may

*’ cease to wonder, that he (Mr. Toland) should

*’ have the boldness, without proof, and against

*’ proof, to deny the authority of this book, who

” is such an infidel to doubt, and is shameless

” and impudent enough, even in print, and in a

*’ christian country, publicly to affront our holy

‘* religion, by declaring his doubt, that several

** pieces under the name of Christ and his Apos-

*’ ties (he must mean tliose received by the whole

*’ christian church, for 1 know of no other), are

*’ supposititious/’ kc. The reader will here smile,

to see that Mr. Blackali rests the whole stress of

Mr. Tolainl’s iuiidelity, on his own ignorance.


Mr. Blackall expressly says, ” Mr. Toland must

*’ mean the books of the Ne^^ Testament,” because

he knows of no other. Excellent logician!

In order to vindicate himself, Mr. Toland published

Amf/ntor, in which he re<loubles his arguments,

to prove Dr. Gauden the author of Icon

JBasiUke; and, at the same time, published a list

of supposititious pieces, ascribed to Christ, his

apostles, and other eminent men, extending to no

less than forty-three octavo pages. After having

given that catalogue, he proceeds thus


” Here is a long catalogue for Mr. Blackalb

*’ who, it is probable, will not think the more

** meanly of himself, for being unacquainted with

‘* these pieces: nor, if that were all, should I be

” forward to think the worse of him on this ac”

” count: but I think he is to blame, for denying’

** that there were any such, because he knew no-

*’ thing of them; much less should he infer from

” thence, that I denied the scriptures; which

*’ scandal, however, as proceeding from ignorance,

” I heartily forgive him, as every good christian

” ought to do.”

What a calm, dignified, christian reply, to the

Tery man, who, without the least shadow of fact,

proclaimed Mr. Toland an impudent arid shameless

infidel, before the whole House of Commons,

Poor Mr. Blackall was obliged to say something

or other in liis own defence. He published a

pamphlet, wherein he labours hard to prove, that


Mr. Toland’s words were liable to misapprehension;

and says, ” I charged Mr. Toland with

” doubting of the books of the New Testament

*’ but he declares, he does not mean those books,

” therefore we are now agreed: there can be no

” dispute between us on that subject.”

In the same year, 1699, Mr. Toland published

the Memoirs of Denzil, Lord Hollis, Baron of

JJield, in Sussex, from 1641 to 1648. The manuscript

was put into his hands by the duke of

Newcastle, who was one of his patrons and benefactors;

and he dedicated the work to his grace.

In 1700, he published, in folio, Harrington’s

Oceana, with some other pieces of that ingenious

author, not before printed, to which he prefixed

the life of the author. From the preface to this

work, which is dated 30th November, 1699, we

learn Mr. Toland’s exact age, for he there informs

us, that this very day he was beginning his thirtieth


About the same time, appeared a pamphlet, en.

titled Clito; or, the Force of Eloquence. The

printer gave Mr. Toland as the author. Thi»

piece consists of a dialogue between Clito and

Adeisidcemon. This is a poetical performance.

Mr. Toland is known by the name Adeisidcemon,

which he translates, unsuperstitious. This was

animadverted on, by an anonymous clergyman,

who, after a torrent of Billingsgate abuse, ti’ans^

kites Adelsidoemou (in open violatioa of all the



rules of etymology and common sense), one that

fears neither God nor ilevil. To such pitiful

lengths will the rancour of party-spirit drive men,

when they are determined to calumniate with, or

without, reason.

In the beginning of 1701, he published The

Art of Goveriwig hy Parties, which he dedicated

to King William the 3d ; and, about the same

time, published a pamphlet, in quarto, entitled*

Propositionsfor uniting the two East India Companies,

In March following, the lower and upper house

of convocation, with the concurrence of the bishops,

resolved to proceed against Mr. Toland’s

Christianity not Mysterious, and his Amyntor,

with all possible rigour. After passing some resolutions

against these books, they found tliey

could not proceed without a licence from the

king. Rather than solicit this boon, they dropped

their proceedings against Mr. Toland. Can

any circumstance speak more strongly in the vindication

of Mr. Toland? Can any thing shew tlie

innocence of our author, in a clearer })oint of view,

than that the whole united Englisli hierarchy,

durst not solicit a licence from the king to prosecute

him, because they were sure it would be refused?

This circumstance affords more than a

presumption, that Mr. Tolancls principal crimes,

in the eyes of his enemies, were his predilection for

presbyterianism, and attachment to King William.


Be that as it may, when on the death of the

duke of Gloucester, an act was passed m June,

1701, for the better securing the protestant succession

to the crow n, Mr. Toland published his

Anglia Libera; or, The Limitation and Succession

of the Croivn of England Explained and Asserted;

as grounded on his majesty s speech ; the proceedings

of parliament; the desires of the people; the

safety of our religion; the nature of our constitutio7i;

the balance of Europe; and^ the rights of

mankind. This treatise he dedicated to his patron,

the duke of New castle.

The king having sent the earl of Macclesfield to

Hanover, with the act of succession, Mr. Toland

accompanied him, and presented his Anglia Libera

to her electoral highness the Princess Sophia;

and was the first who had the honour of kneeling

and kissing her hand, on account of the act of

succession. The earl of Macclesfield recommended

him warmly to her highness. Mr. Toland staid

there five or six weeks, and at his departure, their

highnesses the electress dow ager, and the elector,

presented him with several gold medals, as a

princely remuneration for the book he had written

about the succession, in defence of their title

and family. Her highness condescended to give

him likewise portraits of herself, the elector, the

young prince, and of her majesty the queen of

Prussia, done in oil colours. The earl of Macclesfield,

on his return, waited on the king at Louc2


don, and presented Mr. Toland, who had the honour

of kissing his majesty’s hand.

The parliament was dissolved 11th November,

and a new one summoned to meet the 30th December.

The Tory party appeared horribly afraid

that Mr. Toland would obtain a seat in the ensuing

parliament, and circulated a report that he w as

to be returned for Blechingley in Surry, a borough

in the interest of Sir Robert Clayton. Mr. Toland,

who had no intention whatever of this kind,

contradicted the report, by an advertisement in

the Postmaii, Even this harmless act could not

pass without censure, but gave occasion to an anonymous

author to publish a pamphlet, entitled,

Modestif 3Iistaken; or a Letter to Mr, Toland,

•upon his Dedming to Appear in the Ensuing Parliament.

On the opening of parliament, Mr. Toland published

his Paradoxes of State, grounded chiefly

on his majesty’s princely, pious, and most gracious


Soon after, he published Reasons for Addressing

his Majesty to invite into England, the Electress

Dowager, and the Electoral Prince of Hanover

; and for attainting and abjuring the pretended

Prince oj^ Wales, ^ c. This was answered

by Mr. Luke Milburn. But, Mr. Toland had the

high gratihcation to see parliament attend to his

suggestions. An act was accordingly passed for

the attainder of the pretended Prince of Wales;


and another, for the better security of his majesty’s

person, and tJie protestant succession, &c. and

enjoining an oath of abjuration of the Pretender.

Thus, instead of an enemy to religion, or civil liberty,

we find him strenuously recommending the most

efficacious measures for the preservation of both.

Some difference having arisen betw^een the lower

and upper house of convocation, on a point of jurisdiction,

respecting their proceedings against

Christianity 7iot Mysterious, the year before, a paper

war commenced between them, and several

pamphlets appeared on both sides. Those written

by the partizans of the upper house, were favourable

to Mr. Toland ; but, those written in favour

of the lower house, there verse. He, therefore,

seized this opportunity of publishing his Vindicius

Liberius; being a vindication of his Christianity

not Mysterious;—^ full and clear account

of his religious and civil principles; and, a justification

of those called Whigs and Common-ivealth

men, against the mis-representations of all their


After the publication of this book, Mr. Toland

went to tlie courts of Hanover and Berlin, where

he was very graciously received by the Princess

Sophia, and the queen of Prussia. He was often

admitted to their conversation; and wrote some

pieces, which he presented to her majesty. There

he wrote, also, 9.11 ^iccovmt of the courts of Prussia

and Hauovcr,


On liis return to England, 1704, he published

several philosophical letters ; three of which he inscribed

to the queen of Prussia, under the designation

of Serena.

1st, 71ie Origin and Force of Prejudices.

2d, The History of the SouVs Immortality

among the Heathens.

3d, The Origin of Idolatry^ and Reasons of


4th, A Letter to a Gentleman in Holland, shewing

Spinoza s System of Philosophy to be ivithout

Principle or Foundation.

5th, 3Iotion essential to Matter; iii ansiver to

some Remarks, by a noble Friend, on the confutation

of Spinoza. Mr. Toland informs us, that the

queen of Prussia was pleased to ask his opinion,

respecting the subjects treated of, in the three letters

inscribed to her.

These letters were animadverted on, by Mr.

Wotten, in a pamphlet, entitled. Letters to Eusebia.

At the same time, he published an English

translation of the Life of Msop, by Monsieur De

Meziriac, and dedicated it to Anthony Collins, Esq.

In 1 705, he published the following pieces.

1st, Socinianism truly stated, Sfc.

2d, An Account of the Courts of Prussia and

Hanover, dedicated to the duke of Somerset.

3d, The Ordinances, Statutes and Privileges, of

the Royal Academy at Berlin, Translated from

the original.


The same year, Counsellor Pooley, and Dr.

Drake, wrote the Memorial of the Church of England,

with a view to influence the ensuing parliamentary

election, by representing the Whig administration,

as plotting the ruin of the Church.

By the direction of Mr. Harley, secretary of

state, this memorial was ansAvered, by Mr. Toland,

in a pamphlet, entitled, ” The 3Iemorial of

the State of England, in Vindication of the Queen^

the Church, and the Administration: designed to

rectify the mutual mistakes of Protestants; and to

unite their affectioris, in defence of our Religion

and EihertyT On the suggestion of Mr. Harley,

who was one of Mr. Toland’s patrons and benefactors,

this treatise was published, without the

author’s name.

This pamphlet was answered, by Thomas Raulins,

Esq. who made a direct attack on the duke

of Marlborough’s, and Mr. Harley:s conduct. Mr,

William Stephens, rector of Sutton, in Surry, being

found the publisher; and, refusing to bear evidence

against Mr. Raulins, was sentenced to stand ou

the pillory; but, the sentence was afterwards remitted.

Mr. Toland was directed by Mr. Harley to answer

this pamphlet, which he did; but, for some

reasons, now unknown, the design was dropped,

after part of Mr. Toland’s answer had been pi-inted.

Mr. Harley having found among his manuscripts,

a philippic against France, written in La32


tin, by one Cardinal Matthew, in 1514, gave it to

Mr. Toland, who edited it, both in English and

Latin: along with other violent expressions,

it contains the following, Gallorum Ufigues jion

resecandos, sed penltus evellendos esse; i. e. That

the nails of the French were not to be pared, but

torn out by the roots.

Soon after, he published The Elector Palatins

Declaration, lately published in favour of his protestant

subjects, &c. This Mr. Toland did, at the

particular request of the elector Palatine’s minister.

In the spring, Mr. Toland went to Germany,

and visited Berlin, Hanover, Dusseldorp, Vienna,

and Prague in Bohemia. At Dusseldorp, he was

most graciously received by his electoral highness,

who, in consideration of the English pamphlet,

published by him, presented him with a gold chain

and medal, besides a hundred ducats. From

Prague, he returned to Holland, where he staid

till 1710.

In Holland, he published the following dissertations,


1st, Adeisidcemon, sive Titus Livius a Superstitione

Vindicatus, Sfc.

2do, Origiies Judaica>, Sfc. In the course of

this dissertation, he animadverterl on Huetiiis’ Beonomtratio

Evangelica, He ridicules Huetius for

affirming that several eminent persons recorded in

the Old Testament are allegorized in the heatlien

mythology; and particluarly Moses under the


names of Bacchus, Typho, Silenus, Priapus, and

Adonis. Though Mr. Toland was unquestionably

in the right, Huetius was greatly incensed,

and expressed his resentment in a letter, first published

in the Journal of Trevoux, and afterwards

printed by Abbot Tilladet. It w ill be recollected,

that these are the two gentlemen, who endeavoured

to convict Mr. Toland of the high and unpardonable

crime, of not directing his parents to

propagate him legitimately.

In 170.9, he published at Amsterdam, a second

edition of his Philippic against France.

In 1710,hepublished, withouthisname, a French

])amphlet, relating to Dr. Sacheverell.

While in Holland, he had the good fortune to

get acquainted with prince Eugene of Savoy, w ho

gave him several marks of his generosity.

After his return to England in 1711, he published

the Iliimours of Epsom; and, at the same time,

a translation of four of Pliny s Letters,

In 1712, he published Imo. A Letter against Popery^

written by Sophia Charlotte, late queen of

Prussia. 2do. Her Majesty’s reasonsfor creating

the electoral prince of Hanover a peer of that realm,

3tio. The Grand Mystery laid open; namely, by

dividing the protestants, to weaken the Hanoverian

succession, &c.

About the same time, he published a new edition

of Cicero s tvorks, an undertaking for w hich he was

eminently qualified. This work alone, is suffi-



cient to transmit Mr. Toland’s name to posterity.

It is extremely scarce, he having printed only a

few copies, at his ov/n charge, to serve his particular


In 1 713, he published An Apj^eal to Hottest People,

agaijist wicked Priests,” &c. And much about

the same time, a pamphlet on the necessity of demolishing


In 1714, he published a pamphlet relative to the

restoration of Charles the 2d, by General Monk;

also, a collection of letters, written by the general,

relating to the same subject.

The same year, he published The Funeral Elogy

of her roijal highness the late Prijicess Sophia, &c.

and much about the same time, Reasonsfor naturalizing

the Jews in Great Britain, &c. This he

dedicated rather ironically, to the archbishops and

bishops of both provinces.

In 1717, he published the State Anatomy of

Great Britain. This was answered by Dr. Fiddes,

chaplain to the earl of Oxford, and by Daniel

De Foe. In reply, Mr. Toland published the second

part of the State Anatomy,

In 1717, he published Nazarenns. In this treatise,

according to Mr. Toland, the original plan of

Christianity was this: ” That the Jews, though associating

witli the converted Gentiles, and acknowledging

them for brethren, were still to observe

their own laws; and that the Gentiles, who

became so far Jews as to acknowledge one God,


were not, however, to observe the Jewish law:

but, that both of them were to be, ever after, united

into one body or fellowship, in that part of Christianity

particularly, which, better than all the preparative

purgations of the philosophers, requires

the sanctification of tlie spirit, and the renovation

of the inward man ; and wherein alone, the Jew

and the Gentile; the civilized and the barbarian;

the free-man and the bond-slave, are all one in

Christ, however differing in other circumstances/*

This treatise was animadverted on, by Messrs,

Mangey and Paterson ; and by Dr. Brett.

This year, he also edited a pamphlet, called The

Destiny of Rome; or, the speedy and final destruction

of the Pope, founded partly on natural

and political reasons, and partly on the famous

prophecy of St. Malachy, archbishop of Armagh,

in the thirteenth century, &c.

In the beginning of 1720, Dr. Hare published

the fourth etition of his Visitation Sermon, and

m\m\didi\evied on Christianity not Mysterious; asserting

that Mr. Toland often quoted Mr. Locke,

to support notions he never dreamed of. As this

assertion was totally groundless, the doctor had

Mr. Locke and Mr. Toland on his back at once.

Finding his ground untenable, he published the

following advertisement in the Daily Courant.

“Just published, the fourth edition of The

Dean of Worcester s Fisilation Sermon. In the


postscript, line ninth from the end, instead of, is

often quoted, read, makes great use of Mr. Locke’s


” London, February 1st, 1720.”

Thus the reverend doctor had the contemptible

meanness to shelter a bare-faced falsehood, under

the siibterfu2;e of a typographical error.

This pitiful conduct of Dr. Hare, produced

from Mr. Toland, a pamphlet, entitled, A Short

Essay on the Art of Lying ; or, a Defence of a Reverend

Dignitary, who suffers under the Persecution

of Mr. Tolandfor a Lapsus Calami.

About this time, he published Paidheisticon;

sire formula celehrandcB Sodalitatis Socraticce, &c.

Some of his enemies pretended this tract was written

to ridicule the Romish and episcopal liturgies;

and, as it was made up of responses, lessons, a

philosophical canon, and a litany; and the whole

written both in red and black ink, their opinion

is perhaps well founded. Mr. Toland was, at all

times, a rigid advocate for the primitive apostolic

simplicity of the christian religion. This tract,

instead of being a proof of our author’s heterodoxy,

is so far the reverse, that liad Jolm Knox

l)een alive, I am persuaded, he wouhi have thanked

him for it. To this treatise, he prefixed the

name of Janus Junius Eoganesius, wJiich, though

it was his real christian name, and the name of

his country, was as good a disguitie as he could

have invented.


A bill having been introduced into tlie House

of Lords, to make the parliament of Ireland more

dependent on that of Great Britain, Mr. Toland

wrote a treatise in opposition to that measure.

Some time after he published a book, entitled

Tefradymus: containing Imo. Hoclegus; or, the

pillar of cloud and fire that guided tlie Israelites

in the wilderness, not miraculous, &c. 2do. Chjdophoms;

or the Exoteric and Esoteric philosophy

of the ancients, &c. 3tio. Hypatia; or, the

history of a most beautiful, most virtuous, most

learned, and every way accomplished young lady,

who was torn to pieces by the clergy of Alexandria,

to gratify the pride, emulation and cruelty,

of their archbishop Cyril, commonly, but, undeservedly

styled St. Cyril. 4to. Mmigoneutes ; or,

a defence of Nazarenus, addressed to the right

reverend John, lord bishop of London, against

his lordship s chaplin Dr. Mangey, his dedicator

Mr. J^aterson, and the reverend Dr. Brett, once

belonging to his lordship’s church.

In this last address to the bishop of London,

Mr. Toland, states the injurious treatment he had

received from Dr. Hare at considerable length;

and concludes with the following account of his

own conduct and sentiments : ” Notwithstanding,

says he, the imputations of heresy and infidelity,

so often published by the clergy, as lately, in

tlie vauntingest manner, by one not unknown to

you; the whilling and the ignorant being ever the


most arrogant and confident, I assure your lordship,

that the purity of religion, and the prosperity

of the state have ever been my chiefest aim.

Civil liberty, and religious toleration, as the most

desirable things in this world ; the most conducing

to peace, plenty, knowledge, and every kind

of happiness, have been the two main objects of

all my writings. But, as by liberty, I did not

mean licentiousness ; so, by toleration, I did not

mean indifference, and much less an approbation

of every religion I could suffer. To be more particular,

I solemnly profess to your lordship, that

the religion taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles,

but not as since corrupted by the subtractions,

additions, and other alterations of any particular

man, or company of men, is that which I

infinitely prefer before all others. I do over and

over again, repeat Christ and his apostles, exclusive

of either oral traditions, or the determinations

of synods, adding, what I declared before to the

world, that religion, as it came from their hands,

was no less plain and pure, than useful and instructive

; and that, as being the business of every

man, it was equally understood by every body.

For Christ did not institute one religion for the

learned and another for the vulgar,” &c.

In 1721, Dr. Hare published a book, entitled

Scripture Truth vindicatedy from the misrepreseniations

ofthe Lord bishop of Bangor, &c. ; and,

in the preface, takes occasion to observe, that


none are prevented from settling in Carolina, but

clown-right atheists, such as Mr. Toland; and

most unjustly asserts, that in some copies of the

Pantheisticon, he inserted a prayer to the following

effect: Omnipotens ct sempiteme Bacche; qui

humanam societatem maxime in bihendo constituisti;

concede propithts, nt istonim capita, qui hesterna

compotatione gravantur, hodierna leventur; idque

fat per pocida pocidorum. Amen. i. e, ” Omnipotent

and everlasting Bacchus, who foundesthuman

society principally by drinking, propitiously grant,

that the heads of those which are made heavy by

yesterday’s drinking, may be lightened by this

day’s, and that by bumper after bumper. Amen.”

M. Maizeuz, a Frenchman, and Mr. Toland’s

biographer, assures us, that Mr. Toland never

dreamed of such a matter. He assures us, that

he knows the author, but forbears to mention him,

on account of his profession. Indeed, there can

iiardly be a doubt, that Dr. Hare himself was the


The same year, Mr. Toland published Letters

from the Earl of Shaftesbury to the Lord Viscount

Molesivorth ; as also, two letters written by Sir

George Cropsley.

Mr. Toland had these four years past lived at

Putney, whence he could conveniently go to London,

and return the same day. Being in town

about the middle of December, he found himself

very ill, and an ignorant physician, by his impro40


per prescriptions, very niucli increased his disorder.

Bnt lie made a shift to return to Putnev,

where he grew better, and entertained some hopes

of recovery. In the interval, he wrote two treatises

; the one, entitled, Phijsic ivithout Physicans;

and the other. The Danger of mercenary Parliaments.

This last, he did not live to finish ; for, he

died on Sunday the 11th March, 17*22, about four

o’clock in the morning. He behaved himself

throughout the whole course of his sickness, with

the greatest calmness and fortitude, and looked

on death without the least perturbation of mind!:

biding farewell to those about him, and telling

them, he was going tofall asleep.

A- few days before his death, he composed the

follow^ing Epitaph



Qui, in Ilihernia prope Deriam natus.

In Scotia et Mihernia Stnduit,

Quod Oxonii quoquefecit Adolescens;

Atque Germaniaplus semel petita,

Virilcm cirea Londinum transegit cetaiem.

Omnium Literanmi excultor

Ac lAnguarum plus decern Sciens.

Veritatis Propugnator

Libertatis Asscrtor:

Naliius autem Sectator, aut Cliejis,

Nee minis, nee mails est inflexus,

Quin, quant elegit, vlam perageret,


IJtiU honesturn ant(foreus.

S’piritns cum JEthereo Patre,

A Quo prodiit oUm, vonjungitur:

Corpus item naturce cedenb\

In 3Iateruo gr^mio reponitur.

Ipse vero (Sternum est resurrecturus,

.At JdeDifiiturus Tolandas nunqiiam.

NatKs Nov. 30, 1070.

