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modern history, of adventurers who have founded sects, and given them their names. Leaving farther conjectures on this subject to those who feel disposed to entertain them, it is certain that Cæsar discovered the Druids engaged in the double employment of the Priest and the Civilian; and them- , selves governed by an arch-priest, or president, whose place was supplied after death by the next in merit, or by a majority of votes. The official, thus appointed, had many privileges : he was exempt from personal service in war, paid no tribute, and had an immunity of all things. It is remarkable that in this particular their office strongly resembled that of the Levites, the most antient order of priests upon record.
All authors, antient and modern, seem agreed, that the original form of government of every people in the known world has been monarchical. That it was the custom of the first inhabitants of this island either to elect, or have hereditary or usurping Kings, Cæsar convinces us by the facts and particulars he relates of them. Those Kings were, however, very different from Kings of later date ; for as their subjects were little better than savages, so the government became alternately weak and coercive, as circumstances dictated. Besides, the Druids possessed a plenitude of power, which often infringed upon that of the King, who was, probably, a mere cypher ; except in the capacity of a general in chief of all military
operations. And even in this case the Priesthood interfered with auguries, and inflicted punishments upon such of the troops as did not perform their duty. Whence it appears that, in reality, the Druids were the supreme council of each state ; inaking the few laws which connected society, and, perhaps, partially enforcing them by means of the monarch.
Disputes respecting property, whether landed or personal, which terms we are not to accept precisely in their present signification, were decided by the Druids : and this brotherhood pronounced sentence upon the commission of all crimes. From which we may infer, that the excellence of the trial by jury was feit and appreciated in England, even before its inhabitants possessed the art of conveying their knowledge to their posterity by writing or sculpture. Excommunication, the last resort for contumacy at present, was inflicted on the incorrigible; but not, perhaps, exactly in the modern form : as, it
the person offending was only denied the liberty of attending their sacrifices; than which a greater punishment could not be devised in the opinion of the Briton : the contempt of his neighbours was a natural consequence, which, in itself, operated to deprive him of other rights.
In some farther assertions respecting the Druids, the Commentator seems to have been misinformed; or, more probably, his work has been
interpolated ; particularly those parts respecting the Greek characters used by the Druids. . That they had some characters to express their ideas, there is no good reason to doubt; and they may have resembled the Grecian; but it is impossible to conceive why they declined committing their history or morals to writing; when, in their public and private accounts, they made use of the letters in question. According to Cæsar, the Druids established schools, and taught the youth they assembled to recite verses from memory; a task which occupied them twenty years. Unfortunately, it may be pretty safely asserted, that not a trace of inscription can be exhibited at present, which is of genuine Druidical origin. Indeed, the rude stones attributed to their erection seem to evince more the greatness of their conceptions, than their abilities in executing them.
It was, doubtless, customary to pay the King some tribute for the support of liis family and regal state. Before the invention of a medium of metal, or any other substance as money, cattle and the produce of the earth were presented to him: but in what proportion, as to the means of individuals, we are totally unacquainted. Judging from the unsettled state of society, his limited power, and disability to reward in return to any extent, makes it at least problematical whether his revenue exceeded his absolute necessities. We are well aware that even Kings, circumscribed as
ours must have been by the Druids, might sometimes gain the affection of the armed multitude by leading them to a successful predatory war, when whatever spoils were obtained were distributed to the Prince and that multitude as they chose to agree, independent and in defiance of the authority exercised in other respects by the Druids. And in this point of view we may discern the cause of the decline of their power; for, as the ability of the prince to distribute wealth increased, the people were willing to barter even their freedom for it. By these, and perhaps other unknown causes, we find that Caractacus had accumulated a variety of splendid articles, which were displayed with him at Rome, to increase the honour of his capture.' But long before that period, money had been coined by the British princes ; and, no doubt, with much profit to themselves.
Such were the general forms of this species of Government ; which, as it afterwards prevailed in Brittany, some writers suppose was adopted there from England, rather than from thence to England. We
may infer from Cæsar, that the husband had the power of sacrificing his wife to his just or unjust resentments. The wife of a chief was subject on the decease of her consort, upon suspicion of violence, to a cruel examination, instituted by his relations; who tortured her servants for evidence, and, on a supposed confirmation of guilt, consigned her to a lingering death by fire. Sir Edward Coke attributes the law existing in England for burning a woman who kills her husband to this very antient custom. On other and important occasions they were honoured and consulted, even in matters belonging to their wars and alliances. Amongst their prejudices, they conceived it unlawful to eat either hares, geese, or hens, which they entertained and fed as we now do the cat or dog, for our amusement. With respect to the customs established
generally throughout each little community, those respecting the preservation of property to individuals must have been nearly uniform tlıroughout the world. That which was raised or made by a man was his own, even according to the most irrational ideas of the human race. As to the extent of district for cultivation in each family, agreement in the first instance, and possession in the sequel, secured it to their descendants. Exchanges, or purchases of some description, followed of necessity; either through unavoidable fạilures, or to supply luxurious fancies.
The Druids are said to have kept their code of laws confined to their own breasts ; dispensing them from that, and not an established written source, though not ignorant of the use of letters. Policy, it is true, might suggest this mode of increasing their consequence ; but it is strange that the antient literati of Rome have not pre