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but the Druids had on a white surplice, whenever they religiously officiated, the emblem of purity and peace ; the Bards, sky-blue, the emblem of truth; the Vates, green, the emblem of the verdant dress of nature, in the meads and woods.
The Druids had their secret and their public doctrines. Some writers have asserted, and endeavoured to show, that the former much resembled primitive tradition—that, in addition to the unity of God, the Creator and Governor of the universe, they taught their disciples many things concerning the formation of man, his primitive innocence, the creation of angels, their expulsion from heaven, and the final destruction of the world by fire. However this be, it is certain that they held the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. Mela has preserved one of the Triads, that bids the people remember
“ To act bravely in war ;
says, that this secret doctrine they were allowed to publish, in order to render their hearers more brave and fearless in war.
Cæsar and Diodorus state, that they taught the Pythagorean doctrine of the Metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls into other bodies, which prevailed almost univerally in the East. This, if they really taught it, is thought to have been a public doctrine, addressed to the narrow conceptions of the vulgar. This is beautifully described by Lucan:
la Cluver. Germ. Antiq. lib. i. c. 32.
“ If dying mortals doom they sing aright,
Rowe's Lucan, book i. v. 796-811.
Others, however, represent them as teaching, that the soul after death ascended to some higher orb, and there enjoyed a more perfect felicity: which, perhaps, was one of their secret doctrines, and expressed their real sentiment.
Their public theology, probably, chiefly consisted of mythological fables, concerning the genealogies, attributes, offices, and actions of their gods; and included various superstitious methods of appeasing their anger, gaining their favour, and discovering their will. These doctrines, couched in verse, abounding with figures and metaphors, were delivered by the Druids, from little eminences. With this fabulous divinity, they intermixed moral precept, for regulating the manners of their auditors; and they zealously exhorted them to avoid doing injury to one another, and to fight valiantly in defence of their country. Diogenes Lærtius gives us the following Triad :
a Rowland's Mona Antiqua. Dio. Lær. in Præm.
“ To worship the gods,
In this laconic
the Triads were written. At what period a plurality of gods was introduced among the Ancient Britons, it is not possible to ascertain; but it is most probable that this gross innovation was brought in by degrees. They had gods of different kinds; as Teutates, whom they called the Father ; Taranis, the Thunderer; Hu, the Mighty, who conducted the first colony to Britain ; Ceridwen, a goddess, in whose rites the preservation of mankind in the ark was figured ; and Beal or Belinus,--for the Phoenicians had introduced the worship of their Baal—a Babylonish title appropriated to the sun, and particularly regarded in Syria and Canaan. The Supreme Being was worshipped by the Gauls and Britons under the name Hesus,-a word expressive of omnipotence. But when a plurality of gods was admitted, Hesus was adored only as a particular divinity, who by his great power, presided over wars and armies, and was the same with Mars. The Germans, Gauls, and Britons, being a warlike people, were great worshippers of Hesus, whose countenance and assistance they endeavoured to gain by cruel and bloody rites.
Suetonius, in his Life of Claudius, charges the Druids with offering to their gods human sacrifices, as Cæsar also does in his Commentaries ; but Diodorus Siculus affirms, that it was but rarely, or only on extraordinary occasions. One article in the Druidical creed was, “ That nothing but the life of man could atone for the life of man.” Whether this was a primitive doctrine, handed down by. oral tradition, and thus corrupted, we cannot determine. However, in consequence of this
maxim, their altars streamed with human blood, great numbers of wretched men falling a sacrifice to this barbarous superstition. Criminals, who had been guilty of robbery and other crimes, were selected in the first instance, as the most acceptable offerings to the Deity; but in case these happened to become soarce, the innocent were forced to supply their places. Cæsar says, that the Druids placed the victims in a sort of hollow frame or wicker case, where, after the same had been set on fire, they were soon suffocated or burnt to death. These dreadful sacrifices were offered by the Druids, on behalf of the public, at the eve of a dangerous war, or in a time of national calamity; also for persons of high rank, when they were afflicted with a dangerous disease. By such acts of cruelty, the ancient Britons endeavoured to avert the displeasure, and procure the approbation of their gods. Augustus and Tiberius, it is said, abolished the said druidical practice in Gaul, and Claudius in Britain. It is stated, that such sacrifices were not offered in Ireland. OʻHalloran, in his History of Ireland, says, “ Certain it is, that in the whole Irish history, no instance occurs of the Druids offering up human sacrifices.
The druidical creed contained this article concerning places of Worship, “ That it was unlawful to build temples to the gods, or to worship them within walls, or under roofs." b Quintus, the brother of M. Tullius Cicero, in his confidential despatches to him, details the mode observed in constructing stone edifices in Britain for sacred use, with as much exactness as if he had been present at their construction ; and describes, with great minuteness, the celebration of a religious ceremony, of which he was an eye-witness.