Ccetcra ex Scriptis pete,


” Here lies John Tolaiid, born in Ireland, near

” Londonderry, who in his youth studied in Scot-

” land, Ireland, and at Oxford; and, having re-

” peatedly visited Germany, spent his manhood

*’ about London. He was a cultivator of every

*’ kind of learning-; and skilled in more than ten

” languages: the champion of truth, and the as-

*’ sertor of liberty, but the follower or client of

” none; nor was he ever swayed, either by me-

” naces or misfortunes, from pursuing the path

‘* which he chalked out to himself, uniformly pre-

*’ ferring his integrity to his interest. His spirit

” is re-united to his heavenly Father, from whom

‘* it formerly proceeded ; his body, yielding to na-

” ture, is also re-placed in the bosom of the earth.

” He himself will undoubtedly arise to eternal life,

” but will never be the same Toland. Born 30tli

‘* November, 1670. Seek tlie re>st from his writ-

” iniis.”


Mr. Toland’s belief, that he will never he the same

Toland, after the resurrection, is not heterodox,

though his enemies have not failed to represent it

in this light. The gospel uniformly declares, that

a considerable change will take place in the human

body at the resurrection, and that we shall all be

changed. Mr. Toland must, therefore, not be considered

as here denying his absolute future identity,

but merely as alluding to that partial change which

the scriptures so clearly point out.

Hitherto I have almost implicitly followed *M.

Maizeuz, and, as far as the nature of this abstract

^vould admit, have adopted his own words, being

Aveil aware, that by so doing, no body will accuse

me of partiality to Mr. Toland. M. Maizeuz was

a Frenchman, a friend to popery and arbitrary

power; he did not undertake our author’s biography

voluntarily, nor from any motive of respect.

On the contrary, when requested by a

friend of our author’s (who was at the same time

the Frenchman’s benefactor), to undertake the

task, he positively declined it. A second request,

mdre peremptory than the first, had the desired

effect. M. Maizeuz has not, in one single instance,

made the slightest allusion to the complexion of

the limes in which Mr. Toland lived, without a

knowledge of which, it is impossible duely to appreciate

either his principles, or the scope of his

writings. He seems, however, to have been under

great obligations to his benefactor, and knowing


liim to be a friend of our deceased author, was

oljliged to confine himself to matters of fact. But

what will place the conduct of M. Meiizeuz in a

very favourable point of view, is, that when Mr.

Toland’s works were printed at London, in 172o,

M. Maizeuz not only withheld his own name from

]iis life, but also that of the gentleman at whose

request it was written.

This gentleman having been guilty of these unpardonable

omissions, I shall endeavour, as concisely

as possible, to remedy the defect, and shall

principally confine myself to Mr. Toland’s Christianity

7iot Mysterious, which has made so much

moise in the world.

Previous to the Reformation, the infallibility of

the Pope in spiritual, and the divine right of kings

in temporal, matters, were carried to the very

highest pitch; and the servile, ignorant, and debased

state, to which mankind were reduced, by

the operation of these abominable doctrines, is too

well known to need any comment. At the dawn

of the Reformation, a better order of things began.

The scriptures were read and studied, and the

monstrous impositions, for more than ten centuries

practised on mankind, clearly displayed. Neither

the infallibility of the Pope, nor the divine right

of kings, could stand the criterion either of reason

or revelation, and both were discarded. After a

long striiggle, during more than a century and a

half, our civil and riliiiious liberties were effectu44


ally secured by the glorious Revolution. That the

whig interest placed King William on the throne;

and that the tory-party, to a man, were attached

to the cause of the abdicated monarch, are facts

that can admit of no dispute. From the date of

the Revolution, the tories, as far as regarded state

affairs, were obliged to alter their tone. To have

declaimed in support of the indefeasible hereditary

right of kings, would have been a direct insidt to

King William, who had encroached on this right,

and might have been construed high-treason. The

toleration act secured all denominations in the

free exercise of their religion. This was another

source of discontent to the tories, who had uniformly

aimed at religious and exclusive supremacy.

That the tories thwarted King William’s measures,

meditated the restoration of the abdicated

monarch, and shook the stability of the protestant

succession for more than half a century, needs no

demonstration. Their absurd tenets, respecting

civil and religious tyranny, were founded on a

perversion of the sacred records. With the exception

of the whig-party, all ranks of mankind

Vvere kept in profound ignorance of the divine

writings, under pretence of mysteiy and unintelligibility.

By these means the bulk of mankind

were blindly led, without using their senses or

their reason.

To drive aibitrary power from this last resource,

Mr, Tolancl wrote Christianiif/ not Mi/steiioiis.


111 this treatise he clearly proves, that man’s reason

was not given him, in order to lie dormant. That

if he was allowed to jndge for himself in the ordinary

occurrences of life, and respecting the phaenomena

of nature, he cannot be denied the same

privilege, as far as respects matters of religion, and

the principles of Christianity. Mr. Toland was

well aware, that if he could once induce mankind

to read the scriptures with impartial attention,

no man’s interpretation on earth could mislead


However convenient this mode of conduct might

be for the interests of true religion, it was, in fact,

a death blow to popery, which had reared its

monstrous fabric on ignorance, mystery and superstition.

The gospel Avas, by the popish priests, as

carefully kept from the vulgar, as if it had contained

the antidote, instead of the means of their

salvation. When Mr. Toland wrote, not onefourth

of the population of the British empire

were allowed to read the scriptures; and, even at

the present day, nearly five millions are denied this

important privilege.

Had Christianity been so intricate and mysterious,

as designing and interested men have represented

it, certainly the twelve apostles were very

ill calculated to propagate the gospel. In many

popish countries, not one of them would have been

considered qualified to read or explain a single

verse of it. That the conduct of Christ, and of his


pretended vicegerents, has been widely different, I

readily admit; but the simple question is this,

*’ Whether Christ was, or was not, best qualified

to judge of the nature of the christian system,

and the instruments best calculated to promote it?”

When we have duly weighed Mr. Toland’s definition

of the word Mystery, Christianity not Mysterious^

means no more than Christianity intelligible

to all Christians, This was certainly sapping

the very foundations of papal and tyrannical

power, by asserting that every christian had a right

to read and understand the gospel. That the

treatise was considered, by the adherents of the abdicated

monarch, as having this tendency, is evident

from this circumstance, that Mr. Toland’s

antagonists were, to a man, advocates for arbitrary

power, and religious intolerance. The church of

Scotland has, at all times, been forward to stem

the torrent of impiety and irreligion; but, it is

wot known that any one of that venerable body,

ever objected to Mr. Toland’s orthodoxy ; a circumstance

which could not have happened, had

his writings been hostile to true religion. On this

head, I shall only add, that the same party which

persecuted Mr. Toland, would have treated King

William, and the church of Scotland, with as little

ceremony, had they stood as unprotected as the

illustrious subject of these memoiivs.

Mr. Toland*s Amyiitor, and his Pantheisticov,.

have been already taken notice of. The first


proved that King Charles was not the author of

Icon Basilikc; and the last is supposed to contain

a sarcastical allusion to the Romish and episcopal

liturgies:—The torrent of abuse consequently

poured on him, by the tories, is no more than might

have been naturally anticipated.

His biographer has descended so low as to inform

us, that Mr. Toland Avas sometimos under

pecuniary difficulties, and as running in debt for

Iiis wigs, &c. Bnt, as this was a charge of the

same nature with his deism, atheism, mahomet

anism, pantheism, illegitimacy, &c. I shall not

detain the reader with a confutation of it.


It is difficult to determine in what department

of literature this great man most excelled. He

seems to have been a kind of imiversal genius.

In controversy he was irresistible; and, at the

very moment when his adversaries thought they

had confuted him, they found they had only furnished

nraterials for their own degradation.—He

was skilled in more than ten languages, and the

Celtic was his native tongue.—Educated in the

grossest superstition of popery, at the early age of

sixteen, he became a convert to presbyterianism,

and remained steadily attached to it, till the hour

of his death.—Popery, })relacy, ^nd arbitrary

power, he utterly detested ; and, on every occasion.


resisted them to tlie utmost of liis power. To

the Revolution, in 1(389, he was a warm and steady

friend.—Real and unatFected piety, and the church

of Scothind, which he thouj^ht bore the greatest

re.sem])lance to the primitive simphcity of the

apostolic times, always found, in him, an able and

inflexible advocate.—Though his pen was his estate,

yet he never prostituted it to serve the interest

of his party at the expence of truth.—There

Avas interwoven, with his whole frame, a high degree

of stubborn and inexorable integrity, which

totally unfitted him for the tool of a party; and,

like })oor Yorick, he invariably called things by

their right names, regardless of the consequences.

—There was not, in his whole composition, one

single grain of that useful quality which Swift calls

modern discretion. Like an impregnable rock in

the midst of the tempestuous ocean, he stood im~

ino\ cable against all his assailants; and his calm

dignitied answers, in reply to their most virulent

and unmerited calunmies, equally characterize the

hero, the philosopher, and the christian.—To liis

transcendant literary abilities even the most inveterate

of his enemies have paid the most ample

tribute of respect. liis Latin compositions, in

point of classical purity, have not been excelled,

even by Cicero himself. To him the Celtic tribes

arc liighly indebted for that unequalled productioii,

tliC Ilhioif/ of tlie Druids.—Pinkerton, as

olK^n as his Goihic ‘mania led him to controvert


any of Toland’s positions respecting the Druids

and Celts, is obliged to shrink from the contest.

Dr. Smith, with a non-candour, for which, even

his best friends must blush, has borrowed the

whole of Toland’s materials for his History of tha

Dridds, not only without making any acknowledgment,

but with a studied and deliberate design

to conceal the plagiarism. Wherever Mr.

Toland enters into detail. Dr. Smith is concise;

and wherever Mr. Toland is concise, Dr. Smith

enters into detail. The important History of

Aharis, the Hyperborean Priest of the Suiiy is dismissed

by Dr. Smith in a few words, whereas, in

Mr. Toland’s history, it takes iip several pages.

In the space of twenty-five years, Mr. Toland published

about one hundred different works, some of

them on the most intricate subjects, but the far

greater part on controversial matters, in opposition

to those who wished to restore the abdicated monarch,

and re-establish arbitrary power and religious

intolerance. As it was the first, so it was the

last effort of his pen, to render civil government

consistent with the unalienable rights of mankind,

and to reduce Christianity to that pure, simple,

and unpompous system, which Christ and his

apostles established. It has often been objected

to John Knox, as well as Mr. Toland, that he was

a stubborn ill-bred fellow. But, when the Augaean

Stable of civil and religious corruptions is to be

cleansed, the Herculean labour requires Herqu50


lean instruments. Perliaps, the delicacy and refinement

of the present day, might ha^ e sluuiik

from the ardnous task, and left the desirable m ork

not only unfinished, but nnattempted. TohuRVs

fame has triumphed over all opposition, and will

be transmitted to the latest posterity. That very

party which branded him, when alive, with the

epithets of atheist, infidel, deist, mahometan, &c.

have now discovered, that he was only tinctured

with socinianism; and, in less than fifty years, the

same party w ill discover that he was a rigid presbyterian,—

peace to his manes.—It were ardently

to be wished, that the British empire, in all great

and critical emergencies, may possess many christians

like John Toland.







feOME men, my lord, from a natural greatness

of soul, and others from a sense of the want of

learning in themselves, or the advantages of it in

others, have many times liberally contributed towards

the advancement of letters. But when

they, whose excellent natural parts are richly cultivated

by sound literature, undertake the protection

of the muses, writers feel a double encouragement,

both as they are happily enabled to perfect

their studies, and as their patrons are true judges

of their performances. ‘Tis from this consideration

alone (abstracted, my lord, from all that you

have already done, or may hereafter deserve from

your country, by an unshaken love of liberty) that

I presume to acquaint your lordship with a design

which I formed several years ago at Oxford, and

which I have ever since kept in view; collecting,

as occasiojii presented, whatever might any way


tend to the advantage or perfection of it. ‘Tis to

write The History of the Druids, containing an

account of the ancient Celtic religion and literature;

and concerning which I beg your patience

for a little while. Tho’ this be a subject that will

be naturally entertaining to the curious in every

place, yet it does more particularly concern the

inhabitants of antient Gaule (now France, Flanders,

the Alpine regions, and Lombardy), and of

all the British islands, whose antiquities are here

partly explained and illustrated, partly vindicated

and restor d. It will sound somewhat oddly, at

first hearing, that a man born in the most northern

peninsula* of Ireland, shou’d undertake to set

* This peninsula is Inls^Eogain^ vulgarly Ems.Owen, in whose

isthmus stands the city of Londonderry, itself a peninsula, and^

if the tradition be true, originally a famous grove and school of

the Druids, Hence comes the very name Doi’ye, corrnpfly pronounced

Derry^ which in Irish signifies a grove^ particularly of

caks. The great Columba changed it into a college for Monks

(who in his time were retir’d Laymen, that lived by the labour

cf their hands) as most commonly the sacred places of the heathens,

if pleasant or commodious, were converted to the like use

fcy the christians after their own manner. This Derry is the 7?oleretum

or Campus roborum *, mentioned by Bede in his Ecclcm

.siastical History: but not Ardmacha^ now Armagh, in the same

province of Ulster, as many have erroneously conceived; nor

yet Durramh, now Durrough, in that of Leinster, as some have

no less groundlesly fancied, among whom Archbishop Usher,

* Pccerat autem (Columba) prius quam in Britanniam vcniret monastc

iium nobile in Hibernia, quod a copia roborum Dearmach lingua Scotorum,

koc est campus r9horHm, vocatur. Hist. EccUs, lib, 3. cap. 4.


the antiquities of Gaule in a clearer lij^lit tlian any

one has hitherto done. But when ’tis considered,

that, over and above what he knows in common,

rehitini^ to the Druids, witli the learned of the

French nation (whose works he constantly reads

with uncommon esteem), he has also certain other

advantages, which none of those writers have ever

had: when this, I say, is considered, then all the

wonder about this affair will instantly cease. Yet

let it be still remember d, that whatever accomplishment

may consist in the knowledge of languages,

no language is really valuable, but as far

as it serves to converse with the living:, or to learn ‘O’

Dearmach Is compounded of Dair^ an oalc., and tlie ancient “word

Mach (now Machaire) ajield. They who did not know so much,

have imagined it from the mere sound to be Armagh, which, far

from Campus roborum^ signifies the height or mount of Macha,

(surnamed Mongruadh or rc-dhair’d) a queen of Ireland, and the

only woman that ever sway’d the sovereign sceptre of that kingdom.

But Armagh never was a monastery founded by Columba,

who, in Bcde’s time, was called Coluim-cille*, as he’s by the Irish

to this day: whereas it was from the monasteries of Derry and

I-colmkill (“which last, though the second erected, became the

first in dignity) that all the other monasteries dedicated to Columba,

whether in Scotland or Ireland, were so many colonies.

This is attested by the just mentioned Bedef, no less than by all

the Irish annalists since their several foundations,

* Qui, videlicet Columba, nunc anonnnllis, composito a Cella ^ Columha

nomine Columcelli vocatur. Ibid. lib. .5. cap. 10.

t Ex quo wtroque monasterio pcrpluiinia exiude monasteria, per discipulos

»-Jus, & in Britannia & in Hibernia propagate sunt ; in quibns omnibus idem

monasterium insulaiium. in quo ipse rcquicscit corpor( , priiicipatum tcuet.

Jbid. lib. 3. cap. 15.


from the dead; and therefore, were that knowledge

of times and things containd in Lapponian, which

we draw from the Greec, and that this last were

as barren as the first, I shou d then study Lapponian,

and neglect Greec, for all its superiority

over most tongues in respect of sonorous pronunciation,

copiousness of words, and variety of expression.

But as the profound ignorance and slavery

of the present Greecs does not hinder, but

that their ancestors were the most learned, polite,

and free of all European nations, so no revolution

that has befallen any or all of the Celtic colonies,

can be a just prejudice against the truly antient

and undoubted monuments they may be able to

furnish, towards improving or restoring any point

of learning. Whether there be any such monuments

or not, and how far useful or agreeable, will

in the following sheets appear.

II. Among those institutions which are thought

to be irrecoverably lost, one is that of the Druids;

of which the learned have hitherto known nothing,

but by some fragments concerning them out of

the Greec and Roman authors. Nor are such

fragments always intelligible, because never explain

d hj any of those, who were skillVl in the

Celtic dialects, which are now principally six;

namely Welsh or the insular British, Cornish almost

extinct, Armorican or French British, Irish

the least corrupted, Manks or the language of the

Isle of Man ; and liarse or Highland Irish, spoken


also in all tlie western ilands of Scotland. These,

liaving severally their own dialects, are, with respect

to each other and the old Celtic of Gaule, as

the several dialects of the German language and

Low Dutch, the Swedish, Danish, Norwegian

and Islandic ; which are all descendants of their

common mother, the Gothic. Not that ever such

a thing as a pure Gothic or Celtic language either

did or cou’d exist in any considerable region with

out dialects, no more than pure elements : but by

such an original language is meant the common

root and trunk, the primitive words, and especially

the peculiar construction that runs througli all

the branches; whereby they are intelligible to

each other, or may easily become so, but different

from all kinds of speech besides. Thus the Celtic

and the Gothic, which have been often taken for

each other, are as different as Latin and Arabic,

In like manner we conceive of the several idoms

of tlie Greec language formerly, in Greece itself

properly so calFd, in Macedonia, in Crete and the

ilands of the Archipelago, in Asia, Rliodes, part

of Italy, in Sicily, and Marseilles; and at this time

of the Sclavonian language, whose dialects not

only prevail in Russia, Poland, Bohemia, Carintliia,

and Servia, but in a great many other places,

too tedious to recite. But of this subject we shall

treat professedly in a dissertation*, to be annex’d

^ A Dissertation conceniing the CcHlc Languao;e and OAonks.


to the work, m liercof I am giving your lordship an

account. Neither sliall I in this specimen chv(4l

on some things, whereof I shall principally and

largely treat in the designed history; I mean the

j)hilosophy of the Druids concerning the gods,

human souls, nature in general, and in particular

the heavenly bodies, their magnitudes, motions,

distances, and duration; whereof Caesar, Diodotus

Siculus, Strabo, Pomponius Mela, and Ammianus

Marcellinus write more specially than

others. These subjects, I say, will be copiously

handled and commented in my history. In the

mean time I do assure you, my Lord, from all authors,

that no heathen priesthood ever came up to

the perfection of the Druidical, which was far

more exquisite than any other such system; as

Iiaving been much better calculated to beget ignolance,

and an implicit disposition in the people,

no less than to procure power and profit to the

priests, which is one grand difference between the

true worship and the false. The western priesthood

did infinitely exceed that of Zoroaster, and

all the eastern sacred policy : so that the Histov)/

of the Druids, in short, is the coinpleie History of

Priestcraft, with all its reasons and resorts; which

to distinguish accurately from right religion, is not

only the interest of all wise princes and states, but

likewise does especially concern tlie tranquillity

‘<iJiA happiness of every private person. I have

used tlie word priestcraft here on purpose^ not


merely as being the best expression for the designed

abuse, and reverse of religion, (for superstition

is only religion misunderstood) but also because

the coining of tlie very word was occasioned

by the Druids: since the Anglo-Saxons having

learnt the word dry * from the Irish and Britons

for a magician, did very appositely call magic or

inchantment dri/cr{Eft’\ ; as being nothing else but

trick and illusion, the fourbery of priests and their


III. Now, this institution of the Druids, I think

myself, without any consciousness of vanity, much

abler to retrieve (as having infinitely better helps

in many respects, of which, before I have done)

than Dr. H>de was to restore the knowledge of

the-ancient Persian literature and religion; which

yet he left imperfect for want ofdue encouragement,

as I have shown in the first chapter of Nazarenus,

From undoubted Celtic monuments, join’d to the

Greec and Roman remains, I can display the order

of their hierarchy, from the Arch-Druid down to

the meanest of the four orders of priests. Of these

degrees, the Arch-Druid excepted, there’s little

to be found in the classic authors, that treat of the

Druids: but very much and very particularly, iu

the Celtic writings and monuments. For many

reasons their history is most interesting and entertainins::

I mean, as on the one hand we consider

* ProHounced as Dree in English.

t Dnj magus, Drycrceft incantatio, Mlfrk, in Glossar.



them seducing their followers, and as on the other

hand we learn not to be so deceivVl. They dextrously

led the people blindfold, by committing no

part of their theology or philosophy to writing,

tho’ great writers in other respects ; but their dictates

were only hereditarily convey’d from masters

to disciples by traditionary poems, intei’pretable

(consequently) and alterable as they shou’d see

convenient: which is a much more effectual way,

than locking up a book from the laity, that, one

way or other, is sure to come first or last to their

knowledge, and easy perhaps to be tunvd against

the priests. The Druids, as may be seen in the

6th book of Ccrscir^ Commentaries, drew the decision

of all controversies of law and equity to

themselves, the distribution of all punishments and

rewards; from the power that was first given, or

afterwards assumed by them, of determining matterjr;

of ceremony and religion. Most terrible

were the effects of the Druidical* excommunica-

^ If the learned reader, vyho knows any of the passages, or the

unlearned reader wiio wants authorities for proving the following

assertions, should wonder I do not always cite them, let it be

known to both, that as in this specimen I commonly touch but

the heads of things, (and not of all tilings neither) so I would not

crowd the margin with long passages, nor yet curtail what in my

History ^\\B.\\ be produced at large: and, thereforp, all the following

citations (the original manner of writing Celtic words excepted)

are either samples of the quotations I shall give, or proofs of

what I would not for a moment have suspected to he precariouitly

advanced, or, finally, for the better understanding of certain mator


tioii oil any man, that did not impliciliy follow

their directions, and submit to their decrees: not

only to the excluding of private persons from all

benefits of society, and even from society itself;

but also to the deposing of tlie princes who did

not please them, and often devoting them to destruction.

