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found in Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. The separation of a distinct class of men called the Druids, whom he describes * as the ministers of their religion, and the depositaries of their sciences and laws,—the retired and contemplative modes of life to which this order devoted themselves,—the mystery which they affected,—the reverence in which they were held,—the direction of their studies to the natural sciences, particularly to astronomy,— their opinions concerning a Providence,—and, above all, their doctrine of transmigration, with their pretensions to prophetical knowledge,—all strongly remind us of the character and institutions of the Magi.
The worship of Bel, or Baal, f some traces of which still remain in the Highlands, is unquestionably of Eastern ori
* See Book vi. Chapters 13,14, and 16. of hisComm. rie Bello Gallico.
f The anniversary of Bel (in Gaelic Bealdin) was celebrated by shepherds and children with a feast of milk, eggs, butter, cheese, &c. These remains of ancient superstitions were accompanied with many ceremonies and offerings for the protection of their flocks from storms, eagles, and foxes. This festival was held on May-day. When all was ready, a boy stood up, holding in his left hand a piece of bread, covered with a kind of hasty pudding, or custard of eggs, milk, and batter; and with his face turned towards the East, he threw a piece over his left shoulder, and cried, "This to you, O Mists and Storms, that ye be favourable to our corns and pasture: This to thee, O Eagle, that thou mayest spare our lambs and kids: This to thee, O Raven," &c. These superstitious rites were common thirty years ago, but they have now disappeared even among children. Similar to this festival was the Sam-huin, or fire of peace, the origin of which tradition ascribes to the Druids, or Daoni-Si, who assembled the people in the open air for the purpose of administering justice. In many parts of the country are seen the small conical hills on which these courts were held, and which are called Tomvoide, i. e. the Court Hill. Three of these conical court hills are near the point of Lyon, where that river enters the Tay, three miles above Castle Menzies. The anniversary of these meetings was celebrated on the 1st of November, the Halloween of the Lowlands. Immediately after dark, large fires were kindled in conspicuous places in every hamlet. The inhabitants at the same time assembled, and the night was passed in dancing, and the observance of numberless ceremonies and superstitions, the principal object of which was, to discover occult events, and pry into futurity. These superstitious rites are admirably described by Burns in his " Halloween."
gin. * The Highland superstitions concerning the enchantments of the Daoni-Si, (men of peace, or holy men, or fairies,) cannot fail to bring to the recollection of the classical reader the incantations of Medea, Queen of Colchis, f
The language of the Scotch Highlanders affords strong evidence of Oriental origin. It is well known, that, in the languages of Asia, the Hebrew for example, the present tense of the verb is wanting, and is supplied by inference or circumlocution. This is also the case in the Irish, the Welsh, and the Gaelic, which indeed are kindred dialects, and in no other European language. The Gaelic presents in its construction the most prominent features of a primitive language, being for the most part monosyllabic, and, with few exceptions, having no word to express abstract ideas, or such terms of art as are unknown to a primitive people.
But to whatever conclusion we may arrive concerning the origin and early migrations of the Celtic race, it is certain that tribes described as Celtic, and affording every indication of their having sprung from a common stock; preserving themselves unmixed in blood and unconnected in institutions, with strangers, and retaining their own manners and language, were extensively diffused over the west of Europe. From the Straits of Gibraltar to the northern extremity of Scotland, not merely on the sea-coast, but to a considerable distance into the interior, we find traces of their existence, and memorials of their history, deducible not only from the testimony of ancient writers, but from the names of mountains and rivers, the most permanent vestiges of the original language of a country. Thus, we have, in France, the Garonne, (in Gaelic Garu-avon,) rough or rapid river; the Seine, the Sequana of Caesar, the Seimh-avon, or si* See Dr Graham's (of Aberfoyle) able and learned Essay on the Authenticity of Ossian.
f See Ovid's Met. Lib. vii. fab. 2, and compare the description of Medea's cauldron, and its effects, with the fairy tale related by Dr Graham in his elegant and entertaining work, entitled, " Picturesque Sketches of Perthshire."
lent running river: in Lombardy, the Eridanus, the Ard-an-er-avon, or east running river: also in Scotland, the Ayr, or Iar, the west running river. * But it would be endless to follow the derivations in Scotland, where a great majority of ancient names of places, rivers, and mountains, is unquestionably Celtic. Thus, even in the Lothians and Berwickshire, we have Edinburgh, Dalkeith, the river Esk, Inveresk, Inverleith, Balgone, Dunbar, Dunse, Dunglass, Drumore, Mordun, Drumseugh, Dundas, f Dalmeny, Abercorn, Garvald, Innerwick, Cramniond, Corstorphine, with many others as purely Celtic as any names within the Grampians. In Galloway, and the western districts, too, Celtic names are almost the only ancient appellations of places, and of the common people, the descendants of the earliest inhabitants of whom we have authentic accounts.
