Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter ii: Probable Conjectures concerning the ancient Language of the Gauls - An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor
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chapter ii: Probable Conjectures concerning the ancient Language of the Gauls - Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor 
An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor, Edited and with an Introduction by Justin Champion (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Probable Conjectures concerning the ancient Language of the Gauls
In this Place it seems proper to handle a Question much disputed and canvass’d by Learned Men; viz. What was the Language of the Gauls in those old Times? For as to what belongs to their Religion, Laws, and the Customs of the People, Caesar, as I said before, has at large given us an account. In the first place we ought to take notice, that Caesar, in the Beginning of his Commentaries, where he divides the Gauls into Three Nations, the Belgae, the Aquitanae, and the Celtae, tells us they all differ’d, not only in their Customs, but in their Language: Which also Strabo confirms, lib. 4. where he says they were not of one Language, but a little differing in their Languages. And the same thing Ammianus Marcellinus testifies in his 15th Book. But what many Learned Men (especially of our own Country) have maintained, viz. That the Gauls commonly used the Greek Tongue, may be refuted by this single Instance which Caesar takes notice of, lib. 5. cap. 12. That when Q. Cicero was besieged in his Camp, he dispatched Letters written in the Greek Language, “Lest (if they were intercepted) his Designs should be discover’d by the Gauls.”; But to this some object, what Strabo writes, lib. 4. viz. “That all Sorts of good Literature (and especially that of the Greek Language) flourish’d at Marseilles to such a degree, that the Gauls, by the Example of the Massilians, were mightily delighted with the Greek Tongue, insomuch that they began to write their very Bargains and Contracts in it.” Now to this there is a short and ready reply: For, in the first place, if the Gauls learnt Greek by the Example of the Massilians, ’tis plain, ’twas none of their Mother-tongue. Secondly, Strabo in the same place clearly shows us, that the Fashion of writing their Contracts in Greek began but in his Time, when all Gallia was in Subjection to the Romans. Besides, he speaks precisely only of those Gauls who were Borderers and next Neighbours to the Massilians; of whom he says, that not only many of their private Men, but even their Cities (by publick Decrees, and proposing great Rewards) invited several Learned Men of Massilia to instruct their Youth.
It remains that we should clear that place in Caesar, where he tells us “the Gauls used Greek letters in their publick and private Reckonings” (“Graecis literis usos fuisse.”)48 But let us see whether the word Graecis in that place ought not to be left out, not only as unnecessary but surreptitious.49 Since it was sufficient to express Caesar ’s Meaning to have said, that the Gauls made no use of Letters or Writing in the Learning of the Druids, but in all other Matters, and in publick and private Accounts, they did make use of Writing: For uti litteris, “to use Letters,” is a frequent Expression for “Writing” among Latin Authors. Besides, it had been a Contradiction to say the Gauls were unskill’d in the Greek Tongue, as Caesar had averr’d a little before; and afterwards to say, that they wrote all their publick and private Accounts in Greek. As to what many suppose, that the words literis Graecis in that place, are not to be taken for Writing Greek, but only for the Characters of the Letters; I can less approve of this Explanation than the former; because though many ancient Writers (as we just now said) frequently used the Expression, Uti litteris for Scribere; yet I never observ’d, that any of them ever used it to signify the Forms and Fashions of the Characters. Neither does it make at all for their Opinion, what Caesar says in the First Book of his Commentaries, viz. That there were found in the Helvetian Camp, Tablets, literis Graecis conscriptas; as if the same Person, who had learnt to make use of the Greek Forms of Characters, might not as easily have learnt the Greek Language; or as if there might not be among the Helvetii, Priests or Gentlemen’s Sons, who might then have learnt Greek, as our’s now learn Latin; Greek being at that Time a Language in Vogue and Esteem. The very Neighbourhood of the School of Massilia is sufficient to confute that Opinion: And therefore Caesar, when he speaks of his own Letter to Cicero, tells us, he sent that Letter written in Greek Characters, lest (in case it were intercepted) his Designs should be discover’d by the Enemy. Justinus, lib. 20. says, there was a Decree of the Senate made, that no Carthaginian, after that Time, should study the Greek Language or Writing, lest he should be able to speak or write to the Enemy without an Interpreter. Tacitus, in his Book de moribus Germanorum, tells us, “that several Tombs and Monuments were yet to be seen in the Confines of Germany and Swisserland with Greek Inscriptions on them.”50Livius, lib. 9. says, “The Roman Boys formerly studied the Tuscan Language, as now they do the Greek.”; And in his 28th Book, “Hannibal erected an Altar, and dedicated it with a large Inscription of all his Atchievements, in the Greek and Punick Tongues.” Item Lib. 40. “Both Altars and Inscriptions on them in the Greek and Latin Tongues.” Lastly, I cannot imagine, that Caesar would have expressed himself, (if he had meant, as these would have him) Graecis literis scribere [writing Greek letters]; but rather, Graecarum literarum forma, [the form of Greek Letters] as we see in Tacitus,Annals Lib. 11. “Novas literarum formas addidit . . .: He added new Characters of Letters: Having found, that the Greek Literature was not begun and perfected at once.” And again, “Et formae literis latinis quae veterrimis Graecorum, etc.”;51