Nor less intolerable was their pow er of

engaging the nation in war, or of making a disadvantageous

and dishonourable peace; while they

had the address to get themselves exempted from

]»earing arms, paying taxes, or contributing any

thing to the public but charms: and yet to have

their persons reputed sacred and inviolable, by

those even of the contrary side, which veneration,

however, was not always strictly paid. Ihese

privileges allur*d great numbers to enter into their

communities, for such sodalities or fraternities

they had; and to take on tliem the Druidical profession,

to be perfect in which, did sometimes cost

litem twenty years study. Nor ought this to seem

a wonder, since to arrive at perfection in sophistry

requires a long habit, as well as in juggling, in

wliich last tiiey were very expert: but to be masters

of both, and withal to learn the art of managing

the mob, which is vulgarly called leading the

‘people by the nose, demands abundant studly and


ters wliich come In by way of digression or iUusiratlon, Oifcer-

^vise they wou’d not be necessary iu a meis speclmeii^ tl^^ogh hM

a faibbed ^crk ladispeosable.


IV. The children of the several kings, with

those of all the nobility, were committed to the

tuition of the Druids, whereby they had an opportunity

(contrary to all good politics) of moulding

and framing them to their own private interests

and purposes; considering which direction

of education, Patiic, had they been a landed clergy,

wou’d not have found the conversion of Ireland

so easy a task. 80 easy indeed it was, that the

heathen monarch Laogirius, (who, as some assert,

w^as never himself converted) and all the provincial

kings, granted to every man free liberty of

preaching and professing Christianity. So that,

as Giraldus Cambrensis remarks, this is the only

country of christians, where nobody was obliged

to suffer martyrdom* for the gospel. This justice

therefore I wou’d do to Ireland, even if it had not

been my country, viz. to maintain that this tolerating

principle, this impartial Uhcriy (e^ er since

unexampled there as well as elsew here, Ciiina excepted)

is a far greater honour to it, than whatever

thins: most crlorious or maffniiicent can be said of

‘^Omnes sancti terrae istius confessores- sunt. cV nullus tnartj/r ;

quod in alio regno Christiana difficiie erit intcnire. Minim ita,

fjiie quod gens cruedeliasima &; sanguinis stibunda. fides ah unit,

quo fundata S)’ semper tepidissima^ pro Christi ecdesia corona

fnarhjrii nulla. Non igitur inventus est inpartihus istis, qui ecm

elesiee surgcniisfundamenta sanguinis effusione cementarct : non

fuit^ qui faceret hoc bonum ; non fuit usque ad unum, Topo.

graph. Hibern. Distinct. 3, cap, 20.


any other country in the world. Girakl, on the

contrary, (as in his days they were wont to overrate

martyrdom, celibacy, and the like, much

above the positive duties of relii^ion) thinks it a reproach

to the Irish, That none of their Saints cemented

thefoundatio7is of the growing church ivith

their hlood, all of them heing confessors^ (says he,)

and not one able to boast of the croivii ofmartyrdom.

But who ^ees not the vanity and absurdity of this

charge? It is blaming the princes and people for

their reasonableness, moderation and humanity;

as it is taxing the new converts for not seditiouslyprovoking

them to persecute, and for not madly

running themselves to a voluntary death, which

was the unjustihable conduct of many elsewhere

in the primitive times of Christianity. ‘Tis on

much better grounds, tho’ with a childish and nauseous

jingle, that he accuses the Irish clergy of his

own time : and so far am I from being an enemy to

the clergy, that I heartily wish the like could not

be said of any clergy, whether there, or here, or

elsewhere, from that time to this. Well then:

what is it? They are pastors, (says he)*, who seek

not tofeed, but to befed: Prelates, icho desire not to

profit, but to preside: Sishops, zcho embrace 7iot the

nature, but the name; not the burden, but the bravery

* Su7it enim pastores^ qui non pascere qiicerimt, sed pasci:

sunt praiatiy qui non prodesse cupiunt^ sed prteesse: smite pisco~

pi, qui non omen, sed noinenj non otius^ sed honoretn amplectun^

lur. Id. Ibid.


of their profession. This, my lord, I reckon to be

110 digression from my subject, since what little

opposition their happen’d to be in Ireland to

Christianity, was wholly made by the Druids, or

at their instigation: and that when they perceived

this new religion like to prevail, none came into it

speedier, or made a more advantageous iignre in

it, than they. The Irish, however, have their mariyrologies,

(lest this should be objected by some

trifler) but they are of such of their nation as suffer€

Kl in other countries, or under the heathen

Danes in their own country, some hundreds of

years after the total conversion of it to Christianity.

V. Those advantages we have nam’d in the two

last sections, and many the like articles, with the

Druids pretences to work miracles, to foretel

events by augury and otherwise, to have familiar

intercourse with the gods (highly confirmed by

calculating eclipses) and a thousand imposture.^

of the same nature*, I can, by irrefragable authorities,

set in such a light, that all of the like kind

may to every one appear in as evident a vievv >

which, as I hinted before, cannot but be very serviceable

both to religion and morality. For true

religion does not consist hi cunningly devis’d

fables, in authority, dominion, or pomp; but ia

* The heads of the two last sections, with these here mentioned,

(though conceived hi few words) will -^^t each make a separate

chapter hi the History ; this present specimen being chiefly ia.

teodcd for modera iustances, as by the sequel will appear.


.spirit and in truth, in simplicity and social virtue,

in a filial love and reverence, not in a servile dread

and terror of tlie divinity. As the fundamental

law of a historian is, daring to say whatever is

true, and not daring to write any falsehood: neither

being swayed by love or hatred, nor gain’d

by favour or interest; so he ought, of course, to

be as a man of no time or country, of no sect or

j>arty, which I hope the several nations concern’d

in this enquiry will find to be particularly true of

me. But if, in clearing up antient rites and cusloms,

with the origin and institution of certain religious

or civil societies (long since extinct), any

communities or orders ofmen, now in being, should

think themselves touched, tliey ought not to impute

it to design in the author, but to the conformity

of things, if, indeed, there be any real resemblance:

and, in case there be none at all, tlicy

should not make people apt to suspect there is,

by crying out tlio’ they are not hurt. I remember,

when complaint w^as made agamst an honourable

person *, that, in treating of the heathen

priests, he had whipt so)ue christian priests on

their backs, all the answer he made, w as only asking,

W/iat made tItem get up there? The benefit of

which answ er I claim before-hand to myself^ without

making or needing any other apology. Yet,

if the correspondence oi’ any priests w ith heaveii

=*^ Sir Robert Ifowarf^


be as slenderly grounded as that of the Druids,

if their miracles be as fictitious and fraudulent, if

their love of riches be as immoderate, if their thirst

after power be as insatiable, and their exercise of

it be as partial and tyrannical over the laity, then

I am not only content they should be touched,

whether I thought of them or not, but that they

should be blasted too, without the possibility of

ever sprouting up again. For truth will but shine

the brighter, the better its counterfeits are shewn:

and all that I can do to shew my candour is, to

leave the reader to make such applications himself,

seldom making any for him; since he that is

neither clear-sighted, nor quick enough of conception,

to do so, may to as good purpose read the

Fairi/ Talcs as this history.

YI. Besides this impartial disposition, the competent

knowledge I have of the northern languages,

dead and living, (though I shall prove that no

Druids, except such as towards their latter end

fled thither for refuge, or that went before with

Celtic invaders or colonies, were ever among the

Gothic nations) I say, these languages will not a

little contribute to the perfection of my work, for

a reason that may with more advantage appear in

the book itself. But the knowledge of the ancient

Irish, which I learnt from my childhood, and of

the other Celtic dialects, in all which I have printed

books or manuscripts (not to speak of their

vulgar traditions), is absolutely necessary, these


having preserved iiiiniberless monuments concerning

the Druids, that never hitherto have come to

the hands of the learned. For as the institutions

of the Druids were formerly better learnt in Britain,

by Caesar said to be the native seat of this

superstitious race, than in Gaule, where yet it exceedingly

flourished ; so their memory is still best

preserved in Ireland and the highlands of Scotland,

comprehending the Hebridse, Hebrides, or

Western Isles, among which is the Isle of Man,

where they continued long after their extermination

in Gaule and South Britain, mostly by the

Romans, but finally by the introduction of Christianity.

Besides, that much of the Irish heathen

mythology is still extant in verse, which gives such

a lustre to this matter, and, of course, to the Greek

and Roman fragments concerning the Druids, as

could not possibly be had any other way.

VII. Thus (to give an example in the philological

part) the controversy among the grammarians,

whether they should write Driiis or Druida^ in

* The Irish word for Druid is Drui^ corruptly Droi, and

more corruptly Draoi; yet all of the same sound, which in etymologies

is a great matter; and in the nominative plural it is

Druidhe, whence comes no doubt the Greek and Latin Druides;

as Druis in the singular was formed by only adding s to Drui^

according io those nation’s way of terminating. But as these

words in Irish as well as the British Drudwn, are common to

both sexes; so the Romans, according to their inflection, distinguished

Dmida for a She-Druid (which sort are mentioned by


the nominative case singular, can only be decided

by the Irish writings, as you may see demonstrated

in the margin, where all grammatical remarks

shall be inserted among the other notes of the history,

if they do not properly belong to the annexed

Dissertation concerning the Celtic Languages and

Colonies. This conduct I observe, to avoid any

disagreeable stop or perplexity in the work itself,

by uncouth words, or of difficult pronunciation.

For as every thing in the universe is the subject of

writing, so an author ought to treat of every subject

smoothly and correctly, as well as pertinently

and perspicuously; nor ought he to be void of ornament

and elegance, where his matter peculiarly

requires it. Some things want a copious style,

some a concise, others to be more floridly, others

to be more plainly handl’d, but all to be properly,

methodically, and handsomely exprest. Neglecting

these particulars, is neglecting, and consequently

affronting the reader. Let a lady be as

well shap’d as you can fancy, let all her features

he faultless, and her complexion be ever so deliauthors)

whereof the nominative plural being Druidtr, h ought

by us to be used in that sense only : and so I conclude, that in

cur modern Latin compositions Druides and Druidce should

not be confounded, as they have frequently been by the transcribers

of old writings, who mislead others. We are not to be

moved therefore by reading Druidce in any Latin author in the

masculine gender, or in the Greek writers, who certainly used

it so. All ec[ui¥ocation at least will be thus taken away.


cate; yet if she be careless of her person, tawdry

ill her dress, or aukward in her gate and behavior,

a man of true taste is so far from being touched

with the charms of her body, that he is immediately

prepossest against the beauties of her mind;

and apt to believe there can be no order within,

w here there is so much disorder without. In my

opinion, therefore, the Muses themselves are never

agreeable company without the Graces. Or if, as

your lordship's stile is remarkably strong, you

wou'd, with Cicero *, take this simile from a man,

you 11 own 'tis not enough to make him be lik'd,

that he has well-knit bones, nerves and sinews:

there must be likewise proportion, muscling, and

coloring, much blood, and some softness. To relate

facts without their circumstances, whereon

depends all instruction; is to exhibit a skeleton

without the flesh, wherein consists all comeliness.

Tliis I say to your lordship, not pretending to teach

the art of writing to one, who's so fit to be my master;

but to obviate the censures of those, and to

censure 'em in their turns, who not only do not

treat of such subjects as I have now undertaken in

a flowing and continu'd stile, but peremtorily deny

the holds of antiquity and criticism to be capable

of this culture: and indeed as suffering under the

drudgery of their hands, they generally become

barren heaths or unpassable thickets; where you

* De Oraiore^ lib, 1.



are blinded with sand, or torn with bryars and

brambles. There's no choice of words or exjDressions.

All is low and vulgar, or absolete and

musty; as the whole discourse is crabbed, hobbling,

and jejune. Not that I wond have too

much license taken in this respect; for though

none ought to be slaves to any set of words, yet

greatjudgement is to be employed in creating anew,

or reviving an old word: nor must there be less

discretion in the use of figures and sentences;

which, like embroidery and salt, are to set off and

season, but not to render the cloth invisible, or the

meat uneatable. To conclude this point, we are

told by the most eloquent of men, that a profuse

volubility *, and a sordid exility of words, are to

be equally avoided. And now, after this digression,

if any thing that essentially relates to my

task can be properly called one, I return to the

Druids, who were so prevalent in Ireland, that to

this hour their ordinary word for magician is

Druid'\, the art magic, is call'd Diuidif^'l, and

the wand, which was one of the badges of their

profession, the rod of Druidism\. Among antient

classic authors Pliny is the most express concerning

the magic of the Druids, whereof the old Irish

and British books are full: which le2:erdemain,

f)T secrets of natural philosophy, as all magic is

* Cicero de Oraterr^ lib. 1. + Drui, J Drit'ulheacht.

§ Slatnan DruidJitucht,


oitlier the one or the other, or l)otli, we shall endeavour

to lay open in our history of the Druids;

not forgetting any old author that mentions them,

for there's something particular to be learnt in

every one of them, as they touch different circumstances.

Having occasionally spoken of the wand

or staft' which every Druid carry'd in his hand, as

one of the badges of his profession, and which in

a chapter on this subject will be shewn to have

been a usual thing with all pretenders to magic,

I must here acquaint you further, that each of

'em had what was commonly called the Druid's

Egg, which shall be explain'd in the history, hung

about his neck, inchas'd in gold. They all wore

short hair, while the rest of the natives had theirs

very long; and, on the contrary, they wore long

beards, while other people shav'd all theirs, but

the upper lip. They likewise all w^ore long habits;

as ditl the Bards and the Vaids: but the

Druids had on a white surplice, whenever they

religiously officiated. In Ireland they, with the

graduate Bards and Vaids, had the privilege of

wearing six colours in their hreacans or robes,

which were the striped braccae of the Gauls, still

worn by the Highlanders, whereas the king and

queen might have in theirs but seven, lords and

ladies five, governors of fortresses four, officers

and young gentlemen of quality three, common

soldiers tw o, and common people one. This sumtuary

law , most of the Irish historians say, was


enacted under King Achaius* the 1st.; tho'

others, who will have this to be but the reviving of

an old law, maintain it was first established by

King Tigernmhas.

VIII. As the Druids were commonly wont to

retire into grots, dark woods, mountains, and

groves f, in which last they had their numerous

schools, not without houses as some have foolishly

dreamt, so many such places in France, Britain, and

Ireland, do still bear their names : as Ureux, the

place of their annual general assemby in France;

Kerig-y-Dnidion, or Druid-stones, a parish so

caird in Denbighshire, from a couple of their altars

there still remaining. In Anglesey there is

the village of Tre'r Driii^ the. town of the Druid,

next to which is Trer Beirdh or Bards-town: as

also in another place of the same island Blaen-y-

Drun, that is, the Druid's stone ; and Caer-Dreuin,

or the city of the Druids^ in Merioneth-shire.

The places in Ireland and the Hebrides are infinite.

The present ignorant vulgar, in the first of

the last-mention'd places, do believe, that those inchanters

were at last themselves inchanted by th.eir

apostle Patric and his disciples, miraculously confining

them to the places that so bear their names


* Eochaid Eudghathach.

+ These groves for pleasure and retirement, as well as for awe

and reverence, were different from the lurking places in forests

and cares, into Tvhich they were forc'd "when interdicted in Gaule

and Britain.


where they are tliought to retain much power, and

sometimes to appear, which are fancies * like the

English notion of fairies. Thus the Druid O'Murnin

inhabits the hill of Creag-a-Vanny, in Inisoen


Auniusf in Benavny from him so calFd in the

county of Londonderry, and Gealcossa;]:, in Gealcossa’s

mount in Inisoen aforesaid in the county

of Dunegall. This last was a Druidess, and her

name is of the homerical strain, signifying Whilelegg’d^.

On this hill is her grave, the true inchantment

which confines her, and hard by is her

temple; being a sort of diminutive stone-lxenge,

which many of the old Irish dare not even at this

day any way prophane. I shall discover such

things about these temples, whereofmultitudes are

still existing, many of them entire, in the Hebrides,

in Orkney, and on the opposite Continent; as also

many in Wales, in Jersey and Guernsey, and some

in England and Ireland, the most remarkable to

be accurately describ’d and delineated in our history.

I shall discover such things, I say, about the

famous Egg of the Druids, to the learned hitherto

a riddle not to speak of their magical gems and

* Such fancies came from the hiding of the persecuted Druids,

from the reign of Tiberius, who made the first law against them

(having been discountenanced by Augustus) but strictly put ia

execution by Claudius, and the following emperors, till their

utter extirpation by the general conversion of the people to


+ Aibhne or Oibhne. % Gealchossach, § Cnuc na Geai,



herbs: as also about their favourite all-heal or

Misselto*, gather’d with so much ceremony by a

priest in his white surplice, as Phny f tells us, and

with a gold pruning-knile ; as well as about the

abstrusest parts of their philosophy and religion,

that the like has not yet appear’d in any author,

who has treated of them. The books of such

are either bare collections of fragments, or a heap

of precarious fables; I mean especially some

French writers on this subject, as Picard, Forcatulus,

Guenebaut, with others of no better allay

in Britain and Germany; for as I admit notliing

w ithout good authority, so I justly expect, that,

without as good, nothing will be admitted from me.

IX. But, my lord, besides tliese Druids, the

antient Gauls, Britons, and Irish, had another

order of learned men, callYl Bards, whereof we

shall sufficiently discourse in our proposed Avork.

J^ardi^ still the Irish and Scottish word, as Bardh

the Armoric and British. There s no difference

in the p>ronunciation, tho’, according to their different

manner of writing in expressing the pow er

of the letters, they vary a little in the orthography:!;.

“^^^^ Bards were divided into three

* All these heads will be so many intire chapters.

T Sacerdos, Candida veste cullus^ arhorcm scandit: fake aurea

demeliL Hist. Nat. Lib. 16. Cap. 44.

X Let it be noted once for all, that, as in other tongues, so in

Irish and Welsh particularly, t and d are commonly put for each

other, by reason of their afiinity ; and that dk anfl gh being pro.

Hounc’d alike in Irish, and therefore often confounded, yet an


orders or degrees, namely, to give an example

now in the British dialect, as I shall give their

turns to all the Celtic colonies, Privarelh, Posvardk,

and Aruyvardh: but, with regard to the

subjects whereof they treated, they were callYl

Prndudh, or Tevluur, or Clerur; which words,

with the equivalent Irish names, shall be explained

in our history, where you’ll find this division

of the Bards well warranted. The first were

chronologers, the second heralds, and the third

comic or satyrical poets among the vulgar: for the

second sort did sing the praises of great men in

the heroic strain, very often at the head of armies,

like him in Virgil


Cretea musarum comitem, cui carmina semper

Et citharae cordi, numerosque intendere nervis


Semper equos, atq ; arma virum, pugnasq ; canebat


ViRG. ^-^» Lib. 9,

And the first, who likewise accompany’d them in

peace, did historically register their genealogies

and atchievements. We have some proofs that

exact writer will always have regard to the origin as well as to

the analogy of any word : and so heMl write Druidhe^ (for example)

and not Druighe, much less Draoithe broadly and aspi«

lately ; nor will he use any other mispellings, tho’ ever so com.

mon in books. This is well observed by an old author, who

writing of Conia, a heathen freethinking judge of Connacht, thus

characterizes him ; Se do rinee an choinhhUocht ris na Druids

tdhh: ’twas he that disputed against the Druids. These criti.

cisms, some would say. are trifles : but Has nii^ae in seria




the panegyrics of the Gallic Bards did not ah\ay.^

want wit no more that flattery; and particularly

an instance out of Atheneus, who had it from Pcsidonius

the stoic, concerning Luernius*, a Gallic

prince, extraordinary rich, liberal, and magniiicent.

He was the father of that same Bittus, who

was beaten by the Romans. Now this Lnernins^

saysf my author, ** Having appointed a certain

*’ day for a feast, and one of the barbarous poets

** coming too late, met him, as he was departing;

** whereupon he began to sing his praises and to

** extol his grandeur, but to lament his own un-

** happy delay. Lueraius being delighted, caird

*’ for a purse of gold, which he threw to him, as

** he ran by the side of his chariot: and he taking

*’ it up, began to sing again to this purpose; That

” out of the tracks )iis chariot had plow’d on the

” oroiuid, sprung up gold and blessings to man-

” kind.” As some of the Gallic Bards were truly

ingenious, so were many of them mere quiblers


and among the bombast of the British and Irish

Bards, there want not infinite instances of the true

sublime. Their epigrams were admirable, nor do

* Whether it be Luernius, or as Strabo writes it Luerius, the

name is frequent either way in the antientegt Irish writers, as

Loarn, and Luire or Luighaire.

t A<^coia-av7ci; J’ avra Trfo^srixuiv Tron rr; Bom,;, a<^v<rifr.a-a.)/ra tiva tmv BafZapc^v

TTOJviTMV a^iKis-Qai ; xaj a-in/nvTncavTct (xtr win!; y/uv£iv a-jnv ir.^ vTrifO^nv, savnt ¥ oTi virifWi : totS’e Tif’pBivra OuKctKiov ULrr.a-ai X?’^^’”"} ‘**’


*”‘^’*’ ‘^apx-

‘rpgp(;ovT{ ; ^’ tuEiyiv TtaKn v{xviiy, M>’0»t*, Jo Kai ra i^in tk? yv^(£<p’ r.q «;-

/^aTnT’.ttTEi) xfi^<^*v if.a.1 i;£p>’efw? avSpwTTws <}>ipn. Edit, Lugd, lib. 4. Jtag* 152.


the modern Italians equal them in conceits. But

in stiring the passions, their elegies and lamentations

far excede those of the Greecs, because they

express nature much more naturally. These

Bards are not yet quite extinct, there being of

them in Wales, in the Highlands of Scotland, and

in Ireland: nor did any country in the world

abound like the last with this sort of men, whose

licentious panegyrics or satyrs have not a little

contributed to breed confusion in the Irish history.

There were often at a time, a thousand OUaivs*^

or graduate poets, besides a proportionable number

of inferior rhymers, who all of ‘em liv’d most

of the year on free cost: and, what out of fear of

their railing, or love of their flattery, no body

durst deny them any thing, be it armour, fewel,

horse, mantle, or the like; which grew into a gejieral

custom, whereof the poets did not fail io

take the advantage. The great men, out of selflove

and interest, enconrag’d no other kind of

learning, especially after they professed Christianity:

the good regulation, under which they

were in the time of Druidism, as then in some

manner belonging to the temples, having been destroyed

with that religion. In a small time they

became such a grievance, that several attempts

were made to rid the nation of them : and, which

is something comical, what at least our present

l)oets would not extraordinarly like, the orders

* Ollamh is a professor or doctor in any faculty.


for banishing them were ahvays to the Highlands

of Scotland: while they were as often harboiir’d

in Ulster, till upon promise of amendment of their

manners, I mean, and not of their poetry, they

were permitted to return to the other provinces.