Some may smile at derivations like these; but others, again, will trace, in such affinities of language, if not the only, at least the surest vestiges that still remain, of the vicissitudes and affiliations of nations whose annals extend beyond the reach of authentic history. Unhappily for the inquirer into Celtic antiquities, such vestiges form almost the only basis on which his conclusions or conjectures can rest. Amongst ancient authors, such objects of research excited little attention; and long before the period at which modern history commences, they had been almost annihilated by the fierce and more numerous tribes, who occupied great part of the country possessed by the ancient Celts. When the Celts migrated to the westward, tribes of a very different language and character advanced upon their settlements, and spread farther to the northward. These
* In Gaelic, Er is east; Iar west. t Dundas. Dun-dos, a hill with a tuft of wood. This etymon bears an analogy to the heraldic bearings of Dundas, (a tuft of wood with a lion attempting to push through it), a family as ancient as the period when the Gaelic was the language of Mid-Lothian. The old Castle of Dundas has stood eight hundred years.
tribes, denominated Teutones * and Goths had probably their original seats in Scythia. They gradually occupied Hungary, Germany, and Scandinavia, encroaching everywhere upon the territories of the Celts, overturning the Roman empire itself, and at length establishing themselves in Italy, Spain, Gaul, and the eastern districts of Britain. By these invasions, the Celts were either driven westward, or intermixed with their invaders. Their name and national distinctions were lost, excepting in a few inaccessible regions on the shores of the Atlantic, from which they could not be dislodged. There they still remain detached portions of an original race, preserving their physical conformation, and their peculiar institutions, nearly unchanged, and are as easily distinguishable from the general mass of the population with which they are combined in political union, as they were from the Scythian and German tribes in the days of Caesar.
In the provinces of Gallicia and Biscay in the west, and in the valleys of the Pyrenees in the south of France, and north of Spain, the inhabitants, differing, as they evidently do, in manners and appearance, from the other subjects of the respective kingdoms to which they belong, exhibit a striking confirmation of this hypothesis. But it is in Lower Bretaigne, in Wales, in the Isle of Man, in Ireland, and in the Highlands of Scotland, that the most distinct traces of the Celtic manners and language are to be found. In manners, indeed, the inhabitants of Bretaigne bear but a faint resemblance to their Celtic brethren of other countries; but the similarity of their language is striking. In language, the Gallicians differ less from their fellow subjects of the Spanish monarchy, than they do in physical formation,
• Mr Grant, of Corrimonie, in his learned work, entitled, " Thoughts on the Gael," gives an etymology of the appellation Teutones, which he conjectures to be the name given by the Gaelic emigrants from the east to the hordes which advanced in tbesame direction, upon their northern borders, peopling Russia and Scandinavia. These were called Tuadaoine, that is, Men of the North, or Teutones.
and peculiar customs. The Biscayans are remarkable for their difference in both respects; and the Basques, or inhabitants of the western Pyrenees, are distinguishable from the subjects of the two kingdoms to which they belong, by their bodily appearance and habits, as well as by a high spirit of independence, and pride of ancestry,—and, in many respects, they exhibit striking marks of an original and unmixed race.*
Many points of resemblance between the Basques and Scottish Highlanders may, no doubt, be attributed as much to similarity of situation, as to any common origin. Similarity of situation, however, will not account for the remarkable traits of resemblance between the inhabitants of La Vendee and those of the north of Scotland. Widely as they differ in their external features, the manners and customs of the people of both countries are so nearly similar, that a Highlander, in reading the Memoirs f of the Wars in La Vendee during the French Revolution, would almost think he was perusing the history of the events of the years 1745 and 1746, in Scotland. In the picture which has been drawn of the zeal with which the followers and adherents of the Seigneurs crowded round the castles of their Lords; in the cordial affection and respectful familiarity subsisting between them; in their pastoral modes of life, and love of the chase ., in the courage with which they took the field, and the perseverance with which they maintained their ground against disciplined armies; in their invincible fidelity to the cause they had espoused; in their remarkable forbearance from pillage or wanton destruction, in which they exhibited a noble contrast to the ferocious rapacity of the republican
• The Basques wear a blue bonnet of the same form, texture and colour, as that worn by the Scottish Highlanders; and in their erect air, elastic step, and general appearance, bear a remarkable resemblance to the ancient race of Highlanders, whose manners and habits remained unchanged till towards the commencement of the late reign, but of which scarcely a trace now remains.
f Memoirs of Madame Larochejaquelin. Edin. 1816.