Now lest any body should wonder, how the Word Graecis crept into Caesar ’s Text, I will instance you the like Mischance in Pliny, Natural History lib. 7. cap. 57. where ’tis thus written, “Gentium consensus tacitus primum omnium conspiravit ut IONUM literis uterentur.”; And afterwards, “Sequens gentium consensus in tonsoribus fuit.”; And again, “Tertius consensusest in Horarum observatione.”;52 Now who is there that sees not plainly the Word IONUM ought to be left Out, as well because ’tis apparently unnecessary, (for Pliny had no farther Design than to let us know, that Men first of all consented in the Writing and Form of their Letters) as because ’tis false, that the Ionian Letters were the first invented; as Pliny himself in his foregoing Chapter, and Tacitus, lib. 11. have told us. I have observed however two Places (Gregorius Turonensis, lib. 5. and Aimoinus, lib. 3. cap. 41.) wherein ’tis intimated, that the Gauls used the Forms of the Greek Letters: For where they speak of King Chilperick, “He added (say they) some Letters to our Letters; and those were, ω, ψ, ξ, φ; and sent Epistles to the several Schools in his Kingdom, that the Boys should be so taught.” Aimoinus mentions only three Letters, χ, Θ, Φ. But we must understand, that these were Franks, not Gauls; or rather Franco-gauls, who made use of their own native Language, the German Tongue; not that ancient Language of the Gauls, which had grown out of use under the Roman Government: Besides, if the Francogalli had made use of the Greek Letters, how came they at first to except these, when they made use of all the rest? But we have said enough, and too much of this Matter. As for their Opinion who believe that the Gauls spoke the German Language, Caesar confutes it in that single place, wherein he tells us, “that Ariovistus, by Reason of his long Conversation in Gallia, spoke the Gallick Tongue.”53
Now for two Reasons their Opinion seems to me to be most probable, who write, that the Ancient Gauls had a peculiar Language of their own, not much differing from the British: First, because Caesar tells us it was the Custom for those Gauls who had a mind to be thoroughly instructed in the Learning of the Druyds, to pass over into Britain; and since the Druyds made no use of Books, ’tis agreeable to Reason, that they taught in the same Language which was used in Gallia. Secondly, because Tacitus in his Life of Agricola, writes, that the Language of the Gauls and Britains differ’d but very little: neither does that Conjecture of Beatus Rhenanus seem unlikely to me, who believes the Language which is now made use of in Basse Bretayne [Britones Britonantes] to be the Remains of our ancient Tongue. His Reasons for this Opinion may be better learn’d from his own Commentaries, than told in this Place. The Language which we at present make use of, may easily be known to be a Compound of the several Tongues of divers Nations: And (to speak plainly and briefly) may be divided into four Parts. One half of it we have from the Romans, as every one that understands Latin ever so little, may observe: For besides, that the Gauls being subject to the Romans, would naturally fall into their Customs and Language, ’tis manifest that the Romans were very industrious to propagate their Tongue, and to make it universal, and (as it were) venerable among all Nations. And to that End settled Publick Schools up and down, at Autan, Besancon, Lyons, etc. as Valerius Maximus, Tacitus, and Ausonius tell us. The other half of it may be subdivided thus. One third of it we hold from the Ancient Gauls, another from the Franks, and the last from the Greek Language: For it has been demonstrated long since by many Authors, that we find innumerable Frank (that is, German) Words (as we shall hereafter prove) in our daily Speech. And several learned Men have shewn us, that many Greek Words are adapted to our common Use, which we do not owe to the Learning and Schools of the Druyds, (who I believe spoke no Greek); but to the Schools and Conversation of the Massilians, whom we formerly mentioned.
[48. ]GS Franc. identify it as Bellum Gallicum, bk. 6, chap. 14 (Loeb 338).
[50. ]Tacitus, Germania, chap. 3 (Loeb 268).
[51. ]“The forms of Latin script were the most ancient letters of the Greeks.”
[52. ]As GS Franc. translate: “At first the tacit agreement of all the people conspired to have them use the letters of the Ionians”; “The next agreement of the people concerned the manner of wearing their hair”; “the third agreement was the matter of their reckoning time.” They identify the source as Pliny, Natural History, bk. 8, 27; bk. 7, 59–60.
[53. ]GS Franc. identify this as Bellum Gallicum, bk. 1, chap. 47 (Loeb 78).