At last, in a general national assembly, or parliament,

at Drumcat*, in the country we now call

the county of Londonderry, under Aidus Anmireust,

Xlth christian king, in the year 597, where

was also present Adius J, king of Scotland, and

the great Columba§, it was decreed: that for the

better preservation of their history, genealogies,

and the purity of their language, the supreme monarch,

and the subordinate kings, with every lord

of a cantred, should entertain a poet of his own,

no more being allowed by the antient law in the

iland: and that upon each of these and their posterity

a portion of land free from all duties, shou’d

be settl’d for ever; that, for encouraging the

learning these poets and antiquaries profest, public

schools shou’d be appointed and endow’d, under

the national inspection; and tliat the monarch’s

own bard shou’d be arch-poet 1|, and have

super-intendancy over the rest. ‘Tis a common

mistake, into which father Pczron has fallen,

among others, that the Bards belonged to the body

©f the Druids: but tliis is not the place to rectify

* Druim^ceat ullas Druimcheat, + Aodhinhac Ainmhire.

J Aodhanmhac Gaurain. § Coluim-cille. || ArcLOllawh.


it. Tliey made liyiims for the use of tlic temples,

‘ris true, and manag’d the music there; but they

•were the Druids that officiated as priests, and no

sacrifices were oifer’d but by their ministry.

X. In the history likewise shall be fully explain’d

the third order of the Celtic Literati, by

the Greecs called Ouateis, and by the Romans

Vates; which yet is neither Greec nor Roman,

but a mere Celtic word, viz. Faidh, which signifies

to this day a prophet in all Irish books, and

in the common language, particularly in the Irish

translation of the Bible; where Druids* are also

commonly put for inchanters, as those of Egypt,

and especially for the Mages, or as we translate,

the wise menf that came from the East, to visit

Jesus in his cradle. So easily do men convey

their own ideas into other men s books, or find

em there; which has been the source of infinite

mistakes, not only in divinity, but also in philosophy

and philology. The Celtic Vaids J, were

physicians and diviners, great proficients in natural

philosophy, as were likewise the Druids, who

* Draoithe, Exod. 7. 11. Anols Draoithe na Ilegipte dor

jnnedursanfos aran modhgceadna le nandroigheachtuibh.

t Mat. 2. 1. Feuch Tangadar Draoithe o naird shoir go Hlarusalem.

i The word Faidh (or Vait by the usual conversion of tlic

letters F into F, and D into T) whence the Latin made Fates;

and their critics acknowledge, that they took many words from

the Gauls. The Euchagcs and Ezibages, in some copies of Ammianus

Marccllinus, are false readingSj as in time will appear.


liad the particular inspection of morals, but Cicero,

who was well acquainted with one of the prime

Druids, remarks, that their predictions were as

much grounded on conjecture*, as on the rules

of augury: both equally fortuitous and fallacious.

For the saying of Euripides will ever hold true,

that the best gtiesser is the best prophet ]\ He that

is nearly acquainted with the state of affairs, that

understands the spring of human actions, and,

that judiciously allowing for circumstances, compares

tlie present time with the past: he, I say,

will make a shrewd guess at the future. By this

time, my lord, you begin to perceive what is to be

the subject of the history I intend to write;

which, tho” a piece of general learning and great

curiosity, yet I shall make it ray business so to

digest, as to render it no less entertaining than

instructive to all sorts of readers, without excepting

the ladies, who are pretty much concern d in

this matter; throwing, as I told you before, all my

critical observations, and disquisitions about

words, into the margin, or the dissertation annext

to the history. As to what I say of the ladies

So are Drusi, Drushles^ and Drusiades for Druides: as likewise

Vardi, from the British and Irish oblique cases of Bard.

*Siquidem & in Gallia Druides sunt, c quibus ipse Divitiajium

Aeduum, hospitem tuum laudatoremque, cognovi (inquit Quin.

tas) qui & natur;e rationem, quam physiologiani Gra^ci appellant,

iiotam esse sibi profitebatur; & partim Auguriis, partim conjeetura,

quae essent futura dicebat, Dc Dhinct^ lib, I. cap, 41.


being oonceni’d in this history, there ^vere not

only Druidesses; but some even of the highest

rank, and princesses themselves were educated

by the Druids: for in our annals we read, that

the two daughters of king Laogirius*, in whose

reign Patric preach’d Christianity, were educated

by tliem; and we have the particulars of a long

flispute those young ladies maintained against

this new religion, very natural but very subtil.

Several other ladies bred under the Druids became

famous for their writings and proficiency in

learning, of some of whom we shall occasionally

give an account: but lest I shou’d be thousrht in

every thing to flatter the sex, how much soever I

respect them, I refer the reader to a story in my

third letter. But, in order to complete my design,

vso as to leave no room for any to write on this subject

after me ; and also to procure several valuable

manuscripts, or authentic copies of them, %veil

knowing where they ly, I purpose towards the

spring to take a journey for at least six months:

which, at our next meeting, I shall do myself the

honour to impart to your lordship very particularly.

XT. The Irish, a few Scandinavian and Danish

words excepted, being not only a dialect of the

ancient Celtic or Gallic, but being also liker the

mother than her other daughter the British ; and

the Irish manuscripts being niiore numercu^ and

* Laoghaire.


raiicli antieiiter tliau tlie AVelsh, sIiiavs beyond all

contradiction the necessity of this language for

retrieving the knowledge of the Celtic religion

and learning. Camden and others have long since

taken notice of the agreement between the present

British and those old Gallic words collected by

learned men out of Greec and Roman authors:

and the industrious Mr. Edward Lhuyd, late

keeper of the Museum at Oxford, perceiv’d this

affinity between the same words and the Irish,

even before he study^d that language, by the demonstration

I gave him of the same in all the said

instances. Nor does he deny this agreement in

tlic comparative Etymologicon he afterwards made

of those languages, where he quotes Camden and

Boxhornius affirming it about the Gallic and British;

hut there heing, says he*, no Vocabulary extant,

meaning no doubt in print, of the Irish, or

mttient Scottish, they coudnot collect that language

therewith, which the curious in those studies ivill now

find to agree rather more than ours, with the Gaulish,

That it does so, is absolute fact, as will be

seen by hundreds of instances in this present work.

I am aware that what I am going to say will sound

very oddly, and seem more than a paradox ; but I

deserve, my lord, and sliall be content with your

severest censure, if, before you have linish’d reading

these sheets, you be not tirndy of the same

iniiid yourself; namely, that, without the know-

* In the preface to tis Archccolo^ia Britannka, pa^. 1,


lege of the Irish language and books, the Gallic

antiquities, not meaning the Francic, can never be

set in any tolerable light, with regard either to words

or to things ; and numerous occasions there will occur

in this History of illustrating both words and

things even in the Greec and Roman authors. I

shall here give one example of this, since I just

come from treating of the several professors of

learning common to the antient Gauls, Britons,

and Scots, viz. the Druids, Bards, and Vaids.

Lucian* relates that in Gaule he saw Hercules

represented as a little old man, whom in the language

of the country they calFd Oginius; drawing

after him aninfmite multitude of persons, who

seem’d most willing to follow, tho’ drag’d by extreme

line and almost imperceptible chains : which

were fasten’d at the one end to their ears, and held

at the other, not in either ofHercules’s hands, which

were both otherwise imploy’d; but ty’d to the tip

of his tongue, in whicli there was a hole on purpose,

where all those chains centi-’d. Lucian wondering

at this manner of poi’traying Hercules, was

inform’d by a learned Druid who stood by, that

Hercules did not in Gaul, as in Greece, betoken

strength ofhody, but \\\^force of eloqiteiice; which

is there very beautifully display’d by the Druid,

ui his explication of the picture that hung in the

* Tov ‘EpaxAsa o; KsXto; OFMION Qwy-x^ovci 4)wv>: irn S7:ix^f,i’j/, et quae seqmujtur

in Hercule Gallico ; Gr^ca etcnini longiora santj quani ut bic co7u=

mode iaseri possint.



temple. Now, the critics of all nations have made

a heavy pother about this same word Ogmius, and

labonriously songht for the meaning of it every

“where, but just where it was to be found. The

most celebrated Bochart, who, against the grain

of nature, if I may so speak, wou’d needs reduce

all things to Phenician; says it is an oriental word,

since the Arabians’* call strangers and barbarians

Agemion: as if, because the Phenicians traded

antiently to Gaule and the British ilands, for colonies

in them they planted noiie, they must have

also imported their language; and, with their

other commodities, barter’d it for something to

the natives, naming their places, their men, and

their gods for them. Our present Britons, who

are at least as great traders, do not find they can

do so in Phenicia, nor nearer home in Greece and

Italy, nor yet at their own doors in this very Gaule


besides that Lucian does positively affirm Ogmius

was a Gallic word, a tvord of the country ‘\, This

has not hinder’d a learned English physician, Dr.

Edmund Dickenson, from hunting still in the east

for a derivation of it; conjecturing Hercules to be

Joshua J, who was surnamed Ogmius, for havingconquei’d

Og king of Bashan:

* In Geo^raphia Sacra^ sive Canaan^ part 2. cap. 42.

t <t>oinr, T» sTTt^aifiM. Ubi supra,

t Josuam quoque spectassc videtur illud nomen^ quo Galli an^

iiquitus Ilcrciik-ra nuncupahant, Vndc vero oyiMn;} Annon «/-»

Og victo? Delph. Plioenicizant. cap. 3.


O ! sanctas gentes ! quibus haec nascuntur in hortis


Juvenal, Sat. 15. ver. 10.

I could make your lordship yet merryer, or rather

angrier, at these forc’d and far-fetch’d etymologies,

together with others hammered as wretchedly out

of Greec, nay even out of Suedish and German.

But the word Ogmius, as Lucian was truely inform*

d, is pure Celtic; and signifies, to use Tacitus’s*

phrase about the Germans, the Secret of

Letters, particularly the letters themselves, and

consequently the learning that depends on them,

from whence the force of eloquence proceeds: so

that Hercules Ogmius is the Ijcarned Hercules, or

Hercules the jyrotector oflearning, having by many

been reputed himself a philosopher f. To prove

this account of the word, so natural and so apt, be

pleas’d to understand, that, from the very beginning

of the colony, Ogum, sometimes written

Ogam, and also OgmaJ, has signify^d in Ireland

the secret of letters, or the Irish alphabet; for the

truth of which I appeal to ail the antient Irish

books, without a single exception. ‘Tis one of

* Literarum Secreta viu puriier ac foeminae ingnorant, De

moribus Germanorum, cap. 19.

c^-u^i rr,v Koyxy>.vVf &c. Palaphatifragmentum in Chronica Alexandrino. ^Epnxx?)

j AXKfAtj^TK: uiog. TcwTOv 4>iXo5-o4>o» ico^ovTifScc. Suidas in voce ‘Epajtx*??. Et din

ante Suidam audiebat apud Heraclitum, in Allegoriis Homericis, Avrj e^4>^«r,

xa.1 crc^ja? ou^xnov (xvirni:, ua-nifji kcita QaQsix; a^Kvo; tfriQi^uK.vMt 6<J>«T<^£ rnv

(J-iXecro^jair, KaBaTfc^ vfxa’h.oyovtrt nai 2T«i»a;> oi Joxj^awTctTo;,

t Au in the Dublin college manuscript, to be presently cited,



the most authentic words of the language, and

originally stands for this notion alone. Indeed

after Patric had converted the nation, and, for the

better propagating of christian books, introducd

the use of the Roman letters, instead of the antient

manner of writing, their primitive letters,

very different from those they now use, bagan by

degrees to grow absolete; and at last legible only

by antiquaries and other curious men, to whom

they stood in as good stead as any kind of occult

characters : whence it happen’d that Ogum, from

j-^ignifying the secret qfivriting, came to signify 5^-

cret writing, but still principally meaning the original

Irish characters. There are several manuscript

treatises extant, describing and teaching the

various methods of this secret writing; as one in

the college-library of Dublin*, and another in that

of his grace the duke of Chandois f. Sir James

Ware, in his A^itiqiiities ofIreland, relating how the

(mfient Irish did, hesides the vulgar characters, jnac^

lise also divers ivays and arts of occult ivriting, ccUVd

Ogum, in ivhich they ivrote their secrets; I have,

continues hej, an antieiit parchment hook full of


* ‘Tis, among other pieces, in The Book of BuUlmore ; being

the Ibbih ¥olum in (he Dublin catalogue, in pcirchmcnt, folio,

D. IS.

+ Anonymi cujusdam Tractatus de variis apud nibernos veteresoccultis

scribendi formuiis, Hibernict* 0^«;» dictis.

t Praeier characteres vulgares utebantur etiam veleres Hiberni

>ariis occultis scribendi formuiis seu artificiis, Ogum dictis, quiOF


tifi’se, ^^bicli is the Siune just now said to belong;’

to the duke of Chandois: and Dudley Forbes %

a hereditary antiquary, Avrote to the rather bdjorious

than judicious chronologist O’Flaherty -)% in

(he year 1683, that he had some of the primitive

birch-tables |, for those they had before the use of

parchment or paper, and many sorts of the old

occult writing by him. These are principally the

Og/irmi-beith, the Ogham-coll, and the Oghamcraofh\,

which last is the old one and the true.

But that the primary Irish letters, the letters first

in common use, which in the manner we have

shown, became accidentally occult, were originally

meant by the word ogum; besides the appeal

made above to all antient authors, is plain in particular

from Forchern, a noted bard and philosopher,

who liv’d a little before Christ. This learned

man ascribing with others the invention of letters

to the Phenicians, or rather more strictly and properly

to Phenix, whom the Irish call Fenms farsaidJi,

or Phenix the antient, says, that, among

other alphabets, as the Hebrew, Greec, and Latin,

he also compos’d that of Bethhiis?iion an Oghuim\\,

bus secreia suascribcbant : his referturn habeo libellum membranacGum

antiquum. Cap, 2.

* Dualtach mhac Firbis. + Ruahruigh O Flaltlubheartuigh.

X Ogygia^ part. 3. cap. 30. § Ogiim.branches,

[| Fenius Farsaidti alphabeia prima Ilebrasorum, Graecorura^

Latinorum, et Bethluisnion an Oghuim, composult. Ex For'

cherni libro^ octingentis retro mnis Laiine reddiio.


the alphabet of ogum, or the Irish alphabet, meanins:

that he invented the first letters, in imitation

of which the alphabets of those nations were made.

Ogum is also taken in this sense by the best modern

writers: as William O'Donnell*, afterwards

archbishop of Tuam, in his preftice to the Irish

New Testament, dedicated to KingJames the First,

and printed at Dublin in the year 1602, speaking

of one of his assistants, says, that he eujomd him

io ivrite the other part according to the Ogum and

jjropriety of the Irish tongue; where Ogum must

necessarily signify the alphabet, orthography, and

true manner of writing Irish. From all this it is

clear, why among the Gauls, of whom the Irish

had their language and religion, Hercules, as the

protector of learning, shou d be call'd Ogmius, the

tennination alone being Greec. Nor is this all.

Ogma w as not only a known proper name in Ireland,

but also one of the most antient; since Ogma

Grianann, the father of King Dalboetius f, was one

of the first of the Danannan race, many ages before

Lucian's time. He was a very learned man,

raarry'd to Eathna, a famous poetess, who bore,

])esides the fore-mention d monarch, Cairbre, like-

AYise a poet: insomuch that Ogma was deservedly

suniamed Grianann ;{:, which is to say Phebean,

where you may observe learning still attending

* William O DomhnuilL i” Dealbhaoith.

% Griun is the sun, and Grianann, or belonging to

the sun.


this name. The Celtic language being now almost

extinct in Gaule, except onely in lower Brittany,

and such Gallic words as remain scatterd

among the French ; subsists however intire in the

several dialects* of the Celtic colonies, as do the

word sogimi and ogma, particularly in Irish. Nor

is there any thing better known to the learned, or

will appear more undeniable in the sequel of this

work, than that words lost in one dialect of the

unme common language, are often found in another:

as a Saxon word, for example, grown obsolete

in Germany, but remaining yet in England,

may be also us’d in Switzerland; or another word

grown out of date in England, and fiourisliing still

in Denmark, continues likewise in Iceland. So

most of the antiquated English words are more

or less corruptly extant in Friezlancl, Jutland, and

the other northern countries ; w ith not a few in the

Lowlands of Scotland, and in the old English pale

in Ireland.

XII. Now, from the name of Hercules let’s come

to his person, or at least to the person acknowledg’d

to have been one of the heros worshiped by

the Gauls, and suppos’d by the Greecs and Ro«

mans to be Hercules. On this occasion I cannot

but reflect on the opposite conduct, which the

learned and the unlearned formerly observed, with

respect to the God* and divine matters. If, thro’

the ignorance or superstition of the people, any

”’ThesQ are Brittish, Welsh, Cornish. Irish. Maaks, and Earse.


fable, tho’ ever so gross, was generally received in

a religion; the learned being ashani’d of such an

absurdity, yet not daring openly to explode any

thing Avherein the priests found their account, explain’d

it away by emblems and allegories importing

a reasonable meaning, of which the first authors

never thought: and if the learned on the

other hand, either to procure the greater veneration

for their dictates, or the better to conceal their

sentiments from the profane vulgai’, did poetically

discourse of the elements and qualities of matter,

of the constellations or the planets, and the like

effects of nature, veiling them as persons; the common

sort immediately took them for so many persons

in good earnest, and rendered ‘em divine worship

under such forms as the priests judg’d fittest

to represent them. Objects of divine worship

have been coin’d out of the rhetorical flights of

oraiors, or the flattering addresses of panegyrists


even metaphors and epithets have been transform’d

into gods, which procur d mony for the priests as

well as the best ; and this by so much the more,

as such objects were multiply’d. This is the unavoidable

consequence of deviating ever so little

from plain truth, which is never so heartily and

highly reverenc’d, as when appearing in her native

simplicity; for as soon as her genuine beauties

are indeavour’d to be heightened by borrow’d oriiaments,

and that she’s put under a disguise in

^/:)rgeoiis apparel: she quickly becomes, like


others affecting such a dress, a mercenary prostitute,

wholly acting by vanity, artifice, or interest,

and never speaking but in ambiguous or unintelligible

terms; while the admiration of her lovers

is first turn’d into amazement, as it commonly

ends in contemt and hatred. But over and above,

the difficulty, which these proceedings have occasioned

in the history of antient time, there arises

a greater from time itself destroying infinite circumstances,

the want whereof causes that to seem

afterwards obscure, which at the beginning was

very clear and easy. To this we may join the

preposterous emulation of nations, in ascribing to

their own gods or heros whatever qualities were

pre-eminent in those of others. That most judicious

writer* about the nature of the gods, commonly

caird Phurnutus, tho’ his true name was

Cornutus, a stoic philosopher, whom I shall have

frequent occasion to quote hereafter, ” owns the

*’ great variety’}', and consequently the perplexed-

*’ ness and obscurity, that occurs in the history of

‘* Hercules, whereby it is difficult to know certain-

* oovfvovTiv Scii^pta Ttsfi Tng Twy 6=a;v <jjys-£4)j, vulgo : sed, ut Ravii codex &

Vaticamis legunt (notante doctissimo Galeo) verus titulus est Ko^vovrov iTct*

ajOtA-n T’jtfy KcCla rr.v ‘EXX>ivt>t>iv do^^icLV ira^x^i^OfA.Bvcov,

t To S’E S’uco’irty.pila ytyonvAi rci ra 6iOv iha, airo rav Trspi rov ‘Hpjt;oc urOpOvfjiimr.

Ta-X,”- ^’”V ‘^ >^£OVTn xa< to fOiraXov ex. tjj? Trcthaia.; QcOT^Oyia; tn rovlov y.dzvnny^t.zv*

i.ri ; iTfctiriyoy yap avTiv yt\i3f.i.svov ayxQoVj nai TroWa fAipn rriq ynq f^na ^iiiafA,ecoq tveX’

s-jTfj.aoi? rov Biou, fxira to» aTTABarariTfAaVf vjzo ruv eu£^yiTOvy,iyv? KUtoXfAnTOAi


0-ti<x£Q\ov yxf £,i«l6t;5y giTj pw/A?jf H«4 >£yy«iOT»iTs;. SfC, cap. 31.

‘•’ Alii TriTi-vii;,


*’ ly what were liisreal atchievements, or wliat %vere

” fabulously fathered upon him: but having been

” an excellent general, who had in diverse coun-

” tries signaliz’d his valor, he thinks it not proba-

” ble, that he went onely arm’d with a lion’s skin

“and a club; but that he was represented after

” his death with these, as symbols of generosity

* and fortitude, for which reason he was pictur d

” with a bow and arrows/’ To this let me add,

that several valiant men in several nations having,

in imitation of some one man any where, been called

or rather surnam’d Hercules; not only the

works of many, as subduing of tyrants, exterminating

of wild beasts, promotmg or exercising of

commerce, and protecting or improving of learning,

have been ascrib’d to one: but that also wherever

any robust person was found represented with a

skin and a club, a bow and arrows, he was

straight deem’d to be Hercules ; whence the Egyptian,

the Indian, the Tyrian, the Cretan, the Grecian

or Theban, and the Gallic Hercules. This

w as a constant way with the Greecs and Romans,

wlio, for example, from certain resemblances perfectly

accidental, conjecturVl that Isis was honour\

l by the Germans*, and Eacchus worship’d

* Pars Suevorum & Isidi sacrificat. Unde causa et origo

peregrine sacro parum comperi; nisi quod signum ipsum, in

modum Liburcaj figuratum, docet ad?ectam Religioiiem. Tacit.

de moT, German, cap. 9.


by the Jews*, which last notion is refuted even by

their enemy Tacitus f. Such superficial discoveries

about the Celtic divinities I shall abundantly

expose. Yet that Ogmius might be really the

Grecian Hercules, well known in Gaule, it will

be no valid exception that he was by the Druids

theologically made the symboll of the force of eloquence,

for which that country has been ever distino’uish’d

and esteem’d : since even in Greece he

was, as Phurnutus assures us, mystically accounted,

that reason ivhich is diffused thro all thiiigs, according

to ivhich nature is vigorous and strong, invincible

and ever generating; being the poiver that

communicates virtue and firmness to every part of


‘I. The scholiast of Appollonius affirms,

that the natural philosophers understood by Hercules,

the intelligence and permanence of beings^:

as the Egyptians held him to be that reason, which

is iri the ivhole ofthings, and in every part ||. Thus

* Plutarch, Sj/iuposiac. lib. 4. quem prolixius disserentem

otiosus consulas, lector.

