CELTS, an ancient people inhabiting, according to the earliest historical notices, the western parts of Europe.
It appears now to be generally admitted, that the Celts were a peculiar people, distinguished by many remarka ble particulars from the Scythians or Goths, with whom they have been often confounded. The distinction, how ever, between the nations alluded to. has not been admit ted without a full and elaborate discussion of the subject. Arany learned authors have contended for their identity ; all antiquity has been explored by the writers on opposite sides ; and, upon a question which surely might have been discussed with a due attention to good manners, much bitterness and insolence have been shewn. Among those who have contended for the identity of the Celts and Goths, a principal place must be assigned to Cluverius and Pelloutier ; and likewise, though he contends for nothing more than an identity of origin, to the late Sir William Jones: while, of all the champions for their diversity, Mr Pinkerton, aided by a profound and acute writer in the second volume of the Edinburgh Review, is by far the most formidable. The points supposed to be established by Mr Pinkerton and the learned critic, are the following : 1. At a period, probably as early as the year 1400 A. C. the Scythians had pushed them selves from the vicinity of the river Araxis, westwards and northwards, over a considerable part of Europe. 2. The Scythians were afterwards mentioned in under the names of Genx, Gothi, and Germani ; but whether distinguished by these names, or by the more comprehensive appellation of Scythx, the people thus distinguished were one and the same. 3. With regard to the Celts, the earliest notices would lead us to place them about the year 500 A. C. in the neighbourhood of the Pyrenees, whence they were driven by the Germans or Goths on the east, and the Aquitani, probably an Iberian race, on the south, into that part of Gaul where they were found in the time of Cxsar. 4. That the inhabitants of the Highlands of Scotland, and the Welsh, together with some of the Irish tribes, are the remains now existing of the ancient Celts. 5. That when the Greek and Roman authors use the words KcA?ar and rzacc.7cci, Celtx and Galli, they often refer exclusively to the- Belgic Gauls, (see the mass of authorities quoted in the Edinburgh Review, vol. ii. p. 365, art. Vindication
of the Celts.) 6. That though this is CI equently the case, the distinction is sometimes accurately made be tween the Belgic Gauls and the Celtic ; as in the intro duction to the first book of Cxsar's Commentaries, where the Belgx are represented as inhabiting one part of Gaul, the Aquitani another, and the Celtx a third ; and in the language with which the account of the Druids, given by the same author, commences, In omni Gallia, couumn 119Mi7121712, qui align° aunt 77:micro atquc honore, genera aunt dico.—In 077272i Gallia. that is, as the p ssage is commonly understood, in all the Celtic part of Gaul.
We may consider the distinction between the Celts and the Goths as established, first, By the difference of their person ; 2dly, By the difference of their religious belief, and sacred observances; idly, By the difference of their political institutions ; and, lastly, By the differ In pointing- out these differen ces, almost every thing hue' esting in the history of the Celts be conveniently brought into t it W.
1. Till. Celt!, N1 ere distinguished from the Scythians, Goths, or Germani, by their external appearance. They had not the light hair and blue eyes, t%'hielt were regard ed in ancient times as an indication of a German origin ; nor had they the lofty statute and large limbs, which are still consideml as characteristic of the German tribes. It was to their extraordinary appearance and ferocious aspect, as well as to their bat barous valour, that the Gauls (of Scythian or Gothic extraction) were indebted Lou their victories over the Romans ; and, before the strenoll and discipline of Roan. could match the prowess or these fierce invaders, it was necessary to familiarize the legions with the tremendous looks and savage howl ing of the Gaulish warriors. On the other hand, the Celts were a people of an inferior stature, swarthy in their complexion, with dark eyes, and hair short, coarse, and bl..ck. In their external appearance they seem to have l•sembled the Finns and Laplanders of modern times. History records but little of their \ ictories and con y', sts ; and Mr Pinkerton, in frantic declamation, pro noun( es them to be radical savages, incapable of in struction or in society.