+ Quia sacerdotes eorum tibia tympanisque conciaebant, hedera

ilnciebantur, vitisque aurea teroplo reperta, Ljberum patrem

coli, domitorem Orientis, quidam arbitrati sunt, nequaquam

congruentibus institutes : quippe Liber festos Igetosque ritus

posuit, Judaeorum mos absurdus sordidusque. Lib. 5. cap. 5.

X ‘HpaxX»j Js sriv £y TSi? oXoif Xoyo;, xa9′ ov K <^V!n; nrxi’fU Hfolaia erO’, avMrJs;

KUi aTTSfiyivn^og evcra : y.Bra^oriKOi lO’xyo;, xaj t?:? ‘jta^a (^epi a’Kurig vrra^X’^n.

Ubi supra.

§ napa TOnr<|>y3-iKo;; o ^HpoKX?); s-u^za-n; xai aXv.n Xafxtanerat,

II Ton en ‘rracri, mi ha Ttanrxn, xoyon; non nXion, at corrupte legi cum Galeo

auspicor in Macrobio, Suturnal. lib. 1. cap. CO.

J, 2


the learned allegoriz tl away among others, as I

said before, the fabulous atchievements and miraculous

birth of this hero, on which we shall however

touch again, when we come to explain the

heathen humor of making all extraordinary persons

the sons of gods, and commonly begot ou

virgins ; tho’ this last is not the case of Hercules,

w^ho was feign’d to be the son of Jupiter by Alcmena,

another man’s w ife. This wou’d be reckon

d immoral among men, but Jupiter (said the

priests) can do with his own what he pleases:

which reason, if it contented the husbands, cou’d

not displease tlie batchelors, who might chance

to be sometimes Jupiter*s substitutes. The Druidical

allegory of Ogmius, or the Gallic Hercules,

which in its proper place I shall give you at large,

is extremely beautiful: and, as it concerns that

eloquence w hereof you are so consummate a master,

cannot but powerfully charm you.

XHI. In the mean time ’tis probable your lordship

w ill be desireous to know, whether, besides

the laiigauge and traditions of the Irish, or the monumenls

of stone and other materials which the

country affords, there yet remain any literary records

truly antient and unadulterated, Avhereby

the Jdstory of the Druids, with such other points

of antiquity, may be retriev’d, or at least illustiated?

This is a material question, to which I return

a clear and direct answer; that not onely tliere remain

very many antient manuscripts undoubtedly


s^’emiine, besides such as are forg d, and greater

numbers interpolated* several whereof are in Ireland

itself, some here in England, and others in

the Irish monasteries abvoad: but that, notwithstanding

the long state of barbarity in which that

nation hath lain, and after all the rebellions and

wars with which the kingdom has been harass’d;

they have incomparably more antient materials of

tliat kind for their history (to whicli even their mythology

is not unserviceable) than either the English

or the French, or any other European nation,

with whose manuscripts 1 have any accjuainta?ice.

Of these I shall one day give a catalogue, marking

the places w here they now ly, as many as I know of

them; but not meaning every transcript of the same

manuscript, which wou’d be endless, if not impossible.

In all conditions the Irish have been strangely

solicitous, if not to some degree supersitious,

about preserving their books and parchments;

even those of them which are so old, as to be now

partly or wholly unintelligible. Abundance, thro’

over care, have perished under ground, the concealer

not having skill, or wanting searcloth and

other proper materials for preserving them. The

most valuable pieces, both in verse and prose, were

written by their heathen ancestors; whereof some

* As the Urakeacht na nelgios^ L e. the accidence of the art.

i3ts, or the poets ; which being the work of Forchern beforrnam’d,

was interpolated, and fitted to his own time, by Ccana

Faoladh. the son of OilioU, ia the, vcbv of Thr^s^ 628.


iiuleecl have been interpolated after the prevailing

of Christianity, which additions or alterations are^

nevertheless easily distinguish^ : and in these

books the rights and formularies of the Druids,

together ^^iih their divinity and philosophy ; especially

their two grand doctrines of the eternity and

incorruptibility of the universe, and the incessant

revolution of all beings and forms, are very specially,

tho’ sometimes very figuratively express’d.

Hence their allanimatioii and transmigration.

Why none of the natives have hitherto made any

better use of these treasures; or why both they,

and such others as have written concerning the

history of Ireland, have onely entertain’d the w orld

witji the fables of it (as no country wants a fabulous

account of its original, or the succession of

its princes) ; w hy the modern Irish historians, I say,

give us such a medly of relations, unpick’d and

unchosen, I had rather any man else shou’d tell.

The matter is certainly ready, there wants but

will or skill for working of it; separating the dross

from the pure ore, and disthiguishing counterfeit

iVom sterling coin. This in the mean time is undeniable,

that learned men in other places, perceiving’

the same dishes to be eternally served up at

every meal, are of opinion that there is no better

iare in tlie country; while those things have been

conceal’d from them by the ignorant or the lazy,

that would have added no small ornament even

to their classical studies. Of this 1 hope to conOF


vince the world by the lustre, which, in tliis work,

I shall impart to the antiquities not only of Gaule

and Britain, but likewise to numerous passages

of the Greec and Latin authors. How many

noble discoveries of the like kind might be made

in all countries, where the use of letters has long

subsisted ! Such things in the mean time are as if

they were not: for

Paulum sepultae distat inertiae

Celata virtus.

HoRAT. lib. 4. Od. 9.

The use of letters has been very antient in Ireland,

which at first were cut on the bark of trees*, prepared

for that purpose; or on smooth tables of

birch wood, which were call’d poets tables]; as

their characters were in general nam’d twigs and

branch-letters^, from their shape. Their alphabet

was caird Beth-luis-nion, from the three first letters

of the same, B, L, N, Beth, Luis, Nion^i

for the particidar name of every letter was, for

memory-sake, from some tree or other vegetable;

which, in the infancy of writing on barks and

boards, was very natural. They had also many

characters signifying whole words, like the Egyptians

and the Chinese. When Patric introduc’d

the Roman letters (as I said above) then, from a

corruption of Abcedarinm, they call’d their new

* Oraium, + Taibhk Fileadk. % Feadha: CraQbh O^ham.

§ Birch^ Quickaip and Ask,


alphabet Aihgkittir^ ; which, by the Monkish

writers, has been latiniz’d Ahgetorium’\. But

there florish’d a great number of Druids, Bards,

Vaids, and other authors, in Ireland, long before

Patricks arrival; whose learning was not only

more extensive^ but also much more useful than

that of their christian posterity: this last sort

being almost wholly imploy’d in scholastic divinity,

metaphysical or chronological disputes, legends,

miracles, and martyrologies, especially

after the eighth century. Of all the things committed

to writing by the heathen Irish, none were

more celebrated, or indeed in themselves more

valuable, than their laws; which were delivered,

as antiently among some other nations, in short

sentences, commonly in verse; no less reputed

infallible oracles than the Lacedemonian i?e^/ir<^:{;;

and, what’s remarkable, they are expresly term’d

celestial judgeynents\; for the pronouncing of

* At first it was very analogically pronounc’d Ah.kedair^

since the letter C then in Latin, as still in Irish and Brittish,

had the force of K no less before E and I, than before A, O, U;

having never been pronounc’d like S by the antient Romans, who

said KUcero, kensco^ koechuSy but not Sisero, senseo, soecus, when

the words Cicero^ censco, coccus, or such like occurr’d : so that

Ahkedair did naturally liquidate into Aibghtttir, in the manner

that all grammarians know.

t Scripsit Abgetoria [scilicet Patricius] 355, et eo amplius

jiumero. Nenn. Hist. Brilait* cap, 59.

^ Breatha nirnh’^i


which, the most famous were Forehern, Neid,

Conla, Eogan, Modan, Moran, King Comiac, his

chief justice Filhil, Fachma, Maine, Ethnea, the

daughter of Amalgad, and many more. These

celestial judgments were only preserv’d in traditionary

poems, according’ to the institution of the

Druids, till conmiitted to writing at the command

of Concovar*, king of Ulster, who dy’d in the

year of Christ 48, whereas Patric begun his

aposdeship but in the year 432. The poets that

wrote were numberless, of whose works several

pieces remain still intire, with diverse fragments

of others. Tlie three greatest incouragers of

learning among the heathen Irish monarchs were

first. King Achaiusf (surnamed the doctor of Ireland),

who is said to have built at Tarah, an academy,

call’d the court of the learned^. ‘Twas he

that ordain’d, for every principal family, hereditary

antiquaries; or, in case of incapacity, the

most able of the same historical house, witli rank

and privileges immediately after the Druids. The

next promoter of letters was King Tuathalius§,

whose surname is render’d Bonaventura (tho’ not

•so properly), and who appointed a triennial revision

of all the antiquaries books, by a committee

of three kings or great lords, three Druids, and

three antiquaries. These were to cause whatever

was approv’d and found valuable in those books,

* Conchobhar Nessan, i. e. Mac Neassa. + Eochaldh OU

lamhfodla. t Mur.Ollamhan. § Tuathal Teachtmhar.


to be transcribed into the royai Book of Tara/r%

which was to be the perpetual standard of their

history, and by which the contents of all other

such books shou’d be receiv’d or rejected. Such

good regulations I say there were made, but not

how long or how well observ’d; or, if truth is to

be preferred to all other respects, we must own

they were but very slightly regarded; and that

the bards, besides their poetical licence, Avere

both mercenary and partial to a scandalous degree.

The ordinance, however, is admirable, and

deserves more to be imitated, than we can ever

expect it to be so any where. TJie third most

munificent patron of literature was King Cormac,

surnamed Long-beard1[, who renew'd the laws

about the antiquaries, rebuilt and inlarg'd the

academy of Tarah for history, law, and military

prowess: besides that, he was an indefatigable

distributer ofjustice, having written himself abundance

of law s still extant. So in his Institution

ofa Princely or his Precepts^ to his son and successor

Carbre|| Fiffecair, who in like manner was

not superticially addicted to the muses. Cormac

was a great proficient in philosophy, made light

* Leabhar Toamhra. + Ulfhada.

+ 'Tis, among other most valuable pieces, in the collection

caird O Duvegan's, folio 190. a, now or late in the possession

of the Ti'jht honourable the earl of Cianrickard. There are copies

of it elsewhere, but that's the oldest known.

§ Teagarg Riogh. (| Cairbre Lifiochair.


of the superstitions of the Druids in his youth,

and, in his okl age, having quitted the scepter, he

fed a contemplative life, rejecting all the druidical

fables and idolatry, and acknowledging onlyone

Supreme Being, or first cause. This short

account of the primevous Irish learning, whereof

you'll see many proofs and particulars in the more

than once mentioned Dlssertatioii coucerniiig the

Celtic Language and Colonies (to be annext to our

Critical History)^ will, I am confident, excite

your curiosity.

XIV. The custom, therefore, or rather cumimg

of the Druids, in not committing their rites or

doctrines to writing, has not deprived us (as some

jnay be apt to imagine) of sufficient materials to

compile their history. For, in the first place,

when the Romans became masters of Gaule, and

every where mixt with the natives ; they cou'd not

a\ oid, in that time of light and learning, but arrive

at the certain knowledge of wliatever facts

tliey have been pleas'd to hand down to us, tho' not

always rightly taking the usages of other nations:

as it must needs be from a full conviction of the

Druidical fraudulent superstitions, and barbarous

tyranny exercis'd over the credulous people, that

these same Romans, who tolerated ail religions,

yet supprest this institution in Gaule and Britain,

with the utmost severity. The Druids, however,

v» ere not immediately extinguisli'd, but only their

l>arbarou.s, tyrannical, or illusory usages. And in-

M 2


deed their human sacrifices, with their pretended

magic, and an autliority incompatible with' the

power of the magistrate, were things not to be mdur'd

by so wise a state as that of the Romans.

In the second place, the Greec colony of Marseilles,

a principal mart of learning, couVl not want

persons curious enough, to acquaint themselves

with the religion, philosophy, and customs of the

country, wherein they liv d. Strabo, and others,

give us an account of such. From these tlie elder

Greecs had their information (not to speak now

of the Gauls seated in Greece itself and in lesser

Asia) as the later Greecs had theirs from the Romans;

and, by good fortune, we have a vast number

of passages from both. But, in the third

place, among the Gauls themselves and the Britons,

among the Irish and Albanian Scots, their historians

and bards did always register abundance of

particulars about the Druids, whose affairs were

in most things inseparable from those of the rest

of the inhabitants; as they v.ere not only the

judges in all matters civil or religious, but in a

manner the executioners too in criminal causes


and that their sacrifices were very public, ^vhich

consequently made their rites no less observable.

One thing which much contributed to make t\u-in

known, is, that the king was ever to have a Druid

about his person; to pray and sacrifice, as well as

to be a judge for determining emergent controversies,

tho' he had a civil judge beside^'. So he had


one of the chief lords to advise him, a bard to sing

the jpraises of his ancestors, a chronicler to register

his own actions, a physician to take care of

Ills health, and a musician to intertain him. Whoever

was a]>sent, these by law must be ever present,

and no fewer than the three controllers of

his family; which decemvirate was the institution

of King Cormac. The same custom was taken

up by all the nobles, whereof each had about him

his Druid, chief vassal, bard, judge, physician,

and harper, the four last having lands assigned

them, which descended to their families, wherein

these professions were hereditary, as were their

marslial, and the rest of their officers. After the

introducing of Christianity, the Druid was succeeded

by a bishop or priest, but the rest continued

on the antient foot, insomuch, that for a long

time after the English conquest, the judges, the

bards, physicians, and harpers, held such tenures in

Ireland. The O Duvegans were the hereditary

bards of the O Kellies, the O Clerys and the O Brodins

were also hereditary antiquaries: the O Shiels

and the O Canvans were such hereditary doctors,

the Maglanchys such hereditary judges, and so

of the rest; for more examples, especially in this

place, are needless: it wou’d be but multiplying

of names, without ever making the subject clearer.

Only I must remark here, from the very nature

of thmgs, no less than from facts, that (tho’ Cesar

be silent about it) there were civil judges in Gaule


just as ill Ireland, yet under the direction and controll

of the Druids. This has led many to imagine,

that, because the Druids iniluenc’d all,

there were therefore no other judges, which is

doubtless an egregious mistake.

XV. Further, tho’ the Druids were exempted

from bearing arms, yet they finally determind

concerning peace and war : and those of that order,

who attended the king and the nobles, were

observ’d to be the greatest make-bates and incendiaries;

the most averse to peace in council, and

tlie most cruel of all others in action. Some of

‘em were ally’d to kings, and many of ‘em were

king s sons, and great numbers of them cull’d out

of the best families : which you see is an old trick,

but has not been always effectual enough to perpetuate

an order of men. This, however, made historians

not to forget them, and indeed several of

‘em render d themselves very remarkable; as the

Druid Trosdan, who found an antidote against

the poyson’d arrows of certain Brittish invaders:

Cabadius*, grandfather to the most celebrated

champion Cuculandf; Tages J the father of Morna,

mother to the no less famous Fin mac Cuil§:

Dader, who was kill’d by Eogain, son to Oliil Olom

king of Munster; which Eogan was marry’d to

Moinic, the daugliter of the Druid Dill. The

Druid Moirruth, the son of Sinduinn, was the

* Cathbaid. f Cuchulaid. t Tadhg. § Fin mhac Cubhaill.


stoutest man in the wars of King Cormac : nor less

valiant was Dubcomar’^', the chief Druid of King

FiacJia: and Lugadius Mac-Con, the abdicated

king of Ireland, was treacherously run thro’ the

body with a lance by the Druid Firchisusf. Ida

and Ona (lords of Corcachlann near Roscommon)

were Druids ; whereof Ono presented his fortress

of Imleach-Ono to Patric, who converted it into

the religious house of Elphin, since an episcopal

see:}:. From the very name of Lamderg§, or

Bloody-hand, we learn what sort of man the Druid

was, Avho by tiie vulgar is thought to live inchanted

ifi the mountain between Bunncranach and Fathen

j|, in the county of Dunnegali. Nor must we

forget, tho’ out of order of time, King Niall^ ofthe

nine hostage’s Arch-Druid, by name Lagicinus

Barchedius**, who procured a most cruel war

against Eocha, king of Munster, for committing

manslaughter on his son; and which the Druids

making a common cause, there was no honour,

law, or humanity observ’d towards this king, whose

story, at length in our book, will stand as a last-

* Dubhchomar. + Fearchios.

t Ailjinn^ from a vast obelise that stood by a well in that

place; and that fell down in the year 1675: The word signi.

fies the ivhilestonc^ and was corrupted into oUJinn. * Some wou’d

derlTC the name from the clearness of the fountain, but ’tis by

torture: others from one Oilfinn, a Danish commander.

§Lambhdearg. ||,Taobhsaoil-trcach. t NiallNaoighi.allach,

** Laighichin mhac Darrecheadha,


iiig monument of druidical bloodyness, and a

priest-ridden state. I conclude with Bacrach

(cliief Druid to Conchobhar Nessan, king o^ Ulster),

who is fabrd by the monks long after tlie

extinction of the Druids, to lune before it happen’d,

others say at the very time, describVl the

passion of Jesus Christ, in so lively and moveing

a manner, that the king, transported with rage,

drew his sword, and, with inexpressible fury, fell

a hacking and hewing the trees of the wood where

he then was, which he mistook for the Jews : nay,

that he put himself into such a heat as to dy of

this frenzy. But even O’Flaherty, fully confutes

this silly action*, not thinking it possible that

such circumstances cou’d be any v. ay inferrd

from an eclipse (which is the foundation of the

story) nor that a clearer revelation shouYl be made

of those things to the Irish Druids, than to the

Jewish prophets : and, finally, by shewing, that

Conchobhar dy’d quietly in his bed fifteen years

after the crucifixion of Christ. Bacrach, however,

was a great man, and the king himself had

a Druid for his step-father and instructor.

XVI. It can be no wonder, therefore, that men

thus sacred in their function, illustrious in their

alliances, eminent for their learning, and honour d

for their valor, as well as dreaded for their power

and influence, should also be memorable both in

^ Ogyg.


the poetry and prose of their country. And so

in fact they are, notwithstanding what Dudley

Forbes, before mention’d, did, in a letter to au

Irish writer*, in the year 1683, affirm: namely,

that, in Patric’s time no fewer than 180 volumes,

relating- to the aftairs of the Drnids, were burnt

in Ireland. Dr. Kennedy saysf, that Patric

burnt 300 volumns, stuft with the fables and superstitions

of heathen idolatry; unfits adds he, to he

transmitted to posterity, But, pray, how so: why

are Gallic or Irish superstitions more unfit to be

transmitted to posterity, than those of the Greecs

and Romans ? Whyshou’d Patric be more squeamish

in this respect than Moses or the succeeding

Jewish prophets, who have transmitted to all ages

the idolatries of the Egyptians, Phenicians, Caldeans,

and other eastern nations? What an irre-^

parable destruction of history, what a deplorable

extinction of arts and inventions, what an unspeakable

detriment to learning, what a dishonor upon

human understanding, has the cowardly proceeding

of the ignorant, or rather of the interested,

against unarm’d monuments at all times occasion’d!

And yet this book-burning and letter-murdring

humor, tho’ far from being commanded by

Christ, has prevailed in Christianity from the beginning:

as in the Acts of the Apostles we read,

* O Flaherty.

t Vhsertatlon about th?family ofthe Stuarts, pref. page 29.


that many of them ichich believed, and usd cnrious

artSf brought their books together, and burnt them

before all me7i; and they coimted the price of them,

and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver*, or

about three hundred pounds sterling. This was

the first instance of burning books among christians;

and ever since that time the example has

been better follow’d, than any precept of the gospel.

XVII. From what we have hitlierto observed,

you see that our historians, my lord, do (in spite

of ail chances) abound with matter enough to revive

and illustrate the memory of the Druids. Besides

that the rites and opinions of other nations

serve not only to give light to theirs, but were

many of them of Druidical or Celtic extraction.

This no body will deny of the aboriginal Italians,

who having been often over-run by the Gauls, and

having several Gallic colonies planted among them,

they partook both of their language and religion;

as will be very easily evinc’d in our JDissertation,

and has been already tolei^ably done by Father

Pezron in his Celtic originals. Diogenes Laertius,

in the proem of his philosophical history, reckons

the Druids among the chief authors of the

barbarous theology and philosophy, long anterior

to the Greecs, their disciples: and Phurnutus, in

his treatise of the Nature of the Gods, says most

expressly, that ” among the many and various

*Acts 19. 19.


fables which the aiitient Greecs had about the

Gods, some were derived from the Mages, some

from the Egyptians and Gauls, others from the

Africans and Phrygians, and others from other nations*:

for which he cites Homer as a witness,

nor is there any tiling that bears a greater witness

to itself. This, however, is not all : for, over and

above the several helps I have mention’d, there

are likewise numerous monuments of the worship

of the Druids, their valor, policy, and manner of

habitation, still remaining in France, in Britain, in

Ireland, and in the adjacent islands; many of ‘em

intire, and the rest by the help of these easily conceiv’d.

Most are of stone, as the lesser ones are

of glass, and others of earth bak’d extremely hard.

The two last kinds were ornaments or magical

gems, as were also those of chrystal and agat,

either pei fectly spherical, or in the figure of a lentill

; or sliap’d after any of the other w ays, which

shall be describ’d and portray’d in our book. The

glass amulets or ornaments are in the Lowlands

of Scotland, call’d Adder-stanes, and by the Welsh

Gh’hii na Droed/i, or Druid-glass, which is in Irish

Glaine nan Druidke^ Glaine in this language signifying

Glass, tho’ obsolete now in the Welsh dia

* Ttf ?£ TCaWat; xai TratxiXajTrspi Qeu)/ ysyoHvoLi. ita^a. roii; TraXaiois ^EWns-i y,v9s7:o»

ixcy aiq aWcA (xiy I’m Uxyxq ytyoma-iv^ oKKai Js Trap’ AtyvKTM; uat iCeXt5{j, uta

Ai^vTij Hxi <t>f’j^i, Km TC)<^ a.K\oi; i’^HTi, Cap. 87. Thus the manuscript very

accurately; but the printed copy has taij axxoiq ^EXMa-i superfluously ia the

end, aud wauts <tpv^, before, which is very essential.

N 2


lect, and preserv’d only in this Gleini net Droedli,

But the more massy monuments shall, in a day or

two, be the subject of another letter from,

My Lord,

Your Lordship’s most obliged,

And very humble Servant

JunetB) 1718.







I. JL ERMIT me at this time, (my lord) according

to the promise with which I concluded my last,

to send to your lordship A specimen of the monuments

relatiiig to the Druids, that are still extant,

either intire or imperfect. I have ever indeavor’d

to avoid deserving the blame, with which an approval

author charges those, who, while verj’ conversant

in the history of other places, appear to

be absolute strangers in their own country; and

as I know no man better versed in foreu affaiis,

or in our own, (which an able statesman will never

separate) nor a greater master of antient or modern

history than yourself; so I am apt to hope, that

the collection of Brittish and Irish antiquities 1

here take the liberty to present to your lordship,

may not prove altogether disagreeable. The

French examples (a few excepted) 1 reserve for the

larger work, and ia the mean time I procede.


On the tops of mountains and other eminences in

Ireland, in Wales, in Scotland, in the Scottish

ilands and the lie of Man, (where things have

been least disorder’d or displac’d by the frequency

of inhabitants, or want of better ground for cultivation)

there are great heaps of stones, like the

mercurial * heaps | of the Greecs, w hereofwhen we

treat of the Celtic Mercury in particular. The

heaps, which make my present subject, consist of

stones of all sorts, from one pound to a hundred.

They are round in form, and somewhat tapering

or diminishing upwards; but on the summit was

always a flat stone, for a use we shall presently

explain. These heaps are of all bignesses, some

of ‘em containing at least a hundred cartload of

stones ; and if any of ‘em be grown over with earth,

’tis purely accidental in the long course of time

wherin they have been neglected; for no such

thing was intended in the first making of them, as

in the sepulchral barrows of the Gothic nations,

which are generally of earth. Such a heap is in

tlie antient Celtic language, and in every dialect

of it, call’d Cam, and every earn so dispos’d, as to

be in sight of some other. Yet they are very different

from the rude and much smaller pyramids,

which the old Irish erect along the roads in memory

of the dead, by them call’d Leachda, and

^fFMrsSE’f, 5cc^ Phurnut. de Nat. Dear, cup. 16,

i ‘E^;x«ni, i, €. Accivi Mercuiialcs,



made of the first stones that offer. From the devotional

romids performVl about the earns m times

of heathenism, and which, as we shall see anon,

are yet continued in many places of the Scottish

Highlands and the Hebrides, any circle, or turning

about, is in Armoric cali’d cern^^ as cerna in

that dialect is to make such a turn. On the earn

cali’d Crig-y’dyrn, in the parish of Tre’Iech m

Caermarthenshire, the flat stone on the top is

three yards in length, five foot over, and from ten

to twelve inches thick. The circumference ofthis

earn at the bottom is about sixty yards, and ’tis

about six yards high ; the ascent being very easy,

tho’ I suppose there was originally a ladder for

this purpose.

II. Let this earn serve for an example of the

rest, as to their form and bulk ; only we may take

notice here by the way, what odd imaginations

men are apt to have of things they do not understand.

Thus Mr. William Sacheverell, governor

of the He of Man under the right honorable the earl

of Derby, in part ofKing V/illianrs reign, mistaking

these earns! in his description of that iland, ‘* The

tops of the mountains (says he) seem nothing but

the rubbish of nature, thrown into barren and unfruitful

heaps, as near two thirds of the iland are

of this sort. Some seem particularly worthy our

remark, as the two JBarowh, Skefjall, tlie ^^ ateh-

* C is pronouac’d as K. i Page 13.


iiill of Knock-a-loiv : but particularly Sneafeld,

where it is not unpleasant (continues he) when the

weather is clear and serene, to see three noble nations

surrounding one of the most obscure in the

iniiverse: which is, as it were, the center of the

Brittish empire.” These heaps our author thought

the work of chance, tho’ artfully contrive! in all

the Celtic countries; as Dr. Martin thou2:ht a

earn in the ile of Saint Kilda, whereof presently,

to be a signal effect of Providence: But as for the

Maimiar. nation (which is visibly the center of the

Brittish world) it is very undeservedly become obscure,

whether we consider what has been transacted

in former ages, it havingbeen the theater ofmany

surprizing revolutions: or tiie particular usages

in religious and civil affairs”, that even now obtain

there, especially their laws, which still continue

mostly unvv^ritten (for which reason they call ‘em

l^reast-laivs) being without expense or delay, and

undoubted remains of the justice of the Druids.

For, wherever they were not themselves a party,

neither the Egyptians, nor Persians, nor Greecs,

nor Romans, did surpass the wisdom, equity, and

strictness of the Druids in the sanction or execution

of their laws; which made all sorts of men

leave their controversies of every kind to their determination,

without any further appeal. Nor

without some regard in fact, and a vast deal more

in profession, to moral virtue, cou’d any set of impostors

in uny country possibly support th.cir false


doctrines and superstitious observances; which

receive credit from hence, as the teachers of ‘em

do all their power and authority, in proportion to

the austerities they practise, or the appearances

they have of devotion. I say appearances, because

this hi most, join’d to real self-denial in a few

(m ho by the rest are deem’d silly tho’ useful creatures)

will long uphold an institution both erroneous

and tyrannical : which is the reason that, to

this hour, the memory of the Druids is highly venerable

among those of the He of Man ; and that

their laws are infinitely preferr’d to all others by

the Manksmen, who say the family of Derby

comes nearest their excellence of any race of men

now in the world. Wherefore, as well in these

regards, as in many others essential to my design,

1 shall, in the body of the history, give a true idea

of the past and present customs of this antient,

tho’ mixt people. Their nu merous earns, of whose

origin anon, are not the onely monuments they

have of the Druids. But that the chief college

of these philosophers was ever establish’d there,

and much less any such college appointed by the

kings of Scotland (as Hector Boethius feign’d) I

shall demonstrate to be pvire romance : and at the

same time will not fail doing justice to the memory

of the great hero and legislator of the iland, Manannan

; reported, after the manner of those ages,

to have been the son of Lear*, or the god of the

* Manannan mh^c Leir,



sea, from his extraordinary skill in navigation and

commerce. He was truely the son of Alladius*,

who was ofroyal blood, and his ow n name Orbsen


but call’d Manannan from his country, and kill’d

by one Ullin near Galway, in Ireland: of all which

the particulars will be given in their proper place,

especially the republic of Manannan ; who, from

his instruction by the Druids, was reputed a consummate

magician, and was indeed most happy

in stratagems of war both by land and sea. Mr.

Sacheverell, except in affirming Manannan (whom

he misnames Mannan) to have been the father^

foimder, and legislator of the island-^, is out in

every thing he says concerning him : for, instead

of living about the beginning of the fifth century,

he livVi as many centuries before Christ; and so

cou’d not be contemporary with Patric, the apostle

of ]Man as well as Ireland. Neither was Manannan

the son of a king of Ulster, nor yet the brother

of Fergus II |, king of Scotland: and as for his

not being able to get any information what became

of him, I have already told that he was kill’d in

Ireland, and by whom.

III. In process of time the earns, to which we

nov/ return, ^erv’d every where for beacons, as

many of tllem as stood conveniently for this purpose:

but they were originally design’d, as we are

now going to see, for fires of another nature. The

fact stood thus. On May-eve the Druids made

* Allald. t Page 20. J Ibid.


prodigious fires on those earns, which bemg every

one (as we said) in sight of some other, cou d not

but aflbrd a glorious show over a whole nation.

These fires were in lionour of Beal or Bealan, latiniz’d

by the Roman autjiors into Belenus*, by

which name the Gauls and their colonies understood

the Sun: and, therefore, to this hour the first

day of May is by the aboriginal Irish call’d La.

Bealteiney or the day of BelensJire-\, I remember

one of those earns on Fawn-hill within some

miles of Londonderry, known by no other name

but that of Becdteiney facing another such earn on

the top of Inch-hill: and Gregory of Tours, in his

book de Gloria Coitfessormriy mentions a hill J of

the same name§ between Artom and Riom in

Auvergne in France, from which Riom might be

fairly view’d. But tho’ later writers affirm with

Valesius, in his Galliarum notitiay this hill to be

now unknown; yet Beleris heap on the top of it,

is a sure mark whereby to discover it. His circular

temple, as we shall see hereafter, is still

there, (if not the earn) having certamly existed in

Gregory’s time. Abundance of such heaps remain

still on the mountains in France, and on the Alps.

* Herodian. Auson. Capitolla. Tertul. &c. Videantur etiara

Gruter. et Reines. in inscriptionibus,

+ Etiara Bealltaine^ & antiquitus Bcltine,

J Cam [_ex Artonensi vico\ venisset in cacumea montis Beienatensis,

de quo ?ici Ricomagensis positio eoateroplatur, vidlt

hos, ^c. De Gloria Confessory cap» 5.

§ Mons Bdenatensh*



Those writers, however, are not to be blam'd, as

being strangers to the origin or use of such heaps


and not able to distinguisli them from certain

other heaps, under which robbers and traitors

Avere bury'd. These last are calFd in general by

the Welsh Carn-Vrachiyr and Carn-Lhadrofi^; or

particularly after the proper names of the underlying

criminals, as Carneclh-Leuelyn, Carnedh-Da'

vid, and such like. As far from Auvergne as the

iland of Saint Kilda, in the 58th degree of northern

latitude, there is another hill denominated from

Belenus (which more consonant to the Celtic idiom

Herodianf writes Belin) corruptly calFd Otter-^

VeaulX, or Belens heigth; on Avhich is a vast heap,

whereof Doctor Martin, in his account of that

iland, did not know the use, as I said before §:

but the earn being on the hill just above the landing

place, he thinks it so order d by providence;

that by rouling down these stones, the inhabitants

might prevent any body's coming ashore against

their Vv ill. In the church of Birsa (near which

stands a very remarkable obelise) at the west end

of the iland call'd Pomona, or the mainland, in

Orkney, there is an erect stone, with the word

Beius inscribed on it in antient characters. Yet

whether this be any remembrance of Belemis (better

according to the Irish idiom Bclus) or be the

* Traitor and thiefs cam: in Irish Carn-lhrafeoir ^' Cam an


i J^ib. 8. cap. 7. % Uachdar Bheil. § Pago 1 12,


monument of a native prince so caird, I sliall not

here decide. The fact itself is tohl ns by Mr.

Brand*, in his description of Orkney and Zetland.

1 wish he had also told us, of what kind those antient

characters are, or that he had exactly copy'd

them: and if tliere be a man's portraiture on the

stone, as Dr. Martin affirms f, the dress and posture

will go a great way towards clearing the


IV. But to make no longer digression, May-day

is likewise calFd La Sealteine by the Highlanders

of Scotland, who are no contemtible part of the

Celtic offspring. So it is in the He of Man; and

in Armoric a priest is still call'd JBelec^ or the servant

of Bel, and priesthood Belegietk, Two such

fires, as we have mentioned, were kindFd by one

another on May-eve in every village of the nation

(as well thro'out all Gaule, as in Britain, Ireland,

and the adjoining lesser Hands), between Avhich

fires the men and the beasts to be sacrific'd were

to pass; from whence came the proverb, hetiveen

BeFs twoJires\, meaning one in a great strait, not

knowing how to extricate himself. One of the

fires was on the earn, another on the ground. On

the eve of the first day of November §, there were

also such fires kindFd, accompany'd (as they constantly

were) with sacrifices and feasting. These

November fires were in Ireland calFd Tine tlaclCd-

'^ Page 1 4. i Page 358. % lUir dha thcine Elici! . § Sainhbhmi,


gIt(i,from tlacJtd'gha^, a place hence so calFd in

Meath, where the Archdruid of the realm had

his fire on the said eve; and for ^Yhich piece of

gronnd, because originally belonging' to Munster,

but appointed by the supreme monarch for this

use, there was an annual acknowledgement (calFd

sgreaboll) paid to the king of that province. But

that all the Druids of Ireland assembl'd there on

the first of November, as several authors injudiciously

write, is not only a thing improbable, but

also false in fact; nor were they otherwise there

at that time, nor all at any time together in one

place, but as now all the clergy of England are

said to be present in their convocations—that is,

by their representatives and delegates. Thus

Cesar is likewise to be understood, when, after

speaking of the Archdruid of Ganle, he says that

the J}niich"\, at a certain time of the year, assemhVd

hi a consecrated groie in the country of the Carnutes%,

ivhich is reckon d the middle region of all

Gaide, But of these assemblies in their place.

On the foresaid eve all the people of the country,

out of a religious persuasion instill'd into them by

the Druids, extinguish'd their fires as intirely as

the Jews are wont to sweep their houses the night

* Fire-ground.

i li {_Druid€s'] certo anni tempore in finibus Carnutum, qu»

legio totius Galliae media habetar, considuiit in luco coasecrato.

JOebello Galileo, lib. 6. cap. 13.

t Now le Pais (Jhartrain, the place Dreux,


before the feast of unleavened bread. Then every

master of a family was religiously oblig’d to take

a portion of the consecrated fire home, and to kindle

the fire a-new in his honse, which for the ensuing

year was to be lucky and prosperous. He

was to pay, however, for his future happiness,

whether the event prov’d answerable or not; and

tlio’ his house shou’d be afterwards burnt, yet he

must deem it the punishment of some new sin, or

ascribe it to any tiling, rather than to want of virtue

in the consecration of the fire, or of validity iu

the benediction of the Druid, who, from officiating

at the earns, was likewise calfd Cairneach^^ a

name that continu’d to signify a priest, even in the

christian times. But if any man had not ciear’d

with the Druids for the last year’s dues, he was

neither to have a spark of this holy fire from the

earns, nor durst any of his neighbors let him take

the benefit of theirs, under pain of excommunication,

which, as manag’d by the Druids, was worse

than death. If he wou’d brew, therefore, or bake,

or roast, or boil, or warm himself and family; in

a word, if he wou’d live the winter out, the Druids

dues must l)e paid by the last of October, so that

this trick alone was more effectual than are all the

acts of parliament made for recovering our pre-

* This is the time origin of the word cairneach^ as signifying

a priest; but not deriv’d, as men ignorant of antiquity fancy^

from coroineachy alluding to the crown-for.m’d tonsure of thf

MonkSj not near §o old as this word.


sent clergy’s dues; which acts are so many and

so frequent, that the bare enumeration of them

would make an indifferent volum. Wherefore I

\cannot but admire the address of the Druids,

in fixing this ceremony of rekindling family-fires

to the beginning of November, rather than to May

or midsummer, when there was an equal opportunity

for it.

V. A world of places* are denominated from

those earns of all sorts, as in Wales Cani-Lhechart,

Caru’Lhaid; in Scotland Carn-wath, Carniidlock,

Driim-ccdrn, Gleti-cairn; in Ireland Carn-

‘mail, Carn-aret, Carnaii’tagher, Carncin-toher\ ; and

in Northumberland, as in other parts of the north

of England, they are sometimes calFd Laics or

Lows, a name they also give the Gothic barrows.

The Lowland Scots call ‘em in the plural number

Cairns^ whence several lordships are nam’d,

as one in Lennox, another in Galloway (to mention

no more) from which the surname of Cairns.

The family of Carne, in Wales, is from the like

original: but not, as some have thought, the O

Kearnys I of Ireland; one of which, Mr. John

Kearny, treasurer of Saint Patric’s in Dublin, was

very instrumental in getting the Neiv Tastamcnt

translated into Irish, about the end of the last

century but one. As to this fire-worship, which

* The places are numberless hi all these countries. + Carnan

1*3 the diminutive of (^am, % C^furnaii^hy besides Ceathar”


(by the way) prevail’d over all the world, the Celtic

nations kindled other fires on midsummer eve,

which are still continu’d by the Roman Catholics

of Ireland ; making them in all their grounds, and

carrying tlaming brands about their corn-fields.

This they do likewise all over France, and in

some of the Scottish iles. These midsummer fires

and sacrifices, were to obtain a blessing on the

fruits of the earth, now becoming ready for gathering;

as those of the first of May, that they

might prosperously grow : and those of the last

of October, were a thanksgiving for finishing their

harvest. But in all of ‘em regard was also had to

the several degrees of increase and decrease in the

heat of the sun; as in treating of their astronomy,

and manner of reckoning time, we shall clearly

show. Their other festivals with their peculiar

observations, shall be likewise explain’d each in

their proper sections; especially that of Newyear’s

day, or the tenth of March (their fourth

grand festival) which was none of the least solemn


and which w as the day of seeking, cutting, and

consecrating their wonder-working. All-heal, or

misselto of oak. This is the ceremony to which

Virgil alludes by his golden-hranch, in the sixth

book of the Aeneid, for which there is incontestable

proof, which we shall give in a section on this subject.

‘Tis Pliny who says, that the Druids call’d

it, ia their language, by a word si^nifyino^ All122


heal’^; which word in the Armorican dialect is oilyach,

in the Welsli ol-hiacli, and in the Irish uiliceach.

Here, by the way, we may observe, that as

the Greecs had many words from the barbarians,

for which Plato in his Cratylus]\]vid^e^ it woukl

be lost labor to seek etymologies in their own language:

so it is remarkable, that certain feasts of

Apollo were call’d Carnea%, from the killing of no

body knows what Prophet Carnus. Some said

that he was the son of Jupiter and Europa, kilFd for

a magician by one Ales : and others yet, that Carni

was a common name for an order of prophets in

Arcanania. Apollo himself was surnamed Carnus

§; and, from him, May was calFd the Carnean

month. Nay, there were Carman priests, and a

particular kind of music, which we may interpret

the Cairn-tunes, was appropriated to those festivals

in May, perfectly answering those of the Celtic

tribes. It is therefore highly probable, that

the Greecs did learn these things from the Gauls

their conquerors, and in many places seated

among them; or from some of their travellors in

Gaule itself, if not from the Phocean colony at

Marseilles. We know further, that the making of

hymns was a special part of the bards office; who

* Omnia-sanantem appellantes suo yocabulo, &c. Lib. 16.

eap. 44.

c«tv»Vj 1% tg TO woy.a. rvy^ciiii &y, naQci on (tirofn «y. Inter opera, edit, Paris,

‘ vol. 1 . }:ag. 409.


by Strabo, are expresly terind hymn-malers*


and I show’d before, tliat the antient Greecs (by

their own confession) learnt part of their philosophy,

and many of their sacred fables, from the

Gauls. So that this criticism is not so void of

probability, as many which pass current enough

in the world. However, I fairly profess to give it

onely for a conjecture; which I think preferable

to the farr-fetcht and discordant accounts of the

Greecs ; who, in spight of Plato and good sense,

wou’d needs be fishing for the origin of every thing

ill their own language. In the mean time it is not

nnwo^fthy our remark, that as prizes f were adjudg’d

to the victors in this CarnSan music among

the Greecs: so the distributing of prizes to the

most successful poets, was not less usual among

the Gauls and their colonies; whereof there is undeniable

proof in the Brittish and Irish histories,

as will be seen in our section concerning the Bards.

VI. Another criticism relating immediately to

Apollo (for which 1 think this a proper place) 1

give as something more than a conjecture. In the

lordship of Merchiston, near Edinburgh, was formerly

dug up a stone with an inscription to Apollo

Grannus; concerning which Sir James Dalrymple

baronet, in his second edition of Camhdens description

of Scotland, thus expresses himself after

t TiiA,&.i;^.^’xx K>pva;« (tyat^ii^^i;, VlntarcK in ApophtJiffgiri,



his author*. ‘^Who this Apollo Grannus might

be, and whence he should have his name, not one

(to my knowledge) of our grave senate of antiquaries

hitherto cou’d ever tell. But if I might be aliow’d,

from out of the lowest bench, to speak what

I think ; I would say that Apollo Grannus, among

the Romans, was the same that Apollon Akersekomesf,

that is Apollo with long hair, among the

Greecs: for Isidore calls the long hair of the

Goths Grannos.” This consequence will by no

means hold: for what are the Goths to the Romans,

who exprest this Greec by intonsus Apollo?

And since Goths speaking Latin had as little to

do in the shire of Lothian, it will not be doubted,

but that it was some Roman who paid this vow;

as soon as ^tis known, that, besides the man’s name

Quintus Lusius Sabinianus, Grian, among the

rpany Celtic names of the sun J, w as one, beine:

* This passage in Cambden is in the 897th page of ChurchilPg

edition, anno 1695.

t AffoXA<wt axifo-cKcfxng : item AxuftHOfxig,

* Besides the sun’s religious attribute of Bel, Beal, Belin, or

Belenus, it is call’d Hayl in Welsh, Haul in Cornish, Ileol in

Armoric; in all which the aspirate h is put for s, as in a world

ef such other words : for any word beginning with s in the antient

Celtic, does in the oblique cases begin with h. Yet s is

still retained in the Armoric Disul, in the Cambrian Vi/dhsi/e,

and the Cornubian Dezil; that is to say, Sunday, It was for*

loerly Diasoil in Irish, whence still remain Solus light, Soillse

clearness, Soillseach bright or sunny, SoUeir manifest, and seve.

ral more such. ‘Tis now call’d Dia Domhnaigh^ or Dies Do.

Tilnkus^ according to the general use of sll cltristians.


(lie common name of it still in Irish: and that, from

his beams, Greannach in the same language signifies

long-hair d, which is a natural epithet of the

sun in all nations. There is no need therefore of

going for a Gothic derivation to Isidore, in whom

now I read Scots instead of Goths ; and not, as I

fancy, without very good reason. It wou d be superfluous

to produce instances (the thing is so

common) to show that the Romans, to their own

names of the Gods, added the names or attributes

under which they were invok’d in the country,

where they happen’d on any occasion to sojourn.

Nor was this manner of topical worship unknown

to the antient Hebrews, who are forbid to follow

it by Moses in these words: “Enquire not after

their Gods, saying, how did these nations serve

their Gods? even so will I do likewise*.” Grian

therefore and Greannach explain the Lothian f inscription

very naturally, in the antient language of

the Scots themselves (spoken still in the Highlands

* Deut. 12. 80.

-f This inscription, as given us by Cambden from Sir Peter

Young, preceptor to King James Vf. (for the Laird of Merchis*

ton’s Exposition of the Apocalyps I never saw) runs thus




Q. Lusius



Proc* ‘ Procurator,

Aug* -^Angusti.

Y. S. S. L. V. M. * * Votura susceptum solfit

lubeRs merit«.


and Western lies, as well as in Ireland) without

any need of having recourse to Gothland, or other

foren countries.

VII. To return to our earn- fires, it was customary

for the lord of the place, or his son, or some

Other person of distinction, to take the entrails of

the sacrific’d animal in his hands, and walkin^^

barefoot over the coals thrice, after the flames had

eeas’d, to carry them strait to the Druid, who

waited in a whole skin at the altar. If the nobleman

escap’d harmless, it was reckoned a sfood

omen, welcom’d with loud acclamations : but if he

receiv’d any hurt, it was deem’d unlucky both to

the community and to himself. Thus I have seen

the people running and leaping thro’ the St.

John’s fires in Ireland, and not onely proud of

passing unsing’d : but, as if it were some kind of

Iristration, thinking themselves in a special manner

blest by this ceremony, of whose original nevertheless

they were wholly ignorant in their imperfect

imitation of it. Yet without being apprized

of all this, no reader, however otherwise learned,

can truely apprehend the beginning of the Consul

riaminius^s speech to Equanus the Sabin, at the

battle of Thrasimenus, thus intelligently related

by Silius Italic us *.

* Turn Scracie satuEi, praestantera corporc et armis,

iEquanurn noscens; patrio cui ritus in arvo,

Dum pius Arcitenens incensis gaudet Jtcervis,

Exta ter inaocuos late portare per ignes



Then seeing Equanus, near Soracte born,

la person, as in arms, the comelyest youth


Whose country manner ’tis, vvhen th’ archer keen

Divine Apollo joys in burning Heaps,

The sacred entrais thro’ the fire unhurt

To carry thrice; so may you always tread,

With unscorch’d feet, the consecrated coals;

And o’er the heat victorious, swiftly bear

The solemn gifts to pleas’d Apollo’s altar.

Now let all the commentators on this writer be

consulted, and then it will appear w hat sad giiess=

work they have made about this passage; which

is no less true of an infinite number of passage^

in other authors relating to such customs: for a

very considerable part of Italy foliow’d most of

the Druidical rites, as the inhabitants of such

places happen’d to be of Gallic extraction, which

was the case of many Cantons in that delicious

country. But this is particularly true of the Umbrians

and Sabins, who are by all authors made

tlie antientest* people of Italy, before the coming

thither of- any Greec colonies. But they are by

Solinusf from the historian Bocchus, by Servius]:

Sic in Apollinea semper vestigia pruna

Inviolata teras: victorque vaporis, ad aras

Dona serenato referas Sclennia Phoebo.

Lib, 5. ver. 175,

* Dlonys. Ilallcarnass. Aiitiq. Rom. lib. 1. Plin. Hist. Nat.

lib. 3. cap. 14. Fior. lib. 1. cap. 17, &c.

+ Bocchus absolvit Gallorum veterum propaginem Umbrcs

esse. Polyhist. cap, 8.

t Sane Umbros Gallorum yeterum propagipcm esse, Marcus

Antonius refert. Jn lilt, 12. MnHd, en(€fn»


from the elder Marc Antony, by Isidore* also and

Tzetzesf, in direct terms stil’d the issue of the antient

Gcmis, or a branch of them: and Dionysius

Halicarnasseus, the most judicious of antiquaries,

proves out of Zenodotus, that the Sabins were

descendants of the Umbrians ; or, as he expresses

it, Umbrians under the name of Sabins’^. The reason

I am so particular on this head, is, that the

mountain Soracte§ is in the Sabin country, in the

district of the Faliscans about 20 miles to the

north of Rome, and on the west side of the Tyber.

On the top of it were the grove and temple of

Apollo, and also his carn||, to which Silius, in the

verses just quoted out of him alludes. Pliny has

preserv’d to us the very^ name of the particular

race of people, to which the performing- of the

above describ’d annual ceremony belong’d: nor

was it for nothing that they ran the risk of blistering

their soles, since for this they luere exemted from

* Umbri Italiae gens est, sed Gallorum veterum propago.

Origin, lib. 9. cap. 2.

t O/iA^jot y£vc? raXaTixov u TaXatuy, Scliol. in Lycophron. Alex, ad vct.


$ Za)3j»«y? 1^ Ofjt^fMiuv, Antiq, Rom, lib, 1


§ Now Monte di San sylvestro*

II Acervus,

^ Haud procul urbe Roma, in Fallscorum agro familia; sunt

paucae, quae Tocantur Hirpiae; quaeque sacrificio annuo, quod

fit ad montem Soracte Apollini, super ambustam ligni struem

ambularites, non aduruntur: et ob id perpetuo sunatus consulto

militiaj, alioruraque muuerura, vacationem habent. Hist, Nat*

lib, 2. cap, 2. Idem ex eod^m SqUu^ roii/nist, Qap, S.


serving in the ivars, as well asfrom the expense and

Irohle ofseveral offices. They were called Ilirpiiis.

Virgil, much elder than Silius or Pliny, introduces

Aruns, one of that family, forming a design to kill

Camilla, and thus praying for success to Apollo.

O patron of Soiacte’s high abodes,

Phebus, the ruling pow’r among the Gods!

Whom first we serve, whole woods of unctuous pine

Burnt on thy heap, and to thy glory shine


By thee protected, with our naked soles

Thro’ flames unsing’d we pass, and tread the kindl’d coals.

Give me, propitious pow’r, to wash away

The stains of this dishonorable day*.

DrijdeiVs version.

A Celtic antiquary, ignorant of the origin of the

Umbrians and Sabins, wou’d imagine, when read*

ing what past on Soracte, that it was some Gallic,

Brittish, or Irish mountain, the rites being absolutely

the same. We do not read indeed in our

Irish books, what preservative against lire was us’d

by those, who ran barefoot over the burning coals

of the earns : and, to be sure, they wou’d have the

common people piously believe they us’d none.

Yet that they really did, no less than the famous

tire-eater, wdiom I lately saw making so great a

* Summe Deiim, sancti custos Soractis, Apollo,

Queni primi colimus, cui pineus ardor xlcervo

Pascitur ; et medium, freti pietate, per iguem

Cultores multa premimus vestigia pruna :

Da, pater, hoc nostris aboleri dedecus armis.

Avn. lib. 11. ver. 785,


figure at London, men of penetration and uncorrupted

judgements will never question. But we

are not merely left to our judgements, for the fact

is sufficiently arrested by that prodigy of knowledge,

and 2)erpetual oppose?^ of superstition?, Mar-

CVS Varro; who, as Servius on the above-cited passage

of Virgil affirms*, descrih’d the very ointment

ofnhieh the Hirpins rnade use, hesmeariag their

feet ivith it, ivheii they ivalkd thro’ thefire. Thus

at all times have the multitude (that common prey

of priest and princes) been easily gull’d ; swallowing

secrets of natural philosophy for divine miracles,

and ready to do the greatest good or hurt,

not under the notions of vice or virtue; but barely

as directed by men, who find it their interest to

deceive them.

VIII. But leaving the Druids for a w^hile, there

are over and above the earns, in the highlands of

Scotland and in the adjacent iles numberless Obelises,

or stones set up an end ; some 30, some 24

foot high, others higher or low^er: and this sometimes

where no such stones are to be dug, Wales

bein^’ likew ise full of them ; and some there are in

the least cultivated parts of England, with very

many in Ireland. In most places of this last kingdom,

the common people believe these Obelises to

* Sed Varro, ublque Reljglonis expugnator, aif, cum quotldam

xnedicamentum describeret, eo uii soletit lURPlNr, qui ambiiia.

turi per igvem^ iiiedUamento Flanias iui^uni. Ad ver. 787.

lib. Jl. Aindd.


be men, transform’cl into stones by the magic of the

Druids. This is also the notion the vulgar have

in Oxfordshire of Rollwright stones, and in Cornwall

of the hurlers; erect stones so call’d, but belonging-

to a different class from the Obelises, whereof

I now discourse. And indeed in every country

the ignorant people ascribe to the devil or some

supernatural power, at least to giants, all works

w hich seem to them to excede human art or ability.

Tlius among other things (for recording their

traditions will have its pleasure as w ell as usefulness)

they account for the Roman camps and military

ways, calling such the diveVs dykes, or the

like : while the more reasonable part are persuaded,

that the erect stones of which we speak, are

the monuments of dead persons, wdiose ashes or

bones are often found near them ; somethnes in

urns, and sometimes in stone-coiiins,wherehi scales,

hammers, pieces of w^ea})ons, and other things have

been often found, some of them vei*y finely gilt or

polish’d. Dogs also have been found bury’d with

their masters. The erect stones in the midst of

stone-circles (whereof before I have done) are not

of this funeral sort; nor does it follow, that all those

have been erected in christian times, which have

cliristian inscriptions or crosses on them: for we

read ofmany such Obelises thus sanctifyVI, as they

speak, in Wales and Scotland. And, in our Irish

histories, we find the practice as early as Patric

himself: who, having built the church of Donach132


Patric on the brink of Loch-Hacket* in the county

of Clare, did there on three colosses, erected in the

times of Paganism, inscribe the proper name of

Christ in three languages: namely, Jesus in Hebrew

on the first, Soter in Greec on the second,

and Salvator in Latin on the third. That Obelise

(if I may call it so) in the parish of Barvas in the

iland of Lewis in Scotland, call*d the ThrushelstoiiCy

is very remarkable; being not onely above

20 foot high, which is yet surpass’d by many

others: but likewise almost as much in breadth,

which no other comes near.

IX. Besides these Obelises, there is a great number

of Forts in all the iles of Scotland, very different

from the Danish and Norwegian raths in

Ireland, or the Saxon and Danish burghs in England:

nor are they the same with the Gallic, Brittish,

and Irish Lios, pronounced Lis-f; which are

fortifications made of unwrought stones and uncemented,

whereof there are two very extraordinary

in the iles of Aran, in the bay of Galway in Ireland.

Dun is a general Celtic word for all fortifications

made on an eminence, and the eminences

themselves are so call’d; as we see in many parts

of England, and the sand-hills on the Belgic coast.

Yet Math and Lis are often confounded together,

both in the speech and writing of the Irish. But

* Formerly Dornhnach-mor and Loch-sealga.

+ Lios in Irish, Les in Armoric, and Lhys in Welsh, signifies

in EngUsh a Court ^ as Lis-Luin^ Lynsourt,


the forts in question are all of ^vl’onght stone, and

often of such large stones, as no number of men

cou’d ever raise to the places they occupy, without

the use of engines; which engines are quite unknown

to the present inhabitants, and to their ancestors

for many ages past. There’s none of the

lesser iles, but has one fort at least, and they are

commonly in sight of each other: but the Dim in

St. Kilda (for so they call the old fort there) is

about 18 leagues distant from North Uist, and 20

from the middle of Lewis or Harries, to be seen

only in a very fair day like a blewish mist: but a

large fire there wou’d be visible at night, as the

ascending smoak by day. In this same He of

Lewis (where are many such Duns) there’s north

of the village of Brago, a round fort compos’d of

huge stones, and three stories high : that is, it has

three hollow passages one over another, within a

prodigious thick wall quite round the fort, with

many windows and stairs. I give this onely as

an example from Dr, Martin, an eye-witness, who,

with several others, mention many more such

elsewhere: yet (which is a great neglect) without

acquainting us with their dimensions, whether

those passages in the wall be arch’d, or with many

such things relating to the nature of the work


and omitting certain other circumstiuices, no less

necessary to be known. I mention these forts^

njy lord, not as any v,ay, that I yet know, appevtiiining

to the Druids: but, iu treating of the mo134


lumients triiely theirs, I take this natural occasion

of commiuiicating, what may be Avorthy of your

lordship’s curiosity aud consideration; especially

when, like Episodes in a ])oein, they serve to relieve

tlie attention, and are not very foreu to the

Siubject. Considering all things, I judge no monuments

more deserving our researches; especial!},

if any shou’d prove them to ])e Phenician or

Massilian places of security for their commerce:

since ’tis certain that both people have traded

there, and that Pytheas of Marseilles (as we are

informed by Strabo) made a particular description

of those ilands; to which Cesar, among other descriptions,

without naming the authors, does

doubtless refer*. But my own ophiion I think

lit at present to reserve.

X. From the conjectures I Jiave about these

numerous and costly forts, in ilands so remote

and barren, I pass the certainty I have concerning

ilie temples of the Druids, whereof so many are yet

intire in those ilands, as well as in Wales and

Ireland; witli some left in England, where culture

has mostly destroy’d or impair’d STich monuments.

These temples are circles of Obelises or erect stones,

some larger, some narrower, (as in all other ediii-

* In hoc medio cwrsu [Jjiter Hiherniam. scilicet 6) Britajiia?}^]

est insula, quae appellatur Mona. Complures praeterea mino.

fes objeclae insulae e.xistimantur, de quibus insulis ronuulli

scrJpserunt^ dies continues 30 sub bruiaa esse noctem. De

Bello GcdlkOj lib, 5.


ce.s) some more and some less magnificent. Tliey

are for the greatest part perfectly circular, but

some of them semicircular: in others the obelises

stand close together, but in most sepamte and

equidistant. I am not ignorant that several, with

Dr. Charlton in his Stoue-henge restored to the

Danes, believe those circles to be Danish works;

a notion I shall easily confute in due time, and

even now as I go along. But few have imagin’d

‘em to be Roman, as the famous architect Inigo

Jones wou’d needs have this same Stone-hens: e

(according to me one of the Druid cathedrals) to

be the temple of Celum or Terminus, in his Stonehenge

restored to the Romans. Nevertheless, my

lord, I promise you no less than demonstration,

that those circles were Druids temples; against

which assertion their frequenting of oaks, and performing

no religious rites without oak-brxiuches

or leaves, will prove no %alid exception; no more

tlian such circles being found in the Gothic countries,

tho’ without altars, whereof we sliall speak

after the temples. The outside of the churches

in Spain and Holland is much the same, but their

inside difl’ers extremely. As for Inigo Jones, he

cannot be too much commended for his generous

efforts (which shows an uncommon genius) to introduce

a better taste of architecture into England,

where ’tis still so difficult a thing to get rid of Gothic

oddnesses ; and therefore ’tis no wonder he

shou’d continue famous, when so few endeavour


to excede him : but we must beg liis pardon, if,

as he was unacquainted with history, and wanted

certain other qualifications, we take the freedom

in our book to correct his mistakes.

XI. In the iland of Lewis before-mention d, at

the village of Classerniss, there is one of those

temples extremely remarkable. The circle consists

of 12 obelises, about 7 foot high each, and

distant from each other six foot. In the center

stands a stone 13 foot high, in the perfect shape

of the rudder of a ship. Directly south from the

circle, there stands four obelises running out in a

line; as another such line due east, and a third to

the west, the number and distances of the stones

being in these Avings the same: so that this temple,

the most intire that can be, is at the same time

])Oth round and w ing’d. But to the north there

reach by way of avenue) two straight ranges of

obelises, of the same bigness and distances with

those of the circle ; yet the ranges themselves are

8 foot distant, and each consisting of 19 stones,

the 39th being in the entrance of the avenue.

This temple stands astronomically, denoting the

12 signs of the Zodiac and the four principal

winds, subdivided each into four others ; by w hich,

and tlie 19 stones on each side of the avenue betokening

the cycle of 19 years, I can prove it to have

been dedicated principally to the sun; but subordiniitely

to the seasons and the elements, particularly

to the sea and the winds, as appears by the


rudder in the middle. The sea, consider’d as a

divilli (y, was by the ancient Gauls call’d Anvana

or Onvana, as the raging sea is still call’d Anafa

in so many letters by the Irish*; and both of ‘em,

besides that they were very good astronomers, are

known to have paid honor not only to the sea, but

also to the winds and the tempests, as the Romans

f were wont to do. But of this in the account

of their worship. I forgot to tell you, that

there is another temple about a quarter of a mile

from the former; and that commonly two temples

stand near each other, for reasons you will see iu

our history. East of Drumcruy in the Scottish

lie of Aran, is a circular temple, whose area is

about 30 paces over: and south of the same village

is such another temple, in the center of which

still remains the altar; being a broad thin stone,

supported by three other such stones. This is

very extraordinary, tho’ (as you may see in my last

letter) not the onely example; since the zeal of the

christians sometimes apt to be over-heated, us’d

to leave no altars standing but their own. In the

* They vulgarly call the sea mor or muirf marOy cuatiyfairgey

f Sic fatus, meritos aris mactaTit honores


Taurum Neptuno, taurum tibi, pulcher Apollo


Nigrara Hyerai pecudem, Zephyris felicibus albam.

Aen, lib. 3.

Videatur etiara Horatius, Epod. 10. Ter. ult. Cic. de nat,

Dsor. lib. J. £t Aristoph. ia Ranis cum luo Scholiaste.



greatest Hand of Orkney *, commonly calFd the

Mainland, there are likewise two temples, where

the natives believe by tradition, that the snn and

moon were worshipt: which belief of theirs is very

right, since the lesser temple is semicircnlar. The

greater is 110 paces diameter. They know not

what to make of two green mounts erected at the

east and west end of it: a matter nevertheless for

which it is not difficult to account. There’s a

trench or ditch round each of these temples, like

that about Stonehenge; and, in short, every such

temple had the like inclosure. Many of the stones

are above 20 or 24 foot in height above the ground,

about 5 foot in breadth, and a foot or two in thickness.

Some of ‘em are fallen down: and the

temples are one on the east and the other on the

west side of the lake of Stennis, where it is shallow

and fordable, there being a passage over by

large stepping stones. Near the lesser temple

(whicli is on the east side of the lake, as the greater

on the west) there stand two stones of the same

bigness with the restf; thro’ the middle of one of

which there is a large hole, by Avhich criminals

* The lies of Orkney are denominated from Orcas or Orca^

which, ill Diodorus Siculus and Ptolemy, is the ancient name of

iJaithness; and this from Orc^ not a salmon (as by some interpreted)

but a whale : so that in old Irish Orc^i is the Whale

Islands. The words of Diodorus are, to Je u7rox»7re;w£»cv [rn: Bp£T«yirt'v]

/ty>i3t£iv /4£v KTOfovgiv us to TrtXctycv, ovc(wa.^«o-0«i h Ofnuy. Lib. 4.

f Brand, pag. 44^


and victims were ty’d. Likewise in the iland of

Papa-Westra, anotlier of the Orkneys, there standi

near a lake (now call’d St. Tredwell’s loeh*) two

such obelises, in one of which there is the like

hole: and behind them lying on the ground a

third stone, being hollow like a trough.

XII. These few I oidy give for examples out of

great numbers, as I likewise take the liberty to acquaint

you (my lord) that at a place call’d Biscauwoon,

near Saint Burien’s in Cornwall, there is a

circular temple consisting of 19 stones, the distance

between each 12 foot; and a twentieth in

the center, much higher than the rest. But I am

not yet inform’d, whether this middle stone has

any peculiar figure, or whether inscribed with any

characters; for such characters are found in Scotland,

and some have been observed in Wales; but

(except the Roman and Christian inscriptions)

unintelligible to such as have hitherto seen them.

Yet they ought to have been fairly represented,

for the use of such as might have been able perhaps

to explain them. They would at least exercise

our antiquaries. The circle of Rollrich”

stonesAn Oxfordshire, and the Ilurlers in Cornwall,

are two of those Druid temples. There is

one at Aubury in Wiltshire, and some left in other

places in England. In Gregory of Tours time

there v.tis remaining, and for ought I know may

rstill be so^ one of those temples on the top of Be-

* Brand, pag. 58,



leyis mount between Arton and Rioin in Auvergne.

It was within this inclosure that Martin,

the sainted bisliop, stood taking a view* of the

country, as before-mentionVl. Now of such temples

I shall mention here no more, but procede to

the Druids altars, which, as I said before, do ordinarily

consist of four stones ; three being hard

flags, or large tho’ thin stones set up edgewise,

two making the sides, and a shorter one the end,

with a fourth stone of the same kind on the top:

for the other end was commonly left open, and the

altars were all oblong. Many of ‘em are not intire.

From some the upper stone is taken away,

from others one of the side-stones or the end.

And, besides the alterations that men have caus’d

in all these kinds of monuments, time itself has

chang’d ‘em much more. Mr. Brand, speaking

of the obelises in Orkney, *’ many of ‘em (says he)

appear to be much worn, by the washing of the

wdnd and rain, which shows they are of a long

.standing: and it is very strange to think, how, in

those places and times, they got such large stones

carry’d and erected |.” ‘Tis naturally impossible,

but that, in the course of so many ages, several

.stones must have lost their figure; their angles

being expos’d to all weathers, and no care taken

to repair any disorder, nor to prevent any abuse

* Extat nunc in hoc loco cancellus, in quo Sanctus dicitur

stetisse. Gregor, Turon. de Gloria Confessor, cap, 5,

+ Pag. 46.


of them. Thus some are become h »wcr, or jagged,

or otherwise h’regular and diminished: many are

quite wasted, and moss or scurf hides the inscriptions

or sculptures of others; for such sculptures

there are in several places, particularly in Wales

and the Scottish ile of Aran. That one sort of

stone lasts longer than another is true: but that

all will have their period, no less than parchment

and paper, is as true.

XIII. There are a great many of the altars to

be seen yet intire in Wales, particularly two in

Kerig Y Drudion parish mention d in my other

letter, and one in Lhan-Hammulch parish iu

Brecknockshire; with abundance elsewhere, diligently

obsei-v’d by one I mentioned in my first letter,

Mr. Edward Lhuyd, who yet was not certain

to what use they were destin’d. Here I beg the

favor of your lordship to take it for granted, that

I have sufficient authorities for every thing I alledge:

and tho’ I do not always give them in this

brief specimen, yet in the history itself, they shall

])e produc’d on every proper occasion. The Druids

altars were connnonly in the middle of the temples,

near the great colossus, of which presently;

as there is now such a one at Carn-Lhechart, iu

the parish of Lhan-Gyvelach, in Glamorganshire,

besides that which I mention’d before in Scotland.

They are by the Welsh in the singular number

caird Kist-vaeii, that is a stone-chest, and in the

plural Kistieii’Vaeny stone-chests. These name^,


\vitli a smeill variation, are good Irish: but the

things quite difterent from those real stone-chests

or coffins (commonly of one block and the lid) that

are in many places found under ground. The

vulgar Irish call these altars Dcrmot and Grania*

s bed^. This last was the daughter of King

Cormac Ulfhada, and wife to Fin mac Cuilf;

from whom, as invincible a general and champion

as he’s reported to have been, she took it in her

head (as women will sometimes have such fancies)

to run away with a nobleman, call’d Dermot

0»DuvnyJ: but being pursu’d every where, the

ignorant country people say, they were intertainVl

a night in every quarter-land §, or village of Ireland


wliere the inhabitants sympathizing with their affections,

and doing to others what they wou’d be

done unto, made these beds both for their resting

and hiding place. The poets, you may imagine,

have not been wanting to imbellish this story: and

iience it appears, that the Druids were planted as

thick as parish priests, nay much thicker: Wherever

there’s a circle without an altar, ’tis certain

there was one formerly; as altars are found where

the circular obelises are mostly or all taken away

for other uses, or out of aversion to this superstition,

or that time has consum’d them. They, who,

froin the bones, which are often found near those

altars and circles (tho’ seldom within them) will

* Leaba Dhiarmait agns Ghraine. + Finn mhac Cubhaill,

.; Di^rmait O Duibhne. ^ Seisreack Sf Ccathramhack,

01^ THE DRUIDS. 143

needs infer, that they were burying places; forget

what Cesar, Pliny, Tacitus, and other authors,

write of the liuman sacrifices offer’d by the Druids


and, in mistaking the ashes found in the earns,

they show themselves ignorant of those several anniversary

fires and sacrifices, for which they were

rear’d, as we have shown above. The huge coping

stones of these earns were in the nature of altars,

and altars of the lesser form are frequently

found near them ; as now in the great Latin and

Greec churches, there are, besides the high altar,

several smaller ones.

XIV. There’s another kind of altar much bis:-

ger than either of these, consisting of a greater

number of stones; some of ‘em serving to support

the others, by reason of their enormous bulk.

These the Britons term Cromlech in tJie singular,

Cromlechit in the plural number; and the Irish

Cromleach or Cromleac, in the plural Crowdeacha

or Cromleacca. By these altars, as in the center

of the circular temples, there commonly stands

(or by accident lyes) a prodigious stone, which

was to serve as a pedestal to some deity: for all

these Cromleachs were places of worship, and so

call’d from lowing, the word signifying the hoicing-

stone^, The original designation of the idol

Crmn-cruach (whereof in the next section) may

well be from Cniim, an equivalent word to Tair-

* From crom or cnim, which, in Armoric, Irish, ami Welsh,

siguiees bcnt^ and Lech or Leac^ a broad stone.


neach Taran or Tarnuin, all signifying tlmncler;

whence the Romans call’d the Gallic Jupiter Taramis

or Taranis, the thiinderer: and from these

Cromleachs it is, that in the oldest Irish a priest

is caird Cruimthear, and priesthood Cndmtheacd,

which are so many evident vestiges of the Draidical

religion*. There’s a Cromlech in Nevern-parish

in Pembrokeshire, where the middle stone is

still 18 foot high, and 9 broad towards the base,

growing narrower upwards. There lyes by it a

piece broken of 10 foot long, which seems more

than 20 oxen can draw: and therefore they were

not void of all skill in the mechanics, who could

set up the whole. But one remaining at Poitiers

in France, supported by live lesser stones, excedes

all in the British ilands, as being sixty foot in circumference

|. 1 fancy, however, that this was a

roclcing-stone : There’s also a noble Cromleach at

Bod-oiiyr in Anglesey. Many of them, by a modest

computation, are 30 tun weight: but they

differ in bigness, as all pillars do, and their altars

are ever bigger than the ordinary Kistieii’Vaen,

In some places of Wales these stones are call’d

* Of the same nature is Caimeach, of which before : for Som

at Y, the ordinary word for a priest, is manifestly formed from


i La picrre levee de Poitiers a soixante pieds de tour, & elle

tst posee sur cinq autres pierres, sans qu’on sache non plus ni

pour(iuoi, ni comment. Chevreau, Mcrnoin’S d’AngUterre,

page 380.


Meineu’gui/r, which is of the same import with

Cromlechu. In Caithness and other remote parts

of Scotland, these Cromleacs are very numerous,

some pretty entire; and others, not so much

consum’d by time or thrown down by storms, as

disordered and demolish’d by the hands of men.

But no such altars were ever found by Olaus

Wormius, the great northern antiquary (which I

desire the abettors of Dr. Charlton to note) nor

by any others in the temples of the Gothic nations;

as I term all who speak the several dialects of

Gothic original, from Izeland to Switzerland, and

from the Bril in Holland to Presburg in Hungary,

the Bohemians and Polanders excepted. The

Druids were onely co-extended with the Celtic

dialects : besides that Cesar says expresly, there

were no Druids among the Germans*, with whom

he says as expresly that seeing andfeeling ivas believing

(honoring onely the sun, the fire, and the^

moon, by ivhich they ivere manifestly benefited) and

that they made no sacrifices at all: which, of

course, made altars as useless there (tho’ afterwards

grown fashionable) as they were necessary

in the Druids temples, and which they show

more than probably to have been temples indeed


* German! neque Druides habent, qui rebus diviais pr».

sint, neque sacrificiis student. Deorum numero eos solos du«

cunt, quos cernunt^ et quorum operibus apcTte jiivantur ; Solem,

et Vulcanum, et Lunam; reliquoi n© fama quidem acceperunt.

De Bello QalliGo^ lib. 6.



nor are they calFd by any other name, or lhoiig4it

to have been any other thing, by the Highlanders

or their Irish progenitors. In Jersey likewise, as

well as in the other neighbouring ilands, formerly

part of the dutchy of Normandy, there are many

altars and Croynlechs, *’ There are yet remaining

in this iland” (says Dr. Falle in the U5th page of

his account of Jersey) ” some old monnments of

Paganism. We call them Poucfiieleys. They are

threat flat stones, of vast bigness and weight ; some

oval, some quadrangular, rais’d 3 or 4 foot from

the ground, and supported by others of a less size.

“Tis evident both from their figure, and great quantities

of ashes found in the ground thereabouts,

that they were us’d for altars in those times of

superstition: and tlieir standing on eminences

near the sea, inclines nie also to think, that they

were dedicated to the divinities of the ocean. At

ten or twelve foot distance there is a smaller stone

set lip at an end, in manner of a desk; where ’tis

supposed the priest kneel’d, and perform’d some ceremonies,

while the sacrifice was burning on the

altar.” Part of this account is mistaken, for the

culture of the inland parts is the reason that few

Pouqucleys are left, besides those on the barren

rocks and hills on the sea side: nor is that situation

alone suflicient for entitling them to the marine

powers, there being proper marks to distinguish

such wheresoever situated.

XV. But to return to our Cromkachs, the chiefOF


est in all Ireland was Crum-cruach, which stood

ill the midst of a circle of twelve obelises on a hill

in Breiin, a district of the county of Cavan, formerly

belonging to Letrim. It was all over cover’d

with gold and silver, the lesser iignres on the

twelve stones about it being onely of brass; which

mettals, both of the stones and the statues that

they bore, became every where the prey of the

christian priests, upon the conversion of that kingdom.

The legendary writers of Patricks life tell

many tilings no less ridiculous than incredible,

about the destruction of this temple oi Moyslccf^^

or the field of adoration^ in Brefin; where the

stumps of the circular obelises are yet to be seen,

and where they were noted by writers to have

stood long before any Danish invasion, which

shows how groundless Dr. Charlton’s notion is.

The bishop’s see of Clogher had its name from

one of those stones, all cover’d with gold (Clochoir

signifying the golden stotie) on which stood Kermand

Kelstach, the chief idol of Ulster f. This

stone is still in being. To note it here by the way.

Sir James Ware was mistaken, when, in his Anti–

quities of Irelmtd, he said Arcklow and Wicklow

were foren names: whereas they are mere Irish,

the first being Ard-cloch, and the second Buidhe*

clock, from high and yellow stones of this consecrated

kind. ‘Tis not to vindicate either the Celtic

nations in general, ox my own countrymen m

* Magh.slC’ucht, f Mexcuriu^ Celticus.


particular, for honoring of such stones, or for

having stony symbols of the Deity ; but to show

they were neither more ignorant nor barbarous

in this respect than the politest of nations, the

Greecs and the Romans, that here I must make

a short literary excm’sion. Wherefore, I beg your

lordship to remember, that Kermand Kelstach

was not the onely Mercury of rude stone, since

the Mercurif of the Greecs was not portray’d antiently

in the shape of a youth, with wings to his

heels and a caduceus in his hand; but ivithouf

hands or feet, being a square stone^, says Phurnutus,

and I say without any sculpture. The reason

given for it by the divines of those days, was,

” that as the square figure betoken’d his solidity

and stability; so he wanted neither hands nor

feet to execute what he was commanded by Jove,

Thus their merry-making Bacchus was figur’d

among the Thebans by a pillar onely f. So the

Arabians worship I know not what God (says

Maximus Tyriusli:) and the statue that I saw of

him, was a square stone.” I sliall say nothing

here of the oath of the Romans per Jovem Lapiitem.

Bat nobody pretends that the G^wh were

more subtil theologues or philosophers, than the

ywve; fxiv^ to E^paicv t£ /ta» i>.s-<^ciKiQ ex^”‘~”X,^’l’ ^^ ””^’ ‘”^°”?> ^^^’ °^”* ‘^°^”»’ *^’^ ?C*’”

funr itnai, Trpcq to avufjv to TrpcxEt/xEvov avroo, De Nat. Deor. cap. 16.

t ir-jAoi; <r>f$aibiai Atavucroc TToXt/yjiQwc. Cletn, Alex. Slromat. lib. 1


^ Ap«Cioi r£p6u-i /UEV tvTiva J’eujt ciS’ft : to Je ayar uc: t iiS’cy XjGoc >;v T£Tfa*/wv»:.

%enn. T?^.


Arabians, Greecs, or Romans ; at least many are

ai)t not to believe it of their Irish ofspring: yet

’tis certain, that all those nations meant by these

stones withont statnes, the eternal stability and

poiver ofthe Deity*; and that he coii’d not be represented

by any similitude, nor under any figure

Avhatsoever. For the numberless figures, which,

notwithstanding this doctrine, they^had (some of

‘em very ingenious, and some very fantastical) were

onely emblematical or enigmatical symbols of the

divine attributes and operations, but not of the

divine essence. Now as such symbols in different

places were different, so they were often confounded

together, and mistaken for each other.

Nor do I doubt, but in this manner the numerous

earns in Gaule and Britain induc’d the Romans

to believe, that Mercury was their chief God f,

becavise among themselves he had such heaps, as

I show’d above; whereas the Celtic heaps were

all dedicated to JBelenus, or the sun. The Roman

historians in particular are often misled by likenesses,

as has been already, and will not seldom

again, be shown in our history; especially with

regard to the Gods, said to have been worshiped

by the Gauls. Thus some modern critics have

forg’d new Gods, out of the sepulchral inscriptions

of Gallic heroes. I shall say no more of such

* To avEixuvi^ov Toy QiOv Kett jUOvi/txov. Jd. Ibid.

t Deum maxime Mercurium colanf. IIujus sunt pluriraa

simulacra, &c. Cces, de bello Gallko, lib. 6,


pillars, but that many of them have a cavity on

the top, capable to hold a pint, and sometimes

more; with a channel or groove, about an inch

deep, reaching from this hoilo\y place to the

ground, of the use whereof in due time.

XVI. Nor will I dwell longer here, than our

subject requires, on the Fatal Stone so calFd, on

which the supreme kings of Ireland us’d to be

inaugurated in times of heathenism on the hill of*

Tarah’\; and which, being inclos’d in a wooden

* Teamhuir^ or in the oblique cases Teamhray whence cor*

ruptly Tara^h^ or Tarak.

f The true names of this stone are^ or thefatal stone^

and Clock na cmeamhna^ or the stone of fortune: both of them

from a persuasion the antient Irish ha^l, that, in what country

soeTcr this stone remain’d, there one of their blood was to reign.

But this jjrov’d as false as such other prophesies for 300 years,

from Edward the First to the reign of James the First in England.

The Druidical oracle is in verse, and in these original words


Cioniodh scuit saor an fine,

Man ba breag an Faisdine,

Mar a bhfiiighid an Lia-fail,

Dlighid flaitheas do ghabhail.

Which may be read thus truely, but monkisbly translated, i»

IhctQY Boethius


Ni fallat fatum, Scoti, qaocnnque locatom

Invenieut lapidem huuc, regnare tenentur ibidenit

The Lowland Scots have rhym’d it thus


Except old Saws do feign,

And wizards wits be blind.

The Scots in place must reign.

Where they this stone shall find.

And some English poet has thus render’d it


Consider Scot, wher’e'er yoa find this stone.

If fatc^ fell not, there fixt nsast be > 5ur tbvoae.


chair, was thought to emit a sound under the

rij^htful candidate (a thing easily nianag’d by the

Druids), but to be mute under a man of none or

a bad title, that is, one who was not for the turn

of those priests. Every one has read of Memnon’s

vocal statue in Egypt. This fatal stone was superstitiously

sent to confirm the Irish colony in

the north of Great Britain, where it continued as

the coronation-seat of the Scottish kings, even

f^ince Christianity; till, in the year 1300, Edward

The Irish pretend to have memoirs concerning it for above 2003

years : nay Ireland itself is sometimes, from this stone, by the

poets call’d Inis-fail. But how soon they begun to use it, or

whence they had it, lyes aUogether in the dark. What’s certain

is, that after having long continued at Tarab, it was, for the

purpose I have mentioned, sent to Fergus, the first actual king

of Scots ; and that it lay in Argile (the original seat of the Scots

in Britain) till, about the year of Christ 842, that Keneth the 2d,

the son of Alpin, having inlarg’d his borders hy the conquest of

the Picts, transferr’d this stone, for the same purpose as before,

to Scone. So great respect is still paid by christians to a heathen

prophesy ! not onely false in fact, as I have this moment prov’d ;

but evidently illusory and equivocal, it being a thing most difficult

to find any prince in Europe, who, some way or other, may

not claim kindred of every other princely race about him, and

consequently be of that blood. This is the case of our present

soverain King Gtorge, who is indeed descended of the Scottish

race, but yet in propriety of speech is not of the Scottish line ;

but the first here of the Brunswick line, as others begun the Brif«.

tish, Saxon, Danish, Saxo-Danlsh, Norman, Saxo-Norraan, and

Scottish lines. Yet this not being the sense in which the Irish

and Scots understand the oracle, they ought consequently at this

very time to loc>k upon it as false and groundless.


the First of England brought it from Scone, placing

it under the coronation-chair at Westminster


and there it still continues, the antientest respected

monument in the world; for tho’ some others

may be more antient as to duration, yet thus superstitiously

regarded they are not. I had almost

forgot to tell you, that ’tis now by the vulgar call’d

Jacoh-stone^ as if this had been Jacob’s pillow at

Bethel*. Neither shall I be more copious in

treating of another kind of stones, tho’ belonging

also to our subject. They are roundish and of

•vast bulk ; but so artificially pitch’d on flat stones^

sometimes more, sometimes fewer in number:

that touching the great stone lightly, it moves, and

seems to totter, to the great amazement of the ignorant;

but stirs not, at least not sensibly (for

that is the case) when one uses his whole strength.

Of this sort is Maen-amher in Cornwall, and another

in the peak of Deiby, whereof Dr. Woodward

has given me an account from his own observation.

Some there are in Wales, one that I

have seen in the parish of Clunmany f, in the north

of Ireland, and the famous rocking stones in Scotland

; of all which, and many more, in our history.

Yet I cou’d not excuse it to myself, if I did not

with the soonest, let your lordship into the secret

of this reputed magic; which the no less learned

antiquary than able physician, Sir Robert Sib-

* Gen. 28. 11, 18, 19, + Cluainmam,


bald, has discover’d in the appendix to his History

of Fife and Kinross. That gentleman speaking

o^ the rocking-stone near Baivaird (or the bards

town) ” I am informal,” says he, ” that this stone

was broken by the usurper (Cromwel’s) soldiers;

and it was discovered then, tliat its motion was

performed by a yolk extuberant in the middle of

the under-surface of the upper stone, which was

mserted in a ca\ity in the surface of the lower

stone.” To which let me add, that as the lower

stone w^as flat, so the upper stone was globular;

and that not onely a just proportion in the motion,

was calculated from the weight of the stone,

and the wideness of the cavity, as w^ell as the oval

figure of the inserted prominence; but that the

vast bulk of the upper stone did absolutely conceal

the mechanism of the motion ; and the better

still to impose, there w ere tw o or three surrounding

flat stones, tho’ that onely in the middle was

concern’d in the feat. By this pretended miracle

they condemn’d of perjury, or acquitted, as their

interest or their aflection led them; and often

brought criniinals to confess, what could be no

other way extorted from them. So prevalent is

the horror of superstition in some cases, w hich led

many people to fancy (and among them the otherwise

most judicious Strabo) that it might be a

useful cheat to society; not considering, that in

other cases (incomparably more numerous and

important) it is most detrimental, perniciouS; and



destructive, being solely useful to the priests that

have the management of it; while it not onely

disturbs or distresses society, but very often confounds

and finally overturns it, of which history

abounds with examples.

XVII. I come now to the Druids houses, by

which I don’t mean their forts or towns, of which

they had many, but not as church-lands ; nor yet

the houses for their schools, situated in the midst

of pleasant groves ; but I mean little, arch’d, round,

stone buildings, capable only of holding one person,

where the retir d and contemplative Druid

sat, when his oak could not shelter him from the

weather. There’s another sort of Druids houses

much larger. Of both these sorts remain several

yet intire in the He of Sky, and also in some other

iles; being by the natives call’d Tighthe nan

DruicUmeach*, that is, Druids houses. Many of

them are to be seen in Wales, and some in Ireland;

but different from those under-ground-

Iiouses, or artificial caves, which are in all those

places, consisting frequently of several chambers,

and generally opening towards rivers or the sea;

having been, as those of the Germans described

by Tacitus f, magazins against the extreme rigor

* Corruptly Tinan Druinich,

+ Solent et subterraneos specus aperire, eosque multo insuper

fimoonerant: suffugium hiemi, ac receptaculum frugibus; quia

rigorem fiigorum ejusmodi locis raoUiunt. Et si quaiido hostis

.adveoit, aperla populatur: abdita autem et defossa aut ignorauOF


of winter, or hiding places for men and goods in

time of war. The vulgar in the ilands do still

feihow a great respect for the Druids house^s ?~nd

never come to the antient sacriiiceing and tire-hallowing

earns, but they walk three times round

them from east to west, according to the course

of the sun. This sanctify’d tour, or round by the

south, is call’d Deiseal” ; as the unhallow’d contrary

one by the north, Tuapholl]\ But the Irish

and Albanian Scots do not derive the first (as a

certain friend of mine imagin d) from Di-siil, which

{signifies Sunday in Armorican British, as Dydh-syl

in Welsh and De-zil in Cornish do the same; but

from Deas%, the right (understanding hand) and

soil, one of the antient names of the sun, the right

hand in this round being ever next the heap. The

protestants in the Hebrides are almost as much

addicted to the Deisiol, as the papists. Hereby

it may be seen, how hard it is to eradicate inveterate

superstition. This custom was us’d three

thousand years ago, and God knows how long before,

by their ancestors the antient Gauls of the

same religion with them, wiio turnd round right”

hand-wise, when they ivorshipd their gods, as Atheneus

§ informs us out of Posidonius, a much elder

writer. Nor is this contradicted, but clearly coiitur,

aut eo ipso fallunt, quod quserenda sunt. Dc moribus

German, cap. 3.

* Dextrorsum, f Sinisirorsiim, + Item Deis.

§ ‘Ouroi Qtovg 7rp»fir*yr5ucrtr, in ra 5′s^i* irfi<^»i. Lib. 4» pag. 15*2.


firmed by Pliny, who says, ” that the Gauls, contrary

to the custom of the Romans*, turned to

the left in their religious ceremonies ;” for as they

begun their worship towardsthe east, so they turn’d

about as our ilanders do now, from east to west according

to the course of the sun, that is, from the

right to left, as Pliny has observed ; whereas the

left was among the Romans reputed the right in

augury, and in all devotions answering it. Nor

were their neighbours, the aboriginal Italians

(most of ‘ern of Gallic descent) strangers to this

custom of worshipping right-hand-wise, which, not

to allege more passages, may be seen by this one

in the Curcidio-f of Plautus, who was himself one

of them: ** when you worship the gods, do it turning

to the right hand;” which answers to turning

from the west to the east. It is perhaps from this

respectful turning from east to w est, that we retain

the custom of drinking over the left thumb, or, as

others express it, according to the course of the

sun, the breaking of w hich order, is reckon’d no

small impropriety, if net a downright indecency, in

Great Britain and Ireland. And no wonder, since

this, if you have faith in Homer, was the custom

of the gods themselves. Vulcan, in the first book

* In adorando dextcram ad osculum referlmus, totumque corpus

circumagimus; quod iq Ijevum ftcisse Galli religlosius err,

dont. Hist, Nat. lib. 28. cap. 2.

+ Si Deos salutas, dex^roTorsum crns^o. y/(7. J. Sfen. 1,

ver, 70.



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